God is good. It’s such an understated cliché. God is faithful and I’m here to testify to that truth.
This is 2018. I’m 40 years old—wearing it like a 4-year-old wears a princess dress—and now firmly identify as a child of God. He is beyond my comprehension, but the parts I can somewhat grasp are so amazing that the rest must be completely awesome. Words cannot do Him justice.
My given gift from God is teacher; I am factual, logical, researching, thirsty for knowledge, and have a desire to share the knowledge and insight He blesses me with. My next strength is administration—alas, not encouragement. While sometimes dry, I do have a strong desire to share truth and pursue to that end.
On February 24, 1994, I was driving on a permit at the age of 15. My mom was in the back seat, sitting in the middle with an arm on each of the bucket seats in the front, pulled forward so she could see and speak to me and my Aunt Georgia, Mom’s sister. We were in a 1972 Ford Pinto (yeah, the ones that were known to blow up if rear-ended) and driving home from our work at the livestock auction in the town 20 miles from where we lived. I made a left turn off the highway home and didn’t make it.
The one-ton flatbed Dodge hit us broadside. Aunt Georgia was killed instantly. I was put in an ambulance and taken the 2 miles to the hospital. Mom was extracted from the car after the jaws of life cut supports and the roof peeled back like a sardine can. She was taken by ambulance a few miles away to a waiting helicopter where she was pronounced dead before she was even put on the helicopter.
During this time, I was taken to the hospital, losing all vitals—dying—on the way and being brought back to life. At the hospital, they determined they did not have the best tools to care for me and decided to Flight for Life me to a more capable hospital, 40 miles away. While wheeling me to the helicopter, I died…again. They brought me back…again.
At the larger hospital, I was put in ICU, in a Glasgow coma score of 3 (1 is dead, 14 is alert and functioning normally). I had a fractured pelvis and a small puncture wound in my shin that was sewn shut with two stitches.
Four days later–the day of Mom and Aunt Georgia’s funeral–I woke up. A few more days in the hospital, a week or two in rehab, and I was back to walking, talking (abet quietly because they’d bruised my larynx when putting a tube down my throat while trying to resuscitate me), and could pass as normal and functioning.
What followed was 20+ years of searching, trying to fill a hole that I could never seem to find the right piece for. I wandered—literally and metaphorically—all over the country, hurting people along the way, doing may things that I’m not proud of. In short, I was sinning.
I didn’t call it that, of course. I had all kinds of excuses, which I conveniently labeled “logical reasons.” I did what I wanted, running over anyone and anything that stood in the way of what I thought I wanted. I broke every one of the 10 Commandments and didn’t care. I justified it any way I could come up with; anything that my measly brain would be able to twist and somehow rationalize, I took it and ran with it.
My course abruptly changed when I discovered I was pregnant. By abrupt, I mean in less than 20 minutes I had a complete change of mind, attitude, and heart. This was the second time in my life that my world changed instantly. I was without a home of my own, I was staying at a friend’s house. I had two part time jobs, both at about minimum wage, neither a “career move.” How would I take care of a baby? I don’t even like kids!
My knee jerk reaction when I was told was, “Do the test again,” and when I watched the test urn positive so quickly asked, “How do I get rid of it?” I got in my truck and within 10 minutes made up my mind to keep the child and give it the best life I could. Complete 180 degrees from “How do I get rid of it?”
That was early 2007. In June 2008 I married my husband, Jeramie, and we had an additional three children, the last born in June 2012. Jeramie is a hard worker and good provider. We struggled after a layoff in 2009 and then another in 2015, but we managed to survive.
Ironically, I still had a hole, an empty spot. I had more than so many others, and yet I was still depressed, not content, not happy. Though the urge to wander physically had mellowed, I was still searching. Searching mentally, spiritually.
One day I saw a sign that read “DAY CAMP” with an arrow pointing up a street that went up a hill to a subdivision. The next year I saw it again. Somehow, I discovered that this Day Camp was free, and they would take the kids for four hours! Four complete hours! The youngest was still too little, but to have three of them somewhere else—I jumped at the slightest reprieve. (The only time Jeramie and I had gone anywhere alone in 6 years was to the hospital to have another baby; I could count on one hand the times I’d gone along anywhere in 6 years).
In early 2015, I sat at my dining room table. Why couldn’t I be happy with what I had? Why was I always searching for something more? What was missing? It had been 21 years since The Accident. I would still burst into tears at certain songs, I had thoughts of Mom and Aunt Georgia all the time. What did I need to do? Maybe I should go back to church?
The thought was bittersweet. I had been raised going to church when I was very young, my grandpa and grandma, Mom’s parents, were devout Christians and we attended church when I was at their farm. A few spurts of church in elementary school that I don’t remember, other than the trips to Baskin Robbins afterward. Then in middle and high school Mom argued with me to get me to church. We compromised a lot and often went for the beginning: singing, communion, sometimes Sunday School, but then quietly snuck out the back when the preacher was walking toward the pulpit. (I was baptized—dipped in water—when I was 14. It made Mom happy.)
After The Accident, I went a few times. I even stayed for sermon and enjoyed the teaching. My daily life was so very different than what I thought the lives of other people at church were, though. They seemed to have their lives all together and my daily life was just so…not. To go to church, you had to sit and be quiet. You had to dress up and stay clean. Everyone was nice—and proper, and polite. Stuffy, I guess.
I don’t remember how many years the kids went to Day Camp before fall 2015. But I remember talking to Lee, the pastor of the newly-started West Elk Family Church, which put on the Day Camp—incognito Vacation Bible School? Close! —and telling him, “I believe in God, I just don’t do church.”
He nodded—sagely? —, smiled, and said he had heard that a lot, but that I was welcome to join them any time. Again, the timeline is fuzzy, and I don’t know exactly when I started going, but I went.
There was not a real, specific church building. We had Sunday Service on Lee and his wife, Dee’s, front lawn at their rented house. Evening service—was that Sunday or Wednesday evening? —was in their living room.
I didn’t dress up, I didn’t put on makeup (I don’t normally wear makeup), I didn’t wash the van, I didn’t dress the kids up (they were considered dressed if they had shoes on, and sometimes they didn’t even have those on). The people of this church welcomed us, accepted us, and loved us.
I immersed myself, attending any and every church meeting or function. I started reading my Bible. All vehicle radios had KLOVE programmed in. I read books—I highly recommend Interview with Jesus.
I still was tying to fill the hole that was still present, but if felt like the hole was getting smaller. In the second year, I started telling people: “I’ve done more healing in the previous year than I did the previous 20.” As time went on it turned into “the last 2 years” and “the last 3 or so years.”
That was until June 12, 2018, around 11:50 a.m. My world completely changed in about 3 minutes. I was driving on a road that ended at a stop sign, at the highway, where the two crosses are on the corner—the turn I didn’t complete in 1994. As is typical, KLOVE was on the radio and they played a One Minute of Encouragement, this one by Luis Palau about God is light, and all the colors are divided when shown through a prism. Diversity.
My mind went from there and somehow—God speaking? —ended up on: Mom is happy, joyful, exuberant, and was as soon as she left this earth; and the same is true for Aunt Georgia.
The relief is indescribable. Literally I was lightened. Not jut figuratively, a burden was lifted off me—the guilt that I had carried, had tried to shrug off, deny for 20+ years. It was lifted. Instantly.
At the same time, the hole that I’d been trying to fill for so long—the one that had been slowly filling since I started going back to church—immersing myself in God, His Word—was suddenly gone. Instantly.
The peace, the joy. I was in so much awe that I only paused briefly at the stop sign, gave a nod and smile to the crosses—I never have felt Mom and Aunt Georgia there—said, “You’re welcome! Thank You, Lord!” and turned right onto the highway to go pick up the kids from VBS.
God is good. God is faithful God is amazing. God is awesome. He is so much of these and more.
My journey back to Christ—if I was ever really there before (more on that in another piece)—was quite a trip. It had some exclamation marks. I cannot say I’m there but arriving at this point only leads me to a marker, with the path continuing on.
So, coming back to Christ was maybe only a trip. Now I’m on a journey to better know God, to understand more, and to pass that knowledge and insight on to help others in their trips and journeys, to show THE truth, and grow God’s kingdom.