“I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful.” – Jeremiah 31:4
We have so much to be thankful for. Three of Katherine’s brothers were married this summer to amazing women, God brought two new little nephews into our lives, we celebrated our 12th anniversary, and our screenplay, The Senior Prank, was filmed this summer. The children are excelling in school, swim, and soccer. To add to our joy, we will be expecting the newest little Craddock (a boy!) this coming April.
In fact, had we written this letter this summer, with the exception of the passing of Katherine’s boss and mentor Chuck Colson, life would have seemed close to perfect. But in one day, all of that changed when we learned that Katherine’s cousin Ryan had been killed while serving in Afghanistan. Ryan had been one of Chris’ very first Young Life “kids”, and we both adored him. He was our personal American hero. We take comfort in knowing that our last words to one another were, “I love you.”
When someone gives their life, their dreams, their future in exchange for yours, nothing will ever or can ever be the same again. We now have a whole new understanding of Christ’s sacrifice for us.
With Ryan’s death, it was like a set of dominoes had been ticked off. Our dear friend Gene Heck planned Ryan’s funeral, and just a few short weeks later he was also called Home to be with our Savior. Unbelievably, even more funerals of friends and loved ones followed – in one instance we attended a funeral three out of the four weeks of the month. This year truly has been a time to mourn.
Through it all, God has been more than faithful. Each time we feel as if we are about to drown, He has thrown us a life preserver – a trip to San Diego, Chris’ golf coaching job, Katherine’s acceptance into UCLA’s professional screenwriting program, Katie's spot on a travel soccer team, a surprise romantic getaway to New York City. Not one day have we been fearful of the provision of our daily bread.
Therefore we do not lose hope, and lean heavily on our Shepherd to guide us through this shadowed valley. It is in times like these that we are so deeply moved by the love, prayers, and encouragement of loved ones like you. We trust in the Lord that we will be stronger for this journey, and that His promise to us in Jeremiah 31:4 will ring true in the year ahead.
Love in Christ,
Chris, Katherine, Katie (8), Colt (6), Christian (almost 5), Blaize (1 ½) and Baby Boy Craddock (due in April)