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In Her Own Words

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger
The Truth Network Radio
November 18, 2022 3:30 am

In Her Own Words

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger

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November 18, 2022 3:30 am

On Friday, November 18, 1983, Gracie suffered the terrible car accident that permanently changed her life - and made a mark on so many others. In this episode, she recounts that day - and joins me to share her thoughts about her 39-year journey.


As caregivers, we have so many things that hit us all the time, and we can't always nail these things down by ourselves. Who helps you?

What does that look like? I'm Peter Rosenberg, and I want to tell you about a program I've been a part of now for almost 10 years, and that's Legal Shield. For less than $30 a month, I have access to a full law firm that can handle all kinds of things.

If I get a contract put in front of me, if I got a dispute with something, doesn't matter. I've got a full law firm that can help me navigate through all the sticky wickets that we as caregivers have to deal with. Power of attorney, medical power of attorney, I will.

Every bit of it. As a caregiver, we need someone who advocates for us, and that's why I use Legal Shield. So go to Look on the left-hand side where it says Legal Shield. Just select it.

It turns purple. It says, pick a plan. It'll give you some options.

If you don't need any of those, don't select them. Check out and be protected starting today. That's Welcome back to Hope for the Caregiver. I am Peter Rosenberger, and we're glad that you're with us. On Friday, November 18th, 1983, my wife Gracie had a life-altering event.

You're listening to her sing right now, one of my favorite recordings of her singing a balm in Gilead. I would be negligent if I didn't pause and reflect on the events of that day, 90 miles west of Nashville, Tennessee, on Interstate 40. I didn't know Gracie at the time.

None of you all did either, most likely. But the events that happened that day profoundly affected so many people, none more than Gracie and then me, our children, our grandchildren, this audience, and countless others who've read her story and heard her. It's hard to wrap our minds around this suffering that God allows in this broken, fallen world. It's hard to do that. And anybody who tells you different, please run away from them. Gracie's suffering is on a level that I struggle to communicate to others.

And from what they tell me, I'm a pretty good communicator. And I don't have the words. I see it every day. She remains the bravest person I've ever known. And we laugh, we have a raucous life, a raucous life. We live life large on so many levels, but it is all framed by terrible suffering now that has endured for 39 years. I thought I'd do something very different today and let Gracie read from her own book the account of those 90 seconds that forever changed her life and so many others. This is from her book, Gracie Standing with Hope. My longtime friend and pastor in Nashville, Jim Bachman, once said, the Lord tells us that he'll give us brokenness, he'll give us weakness, he'll give us emptiness, then we'll be useful to him.

This is Gracie's story in her own words. Fatigue washed over me. Nine weeks into my freshman year in college, months of maintaining a frenzied pace finally registered and it hit like a ton of bricks. In addition to an already full schedule of classes, my decision to declare a double major in vocal performance and piano required lengthy and exhaustive hours of practice.

My heavy academic load along with a strict jogging regimen and a budding college social life pushed any kind of rest to the bottom of my detailed priority list. Now, driving alone with just my thoughts to keep me company, the weariness crept in relentlessly. You know, Gracie, you really need to roll the window down, I told myself. Glancing at the window, a voice in my brain kept telling me to lower it and allow the cold autumn air to rouse me from the increasing comfort of the warm car. Not heating the mental warning bells, my hands gripped the steering wheel as I continued driving while looking glassy-eyed at the road ahead.

The highway, bordered by trees with bare branches rising from autumn brown fields, stretched ahead and merged with the dull gray sky. Dull. I tried to stir myself to alertness by returning to composing lyrics, to a tune given to me by a friend. Father, here I am again seeking you once more, giving up to you the burdens I've given up before.

Why must there be a constant struggle in me, a giving of myself? The song seemed about as cheerful as the landscape. Oh well, at least I looked colorful and cheery. Glancing down, I smiled at the new Agner shoes my mom bought me for my college wardrobe. Earlier that morning, I decided to arrange my entire outfit based on these new shoes. Wonderful new burgundy tights, a fabulous deep turquoise corduroy skirt, an Agner colored sweater with a stylish large cowl turtleneck, and several pieces of my favorite jewelry, one of which was a gold atabead necklace I'd been adding to since sixth grade.

To this day, my attire for the trip remains one of my all-time favorite outfits, although it was four or five sizes smaller. As the miles crept by, I noticed that my gas gauge was getting low. With all the running around, I forgot to fill up the tank. Scolding myself or failing to stop at the next exit, rapidly shrinking in my rearview mirror at this point, I made a mental note to fill up at the next one. Being my first time to drive west, though, on this highway, I was unaware that the nearest gas station lay nearly ten miles away. The gentle humming engine noise of my Honda Accord seemed to envelop my body. Feeling my head bob slightly, I quickly shook it off and shifted to the right of a ten-truck convoy, thinking, how odd for those tractor-trailers to all be in the left lane. Speeding to seventy miles an hour, the speed limit was fifty-five at the time, I passed them in the right lane. Racing around them and then cutting back to the left in front of another car, I glanced again at my fuel level and knew I had to find an exit quickly.

If I just didn't feel so sleepy. With no exit in sight, I settled in after speeding past the tractor-trailers, nervously looking at the gas gauge. Staring ahead, the highway seemed to stretch on endlessly and endlessly, without even a curve to break up the monotony. Relaxing in the warm car and feeling the comfort of sleep moving stealthily over my body, my mind chose to stop fighting it. With blurring eyes, I gave myself permission to just rest for a moment, and I lay my head on the steering wheel.

Dumb decision. Adorned in a beautiful new shoe, my foot pressed heavily on the accelerator and slowly urged the car back to more than seventy miles per hour. As I drifted from the left lane, the car behind me slipped by, apparently oblivious to my condition, unlike the men driving the eighteen-wheelers I had just passed, who could only watch helplessly as I rested my head on the wheel. Frantically blowing their horns, trying to startle me awake, the truckers radioed each other and coordinated to form a rolling barrier behind me with their trucks, preventing anyone else from being hit by my aimless car. With their constant horn blasts failing to wake me, the truckers watched my car slowly weaving for about a minute and then steadily drifting to the right. Making its way through the right lane, my Honda Accord raced into the roadside gravel.

The crunch of the tire against rock did cause me to stir a little bit, and halfway opening my heavy-linted eyes, I vaguely noticed a large green sign with white letters. In a drowsy haze, I failed to react in time to keep the car from charging ahead. With no guardrail to prevent disaster, my car left the road and mowed over a mile marker. Bent by the front of the car, the small sign whipped back into the Accord, slicing through the Honda's undercarriage and carving out a large section of my right thigh, nearly cutting me in two. Ramming head on into the end of the concrete abutment, framing a culvert, the front of the little Honda wrapped itself around the eight-inch barrier, slamming my body against the rapidly crumpling car. Milliseconds later, internal organs also bowed to the law of physics and pounded into my body as I'd quickly decreased speed, allowing me to fully experience the smashing impact of high-velocity meeting eight-dense fixed obstacle. With no buffer to burn off speed, the frontal impact lifted the back end of the car, and like an Olympic gymnast, the car twisted and flipped through the air so that the back end of the car crushed into the opposite side of the culvert's cement wall. Although bearing the impression of the abutment in the front of the car, the nearly 90-degree impact shoved the trunk of the car almost into the back seat. With the car hurtling through the air, as if in slow motion, the momentum from pounding backwards into the culvert flipped the crushed automobile again and again, and then finally sent it careening along a 15-foot embankment. Rolling into a small ravine that served as a runoff during rainy weather, the Honda finally tumbled to a stop, amazingly right-side up.

The goal of the ride was deep enough that had the wreck been at night, no one driving by would have ever noticed or rescued me in time. Disoriented and in shock, I awoke with my body leaning towards the passenger seat, but both of my legs were grotesquely pinned over my right shoulder. Something seemed dreadfully wrong with each of them, particularly my right foot, which was dangling limply at a bizarre angle. Feeling a wet sticky substance trickling down my face and into my eyes, I blinked through the blood now oozing from a gash on the top of my head.

With curious detachment, I noticed the right front tire crammed into the passenger seat. A strange flashing in front of me caught my attention, and painfully shifting my eyes forward, a wave of fear rushed over me. My car was on fire. Although my brain clanged all sorts of alarms, nothing in my body could move.

I told it to move. Panic enveloped me, and hopelessness flooded over me. Staring straight into the flames, shooting from the engine, I saw a shape of a person. Although the face shone too brightly to be distinguishable, I somehow knew that the silhouette I saw was Christ. With one last surge of energy, willing myself to speak through a mouth that felt strange and unresponsive, I cried out, Jesus, Jesus, only you can save me now. Mercifully, everything went black. It took 90 seconds for my life to be violently and irreparably changed. You've been listening to Gracie tell the events of 39 years ago, November 18th, 1983.

This is Peter Rosenberger. We'll be right back. This moment I live my life with you. I know there will be sorrow.

We'll face that somehow. But my hands can't hold tomorrow. I can only hold you now. Welcome back to Hope for the Caregiver here on American Family Radio.

This is Peter Rosenberger. We're glad to have you with us. And when I say with us, I have here with me, Gracie, my wife. And you just heard her give an account of what happened 39 years ago, November 18th, 1983. As she read an excerpt of her book, Gracie Standing with Hope, Gracie is here to share her thoughts as she looks back over a lifetime since that day so long ago.

And what are your thoughts? Well, my thoughts first were to say a day that she'll live in infamy. But for me, it does. There's no laugh track here.

Okay. Well, I laugh. Look, people love my laugh. Is that true? It's true. It's true. People call in and say, we like Gracie's laugh.

We'll listen to an hour of her laughing. I mean, no. I mean, I know when the 18th is and it's this Friday and it stinks. And to have my 85th surgery. 84th. We're not at the 85th yet. That's next month. Thinking ahead. Don't get too far ahead of us, Gracie. Slow down. You know, on Monday, really, I mean, I really, I really did in all fairness, try to have them put you up on the rack and just do it all at one time. They won't do it.

No, they don't like to do that. I know, but so you're going to go down there and you're going to get these screws taken out of your femur from when you broke your leg a year and a half ago. If you'd only broken the lower part of your leg, I could have fixed it with a hammer and suppliers and maybe some duct tape and bailing twine. The duct tape would be for me because I like duct tape.

You do like duct tape and you cannot lie. But you know, here we go. And you're, you have to be in surgery early Monday morning. You have to be there at six 30, which is for some people, that's not that early for you. That's just, that's in the middle of the night. That's why I let you get up at that time. It's in the middle of the night, six 30 in the morning. It's still dark. Oh dark 30.

And so they're going to take this, these screws out of your leg and hopefully won't pinch so much because when you wear your prosthesis now it stings. But you know, 39 years, 39 years. That's a long time. That's a long time. It's like one year longer than the 38 years. Well then yes, 38 plus one is, is 39.

But not quite to 40. I know that Betty. I'm talking about the man that laid by the pool.

Yes, the man that laid by the pool was there for 38 years. It was a long time. I'm sorry. I'm crying, but it's a long time.

Well, it is a long time. And yet here you are. Here I am. Right here, right now, as the song said, that's all you can do in this moment. I live my life with you. You know, I just wanted people to hear in your own voice, your thoughts, you, your life has affected so many profoundly through this program, through the prosthetic limb outreach, through our songs, through the songs. I mean just, you know, it's not been a life that has been lived anonymously and you have boasted all the more gladly in your weakness so that Christ's power may rest upon you.

And you do that on a regular basis. I know this is not exactly something you like to commemorate, but I think it would, I think I would be doing something, I'd be doing you a disservice if I didn't stop and just at least make mention of it and, and let you know that it's never far from my mind. No, and of course my mom has gone on to be the Lord, but my daddy remembers it. And your sister remembers it?

And my sister and brother-in-law remember it and they were there with me. You know, I think about all the folks that are still part of our lives that were there, that showed up at the hospital. Nancy, your roommate from college, and she's getting ready to come on the board of directors here at Standing With Hope, you know, after all these years. Lord help you.

And Lord help her. But it's, her parents were the emergency contact there in Nashville. Others, Jamie Work, Dr. Jameson Work, who is at the North American Mission Board, Southern Baptist Convention.

I think he was like one of the first ones on the scene at the hospital. And still, these people are all part of our lives and important part of our lives. And, and so, you know. He and his wife Dana both were the first ones. Yeah. You think about these things when these milestone moments come around. 39 years is a long time, Gracie.

And it, and this year it falls on the Friday, the same, you know, the actual day because it was on a Friday and it was a dreary November day in Tennessee. But here you are. And, and I thought about it as we were going down to town today, you know, you had an appointment down there and, and I thought about all the people who have been touched by your story. Listeners to this program.

I don't know how many there are. And, and to the podcast and the books and the, like you said, the music, the amputees in Africa that are walking and all these kinds of things. And I know that your, your pain is so in your face all the time that you live with this. And yet I see how God has magnificently used you in my life, Gracie.

I cannot imagine life without you. And. Don't ever do it. Oh, this conversation is going to go off the rails here. It's more fun off the rails.

Look, I look for fun anywhere I can get it. Listen, you, you, you've been off the rails once and that was enough. Okay.

Let's don't do that anymore. Oh, then we're just getting started. Oh, you'd be strength, but I just wanted you to have a chance to share things on your heart as you reflect back on it. But it also looked forward to what God has for you. You have grandchildren now. They didn't think you'd live much less. See, I have children or even consider seeing your grandchildren. You're not going to have grandchildren. You won't have kids. That's what I was told. And you have two healthy sons and you're going to have a fourth grandchild.

Can you believe that? We're going to have four grandchildren. Our youngest child who is our child Grayson is really, really grateful that our eldest child is having all of the grandchildren. Well, it's, but I mean, nobody ever dreamed that you would hold your grandchildren.

No. That it'd be possible, but you have, and you're going to see them here very soon at Christmas. I would have liked to have a ton more. Well, that you have to talk to your children about that. But I would, yeah, they, they would have said, leave now, run, run for your life.

That's what they would have said to any other children. But it's, um, no, you've, you've, you've done extraordinary things. And so what do you feel is, I know you got these surgeries ahead of you.

What do you feel is next for you? If I say it, you, it could blow your head off. No, no, it's got to be like, your dad would say it could blow your head, slam off, slam off. It could blow your head, slam off.

Her dad says that. I mean, he was just a lightning hit, a horse, one of his horses many years ago. I can't believe you're telling me that. So he sat around the table telling this story and he said, yeah, it blew his eye, slam out of the socket. That was so funny. Well, it wasn't funny to the horse, but, but the way he described it, it was just, well, he was a cantankerous. It was good horse, but cantankerous.

And he's the one who tried to buck me off and everything else, but it was a good horse. So you're not going to blow my head, slam off. What's next for you? What do you, what do you feel is next for you? Well, I want to get out of the surgery business and, um, I'd really, you know, I, but I think I'd have to do it with somebody because I would never get finished for rewriting everything because, um, that editor in me just wants to catch every little word. Um, I, I think I'd like to write a book, not, not about my life again, but I think I'd like to, I think I'd like to, I think I'd like to write a book, not, not about my life again, cause there's a book out there called that. Um, what would you like to write about? I'd like to write, it's not the first thing I want to do, but, um, it's like, it's after the album. What would you like to write a book about? Just, no, I'm going to pin you down.

Okay. I'd like to write about, um, how to deal with chronic pain. I think that'd be a very good book for you to write. And I think there's a lot of people that are waiting for you to write that book because you deal with it for a lifetime. People in this audience send me notes all the time that they appreciate you so much. They don't really know. Because they don't know.

Yes. They hear enough about you, but they hear your heart through your music and everything else. And I think that it was just important for them today to hear from your own voice.

So that's very, very kind of you. Well, don't tell anybody. I'm sorry. I know it sounds like we're just cuckoo going from cuckoo in the forest, like dad would say, going from crying to laughing. But, um, you know, here's the deal.

You got a lot of stuff. Don't cry. That's what I do. Oh, please. This is Peter Rosenberg. This is Hope for the Caregiver. And if you want to see more on Gracie, go to We leave with Gracie singing, We Will Stand.

Take us out, Gracie. You've heard me talk about Standing with Hope over the years. This is the prosthetic limb ministry that Gracie envisioned after losing both of her legs. Part of that outreach is our prosthetic limb recycling program. Did you know that prosthetic limbs can be recycled?

No kidding. There is a correctional facility in Arizona that helps us recycle prosthetic limbs. And this facility is run by a group out of Nashville called Core Civic.

And we met them over 11 years ago. And they stepped in to help us with this recycling program of taking prostheses, and you disassemble them. You take the knee, the foot, the pylon, the tube clamps, the adapters, the screws, the liners, the prosthetic socks, all these things we can reuse. And inmates help us do it. Before Core Civic came along, I was sitting on the floor at our house or out in the garage when we lived in Nashville, and I had tools everywhere, limbs everywhere, and feet, boxes, and so forth. And I was doing all this myself, and I'd make the kids help me.

And it got to be too much for me. And so I was very grateful that Core Civic stepped up and said, look, we are always looking for faith-based programs that are interesting and that give inmates a sense of satisfaction. And we'd love to be a part of this.

And that's what they're doing. And you can see more about that at slash recycle. So please help us get the word out that we do recycle prosthetic limbs. We do arms as well, but the majority of amputations are lower limb.

And that's where the focus of Standing With Hope is. That's where Gracie's life is with her lower limb prostheses. And she's used some of her own limbs in this outreach that she's recycled. I mean, she's been an amputee for over 30 years.

So you go through a lot of legs and parts and other types of materials, and you can reuse prosthetic socks and liners if they're in good shape. All of this helps give the gift that keeps on walking. And it goes to this prison in Arizona, where it's such an extraordinary ministry.

Think with that. Inmates volunteering for this. They want to do it.

And they've had amazing times with it. And I've had very moving conversation with the inmates that work in this program. And you can see, again, all of that at slash recycle. They're putting together a big shipment right now for us to ship over. We do this pretty regularly throughout the year as inventory rises, and they need it badly in Ghana. So please go out to slash recycle and get the word out and help us do more. If you want to offset some of the shipping, you can always go to the giving page and be a part of what we're doing there.

We're purchasing material in Ghana that they have to use that can't be recycled. We're shipping over stuff that can be. And we're doing all of this to lift others up and to point them to Christ. And that's the whole purpose of everything that we do. And that is why Gracie and I continue to be standing with hope.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-18 04:50:48 / 2022-11-18 05:01:16 / 10

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