Lisa Beamer described her late husband, Todd, as a "Type A" planner who had long kept a notebook of goals such as earning a graduate degree, traveling Europe and providing for his family. As he accomplished each, he would check it off.
"All that planning didn't matter on Sept. 11, 2001," Beamer said recently at Samford.
"I know what did matter to him, and it wasn't his job, or paycheck, or things written in a notebook. It was based a decision he made at age seven to follow Jesus Christ," said Beamer.
He spent the next 25 years developing that relationship, she said. "And that made all the difference for him that day."
On Sept. 11, 2001, Todd Beamer became a hero on Flight 93, which was downed by terrorists. A telephone operator later relayed to Lisa his sense of calm. His relationship with his God was what led to his sense of security in those final moments, said Beamer.
"God really is a loving God and full of grace, and Todd learned that by relating to and communicating with his God each and every day," said Beamer. "He was focused on making sure he was in line with God's plan."
The Beamers, who met as students at Wheaton College in Illinois, were active members of Princeton Alliance Church in Plainsboro, N.J. Soon after the tragedy, Lisa Beamer became a national symbol of courage as she was introduced by Congress by President George Bush. She has since created the Todd M. Beamer Foundation to assist children, other than her own, who were left parentless, and is the author of a book, Let's Roll: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage.
What we need to take away from the experiences of 9-11, she said, is the same as what really mattered to her husband.
"Choose this day who you will serve. Are we going to serve ourselves, money, or the God of the universe?" she challenged.
She uses a passage from Micah which says to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God for her guide as raises the couple's three pre-school age children, David, Drew and Morgan Kay, who was born Jan. 9, 2002.
When walking her three-year old, she noted that he doesn't always understand why she wants him to go one way when he wants to go another, which may lead into a harmful situation.
"I relate that to my relationship with God. God is saying what I say to Drew, 'Just trust me. I have your best interest at heart.' All I have to do is take His hand and walk alongside."
"You will face a September 11, or something you have no idea is coming," Beamer told the students, adding that if they put their faith in a loving God, the bumps will be more smooth. "They have been for me, and they will be for you."
Beamer spoke to students and faculty May 15. Later, she addressed a luncheon crowd of 1,400 Samford Auxiliary members and guests.