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Day 21: Flying back from my first summer in Ethiopia…while my plane was over the ocean, my mom and stepdad—Steve Standard— were dancing at a night on the town square in her hometown of Waverly, Tennessee. A little while after their last dance, he had a heart attack and his life on this earth suddenly and tragically ended.

This weekend my mom and I returned to Waverly to see old sights from her childhood, visit family, and remember lots of things. Being here reminds me of Steve and his death, and also of the part Steve played in my Ethiopia story. If you knew him, you know that he was larger than life. He was bold and unconventional—doing many things to share Jesus that go against all norms. As a girl in high school who was trying to figure out which road to take in life, he affirmed the good things he saw in me and encouraged me to live big for God. He cheered me on in taking that first trip to Ethiopia which as you can see, dramatically changed the course of my life.

Our family needed to be at the funeral home a few hours after my flight from Ethiopia arrived in Nashville. It was an absolute whirlwind. In the weeks and months following as my family grieved and processed all that had happened, I started to lean more heavily on my friends from the summer team in Ethiopia—which included Tim. They understood the experience from that summer in a way no one else could, and in the midst of such hard things going on at home—I craved that shared understanding. Over the course of months, Tim and I talked longer and longer on the phone each time…and you know the rest of the story.

When Steve died, all I could see was loss. And we did lose an amazing man that day. But God is always doing more things than we can see, and I realized how much God had given me in Steve's life and how even his death opened a door to a relationship with Tim that might not have been opened otherwise. He gives and takes away—blessed be His name.#31daysofcalling #lovesinethiopia

Laura Love#31daysofcalling