Today’s blog post author is from my nephew Paul Ratliff. Paul was Elizabeth’s cousin, and he and Sam immediately bonded. So much so you would think that they were brothers. I tell Paul that they are brothers by another mother and brothers in Christ.
Paul’s family was close to Lizz, Sam and the boys. Today I share his thoughts about “that day” on July 30th, and how that event has affected him and his faith.
Paul: This is a wonderful witness to the glory of God even in times like this. Your story, your testimony is the beauty that has come from the ashes.
I love you and your family,
I was at work when I received a phone call from Sam Dowdy’s cell phone. Sam and I had a way of answering the phone like typical buddies do. When no response was coming back to me I took a moment to pause and that is when I heard on the other end of the phone. “Is this Paul…Paul Ratliff” I replied “yes it is, who’s this?” “My name is Josh Bingham and I am friends with Sam. I am calling you because Elizabeth and the kids were killed in a car accident.” At that moment I was paralyzed. I said to Josh “let me talk to Sam.” Sam cannot talk right now but he wants you to come to Salado.” At that moment I went to my office and headed to Sam and Elizabeth’s house.
I was freaking out. I would try to call Liz’s phone and nothing. I called my wife Christi to let her know what had happened to Liz and the kids and she could not believe it. I told her I was driving to Salado. My next call was to call in a favor from a friend of mind that works at D.P.S. When he called me back on my cell phone the only thing he said was “Paul, I am so sorry” then and only then did I realize that my beautiful cousin and her 3 boys were gone. For some reason before then, I was kind of numb to the fact that this was even happening, but because I had some time to process this overload of information I was hoping that the information was false or I was in a bad dream. Once confirmed by a D.P.S. trooper is when I pulled over and had a long moment to myself. I called Christi and she just comforted me as she always does.
When I finally arrived at Sam and Liz’s house the first thing I did was embrace Sam. No words were said just pure emotion. As time went on and Pastors came and prayed for Sam and the family I felt I was empty somewhere in my heart. I always believed in God and Jesus but I never really paid too much attention to it. So as I am watching Sam Sr. and his wife Rhonda Dowdy pray and give glory to God I started to look at my faith a little closer. I told myself “I am missing something in my life and that is a relationship with God.” You have your family and there is your church family. I knew right then that I was going to make it a top priority that God was going to come into our family’s house.
When there was a silent moment I asked Sam Dowdy Sr. if he knew of any good churches in our area in Leander. He recommended Journey in Liberty Hill. Journey Church’s vision is to lead people into a healthy life changing relationship with Jesus Christ. That was a powerful statement to me. I am now hungry for Jesus Christ and what he has to say. Both Christi and I are now born again Christians. If it were not for Elizabeth, Fischer, Ben and Hayes our family would be lost not knowing what God has in store for us.
Here is Paul’s Baptism picture at Journey Church on May 22, 2013 as he professes his faith and follows Jesus into the waters of baptism: