Friday, February 24, 2017

Impacting Choices

I pen these words as I sit here early in the morning.The birds are just coming awake with song. A breeze is gently blowing the lace curtains. A turtle dove coos good-morning as I sip my already cold coffee. Bible open, studies ready, and my heart is full of thanksgiving.

Not a morning passes where  I am not brought right back to October 12, receiving a 1:30am call that my husband had been in a serious crash. It's that day that continues to bring a mix of emotions. 

Since that moment, that very moment where a driver's car collided into my husband, with full speed, our lives changed. Nothing has been the same since that day. As that driver's life has carried on much in the same manner as before every aspect of our lives have changed.

Allegedly intoxicated or driving impaired, at full speed, this driver crashed into my husband. This driver may share that they were not drinking that night. Not intoxicated in any way. If that is so, then why didn't they slow? Why didn't they stop? Why did then did they drive through his truck? If  not intoxicated, why wouldn't this driver jump out of their vehicle and rush over to see how badly my husband was injured? Why wouldn't a driver who just caused a serious crash call 911? If one were not intoxicated why then would there be laughing after the crash? If intoxication wasn't the issue why then refuse the breathalyzer test?As my husband was being rushed by ambulance to the hospital this driver was being arrested. 

Before I share about my husband's life, for a moment I just want to place this driver's life first. As believers we are to care and love for others. We are to place the good of others before ourselves. We try to live with grace daily, walking in the mercy of our Savior, hoping to shine Jesus into a world that so needs His love. We are all sinners. We aren't to walk in judgement of others, assuming so much of their lives. For if not for the grace of God there go I, right? 

This driver is a mother, a grandmother, a wife, just as I am. Surrounded by friends and family who love and adore her. She works hard to achieve life's dreams. There's love, laughter, and joy to be daily enjoyed. In that regard this woman and I have much in common. We walk with a mighty love for our family and friends. But this is where our likeness comes to an end. 

See, if I place this driver's life before my husband's life I can easily see where the choices made by her on  October 12 could have been  devastating to her family and friends. They could have easily received a phone call in the early morning hours as I did.  They could have heard an officer explain that there was a death of their loved one. They would have had no other choice than to morn a life of no more. They too could have received a call that their loved one had been taken to the hospital. So many variables within one choice. All different endings, but all beginning with the same poor choices of one person. There were many choices made on this day. Each one leading to the next. It was those very choices that would still today impact our lives. People who had never met before. People living within fifty miles of one another, but not having a clue of the other. This night would change all of that. Our lives intertwined by a mangled mess. 

Somewhere on October 11 this driver probably woke, just as any other, planning their day ahead. Choosing what to wear, where lunch would be, to with whom the day would be spent. Maybe a sweet conversation took place. Words of laughter from children. Maybe early morning kisses from grandchildren on the cheek. Just maybe a friend shared how important you in their life. All beginning with a cup of coffee.

I don't know really how this driver's day began or what their thoughts were throughout the day, but somewhere along the path of the day their choices would later involve my husband and impact our family. Our lives would collide because of this driver's series of choices. 

In raising five children, home educating three of them, and in teaching Sunday school and Awana for over twenty years I would forever teach them that every choice brought about another choice and every single choice of ours, whether good or bad, would impact the lives of others. Some of those we would know, but others we would just see in passing, but even the smallest of choices to us, would be great to others.

Recently my grandson and I were having a conversation. He was asking about his Papa and how he was feeling. He was asking about the crash. My grandson, who is five years old and super smart, says, "Nanny, that woman should be in jail. She hurt my Papa." Even at five years old we know right from wrong. We teach our children and grandchildren. But see, what we do in moderation they will do in excess. They are witness to our example. The example we give to them is our choice. 

Somewhere in this driver's day on October 11 she may have began drinking. This choice is one of many that would affect the life of my husband. Why? Because later another choice would be made. And then another. When the next choice to get behind the wheel of a car was made, with a friend sitting in the passenger seat, sadly, choices made at this point only worsened. Placing the keys in the ignition, the car would rev up and then the next choice would be to place it in gear of drive.

My husband didn't have a choice where your choices existed. He was simply in the path of unknown destruction. He was an innocent victim that was slammed into the reality of the many choices made by  throughout the day by this driver. Why was the choice to get behind the wheel of that car not the choice made? 

See, this wasn't a teenager out for a joy ride. Not even close to a first experience with getting behind a wheel of a car. At forty-six years old one knows very well what can happen when you chose to make the series of choices made on this day. 

Even to me, this driver's life means something. It has value. To their grandchildren their life is important. But why isn't my husband's life of value? Why doesn't his life have just as meaning? 

I have been married to my husband for twenty-seven years. We have raised five children together and now have four grandchildren with one on the way. Our life has been built on faith and love. Trust and honor, grace and mercy. We try to walk in the words of Micah 6:8. We try to live in such a way that our actions count just as much as our words. That our life is a legacy for our children and grandchildren to be proud of. To look to our lives as an example of walking as believers. 

My husband wasn't out drinking. He was on his way home from work after a long day of providing for his family. Just thirty minutes more and he would have been safely home. But this drive home didn't go as planned on that day. My husband is the man who places everyone before himself. He is unselfish in every way and a man of great grace. He is the husband that every wife deserves.

On this night he was coming home to me. Every single time he leaves the house I pray him home. I pray for God to place a hedge of protection around him. On this night he would need those prayers. On this night I wouldn't wake as soon as my husband reached the drive way. As my husband pulls in the driveway my first words are always, "Thank You, Jesus". Tonight I would call out to Jesus in a different way. I didn't have the opportunity to open the door for him. We wouldn't get to talk for a bit before he would was off to bed after his long day of working. October 12 would be something all together different. Instead this driver's actions and choices, would change the way our day would exist. 

My husband is the innocent victim on the receiving end of this horrific crash. Driving at such a high rate of speed this vehicle went under his. While he would be impacted three times, the driver's would remain still. He first took on the intense thunder of your impact, then as he flipped end over end, and then as he slammed sideways into a utility pole. His tank ruptured. Gas pouring over my husband, he would have to find a way out of his truck. With fear running through him, making his way out of a small side window, the driver could seen and heard laughing. Saying, "What the hell just happened? We didn't even get hurt", isn't something that one imagines coming out of the mouth of one who has caused a serious crash. How is this possible? How does one laugh when you have just crashed into another human being and you do not even know if he is dead or alive? Life Evac would be on stand-by. When that call was cancelled firemen thought my husband was dead. How does one laugh? 

This driver nor the passenger called 911. While my husband was finding his way out of his truck these people didn't even walk over to check on him. A witness to the crash called for the aid to my husband. This is the difference in this driver and my husband. See, he is the man that would give his life for another. He is the man that would have pulled over and ran to your vehicle to check on your well-being. He is the man who would have called 911. In that moment you fear for your life he is that strong, kind, and decent man that you want by your side. He would have done these things for you, but yet, you wouldn't do the same for him. Why is your life more valuable than his life? 

In these past months I have witnessed my husband suffer greatly. I have walked this journey with him and I have daily praised Jesus for his life. I have prayed for healing, for comfort, and for understanding. For the life of me I just cannot understand why a person would choose to drive impaired. The driver's choices, not my husband's choices, their choices alone, caused his injuries. Their choices alone has changed our lives forever. Nothing is the same. I wish we could go back, but because of this driver this is now our journey.

I have a challenge for this driver. I am asking for them to be the example their children and grandchildren need. Be the example as a bar owner, the example a community needs, and come forward being honest about what your actions has caused. Share what your choices has caused another family. Be honest with friends and family and tell them of the consequences of your actions . You could have just as easily killed, wait, murdered your friend who sat next to you in your vehicle that you drove into my husband. Don't drag this out for years to come, trying to lessen charges and find a way out of being held responsible for the injury to another human being. This time choose wisely and be a living testimony to others as what can happen when you choose to drive impaired. 

As I said there are many variables to how this crash could have ended. My husband's truck could have blown up on impact. You and your friend could have easily been laying dead in the ditch. But, you have a second chance here to do some good. You have a great opportunity to make a change. You can stand before a judge and try to say you are not guilty, or you can be a woman of grace and mercy, honor and respect, and admit your guilt, your actions that caused this devastating crash that has impacted our lives for years to come. 

If this had happened to your husband, to your child, to your grandchild, what would you want done? Wouldn't you be seeking justice? For a moment I want to you to sit with me, where I have sat with my husband in these last long months. I want you to envision this crash, the choices made that caused it, every single choice throughout the day. Now, you choose. There is another driver. Which of your family do you wish to be in the truck of my husband? Should it be your husband? Your son on his way home from work? Maybe your grandchildren all settled into the backseat with giggles that would soon be screams as a drunk driver crashes into them. Who would you choose? No one, right? No one deserves this. Not your family and not mine. But this is what driving impaired does. As one uses their choices unwisely, another is impacted in a horrendous way as their choices are taken away.  Life is precious. Every single moment of life matters. With your choice you could have taken the life of my husband. 

I am working on forgiveness. It isn't easy, I have to admit. I have carried a lot of anger as I have watched my husband suffer. I helped him wash the blood off of his head. I helped him pick glass out of his hands. I have taken care of my husband every day since this crash. Those five children of ours, those four grandchildren, yes, they have all been impacted by your actions. Our elderly parents have been impacted. 

After you crashed into my husband I had to make all those phone calls. I pray I never have to make those kind of calls ever again. I pray you never have to make those calls. I pray you never receive those calls. But yet, with your choice to drink and drive you had no regard for anyone who may have had to make or receive a call that night.

Why didn't you just stay home that night? If you had made different choices, God, if you would have just stayed home, my husband wouldn't have been on the receiving end of your deadly vehicle crashing into him. If you had stayed home my husband wouldn't still be healing from injuries caused by your poor choices. If you had stayed home, our lives wouldn't have been altered forever. 

If it were not my husband, it would have been another. It could have been a young mother driving home after a shift of nursing. It could have easily been a young man driving home after a late night shift at McDonalds. A son driving home after spending a night at the hospital with his aging parent. As I have shared, many different variables could have happened. With God in total control, He covered my husband, as his truck rolled and slammed. But see, He too, guarded over you and your friend. What you do with that grace is your choice. What you do with your second chance is all up to you. You have another choice to make. What will it be? Please, use your actions to bring about change and to be a education for those thinking about driving impaired. Think of the impact you could have on a community right now today. 

I will continue sharing about this crash. This horrific chain of choices that has impacted our lives. I will continue to fight for justice. My husband and I have a powerful story to share. It is one of hope and healing. One of overcoming and standing tall against adversity. I am asking you to hold yourself accountable for your actions so that others can learn from your poor choices that led you to crash into my husband on October 12, changing our lives forever. I challenge you to take these choices, these ashes, and allow God the room to bring about a beauty that can only come from Him. 

"Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God." 
Micah 6:8



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