Everyone in our community can probably remember exactly where they were when they heard the news about the car accident this weekend.

I was in my living room talking to one of Olivia’s friends, waiting for her to come downstairs to leave for a friend’s birthday party.

I heard Olivia’s voice on the stairs, and I could tell she was on her phone.

This alone seemed odd in our text-driven world,

but when I heard the tone of her voice, I knew something was terribly wrong.

Then she appeared on the stairs, telling us, “Johnny Fankell just died in a car wreck.”


Time stops every time these words are heard……

because we all know that with those words families have been shattered permanently.


And when you know the family,

the stopping of time is coupled with an ache that runs so deep that everything you had on your to-do list suddenly becomes meaningless.


Facebook and Twitter became an outpouring of heartache and prayers from teenagers and parents across our county.


In the blink of an eye, the significance of everyone’s status centered around this moment.

And somehow coming to grips with a nightmare became everyone’s goal.


Sunday, several of Johnny’s baseball teammates were in our church service, sitting together on the front left pew….

arms around each other, hearts broken, searching for answers to a question none of us can answer,

“Why did this happen?”


At 2 p.m. yesterday, a memorial service was held at our high school baseball field where hundreds gathered to hug, to cry, and

to somehow hold each other up at a time when the ground beneath everyone’s feet felt incredibly incapable of doing its job.


There are no words at a time like this that make anyone feel better.

Especially for Johnny’s parents who face not only a very painful week but also a lifetime filled with the void of Johnny’s physical presence.


They don’t need cliches right now.


They don’t need reasons.


They just need love.


So, how does love show up when lives have been shattered?


I think love shows up through hugs, cards, hearts on baseball fields, writing out memories of Johnny to share later, thinking of ways to keep Johnny’s memory alive, and most of all……

prayers for strength, peace, hope, and comfort.


heart of echs


Even if you don’t know Tom and Rachel Fankell and all of Johnny’s other relatives and close friends, God does.

He knows just what they need to make it through today.

And strength for today is what they need.


Tomorrow we can pray for tomorrow.


Psalm 84:7 says,

“They go from strength to strength, till

each appears before God in Zion.”

I believe that’s the only way to make it in this world.

From strength to strength.

One day at a time.

And love is what carries us along toward Zion………

So, today, please pray for Johnny’s family.

And know I’m praying for all of you who come here for a minute of your day.

I love you all so much, and I know that only by your prayers and the grace of God am I able to continue…….

from strength to strength toward Zion.

One glorious day, this is where God’s Love will lead us all who claim Him as our Lord………


Isaiah 51:11

 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing;

everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; 

they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

If you read this today and need to know more about God’s love,

please talk to someone who can help you or email me at tammynischan@yahoo.com.

I will help you or find someone who can.