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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Learning to Live Again

Learning to Live Again

Recording artist Tammy Trent describes how God's comfort and love have sustained her since her husband died in a tragic accident on the eve of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Original Air Date: July 24, 2009


John Fuller: On today’s “Focus on the Family,” singer Tammy Trent shares how God answered this prayer.


Mrs. Tammy Trent: I said, “Lord if any of this is real, if heaven is real, could You just send me somebody–a woman’s touch, somebody to hold me? Could You just send me one angel? Just one angel, somebody to hold me?”

End of Teaser

John: You’ll hear why Tammy was so desperate for that comfort and how God intervened on today’s program with Focus president, Jim Daly and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: You know, John, when we hear top Christian singers like Tammy Trent on the radio, it’s so easy to think that they’ve got it made. You know, they’re getting paid to make music and go out and do concerts and it just looks like a great life, you know, what everybody would want to do, at least from the outside.

But today Tammy’s going to share a tragedy that occurred about six years into her music career, after she had several hits on Christian radio, a tragedy that caused such intense pain that she actually compares that experience to having to learn to breathe all over again.

John: And actually, that’s a reference to the title of her autobiography, Learning to Breathe Again, which chronicles the life that she shared with her husband, Trent Lenderink. And we’ve got copies of that book here at Focus on the Family.

Jim: And it’s a great book and Tammy has been through a lot, but you know what? It’s in those desperate times that we can see the hand of God at work and that’s why Tammy’s message is so important to share with you. And I hope it will be an encouragement to you if you’re in a similar place.

John: And Tammy Trent has recorded six studio albums. Her latest is called Sunny Days. She sought after for conference speaking and was with the Women of Faith tour for four years and that’s where this message was recorded in Oklahoma City a number of years ago. Tammy Trent now on “Focus on the Family.”


Audience: (Applause)

Tammy Trent: My life has been a complete adventure, it feels like my whole life. Um, I met this kid when I was 15-years-old in my youth group back home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And um … I had come from a really charismatic church uh … where we lifted up our hands we worshiped the Lord and we sang “Jehovah Jirah” 77 times in a row. (Laughter) And I will never forget this one particular Wednesday night I was at church and … and sitting there with my girlfriends in the pew and we were worshipping the Lord and singing “Jehovah Jirah.” And I looked in the back and I saw in … come walking in the three yummiest guys I had ever seen. (Laughter) I was like, “Thank you, Jesus.” (Laughter)

And they walked in and they were these big athletic, totally football-lookin’ men. And I thought surely one of them would like to date me. (Laughter) But then the coolest thing happened. As they walked in and they found their seats, I started to watch them. The first thing that they did was begin to lift up their hands and worship the Lord. There was something so absolutely attractive about that moment to me, girls–young girls, especially you. I thought it was so attractive and so cool. And I thought surely, I have got to meet this guy.

[I] found out that we lived on the same side of town, which was so perfect. Now we got to go to fellowship group together, got to know each other. I could not date until I was 16-years-old, but it was right before my 16th birthday when we … when we met. And meeting him at that time in my life, I thought, “Jackpot, happy birthday to me.” (Laughter) So, I thought this was gonna be an incredible relationship.

When we turned 16, we both were able to start dating and it was the best dating relationship of my life. This was a young man that was so driven by the things of God and yet, he was so fun about it, so full of life and it was so important to him my growth in the Lord. And you know, even in our youth group back at that time, we talked very heavily about True Love Waits and purity. And I believe so much in that and for that and I stood for that, but I’m gonna tell ya, I struggled so much with it, because I was so in love with this guy; I was so in love with him.

But I’m gonna tell you, every time I was weak, he was the stronger one, which was so amazing to me, every single time. (Applause) But he would tell me things like, you know, “You are such a gift from God to me and God’s got a plan for us together, Tammy. And I know that a big part of that is remaining pure in our mind and our hearts.” And he would tell me, “It’s gonna be worth the wait, girl; I promise you.” And he was so right. It was … my spirit was longing to be strong, but my flesh was so weak, you know.

And I … I finally married him, ’cause I couldn’t take it anymore. (Laughter) We were married for 11 years and they were the greatest years of my life. My 18 years of being with him, I can never remember a time where he ever spoke cruel [sic] to me or unkind to me, ever, ever remember a time–times when I completely, completely deserved it. If you’re anything like me, where you go through those seasons once a month and (Laughter) for like three or four days for me and it’s just you know, you just can hard … why did I share that? I have no idea. (Laughter)

But you go through that time and it’s just all that you can take to keep it inside and it just … it usually comes out on the one that you love the most, ’cause you know that they trust ya. And I would always do that to him and sometimes I would look and say, “Baby, why don’t you just tell me to be quiet or yell back at me or get in the car and drive away because my mouth is all you could take at that moment?” And he would tell me, “Because I never want you to know hurt. I never want you to think I would ever leave you. I’ll never leave you. I know your heart. I know who you are.

He always spoke life into my spirit, always speaking the things of God, always wanting the things of God for my life. He was so gentle about sharing the love of Jesus to me. In times when he totally could’ve spoken back to me or thrown Scripture at me, he would gently write it on a sticky note and stick it around the house, you know and stick it on my computer, on the [re]frigerator or in the bathroom, little notes like, “Thou shalt not explode” of something. (Laughter) He was always so much fun and full of life. There was never a time I ever remember seeing him in a bad mood. He always thought the best of people. And he always was full of hope and life.

I signed a record deal in 1995 and I ended up taking his first name as my last name, because we truly were in this together and I came up with the name Tammy Trent. Trent began to travel with me all over the country. And he would manage me often and he would call the churches ahead of time and talk to the pastors or the promoters and he’d get a great relationship going with them and they just loved working with him.

And we’d pull up to that church and I’d walk in and I’d say, “Hi, I’m Tammy Trent.” And they’d go, “Great to meet you; where’s Trent?” (Laughter) You know, they’d just, “We … we [are] looking for Trent.” And I’m like, “But hey, but I’m a singer; he can’t sing at all.” (Laughter) But it was such a reflection of both of us. We were together 24 hours a day. We were never apart since we were 16-years-old, building dreams for our future. I couldn’t imagine living without Trent. He was the kind of man that I prayed for my whole life.

I remember one time being sick in bed and I rarely ever got sick, but I remember one time waking up in the middle of the night and not wanting to wake him, but Trent hearing me and he sat up immediately and he said, “Baby, are you okay?” And I said, “Trent, I’m just … I’m not feelin’ good.” And the first thing that he did was begin to lay his hands on me and begin to pray for me. And I’ll never forget this. He took his hand and he brushed it across his forehead as if to take oil from his forehead and he brushed it across my forehead [and] began to pray for me: “God, bless my wife; heal my wife, Jesus. Touch her, Lord.” Always that kind of man in my life.

September of 2001, we were asked to go over to Jamaica on a mission trip. So, the fun that Trent is, he said, “You know what? Let’s go a week early and we’ll vacation and we’ll have a great time.” And we did and we stayed at this all inclusive place, so we were sorta trapped with each other all week. But we got to play basketball and volleyball and shuffleboard and we climbed one of those rock mountain wall “thingies” and it was incredible.

Program Note:

John: This is “Focus on the Family” and we’re listening to musical recording artist, Tammy Trent and in just a few moments you’ll hear the event that changed her life forever. If you can’t stay with us, get a CD of this program or Tammy’s book, Learning to Breathe Again when you call 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or get the book and an audio download of this presentation at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio . Let’s return now to Tammy Trent on “Focus on the Family.”

End of Program Note

Tammy: After we were finished with our vacation, we headed over to this place called the Blue Lagoon. We had one day off in between the vacation and the mission trip, so Trent wanted to go over to this Blue Lagoon and explore. Trent has been a scuba diver since he was 12-years-old–incredibly experienced. And um … we went over there and he wanted to explore down in this hole that went 240 feet deep. And uh … we sat there on the side of the dock, had lunch together and then Trent suited up. And this particular afternoon, Trent wanted to go free diving and that’s where you go diving without oxygen and without tanks. And he could hold his breathe up to five minutes under water; he was so good at it. He’d practice every night in the bathtub. (Laughter)

So, we sat there and we talked for a while, while he suited up and his underwater scooter was right there and he said, “Baby, I’m just gonna go in the water and I’ll be gone for 15 minutes and when I’m done we’ll … we’ll go do something that you want to do.” So, I sat there and I watched Trent get into the water. And he swam to that hole and halfway between the dock and the hole, he came back up out … out of the water and he waved goodbye to me and I had no idea that, that would be the last time that I would ever see Trent again.

And I sat there on the side of the dock and I watched him for a while come up and down for breath and I then I sorta got sidetracked and I began to watch some other snorkelers. And then there was a boat that came into that Lagoon and went right over the hole and turned around and went right back over the hole and then it docked. But it was a moment that absolutely took my breath away.

And then I started to watch at that hole for Trent. I knew that I’d have to see him every 5 minutes, so I watched. Five minutes went by; 10 minutes went by, 15. And then I went over and I asked that boat if you’d please take me out and look for my husband; he’s in the water. And as I got in that boat, I was fighting fear and I was saying, “God please, please God. This is okay; this is okay; Trent is okay; Tammy you’re okay.”

So, I pulled myself together and they started to look around that hole and they couldn’t find anything. And then we looked on the outskirts of the lagoon and couldn’t find anything. So, we went back to the dock and I called in a dive team. I said I know he’s in there. Three people went in to look for Trent and as they did that, I realized that I was absolutely all alone. Here I was falling apart. I didn’t even know where we came from, where we were going. I didn’t know where I was and nobody was around.

So, I grabbed my towels and went into a back room of this restaurant and I sat in the corner and with tears racing down my face, all I could do was lift up my hands toward heaven and say, “Jesus, Jesus, help me, God; help me; help me God; help me.” And then I began to sing every praise song that I could think of, ’cause that was the only thing at that moment that was bringing life to me, that was comforting my spirit. It was the only thing.

And three hours went by and they came and then said, “Tammy, we cannot find Trent.” I said, “Then I will stay here the night till you start in the morning again, ’cause I will not leave this island until we find him. And they said, “You cannot stay here, but we’ll take you up to a home about a mile away and you can stay there with a couple doctors that will look out for you through the night.”

So, I went up there. Was on the phone the entire night and the next morning the doctor came in and he said “I want to show you something on the television”. This was the morning of September 11th. So, I went into that other room and I stood there watching the television as the second plane plowed into the Twin Towers. And I absolutely thought that this is the end of the world. If you ever felt like that … I never had until then. I thought. “This is it.”

And then I found out that my family was grounded on planes all across the country. Nobody could get to me. So, I fell to the ground and I said, “God, why? Why, do I have to go through all this? What part of my prayer isn’t workin’? What am I doin’ wrong?” And then I got the phone call that they had found Trent in that hole and he had not survived. that something had struck him on the back of the head.” And as I sat there crying and sobbing and not knowing what to do, all alone, Trent’s dad walked into the room. He was the only one that caught a flight out of L.A. the night before on a business trip. And he was now there to walk out the next 10 days of this horrible journey of my life.

Program Note:

John: Tammy Trent’s story is told in her book, Learning to Breathe Again and you can get that and a CD or audio download of this message at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio or call 1-800-A-FAMILY.

End of Program Note

Tammy: The greatest part of this story is this. The next morning, we got into the car and we headed to Kingston where Trent and I were originally now planning on going. Stayed at the same hotel. Walked in there together now with my father-in-law, without Trent. We got adjoining rooms, so he could watch out for me. And that next morning, he wanted to go back to the lagoon so he could explore and I … I just couldn’t go; I didn’t have the strength.

So, I stayed behind and when I realized that he was gone, I just had a cry and I just shouted and I just screamed. And I asked God; I said, “Lord if any of this is real, if heaven is real, if You are real, could You just send me somebody–a woman’s touch, somebody to hold me? Could You just send me one angel, just one angel, somebody to hold me?”

And then something came out of my spirit that said, “Tammy, get up and move.” And as I tried to walk, I could barely breathe. I was hanging onto everything I could. I just started to walk and I could hear somebody in the other room and my room was a mess, ’cause I drug all of my blankets into the bathroom the night before. And I could hear her though and I just felt like I just … I want my bed made. And I … I looked in there and there was a woman standing in a Hilton housekeeping outfit. And I said, “Ma’am could you just come in and make my bed? And she said, “Yes, I’ve been trying to get to you,” she said. “I’ve been trying to get to you; I could hear you crying.” She said, “Could I just come in and hold you?”

And I said, “Yes, you can.” And she walked in and the moment she did, she wrapped her arms around me and she began to pray for me. I had no idea that she was a believer and she had no idea that I was a believer. But there we sat in an embrace, crying and praying. And I thought to myself, “Wow! I had no idea that angels wore Hilton housekeeping outfits.” (Laughter) I would have called her sooner. (Laughter)

So, then we released and she began to make my bed. And I went into the other room and I could hear her singing praises unto the Lord and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard and she was so off key. (Laughter) But I sat there in that other room and there was a Bible on the table. And I said, “Jesus, could You just give me one more thing today? Something more, give me something–a word.”

And I opened up that Bible and it took me right to Psalms 30 verse 5, which told me this, that, “Tammy, although you may mourn and you may cry and it will endure throughout the night, probably throughout many nights for the rest of your life, My joy always comes in the morning. My joy will always be there for you, Tammy. It will be the very thing that will bring you back to life that will cover your grief.”

It was at that moment, I stood up with this big smile on my face. I felt joy and it was absolutely unspeakable joy, because it was the saddest moment of my life, but I stood up to that window and I said, “Jesus, if You could show Trent a glimpse into my life at this moment, show him this moment, that I’m gonna be okay, that I’m happy, that he didn’t do this to me and You didn’t do this to me. God, You love me more than that. And although nothing makes sense, although I don’t understand a thing, God, I know that together we will survive, that You will cover me, that You will heal me, that You will lead me, because You are my Father.”

There’s been great healing in my life, but to be honest with you, I think I’ll be healing the rest of my life. But because of Christ, because of hope, because of salvation, because of Heaven, Trent is now a part of my future, not my past. Do you know what I mean? (Applause)

I came home and I walked away from everything in my life and just asked Jesus to put my life back together again. Singing and traveling was absolutely the last thing I ever wanted to do without Trent again. But I started writing a few months ago and one of the first songs I wrote, it’s a praise song and it’s a love song to Jesus in the middle of losing the greatest love that my heart has ever known. It takes me back to that room in Jamaica with my hands lifted high.


I’m okay, yes, I am. Will somebody hold me? Here I am; here I am, Lord, yes. I need You now. Can’t see so well. I need You, Jesus, ’cause I love You; I love You. I love You, Father God, Father God. Oh, I love You.


John: Well, that’s Tammy Trent and a beautiful way to wrap this edition of “Focus on the Family” up, as she shared her story of losing her husband in a diving accident after 11 years of marriage, but still keeping her eyes on God.

Jim: Well, and this message was recorded two years, just two years after Trent died and you can still hear the anguish in Tammy’s voice. And yet, instead of becoming reclusive and bitter, which is often what happens, Tammy chose to take a step of faith and allow the Lord to move through her and because of that, she’s been able to reach out and encourage many, many others who have experienced a profound loss and that’s how God can bring beauty out of the ashes in our lives.

And I can relate to that. I mean, I could feel that as a child. When my mom died at 9-years-old, I thought the world had ended. And yet, God knew there was more to the story. It just hadn’t blossomed yet and it was hard to walk those days and it was hard to trust and to hope when that kind of pain comes into your life. But you know what? God is faithful and even on those days I felt that sorrow and I didn’t know what tomorrow would be, there was something in me that trusted that God knew that pain and would redeem it somehow.

John: Well, I can’t help but think about all the people who are listening right now who have recently lost a loved one. There’s some other difficulty in their life. They’re havin’ a hard time believing that anything good, Jim, could come of it every.

Jim: That’s so true and it’s a hard Scripture, Romans 8:28; we know it. It’s a hard Scripture to simply present to somebody who’s gone through some pain. I kinda made that mistake with Jean when she lost her brother to suicide. I said to her, “You know, Hon, I don’t know how it’s gonna work out, Romans 8:28 says that all things will work for good to those who love the Lord and are called by His name.” And I remember she looked at me, because it was a moment of deep pain and she said, “How can anything good come out of this?” But it did. It took time, but that family rallied and healed in so many ways and God worked through that in that case.

And I want to say to you, if you’re in a spot where you are feeling maybe desperate, maybe distant from the Lord, we have caring Christian counselors here at Focus on the Family,” who are here to help. They want to talk with you, perhaps provide resources to you, whatever you might need. We have an extensive referral network of other Christian counselors throughout this country. And uh … they would be glad to spend some time with you on the phone and also refer you to a local counselor who can continue to work with you. It’s part of the healing process and the Lord knows the human heart and grief. He wired us. He knows there’s a purpose in it. I think it’s to help us feel what He feels and uh … I hope you will take us up on this offer. We have supporters who have made it possible to staff the counseling department and to have people there to be there for you. Call us, because we want to help you in the name of Christ.

John: Our number is 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459 and I’m sure we’ll get a lot of calls today and so, we may have to take down your information and have one of those counselors call you back.

Jim: Again, please make that call. Take advantage of what the folks have provided here to help you through our counseling department.

Um … also, here is a recent blog post that I want to read where Tammy describes how she has gotten through the grieving process. She said, “God is our ultimate hope. God is our ultimate healer and when we bring Him all of our broken pieces, He will turn our ashes into beauty if we’ll let Him. Healing takes time and I know it’s hard, but we have to trust that God is still in control when everything else seems out of control. You’re never alone and you will get through this, not somehow, but triumphantly.” That is powerful.

John: And as Tammy writes there, she’s captured some of those same similar thoughts and perspectives in her book, Learning to Breathe Again and the subtitle is Choosing Life and Finding Hope After a Shattering Loss. And we’ve got that here at Focus on the Family.

Jim: And I want to make that available to all of you for a donation of any amount. So, help us be there for the folks that need us and uh … we’ll send it along to you as our way of saying thank you.

John: You’ll receive that book when you call us and make a financial contribution of any amount. Our number is 800- A -FAMILY or stop by www.focusonthefamily.com/radio . And if you’d prefer to contribute by mail, send your check to 8605 Explorer Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80920.

Be sure to join us again tomorrow when we’ll hear from Dr. Tony Evans. He examines your role in the upcoming elections, as we once again, help you and your family thrive. Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Focus president, Jim Daly, I’m John Fuller. Thanks for listening.

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Learning to Breathe Again

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