I’m so excited!
Our son, Caleb, the one who survived the tragic wreck that took our youngest son’s life, is getting married this Sunday, April 23rd!
He and his fiancee created a wedding website that was especially helpful for our extended family. I am so proud of these two and their testimony for our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Just like me, neither of them is perfect, but they have decided to put Christ first in their relationship and do their best to honor Him.
So, to honor them today, I would like to share what they each wrote on that website. I pray it blesses you and encourages you that God is not done with this generation! Far from it! He has great plans in store for our young people who choose to take up the mantle and follow Christ.
Without further ado, here are some excerpts for you.
This story is one that is so cherished and near to many hearts. This couple is living proof that God is in every story and is continually making a way for each and every person. We just need to let His wonderful plans for our lives come to pass.
I am so excited to be walking through this time, and spend the rest of my life with Crystal!
Here’s a bit about me:
I was raised in a Christian home and our family went to church multiple times every week as I grew up. Around the time that I became a teenager, I realized that it was not enough to be a part of a Christian family and I could not fall back on my parent’s relationship with God. I needed my own experience with Him. I gave my life to God shortly before my 13th birthday. Like everyone else, I’ve had my ups and downs concerning my faith. Ideas like respecting the diversity of others, fairness towards those that we meet, honest self-reflection, and compassion for those less fortunate seem like basic Christian principles to follow but they require so much more work then we first realize. Sometimes it is hard to see our own flaws when we consider ourselves to be a “good person”. This is where I found myself before a single event changed my life forever.
Seven and a half years ago, my younger brother Jacob and I were traveling home from a church event late one night. My SUV was struck by a drunk driver going 75 miles per hour in a 45-mph speed zone. My 17-year-old brother died instantly, and I was in a medically-induced coma for two weeks. What followed thereafter was a long road to physical recovery through months of rehab and an even longer time of self-blame, guilt, anger, and intense hatred towards those that caused the accident. Through these struggles I have gained an empathy for others that have gone through hard times. Though I cannot possibly relate to every situation that I encounter, I know what deep hurt feels like. I know were guilt and suicidal thoughts can lead us to. I’ve known the dark times where it feels like I will never get through the struggle, the pain, and the hurt. Once I traveled through these seemingly hopeless seasons, I found the relief and hope that comes only from God. I now understand how important it is to surround ourselves with those that love us in those times. I can see life through a completely different lens. A lens of the grace and mercy that God showed me, and continues to show me. I need Him more and more every day and I pray that He will be the foundation of our marriage and future family.
I am so thankful to everyone who has invested into our relationship and has helped guide us to be the couple we are today. Your constant love and support holds us up and encourages us!
Caleb, I am so excited to start our lives together. There is no one better I could have pictured for myself. God knows exactly what He is doing. Here’s to our forever!
My story starts here in Jacksonville, Fl. I was raised in a home with my parents and two sisters. Circumstances were not ideal for the majority of our lives, we had our ups and downs of course, but I always knew I was missing something. As a young teenager I began searching for something more for my life than what I was experiencing. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am very driven and very determined in my pursuits, even when it doesn’t necessarily benefit me. In this case I feel as though I began a search for peace. A search I didn’t know would last years, a search that would find me where I am at today. I began heading down the wrong path in the beginning of this “search” and found myself in a sinful cycle making the same mistakes and living the same lifestyle I’d convinced myself I wouldn’t fall into the pattern of. That is when one conversation at a lunch table in middle school changed my life forever. Someone had shared the Gospel with me, but in a way I had never experienced before. It felt real, tangible almost. I finally understood where this peace I had been searching for was located. I began my walk with Christ that year in 2015 and began attending Victory Chapel. At first I focused on a better life, and not on “falling in love with Jesus”( this is what my youth Pastor suggested I do). Soon after that, I found myself in the same pattern that I began in. Living in sin and finding myself in a deep depression. It didn’t take long before God opened my eyes once again. I had been informed of the passing of a fellow teenager from the teen ministry I was in. His name was Jacob Leavitt. It made me realize how short life can be as this young man was only 17 years old. It made me understand the weight of eternity and that I wasn’t right with God. I immediately understood what I needed to do and I gave my life back to God shortly after hearing of the accident. For the past 7 years I have been serving God in my local church and seeing Him work in miraculous ways in and through my life. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Although having been acquainted for years, in 2021, Caleb and Crystal began building a friendship. They began serving in the same ministry at church and soon found they had a lot in common. They share a love for education and a burden for children, a love for music and the way it can influence hearts, a passion for the drama ministry, and the understanding of what it feels like to lose a family member. In the middle of 2021 Crystal lost her mother, Sabrina, to cancer. The friend she thought of to help her through this tragedy in her life was someone who had experienced a loss of his own, Caleb. From this conversation blossomed a beautiful relationship. God had used the tragedies of their lives to bring them together. Now, after being together for a little over a year Caleb and Crystal are so excited to merge their stories and begin a new chapter. They are so excited to share it with you!
Thank you for taking your time to read their story.
They also created a “memorial page” to honor Caleb’s brother (our youngest son, Jacob) and Crystal’s mom (Sabrina). Both have ‘gone on to be with the Lord’, but are dearly missed, especially as we celebrate such a wonderful occasion.
Here’s what they wrote:
IN LOVING MEMORY
Although they are not here with us, we know the loved ones we have lost are rejoicing in heaven as they see our lives unfold. We find such comfort in the hope of Heaven and the knowledge that we will see them again.
Sabrina Elaine Hartsell
May 13th 1961 – July 26th 2021
The Mother of the Bride passed onto glory on July 26th of 2021. Crystal strives to keep her memory alive. She continually works to be loving and strong like her mother, pushing through every adversity she faces. Although her mother is no longer here, Crystal finds peace in knowing she will see her again in Heaven.
Jacob Nathanael Leavitt
November 25th 1997 – August 30th 2015
Jacob, the younger Brother of the Groom, passed away on August 30th, 2015. Prior to the accident, Jacob encouraged Caleb multiple times to go back to school, obtain his Bachelor’s, and work in Education. He saw Caleb’s heart before anyone else did and shared his desire to reach the next generation with the Gospel. Caleb reminds himself of this connection with Jacob and the bigger picture, helping the “next in line”, on those days when his work as a teacher is challenging. Caleb hopes that his life is one that will make both Jacob and Jesus proud. He looks forward to seeing his brother again in Heaven after this life is complete.
What about you, friend? Do you have a loved one looking on from Heaven? Do you look forward to seeing them again in Heaven after this life is complete, as Caleb said? Do you need help making sure you are ready for Heaven? We’d love to help! Reach out to us email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.