A profile on Emily Kraines by Lindsay Swoboda
Photographed by Barbara Powell, Designed by Eileen Diaz
Emily Kraines and her family live a legacy of faith. Emily remembers that when she and her husband Peter were dating, they read Tim Keller’s book, The Meaning of Marriage. While reading, passages about how the purpose of their marriage was not to make them happy but to make them holy resonated with them. In the book, Keller shares a metaphor for marriage: turning marble into sculpture.
Could Emily and Peter think of each other as a marble slab? They committed to assisting and encouraging one another to become beautiful sculptures to present to God. Emily says, "Sometimes in a marriage, it’s really hard. You are chiseling away and it’s painful and tough, but prayerfully you work through it. And sometimes it’s smooth sailing. But you go through these seasons to present this sculpture to God one day.”
Peter was a pararescueman. On October 6th of 2019, he left on orders to Boise, Idaho for rock climbing training. Emily was pulled from her bed two days later. Emily shares, “I was woken at midnight with people banging on my door. I was halfway down my stairs, our front door has a window, and I looked out the window to see the blue Air Force uniforms. I knew immediately then what had happened. At that time, our two-and-a-half-year-old son was asleep upstairs and I was four months pregnant with our daughter. That is where we are today. I am now a widow with two little kids.”
That night, Emily found that her foundation of faith was the only thing she stood firm on. She remembers, “My first reaction was that [Peter] was in heaven with Jesus. It was the first time in my faith, in my relationship with Jesus, when [I questioned], ‘Do you believe what you say?’ I have said for years, if you have a relationship with Jesus you will go to heaven when you die. God placed it on my heart that [Peter] was in heaven with Jesus. That gave me such a sense of peace in such a hurricane of emotions. The truths I had been believing for years, I believed.”
While Emily found presence and peace at that moment, her hurricane continued. There were so many layers of challenges ahead. Emily shares, “My walk with God was most challenged after I gave birth to my daughter in February 2020 and the COVID pandemic started in March. I saw in God’s word that He designed us to be in relationships, but He seemed to continue to take away my relationships. He took away my husband, who was my best friend, and partner in this world. Then a few months later, our world completely flipped and we weren’t allowed to be with other people. In a season when I needed people most, it seemed that God was continuously removing them from me.”
While the hard times persisted, Emily faced a choice to build foundations of faith that have grown even stronger. She says, “Each challenge that God has brought into my life over the past three years has always been a redirection and deeper step into my faith. The road has been messy, but my eyes have been fixed on Jesus, knowing that He is the author and perfecter of our faith. When I think of the structure of our story, it has always been another layer of grief revealed whether emotionally or circumstantially, to reveal more about God or our relationship with Him.”
Emily wants to encourage others to pursue God with a fervent heart. “We never know what will hit us. Know the word of God and what His actual promises are, not what we think His promises are. I had to wrestle with that in the beginning, and I still wrestle with that.” She shares this sentiment especially when it comes to her children.
“[My children] are two examples of the greatest gifts, but in very different ways. My son gave me the opportunity to see Peter as a father for two-and-a-half years, with many memories and tender moments that we share about often. He held my hand at the dignified transfer, memorial service, and funeral. He is able to share about his dad with his little sister, which is a heavy role for a five-year-old, but he does it so graciously and lovingly.”
Emily also reflects upon raising her daughter. “My daughter was my undeserved gift from God, the newness of life from death. With death, everything is final and in the past. With her, she was something new from Peter that was the greatest gift to many hurting people.” She acknowledges another challenge. “Our daughter will not meet her father until she is in heaven. That is hard for me to wrestle with still. Peter was a phenomenal father.” But even in her wrestling, she has clung to hope. “[There is a promise] that God is the Father to the Fatherless.”
In sharing her family’s story, Emily remembers her commitment to Peter, to regard one another as marble slabs for refining, creating beautiful sculptures for God in heaven. She shares, “Peter was presented as a sculpture to God. I don’t know exactly what that sculpture looked like, but I know I will one day. God used me in his life to do that. And yes, I thought we were going to have much, much longer together to work on that sculpture. But I can trust that it was presented to God, and be reassured in that. My eyes are fixed much more on eternity now, rather than things in this world because I know, on a deeper level, that is the only foundation that we have.”
Emily would like to offer the following resources in support of anyone finding themselves in grief:
Nothing is Wasted Pain to Purpose | Online Course from Nothing is Wasted Ministries
Walking with God through Pain and Suffering | Book by Timothy Keller
Suffering is Never for Nothing | Book by Elisabeth Elliot
Companions in Suffering: Comfort for Times of Loss and Loneliness | Book by Wendy Alsup
*This interview features quotes from Emily Kraines' interview on the Ordinary Celebrity podcast by Jeff Noble.*
Continue Reading Volume VIII of Legacy Magazine
To continue reading Volume VIII of Legacy Magazine, order your copy here. Volume VIII will give you the clarity, courage, and inspiration needed to move into a purposeful, value-aligned life. Experience a newfound confidence to take control of your life. Uncover a hope that living and serving in this lifestyle does not need to hinder your personal growth, dreams, or ambitions. Believe in the power of your own voice, your own story. Agency is within your grasp.
Editorial Designed by Eileen Diaz