A father places his five daughters in God’s hands.
by Polly House
When Jeremy Adkins’ wife died nine days after giving birth to their fifth daughter, he just wanted to run.
And he did.
“I knew I had a choice to make,” Jeremy said. “I could either run to God or away from Him. I chose to run to Him.”
Kristina Adkins, a healthy 35-year-old woman, had a normal pregnancy. On Feb. 26, 2013, she delivered a healthy baby girl, but then something went terribly wrong. She lost a lot of blood, suffered a stroke, and slipped into a coma. On March 7, she died.
“I’d had a relationship with Christ since I was a young boy and had asked Him into my heart,” Jeremy said. “Honestly, though, sometimes I neglected the relationship. But this event, this tragedy, brought me closer to Him than I had ever been before. I needed Him more than I ever had.
“I prayed for Him to heal Kristina,” he said. “Friends and family were praying for that too. Strangely, though, when I was finally at peace with the situation, the peace in my heart was something I could not understand, could not explain. It was just a peace from God.”
Jeremy and Kristina were high school sweethearts in Nashville, Tenn. They started college, got married at age 20, and began their family almost immediately.
“It was crazy then,” Jeremy said. “Both of us going to school, having a baby, working, but we made it work.”
Kristina finished her studies as a registered nurse and Jeremy began working in the health care industry. Three more daughters arrived in the next seven years.
“Kristina loved being a mom,” Jeremy said. “Our girls were her life.”
Jeremy said, “We really just loved being around our girls. We arranged our schedules to be with them. Kristina worked weekend night shifts at the hospital in the nursery and NICU while I was home with the girls. Her co-workers told me they loved it when they saw the hospital schedule and knew they’d be working with Kristina.”
“She always put other people before herself,” he said. “But she was a free spirit. She loved to dance around the kitchen. She brightened up any room she walked in. She had a great determination and a stubborn streak, too. If you told her she couldn’t do something, she would work twice as hard to prove that she could.”
Jeremy said he sees that same determination in his oldest daughter, Mackenzie, 15.
“I look at her and see so much of Kristina,” he said. “The same blond hair, blue eyes, and that same determination!”
He sees the same blond hair and blue eyes in all five of his girls. “Each of them has so much that reminds me of their mother,” he said. “I’m really glad of that.”
The girls — Mackenzie, 15; Alexis, 12; Savannah, 10; Sophia, 8; and baby Kristina, 1 — are doing well, Jeremy said.
“We talk about Mommy often,” he said. “I know some people think it’s better to not talk about the loss, just move on, but I want the girls to remember the great times we had with her. I tell them she will always be in our hearts. It’s good to talk about her and remember how much she loved us.”
The family lives outside Fort Lauderdale, Fla., not far from the beach.
“One of the fun things we do as a family is go to the beach at least once a month,” Jeremy said. “You know how it is, if you live close to the beach, you don’t go. But we make it a point to go and have fun together.”
A Year of Firsts
The family attends First Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale.
“When we moved to Florida for my work a few years ago, we didn’t know anyone,” Jeremy said. “I drove past First Baptist on my way to work, so Kristina and I decided to visit there.” Their visit introduced them to what soon became their new church family. “It was a great fit for us and our four girls. It felt like home.”
When Kristina died, the church became a lifeline of ministry for Jeremy and the girls.
“I can tell you for sure, we would not be here without our church,” Jeremy said. “Their support has been phenomenal. Someone is available to us all the time. They provided meals for us for two months. Anytime I needed childcare, someone was available to help. They honestly responded the way you dream the body of Christ would.”
Kristina’s parents moved from Arizona to Naples, Fla., to be closer to Jeremy and the girls. Jeremy called the family support a real blessing.
People who have lost loved ones say the year of “firsts” is especially hard — the first birthday, the first Thanksgiving, the first Christmas, and so on. Jeremy said they have tried to deal with each of the “firsts” in some kind of meaningful way.
They remembered the anniversary of Kristina’s death with fun and reflection.
“We went to Busch Gardens in Tampa and had a great time,” Jeremy said. “It was a lot of fun for the girls.”
Jeremy has been involved in Soaring Spirits, a support group for people who have lost their spouses. “It’s been good for me to be with people who share the loss.”
That same weekend, he and the girls joined others from Soaring Spirits for a night of remembering and celebrating the loved ones they lost. Jeremy and the girls wrote letters to Kristina, then made origami boats out of the paper and launched them on the water. “It was a good weekend,” Jeremy said. “It was purposeful, meaningful. It was good for us.”
God is still at the center of Jeremy’s existence. Holding on tight to his faith and his Father keeps him strong.
“I feel closer to God than I have ever felt before,” he said. “I have to run to Him because if I ever ran away, there would be nothing there for me. I have to trust Him for my girls. They are in His hands.”
In the meantime, he loves being a dad to his five beautiful daughters. “They’re doing great,” he said proudly. “I see so much of Kristina in them. They all have a great sense of humor. They are just little comedians! We laugh a lot at our house.”
Mackenzie is involved with a homeschool association and has lots of homework. Alexis, Savannah, and Sophia are thriving in a Christian school near their home. Baby Kristina is growing and changing every day.
“The girls know that Mommy will always be a part of their lives,” Jeremy said. “I tell them how much she loved them. I want them to feel free to talk about her and celebrate her. Even though we’re sad she isn’t here with us anymore, I want them to know she’s here in spirit. I want them to remember the fun we had as a family. I want them to know Mommy would want them to be happy, to have fun, and to laugh.”
Jeremy said he doesn’t believe that God caused Kristina to die. He doesn’t believe God makes bad things happen. But he does believe God is there when tragedy comes.
“He never left us when Kristina died,” he said. “I had to hold on to Him tighter than I ever had before. He loves us and has a plan for our family. I don’t understand why Kristina had to die, but I know He has a purpose.” •
Polly House is a freelance writer, editor, and photographer living in Nashville, Tenn. In her real life, she’s a wife to an amazing husband, mom to two incredible sons, and mother-in-law to two fabulous young women.
This article originally appeared in the June, 2014 issue of HomeLife. Susbscribe