Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Friday, July 15, 2011

Expanding our Mission

Today marks six months since Amanda was murdered by a 19-year-old who had been drinking and smoking marijuana. Though I can't go into details until after the trial, I can tell you everything I've heard about the events that night lead me to believe Amanda would still be alive if that man had not been impaired by drugs and alcohol. Therefore, our expanded mission will include a goal to educate parents and teens about the dangers of teenage substance abuse.

Before Amanda's murder, I badly underestimated those dangers myself. I never condoned her drinking and punished her the couple of times I she was caught imbibing, but I didn't see the danger as long as she wasn't drinking and driving. That was my biggest fear, that she would drive under the influence and have an accident.

Unfortunately, I believe there are many other parents in the same boat. They know their kids are drinking, but as long as don't drink and drive it will be okay. I know so many people, including myself, who went through that "stage." We made it through and I always thought Amanda would grow out of it too, but she didn't.

Amanda never got the chance to grow out of it. She never got the chance because she fell prey to a danger that I didn't foresee. The thought that she would be shot and killed at a party never entered my head. The thought that someone else would be so drunk, stoned, and stupid to pull a gun out, point it at my daughter, and fire it was something I never imagined.

Unfortunately, we learned the hardest way there is to learn the dangers. There are reasons for laws against underage drinking, and there are reasons drugs are illegal. Alcohol and illegal drugs make the smartest of people do stupid things. Their effects on the brain remove inhibitions and impair the judgment of all who partake.

Teenagers are psychologically predisposed to taking risks. It's a trait that comes with seeking independence and attempting to prove they are ready to take on the world. Even so, sober their judgement gives them the ability to calculate and measure those risks. Introduce mind-altering substances, and the judgment disappears. Under the influence they take risks and do things they would never do sober.

Sober, my daughter's murderer may have foreseen being charged with murder and spending most of his life in prison. Sober, Amanda may have recognized the danger of a drunken fool with a gun in his hand. He may have never fired the shot, and she may have left before he had a chance to. But neither was sober. He was drinking and smoking marijuana, she was drinking.

Now she's dead and he's in jail awaiting trial on 2nd degree murder charges. Now we've been without our beautiful daughter for six months.

The dangers are real. Teens and parents need to know them, to be educated about them. That's why I'm starting the process today to turn Running with Amanda into a non-profit organization. We will seek donations, grants, and other funding sources to run ad campaigns to make others aware of the dangers of teen substance abuse. I will make myself available to travel to and speak with church, civic, and other groups in an effort to educate as many as possible.

Please pray for our success in this new branch of our mission.



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