Family Murdered, A Pastor’s New Life, ‘Still Wrestling’

Life after the murder of a loved one doesn’t have to mean …. ‘there’s no reason to live’, ‘God doesn’t exist’! One of the most stunning things God showed me after Marc was taken is that having love ripped from me didn’t mean life would not have purpose again or Marc’s life purpose was over. Death doesn’t have to produce a vacuum of love so much as a chance to expand our capacity to love.

Pastor Ferguson shares his ‘take’ on life after murder, and his surprise at finding renewed love and purpose. His reflections are close to the heart, a truly good story!

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Article from Clarion Ledger – Billy Watkins                                                                     Oct. 2, 2017

It’s all there, in 53,000 words that took Les Ferguson four years to write and revise.

His journey to becoming a Church of Christ minister, just like his father. His life as a husband, father of three and leader of Orange Grove Church of Christ in Gulfport.

Yes, his real-life nightmare is in there, too: The slaying in 2011 of his wife, Karen, and their 21-year-old special-needs son, Cole, by a congregation member. Their assailant, Paul Buckman, 70, had been arrested and charged with molesting Cole weekly for about three months and was out on bond until a grand jury could hear the case.

It happened on the couple’s 24th wedding anniversary.

Ferguson wrote about his scuffles with God, how he suddenly doubted every sermon he had preached, how he privately vowed to never set foot in a pulpit again.

And he writes of his new life as pastor of Lake Harbour Church of Christ in Ridgeland since 2014, his marriage to Becki — “my miracle,” he calls her — and his renewed faith that has led him to become a more passionate teacher of the Scripture than ever before.

His book “Still Wrestling: Faith Renewed Through Brokenness” (Leafwood Publishers, $14.99) can be found at amazon.com.

“Writing this book really was like giving birth,” says Ferguson, a contributing faith columnist for The Clarion-Ledger. “It was pulled out of me, kicking and screaming.

“It was harder to write about than I ever imagined.”

‘Until you’ve suffered that loss …’

I interviewed Ferguson several times in 2014 for my story about the loss of Karen and Cole. He was writing the book then, and I kept wondering: Why would he put himself through reliving such tragedy over and over again?

Watkins interview: Miss. preacher rises from tragedy, crisis of faith

I finally asked him the other day.

“I realized that I had a story that could maybe help someone who has lost a spouse, lost a child … suffered loss, period,” he says. “Until you’ve suffered that loss, especially in such a violent way, it’s hard to imagine everything that goes through your mind. You suddenly question everything, at least I did. My faith. God’s love. You name it, I questioned it.

Watkins: Widowed, 6 children: A Father’s Day story of faith

“But time has a way of allowing you to sort through things. It’s not easy. It’s still not. People can be so traumatized by life events, they never have another adventure, never take a chance to be happy again. I thought I would be one of those people.

“Thank God, I’m on a new adventure now.”

Ferguson had known Becki for years. She was friends with one of his sisters decades ago. He married Becki in 2012, and they have a blended family of five boys, from ages 11 to 30. They also have a daughter-in-law and a 23-month-old grandson.

“I love my life, and I think it’s showing in a lot of ways,” he says. “It’s definitely showing up in my sermons. I’m preaching now from a place of vulnerability. Dealing with trauma forced me to delve deeper into trying to understand God and his word.

“That’s transformative. It’s sort of like going off into the deep end of the pool. When you’re there, you’re there and you’d better deal with it.”

He says God’s love “is more real than ever” and explains: “In my old life, I think my view of God was shallow. I saw him more as a fix-it God, a bargain God. ‘I’ll do this and this, and you’ll do that and that and everything will be hunky dory.’ Well, God wasn’t the one writing those contracts. I was. He does take care of me, but he does so in ways that I wasn’t necessarily looking for or understanding.”

Ferguson becomes emotional when I ask for an example of what he means by that.

He begins talking about Cole, who used a wheelchair because of cerebral palsy, a disease that attacks one’s motor skills and movement.

“All those years when Cole was still alive, I prayed for God to fix him,” he says. “He did. It just didn’t happen the way I envisioned it. Cole has his alternative healing now. He’s whole. Me? I was looking for then and there.

“That’s where a lot of tension comes from in Christianity. We want everything now. We want a Burger King world where we can have it our way. It simply doesn’t work like that, and I’ve finally accepted it.”

He still has trouble answering one question: Has he forgiven Paul Buckman, who took his own life shortly after killing Karen and Cole?

“It’s ongoing,” he says. “I’ve told people that I’ve forgiven the man who did this to my family, but there’s a good chance I’ll have to forgive him again next week.”

I ask if he is certain it will ever happen.

 “Absolutely,” he says. “In eternity.”

Putting words to paper

Ferguson learned other lessons while writing the book, ones that authors and aspiring authors might find interesting.

He wrote in longhand and also by “two-finger pecking on a computer.” He wrote all hours of the day and night. “Whenever I could find spare time,” he says.

He wrote at his kitchen table, dining room table, in his living room, at his subdivision’s pool. “I even straddled a hope chest Becki’s dad made for her,” he says, laughing.

Ferguson learned the power of the subconscious, that writing and arranging stories and chapters don’t always occur with pen in hand or at a keyboard.

“Ideas or notes would pop into my head, and I’d have to scramble to find a pen and write it down right then,” he says. “Or I would talk into my phone recorder and save them like that.”

His most powerful writing lesson occurred when his final draft was completed: He wouldn’t accept “no” from Leafwood Publishers, part of Abilene Christian University Press.

 “They have a history with the Church of Christ, and their books always look good, are high quality,” he says. “So I submitted it to them. Submitted it again. Called them. Submitted it again. Nothing,” he says.

He finally sent it to several other publishers and received three firm offers.

“I called Leafwood again,” he says. “I said, ‘I can do this book with someone else, but y’all really are my first choice.’ The editor called me back and said he was swamped but to send it to him and give him a week to look over it.”

They soon struck a deal.

“I don’t even remember it, but Becki says I told her when were dating that I wanted to become an author,” says Ferguson, who already is working on a second book that will begin with his first date with Becki. “And I guess I am, though it feels sorta strange.

“But I had some new business cards made up. They list me as ‘Les Ferguson, minister/author.’ I like the sound of that.”

     (Clarion Ledger article used with permission)

You Wanna Write A Book?

There are at least 7 people on my marcsjustice.com email list who are book authors. They’re heaven-sent as I needed other writers at times to verify what I was trying to communicate on my winding journey after Marc left earth.

I’ve been so appreciative of writers as they’ve shared their own journey’s of victory over death, victory after abuse or just victory making sense of life in this sometimes crazy world. Their stories are proof that God is alive and on the front lines in any issue that man or woman can go thru. Their stories have been so personal, brave and beyond what most experience or are willing to share. They’ve helped to bear me up as I drink my bitter pill each morning.

Writing a blog is similar to writing a book. I used to think a blog was for moms on some parenting website, or for support groups. When I lost Marc in such a horrific way something deep within automatically took over and started learning to blog.

I’ve read enough fiction, watched enough news or PBS specials or listened to testimonies on Christian TV and know a legitimate human struggle can find an outlet. I’ve written a journal for over 20 years so writing often was not a new adventure, but the new part was revealing fearful, painful things that I was currently going thru with the public weekly. As unsure as I was in revealing things … It was liberating to do it …. and it saved my life!

Sometimes we hear people say they want to write a book so I’m sharing a few pointers …. to confirm, encourage or disparage. I think specific ideas will help you best. All of the following relates to writers on any subject, but some of this relates to the godly minded writer mainly:

                   You have to get beyond the ‘hype’ and do some soul searching!

Part of Marc’s library –

All people have a unique story that’s known only to them and God. But …. just because someone tells you ‘you could write a book’, or just because you suffered a deep loss, doesn’t mean they know what they’re talking about. You have to write cause you ‘want’ to deeply, not because it’s the ‘in’ thing to do, or want to prove a point. Some people will flatter you cause they know you have an experience worth sharing and they want to know you when you’re famous. They’re interested in your glory, not you or your story. It can be tricky navigating around those people. You have to get beyond the ‘hype’ and do some soul-searching!

Most people live lives of ‘quiet desperation’ and it’s that side of life that many times makes the best story. Maybe you saved a plane load of people, climbed the highest peak in Mongolia but most books, even songs, are about our inner battles. And it’s in our private struggles where we find the real fabric of who we are, what we stand for, live for or will die for. People are so ignorant of the Bible, or history …. and we don’t share great plays like we once did, so now we have blogs, vlogs or books to share the human condition. And people will watch or read your journey if you have a genuine story. So what’s your on-going view of life?

I know I’ve had some rants of sorts at times, but ‘rants’ don’t make a lengthy read or sell well. Rants are good for FB. Tweets. Some recent political personalities have written books and they came out as mostly a complaint, a ranting against offense to them, not the telling of history, not the dealing with a public problem and solution. No one really has the time to get inside anyone’s mind to understand his or her anger over some issue. How did ‘Da Vinci Code’ really help the public? That was a rant inside fiction. The Sunday talk shows shared about the recent political books but they didn’t cause any public chatter.

Not everyone’s life story needs to be read in a book, some people can channel their passion, their ‘story’ to lift up others thru some kind of service to society, and believe me …. it’s something many people really appreciate in others. Many things benefit society, not just books (or songs, etc.) Every life has value, every good service that comes out of a grateful heart, a desire for peace or justice means so much!! We need good teachers, Dr’s, police …. any worker who puts love in their profession, who thinks of others first.

Some pragmatic things to consider when writing a book. Unless you plan on hiring a ghost writer, ask yourself if you have any experience writing? It requires so much discipline on various levels, daily work. Writers work in the realm of art, the mind or life experience where they learned alot about human nature, the joys and pain of life. Your life story or reflections may be better used in some other fashion if you’re not into the long hours and discipline of writing. God knows what you’ve gone thru, He will bring your story out in the long run, even in heaven you’ll share it. It won’t be forgotten. But don’t spend endless hours or days trying to contact some writing guru or whatever when you already have a gift that’s better.

Some of us writers don’t go to the moon and back, we go to ‘hell and back’ ….. we dig deep into our hearts and thoughts. It’s no journey to ‘La La Land’. There are so many moments of doubt about this or that aspect, the public feedback can be traumatic. It’s not an easy ride. Good writers aren’t better than some leader, general or whomever, it just means they put their service to others and God into their writing.

There has to be an end purpose to what you write, what you stand for. For me, God has to get the glory. The greatest part of my walk maybe has been the refusal to accept murder, death as a final say-so and to slug it out every day till there’s a legacy for Marc. I just trusted the God who’s been with me all along. I had to subject myself to His sovereign authority on earth, as much as it hurt.  I could not have gone on without Him helping me with the burden …. no one on earth could carry it for me.

Could Our President Become A Dictator

Here and there I’ve read FB comments, or other news sources state they fear President Trump is on his way to becoming a ‘dictator’.

I get nervous and concerned when I hear people or news sources attach alarming words like ‘dictator’ to anyone. In my personal or blog life I don’t even call people liar, much less guess what’s in their hearts, unless there’s enough of a reputation to back up my claim.

Without getting into U.S. political struggles …. is it really possible our President could take over the entire country for his own personal agenda? Certain things in life are possible but …. is this probable, likely?

Historically, dictators come to power when news isn’t free-flowing, there’s no way for citizens to defend themselves, the military is in his/her pocket or when the economy/currency is in the tank. Things like that have to happen before any national figure can become dictator. Do we see any of these things happening today in the U.S.?

Adolf Hitler for example ruled only one country but he shot terror into the hearts of an entire world due to his cunning manipulation of major forces in his decadent country …. not strong country! He had a perverse self-image, and sought significance thru total ‘worship’. He fancied himself a mastermind and wrote a book while in prison to explain his twisted nationalistic theories. He could not have risen in politics or forced the military to invade surrounding countries if not for the terrible depravity of so many Germans after WW I who were crippled by their disgrace in losing the war. The majority experienced a crisis of national pride, and their religious faith had been shattered so bad they could not see thru or withstand Hitler’s thirst for power. Does President Trump have a background in the military, a history of being a crazy political writer? Would our faith communities give into a dictator?

Canadian couple recently freed from prison in Middle East, kept alive due to strong beliefs –

The Marxist communists at the turn of the century toppled Russia’s Czar Nicholas so unexpectedly and cruelly, as Nicholas was out of touch with his people, and Russia had no strong political identity like America, and no middle class to stand against the Marxist troops. Is our constitution so weak, our leaders so blind or our population so ignorant that we’d allow someone to oppress us for some new ideology?

When I think of the oppressive rulers in 2018 I see that some have been groomed by family tradition (Kim Jong, Assad, leaders of Saudi Arabia). Others in China, Russia have been groomed by the military or the Communist Party. Some oppressed countries are very small, some very large. Some have huge natural resources, others have nuclear bomb capabilities. Some have national identities steeped in tradition while some have seen upheavals in leaders. It’s good to look at what’s keeping countries free and what’s destroying them.

There’s only so much one man can do alone …. a dictator needs to fool a huge number of the public so that they are willing to risk much or die for his views. A man seeking to be dictator needs a military to enforce his power-hungry appetite and I don’t see that happening in our country right now. The recent Egyptian uprising against Morsi succeeded because he didn’t have the loyalty of the army, nor a huge section of the population or economic leaders.

I think the deep loathing for Pres. Obama a few years ago and the loathing for Pres. Trump now on FB, tweets and wherever has shown us how vile we can speak about others in our society. We aren’t the rainbow of peaceful differences that made us strong once, you’d be inclined to think if the ‘dictator’ voices were right. We don’t look to historians, our spiritual advisors to quell our political anger like we used to …. we just lash out too often.

There are forces in our nation that are very destructive and they aren’t even being spouted by any political figure, but are weaving their way thru our society so stealthily and quietly. Those forces are more real, scary and perverse to me than the probability of Pres. Trump trying to become a dictator.

 

Sharing A Beautiful City With a Tough Memory

Looking across the Willamette River – D.D.

It’s a bitter pill sometimes to think of Marc being in another time and space. Yet some things hold good memories despite the pain.

Marc loved Portland, and it took me many years to come to my own conclusions about that city after having lived in So. California most of my life. My other son lives in AZ, which I love, so the rainy, damp weather in OR./WA, where Marc lived for some years was not on my ‘desirable’ list. I’m really glad he ended up in Portland rather than WA.

Marc’s last residence was a family friends condo downtown, so I got to know that part of PDX somewhat. He lived 30 stories high and when I first visited the lofty place I was so humbled. The view was breathtaking …. I couldn’t help but feel some compassion for all the tiny ‘specks’ down there going about their business. They were people like me, like Marc once lived …. traveling to work, raising kids, warding off colds, crying alone at night over some inner struggle.

Baby seal sculpture on downtown Portland sidewalk – D.D.

Then came the murder incident and instead of becoming a fearful place to me like you’d normally expect, Portland surprisingly became a refuge. Dealing with court, Marc’s places of work and study, his memorabilia all held heavy memories but they gave me a sense of rootedness in that city.

Marc and I loved the outdoorsy feel, change of seasons in PDX. He helped me get acquainted with certain streets, stores, sections of town so I felt somewhat comfortable finding my way around when I went up for the case, his affairs. Instead of giving me pain, the familiar areas we went to gave me joy. Can’t explain it. I guess I just wanted to relish his memory, talk to the trees, anything he may have enjoyed daily or we shared.

Portland is so different from Los Angeles. L.A. is in many ways one big wasteland ….. a huge cement city without any real seasons and …. very self-centered. There’s more diversity in So Cal, but the sheer contact with nature in PDX, breaks up the monotony of the sometimes large, stony buildings from bygone years. And having these huge rivers intersect just adds to the beauty, interest of the city.

Sculpture across the street from Starbucks. What is it? (D.D.)

I still read some of Portland’s papers, TV coverage at home in L.A.  One reason PDX appeals to me is it’s smaller population, and people are more interactive with each other compared to L.A. where everyone’s in their own world doing their own thing. I’ve cultivated some contacts there I don’t think would be possible in L.A. Obviously mostly due to Marc’s case or my blog and recovery but the quality of life in a smaller city is just better, more personal.

Another neat thing about Portland is that it has the best transportation system. Sure you can drive around town like in any city, but they encourage you to use the public system if you have to travel a distance …. and the light rail and streetcar services are so efficient and clean, and any day you’ll find grandparents taking the rail from the airport, college kids going to school or families going to a ballgame. I’ve traveled on other subways but the PDX MAX train is exceptional. Sadly, in L.A. ….. no such mass transit mind frame exists. It’s car, car, car … as communities are spread out and a bus transpo system is so beneath people, even gang members use cars. Everyone knows it’s not ‘cool’ to use the bus.

Portland leaders tend to be pretty liberal, but there’s still a conservative life style mentality to me. I’ve met a couple people from the City Council and visited Council sessions and there’s this transparency there you don’t find in L.A, and I find that so encouraging! In L.A we don’t really talk about our city government. We don’t know what the heck is going on most of the time with the City Council, Supervisors. In a city like Portland there’s immediate needs that have to be addressed all the time …. road or bridge conditions, problems with the school district or having enough decent housing for people … and you hear about it in the paper or TV news. And the Council, papers, TV share that news in a pretty proactive way, which is good to see.

The news up there in papers and TV is not as politicized like in L.A. or other major cities …. such a relief! They have enough immediate needs to deal with all their traffic, bridge, weather, lead in water, homeless and environmental issues and oh, protests ….. so they are not obsessed about what’s going on in D.C. I’m still in contact with a couple reporters from Marc’s case and they are normal people, not interested in writing, reporting a politically correct spin on Marc’s case or their other stories.

Finally, the city has these public art works around town that are so interesting, unexpected! It’s not like they are statues of old war vets, or business magnates …. but they reflect sometimes very charming or sometimes very unique images. In the local Star Bucks I visit I look out on a huge metal sculpture of I don’t what, but I’ve grown to appreciate the attempt to bring joy or beauty to the older city facade and rainy conditions of downtown Portland.

Some people or places you never believe will ever touch your heart but …. we have to be open to the unexpected all the time –

Happy Passover & Easter …. From Marc, In Heaven

To My Mom’s Readers,

This is my 4th Easter in heaven! My Mom can’t believe it! Thank you for your love and support for her, she deeply appreciates everything! She’s been going thru PTSD and crying lately …. certain holidays really hit her hard so she needs that extra hug or word from you!

Marc feeling so blessed to be a chef finally –

From where I live, I get to celebrate Easter and Passover up close and personal! Of course, you weren’t able to see the huge gathering of people up here on Friday, or this Resurrection morning. Our Lord was center stage this morning, sharing the Father’s love for us, His plan for men and women down thru the ages. It’s mind-boggling to see people from so many times gone by …. men and women from all walks of life, famous or ordinary …. singing, testifying, crying and bowing down in gratitude to the Risen One. To hear angels sing in celebration is something so beyond your ability to imagine!

From up here, I also see you Paul, dad and Chris. I miss you all! I see you when you’re having some kind of trouble too, and want to have a sense of me being around, so I’m allowed to come down and accommodate you. Don’t be surprised that I’m hanging around your place at times, wanting to share some comfort, like I do with mom.

I’m glad my mom is writing about her journey in a blog, it makes me see there was purpose in my having to leave her so suddenly. God’s explained to me my quick departure from earth even tho it caused some of you much pain. We will greet each other some day soon!

All things will be revealed one day and we’ll understand the deep mysteries of life if we missed them. God never wanted to hide them from us but some of us have to wait till we arrive in heaven.

                                                 Happy Easter from Marc and Diane !

P.S. God gave my mom extra comfort today as she got to make omelettes for the church brunch with a young Cordon Bleu chef like myself. Chef Daniel turned out omelettes faster than she did but he said her sunnyside up eggs were perfect. He looked abit like me and in a way she felt like she was back cooking with me again. God brings little surprises like that!

  “And Jesus spoke to them …. All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”    Matthew 28:18

It’s A Shame ….. And I’m glad

The night Marc left earth I blurted out …. ‘It’s not over’. I don’t know why I said it but I think I was instinctively saying his legacy wasn’t going to be forgotten. Now I realize my life would come back into contact with some long known but forgotten friends.

For one thing, I got re-acquainted with an old friend/adversary since my beloved son was murdered. His name is shame. I say friend cause I forgot how he’s a necessary part of my life, your life! I say adversary cause I didn’t know how much shame had permeated my life not only thru the crime, but in other levels I just hid underneath. Cultural shame, family shame can be as strong as moral shame! That’s not how it’s supposed to be –

Shame’s had a rotten time of it for some years, what with everyone wanting to do what their friend or co-worker is doing, or what our culture many times promotes, whether it’s right or not. And often parents and teachers almost condone shameful behavior by glossing over or not correcting wrong attitudes or actions when they see it.

Having to deal with tragedy and painful facts about human behavior at it’s lowest point brought shame back into my life big time!  I’ve been reminded how important shame is and how we moral people like to think our minor infractions are often justified by the ‘times’ being so stressful or freewheeling.

Shame says certain behaviors or attitudes are going to cause you pain if you’re too friendly with them. He says if we try to block him out he’ll just give us nightmares or lead us into confusion, addiction, more bad choices. He’s trying to get our attention but we generally dismiss him and take a pill or drink to block his voice. And all it does is put off the pain and make it harder to break thru into clarity again. Sometimes we need to ‘fall’ just so we can face the fact we feel bad inside, and need to correct an attitude or desire in ourself.

Shame and guilt are often tied together. Guilt is judicial in character; shame is relational. Shame relates to how we view ourselves, others after a particular act was committed. Shame shows evidence of a conscience.

Sometimes shame makes us feel worse than guilt.

Many times we don’t know what’s wrong and seek a therapist, when it could be something we can easily correct in ourselves if we looked at our conscience or motives. I should feel guilty if I stole a CD but I should also feel ‘shame’ for having stooped so low as to damage my character or reputation.

Shame for real transgressions is a part of the way God made us. God wants us to have a gnawing inside if we are guilty and don’t deal with our wrong behavior. He gives us shame so we avoid certain attitudes if we want to feel good about ourselves. God makes something ‘shameful’ cause He doesn’t want us to demean ourselves or others.

Shame is there to remind us to stay away from certain people or activities where we’ll be pulled into lying, or ‘sinning’. Shame keeps us safe from getting into trouble, hurting others or ourselves. God doesn’t want us to ‘follow’ the crowd and be led down some path that will be painful to retreat from. Some sins can hurt us for years, even life!

Shame came around big time after Marc went to heaven. He said, ‘I’m one big reason people feel bad about murder’! They know it’s a shameful thing to happen to people unarmed, to a good man   ….. to a deeply loving mom! People think that shame belongs to the murderer or the victims family and not to society. They’re wrong. A city can carry shame for any number of crimes, behaviors they are lax about or condone.

More and more we’re becoming immune to shame, which is really tragic! What’s sad nowadays is that our families, schools, even churches aren’t sharing this truth to anyone, so people are often not living with a clear conscience as their guide. We’re learning at too young an age to judge a person by their looks, money, talents instead of their character. Sometimes a family gives off strong ‘don’ts’ that we learn very early, and we are being made into little robots of our family’s heritage and tastes and we squelch the individuals need to develop their God given conscience. Our conscience is a precious thing, it needs protecting!

 

* Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary ¹ gives this definition: Shame – A negative emotion caused by an awareness of wrongdoing, hurt ego, or guilt. In the Bible, the feeling of shame is normally caused by public exposure of one’s guilt (Genesis 2:25; 3:10). Shame may also be caused by a hurt reputation or embarrassment, whether or not this feeling is due to sin (Psalm 25:2-3; Proverbs 19:26; Romans 1:16).

BREAKING NEWS – CNN Documentary

                              SOME GREAT NEWS!!

My neighbor Linda told me yesterday, ‘Marc is doing good!’

CNN recently contacted me re: participating in an 8-part documentary! They read about my journey in marcsjustice.com after coming across an article in the Oregonian by Maxine Bernstein.

This could end up being a wonderful step in continuing Marc’s legacy in a new direction …. it’s an opportunity I’m actively looking into at the moment!

I wouldn’t have started a blog unless I wanted to get the issue of healing out there. Some of you really understand how this is a Marc-thing, a God-thing as much as my effort! I love how my neighbor instantly told me yesterday, after I told her about the possibility of a documentary with CNN … ‘Marc is doing good’! She’s got it!

Please keep this project in your prayers in the days ahead!! I’m passionate about this message reaching those who are hurting and needing healing!

     Look for more details on the possible participation in an email soon, I’m not at liberty to share some things here –

 

 

Florida Shooter, Marc’s Offenders

It’s important to me to keep my readers updated so you know I’m aware of the defendants I’m working with.

Church in KY. We need a bit more God in dealing with violence. (DD)

I read, listened to ‘911’ calls re: the recent Florida school shooter which may or may not be exactly accurate but it’s the general drift of his background that I want to compare with the guys in Marc’s case. The circumstances can be used to gauge the youth you may be dealing with.

There are indicators in youth that can give you an idea if they are a danger to themselves or a danger to society –

The FL shooter is unlike the defendants in Marc’s case, I don’t want my friends, family to think I haven’t thought about my own safety in dealing with them. There are kids out there who are open to help and some are not. Some youth feel guilt for doing wrong, some don’t.

But in the meantime we need to be aware & evaluate those around us so we don’t start fearing all troubled youth –

  1. The Florida shooter had a history of anti-authoritarian behavior, he had problems with teachers, different parenting authorities over the years. The defendants in Marc’s case did not have those problems with adults.
  2. The FL shooter we now know made many statements both in person and online about wanting to kill people, wanting to be a school shooter, even the ex-boyfriend of his girlfriend said Nick wanted to kill him and sent him emails of his guns. The boys in Marc’s case never talked to people about killing anyone. They are in fact pretty peaceful young men, not angry with society.
  3. The Florida youth, (and other shooters), had FB, Instgram & Utube pages that had been reported as being very violent and disturbing. I made sure I checked Wesley’s social media and he’s …. liked, by many. and he just posts general male teen stuff, some of it so sweet or silly.
  4. There were never any hate slurs from Andrew or Wesley in FB, or in court. But the FL shooter was in chats with people saying he hated blacks, police, gays ….
  5. Wesley & Andrew never talked of or broadcasted interest in violence, any weapons, while the FL shooter photographed his guns and threatened to use them to hurt others.
  6. The FL shooter was ‘feared’ by peers. I read he had problems with teachers in every grade, but Andrew got straight ‘A’s’, …. both W & A had close friends.

Being an educator has been a real eye opener re: the condition of our culture. While we love our children we see many problems growing out of hand. I’ve worked with very young children but it’s shocking how many kids start bullying, talking back or being aggressive at age 2-3 or 4!! I even have children who don’t understand the right kind of touching, proper personal space to give us adults. My staff and I have to deal daily with some parents who let their children hurt them, talk back while they fear saying ‘no’ to their kids.

My author friend Crista Haskins Crawford wrote the best FB blog post the other day. She’s also by day a speech pathologist in a high school and has noticed some changes over the years. In essence she said, ‘the times have changed. Where it once was true there were few unruly kids, it’s got to the point where most of the kids act out in some way.’ I was glad she said, ‘ it’s not the kids fault but the behavior stems from the family and society being out of touch and violent oriented.’

One of my favorites of Marc’s selfies –

Do you ever listen to TV? It’s so hard to, yet the more I look at it I can’t help but  see how we’re obviously going thru cataclysmic changes in this nation and we must make personal choices to keep ourselves and our culture safe. There’s just a decline of anything that makes sense, gives hope, deals with real issues people can relate to.

My main point is that …. we are living during an epidemic of violence, and it’s in many settings. Blaming or criticizing will not bring a sense of peace and strength to each individual but deciding your approach to violence will help you feel safe, strong. Freezing in the face of disaster is not an option to me.

Nick Cruz’ host family never checked his social media, which is a huge indicator of a persons social health. They said they never dreamed he had violent inclinations, yet he was in a fight with their son, threatened others recently and they admitted they had disciplinary problems with him. They said they let Cruz keep a gun locked in a case in his bedroom, but …. he had the key! I would never allow that in my home!

This morning at church we prayed for the survivors, the families affected and even Mr Cruz. We can’t be a people of ‘hate’, Jesus told us to not hate our enemies, but ….. boy, can we be glad that boy was caught!!

We have to remember we’re part of a whole. It’s not about personal pain only but we have to move to answers and healing, for our families and our nations sake!

 

  • The Minirth-Meier books, therapists are a great resource for emotional growth.
  • Dr Ken Herman clinic has been a big help in sharing guidelines in helping youth overcome depression, learning disorders, addicting behaviors.
  • Crista Haskins Crawford, Author, FB

Comparing Cases, Criminals

Sometimes to get to the next level in life we have to look back on how God has blessed us thru our times of waiting or trial!

So I look back with gratitude for many things in Marc’s case

The incident happened in the nicest city, the best Detectives solved the crime so swiftly …. & the attorneys’ in the case were caring, ethical individuals. I’m also grateful for the Newspaper and TV reporters who so creatively reported on the case at certain junctures. Then, to top it off …. the defendants are young men I can relate to!

I guess since the incident was such a terrible misunderstanding …. a true tragedy for all parties …. there was no yelling in court, no angry lawyers, no irate judge. No family or supporters being rowdy, making things more difficult. I believe we all felt more sad than mad.

Some parents have murdered sons who were involved with drugs, gangs …. or living a ‘double life’.  Some sons murders can’t be solved due to gang codes of honor. Some families live in fear or hatred of the offenders, one of my friends can’t face her offender yet. I know someone whose child’s murder isn’t being investigated due to corruption in the town. I think I have it bad sometimes but others are dealing with almost insufferable agony.

Even tho Marc’s case was originally reported as this grisly crime by a few sources, we were so lucky to have the offenders we did. I don’t see how I could have dealt with drug-crazed, proud, life long criminals or violent anti-govt Antifa types. Actually one of the first suspects was a ‘sicko’ who ‘threw Wesley under the bus’, saying Wesley was a guy who looked for weak people to hurt, and got others to do his stabbing for him! I read that.

But, we got a gift in the circumstances of the case! I’m very aware that if the case hadn’t have been solved Marc’s legacy would be almost non-existent. I wouldn’t have much to write about in a blog, and there’d be no healing with any defendant. It would have been so excruciating for me to wait years for someone to be caught or the defendant to finally be remorseful. I wanted with all my heart and soul to get justice for Marc ASAP, I never thought we wouldn’t get it, to be honest. So many prayed for justice and healing for all 3 boys …. that was hard for me, but it ended up being one of those God things.

Nothing in life happens in an isolated fashion, everything is woven together.

Arm your loved ones with the rules of the road – (DD)

Most of us compartmentalize life. We see God here, family over there. We see our job or finances in one way and our community as another entity! We often aren’t integrated on the inside or feeling much joy or pain!

Along with this many of us don’t think anything bad will ever happen to us or our children. We assume just because we don’t have serious vices, we obey laws and pray over our kids, we’re safe.

Our kids often don’t learn what’s safe but learn what’s fun. We’re often so busy, or don’t believe the crimes on TV could ever happen to our child or loved one, so we don’t talk about potential danger or make any plans for disaster.

I found out it doesn’t take but a split second to be hit by a stray bullet, a knife swing or pushed off a ledge by some one who doesn’t care about human life, or someone who’s on drugs or ignorant of his weapon. It only takes one predator to say one word to a child who’s not prepared for evil, to rouse parents, police and alarm a community once again to crime. It only takes one desperately lonely daughter one night to hook up with some pervert online. One moment can change a family’s entire life!

It shouldn’t take a crime against us to make us connect the dots of our life. But unfortunately it does at times. It forces us to go up against our fears, our natural inclination to not consider evil or danger. Most of us want to live safely but we aren’t very equipped to deal with crime …. but we can learn to stand against it. Predators don’t care what race you are, they’re looking for those who are ‘weak’ …. or those who think no one will ever hurt them.

God can intervene in a crime but He also wants us to do our part and stay vigilant about danger. Don’t learn the hard way.  It’s never too late to share with your loved ones about being safe. You may think it’s going in one ear and out the other but some of it will stick –

 

My Recent Angelic Activity

You may think what I write now is weird, think what you want.

Most of us have heard about angels …. the Torah and New Testament talk about how God used angels to speak into peoples lives. I don’t know your experience but here’s something about mine.

God has assigned everyone an angel. I’ve listened to what people have said about their angelic encounters and no one has said angels are cute, cuddly cherubs but strong human looking beings. Kenneth Hagin Sr said he was introduced to his angel and he was about 8 feet tall.

I was once in an auto accident where our VW bug rolled over several times and even tho I saw before my eyes a potential disaster, something in me very peacefully put my hand on my future husbands knee and whisper, ‘everything will be okay!’ And we rolled over on the freeway and down an embankment and ended in some bushes cradled like a baby. Totally unscathed. God gave me a ‘word of knowledge’, and prepared me, in a split second. And angels protected us.

I had another experience few years back when there was a huge train crash couple miles away. I heard what seemed like several dozen sirens blaring past my home! I wondered what had gone on, and asked the cashier at a store a block away, few minutes later? He shared about the serious train wreck on the Amtrack line. (Chatsworth Amtrack crash ended up being one of the worst U.S. train disasters).

Anyway, I remember at the counter having this heightened sense of spiritual activity nearby, I couldn’t associate it with anything I’d known before. It was like the air was electrified, buzzing. I quickly understood it was pertaining to the accident, and had a vivid knowing the air was charged  cause angels were going about their business with those who were injured or were needing to be escorted to heaven. I was awestruck for a few moments. Even tho a huge disaster had just happened it was like God took me aside and showed me something about how angels work.

Another recent encounter happened right after Marc left earth. I was pretty spaced out in grief, weariness and one afternoon was standing in Marc’s room looking down on the city of Portland and I heard what I later thought were 2 angels talking to each other. I only caught the exchange of 3 words. I didn’t even let the discussion register until much later, as I was barely functioning for some weeks. And I’m so careful about the difference in wishful thinking and reality among those who profess to have a special spiritual experience, so I felt cautious in admitting to myself what I heard. But when I recalled later what they said, I was so grateful for the 3 words as they were a prophetic comfort.

I had another experience few Sunday’s back, at the end of a church service. We were reading in preparation for Communion and for some reason I started to cry quietly and just couldn’t stop. I wasn’t feeling sad re: Marc, but I think feeling grateful for my worship community. But I kept crying, even in the line going up for the sacrament, tho I kept my tears at bay. I thought, ‘oh, I’m missing Marc, and the crying will stop soon.’ But the crying wouldn’t stop.

When I got back to my seat I reflected how I’d been planning on what to write to the main defendants mom and feeling actually a big relief in doing so. I knew she may be in depression over the crime, fearful to deal with me. The shame and confusion that come to godly people after a murder can be very hard to work thru for some. I didn’t know how far along she’d come in healing, so I thought I was maybe crying for her.

Anyway, I kept crying and wondered why this uncontrolled weeping wouldn’t stop, I thought it should have stopped by then. I wasn’t sure why God would interrupt me at church like this? Then all of a sudden, without warning, I sensed a ‘whoosh’ come down thru the air towards me, from left to right …. and I felt Marc was by my side ….. smiling and embracing me. I clearly understood he’d been summoned by angels to come to me at that time.

I can’t explain that experience like I can’t understand how the mystery of physics works. But it does. Just like God’s in the laws of physics, I could see from my church experience there’s a great communication and ‘order’ in the spiritual Kingdom! Angels knew I was in need without my saying a thing, and they knew to send for Marc. I was astonished at how swiftly things were carried out. I was just awed by God’s care for people. I couldn’t stop crying so I thought it best to tell my friends I needed to leave church early.

I don’t need ‘signs’ to prove God. or angels. I don’t need to ‘see’ angels to know they exist and they’re active in our lives. I just always sensed that world and believe in the Bible. I talk to angels when I fly, and seek their help and protection for me and my loved ones.

           Angels are real beings from God sent to help us in our life’s journey!

An angel came to Mary to declare God’s favor on her. Angels ministered to Jesus after He was tempted 40 days & nites. They opened prison doors for Peter, spoke to Paul in a severe storm on a ship at sea. One angel slew whole legions of Assyrians for the Israelites.

People have testified that angels protected them in wars, natural disasters or serious accidents. They protect and warn…. they declare …. they minister …. they escort to heaven!  They are being used in God’s kingdom more than you may know! Look for them in your life!

           Please share this blog and feel free to comment!

* Billy Graham also shares about angels, ‘Angels’ (God’s secret agents)

* Kenneth E Hagin wrote about angels in ‘How You Can Be Led By The Spirit Of God’ pg 115…

Pat Robertson wrote a book called, ‘Miracles’ & shares angelic activity