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Awash In Forgiveness

Gladys Miller

The following was written by Gladys Miller, Mandi’s mom. The Lord woke her up in the early hours of the morning, just days after Liz’s death to give her these words:


Liz was a friend

a friend you see.

Not an ordinary one

but a special one to me!

Her eyes were blue

her nose like a berry.

She had dimples in her cheeks

and smiles for each.

Liz had a gentle sense of humor

and a sweet smile.

Only God knows why He lent

her to us for such a little while.

She spent so many nights at our house,

and many days, too.

I’d wake them in the morning,

With a back rub or two!

She was a wonderful student in school,

she knew the Golden Rule!

She’ll be missed by many there,

Because she’s now in God’s care.

Now what we have is memories,

cherished in our hearts.

To dream about, to talk about, and

to write on our charts.

She’ll be greatly missed now, at home,

in church, and with the youth group.

But she’s rejoicing with the angels’ band

On Holy Land!

Only God knows when

I’ll see you all again.

For the time is short,

so cleanse your hearts of all sorts.

Susan Jett (my best friend)

Susan was a huge part of the youth camp our family was involved with, and she worked directly with Liz for portions of camp over the years. Susan is also my dearest friend whom God has brought back into my life again after a few years of separation. She has been my prayer warrior as I completed the writing of this book. There have been days when she has prayed for me every fifteen minutes, twenty-four hours a day. God would wake her up, and she would pray. She had Scriptures to go along with the prayers, and shared them with me each morning and throughout the day as the Lord led her to them. She has been a huge encourager, and I would be lost without her. She is my special gift from God, sent back into my life at precisely the right moment.

She was also with me back in the fall of 2000 when I went through Liz’s clothes. She and Liz wore the same size, and I was able to share some of Liz’s things with her. We have laughed together and cried together and prayed together. Susan sent me this note:

I knew Liz from church. She was a bubbly young woman who loved children. You could see without a doubt she had a love and a gift for teaching. When all this happened, I didn’t know the Reisers that well, but without a doubt, I will never forget them. I have never, ever, seen a family deal with tragedy the way they did—that at the very moment they knew what had happened, they chose the path of forgiveness. I have watched their lives after all that has happened to them, and Jeff and Becki are a couple filled with much love. Their family is a testimony to all that know them. I know Jesus is so proud of them, and so are all of we who love them dearly.

Linda Clifton-McCormick (long time friend)

Linda is a long-time friend, originally Jeff’s from his high school days, and then also mine after Jeff and I were married. Linda spent years in Asia as a teacher and missionary. When she came to visit us in August after Liz’s death, she was on furlough from her work. We visited frequently while she was home, and we shared the recorded events of Liz’s funeral and the Sunday service after the funeral. As she listened to those messages, she was inspired to write three songs, the lyrics and music. She was so excited that she immediately called and wanted to come to our home to share and sing them for us. We were so touched by this gesture.

She came with the keyboard that we had loaned her. It had been Liz’s, so it added to the specialness of the moment. The three songs were indeed amazing and shared her sentiments of the events recorded. All of the songs ministered to us, but the one I am including below zeroed into my heart. The titles of these songs are: What Time’s the Wedding Start. God Still Has a Voice, and Those Who Wait.

The Sunday after we heard her songs, Linda and I sang them together at our church. She played keyboard and sang the lead with me as backup. It was a unique opportunity for me, as it helped to expedite another layer of healing to my grieving heart.

  Inspired by the events in the loss of their daughter, Elizabeth Reiser, this is a song for Christians, based on 1 John 2:26–3:3 (as told by the family).

What Time’s the Wedding Start?

by Linda Clifton, August 30, 2000

The tragic news came to us; they could not find our Liz

And in that hour we found strength, not in our own, but His

The next day she was found; her body was prepared

In a moment of confusion, Chris called up the stairs:

[Chorus 1]

What time’s the wedding start? What time’s the wedding start?

Mom, I want to be ready, I want to do my part

What time’s the wedding start? What time’s the wedding start?

Our Liz has just joined Jesus, ’cause before He just had her heart.

Trying in these broken jars to absorb eternal plans

They went off to the funeral, church filled beyond its walls

Praises to the God of hope filled those earthly halls

And comprehend the path of God, thru the sin of evil man.

[Chorus 1]

The Reisers now continue to grieve but still move on

Not an easy journey, but Jesus is their song

Graduation and a wedding all came in just one day

In the death of their dear daughter

came a challenging new way.


But those of us now left behind must hear the voice of Christ

We know not when or how we each will leave this present life

Or when the trumpet call will sound and Jesus will return

Let holiness bring purity and hearts that for Him burn.

[Chorus 2]

What time’s my wedding start? What time’s my wedding start?

Lord, I want to be ready, I want to do my part

What time’s my wedding start? What time’s my wedding start?

Someday I will join Jesus, so for now, please take my heart

Yes for now, please take my heart.

* * *

            The next song, “God Still Has a Voice,” I wrote after hearing Jeff Reiser’s taped testimony about his daughter’s death and circumstances surrounding that tragedy. My impression was of a circle of communication, and how God seeks to be heard, understood, and obeyed. Without the last step of obedience, the circle is not complete. Many of us want to hear God but are not willing to do anything He asks of us. Why should God continue to reveal His heart to those who will not respond? We want the feelings of closeness without the follow-through of discipline. He seeks those who will respond to Him, who will train themselves to hear and obey His voice, whatever the cost. Of all the options God had before Him, we know that He knew Jeff and Becki were most prepared to hear and obey—in the midst human depravity—to display their faith even through their loss, for His glory. May we learn from their example.

God Still Has a Voice

by Linda Clifton, August 28, 2000

God still has a voice

And is not deaf or ill

And I will make the choice

To listen and be still.

God still has a voice

His Word and Spirit speak

I choose to silence other cries

And worship at His feet

Then obey, and make complete.

God still has a voice

And is not deaf or ill

And I will make the choice

To listen and be still

God still has a voice

His Word and Spirit speak

I choose to silence other cries

And worship at His feet

Then obey and make complete.

I wrote “Wait on the Lord” after listening to Jeff’s testimony regarding the passage in Isaiah 41. This is the picture I saw—that of his family being borne along as on the wings of an eagle. Lyric below is taken closely from the language of that passage of Isaiah.

Wait on the Lord

by Linda Clifton, August 28, 2000

Do you not know? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the eternal God,

Creator of all the earth.

He never grows tired, of measureless ways

But gives strength to the weary one

Bringing power in the weakest praise.


Those who wait (echo) on the Lord (echo)

Will renew (echo) their strength (echo)

They will soar—on wings—of eagles

Run or walk, but never faint.

Those who wait (echo) on the Lord (echo)

Will renew (echo) their strength (echo)

They will soar—on wings—of eagles

Run or walk, but never faint.


Be silent you islands, let the nations renew their strength

Come forward now and speak His Name together in this place!

Natalie (Weston) Hoang (our neighbor and Liz’s classmate)

I practically grew up with Liz, because we were neighbors. Her death came as a shock to me and almost seemed unbelievable. I still think of her now and often wonder what she would be doing with her life. I think of how she didn’t get to graduate or go to college or even have children; but I know that God is in control and He had a special plan for her life. Through her death many people have been touched. Sometimes, I think God just wanted her to be with Him in heaven sooner than we were willing to let her go. Her story, as well as her parents’ willingness to forgive and use her life to impact others for Jesus is an inspiration to many. Liz will never be forgotten.

Esther Snyder-Harsh (Liz’s classmate)

While Liz and I attended the same school, we were acquaintances rather than friends. Although I never had the opportunity to become close friends with Liz, I did know that she was a Christian and that her faith was evident in her kind and caring personality. When I heard of Liz’s death through rumors that were confirmed later that day, I was mostly confused. I was confused about what had happened and why it had to happen to her.

This is the first memory I have of dealing with death or hearing about such evil happening to someone I knew. I was also unaware of how my life would be forever connected to and affected by Liz and her death.

Later, I would learn that a scholarship in memory of Liz would be awarded to someone pursuing a degree in education. I had already decided to become a special-education teacher, so I applied for the scholarship and was quite shocked when it was announced that I would be receiving it. I attended college and finished my degree because of that scholarship. The college experience helped shape and mold me as a person—especially my faith. Had I not received this scholarship, I do not know what my college experience would have looked like. I absolutely believe that receiving this scholarship was a critical step in getting me onto the mission field.

I attended Malone University and became involved with short-term missions. That eventually led me to a long-term commitment on the mission field, working with orphans in Ukraine. I write this, not to be praised but to give God glory for how He is directly using the life of Liz Reiser to reach out to children and young adults in Ukraine. I am forever grateful to God and the Reiser family that I was awarded the Elizabeth K. Reiser Memorial Scholarship. Liz’s life made it possible for my life to be changed; Liz’s life made it possible for the lives of orphans in Ukraine to be changed.

Not long after Liz’s death, my cousin and my sister both passed away. I began to understand the absolute shock and devastation that losing a loved one can bring. After these tragedies happened in my own life, I found myself thinking of the Reisers more often, praying that God would comfort them, bring them peace, and provide for them.

When I think of Liz and my family members, I wonder what they are doing right now. I have many questions, but I praise God that it is only a matter of time before our paths cross again. I praise God that He loves me so much that He sent His son Jesus Christ to die on a cross for my sins. I praise God that He conquered death through the resurrection of His son, Jesus. I praise God that, because I have asked for forgiveness of my sins and have a personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ, I will spend eternity in Heaven with Him. I praise God that my cousin will be there, my sister will be there, and Liz will be there. I praise God that I will have the opportunity to really know Liz and to finally tell her, thank you.