Davey Blackburn, the Indianapolis pastor whose pregnant wife was murdered in a violent home invasion, has announced he is engaged - and is excited to "celebrate God's redemption in our story."
Nearly two years after his 28-year-old wife's death, Blackburn, pastor of Resonate Church, announced the happy news in a lengthy blog post.
"Yep. It's true. I'm engaged!" he wrote. "I know for MOST of you this comes as a complete surprise so let me back up and tell you how I met this girl and how we got to this point."
The pastor said he had decided he wouldn't pursue anything with anyone "no matter who it was until after the one year anniversary of Amanda's death."
"I knew this is what God put in my heart and I was going to stick to it," he wrote. "In fact I kept my wedding ring on until Nov. 11th, 2016-one year after Amanda's death."
When he met his now-fiance, Kristi Monroy, he had just starting writing the book Nothing Is Wasted: A True Story of Hope, Forgiveness, and Finding Purpose in Pain. The process of writing the book, he said, "was bringing a lot healing, so much so that I started to feel like it was healthy enough to poke my head up and be open to God bringing another woman into my life."
"I realize for many people this may seem a bit soon and trust me, it did to me as well," he wrote. "But I had been exposed to some incredible people and environments over 2016 who helped me get to a healthy place after losing Amanda and I thought I was going to be ready soon to put myself out there again."
At first, he had apprehensions dating because he's easily recognized by people who know his family's story.
"I couldn't be seen out in public with a girl! Everywhere I went in the city I'd regularly get stopped by people who knew my story. What would people say about the pastor who lost his wife a year ago to murder and was going out on the town with random girls?"
When the trial for the men accused of murdering Amanda was delayed, Blackburn spoke wiith the prosecutor to ensure his relationship status wouldn't affect the case. The prosecutor told him, "You have to do your best to move forward with your life because you never know when this trial will actually happen."
Still, Blackburn had some "hesitation and apprehension," but "the connection I felt with this girl seemed to outweigh the sadness I felt with the absence of Amanda."
So on Wednesday, November 8 he proposed to Kristi, and they are going to get married next month.
"Her family, my family and Amanda's family are all excited about it and give us their blessing," he wrote. "This past Sunday we went to our church with the news and had our staff and some overseers pray over us. It was an extremely special moment and I immediately felt a huge weight lift off of my shoulders as soon as everything was out in the open.
"We can't wait to celebrate God's redemption in our story!" Blackburn concluded. "We're excited about sharing more of our stories (and our story together) with you over the coming weeks, months and years. Thank you for everything you're doing to remind us that truly Nothing is Wasted and that The Lord is using our pain to help you as you live learn and lead through yours."
Davey and Amanda Blackburn had originally been on staff at NewSpring Church before they made the decision to plant their own church in Indianapolis.
Amanda had been at home with the couple's 15-month-old son when three young men, Larry Jo Taylor Jr., 18; Jalen Watson, 21; and Diano Gordon, 24, entered through an unlocked door in a robbery attempt. Taylor later admitted that he had shot Amanda when she charged at him during the invasion.
During an interview with former NewSpring Church pastor Perry Noble, Blackburn said he has forgiven his wife's killers.
"I wasn't ever going to feel like forgiving them [Amanda's killers]. Just point blank: You're never going to feel like forgiving someone for doing something to you that is irreparable... What I realized is that forgiveness is a decision. And it's not just a one-time decision. It's a daily decision."
"Everyday I have to wake up... and I have to decide to forgive. And here's why I decided to decide to forgive: it's because bitterness and unforgiveness is going to be a cancer to no one else except for me. And it's going to eat me up inside if I hang on to that."
Indianapolis police later learned that Blackburn's death was part of a violent, eight-day crime spree, court documents say. In October, Watson pleaded guilty to one count of robbery and two counts of burglary, according to court records. Taylor and Gordon are still awaiting trial.