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In Her Own Words - Forty Years Later

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger
The Truth Network Radio
November 18, 2023 3:30 am

In Her Own Words - Forty Years Later

Hope for the Caregiver / Peter Rosenberger

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November 18, 2023 3:30 am

Forty years is a long time. It's even longer when every day is filled with pain, disability, and struggles. Today, November 18, is the fortieth anniversary of the devastating car accident that changed Gracie's life. 

Listen to her recount that day - in her own words. There's a special bonus following Gracie reading the prologue from her book. 

 

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Hope for the Caregiver
Peter Rosenberger

Welcome back to a very special edition of Hope for the Caregiver.

This song that you're hearing is from the soundtrack of a film that our son did and I wrote the score for it and I played this and I am filling today's episode with music and recounts of what happened 40 years ago today. And I thought it would be best to have Gracie shared in her own words of what happened to her. 40 years is a long time and she was just a kid. She was 17.

I did not know her. But what happened that day on a Tennessee highway on a kind of a dreary November day would ultimately affect my life profoundly and our children's lives and our grandchildren's lives. And now your life as listeners to this program, as readers of her book, my book, and the list continues.

The list continues. I had her read the prologue to her book some time ago, but I can't remember if I've ever shared that on the air here and so I thought today would be would be the appropriate day. I helped her write her book and it's titled Gracie Standing with Hope. Pastor Jim Bachman once stated in a sermon, I'll never forget where I was when I heard it, the Lord says I'll give you brokenness, I'll give you emptiness, I'll give you weakness, then you'll be useful to me. Prologue. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me. Psalm 23 verse 4.

November 18th, 1983, 12 30 p.m. 90 miles west of Nashville, Tennessee on Interstate 40. 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 browned 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 a turtleneck that was a gold addabeed 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 10 miles away. The gentle humming engine of the car was the only one in the left lane. 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 70 miles an hour—the speed limit was 55 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 70 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-lidded 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 quickly decreased speed, allowing me to fully experience the smashing impact of high-velocity, meaning 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 gully 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. I have many things taped to my bathroom mirror. Among them are love notes for my wife and daughters, lists of people to pray for, and don't forget messages to myself. The chat messages to myself. The chances of me forgetting do seem to grow stronger by the day.

Upon finishing this book, I added something else. A simple yellow post-it note with the verse from Proverbs 3-5, trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. I seem to struggle with that one. It's a lesson I need to relearn every day.

I once heard someone say, if you could figure God out, he wouldn't really be worthy of your worship, would he? I've chewed on that a great deal. The day Gracie Parker Rosenberger was born, the doctor should have handed her mother a certificate of authenticity. If it's honesty you're craving, then she's your gal. Much like my wife, you rarely have to ask whether she's in a good mood or a bad mood or how she feels about a subject.

You just know. I personally love those kind of people. In a world of hype, honesty framed in love is refreshing. Others are drawn to it like bugs to a porch light.

Gracie's light just happens to shine a little bit brighter than most. You see, what you are about to read is not a story that you will hear where the prosperity gospel is preached, at least not the type of prosperity that the world most often chases. The funny thing about people, all people, is we don't seem to do well in that type of prosperity. We tend to assume that we deserve it or we've earned it.

We believe we are self-sustaining and eventually we are all proven wrong. If you study the scriptures, you will find that Jesus actually told the ones nearest to him that they would suffer for his name. It turns out not only was he the messiah, the savior of the world, but he was also proven to be a man of his word. The disciples did suffer indeed after Christ departed. Most of them experienced horrible deaths, but during their time with Jesus they had seen, heard, or experienced something that made that pain and suffering pale into comparison of what was to come. It was something worth living and dying for.

They bet their lives on it. The riches that God desires for us are so different than what the world is selling. I believe above all else the heart of God yearns for deep intimacy with us and he will allow almost anything to achieve it.

Most often it seems we have to reach the end of ourselves before we're willing to reach out and grab the hand of the creator. I've been to Africa many times and worked in some of the worst slums on the planet. I have seen first-hand poverty at such a level that it makes your heart hurt and it sears itself into your brain forever.

I've also led a small group bible study for homeless gentlemen in downtown Atlanta for quite a while. Men left with nothing in the world but the dirty clothes on their back. Yet these two groups have something in common. They totally get the story of Jesus. They not only get it, they embrace it. You should hear them pray.

It is powerful and desperate. My oldest daughter says it's because they don't have a plan B. They can't depend on a new car or home to temporarily fill the void in their soul. They desperately need a savior and maybe just realizing that makes them blessed.

I think Gracie and Peter would agree. See the truth is we all suffer. Some of us physically, some of us mentally, some of us emotionally, but we all suffer. It is the plight of man. Any gospel that tells you otherwise is false.

God doesn't promise to rid us of our suffering. He promises that his grace is sufficient to sustain us through it. I love Gracie and Peter and I am honored to call them friends.

I am so thankful they finally took the time to put the story of their lives onto paper because what they have done here is not easy. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to show your scars, to admit to the world your shortcomings because the fact is we all want to be accepted. I believe the turning point in life comes when you decide whose acceptance it is that you seek. I love Galatians 1 10. Am I now trying to win the approval of men or of God or am I trying to please men?

If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. This is a story that chronicles the journey of a remarkable woman, husband, and family. This is a story of faith tested by fire. This is a story of pain and restoration. This is the story of amazing grace. You're going to share this story, I promise. I'm Jeff Foxworthy.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-18 04:46:56 / 2023-11-18 04:53:26 / 7

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