Everyday Grace

The Rain Runs Deep

October 2, 2015

My wife has a mass shooting in her hometown now.

For years I was the one with a tragic and unthinkable event at my hometown high school in Springfield, Oregon. Growing up, Springfield was a sleepy lumber town right across the river from more liberal and eclectic Eugene, where my beloved Ducks play. Bill Kinkel was one of my favorite teachers in high school. I took three years of Spanish from him not because I loved the subject but because he made class enjoyable. Mr. Kinkel had retired from teaching high school Spanish and was teaching it part-time at Lane Community College in Eugene. On May 20, 1998, his son killed him and his wife in their family home and then went to his school (my school, where his dad used to teach) the next day and killed two people and wounded almost forty more.

Tragic. Unthinkable.

Things like that don’t happen in Springfield.

Until they do.

My wife grew up about sixty miles away in Roseburg, Oregon and was born less than a month after I was, but we never met until our thirties. Well, that might not be true. Hayley and her mom would drive up to the “big” city of Eugene some Saturdays to shop at Valley River Center (back then simply referred to as “The Mall” because there was no other,) and they would eat at the Wild Plum restaurant where I bussed tables. So I probably did meet Hayley, because I tried to meet any pretty girl that came into the restaurant around my senior year when I worked there. In high school, Hayley no longer lived in Roseburg; her parents got divorced and she and her mom moved further South to Medford while her dad stayed in Roseburg. She felt as if dad was divorcing her too, as many 12-year old girls probably do. So they were largely estranged until late in her twenties after Hayley became a Christian.

Passionate about her new-found faith, my wife prayed for and was blessed with both her mom and dad making professions of faith. While her mom never remarried, her dad Butch had found a wonderful Christian woman that was a longtime teacher in the Roseburg school district. They, together, teach horseback riding and rodeo gaming on their ranch in Roseburg. Hayley and her dad reconciled not too long before we got married. I’ll never forget us flying back to Oregon to get engaged over the holidays and meeting her dad for the first time. He wanted to take me on a trail ride and, unbeknownst to me, he put me on a horse that  just that week had been broken (allegedly.) This horse, named Boobsie, tried to closeline me on every low-hanging branch along the trail down to the picturesque and untamed Umpqua River behind their ranch. Hayley’s dad was a lot like my dad, soft-spoken and tough, and I knew this was a test. So I white-knuckled the ride in the Fall drizzle with a forced grin on my face and as we emerged from the Douglas Fir and loped back into view of the barn, Hayley shouted to her dad, “how’d he do?” “Good,” Butch replied.

And that was it. That was his Roseburg blessing.

IMG_0146_1024Our daughter Addy has been on top of horses since her first year of life. Almost every year including the last three, Hayley and Addy fly out every summer from Nashville to Portland and drive South down I-5 to spend a month on the ranch in Roseburg. My daughter sees Oregon, specifically Roseburg, as her second home. The ranch is a little girl’s dreamland. An old barn with hay loft to climb in. A modern indoor arena with an outdoor one too with metal bleachers that make that banging noise when you run up and down them in your cowboy boots. Daily trips every morning to the Farm Bureau for donuts and a Pepsi (Hayley DID marry her father.) As much as Hayley and I love the convenience of the city and Nashville is strategic and centrally located for two Christian authors and speakers, almost yearly we hatch a plan to move back to Oregon (Marcus Mariota’s arrival with the Titans not withstanding), vacillating only on whether it would be Eugene or Roseburg where we would land. And I know how my daughter would vote.

My wife has a mass shooting in her hometown now.

Tragic. Unthinkable.

Things like that don’t happen in Roseburg.

Until they do.


Oregonians are a proud bunch. For decades a popular narrative within the state has been to grouse about Californians moving in. Few states
outside of maybe Texas would have multiple iterations of “Native Oregonian” bumper stickers. An old joke goes like this:

“How do you know someone isn’t a native Oregonian?”Oregon Native

“They’re holding an umbrella.”
Hayley and I are both native Oregonians. We gravitate to other Oregonians we’ve met here locally in Nashville. Some of them even root for the Oregon State Beavers. Because once you leave the state, the state doesn’t leave you.

Because the rain runs deep.

Native Oregonian and University of Oregon Ducks fan Mat Kearney wrote a song called “Coming Home” for a Duck Football video back in 2014 and I helped my wife use the audio track from that video for a private Christmas video for her dad that same year. Mat’s since released it on the deluxe version of his new album, “Just Kids” and you can get the single for $.69 on iTunes here. This video is not a professional production and was never meant for public consumption, it’s just family and friends with some of Hayley’s childhood memories stuck in. But we wanted to share it so you could see our little sliver of Roseburg life and why it means so much to us. When you see my daughter sobbing, she didn’t fall off a horse, I flew in from Nashville to surprise her in the middle of her month on the ranch. You’ll hear in the lyrics Mat’s love of Oregon too. There’s something about being from there.

Because the rain runs deep.

Yesterday, I met with a group of men from my church and a couple of them commented on the grey drizzle we were experiencing here in Nashville. Maybe it was the emotion of hearing the news about Umpqua Community College and Roseburg. Maybe it was just my fatigue from the long humid summers here in Middle Tennessee. But when one of them said, “it feels like winter,” without thinking I said,

“It feels like home.”

Because the rain runs deep.

Much will be said in the coming days, weeks, and months about the shooter and his motives. Amongst the downpour of tears, people will use this event to seek protections and further agendas. But for Oregonians, both Ducks and Beavers, both natives and transplants, both in the state and relocated, both Christian and not, it’s time to unite in mourning, unite in healing, and unite in praying.

Because the rain runs deep.



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  • Reply Ken Smith October 3, 2015 at 8:06 am

    Beautifully said, Mike. Thank you for putting into words the heaviness in our hearts.

    • Reply Evert Ford October 3, 2015 at 10:05 am

      I grew up in Roseburg. This really touches me. Thank you. Yes, the rain runs deep.

  • Reply Bev Quackenbush October 3, 2015 at 10:27 am

    I find peace in reading this – thank you for sharing – in sad times like this in Oregon we need to draw strength by sharing and caring like true Oregonians do so well. Again thank you

  • Reply Carissa October 3, 2015 at 11:04 am

    I really loved reading this. Mrs. Kinkel was my Spanish teacher at Springfield high. I will never forget that day i showed up to 1st period and she wasnt there. Roseburg is my hometown as well. It hurts. You feel violated. It was my safe haven. All the memories there across the river from the college.

  • Reply Judy L Dillon October 3, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Thank you very much. I am so glad that Cara shared this where I would see it. I have finally returned to Oregon: I was raised in Springfield and went to Thurston High and Mr Kinkel was my Spanish teacher for 3 years there. I loved learning the language and Mr. Kinkel was my favorite teacher. I have not recovered from the deaths there…..and now there have been shootings in Roseburg. Gut-wrenching to me.

    Thank you for what you have written… The Rain Runs Deep…..superb

  • Reply Becky Crowson October 3, 2015 at 11:19 am

    My tears are falling like the rain. Your message speaks for all of us from Oregon. Thank you for your words. Thank you for helping us to start the healing.

  • Reply Deb October 3, 2015 at 11:26 am

    What beautiful words Mike I. I grew up in the Umpqua Valley as did you and your wife, I moved back. Yes the rain runs deep, In the last few days those raindrops have been running down the cheeks of this community.God bless you and your family.

  • Reply BJ Malecha October 3, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    ThanKS for this beautiful poignant piece and for sharing your personal memorie it makes my heart sing. Sometimes it takes tragedy to realize what we have. Although I a a transplant, I have always loved Oregon!

  • Reply Lou Ann Shelton October 3, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    A friend sent me your story, which I loved. I too live in Nashville but I was born and raised in Roseburg, Oregon. I was born at the old Mercy hospital in 1944. My father and uncle had a logging company and a mill up Little River in Glide. We moved to Glide in 1950 to a small farm on the banks of the Umpqua River.
    Even tho I live in the south, a part of my heart still lives in Roseburg! Many happen days there.

  • Reply Bonnie J Hadden October 3, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Thank you for this special message. I was raised in Coos Bay/North Bend, lived in Eugene for 33 years and now back to the Bay Area. What happened in Springfield and Roseburg were tragic, but it’s been encouraging to see so many reaching out with their many ways of support. I love Oregon and the rain!

  • Reply Brian Bilderback October 4, 2015 at 1:53 am

    Perfect. I was born in Roseburg in 1968 at Douglas Community Hospital (it’s gone now). My father was a pastor so we moved a lot, but Oregon kept calling us back. I graduated from Douglas High School in Winston in 1987. I have classmates whose kids were on campus at UCC on Thursday. It all hits too close to home. And even I’m back in Oregon again (in Eugene), Lord willing this time for good, right now I wish I was down in Douglas County.

  • Reply PAMELA October 4, 2015 at 3:38 am

    I live here in Roseburg, and I can say how much it is appreciated the compassion so many people have shown. My mom is a teacher at UCC and I can honestly say this is our home the tragedy can not take that from us. Thank you your kind words and love for our community!
    I AM UCC

    • Reply CHAR October 7, 2015 at 4:15 am

      I AM UCC.

  • Reply Lee October 4, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    Beautiful piece. Thanks for writing and posting it. I am a transplant. I have lived in many large cities in the US in my life, but this is my home, Roseburg, Oregon, for the past 26 years; the longest that I have ever lived anywhere. The wonder and kindness of the people of Douglas County, that I have witnessed in the past 4 days, is boundless! Speaks to why I have stayed. God bless you and your family. God bless this beautiful region. Most importantly, God hold the families of those that senselessly lost their lives in this tragedy in his hands and comfort them. Indeed, the rain runs deep…and so does the strength and determination of a community of people who don’t/won’t let go of their passion for a remarkable way of life. Kudos to the people who make Roseburg home. #RoseburgStrong

  • Reply debraboucher October 4, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    Thank you for capturing the longing of a far away Oregonian. I was born and raised Salem/Portland with roots across the state in a small cemetery in Cove where my family has been buried since the wagon train rolled in. Although I’ve lived in New England for over 25 years, the rain runs deep in my heart.

  • Reply Kristin Gibbons Carpenter October 4, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    Mike ~ Thank you for this beautiful piece. I graduated from Thurston a year behind you. Mr. Kinkel was my favorite teacher. I have such vivid memories of him passing me in the hall near the Senior locker bay everyday shouting out Hola Kristina! I moved away from Springfield in 1997 however I go home often. My mom now lives right around the corner from Mr. Kinkel’s home. Every time I pass that home, I say a prayer and acknowledge both he and his wife, Faith. We will never forget.

  • Reply aslanenlisted October 5, 2015 at 7:55 am

    My Mother and her husband live in Roseburg. I have lived in England nearly 6 years and I have never felt further away from home than I did last week. My (British) wife only knows Roseburg as her American home.
    Thank you for this post, and for the video… I’m just a bit closer than I was.

  • Reply theyoungjamesversion October 7, 2015 at 8:24 am

    Thanks for the narrative. Enjoyed!

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