Where were you April 3, 1994? Here's a clue: it was Easter Sunday. Many of us were waking to Easter baskets and sunrise services and new clothes and fun with our families.
April 3, 1994 changed the life of one family. Their 18 year old daughter and sister and granddaughter and niece was abducted from the D & W Convenience Store in New Haven, NY in the early morning, never to be seen by her family again.
Just about the time our own little ones were waking us excited to begin the annual Easter basket search, a different type of search was beginning to find Heidi M. Allen.
Dan and I prayed for Sara and Heidi and their families and for the evil of this world to go away and for our own children to be safe. Well, not just our children. All children. Who could do this to a child, to a family? It's unthinkable, but the Allen family and the Wood family will never stop thinking about their precious daughters and the sweet Allen sisters. Nor should we.
Heidi slipped from my mind until the Summer of 2010 when Heidi's sister attended the Upstate New York Christian Writer's Gathering. Lisa Buske volunteered to read a section of the book she was writing. A brave thing for an author to do. Even more so when the story hits so close to your heart. The mere mention of Heidi's name brings tears. Lisa stood and read a portion of Where's Heidi? The Search Begins. Lisa's book of her sister's abduction is told from a sister's point of pain. As a sibling of a sister or a brother in deep trouble, I know Lisa not only lost her sister, she lost her life and her family as she knew it. It's a tragedy.
Lisa and I bonded immediately. I understood her pain a little bit. My brother was given a cancer death sentence when I was 16. I remember the pain of losing a brother, as well as my mother and father who spent night and day at the hospital (as they should have). A family and a life as I knew it, ended. A sibling hurts for their own loss, for the loss of their sister or brother, for the pain they see their parents and grandparents and other family members go through. You feel so weak and vulnerable and sad and at the same time you know you have to be strong for everybody else. It's awful because then you feel guilty for not being strong enough to endure the stake driven into your own heart. I have good news, the Lord healed my brother. He lives. I celebrate birthdays with him. That chapter of my life is over.
Heidi's life is still an open book. Eighteen birthdays have gone by with no birthday hug from Heidi. She was never found, although a man is serving a prison sentence for her abduction. It is assumed she is dead. Who can assume those things? Not me. I salute the Allen family for their victory in the pain. They are filled with love and life and fun and joy because; well, Heidi would have wanted them to be happy, I am sure.
I feel like I've delved into the private life of this dear family. Forgive me Allens if I have. My only goal is to keep people from forgetting Heidi. What can we do to find her? As Lisa said in her blog post, there are only two people she is sure knows where Heidi is and what happened to her: God and the man in prison. Two extremes. Both of them keeping quiet about Heidi's life.
I am a believer in Jesus Christ. He said "Do not be afraid. I am with you always." I feel confident that whatever happened to Heidi, Jesus was with her and His angels gave her peace and calm and the assurance of His presence in the storm. Why hasn't God revealed to the Allen family the location of her body? I don't know. I do know that while they searched for Heidi, Lisa found God. She turned to God instead of away from Him. He transformed her life. For that, I am thankful.
I'm a better person because my brother had cancer and we almost lost him. Lisa confesses she is a better person because her sister was kidnapped and she lost her. When tragedy hits it can teach you life lessons you'll never learn otherwise. Lisa has a huge heart for people and a zest for life. She'll probably never complain about the weather. Her priorities are right on target. I love her dearly.
Where's Heidi? Won't you help find her? How?
Pray and pray and never stop praying.
If you have any information, contact the Oswego County Sherriff's Department at 888-349-3411.
Follow Lisa Buske's blog http://www.lisabuske.weebly.com. Her post today are words of God's grace in her life and a celebration of Heidi's life. Thank you, Lisa, for lifting my spirits!
Be aware of and volunteer for The Ride for Missing Children and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Pray Lisa's book, Where's Heidi? The Search Begins finds the right publisher.
Invite Lisa to speak to your organization. You won't walk away the same after meeting and hearing Lisa.
May God give her strength for her journey to find her one and only sister, Heidi, with the help of the one and only God, Jesus Christ.
Will you pray for the Allen family today on the anniversary of Heidi's abduction? Better yet, drop by Lisa's blog and tell her you are praying, http://www.lisabuske.weebly.com.
Please God rain Splashes of Serenity upon the Allen family and bring Heidi home to them, I pray in Jesus' Name. Amen.