Monday, May 27, 2013

Moore Memorial

One of the things we did at church yesterday was spend some time in prayer for those who lost so much in the tornado that brought devastation in Moore, Oklahoma this week.  It's one more reminder of how fragile our life on earth is and how quickly it can change.

On Saturday I had another encounter with Moore tragedy, also.  A man whose last name is Moore (I'll call him Jack) met me at our church on Saturday afternoon to bring me a donation for our shoe box packing party.

'Jack' called me a few days ago to tell me he heard about our need for stuffed animals and wanted to donate his wife's Beanie Baby collection.  He told of how she lost her battle with lung and brain cancer and that collecting these little toys had been "her only vice."  Her wish was for her collection to go to children and Jack hadn't been able to find anyone locally to accept them.  He became very emotional several times as we talked and kept repeating that being able to donate these beanies to Operation Christmas Child was "a godsend".

We arranged to meet on Saturday, and before the day came I asked my OCC friends to send me pictures of children receiving stuffed toys in their Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes and printed some of those pictures for Jack.  I also wrote and framed a poem thanking him for the legacy his wife left through this gift.

I called Jack on Saturday and my husband and I met him in the parking lot at Grace Church.   The first thing Jack did was hand me a memorial card from his wife's funeral.  I looked at her lovely picture and saw that she had died on May 8, 2013--so recently--and was only 52 years old.

I tried to give him the pictures I'd brought but Jack said he didn't want them.  He'd already gone online and had seen the children receiving gifts.  I gave him the framed poem and told him he could read it later.  "You didn't have to do that," he said as he stowed it in his car.

Jack just wanted to talk.  For about a half hour he told us about his wife and how she helped everyone she met.  He related how she bravely endured her cancer treatments while never missing work as a medical transcriptionist.  He recounted how his wife collected each of these Beanie Babies and made a display of them in a curio cabinet for each holiday.

"We weren't church-going people," Jack said.  He explained how much they loved NASCAR and also local races and told how his wife joked that they went to "the church of the Holy Oval."

Jack's raw grief was almost overwhelming.  He wiped his eyes often as he talked.  His loneliness was nearly palpable.  I asked Jack if I could pray for him and he seemed grateful.  I prayed that our "God of all comfort" would bring comfort to him.

Jack lives very close to Grace Church and my husband invited him to come on Sunday.  We also told him all about the packing party in September and invited him to come and see his sweet gifts on the next leg of their journey.  "Now you have me curious," he said.

After we unloaded his truck and said our goodbyes, my husband drove off and I stayed behind to sort out the Beanies and store them in the storage container.

As I sorted and counted those 566 beautiful new Beanies, I prayed--not only for the children who will receive them, but for Jack.  I thought of I Thessalonians 4:13 that reminds us when our loved ones die in Christ we "will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope."

Jack has no hope.  Please pray with me that he will come to find that hope in Christ.

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