***Today for Worship Wednesday I welcome Kayla Atkins, Worship Coordinator for Planting Roots, back to continue her story…from tragedy to triumph. Thank you, Kayla, for bringing your heart and testimony to the table. (If you missed Kayla’s original post, you can go to the Worship Wednesday blog post for May 23.)
Do It Again
In continuing the story of our son and what we experienced, I could share every detail, write the entire story out, or I could share moments. I choose to share the moments, because that is where God met me…where He is meeting me still.
When I was a little girl, I learned the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I’m sure you are aware of it as well. The part that stands out to me most is that they were thrown into a FIRE and didn’t get burned! The account tells us that when they emerged not even the smell of smoke was on them. Jesus was in there with them.
He wasn’t there to put out the fire – He walked through it with them until it was over. They knew their God would deliver them.
My mom also shared an analogy with me once. She said that eggs can be used for so many wonderful things. But unless that egg is cracked open and the contents are spilled out, the egg is useless.
Can I just be real and say that I have felt like this cracked egg that has been through a fire?! Yet, I have not felt the searing pain and discouragement of the fire. Have there been tough days? Absolutely! But have I felt God’s peace and presence in it all? You bet I have!!
Landing at the children’s hospital in Florence, the medics rushed my son to the ER and then to the X-ray room. Hearing his screams from the other side of the wall and then getting a sneak peek at the X-ray on the computer screen about tore my heart out. I knew his leg was broken but that image of his displaced femur seared into my memory and I crumpled to a blubbering heap on the floor.
Further examination showed injuries also included a fractured clavicle, a head laceration that required stitches, multiple scrapes on his face, and road rash that covered much of his body. Swollen hands and fingers that I initially thought were broken actually turned out just bruised. And that was all!
God met me there; even in my crumpled messy state, I felt His peace. He reassured me that He was in the details of the accident and the outcome of his injuries.
We were admitted to a room. My mom, aunt and daughter ended up flying back to Germany on the regularly scheduled flight the next day, leaving the 2 of us behind in another country.
Side note: If anyone has ever visited Italy, you will know that their English is very limited. It is not like Germany where they begin learning English in 4th grade! The language barrier was difficult, but over time, God provided.
We were trying to discuss our insurance with a nurse. She said she needed an insurance card. We don’t carry one. It’s not the Tri-care way. We just spill out our spouse’s social and it’s all ok, right? Wrong!! Not in Italy and not in a hospital out of network!
A good friend, who is a chaplain’s wife in Germany, heard the news and immediately texted me and offered to get a chaplain from Vicenza to attend to us. He called a few minutes later and said he had another chaplain en route from Camp Darby near Pisa, prayed with me, and let me know we would be taken care of.
A few hours later the chaplain showed up and for the next 9 days provided much help in many areas including rides to and from the airport for my husband flying in from the states and eventually our way home.
God was surely providing for us!
That first night I laid in the bed next to my son and cried and apologized for what had happened to him. He said, “Don’t cry momma. It’s not your fault,” as he patted my back. I said, “You are the bravest and strongest kid I have ever known.” And he said to me…
“Why should I let life get me down?! I have so many blessings! I’m alive!”
We prayed together…a lot, actually. What strength, wisdom, and determination this kid had already! My heart melted and God’s peace was all over the room and my boy. I knew he would come out with a testimony!
The next morning, the doctor and nurses came into our room letting us know that IF our insurance didn’t come through, the surgery my son needed would be IMPOSSIBLE and they would not operate. What?! Oh, I was praying! I was calling whoever I could and begging them to PRAY! I got a call from our SOS sponsor in England and she was doing her best to get a translator to help navigate the red tape.
That was a Monday morning. Monday mornings, I meet with a group of moms of college age kids – aptly named, MOCA. Seven of them gathered that morning to pray and they called me and put me on speaker. They asked for what we needed prayer for specifically. I listed a few things and mentioned our insurance/surgery situation. I put the phone on speaker for Tristan to hear them praying for him and one lady in particular prayed for our insurance. As they were wrapping up, a nurse came in with her phone and turned it my direction with an English translation stating that our insurance was just approved and my son would have surgery that afternoon!!
How great is our God?! He provided! God met me in that moment, calmed my fears, and showed up at the right time!
When they wheeled my son into surgery, it was the scariest moment of his life. He was being SO brave, but as the tears started to fall and he held my hand, I leaned down and whispered to him, “God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” I also shared with him from Joshua to “Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!”
I asked if he believed this was true and he nodded his head. I sang to him again, a song about not being afraid and resting in God’s presence. The anesthesiologist came in to deliver the meds and I began to sing “Goodnight Sweetheart.” I didn’t even make it through the second line and he was out!
Surgery was successful. He now had 2 elastic nails strung through the kneecap up through his thigh to hold the bones into place. He would have these for the next 6-8 months until healing was complete.
We knew no one, spoke hardly any Italian, and my broken Spanish wasn’t cutting it! BUT people were praying! I got a thousand messages and Facebook comments from people telling us so. God was moving and answering.
Because of my updates posted on Facebook and through a series of connections that I never knew existed, two days after being in the hospital, three pastors from Florence walked into our room and proceeded to translate information for us, find us places to stay, and also relayed that their church network of about 12 churches were all praying for our family! IN FLORENCE?! My husband, who had just arrived the night before, and I were just floored! God was moving in other people and our story was going out as a testimony in places I never would’ve dreamed! These pastors remain friends and continue to check in with us frequently.
On and on, day after day, we witnessed one miracle after another. Then came the day when they got him out of the bed and into a wheelchair. Painful, yes, but it worked! And boy was he ever happy to finally see the outdoors and the other side of the 4 walls of his room!
Nine days after the accident, we were released from the hospital. That morning we still had no idea how we were getting home. My husband ended up searching flights online that morning with tickets for 25€ each back to Germany. By the time he went to purchase that afternoon the prices dropped to 10€ each!! We bought 4 seats because our son needed 2. When we got to the airport, they reimbursed us the 4th seat!
God provided again and again! He continued to come through. I was beginning to feel so spoiled!
We made it home to a grand welcome with friends, classmates, and neighbors gathered around. Gifts began pouring in from friends and while we were gone, our family back home was taken care of with rides and groceries and entertainment. It’s amazing how the family of God bands together when one of the body is hurting and/or helpless!
One mom/friend in particular brought a gift for just me. As I opened that gift and pulled out each item, I broke down in tears. Everything was deliberately chosen. She knew me. She was a mom. She understood what I needed. God used her to reach me in a moment. It was a moment of release of all I had been carrying since the incident.
Over and over I prayed for multiple things and some days it was hard to even utter many words except “Jesus, help!”
He kept reminding me – “Remember.”
When I doubted, He would speak to my heart, “Remember.”
When I was hurting for my son and grieving the process of what he would face for the next several weeks/months to come, He spoke to my heart, “Remember.”
When the flashbacks would come and jerk me awake, He would speak, “Remember. I am here in the fire with you.”
The song I prayed and sang over and over, “Do it Again” by Elevation Church, became a theme in my heart. He continued to move mountains. He continued to do it again. And again. And again! Remember! He brought me back to the place He did it before and He would continue to do more. Friends sent this song to me and it was confirmation that He truly was in every moment.
We ended up moving into a new home when we got back due to difficult access into our stairwell apartment on the military base. An enormous hurdle, we prayed through because this kind of request was going to be an act of God to allow this to happen. He did it! Mountains to us are mole hills to Him. Nothing is impossible with God to those who believe.
God moves mountains. He may not always put out the fire – but He will surely walk through it with us!! And He will bring us out of it without a hair singed or the smell of smoke on us!
My boy is no longer in a wheelchair. He is walking on crutches and has been ordered to start putting weight and walk heel to toe.
We have both had dreams about his healing and walking – him specifically about running and playing baseball again. He said in a dream, he dropped his crutches on the baseball field and started walking on his own. The journey is not over, but God is continuing His work in it all.
A verse I held onto and prayed through many times during this process is Ps. 62:5-6.
“Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will NOT BE SHAKEN.”
I believe – I am remembering ALL the moments. God always told the Israelites to remember the miracles He did for them so it would strengthen their faith and cause them to trust Him as they moved forward. Why would He not tell us the same thing now? This is what keeps me moving forward each day!
He will Do it Again!