I try to avoid tragedy stories on the news — stories of families dying in house fires, freak accidents during wedding receptions, a mother drowning trying to rescue her child. Sometimes I can’t help myself though — I’m that guy slowly passing the scene of a horrific accident on the side of the highway, subconsciously hoping to see something shocking. Recently, I was scrolling down my newsfeed and saw a headline that caught my attention: “Air Force Training Crash Kills 2, Including Newlywed Pilot, 24.” I couldn’t help myself: I clicked. There weren’t many details about the accident, which was…
The phone rang and my mom answered. She never imagined the horrific news my grandfather was about to share: My dad’s two children from his first marriage had died in a plane crash. Scottie and Rhonie Rogers (ages 10 and 14) were last seen with their mom and stepdad on July 5, 1981, when they took off in a light airplane en route to Florida for a vacation. The plane never made it there. The newspaper reported that the plane was flying through a thunderstorm when it plunged from 11,000 feet to 4,000 feet. It dropped off the radar and…
I was not prepared for the phone call I received on May 26, 1994. It came from my mother, who was letting me know she was worried. “Joshua, I’m just calling because I want to remind you to be careful today. There was a teenage girl who was killed in a horrible car accident this morning.”
Last summer, my dad was in crisis. He was in the hospital after another near miss with death, and based on his track record, it would kill him if he went back to his old apartment and tried to live independently. And while I couldn’t imagine sending him to a nursing facility, we didn’t have a lot of options.
Last autumn, my brother Caleb and I knew our father didn’t have much time left. He had been in the hospital intensive care unit three times in one year and although his mind was clear, his heart was failing. But he refused to admit it – and that presented a minor problem.
Several years ago in my hometown, a man was driving down the highway with his wife when a tree fell down across the highway, landed right on the cab of their pickup truck, and killed them both. Later that week, I was in a church service in which the pastor referenced the freak accident and said, “Do you think that kind of thing happened by accident? There’s no way.”
I’ve recently experienced a breakthrough with a years-long relationship with fear. The topic pricks a lot of people’s hearts because so many of us live with it, and we don’t even realize it. It’s important to identify it and acknowledge it if we’re going to get free from it. This is my story of how God has been helping me do that. I shared it in this video on my Facebook page:
Last week in Chicago, a man found a newborn baby girl lying on the ground outside his apartment. Her umbilical cord was still attached and she was barely alive after suffering blunt force trauma. She died shortly thereafter, and police later discovered that she had been thrown from a ninth story window by her mother.
The other day, I let my three-year-old daughter ride her scooter on the sidewalk in front of our house, despite my irrational fear of her suddenly being kidnapped by a random psychopath. I wasn’t especially worried about it because I was landscaping just a few feet away. Occasionally, I looked down the slope from our house to make sure she wasn’t going too far down the sidewalk.
My mother did not expect to miscarry her first child. She was young and healthy and four months pregnant. She was too far along to miscarry. Yet in the early hours of a December morning, she began experiencing severe pain in her abdomen. It was happening.
On May 26, 1994, my mother called me at home and reminded me to be careful if I left the house – apparently, a teenage girl had driven in front of an 18-wheeler that morning and had been killed on impact. “Someone said her mom is a schoolteacher named Betty Myers and works in Hattiesburg,” said Mom. “Mom, Erin’s mother is named Betty, and she’s a schoolteacher in Hattiesburg.” My mom paused for a moment as we both put it together. “Oh no. Joshua, I’m so sorry.”
When I signed up for Facebook in 2008, I saw it as a way to connect with old friends and keep up with the self-affirming things everyone was posting about themselves. What I did not expect was that Facebook would become a place where people worked through life-and-death issues. But then Nan Taylor died.
Last week, I posted a status update on my Facebook page asking the readers of the blog to pray for a miracle for Wanda Harrison, the wife of my friend Kevin. She had unexpectedly suffered a brain bleed that left her in a coma and without much hope for surviving. I concluded the status update by saying, I know that it’s hard to figure out how to respond to status updates like this one. Nobody wants to ‘like’ bad news. So here’s an idea: if you will join me in a simple prayer for God to do a wild miracle…
My wife and I are in the process of moving to Washington, DC, right now, and I’ve got to tell you, one of the most freeing things about moving is purging.
Erin was my best friend in middle school, and God knows I needed one. I was getting bullied at school and lagging behind in my efforts to make friends with the boys in my grade. But she was a better friend—male or female—than most kids ever have. When my parents separated in eighth grade, she was the only person to whom I revealed that I had actually spent a couple of hours crying about it. She told me she felt honored that I trusted her.