What God Has Done



I consider myself to be a privately-open person. That oxymoron exists because I have a lot of things I'm open about in my life, and a lot of things I keep private. I think those kinds of boundaries are important to have, but it's also my personal belief that we {or even just I} should be open about the ways in which God has not just blessed us in life, but delivered us. 

You see, I wouldn't exist today if it weren't for God. And not just because He created me or formed me with a plan in mind, but because He carried me. He delivered me and rescued me through a time I never thought I would have had to go through. And He did it just as He promises in His Word. 

So while this blog talks about ways to save money traveling, great places to photograph in the NW, things my husband and I are learning during our marriage, and the joys and sacrifices of being a teacher, the foundation of who I am is all because of God and what He did for me in 2006. 

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The only answer that I have for why my family and I have gone through the things that we have is so that we can encourage others and share God's promise of deliverance and blessing when others are experiencing the same. If I kept this story to myself or focused on the misery that many days of it produced, I would be denying everything God has done for me. I'm very open about this story because God was SO faithful. He rescued me and gave me a future and a hope. I'm open about this story because bad things do happen to good people, but God is in control of everything and sometime, on the other side of eternity, it will all make sense. 

So this is my testimony. 

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I grew up as a Christian. I accepted Jesus at 5 years old, went to Sunday School every morning, was homeschooled until 4th grade and then attended private school until I went off to college. I even attended a Christian college.  I memorized countless books of the Bible, had Scripture written on my mirrors, led Bible studies, sang on worship teams, and carefully calculated my actions so that everything I did would be {for the most part} considered righteous and pleasing to God.

But for me, it was a lot of work. It went with the territory of the expectations on my life. It wasn't out of sheer reverence and respect for God and that my life served Him as a response to His gift of salvation, but it was because that's what I felt was expected of me. I was a Christian, so for me {although in many ways very self-righteously} that meant I didn't listen to secular music or watch movies above a pg rating. I went to private school, so I also went to Bible study and youth group and wasn't friends with unbelievers on purpose. I had the life down that I felt like I was expected to lead, but I didn't have the heart. It's because sadly *my* Christian life wasn't about following and serving Jesus, but just about how I looked out the outside to everyone else.

That lack of a heart for God is what really exalted my "self" in my teenage years, and led to a lot of turmoil, mistakes, and ultimately, regrets. I wasn't aware that it was what was missing from my life, I only knew that something was missing. I tried to fill that hole with things that brought temporary pleasure, and in my older teenage years, small compromises towards rebellion. Outwardly I had it all together; inwardly I was a mess. But the ironic thing is that I didn't confess that or even recognize that. I just kept becoming more and more frustrated with my lack of peace and more and more overwhelmed with trying to do everything "right" all the time. Eventually, I simply gave up.  

I gave up right about the time I went to college. I had made choices in my life that I felt were too big even for God to deal with, and so I just forced myself to live with them. I figured that I was an adult now, capable of making my own decisions, and with the poor ones I just had to live with the consequences. Looking back on that time of my life I was just so lost. The direction I had was unclear, and there was a disconnect between who I was, and who I really wanted to be. I just honestly felt like I could never become the latter. 

I SO wish I could go back and change the past. That I would have just loved JESUS at an early age and not gotten caught up in performance. But all I can humbly say is I'm so glad God rescued me from myself so I didn't waste the rest of my life lost from Him. And if it took what happened to me in 2006 to get me to that place, then that sacrifice was worth it. 

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So. Fast-forwarding to 2006. The year my life changed forever. 

  Throughout all of the teenage turmoil, at the center of my life was my mom. She was my confidant, my best friend, the person I would call when I was having a bad day, the person I ran to for encouragement, the one I looked forward to baking Christmas cookies and playing duets with on the piano during the holidays; the one who I watched The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown with while we carved pumpkins in our matching pajamas. I adored Mother's Day because I loved spoiling my mom with breakfast in bed and girl time at the mall. I loved coming home after a cold day in the fall to worship music in the kitchen, a big hug from my mom and the smell of home made chicken noodle soup permeating the air. My mom was my practical example of living and loving like Jesus, and I never, ever thought things were going to change between us. 

I also adored my younger brothers, who my mom had when she married my step-dad. Chase and Taylor were affectionately referred to as "the boys," and my sisters and I balanced between helping raise them and just being their big sisters. I loved seeing new things through their eyes, buying them gifts for their birthdays in Christmas, and as they got older, giving them piano lessons and helping them with homework. Chase was an old soul who was friends with everyone and LOVED GOD with a love I never knew existed at that young of an age. He constantly wrote poetry to God, worship songs, and recognized that the good gifts he had in his life came from God. He loved having grown-up conversations with his big sisters, and we'd often forget he was still three years off from his teenage years. 

Our family was solid. With as much uncertainty that was occurring both in the outside world and in my personal struggles, I had an amazing family and I was constantly thankful for them. We loved being together, family dinners, traditions and basically every major holiday we celebrate in the United States.  :)

But that all changed. Quickly. Drastically. Mind-numbingly on February 15th, 2006. 

I had just finished eating dinner at Pizza Schmizza on a Wednesday night in Sherwood. My best friend Lexie was coming over to my house to watch Lost and carpool to George Fox in the morning with me. My phone rang and it was my step-dad's number that popped up. I cheerily answered, thinking it was my mom calling to let me know she arrived in Redmond (her Valentine's Day trip she had left early that morning for with my brothers), and that I was missing out on by not coming. "Hi mom," I bubbled. A hesitated panic met me on the other end of the line. It was not my mom calling. It was Steve, who said, "Megan, has your mom called you? She was supposed to be here two hours ago and I can't get a hold of her." 

I knew immediately something awfully wrong had happened. My mom would have called. She called for everything. She called if she would be five minutes late coming home from the grocery store across the street. She called to just say, “I love you,” or, “I’m thinking about you.” She called to tell me that she had a bad day or a stomach ache. My mom’s cell phone minutes were racked with simple, seemingly meaningless conversations because that’s what she did. She called. 

The news came shortly after in a series of conversations that night that both my mom and my then-ten year old brother, Chase, had died in a car accident over the mountain pass. They hit a patch of ice and slid into oncoming traffic--my mom was killed instantly; Chase died the following morning. My younger brother Taylor, who was nine at the time, miraculously survived. 

The days and months that followed that day were a blur. I walked around in a body that I didn't know how to operate on my own, and in a new family dynamic that I didn't recognize. I look back, honestly not knowing how I made it from one day to the next, which is the surest testimony that I was CARRIED. I began to realize that no amount of lying in my bed, refusing to get fresh air or shutting down from life would bring my mom and Chase back. They were gone from this Earth, and nothing could change that. The world still existed and for the 99.9% of the people in the world, February 15th, 2006 was just another day. But to me, it was the tipping point. 

I remember being very aware that my life could and would never be the same again, and that I needed to determine for myself how I was going to live it. I remember feeling God's peace that surpasses all understanding, which Paul speaks about in Philippians 4:6-7, " Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." (NLT)

I clung so hard to God during that time because I didn't know who else to turn to. With bleary eyes and a heavy heart I cried out to Him for comfort and purpose. I begged forgiveness for all of the mistakes I had made in my past and the for the careless neglect I had given to my relationship with Him. I remember for the first time truly feeling the weight of the gift of Salvation and of my unworthiness to receive it. I remember feeling so humbled at the recognition of what true grace looked like in my life, and that no matter what, for the rest of my days, I wanted to live glorifying Him with my actions, loving others like Jesus and serving in whatever way I could. It was the first time that I truly, truly recognized that this life isn't about me, but about how God has planned to use me. 

I have never once been angry at God for my mom and Chase dying. Never once. I've been confused and I've been deeply saddened (and will continue to be until the day that I die), but I have never been angry. God has sat enthroned on this Earth during the Flood, wars, famines, natural disasters and through every major occurence this world has faced. Nothing surprises Him, because He is in control. God promises in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jesus further says in John 10:10 regarding those who believe in Him, "The thief has come to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that they might have life, and have it abundantly."  

In the book of Ruth, Ruth is a woman who loses her husband in war, and her mother-in-law Naomi subsequently loses her husband and both sons. Ruth is all Naomi has left for family. Naomi is so hardened by what has happened to her that she says, (paraphrased), "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara. For Mara means bitterness and the Lord has dealt bitterly against me, brought me back empty and afflicted me." Naomi dealt with her tragedy by being angry and bitter against God, and that was something I never wanted to do. 

God gives us another example of loss and grief in the book of Job, where Job is a very wealthy man who loses absolutely everything in the beginning, including his riches, his house, his children and his health. He sits and weeps and grieves and "counselors" come by to tell him that he should confess to God because God is obviously punishing him for something, and his wife is telling him that he should be angry with God because he didn't deserve this. But Job sits confidently knowing who God is, unsure of why all of these bad things are happening to him, but trusting that God will remain faithful and refuses to curse God. God turns around and blesses him seven-fold for his trust and faithfulness, because God had a plan for Job all along that was bigger than he could imagine. 

 Very soon after my mom and Chase died, the turbulent economy hit and deeply impacted the financial stability of my family, rooted in the homebuilding business. We went from having a beautiful home and loving family to losing my mom, brother, the family business and the house we grew up in all in a matter of about twelve months. I have no idea what God's plan was in that and if we'll ever know this side of eternity. 

But what I can tell you is that we have been protected, we're alive and living and he has remained FAITHFUL. Our family has grown and expanded, there are grandchildren now; I have an amazingly beautiful and protective, covering husband; my sisters have three children between them; my brother Taylor is growing up into a well-rounded, determined teenager; we all have jobs and roofs over our heads even in this difficult economy, but the most important thing of all is that God carried us. He never left us or forsake us during that time. In the loneliness and isolation I felt that year, He carried me and held me tightly to His chest. He brought people into my life to lift me up and encourage me. He brought me to a church where I could be nourished by others. He gave me the strength to continue finishing school, pursue my dreams and eventually become a teacher. He equipped me to follow after my mom's example of love and service through the way I desire to love and serve others. And most importantly, He reminded me of His power and presernce, and that losing my mom and Chase wasn't goodbye, but it was, "See you guys soon!"

Because I know where they are. They aren't lost forever, they're in Heaven and that's because they chose to follow after Jesus with their lives and to make Heaven their permanent dwelling place through Jesus's death on the cross. It is so incredibly freeing to know that's exactly where they are, and that I will get to see them again someday in the paradise that God created for His children because I, too, have made that choice to follow Jesus.  His free gift is available to anyone who desires it. John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son {to die for our sins}, that whoever chooses to believe in Him will not perish, but have eternal life {in Heaven}."

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So that's my story. My journey is continual, and my life isn't a neat little package that works and operates as it should. I've been through tragedy and overcome it through complete reliance on God, and that kind of strength is available to anyone who cries out for it. God promises in Hebrews 13:5, "...I will never leave you or forsake you."

Bad things DO happen to good people. But God's faithful love endures forever and He gives us the strength do overcome anything with and through Him.    

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