New Life out of Tragedy

For the first time in my life, I feel like I belong in my family.

This unexpected thought came to my mind because of a tragedy in our family: the loss of my young cousin, Ashley, in Oregon. That day the temperature was 116 degrees, and it appears she succumbed to the intense heat.

Sorrow flowed through our hearts. As we wrestled with the reality of Ashley’s absence, God began to bring about changes in our family.

We craved to know how each of us was coping. More frequent communication and deeper expressions of love flowed between us. Since I live in Orlando, lengthy phone calls ensued and texts flew back and forth. I also expressed love for them through my cards and letters.

When I flew to Oregon to see them, we all gathered at Cary’s home. The sun was bright. Salmon and fresh-picked corn sizzled on Cary’s grill while we sat together in his beautiful backyard, surrounded by towering fir trees and summer dahlias. A beautifully-crafted waterfall produced a soothing sound as we engaged in easy conversation sprinkled with laughter. My heart soared.

The following week, I sat under the patio umbrella in Blair and Peggy’s backyard. We enjoyed a free-flowing conversation for several hours like three friends who were used to being together. A few days later, Justin and I met for lunch to share personal things that mattered to us. Justin’s text warmed my heart. “I had a great time catching up at lunch. I’m glad we were able to have that time together.”

The day before my flight back to Orlando, the unusual thought popped into my mind:  I feel like I belong in this family now. When I shared my feelings with Cary and Blair, they were puzzled. Both responded, “You’ve always been part of the family!”

That’s when I realized a deep change had taken place inside of me. When the others pulled me into their daily lives, I felt closer to them and more willing to express my feelings and emotions. In return, they became more open and honest with me.

Cary calls me once a week. Before I left town, Blair said, “Please keep calling me. I’m not good at initiating, but I enjoy talking to you.” Justin and I want to find a mutual time to talk together on Zoom.

This kind of closeness may already be a part of your family life; for us it’s a new era. God planned to bring new life out of our tragedy. Because of my personal experience, I understand in a deeper way why God gave us this instruction:

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.   1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)

“Family togetherness” is at the top of my thanksgiving list. What will you thank God for this month? Post your comment below.

Published by Gail Porter

Gail Porter is an author, inspirational speaker, and workshop leader. Her latest book is Will the Real Person Please Stand Up? Rising Above the Fear of Rejection.


  • Mary Beth Powers

    November 10, 2021 at 9:59 AM Reply

    Im so thankful for healing … I have 2 sisters who struggle with addiction. One has been clean for 6 years now and the other is in rehab doing very well. For the first time in many years we have all been together at family events and are looking forward to the holidays 😁 … thank you for sharing I do understand this ❤️

    • Gail Porter

      November 10, 2021 at 2:31 PM Reply

      Mary Beth, I see why you and I completely understand this story! I’m rejoicing that even with all the sad things you’ve experienced with your sisters, all of you are now able to be together at family events. Will picture you having a wonderful Thanksgiving together this year!

  • Susan Giarrusso

    November 10, 2021 at 12:48 PM Reply

    Beautifully written Gail, I am so excited for this revelation. God Bless your day! Thank you for sharing all of your experiences.

    • Gail Porter

      November 10, 2021 at 2:36 PM Reply

      Thanks, Susan. I, too, am excited about what God has revealed to me and the continuing ways He is going to work within our family! Will look forward to sharing those experiences with you!

  • Caretha Crawford

    November 10, 2021 at 1:16 PM Reply

    Thanks Gail. God has a way of drawing us closer due to tragedy. I know this place too well.
    Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

    • Gail Porter

      November 10, 2021 at 2:41 PM Reply

      Dear Caretha – Thanks for your words that reflect your understanding of my message because of your similar experiences. May God continue ministering to us so He can use us to bring hope to others. Trusting for a blessed Thanksgiving for you.

  • Santina Fancher

    November 10, 2021 at 7:26 PM Reply

    God bless you Gail. You are part of our family too. We love you….

    • Gail Porter

      November 10, 2021 at 10:21 PM Reply

      Thanks for making me part of your family, Sandy! It’s a huge blessing. Love you all, too!

  • Evic Singalaoa

    November 10, 2021 at 9:29 PM Reply

    I am thankful for FamBam Zoom Prayer time- we started during the pandemic 2020 and still going on.. that is every Friday 10pm East Coast; 7pm West Coast and Saturday 10AM Philippines!!!

    • Gail Porter

      November 10, 2021 at 10:46 PM Reply

      Evic, how wonderful that your family is being united weekly through FamBam! I can see why you are thankful for this continuing chance to talk and pray together. Thanks for sharing about this, because other families may want to follow your idea!

  • Norma Reynolds

    November 11, 2021 at 2:07 PM Reply

    I am thankful for the way God is continually showing me how much He cares for me and my family. This journey is full of surprises and blessings. Thanks for sharing, Gail!

    • Gail Porter

      November 11, 2021 at 5:55 PM Reply

      Hi Norma! You chose a very special experience to thank God for. He is a very caring Father, for sure. I like the way you described our journey. Isn’t it wonderful that He promises to stay by our side the entire way? Your comment will be a blessing to readers.

  • Yolly Bramlett

    November 15, 2021 at 2:35 PM Reply

    Thank you for sharing Gail. I like to hear stories of how God works in people’s lives. My family had a get together first week of October–first time in four years since Mom went home to Jesus. My nieces and nephews came all the way from Florida. We had fun, food, fellowship and worship and prayer time. It was so good to be able to be together that weekend. Blessed!

    • Gail Porter

      November 15, 2021 at 8:16 PM Reply

      Thank you so much, Yolly, for sharing about your wonderful and meaningful family get-together after four years. How pleased your mother would be! I could feel your joy in seeing everyone, including your nephews and nieces. What a blessing! I’m thanking God for all He did to make this happen.

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