An extraordinary true story of grace, mercy, and the redemptive power of God
When her father was murdered, Laurie Coombs and her family sought justiceand found it. Yet, despite the swift punishment of the killer, Laurie found herself increasingly full of pain, bitterness, and anger she couldn’t control. It was the call to love and forgive her father’s murderer that set her, the murderer, and several other inmates on the journey that would truly change their lives forever.
This compelling story of transformation will touch the deepest wounds and show how God can redeem what seems unredeemable.
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About the Author
Laurie Coombs is an adoring wife and mother who remains committed to her family’s needs before any others. She is a passionate writer and speaker on the issues of forgiveness, redemption, and the hope found in Jesus. Her story was featured in Billy Graham’s film Heaven, and she is a featured writer and blogger for iBelieve and Crosswalk. Laurie and her husband, Travis, make their home in Nevada along with their two daughters, Ella and Avery. Together, the Coombs family is adopting from Ethiopia. www.LaurieCoombs.org
Read an Excerpt
Letters from My Father's Murderer
A Journey of Forgiveness
By Laurie A. Coombs
Kregel PublicationsCopyright © 2015 Laurie A. Coombs
All rights reserved.
CAST INTO DARKNESS
I had always thought the world was a beautiful place, a place full of love and joy and light. I was dazzled by life, completely taken by its beauty.
But just as I was coming into my own, just as I was about to embark on this thing called life — the very thing that captivated and excited me — I caught my first real glimpse of evil. The unthinkable happened and, for the first time in my life, I became intimately acquainted with the depths of human depravity. It broke my heart. It seemed all the beauty I'd once discovered was simply a veil masking the dark realities of life and, with that veil removed, the only thing left to see was darkness and pain and suffering.
What is wrong with this world? I wondered. What is wrong with people?
Aunt Patsy and Uncle Rick were standing in the light of their porch, waiting for Travis and their son, Jeremy, and me as we pulled up to their house in the darkness of early morning. We had driven all night after the wedding in San Diego through some of the most desolate parts of the California and Nevada desert. I had felt something the night before. I didn't know something bad had happened, but I had felt something. Something I cannot even begin to explain. It seemed my spirit knew what my mind had not yet been told, and all I knew was that I needed to be home.
Before getting out of the car, I paused for a moment to watch my aunt and uncle briefly from a distance. The call we had received sometime in the middle of the night asking us to come to their house had left the three of us feeling uneasy, and the sight of them on that porch only increased the feeling. They seemed anxious — deeply troubled — and that scared me. I love these two people dearly, but I didn't want to see them this time. Not under these circumstances. But as they began walking toward the car, I figured I had no other option but to get out and meet them, and so I did.
The darkness seemed to press in on me as I followed Jeremy up the familiar steps toward his parents' house. Travis trailed behind. "What's going on?" Jeremy asked nervously. The question was left unanswered, perhaps not even heard by his parents, who were both looking past him to me. Aunt Patsy stared at me as I drew near, with brows furrowed and sorrow so deep in her eyes that I could not even begin to understand the depth of pain she was feeling. Tears rolled freely down her cheeks, revealing a truth I did not want to know. And in that moment, I sensed the pain I saw in her eyes would soon become my own.
Shaking my head, I adamantly whispered, "No, no, no, no, no," through my tears.
Travis came near, and I grabbed his arm a bit too tight, I imagine, as my mind began to spin out of control. It was my dad. I knew it.
"Laurie, come inside," my aunt said softly, interrupting my thoughts.
I didn't want to go in. I didn't want to hear what they had to say. All I wanted was to run away. To pretend this wasn't happening. To pretend my life was no different than it was the day before, but I couldn't.
I couldn't ignore what was happening. I couldn't go back. I couldn't change any of it. I knew that, and so when Travis gently urged me to go in a moment later, I did. Though every part of me was screaming inside, I unwillingly walked in and sat in an armchair in the family room to receive news that I knew would most assuredly crush my spirit and change the course of my life forever.
I don't remember how my aunt and uncle began the conversation. I'm sure they cushioned the blow somehow, but all I remember were the words, "Your dad was murdered last night. He's dead."
Travis was holding my hand, and I think I just about crushed it. I was stunned. Completely and totally taken aback. I thought maybe Dad had gotten in a car accident or been hit by a drunk driver or something. But murder? How was that even possible? We lived in a nice, quiet small town. We had a good family. We were honest, good people. How could my dad have been murdered?
"The man who killed your dad is in custody," I remember them saying as a storm raged in my mind. "He admitted to the murder. His name is Anthony Echols."
Anthony Echols. I knew that name. My dad had spoken to me about this man a month before. That guy is suicidal, I thought. He left a note threatening suicide a while back. Why didn't he just kill himself? Why would he kill Dad when he could have just killed himself? The thought played in my mind over and over until it came screaming out of my mouth. "Why the hell didn't he just kill himself?" I cried out with a few added expletives, as tears ran down my face.
And then I think I just about lost it.
I didn't quite know what to do with myself after that. I felt trapped, weighed down by a reality I could not accept. I could not accept the fact that my dad was gone. Taken by a senseless murderer. Snuffed out like the flame of a candle, just like that. I wanted to lash out. I wanted to scream. I wanted to hit something, throw something. I was so totally and completely full of anger and hatred that it nearly consumed me. And as I sat there in that chair, I felt a tidal wave of grief overtake every part of my soul, as I came to know intimately the pain I had seen in my aunt's eyes only moments before.
I don't know how long we stayed at my aunt and uncle's house. I don't remember much of anything that happened right after I was told, but I do know that Travis and I ended up down the street at my mom's house sometime later that morning. No one was there. My mom and her husband, Gary, were still on their way home from the wedding, which suited me just fine. I needed to process the whole thing for a while before I talked to anyone else, even my mom.
I stood in the middle of the living room in a fog. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know where to go from there. I wondered how I'd be able to return to a life that even remotely resembled something normal after what had happened. And as I stared off into the distance, I was struck by just how different everything looked. The whole world seemed to have changed around me. It was light outside by this time, but even the light of day seemed to have grown dim.
Travis and I lay down to try to get some rest. I closed my eyes, hoping to escape the nightmare that had become my reality, but it seemed my thoughts only grew louder in the stillness of that room. Tears escaped through fluttering eyelids, soaking the pillow beneath my head as I wrestled through the pain. I thought about my dad. About what he must have gone through the night before, and it simply tore me up. I wondered if he knew he was going to die. If he was scared. If he died quickly or suffered a slow death. And then it hit me. "He's gone," I whispered to myself. The full weight of what had happened pressed in on me. I'll never be able to see my daddy again, I thought sobbing uncontrollably. I'll never have the chance to say good-bye. Or tell him I love him. He's gone. He's gone forever.
I didn't know if what I was asking was even possible but, with eyes closed and hands tightly clutched around the sheet covering me, I silently pleaded with my dad to show himself one last time. I had heard stories of people coming in spirit to their loved ones moments after their death, and I wanted that. I desperately wanted to see my dad one last time. I wanted to know that he was okay. That he was in a better place. So I implored the heavens and begged my dad for a vision. I spent hours, it seemed, silently pleading, Please ... please show yourself ... please, until I fell silent in exhaustion.
I never did get what I asked for, and I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't disappointed about that, but as I lay perfectly still in that bed, no longer able to plead or cry or think, I did feel something. Even as an unbelieving skeptic, I could not deny the very real, peaceful presence in the room with us that morning. I couldn't explain it, and I certainly did not know what it was, but I felt it. And Travis did, too.
Mom came home a little later, just in time to help us field calls from reporters. None of us had done anything like this before, and we really didn't know what we were doing, but we tried our best, pushing our way through with a sense of duty and a desire to honor my dad. That first day was a long, terrible day. And as it came to a close, we all sat together in front of the TV to watch the news through dry, bloodshot eyes.
My family and I tried to pick up the pieces after that. Mark and Sheri — my brother and sister — and I were the heirs to Dad's estate. We were all in our early twenties at that time, entirely too young to be dealing with all that entailed, especially under these circumstances. And while I can't speak for my brother or sister, I certainly did not feel equipped to be doing what we were doing, so I welcomed all the help my mom and extended family offered. But there was still plenty we had to do on our own.
Here's the thing. After a normal death, there are wills, trusts, probate, distribution of property, and a funeral to arrange, but when someone is murdered, it's a different story altogether. On top of all that normal stuff, there are countless meetings with the DA, preliminary hearings, and a trial to deal with. But with all that aside, I think the most difficult thing I had to endure was the day Dad's house was released back to my family and me.
My dad had been murdered in his home and several days later, after the investigation was complete, it was time to take ownership of the property. I didn't want anything to do with it. I hated the very thought of having to deal with that place, but we had no choice. The house was legally ours.
Most people don't really think about this, but crime scenes are not cleaned up by the sheriff's department. They're given back to the legal owner just as they're found. I'm not sure if that's the case across the board, but that certainly was our experience. And let me tell you: that was a pretty awful thing to deal with.
The prospect of going to that place was daunting. I knew it was going to be ridiculously difficult for me to go into the house. To see the place Dad died. But I also knew that I needed to face the reality of what happened. And I figured if I didn't deal with it, others would be forced to deal with it in my stead.
Travis and I, along with my mom and brother, drove over to the house the day it was to be given back to us. As we pulled up, we saw several of my uncles carrying a bloodstained couch out of the house. I watched them for a moment, then turned away quickly as they loaded it into the bed of a truck headed for the dump. My uncles had apparently received permission from the sheriff's department to show up a bit early to remove a few things before we came so we wouldn't have to deal with them. They were there to carry part of our burden. I didn't know they were going to do that, but I was grateful they did.
Dad's camper was still loaded on his truck from our Powell trip. His boat was parked next to it. It seemed my dad hadn't even had the chance to fully unpack, and that made me sad. I stared at that camper for a moment and thought about all the fun things I had done with my dad growing up. About all the camping trips and the times we spent out on a lake somewhere. So many wonderful memories came to mind and, as I thought of them, I simply couldn't believe they were over. I thought I had so much more time with my dad, but time had run out.
As we got out of the car, Travis grabbed my hand tight and held it close to his body. I was thankful to have him there. He hadn't left my side since we had heard the news several days before, and I don't think he did until fall semester began later that month.
Some of the deputies on the case were standing on the front lawn, waiting for the appropriate time to approach us. My mom and brother walked up to them first; Travis and I slowly followed. I can't begin to explain how I felt in that moment, out in front of that house. No words can capture the full range of emotions. I was terrified, literally trembling with fear, as I looked at that house and thought about what I'd see inside.
I didn't really want to go in there, but I felt like I needed to face it, though I wasn't sure I'd make it through unscathed.
"Are you sure you want to go in there?" I heard Mom ask. She looked concerned. She hated that her children had to go through this whole mess.
"Yeah," I said.
I walked into the garage with Travis, behind Mom and Mark, looking for signs of anything out of the ordinary before going into the house. I seemed to have unintentionally taken on the role of detective, carefully noting every detail as I went. I wanted Anthony put away for life, and so I slowly and carefully searched every corner of that house to ensure nothing was missed.
The house was relatively clean except for the place the couch had been. My uncles had done their best to protect us but, even with the couch gone, the bloodstained carpet gave evidence to what had taken place several days before. I turned away the moment I saw that crimson stain, hoping to protect my heart; but a moment later, I found myself staring at it, wishing things had turned out differently.
The funeral took place a day or so later. I remember standing in front of hundreds of people, looking out over a sea of faces blurred by my tears. My voice quavered as I spoke of my dad. I really did love that man, and I just couldn't believe I had to say good-bye. Mark and Sheri said a few words as well, as did a few other family members. When the service ended, we dutifully stood at the back of the church to greet those who had come.
"He's in a better place," I heard over and over from guests as they left. But I wasn't entirely convinced they were right. Quite frankly, I didn't know where my dad was, and I think that was the thing I struggled with most.
The hope of heaven is written on every human heart. No one wants to believe this life is all there is to it; but to me, all that stuff in the Bible just seemed too good to be true, like some fanciful fairy tale concocted to tickle our ears and make our hearts feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
I have to admit, as I wrestled with Dad's death, I wanted to believe. For the first time in my life, I wanted to believe in God because ultimately I wanted to believe that my dad was in that better place those people talked about. I was so utterly desperate to know that Dad was okay — that he was somehow still there. But no matter how much I wanted to believe, I couldn't. I saw no proof. And I certainly wasn't about to abandon sound reason in order to make myself feel better.
I walked to a nearby park after the funeral. Travis and my cousins thought I needed to get away from it all, and they were right. I tried to think of other things, but my mind was still spinning on all that had happened, trying to make sense of the whole mess.
Anthony was less than a mile away in a jail cell.
I thought of him.
I thought of my dad.
It all felt so meaningless. Like a waste.
"They say everything happens for a reason," I said aloud as I struggled through confusion and grief and anger, "but how could there be a reason for this?"
Nothing good can come out of this, I thought. Nothing.CHAPTER 2
School began. Travis moved back to Chico, California, to finish his degree while I finished mine in Reno. I lived in a small apartment by the university, away from my family and all the mess so I might be able to pour myself back into my studies and finish my last year well. Quite a bit remained to be done at home. Mom and Mark dealt with the majority of the legal stuff pertaining to the estate. I helped with whatever needed to be done, but they took the lead, and I was glad they did.
One of my professors assigned Mary Shelley's Frankenstein that semester. Reading a fictional book like that just seemed so irrelevant and inconsequential in comparison to life's real issues, as did the rest of my schoolwork, but I still went through the motions and did what I was supposed to do. After the murder, I never could quite find the words to express how I felt, and even now, I cannot fully explain the depth of feelings in my heart back then, but as I read that book, I found one paragraph in particular that gave words to some of my unspoken thoughts:
I need not describe the feelings of those whose dearest ties are rent by that most irreparable evil, the void that presents itself to the soul, and the despair that is exhibited on the countenance. It is so long before the 28 Letters from My Father's Murderer mind can persuade itself that [he], whom we saw every day, and whose very existence appeared a part of our own, can have departed for ever — that the brightness of a beloved eye can have been extinguished, and the sound of a voice so familiar, and dear to the ear, can be hushed, never more to be heard.
Excerpted from Letters from My Father's Murderer by Laurie A. Coombs. Copyright © 2015 Laurie A. Coombs. Excerpted by permission of Kregel Publications.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 Cast into Darkness, 19,
2 The Wilderness, 27,
3 The Light, 39,
4 "Follow Me", 50,
5 The Letter, 63,
6 Seeking Truth, 71,
7 Roadblocks, 86,
8 The Pieces, 91,
9 Calm, 103,
10 Fear, 109,
11 Tension, 123,
12 Forgiveness, 135,
13 Standing Ground, 147,
14 Hearts Softened, 152,
15 The Long-Awaited Letter, 164,
16 Good Triumphs over Evil, 174,
17 Grace, 183,
18 The Story Continues, 192,
Afterword, by Anthony Echols, 201,
Inmate Letters, 207,
About the Author, 231,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Letters from My Father's Murderer was an inspiring book. It is a journey of forgiveness for a daughter whose father was murdered. The correspondence back and forth from the jail are a demonstration of her walk of faith. It shows how God can work in our lives. It is a must read for any age. I received the book from the Book Club Network in exchange for my honest opinion.
Laurie Coombs endured more as a young woman than many do. When she was 15, her parents divorced and, less than a year before her college graduation, her father was murdered. By someone he knew, Anthony, who even admitted to killing him. She would finish college and marry before the trial came to be, and Anthony was given two life sentences. The week before his murder, Laurie’s father shared with her of his new found faith in Jesus. She had turned away from the Lord after her father left, not returning even when their relationship was restored. She knew he seemed happy, different with his new-found faith. It would be several years and two babies, one a miracle, and a horrifying time of darkness and severe anxiety before she began to believe in Jesus as her Lord and Savior. What a challenging, magnificent journey He has led her through! He called Laurie to do what many might have refused to ever do – forgive her father’s murderer. Not just forgive him, but to love her enemies. The Lord put on her heart to take him a Bible. Thus began an intensive season of communicating primarily by letter. Laurie faced obstacles, not the least of which was the reaction of her husband and mother and her father’s girlfriend – Anthony’s ex-wife – what she needed to do. Travis and Laurie had been together since three years before the murder. He and her father had a good relationship. She endured health challenges and the aftereffects and waiting for approval of visiting rights. Simply writing to him had to have been hard; it would have been easier to get through the impossible red tape to send him a Bible than to write – and receive letters. Many things she wrote resonated with me, either as a reminder or as the sweet water bubbling up through the Holy Spirit and giving me fuel for another day, especially: “All through the Bible bad things happen – people sin or something goes wrong – but over and over two words make it okay – ‘but God’” (pg. 55). ‘’…no matter how bad things seem to be, God is the constant.” (pg. 55) Laurie references Joseph in the Old Testament, and Romans 5:8, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” What amazes me is not just their correspondence, but how God would use their testimonies. There are many things that I admire in Laurie. The passion she had as a new Christian and her walk of obedience through the irritable, tedious, tumultuous challenge to forgive what for many seasoned Christians would be unforgiveable. How many of us would slog through life, miserable, just trying to endure until Jesus came back rather than seeking to forgive as she had? I also admire that she gives God the glory for His work in the unique ministry He called Laurie to; even the fact of the changes in Anthony and, as a result, other men that he knew in prison had their lives changed, too. The ministry included sharing the reconciliation, redemption, mercy, forgiveness and peace through Christ. I highly recommend this book to Christians in any age or stage of their faith, or whatever their challenge of forgiving, and those who have volunteered in prison ministry groups; it is an open encouragement that obeying God, even when it is hard, is a blessing when we are willing to try it and see. With a grateful heart, I received a copy of this book through the “For Readers Only” group at The Book Club Network, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own; no monetary compensation was received.
Letters from My Father’s Murderer, A Journey of Forgiveness is written by Laurie A. Coombs. This book is a poignant, compelling story of one woman’s journey of faith and forgiveness. Through her perspectives and personal experience we see the truth about grace and forgiveness. Her words check the reader about his own judgments and ideas about sin and sinners. She reiterates a truth that has been expressed before that a person needs to forgive for his own peace of mind and relationship with the Lord, whether or not it changes the offender. Her obedience to God’s direction to reach out to her father’s murderer and correspond with him, and through that, forgive him has untold influence and has changed lives and will continue to change lives as people read this work and people share her experience with others. Her blog testimony shared with others by her and by Anthony has helped others to find forgiveness and healing. This is a wonderful story that embraces the truth of God concerning grace and forgiveness. Her words express wisdom: “…I know that God will bring good out of it, just as He does all things! Through pain are we molded. Through suffering we are more malleable in God’s hands.” Also: “Waiting seems like such a waste of time. But really, it’s not. When God makes us wait, He is moving. He is drawing us closer to Himself, showing us that we need Him, molding and shaping our hearts, preparing us in every way for the journey ahead.” Many more beautifully wise passages are in her writings. I would highly recommend this book to everyone. I received this book through TBCN in exchange for an honest review.
I first heard Laurie’s story in June 2013 when she wrote a guest post on Leanne Penny’s blog. I was touched by her willingness to forgive such a grievous crime. I looked forward to her book. As Laurie allows us a seat on her journey it is a raw and heart wrenching trip. I admire that Laurie has chosen to be vulnerable and lets us see the good and the bad. I also find it incredible the number of times she was at a crossroads and could have walked away from the journey with her head held high. She chose to see it through. Laurie put her choices above her feelings with those choices being guided by what she thought God would have her do. Her journey is a struggle but a needed one. Not only did it lead to her healing but also the healing of her father’s murderer and many others touched by their story. Hers is a story of redemption; of transformation showing how God can redeem the worst of circumstances.
What a story of the struggle to understand the 'why?' her father was murdered. The unbelievable has happened. She takes us though all the emotions of hate, love, compassion, forgiveness and redemption! I thought Laurie took me through her journey with grace, honesty and the understanding that through it all God is faithful and will bring you through to the other side. It really is an "extraordinary true story of grace, mercy, and the redemptive power of God !" I was gifted a copy from the author through the BookClub Network (bookfun.org) for my honest opinion.
I was extremely impressed with this book. Not just the story itself, but the testimony it is to God's saving grace and forgiveness of sinners. And we are all sinners! I was humbled by Laurie's honesty as well as the honesty of the man who took her father's life. This is an exceptionally moving story about a God pursuing a woman He created and loved. And how she, after surrendering her control, became willing to surrender and seek after Him with her whole heart. Doing so, she found what she was looking for all her life. The journey is not easy, but it is worth the cost. The older I get, or maybe just the closer I walk with the Lord, the more I realize the importance of GRACE. And this book says it all! Every person alive is capable of doing what the man did that killed Laurie's father. He allowed pride, bitterness, resentment and anger to escalate until he lost control of himself, his life, his purpose and in turn did the unthinkable. It is so easy to point fingers, allow our own pride to rule in our hearts and deem others lower than ourselves, unforgivable even. To forget the God's grace is for everyone. Remember that old tune: "Roll back the curtain of memory now and then Show me where you brought me from and Where i could have been Just remember I'm a human and human's forget So remind me, remind me dear Lord" As I read this book, it came to mind; I was reminded of some painful mistakes in my own past. How in spite of being Christians we can still be caught up in sin, self, pride, and do things we regret for years to come. I can't recommend this book highly enough. I think every person should read it. We live in a day and time when forgiveness is not the norm, everyone is out for himself, and many so-called Christians are not living out the grace that God has given them. We need a wake up call. We need to learn to love, and forgive. We need to reach out to those who are hurting even when we are not able to see their pain, because the enemy has masked it by their behavior. We need to offer Jesus. I was blessed with this book by the Book Club Network in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
I read Letters from My Father’s Murderer and this was a book that really touched me. Forgiveness is so hard - I have never had to forgive someone for something so horrible. I loved how honest and open the author was with telling her story. It was a great book in that it was one I didn’t want to stop reading - I wanted to see how it all ended. I loved also how God was there for her - before she submitted her life to Him and throughout the whole journey. It was still a HARD journey that God asked of her - both her own good (to be able to forgive) and also for others and for His glory ultimately. So glad I was able to read this book - I was encouraged and challenged in my own life as a result. I received this book for free from the author and The Book Club Network in exchange for my honest review.
Letters from My Father's Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness is a powerful read. I admired the courage of the author to contact the man who killed her father. What an amazing inspiration to learn the power of forgiveness. Recommended 5 stars.
As I read this book, I kept asking myself how I would react, and I would sin. The book opens and we glimpse a family that was broken and trying to put parts back together. The main focus of the book is about a man, called Anthony, and his jealousy that ends in murder, and steals this man from his family. We walk with Laurie and her journey to forgiveness, but a strong emphasis is on her walk of faith. I could see God working in her life and struggles, and watched her grow in her Spiritual life as this journey of the letters progressed. As we read the letters we see how Anthony tries to rationalize his actions, and how Laurie deals with this. A very sad story, and yet God’s hand is here, and through the letters we travel to the experience of true forgiveness. I received this book through Litfuse Publicity Book Tours, and was not required to give a positive review.
Doesn’t this title just grab your attention? It grabbed mine. But, what convinced me to apply to review this book was the subtitle – A Journey of Forgiveness. And that is what this book is about. Forgiveness. To say that I enjoyed this story is not exactly true. I would feel horrible saying that I enjoyed reading about something that was so painful and heart-rending as the murder of a family member. But, I did enjoy reading the culmination of letters and events that God orchestrated to bring both parties in this book to forgiveness and reconciliation. The author did a great job of laying her heart bare on the page and explaining to the reader what life was really like for the adult daughter of a slain man. She also did an absolutely amazing job of showing the reader what it really means to lay it all down for God to take hold of. This is a very interesting story and a very moving story. I felt that the author clearly showed the transformation of her heart, as well as the transformation of the heart of the man who killed her father. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, through Litfuse Publicity, in exchange for an honest review.
Letters from My Father’s Murderer is a powerful story! Laurie Coombs writes with openness and honesty as she shares her journey of healing and forgiveness after her father’s murder. I was captivated by Laurie’s emotional story and touched by her candidness. Poignant and thought-provoking, Laurie’s story lingered in my mind long after the last page had been turned. Letters from My Father’s Murderer truly is “an extraordinary true story of grace, mercy, and the redemptive power of God to change lives.” I received a complimentary copy of Letters from My Father’s Murderer through Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an unbiased review. I appreciate the opportunity to read this book and share my thoughts.
Letters from My Father's Murderer completely opened my eyes to the meaning of true forgiveness and the ability for someone at their very lowest is able to find Holy redemption among man. Laurie says a very painful part of her life, the murder of her father, with readers not to play victim but to share the powerful grace that God provides both her and her father's killer. Two passages in the book really made me stop and think. The first was when Laurie wrote "I wouldn't be able to forgive on my own. I knew that much. So I needed to lay down my pride and allow God to give me strength and grace enough to forgive. It was His work that need to be done. I simply needed to obey." How many of us hold grudges? How many of us saw we forgive someone but deep in our heart hold resentment for their actions? How many of us hate someone regardless of how pointless carrying hate in your heart is? There is one person in my life that I can only feel disdain for. I should say hate but that's such an ugly word, isn't it? This person has caused me and my entire family a lot of pain, sorrow and heartache. However, me hating her does absolutely nothing but cause ugliness in my heart. God doesn't want us to carry such a nasty emotion around. I've said time and time again, I need to let go of this dislike and let God work his magic on the situation. While I will never have a relationship with her, it's still better for me, individually, to walk a life free of hated, this includes her. The second passage reads "Forgiveness, however, in no way is an act of condoning sins, for sin is never okay or justifiable, but instead it's an act of allowing oneself to heal. And true healing can only be given by God." Throughout the book, Laurie shares her experience communicating with the man that took her father from her and her siblings. Laurie struggle with the idea that forgiving Anthony means okaying what he did. I totally get that. I would struggle with the same thing. Just because I forgive you for the sins you've committed, it doesn't mean what you did was okay. That isn't the case with the murderer or in my world with the person that's brought my family pain. If you, like Laurie, I and so may others, carry hate, resentment and bitterness in your heart for someone or a situation, give it to God. Pray over it faithfully. He will bring you the peace you so desire. It may not come quickly or in the way you imagined (Laurie has an ongoing relationship with her father's murderer!! - insane!) but the grace God will bring to this situation will be worth the time it takes you to to pray and show patience. I realize how "simple" I'm making this. I just can't help but think of Laurie's story and how if she can grow in her faith to the point of forgiving your father's murderer, you and I can show forgiveness in our lives, too
This is the incredible true story of God`s amazing power to help His child to forgive-even the man whom murdered her father. The journey is amazing and only through listening to and being willing to follow through on His guiding was this journey made possible. Even more amazing is the fact that the author was agnostic though she had attended the Catholic church while growing up. The view of God she had was certainly not a healthy one. ¨The god I had grown up with was a distant force whom imposed rules on a people he couldn`t possibly know or have time to care about.¨ pg. 42 Thankfully she found a good Bible teaching church and was saved. Sometime later, when the feelings of anger, which had turned to bitterness were overwhelming, she prayed to God for healing. ¨Soon after, I heard God`s gentle whisper-¨It`s time to forgive.¨ pg. 53 While reading Matthew 5:43, 44 where Jesus tells us to love our enemies and then again in Luke 23:34 where Jesus is on the cross and he asks Jesus to forgive them because they do not know what they are doing she is hit with, ¨Love your enemies.¨ But how? Do not ask God a question if you do not want an answer. Immediately, His response came, ¨Bring him a Bible.¨¨pg 54 God obviously had a plan, all she had to do was follow His leading. Where would this lead? What would she face along this journey? Not knowing, she stepped out in the knowledge that God was right there with her, and all would be well. First step, write a letter to see if Anthony would be willing to meet with her. He agrees, but God has other plans-and the letter writing begins. One poignant quote from one of Anthony`s letters, ¨I`ve got to tell you, I wonder had I not come to prison would I have stayed a fan of Jesus or become a follower.¨pg. 180 Pick up the book today and read it for yourself. Read about our amazing God in action, and how this one act of following God`s leading has changed many lives, and how God has brought not only forgiveness but reconciliation to many. This is an excellent book that I highly recommend. Thank you to book fun.org and Kregel publications for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Anyone who has ever felt the pain of loss, the helplessness of overwhelming anger, and/or the desire to do something meaningful should read the beautiful new book Letters from My Father's Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness. Often, our darkest hour is the most opportune time for a spiritual revolution and this book lights the way to some remarkable truths. Letters not only details the journey but also explores some unexpected paths along the way. Until one has suffered the murder of a close relative, comprehending the complexities of the situation is virtually impossible. Likewise, until one has endured the soul-crushing despair of an unfaithful spouse, understanding that tangled mess is also virtually impossible. In this book, the former is experienced first-hand through the author while the latter is explored by a convicted murderer—a person who will most likely never taste earthly freedom again but one who remains as human as any of us. Amidst today's electronic anonymity of lightning-quick rushes to harsh, unyielding judgment and widespread vitriol fueled by single-minded hate, messages of hope are far too rare. Debate and compromise, much less collaboration, are often rendered moot by deleterious condemnation based upon differences that will not matter one iota in the long run. Letters demonstrates that even among the most natural of enemies there exists not only an eternal connection but also indefatigable grace and hope when we have just a little bit of faith.
Book Review Letters from My Father’s Murderer Letters from My Father’s Murderer is a heart wrenching true story of Laurie Coombs journey to rid herself of the uncontrollable anger, grief and bitterness she harbored following her Father’s murder. Laurie prayed that God would heal her. That He would take away her grief, her bitterness and pain and replace it all with trust in Him. God answers her prayers and guides her to write letters to Anthony the man that killed her Father. In doing so, she finds true forgiveness and ultimate peace she so desperately sought.
Letters from My Father’s Murderer – A Journey in Forgiveness By Laurie A. Coombs Kregel Publications, 2450 Oak Industrial Dr. N. E., Grand Rapids, MI 49505 978-0825442292, $14.99, 2015, 230 pages Reviewed by Richard R. Blake, firstname.lastname@example.org From Vengeance to Forgiveness – A Search for Truth, Justice, and Understanding, Laurie Coombs’ ‘memoir “Letters from My Father’s Murderer – A Journey in Forgiveness” opens with the details leading up to and the aftershock of the tragic death of her father, a murder victim. Devastated, but determined. Laurie went on with her life; finished her college education, married her fiancé, Travis, and began a family. On the surface things looked well, however, Laurie was experiencing a paralyzing anxiety and depression. Laurie walked away from her family’s church as a teenager, her skepticism left her broken and angry. As the hatred of her father’s murderer heightened she became obsessed with questions of justice and a spirit of bitterness. Responding to a friend’s invitation, Laurie, Travis, and her girls visited a nearby church. Although still skeptical, Laurie returned to the church week after week. She experienced a deepened awareness of the possibility of healing from her emotional and mental symptoms through faith. Jesus offered peace and forgiveness. Her hunger for truth led to her redemption, personal peace and a heartfelt passion to share her story. Laurie’s journey of forgiveness led to a definite step of obedience to connect with the murderer of her father. Her process of forgiveness and healing led to corresponding with Anthony, her father’s murderer. These letters are recounted in the story of God’s working in their lives through the process of forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation. Coombs’ writing is articulate, well organized, and authentic. I came away with a deeper awareness of the emotions felt by the survivors and the bitterness evidenced in victims who have lost loved ones due to tragic circumstances. “Letters from My Father’s Murderer” is timely and relevant with an important message for the families who are grieving in response to the tragedy of crime, accidents brought about by others, and those losing loved ones while in the service of our country. A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.
If you have believed it’s not possible to see any good come out of your past; if you are convinced that any good in your future would result in spite of your past, not as a result of it, you need to read Letters from My Father’s Murderer by Laurie Coombs. Let her story open up a world of hope, faith, and incredible, grace-filled possibilities.
I don't think I've ever read or heard a more beautiful story of redemption and forgiveness as Laurie's story. I walked away with renewed hope that even the worst scenarios in life can be used for good for those who love the Lord. We just need to depend on the One who can get us through. Amazing book...gifted writer.
I’m so excited to read this book after hearing Laurie speak and reading her blog. Her story is an incredible journey of deep sorrow, forgiveness, and redemption. It’s one of God calling her to a place of healing after losing her father in a very personal way. It’s one of God calling her to not consider herself and her pain alone, but also others that desperately need an extension of mercy and forgiveness. As you dive into Laurie’s story, you’ll feel God beckoning you too into the greater story of His grace and love for yourself and those around you. You’ll gain or reaffirm a perspective of a God that asks us to lay aside our needs for His call to obedience, and you’ll find that your needs are met in a greater way than you can ever imagine as you say yes to Him.
After meeting Laurie last summer at a conference and hearing her tell her story, I could not help but wonder how she could put it on the printed page with the passion that came from personal account. But she accomplished that and so much more! Her story is heart wrenching, sad, joyful and filled with life questions. Where was God in the midst of this evil act? Laurie's heart of obedience and the subsequent pull on every possible emotion described in this wonderful book makes for a "can't put it down" kind of read. Needless to say, I would put this on a recommended reading list for anyone searching for encouragement in their own walk with the Lord.
What a tremendous story on true forgiveness. I love that we get to hear both sides of the story, which is rare. The story is a struggle from the heart that takes you on a journey through pain, anger, bitterness, and then into resolution and peace. If you have ever thought to yourself I just can't forgive, please purchase this book and see that it is indeed possible. Maybe you have thought to yourself you don't need to forgive.... I believe after reading this book you will see why forgiveness is so necessary for mental and physical health.
I just finished reading the book Letters from my Fathers Murderer. It was such a beautiful story, full of heartache, love, forgiveness and redemption. I have thankfully never had to forgive such a grievous thing as murder. However, the story was so compelling that I completed the book in complete awe of the Awesome God that we serve. It has inspired me to live more fully and be more attentive to His calling in my own life!
“Laurie’s act of forgiveness has shown me one doesn’t truly trust God until you trust Him to do the impossible (Matt.19:26). Page 207 Laurie Coombs’ father was murdered at the hands of Anthony Echols. What a traumatic experience, yet Ms. Coombs has turned it into a “journey of forgiveness.” This book is a real page turner. It is definitely sad, but also very uplifting. In the beginning of the book, Ms. Coombs shares with the reader her journey from her father’s death forward. Having her journey so clearly laid out in the beginning one-third of the book really helped when I got to the part when she started corresponding with Mr. Echols. The second two thirds of this book detail the correspondence Ms. Coombs has had with Mr. Echols. It is heart wrenching in parts. It is also amazing to see how God can work in the lives of people if we let him. This book is a must read. It is a real page turner.
Could you forgive the person who murdered your father and then become FRIENDS with that person? I doubt Laurie thought this would be possible, but through God's power, grace, and the Holy Spirit, that's exactly what happened. I could hardly put Laurie's book down, every page turn lead closer to a relationship only God would reconcile. If you have ever had to offer forgiveness...or humbly receive forgiveness, Laurie and Tony's testimony is a MUST read. It would not only encourage your faith, but help you see things through God's eyes.