This is the story of a small town, a town of less than 1000 people. It is the story of miracles. These are the stories of my family’s miracles. I know of hundreds of stories just like ours, which occurred on the same day, at the same time as ours. Our town was protected and watched over and blessings were poured out. On this particular day, July 13th, 2016, someone made a choice to try and hurt a family in our town. He set bombs inside and outside of a car in front of this particular family’s home. They have three little girls. Some of the family was home, some were not. But they all survived and not one was hurt. They had little less than 15 seconds to get out of their house before the bombs went off. While their story is unbelievable in its own right and they had miracles of their own, their story is not mine to tell. The other miracles from the countless families who were affected that day are also not mine to tell. I will tell you our story of that day.
July 13th, 2016 started kind of rough for us. It was supposed to be the day my oldest son, Jordan (age 13 at the time), finished his eagle project. But due to circumstances beyond his control, the project was put off yet again and I had been spending the time before his church youth activity that night comforting him. Thankfully, he recovered quickly and I sent him off to get ready. My oldest two sons, Jordan and Jayven (11 at the time), feed our horses every morning and evening. We keep our horses in corrals by their Grandpa’s house, which is across the street from where the bombs were set. If you look out our backyard, Grandpa’s house and the corrals are diaganol back from us. We can see his house and the horses.
This particular evening I heard them making plans to go feed the horses when Jordan came back home after church. As soon as I heard them make those plans I heard myself tell Jayven to just take his little brother, Jack (8 at the time), with him to feed instead of waiting for Jordan to get home.
I remember thinking it was odd that I would say that and I wasn’t sure why I did. I felt the words come out before I knew I what I was saying. It obviously wasn’t until later that evening that I would understand why those words came out. If they had waited to feed the horses until Jordan came home from church, they would have been there; in the direct path of the bomb; right as it was happening.
A week or more had passed after the bombing and we were discussing at the dinner table why Heavenly Father sometimes lets bad things happen and about our free agency. This led into a discussion of the Holy Ghost. My son Jack, who had gone with my son Jayven to feed the horses that night of the bombing, told us in an almost nonchalant way, “Yes, that’s the voice I heard that night of the bombing. I heard a voice telling me to hurry up and get home.” Jayven then said, “That’s why you kept telling me to hurry up!” As tears came to our eyes, we let them know they will always be protected if they follow the promptings of the spirit. Jack had never told Jayven why he kept telling him to hurry up and Jayven didn’t ask why or fight it, like he maybe usually would have, but they followed that sweet, still, small voice and were protected.
Back to that night of the bombing, my husband and oldest son had just gotten back from the church. We had barely put all of the younger children upstairs to bed and I was lying on the couch downstairs with my baby, when the bombs went off. I remember seeing a flash and hearing the window in our kitchen, just feet away from where I was laying, shatter into pieces and crash onto the floor. The whole house shook at once then again as a second boom occurred. I knew they were too big for our usual sonic booms from Air Force jets, so my next thought was that a jet had crashed or accidentally dropped a bomb on our town. All of my children came running downstairs and immediately they just started praying. Praying for what they didn’t know yet, but just praying for comfort and peace. It’s never fun to go through hard things, but to see your children and how they react in those circumstances can be a little blessing for a parent.
My husband, Andy, had been upstairs changing his clothes. He immediately came running downstairs and was about to run out the door with no pants, when I had to yell for him to stop and put pants on. There are some people who immediately run towards danger to help with no thought of themselves. My husband is one of those, but that evening he needed to think of himself slightly more before he went out the door with no pants on! My husband ran down the street to help, and I tried to calm the children. When I went outside my neighbor thought that my father-in-law’s house had exploded. If you looked at where the smoke was coming from, it looked to be exactly over his house. Others thought a power transformer had blown. Then finally we heard what made everyone’s stomach’s drop. There had been a bomb at the sweet family’s house across the street. All I could think of was that cute little family, of the sweet youngest who we coached in baseball, or the parents who taught my youngest son Callen’s class in church. This couldn’t be! It was truly a miracle to hear that not only had they made it out, but they made it out unharmed!
When the evacuations were lifted and we could go in and assess the damage to my father-in-law’s house and check on the horses and their pasture, I couldn’t believe the amount of damage that had been done. My husband and I walked through the pasture and cleaned up a garbage can full of shrapnel and debris from the bomb. Every few feet there were pieces of the bomb or the car. There were huge chunks by the horse feeder, by where the water is turned on to replenish the horses’ trough and all throughout the property and pasture. It makes me feel so blessed to know that my children were not there that night, when they should have been, feeding and caring for the horses. I usually take the younger children to play with the horses while my husband and Jordan are at the church youth night. That night I just decided not to. I can’t say why, I just never found myself ever actually getting out the door. Besides our children being protected, not one of our eleven horses were harmed in any way. Shaken maybe, but physically fine.
It should be known that this particular night it seemed as if the whole town was out and about. There was of course, church, but there had also been an Ice Cream Social and everyone was out on a beautiful summer night. The bombs went off at around 8:15pm and there were kids everywhere! There was one small, minor scratch-of-an injury that was reported that night, which is unbelievable and miraculous.
I know we definitely were not the only family blessed and protected that night. The whole town had angels watching over it. It seems as if every family has stories about where they were and where they should have been. I hold my family a little closer after that night. I am so grateful for the protection we had. I posted this on my Facebook page shortly after the bombing, but I repeat it now. Heavenly Father can’t stop people from using their gift of free agency, even if the results are bad. BUT, he can whisper to us, prompt us and lead us to His safety. Isn’t it funny that in these times of turmoil it seems easier to see all of the Lord’s tender mercies? It is in these times that we more deeply and fully appreciate the blessings He has bestowed upon us. So amidst all the bad, there is always light to be seen. For this I am grateful.
Shared by Gretchen Free