* Today’s guest post is by my high school friend, Jennifer Austin. Her story is so powerful, I asked her if it could be shared with my readers here. Thank you Jesus for saving this precious family!*
I’ve been trying to figure out what to write in my status all week. I know you all want updates. I’m still in awe of everything, so since there is so much to the story I thought I’d write a note, so everyone could read it and I wouldn’t have to repeat it again. I know that’s a run on sentance, but that’s how my life feels right now.
This past weekend, I drove our new Camry with our 4 chilren up to Newberg. We had such fun with my dad. He took us to the Wings and Waves waterpark in McMinnville on Saturday. Then to Dairy Queen for treats. Sunday it was the skatepark for the boys, McDonald’s for lunch and the Dollar Store for whatever the kids picked out. All in all, he spoiled them. The kids had the best time. I spent part of the weekend helping my brother and sister-in-law teach their baby how to sleep through the night. On Monday,August 29 we were getting ready to head home. I had the kids write “Papa” each a note thanking him for the fun weekend. They each hid the note somewhere around the house so Papa would find it the next morning. PJ put his in the can of coffee grounds. Ethan’s note was by the keys and coats. Carson’s was taped to the shower wall and Maddy’s was in his sock drawer. We hugged my mom goodbye and drove off. We took a different route home, following the GPS just for a change. It took us the backroads to the Woodburn exit where we entered the freeway at 4:30pm.
I was traveling south bound in the fast lane, then merged to the center lane to let a car pass, the car suddenly lost control. We’re pretty sure it was my rear driver side tire that went flat. I couldn’t do anything to correct it. It fishtailed and swerved and we smashed into the belly of a semi truck. The windshield shattered, it went dark, it was loud and I could her my kids screaming. In my mind, I thought “we’re all dead, this is it”. The tires of the semi started to go over the front passenger side. Then my stearing wheel turned violently hard to the left. Not by my power, but by God alone. We shot out from under the truck and it was light again. My mind was audible and was yelling “we’re alive!” while still screaming. We traveled across two lanes of freeway traffic, without being hit by another car ( by God’s mighty hand for sure). We smashed through the bushes in the median and slammed hard into the guide wires that are in place on that stretch of I-5. These would have saved the life of our dear friend Sara Stokes a few years ago. So God used these to save us from going into the Northbound traffic.
When the car stopped, I looked over at Madison who was in the front passenger seat. She was curled in a ball with her head down and my heart skipped and I thought she was dead. Then her beautiful face turned to look at me, oh the relief. I looked in the backseat and saw my handsome boys all crying and saying “Mom,mama, mom!!..”. My door wouldn’t open, my arm was bleeding, I crawled to the backseat and Ethan opened his door. (he was sitting behind me) Our 4 year old boxer leaped out of the car and ran as fast as he could up the freeway median. He disappeared and my heart sank once more. We called for him and whistled but his fear controlled him. Maddy picked up our 14 week old boston terrier pup, named Kiki. She had been on Maddy’s lap and hit the floor board at some point. Maddy’s window had shattered from the semi truck wheels trying to eat us, there was glass everywhere. But the pup, had not a scratch! We got out of the car with the help of an off duty medic and a bunch of “Army guys” as the boys would say. They happened to be going by at the time of the accident. They told us they’d have someone find our dog. The kids were crying and laying in the grass saying “our dog, our dog”.I called Tom, who had just arrived home from a weekend hiking trip and he called my dad who was working just 10 miles away. We waited for the ambulances to arrive, the EMT’s strapped us to boards and stabilized our necks. I couldn’t see anything but the blue sky. It was beautiful, but I really just wanted to see my babies. I called my dad and really wanted to cry, he said he’d be there soon and he was. Thank the Lord for such fine Dad’s. Maddy was mostly ok and said she didn’t need to go as a patient. So she road up front in the ambulance with Kiki in her lap. PJ and Carson rode together in the back. I never want to hear the words “papoose board” again. They were both strapped to one. The EMT told me they held hands and Carson asked PJ if he was ok and if he was scared and offered to let him sleep with him. She was touch by their sweetness. ahhh me too. Their ambulance left 5 minutes before mine and Ethan’s did. To be separated from my children during such trama was a huge stretch for me. I laid there helpless, praying for them. My mind playing tricks on me, the panic setting in. “Stay calm, just breath” I said to myself over and over during the 20 minute drive to the salem hospital. The EMT in our ambulance was pressing on us asking if anything hurt. Ethan said his neck did, but then he said “I have no more hurtness”. Our EMT, Elliot said “well, that was cute”.
My Dad had our boxer, Dash. He was alive and someone had managed to catch him, his name was TJ and he waited at the site until my dad came. The kindness of strangers….what a gift. At the hospital, I was put in a room with PJ. His shaky little voice said “Hi Mommy” when they wheeled me in. PJ is apparently made of rubber because he was totally fine, not even a scratch. Can you say AMAZING??? Ethan had a seatbelt burn and whiplash, his neck is sore. But other than that, he’s fine. Carson had a little worse seatbelt burn and more pain in that area, so they did an x-ray, nothing broken. Praise the Lord, once more. Maddy is sore and has a some cuts from glass. She’s also having some trouble sleeping. I took the brunt of it, which I’d gladly do for my children anyday. I’m old(ish) so recovery is tougher when you’re not made of rubber any longer. The seat belt left a large burn and bruising, my neck and back are very sore. My arm was cut and Tom removed glass from it. I still have glass in my foot, my knees are beat up and new bruises show up daily. But I’m so incredibly grateful, thankful and spilling over with praise. I serve a big God and he has a big plan for me and my children. To survive such a tremendous accident with such little injury is nothing short of a miracle. The officer said he couldn’t site me because he just new it had to be something wrong with my car. I wasn’t drunk or distracted. I was honest about losing control and hitting the semi. The first thing he said to me in the hospital was we survived because of an act of God. There is no other reason. The semi was empty, which he said is rare. To go across two lanes of traffic and not get hit is nearly impossible. To top it off he said “we never recover live pets from the freeway, it just doesn’t happen”. Why God spared our lives and even the lives of our pets, I don’t know if I’ll ever fully understand. We were discharged from the hospital and the kids were hungry (of course). My dad, aka “Papa” took us to Wendy’s because I really just wanted to eat quick and go home. As we sat at the table dazed, PJ got up and said “We forgot to pray, when i get back from the bathroom, I’m going to pray”. So he got back and we all held hands and he said “Dear God, thank you for this food and bless it to our bodies, thank you God that we didn’t die and please let that be our last car accident. Help us get home safe, amen”. I was crying, my dad was too. PJ is 5 and his little heart was so thankful. That night I had a tough time sleeping. Everytime I close my eyes I see the window shatter and everything goes dark and I hear the kids screams. At 2am I pulled out my bible and read the passage dated that day,August 30th.
It was: 2 Corinthians 4:8 NLT ” We are pressed on ever side,but we are not crushed.We are perplexed, but not driven to dispair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
The next morning, my dad called to say he had found the notes and had been crying all morning thinking about how those could have been the last things from us. We’re so grateful, in awe and full of praise to God for his mighty hand over us. Everything in his perfect timing.
So, I kiss my babies more and smell their heads a little longer. I hold them tighter and allow my heart to fill like a tank.Grateful seems to small a word, Overwhelming joy! Thank you to our sweet friends and family who have been so helpful. Continue to pray for physical and emotional healing. I’m asking God to take my fears and give us all peace of mind. Also pray that what ever high calling God has for us, we’ll know and respond.
That’s my story and I’m stickin to it.
P.S To say we’re lucky, just removes the glory from God to whom all glory is due.