Cupcakes and Rainbows – Life After Tragedy – Day 3

Day 3 – The Wakeup Call

After what only seemed like a few moments, I woke up. Laying in the hospital bed I could hear family talking near me as the sounds of the machines keeping me alive were humming around me. As I awoke from multiple surgeries to steel plate my broken ribs and repair my torn aorta, my nightmare had only just begun.

 

As I lay there on a ventilator, totally unable to move, I remember seeing my older brother for the first time since the wreck. As he came and gently held my hand and explained a part of what had occurred, I could see the heartache in his face. In that moment no one had shared that my daughter Brynleigh had died during the initial wreck (although I already knew she was with the Lord).

 

Thinking about it now, it all seems like a bad dream. Did I have brain damage? Would I ever be able to walk, talk, and live a normal life again? Would I even survive the next few days and months? In that moment so many questions remained unanswered. I remember feeling so helpless and overwhelmed. Was my wife OK? Was my son OK? Would I be OK?

 

Because of the velocity of the collision, I had extensive nerve damage in my hands. Because of being on the ventilator and the nerve damage, I was unable to communicate with family or doctors. I can remember spending so much time praying (God was the only one I could communicate with!) But also feeling so alone (as if even God had forgotten me).

 

I can say with certainty that it was God alone who would help me endure the painful recovery over the next few months. They say that “hindsight” is 20/20. It is so easy now looking back and seeing God sustaining me. Slowly over the months and years after the accident I can see God teaching me to trust Him (even in the most desperate circumstances).

 

If you find it hard to trust God right now, don’t deny it or try to hide it. He knows… confess it. I know it seems impossible in the midst of whatever desperate situation you find yourself in, but it is our deepest despair that our intimacy grows and we become closer to God. You may not believe me now but there is coming a day where you will look back and see that God sustained you just like He sustained me. Go to Him again and again for peace, He gives us peace, wisdom, and strength to help even (especially) in the midst of great trials and doubt.

 

As we close today’s devotion, we will look at several reminders in Scripture that should give all of us hope. Remember these promises in the midst of your own pain and suffering:

 

First God is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). As we saw during the first day of our reading plan, Jesus knows exactly what we are facing. Because Jesus (God with us) lived a life as a man, we are assured that He faced every temptation, trail, and suffering imaginable to us. When you feel alone, remember that if you’ve placed your faith in Jesus, you are never alone (Hebrews 13:5).

 

Second it gives me great hope that even when I don’t have the words to say (or can’t say them!) that God hears my prayers (Romans 8:26-27). Even when I don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit takes my prayers to God. Remember that God promises peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:6) and wisdom to those who ask (James 1:5).

 

Today’s Prayer: Lord, we admit: our hearts are broken. Lord the grief feels overwhelming, overpowering, and we feel helpless to break out of these chains. We are surrounded by a world that continues like nothing has changed, but Lord everything has changed! Help us Jesus, we need you. On the promise of Scripture we know God that you are near to those who are brokenhearted, that you promise peace that passes understanding, and you give wisdom to those who ask, let us feel your presence. Holy Spirit fill us with the peace that we only have through faith in Jesus, it is in Jesus name we pray.

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.