Austin Parker, Zach’s first cousin, moved to Montana about a month ago. He wanted to be free from the corporate world and to live the life of a true “mountain man.” He was following his dreams and pursuing his passions, which is something I admire so much. 

On Wednesday (July 17th) we got news that Austin was missing. He had been hiking alone on Tuesday (July 16th) at Electric Peak in Yellowstone National Park. The weather turned ugly and Austin called his friend to let him know he was going to descend and come home. 

Once he was not home in a timely manner search teams were notified as was the family. They were able to find him on Thursday, July 18th. He died instantly after falling roughly 300 feet during his efforts to come down the mountain. The fall occurred shortly after his phone call to his friend. Austin was only 23 years old.

{Austin, Zach, Cole, and Jake}

The Parkers are so blessed to be such a tight-knit family and they have never experienced any type of grieving. While that is a blessing, it makes this tragedy even more difficult to handle. It’s so unexpected. So sudden. So hard to understand. A family circle that will forever be broken. 

{The Parker Family}

As all of you know, the Parkers are quite a crew and they all have an intense amount of love for each other. Zach was extremely close to Austin throughout their childhood and all of the cousins have remained close into adulthood as well. With such a large family I am unable to get to know each person on a deep level as individuals. Most of my interactions with Austin were hugs hello and hugs goodbye during family gatherings. However, he was ALWAYS smiling with a grin that truly covered his entire face.

{Zach with Cole and Austin}

The last time we saw Austin was on Father’s Day. We ran by Little Mama and Big Daddy’s house to take Big Daddy his gift and Austin was there. I remember when we left that day thinking about Austin and how great he was with our kids and what a great Daddy he would be someday. I also remember looking at his mother, Aunt Debby, and thinking about how happy she was. And how tough it would be for him to move away. And now here we are. Witnessing parents as they grieve their child is the most heartbreaking thing imaginable. I wish I could do something, anything to help. We all do. We just want to take their pain away. Undo these last few days.

{Casey and Austin}

Please pray for the whole Parker family but especially Austin’s parents (Steven and Debby) and his brothers (Cole and Jake). I pray that they will find strength in each other and will lean on the Lord during this tragic time. So often people say that God will not give you more than you can handle…but that’s not 100% true. He won’t give you more than you can handle with Him. My prayers for them is that they can let God help carry the burden and that His love and peace will completely surround them.

{Austin, Debby, Steven, Cole and Jake}

It is impossible to find the good in such a horrible situation. But I believe in the Truth and that God is GOOD and that somehow, someday we will all be able to see some blessings in all of this. I know Austin was searching for something in Montana. He was on a personal mission and a time of reflection and growth for himself. I hope that his family is able to find comfort in knowing he was fulfilling his personal dreams and that he is now with the Lord forever. 

{The Cat Creek Classic Crew}

No one prepares for this type of thing. No one ever anticipates it. No one even likes to have to fathom it. Unfortunately, during these difficult trials the family can’t just grieve, they also have to worry about finances. They are working to bring Austin home and to lay him to rest in the coming days. There has been a fund set up to help raise contributions for the family and to help cover these expenses. Please share this with as many people as you can. Help spread the word and help this family both by giving financially of what you can but especially by lifting up prayers on their behalf.

You can donate here:

Austin was actually a bit of a blogger himself and I have enjoyed getting to read his personal thoughts. I feel it’s an opportunity for me to get to know him better and I wanted to share his tumblr page with all of you as well. Who knows how Austin’s story may be used to bless others. But I know it will and I am honored to pass it along. So all of you can have the opportunity to know Austin as more than just this post. As who he truly was from his own perspective of the world. 

You can learn about who Austin Parker was through his own words here:

There have been several news reports on this situation and here is one of them:

Thank you again for all of your prayers. We all appreciate it so much and know we will continue to need every prayer possible in the coming days and even longer.  Arrangements have not yet been made but I will update on my blog facebook page once they have been decided. 

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