Meet my friend Josie. A few years ago, I was blessed to be introduced to this sweet woman by this amazing story of God's grace. I am so very thankful for Josie and the support and encouragement she's given me as I walk a similar road to hers. Today Josie shares her stone as part of this Twelve Stones series. Please take the time to read this miraculous story...
the middle of the night on June 23rd the doorbell rang. I climbed out of bed in confusion at who
could possibly be at my door at this hour.
Did my husband’s garage door opener malfunction? Was it a prank perpetrated
by one of the neighborhood children?
scanned the peephole and saw a group of dark shadows standing outside. I opened
the door to a group of friends from the 421st fighter squadron.
Devastation marked all of their faces. At
that second, I understood why all of these people were standing at my door at
this time of night. They were there to tell me that my husband, Capt.
George-Bryan Houghton, left this world to be with the Lord in Heaven. George,
an F-16 pilot for the 421st squadron at Hill AFB in Utah, was
scheduled to fly in a night training mission to prepare for an upcoming
deployment. It was his final flight in the F-16. His plane crashed in the Utah
Test and Training Range.
next few days and weeks were a blur in my memory. I remember emotional pain so
intense that it literally would take my breath away. This pain alternated with
periods of numbness when I felt nothing. I was an empty shell most days. During
this time I was inundated with the “business” of death. I helped the squadron
with pictures and music for the memorial service, signed official military
documents, met with the casualty officer, and many other tasks.
from the squadron started bringing me George’s belongings. First, I was given
the contents of his locker. I rifled through his belongings searching for only
one thing; George’s wedding ring. No luck. Later they drove his car home. No
ring. A few days later, I was given the contents of his locker. No ring. The
last of the items was brought to me by Maj. Bob Ungerman, the liaison from the
421st assigned to me to help me through this process. He gave me an
envelope with objects found on George at the crash site: patches from his uniform, his driver’s
license, a few damaged dollar bills. I sorted through these objects and felt
grateful to have these last precious tokens of him. However, I noticed there
was still that one thing missing that my heart yearned to have.
asked Bob if he had any idea where the ring might be. He looked at me with a
broken heart and told me that it had most likely been in his flight suit
pocket. If it was not in the envelope in front of me, then it was probably
somewhere on the ground at the crash site.
I felt a wave of disappointment at the thought of never seeing the ring
again. I do not know what the compulsion was to have it in my possession. I
just knew I had a deep desire in my heart to see it again.
must have had quite a pitiful look on my face when Bob told me the ring was
still missing because he started on a serious mission to recover it for
me. This incredibly thoughtful,
compassionate man organized a search of the debris at the Utah Test and
Training Range. The search party
consisted of airmen and civilians from Hill AFB as well as an adventurous group
of individuals from the Trails West Artifact Society who used metal detectors
to hunt for treasures as a hobby. They jumped at the chance to hunt for this
precious treasure for the sake of a hurting widow.
October 17th, a good four months after the accident, these amazing
volunteers searched the crash site. Considering that the area was roughly the
size of eight football fields, I can imagine how intimidated they must have
been. They soon discovered that they were searching for a needle in a haystack.
The metal detectors were not much assistance because of all the shrapnel. It
was a hunt to find metal on metal. Switching tactics, the team started a visual
scan of the area. The day passed with no sign of the ring. Just after 4:00 pm
the crew was going to pack up and head back to civilization. It was decided to
do one last visual search. Shortly after this decision, Lt. Col. Sean Keene
spotted a small round metal object in the dirt. At first he thought he was
seeing a mirage because he and the rest of the volunteers wanted to find the
ring so badly. He picked it up and sure
enough there was the ring. It was unscathed, the inscription still as legible
as the day I put it on his finger.
“I found it!” he said.
volunteers did not believe him at first, thinking he was joking. When the ring
was spotted in his hand, people began to gather around him to witness this
amazing miracle. God was truly with these people from the beginning to the end.
Now there was only one thing left to do; give the ring to me.
flew into Utah for the squadron Halloween party later that month. Bob and Karen
Ungerman had invited me to stay with them and I joyfully accepted. They fetched
me from the airport and took me to their house to drop off my luggage. I took
my bags to the guest room. On the bed was a jewelry box and note. The note,
written by Bob and Karen, said how happy they were that I was in Utah and that
I had been missed. Then it stated in the black jewelry box was a chain and
there was something to put on the chain under the pillow.
started shaking as I saw a ring box under the pillow. I slowly opened the box
and there was the object for which my heart had been longing. In my hand was
George’s ring, in excellent condition, just like the last time I had seen it on
his finger. I burst into tears and sat down on the floor. I felt overwhelmed
with happiness and gratitude. Having that ring symbolized the wholeness of our
marriage. It filled the gaping hole in my heart and gave me a sense of peace
realize later that my longing to have the ring did not come from me; it was God
given. I had felt abandoned by the Lord and deeply upset that He would allow me
to go through such intense agony. It would take a miracle to restore the trust
I once had in Him, and a miracle is what He provided. He put a burning desire
in me to have the ring and provided the most benevolent group of people I have
ever known to find it. The circumstances were impossible, but God works best in
the realm of the impossible. He guided a team of people to find a tiny metal
ring four months after the crash in an enormous field of metal debris. And, to
really show off, He preserved the ring in a perfect state while all the other
metal found around it was tarnished, rusted, and malformed. If that was not a
miracle, I don’t know what is. From this miraculous act of love, God expressed
to me that when I was hurting, He was hurting. When I wept, He wept with me.
And, when I was at my weakest, He was the one giving me strength and comfort to
get through the day. I pray that the blessing of this miracle does not stop with
me and that it continues to impact those who hear about it to the glory of our