Rebecca Crownover lost more than her husband in 2009 when an ATV accident cost Adam Crownover his life. She lost her faith, too. At a time she was struggling to come to grips with the tragedy, Crownover was also at a loss how to explain to her daughter—then 2.5 years old—that daddy wasn’t coming back.
Out of that abyss came a children’s book, “My Daddy Is in Heaven With Jesus.” The book put the events into words that Acie, Crownover’s daughter, could understand. But it’s done more than that. While Crownover could never imagine it at the time, she became an inspirational figure through overcoming personal loss.
Nearly a decade later, Crownover finds herself as a popular keynote speaker at faith-based events. She doesn’t consider herself special, but knows the book has helped many children and parents in similar circumstances. Crownover rediscovered her faith along this journey, yet her path continues to be tied back to the accident in 2009.
Her story has been adapted into a new movie, “My Daddy Is in Heaven,” a more mature look at losing her husband and faith than the kid’s book. “I felt it was important to see an inside look at what we all went through at the time and tell the real story, including the child piece but also from an adult perspective,” Crownover says.
That doesn’t make it easy. The film, which came out on DVD this week, has reopened old wounds—especially for Acie. Through some counseling and just by growing up, the youngest family member has, too, has come to terms with life without a father.
When her daughter was younger, Crownover relied on one message: “One of things I always told my daughter is we can’t be mad at God,” she says. “Jeremiah 29:11 says God has huge plans for us and He doesn’t want us to be unhappy.”
Repeating simple thoughts, Crownover says, is the best way to connect with youth, especially when dealing with difficult moments. It certainly worked with her daughter.
“Our relationship has become stronger and stronger, and that’s been a good thing,” says the single mother.
Crownover likes that the movie doesn’t gloss over her family’s hardship. “It really takes the raw emotion and doesn’t sugar coat it,” she says. “It’s a really good portrayal of life.”
The best part is there is a happy ending—at least to the extent there can be. Crownover has become a successful speaker, in part because she is relatable to audiences.
“I came from a small town; I wasn’t valedictorian or anything; I struggled through college,” she says. “It doesn’t matter where you came from. It matters where you are going and allowing God to guide you.”