I can tell you the exact moment when it happened, my first brush with living this life of true gratitude. I remember it so distinctly because it was such a shock. I was sitting beside my third child (in photo) in the emergency room at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. He had just drifted off to sleep, or at least into a drug induced stupor, as the morphine surged its way through his veins, calming the pain of a cracked vertebrae and a possible internal rupture...somewhere. My only daughter was in surgery, face smashed, back broken and bowels ruptured. My oldest and youngest sons were in adjoining rooms, one with a massive cut across his face and back fractures and both with (what we thought at the time) internal ruptures of their own. My husband had just been taken down for x-rays on an obviously broken hand. I leaned my head back against the wall. I don't remember having any thoughts at all. I guess I was in shock. We had been travelling to Michigan to visit family. It was Christmas Eve, 2008. We hit ice. We hit a cement wall. And in a 15 seconds, life changed. At this point, it had been about 5 hours since the wreck, and we had been transferred to this hospital. I had been told that all the children and my husband would be going to surgery. I didn't know anyone from Cleveland and we were 5 hours from the closest family and 8 hours from our NC home. I pulled off my boot, finally realizing my foot hurt. My sock was bloody. I quickly tucked it into my purse, wiping off the blood. No time for that. I leaned my head back again.
As I sat there, I became very aware of God's presence, and it was the strangest sensation because I wasn't praying or seeking or questioning; I wasn't sad or angry or hysterical, in fact I was incredibly calm. I am not by nature a "mystical" type person. I don't seek signs or wonders, but I do believe that God in Christ is very real and meets us where we are. At that moment I can only say that three unrequested thoughts entered my mind: I AM here, I AM sovereign, and I AM very, very good. What? I sat up and looked around. I had who often struggles with the goodness of God, especially when "bad things happen to good people." A doctor came in, my husband was back, they were "reducing" his fingers in the next room, my youngest son was asking for me; I stopped to see my oldest on the way to the youngest.
The next 40 hours were a blur. Surgery after surgery. Doctor after doctor. 4 kids in the PICU on Christmas day, getting presents from people they didn't even know. It took time to process my ER awakening. To see it for what it was...a test, a gift, a thing of beauty that changed me from the inside out. About 3 days into the 21 day vigil, my husband and I had time to talk...and pray. We knew. We had to praise God though this whole thing even though we didn't know what the outcome was going to be. "Don't waste the car wreck," became our theme. It was a transformation that was for me both sudden and gradual, but months later my husband would say, "You've changed. You don't get angry at God anymore."
Angry at God? I didn't think I was. But he was right, and I had changed. And so began the gratitude journey...and this story will have to be continued...
Yesterday I realized I had a CVS ECB for $5 that was expiring, so I checked http://www.southersavers.com/ for the best deals (and I advice you to always do so before any shop at the "big 3" drugstores), clipped /printed my coupons and made my list. My husband I walked that way last night. I spent $11.00, saved $12, and got back $13 in ECB to use for next time. I purchased toothpaste, tampons, body wash and allergy meds. This is part of my thrifty living. Always picking up the free stuff so I don't have to run out and pay full price.
Always find new ways to save. Even if you think you know them all, read one more book. You'll surely learn something; I know I always do.
Don't forget to keep voting...thanks!