Oh, do I have a story to tell you. It involves guns and death and my life saved. It is so powerful to me and to my family that I don’t even know where to begin. But in this season where new life came in the form of a baby to save the world, it seems only appropriate to try. So I give you my story.
Once upon a time, I was a little girl in a scary home with little hope for a happy anything. Life was so lonely and frightening that I didn’t even know how to dream. I had no plans for my future, no visions of a future family, no picture of my wedding day in my mind. I existed from day to day alone and waiting for shoes to drop. As life went on and I became a teenager, not much changed except my frustration and the level of abuse happening in my world.
One day, I met a boy and, though unlikely in every way, we fell in love, and despite all odds we both found a way out of our lonely worlds together (story here).
A few years into our happily-ever-after, the people I had originally called family began to dramatically implode. Thanks to a woman who loved me and saw the situation in its reality, I started to have someone speak life into me and help me have clarity and permission to remove myself from the nightmare that continued to follow me like some kind of angry predator.
This is where it gets real. There was much destruction in the home I had left and part of that was in the form of guns. These guns were removed from that home so that my family didn’t become a story on the six o’clock news. They were put in our care and we quickly relinquished them to the authorities so that it wasn’t on our hands. When that chapter closed and my parents died (story here) some of the guns were given back to me. I was pretty oblivious to them as I had enough on my plate as I came out of the dark, and the guns were set aside both in my mind and physically.
Little did I know, there was some backstory. Turns out the one good memory my son had with my dad was when Justin was taught how to shoot. My dad, in rare form, spent time with Justin that day and shot a specific rifle with him that knocked my son on his butt and taught him respect for weapons. It also sparked a love for ballistics and gun history which would become his lifelong hobby.
Fast forward to current day.
The fall of 2016 was to be my second deer hunting season. My rifle was having some issues and wasn’t going to be dependable for me to use. Justin stepped up with one of his rifles, and asked if I would use it for this season. Since it seemed to be a good size and weight for me, I accepted, and it became my partner in the quest for a buck.
Day after freezing cold day, I went out morning and evening waiting for my chance. My husband got a buck. My son got a buck.
It was my turn.
The best shot I got was with my iPhone camera of the lovely does (can’t shoot those beauties) and a pretty neat video of my wolf scare.
Refusing to give up, I gave it one last attempt on the last evening of rifle season. Honestly believing I had little to no chance since so many deer had been harvested from our property and since I still hadn’t even had eyes on a buck, I stood shivering in my stand watching does and baby deer (and honestly, I was answering texts — the service is ridiculously bad in the deer stand, but if you go to airplane mode and off again each incoming and outgoing, you can get texts and my sweet family was unaware of my need for concentration in the last half hour of hunting season).
I prayed out loud. “Lord, please send me a buck today. Please put him in my range, facing the right direction, in the name of Jesus.”
Dusk settles in. Light is waning. And in the farthest point of my range, I see movement. I see two deer and one seems to have antlers. I grab my binoculars and check. And double -check. Sure enough. Not huge antlers, but it was a decent sized buck, and I had intentions for sharing that venison with someone I knew could use it so the rack was of no value to me.
I wavered a bit in my courage to shoot. This rifle I had borrowed is one I had never shot. Though my husband and son were very confident in my shooting ability, I waffled. This responsibility to take a life well and for purpose was paramount to me. I raised my rifle and it was too far to see which deer I was aiming at with just my iron sights. Confirming with binoculars was needed but my movements raised my buck’s attention and he began to walk away.
This was the definition of a long-shot. Untested gun, my first possible kill, last chance at a deer, and this buck was at the end of my range in the almost-dark. I quietly prepared my gun and my heart, mustered all my courage and took my shot.
I remember a flash and seeing him go down. The rest is a bit of a blur as my son came running to help me.
I had done it!!!
We confirmed the kill and he ran back to the house to get the trailer to load my buck as I guarded against wolves and we raced the darkness to get my deer back to the house. There was some serious excitement that Momma shot her deer. Apparently, I impressed a few folks at my house, and boy, did I impress myself.
It was later that some of the full-circle moments sank in fully.
I had no idea the gun I used was originally one of my dad’s guns. Apparently, it was also the same gun that was a fond memory for my son with his grandpa. My dad never shot a deer with that weapon. I think he liked deer camp for other reasons than deer. My son ended up acquiring that very broken, unusable rifle and rebuilt it from nothing to the gun his Momma would use to get her first deer. That deer would become a love gift of venison for another family.
This crazy story about guns and death and deer is kinda my story. You see, I firmly believe that the destruction from which I came was taken down to brokenness and rebuilt in a way that no one could ever possibly foresee.
What was meant for my complete destruction became a tool crafted by loving hands that would be used for the absolute changing of my legacy!
I was handed brokenness. God turned it around through the creation of the love of my husband and me and He started a NEW thing — a new family beginning with the birth of my son! He gave me a new story which was bathed in love and peace and allowed me to throw away the legacy with which I began. Where there were no dreams, a new story was crafted that would surpass any that I could have dreamed in my wildest imaginations.
This story is a picture of it. That *instrument of death* was transformed into a source of life and provision! That, my friends, is beauty from ashes. That is the transforming power that only God has. Look deep and you’ll see the word REDEEMED written all over this story. I have been restored from broken to love.
The legacy of family that I was handed was confiscated, destroyed, rebuilt, designed for a moment of redemption, and changed to a thing of beauty. What was death became life!
Can you see it? It’s right there. We all have broken parts. We all have pain so deep it sometimes feels carved into our very souls. But it’s not meant to be where the story stops! There is healing and rebuilding and love waiting on the other side. What was meant to wipe you out ends up being your greatest story and victory!
I didn’t even know it, but Justin said that when he got to me after he heard the gunshot, I was dancing in the meadow. I still don’t remember it, but apparently, my victory was so powerful in my soul, all I could do was dance. In this profound moment, where something had given its life to sustain more life, all I could do was celebrate my gratefulness.
Dance with me. Come join the victory over pain into love. Let your story be redeemed. How perfect this timing is at the story of the birth of a baby born to redeem the world from death into LOVE! I pray this sinks deep into your very soul.
Nothing is too big for God to rebuild from death to dancing.