Cupcakes and Rainbows – Life After Tragedy – Day 2

Day 2 – The Longest Ride

As the rain continued to fall, as I struggled to breathe. As the blood continued to run in my mouth, finally I was loaded in to an ambulance. I remember talking to the first responders as they strapped me to the gurney. One of the loneliest, longest rides of my life was that day on 3/11/2017 on my way to the hospital.

 

What began as a day of excitement and anticipation turned in to a fight for our lives. I remember the surrealness of the entire experience. Is this really happening? This was the first car wreck I had ever been in. I remember having the very real thought that I was going to die. The thought was so real in fact that I prayed repeatedly that if Jesus was bringing me home that I was truly forgiven and free for every sin and failure.

 

As we pulled up to the hospital the doctors and nurses met us at the door. I was immediately rushed in to the operating room. The doctors began to speak with me as they cut my clothes off and began prepping me for surgery. In the chaos of that moment a chaplain from the hospital came in…

 

“Daniel, I have your wife’s phone. Do you know her lock code?” the chaplain asked. I remember giving him the lock code and him asking if there was anyone he should call to tell about the wreck. I could tell from the somber tone in his voice that things were far worse than I realized. “Call my mother-in-law” I said, “her name is Kathy”. A few moments later the chaplain had me speak to her on speakerphone. I will never forget what I thought may be my last words: “If I’ve caused any one any pain, please tell them I said please forgive me. I love you.”

 

I remember asking the chaplain, “do you believe in Jesus?” After him confirming that he in fact did believe in Jesus, I asked him to say a prayer over me in Jesus name. After the prayer, everything went dark.

 

I would find out later that over the next few hours and days that the doctors told my family to prepare for my death. Breaking over 9 ribs, both scapula (shoulders), ripping my aorta, collapsed lungs and more left me fighting for my life.

 

In today’s devotion I want to remind you that God is fully in control. The doctors don’t have the last word. Where God is moving, nothing is too hard for Him. He loves us intimately and we can trust that He is using all things (even unimaginable tragedy) for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

 

First we are going to read several Scriptures that remind us as Christians of the blessed assurance we have through faith in Jesus. Scriptures like John 8:36 where Jesus reminds us that in Him we are truly free. Scriptures like John 3:16 that remind us that God loves us so much that if we place our faith in Jesus we will have eternal life. (John 8:36, John 3:16)

 

Second we will look at Scriptures that remind us doctors don’t have the final word (Jesus is the Great Physician). We still look at Scriptures that remind us that nothing is impossible with God. We will look at the Scriptures that remind us that God is faithful, His love is unfailing, and that we can place our hope and trust in Him. (Mark 9:23, 24)

 

Today’s prayer:

Lord, there are days where we confess we feel alone. There are moments where we cry out and it seems like you are silent or that you don’t care. Today we ask that you would forgive us when we doubt. We believe Lord! Help our unbelief. Strengthen us with Your presence. When we aren’t strong enough to walk another step, carry us. Thank you Lord that we won’t face a step alone, in Jesus name.

Cupcakes and Rainbows – Life After Tragedy – Day 1

Day 1 – The Journey Begins

I’m willing to bet that for most people, true tragedy is very unexpected. On March 11th 2017, my life changed forever. The day began with excitement and anticipation as my family and I loaded up the car for a spring break trip to San Antonio from Dallas. Looking forward to an exciting vacation with my 4 year old daughter Brynleigh, 8 year old son Kasen, and my wife Cassie, we set out early that morning.

 

As we had hundreds of times before, we pulled out on to the highway without a second thought to what the next few hours held. “I love you” I told my wife Cassie as we set in bumper to bumper traffic caused by a wreck ahead. Just a few hours in to our trip, we sat waiting completely stopped because of the traffic ahead of us.

 

I awoke to the smell of smoke, unable to see, totally stunned with chaos all around me. Hearing the moans of pain from my wife beside me, I unbuckled myself from my seat belt. What just happened? Time both stood still and raged forward all at the same time. As I opened my door and stepped outside, I realized the truth… we were in a car wreck.

 

As I walked around outside the car still dazed and unable to come to my senses, men and women swarmed around our car. “Sir, please sit down, your neck may be broken” the first responder said to me. “Please, save my family” I pleaded, realizing this wasn’t just a fender bender. As I heard the first responders talking about the occupants in the vehicle, I remember saying “her name is Brynleigh, she is 4. His name is Kasen, he is 8. Her name is Cassie, she is my wife.”

 

As the rain fell on me outside the car, sitting still unable to come fully to my senses outside the car, I could taste the blood streaming in to my mouth, struggling to breathe. In that moment as the first responders spoke, I came to the realization (call it a father’s intuition), that my precious Brynleigh had left this life. Although in that moment no one told me (I only found out later), I said a prayer “Lord, I know you took Brynleigh, please have mercy on my family.”

 

Today, I don’t know what pain and heartache you’re suffering through. What I know is that years after the accident, thinking about it still causes a torrent of emotions to swell up inside. Pain, grief, heartache, sadness, regret, I can barely compose myself. I don’t say this to cause you any more pain, I say this to start this devotion with honesty.

 

The first step in this journey is to truly realize how broken and how hurt you truly are. Scripture teaches us that God opposes the proud but that He exalts the humble. I can think of no greater way to humble ourselves than being totally vulnerable and honest with God about our grief. I have found myself many times over the past few years praying something like this: “God, I am so angry at You. I’m sorry I’m so angry Lord, please have mercy on me.”

 

In our realization of the true depth of our brokenness, there is only one place (rather One person) who can truly make as whole again. Today’s study will take us to two truths in the New Testament:

 

First we will read how because Jesus was like us in every way, that He can sympathize with our weakness. This is truly profound, because Jesus was fully human He felt every ache, every pain, every emotion, faced the same trials, temptations, and heartache. Because of this, there is nothing we can face that Jesus isn’t intimately aware of. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

 

Second we will read about the kind of humble prayers that God is looking for. In this Scripture we will look at two different approaches to prayer and how two radically different men approached Him. In this Scripture we will see that is those who are truly honest with themselves and God who “go down to their house justified”. (Luke 18:10-14)

 

Today’s prayer: Father, we need you. We confess that without You we can never truly be whole. Jesus please hold us in the midst of our pain and suffering. Although we are sitting in the middle of a storm we can’t control, we know that You can. Give us peace and help us feel Your presence. We need you Jesus. Thank you for never leaving us or forsaking us. Thank you God for hearing our prayers, in Jesus name.

Cupcakes and Rainbows – Life After Tragedy

Introduction

Anyone with kids is likely to immediately recognize this quote: “the world isn’t all cupcakes and rainbows” from the popular kid’s movie: Trolls. (Spoiler alert) In this scene we see the heroes of the movie (Poppy and Branch) debating the differences in how they view life. On one side a very optimistic princess. On the other, a cynical broken companion.

 

This 7-day devotional is meant to serve as a starting point for those struggling with grief and depression. Through this devotional I’ll share how I’ve experienced firsthand the fact that life isn’t always “cupcakes and rainbows” but how God has been faithful and unchanging in the darkest, most painful moments. Through the lens of Scripture and sharing the broken road I’ve traveled; my hope is to show you there is life after unthinkable tragedy.

 

As I share the story of the life and death of my daughter and wife, along with the physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering my son and I have faced, I pray that you would realize the truth God has shown me: even when life isn’t all cupcakes and rainbows, He has never left our side. My promise to you, if you are walking through unspeakable tragedy, is that although you can’t see it right now, there is life after tragedy.

 

If you are willing to open your heart and allow God to do so, He will give you a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Starting this devotion is step 1 in a series of lifelong steps that will ultimately see eternal restoration at the resurrection.