I went to bed last night composing in my head a play by play of one of the longest afternoons we’ve had in a long time. When I woke up, I sent this message to a friend and realized that I could convey my thoughts slightly more succinctly.
It was good to talk with the kids about the loss and the fear in terms of our faith. For example, while looking for Ava, I could hear Madi softly saying, 'Come home, Ava. Please come home." I told her to quit praying to Ava. She can't hear or understand. God can do both AND can actually answer the prayer.
Later Max and I were talking and he asked why this had to happen. I reminded him that God works all things for the good of those who love Him. That means that this didn't HAVE to happen, but that God WOULD bring good from it no matter how it turns out. We can trust that. So we began to list some of the good that we could already see--friends volunteering comfort and help, understanding how much one person can hurt family, etc.
We got our first snow of the season while Ava was missing. Something we usually celebrate was received with foreboding. Praise the Lord that Ava came to our doorstep, shivering and filthy, before bedtime. We bathed her and bundled her and cried in thankfulness.