Monday, December 6, 2010

Life is Precious

We hear all the time that "life is precious" but do we truly appreciate the meaning of that? Do you really stop and think about what that really means? Every minute we have with our loved ones should never be taken for granted. Life is not guaranteed to us. I personally feel that phrase has become so cliche that the meaning of it doesn't have as much impact on us anymore. Until we are personally touched with some disaster or tragedy, we tend to let those words go in one ear and out the other.
My husband and I have had the privilege of becoming good friends with our neighbors. And through that friendship they have shared with us why they take those words very seriously. Today, they will appear in court and face the man that tried to take a precious life from them. Today, they will hopefully have closure on a long chapter in their life. Their son, Jared, was just 17 in January when someone tried to take him from them. Their story is one that I feel needs to be told-even if it helps just one person realize how very precious life is.

Jared had just came into his house after helping his neighbor unload her groceries. He was sitting in the living room listening to music, unaware that a man and woman were backing their truck into the back of his yard. After living in this home for 17 years, being so trustworthy of the people around them, giving to anyone who was in need in their neighborhood, they felt comfortable in leaving the front door unlocked. They came through that same front door that had welcomed them many times before. Jared was startled and saw that the guy had a gun and got up to run. But the man shot him twice in the head. The shots hadn't killed him so they pushed him toward his bedroom. They made him get in the chair and while the man took anything and everything he wanted, the girl held the gun on Jared. The guy took stuff out of the house, hurrying to load up quickly, constantly asking Jared when his parents were coming home because he knew he didn't have a lot of time. After loading the truck up, the guy came back through Jareds room once more and Jared asked him to please not do this because they knew each other. That did nothing but seem to irritate him and he told Jared that he didn't know him and he shot him again in the chest. The girl was standing over Jared and yelled "he's not dead! Shoot him again!" Jared said he knew he had to do something and he got up to fight back. That scared the girl and she ran out of the house. Jared lunged at the guy and they wrestled on the kitchen floor. Once the guy got free, he jumped up and ran out of the house. Jared got up to go after them and at that moment he said he realized that he might die. He said all he could think of at the time was his family. He made it to his neighbors house and she called 911. Jared walked out of the hospital that same week with just bandages! If any of the bullets had been just a fraction to the left or right, Jared would not be with us today. The guy was eventually caught but the girl has not been apprehended as of yet. Today, Jared and his attacker will face each other again. Today justice will be served and he will pay for his crime. I hope that he will spend plenty of time in jail, thinking about what he did and asking God to forgive him for his actions.
I shared this story to say this: Jared's life was almost lost in just a  matter of minutes. Everyday is a day that God has blessed us with. We are to love others, in spite of what we think of them. Every life is precious, so don't let your life pass you by without loving your friends and family. You never know when they might be taken from you.

Below is a letter that Jared's mom wrote to his attacker. This explains how this terrible tragedy has impacted their entire family. Please pray for them today that God will give them peace and continue to bless them.

Being a victim of violent crime has affected our family in many ways and continues to disrupt our lives daily.
Because you continue to withhold the name of your accomplice, Jared has to walk around knowing that the other person who wanted him dead is still on the loose.  Our family will continue to feel unsafe until she is behind bars with you. 
We had to move out of our own neighborhood where we had lived for 17 years because there was no way to know that your accomplice would not return to try and finish the job.  This is the only home that our kids had ever known.  Jared was unable to come home to live with us after he got out of the hospital because we feared for his life. 
We had to leave our 83 year old neighbor and her 86 year old sister who were like grandmothers to our kids.   They watched our kids grow up and loved them like they were their own.  They are both widows and we helped care for them and made sure that they were taken care of daily.  Now they don’t have anyone close to help meet their needs and we are missing being able to show them the love we have for them.
Our home would have been paid for in 10 years and we would have been able to start thinking about retiring.  We had to move because we could no longer live in the house where you tried to kill our son.  We had to move out of town and start over and now have 30 years before we will have our new house paid off.  That means that we will be working for a long time and will not be able to retire and enjoy our lives like we would have been able to.
Our daughter arrived at home just after you shot her brother and had to see him taken away in an ambulance.  She was traumatized by that.  She had to change schools two times in a nine week period and leave behind friends, some of whom she had attended school with for 11 years.  She had to move away from friends in the area that she had known her whole life.  It was not fair to her and it was all because of your selfish act.  Jared had to move away from friends that he had known his whole life as well.  He has lost many relationships because he is unable to see his friends.    He has problems with trusting others and gets angry easily.  All of this has been caused by the attempt on his life.
Jared is a walking miracle inspite of the crime you committed.  We thank God daily that he was allowed to live even though you intended to kill him for “things”.  We worked hard for the items that you stole.  There is no TV or Xbox game in the world that is worth the life of another human.   We used to have a home where we welcomed almost anyone who wanted to visit.  We had many kids from the neighborhood spend time in our house, including you.  You have taken that from us.  We are very careful now about who is in our home.  You stole that blessing from us with your selfishness. 
We know that the sentence today is not the end of this ordeal for us.  We will be at every parole hearing to try our best to see that you stay behind bars.  We will do all we can to keep you locked up so that another family will never have to go through this at your hands. In the book of Genesis, when Joseph's brothers tried to kill him because they wanted what he had, God took care of him. Joseph said in Geneis 50:20 "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive." Jared was saved and we have no way of knowing who else may have been saved by you going to prison.