Hope through Fire

7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you……16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:7-12;16-18

I did not know anyone who had been ejected from a bus at between 50 and 70 miles per hour, hit the pavement, and lived to tell about it until November 4, 2011. That day was just like any other day in the average life of a 21 year old college senior. It was a cool day in Abilene, Texas and I was in a foul mood. I had failed my second Bio II quiz that I had studied all week for and my professor was less then hopeful I would pass with anything better then a C, ruining my A/B honor roll achievement and deeply wounding my pride. In addition, 2 of my closest friends had been “excluding” me all week. I remember standing on the sidewalk watching Anabel and Tiffany get out of her car and carry their luggage over to the bus where I was already standing. They were laughing and talking about the fishing trip they had gone on earlier in the week. I was so jealous. I had almost made my mind up to forgo the mission trip that I was about to embark on. We were headed to Medina, Texas to work at an orphan home and I didn’t want to spend the whole weekend feeling like a third wheel with those who I considered to be some of my only good friends at school. But as I sat there stewing another friend walked up beside me, it was Haley. Haley always seemed to find a bright side on a pitch black cube. She said I had better come and had already told everyone I was going and we were going to have so much fun. I wished rather than believed her to be right so I decided to throw my stuff in the bus and climb on board, if I stayed home all I would do was homework anyway. Me and Haley found seats toward the middle of the bus, right in front of Anabel and Tiffany, I gave them the cold shoulder. Everyone else finally got there and we set off with a prayer send off from Kyle Farrel. 

We had not gotten far out of town when something hit me hard on the back of my head, it was Tiffanys shoe. I promptly grabbed it and threw it right back at her, maybe a little harder than I should have. Anabel caught it laughing hard saying it was not Tiffs fault, but she had stolen Tiffs shoe and threw it at me to get my attention and then she said “Kathleen wipe off those angry eyes because I looove you!” I told her I loved her too. I could never know in that moment what a blessing that conversation would be in my life. That was the last conversation Anabel and I would ever have here on this earth and that was the last time I would get to look into her eyes, see her laugh someone out of anger and back to loving life. 

The next thing that I knew I looked up reacting to a strong jolt that caused me to instinctively reach for my seatbelt and lookout the window. All I saw were tree branches and I knew reaching for my seatbelt was useless. I then lost all ability to control my body. My body went wherever the enertia put it. I remember bouncing off seats and between the floor and ceiling of the bus. Something would hit my face and then I would hit the floor again, and then the ceiling. I remember thinking “when will this stop”, and just like that, suddenly there was nothing. I knew I must not be in the bus anymore, but outside in the clean open air. I remember appreciating the lack of things hitting me and quite enjoying the flying feeling. But, alas all good things must come to an end and somehow this amazing body that God designed knew that hitting the pavement with my face was not a good idea. So, even though the adrenaline had blinded me to seeing anything, I felt my body duck and roll with my left arm coming up to shield my face and head as the top of my head and side of my face met the pavement and slide, for what felt like forever, until I came to a stop. I am not sure how long I laid there. But I remember opening my eyes and seeing a very very bright light and nothing else. I blinked several times but the light would not go away so I looked down. All I could see was my chest rising and falling slowly. I knew at that moment what had happened. I knew I couldn’t feel my legs, I didn’t even know if they were still there. This thought made me shudder. My shirt was very bloody. I knew very well I could be dying right now from internal injuries or external ones and I was powerless to stop it. That is when I decided, I wasn’t dead yet and I could either stand, walk, and fight to live as long as my injuries would allow, or I lay here and most likely die, I was not ready to die so I had better get up and walk.

wreck

I jumped up at that moment amazed to find my legs intact and working. However, nothing absolutely nothing could have prepared me for what met my eyes upon standing. Bodies everywhere. My dearest most beloved professor and his wife laying right beside where I was, blood everywhere. Dear Mrs. Miller’s eyes staring cold and lifeless at me with dirt and grass stuck to them. Mr. Miller asking for her and where she was. I knew I had to find Tiff and Anabel, I started yelling for Tiff of course she did not answer. Finally I saw her laying in the ditch half way on top, half way next to Anabel. I ran to them. Tiffany was breathing and screaming so at least I knew she was alive. Anabel on the other hand has breathing so slowly I could barely see it, perhaps it was my imagination. I yelled at her to wake up, but she didn’t and she wouldn’t. I grabbed her face, her ears and mouth were bleeding. I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do I was afraid anything I did would make her worse. I tried to move Tiffany away to let Anabel breath but Tiffany screamed and screamed. This was the breaking point for me. I remember looking all around and seeing all those people I had come to love and cherish hurt, dying, and being unable to do anything. I lost my legs again at this point and fell down. I lay there until some EMTs cut my jeans and boots off and put me in an ambulance. I remember as they put me into the ambulance seeing them but a blanket on Anabel. I demanded to know why they would be covering her up instead of putting her in the ambulance or one of the 9 helicopters that had landed. They told me they were trying to keep her from getting cold. I remember choosing to believe this, knowing that it wasn’t true. It was as if my mind said to my body “you cannot handle the truth now dear, we will talk about it later.” My mind was right, it could not handle anymore trauma and my body was already going into a dangerous state of shock. I remember the EMTs yelling at me to stay with them in the ambulance. They took me a short way to a little local hospital who said my injuries were too serious for them to handle and put me on a helicopter for a larger hospital. That was an awful flight, tied to a backboard with a neck brace in the tail of a helicopter after just experiencing a bus roll end over end three times. We landed in San Angelo and they put me in ICU until they could determine the extend of my injuries. They were concerned about my back because I had feeling come and go in my lower limbs for hours. I remember that room well. All I could see from my restricted state was a clock on the wall. I remember being rolled in there at 4:30 pm and watching that clocks hand slowly tick until midnight all by myself without any idea where my friends were or which ones made it out alive. By the time they put me into a regular room that allowed visitors I had thrown up on myself, and urinated on myself twice. Nurses did not seemed concerned with this, and I was in too much shock to care. When I finally got news of my friends from my regular hospital room I was informed that miraculously everyone made it out alive, except Anabel. I think the saying “the good die young” could not have been truer that day. Anabel was the person no one could think bad of if they wanted too. She was the image of Christ’s love in a sorry sad world. She only ever brought hope, light, and happiness to every person she touched, even in her death.

anabel

Anabel Reid 1992-2011

The days, weeks, months to come involved hospital visits, shoulder surgery, several MRIs of my head, and the lose of 30lbs over the course of 4 weeks. To most people my life went on rather normal except for my physical therapy and doctor appointments. I went to class, tried to pay attention and worked hard keep my scholarships. Although crowds now had a strange way of making me terrified, something that was very foreign to the social girl I was, I tried to go out with my friends the the fairs and concerts that would come to our little West Texas town. But what they didn’t see were the countless sleepless nights, waking up night after night in a sweat convinced I was in the bus again trying to do something different to save Anabel, seeing everyone’s faces stare at me, and myself wondering why one earth I survived. I remember the Psychiatrist telling me I had severe PTSD and needed additional help. All of this seemed to fall on deaf ears. PTSD was something combat soldiers had, I was just a girl who had been in a car wreck.

 

Now, this story might depress and horrify you. I know I was detail oriented, but I didn’t want to leave much out because this is the truth of what I went through. They say fire tempers steel to make it stronger, and trials on earth have a similar effect on our lives. I now know that to be true. But the fire can be so intense you are sure it will melt the steel and ruin the blade, just like it feels like the trial will ruin your life. But it is not so. Burning has always been a purifying process. Burning grass pasture is a way of making way for new fresh growth and getting rid of unwanted noxious or invasive plants that could devastate and overtake the pastures, ruining them for any productive use. So it is in our lives. Trials burn away those seeds of pride and bitterness that can so easily plant and take hold growing fast and ruining the soil of our heart for good use. Now I know this trial is not done with me yet, and I know there will always be scars. Just like a controlled burn leaves scars for years to come on the landscape, so trials leave their mark on you forever. But it is not all at a loss, for as Anabel always used to say “No matter what happens, we are always promised God.” and with Him there is hope. Hope for healing and hope for a future, and to be stronger than steel to face it. To look death in the face and get up and walk anyway.

 

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Seasons

1For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Eccleiastes 3:1-8

Seasons, they are what give life depth and balance; they also bring meaning and understanding. Without cold, we would never know what heat felt like, and without drought we wouldn’t know or appreciate abundance. These Seasons, the boundaries and laws of Nature, have been observed out of necessity by people for thousands of years. Only within the last century due to widespread use of electricity in homes, coupled with the advances in agriculture and industry have people been able to work contrary to the laws of nature.

For the last 3 years I have been farming in the high planes of the Southwest. This year as the Summer begins to slip into Fall and the morning temperatures get lower each day I have been reflecting on what it means to move into a new season, what Fall will mean for me and what it meant to so many others before all the technological advances of the past century. Summer and the first part of Fall is the busy season and is a time to be active. The days are very long and the lack of moisture and the warmer temperatures make it the prime season for getting projects done and growing/storing hay for the Winter season. This Summer seemed extra long and full to me. Our growing season started earlier this year due to some early spring rain and early warm temperatures. It was busy and hot. My days began around 4:45 am, about 45 minutes before sunrise, and ended when the sun set around 9:00 pm. During daylight hours I fed and rode horses, irrigated hay fields, filled water troughs, fed cattle and repaired fences, and attended to any farming emergencies that were bound to arise on any given day. Before sunup I would get the irrigation started on the Teff grass so it could be finished before the hot sun was up to burn its fragile leaves. During the hot daytime hours I would switch to irrigating the Bermuda grass which is a lot more hardy to the burning sun rays. Lastly as the sun would set I would start the irrigation on the Alfalfa to run all night.

I realize towards the middle of the summer, halfway through a very hot July to be exact, that I had not properly prepared for the summer by using the Fall, Winter, and Spring months correctly. I burned myself out by operating at the same level during all the seasons and getting stretched too thin to keep up the needed energy level in the summer and fall harvest. I can see very clearly the design and purpose our Creator had in creating the Seasons. Fall and Spring are both transition seasons. Fall is a transition season to help you slow down and store up for the short slow days of the Winter. Winter is such a strong opposite of Summer, our wise Creator realized that we would need some adjustment time and so created the lovely transition of Fall. The nights slowly drop in temperature and each day you lose a few minutes of daylight. The gradual change is so nice and gentle. As Fall begins I have noticed my body slowing down. Naturally sleeping a little later each day as the sun takes a little longer each morning to crawl out of the eastern sky and just as naturally I have noticed myself getting in bed a little earlier each evening as it gets darker a little earlier each day. There is less to do in the evenings and mornings so I find myself taking up old comforting habits like knitting. It feels so good to live within the boundaries of the seasons. The Fall is my que to start to slow down, and this time I am going to listen to it. Already I have noticed a difference in my general attitude toward life. Instead of feeling guilty for not getting as much done as I think I “should” in a day due to less daylight, I am grateful for the permission from nature to have a day that takes less of my energy. I am now looking forward to each season with anticipation for what it will bring. I realize now that the only way to be on the path to continual productive growth is to live within boundaries. With that thought I look forward to this new cycle of seasons and having a fresh perspective, and the chance to live fully within the natural boundaries of life.