High Water.

I can only give you my word that every bit of this story is true.

I woke up early on Saturday morning. I was planning to make the two hour drive north to my family’s farm to spend time with my parents, grandparents, and observe part of the harvest. I had a telephone call from my mom that morning while I was still in bed. Our dog, Charley the wonderhound, had died suddenly and unexpectedly in the night. He was only six years old and apparently his heart just gave out. I can’t explain this or reconcile this. I have talked about Charley here before: if you missed his story, it is worth going back to read. He was an important member of our family and will be sorely missed.

Now I understand that Charley was “only a dog” and that there is grief bigger and wider and deeper in the spectrum of the human experience. My problem on Saturday morning was that the loss of Charley just reached deep down and pulled to the surface a greater loss. That is the thing with grief, I suppose. It doesn’t just come and go, it leaves a trail of a lingering presence that is always there under the surface.

It has been a hard year, to be sure. Saturday morning, all I could do was look heavenward and call out loud, “really God? The dog too!!????”

Then I put both feet on the floor, got out of bed, into the car, and set out on my drive north through rural Indiana. I absolutely love a car ride by myself. There are certain situations where a long drive and blaring radio and a few hours worth of thoughts are the only medicine to begin to bandage the wound.

I listened to one of my favorite songs on the radio as I was driving. The lyrics say, in part:

There’s a raging sea

Right in front of me

Wants to pull me in

Bring me to my knees

So let the waters rise

If You want them to

I will follow You

This was the perfect analogy for me on Saturday morning. Something can happen, your dog can die without reason, and suddenly the waters you thought you had learned to tread begin to rise suddenly, swiftly, without warning. Then you aren’t just treading, but gasping for air and fighting the strong current.

I couldn’t help but wonder-how high would the waters rise?

To distract myself from the thought of metaphorical drowning, I decided I would keep my eyes on the lookout for red barns along the side of the road. For some reason I just love red barns. I wanted to look for something happy during that drive, so I drove and I drove and I looked and I looked for red barns.

The first red barn I came across, I had to stop the car and take a picture.

I felt like God had met me there.

That I was looking across a barren field in the cool November wind to see God staring back at me.

Sometimes God sends an angel. I believe on Saturday He sent a red barn.

That is what I choose to believe.

Turns out, God exceeded my expectations on Saturday. I counted 17 red barns on my 2 hour drive.

Every red barn I drove by, I couldn’t help but feel chosen.

β€œYou are my witness,” declares the Lord,
β€œand my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.”

Isaiah 43:10

I am glad I have the picture to prove the next part of this story. I arrived at my grandparents’ house and saw this: the only framed piece of art in their entire living room.

And so again I heard him whisper . . .

“I am here.”

Later that afternoon I was walking with my mom across ground that has been in our family for generations. My great grandfather lived on and farmed that piece of land and the only physical remnant of his life there is a barn that was built about the time of the Civil War.

And yes, it is red.

Or, it was red at one time. It is weathered and worn, but there is still a hint of red. If you look for it.

I did.

And then, in the midst of decades of rubble around that old barn, I literally stumbled on this abandoned sign laying flat on the ground.

My gosh, God can weave a good story.
And so I knew, then and there, as I took out my camera to bear witness to this story, I knew the following to be true: we may be in the midst of high water, but fear not.
For our savior WALKS ON WATER.
He has overcome the world.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
Isaiah 43:2


  1. thanks so much for this post. My dog that my mom has had for 11 years recently disappeared. I’ll be going home soon and I can’t help but think about how different it will be when she isn’t there. i lost my dad when i was 16 (24 now) and katie (the dog) was sort of like my missing link to my dad. my whole life as I knew it is changed, but katie was always there, just like she was whenever my dad was here. so thank you for sharing! =)

  2. Wiping away tears….. I needed this today. Thank you for this beautiful post. That is also one of my favorite songs. I’ve been feeling like I’m “drowning” lately, so these words are definitely a good reminder that I am not alone.

  3. Wow! That is an amazing story! Just goes to show that God sometimes speaks to us not through words, but in many, many other ways.

  4. Oh I love this…God speaks to me through finding sand dollars on the shore. Isn’t it amazing how God speaks?

  5. Aww Erin, I am so sorry to hear about Charley. One of the hardest parts of losing a pet is that it is usually so unexpected, it really feels like the rug is pulled out from under you. Your photography and images are stunning (as always). The photo of you by the barn seriously looks like it is out of an Anthro catalogue or something. You are looking fabulous, and I hope your spirits soon feel as wonderful as you look (the “mom glow” really suits you)~

  6. What a wonderful and amazing story Erin – God truly does show us what we need to see and guide us through the darkest and most trying times. You are in my thoughts and prayers today!

  7. Hi Erin, what a precious post this is. Life is hard at times, and grief is just so a part of it. Happiness and love, but then sadness and grief car rear thier ugly heads. It’s so wonderful to know that God is always with us, and shares are sorrow. Happiness and sadness, all our emotions are “relative”. Don’t feel bad because you grieve over a dog. He was part of your life and family. And even though, he was “just a dog” he was yours. Be blessed today and know that even when it gets to be “high water” out there, God is always with us, extending His right hand of strength and comfort as you experienced. He can keep us afloat in the deepest of water.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts,

  8. That is a beautiful story! It’s amazing how God works. Every time I feel like all is lost, He shows Himself and I get through whatever the situation is! I’ve had a lot of heart ache in my life and He has always been there! I’m sorry about your loss. If something happened to my dog, I would cry like a baby. She’s like a daughter to me. After my cat died a few years ago, I didn’t think I could ever have another animal. Obviously, I did get one, but my cat will be forever in my heart. Just like your dog will forever be in yours! Hugs!!!

  9. Wow. I love hearing about when these stories happen to other people, God has woven some great stories in my day too! Thank you so much for sharing!

  10. So sorry to hear about Charley… there is no such thing as ‘just’ a dog! I know how much a part of the family they become. This is such a beautiful story you shared… HE is with us always. I love how it all comes together! πŸ™‚

  11. What a lovely post, Erin. I am sorry for your family’s loss. I don’t believe in the “only a dog” (or cat, horse, pet mouse….) saying. Sometimes, it’s almost harder to lose a pet, because they are so dependent on us, and somehow, I think there can be guilt involved- if only I’d seen the signs, taken him to the vet sooner, checked the fenceline…..our relationships with pets are different than humans, but it’s no less painful when they leave us.
    I love to drive alone too…it’s my thinking time, I’ll put in a good CD and make sure I hate a latte and I’m good to go!
    Take care!!

  12. Sorry for your loss of Charley. This is indeed a beautiful story. So great that you had your camera too to capture all of the details! πŸ™‚

    I miss country drives passing by barns and the beautifully colored leaves this time of year.

  13. love this post, erin! sorry about Charley. i often think of him when i throw a banana peel into compost, because i remember a picture of him on the compost pile (i think he wasn’t supposed to be there) with a banana peel in his mouth πŸ™‚ love you, mary

  14. Do you not absolutely LOVE when God shows us that he is part of our every day life and that if we take the time to listen, He does speak to us? I loved your story! A God moment(s), for sure! Blessings!

  15. First off ~ there is no such thing as “just a dog”. My girl is 2 1/2 and I would be inconsolable if I lost her so young. I am so glad that you found a ray of sunshine in your red barn road trip ~ what a wonderful story Erin.

  16. I really, really needed to read this tonight. Thank you. πŸ™‚ We’re taking our youngest to a specialist tomorrow b/c she has gallstones (??!!). I’ve had a hard time letting go and trusting God. Lately, I’ve been wondering how high those waters can go…excellent analogy….

  17. I am convinced that God has brought me to your blog the way he brought you the red barns.

    I’m not sure what all has happened in your year, but I empathize with the difficulty you’ve faced – whatever it may be. My past year has been full of change – a move 1200 miles away from my family, a new job, an old home that has required more remodeling than I could ever imagine taking on, a somewhat unexpected pregnancy, and the birth of my son. I have spent many a day just figuring out how to survive the emotional roller coaster ride. There have been many tears and days of just trying to put one foot in front of another. I keep thinking I’ll make it to a time when I thrive again. I’m ready for that time. But God has me in this season for now. And in this season, I have found great hope and encouragement through your posts.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – THANK YOU for allowing God to use you as a vessel to spread His word, His grace, His love. I hope God will continue to bless your heart. Especially as you mourn your sweet Charley.

  18. so awesome erin. god is the bomb diggity. no doubt. amazing how he talks to us in ways that are so personal and subtle but so plainly obvious too.

    so so sorry about charlie. looks like you got some good family time at a time when you really needed it. hang in there buddy. lots of love kh

  19. I’m sorry about the lose of your pup, they are members of the family.
    I wonder how much too… I’m looking forward to the waters receeding. If it’s not too selffish to ask, pray for me, for my cancer surgery to go well and be rid of the evil C for good.
    I’m praying for your beautiful baby and my grandbaby too. They’re both due about the same time I think, March? Hope you are feeling well.

  20. i’m so sorry to hear about your dog. to me, dogs are just little people with fur coats on:)

    this story is amazing. wow. when i saw the high water sign i just teared up. that is just amazing.

  21. Aww, sorry for your loss. My cat passed away in April, she was 19. Even though she was just a cat I still think about her often. I mean, she was there for almost every major milestone of my life! I miss her. Lovely post.

  22. Erin, What a beautiful post you’ve written. The way you show how the Lord is ALWAYS showing us He is with us is also beautiful. Our God is sovereign and even in the pain of losing what we love we can see how He loves us so…we just have to open our eyes, as you did on your drive and visit. Thank you for sharing what He has shown you as it has encouraged me to look with my own eyes to Him! You look beautiful!

  23. Thank you for what you shared. We’re at this point in our lives, when we are waiting on a move we believe God wants us to make… yet nothing seems to be happening. I keep seeing these signs everywhere and I know He is leading us…. I know that He will lead us through the deep waters and the fiery furnace. God bless

  24. Your word is enough and our God is enough! It is audascious how ALIVE He is! Praise Him for speaking to us and being so real! Beautiful… thank you.
    I am so very sorry about precious Charlie. I treasure the way God loves us through the precious animals He has created for our abundant joy. Maybe your Charlie has met my sweet Lodie who passed two years ago… I am sure they would love to play together on the lush meadows of heaven! :0)

  25. i believe it. God has woven many “love stories” for me too. recently i asked Him why He didn’t help solve a problem. 20 mins. later we’re at the checkout and looked up to read a rock (yeah, a medium sized rock — just one) that had written on it: “I Am here to help you. –God”
    if i hadn’t been in public, i would have cried!

  26. i believe! i love stories like this! i am so glad He showed his love to you at a time you needed it the most! God is so good! xo

  27. He is there, I too am grateful.

    Have you ever had a dream in which you are certain there is His presence? I “woke” one night in a dream, it was a walk I was on, through the seasons….and then His message “this storm isn’t from me, but I will carry you through it…..” I woke up stirred…and now I remember, when I am going through trials, they are not from Him, but He will carry me through them. I LOVE that, I have peace…… I like your peace……

  28. You give me such an insight of your thoughts and feelings during sad times. I love to feel how with God you pull through those times…through his thoughts, his word, and his “signs”.

    I try to use your inspiration to better myself ….thank you!

  29. Erin
    This is beautiful. God does speak in miraculous ways. I remember when I had just lost my second baby and I was pouring my heart out to God. I didn’t want to ask why because the reply in my head was why not-you are a sinner saved by grace just like some other Christian going through something. I wanted the Lord to either bring me back to a place of total contentment or show me he had a child in our future. I am not one to look for signs–I think it is easy to read into things when you want something, but over and over again God kept having the Sara and Abraham story come up, Bible studies, church services–about graduation and the message was on Sara..2 months later we were expecting.

    I have a question about your green shake. When you say almond butter–are you talking something like peanut butter–but almond butter or are you talking about almond paste. You said “trust me–about weight loss on this” Can you share with me your experience.


  30. Hi Cheri! Thank you for sharing your story.

    As for the green monster shakes, I do use almond butter, which is the same as peanut butter only made with almonds and not peanuts (I’m allergic). You could certainly use peanut butter. Or any of the nut butters really. I wouldn’t use the paste πŸ™‚

    I have had a lot of inquiries about the green monster shakes! The “recipe” is from the website Eat Live Run, http://www.eatliverun.com, which I highly recommend! The thing that makes the shakes good for slimming down is that they are full of healthy, natural, and FILLING ingredients and it will keep you full a lot longer than say a bowl of sugary cereal. I’ve only ever had them for breakfast or post-workout. I don’t advocate using them as a meal substitute in general and I’ve never had more than one a day or a few a week! Hope this helps!

  31. Hi, Erin, oh my goodness, what a neat story! I love how you told it too, you have a definite way with words. So sorry about your dog, I completely understand the grief, when I had to put my sweet girl down about 4 years ago. It hurts so bad and to have it unexpectedly is even worse, I think.

    I love how God brought you through the day.

  32. I am so sorry for the loss of your sweet Charlie. My cat Malcolm is entering his last days so I know how sharp the grief of losing a beloved pet can be. I will pray for your peace and comfort. Thank you for this uplifting story, it was truly beautiful

  33. Your words spoke straight to my heart tonight. It’s been a week of feeling the waters rise … but as you reminded … our God walks on water! Thank you for being His mouthpiece to my heart today.

  34. Wow, wow, wow!!!Almost unbelievable just how vast God is and how he can indeed speak to us in such intimate, intricate ways. It is as if he was walking before you that day and as we say it in Eastern North Carolina ‘sure nuff’ he was.

    Wow, amazing just how concerned he is with us and our lives, i just wish at times we could crawl up in his lap and really inquire. Of course it is that hope that we one day will be able to that pushes us forward to keep pressing towards our summit.

    Amazing… He is so concerned and don’t think for one minute he made light of your ‘best friend’s’ death (your beautiful dog) because he didn’t as you already know. And “NO he wasn’t just a dog as you mentioned” but was indeed part of the family and God knew that.

    Can’t wait to meet this one that loves us so..never ever thinks an evil thought towards us. He is indeed that friend that sticks closer than any brother.

    Chris (still awe inspired by the reading)
    Eastern NC

  35. Hey chica, I always know that I can come to your blog and find some awesome verses and encouragement. I was actually looking for a specific devotional I remember reading on here once … something about what are you doing? Gosh! I wish I would of saved the link to it… maybe if you see this you can send it to me – It was like Are you doing your part or something like that… argh! Oh well, I’ll find it sooner or later – Hope you all are doing well. Hearts, SJ

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