Good morning friends~ Heads up! ~ This is a very personal post.
Today's post is going to be a bit personal as we've had a crazy few days where I live here in Maine. Many of you may have heard about the mass shooting that happened in Lewiston, Maine on Wednesday evening. Well, my daughter lives right between the two locations of where the shooting happened. I didn't hear about it until the following morning, which is probably good because I wouldn't have slept a wink. Thursday morning my hubby got a phone call at 5:00 in the morning asking if they were planning on going in to work that day. My hubby didn't understand the reason for this question either as neither one of us had heard the news.
The caller was on speaker, so I heard the conversation as it unfolded, as he told my husband there was a rogue shooter in Lewiston. I immediately jumped out of bed, needing to know that my daughter and her family were ok. I had no idea of the details, I just needed to know they were ok. I texted her right away expecting not to hear back from her because she was probably still asleep, but I did hear back from her, telling me that they were fine. Praise God!
She told me that they had gotten home just before the shooting happened. They had an appointment for our little "C" at Boston Children's Hospital that day and it's a two and a half hour trip so it made for a very long day. Just minutes after arriving home they heard sirens and then more sirens, and even more. They flipped on the tv to see if they could find out what was going on and heard about the shooting. The gunman at this point was still in the area and on the run and they didn't know where he was. My son-in-law pulled the blinds, locked the doors and turned on the surveillance cameras they have in the driveway and in the entryway leading up to their front door. My daughter's hubby is a licensed fire arm owner so he had it available if needed, as he kept watch. Meanwhile my daughter stayed on the floor with her sweet "C" and played, never letting him out of her sight for the next three hours. She didn't feel comfortable putting him to bed until things had quieted down around 10:00 that night.
The following two days had everyone on edge as they continued to search for the gunman. There were statewide closures and several towns were in lockdown or shelter-in-place. We live 20 minutes from my daughter and where this all unfolded. Though there was little chance that he was in our area, I decided to shelter-in-place as well the following day, while my hubby went to work. The next two days were intense and uncertain while they looked for the gunman, both on foot and by air. The sound of helicopters flying in the air was a constant reassurance that they wouldn't give up until they found him. On Friday evening they found the man who had taken his own life in a dumpster.
For some reason, this bit of information hit me hard and it still brings tears to my eyes as I write this. I'm very, very thankful that this is over and that no more harm came out of this situation. My heart grieves heavy for all those who've lost loved ones, are waiting with hopeful expectation that their loved ones who were harmed will have complete recovery. But how do you ever truly recover from the emotional trauma? How do you ever forget the brutality of the things you've seen? My heart hurts for the man's family, who have to learn to cope with the reality of what their loved one has done. He was a son, a brother and a father who was very, very sick in the mind. I pray for these family members of his, I pray especially for the man's son, that he can someday look beyond the evil and remember better days with his dad. I pray for those who are mentally ill, that they would get the help they need.
Everyone deserves to know that they have value and their lives matter. They are loved by the Creator and there's a place where forgiveness and grace can be met at the foot of the cross. For someone to act in such an evil way on innocent people is beyond what my mind can comprehend. For someone to think so little of the lives of others and in the end, to think so little of their own life and those that love them, to end their life in a dumpster. Does Jesus not love us so much more that He gave His life for us, even as we were yet sinners?
While talking with friends in church on Sunday, we're learning that the people who died were people we worked with, friends of friends, relatives of those we go to church with. The connections to these people are vast and it makes the hurt run even deeper. My dear friend's son is a police officer in that city and he was one of the first responders to the bowling alley. I had heard of his experience and what he saw that terrible night and I won't go into details because it's truly brutal. He had to carry some children who survived the shooting out of the building, past the carnage, covering their heads with a blanket so they wouldn't see the awful scene that lay before them. How does one "unsee" the things they've seen? How do you help a child process all that they've witnessed? How do we ourselves learn to move forward from such a tragic event?
I have no answers, except to turn to God's Word and find comfort in the pages where others who have suffered greatly and found a place of rest and comfort. The Only One who can make beauty from ashes, bringing communities' of people together with a deeper sense of love and compassion. This verse arrived in my inbox today in a devotional and it couldn't be a more timely message.
Isaiah 50:10b: “If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the LORD and rely on your God” (NLT)
If you've taken the time to read this, know that you are of great value to many people, but most especially that God loves you. Know that I love you and I appreciate your kindness and friendship. I've struggled with the choice of whether to post this or not. I am the type of person that processes difficult situations through words, though I don't keep a journal. I usually write my thoughts and throw them away. This day however, I chose to use my computer as the platform for my thoughts. Forgive me if this was too personal. I pray for brighter days ahead for the people of Lewiston and the surrounding towns.