It seems like it was just yesterday when the cold, sterile, black and white delivery room exploded with warmth, and color, and sound, and life – new life, your life.
On September 11, 1981 Bethany Lynelle, you burst into the world, burrowed yourself deep into my heart, and neither will ever be the same.
It was the beginning. Your first breath, a precious breath that took my breath away.
I knew that having a baby would change my life. I knew that you would be soft, and precious, and sweet. That you would be fun to hold and rock and shower with sloppy kisses. That your giggles would tickle my ears and your smiles would fill my heart. Your dimples would light up the world and poking your Pillsbury dough belly (soon-to-be six-pack abs) was more fun than it should be legal to have.
And I knew there would be work involved in being a mother. There was the sleep deprivation that has yet to be recovered from, the laundry that never ended, and the sun and moon the stars and my schedule that now gladly all revolved around you.
But somehow, I never knew, never anticipated that you would be the sweetest thing I had ever seen. I never knew that your cries would break my heart and that my every thought would include you whether we were together or apart. I never knew the all-consuming peace I would feel when you slept in my arms and the sheer terror that would fill me when your small body skipped a breath.
Beginnings are fragile that way.
In the blink of an eye, the days flew by, and you were consumed with wanting to fly. You dressed like Sacajawea and proudly rode your bike to Taylor and Robin’s all by yourself.
It seems like it was just last week when we went to horseback riding lessons, ballet class, gymnastics, and camp. You wore that cute little blue dress to your baptism and never took off your cheerleading outfit from Winter Haven Christian School.
Another blink of the eye and the driveway soon held a third car – a bright red Saturn to celebrate your sweet 16th.
The beginning had turned into the middle – a middle we thought would never end.
A few blinks later, and your bedroom was suddenly several states away at Samford University and I didn’t get to see your smiling face every day.
Have we told you how your Dad and I cried all the way home that drop-off day? Did our hearts know it was just the first in a small series of long goodbyes?
Then faster than the space shuttle rocketing into space you have blossomed into a beautiful woman. You indeed learned to fly. You accomplished so much as a young adult just entering your professional life. You earned your college degree, personal trainers license, started your own business, and finished your Master’s degree.
But better than all of the above, you were sweet, compassionate, creative, godly, thoughtful, loving, and kind. And every time I looked at you, you still took my breath away.
Blink again, and it was June 24, 2006 – another new beginning, and a life with John. What a wonderful mate God provided for you. John is handsome, fun, thoughtful, faithful, and kind. Best of all, he loved you and loves our Lord.
And as I thought about letting go of the hand I held crossing the street to place it is his, I was comforted to know you now took his breath away.
But new beginnings require necessary endings, and as happy as we were for you to marry John, your dad and I once again cried the night away.
To say “yes” to John, for us, meant another big good-bye.
Blink once, no make that twice, and twin boys soon filled your belly and then your home. What a priceless gift they are. They were literally prayed into existence and their miracle births daily remind us of our powerful God.
It’s another new beginning – God is so good.
Just last week, you and I sat and planned their first birthday party – “It’s a Zoo with Two.” It would be full of balloons, and animals, and people and laughter, and fun.
Except now… that day won’t hold you…
At least not, here. Not that we can see.
My daughter, my heart: for you, a new and better beginning has come. An endless day, seeing Jesus face-to-face, and a sweet knowing that while our hearts are aching beyond belief, that this way, this time, this plan, is somehow, the right one.
But today, I just want to say…
I loved you from before you were born, loved you on your wedding day, loved seeing and sharing your life with your husband and twins, but for me, today, it’s the hardest good-bye.
But it’s not the final one.
I look forward to seeing you again soon.
Until then, I am eternally thankful to our God and Savior that I had the unspeakable privilege of sharing this life, these 37 precious years, with you, my daughter, my hero, my friend.
And I know that I know that I know while for me, this day holds the longest, hardest, most heart-breaking good-bye, for you, this life was just the beginning of a true life that will never end.
Crying loving tears. My goodness what a wonderful tribute of true love for God and your delightful daughter.
Oh, Kim! Can’t stop crying with both sadness for this abrupt goodbye and joy that she is with Him forever. Grieving with you my friend as you celebrate her life which was lived well. She has made you proud and I’m sure she is hearing “well done my good and faithful servant” from our Father.
There are no words Kim. Your undying love and commitment to God and your daughter shines brighter than anything this world tries to throw at us. Prayers continue.
Kim, my heart goes out to you and your entire family. What you shared is SO beautiful. May God continue to comfort you and yours and keep all of you strong during this very difficult time. My heart is with you and your family in Spirit and thank you for sharing and celebrating Bethany’s life with us.
Crying tears filled with hope…a hope that is eternal. A beautiful tribute to your daughter. Praying that you feel that Jesus is holding you today as you say good bye!
Oh my Kim. I grieve with you today. Your sweet memories remind me of what C S Lewis said after his wife was gone –
“The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before.” The intense happiness you had with Bethany is indeed an indication of the depth of the pain you feel today. I am so sorry.
My heart breaks for you and your family. What a beautiful tribute to your daughter! Prayers for strength, peace and comfort as only God can supply.
Kim, there are no words that can truly take away your grief. However, please know that you and your family are being prayed for.
What a beautiful life you had with your daughter! My heart hurtsfor you and Ron. I pray for comfort for your family and for Bethany’s family. Grieving is hard. Those hills and valleys now, but oh those beautiful memories that you will remember and be able to share with your precious grandsons.
I have tears as I read this tribute about Bethany. My heart aches for you and Ron, yet we can celebrate knowing there was a purpose a plan that we now do not understand. May God continue to comfort and give you peace.
Love to you this difficult day.
What a gift for words you have! I am sharing in your tears and am praying for you to feel held and supported today by the strong arms of our Lord! Love you, my friend!
Praying for your entire family today as the God of all hope literally surrounds you and carries each of you.
Crying tears of joy, mixed with tears of sadness as you celebrate your amazing gift of Bethany, while saying, goodbye, for now. Thank you for sharing your heart, and your journey, your mourning and your trusting. I will continue to pray for you as you continue to celebrate Bethany, miss Bethany, and embrace your purpose here on earth, pointing all people. you encounter to Jesus. Much love. Leah Rade ❤️
Tears filled my eyes and my heart ❤️ ached as I read this beautifully written tribute to your daughter, Kim.
My prayers are with you and your loved ones as you say farewell.
Beautifully written! Prayers for you today as you say the hardest goodbye you’ve had to say to Bethany One day you will have a reunion with Bethany and what a glorious day it will be.
My heart aches for you! What a beautiful tribute. Praying for you.
Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to your precious daughter. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. May He bring supernatural strength and comfort. God bless you.
As I shed my tears along with so many, I also lift praise to God for the beautiful life she shared with you on this side of heaven. Rest in Heaven. And Kim, May God continue to comfort you and your family.
A priceless tribute. I cannot help but be reminded that this too must be also an accurate taste of how our Heavenly Father sees us.
I don’t think my heart has ached as much over a loss as mine has for you. I know the days ahead will be both difficult and sweet as you closely watch your twin boys grow up reminding you is sweet Bethany. But somehow I too believe you will feel her presence. Love you
Kim what a beautiful, powerful tribute to your precious Bethany, standing with you friend in unceasing prayer that comfort only Holy Spirit can bring floods your beings with His amazing grace. My heart and tears are streaming as I read the beauty you shared!
Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing. You’re in my prayers. God bless
Kim, praying for you on this day of hardest goodbye. Your words touch me deeply as we experienced a similar goodbye two years ago, when my sister’s son died in his sleep, unexpectedly, inexplicably. 31 years old and father of 2 toddlers. He loved and served the Lord as head of an at-risk teen charity. We’ve learned we cannot ask Why, but we can Believe that He is God and we are not, with all that that entails. Crying tears for you and your family and thanking God for His firm underpinnings of grace and comfort in your loss.
Thank you for what you wrote. We continue to pray for you and your husband and your son-in-law.
Kim, reading this brought many tears to my eyes. Bethany and I are cousins and I really never got to know her personally but through Shirley and I always talking about our families and the beautiful photos Bethany shared of her and John and their precious twins. I always looked forward to seeing how they were progressing. She was an amazing young woman and had accomplished so much in life. Those beautiful twins will always help you and Ron when you hold them and kiss them, they are part of your precious daughter Bethany! Give them a hug and kiss from us! Our thoughts and prayers are with you and Ron and the family.
Kim, my heart aches for your earthly loss. But it is a blessing to see you still through all the pain giving thanks to the father for the time that he lent Bethany to you. We find comfort in knowing this is not the end, but just the beginning. I am praying for you and your family today as you celebrate her life. Blessings
My heart has been broken for you. You have been constantly in my thoughts, grieving with you, praying for you. I have gone from “Why, Lord, why do the wicked prosper? Why are young women suddenly taken from their families?” to “and yet, I will praise you oh LORD.” This week I have been listening to Ann Voskamps book “One Thousand Gifts.” She mentions that although we are saved, we often life a “No, God” life – “no, God, I do not like the story you have written for me, the life you have given me…I would have written it differently.” (I am paraphrasing). And then I read your beautiful blog. What a testimony. To be able to say Yes, God in the midst of your unimaginable grief. To say “yes, God, I accept your giving and your taking away.” What a testament you are, to be able to praise God, to thank Him, to grieve with hope during such difficult days. I pray that as life goes on, you, your husband and John, may physically feel God carrying you, that He continues to protect your heart and soul, that He heaps grace upon you all and that you will always feel Him close to you. HUGE HUGS!
Kim and Ron… My heart aches for you! Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to Bethany. May you continue to feel His loving arms around you!
Praying for you today and in the days ahead.
So beautiful and emotional. Amazing tribute to a life lived for Christ. Praying for your family today for comfort and peace as you all begin a “new normal” without her beautiful presence.
Oh Kim I lay here crying with you as I read your touching thaughts and feelings about your precious Bethany..
May you continue to fell the peace and presence of the Lord in the time ahead as you and your family learn to live the new normal without Bethanys presents here on earth,knowing she is living forever with our Lord and savior.
Thoughts and prayers.
I met Bethany and John years ago when they stepped on the tri scene. She was the first person I knew personally that qualified for Kona. I was so impressed, still am. I got their home address from John cause I had something to drop by. I got her a 6pack of Kona beer so she could celebrate. Years later, she was my coach. I will always remember her for her love. Love for God, John, family, and of course her twins and friends. I was truly blessed to have her in my life.
What a beautiful tribute to your sweet beautiful daughter, Bethany. Kim and Ron, you and your family are in my prayers and in the tears streaming down my face as I read these memories you shared. And as you said, today is one of the hardest goodbyes of your lives, my prayer is that you can live full of faith, love and joy out loud in front of Bethany’s little boys and introduce them to our precious Lord and Savior until He brings you all back to the next eternal hello. My heart breaks with yours today and I’m praying for you and your family. 💔💞🙏
What a beautiful tribute!!! I cannot even imagine how you and Ron feel right now, but I know that I know that our Good Father is holding you both in His loving arms. Sending our deepest sympathy. We are constantly praying for you and your family.
My tears keep trying to express what my words cannot. I know it’s the same for you and Ron and the whole family. Let them flow. They say what needs to be said.
There are no words to ease the grief you’re going through – this is a beautiful tribute to a daughter who lived a full and beautiful life. I’m so sorry for your loss – my heart goes out to you and the rest of the family.
Tears, friend. What a beautiful tribute and expression of the hope that is bigger that all our pain. I have mourned and prayed for you since I heard the news. Today I celebrate life with you.
Thanks for sharing the intimacy of your heart, we are all given 2 dates but the most important is the dash in between the dates and what you do with that time. Your daughter Bethany dash was well done, she has helped and inspired hundreds of people what a wonderful person she was filled with a gentle spirit and an infectious smile. Please know that your job as a parent was well done and the legacy that she leaves will flourish and be spread among many generations
My heart is breaking with yours. What a beautifully written story of Bethany’s life and how she brought pure joy to your heart. We are grieving with you all today. We are praying for you.
What an absolutely precious, raw, and fitting tribute from a mama’s heart…longing for her baby girl, yet rejoicing in her home going where she is face to face with Jesus! Oh, how I pray for you and your family…her hubby and precious boys!
None of this makes sense and it’s excruciating sorrow for all of you. Yet, I know that you cling to a good, good Father and show us all what that looks like. I’m reminded of Much-Afraid whose companions were sorrow and suffering – which later became joy and peace. You are climbing to the high places with the same guides and it’s heart wrenching, confusing, and treacherous. I pray that you, Kim, will remain surrendered to the Chief Shepherd and I will buy some rope so that on those days when you want to jump off the altar I can help tie you down. There is much joy and glory ahead. I’m cheering you on and right behind you. Go God girl. I love you.
Weeping with you. Praying for you. Loving your beautiful tribute to Bethany’s incredible 37 years of life. Knowing our loving Lord will hold your hand as you walk through this valley of the shadow of death. Holding you and yours in my heart and prayers.
Beautiful words from the heart of a mama who has loved well and been well-loved. My heart breaks for all of you, but especially the little guys on this day as you say goodbye. And yet I know that your mama love and their mama’s love, along with a loving father and the Grace of our Heavenly Father will surround them. The little ones are so special to him! May He surround you with love, peace and a death-defying joy today as you celebrate Bethany’s life.
Praying for you, Kim. That God continues to be your comfort as only he can. That he will soothe your aching heart in the days that follow. And that you will be surrounded by those who give you the space you need to grieve. Your tribute was just beautiful. I’m sure Bethany thought so as well. I’ve been praying since I heard, and I’ll continue to pray. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.
Beautiful tribute Kim. Thank you for sharing. Praying for God’s comfort on you all and His glory will shine forth.
Beautifully expressed-the love of a mother for her precious daughter, her heart. So deeply sorry for your loss and glad to know you have peace through the Great Comforter. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
Kim, thank you for the sacred privilege of inviting us into this intimate space to cry with you and be blessed and inspired by your unshakeable HOPE in what is yet to come. I feel I know and love Bethany too through you. Your writing makes her life continue to shine and inspire here while we all await what she is experiencing now. May God comfort you all in surprising and unexpected ways today and in the days to come.
I am so very sorry for your loss. Bethany was one of my daughter’s best friends and roommates in college and a bridesmaid at her wedding. I got to know her quite well as I went to Samford often to watch my daughter (Angela Smith Wolfe) play volleyball. I kept in touch with Bethany about motivation even though I’m not an athlete. She was a beautiful lady and an inspiration to so many including me. I just can’t imagine your pain so all I can do is pray for you, John,her precious babies and family and friends.
My heart weeps for you and your family. Oh how precious that God gave you such a beautiful soul to love and cherish. I pray that the strength that brought you this far, will continue to carry you through…
Dear Kim, May our God of all comfort be with you and your family, and John and his precious boys, day by day, as you all walk this new path with Bethany in her new home of heaven. You are all in my prayers. So sorry for your loss of Bethany!
What a beautiful way to honor your daughter. May the love between you and your daughter, touch all that hear this wonderful testimony.
Thank you Kim for sharing your precious Bethany with us…To have such love for those we have never met and to feel their pain is SO family, one, United together…this is, “on earth as it is in heaven space” we are walking on here…My heart understands your heart today as i too have a daughter in Heaven…holding you now dear sister in the Lord…may the peace and Love of all of us believers holding you today fill you to a place of comfort and rest…feel the Love dear Kim ❤️ LIV
Thanks for sharing your Bethany story. I don’t know either one of you but you are my sisters in Christ and because Christ reigns in your heart and in Bethany’s heart, you will see her again. May God give you a peace that passes all understanding to you, Bethany’s dad, her husband John and those precious twin sons that will be a constant reminder of Bethany and her love of life. Blessings, you are loved, Stephanye Peek
Kim, thank you for sharing your heart and allowing us the sacred honor of sharing this journey of grief, pain, sorrow, loss and celebration with you and your family. Our God who is aquatinted with grief, sorrow, pain, loss and celebration has promised not to leave us nor forsake us. Weeping will last for a while but joy comes in the morning.
Love you Kim.
Kim, Thank you. Your tribute is beautiful, but more, it is unbelievable full of hope and gratitude that is a gift to even those who were not blessed to know extraordinary Bethany.
I’ve read through tears each post. I’m comforted and caught up in the mystery of Psalm 116:15. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.”
Praying for you and your family today and in the days to come.
My tears flow as I read your beautiful words. It is obvious you have loved well and been well loved. What a precious, precious gift it is and I can only imagine the grief you feel is as deep as the joy you shared with your sweet Bethany. Lifting you all in prayer as the Lord comforts you and holds you in His arms.
I still have no words, Kim. I can’t imagine your family’s grief. I can, however, feel the power of your faith and belief in an un-erring Father who knew this was coming. I trust He is holding you all close in one arm as he holds Bethany in the other. In my heart, I celebrate her life with you. Thank goodness for God.
Dearest Kim, you all have been on my heart all day. I’m in Colombia looking after my mother, but Michael, Holland and the girls were able to attend Bethany’s celebration of life.
This tribute is just beautiful, and my heart and tears welled up reading it.
I lost a child, and I know that is not an event any parent wants to endure. Your faith is an inspiration. I’m grateful that even in this saddest of events, your experience and heart and head knowledge of the Lord is girding you.
Even in the sorrow, I hear your hope. I wish I could have been there today to hold your hand, and communicate my sincerest empathy.
I am sending love to you and your family from my mother’s home in Colombia.
My prayers and my love, evelyn
I don’t know the circumstances in which your beloved daughter Bethany left this earthly world, but your beautiful tribute reveals the very close bond you all had with each other! May God hold you in the palm of His hand and comfort you till you are again reunited, but she will continue to live for you all in your hearts and memories! To Kim Avery
Weeping with you and Ron and knowing that God never wanted days like today. We are so sorry.
Your courage is a powerful witness, Kim. Thank you for your faith, your mother’s heart, and for your leadership in this moment of unspeakable parting. Your hope in Christ will not be disappointed. I hold you very tenderly in my heart and in my prayers. God bless you.
Oh, Kim. My friend and sister in Christ. My heart breaks for you and your family in this difficult time of another ‘goodbye’ as much as it rejoices with you knowing you will see her again and she rests fully in our Father’s arms. Sending you prayers, hugs and more prayers all with love.
What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful Mother and Daughter. Bethany was always such a wonderful friend to Chandra. I always loved it when she came and spent time at our house, she was a sheer delight to be around. I am so glad you mentioned her little red Saturn, when I think back of Bethany seeing her driving around in her Saturn always brought a smile to my face. It was the perfect car for her. My thoughts of you John, the boys and your entire family, are with you.
Kim…thank you for such a sweet glimpse of Bethany. No words can express…..but I join with all the others in saying how much we all appreciate your gratefulness to God in the midst of such deep feelings of loss.
What a powerful tribute and testimony, Kim. Bart and I are grieving with you–and praising God with you, too. Praising Him that He gave you precious Bethany for 37 earth years…that she is with Him now and always…and for the joy you will know when you see her again. Until then, may He comfort you as only He can.
What a beautiful expression of love for your beloved Bethany. Our hearts ache for you and we grieve with you at this unbelievably hard goodby.
Praying for you and Ron and family that you will continue to feel the loving arms of Jesus in the days and weeks ahead.
What an anchor is our faith! Without it, we are lost. I rejoice that your faith is strong and that your confidence that you will one day again see your precious Bethany sustains you. May God grant you peace, comfort and joy in the Lord in the midst of such pain.
Such incredible sadness to see your family go through this. My heart aches and weeps with you. Thank you for sharing such a special life with the world who made a beautiful impact on others. Prayers continually.
Our prayers are for the glory of God to be displayed abundantly & you all will experience the depths of our Father’s comfort!
We are so sad.
I just cried and cried. I can’t imagine how you must be feeling. I’m at a loss for words. What a tribute to your baby girl. The unknown “why” is always something I struggle with. Wondering what happened and why? Many times I don’t get to know the answers but God does. Your faith is so inspirational. I’m sure she was so proud to call you Mom. My love to you and your family and those precious babies.😢❤️
Kim, what a wonderful tribute to your beautiful daughter. You wrote so beautifully!! I’m praying for you every day for God’s grace to envelope you. May He comfort you, John and the boys and the whole family as only He can. I agree with you; I’m so grateful to Jesus for giving us heaven and now it’s just a little sweeter to think we will all be there soon. YOU ARE LOVED.
In His love and with mine. Mary White
Heartfelt prayers for you and your whole family in the coming days. This was such a beautiful tribute in words that only a mother could write. Although I’ve never met Bethany, I see the testimony of a vibrant and beautiful life, well lived and inspiring to others. My thoughts and prayers were with you all day yesterday as you celebrated her life. I’ll continue to remember your whole family and pray for the babies as God continues to wrap His arms around you all and provides for your needs.
With Much Love,
Leslie Newman (PCCI family)
Kim, your words are beyond moving. You and your beautiful family are in my prayers. Your tribute to Bethany touches all of our hearts. Thank you for sharing this with us. You are deeply loved. I wish I had the words ….
Kim, Praying that our sovereign Lord will continue to hold you and your family close in his arms and give you His peace. Thank you for sharing your tribute to Bethany.
Thank you Kim for allowing us the opportunity to read of those poignant moments with your precious Bethany. Joy in her life. Sorrow in her parting. Hope in the eternal.
Many prayers, Sweet Kim. Many prayers. What a beautiful tribute for a beautiful woman.
Oh, Kim, My heart breaks for you and your family but I am so grateful for your faith and your willingness to share it with your audience. Even in your heart-wrenching grief, you are a blessing to others. Thank you and blessings to you, my friend.
Oh, Kim 🙏🏼 Thank you for sharing this beautiful glimpse of your daughter. My heart aches at your loss and rejoices at heavens gain. Prayers continue for your family.
Kim, the words are a beautiful expression of what I know your heart and love to be.
Oh dear soul… I am so sobered by this news and cannot imagine your heartache. Praying for every need.
Kim: I just heard your beautiful podcast message on the Certainty of uncertainty. That prompted me to do a Google search on Bethany, which brought me here.
First of all, you must cease saying you are not a writer. Not only are you a compelling writer with an authentic voice, you are a powerful speaker, a Gifted storyteller. Your presentation culminating with the phrase “you are an IronMan” had me transfixed and wanting to learn more about your special daughter.
This heartfelt tribute captures no I don’t need a special person she was but the special person you are. I think I speak for many when I say your Willingness and grace to share not only the triumphs but the inexplicable heartaches of life within the context of a strong, unwavering faith in Christ touches people to their core because it’s so real.
I am so sorry for the loss of Bethany but grateful you can share her story and that her legacy lives on through her children and the people she helped train to run triathlons.