This blog was originally written on July 1st – Canada Day … I’m just getting around to posting it now!
The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away
A few years back our family needed a second vehicle. We couldn’t afford much, but we were praying for something reliable. One day my husband, Jim, found a little blue Jetta on Kijiji for an excellent price. It was five years old, but had over 300,000 km (nearly 200,000 miles) on it. Still it was in excellent condition and we felt blessed to have found such a great little vehicle for our family – one that got 50 miles to the gallon, and had amazing pep! It was a standard, and our kids loved being able to learn to drive stick!
(Our little blue Jetta on day of our Rebekah’s graduation last month
with her escort and dear friend of the family, Brian …
hmmm, come to think of it, that car really deserved a wash! Oops!)
Well, yesterday (June 30th) I watched our little blue Jetta get towed away after I had smashed it in an accident that could have easily taken my life (and others). As Job put it, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord!” More importantly, though, the Lord had preserved me and the people in the other two vehicles involved from serious injury and death.
A Close Call
So, as it happened, I was going to a funeral of a priest who had been my parish priest growing up – and one whom I had always loved – and I was praying a rosary for him and for our family as I made the twenty-some minute drive to get to his funeral. I had had a little tiff with our thirteen-year-old, Jacinta, before I left; it was over finances – nothing major – but she was reluctant at that moment to reconcile. I had to leave, and off-handedly (I’m not even sure why it came out of my mouth) I said, “I hope I see you again in this life!” And feeling awkward about having said that, I walked back to her, hugged her, and told her, “I love you … I’m sorry we fought … I’ll see you later!” So as I left for this funeral I prayed for Jacinta and all our kids, “God, please don’t let the financial struggles of our decision to do ministry turn our kids hearts away from you!”
I was happily late for this funeral … in other words, I knew I couldn’t make it on time, but I still had to go into town to the bank, so I wanted to take in at least the end of the funeral if I could. I wasn’t rushing. I was very relaxed as I prayed for Fr. Paul and for our family’s needs as I traveled. I had just changed lanes and was settling into the pace of traffic, which was slowing down, and I glanced down at my hand to see if I was on an Our Father bead – which I was – and I looked back up just in time to see the back end of the SaskTel van right in front of me. I hit the brake. I hit the van. Then the air bag hit me in the face. I then found myself heading toward the side of the road where I could see a sign post which I think I tried to avoid (but I can’t really remember how I was steering the vehicle at that point), but my foot was on the brake, and I remember my knee was smashed up against the underside of the dash and I somehow managed to miss the post … and then, my little blue Jetta came to a stop! There was all this smoke in the air and an airbag in my face, but as I quickly assessed my body I realized: “I’m okay; I’m not hurt; I’m alive; God has preserved me, and His angels are here!” I got out slowly and was praying that in the other vehicles no one was hurt. I wasn’t sure at that point how many vehicles had been involved, but I noticed a third car in front of the van. I had hit the van and the van had hit a car, but everyone was fine – praise God. In fact, to my surprise, they were all quite fine. I was the only one really stunned and injured – with some scrapes and bruises, a stiff knee and jarring in the chest and back – but I was fine – I had walked away from the accident … I wasn’t being carried away!
I thought immediately of Jacinta, “Oh God, I’m coming home to Jacinta today! I’ll see her again in this life!”
“Thank you, God, for my accident. Thank you for our little blue Jetta that served us so well for the past three years – which You had given and have now taken away. Thank you for a family to come home to and for allowing me to be a mommy to this family for a while longer! My work here isn’t done – and I’m grateful for that! Thank you, God!”
A Prayer Answered
Twenty-four hours later, I’ve had time to process the day and the accident now. I was on my way to a funeral – which almost led to my own. That’s sobering enough! I was going to be going to the bank, after the funeral, to deposit money I had collected up from what the kids owed us for various things, so that we would have enough money in the account to cover our end of the month and beginning of next month payments that automatically come out. Now here we are, on top of not having enough money to cover our bills, we have the fine for my accident, the insurance deductable to cover, and we will not likely get what that Jetta’s value was to our family (an older vehicle that was in great condition and got us 50 miles to the gallon!) … and we will have to look for another car for our family with little money to speak of! Praise God! His wisdom is beyond us, and His ways are far higher! If I were God – and I’m not for good reason – I would have perhaps offered other solutions to our family’s present financial predicament!
But remembering back, as I started that little car trip, I had prayed that our financial struggles from ministry would not turn our children’s hearts away from God! When I got home later that day and finally saw Jacinta again, we sat down and talked, and hugged and cried together … and she said to me, “Mommy, I think God maybe was trying to teach me something by that accident!” Well, I think He was trying to teach us all some things: money and finances and stuff are just things that pass away, but our relationship with God and with people is what counts! Let’s treat each other as though this day were our last together – no regrets! Let’s not worry about how God will provide for our needs, let’s focus on how thankful we are to God that He does provide for our needs and that He has given us each other! Let’s not waste our time here, because here – in this life – is the only time when we will have “time”!
Some Lessons You Never Forget!
I shared with my Jacinta a story from my childhood, when I had been about her age – thirteen. I had had a fight with my father once – and my father and I did not fight often – but I was so frustrated with him that I reached out and slapped him in the face and stormed out of the house. I cried all the way to school, I was so ashamed of myself! And all day long I prayed, “Please God, don’t let my daddy die before I get a chance to see him again!” When I finally saw my dad, I went to him and hugged him and cried and told him how sorry I was. I don’t even remember what we had fought about – but I do remember the pain of having lashed out and not having reconciled with him. I remember the pain of thinking that I never want the last memory I have with someone to be of anger! I have carried the lesson of that day with me for my entire life! Years later my daddy did die unexpectedly, and I was grateful that I was at peace with him, as I ended up never having had the chance to say goodbye!
A Thief in the Night
Coming back to my experience of this car accident, there is nothing like a close scrape with death to make us focus more profoundly on those three final things: 1) death, 2) judgment, 3) heaven and hell.
It will come to all of us at some time – often when we least expect it. We are reminded by Holy Mother Church to reflect on these three things daily. How easy it is for us to forget about them. How easy it is for us to just get caught up in the busyness of our lives, going on as if there’s never going to be an end. Well, an end will come to us all!
As the accident was happening, many things flashed through my mind. I thought to myself, “This is just how fast people die … I might be dying now.” I held onto my rosary in my hand, I could still feel the Our Father bead in my fingers. I remember thinking, “Your angels are with me God!” I was not afraid. I had a great deal of peace as it all seemed to be happening so slow and so fast all at the same time. I was just waiting to see what the outcome would be!
God held my life in His hand for a moment, and then He gave it back to me! He always is holding our lives in His hands – thank goodness for that! But at that particular moment, He was reminding me of just that! And He was letting me know that when He comes to call it will be His timing, not mine; after all, He will come as a “thief in the night”! My life has been given back to me. It is as though He has pressed the “Reset” button in my soul! So now, what will I do with the gift of the “rest of my life” that He has so graciously granted me?
Pure Witness Ministries Begins
Later that day, my husband, Jim, and I had a meeting booked with our bishop. We had just found out the day before that we were granted charitable status by Charities Canada (we will now be able to offer tax receipts to Canadians for donations to Pure Witness Ministries.) We were meeting with Bishop Don Bolen to discuss the direction of our ministry, locally, within His diocese, and the international scope of the work we do – namely, that we will be able to begin a program for giving away our books for free, as tools of evangelization. The bishop had cancelled all other appointments that day – on account of Fr. Paul’s funeral – except ours. He graciously met with us, along with the youth coordinator of our diocese. It was a fruitful meeting … one that sent both me and my husband home with a new fervor for our work.
And so the next phase begins! Now that we have a ministry, a charitable tax number, and our bishop’s blessing, we begin the work of support-raising for Pure Witness Ministries – perhaps the biggest obstacle off all along this journey! Our supporters will give us the mandate for our work. If we receive a great support base, we can begin much work. If it is a small base, we will have to start small.
As my husband and I had a cup of tea together this morning, we eagerly talked about the vision of what could be done with Pure Witness Ministries. How we could serve youth and their families. How a program could be developed here and then reproduced in other diocese, in time. How we won’t have to worry about “selling” books anymore to reach souls, but how people could soon just get them for free and pass them around and reach souls that would never have heard the message of purity proclaimed in quite that way! It was invigorating to let our hearts soar in vision. Our hearts were filled with a sense of “and then we could do this and that!” … but only if it be God’s will for us at this time!
Focused on the Family
Grounding our hearts back to earth, there is that ever-present reality of our need for daily bread and providing for our family. My car accident, on the heels of praying that the Lord not let ministry sever our children’s hearts from Him, makes me realize that I am not invincible. Am I serving my family best right now in my life? We need to balance our family time wisely, while providing for our children’s needs and while serving the Lord as we are best able! Our hearts are filled with a desire to serve, but of course, our first service is to our family. There were no other people on my heart while I was in the midst of that accident than my husband and our children … I just wanted to be able to come home to and be a wife and a mommy again. “Author and speaker” never even entered my radar, as I was waiting for God to let me know if I was going to live or die in that moment! As an author and a speaker I have been truly blessed, and have encountered the most amazing people – who have blessed both me and my family – but my death would not shake their worlds as it would my family’s world. Home is where no one can ever take your place … and where you will leave the biggest hole when you are gone!
So, please pray for our family as we transition over the next few weeks! If we are meant to build this ministry now with all the vision and fervor we possess, then may the supporters of this mission come forward and sustain the financial needs of building this ministry so that my husband can dedicate fulltime work to this goal. If not, then pray that the Lord will open the door for other work for my husband to provide for our family needs as we build this ministry slowly.
We are sustained daily, by our readers prayers … and I thank you all for all your prayers – past and present – that reach out beyond time and spared my life yesterday, and all those others involved in the accident. I believe in the power of prayer! I am here today to write to you, because of your prayerful support in our lives! Thank you!
Jesus, I Trust in You!
As I emptied our possessions out of our little blue Jetta before it was to be towed away, I found some praise and worship CDs – may His praise be ever on our lips – and a few prayer cards. As I picked up each card I prayed in thanksgiving. St. Brother Andre Bisset – our Canadian saint just canonized last October was there. Mary, Queen of the Universe, was there! Jesus in His Divine Mercy was there. (Pretty good company to keep when you are facing death, I’d say!) As I reverently took the picture of Jesus out of the wrecked vehicle and placed Him in my purse with Mary and St. Brother Andre, I gazed on the image of the Divine Mercy and said, “Yes, Jesus, I do trust in You! You provided for us this little car when we needed it a few years ago at a very affordable price. And You provided for me to be able to go home to my family today … having protected everyone else in this accident from injury! Yes, I do trust in You!”
I trust Jesus in the road ahead. It is unknown to us … but, just as for everyone else, it opens up to us each day anew … and that is what makes it an adventure. There are bumps and smooth rides, turns and forks, even bridges that take us into mysterious unknowns, and of course the long stretches of monotonous highway in everyone’s road of life! The road is ever changing, but what does not change is God’s loving protection and care for us as we make this journey, on a road that we pray will lead us to heaven. He is right by our side, and all we need do is turn to Him and take His hand in trust! I am here today, praise God, with new insight and fervor for souls and ambition to live – because He pressed my “Reset” button in a way that I couldn’t help but notice! So as I venture ahead on the “rest of my life’s journey,” I just want to say, “Yes, Jesus, I trust in You!”
Thank you, again, to all of you, our readers, for your prayers. We never know when our prayers will end up saving a life – and more importantly a soul – so let’s keep on praying for each other! And hopefully we’ll meet some day … if not in this life, then certainly in the next!
Oh yes, and as my mother reminded me to say, “Thank you, Fr. Paul (whose funeral I was on my way to attend when this all happened), for interceding for me! Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. And may his soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace! Amen.”
Carmen, recently “Reset”