Three hours of terror in the mountains!


Our little camping trip started yesterday with a wonderful evening around the campfire. Just Diane and I and three little girls that we adore. Kialee age 9, Lexi age 7 and little JJ coming up on her fourth birthday. I completely underestimated the love these girls have for a roaring campfire and ran out of wood the first night. This morning we woke up to crisp, (bone chilling) 10,000 ft mountain air. The girls begged for a fire so I headed into the forest with three fairy lumberjacks in tow. I knew that within a hundred yards we would find dry dead aspen that we could drag back to the camp for a fire. We crossed the road, took maybe 10 steps into the woods, and there lay a dead limb perfect for little JJ to haul back to camp. She picked it up and headed for the camper, parked just across the road, visible from where we were standing.

That was the last we saw of her.

It only took three or four minutes to find more dead wood and make our way back to camp. Only a few minutes more to realize that she was gone. By God’s grace a forest service truck came up the road and we got him to call search and rescue. Then we spent the next hour driving that road, yelling her name until our voices were almost gone. Diane and I went into the forest with what voices we had left, shouting, crying, praying. I stumbled into a swampy area went up to my knees in water and stayed right there to pray and weep.

By then she had been gone almost three hours. The feeling of helplessness is overwhelming. The mind begins to entertain the worst possible scenario. The Chaffee County Search and Rescue Team arrived already briefed and prepared. They immediately activated their search plan and before they could even begin the initial sweep they found JJ in an open space. She had walked almost a mile.

She had dropped her stick at the road and come back to look for us. We came out 50 yards up the road and never knew that she had not gone back to camp.

They gave JJ a ride back to camp on an ATV. I will never forget the sight of her smile, and her long blond hair flying behind her. I held her close for a long time. She told the rescuer she was a little scared, but was looking for her grandpa who was lost.

Thank you Lord for helping us find JJ.
Thank you Lord for the swift response of Chaffee County Search and Rescue people.

I have tasted the terror that accompanies searching for a lost little one. Please Lord, be with those who have not had the positive outcome we had today.

Thank you Lord for reminding me of the joy you must feel when one of your lost children finally come home.


  1. no wonder you will never forget today!!! am sure you will never forget the look of that little face when you saw her again too. Glad she is fine.

  2. Thank God you found her! This would be scary enough all on its own-but even freakier if you’ve read the shack.

  3. Ken and Diane,
    SO Thankful to the Lord you found her!! It’s so frightening how very quickly they can disappear! I had goose bumps reading that; feel for you both that you had to go through it, but what a mighty God we serve – and praises to Him for bringing Glory out of terror. Hug each other and the girls tight.

  4. I felt it was happening to me as I read along…thank you Lord it had a happy ending.
    We know You and only You are in control of our steps.

  5. Heart wrenching and beautiful story. THANK GOD for the outcome. I joined you in your last prayer for those who have not had such a good outcome.

  6. I’ve been there, too, Ken. Last summer our then almost 2 year old (it was actually the day before her 2nd birthday) disappeared for 45 minutes during a family get-together at our house… which just so happens to be on a lake. And just so happened to be right after I’d put her suit on her and told her that she’d had to wait to get into the water until after another of her friends had come over…
    The fear… it just wraps itself around your heart and gut and it seems that the only thought that can even go through your mind is constant beg-praying. When the only thought you have is, “Please, God… not my baby. Keep her safe”. Over and over again until you think you’ve lost your mind.
    We, too, were lucky. It just so happened that our daughter snuck into her big sisters bed to take a nap because she was tired. And not only snuck in, but burrowed under the covers so far that when I’d initially checked that room and the beds in it, I hadn’t found her.
    I’m so ecstatic for you, that God brought your precious baby back to you. You’ll never forget it… not once. The fear… the relief to the point of hysterics… Grateful that you, too, have been given this 2nd chance.

  7. Ken,
    Just reading your story made me sick to my stomach. I’m so sorry you had to go through this. But I am thanking God along with you that she is safe and sound!

  8. I had the chills reading this.
    I cannot imagine the overwhelming rush of emotions at the loss of a child in such challenging and unfamiliar surroundings.
    I must say, I have to agree with JJ on this one: her grandpa is most definitely lost!
    If I EVER go camping with you, Ken, I am bringing my own wood.

  9. I am so incredibly glad that JJ was safe. I know how it feels when one of my kids dissappears from sight for a few seconds when we are out.
    This is a beautiful example of the Prodigal Daddy – there is no condemnation of “Where were you???” – “Don’t EVER do that again!!’ – it was a scoop up into the arms and love, thankfulness and unspeakable joy.

  10. I am so grateful that you found JJ. That had to be the three longest hours of your life. Wow! Thanks for sharing this experience.

  11. Wow!!! I am so glad it was you that was lost and not my darling J.J.!! That comment is classic. She is a brave one. It must be genetic.
    The most compelling blog post you have ever written!
    My heart is still beating very fast.
    Thanks, God.

  12. I hope you haven’t read “The Shack”, Ken. Way too close to the front of my mind as I read this. Praise God for her safe recovery.

  13. Wow Ken and Diane – I can’t imagine! I’m thanking Father for his grace. “Pappa is very fond of you” all!… and we love you and Diane and your little JJ too.

  14. I read this blog the moment Ken posted it. I couldn’t even respond. Not having any easier a time with it now. I have no children of my own but am often mocked about how protective I am when I do care for someone else’s children. I have kept a copy of this blog handy as an explanation for when the subject comes up again but my horror also includes the heartbreaking conversation that I’d have to have with the parents if there wasn’t a positive result. I still don’t think those child leashes were entirely a bad idea…

  15. I agree with dm – I read The Shack and it was the first thing I thought of here. Scary. My oldest disappeared for over an hour at a mall when he was 3 – he’s 32 now and I remember it like it was yesterday. The agony, and the relief and thanks to God when he was returned.
    Praise God for His protection on my grandchildren now as well.

  16. I am wiping tears from my eyes as I respond to your story about JJ, Ken. Man, to have gone through that experience must have been gut-wrenching and heart pounding. I can only imagine the pain, the fear, the tears, the pleadings with God. I am writing to say, “Praise the Lord! Thank You, Jesus!” I am so grateful for the outcome. I know you will have a blessed, cherished Thanksgiving.

  17. What an incredible experience for several reasons but the best part is being able to use this story to glorify our amazing God and the rescuer he sent, Jesus Christ.
    It is truly wonderful that you chose to share this touching story as well as sharing what is was like to taste the terror of finding a lost child. You are right, there are many stories out there that end tragically and thank you for including those in your prayer. I felt as if I was there with you. I wonder why I had not seen this blog earlier. I just got this!

    A sister in Christ
    God bless you

  18. Hi Ken, I so much appreciate your ministry. I’m also glad that you were able to find your daughter. We almost lost our 45 year old daughter to an aneurism this past Friday, but God with the help of a surgeon saved her life. Anyway, may the Lord bless you! Thanks for sharing. We met you at Bearcreek Farms this summer , Bryant, IN.

  19. Praise be to God that your sweet baby JJ was found and she is fine. So sorry you had to go through the horror but so glad for the happy ending!!!
    God bless you with a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

  20. I am ‘Praising the Lord’ with you! What a dramatic, terrifying experience…BUT GOD is so good! Like the song writer put it, “He was there all the time” So glad your little one is safe!

  21. Praise God for keeping his hand on her Ken. My heart was in my throat just reading this. So many children go missing each year. I am so thankful that your little one is safely home with you all. Thanking God for his goodness and asking him to continue blessing you and yours.

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  23. I’m so thankful she was found An was safe!! I can only imagine the overwhelming joy that filled your hearts!!! Praise Be To GodPraying for your Ministry Daily!!

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