Yesterday I spotted on my desk an envelope on which I had scratched out the following:
LOVE WELL LAUGH OFTEN LOOK FOR THE MIRACULOUS LIVE FOR JESUS
Good words! Obviously I heard someone speaking and jotted down these words of instruction. Seeing it yesterday almost took my breath. One week ago tonight I experienced a big miracle. To try to explain it any other way is foolishness. While many of you have read JB’s accounts on Facebook, here is my rendition of our big miracle.
For our 35th wedding anniversary last Monday, 2/12/18, JB wanted to take me to dinner in Atlanta. He would not tell me where we were going; he just told me to dress up! And so I did – my new slinky gold dress, pantyhose, high heels, and mink jacket! The first detail of our miracle is that he did not choose a restaurant in Newnan or Peachtree City. He almost did, but then decided we would go to Atlanta. The second part is that he did not choose Canoe – a restaurant we really like on the west side of the city, off of I-285. Instead, he decided we would go to an old restaurant in Buckhead that our family has always loved – McKinnon’s Louisiane. We have not been in years, but what a good choice for last week – a small detail that made a big difference. Due to anticipated rush hour traffic JB wanted to leave at 4:00; I suggested we leave at 4:30. That, too, was part of the miracle – he listened to me and agreed! While riding to Atlanta we did not talk much; I was aware of how quiet he was, but decided it was okay. After 35 years you just don’t have to talk all the time!
Just as we approached Turner Field and the intersection of I-85/75 and I-20, JB said, “I am having really bad chest pains.” Surprisingly, I was very calm and said, “Well, you need to pull over so I can drive.” There really is no good place to “pull over” at the exchange of two major interstates! However, much to my surprise,, there was wide piece of shoulder just ahead and he stopped the car. I was not afraid as I got out of the car and moved to the driver’s side. Now in the passenger seat, JB had one hand on his chest and with the other he was talking to Siri on his phone! He said, “take me to Piedmont Hospital Atlanta.” Just as we pulled back into traffic I pointed to the left and said, “We are not going to Piedmont; Grady is right here.” The very next exit was the one for Grady Hospital and in about five minutes we pulled up to the Emergency Room. All of these details are miraculous. Think about it – our location, our location, our location! Grady Hospital is one of the busiest Level I Trauma Centers in the country. For someone with JB’s symptoms, Grady is where you want to be. Another miraculous detail – the timing, the timing, the timing! It was 5:00 and the traffic thus far had been minimal. But, just ahead, it was totally backed up and slow – the normal for that time of day. The fact that we were right at the exit for Grady is no small detail. What would we have done if we were just another mile or two ahead and caught in bumper to bumper traffic?
Those who know our family are aware that I am in charge of all “maintenance” jobs – the boring, mundane things like groceries, bills, everyday stuff and scheduling for our family. On the other hand, JB is our “crisis” person. When things go unexpectedly south, he is at his best – thinking sharply and quickly and making the best calls. In a crisis I typically freeze and crumble, wringing my hands and saying, “What do we do? What do we do?” or even worse, “This is not working for me!”. The calmness that came over me last Monday was a miracle. It was the presence of God who lives within me and promises to be with me always. The fact that I did not panic but had the presence of mind to know how close we were to Grady and to actually get us there is totally out of character for me in a time of distress.
JB was still alert, but hurting, when we pulled up to the ER. He bolted from the car and told me to leave the car and come with him. When I got inside so many things were happening and going through my mind. JB rushed past the security guards and was leaning over the desk telling the lady he thought he was having a heart attack. I told the security guard what was going on and that my car was abandoned out front. He was so nice and calm; he told me to check on JB and then come back and he would tell me where to take the car. I remember looking around the ER waiting room. It is huge and it was packed with people. Grady is Atlanta’s public hospital and most of the people I saw were the underprivileged. Those with the flu, the homeless, the needy, many with masks on – it was a sad sight. And here we were – so much more dressed up than usual. I felt awkward and wished I had on jeans and a sweater – my usual attire.
The lady at the desk was kind and quick; she sent JB into a room for assessment immediately. I have a new appreciation for those at the front desk of the ER who have to assess patients who walk in; that has to be a hard job. Many people have to wait a long time in the ER. Part of our miracle is that they took him right in. The staff at Grady was amazing; things happened quickly and soon we were in a big examination room. They allowed me to sit on a stool in the corner and I watched them working on JB; he was still talking and answering their questions. When I realized there were 15+ people in the room I knew this was serious. I sat quietly and prayed and asked God to spare JB’s life; again, I was extremely calm. One of the doctors told me he was showing every sign of a heart attack; I was just glad he was surrounded by people who knew what to do for him. They asked me to sit outside for just a minute while they took a chest x-ray. I stepped out and sat by myself, texting our children and our church friends to let them know what was going on and asking them to pray. God was so good to move me out of the room. I heard a lot of commotion in there and saw a few extra people run in and close the door tightly. While I had no idea, his heart stopped and he quit breathing; they had to do compressions and shocks. A few minutes later I heard all this cheering and clapping. The whole team was celebrating that he came back.
The rest is a bit of a blur; four guys from our church staff came; my brother arrived, close friends showed up and they all sat with me while JB went to cath lab where they put in two stents. Grady took care of JB and my family and friends took care of me. Our kids arrived home late that night. It is amazing to me that they recognized the seriousness from the start and headed this way immediately.
So here we are, a week later, looking back and thanking God for his power and protection and provision. Life is tough ……. but God is good. This is my story and I thank God for Jesus. It is only because of Him that I can say, like Paul, “when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10. Another of my favorite verses has always been Ephesians 3:20-21:
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
Our son, Wes, and his wife, Taylor, were robbed recently. It was awful. When Taylor came home from work and opened the front door she saw nothing but chaos. Making things worse, Wes was several states away on a work project. The burglar has broken into the back door and ransacked their entire house, including all the drawers downstairs and upstairs. Of course they took all the electronics. … and these kids of ours have lots of those – big TV’s, X-box, Echo (whatever that is) and numerous other items. While I was devastated for them and the emotional trauma they were experiencing, I knew that much of that “stuff” could be replaced. And I was so grateful and proud that they had insurance! But my heart sank when Taylor told me first and then Wes told me when he called, “Mama, they took the watch.” A million thoughts and memories ran through my mind, and I literally hurt and felt sick. Earlier this year we gave Wes a very old, fine pocket watch. For all my life it hung in a display dome on my Mama’s secretary in the living room. This watch was beautiful and it belonged to my Daddy, who was born in 1924. His grandfather gave it to him on his 21st birthday. This could never be replaced. Wes’s personality is a lot like his Papa’s, and he loves old family things. I will always remember how he lovingly held that watch and smiled his sweetest smile, thanking us for sharing this family treasure. Within hours of receiving it he had looked up and made notes of all the details on the watch – when and where it was made, the serial number, and other bits of information. I knew Wes would treasure this gift and the history that went with it for the rest of his life.
Over the next few days following the robbery, they discovered other special and even random things that had been stolen – Taylor’s charm bracelet with lots of special meaning, a necklace Wes gave her, the wristwatch Mama gave Wes for graduation, and all of his socks! Go figure!
I Prayed, Believing!
In spite of this awful robbery, invasion of privacy and violation of personal space and emotion, I did what I tell other people to do in challenging circumstances – paused and began to focus on things to be grateful for in the midst of this awful situation. I prayed and asked God for a miracle, specifically that He would bring that watch back to them. I prayed, believing, knowing that God can do anything and that He knew exactly where it was. I asked friends to join me in praying for recovery of their stolen items, always adding, “especially the pocket watch.” I even went so far as to tell Taylor, “and I know what the name of my blog will be when you get the watch back! It will be ‘I Believe in Miracles!'”
Being Grateful is A Choice
Being grateful is a choice. Regardless of the outcome, it is always better than griping and fussing and cussing. Here are some of my thoughts and the progress while choosing to be thankful over the days and weeks following the robbery:
I am grateful Taylor was not at home when the thief came; she was not killed, hurt, or kidnapped. This was huge!
I am grateful the police came quickly and were kind and thoughtful as they asked her a million questions.
I am grateful Wes was able to fly home late that night.
I am grateful three couples who are dear friends came to the house immediately, stayed with Taylor the entire evening, brought in food, and one of them picked Wes up at the airport. Loyal friends are such a blessing.
I am grateful their insurance company was cooperative, helpful, and quick to respond.
I am grateful Taylor became a super-sleuth, doing what she could to track down their stuff! She went online to sites where people in Lexington offer things for sale and found a person selling exact electronics that had been taken.
I am grateful Wes had saved all the serial numbers to their electronics.
I am grateful the detective assigned to their case took Taylor’s lead and pursued making a purchase from that seller. Taylor’s lead uncovered an entire theft ring!
I am grateful the detective got in to the apartment where the items were and confirmed with serial numbers that these were their stolen property and that he pressured the girls in that apartment for other stolen items.
AND I am especially grateful that he walked out of that apartment with THE POCKET WATCH! The crown is gone, which makes me sad, but the watch has been returned.
Do I Believe in Miracles? You’re Mighty Right I Do!
Wes and Taylor did not get back all their stolen items. The rest of their jewelry and other things may never be recovered, although I still pray they might. Thanks to insurance they have replaced the electronics and Wes has a drawer full of new socks! The trauma of being robbed will stay with them for a while, but I pray they will recover and only be stronger.
In summary, God is good …. all the time. Our world is full of sinful people and bad things happen; it’s just a fact. But God, in his love for the fallen world, provided salvation from sin for those who accept Jesus. He paid the price for sin and offers peace and hope and miracles, even in the midst of unpleasantness. I am proud to be rescued from my heart of sin and to be a believer and receiver of God’s grace because of Jesus. It is hard for me to understand why anyone would reject such a good, loving God who is alive today and still working miracles!
Thank you God for your sustaining grace, your loving heart to all, and your specific miracle in bringing back this family heirloom to our family.
I am one of the lucky ones. My Daddy was the sweetest and best. He loved me and my brother unconditionally and provided security, wisdom, love, fun, memories, discipline, and counsel. He always urged me to follow Jesus and obey him above all others. Daddy was unselfish and taught us how to care for others by his example. He loved his extended family, his hometown and community, his church, and his business. He was loyal to all and committed to doing the right thing and urging others to do likewise. Daddy was not perfect; he had flaws and made mistakes, but I admired his honesty and integrity. He owned up to his weaknesses, knew how to say sorry, and always turned a mistake into an opportunity to learn a lesson and do better in the future. Those may have been the best lessons. My friends all loved him and wanted to sit by him and talk about boyfriends, big decisions they were pondering, and other life issues.
While others also had wonderful dads, many did not. Some fathers were absent, un-caring, selfish, unfaithful, and lots of other bad things. Those with a bad dad did not deserve that any more than those with a good dad deserved theirs. The dad we each got was out of our control. Good dads or bad dads are not earned by their children; to some extent it is just luck-of-the-draw. If you have a wonderful dad, be careful that you don’t think you are somehow better than someone whose dad is not so stellar. And on the other hand, if your dad has disappointed you over and over, do not feel responsible for his choices or doomed by them.
The best news ever is that we all have a Father who loves us beyond our comprehension. He is ready and waiting for all to receive him and experience the love and compassion and peace he has to offer. See the story of the prodigal son which depicts God’s love for us (Luke 15:11-24). He accepts us with our weaknesses, mistakes, and failures, and offers us a life free from the penalty of sin. This Father of all created the universe and all the beauty that we see in this world. He loved us enough to send his son, Jesus, to live on earth and to die to pay the price for our sin. While our sins may vary, the reality of a sin nature in each human being is undeniable. Our Father provided a solution to our sin; it is a free gift and he longs for each of us to accept it. God makes himself known, and down in our heart of hearts we all see and experience evidence of him: it is everywhere. If you seek him, you will find him! “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” (Jeremiah 33:3) God’s offer to humanity is made possible by his amazing grace – unconditional love provided to those who do not deserve it.
Seek and you will find
Giving up control is hard for most of us, but it is worth it. My way or God’s way? It was a no-brainer from the start and I have never had a regret. In fact, the greatest freedom comes when we get ourselves off the throne of our lives and put God in his rightful place. God our Father is trustworthy and He is able to do in and through our lives so much more than we could ever do on our own. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
If you had a good and godly dad, he made choices creating his own reputation; you have to make your own decisions that will impact your life and character. A good reputation is not inherited; each individual writes his/her own story. On the other hand, if you had a disappointing dad, that resulted from his decisions. As his child you have an opportunity to do better and make your story a great one. So will you assume you are “entitled” to a great life because your dad was who he was? Or will you be defeated and assume you can never become a good man because of your dad and the choices he made?
Satan will try to mess with you and play mind games with you. He will try to keep you from becoming all that God has in mind for you. Don’t let him bring you down. Turn to the loving Father who has your back; he will never leave you or forsake you.
Remember today and everyday – You are loved by your Father.