On December 30, 2021, we, as a family, including the dog, brushed death’s door. We hit a semi, head-on, both vehicles going approximately 50 mph. Everyone involved lived, and that is what we are all thankful for — simply to be alive. Today, we are praising the Lord for breath in our lungs and another day we were afforded to walk this Earth.
For those of you that know me really well, you know I personally have had more close calls than most. I know full well the value of life, how fragile it is, and how one can choose to live even among dreadful circumstances. I have found myself in a hedge of protection, spared to live, many times. However, as I watched the wreck we experienced on December 30 with my eyes wide open, because I didn’t blink, as my screams went from “that truck’s not stopping” to “no” a deep heart cry belted out of me. I didn’t want that moment to be reality. I didn’t want to leave them even if we were all going to the same place.
There was a a forward motion, a force that no amount of yelling or brakes at that point were going to stop. And so, I watched and held my breath as the collision occurred.
My body completely turned toward my beloved family the duration of the accident. Not able to reach them once we stopped spinning, I called out, “are you okay?” No response, just open eyes in the back and Brandon not speaking but moving, I asked again in a tone that was slightly more demanding. I can’t reach them. “Are you okay?” “Answer me.” “I need you to tell me you’re okay.” No response. By this time I was finally able to unbuckle with my shaking hands. I began to touch them all, one after the other, one touch. And I asked, “do you know who I am?” “Hey.” “Look at me, are you okay?” Brandon moving more. Braxton begins to moan. Jade begins to nod. Finally, I hear a “yes,” followed by a “yes ma’am” and a “what happened?” My heart in disbelief and awe. Even though we were banged around, I knew God protected us all from the pain and tragedy that could have befallen us. I was certain it was too good to be true.
For those of you that know me really well, you know I, personally, have had more close calls than most. I know full well the value of life and how fragile it is, and how one can choose to live even among the most dreadful of circumstances. I personally have found myself in a hedge of protection, spared to live, many times. However, as I watched the wreck we experienced on December 30 with my eyes wide open. My screams went from “that truck’s not stopping” to “no” in a matter of seconds. As we were heading straight for the semi, a deep heart cry belted out of my spirit – “Lord, please.” No amount of brakes or yelling could stop what was coming. There was a forward motion at play that no natural force could stop in time to save us. I didn’t it to be my reality. I didn’t want to leave them even if we were all going to the same place.
And then, I watched as a supernatural force wrapped us up as we t-boned the perpendicular bound semi truck and spun out of control. My body completed turned sideways toward my family the entire time. I experienced the impact with arms pushing away the airbags as I reached for my kids in the back. I called out to all three of them, “are you okay?” No response, just two sets of open eyes in the back, and Brandon slowly lifting his head from being faceplanted in the airbag. I asked again in a tone that was slightly more demanding. I couldn’t reach them. I asked, “Are you okay?” Then ordered, “Answer me.” “I need you to tell me you’re okay.” I got no response. By this time I was finally able to unbuckle with hands shaking. I began to touch them all, one after the other. And I asked, “do you know who I am?” “Hey.” “Look at me, are you okay?” Brandon moving more. Braxton begins to moan and panic. Jade begins to nod with her eyes as open as they could possibly be. Finally, I heard a “yes” from Brandon, followed by “are you okay?” Jade softly says “yes ma’am” and Braxton alarmingly exclaims “what happened?” My heart was simultaneously in disbelief, overjoyed and in awe. Even though we were banged around, I knew in that instant that God protected us all from an immense pain and tragedy that could have befallen us that day. The joy was quickly followed by doubt, was it too good to be true? My people were alive. Was that enough? Was what was to follow going to be bearable?
People began to arrive. They swarmmed our vehicle, we could hear them, but not see them. They began yelling. They asked if we could open the doors. Fear set in again. Brandon began to panic. He couldn’t move his legs. He was stuck and I wasn’t sure he was okay. I wasn’t sure we were okay. What had happened was setting in. We were both frightened of what was to follow. We couldn’t see anyone outside of the vehicle because of the airbags. Thank God for the airbags. Thank God we were driving an F250. But we needed to get out. I cut into the airbag to attempt to make a path out. Shold’ve held my breath for that. The dust filled my airways and that caused coughing that lasted for hours. I finally made my way to unlock the doors while answering the gender, age and where abouts of my family that embodied the vehicle. The second I unlocked the doors all three doors flung open by people there to help. They pulled my children, our puppy and myself out of the truck. Walking around the vehicle to put my arms around my babies and Brandon seemed to be one of the longest minutes of my life. [Yes, I said one of, because with every traumatic situation there is one or two of those moments that time seems to come to a crawl, and the anticipation of the second that follows seems to be ten minutes and 5 million horrific thoughts and questions away.] When I arrived at the other side of the truck, I couldn’t get to Brandon. I was instructed to sit with my children away from the truck. Fear struck again as I realized they too were afraid of an explosion or the condition Brandon waist-down may have truly been in. So I waited as I soothed Braxton and Jade. Then, out he stepped. One leg and then the other. Men swarmed around him. Checking on him, lifting him up physically and emotionally, assuring him his family was safe and fine. I heard another remind him to count his blessings and thank God. He said, “it’s a miracle.” I missed the next couple of conversational exchanges as they moved in what seemed like circle after circle. But, then Brandon fell to his knees. I handed my kids and dog back to these kind strangers and, said a prayer for them and Brandon under my breath as I fled to hold my husband, my best friend, my one and only. The world stood still as I listened to my sweet man, overwhelmed with guilt for what had just happened and concern for the other driver had him. I held him on the ground as he slumped over in tears and disbelief. I held my husband, cried with him, cried for him, and uttered “We’re alive. Everyone is alive. That is all that matters. I love you.” Inwardly concerned, once again, that it was too good to be true, that the aftermath of what was to follow that very moment would be more than I was prepared or capable of handling.
Then a man interrupted that thought with a shout, “the semi driver seems to have a broken his left arm, but he is okay. He is up walking and on the phone with his girlfriend.”
We had witnessed an unworldly, unlikely, unfathomable rescue.
We were alive. My mom and grandmother picked us up and we went to the see my sister, a physician. Brandon was moving okay, but had sharp pains in his chest. His legs were surprisingly carrying his unnerved 6’3” frame around. As minutes passed more colors on my sweet man’s body was rising to the surface. The kids seemed to be emotionally intact and more than anything keyed in on Brandon and I’s emotions. I was having a hard time walking, my legs kept shaking and buckling, but no pain. Adrenaline is an odd thing.
We were all alive. That’s all that mattered.
Processing the pain
Everytime a tragedy or trauma impacts your life it changes you. It alters your perspective. It grows you. It deepens you. It widens your heart and your capacity. It intensifies the way you experience life.
As Brandon and I processed, we are experiencing every moment in slow motion and reflecting on life as we knew it pre-incident.
We get to choose how to process the situation and emotions that come. We decide how we are going to respond. We get to choose the lens we process through. From a gal that’s processed my share, I want to share this with you…
- It is wise to sit with the emotions you feel,
- it’s wise to talk to someone about them, to let yourself go to the painful depths of grief, despair, mourning, fear, gratitude and more – as long as you
- don’t go alone. That’s the hardest part –
- opening up.
- Letting your mouth or your fingers put words to what you feel.
Being open and honest and allowing someone to come along side you and feel with you is the key. Its important that person cares for you and simply understands that they are part of a healing process that might take a while. You need a hall pass for what is said in this process, as it’s likely to include feelings of anger, betrayal, doubt, hard questions and unsettling truths. Allow yourself to address every corner. Do not put up walls around the things that make your face contort and your body shake. Go there. Don’t be afraid. Just don’t go there alone.
That to me is the most beautiful gift of being a Christian, besides the fact that we are forgiven and redeemed; we have someone with us as a born again Christian – always. Our internal guide is there with us, always, even when it’s really dark and we don’t feel at all like we have an eternal hope and a friend and counselor and sovreign God near. He is there. Leaning in, waiting, protecting, loving.
The only way I’ve survived for all these years through so much pain is that I’ve had the honor, blessing and privilege of walking, talking and processing with the Lord from the age of 7. Everytime I’ve gone through a hard season I’ve done it with God Almighty, the Word of God, and a good friend. My friend changed from season to season. Many times my friend had no advice and couldn’t relate, but they were there and that’s what mattered.
Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”
To this day I have more friends that are more like siblings than I do siblings, because they willingly chose to walk some deep places with me, to hold my hand and hold me as I learned who I was and walked this journey of life that has had some tuff lessons.
Im thankful that Brandon and I have one another, and have had one another for so long – fifteen years this year. But mostly I’m thankful that we are believers and have a relationship with Christ – a person and place where we find our hope, joy, purpose and firm foundation.
As the rest of the world sets goals for 2022, we are trying to hold on, sit still, process and be grateful. We are blown away by the grace, mercy, abundant love and protection of our Abba Father 🤍 We are processing the pain, overwhelming emotions, trying to leave what needed to die in 2021, hold onto what was good, and let what God wants for us and our future rule our actions and our hearts.
Stepping back into the day-to-day, the world has met us with what feels to be the same force that we felt when we were bound to impact the side of that semi truck. The world doesn’t slow down for you to process or feel. If you get to remain in this life, it demands you rejoin it’s ebs, flows and breakneck pace immediately. Once again, you get to choose. You don’t have to give into this culture or it’s demands. You set the tone and pace of your life. As an adult, you choose what rules your agenda and heart. Brandon and I are getting still about ours in unison everyday.
We are pressing the hard reset and asking ourselves questions like:
- Is it worth it?
- What’s X worth to you?
- who loves us? Because that’s who we want to spend out time with.
- Who makes us better?
- Are we doing the best we can for a balanced, thriving, joyful life for ourselves and our children?
- What can we weed out to maximize what matters most and minimize distractions?
- Are we in the center of God’s will for our lives?
- What is he trying to teach or show us out of that accident?
- What is he speaking into our next season?
We are all different. Our children lost innocence that day. We all almost lost our lives. Our bodies and spirits may be bruised, our brains slow with all they are processing, but our hearts are centered. We are grateful to still be drawing breath, and getting to walk this journey a bit longer with our precious children and those we love.
“God’s gift and His call are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29
“I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.”