After a ten month hiatus, I’m writing again and I’m back on social media more regularly. I missed connecting with you.
May 17, 2018, I was on my way to Kona, Hawaii, where I teach for YWAM (Youth with a Mission). For two weeks. Tough gig, I know. And one I count as a big blessing and look forward to every year.
The week of the 21st I would teach on writing children’s literature. The following week, my students would walk with me around the world of fiction writing.
I tucked my rolling computer case full of teaching supplies between the two purple suitcases in the back of my car. I’d slipped the file folder of notes for my nonfiction book for women between my laptop and course files.
Family members in transition lived with us the first three months of 2018. This getaway to Kona, though a business trip, would be the reset button I needed to concentrate on my own writing during the windows of downtime before and between my weeks of teaching.
As I drove the highway between my house and I-17 toward Phoenix, my plans for the day played in my head. First stop, Starbucks in Camp Verde for a chai latte. On to Olive Garden for minestrone soup, salad, and breadsticks before settling into a hotel room with my work-in-progress writing project. Several hours of uninterrupted writing stretched out before me. I sighed with delight.
We all know plans can change. We get interrupted.
Seven fresh roundabouts dotted Highway 260.
I was several yards away from the final roundabout before the freeway onramp, when I noticed the traffic backed-up all the way around the circle. The pickup truck in front of me stopped. My car rolled to a stop.
A quick glance at the rearview mirror told me the dump-bed pickup behind me wasn’t stopping. Couldn’t stop in time.
It didn’t. And the impact shoved my car forward, sandwiching it between two Ford pickups.
Not only did I not have any life-threatening injuries, I didn’t detect any immediate or obvious physical damage. I made the calls to 911, my hubby, and our auto insurance company.
As the shock of the trauma wore off, however, I began to experience the increasing effects of whiplash, and having put all my weight onto my right foot and the brake pedal. I was in no shape to make the trip to Kona, and the car carrying my luggage was totaled.
You know all about changes in your plans. All about life as you know it being interrupted. For most of us, alterations and adjustments are an everyday occurrence, happening in varying degrees and with wide-ranging consequences.
Finally, a date night with your hubs and the babysitter cancels at the last minute. Your company has merged or the store that employs you is closing, and you’re no longer needed. A house-fire or a devastating flood destroys your house. Your spouse doesn’t want to be married anymore. Medical tests confirm that the cancer is back, and the patient is your precious child.
Disruptions and distractions—the lesser ones and the bigger ones—can lead us down a path of frustration and futility, if we let them. But I didn’t want to give my auto accident that kind of power. Nor did I want the experience to be pointless. That’s not God’s way. He breathes redemption and purpose into every kind of brokenness. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Under God’s direction, King Solomon expressed it this way in Proverbs 19:21: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”
I knew I wasn’t alone on that highway with the truck drivers, gawkers, deputy Marshal, and EMTs. Nor was I alone in the doctor’s offices, in my physical therapy treatments, in my communications with the insurance company, or in the search for a replacement vehicle. The Lord, who is my strength, was with me.
What happens in our day-to-day life may not fit perfectly or at all with the plans we made, but God is never caught off guard in our storms or in our seasons of redirection. He is a God of purpose and promise. Not only does God have a plan and a purpose for me and you, He has the ability to bring His divine plans and purposes to completion, no matter our circumstances. (Philippians 1:6)
That’s a truth to celebrate. And embrace.
I grew up when and where hymn-singing took place in church and in our home, and one of my dad’s favorites was “Count Your Blessings.”
That’s what I did that day and every day that followed, I counted my blessings.
Just to name seven of them . . .
- I was alive, breathing and functioning.
- I suffered no broken bones. Just mad muscles, pinched nerves, teeter-totter tendons, stressed ligaments, and jostled joints.
- Neither of the other two drivers were injured.
- A body shop owned by a couple in our small group from church was situated less than a quarter mile away from the scene of my accident and helped us out with the process.
- My physical therapist for the next several months was a 28-year-old gift from God, with whom I shared an immediate connection.
- My hubby was able to purchase the pickup truck he’d been wanting.
- The season that followed my auto accident provided me with a good reason to take a leave of absence from writing and from social media.
The journey toward healing gave me the time necessary to gain greater perspective and prepare for whatever God had for me to do next.
What if the substitute situations that show up in our tough times have already been planned for and designed, according to God’s purposes?
Here’s my short list of suggestions for you if you’re in the middle of a tough time or are facing one.
- Look for the blessings and list them.
- Let friends and family help you and pray you through it. Prayer partners are invaluable.
- Give yourself grace, and take a break from the routine, if you need to.
- Lean into Jesus, our Savior who suffered for us and now intercedes for us. (Romans 8:34)
- Listen to the song, “Count Your Blessings.” Doing that will lift your spirit. Might even start some toe tapping.
Thank you, friends, for taking this journey with me. Read more about the nonfiction book in the works and about my next novel in an upcoming e-newsletter and on my Facebook Author Page. Let’s stay connected!
How can I best pray for you? Comment on this post or private message me.
* An excerpt from “Count Your Blessings,” lyrics written by Johnson Oatman, Jr. in 1897 and set to music by E. O. Exell (Hymn of Faith, Tabernacle Publishing Company, Wheaton, Illinois, 1980).