My birthday was yesterday!!! The 34th anniversary of my birth, making me 33 years old! Yesterday was also the 7th anniversary of this:
It is such a crazy story, I feel the need to re-tell it!
Earrrrly in the morning on my birthday, Chase and I got up and out the door to drive some visiting college students to the airport 3 hours down the mountain to Phoenix. I had really, really wanted my kids to go too, but Chase talked me into leaving them with friends the night before so they could just sleep and play the next morning. My older three kiddos were 1,2 and just-turned-four at this point, so sleep was a good thing. 😉 Still, I was a little sad about it. We walked through my house of sleeping teen girls, scattered all over the floor and couches and headed to Phoenix.
We dropped the guys off at the airport, hit two different Targets because Target, we grabbed some breakfast, hit Sam’s Club to stock up on supplies for Church. Plasticware, etc. and planned to eat some lunch half way home at a town called Payson.
Well, we were headed back up the mountain and Chase and I were enjoying visiting after a *very* busy Neighborhood Bible Time week. Our house was full of teen girls all week, we had Bible time for kids in the morning, then blitzing in the afternoon and youth Bible time at night. Chase regularly got home those nights after one a.m. (And I miss youth ministry why??? LOL) So anyway…busy week! Then a sappy song came on while I was torturing Chase with Lonestar’s greatest hits so of course I had to “sing” it at the top of my lungs, “I don’t know how you do what you do! I’m so in love with you! It just keeps getting better!…” When the back of our big ol’ Excursion flew up in the air several feet. Suddenly we were sliding into oncoming highway traffic and if we would have kept going, would have flown off the mountain and to our deaths. Chase turned back to the right which took us out of the path of oncoming traffic but still sliding until now I was facing the people who had been driving a red truck behind us. I could see their shocked and worried faces in a slow-motion kind of way as we went off the road, hit the sand, and started rolling.
In that moment, I really thought that was it. I was being thrown around and my head was getting thrown up against the roof or windows or something. It is always a cliche, but my life did flash before my eyes and it struck me that I had peace about dying. I was actually okay with it. God would take care of my babies. It would all be fine.
Very strange peace.
But as we rolled (because time stops when you are rolling around in a car so you have all kinds of time on your hands to think about things- lol!) I realized that I actually didn’t feel like I was dying. Nothing was crushing or piercing me. I was probably okay! So then the thought hit me that there could be no way that both Chase and I could survive this so if I was okay, that meant he wasn’t. That was terrifying. I had no peace about losing my husband. None. What was I going to do?
At some point we stopped rolling and the car ended up with the right side on the ground. Chase and I started yelling at each other, “Are you okay?!?” “I’m okay!!!” “Are you hurt!?!” “No, are you hurt!?!”
Me: Oh my gosh, I’m covered in blood!
Chase: What? I don’t see anything?
Me: What is dripping down my head?
Chase: My Dr. Pepper…
He had this giant cup of Dr. Pepper…and yep, I was wearing all of it. Much better than being covered in blood though. 😉
I turned off the cd player…”Baby, I’m amazed by you….” and I was so shocked to suddenly see feet standing outside what was left of the windshield and all of these people were there yelling if we were okay.
I kinda came to and realized there was life beyond what was happening in the car so I did what any sane, shocked Mom would do…looked in the back seats to see how the car seats fared. Ha! They did pretty well, but I am so glad Chase talked me into leaving the kids home that day!
Chase jumped out and onto the side of the car which was now the top while I found my shoes, (I love shoes, but hate wearing them!) and collected the contents of my purse. I realized then that every inch of me was covered in tiny, tiny glass shards and some bigger glass shards. I was glittering like a stalker vampire from Washington. Chase then pulled me out of the car (the only injury he sustained during this whole ordeal was cutting his arm on some glass while pulling me out of the car) and some strangers helped us down.
We talked to the strangers, assured them that there were no kids in the car (kid stuff and Sam’s Club supplies were strewn everywhere) and that we were okay. Everyone stood around talking about what they saw. The people I had seen in the red truck behind us was actually a pastor and his wife. We talked a little bit and they prayed for us and hung around. One of the strangers was some guy who had just passed his bar exam and he was so helpful, he took Chase around, told him what pictures to take, what info and evidence to keep, etc. etc. etc. Meanwhile one of the other strangers was an ER nurse who was very worried about me. She pulled a blanket out of her car for me to sit on so she could check me out and as we were talking, I remembered hitting my head in the car and now had some painful lumps on my head. She told me that whenever an ambulance and such got there, they would prob take me to the hospital in Payson and I should let them. Ok fine.
Then an off-duty DPS drove up and stopped. Then two retired military medics who had never met but arrived at the same time carrying their old medic packs. One guy was Army Rangers and the other was Air Force. They made a beeline for me, and gave me a check-up and started filling out paper work for when the ambulance and stuff got there. They were really excited to see some action! lol An off-duty fireman came and also gave Chase some pointers on info to collect. Seriously. Everyone we could have ever needed was there within minutes. Amazing!
It is a weird point but worth noting that back then I really paid no attention to my cycles. On any other day I would not have been able to tell you when I had last had my period and if there was a possibility I was pregnant but that day I knew. My cycle had ended the day before. We were good. 😀 I got that question about 300 times from everyone I interacted with that day. The other question I remember was “What is your date of birth?” “August 1, 1983” “OH! That is TODAY!!! Well happy birthday!!!” Yeah. Thanks. And then, “Well, you will never forget THIS birthday!”
Anyways, my medics had now relieved the nurse who needed to get back on the road to get to her stranded son in Albuquerque!!! It was amazing she stopped at all! The medics were worried that maybe my head wasn’t swelling enough on the outside and there was thus the possibility of internal swelling. And because of one of the more painful places I hit my head they were worried about my neck and put me in C-Spine and told me to stop moving. Keep in mind this is August outside of Phoenix. We have climbed a bit but it is HOT. So they ever-so-carefully moved me to the pastor’s truck with some a/c. The ambulances and everyone arrived on scene and assessed me and decided I needed to *fly in a helicopter to the hospital in Phoenix.* ARE YOU KIDDING ME. They weren’t.
It isn’t dramatic to say that I was terrified. God has done so much in me and these days I don’t have nearly as many fears as I used to, but back then I was terrified of pretty much everything. Dark, men, heights, being away from my husband, loss of control, being strapped down, having my neck covered, small spaces, having my feet held down…weird random things. The list was infinitely long and this day was really shaping up to be the scariest day ever. I had lived through one major fear of rolling our car…(I was always SO paranoid about it despite the likelihood that it would prob never happen. Ha!) but there were many more to come. The sweet pastor’s wife had been sitting with me recognized that I was internally FREAKING OUT. She grabbed me hand and prayed over me, Chase my kids and the situation. She prayed about the insurance rigamarole and for my flight. She gave me a quick hug as they put me on a stretcher and loaded me onto the ambulance. Once there. they hooked me up to two IV’s checked my blood sugar levels and gave me something for nausea and pain.
I should also note that if you have ever driven from Phoenix to Payson on the Beeline Hwy, there are very few places that are a good, “safe” spot for an accident like this. Most places are perfect for careening off the mountain. If we had to crash, we crashed in the perfect spot. We were also told that if we had been driving anything else, we would have died. The problem was a faulty tire and we survived because of the beast we were driving. It was actually the second time I was told I survived only because of driving *that* car. But that is another story. 😉
I talked to the EMS guy a bit. At this point, I don’t think I had talked to Chase at all since leaving the car. He was busy with car stuff and I was busy having people fret over me and we never connected again somehow. Then I heard the helicopter. I was terrified all over again.
It is so surreal to hear a helicopter and feel it in the air above you and know it is there for you. So strange.
Then they went through the process of completely strapping me down head to toe in addition to having a neck and head brace on. So not cool. Then the ambulance drove across the highway to the helicopter and I got loaded in. Then in addition to all the straps, they actually put some tight net thing on my feet so in case I broke out of my restraints like the Hulk, this net would supposedly keep me from kicking the pilot unconscious. A good precaution, I suppose but holy cow. I was dying. And as we took off the excitement and extra people left and suddenly it is occurring to me just what situation I am in!
I’m completely immobilized, strapped down, choking, and trapped in a tiny box surrounded by strange men and flying in the air.
It was a really great birthday. 😉
There was no room in there so my head was literally stuck between some guy’s knees and I spent the flight staring up his nose and praying. God brought so many verses to mind on that flight about trusting Him, and what to do with my fear. I just recited them over and over and over to keep myself calm. I prayed and as I did, I felt like God let me know, that yes-He did allow this to happen but He was in control. He reminded me it could have been worse and I was so thankful my kids weren’t there and that it all happened during daylight. Can you imagine if I had to be separated from my kids for any reason? If one of them were hurt or worse? Or if it were nighttime and I were flying through the air in a box full of possible sexual deviants in the DARK?!?! Kinda funny now…it really wasn’t then. I was so thankful things weren’t worse. And I kept praying and repeating those verses, “What time I am afraid I will trust in You.” “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” “I will both lay me down in peace and sleep, for Thou Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.” That flight was infinitely long but I made it without full-on losing my mind. 🙂
Once we got to the hospital, I went through X-rays and CT scans. They cut my bra off and all kinds of fun things, but everyone was really sweet and I got to hear eight more jokes about it being my birthday. 😉 Lots of remarks were made about my being covered in glass like crazy and I was moved to a room to stare at the ceiling and wait for the results to come back.
A nurse came in and let me know that Chase was on his way to the hospital in addition to the friends that were watching our kids.
As I lay there, in the room across from me was a lady who sounded insane. I thought she was on some crazy drug or something. I found out later that she was in an almost identical car accident as we were and her head injuries were considerably worse. We have a friend who works for police dispatch in our little town and got the call for the other lady’s accident. Then word got out that we were in an accident and people started thinking it was the same accident and my injuries were life-threatening! People freaked out! Lots of stories were going around everywhere. We heard that people in Phoenix heard a youth pastor and a church van of teenagers had crashed and there was lots of carnage. Friends in Spain even heard a crazy version of what happened! Thankfully, it was all minor, just dramatic. At least everyone was praying!!! That was amazing! It could have been so much worse! I heard the other woman died eventually but am not sure. I hope she is okay. Her husband and child were there with her in the hospital.
I was cleared and released the same time DPS dropped Chase off at the hospital! Our friend Joe who lives in Phoenix took us to buy a new bra and get some dinner while our friends from home drove down to get us. On our way back up the mountain, for the second time that day, we stopped at the exact place we crashed and thanked the Lord for His protection and grace. We stopped there again a couple of years ago and noted how much God did for us that day and remarkably more since. He is so good. We saw over $60,000 in medical bills from this accident. We paid nothing. That is remarkable in itself. It was a no-fault accident which led to more drama, but the bills were all paid! Court ruled it was a faulty tire so our insurance company was happy…and just a tip, check your insurance and see what happens in the event of no-fault accidents. 😉
We made it home. We picked up our babies. We went to our house and found that my teen girls had originally left the house a disaster when they all went home that morning, but when they heard about the accident, they went back, broke into the house, cleaned it all up and made us dinner! LOL I love youth ministry. 😉
The first birthday card I opened that day was the one from the church. I keep it on my fridge or in sight ever since, so yeah, it is dirty now but check it out: “Just think,
You’re here not by chance, but by
His hand formed you
and made you
the person you are.
He compares you to no one else-you are one of a kind.
You lack nothing that
His grace can’t give you.
He has allowed you
to be here at this time
in history to fulfill
His special purpose
for this generation. -Roy Lessin”
My life is not mine. This world is not mine. I am His and He has work for me to do. May I always be a worthy vessel. I’m so thankful for His grace and patience in my life and what He has taught me about Himself, myself and His worthiness.
For His glory and my joy,