Nicole and I just returned from a last-minute trip to Knoxville, TN. We learned on Saturday that one of Nicole’s best friends was in a fatal car accident the day before. Alexis had been driving out with her two young sons (ages 4 and 2) to Nashville to sing at her brother’s wedding when she lost control of her vehicle. The boys didn’t get any serious injuries, but Alexis died instantly.

Alexis and her husband Tim were there with us when I first met Nicole. I proposed to Nicole when I came down to Knoxville for their wedding. They were our closest friends during the first two years of our marriage (spent in Knoxville). Nicole and Lex even experienced their first pregnancies together; their eldest son was born only weeks after Katie. Needless to say, we’re grieving now and will be for a while yet. It’s not a grief without hope, but it’s rough to lose a friend so young. My heart goes out to Tim, their two boys, Alexis’ parents and the rest of their family.

In the midst of this tragedy Tim and Lex’s church has really stepped up to help. Tim has so many things to deal with right now, and it’s enough to break a man… but God’s grace is stronger, and he’s showing his grace in part through the men and women coming alongside Tim right now.

Still, this is a difficult journey to be on. So if I could ask one thing of you, my friends… would you please pray that God would draw close to the Cantrells and Shraders this Christmas?