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Helen Strickland reveals last texts with husband Craig a year after he was found dead in emotional tribute

ETOnline logo ETOnline 5/01/2017 Antoinette Bueno

Helen Strickland is paying tribute to her beloved husband, Craig Strickland, a year after his death.

The late country singer and his friend Chase Morland were reported missing last December after going on a duck hunting trip in Oklahoma with Craig's dog, Sam. Although Sam survived, both Chase and Craig were later found dead. Craig, the lead singer of local Arkansas band Backroad Anthem, was 29 years old. © Clayton Taylor Photography

"I remember receiving these last texts from him before talking for the last time on the phone -- I'm so thankful God gave me the blessing of getting to say and hear the words 'I love you' to/from him just moments before he and Chase got in their 10ft flat bottom boat,'" Helen Instagrammed on Wednesday, Jan. 4, the one-year anniversary of when her husband was found dead. "It was truly such a blessing the day we found Craig. We were finally able to find some kind of peace knowing he was with his Heavenly Father."

Helen's last texts with Craig included a picture of her cuddling with Sam, which Craig called "precious." The 27-year-old former Miss Arkansas USA, who married Craig in November 2014, is relying on her faith to help her through her loss.

"Losing Craig was not what any of us desired; but as @strickark [Craig's father, Randy Strickland] told me -- when we get sad, we can think of all the ways God will bless others through Craig's story," she wrote. "What a wonderful and humbling reminder that God has chosen Craig's family to help others. ... And one day, I will be so excited to sit with Craig and our Father in heaven, as we tell Craig about all the opportunities his family had to share the love of Christ with hurting people all over the world because of his testimony. What a gift of love that will be."

A year ago today, the search for my husband @backroadcraig concluded. I remember receiving these last texts from him before talking for the last time on the phone-I'm so thankful God gave me the blessing of getting to say and hear the words "I love you" to/from him just moments before he and Chase got in their 10ft flat bottom boat. It was truly such a blessing the day we found Craig. We were finally able to find some kind of peace knowing he was with his Heavenly Father. God showed us then, and continues to show us, that He takes care of his children. While the pain is great that we carry, our Lord will carry the burden if we choose to let Him. A year later, I can testify to God's goodness and the gift of love that He pours out to those in pain. Sometimes His gifts of love aren't what we want or expect-for example, our savior Jesus Christ coming as a baby-but in the end, God's way is always better than what we want for ourselves. God is good, and His ways are perfect- I trust that. Losing Craig was not what any of us desired; but as @strickark told me - when we get sad, we can think of all the ways God will bless others through Craig's story. What a wonderful and humbling reminder that God has chosen Craig's family to help others. At the closing of this year, I am thankful for God's gift of life. And one day, I will be so excited to sit with Craig and our Father in heaven, as we tell Craig about all the opportunities his family had to share the love of Christ with hurting people all over the world because of his testimony. What a gift of love that will be❤ *Please visit the Craig Strickland Foundation homepage to donate to scholarships established in honor of Craig; and be looking for the launch of my new website, which will be the home for my blog/vlog, as well as the place to contact/hire me for speaking engagements. www.craigstricklandfoundation.org

A photo posted by Helen Wisner Strickland (@helenelizabethstrickland) on

The Craig Strickland Foundation was set up in Craig's honor after his death, where fans can donate to provide scholarships.

Last January, Helen said Craig "experienced no pain in his final moments."

"The night of the accident he had fought his way out of the water and up a hill before the stages of hypothermia set in," she wrote on Instagram. "He experienced no pain in his final moments and simply felt like he was falling asleep."


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