It Could Have Been Any of Us

Thursday, June 21st will be another day our community was rocked by tragedy. A loving mom did the unthinkable.  In a moment that was out of her routine she left her sleeping child in the car, went in to work and discovered too late that her child was still in the car when she returned.

The thought that keeps pressing in on my mind is that it could have been me. I could have been the one who discovered too late that my sleeping baby was still in the car through the heat of the day and no one could revive her.  I could have been the one who in the pressure of the morning and changing routine who missed the toddler in the rear facing car seat. What parent hasn’t had a moment they caught in time where a lapse in memory caused a moment of danger and what ifs. In this case, it wasn’t even a poor judgement call, it was an accident. It’s that simple and that tragic all at the same time.

In the summer of 2003 we rented a beach house on the Southern Oregon Coast. One afternoon we returned from the beach in our Suburban filled with sandy children. A niece, nephew, three foster children and two we could claim as our own. As we piled out of our rig and into the house we moved to the next activity. At some point about five to ten minutes in I started asking, “Who has Allison?”

Allison (as some of my readers already know) was born with a genetic birth defect that comes with multiple medical and developmental issues. In short, she totally relies on everyone around for her care. She is and always will be completely dependent on us to take care of her. She is also heat intolerant. She cannot process warm temperatures and it can go south for her quickly.

As we rushed to the car we found her sitting and waiting in her car seat. She was hot to the touch and in those few minutes the car had already started to heat up. It could have been our family sitting in tragedy that day. It so easily could have been any of us whose moment out of routine could have turned tragic. We all thought in our minds that something had been taken care of to find out that it wasn’t the case.

The truth is, most of us find out in time. When someone doesn’t, we are gutted. The emotional ripple continues past our own community to those who have questions that will never be answered. Most of us want to know how to prevent it from happening again. Then there are those who believe they are above it all and that it would never happen to them.

I sincerely hope it never does.

This is where a little compassion goes a long way or maybe some will have to dig deep for a larger quantity of compassion. People will have those thoughts. They wonder about the hows and the whys but here is the deal, that precious mama has more “what ifs” than there are trolls on the internet. She has already condemned and questioned herself beyond what any of us can imagine. What is not helpful is when ignorant assumptions and condemnation are voiced. It has been suggested that the request for leniency is akin to giving her a pass. This mother is not getting a “pass”. Her precious child is gone forever.  Her life is irrevocably changed. We don’t need to teach anyone a lesson. Believe me, we have all been shaken by this and the lesson has been more than learned. The request to drop the charges has nothing to do with denying justice, it has everything to do with compassion and circumstances.

This is where mercy and grace step in and lead us all to a healing place. A gaping emotional wound won’t be mended by the harsh criticism and the situation won’t change with ugly words. The hate you exude only compounds the tragedy, it doesn’t elevate our souls.

Exacting punishment will do nothing to improve the situation either, it will only compound the pain in our community. Justice isn’t always found behind bars. Sometimes the natural consequences are enough. In this case, it will be up to the courts to decide whether or not to try the case, not the public and certainly not the media, social or otherwise.  One article by the The Sun exaggerated its claims by reporting that Roseburg was in the middle of a heatwave as well as using an inflammatory headline. If you take in your information through a brief news story you will get it wrong every time. If you filter it through your own pride you will  destroy those around you with your hateful assumptions and set yourself up for your own tragedy. The moment you say something could never happen to you is the when you set yourself on your own pedestal to the detriment of those around you.

Remington was a beautiful, bright child who is already missed. Justice is another word for “right”. To do justice is to do what is right. To be sure, the courts will decide and our DA has a heavy decision that I don’t envy in the least. However, may we always remember sweet Remi and how acts of kindness can heal the wounds of an aching community.

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What Hope Can Do (New Post at The Glorious Table)

Just a few months ago, my dear friend passed away after a relatively short illness. It has depleted my heart in ways I didn’t expect. I’ve felt loss before, but this ache is different, and although I hold the hands of others through pain, I didn’t expect to respond the way I have. The layers of emotions left to sort out are piled high, my soul is drained, and my body feels weak.

Sherry had the gift of hospitality, inviting everyone into her home and serving delicious meals with a side of laughter and honest conversation. She didn’t want a traditional memorial or what she referred to as “a big hullabaloo.” In lieu of a formal service, we hosted an open house to encourage friends to drop in to tell stories, comfort the family, and pay their respects. The family requested my help arranging the food. Her daughters and I pulled out beautiful serving trays from the closet, and my husband brewed pots of coffee to welcome her guests.

As I was standing in the middle of the kitchen halfway through the open house, Sherry’s niece Tiffany leaned over and said, “Jemelene, you need to breathe.”

Read the rest at The Glorious Table.

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How To Live Out Your Dreams Without Boundaries (New Post at The Glorious Table)

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Finding Beauty in the Being (New Post at The Glorious Table)

Christmas. Just the word evokes images of experiences, both unique to our hearts and common to those around us. Trimming trees, baking, shopping, and decorating fill the lists of activities we engage in to make Christmas “feel like Christmas.” The phrase “It just isn’t Christmas without __________ (fill in the blank)” sets us all up for disappointment on those days when real life finds its way into our celebrations.

Read the rest here at The Glorious Table.

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Everything Has a Season

The last leaves are still holding on for dear life. They refuse to see the change of the seasons for what it is. Their refusal to let go does not stop fall or the biting cold air from coming.

It still comes.

The frost will still lay down in the sheets of white to mimic what is to come.

The leaf still clings to the dormant tree though no life is flowing through its branches. Food can’t flow to the veins so to sustain life.

Still, it holds on.

How often do we allow ourselves to remain attached to a seemingly dead tree, long after food has stopped flowing from its branches. Fearing the death of the tree we remain in a place we aren’t meant to be.

The tree isn’t dying.

The tree is adjusting to the changing season. The leaves must let go. When the seasons change we must let go to allow for a time of resting.

The Cross of Christ speaks of a “dying off”  so a new season and a new life can emerge.

This season is full of changes for our family. A bitter wind is blowing as we find those things that require letting go. We must loosen our grip to move into the next season with grace and peace as our strength.

I’m leaning on a verse we have quoted through the hardest times of our lives. It’s been our “moving forward” verse. For now it will be our letting go words too.

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”

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