Alternate States of Being: miracles in chaos

Affliction – the cause of continued pain of body or mind, as in sickness or losses. Of affliction and sorrow, affliction is the stronger term. The suffering lies deeper in the soul and usually arises from some powerful cause, such as the loss of what is most dear.

If Your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. – Psalm 119:92

But out of the sheer goodness of my heart because of who I am, I keep a tight rein on my anger and hold my temper. I don’t wash my hands of you. Do you see what I have done? I have refined you, but not without fire. I’ve tested you like silver in the furnace of affliction. ~ Isaiah 48:9-10 (nkjv)

IMG_9319Life moved on until the morning of July 20, 2004.  Everything about this morning seemed normal. The kids were up and ready to go. We went out to breakfast. I delivered Logan to basketball camp right on time, then, Zak and I, headed home. I was eager to get there; I had a full day planned. So when I exit the ramp onto the freeway and everything comes to a halt, all lanes at a standstill, I am not amused. It is 9:30 am. Zak is calling my name from the backseat and we begin to play peek-a-boo through the rear view mirror. As I glance up the second time, instead of Zak, I see a white truck bearing down, but it is too late and there is no place to go. His speed was almost 70 mph when he made impact. My car collapses and as I try to free myself from the seatbelt so I can get Zak free, I become tangled in it. The best I can do is twist and try to pull the front seat forward to un-wedge his body from between the front and back seats. A moment later my gas tank explodes. I began to scream for someone, anyone to help me. I yank as hard as I am able to dislodge the front seat, but it refuses to move. People begin calling 911 and they are quickly told that a fire truck is already on the scene; the accident has already been responded to. The reality is the accident a mile due west, that created this traffic jam from hell, has a fire truck and has been responded to.  Two retired fire fighters passing east, park their truck and jump the median wall to assist. One worked to free me, the other to free Zak.  When it was determined that Zak could not be saved, all their attention was turned to me. The seat belt is cut and arms are grabbing, pulling me through the window, but I am unwilling to leave Zak and I fight, hitting and clawing, my way free. But in the end, I can not fight them both and together they remove me from the car to the side of the road. I only remember a little of the next few moments: I remember begging for someone to save Zak; I remember Emma kicking; I remember a voice praying and psalm 23 being chanted; I remember the sounds of the med-i-vac chopper. But then I lost consciousness for a while.

IMG_9327I am listing my injuries so you might have a better understanding of what physically I was up against and so you might better see the miracles as they unfolded:

Both of my lungs collapsed and I had to incubated in the field; 30% of my body was burned, 20% was third degree, 10% was second degree and I sustained flash burns to my flash from the explosion; my spleen was ruptured and had to be removed; my liver and my gallbladder had lacerations and required repair; my kidneys were bruised;  my right ureter, which is the connector between the kidney and bladder, was severed and shredded; my bladder had lacerations; blood clots formed in my left abdominal cavity; the last three vertebrae in back were fractured,  both my pelvic bones were fractured, both my hips had multiple fractures, and it was these injuries that kept me non-weight bearing for 14 weeks; my uterus was ruptured in several places which caused hemorrhaging; an emergency c-section was performed because Emma died en route to the hospital; when the chopper landed at the hospital, I was in cardiac arrest; I was resuscitated three times; I required multiple reconstructive surgeries to stop hemorrhaging and 72 pints of blood; the bruising and trauma caused swelling of unbelievable proportions; there were cuts that needing stitching. When trauma is this severe, the body begins a process known as natural triage and it will shut down organs that do not need healing to conserve energy for the ones that do, and so vital organs in my body were shutting down in an attempt to save itself. The first week I was given more of a chance to die than to live.

IMG_4070Someone once told me that I was stupid to believe that God was on the scene of my accident and that it was really doctors that saved my life and were due the credit. I submit the four following miracles, a tiny sliver of a full spectrum, in order to disprove this statement:

Two retired firefighters working together at Homeland Security are sent on a trip to Alexandria, VA from Chantilly due to sudden failed plans which put them directly on course for the scene of my accident. These are the men that pulled me from my car. They left their office at approximately 9:20 am.

Since 9/11, Washington Hospital Center has run drills to ensure their trauma service runs as efficiently as possible in the event of another terrorist attack. During drills, a Med-i-vac chopper patrols the area and the heads of all departments are present in the ER. This morning the chopper was already en route westbound towards Fairfax and every top surgeon of every trauma team and their nurses were standing in the ER when the pilot radioed to say they were no longer in a drill and to give an ETA.

A nurse on her way home from Mary Washington Hospital, was close enough to witness the accident and attended to me on the side of the road until the transport arrived.

And there was a chaplain, not one who was interfaith who might be performing rituals and asking for good karma to be sent my way. He sent me a pastor. One who was clear about who our Lord and Savior is and who did not doubt His sovereign authority or His mighty power. He sent me Father Robin Rauh.

IMG_9285These are just the first four. I could write a book of just miracles that would prove God already had everything in motion. He may have allowed the enemy to wreck havoc in my life so He could draw me in close to Him and show me His love, but I know I was never in any danger of actually leaving this earth – not to die.

Through these miracles and the many that followed, God became someone I could see.

This is the third blog post in a series of five housed under the Testimony category.

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8 Responses to “Alternate States of Being: miracles in chaos”

  1. Nancy Saunders says:

    Dear Beth,
    It was moving to see your story written in words and the list of miracles. I didn’t know the details of that tragic day. God has a plan for your story!
    Love, Nancy

  2. Betsy zimermann says:

    Dear Elizabeth,
    I remember that day, Robin being called out and the look on his face when he returned…oh how we prayed! Over the years you have stayed in my prayers….thank you for your openness and for sharing your story…how we all need to hear it….you know I had sworn off Facebook for a month but was so drawn to it today…now I know why. Thank you…hugs, Betsy

    • Elizabeth says:

      Betsy, I will always be grateful for the prayers that have been lifted up on our behalf and for Robin’s presence that day. So many rallied to plead for my life that day. The doctors never really expected me to fully recover. The miraculous healings that have continued have astounded doctors to this day. God always knows what he is doing and there is purpose in it all. I am grateful for you and your presence. And I am grateful you broke your Facebook fast. Your sharing my post lifted me up in a moment of being gripped in great anxiety and doubt over sharing these tragic moments. Your obedience to the Father is an eternal gift. Much love to you.

  3. Helen Norton says:

    Elizabeth, I couldn’t move as I read your testimony regarding the death of your two children and your own terrible injuries. What an incredible lady you are to see God’s hand and His mercy in this accident and loss. May God please continue to bless and protect you as your witness of His faithfulness reaches so many of us. Thank you for sharing with us. Epiphany love, Helen

    • Elizabeth says:

      Helen, God gives miracles, but in exchange we must be a living witness to the world. There is purpose in everything He allows. I just have to remember it is never about me and it is always about Jesus. I am grateful for a second chance to fully live a life for Him. Peace to you.

  4. Christina Cummings says:

    I have been on the prayer line several years, but few situations stuck out as much as that one. And God arranged for us to be in retreat together one year when you shared some of your story. I am glad to ha d been part of the believers praying for your recovery. Thank you for your perpetual presence since then – you point social media to Jesus and I am so grateful for your witness. I remain very sorry for your loss. I, too, lost a baby in utero and wonder how I will know her in heaven. But I know that we will. Love to you, my sister in Christ.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Oh Christina, I had no idea you lost a daughter. I am so sorry. This is what I believe: when we step over the threshold of Heaven, those children we lost will be the first there to meet us. And we will know them, just as surely as we will know Jesus. I believe this because we serve a God who is love. The sacrifice of giving up of children early does not escape His notice. We have sacrificed dreams of a thousand firsts and wedding days and a million other things that so many take for granted. But because we love and honor Him, I believe He will give us this gift of knowing them. He loves us so much and one day He will reveal to us what has been so difficult for us to understand…why? Not because He owes us an explanation, but just because He loves us. Until then, we must have faith in His purpose and trust in His plan. Peace and love to you sweet friend.

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