One Car, Seven Miracles

miracles
rear damageMiracle #2:  December 2016, Raspberry Shortcake after being rear-ended, while at a dead stop waiting to make a left-hand turn, by a small white car with an impaired driver going full speed.  The car had been following me on the 2-lane state highway for about 5 miles.  Watching in my rear-view mirror, I noticed right away there was something wrong since the car was weaving all over the road.  At first, I thought it was going to pass me on the shoulder.  Then it pulled back in close behind in me in the correct lane.  Over the next few miles the car would sometimes return to the shoulder and sometimes veer into the other lane.  More than once this nearly resulted in a head-on collision.  I continued my drive home praying this would not happen.  As I approached my turn, I considered not turning there but going on to the next small town and taking the long way home.  But this would still mean a left turn somewhere and a possible stop.  So I put my turn signal on and started to slow for my turn.  There was oncoming traffic, and I prayed the driver would not attempt to pass me.   I could see in the mirror it was not slowing down; it was rushing at me much too quickly.  I considered driving off in the ditch, but my car is a stick-shift with a small engine, and I didn’t think I could generate enough speed to get out of the way.  Even if I did, what if she chose to follow me into the ditch?  So I prayed for safety for both of us and braced for impact.  It’s amazing the things that goes through the mind in what had to be a length of time of a second or less.

I heard and felt the impact.  Then just sat there for a minute, trying to assess my injuries.  There didn’t appear to be any!  Hallelujah!  Then I went into hysterics.  Just like when my husband died, I couldn’t make my fingers dial 911.  When they finally did, the operator had a hard time understanding me until I calmed.  They had me go check the condition of the other driver.  The car was being driven not by one who had consumed too many drinks and/or drugs but by a lady a little older than me.  I didn’t smell any alcohol, but she appeared dazed.  I asked her if she was all right, and she told me she was.  The operator asked for my assessment of her condition.  I told him she was impaired, not apparently by substances but perhaps by a medical condition.  Could they please send an ambulance?  While awaiting the arrival of emergency personnel, I strongly advised the woman to go to the hospital when they arrived.  When they did, they checked us both out.  She did not go to the hospital.  The only injury I suffered was a nail avulsion to my right thumb, perhaps from gripping the steering wheel so hard at the time of impact.  Amazingly enough, neither vehicle had airbag deployment.

While I sat there waiting for the police officer to complete the report, I began to think.  Overthinking or normal thinking?  What if the lady hadn’t hit me at that precise location?  What if I’d made the choice to go on and make my turn later?  It was easy to imagine her head onning a semi or perhaps a car filled with a family.  And I thanked God that she had rear ended me!  Miracle #3:  We had both emerged from the collision relatively unscathed.

But I was worried about my car.

When I assessed the damage, it really didn’t look all that bad.  The police report estimated it over $1500, but all I could see was the crack in the bumper.  Then I noticed the hatch wouldn’t latch properly and suspected there must be more damage than I could see.  So I started praying Raspberry wasn’t totaled.  Yes, I was grateful that my life and the life of the other driver were spared, but I didn’t want to lose my car.

The body shop assured me it wasn’t totaled, and the original estimate was nearly $4000.  But once they started working, they found the floor of the back compartment needed replacement.  That took the total cost up to early $5000.  Miracle #4:  I wonder, if they had known about that damage to start with, would the car have been considered a total loss?  Perhaps.  In that case, God answered my prayer for the sparing of my car by having a large portion of the damage not be apparent until the repairs had already begun.  A couple weeks later, I had Raspberry Shortcake back good as new.

***

front damageMay 2017.  Collision with a deer.  On that same highway where the rear end accident occurred.

Miracle #5:  Again, no injuries to me.  Not sure about the deer.  Again, no airbag deployment.  Another call to 911.  Since there were no injuries, a policeman was not sent; instead, they conducted a telephone interview.  Miracle #6:  While we were talking, a man who lived in a nearby house and had heard the collision came out to make sure I was okay.  I tried to get out of the car to look at the damage.  Some of it was readily visible from inside the car, but I wanted to see its extent.  Getting out of the car was not all that easy.  The driver’s door wouldn’t open.  So I made my way awkwardly across the gear shift, and the good Samaritan helped me out of the car.

I was heartbroken when I saw the damage.  Surely, if that minor damage from the December accident had been so close to a total loss, this one would be.  The man could see I was upset by this possibility and raised the hood to look at the inside damage.  He reported that nothing appeared to be damaged in the engine compartment; there was no leaking of fluids or other obvious damage.  It looked like the damage was all cosmetic.  I thanked him but was still believing I was going to lose Raspberry Shortcake.

The body shop could not believe I was back so quickly with more serious collision damage to my beautiful car.   Miracle #7:  Amazingly, this time the estimate was less than the first time, only $3500.  There were no hidden issues that arose, and the car was back in my possession this time in less than a week.

***

fixed car

I have been the blessed observed and receiver of several miracles through this car.

The first was simply owning it!

Miracle #1:  Rod’s last gift to me.

After paying for his funeral, there was about $11,000 left.  I was driving a high-mileage car, the last in a long line of them, and was doubtful about its ability to see me through the remainder of my driving days.  My grandmother drove until she was nearly 80!  So I began to look for something small (good gas mileage), less than 5 years old with fewer than 50,000 miles on it.

Let’s backtrack a bit here.  Several years ago, there was a television show called “Psych” that my kids and I liked to watch–okay, that I liked to watch.  One of the main characters drove a little blue Toyota Yaris.  I wasn’t crazy about the color (wouldn’t neon green or sunny yellow have been better?–I never even considered a car in my favorite color, hot pink!), but I liked the look of it.  Maybe it came in other colors.  Maybe I could even afford it!  I went to the dealership and looked at that car.  It was just as cute in person, but way out of my budget.  That was a good thing because just a few years later I married Rod.  At 6 feet 2 inches and 350 pounds, I don’t think it would have been very comfortable for him.

Now, with the $11,000 I started my search for the perfect used car.  I never was able to find any used Yaris’s, so I started to look for similar cars.  Something like a Honda Fit or Chevy Sonic.  Every time I found one in a pretty color, like yellow or green, it would be sold before I had a chance to even look at it.  My brother-in-law suggested I check out the Mitsubishi Mirage.  I might even be able to get a brand new one of those for the price of a used one of the others.  I was already familiar with the Mitsubishi make.  In 2001, shortly after my divorce was final,  my father co-signed a loan for a 1998 Mitsubishi Gallant.  (He passed away 7 months later.)  It had 51,000 miles on it and was absolutely beautiful.  My car at the time was a 1986 Nova which was on its last legs.  I drove that wonderful car until 2010 when it had over 250,000 miles on it.  It died, and no one could seem to figure out why.  It became the first in that succession of high-mileage vehicles.

One Tuesday I had free, I went to several large towns in central Illinois to look at some things in person.  I’d made appointments at several dealerships to look at specific cars, but at each one when I arrived the car I wanted had already been sold.  My last stop was the Mitsubishi dealership.

The salesman told me he could get me into a new car for less than $11,000.  First, we took a test drive in a red one.  It was nice but didn’t have cruise control.  I have a heavy foot at times and need that to avoid possible tickets.  Red would have been okay.  After all, it’s not black, white, or silver.  But 2 of my last 3 cars had been red, and something different would be nice.  Plus I wasn’t thrilled with the lack of cruise control.

Just a couple stalls away sat a hot pink one.  He asked if I knew how to drive a stick.  Yes, the car I drove up in was manual transmission.

So we hopped in that car and took another test drive.  I was in love.  Not only was the car new, I could pay cash for it, but it was fuschia!  I bought it on the spot, knowing that it was one last gift from my generous husband.

It has been a fantastic car, protecting me through two accidents (with the help of God), getting gas mileage of about 40, and able to hold my precious granddaughters’ car seats in the back.

Just last Friday, I took it in for its 30,000 miles checkup.  While helping me complete the paperwork, the technician told me there was a recall on the car due to the Miracle #8  airbags system needing its computer adjusted.  I was surprised having heard nothing about it, but it was free, so I told them to go ahead.

Later, though, it occurred to me that had those airbags had to be reset after either of my accidents, the estimate would probably have gone over the total amount limit.  So, by there being a flaw in the airbag system, now fixed, I had been able to keep my last gift from Rod.

Conviction or Condemnation?

identity in christRomans 8:1 There is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

download

 

A couple of years ago, I felt inspired to memorize Romans 8.  There is so much good stuff in that one somewhat lengthy (38 verses) chapter.  I am about halfway through this process.  While learning, of course, I’ve recited verse 1 over and over again.  It became quite clear to me this morning why.

Recently I allowed the enemy to place a spirit of condemnation on me.  It was so heavy, nearly incapacitating.  It began with an innocent comment of correction made by another Christian.   Although a dozen other people were present and heard the comment, I felt, probably correctly, I was the primary intended recipient.

At first, I took it as a conviction from God, and I told her so and thanked her.  Of course, part of me was hoping for a statement along the lines of “That wasn’t spoken for you” or even “it was just a general recommendation” which, of course, could have still meant the admonition was for me.  She didn’t say either of those things.

But as I stewed over it and stewed over it, I realized that the words spoken in innocence had brought a deep sense of condemnation over my soul.

No sooner had I realized this than God reminded me of what he said in Romans 8:1.  Then he told me he was pleased with me, that I was doing everything he required.  Right now that reminds me of a time in the hospital fighting cancer where a nurse encouraged me that, although I was still throwing up nearly everything I ate, was not very ambulatory, and was recovering from colon surgery at a painstakingly slow pace, I was doing everything they required of me; that was enough.  It didn’t mean that I was to stop trying to get better; it did mean that I wasn’t a “bad” or “flawed” person.

God doesn’t give us all the same life journeys.  Mine has taken me down wrong roads of my own choosing and those chosen by others.  Because of this, there is much to overcome in my journey to learn to love the way Jesus does.  Chiefly is to learn to love myself the way Jesus does.  After all, the Bible tells us in Matthew 22:39 “And the second (greatest commandment) is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

If one doesn’t love herself the way God does—and how can she with a giant weight of condemnation pressing upon her soul—it would be unwise to love others in like manner.  We must get a grasp of the true love of God for us.

The Bible study The Forgotten Way by Christian writer Ted Dekker, is a great means to this end.

It goes without saying that spending much time in the living Word of God is even better.

I am not condemned.

Neither are you, dear reader, if you are in Christ Jesus (as a believer).  We are loved with a love that we cannot begin to understand.

Father, help me to understand to the ability of my finite mind how to fully experience and then express your love.  Help me assimilate and then act with the perfection of my spirit, which is already complete in You, how to experience and express your love. 

Forgive my unbelief, increase my faith, and increase my love.  I love You, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Surrender

fire

Today I made a sacrifice.

I spent the morning at one of my jobs working alone on a once-a-year project.  My current favorite binge food was right there next to the computer.

Yesterday at OACF there was a prophetic word spoken that chains were being broken.  I was at the altar before the Lord at the time, and I took this as a Rhema word for me.  That the chains that held me prisoner to my stomach were being broken.

Yet here I was sitting at work 24 hours later with my go-to binge food at hand.

I started Grace and Strength back on July 26, 2-1/2 month ago.  My first month in the program I lost over 20 pounds!  Then the 2nd weekend in September, I took my eyes off Jesus and settled them on the waves (recent loss of husband, home, and worldly identity) and fell in.  That resulted in an 11-pound weight gain in 2 days!

But Grace and Strength didn’t kick me out then . . .or today when I reported to my coach my struggles continue.  I thank God for April.

I also felt God telling me to take the remains of my binge home and burn them on a sacrificial fire symbolizing my complete surrender of my will with regard to food.  I felt led to pray “Father, from this point on, may I run to you the way I ran to this food today.”  I didn’t add “Replace the pleasures derived from consuming this with a pleasant sensation or other good reason to do so.”

Then just a few minutes ago I heard Francis Chan speaking about a sin with which many Christians are judgmental.  He lumped it together with all other sins as being a problem of lack of surrender.  They way he stated everything absolutely made sense.  He stated there may be something God asks us to do that we absolutely do not want to do.  If we don’t do it, it is sin.  We MUST do it.  God is God and we are not.

So God brought everything back into perspective.  My church’s tagline is “Church of a Second Chance”  Thank God the word “Second” is just a word, and his mercies are new every morning—infinite.

Why Now?

This is not my first attempt at a blog.  A couple years ago I was encouraged to create one by my publisher to promote “Fearless In Euroclydon”.  That publisher went out of business.  The website, likewise, no longer exists.

So why revisit blogging?  Why now?

While still dealing with some of the storms described in the book, more Euroclydons have hit:  the loss of my husband to death, the loss of my home to bankruptcy, and the loss of my identity.

Whoa. . . . !  Hang on a minute there.  The loss of my identity?

Let me rephrase–the loss of my identity as I knew it.

I am no longer a wife.

My children are grown, and though I’m still their mother my role in their lives is significantly reduced.

I no longer have my own home, my own space.  I now live with my mother.  While there are benefits in this arrangement to both of us, I definitely miss my alone time and take it where I can find it

So. . .

I have thrown off my earthly identity (or was it ripped from me?) and am taking on a new one.   One that has been with me for 40 years but I couldn’t recognize it through the layers of other roles I put on myself, some good, some not so much so.

My true identity is that of a daughter of the Living King.

The problem?  The old me, Jacqueline Lisa McDougall (JLM) still wants to be in control of her life both in and out of storms.  The real JLM (Jesus Loves Me) is learning how to relinquish control completely to the Lover of my soul.  Such a slow and, yes, painful process.

At this point, I don’t plan to promote this site; that may change in the future.  If you happen on it by accident and find within my ramblings something that speaks to you, come along for the ride.  And I would love to hear from you.  My email is jacquelinemcdougall@ymail.com