Tuesday, September 1, 2015

God's Glory in Car Wrecks

So, I was in an automobile accident today. First major accident ever. I was fine, but the couple that clipped me didn't fare quite as well - the hospital here is pretty good, so if they had to get in an accident out of town, at least it was here where they're close to good care.

Actually, that's what this post is about. It was scary, and I was naturally freaked out and adrenalized, but it was so incredible to me how the situation unfolded. All I can say about it is that God is definitely present, and that he's looking out for me, but especially for the couple that hit me.

Let me set this up a little more for you. It's about 5:30 in the afternoon on a major artery for our city. Rush hour traffic is to be expected, and I've been in it enough times to have a decent feel for it. There's this one exit to get onto another major road, and it always gets a line that's backed up for a mile around this time of day. If that's the exit you want, be prepared to stop quickly, and then wait in the crawling queue for a bit until you can finally get off the interstate.

I'm driving a small, two-door truck, trying to get home to some dinner, and then to go meet with some friends. We've all got some place to go, right? Well, I'm watching the traffic ahead of me, and I see that the crawling line is coming up soon, but I must have misjudged how soon, because it came as a surprise when the car in front of me was braking, and then was stopped. So, I brake, and then I brake hard, trying to not hit the car in front of me. By God's great mercy, I did not. But, I was definitely going to hit it if I stayed in that lane, so I pulled a maneuver I've seen done before, and had to use once before: I swerved into the emergency lane.

Behind me is a couple riding one of those comfortable, trike motorcycles with an extra trunk trailing in the back. When I braked and swerved, I missed the car in front of me, but the couple behind me was just as surprised by the sudden change of events as I was, and they wound up still going too fast while I was halfway in the emergency lane, halfway in the travel lane. The wide rear of their trike hit the side of the truck and slid along the side a bit until they came to a stop ahead of me. (Here's a good visual of what their vehicle looks like. Picture.)

Here's where it gets awesome, in my looking back. The couple was older and from out of town, but praise God they were wearing good helmets, and they're in a city with a good hospital nearby.

The nature of the accident caused them to fall from their seats, but praise God they weren't thrown, and they didn't fall until their trike had reached a stop. Also, while their trike did tip, it didn't fall over and trap anyone.

I don't know how normal this is, but, praise God, a good number of people stopped to help - probably because of the nature of the accident (2 people visibly on the road), and also because we're all in close quarters at this time of day, so it's easier to see things unfold and quickly decide to pull over. Regardless, I needed them, and the couple definitely needed them. I learned a lot of things about the effects of adrenaline on me personally today, and one of them is that I can't think clearly or follow through very well. But within a couple minutes or less of the accident, a man came up and announced that he had called 911 already. Praise you, Jesus, because the number just kept ringing when I tried to call, once I had finally managed to get the call placed.

Among the others who stopped were some capable men, who, thank you God, were calm and level-headed, when I was barely able to think one step to the next. One was still in his military fatigues, coming from the Arsenal. One, for whatever reason, had medical equipment in the back of his van - EMS got to the scene before we needed him to use any of that, but he was prepared, and he probably brought even more calm and experience to the situation. A minute or two before EMS arrived, an ER nurse (wearing scrubs!) came up, announced her occupation, and took charge with evaluating the woman. She was able to quickly brief the EMS and paramedics once they arrived on scene.

Looking back, I'm amazed. I feel sad for this couple, that this happened to them while they were travelling, intending to just have a good trip. But I'm also really grateful that it wasn't any worse. They were wearing helmets, the accident was only about 5 minutes away (by ambulance) from one of the best hospitals in the region, they have people they're staying with near town (so there are others who can be with them), and their transportation was not irreparably damaged. For whatever reason, they are under special care, and I'm so glad.

As if God wasn't already doing enough by taking care of these strangers who happened to meet me today, he took care of me, too. I was already braking hard and getting off the road, so the shock of impact was somewhat diminished, and all I had to do was finish the action I had started. The airbags didn't go off, which prevented me from having injuries from that (it wasn't the type of accident that should trigger them anyway). By some miracle, I did the right thing by putting the truck in park, turning on the hazards, and then getting out of the car. I had my phone with me, so I was able to attempt calling 911, and I was able to get in touch with my emergency contacts. By God's grace, I had brought my driver's license with me - I'd just been out on a short errand, but brought my license instead of forgetting my whole wallet at home. The people who came to the aid of the couple were a comfort to me, because they had brains that were able to take more control of the situation, while I was still in the shock and adrenaline phase. The friends I'd been planning to meet up with happened to be driving down the same interstate, and one happened to look out the window at the wreck and saw me - so two of my best friends were able to be there with me and give me hugs and make sure I was okay and didn't need a ride. I even got a text from one of my friends and coworkers, who saw the accident and me, and asked if I was okay and if I needed a ride. Praise God, the truck was drivable, and praise God again that I wasn't so shaken up that I couldn't responsibly drive. Thank you Jesus, this isn't our only option for transportation, and it isn't a really expensive car, and it's insured, and I'm on the insurance.

Today definitely took a strange turn that I wouldn't want to repeat, but it had at least one positive outcome: God's glory. I'm praising God for his protection, his provision, and his plan! This all could have gone down so much worse, but it didn't. All glory to God!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In Everything...

Philippians 4:6

Don't worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. (Holman Christian Standard)

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. (New Living Translation)

A lot of people - myself included - tend to think of prayer as something reserved for big needs, for times of trouble. But it's not just big things that cause us to worry. We fret about all kinds of things, don't we? About whether we'll make it to our destination on time, what we'll make for dinner, how we're going to dress for that night out, and so on. All sorts of small, normal things that we just take in stride as part of everyday life.

They certainly are in our everyday, but does that mean we don't have to pray about them? Or that God doesn't care about those small details? A good leader values communication, and a good father loves to hear from his kids. If you're stressing out over what to make for dinner, don't you think he wants to be part of that? To help give you peace, and maybe even some unexpected ideas?

And for those of you who are like me and don't really understand the phenomenon of prayer, think of it this way. By bringing all your concerns, big or small, to God, you are at the very least reminding yourself of his constant involvement in your life. When those concerns are resolved, take time to thank him! Just because we don't understand what prayer is doesn't mean it isn't effective in at least helping us keep God involved in our lives. (I do believe prayer does something more than the obvious psychological effects, I just don't understand how or why. That's a separate topic.)

When I was closing up at work the other day, I could feel the sniffles I'd had the whole day not going away. Instead, they were turning into something more sinister: a cold. I hate being sick, but more than that, I hate the idea of having to call in sick, forcing my managers to find someone last-minute. So there I was, sweeping the floor, worrying about whether I was going to get sick or not. And it occurred to me that this was under God's purview. I felt kind of silly, praying about not getting sick, but I did it anyway. I got sick anyway, and called in sick to work. I prayed again, this time asking him to just make it go away. When the tide turned in my body and I could tell my immune system was winning out (and I could breathe easy again), I was relieved. Later, I remembered to thank him. Even though I did get sick, it wasn't as bad as it could have been, and it gave me a reason to take a true rest day.

This is my point with the story: Even if he had no hand in it other than creating my immune system, he still deserves the thanks. And this is my point with bringing everything to God in prayer, big and small: God wants to hear it like a loving parent wants to hear about their kid's day, and he wants you to realize that he's always there, in everything.

Monday, December 3, 2012

All is Well?

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

I went to a concert at a local church this evening, celebrating their hanging of the green for Christmas. It was lovely, and the music selection was great. But one of the songs' lyrics got me thinking: the song said not to fear and that all is well now that the Christ has been born. The way it was worded, I couldn't help but ask myself, "Really? All is well?"

I look around at this broken world, and I do not see that all is well. There is famine, slaughter, drought, corruption, theft, abject poverty, disease, and so on. Yes, there are many beautiful and wonderful things in the world, too, but clearly all is not well.

The lyrics at the top of this post are from one of my favorite hymns, "It is Well With My Soul." All is not well with the world, but it is well with my soul. Because of a call and my answer many years ago, the God who created the cosmos reigns as King in my heart. That's why it is well with my soul. The kingdom Jesus kept going on about in his parables? The King over it is working to make it a reality in and through me.

The world is not ruled by its true King yet - He allowed Satan a time of power, and that is where we are now. Jesus' birth is good news because his life, death, and resurrection means we have a chance to become citizens of the kingdom of heaven and help bring it to the world. Eventually, at a time only God the Father knows, the Lord will return in power and bring the kingdom with him.

All is well? No. All is not well. But it will be.

Revelation 19:15-20:3a, 21:1-7
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:


...Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. ...

And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. ...

Then I saw "a new heaven and a new earth," for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

To Fathers

I reckon this would be more appropriate as a Father's Day post, but it's been on my mind and June is a long way away.

Fathers, love your daughters well. This is important, so I'm going to repeat that for you.

Fathers, love your daughters well.

Fathers, love your daughters well.

You will make mistakes, and she might think you're a doofus or a nuisance, but she needs you. So love her - she loves you.

I'm going to let you in on a secret, fathers; it's the reason why I wanted to charge you with this post. Fatherless daughters have a hole in their lives that never fully heals. At best, it's just an old scar they carry. How do I know? Because I'm one of them.

My parents divorced when I was very young, and I never knew my father. I have no memories of him, and I never saw more than a picture of him growing up. Learning the reasons why my parents split led me to gratitude for not growing up under a man wholly unprepared for fatherhood, but that didn't change the fact that I wanted someone to call "dad."

Now, I was incredibly blessed growing up. My mom is a Christian and raised both me and my sister to see God as our Father, and that was invaluable to me as I matured. Because of my firm foundation and essential relationship with the Father, I didn't become one of the statistics so often associated with fatherless children. All credit and glory to God! But that doesn't mean I was fine, or even that I am now. It just means that my "daddy issues" were covered by God's grace and I didn't act out anywhere near as severely as others in my situation might have. All through my adolescence, I wanted a father figure, someone to look up to. And I was indeed blessed with a number of godly men in my life that I could look up to. However, there was no one I could have seriously called "daddy."

God has been teaching me more about what it really means to have a dad, and what it means to call Him Abba ("daddy"). I got one more piece to the puzzle the other day when I was reading one of my friends' blog posts. At the end of the post, she invited her readers to stop a moment and ask God to tell them what His name is for them. I did, and you know what I heard, almost immediately? "My little girl." Hearing that was such a blessing; it was one of the few times I've been so happy that I cried.

Obviously, there is healing in hearing the Almighty God call me His little girl, but it's also important for me and daughters like me to see fathers loving their little girls. We didn't grow up with it, and you better believe we watch you. How else can we learn what fatherhood looks like with human men (as opposed to abstract concepts of God the Father)?

So, from a girl who knows how much it means to have a loving father, I charge all you men with daughters: Love her well! And make sure she knows she's your little girl.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I'd Like to Thank the Academy...

On October 20, 2012, I officially reached a level I have never gained anywhere else.

Click to enlarge. (Seriously. Do it.)
One thousand pageviews, y'all!! Thanks for clicking on those links I've been shamelessly posting on Facebook!

(Ein tausend, un mil, one thousand... Sorry, just testing out the sound of it.)

I know this milestone is small potatoes for a lot of bloggers, and I'm not writing this one to get my name out there or anything. But it's still a first for me, and therefore well worth the 5 minutes I spent making those pretty fireworks in Paint!

To those of you who have been following along since I first went public with Move Along, a special thank you to you. Your patience is laudable, your tolerance for sub-par writing commendable, and your support invaluable. So, thank you, loyal readers.

Here's to another thousand hits!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Out on a Limb

"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." (Phil. 1:6, NLT)

Sometimes I'm just in awe of how true this verse is, how amazing it is that God continues to work in me, crafting me to be the person he designed me to be.

This past weekend was the Ladies Retreat at my church, and it was absolutely incredible. The Spirit was there, and he was moving each of us toward a more intimate relationship with him. The topic for the 2-day retreat was "A Call to True Community." Specifically, we talked about being vulnerable with each other and actually living with each other as we are. It seems like it's the default for people to put up walls and hide what they're struggling with, and when everyone does that, no one really knows anyone. That's not what community is supposed to be. And if we can't be honest with ourselves in the relatively safe environment of the church family, how are we going to be honest with the rest of the people in our city? The ones who need to see the hope of Christ through us?

The biggest issue I wound up dealing with during the retreat - and the one God has already been working on intensely for a few weeks now - was trust. Trusting other people to share the burdens I tend to carry by myself and trusting God to show up if I step out on a limb when he says to. There's a lot more work to be done in those areas, but that's not discouraging to me; trust is something I'd say at least 90% of all Christians struggle with their entire lives. So at least I'm in good company.

I do want to share a couple stories with you about what God started doing immediately to keep me from backing down once I plunked my life down on the table. Some brief background information so these make sense: The idea of getting up to speak in front of a group doesn't scare me until it's time to actually do it, and even when I am okay with it, my voice still shakes (and my hands and the rest of me) while I'm up in front of everyone. Also, I don't usually initiate conversations with people, especially not with strangers; I'm better about it when it's my friends, but it still takes a conscious effort most of the time.

Alright, so the first awesome thing God did was during our last session of the retreat. It was open mic for us to share with the group of ladies what God's been doing in our lives, where he's leading us next, or whatever. The woman who opened the session started us off, and while she was talking I was thinking of all these cool things I could talk about that God was doing with me. After a few plans of what I could say went through my head, I realized I was thinking about me and not God, and started trying to work out what he wanted me to say. My ideas kind of faded away with that gear shift, and when the woman opened the floor for the next person to come up, I had no idea what I would say. I didn't even know if I was supposed to go up to the mic - I've been in similar situations when I was told not to go up. And as the seconds dragged on and no one was making a move to get up, I struggled. My heart started beating faster, a knot started tying up my stomach, and I kept thinking, "Is it me? Am I supposed to go up?" In the midst of the silent chaos, I heard a "yes," and I stood (already starting to shake like a leaf). I still had no idea what to say.

That's what made that experience so incredible for me. Because I had no idea what I was going to say, I knew God would speak. I wound up talking about something I hadn't really considered all weekend, but that was tied up in my theme of trust, anyway. It was going out on limbs for God, and trusting him to not let me down when I did. I hope the words I spoke helped someone else there; even if they didn't do much, the act itself did a lot for me.

After the retreat ended and everything was cleaned up and put away, I had a brief break before working a night shift at Zoes. And wouldn't you know it? God had plans to put me to work there, too. All the Front of House employees were getting tasks, things they could do to improve areas they weren't as strong in. I found out later that one of my friends was tasked with selling at least 3 sports cups (big, refillable, Zoes cups) per shift for the week. But when the manager for the night called me aside when I came in for my shift, I didn't know what to expect. He told me about the task thing, and said I do really well with the physical aspect of the job - making sure tables are bused and cleaned, running food, etc. - but not so much with making connections and relationships with the customers. Of course not! Why would I start a conversation with a stranger when I had work to do?

I had to smile, though. This manager had hit the nail on the head. And the task he assigned me for the next 3 weeks, starting that Saturday? Start at least 3 conversations with customers, either over the counter or at their tables, for every shift I work. At the end of the shift, recap the conversations directly with the manager on hand or write them down and leave them. I found the whole thing extremely humorous and timely, since I'd just finished attending a seminar on building relationships and community AND talked about going out of my comfort zone when I'm called to do so. The task may have come from the mouth of a Zoes manager, but it was straight from God! And you know what I've found since I started that task? People are really cool. And I hope this assignment will give me the practice I need to do this kind of thing on a regular basis, no matter where I am.

Anyway, that's what God has been doing with me lately. I'm excited to see what he'll do next. :)

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." (Jer. 29:11, NLT)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Warrior Dash Aftermath

My first Warrior Dash is complete. 3.2 miles and 11 obstacles of EPIC. Check it out. (You can click on the images to see them bigger and in theater mode.)

The full course. We were supposed to have 2 more
obstacles - not sure why those were cut.

These are the thumbnails and descriptions for the obstacles we had.
FYI, Hell's Hill consisted of a big, steep hill and ropes to help us get up.
My official time was 46:37, averaging a 14:34-minute mile. Considering all the hills, the obstacles, and my preexisting crummy endurance levels, I call this a win. It placed me in the top third of female participants in the 20-29 age bracket, and in the top 39% of all 3,589 participants. More importantly, it placed me 2nd in the little group of friends I was running with. Pride = satisfied. (Now I can turn my competitive mindset back on myself!)

My clothes got a healthy coating of mud, of which there was plenty. In addition to the mud-specific obstacles, the whole trail was damp from a thorough dousing over an hour before our noon race time. I still need to hose off my shoes (and probably wash them after), but I got the rest of my clothes and my towels clean. Well, sort of. Anything white is now dingy (lucky I don't care). I had to wash that load twice, wiping the dirt out of the washing machine between cycles.

These are officially stained with awesome. (Also known as mud.)

Race bib, mud-stained socks, and finisher's medal.
That medal, while awesome, is not a prize or anything. It's a finisher's medal - we all get one. But, as participation awards go, this one is pretty frikkin' cool.

I prefer "conquered."
Finishers were supposed to get a free turkey leg and a free beer - I promise that's what was advertised at first, despite what the website says now - but we soon found out the turkey leg wasn't free. Oh well. One of my friends bought one anyway, and we all enjoyed our free beers.

Turkey leg! Beer! Fuzzy viking hat!
It was absolutely frigid outside (low 60s). Middle of the day, and I could see my breath, which usually doesn't happen until winter is upon us. Now, before the race, I thought this was perfect. I wasn't too cold, and I knew that cooler weather meant a better run. And I was right - I didn't notice the cold at all while I was running and sloshing through mud, or even when I jumped into some water that, in retrospect, was very cold. But after I finished the race and had a couple minutes to cool down, the temperature hit me hard. Getting dry(er) helped, but I definitely should have brought a sweatshirt and some sweatpants. I'll remember next year, that's for sure! (I wound up wearing the jacket in the picture for a while.)

The Warrior Dash was a lot of fun, and I'm really glad I did it. I'm happy with my time, but I know I can do better. I remember from my Cross-Country days that if you've still got energy left at the end, you didn't give enough in the race, and I could've gone at least another obstacle-laden mile. I did a lot of walking, too, which I discovered I actually didn't need to do much of once I caught sight of my friendly competition (he was jogging along, which meant I had to jog, too). I think I can shave 5-10 minutes off my time next year.

Hopefully there will be a race in Warrior, AL again next year. If there is, I'll have a better idea of how to train for the course. (Lots and lots of hill runs. Bleh.) Until then, I'll keep building strength and endurance! Warrior lifestyle, right? :)