Crossroads

The IntersectionA terrible tragedy occurred on Saturday morning in Stillwater, Oklahoma.   A car plunged into the Oklahoma State University Homecoming Parade crowd killing four people—including a 2-year-old boy—a child the age of my little granddaughter. Another 47 people were injured, several in critical condition.

It’s understandable that we are angry with the 25-year-old woman who has been identified as the one responsible. Many consider her to be a monster. I myself was angry at her, asking how she could do such a horrible thing, hurting so many innocent people.

But then God reached out and touched my heart—and I remembered. How could I, of all people, not feel compassion for this woman.

Most of my friends will be surprised to read what I’m about to tell you. Only my family and a handful of others are aware of this difficult chapter in my life story.

~~~

Six years ago this past September, I made a left turn at a green light at a busy intersection. I turned—and never saw the motorcycle that was heading toward me from the opposite direction. It all happened very quickly. I remember seeing him only at the very last minute.

That’s all that I remember. The next thing I know, I woke up inside a smoke-filled car with airbags deployed and shattered.

As a result of a split-second decision, my life has never been nor will it ever be the same again. The motorcyclist didn’t make it. I wasn’t drinking; I wasn’t texting; I wasn’t on drugs; I wasn’t speeding; I wasn’t on my cell phone. I simply made a left turn and didn’t see the motorcycle.

I’d like to say I can’t imagine what the driver in Oklahoma is thinking or going through at this moment—but unfortunately, I can. No matter what the rest of us might think of her, she is numb, in shock, feeling desperate, hopeless, full of fear and unbearable anxiety. And she’s just beginning her terrible journey—and I can tell you it gets worse before it ever might get better.

Please understand. I am in no way condoning or excusing this woman’s behavior—whether she was under the influence of alcohol or drugs or mentally unstable. We are after
all, all accountable for our actions. I’m just saying that we’ve been told not to judge or condemn, to love our neighbor, and to forgive others. God offers redemption to even those who seem most unlovable.

So I would ask each of you: Pray for the families of those who lost their loved ones. Pray for the families and the victims who are critically injured and recovering. Pray for all who were touched by this horrific incident.

But also pray for this woman who has to be, inside herself, hurting, too. I know I feel compelled to do so. I hope that you do, too.

 ~~~

In the end, my traumatic journey turned out to be a blessing. The Lord called me, said he loved me, forgave me for this and all my past and future sins, and asked me to follow him. And I said “yes.”

I wish this for everyone who has their own unique walk as they journey through their time on this planet. My family, my friends, all of those affected by these terrible events in Stillwater, Oklahoma—and yes, also for the woman who is responsible.

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Be Strong and Courageous

My mother.

My mother at home in Florida.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid . . . for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”    Deuteronomy 31:6   New International Version (NIV)

 

It’s been four months since I’ve written anything on my WordPress blog. I last wrote as I was getting ready to head for Israel. I was consumed with all my plans and responsibilities—things I needed to get done before I traveled.

Of all the “things” I needed to do, the one that concerned me most was making sure my mother was not alone while her 92-year-old husband, Bob, traveled to New Zealand on vacation with his son—his trip scheduled at the same time I would be in Israel.

I “knew” in my heart it was critical that she be with family in Bob’s absence—and things weren’t working out.  My brother couldn’t get away and Ron graciously offered to bring my mother to Florida.  Still I “knew” that either Dan or I needed to be there also.

Well at the last minute things did all come together—Dan’s business suddenly had a lull and he could be in Florida after all.  And I could head to Israel.

Weeks later, my mother, my brother and I all agreed—it was God at work making sure my mother was not alone, but in Florida with my brother, when the news reached her that her husband, Bob, had passed away while in New Zealand.

When I returned from Israel, we flew back to Minneapolis to begin the work of going through belongings, cleaning out the house, searching through papers, preparing the home for sale, meeting with accountants and lawyers, working with social security—while at the same time always grieving. My mother and Bob had been married nearly 30 years.

The challenges were overwhelming—mold remediation and house foundation issues—all invisible to the eye until we began the process of moving built-in bookcases. At times the challenges were more than a normal 90-year-old could possibly bear.

Now, four months later, things are coming together. The house has been sold, all repairs completed, and my mother has moved to Florida into a wonderful caring community. Almost all of the issues surrounding her husband’s death have been resolved.

Yesterday was a big day for my mother, and last night I Facebook private-messaged her:

“Sleep extraordinarily well tonight! You have had a very good day. God continues to bless you! If you feel up to it, tell him thanks tonight before you go to bed. Love you very very much.”

This was her answer:

“I have thanked him for the positive things and asked for strength to take the knocks. See you in the morning. I love you very much, too.”

Thank you, Father, for this and all your blessings.

Nothing on My Tongue But Hallelujah

From the Hallelujah song by the Canadian Tenors

 
Several weeks ago, I had an 11th Hour with a hospice patient. For those of you not familiar with this term, it means the patient is, in the opinion of medical staff, in their final hours.

I spent several hours with the patient, Lillian (a fictitious name), over a 2-day period. On the morning of the 3rd day when I arrived at the nursing home, I expected to find that Lillian was gone, but by the Grace of God she was alive.

The nurses told me Lillian had miraculously recovered. I stopped by her room briefly to check in on her, then said I’d be back later in the week.

When I arrived at the nursing home the following Saturday, I found Lillian in her usual state—sleeping and nonresponsive. I sat down and started to talk to her. I talked about my mother (both Lillian and my mother are close to the same age), what it must have been like growing up in the Great Depression, being a teenager during WWII. I even played a couple of songs from the 1930s-1940s.

As I was getting ready to leave, I remembered a beautiful, contemporary song that I had just downloaded on my cell phone—the Hallelujah song by the Canadian Tenors.

They tell us in hospice that patients, even when they are nonresponsive, can hear you. Family, friends, and volunteers are encouraged to talk to hospice patients. I love playing music to those I visit.

So I decided to play this song for Lillian before departing. And here’s the amazing thing that happened. Sitting by her bedside, I witnessed a miracle. About 4 and 1/2 minutes into the 5-minute song, Lillian, who never moves or speaks, sat straight up, eyes closed, and began to silently mouth the words “Hallelujah” along with the Tenors as they sang their final chorus.

Startled, surprised, awed, amazed—I can’t really find the right word that precisely describes my thoughts, my feelings, my reaction at that moment. But I can find the words to describe what I think happened that afternoon to Lillian: I believe she was touched by the Holy Spirit. And for that, I say, “Hallelujah!”

 

If you’d like to hear the Hallelujah song, here’s a link to the Canadian Tenors. I chose this version because you can see the lyrics.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8UELF3IATw