Wednesday, April 18, 2012

On Tragedy.

 "Travis, are you okay?"

When I get a phone call from my wife that starts out like that, I know there won't be good news in the conversation. Especially if it sounds like she's been crying. However, nothing could have prepared me for the words after my reply.

"I'm fine babe, what's going on?"

"Travis, Kambrin has been in a car wreck."

"Travis...she's dead."

I only know one Kambrin. A last name wasn't necessary.

"Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth,
would care to know my name, would care to know my hurt."

It certainly wasn't the first time I'd heard Kambrin sing. But it was the first time where the lyrics of a song she had sang moved me the way that it did. The song is by a band called Casting Crowns, and Kambrin did it justice. I remember crying, and asking myself why in the world God cared about me at all. But this isn't about me or what I felt or when. This is about a seventeen year old girl, taken from this world too soon, and how God can be glorified by it.

"I am, a flower quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow..."

When a young person dies, it leaves a lot of people confused, hurt, and a lot of times, angry. They get upset about the unfairness of it all, and they start to ask questions about why it happened. Those questions rarely get answered. You can look to the Bible and see that God has everything laid out in a perfect plan, but the main issue folks have with that is that they aren't properly filled in on that divine plan. That's when the anger sets in, which quickly turns to bitterness, which can ultimately lead to hatred. In order to stop that chain of events, there has to be something that fills that disconnect between the plans we had for a person, and the plans God had for a person.

"A wave tossed in the ocean...vapor in the wind." 

Kambrin knew Jesus. We all know that. If we all try really hard, we can even push all the negative out of our minds and turn her into some sort of angelic personality, someone without blemish, who lived a perfect life and had no problems whatsoever. And yet, all of us realize that isn't true. Kambrin was a normal teenage girl. I listened to her own mother talk tonight about how none of us had ever truly lived a perfect day. The part we need to focus on is that Kambrin, right now, is sitting in heaven with Jesus. She cashed in on that promise we have in our salvation. We are absolutely guaranteed that heaven is way cooler than anything on this earth. So why do we want her to be back here with us so badly?

"Still, you hear me when I'm calling..."

We as humans are selfish creatures. It's been a part of our nature since the Garden, and it will remain a part of our nature until the end of the earth. Even with the knowledge that Kambrin is now with the Author of our Salvation, we still wish we could hug her, talk to her, laugh with her, or just sit with her one last time. So ask yourself this question? Would you pull her out of heaven for that? What do you think she would want, right now? I've known Kambrin for literally her entire life, and I think I can speak to what she'd want. She'd want people to turn to Jesus in all of this. She'd want to know that her life...her death, and everything in between led people closer to the Lord, because that is a sure fire way for her to get to see you again. We have been assured that Kambrin did not suffer. Death was instantaneous, which means that in less than the time it takes you to read this word, Kambrin was in the presence of our Lord and Savior, filled with a new understanding and knowledge about everything she'd ever had a question about.

"Lord you catch me when I'm falling." 

Romans 14:8 says this: "If we live, it's to honor the Lord. And if we die, it's to honor the Lord. So whether we live or we die, we belong to the Lord." I've seen videos posted on Facebook of Kambrin singing "I Can Only Imagine" at SYATP. It's obvious that Kambrin lived to honor the Lord. But can we have faith enough in God to believe that even in death, Kambrin was honoring the Lord? Having that faith is instrumental to us dealing with the hurt we feel now, the hurt we'll feel on Monday, and the hurt we'll feel in a month when her fellow seniors walk across the stage without her. In her death, she will honor the Lord. The Lord will have his glory. Amen.

"And you've told me who I am..."

I spoke with her mom the night of the accident. She was in the midst of hundreds of people, packed into the Okay First Baptist Church parking lot, each one there united with the other, family, friends, students from school, faculty, administration, and many others. Lorena grabbed my arm and looked me in the eye and said, "Travis, I really want you to pray that this doesn't hit the ground without God being glorified." In that moment, spirit sodden with grief, she spoke about the peace she had. How many of us were at peace in that parking lot? How many of us were concerned with God being glorified? And so that's what I'm going to do now. I'm going to make sure that you readers understand how, in the end, God can be glorified in the midst of such immense tragedy and pain.

"I am yours. I am yours."

We are His. Kambrin is His. And so, life will go on. Ultimately, the world will not stop in remembrance of Kambrin, not even for a moment, even though we all think it should. The seconds will tick indisputably towards tomorrow, and then towards the day after. And maybe you've read this and you wonder how I'm so certain that I'll see Kambrin again in heaven one day. Maybe you want that assurance too. I'm here to tell you, you can have it as easily as she did, as easily as I got it. All it takes is the recognition that you're a sinner, and separated from God because of that sin. Then you have to believe that Our Loving God, upon recognition of our separation, sent the ultimate sacrifice to earth for us in the form of His Son, Jesus. You have to believe that Jesus lived a flawless life and was brutally murdered on a cross as a payment for all of our sins. And lastly, you have to accept that gift of salvation, knowing there is nothing in this world you could ever do to earn it. Then...tell someone else about it. And just like that...God will be glorified in Kambrin's death.

My thoughts, prayers, condolences, and deepest sympathies go out to the Dennis family. My thoughts and prayers are also with Kambrin's friends, her senior class, her fellow students at Okay Public Schools, and the faculty and administration as they try to encourage and counsel the students during this time of tragedy and loss.

In closing, if you have something you'd like to say about Kambrin, feel free to share it in the comment section down below. If you are an outside reader with no knowledge of Okay except for those funny Christmas videos I post once a year, I'd ask that you take the time to share an encouraging word to the home town folks that read this. Family, friends, students, etc., you can post whatever you want to anonymously, without having to create any sort of account or worrying about someone identifying you. If you want to leave your name, that's fine too. I love each and every one of you, and always remember, The Lord will take us through this.

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11

Kambrin Sophie Grace Dennis
5/2/94 - 4/17/12
You are His.


  1. I didn't know Kambri that well but I was one of the lucky ones that was able to experience how bright and genuine her smile and her spirit was. She will be missed by many. Praying for her family.

    Keith Clayton

    1. i have know idea how i got to this page but i do know that God sent it to me. i have no clue who kambrin is but i understand the hurt that every one is going through. i love God and his son Jesus and to all who lost kambrin have hope and faith in the Lord <3 ~ AnnaRenee Bockman ~

  2. I didn't know Kambrin as long as most but I have seen and felt the Love she had for God and everyone she met. The wonderful smile and the way she would lite up when she would sing. I know she is singing delighting in time spent with our Lord face to face. Thank you Travis This is wonderful.
    Ray Dodgin

  3. This hit my heart like crazy.

    It reminds me Who I live for.
    And it reminds me how precious each moment of life is.
    Kambrin has motivated me. Right now. In this moment.

    My prayers are with the Dennis family.

    God is getting so much glory right now.

    And Travis...
    Thanks for posting this.
    I really need this reality right now.

  4. I have no words just memories

  5. It is hard to believe it's true, harder to accept it, and hardest to accept that it is God's will. I don't know what good will come of this, but I know something will. That is one angel that will not have died in vain.

  6. Big T. love ya man! My deepest condolences and my sincerest prayer go out to the Dennis family an to all the people that she touched here on this earth! Love and miss you all!

  7. So, so sorry for the loss of someone so young, with so much promise. God's choir has another angel.

  8. She was remarkable, so full of joy, and light! You couldn't be around her and not smile, she was contagious just like God's love. I'm blessed to have known the Dennis family my whole life and to have seen her grow up. Blessings and prayers to the Dennis's and Blackwell's and thank you Travis for writing something so beautiful!

  9. I knew Kambrin from working with her at Hamlins, she was sooo beautiful so sweet and sooo funny. She would always have a smile on her face and just been walking around singing all the time. I miss her and I know in my heart she is in a bette place, and we all need to remember she did live for the lord. Even tho she was taken too soon ive felt in my heart she has told me she is ok, its ok. She knows her Tex-Mex loves and misses her. R.I.P babygirl I love you!

  10. Stephanie VandenBergApril 19, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    "I really want you to pray this doesn't hit the ground without God being glorified".

    What an amazing statement to be said by a mother who just lost her child. In the midst of tragedy her grief took second place to honoring God.

    May you be overcome with a peace that passes all understanding. May your sadness be turned into joy. May your mourning become dancing. May the Holy Spirit be your comfort. May you be surrounded by angels (both spiritual and physical) who will uphold you in your weariness. May your grief fade but your memories endure forever.

    Kambrin will be missed by many people. I can see here that she touched many lives on many levels.

    It makes my heart smile to know that she is with Jesus. Her life is not only a testimony of her personal faith, but also that if her parents who modeled that faith before her.

    I could go on and on but then my comment would turn into a blog. :)

    Great tribute, Travis.

  11. Tina Loftin StickelmeyerApril 19, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    I'm so sad about this today! I miss her. Love how you've wrote this story. I also worked with her at Hamlin's but my daughter (Angelique) also went to school with her. I love ALL the kids that go Okay. Lots of great memories there. Teens you know I love you. Stay strong!!!!

  12. This is dallas m. kambrin was the nicest person I had ever met i really miss her alot.

  13. good job travy! you nailed it!!
    Love ya, Donnie

  14. I'm from Canada, and didn't know Kambrin, but I am thankful for this beautiful expression of her life and the reminder about how to see things when tragedies like this happen. Thank you, Travis, and God bless all of you who knew her.

  15. May this bless someone by reading it.. it has blessed me.

  16. Steven and Margo Shanks & FamilyApril 19, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    I didn't know Kambrin but I know her family here in Checotah and they are all Amazing people. And I feel so sad for everyone dealing with this extreme loss. Our prayers are with the entire Dennis Family !!! This is an awesome tribute to Kambrin!!!!!

  17. Just lost for words here Travis. This is the most beautiful thing I have read, the song I knew instantly and love . My prayers to you all for the loss and glory to God for his mercy and grace that He is strong enough to grab her from the pain and uphold ya'll in yours and never break a sweat.

  18. What a beautiful tribute to Kambrin and testament to the Lord. Thank you for writing this, Travis.

  19. I hadn't seen Kamrbin in a couple of years but will never forget the person that she was. Kambrin was one of the few people you meet in this world that truly cared about everybody. In the short time that I knew her I can't ever remember her saying one bad thing about anyone. I also don't think I can ever remember seeing her without a smile or ever once feeling sorry for her self. I wish the world knew Kambrin, knew the person that she was, knew how she could lift anyone's spirits, knew the love that she had and how God's love shined through her in everything she did. She was unique.
    When I heard what had happened it really hit home with me, I had experienced this before with people much closer to me and it was like I was re-living that nightmare all over again. Some people you just forget to worry about because they always seem to be doing the right thing, Kambrin was one of those people to me. My heart goes out to everyone that she impacted with her amazing personality and heart. Even if you weren't related to her, were her best friend, or maybe didn't even go to school with her, if you ever met Kambrin she made you feel like you had known her all your life, she treated everyone like family and through her it was easy to see God's love. Kambrin will always be remembered for the love that she shared and I think that is exactly what she would have wanted.

    I love you all

  20. We all miss her but we all know she is in a better place and is smiling down on us. She was a great friend and loved everyone. I can hear her laughing and singing in heaven and I can see her dancing through the clouds. See u when I get called home kam

  21. I am going to miss her dearly. I regret I didn't stay in better contact once everything happens. I love you Kam. Ill see you again one day

  22. I love the way you glorified God in this. We often forget about God in our time of grief, but in reading this his glory shines for all the world to see.

  23. I did not know this young lady, but i was honored and blessed to be able to read this... My heart and prayers go out to her family and everyone this young lady touched... May God bless you all!

  24. Well Travis you have done it once again. Your words are so sincere and anyone who knows you, knows that you are a true believer. You are so talented when it comes to writing.
    I didn't know Kambrin, but I do remember her as a little girl and was in total shock to see she was already 17. Time goes by so fast, and you never know when it's your time. Take advantage of the time you do have. My prayers go out to the Dennis family.. Awesome job Travis!! I got chill bumps!!

  25. I did not know her but I know her parents I'm so sorry for the loss of your daughter she was a beautiful young lady from what ive read and heard about her she touched so many people young and old she was blessed with such wonderful parents my thoughts and prayers are with you Scott and Lorena always....I hope people read this and see how important it is to know Christ and the relationship we all need to have with him...

  26. Thank you for this... absolutely amazing. I found myself examing my life and personal walk with God. I hope others will do the same. I didnt know this angle but her parents and grandparents are all amazing people and my thoughts and prayers are with them.

  27. This is truly a beautiful way to honor kambrin! Job well done Travis. She would tell you that herself if she were here. She was such a caring girl. She made everyone feel special. Her smile was amazing and contagious, when she smiled you couldn't help but smile back. And she was also funny, loved to make ppl laugh! Her life was a great testament as to how a Christian should live. She is loved & will be missed by many. Im sure she had no idea just how many lives she has touched! My prayers are with all the family & friends. Love you Kammy

  28. A very touching tribute in honor of a young girl that apparently touched alot of lives, it shows that GOD is in control. My thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and the community of Okay.

  29. God is certainly in control of this situation, you can tell by the writing I have just read. Not only was she a child of God, she and her family had a CLOSE RELATIONSHIP with him. What a beautiful tribute to her for the community to be able to read. As someone else mentioned, it had me examining my life. I didnt know her or her immediate family but please know you all are in my prayers now & for months to come.

  30. The last thing I did with Kambrin was laugh. I can't remember what about, but we laughed. I thank God the last memory I have of us together is exactly what she's probably doing right now.

    To all of the commenters, I thank you and love you all. I know her family has seen this, and your kind words have shown them that the love of humanity is not limited to the radius of a small town.

  31. My heart hurts for the Dennis family, it had hit close to home. beautiful words Travis.

    Naomi Moran

  32. Her first year of high school, Kambrin was freshman princess. I had met her before but this was my first real encounter with her. She was a young lady of grace and beauty. My heart has been heavy since I heard the news. I didn't really know her mother. But I can see her face so clearly. For there was a moment when all the girls were fluttering about, prepping this or that or the other thing, nervously chattering...running around the gym. I caught her mother's face as she watched Kambrin. Love. Pride. Awe. Her child was a blessing to her life. I saw it in her face. Your daughter is a blessing to so many in this community. We hurt for your loss. We hurt for our loss. But, thank you for your testimony to our God. I will be praying for her mom.

  33. She was a very sweet girl. Dennis family I am truly very sorry for your loss. Travis this was an amazing thing to read it has touched my heart. I am truly blessed that at one time I was apart of such an amazing community.

  34. My thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and the community of Okay. I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death. They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make. Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories. We find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by having shared their love. I pray the love of God comforts you.
    Sending you thoughts of comfort, Heather H

  35. What a terrible tragedy to happen to anyone. She seemed like such a beautiful young creature, inside and out. My heart goes out to her family and friends, but mostly to her parents. It's not in the natural order of things for parents to bury their children. I've been there myself. I truly believe that as terrible as something like this is to those of us left behind, not only is she in a better place, but God has a bigger plan and will be glorified in it. Not because He is a selfish God who demands praise, but because He is more than worthy of it. When our daughter died, it seemed like the end of our world. BUT looking back now, with the clarity He provides, I see He had a greater purpose. There were numerous people touched by her death, and subsequently found their way to God because of it. It's almost like she died so that others might be saved. What seem like terrible things to us and our finite brains, often bring about wonderful things in His infinite plan. Time does heal the hurt. Thanks be to God that she knew Him, and take comfort in knowning that you will see her again. She just got a head start.

  36. I do not know anyone in this family. I do have friends in the Okay community. I pray that God gives you all peace and joy in knowing Kambrin had so many friends and loved ones and like the old song goes, "that her living would not be in vain." Travis, sir, you have done a remarkable job with this tribute by allowing all those who wish to make comments. Your comments have been a blessing to everyone who reads this. I read it as a post by someone I know. We all have lost loved ones and we can all remember the pain. However, I read joy and thanksgiving in all the foregoing comments by the people who know you Travis, Kambrin and her family. Thank you for the opportunity to read and comment on this. God's glory is shining through. From Bixby, OK.

  37. You know that moment when you miss a step on the stairs and it feels like you're going to fall forever? That feeling has stuck with me ever since my mom told me that she was gone. Kammy I love you. You are so muxh better now. And I can smile because of that.

  38. Please keep in mind this is my account I could by no means put this as eloquently as it was spoken. I witnessed first hand a complete (except 1) family mom, dad, grandparents, brothers, cousins, uncles, aunts, inlaws etc. today go into a funeral for their 17 year old loved one. The words that were spoken before they went in inspired me deeply. They talked on honoring God not giving this occasion to Satan by dwelling on their loss. Kammy is not lost she is gone for awhile she is with God. It is okay to cry but extreme grieving only diminishes the fact that she is with God her Savior. What a FAMILY they have amazed myself and many many others by their extreme faith I just pray when I once again experience a loss that I remember the lesson this family has taught me about faith, love, loss and the love of God. Thank you Dennis/Blackwell family for this life lesson it is an honor to know you.

  39. I remember being in the nursery with Miss Violet and Lorena bringing Kambrin into the nursery she was such a beautiful baby that flourished into a beautiful young lady. She will be missed greatly, but she is in a wonderful place with her loving savior waiting for each and everyone of us to make our journey home.

  40. Wow. Well Done good and faithful servants--Travis, Kambrin's momma, and Kambrin. Prayers for you all (family, friends and community) as you navigate this trial. And to God be the Glory for such a wonderful tribute-- lived by a young girl and translated by an ordinary fellow I am blessed to call friend.

    With Love In Christ,
    Elizabeth Adams
    Jonesboro Indiana

  41. Destiny loved you and said you hugged her almost everyday at school, you will be missed. You brought honor and glory to God and He just wanted you in heaven a little earlier.

    Good job Travis

    Wendy Drain

  42. I grew up with Kambrin played softball with her as kids had so much fun with her as we grew up we weren't as close as we had been the team kinda fell apart but I would talk to her every time I saw her I'd go to Okay to see different games we would talk joke laugh and I even played in a volleyball church league with her tonight for some reason it just re hit me what happened I haven't been able to sleep I've just been crying and missing her I still can't believe it's true I wasn't anywhere close when I got the call I was on a school trip and I broke down I'm reliving the night all over again and I just think I'll still find her somewhere she was one of the greatest people she did anything for a laugh I didn't even go to Okay but when I received my diploma she was on my mind she will never be forgotten always remembered loved

  43. i didn't know kambrin or her family... I just happened upon her story on facebook today and read all of the stories, memories, and prayers from her friends and family. Kambrin was an amazing young lady! Even after her passing, she's still touching the lives of everyone that hears her story. The world needs more people like her. Rest in Peace dear Kambrin, Rest in Peace.

  44. Everyday I run across something that reminds me of kammy. It's gotten easier, but somedays it's just as hard as when it first happened. I sometimes wish I could go back to that day in the parking lot after school the last time I saw her. But I'm happy that she is at peace now. This whole On tragedy thing has really helped me on the tough days. Fly high kam, we all miss ya.


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