Are we left more vulnerable and unprotected than we should be?

So, as of 2:45 p.m. today,  I no longer have any children under 18. Well, the ones that are alive, that is. That doesn’t count AnnaLeah, who would have been 20 now (but is forever 17), or Mary, who would have turned 16 in two days (but is forever 13).

1bb at the hospital to see Mary


Mary’s 8 siblings meet her for the first time 16 years ago.

Sixteen years ago, I was very pregnant for Mary and stopped at Kentucky Fried Chicken to get birthday supper for her 2 year-old brother. I always figured he was fortunate that she waited two days so that I wasn’t in the hospital on his birthday.

1a Mom with Caleb waiting for Mary to be born 001

They often had joint birthday parties — usually on the day-between — when their grandpa would come over. They each got to pick part of the menu and what they wanted for dessert. When they got old enough to leave alone, they would always watch Condor Man  at home while the rest of us went birthday shopping for them.

This was the year that AnnaLeah picked out Gertie (the stuffed toy St. Bernard in memory of our dog) for her sister Mary’s birthday present:

73c Mary bday 4 001


They weren’t twins, but, especially because they were part of a large family, they spent a lot of time together.

1i newborn Mary and Susanna (2)30 b baby Mary with Caleb and Mom

60 b Mary Caleb 002 61 b Mary Caleb Dad 62 b Mary Caleb Dad 00163 Mary and Caleb sleeping

69 Mary bday two 00362c Mary Caleb

64 Mary and Isaac 00175 Mary caleb AnnaLeah brick dominos

I might as well talk about it here–because it has been so much on my mind as of late. I am still struggling with that whole question of protection and keeping us free from harm.

From the very beginning — the day before their funeral — I have struggled with what Psalm 91 really means. . .

Security of the One Who Trusts in the Lord. 

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!”
11 For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. 12 They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone.  15 “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in [e]trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. 16 “With [f]a long life I will satisfy him And [g]let him see My salvation.” 

On Eagles’ Wings

Here is a Bible Commentary on Psalm 91:

What does He mean when He says that He will protect and preserve us?

Protect: keep safe from harm or injury, save, safeguard, preserve, et cetera.

Preserve: maintain in its original state, protect, and so on.

I got an email from Focus on the Family today and the subject line was “Reassured that God is always with us. ”

I am very tired now and rambling, but I want to get this written down as I get closer to facing Mary’s would-have-been 16th birthday.

Yesterday, I took our son’s cat to the vet. Oscar had been in a long car ride in April from his home in Texas to North Carolina. So, as soon as I put him in the cat carrier and began driving the car, Oscar meowed pitifully. All the way to the vet.

In an effort to calm him down, I began singing the lullaby (tune: Rock-a-bye Baby) which I had sung to my nine children:

Snuggle now, baby, in Jesus’ arms. When the storm comes, He’ll keep you from harm. When the winds blow, and when the winds cease, you know that with Jesus, you can have peace.

I don’t think that it calmed Oscar. And it made me cry–thinking of how He had not kept AnnaLeah and Mary from harm (how Mary had called out, “Mommy, where are we?” and AnnaLeah had been silent). Had I lied to my children all of those years?

I read these verses this morning:

Psalm 91:10 No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent.

Proverbs 12:21 No harm befalls the righteous, but the wicked are filled with trouble.

Proverbs 1:33But he who listens to me shall live securely, and shall be at ease from the dread of evil.

Psalm 121: 3 He will not allow your foot to slip, He who keeps you will not slumber.

5 The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.

7 The LORD will protect [keep] you from all evil, He will keep your soul.

8 The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.

I texted our pastor in Texas as I was on the way to their funeral there and said that I was struggling with Psalm 91. He said that he would be speaking to that in his sermon, “They are where they belong.”

I know that they are in a better place than if they were still here. But still. . .  I mean, really, don’t you ever ask questions like these? Don’t you ever ask Him what He really means when He says He will protect us?

And, of course, I have come face to face with the realities of the many possible factors in crash fatalities (i.e., deaths due to supposed accidents which quite possibly could have been prevented if this and that thing had or had not been done). These are things  — quite clearly — in which God does not intervene and supernaturally block in order to save lives. No, these are problems which require human action to solve them.

At the same time, I am convinced that it would be His will that the roads be safer–that we humans take dominion over this part of His created world. And I believe that He is even now guiding us to seek and bring about needed change.

Some people talk about Vision Zero–about being proactive and working toward ending deaths on our roads. It doesn’t just happen. And it certainly doesn’t happen by burying our heads in the sand and pretending that the problems don’t exist.

Don’t you get it?! I mean, maybe I have been naive and expected that I and my loved ones would get through life without tragedy. Now, when I see tragedy “strike,” I am more ready to ask, “Did that really have to happen? Could it have been avoided?”

I am more prone to ask, “What can we do to provide The Best Possible Protection?” Before it is too late.

Just today, someone told me about yet another missed opportunity to  improve underride guards in 1998: ,  & “Or, maybe it’s a case of standard failure. In 1996, the agency went the don’t-ruffle-industry’s-feathers route, passing a final rule {the current one} that offered only a slight improvement over the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association’s voluntary recommended practice.” “In 1998, a former NHTSA safety standards engineer underscored the inadequacy of the U.S. rules in a series of crash tests involving rear underride guards built to reflect the then-newly minted rear impact protection standard. . . Tomassoni also noted that the underride guard designed to meet the minimum static load requirements “will not provide adequate protection in offset impacts.””

And that was many years before my girls were even a twinkle in their daddy’s eye. But it was never done–the known problem was never resolved–and so AnnaLeah and Mary were left more vulnerable and un-protected than they should have been. And it breaks my heart.

25 AnnaLeah Jesus Loves Me 052


AnnaLeah made this craft when she was little, “In my life, Lord, Thy will be done.” and that is my comfort: they had the gift of faith in Jesus as their Savior and Lord. And so I know that they are truly safe in His arms–though they are far from mine.

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