“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” (Job 5:9).
My parents had another miracle that I’m not sure I’ve written a story about. It was raining, and they were coming from Parkersburg to Ravenswood, and mom had the cruise control on. She said they were just clipping right along and all the sudden, they were spinning in one lane a few times, did a couple twirls across the median and ended up on the opposite interstate lane going the right direction, headed back to Parkersburg. And what is the chance that both sides of the highway were just conveniently empty at that time? I don’t think it’s chance at all – these are moments where God intervenes and he directs traffic and he opens up the way….
My friend Stacy had a bad hydroplaning incident around that same time, and hearing her story was just as chilling to think of how fast your life can spin out of control, flash before your eyes. When you’re given more time, you’re given more chances, they are precious and come with a responsibility. Both mom and dad and Stacy told their story, praised God, didn’t just pack it away, mark it down to another day lived. They KNEW it was another day saved, another proof that God had His hand on them. I pray he opens my eyes and keeps them open for those day-to-day miracles – and that he opens our lips with praise so that we give Him the glory that he deserves!
"The end of December, 2000, Roy was clearing a piece of land on the farm for Kim and Ken to build a new house. The ground was frozen and Roy did not take this into consideration when he got too close to a bank and the bulldozer tracks did not take a footing in the dirt and the dozer starter to turn over on the steep ground. Roy knew he was in trouble. There was no way he could get off the dozer without being crushed so he just grabbed hold of the breather on the hood of the dozer with both arms locked round it and held on for dear life. The dozer turned over three times before it came to a halt in an almost dry creek bed at the bottom of the hill. When the dozer landed it was on its tracks again and continued to run, taking off down the creek bed. Roy said all he could do was “Praise the Lord.” The dozer had only minor damage and Roy was just bruised up and sore for a week or so.
Another thing that saved his life was the bulldozer had a roll cage on it. Russ Vannoy had spent evenings for a week, after he and Roy got off work, helping Roy build this roll cage. Russ did all the welding. Roy said he was the best around and remembered his friend Russ as he was praising the Lord for saving his life.
We were scheduled to leave on January 12, 2001 for a Work and Witness trip to Peru. This had been a dream we had had for many years. I had retired on January 1, 2001 and this had been planned since the summer before. If Roy had been seriously injured, we would have had to cancel the trip. This was a “work” and witness trip and Roy had to be in good shape to be able to handle the work that was going to be done for a church in Lima, Peru. It was just another trick of the devil for us not to get to go, but the Lord was in control and we went and were blessed beyond anything that we could have imagined.
After Roy’s recent accident of turning the lawnmower over on him, his nephew Raymond said, “You’ve turned over a backhoe, rolled a dozer and turned over a farm tractor and you walked away, but you let a little lawnmower get you down." Roy could only smile, because he knew it was so true."
It has been a week of miracles, and I am so afraid I will miss a little detail in the telling, as it was really something to experience. One of my dear friends, a new Christian, has been having terrible pain in her stomach for about two months. They diagnosed it as gallbladder and scheduled her for surgery. The surgeon cuts into her abdomen with the little cut, and a gallon and a half of fluid pours out. I know I’m not a medical person (like totally ignorant) but the common sense person inside me thinks if I were the surgeon, I might say, “Hmmm, maybe I better see what that was all about, or perhaps this isn’t gallbladder at all, maybe I should totally open her up or close her up and do some more tests.” Well, he doesn’t do that, goes ahead and removes the gallbladder and stitches her back up, sends her home.
She does not do well at home at all, pain even worse, swelling getting terrible – gains 25 pounds of fluid in two days! Goes back to the hospital, they woller around with her a bit, end up sending her to CAMC, where she lays around some more. They send her home, and she ends up putting 42 POUNDS of fluid on in a matter of days again. Can you imagine how your body would look and hurt if you added that much weight in a matter of two to three days? She was beyond miserable, literally drowning in her own fluid, and once again, just languishing in a bed at CAMC while not a whole lot was happening.
We were all very worried, and she was suffering so horribly, it made you want to just bawl your eyes out. Finally, she got sent to CAMC General, and a doctor began to run some tests on her abdomen. She was going back for a CT scan with contrast, and I popped in there to pray with her before she went back. Now, she is in so much pain, she can hardly breathe, and she’s thanking me and carrying on about me and my needs and not a word about her as they’re taking her back. She is truly one of the sweetest women I have ever had the privilege of knowing.
That surgeon’s call saved her life, literally! They found that she had a hole or holes in her colon and poison had been leaking out for weeks now. Septic, you say? Nope, not septic – weeks of lying with this eating you away, seeking to devour, and she is still alive and fighting! I asked the surgeon when he came out how it was possible that she had been this way for so long and it hadn’t killed her, and he said it was interesting: The poison and infection in her stomach had built a WALL and it had not spread throughout her body, but stayed contained! Well, I don’t know what you would call it, but I would call it a “HEDGE OF PROTECTION” that only our God can build from inside your body. I was ready to shout and run that hallway, crying and praising God that even though death was at her door, He built a wall that kept it from crossing that threshold! Hallelujah!
That isn’t the end of the story, though, as with medical nightmares, they seem to go on and on. They removed six quarts of poison and infection from her abdominal cavity, had to leave her open so she could possible heal a bit more. They went in for another surgery the next day and cleaned out more. Same with the next day. Surgery after surgery, sometimes the surgeons working through the night. She was hanging on by a thread, on a ventilator, surrounded by tubes and her abdomen staying open all this time.
About four surgeries in and five nights into this nightmare, we get a call in the morning that the surgeon had stayed all night and operated on her, slitting her legs open and trying to find blood clots that were blocking all the blood flow to her legs. Her legs had begun to turn purple, and the doctor said he had done all he could do, and at this point, it was in God’s hands as to whether she would lose both legs or not. After all our celebrating over God snatching her from the jaws of death, there was NO WAY we were going to settle for that!
We got on the phone, on the e-mail, on the texts, and our entire church began to pray and fast for that day, Monday of this week, and by the time I visited her Monday evening, her feet were warm and pink! I am so blessed to be part of a congregation of believers who KNOW what prayer does, who STOP what they are doing and who BOW to the One who can make all the difference. When God’s people humble themselves and pray, without ceasing, God shows His face and His glory. All day as I prayed, I imagined what it was like when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead – how the blood that had pooled in the bottom of the veins and had begun to rot all the sudden got warm, got busy and got moving, pulsing and throbbing as it raised this man to life again – I could just shout right now thinking about it, how God began to take this woman who only had 26% of her heart function working, and he began to supercharge that 26% to where it could push that blood further than it had been, to reach past the clots that were left, to find those narrow channels in which it could move.
Yesterday, the ventilator was removed and she was able to call her daughter and actually speak for the first time in a week. Her hands had been tied down, throat full of this ventilator, abdomen wide open and then legs slit open and staying open as well. The devil may have had a plan for this new Christian, but he got a rude awakening this week – God’s people rose up and entered the battle, crying out for their sister in Christ, and they were heard. I cannot praise Him enough for His mercy and His grace, for the love of His people who sacrifice themselves on behalf of people they hardly know, all because they realize the power they have in prayer.
The year was 1994. I had gone through a divorce the previous year and had married Tom in March of 1994. I was working for Lyne Ranson at the time and needed a hysterectomy. While doing the hysterectomy, they spotted a mass on my chest and asked me to get an MRI after my six-week checkup. The doctor forgot about the MRI, but I asked about it and reminded him, so he sent me to the local hospital here in Ripley. I was laying in the MRI machine watching the medical people through the glass window, and they kept pointing at something, coming out and asking me things like, "Have you been spitting up blood, coughing up things, losing weight," etc., etc. What should have taken about ten minutes took almost an hour, as they studied and looked and kept inviting other medical personnel in to stare at the computer I, of course, could not see into. I'm usually not a paranoid person, but this got me a little concerned.
Went home and told Tom what had happened, and he got really concerned (his sister Nancy Evans died at age 39 of lymphoblastic lymphoma) so he knew more than enough about health concerns with young people (I was 33). That evening, we called Cindy Reese, who was our local doctor and friend, and she said, "Hmmm, I'm at the hospital, let me just hop over and read this MRI while here waiting on a baby to be born." She called us back within the half hour and said that we needed to go to Charleston the next day, she had already called and gotten us an appointment, Tom needed to cancel court or whatever he had, this was important. Would not give any details but her sense of urgency was palpable.
The date was December 20, I believe, and we went to see Dr. Z Khan. He gave us the news: I had a mediastinal mass and my best option was to pray I had Hodgkin's disease - that the other options were much worse. I was reeling - had no medical training but knew there was NO WAY God's will was for me to be sick, not to raise my children. The doctor said he was putting me in the hospital the next day and doing surgery. I began to cry and said, "I just got married this year, and this is my first year to be a stepmother, and I really, really want to try to do this right" - our children were 4, 6, 8, 10 and 14 at the time - He gave me no choices, the diagnosis was too dire - it had to be now. Judge George Scott, my previous judge, had a son Phil who was dying as we spoke of a mediastinal mass (he was 30 or so).
I went to church that night and showed my nurse friend Kim Drennen the paperwork on my MRI and the diagnosis. She told me later she had never known anyone with a mediastinal mass to make it six months. After Wednesday night church, she gathered a few of the saints of our church and they prayed over me at the altar, just five or six of us. As I prayed, my prayer was not a plea of "Just your will," it was desperation, crying and sobbing out to the Lord, "THIS IS NOT YOUR WILL! IT CANNOT BE YOUR WILL THAT I DO NOT RAISE MY CHILDREN! I WILL NOT ACCEPT IT - NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!" I am bawling even now as I type this. I was the woman with the issue of blood, the man laying at the pool of Bethesda, I was Mary, the mother of Jesus, begging for the water to be turned into wine.
I got up from that altar and I KNEW I had been healed. I did not feel any big shaking all over or heat or chills - I just knew I had met my Savior at the point of my need and he had met it! I went home and told Tom about our prayer and that I was healed. He nodded, saying nothing, not believing. We got into bed, I slept like a baby, and he lay awake all night, holding my hand, remembering sitting by the bathtub with his sister, his duty to keep the ice filled so she remained cool, all the trips all over the country his family took to find her help, to no avail.
The next morning we checked in (December 21) and my surgery was completed. They did a thoracotomy (incision below your breast clear around to almost the middle of your back). I awoke with tubes everywhere, the familiar beeping sounds of a hospital at work, but there was a foreign voice speaking into my ear on that Christmas week in 1994, "My dear, you have been given a MIRACLE!" I just smiled and said, "I know," and went back to sleep.
My mother recounted that as they waited in the waiting room, she and dad and Tom, the doctor came to the door and told them he did not know what had happened, he'd never had it happen before (occurs in 1 out of 100,000 cases), but the solid mass that showed so clearly on the MRI had turned to a clear liquid NOTHING when he went in to take it out! My parents fell to their knees and began praising God and thanking Him. Tom said, "You guys almost convince me to become a Christian." It was another five years before he gave his heart to the Lord (and that's a whole other story of praise and miracles!)
I was able to get out of the hospital early and be home for Christmas Eve night (not in any shape, I might say - couldn't even leave the bed), but God had turned our Christmas of death into a Christmas of life, and here 18 years later, my children are adults, both serving the Lord and hard workers, my husband is saved, my health is terrific, and I still have my praying parents. Oh, there are not words to praise Him, to thank Him - He is faithful over ALL.
If you do not know my Savior, please, please, in 2013, find Him! I would be privileged to help you seek him - He is the peace in the midst of the storm, He is the light in the darkness, He is the healer in the midst of pain.
So I've been thinking about miracles and God's presence in our lives through the supernatural all week. Want you to know how it was that our family began to see the miraculous workings over and over in our lives.
When I was eight and a half, my dad got saved. And I got saved the same night. Dad was a man's man, a mechanic, a man who worked with his hands ...- always had grease under his fingernails and bangs and dings all over his arms from the farm or the garage or something. When he wasn't at work at the plant as a mechanic, he was on the farm with the cattle, brushhogging, working in the garage, tearing something apart and fixing it. Mom had taken Kim and I to church our whole lives at a little church down the road, but I honestly don't remember that much about it. I think the church tried, but it was an old, dying church and there wasn't much life to it.
One night at an even littler country church, dad got saved - I mean SAVED! He and his friend Jim Catron (now a preacher) got saved together in a revival, and the father I had one known was no longer anywhere to be found - he had been replaced by this man who cried for two solid weeks, cried at work, cried at home, cried on the farm, praising the Lord constantly and crying and crying. At age 12, that was embarrassing and kind of weird - you always hear that God takes us and we are reborn, but I literally saw it. My father had only cried two times that my mother had ever seen before this, and now he couldn't stop crying.
One of the coolest things was that dad and I got baptized together as well - in the Ohio River - IN DECEMBER WHILE IT WAS SNOWING! I will never forget that day - so cold but yet so right. I remember mom wrapping me up in a big towel and getting me dried off and warmed back up. Dad kept his clothes on and they were frozen solid by the time we got home. And NO ONE GOT SICK!
He also had a thirst for the Bible and the word - he wanted to learn everything he could. Dad was dyslexic before anyone knew what dyslexic was, so he struggled with reading. We tease him that the only thing he read was the Trader's Guide! He could tear apart an engine and put it back together and never miss a step, but just reading the newspaper was not easy for him.
He would sit and read the Bible out loud, and it was truly miraculous how God showed him what to read and how to read it - I was in awe - this amazing God we serve had recreated this man through a cleansing of his soul into a man after God's own heart, and he was preparing him for the journey. As I sit here typing this, I can see him sitting in our family room, reading the Bible, trying to learn all he could. I now am ashamed of myself that I was ever embarrassed at his crying, the crying that showed the washing of his heart and his life, that revived him into a man who had so much compassion for others, and now it just poured out of him.
He began to go to every revival he could to try to hear preaching and learn more about this new Savior he had. Around this same time, I get off the bus one day to be met by the neighbor, Sue Groves, and she tells me that my parents fell off the barn roof. Who FALLS off a barn roof, two people at the same time? Turns out dad had slipped (6'2", 200 pounds) and mom had tried to catch him (5'4", 110 pounds). They had fallen approximately 30 feet and NEVER BROKE A BONE, either one of them! The neighbor saw them fall and said they had gone so gracefully, they thought they had jumped. (Mom's version of the story below)
Dad began from day one to praise the Lord and tell about his miracle everywhere he went. He went to revivals all over and stood and testified about God's mercy on them, crying the whole time, of course! Praise was on his lips constantly. He didn't say they were lucky, he said the Lord spared them and carried them off that roof to land them in the safest place in that nasty barnyard.
I truly believe all of the miracles that followed flowed out of his praise. Let me ask you: Have you had a miracle and you called it luck, or a coincidence, or just took it for granted and never even gave God the praise? Or are you looking for a miracle and frustrated you're not finding it?
Our church had a revival last year that lasted 89 days and had over 600 people saved - it was truly the most incredible season I have ever seen in a church - there were miracles everywhere, deaf ears opened, locked shoulders lifting, cancer disappearing! Pastor Wright made a point one night that I had never before heard in relation to miracles, and I couldn't believe I hadn't - he said "Before miracles is salvation - salvation comes first, then comes the miracles."
Hebrews 2:1-4: "We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will."
Dad had just gotten saved, had praised his Lord for changing his life - then he needs a miracle and God reaches out his hand and delivers it - he probably didn't even have time to ask for it, to pray! One of the most incredible healings we had during our revival was a woman who had a brain tumor, and she got saved right about the time she was to get her surgery. She did not come to the altar and seek healing, just salvation. However, when she went to the surgeon to have her surgery, the tumor was gone! First salvation, then comes healing......
Do you know Jesus Christ? Have you felt Him pecking at the door of your heart? Do you need a miracle? A marriage that needs restored, a body that needs healed, emotional damage that needs soothed? I would encourage you to seek Him - not so you get a miracle, or you get in line for one - because once He comes into your heart and your life, you will realize that that is a miracle, the way He can remove grudges, cleanse your memory of painful and damaging events, give you a hope and a future....it truly is miraculous, and that's just the beginning! It is like being lonely your whole life and needing a friend, and now you have a best friend who lives right in your heart - wow.
Please comment and share your miracles or your struggles - let's grow together!
Written by my mother:
One of our family miracles happened sometime in the mid ‘70s. I can’t remember the exact year. The farm we live on once had a barn located on Flatwoods Road. It was in very poor condition but it served the purpose of storing square bales of hay so we tried to keep it maintained. Roy was going to paint the shed part of the roof and since it wasn’t steep, I told him I would help him. We were painting with black tar paint, so of course I picked out the oldest clothes I had to do the job. I remember that the button was missing from my pants and I pinned them with a very big safety pin. (Remember what your mother told you about always wearing clean underwear because you might have an accident?) Well, it goes for other parts of your wardrobe as well. I also had curlers in my hair.
As we were painting , Roy stepped over in the wet paint and lost his footing and his feet slid out from under him and he started to slide down the roof. I immediately stepped over to get hold of his strap on his bibbed overalls and my feet slide out from under me too. Within seconds we were both sliding off the roof to probably a 30 foot drop. At the bottom was an old set of cattle scales that had been removed but the cut-off posts were still in the ground and a lot of jagged rocks were still there. Roy said that was what he thought of as he was leaving the roof. God was so merciful to me that I don’t have any memory of the fall. All I remember was the landing. We both seemed to fly through the air several feet away from the barn and landing in the hay field, missing all the posts and rocks. We both had the breath knocked out of us and were gasping for breath. I remember still trying to breathe and Roy crawling over to me and kissing my face and asking if I was okay and I couldn’t get out, “Stop kissing me, I can’t breathe.” There were two girls sitting on the porch of the house close by and saw us fall. Roy called to them and told them to call an ambulance.
While we were waiting for the ambulance, Margie Flannigan came by and sat with us. She immediately asked me if I wanted her to take my curlers out. Bless her heart, she thought like a woman and knew what the important things were about.
After the ambulance came (they transported us together) I kept begging the attendants not to put me on those clean sheets. We both had slid through the black paint on our bottoms, taking the fresh paint with us. At the hospital they cut away our clothes (remember the big safety pin) and threw them away. I’m sure the sheets were discarded as well.
To make a long story much shorter, we were put in separate rooms and didn’t see each other until the next day. They wouldn’t allow either of us to get out of bed because they were not sure of internal injuries. They thought Roy had broken his back, but that was not so. The next day they told me I could get up to go to the bathroom. I decided I was going to find Roy and make sure he was okay. I walked from one end of the hospital to the other to his room. By the time I got there I was so exhausted that I told him to scoot over and I got in bed with him. A nurse came in and almost had a heart attack. She said, “Oh, no, no. We can’t have any of that.” She got a wheelchair and took me back to my room. We were released in three days. We were badly bruised internally and externally as well as blacked both of our eyes, but neither of us had a broken bone. Only by the grace of God could that have happened.
We continually praise God for his many blessings. This is just one of the many miracles that He has given us.
Now back to the 1970s. I was a teenager, old enough that Kim wasn't on the bus with me but young enough that I wasn't driving - how's that for a guess? I get off the bus, begin to walk in the house, and I see what looks like blood spots all over the sidewalk, on the porch, leading into the house. It wasn't huge amounts of blood, but enough to make me curious. I open the door, holler for mom - who was always there waiting with a snack or something great to eat - no response. I see blood on the kitchen floor and begin to worry. I walk slowly down the hall to my parents' room, quietly trying not to panic. I holler again to see if anyone is home, in the basement, anywhere....no response. I walk into the bathroom, and there in the bathtub in a few inches of blood-stained water were my father's coveralls, stained with blood. I process this quickly, that something very bad has happened, but not bad enough that my practical mother did not stop to draw the water so that his overalls weren't ruined:)
Not the smartest move, but after looking everywhere for a note and finding none, I call my grandma, my dad's mother, who lived up the hill from us. I describe what I've found, and she knows nothing. Now two people are panicked. I sit down to wait and to pray and to worry. The phone rings, and it's mom. They are at the hospital - dad has had "a little accident." Now, as I said before, growing up on a farm, there's an accident just waiting right around the corner. Dad cut mom's finger off one day while sharpening the mowing sickle, that long piece of machinery that has the triangular-shaped razor pieces that lays flat along the ground while you're cutting the hay.
Dad was sharpening each piece by hand, mom "assisting," and she sees a blade of grass sticking in between one of the pieces and the next - whatever possessed her, who knows, but she reached down to pluck that blade of grass out of harm's way right at the time he jerked the next razor into place for sharpening. There flew half of her finger into the air. My mother has a phobia with blood, but she was sharp enough to grab her finger up, run inside, put it into a plastic bag of ice, clean herself up, get into the car to be taken to the emergency room, and promptly passes out! Never ever say that Patty Vannest cannot accomplish it all!
I know, side-tracked. Back to the phone call. Mom says dad has had a "little accident," and she'll explain it all when they get home - he's fine. When they arrive home, I realize that the "little accident" occurred while he was about 30 feet high on a ladder, holding a chainsaw above his head and cutting off roof joists. The chainsaw kicked back, cutting his head open, sliced right though his eyebrow. Picture this: Skinny ladder, man on ladder holding chainsaw above head with one hand, ladder with the other hand - chainsaw kicks back and slices your head open - what are the chances you can keep it together enough to not even drop the chainsaw, not lose your balance or slip over backwards with the weight of the saw, get yourself down with blood pouring into your eyes? Only by the grace of God did he not lose his sight, not lose his life, not break his back, not, not, not.....
As I've reminisced on this miracle this week, God has begun asking me questions, questions I want to ask you to consider with me. Why does He do miracles? What is their purpose? God performs in the supernatural so that we give Him the glory. He gives us miracles to show us that he cares about the small and the large details of our lives. He gives us miracles to get our attention, wake us up. He gives us miracles to teach us a lesson. He gives us miracles because he just plain loves us.
Those roof joists that dad was cutting off, they were just an overhang out of a metal roof on the shed, probably had been hanging there for a good while. I'm betting as he and mom sat on the porch, they just couldn't take the sight of those joists sticking out anymore and decided it was time to get rid of this baggage. I'm wondering - do you have roof joists in your life that used to be a support for something, were there for a purpose, but now they're an eyesore and need to go? Could it be a relationship with someone, a habit you need to kick, a lack of faith and disbelief that needs trimmed out of your life? Are you surrounded by people who are negative or do not believe in God, perhaps even curse His name? Is that where you're supposed to be? Have you been putting off making a life change for a long time that you know God wants you to make? It's time to trim things back, get them in line for that miracle God has waiting for you!
If you begin to go all out for God, you begin to cut out and off things in your life, expect that kick-back - it will come! Satan does not like it when God's people get on the move and get out of their rut - but you CAN do it! Now is the time! Make those decisions to this year that you seek God's heart like never before and praise His name wherever you go.
P.S. Check dad's eyebrow out next time you see him! Another reminder of God's grace, right there on his face:)
I've been trying to do my miracle stories in chronological order, but I'm sure I'm messing this up. The first miracle that I claim as mine was in 1982. I had just graduated from court reporting school and was doing a deposition on a Saturday for the late Bill Trainer in Parkersburg. I had just gotten my first new car (Datsun little sporty something or the other) - it replaced my $400 1974 Plymouth Duster V8 (blue with a brown door due to my missing seeing a large pole while in college). That Duster sure could fly across Flatwoods Road when I was late for that 11:00 p.m. curfew! Took me to work every day through high school and all through college, and she took the gang to Myrtle Beach for senior trip...
I digress. Sorry. I was heading up old Route 2 between Ravenswood and Parkersburg - it was winter but clear and sunny. Before I could even blink, I had hit a patch of black ice and was spinning in a total revolution. Set the scene - I am (I think) near the Belleville Dam where the right-hand side of the road is a hill and the left side is the river. This exact location is where there was a ledge right down by the river and the railroad track and there was this house that sat on that ledge that the track ran by. Anyone remember that location? That is EXACTLY where I was. So when I begin to spin, I realize that if I go over toward the river, I'm going to either flip and land right on top of that house, or I may have enough speed going to fly right over the house straight into the river. Not the best of choices on the "bad" side. The bank on the right-hand side seemed like a good choice.
The spin begins, quick as lightning, and at the end of the first revolution, I begin to spin into the second revolution, but I'm moving toward the river on this one, backwards. How quickly these things happen, but it truly feels like you are moving in slow motion, your mind analyzing the possibilities. When I was five, the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant had gone down, and that had really bothered my mom. She had this fear of water, borne from watching her father unsuccessfully try to save someone from drowning when she was six, and she never did learn to swim. Matter of fact, every summer vacation, we spent time "drowning mom," as Kim and I called it. Dad called it teaching her how to swim: "If she gets scared enough, she'll start to paddle".... The result was many a day at Rippling Waters throwing mom off of those pier things they had all over. Dad would let her go down four or five times and then one of us would rescue her. We did the same thing at Seneca Lakes in Ohio, all over everywhere. She really must have trusted us all, because she would try and try every year.
One year at Disney World's water park in Orlando, we talked her into going on this water ride where you put your rear into an innertube and rode down into little pools in between the slides. What could happen when you're in an innertube, right? Well, somehow Kim and I were ahead of her, dad behind her and she landed in the pool and flipped, rear stuck in the tube, and could not flip over. People were trying to help her, Kim and I were screaming, and dad literally walked on water to get from where he was to flip her over. She refused to get back in the tube, even though the lifeguards told her there was no other way down - it took her about an hour, but she crawled over rocks and up ledges and got out of there on land. Anyway, long story short, mom used to dream that she had Kim and I and she went down on the bridge and she had to choose which one of us to save. She would talk about it all the time, and we would say, "Well, mom, no offense, but it's really not a big choice - you couldn't save either one of us!" So I guess her thoughts on being in the river in a car were resident in me also...
My mind was quickly running over which scenario might be the worst - landing on the roof of that house, bouncing on the house, then into the river - even worse - what about missing the house and just landing on the ground, how would you survive that....
As I felt the car leave the pavement, heading backwards, seeing nothing, knowing I have about four feet until the ground drops off, the rear of the car begins to tip - I'm headed over and I whisper, "I'm coming, Lord" - the front of the car begins to tilt, and there is a clunk and it stops - dead stop with the rear of the car hanging over the area where those people's steps went down the side of that hill. The front tire has caught on a railroad tie that used to be an old mailbox.
I am still calm, shocked by the abrupt and unexpected stop, almost afraid to believe it's true. I begin to praise the Lord, thank Him, began to shake all over, knowing the Creator of all has reached down, put His hand upon me, saved me for a purpose, because He had a plan for my life that did not end at age 19. It took a bit, but I sat in that car, leaned forward, trying to balance my weight toward the front, afraid to breathe, but a man showed up with a truck, drug me out over the top of the car, gave me a ride back to my mother-in-law's, where I showed up almost incoherent, bawling by then, having watched my life fly before my eyes, knowing not how My Lord would reach down into the earth and provide my miracle, an old buried railroad tie whose purpose had ended, that is, until the God of creation needed to call it back into action.
I wonder if any of you have stories where God has reached into your life when you were hanging on the edge of disaster - perhaps a relationship that you needed rescued from, a job situation that needed a miracle, a health event where you were headed backwards into the darkness until the Lord stepped in.....please share......
Every time I thought about that slow spinning, lightning fast event in my life, I KNEW God saved me, He saved me for a reason, for a purpose - my life was not to be wasted and just flittered away.....I thank Him and praise Him that He showed me early in my adulthood how much He cared for me and that He is present just when we breathe His name - in that instant, He is there....praise His Holy Name!
My son Tyler Markham received a drum set when he was probably six years old (I know, what was I thinking????) - and he always dreamed of having a band! He and Talia and Jessica and Brooke Staats formed their first "band" when they were maybe eight and ten. It was called "The Four Disciples." They practiced and practiced in our basement and then came and got me to hear their song they were going to sing at church. Oh my....I cannot even describe how bad they were. I know God appreciates our efforts and all, but there comes a time when a parent must speak truth. I knew they would not take my criticism very well, so I suggested we tape them and see what they thought. I am laughing now as I type this - they listened to it and were like, "Oh, we're terrible!" They truly were, but they practiced some more and the church let them sing, and there shows the goodness of God's people - they'll put up with the awfulest screeching and banging and love on these kids - God bless the saints of our church who gave these children the gift of their love.
Anyway, that band quickly died, as you might imagine, but in early high school, Tyler and Tyler Davis got together - again in our basement- and began to write songs and play music, my Tyler on the drums and Tyler D. on the guitar. They had some talent and they put in hours and hours practicing and dreaming and writing. Talia joined them, along with Seth Sharp and Josh Houben, and they formed the band Sustained, which grew to have quite a following. Talia didn't last long with all these younger boys - they wanted rid of her as much as she wanted rid of their goofing off and horseplaying:)
Anyway, these four adorable boys soon practiced their way to some decent music, and they began to travel around to different churches, youth retreats, etc. singing and playing. They practiced in our basement or adjoining garage (our poor neighbors...especially in the summer with the windows open - another thanks to people who let boys be boys and put up with the constant drumming and laughing and singing). Anyway, since they all hung out at our house, I was blessed to get to be with them all the time. I drove the band trailer to their gigs, helped keep them organized (meaning yelled like a banshee for them to get it together...), got to spend hours and hours with the boys and their parents. Oh, those were good days!
Anyway, just to give you a little background for the miracle I'm about to get to. One Friday night, they were playing in Caldwell, Ohio, and it was the biggest event they'd been asked to be at up to that point - a youth retreat with a sort of famous speaker that they'd met at another retreat. The day was crazy - I had to do depositions in Parkersburg, and they were going to meet up with me in Parkersburg (I had the trailer, equipment and the like with me) and we were going to head to Caldwell.
I was driving a Tahoe at the time, and had driven the big box trailer enough so be very comfortable with it (I could even back it!) Tyler had raced motorcycles before this band phase, so we had hauled motorcycles all over creation previously - another set of memories and God's watchful hand. Anyway, as I got on the exit at Ripley, I was on the phone talking to my mom - dad had been in the hospital or at the emergency room or something that week, and I wanted to check on how he was doing. I'm driving along, talking to mom, accelerating to get up to speed after getting on the interstate, and all the sudden the trailer starts swaying.
If you've never driven a big trailer like that, there is something called a sway bar which controls the trailer from swaying and going out of control. I knew about the sway bar, had even adjusted it before, but it was really more saw-someone-else-fooling-with-it knowledge. Well, as the trailer began to sway, I knew I may have to pull over and do an adjustment, but before I knew it, a tractor-trailer passed me, and I don't know if it was the wind from the passing trailer or what, but the trailer began to really sway - actually, to swing back and forth - wildly! I told mom, "Something's wrong," threw the phone to the floor, and began to try to get control.
This Tahoe, of course, was powerful and large, and the trailer was not loaded down with thousands of pounds. But once it got going, it just gained in intensity - the trailer was swinging so wildly, it was going across both lanes of the interstate, and the Tahoe was being swung around with it. It was literally a wild dance between the two that had to end in disaster. It was early in the morning - the interstate was full of traffic. It seemed like we swung there across the entire interstate forever, but I'm sure it was just a few seconds.
Once again, I am headed to a dropoff backwards, the trailer leading. It was so out of control and literally dictating what the Tahoe was doing, I just knew the trailer was going to throw the Tahoe over also if it went. We slide backwards towards the guardrail, and all the sudden, just like before, abrupt dead stop! The trailer had swung just right and at the time I hit the guardrail, the trailer and Tahoe were positioned just right, in a V-shape that the bottom of the V hit the guardrail and just locked in.
I put my head down on the steering wheel and began to cry and shake and praise God. Three vehicles stopped, two of them tractor-trailers, and they all said they had seen it happening and backed away and just knew I was a "gonner." Even in the fray, my court reporter brain had kicked in and I realized I was in a mess for my deposition, and I was with out-of-town attorneys who were on a time crunch and had planes to catch, etc. so I couldn't be late or delay them in any way. I got on the phone, called the high school and had the principal call Tyler out to come and take care of this accident for me and switch me vehicles.
I am so lucky to have a son that could do things like that at age 16 - he was responsible beyond his years. He brings me his jacked-up "teenager-be-bad" truck, I hop in it (standard, of course!) and fly to Parkersburg to do my job while he deals with the police and tow truck and all that. Chris and Rhonda Davis take over the arrangements to bring the kids up, but I still wanted to go - we'd been through all that already, so I wasn't going to miss the gig then! Oh, first miracle - their uninsured band equipment that they had paid for with jobs and donations and scraping pennies together was ALL undamaged!
We get to the event that evening, and the boys were up front speaking with and praying with the speaker, and I was just sitting there in the church by myself and a woman comes over to me and says, "Are you with the hand?" I said, "Yes, I'm the drummer's mother." She says, "Is there something going on with your band?" I said, "Well, I'm not sure. What do you mean?"
She says, "I guess I need to tell you what happened." She tells me that God woke her up at 2:00 a.m. and told her to pray for that band that was coming. She prayed for a bit and tried to get back to sleep and God repeated, "Pray for that band." She felt so burdened by it that she called her daughter-in-law, who was the youth pastor's wife who was organizing the event. She got out of bed and they prayed until her cell phone went dead a couple hours later. Prayed for at least TWO hours! Have you ever prayed that long, for a random stranger at that?
As she was talking, tears were welling up in my eyes, and by the end of her story, I was weeping, truly sobbing. I shared with her my side of the story, and we held each other and cried and praised God for His voice, His call in the night, how he lets us be part of His miracles for each other!
I have often wondered what might have happened if she hadn't been obedient, if she had maybe even prayed a little bit and gone back to sleep - would my wreck have turned out the same? You see, God knew what I was going to need before I even needed it! He does miracles so He will get the glory, so we will praise Him - and he uses us mere mortals to help accomplish it!
Oh, may we be obedient to the voice of God, to the call on our life - because you never know HOW VERY IMPORTANT that prayer you are praying is, how you may be praying for something that has not even happened yet! God is so all over us, He is in our present, He is the God of the future, the God of your miracle, the God of your healing - call on Him today....let Him come in and show you how His presence will change your life!
I know this story has to be for someone, as I've wanted to tell it for weeks. This is one of the most amazing of our family miracles, as God reached out and in His perfect timing, gave the desires of the heart.
I told you earlier my son Tyler had a band all throughout high school, and we spent our weekends traveling all over, setting up, singing, tearing down, meeting incredible people and watch...ing these young boys grow into men. Their senior year, the band broke up, and it was almost like a divorce. It left all of them a little adrift, "the plan" having not come to fruition. Tyler Davis, who is now a very successful musician, began to do music on his own, and some of the other boys tried to form another band. These new bands just didn't have the "magic" of the old one, and it was a struggle, both musically and in getting gigs. The whole senior year was spent trying one new thing after another, kind of going nowhere.
About that same time period, we were trying to figure out where Tyler was going to go to school. We had visited this incredible Christian university in Nashville, Belmont, and I really had my heart set on him going there. He was wanting to get a degree in music recording, and they had a great program. We also looked at some engineering schools, University of Cincinnatti, WVU-Tech, as we always thought he would be an engineer. He was building things from the time he was about two years old - no lie. He took one of Talia's baby buggies, the one that had the full bed thing with the little canopy over it, he tore that apart, screwed it into a skateboard, and then he would get in that baby buggy, lay down and take off down the driveway toward the Bowlbys' house, not able to see a thing (he was about five or so then).
Fred and Betty Clark, our incredible next door neighbors, used to say the whole neighborhood was taking bets on whether Tyler would live to be an adult. He had gone through a period of motorcycle racing and could tear his motorcycle apart and rebuild it. One year, he asked for a welding machine for Christmas (he was about 14). So long story short, he had that "building and designing thing" in his genes. Grandpa Roy had taught him so much about engines and how motors work, and he had a knack for it.
As spring came and high school graduation occurred, we knew we needed to get a plan for college. I had nagged and talked and pleaded all spring for a decision so we could get deposits and things sent in, and Ty would just hold me off, he didn't know, he wasn't sure, this band may be playing somewhere, blah, blah, blah. About June came showdown time - we needed to get this going or he was going to miss his spot and not be able to go, and a decision had to be made. We planned a camping trip, just Tom and I and Tyler and his girlfriend (now wonderful wife:) Molli. We went to Summersville where we had our camper, spent the weekend at the lake and had a good time. Tom and I had decided that the decision was getting made this weekend, and we were going to spend this time hashing it out. We tried discussing it time and time again, and each time we brought it up, Tyler kept saying, "I have a call to play music, I'm not going, I just need to play." We, of course, were bringing up the realities of the situation, that all that sounds great and glamourous, but it does not pay the bills. I'm saying that Belmont, this incredible university in Nashville where several huge stars have gone, is the perfect place to hook up with talented musicians and form another band and see where it goes while you are also getting an education. No luck, no moving him an inch.
On the way home in the car, we had reached an impasse, and no decision had been made. I bring it up again and Tyler is so frustrated, he begins to cry, and he says, "Mom, you are not hearing me. I have a CALL from God, a CALL to play music - you of all people should appreciate that, should care that God has CALLED me to do this and I have to do it!" Well, then I'm crying and yelling back with as much frustration, "That's all well and good, and I do want you to follow your call, but your reality is that the band you are in right now is going NOWHERE and fast, and as the parent, I have the responsibility to make decisions for you when you do not seem capable of making a good one for yourself, so you are going to Belmont. What kid would turn down an education in Nashville at one of the most prestigious music colleges in the entire United States that is going to cost us an absolute fortune? Who would be that ungrateful?" You can imagine the scene, both of us crying and yelling, Tom and Molli silent, tension building that has been brewing all weekend. He says, "I'm not going, I won't do it, it will be a waste of your money and I don't want it and that's it. I'm sorry, mom, but I'm not doing it."
I was truly beside myself. Tyler had been our easy kid, really (other than all the danger and things like coming home to find him on the roof the day Tom's father had been dying and they had come to church to get us to go to the hospital, so we send the children home with someone else to stay alone while we went to the hospital - come home and he is on the roof! "Oh, I was hitting tennis balls against the side of the garage door and one of them went on the roof and I just knew you would be mad if you came home and found a ball on the roof." Right, like we would be less mad to find our ten-year-old on the roof......
Anyway, Tyler had not been the child to defy us, to just totally go against everything we said - we had had those children, but that's another story:) Before we left on this camping trip, we had had a sort of bad thing happen - I had been somewhere and a young man stopped me and said, "Mrs. Evans, I need to tell you something. I really like you and your family, and there is this guy I work with that just got out of prison, and he hates you and says he's going to destroy your husband and your family, and I'm kind of afraid for you and just wanted you to know." Tom had had death threats before (I'll tell the black widow death threat story some day - that's a good one). Anyway, I forgot to tell Tom about it until we left for the trip, so he calls and gets the law enforcement figuring out who this is and whether it's a credible threat or not, and we leave town.
Our house had been an open door (literally) for my children's entire lives. I had run the youth group for years and wanted any of the kids from the church or my children's friends to always know they had a place to come if they needed to waste time after school or just needed a ride somewhere or something to eat, an ear to listen, so it was always chaos. I came home from work one day to hear the shower running but no one home, and I ask through the bathroom door, "Who's there, " and this voice comes back, "It's Dustin" or some name I was not familiar with. He says, "Tyler said I could come up." No problem - that was how we lived. But when we have these safety situations, it gets a little weird, so we sat Tyler down after we got home, told him that law enforcement had found out about this guy and he was someone really bad, had burned someone's house down and several other crimes, so we needed to start locking doors, know who is in the house, all that.
We go to bed, and I realize, I am literally sleeping with Granny Clampett - shotgun by the bed, pistol on the nightstand....oh my. I lay in bed and tell Tom, "I don't know what to do, I cannot bear the fact that he is not going to go to college. I feel like we're failing him. How can we convince him what a mistake he's making?" Tom says, "Let it go, just let it go. So he wastes five years playing music? He'll be fine. Tyler is not lazy, he is smart and hard working, and he needs to work this out for himself." That was true - both of my kids had worked since they were little. Tyler had mowed yards since he was 12, spent the entire summer covered with sweat and grass clippings. They both saved money for their first vehicle, and we matched their savings as our contribution.
I fell asleep praying for peace, praying for God to let me KNOW that I should back off and not push him to Belmont, decide for him when he couldn't seem to get his head on straight. Went to sleep, and in the middle of the night, I can feel someone in the room. I open my eyes and - no joke - Tyler is bent over my face, about two inches from my nose. He sees me open my eyes and he says, "Mom, it's me, Tyler." I say, "Yes, I know, I can I see you. What are you doing?" He says, "I need you. Can you get up?" Well, Tom next to me hears us talking, jumps up, says, "What's going on? Is someone in the house?" Ty says, "No, it's fine, I just need mom."
I get up and we go outside the bedroom door, and I say, 'What is going on? You scared me to death." He says, "I just got a call (it is 3:00 am.) from a Christian band that is on a national tour and they lost their drummer and they want me." I was like, "What? Is this a joke?" He's like, "No, it is no joke, I need to leave with them tomorrow night." I start to cry and I'm like, "What is this? Is this God? It's too much - this cannot be happening." We go downstairs and he calls this band up on the computer and we listen to their music, and it was good - really good. They were playing in California in two weeks at a huge event called Spirit West Coast, and he needed to leave with them and wouldn't be home for more than 30 days as they were playing all over Oregon and California and Washington State, several places before they came home.
Both of us were crying. We went into the living room of our house and got down by the couch on our knees, in the stillness of the night, and we began to cry out to the Lord for wisdom and thanksgiving and direction and peace.......only God, only God, can reach out into the conflict of your life, can reach down and show you His hand of mercy, of righteousness, of grace......
The next day, we packed our son up, with his drums and clothes for 30 days, drove him to Huntington to meet up with these men in this band, and handed him over to them. Two weeks later, Molli and I flew to California to watch him play at an event with bands such as Leeland, Toby Mac, Third Day, The Afters...truly unbelievable. I have wondered so many times what would have happened if I had intervened, if I had forced MY will into this situation....
There is much more to this story, and I will continue it in the next post. But I would ask you: Is there a call on your life? Do you KNOW God has called you to something and you've ignored it? Are you afraid to step out? Afraid He can't keep you and can't provide for you? Our God can do ANYTHING, and this story is proof that if you obey the call he WILL give you the desires of your heart and He will provide more than you could ever ever imagine...trust Him!
My name is Teresa Evans. I am a wife to Tom, a retired Circuit Judge, and I am a court reporter by trade, a mother by God's grace and a lover of Jesus Christ. I've grown up in a family blessed with many miracles, and have received multiple miracles myself.