Wednesday, March 11, 2020 is a day in history that will stick out for a lot of folks in the U.S.: the day we found out Tom Hanks had Covid-19 and the NBA shut down. Covid was “officially at our door.” But, for our family it is also the day “the man threw a brick through the window” and God protected us.
Wednesdays was the day that we had our large weekly gathering of all the participants of Lake Hart Stint (the ministry of Cru that Dave and I serve). Dave organizes the two and half hour meetings, I help with the hospitality and the kids attend the homeschool class on site. So, Wednesday mornings were filled with a lot of activity: packing up the kids’ school work for the morning, snacks, lunch, decor for the tables and a quick stop at Publix grocery store for creamers, treats and flowers. On March 11 Dave had a team meeting after the regular meeting ended, so the I took our five kids home. It was a bit of circus arriving home with the kids on my own. Peanut butter and jelly smeared on their faces, kids overdue for their naps, 19 bags to haul in and Benji probably needed to nurse. But, I got Theo and Chloe down for their naps and Benji (who was 3 months old) was happily swinging in the baby swing in the kitchen. Lexie and Jack were settled at our kitchen table, in front of the bay window and I had just grabbed myself some lunch.
Lexie had her seed collection out and was sorting and admiring the new additions to her box. Jack was in my seat looking at his seeds (don’t we all have “our seats” at the table). I almost ask him to “hop into his seat so I can sit down” but in God’s kindness, I took his usual seat which meant my back was the to window and Jack was seated across from me and Lexie between us. And that’s when it happened. A fierce explosion, wild pain in my arm, glass flying everywhere and my shrill scream. I thought I got shot in the arm. I screamed at the kids to run. Run to our room; hide! I ducked and went to Benji in the baby swing a few feet to my right and tried to unbuckle him with my shaking, uninjured arm and then rushed him to the closet and thrust him into Lexie’s arms. I was worried the man was going to try and enter the house, so as I dialed 911 I stood in the door of our first floor master bedroom and watched the front door and watched our steps to make sure our two kiddos upstairs were safe. Chloe eventually poked her head out and called for me and I sternly told her to go back into her room.
There was so much agony in the waiting– were we safe, when would the cops get there, when would Dave get home? It was a very confusing 911 call. I learned that a 17 year old male had escaped from his near by home and was violent toward men. This was the man they suspected had attacked us. Eventually they told me they had stopped the suspect but still no officiers had arrived at our house. I still had no idea what had happened and I hadn’t inspected my injured arm which was hidden under a long sleeve shirt. And, I didn’t know what had caused the noise or the pain. Dave had gotten a muddled message to come home immediately but didn’t understand that we were in the house when someone attacked, he thought someone had broken in before we arrived home.
This is what we eventually put together: the 17 year old man (who was 6’2″ and 250 pounds- a very large, powerful man) was mentally unstable, had escaped his house in a rage after a fight. He walked around the neighborhood with a brick paver looking for a way to lash out in anger. When he saw us through our window, he unleashed his wild power and threw the brick at us. It sailed effortlessly through the screen and window, hit my tricep and flew across the table, between Jack and Lexie’s heads and landed on the floor after hitting our cupboards on the other side of the kitchen. Then, he slowly sauntered away and threw two more bricks through other peoples’ windows (no one was on the other side of those windows). The officers were slow in arriving at our house because it took several of them to talk the suspect into getting into the police car and make sure he didn’t get violent. (The man had a long history of attacking people: his bus driver, his siblings, etc.)
Our colleagues were very quick to respond, especially since they were all in a meeting with Dave when he received my message. Several people came to be with the kids, order pizza, take photos of the crime scene and help advocate for us with the deputy. It was a sweet way to be loved on. I have to add here how important it is to advocate for yourself in situations like these. At first the deputy simply said, “We’ll get you the boy’s mother’s number and you can call her and work things out with her.” I was looking at him like he was an idiot. Did he not understand what just happened? That man was about six inches off from throwing a brick through my son or daughter’s head. It would have shattered them. By God’s grace the deputy’s supervisor called him and told him the county would be pressing charges for aggravated assault against the man. He had such a record of violence that I think the county finally wanted to take his case the to the next level.
Dave, Benji and I headed to the ER after a few hours with the deputy. The x-ray showed that nothing was broken but the impact caused trauma to the muscles and post-trauma showed up 8 months after the attack. The kids and I got in trauma therapy a couple times a week for about a month. The kids slept on the floor of our bedroom for a while and Jack would ask Dave if he had his pocket knife on him when we’d go for a walk. It was a journey to healing but one marked by God’s goodness, protection and kindness. Here are a few things Dave and I shared this morning as we talked about the attack:
-God had me sit in Jack’s seat and allowed me to take the blow of the brick. Where the brick hit my arm was at the height of Jack’s head. Also, amazingly I had my body angled so the brick hit my tricep and not my spine
-Lexie and Jack ran barefoot across the broken glass as they went to hide, yet didn’t get a single shard of glass in their feet. After all the floor had been vacuumed and washed several times, Dave happened to step on a shard of glass and bled. Oh man, thank You Lord for even protecting their little feet
-The Holy Spirit met me significantly through EMDR trauma therapy and allowed me to see how very present God was that morning
-Ironically we were renting our house at the time of the attack and were in negotiations to purchase it. We took a couple weeks to step back from the negotiations, but God made it clear that this was the house he had for us.
-The day after the attack, we put fresh mulch down and planted a new plant to reclaim our yard and neighborhood. It was so healing to be outside together as a family and make our home more beautiful
-Our friends set up a meal train for us and sacrificed their hard to find meat and bread… the first Covid lockdown was in effect and the grocery stores were sparse
I’m so thankful to be writing this post at our sunny kitchen table this morning. A year after the attack, a year after our eyes were opened to Covid in the US. We own our home and we can talk about how very faithful God has been to us. This will always be a special time of year for us, when Lowes sells mulch 5 bags for $10. We spread it out over our garden and remember the day the man threw a brick through the window and God protected us.
“I will never leave you nor forsake you… The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”