Future and a Hope

jeremiah-29-11

This week marks 9 years since the horrendous car wreck that should have claimed my life.

I was high on life and Jesus. It had been six months since the Lord rescued me from the pit of darkness and despair, and I had rededicated my life to Him. I had found a new church just a few months prior, and was soaking in His goodness. June 22, the day after the first day of summer in 2004, was a scorcher. We had dressed up at work in summery clothes to commemorate the first day of the summer solstice (since we had missed it the day before!), so I was wearing my bright orange and yellow Hawaiian shirt, dark blue capris, and leather sandals. It was hot. So hot. The AC in my 1997 white Chevy Cavalier had went out about a week before, so the windows were down as I was driving home from work that evening. The heat, and my lack of sleep from the night before, was lulling me into a doze that brought a rude awakening. Not even a quarter-mile from my house I dozed off for about 30 seconds and veered off onto the opposite side of the road. When my eyes opened all I saw was green flying past me at a ridiculous rate. I panicked. I tried to pull my car back onto the road, but I was already driving in the grass covered ditch. When I jerked the wheel, my car started flying.

I closed my eyes, held on tight to the steering wheel, and just remember praying “Please God, don’t let me die,” over and over and over again, as my car flipped in the adjoining field. After what felt like an eternity, I finally landed with a great thud. I was upside down, and could only see dirt through my shattered windshield as I hung from my harness. Again. I panicked. I hastily saw that my only exit was my driver side window that had been rolled down, so I released the seat belt I had been wearing and dropped onto the ceiling of my car and scrambled out. I sat up and did not really know where I was initially, other than sitting in the middle of a large field, next to my upside down car. I knew I had to call someone, and realized that my cell phone was in my purse. I reached into my car again, freaking out thinking that it might collapse on me as I lay reaching for it, and pulled it out quickly. Hands shaking, I dialed my sister and told her I had been in an accident and was sitting in the field belonging to the Hendricks family. All I could remember thinking at that moment was that my parents were going to be so mad at me for wrecking my car (they weren’t, but I obviously wasn’t thinking rationally at the time).

Within seconds, the sweet neighbor lady and friend of our family across the street called 911 (we had recently just received that in our rural area), and the two ladies who had been behind me in their car were making sure I was all right. My parents and sister arrived in record time, as they were just down the street. I don’t know how much time had spanned since the wreck until the ambulance and highway patrol arrived. I have a vague recollection that I was in shock and rambling incessantly.

Did I hit anyone in my car? Had I hurt anyone? (No, I had not). Where were my friends? I needed them? Oh my gosh, I hurt so bad! Make it stop hurting!

As they strapped me to the board from the ambulance, I remember the medics raising my shirt and tapping on my tummy, making sure I had not ruptured anything. My friend JC was there, as was my cousin Loren. When nearly everyone in the area has a police scanner, everyone and your brother will show up to a scene of an accident. They loaded me into the ambulance, and I heard my mom say to take me to Cox South. I didn’t want to be alone. I know now that I was truly in shock, because I was thoroughly freaking out. My cousin, who was a firefighter at the time with West Republic, offered to ride along with me to keep me calm. He did a good job. While the medic was checking me over, my cousin talked to me to keep my mind off of my current situation. I was in an amazing amount of pain. My back hurt. My the pain in my head was unbearable. I really did not know at the time what my injuries entailed.

After what seemed like forever, we arrived at the ER. They carted me to the back, my cousin still with me, thankfully. At some point the rest of my family arrived, though I don’t remember when.

I was still strapped to the backboard, my head placed immobile by a strip, as well as the rest of my body. I was barefoot. I knew this, because suddenly the frigid AC of the ER reached me and my bare feet. My mom sat beside me as they waited for the doctor to come in and examine me. After trying, and failing, to get a blood sample (my veins are incredibly hard to get to), they pricked my finger and squeezed it until they had an ample amount of blood to use as a sample. That freaking hurt. Much of the next couple hours were a blur as they examined me. I remember crying a lot. I was in pain. It felt like my back and head were on fire. I am claustrophobic, so being strapped to a backboard for hours did nothing to ease my sanity.  They gave me some kind of pain medication. My shirt was cut off. I begged them to spare my bra, since I had just purchased it (I know, strange request at the time). I was shimmied out of my capris by my mom and the nurse and converted into a hospital gown.

Despite the horrific thing I had just gone through a couple of hours earlier, it was generally determined that I had come out unscathed. I was lucky, they said. I merely sustained a whiplash, possible concussion, and immense bruising across my upper body from the seat belt. No internal injuries. No longterm effects.

I had a hard time going to sleep that night, as the moments leading up to the accident kept replaying in my head.

The next day, my parents went to the place where my car had been towed to, and took pics for the insurance company, as well as talked to one of the EMTs who had been on scene, JC’s dad. He said that I was lucky that I made it out alive. My car had flipped end over end quite a few times before landing. My steering wheel had been warped dramatically out of shape by the sheer supernatural strength by which I had held on. He said I was lucky that I was even able to crawl out of my window afterward, as he had retrieved some things (my keys probably) from the interior of my car while it was still in its upside down state. And he said he had been barely able to get in and out while crawling on his stomach. He is a super skinny and lanky guy.

I was not lucky.

I had just been given a miracle.

I was off work for a week recovering from the back and neck pain. I went back to work and I was still suffering from debilitating headaches. I remember thinking in moments as I tried to concentrate on what I was doing at work, if there would ever be a day when I wouldn’t have one of those headaches or would this be my forever. It didn’t last forever.

I had to go through 8 weeks of physical therapy to regain full mobility in my neck again. Those were long weeks of painful therapy. But it ended.

As I sit here, in another season, a season of discouragement and the unknown, I know that this too will end. Although, it is not nearly as severe or painful as some of the other seasons I have found myself in, it isn’t any less difficult. I believe that if God brings you to a season, He fully intends to bring you through it. As I reflect on the things He has brought me through, I know that He too will bring me through this one.

In the years since, and even just the last few days, I am reminded about something that I once heard a pastor say. The enemy will come up against and attacks frequently those who God plans to use in a big way. He must have something pretty big planned then, for all the ridiculous things He has rescued me from. And I hope – I pray – that He will use the places I have been to help others that may be going through similar circumstances.

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)

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Prayer Encounter

Before I forget all the minor (and major details), and so this is archived in a safe place: Prayer Encounter 2011 (#Reach417)

  

  

Prayer Encounter is an interactive prayer and worship experience, aimed at connecting people (students) with God on a deeper and creative level.

Prayer Stations:

1. Worship Station – an ipod is attached to a 5-way splitter allowing up to 5 people to experience the same preselected worship songs. This made for a great journaling time.

2. Communion – Do this in remembrance of Me ~ Jesus. (Don’t worry, only grape juice was used). 😉

3. Dear Mom & Dad – Students were encouraged to write letters to their parents sharing with them how much the serving opportunities meant to them this week at Reach417, as well as how their hearts have changed.

4. ImpACT – This station let the students see that they didn’t have to only serve one week out of the year, that they could do this the entire year.  Sign up sheets were provided encouraging the students (and leaders) to sign up for the next ImpACT event in August 2011.  ImpACT is North Point’s Church mission initiative to attack the 4 Global Giants: disease, poverty, illiteracy and spiritual emptiness.

5. Pray For 1 Another: Students were asked to write down a prayer request as well as pray for another student’s request.  A great way to link students together in faith and prayer.

6. At the Cross: Strips of tattered cloth were provided so each person could write down a sin or temptation they are dealing with that is keeping them in bondage and from having a deeper relationship with Christ. Each cloth was thrown at the foot of the cross. Where Jesus took up our sins.

7. Reflect: An illustration of reflection for the students to think back on the last week and how they have impacted lives through their serving, as well as how their own lives have been changed.  Another good journaling opportunity.

8. Baggage:  Past hurts, mistakes, grudges, issues, etc, are all baggage that we carry that prevent us from having a fulfilling life in Christ and genuine relationships with other people. Each student was asked to write down the baggage they are dealing with and throw it into  a suitcase so it could be shipped off to Jesus, because He has said that he wants to take all of our burdens away.

9. Praise Wall: This was a time for students and leaders to offer praise reports or encouragement for others or merely just thanking God for His goodness, by writing them on a huge wipe-off board.

10. Expression: Worship through art.  Sometimes words aren’t enough to express how we feel, how much we love God and everything He’s done for us and through us.  Tablets of art paper, crayons, colored pencils, markers, etc were provided so each student could express their own creative worship.

11. Memorial for Shelby Estep: Beloved student and friend that many of our students and leaders grew to love during Reach417 of 2010.  Shortly after Reach last year Shelby passed away tragically leaving a void in many peoples’ lives and hearts.  We wanted to honor her memory this evening, as well as write encouraging messages to her parents in greeting cards.

Worship Station Playlist:

1. Salt in the Snow by The Classic Crime

2. How He Loves Us by David Crowder Band

3. City On Our Knees by TobyMac

4. All I Need by Shawn McDonald

5. I Will Waste My Life by Misty Edwards

6. Opposite Way by Leeland

7. In Me by Casting Crowns

8. Hosanna by Hillsong United

9. Follow You by Leeland & Brandon Heath

10. Should I Tell Them by Shaun Groves

11. Take My Life by Third Day

12. Majesty by Delirious

13. I Can Only Imagine (Acoustic) by Mercy Me

14. The Anthem by Planetshakers

Prayer Scriptures:

“…for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”  Isaiah 56:7

“Continue praying, keeping alert, and always thanking God. Also pray for us that God will give us an opportunity to tell people his message. Pray that we can preach the secret that God has made known about Christ.” Colossians 4:2-3

“When I was desperate, I called out, and God got me out of a tight spot. God’s angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray.” Psalm 34:6-7

“I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” Mark 11:24-25

“So when you pray, you should pray like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, may your name always be kept holy. May your kingdom come and what you want be done, here on earth as it is in heaven. Give us the food we need for each day. Forgive us for our sins, just as we have forgiven those who sinned against us. And do not cause us to be tempted, but save us from the Evil One. The kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours forever. Amen.’” Matthew 6:9-13 NCV

“What other great nation has gods that are intimate with them the way God, our God, is with us, always ready to listen to us?” Deuteronomy 4:7

“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.” Jeremiah 29:12

“I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer.” Matthew 5:44

“…the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.” Romans 8:26

“ I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.” Ephesians 1:18

“ In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” Ephesians 6:18

“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1Thessalonians 5:16

“Anyone who is having troubles should pray. Anyone who is happy should sing praises.” James 5:13

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so God can heal you. When a believing person prays, great things happen.  James 5:13

But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.  Jude 1:20

So the administrators and high officers went to the king and said, “Long live King Darius… Give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions…” So King Darius signed the law… But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.    Daniel 6:6,7b, 9,10

Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.   Psalm 4:1

I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God.  Bend down and listen as I pray.  Psalm 17:6

The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.  Proverbs 15:8

The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.  Proverbs 15:29

Be joyful because you have hope. Be patient when trouble comes, and pray at all times.  Romans 12:12

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  Philippians 4:6

The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,  and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.  1Peter 3:12

And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. 2Corinthians 1:10

So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.    2 Thessalonians 1:11

I will pray to the Lord, and he will answer me from his holy mountain.    Psalm 3:4

Because of this, since the day we heard about you, we have continued praying for you, asking God that you will know fully what he wants. We pray that you will also have great wisdom and understanding in spiritual things so that you will live the kind of life that honors and pleases the Lord in every way. You will produce fruit in every good work and grow in the knowledge of God.   Colossians 1:9-10

Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Romans 8:34

Day 10 — A photo of you taken over ten years ago

Day 10 — A photo of you taken over ten years ago

Well, this is going to be a humorous post. A photo of me that was taken over ten years ago…try not to be scared, because I am! ;o)

This was in 1997-98. I was a Senior in High School, and had no fashion sense whatsoever (i.e. Tweety bird *gag* and notice the honking huge glasses that took up my whole face).  In all reality…I was a nerd.  Honor roll, Key Club, Top 10 in my class, Band geek and all.  I didn’t go out or hang out with anyone hardly ever.  I was fairly made fun of a lot because of all those things.  Meaning that my HS years, wasn’t the absolute favorite time in my life.  I was extremely insecure, quiet, shy and basically all around introvert.  But, you live, you learn, and you grow up and move on.

Not a whole lot has changed.  I’m still a geek (not quite a nerd anymore *g*).  I’d like to think that I have better fashion sense then I did in HS.  I’ve lost quite a bit of weight since then.  I’m still quiet and shy, but I’m not an uber-introvert anymore.  I’ve traveled the world, moved out on my own, I love going out and having fun and hanging out with my friends and I strive to learn more in my field as well as grow in my walk with the Lord.

Day 08 — A photo that makes you angry or sad

Day 08 — A photo that makes you angry or sad

So I’m going with the sad option on this one.

This was my first brother-in-law, William Lee Rhodes.  He became a part of our family in 2005 when he and my sister became engaged.  They were to get married on Feb 3, 2007.  And they were attempting to gain custody of his son from a previous relationship.  However, through circumstances that none of us could control on this earth, he went to live with Jesus on January 26, 2007.

This photo was his first Christmas with us.  It was a very special Christmas for all of us.  Not many people knew Will’s testimony, but he told those who were close to him.  He lived a rough life, getting into trouble during his teenage and early adult years.  He was sentenced to prison time for a crime that he and another boy committed, but took the full wrap of it so the other boy (who was a minor at the time) wouldn’t get in trouble and wouldn’t have a record.  At that time of his life, it was probably the best thing that could have happened to him.  Because on January 3, 2005 he came to know Jesus as his Savior.  He was in a facility in Fulton, MO, which is the town that Joyce Meyer lives.  She has a prison ministry where her materials and Bibles are brought to minister to the men that are imprisoned.  Will was a recipient of her books.  He read so many of her books while he was there and was able to realize how much he needed Jesus to save him from a life that was already in a downward spiral.  For the remaining time that he was there he continued to minister to other guys.  He and my sister (who knew each other prior to his arrest), had been corresponding via snail mail and rare email.  She did this because she “felt like the God wants me to be friends with him and encourage him.”  Will was made probation in May of 2005, and came to live with our family.  We were all hesitant at first because of his tainted history.  But soon, he became the son and brother and fiance that we never knew we needed in our lives.  He was a breath of fresh air to everyone he met, and wasn’t afraid to defend his Lord or other people.  He had a heart as big as the world, and would cry when a kitten got hurt.

This picture is still hanging prominently in my parents’ living room.  Today he is still my brother.  And he is still my sister’s “true love”.  And he is still my parents’ “son”.   It’s a bittersweet photo.  Sad that his young life was taken so early and tragically, but glad that he is with Jesus in eternal paradise.

He will have a namesake soon, as my sister and her husband (Will’s stepbrother, James), are expecting their second child in March.  A boy.  They have been trying to come up with a name that fits with the first name that they’ve picked.  Myself, my mom and even Brooklynn (my niece) have had moments of confirmation of what that name shall be.  William.  Bronx William will soon be welcomed into this world.  He will make his “uncle” Will proud.  🙂

Day 07 – A photo that makes you happy

I have *so* not kept up with this experiment! I feel awful!  There’s just so much going on at this time of year.  So I shall pick up where I left off:

Day 07 – A photo that makes you happy

This is a photo I took on my recent vacation to Seattle.  It reminds of not only how awesome of a trip it was with my best friends, Nancy & Robert, but also that it was an answered prayer!  I had not had a vacation in 6 years and I was so praying that I could take one, but I just didn’t have the funds to do so, and didn’t know when I would.  Well my friends actually paid for my trip!

The Space Needle is such a distinct piece of Seattle tourist history.  We got to learn a bit about this history as we went up the needle twice in one day (once in the morning and second at night).  The Space Needle was built as an attraction for the 1962 World’s Fair, whose theme was “Century 21”.  It went through many redraws before the plans were finalized.  The end result being a flying saucer-like object on top of a few-hundred foot tall structure.  And the colors for said Space Needle, to the theme of the “Century 21” fair being “Astronaut White for the legs, Orbital Olive for the core, Re-entry Red for the halo and Galaxy Gold for the sunburst and pagoda roof”.

It seriously is one of the most amazing attractions I’ve ever visited.  I took way more pictures than this blog post would hold of the awesome view from the top.  You can see forever around the city and the bay.  And the view at night is just breathtaking the way the city lights reflect off of the water and the streets.