These four words from a widow got me thinking about death (again)

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 song my dad sung when my siblings died

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…

What did Jesus say about natural disasters?

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.”

What Happened When My Daughter Went Missing

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.

To Those Who Wrestle with the Fear of Death

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.”

Grieving Loss on Facebook

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.

My Friend’s Wife is Going to Jesus Today – Please Pray

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…

Haunted by the Fear of Death

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.