By Beth Preuss
Too often the nightly news highlights workplaces that have become spaces of tragedy. For Deb Merriner in the Washington DC area, this hit close to home last Christmas.
Deb worked with a local lawyer, Buckley Kuhns-Ficker. Her practice focused on protection for the marginalized, the elderly and the disabled in their community. The office, “Buckley’s for Seniors,” was located in the lawyer’s Virginia home. Tragedy struck when she and her husband Scott Ficker were murdered in the home by an intruder in the early morning.
For Deb, Jeremiah’s word has been integral to moving forward both personally and professionally. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
CONTINUING THE GOOD WORK
Trust in the Lord and coming against fear have been the key reasons for her continuation of the good work her boss’ company does. Deb is quick to say that it has been a graced time though. At first, it was hard to get past the horror of the event and the unbelievable suffering it brought to the families involved. She trusted in God’s grace to handle the trauma of seeing how and where the events unfolded with the knowledge that but for the early morning hour, she could easily have been caught up in the situation, too.
“There was a lot to be done those first hours back in the house so I had to trust that God would help me put aside those fearful thoughts to concentrate on the tasks at hand.”
Those tasks concerned personal family matters – finding estate planning documents and insurance policies, passwords, PINs, information for the new guardians of the children, and even the family pet.
“It had to be God’s providence that so many people made themselves available on Christmas Eve to answer critical questions and find important information for us. At the end of that first day, God was already proving himself faithful.”
EXPERIENCING GOD’S PRESENCE
The day after Christmas, Deb worked to address the needs of the business that Buckley owned and operated. Many of the employees are stay-at-home moms, or retirees with hearts for service. Deb was the only full-time staff. Without Buckley’s presence, everyone assumed that the business would fold, presenting Deb with yet another opportunity to come against fear and anxiety. Again, God was faithful.
“I was amazed at the peace I had about losing not just my income but this very purposeful work that brought me so much joy.”
Having that much-needed peace made it easier to tackle the tasks necessary to close the business. There was final billing to be done and payroll to run, two things that Buckley routinely did. Deb was familiar enough with Quickbooks to do the invoicing but payroll was another matter.
“I prayed long and hard about this because the only time I had done payroll was when Buckley walked me through it over the phone, having me call her back after I had done each step. By the grace of God, those steps came back to me and the employees were able to get paid on time. It seemed that with every day that went by, some door opened, some ‘mini-miracle’ happened, that allowed us to carry on. The presence of God was so evident”.
A NEW BEGINNING
As January came to a close, The Medical Team, a national company headquartered in the Washington DC area, came forward, seemingly out of nowhere, to purchase “Buckley’s for Seniors”. This company saw how the acquisition could benefit their operation and their mission to provide high-quality, cost effective healthcare services to the elderly and disabled. They allowed them to keep the business’ original name, which has provided the name recognition needed to continue.
“For the first time our business is located in a professional office building. We could not have landed in a more welcoming space. We are always hearing laughter in the hallways and there is a chaplain on staff who frequently comes down to check on us. But the most surprising thing was hearing the new business owner tell us we were doing God’s work.”
Deb feels that God is at work in this new company as well, evidenced by the ways the management and staff have given them the time and space to acclimate and continue to heal. They’ve also embraced and supported them by sponsoring a Memorial Walk for Buckley and Scott and including them in their annual Hospice Service.
For a company that’s large with several offices throughout the country, they seem not to have lost their heart, according to Deb.
“Our company is a very small organization and our employees are mostly part-time and very service-driven. Work with us is work of the heart. It allows us to focus on grace, not hate. I am so blessed to be able to continue the work of helping the marginalized among us and I have great peace in seeing God continue to bring good from this situation.”
Deb is especially blessed when she recalls the mother of Buckley’s slain husband who said, with great peace and confidence, that she was sure that God would bring great good out of all this. You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done….(Genesis 50:20) Trust in the Lord for He is faithful.