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October 15, 2021

Father of 4 Tragically Loses Wife but Kind Message from Woman Who Lost Her Husband Heals His Heart

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After a father lost his beloved wife, he was shattered and without hope. Then a kind woman sent him a heartwarming text message that gave him new strength to continue. 

Steve and Wendy Ullmer's love story began in high school, but what started as a romantic journey would turn into tragedy a few years later. They had been happily married for 13 years and had four amazing sons. 

However, their lives took a turn when his wife, a healthy 36-year-old, struggled to breathe during her sleep. He tried to wake her up, performed CPR, and dialed 9-1-1. Sadly, her heart gave in while she was in the hospital. 

A man who lost his wife finds hope, healing and a new blended family because of one text message | Photo: Facebook/erin.stoffel.9

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NOTHING WOULD BE THE SAME

Wendy's death left Steve and his kids devastated. He said: "Nothing would ever be the same. Everything was changing." The family was kept together by the support of loved ones, but one specific text message struck a chord with him. 

Three months after Wendy's passing, a stranger's message caught his attention. It wasn't the content of the text but the name of the sender: Erin Stoffel. A woman who had faced her own unimaginable agony. 

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A DEVASTATING SHOOTING

In high school, Erin met her husband, Jon Stoffel, and they studied together at a Bible College in California. They married young and had three kids. Their eldest was 11-year-old Olivia. They never knew they would face a terrible encounter in May 2015. 

The family took a walk along the Trestle Trail Bridge in Menasha, Wisconsin. In the middle of the bridge, a stranger stood and started shooting at the family without warning. Jon, Erin, and Olivia were hit.

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THEY WERE GONE

5-year-old Selah stood still as she watched the violence unfold. Despite the wound in her leg, Erin's motherly instinct kicked in. She grabbed Selah's hand and ran. In the chaos, she was shot again.   

Erin collapsed, but Selah and her son, Ezra, managed to get away. The mother heard sirens approaching, and when she woke up in the hospital, she was a widow. Her husband Jon and daughter Olivia were gone. 

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"MAY GOD FORGIVE YOU"

Erin recalled her husband's last words to the man who killed him. He said: "May God forgive you." The horrific event changed the family's life. Two years later, a still-grieving Erin sent a text message of encouragement to a stranger. It was Steve. 

Erin's message to Steve felt different. He knew she understood loss. The pair started to share songs and Bible scriptures. They spoke about heavy topics and formed a connection because of their shared pain. 

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HEALING EACH OTHER

A wonderful friendship blossomed, and Steve expressed: "God was using us to help heal each other." When their kids interacted, a similar connection existed. Over time, friendship turned into love, and by 2018, Erin and Steve were married. 

A single text message brought together two grieving hearts and led to healing. It wasn't easy, but they chose to embrace joy and credit their faith in God as the main way they found hope again.  

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