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Monday, September 6, 2010

In Memory of Chris Oakley

Friday night everyone was excited about the first football game of the season.  The Tipton Tigers defeated their opponent that evening, the fans were excited, and the junior high and high school students enjoyed 5th Quarter - an after-the-home-game meal.  This week's meal was sponsored by Tipton Home. 
 Houseparents, Gray and Teresa Canan, did a lot of the work preparing for and serving the meal.  Little did they know that in a few hours, their life would be forever changed.

At 1:00 a.m. our phone rang.  It was another houseparent calling and asking for my husband, Joe.  He was asleep and I was sitting here at my computer.  I could tell by my husband's reaction that there was somthing wrong.  Most of the time we don't get calls at that hour of the night, but occassionally with the children's home, we do.  But I knew something was really wrong.  Joe told me that one of our Tipton Home graduates, 20-year-old Chris Oakley, had died.  We were in shock.  We were sad.  We were confused.

Gray and Teresa had been Chris' housparents for five years of the time he was at Tipton Home.  He was at Tipton Home longer, but with other houseparents...coming from another children's home.  Joe and my great-aunt and uncle helped to get him to Tipton Home.  I'm so grateful they did!  Chris was thankful for Tipton Home and had so many people there who loved him.  If you help Tipton Home in some way, you also helped Chris.

The last thing Chris wrote on his Facebook page was that he was coming to the football game.  We knew we didn't see him, but didn't think much about it, since he didn't live in Tipton, but in a nearby town.

The next hours of the wee morning hours were filled with phone calls from the sherrif's department, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Joe's boss, Gray, and the other houseparent.  Eventually Chris' biological mom was found and contacted.   Chris had just recently been reunited with her and his siblings after many years.  She requested that Tipton Home make arrangments for Chris, which they were honored to do.

All during those hours all of those people were all working together trying to get everything straight and also make sure Chris was well taken care of and cared for.  It didn't matter that we were all awake during that's not like any of us could have slept anyway.

Finally, Joe and I were able to sleep a few hours. Very few.  When we woke up we wished that everything was just a dream.  Unfortunately for us, the Canan's, the Tipton Home family, and the whole Tipton community realized that it was real.  It was a sad and somber day in Tipton.

Some of the community quickly made plans for a candlelight service in memory of Chris.  It was held that evening on the football field.  A special time remembering a special person.  Here's the video link of the ceremony from KSWO News out of Lawton, Oklahoma.

Unfortunately Chris' death was in a big part because of choices he made.  But, because of those choices, he is teaching a big lesson to many.  Hopefully because of his choices he has also changed some lives. 

"God's ways are not our ways" has especially rung true over this holiday weekend.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.  Isaiah 55:8

Who would have ever thought of something like this becoming a way to teach others to make wise choices?  Only God.  And just maybe that is what He's done.
Tomorrow will be Chris' funeral.  Joe will be doing the funeral (the preaching-type part...for lack of a better term).  It will be a hard day for him, for the Canan's, and for all of us who knew him.

In Tuesday night's post, I'll share some special things about Chris and more about his memorial service.

I'm grateful to have known Chris Oakley.  I'm grateful for his many wonderful characteristics.  I'm grateful for places like Tipton Home that make it their mission to help children who have been abused and neglected. I'm also grateful for the outpouring of love that has been shown in this small town, as well as from other places.

To see what others are grateful for visit Heavenly Homemakers as Laura hosts Gratituesday.


A.Marie said...

I will be thinking of you all during this time....I didn't know the young man, but he sounds like someone that everyone enjoyed being around. Such a lovely post...

Amy said...

So sorry for your loss. Will be praying for God's comfort over you these next few days!

R&A Rog said...

Well said Lori. You are all in our thoughts and prayers. We wish we could be there with our Tipton family today. Tipton has become our family and when you hurt, we hurt also. We love you all and are thankful for the work you do with the home. God bless!

Wa Wa Waughs said...

I've been wondering with all the FB posts what exactly happened. I'm so sorry you all are having to deal with this. I''ll be thinking of you both.

Tracey said...

Trusting that your family will have strength for yourselves - as well as to minister to others - during this time.

Lori said...

Thank you for your comments and prayers everyone. Part 2 is on the blog home page, if you are interested. Please continue to keep Chris' family in your prayers.

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