Monday, November 24, 2014

Our Thanksgiving Miracle, Part 1

Reading this story on Facebook this past week unleashed a host of emotions and painful memories for me, prompting me to share about a life-changing event that happened to our family 11 years ago.  

Stick with me, as I will be sharing this story in parts over the course of this week, using notes from a journal that I kept during that time.  

Here is part 1 of Our Thanksgiving Miracle.

In November of 2003, my husband, Alan, decided we would do something different -- we would spend Thanksgiving in ChattanoogaTN, camping, sightseeing, and just spending time together as a family.  Our extended families had other plans that year, so it was the perfect time for a family vacation vs. celebrating Thanksgiving at home, as was our usual tradition.

Alan had recently sold our little camper that only held half of our family and bought a large travel trailer with slide-out that would fit all of us. His plan was to make this our "motel room on wheels" so that our large family could afford to go places together. (As many of you know, it is cost prohibitive to have to get two motel rooms and eat all meals out whenever you travel with a large family!)

We left our home near GreenvilleSC about 1:30 pm on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. About 45 minutes later, we were traveling down a hill on I-85 when a tractor trailer flew past us at a very high speed, causing a surge of air that sent our camper into a fishtail. My husband began to struggle to gain control of the van and camper as we weaved from one side of the road to the other. Immediately, I thought, "Cry Out!" and I began to cry out in a loud voice for God to help us and to protect us!! 

Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. ~ Psalm 50:15

Despite my husband's best efforts, he could not regain control of the van. As our van swerved sharply to the right, we bounced off the guard rail and according to witnesses, our hitch tore loose from our 15-passenger van and the camper crashed to its side. We were then catapulted across the road into the grassy median. Seeing that we were headed for the oncoming holiday traffic, my husband steered sharply to the right, but as we came back up on the road, our van began to roll. . .  It rolled over twice and then somehow skidded around so that we ended up on the right shoulder of the road with our van facing toward the interstate but right side up, praise God!!

My door was jammed, but when I saw smoke rising from the engine and looked back and saw Ashlyn with her head hanging out of her broken window and Joe with blood streaming down his face, my adrenaline kicked in and I somehow managed to force my door open! I immediately began helping the children out and was soon joined by others who stopped to help. One man in particular stands out in my mind, as he rushed to cut children out of their seatbelts and carseats with his pocket knife.  When he saw that 9-year old Joe's head was laid open and bleeding profusely, he put me to work holding it together and applying pressure. That kept me busy, but how I longed to be at ALL of my children's sides -- I could see a couple of the older ones laid out on the grass with people tending to them and my little ones were sitting in the grass sobbing, and my heart broke.  I couldn't go comfort them, because I had to stay with Joe!  They appeared to be OK, but one question haunted me --  where was my husband?? He was no where in sight! :(

This precious Christian man who had stopped to help (and I later learned was a pastor) began to pray with each of us, even crying out to Abba Father, as he compassionately tended to our needs while his wife was on the line with 911. Wasn't God gracious to go before us and arrange for a Christian family to minister to us immediately after the accident?? We later found out that a host of people stopped to help, but I mostly just remember this one man! 

Eventually, a physician stopped and began to help administer basic first aid measures as we awaited the arrival of the ambulances. He took over with Joe, allowing me to search for Alan, whom I had not seen since the accident. It turns out he was on the ground by the driver's side where he had fallen as soon as he tried to step out of the van. He was in extreme pain, and told me he thought he had broken his back. :(

When the paramedics arrived and began to administer treatment to the injured, the pastor began to search through the van for each child's comfort items, bringing out teddy bears, dolls, fleece blankets, eye glasses, etc.  He was such a compassionate man! Also, many of our belongings had flown out of the van and were scattered everywhere, even the contents of my purse and wallet -- library cards, keys, cell phone, etc. -- were all over the grass beside the interstate. My daughter and I were wearing clogs, which had flown off our feet and were also scattered among the debris. So, this thoughtful man began to gather up what he could and bring it to us.

After the four most severely injured were taken away in ambulances, they came to me and wanted to strap me on a back board and take me in the ambulance with Luke, who was 5 years old. I argued that I was a little beaten up, but fine, but they claimed that I might have internal injuries that I was not aware of and insisted on putting me on a back board and taking me to the hospital.  I'm telling you -- that was the hardest thing I've ever had to do, because five of my nine children were still waiting in the grassy area beside the interstate and how could I leave them????  The paramedics kept assuring me that they were not in the business of losing children and that they would get all of them to the hospital! 

So, here I am lying flat on this back board with my head taped down, not liking it one little bit, and all I could do was look up. It was then that I noticed it -- right above my head, in the middle of a clear blue sky, stretching between two white fluffy clouds was the most beautiful rainbow I had ever seen!!  I exclaimed, "Look -- there's a rainbow!! God is telling me everything is going to be OK!" The paramedic didn't respond, but the Christian man walked over to me and said,"Yes, I saw it too! I have never seen a rainbow like that before!"

Come back tomorrow for part 2 of Our Thanksgiving Miracle.


Beth said...

Wow! Elizabeth, what a riveting and scary story! I can't imagine how hard that would have been for you and I do hope that part 2 has a positive conclusion. But even in this story, there are threads of hope and thankfulness that clearly points to our Great Protective and Loving God! So glad that He was watching over all of you! Happy Thanksgiving and I hope this Thanksgiving is a more peaceful one for you than this year was!

busymomof10 said...

Thank you Beth!!

We are so blessed by God's great MERCY over us!!!! We have MUCH to be THANKFUL for!

Kyle Suzanne McVay said...

Oh my...I can't imagine not being able to find my husband and I think I would of had a hard time maintaining my composure if I had to leave any of our 5 kiddos on the grass. Praising God for his providential mercy in your life. Blessings!!

CynthiaJSwenson said...

This made me cry as I identified with your mom's heart (I have nine children), but yes, God was definitely by your side! Amazing story & thank you for telling it! Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

Fran said...

What a great God we serve! So grateful for His mercy and protection for you all. Love and miss you.

ourhomemarysmantle said...

It is not fair to make people cry early in the morning.
So thankful for your living example. And so thankful you are all fine.

xx oo

Elizabeth said...

Thank you! I'm going through a lot if Emotions as I relive these details! So grateful for Gods protection and provision and His mercies which are thankfully new each morning!

Happy Busy Mama said...

I remember that day all too well. You were hardly gone when it happened. John had a heads up because he and Alan worked together. I still get that sick feeling in my stomach that I had while I waited to hear from you.

Judith Kowles said... I am finally reading this. I have had the tab open since I found it on FB :-) This is scary. We had a 15 passenger and we used to pull a big sized pop-up so this is very real.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...