Saturday, April 29, 2006

A surreal and scary night

As I am typing these words in the light of morining, last night's events seem like a bad dream. I have to share what happened with you all, partly just to get it off my chest and mostly because I must testify about how God protected our family from a horrific tragedy.

We decided to have a spur of the moment cookout with our neighbors last night. We had just finished eating, and all the kids were playing and jumping on the trampoline. A car pulled slowly into our driveway, about 30 feet away from where we were sitting. Dan, my husband, recognized the car as belonging to a man who has a prearranged service with our funeral home. Even though it was a little late, I didn't think it was too unusual since people stop by frequently to talk to Dan or ask questions about their accounts. However, as I heard my husband's voice, I sensed something was wrong.

I turned back around to look at the car and saw Dan leaned into the driver's side. He appeared to be struggling with the man, and I heard him say,"What are you doing?" I got up to see what was going on, and as I got about to the front bumper of the car, I heard Dan say, "He's got a gun, get the kids into the house!" I could see that Dan was still struggling with the man, but turned and ran to get the kids to safety. As one of the other adults called 911 on his cell phone, I rushed into our neighbors's home, where I stayed with the children. The other adults were still outside. For several long and scary minutes, we waited inside, away from the windows, not having any idea what was happening outside. My daughter was hysterical, and I asked her what we do when we are scared. She answered, "pray" and my children and I hit our knees right there in the kitchen, along with our neighbor's kids, and prayed fiercely.

Finally, our neighbor came into the house and told us everyone was OK. The police had arrived and taken the man into custody. Apparantly, this man has a terminal illiness and severe mental health issues. It also appeared that he had been drinking. He told the police that he had decided to take his own life, and in his confusion and despair, believed that it would be most appropriate to commit the act at the funeral home. However, his gun was fully loaded, and we will probably never know exactly what was in his mind.

I eventually learned that when Dan approached the car, the man told him to get the kids into the house. He saw a snubnosed shotgun on the floorboard as the man reached for it, and Dan grabbed it at the same time. Dan was able to get his hand over the trigger guard, and he and the man struggled over the gun, with the man trying to pry Dan's fingers away so he could reach the trigger. Dan was eventually able to wrestle the gun away from the man and unload it just before the police arrived.

I cannot express with words how proud I am of my husband. His courage and fast thinking saved that man from harming himself. I am humbled by the knowledge that he was willing to sacrifice his own safety to protect his family. Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

Truly God's hand of protection was on us last night. Our decision to cookout was spontaneous, and if we hadn't, no one would have been outside to stop the man, or even worse, the kids might have been playing outside alone. I know God gave Dan the strength to get the gun away from that man and at the same time keep the trigger covered.

I would appreciate your prayers, in thanking the Lord for His protection, for my children as they deal with the trauma of the incident, and especially for the man and his family. He so desperately needs healing and the hope of Jesus.

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