The first of the month is always a long day at work for me, so I worked straight through from 7:30 am to about 4:30. Eager to get home, I was a little dismayed when my husband, John, asked me to leave again as soon as I arrived. He had purchased a new bicycle and very kindly asked me to take him to the cycle shop so he could ride it home.
We pulled out of our driveway just as the 5:00 news came on the radio. We heard the words “two females shot at 26th and S. Edison”. When John asked where that was, I felt a wave of concern. “Moreno’s” was my answer. Linda and Loren Moreno, and their teenage daughter Danielle, were members of a small care group that my husband and I led at our church.
I waited in the car in front of the cycle shop, while John went in to change to cycling clothes and bring his others to me. While he was in there, my cell phone rang. It was a lady from our “care group”, asking if I had heard about the shootings. Home from work, she had turned on the television. They were showing Moreno’s house.
I told John the news update when he came out to the car, and then I headed home. I called the Pastor and he said he would go right out to the house. By now, John was home and he, too, left to go to Moreno’s. I stayed home to pray and field phone calls from people in our care group and from the church.
John called to say they were following Loren to the Police Station. John’s next phone call was the hardest. He said, “The worst that could happen has happened. They are both gone”. Loren had been told his wife and daughter had been shot…murdered in their own home.
It was about 9:30 when John came home. Loren had been transferred to the hospital. John and I stood in the kitchen hugging tightly and crying.
We went to bed, but it was a strange night. We lay there awake, every fiber of our beings aching for Loren. John would say something and I would answer. 30 minutes later, I would say something and he would answer. Prayer for Loren was non-stop. How would he make it through?
The next day I called my boss. “I think I need to take the rest of the week off”. He understood. I went straight to the church. I didn’t know how to contact Loren. He was in hiding from the media. But I knew there would be family to feed. I left the church with an address and phone number. Food would be taken care of until after the funeral.
Our care group met that night. We had a full house. Only Linda and Loren were missing. We had lost one of our family…and we grieved. The pain was very real. But so was the need to do something. The meal planning began. The food would be brought to our house and John and I would deliver it by 5:30 each evening.
The next evening, as we drove toward the address on the piece of paper, we had no idea how to do this. What do you say? His pain would be so much greater than ours.
We carried the food through the house to the kitchen at the back. Loren was on a back deck…saw us in the kitchen and headed in. We met at the door, the three of us in a bear hug…trembling and crying together. No words were necessary.
We sat on the deck. The tears were dried. The sky was blue. There was a light breeze. A dog lay at our feet. And Linda and Danielle were gone.
Loren began to talk. Of God. Of love. Of peace. Three days after the tragedy, Loren had peace. Peace that could be felt. Peace that could be seen in his eyes. Linda and Danielle were in a better place, at the feet of Jesus.
And then he said those three little words that I can still hear in my head. Words that instantly changed my perspective. “I have Jesus”. That said it all.
That is why that little baby was born.
Christmas is not so we can have more toys and eat large meals. It is not about the decorating and Christmas cards.
It is so we can have Jesus.
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