Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Vickey Boozman will never forget the moment she and her daughter Robin received sobering news from her son-in-law Michael.

Vickey Boozman: She said, “Daddy’s dead, isn’t he?” and Michael shook his head and said, “Robin, I wasn’t supposed to tell you until you got there, but he is.”

I was still numb. It didn’t even really register with me. I didn’t ask what happened. I just said, “Robin, get in the car. We’ve got to go home.”

 Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, July 23.

In the month of July, we’ve gotten solid advice in a series of interviews. We’ve learned how to organize, communicate, and invest in the lives of children.

Today’s interview is more sobering. In 2006 Nancy talked with a couple of widows about the grace available through loss. One of our guests was marking the first anniversary of her husband’s death, and the emotions were still very fresh.

Here’s Nancy to introduce our guests.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Today you’re going to have the privilege of meeting two women that I had not anticipated interviewing, but as the Lord would have it, I found out that Kathy Ferguson and Vickey Boozman were going to be with us in the studio sitting in on another interview that I was doing today.

When I realized they were coming several hours drive away to be with us here in the studio in Little Rock, the Lord just put it on my heart in the last 24 hours that these two women have a special story to tell. They are on a journey where God’s grace has been very, very real to them through some deep, dark waters and very difficult and trying times.

So our office contacted these two women in the last 24 hours and said, “Would you be willing to come into the studio after we are in the other studio session and just talk together?” They asked if I could talk with them and if they would be willing to open their hearts and share some of their pilgrimage with us. They both graciously agreed.

Kathy and Vickey, thank you so much for being willing to share out of your own loss and heartache and grief. We’re going to talk about those things that have been very real in your lives. Thank you for being willing to share something of your pilgrimage with us here on Revive Our Hearts.

Kathy Ferguson: It’s a privilege, Nancy. Thank you.

Vickey: Thank you for the invitation.

Nancy: We have actually spent a little bit of time together over the last few hours, and there have already been some tears shed and some sweet moments, but some really penetrating moments. I just know that your pilgrimage, your journey is going to minister deeply to some other women.

My dad went home to be with the Lord about thirty years ago, and I watched my mother at the time as a 40-year-old widow with seven children at the time, ages 8 to 21. I was 21 years old. It was the weekend of my 21st birthday, and each of us kids had our own sense of loss—we were close to our dad. But I could not then and cannot very well now enter into what it was that my mother was experiencing because losing a dad is a whole lot different than losing a mate.

Since that time, I’ve been close to a number of women who have lost mates. I’ve just seen God’s grace do some incredible things, meeting with women at times of unexpected loss in the case of my mother, and in the case of both of you women.

Kathy, in your case, it was four years ago, and, Vickey, in your case, it was just a year ago.

Vickey: That’s right.

Nancy: Your husbands in both cases went home to be with the Lord totally unexpectedly and as a result of what we on earth would call “an accident.” Now we know in God’s economy, there’s no such thing as an accident, but humanly speaking, that’s what it was. You had no preparation, no anticipation.

I want to ask both of you, I know this isn’t easy, especially Vickey. This is a whole lot more fresh for you. And, Kathy, I don’t know if it ever gets easy, probably not, maybe a little easier than at the very beginning. But, Kathy, in your case, you and Rick lived in Denver at the time. Your husband was a pastor. We had a Revive Our Hearts conference in your church.

Kathy: That’s right.

Nancy: Not too many years before this took place. The Lord blessed your ministry there. You had three kids who were late high school, young adult age, and you and your family went on a vacation.

Kathy: That’s right. We were leaving Denver to come to be with Russ, my husband’s family, and we were driving across Kansas. We were pulling a boat and had a very unfortunate, just a very traumatic accident. My husband’s life was just taken instantly, and the rest of us were just not hurt at all. There were no other cars involved in the accident as well.

Nancy: You were in the vehicle with your husband and one of your sons.

Kathy: That’s correct.

Nancy: And then there was another vehicle.

Kathy: My son and my daughter were following behind us along with my husband’s nephew and his wife. So we were in the accident, but the other car witnessed the whole accident. It was a very dramatic accident.

We stood in our driveway at 6 o’clock in the morning and prayed like we always did before we left on a trip. The turn of that event in our life . . .

Nancy: . . .in just a moment.

Kathy: Just a moment’s time, yes.

Nancy: And nothing is ever the same again.

Kathy: Nothing is ever the same.

Nancy: There were a lot of different things going on in your family. You had a daughter getting ready to start college.

Kathy: That’s right. Our daughter was 18. She was going to begin school in August and this happened July 25. Our older son had an engagement ring in his pocket on that trip, and he was going to propose that night to his fiancée in Missouri. So what was supposed to be the happiest day of his little life at that age was just turned into a very dark, dark day.

Nancy: Now as you look back on the journey you’ve been on the last four years, you’ve referenced how often the unexpected things in life, when life comes at you, hits you in ways that you never . . . 24 hours earlier, two hours, 24 minutes earlier, this is the last thing on your mind, and then it happens.

Kathy: Right. When something unexpected, and I believe when God brings something unexpected into our life, it really can touch tender places in our faith and in our feelings, alongside the grief process of losing the love of my life. Rick and I married very young, and he was a man of great integrity. We had a wonderful sweet marriage, and I respected him so deeply. To lose that, the second layer of that, was getting something from God that I did not see coming.

My faith journey at that point had gone along at a pace that I really enjoyed. What God was allowing in our life, for the most part, was pleasant and good. Then this one time something so life-altering came, and I believe came clearly from God’s hand. The process to walk that out by faith with Him with my heart so broken became part of this journey. Grief was the first step, but the next step was dealing with this new life, this unwanted new life that God had thrust into my pathway—and my children’s.

Nancy: And certainly something you never planned for.

Kathy: Never planned for.

Nancy: And, Vickey, in your case, there were actually just some similarities. You and Fay had been married for how many years?

Vickey: We were three months short of 37 years.

Nancy: So a lot of years your husband had been—I knew Fay. I know a lot of people who knew him. He was a public servant in the state of Arkansas. He was the director of the Arkansas Department of Health. I first met you and Fay back in the 80s when he was a practicing Ophthalmologist.

I had watched your family grow and mature and your kids grow up to love and serve the Lord. God had used you and your husband in just some extraordinary ways to bless and minister to others. And you’re clipping along with life—it wasn’t that it was all easy.

Vickey: No, no.

Nancy: But then came that call. I just remember getting, what came for me as an email, saying, “Fay has been in a tragic accident, and he’s gone.” How did you get the news?

Vickey: It was a Saturday, and I was running errands with our baby, our third daughter who’s grown. I got a call from my second daughter, and she was crying when she called me. I said, “April, baby, what’s the matter?” And she said to me, “Have you talked to Blake?” That was her husband. I said, “No. I haven’t talked to Blake. What is the matter? What is the matter?” She said, “Mommy, you just need to get home.”

So I got out of the car, went into the store where Robin, the other daughter, was dealing with a customer, and said, “Robin, we have to go home right now.” I said, “I don’t know what’s going on, but something bad no doubt.”

Nancy: So you still didn’t know.

Vickey: No. I didn’t have any idea. The lady from the store ran out, the owner of the store, and said, “You can’t leave here.” Well, she’d gotten a call from another relative who knew about this, and they were concerned about us hearing it on the radio because of my husband’s job. He was in the public light, and when it went out over the police scanners, the media picked it up. They had already been out to the farm, so the family was concerned that we would hear about it on the road. They didn’t want that to happen, so they called this lady and told her to hold us up.

About that time another son-in-law drove up and said, “You’ve got to come with me. I’m going to take you home.”

So, like a zombie, I’m just getting out of the car . . . because I’m shook. I don’t understand what’s going on, but it never entered into my mind that anything happened to Fay, not once.

I got in the car with Michael, and Robin said, “I’m not getting in the car until you tell me what’s happened.” He said, “Robin, just get in the car.” And Robin said, “It’s my dad, isn’t it?” And he said, “Yes, it is.” I said, “Robin, get in the car. We’ve got to go help your daddy; he’s probably hurt.” She looked at Michael, and she said, “Daddy’s dead, isn’t he?” Michael shook his head and said, “Robin, I wasn’t supposed to tell you until you got there, but he is.”

I was still numb. It didn’t even really register with me. I didn’t ask what happened. I just said, “Robin, get in the car. We’ve got to go home.” And that’s when I found out what had happened.

He had been working on a barn. We were converting it from an old horse barn, trying to make it look a little nicer because we were going to be building houses out there. He was cleaning it up and getting it ready for our builder to come on Monday to begin to make the changes on it. A big three-stall metal horse gate that he had loosened and was setting on the ground. Somehow or another it lost its balance and fell on him and killed him instantly.

Nancy: In both your cases, your husbands were prominent figures in the area. Kathy, your husband was the pastor of a large church in a metropolitan area, and, Vickey, your husband was a respected . . . they flew the flags half-mast in the state of Arkansas for . . .

Vickey: . . . for a week.

Nancy: So you were having to deal not only with your private, personal grief, and your family, but with lots and lots and lots of other people who were involved and participating and experiencing their sense of loss.

Vickey: Yes, yes. Similarities with Kathy and her husband and my husband and me were that we were both so blessed to have been married to men who had sold out their life to the Lord Jesus Christ. I can’t speak for Kathy, but for me, God had taken us on a real journey. We had met each other when we were 15 and had all the reasons for everything to be perfect. But because of sin nature, there were problems for more than ten years, and then God got a hold of our lives and began so many changes. That’s what most everybody knew about us was the new Fay and Vickey, and the new marriage. It touched I don’t know how many people around this state.

Kathy: I think that also adds to the grieving process of why good men  die. My husband was a pastor. Vickey’s husband was involved in politics. Just seeing men in two careers where you need men of integrity, you need men that are sincere and thorough and who went after their calling with that kind of integrity and honesty, plus with excellence.

We suffered with that question a lot. 

Nancy: And at their prime as we would measure it.

Kathy: And our church did as well. To know that they had such a pastor that faithfully taught the Word of God, and they appreciated the struggle of finding a pastor that taught like that, and have one called home, in Vickey’s case, having a pure, honest, godly man involved in our government—those are hard questions.

Nancy: Did the questions come to your minds and hearts right away, or was there just a period of . . .

Kathy: I think, Nancy, for me, one of the first . . .We were on an interstate in Kansas, and the Kansas Highway Patrol called us a week later and gave us more details about the accident. At that point I discovered that we had run over a very small piece of metal on the highway that had punctured a tire. We were pulling a boat, and it was the same effect as a blowout. So it caused this accident of just epic proportion. So I would see this, and they described this piece of metal as being very small, but big enough to do what it did. I would say, “Lord, if that was moved over just three inches, or two inches . . .” I began that series of, “But what if that had been that way . . .” There’s no place to go with all those kinds of questions.

Nancy: Because there are no answers.

Kathy: There’s no answer. That takes you right up to a Creator God, and at that point you begin different kinds of questions. But the questions came, not instantaneously, but as you process this accident, it’s so our human nature to say, “How could this have been avoided? And why wasn’t it avoided?”

Vickey had an accident, too, that, when you’re in that, it’s so part of our nature to go back and replay, “How could this have been avoided?” But in the economy of God, eventually you come back to His sovereignty. He has control, and that is not going to be avoidable because it’s what God has for us.

Nancy: Both of you were well grounded spiritually prior to this time. You had your theology straight. You knew what the sovereignty of God means and trusted that, as far as you knew. But now into both of your lives came this colossal test, stretching and straining and pulling at everything you know to be true. Did your heart, your mind ever just rebel inwardly against the things that in your head you knew to be true? Did you struggle with that? “If God is sovereign as I’ve always believed Him to be, told others He is, how can He be good and do this?” Did those kinds of questions come through your mind? How did you deal with those?

Vickey: I’ve been told that I’ve not gone through the complete process yet, and God in His grace was so good. I think He was beginning to prepare me because after the first of the year, I began to just have a lot of questions about death and about some things I felt like I needed to be informed on.

Nancy: This was just like two or three months before . . .

Vickey: . . . this is like two months before . . .

Nancy: . . . Fay’s accident . . .

Vickey: . . . before his accident. So I began to ask him just a lot of questions, and I began to want to talk to him.

Nancy: To Fay?

Vickey: To Fay, yes, about death and dying.

Nancy: His or yours or . . .

Vickey: I thought I was going to die. I really did. In fact, I prepared the music for my funeral service.

Nancy: Wow.

Vickey: Best health we’ve ever been in, both of us. We were eating right. We were exercising. For him, he had lost over the past years quite a bit of weight. Just sitting back and looking at it, things were going so well in all areas, and so it didn’t make a whole lot of sense that I had this, and I want to use the word “obsession” and yet that’s not it. I just want to say it was . . .

Nancy: . . . a focus, or . . .

Vickey: . . . strongly upon my heart and mind—death. At one point I had pushed him just a little too far, and he said, “Now, Vickey, I just want to tell you—just the things I just mentioned to you—we’re in the best health we’ve ever been in. I don’t plan to really retire because I don’t believe it’s in the Bible, and I’m working hard, and I’m planning to continue to work hard. You’re active; you’re involved with the family and other things, and God just has a lot in store for us. We don’t need to talk about this anymore.”

Well, I went to bed that night, and I leaned over to him, and I said, “I have a fear in my heart that my love for you has grown too large.” He said, “What are you talking about?” I said, “I’m not really sure, but I just have a fear in my heart.” He said, “Well, you just need to pray about it, and you need to go to sleep.” And that was kind of the end of that discussion that had been going on for a few weeks.

The night he died, again, in this numbness, this verse, Hebrews 9:27, “There is a time appointed to die, and after that the judgment,” just kept coming to me repeatedly. Not that I was searching for it. It was just bouncing out constantly in my mind—Hebrews 9:27; Hebrews 9:27. I was just saying it over and over to myself. A friend who was in the kitchen said, “Are you okay?” because my body had literally begun to just shake from head to toe, just kind of like when you’re shivering uncontrollably, and I said, “I don’t think I can do this.”

She’s a very sweet Christian friend, and she said, “You’re right. You can’t, but God can; and that’s what He’s going to do. He’s going to do this through you.” And that verse kept coming and coming and coming.

I never thought about things like, “What if thus and such . . .” But what I thought was, “God, You’ve protected my family.” My husband never worked out physically in the yard, in the fields, in the barn without a son-in-law, without grandchildren, or without me. And the thought that hit me, “There’s a time appointed to die,” was that it was only appointed for Fay. First time ever I can remember that man working in the barn by himself, and if somebody else had been there, with the size of that gate, either that someone would have been injured, would have been killed, or would have been trying to hold that thing off of him, which was impossible. It took five EMT guys to pick it up off him because it was so heavy.

So, in that numbness, I was able to say—now understand I just said, “I don’t think I can do this,”—but in that numbness, I was able to say, “God, in Your grace You protected us.” I went from “I can’t do this,” to within about three to four hours—and in fact I called my friend over and I said, “I’m not sure, but I think I can do this. I think God is going to take me through this.”

I had gone from a very low and all of a sudden I had peaked real up high, but then I dropped to the bottom again. It was just a roller coaster affect from that time on. I’m still on that roller coaster in some ways.

Leslie: Vickey Boozman has been talking about the difficulty and the grace she’s experienced through losing her husband. She and our other guest Kathy Ferguson recorded that interview with Nancy Leigh DeMoss in 2006.

Vickey Boozman has been talking about the importance of Hebrews 9:27 as she walked through her process of grief. Scripture is vital for anyone in a challenging circumstance. That’s one reason the team here created a booklet called Promises to Live By. We’ve compiled Scripture that will bring you hope and comfort. The booklet has been a lifeline for those who are in such distress that they don’t even know what to think.

We want you to have a copy of Promises to Live By, and we’ll send it to you along with our copy of our current radio series, Grace through Loss. Just donate any amount at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1-800-569-5959.

When Vickey Boozman lost her husband, she struggled with identity, wondering, “Who am I?” Find out how she handled this emotion when she returns tomorrow to Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.