Monday, August 13, 2018

When Words Heal

By Sarah Van Diest

I wish I didn’t have this story to tell you today, but I do. It sits in my hands and waits to be opened and shared. I feel a strange sense of honor holding it, while its tragic nature makes me wish it never existed. But it is also something precious and something worthy of words.

Four months ago, baby Kaenon was born. He came early. As soon as the news broke that he was on the way, his grandparents rushed to meet him. Mark and Laurie Francis arrived at daughter Ashlee’s side and welcomed their first grandchild into the world.

His early arrival meant complications though. Kaenon’s body wasn’t quite ready for the wideness of the world. He would undergo multiple surgeries and suffer great discomfort. But again, his grandparents stayed lovingly by to help this new life struggle to survive, and provide their daughter with help and support.

The story unfolds this way for a couple of months. Kaenon refuses to quit fighting, and his family refuses to let him. And then the story changes.

Without warning, this new grandfather, Mark Francis, died. A freak accident at home brought his life to a sudden close. No more visits to the hospital to caress sweet Kaenon’s head or to encourage Ashlee, his weary daughter. No more comfort to offer his wife, Laurie, as she worries about the future of their little family – a tragedy upon already difficult circumstances.

What you do not know yet is who Mark was. You don’t know that he was a dentist who gave generously of his skills and resources. When I was a missionary in Central America and came home for visits, he would always see me for free and take care of any dental needs I had. He did that for so many people.

You don’t know that he was a nature photographer for National Geographic. His work was outstanding. Beautiful. Stunning. 

You don’t know that he was Fred Flintstone in the Ice Capades. 

You don’t know that he was a gentle man of God and a devoted man of prayer. There is no doubt he heard the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

The new reality is this: As his grandson fights to stay alive, Mark can’t be there to hold his wife’s hand or speak words of comfort to his daughter. He isn’t there to leave small kisses on Kaenon’s forehead.

Yet, he is.

The decades of devotion he gave Laurie stay with her and will never be forgotten. The lifetime of love he showered on Ashlee helped make her the loving mother she is to sweet Kaenon. And I would not be a bit surprised if Mark still breathes sweet kisses on Kaenon’s forehead now and forevermore.

But why am I telling this story? This is a writer’s blog page.

Here, allow me. It was this past April when my small book, God in the Dark, was released. It is a book meant to bring comfort when trials strike and hope in the midst of despair. A copy of the book made its way to Laurie, who shared it with Ashlee, who read from it over sweet baby Kaenon as he lay in a hospital bed clinging to life. Simple, but amazing. How could my words be given a place of such honor? 

I tell this part of the story to remind you, my dear writing friends, that what you do matters. What you do makes a difference and impacts the world in ways you may never know. When our Father places words on your heart, write them, dear ones. Do not be discouraged by the voices in your head or in your circle of influence telling you it’s all a waste of time or that you have nothing to say that anyone needs to hear. Listen to your Father’s voice. Walk in the good works He prepared in advance for you. Go. Write. Love.

There are needs all around you. Take a moment and think on what they are and how you might be able to use the gifts your Father has given to help meet those needs.

The Francis family is in need of financial help as well as prayer support. If you are interested in helping, please take a look at the page they have set up:  Ashlee is a fitness trainer, so she set up a fitness fund raiser, but you don’t have to do the workout to help out. If you just want to give your support, go here:
And remember this: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col. 3:23,24).

Now, go! Write! Love!

(Photos courtesy of Sarah VanDiest and the Francis family.)


Sarah Van Diest is a writer and editor. She’s the mother of two boys, stepmother to three more, and wife to David. Sarah wrote God in the Dark as letters to a dear friend whose life was turning upside down. She’s done this for years for numerous friends and will continue to, Lord willing. It’s her gift to them. It’s hope written down.

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