Thursday, September 29, 2011

God's Plan is ALWAYS Better

I had a really hard time going to sleep last night.  Today is the five year anniversary of the day God saved me.  For those of you who know me well, you may know this story.  Some of you may have heard this story, but never seen the photos.  Many of you have never had this glimpse into my life.  Thank you to those of you in my life who have supported me through the years of struggle, and acting when it required leaving your comfort zone. You are blessings!

When I hear stories of people coming to the Cross and accepting Jesus into their lives, it always evokes an emotional reaction from me.  God has amazing ways of finding people just where and when they need Him the most, making Himself evident and obvious and allowing people to walk through the doorway He leaves open to eternal freedom.  When God works in my own life, He knows that I tend to be inquisitive, curious, impatient and stubborn.  God also knows that inquisitive and curious can be mistaken by man for suspicion, mistrust and doubt, but He knows my heart and understands there is a difference.

So, there are times when I pray and make Jesus aware of the fact that I am unsure and questioning, and really need to know what He wants for me.  I pray for grace, for wisdom, for mercy, and occasionally for something as obvious as a lightning bolt striking in front of me to make His intentions known.  In God's infinite wisdom, He always gives me exactly what I ask for.  Thankfully, I have never had a lightning bolt strike in front of me, but I have received messages from God that were so obvious there was no mistaking where they came from.

The best example I can give you is the day that I was saved, five years ago today.

The short version of what happened is that I fell asleep while driving, and an accident occurred.  There were absolutely zero drugs or alcohol involved in this accident, and I was the only person involved.  There is a great deal of information from this night that I still have no recollection of.  Some of this information was gathered by a witness who was following me that night, whom I spoke with some months later.  {More on that witness and his importance in this story later} The last thing I remember seeing before the accident happened was a railroad crossing sign with two posts directly in front of me.  By the time I saw the sign, I was plowing it over as I drove into the ditch.  This is a picture of that same sign, taken the next day by a former family member:

SIGN POSTS

RAILROAD SIGN















After I hit the sign, the vehicle started sliding sideways through the ditch, leaving four tire tracks through the ditch.  This is a photo of those tire tracks:


The witness I spoke told me that when I drove into the ditch, he thought my vehicle would stay in the ditch and he was prepared to call 9-1-1 for help.  During our conversation, this statement caused me to recall that I had my vehicle in cruise control when I was driving that night.  To my knowledge, I never took my SUV out of cruise control and don't know if I ever stepped on the brakes.  As I said, the last thing I remember was seeing those two sign posts.  Whether I was unconscious after that or not, I don't know.  The witness told me that while my vehicle was leaving the road and sliding sideways through the ditch, he pulled over to call 9-1-1.  What he did not expect to see was my SUV leave the ditch and head across the road towards the other ditch.  During the process of crossing the road, my vehicle only left three tire marks. This is because my vehicle was in the process of flipping upside down.

TIRE TRACKS ACROSS THE ROAD
AS MY VEHICLE FLIPPED OVER

I'm sure you notice what's on the other side of that road, right?  Yes, it's a pond.  A small lake, if you will.  When my vehicle crossed the road, flipped over and found a place to stop on the other side, it was in water.  Keep in mind the conditions:  It was 5:00am, pitch dark, approximately 40 degrees, at the end of September in Minnesota.  The water was not exactly warm.  I will also tell you this, a pond near the side of a highway in Minnesota is nothing like a swimming pool or the Caribbean Ocean.  There was nothing blue about this water.  This is a picture of where my SUV landed in the pond (after it was removed):

MY LANDING STRIP
Here's what I do remember:
When I regained consciousness, I was completely underwater and everything around me was pitch black.  I started to gasp for air, but instead of taking air into my lungs, my lungs were filling with swamp water with each breath I took.  I don't recall how many gulps of water I took before I realized where I was and that this is the way I was going to die.  In that moment, the only choice I had was to stop breathing in order to live.  
I struggled with my seatbelt for what seemed like an eternity and eventually got it unhooked.  I felt around me everywhere to try and figure out where I was and how to find a way out.  I couldn't see anything.  I finally found an air pocket and sucked in a huge breath of air, what I would estimate to be less than ten seconds before my heart stopped beating.  In that moment of that huge breath, an image of my children flashed across my mind, brighter than the sun.  That was the same moment I began to pray.

What many people aren't aware of is that I had been spending a lot of knee time with God over the months leading up to that accident.  My husband and I had been in marriage counseling and things were not looking good.  I had been holding onto some hurts and pains for years in my marriage and the only one who knew about them was God.  Without going into graphic detail, my (now ex) husband was not a nice guy.  He has issues with control, and chose inappropriate methods during our marriage to assert his control.  If you can read between those lines, thank you.  {God has taken me down the road of forgiveness several times with my ex-husband}.  Specifically during the recent months of visiting the chapel kneelers at our Catholic church, I prayed for many things.  I prayed for my husband's heart.  I prayed for his healing.  I prayed for God to please give my husband kindness, understanding, a loving heart, patience and respect.  Every day for nearly a year I was asking for God's mercy and anointing over my marriage.  When I had questions about why I was put into this marriage that would bring such physical and emotional pain, such betrayal and misery, I prayed.  When I wondered if there was something I was doing wrong or if I could be a better wife in some way, yet knew in my heart these were the lies of Satan, I prayed.  If thoughts crossed my mind about my timeline versus God's resolution, I prayed through it, knowing He was working on the situation even when I couldn't see it.

So, now I'm sitting in a freezing cold pond, shivering and alone in the darkness.  The first thought I have is to pray.  "Thank you, dear Jesus, for saving my life.  Thank you for saving me for my children, they need their mother."  As soon as I started to pray, a peace came over me that I cannot explain.  If you have felt it, you will understand.  The most amazing warmth from inside of me, it was unlike anything I had ever felt.  Then I did something I had never done before - I made a deal with God.  I told God that if He got me out of that water, and let me be okay for my children, I would not spend another day allowing evil and darkness infiltrate my soul, my spirit and my marriage.  I would fight for myself and what's good and just and serve in His name.  When I was finished praying, I heard voices outside.  

As Paul Harvey says, here is the rest of the story...
The witness who had been following me on the road that night was a Department of Transportation worker named Tim.  A few months after the accident, I located him from information on my accident report and we sat down to discuss the events of that night.  Tim had seen me swerve across the center line a couple of times, figured something was wrong, and called the Minnesota State Patrol to alert them of the situation.  I asked Tim if he thought I was drunk, he said he honestly didn't know.  Tim said at one point, I pulled off to the side of the road and he passed me.  Why, I do not know, I pulled back onto the road and continued driving.  Tim saw my headlights swerve when I went into the ditch and immediately called the State Patrol.  When I crossed the road and went into the pond, Tim said he waited for a semi-truck and another vehicle to pass before crossing the road safely himself.  The semi passed.  The other vehicle stopped to help.  The other vehicle was an off-duty Gold Cross ambulance driver on his way home from work.  (Tell me God didn't have His hands all over this).  These two men got lights on my vehicle to see what was going on.  They attempted to get chains to pull my vehicle out of the water; Tim said he only had one chain in his truck for some reason.  Tim climbed into that cold water, knocked on the windows and yelled until he heard me.  He talked to me until the rescue workers got their gear into the water.  He explained how the Jaws of Life were going to remove the door from my vehicle, and to keep my head covered if I could.  When they took my front passenger door off first (I was found in the backseat on the passenger side), Tim sat in that space, held my hands and talked to me while they removed the other door.  Tim was there until I was loaded into the back of the ambulance and the doors were closed.

Tim told me I was in that water for over 30 minutes before they were able to get me out of my vehicle.  They had to cut my clothing off and use special equipment to warm my body up externally and with warm saline through IVs.  After two hours, my core body temperature was still only 89 degrees.  I ended up with a concussion, a badly sprained ankle, a twisted knee, bruises everywhere and back pain that will last a lifetime.  But there were things that I took away from that night, the value of which are priceless.

The man I was married to back then is no longer my husband, we got divorced after 19 years of marriage.

I am remarried now, we just celebrated our 3-year anniversary.  We have a good marriage - just like anything else you value in life, it takes hard work, but the payoff is worth it beyond measure.  Here's the best part of all:  All those things I asked God for: a kind, understanding, patient, respectful husband with a loving heart?  God gave me all of those things - and more - with my husband Keith.  Thank you, Lord, for giving me the patience to trust in you.  Your plan ALWAYS reigns supreme!

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 (NIV)

MORE PHOTOS

Passenger side, two doors removed
with Jaws of Life
Driver's Side
Front seat area,
airbag never deployed
Door I was removed from,
accompanying swamp

2 comments:

  1. Wow, what a testimony! I know that God let you live for something very special. He does that with people. And you have a wonderful story to tell. Thank you for sending your blog my way. I believe we, as Christians, all have a purpose in this life. We just need to find His will for our lives and live it in our daily lives. And it definitely is a day-by-day walk, isn't it?

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  2. I just read the story of your accident. Wow! That was an incredible story. God is so incredible! So glad you survived that.

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