They have not always been mine. Once they belonged to a dear friend of mine, LuAnn Johnson. LuAnn faithfully served in our church nursery. Both she & her husband LeRoy volunteered every Tuesday to take care of the children while their mothers attended Bible study. That is where I met LuAnn. Her love for my children was a beautiful gift to me. She was my mentor in times when I just wanted to toss up my hands in defeat. She encouraged me, she loved me, she loved my family & taught my children about Jesus. I loved LuAnn.
LuAnn was a beauty through & through. Even her eyes twinkled. Last December LuAnn was struck down by a drunk driver in the Sam's Club parking lot. She was hit & the driver stopped as onlookers gasped. She was lying in front of his car. Her husband yelled to the driver while frantically waving his hands, and then, the driver slammed on the gas & ran her over again dragging her body while her husband looked on helplessly. To hear LeRoy tell of that night is devasting still. To see his grace & strength is life changing.
I heard that LuAnn had been "hit by a car" on Wednesday night soon after it happened. I was sick & worried but had no idea how bad it was. Thursday morning was I learned she had died I sat sat in my office, where I had answered the phone & quietly sobbed. My daughter Annie, 4 at the time, must have heard me, she came in, wrapped her arms around me, held me tight & said "It's okay Mommy, It's okay." (I am crying again now.) When I quietly told Annie what happened to her beloved teacher she had tears running down her face as she told me again, "It's okay Mommy, she is with Jesus."
I was so worried about LeRoy. They were true companions in every sense of the word. Always together, I'd never seen them apart. I had talked with her son the Saturday after it happened & he told me that the family would be in church tomorrow. I couldn't believe it! Sure enough, the next morning there was LeRoy, In his red suit jacket, shaking hands, and giving hugs. When I talked to him he amazed me, "I had to come to comfort everyone." Wow! He came to comfort us! He even had brought a dessert that LuAnn had made before she died to share with his Sunday School class!
The week after this happened LeRoy was outside of a thrift shop handing out coupons he had collected for that store. He would give a person a coupon, tell them he had just lost his wife, and tell them about Jesus.
The man who killed LeRoy's wife was sentenced a few months ago. Here is a little about that from the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
LaSalle had previously admitted that on Dec. 10 he drank a half-liter of vodka before going to pick up his mother at work at a Sam's Club Bloomington. He struck LuAnn Johnson, 66, of Burnsville once, then panicked, drove off and hit her again as bystanders yelled at him to stop. His blood-alcohol content was recorded at 0.41 percent, more than five times the legal limit for driving in Minnesota.
Johnson told reporters he saw his wife struck and yelled, "Lord, Lord, have him stop." Instead, LaSalle ran over her again, leaving her bleeding with massive injuries as he drove off. Johnson said he saw how badly she was hurt and asked God to take her. LaSalle was arrested on a city street nearby after he struck parked cars
As arranged in a plea deal, Judge Mark Wernick sentenced LaSalle to 96 months, double the normal amount for a criminal vehicular homicide.
"He deserves every blessed minute," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said on Monday.
But Johnson's husband, carrying a single red rose in a vase, a wedding photo, a memory book and a Bible, offered what the court could not. "I forgive Mr. LaSalle for killing LuAnn," LeRoy Johnson said of his wife of 43 years.
His voice broke several times as he read Proverbs 31:10, which he said describes his wife and mentions strength, honor, wisdom and kindness.
He also said he hopes LaSalle will confess and "come to know Jesus Christ as his personal savior."
LeRoy Johnson also wanted to give a book to LaSalle, "Fear Not" by Lisa D. Bell, saying he thought the book would help him through the days ahead in prison.
What an amazing story of forgiveness. What a witness for Christ. What an honor to be LeRoy's friend. What an honor to be given...LuAnn's Earings.
Even today as I was getting ready for church I was starting to get crabby just because I couldn't find anything cute to wear. But then, I looked in the mirror to put on my make-up & was reminded by my earings, by LuAnn...to be lovely.
Johnson, LuAnn M. Age 66 of Burnsville passed away on 12/10/08. Preceded in death by father, Arnold Alpers. Survived by husband LeRoy; sons, Brian & Brad; mother, Doris Barnes; brother, Arden (Sharon) Alpers..
Italicized Text & Photo of LeRoy with his Bible from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.