A hot car, a forgotten baby and a faith angle

“Wow!”

That was the teaser by a Facebook friend who posted a news story out of Alabama.

Sufficiently intrigued, I clicked the link. I should have grabbed a tissue first.

At first glance, the heartwrenching story by AL.com/The Birmingham News shows no sign of a religion angle. It just seems like a really sad story from the police beat. In fact, a public safety reporter named Carol Robinson wrote it.

The lede:

Katie Luong is inconsolable.

She knows people blame her for leaving her 11-month-old daughter to die in a sweltering SUV. But no one — not one single person — blames her more than she blames herself.

“I want to tell everybody that I wish I was in that car seat, not her,” the weeping 31-year-old mother told AL.com/The Birmingham News today. “If I had to die for her to live, I would have done that.”

Gabriella Gi-Ny Luong, known to family members as Ella, was discovered by her mother about 1:20 p.m. Wednesday, still strapped in her car seat in the locked Lexus parked outside the family’s Genesis Nail Spa. The temperature outside was about 90 degrees; inside the car it was roughly 127 degrees, authorities said.

Ella was unresponsive. Efforts, first by a nearby business owner and then paramedics, to revive her were unsuccessful. They rushed her to Children’s of Alabama hospital anyway, where the staff pronounced her dead a short time later.

What a tragedy! It’s one that brings to mind “Fatal Distraction,” the 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning feature story by the Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten. If you’ve never read that piece, it might change your perspective on parents who endure this nightmare of their own making.

But why does the Alabama story merit GetReligion treatment? Because we point out holy ghosts in secular news reporting. In this case, though, I found no such ghosts. Cue the Hallelujah Chorus.

Instead, the reporter lets religion — and words such as God, prayer and faith — unfold naturally in the story:

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A stone, but no tablet, at the emergency room

It’s been a difficult few weeks for your friendly neighborhood GetReligionistas.

First, George endured major spinal surgery.

Then Mollie seriously injured her ankle.

I’ve got to tell you: I’ve been praying hard that tmatt — and not me — would be the next member of our team struck by a painful malady. But apparently, GR’s head honcho has deeper connections than I realized.

For me, that realization came just before midnight Friday when an excruciating pain struck my lower back. I immediately suspected the culprit: a kidney stone.

I had experienced the same ailment last summer and figured I knew how to treat it. I started chugging water and popping Tylenol and Lortab. I ran repeated hot baths and found a little relief in the tub. I repented of many sins and asked God to take away my punishment (I don’t claim perfect theology in the state I was in!).

Mainly, I lay on my bed and alternated between moaning and groaning.

I was home alone — with my wife and daughter visiting my in-laws in southeastern Oklahoma and my sons enjoying down time in San Antonio after a spring-break mission trip to Mexico. At some point, I decided I needed to go to the emergency room, but I didn’t want to call and wake up any of my local friends in the middle of the night.

By 7 a.m., I couldn’t take it anymore.

I grabbed the previous day’s pants out of the hamper and put on my Nikes (sans socks). And I drove to the hospital. Fortunately, we don’t live far from Mercy Health Center in Oklahoma City.

Before I even got to the end of our street, I realized that I had left my cell phone on the kitchen table. For a split-second, I considered turning around and going to get it. I quickly decided against it. I did remember to bring my insurance card.

The kind folks at Mercy got me into a room quickly. The nurse gave me a gown to change into and a plastic bottle in which to provide a urine sample. I was a little slow providing the sample. So I was standing in my boxers — having not yet put on the gown — when the nurse returned. The good news: I was in no condition to be embarrassed.

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