Friday, December 07, 2007


When sorrow arrives, it's important to focus on what yet remains; loss can consume you if you let it. I always find strength in the Lord, and He is gracious to give me His Word. In Psalm 16: 6, David makes a statement that has been on my heart today:

“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.”

Today I give God glory for causing my boundary lines to have fallen in pleasant places. I'm grateful for the place Tammy and I have raised our family for the last thirteen years. It's a place called Saraland. Honestly, when I first heard the name of this small suburb of Mobile, I thought it a bit corny. After coming here, I didn't see a lot of impressive buildings or memorable structures.

I have a strange habit, rooted deep in my DNA. When I visit a place, especially when I move to a new place, I want to learn as much as possible about it--how it came to be, how it got its name. I quickly discover that most people don't have the same compulsion. I see a lot of wrinkled foreheads and shrugged shoulders, and I hear, “I have no clue” or even “Who cares?”

I do. I want a sense of history, especially about the place I live.

Well, Saraland has a history. It seems that a long time ago there was a Methodist circuit-riding preacher who had a preaching point in the country just north of Mobile, near Chunchula, Alabama. In those days travel was limited to the speed of a good horse. So this preacher would faithfully travel--one week to one place, the next to another, following the great tradition of Methodism's founder John Wesley.

When he would arrive at each point in the circuit, there would be the preaching of God's word, baptizing of converts, and memorial services for those who died. That was the life of a circuit-riding Methodist preacher. On one of this preacher's trips to north Mobile, his wife came with him. I don't know if it was her regular custom to do this, or if this was a rare occasion. But on this trip she fell ill. They stayed in this area hoping and praying for her recovery. She died in the home of a stranger.

The community was moved by the plight of this preacher. People poured out love toward him. He experienced so much love, so much gratitude for his faithful preaching of the gospel, that when a town arose in the region north of Mobile, they called this little place Saraland after the wife of the circuit riding Methodist preacher.

I find a sense of irony in this story. Here I am--a preacher, not from Alabama, but willing to come here at God's command. Married to a woman who made my life and ministry possible. Grateful for a good community in which to raise our family, and even glad at times that it is small, quiet, and not worthy of much attention in this world. It's a good place to hide beneath the shadow of the Almighty. We've found this people to be kind, grateful for our ministry, in the same way they were for that Methodist pastor and his wife. I also know the great loss of my precious wife. I know the powerful love and compassion of people who feel my grief and wish to do everything they can to come to my aid. I believe they would name this place Tammyland if they could. Tammy would never stand for that, I assure you.

What marks this community is compassion, love, and a generous spirit. It always has and still does. Our community will not stay small for long. Change is already under way. What I hope and pray is that in the process of time and transformation, one thing will never be lost in my little city: love.

Thank you Lord, for allowing my boundary lines to fall in pleasant places!

Ed Litton


Judy Napp said...

Mike and I are honored and proud to share our lives in Saraland with the Litton family. As the Methodist preacher, your life and messages from God's Word have transformed families, including my own. You continue to bring comfort to my grieving heart through your actions, words, and writings. Yes, Tammyland would be a great name for our city. I too hope that we never lose the feeling of community and love within our boundaries. Her home, Heaven, never will. God is Love. It is sweeter this Christmas than last. Heavenly Father, Thank you for preparing a home for my friend. Help us to continue to prepare to meet you there. We anxiously await the run into your arms of love and the look up to see the face of our "free-end", Tammy who will be saying Welcome Home. (free-end is Tammy talk for friend) Judy Napp said...


Andy Wood linked to your blog in his weekly church newsletter. I've been reading through the columns on your site. They are very good.

As a stranger looking in it's obvious you've suffered a great earthly loss, that of your wife and best friend. I am sorry for your loss.

Strange as it may be to consider in the midst of your pain, there are those who would read your blog with jealousy. They've never known the unconditional love of a spouse the way you did. They don't know what it's like to be married to your best friend, to have someone you know will always have your back. They don't know the faithful commitment of a godly spouse. These readers are bewildered to see the superlative descriptions of your wife's character and faithfulness because it's alien to their experience.

Because in their experience they've only known deceit, pain and betrayal in their marriage. They can't imagine being in a wonderful life long relationship like you were to your Tammy.

These are the readers who, as they grieve with you, also say to themselves, "He is one lucky guy."

Thanks for allowing others to see the gut wrenching process that God is leading you through. Keep writing.

Todd Thompson
Lubbock, TX

Anonymous said...

My next door neighbor passed away suddenly, unexpectedly last Sunday.He was only 50.He left behind his wife of 20 yrs and three children. The oldest just in college and two more at home.
They had nothing to foretell them of this sudden tragedy-no indicators, no warnings. We're all in shock and disbelief and yet it really did happen.We know it did because we saw the daughter that came home from college clutching her stuffed animals, because we saw the numerous amount of cars and people that came and went in an otherwise quiet neighborhood, because we saw all the people gather to honor a life that was well-lived and we also saw that life laid to rest. Yet it is still unreal. Now we look for the little things we can do to support the family. We reach out now in ways we never did before-feeling awkward but still wanting to help-Lord help us to know how to help.
Loved ones are not replaceable-they have carved out a spot within us that only they can fit into.
I would venture to say that Sara had travelled there before and was well known and loved by the people-They grieved for her too. Naming the town after her was one of the ways they were able to help.