Sunday, October 20, 2013

Remembering Buck and Nelma

Buck and Nelma Carpenter
Life can take a turn in a matter of seconds. On October 20, 2011, one family’s lives changed forever. The brakes on the vehicle that Nelma Carpenter was driving went out as she was exiting off the interstate. With herself and her grandchildren in the car with her, she knew they were going to have a wreck. All she could do was warn the children it was about to happen. In that moment, one of her grandchildren, Buck, leaned over to try and protect his little cousin. The car wrecked and life as this family knew it would never be the same.

Nelma, a precious woman of God and Buck, his cousin’s hero, went to be with Jesus that day. The other grandchildren survived the wreck, but the paramedics told the family that if Buck had not shielded his cousin, there would have been a third fatality.

Prior to the wreck, I knew who Nelma was but I really had not been able to get to know her. Buck and my son were in children’s church together, but I had not really gotten an opportunity to get to know him either.

During this time, I went to church some, but I was working on my degree and I let that keep me from going to church the way that I should have been. I remember one day my husband came home from church and told me “some lady”, who he couldn't remember her name, “asked for your phone number and said she wanted to call you”. I said ok, but I didn't really expect her to call. Mostly because so many people in my life before had said things like that but never did.

But that afternoon, she did call. It was Bucks mom, Angelia. She asked me how things were going and told me we needed to take the boys to Chuck-e-Cheese one day. I think about that phone call often. I think about how much I wish we would have made it to Chuck-e-Cheese.

It wasn’t long after that, the wreck happened. I couldn't imagine going through such a thing. I remember just sitting there wondering how this family was going to make it. How do you survive such a tragedy and keep going in life? I kept thinking of how messed up I would be if such a thing happened to me. I had no clue what they were going through, but I knew that it was the hardest thing they had faced so far in life.

A few months later, Angelia asked me to go with her to a women’s service that she was speaking at in Conway. I went with her, and this was really the beginning of our friendship. As I said earlier, I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know Nelma or Buck well at all. But here is what I have been able to do.

In this new found friendship that began, I have had unique opportunities as time passed. I have had the opportunity to watch a family go through the hardest time of their life, and to do it with such grace. I have been able to watch them and learn what it means to fully trust in God. I have been able to see what it means to believe in God and His faithfulness and to keep pressing forward with Jesus despite the hard times in life.

That night in Conway, just a few short months after the accident, the message that was shared was a message of perseverance. A message of how there are seasons in life. God created us to change and grow and that through each season of life He was there with us and would never leave us.

I have heard Angelia speak several times in the last two years, most recently just last week. That night the message was about finding peace in the Lord. How God wants us to not just have a little peace, where we are barely hanging on, but how He wants us to rest in His peace. Peace is something I continually struggle with, but I looked at my friend that night, and I thought to myself, “If this amazing woman can find a resting peace, then so can I.”

I have watched her and her family show the love of Christ to others even on days when it was obvious that they were struggling themselves. They always put others needs ahead of their own and they are continually striving to point others toward Jesus.

When I think about the Carpenter’s, I think about what it means to live life fully relying on Jesus. Fully trusting in Him and fully resting in His love. And then I think about what it looks like to live that out so that others can see Jesus in them.

What an amazing family, with an amazing testimony, and amazing strength. I have often said in the last few years that I want to be like Angelia when I grow up. I say that jokingly, but I do really mean it. If I can be half the woman of God that she is, half the wife and mother that she is, then I will have succeeded in this life.

My love and prayers go out to all of the Carpenter family today and every day.

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