UNDAUNTED
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort: undaunted by failure.
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear

Life is a choice.
I choose to live it UNDAUNTED.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Preparing to Receive the Gift--Day 7: Rest

Be still.
And know.
I am God.
Psalm 46:10

I do not recall if I have stated it here, but the simple fact is I am exhausted on all levels--spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and thus, physically. The last four years have taken a large toll, and I have reached the bottom of my reserves.

For a variety of reasons, I have tried to battle on anyway.

I was afraid if I stopped writing, no one would be here to read it when I returned.

I was afraid if I admitted my utter exhaustion, I would get what I got last week and people would tell me to stop being weak and to man up and fulfill my destiny and who did I think I was to sit around when the world is going to hell in a handbasket?

I was afraid people would think I am weak because I didn't just dig deeper or find that other gear or hit that extra switch. Except there is nothing else to dig into. I have no other gear, and all my switches are running on high.

I was afraid of failing God by not taking responsibility for my gifts and using them to build the kingdom and bless others.

I was afraid if I didn't lay a certain foundation or take certain steps then I wouldn't have made the right preparations to receive my personal promises He has made.

"Have I not commanded you?
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid.
Do not be discouraged,
For the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
--Joshua 1:9--

Last night I spent about two hours talking with a friend. We both know God always answers prayers, so where was the answer? We talked through the "stuff" until it became loud and clear.

"Take some personal time."

In case I missed it, I hopped on Facebook earlier today, and my friend Lisa had posted a picture with Psalm 46:10 on it. :-)

I won't bore you with the details of the whole conversation with my friend or with the Lord after the phone conversation. I might write about it someday, but for now, the pertinent information is...

For the next three months, I am taking "personal time". I will not be blogging, writing for a deadline or clear purpose, ministering in a formal way, or any other activities requiring energy beyond raising my kids and making a home. Whenever my Healer and Great Physician say I am allowed to return, I will, and I hope y'all are all here to catch up with then.

Until then, y'all take care. Be blessed. Know you are loved wildly, and always take time to...

Be still
And know.
He is God.

Blessings, y'all!

Compassion Isn't Big or Small, Just Personal

As I write this, the news media is full of headlines concerning the missing Malaysian flight. 239 people are gone.

If you are like me, this is more than you can wrap your mind around, and it's easy to leave it there, in my unfathomable realm. Letting it be too fantastical to be real means I don't have to think about or care about those real people whose lives have human-size holes in them now. Easy for them to be the least of my concerns.

Except, isn't that the very people I'm supposed to care for? The least of these?

But how do I care about the least of these when the loss feels too great to comprehend? How do I make their pain personal? By looking at it personally.

Those 239 people were mothers/fathers, husbands/wives, sons/daughters, friends, loved ones.

They were people called every day or every week. People laughed with them, shared dreams with them, had dreams with them. They were the movie buddy, shopping buddy, coffee buddy. They were the one who encouraged when times were hard and listened when things just needed to be said. They were the pieces of lives, the very important pieces. They were the footsteps down the hall at night, the door opening after work, the one always called, the perfume always ready for a hug. They were the sounds and smells of life.

I don't know any of them.

But I know I have a shirt that I keep simply because it smells like my mom, and I know what it is like to want to hug her again.

I know what it is like to think something is funny and I need to call Rob because he'll think it is hysterical, too.

I know what it is like to see a heart in some odd place and take a picture so I can text my friend Sharilyn.

I know what it is like to crawl in bed and see an empty place and have no one for my toe to touch.

I know what a human-size hole looks like in my own heart, and I imagine it is just as crushing in theirs.

No, I don't know them, but I do. And this monstrous loss isn't too big for me to comprehend because I know it is human-size, and I comprehend that well. And it isn't hard to make it personal when you realize it wasn't an airplane that was lost, but 239 persons.

Part of me is afraid for it to be personal because what if it hurts and I cry and people don't understand why I am crying for a bunch of strangers?

But are they really strangers? Or just people I've never met who have experienced grief like I have?

And maybe that is really what I need to understand more than anything else.


Copyright 2014 Jerri Kelley Phillips

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Preparing to Receive the Gift--Day 6: The Gift of Crazy

The box has been gone so long I don't remember when it disappeared. We've looked, cleaned rooms, scoured the dust bunnies behind shelves. Nothing.

I prayed.

WonderBoy is a sculptor. He uses polymer clay to make tiny figures, and he uses those figures to make dioramas so he can take pictures that he turns into slideshows and films. Sometimes he just uses them to create another world where he works things out or simply finds adventure.

 That box held some of his favorite adventure figures, and I was sure it had somehow ventured into a trashcan. Still, I prayed.

What else do you do when something is hopeless besides pray?


I have prayed a lot for that box, for us to find it, and all the looking still didn't find it.

A few months ago my fridge started making puddles on the floor. It was leaking into the bottom freezer and seeping onto the floor. I finally broke down and asked someone for some help. He told me to turn off the water to see if it was possibly the water dispenser or the ice maker, so I did. It still leaked. So I turned the water back on, and the ice maker no longer worked.

After trying everything I knew, I finally apologized to my checking account and called the manufacturer. Of course it is no longer under warranty. Missed that by six months, but they would cover the cost of the part, and I only had to pay the $120 in labor. When I mentioned the ice maker, I was advised to simply buy an extended warranty for a year for $367 because both repairs would exceed that. I nearly choked. I was almost buying a new refrigerator just to fix my "just not new enough" one.

The nice lady at the manufacturing company suggested trying to reboot the ice maker. Just turn it off, leave it off an hour, and turn it back on. Worth a try. So I did. And when I turned it back on, the water dispenser had stopped working, too.

You ever had one of those why-do-I-bother? moments? It was one of those with a side order of just-shoot-me-now.

I tried everything. I thought maybe the hoses were frozen, so I unplugged the fridge overnight to let them thaw. Nothing. I turned the water off and rebooted the ice maker again. Nothing. I made sure the water was on. A trickle came out of the water dispenser and stopped. I tried rebooting everything since I knew the water was on. Nothing. Reset the water filter. Nothing. Changed the water filter. Nothing. Every combination of on and off for all the pertinent water and power sources was tried. Nothing.

When I went to bed last night, I just prayed, "Lord, we can use ice trays, but we use the water dispenser a lot. If you could just make that work again, it would be nice." And I wrote on my to do list the need to call and schedule the repairs.

4:01 a.m.

The red numbers were bright in my dark bedroom, and the voice was loud. "I wonder if the water is even on."

It was a stupid thought. I knew the water was on. That is why it would trickle and quit. When I turned the water off, there was no water at all. Of course the water was on.

So I rolled over and pulled my blanket up around my chin.

"What if the water isn't on?"

But it is.

"Is it that hard a thing to check? I mean, getting up, walking to the kitchen, and checking a valve versus a few hundred dollars in repairs. Doesn't it make sense to at least check?"

So I tossed off the covers, walked to the kitchen, reached behind the fridge, and felt the valve. Just like I thought. In the "on" position, but for reasons not of my mind, I twisted to see if I could turn it some more. It turned. Not even a quarter of a turn, but it turned, and I heard water hum through the tubes.

When I put a glass under the dispenser and pushed, water flowed freely.

And all I could do was laugh and say, "Thank you," and wonder at the goodness of my Daddy.

With gratitude for the answer to prayer, I headed back to bed.

Couldn't sleep. My brain was busy thinking about how God answers the craziest impossible-because-I've-tried-everything-I-know-and-if-you-don't-do-something-it-is-hopeless prayers.

So I decided to journal, except I couldn't find my pen, so I pulled out my side table drawer and rummaged for a pen, and in the rummaging, there sat an Altoid box. I stopped.

It's that moment when that crazy prayer has been answered but you are afraid to touch it because it might not have been, and I mean why in the world would that box be in my side table, except there was a box in my side table...and why would we ever look here....

And do you open the box because it probably isn't THE box because if it is....well, must how crazy would that be anyway?


Crazy.

The kind of crazy that only happens at 4:27 a.m. after a dead refrigerator water dispenser is restored to life. That is when the craziness of a lost Olimar and his Pikmin sheep being found happens.

Crazy, I tell you.

The no-way-in-the-world-that-will-happen-so-it-must-be-God kind of crazy. And that kind of crazy is a total gift.

Copyright 2014 Jerri Kelley Phillips

Light in the Darkness: The Light on the Hill

In my last post, Light in the Darkness: Why Would You NOT Tell that Story? I mentioned my friend John Perron and his challenge to show Christ's relevance in other's lives by telling about His relevance in mine. People see how Christ can impact their stories by seeing how He has impacted mine. My story isn't just a story. For those in dark places, which is anyone--believers in Christ or not--at various times, it is a light on a hill. It is the place God shows up and shows off, and I have been asking, "How can I show you more?"

In my last post, I talked about the challenge to simply tell my story. For folks to see the light, there has to be a light to see.

Then I began to ask the Lord, "How can I make my fire brighter and more consistent?"

After thinking about it and praying, I can identify three things that affect how my fire looks to those in the darkness:

1. How bright my fire shows because of the stories I tell. There are so many examples in my life of how things happen that were not done in my power or with my ability. Those are the fuel. Those have to be loaded on heavy and often.

2. The whining and anxiety I spew feeds the darkness and distracts from the fire. The Bible says to share our needs with other believers so they can pray and add practical help when they can, but too often "sharing" is simply whining and confessing anxiety due to a lack of expectation of God coming through. Sometimes it is blatant attacks on God's character that He is somehow failing because look what is happening NOW and the pity party is off and running. I try not to spew, so I go silent, which isn't the answer either. I'm still praying on this, but I have some ideas. I'll get back to that in another post.

3. Expect Him to be amazing. When Daniel found out about the edict to kill all the wise folks if they couldn't give the king his dream and its interpretation, he didn't walk into the room with his friends and say, "We're all gonna die if God doesn't show up in a big way." Nope. He said, "We are going to pray because God can show up in a big way." He wasn't sure if God would or not. When he went into the lion's den, he didn't say, "God will save me." He said, "God CAN save me. Even if He doesn't, I choose to be in His hands instead of that idol's." God has shown up huge before. He can do it again. Even if He doesn't, I still choose to be in His hands than any where else, and it isn't because He expects me to be that good. It's because I know He IS that good.

And I don't want anything to keep people from knowing how good He really is.
 
Copyright 2014 Jerri Kelley Phillips

Monday, March 10, 2014

Light in the Darkness: Why Would You NOT Tell that Story?

"Why would you not tell that story?"

John's words keep rolling in my head...and so do some of the responses to my initial post.

Tone is often lost in written communication, so let me clarify some things that I believe were lost.

John was not accusing or attacking. He was sincerely asking. He has stories to share, too, and he'll tell anyone who'll take time to listen. I don't hear all the stories because I'm not around him all the time, just like he doesn't hear all my stories or know how much I talk about the things God has done because he isn't around me all the time.

Just so happened we were on the phone discussing how we as Christians can live lives for Christ that are relevant to the world. It's a challenging topic, and we don't cut each other slack on it. In the course of  conversation, he said if we want people to see Christ as relevant in their lives, they have to Him as relevant in ours. If we want them to see how He can impact their stories, they have to see how He impacts ours.

"You need to tell your story more."
It wasn't an attack. It wasn't an accusation of failure. It was an observation of someone who sees God in my story in huge ways and wonders why in the world I would put that light under a basket. I owe God the glory of lighting it bright and sticking it on a hill for all to see.

At first, it caught me off-guard. I thought I did that. I thought I talked about God and what He did in my life a lot. I thought...I was doing pretty good.

That's the ugly truth. I thought I was doing pretty good. And let's be honest, if I am doing pretty good, I'm probably doing well enough.

Except I heard that Whisper. "Can you do better?"

If my story is a light on a hill, can I stoke the fire? Can I share it with more of the darkness? Can I make it a bit bigger?

Can I do better?

Obviously I can. So I am.

In the Old Testament God commands the Israelites to tell the stories of His great acts so people remember and know why they worship. They tell their stories so they remember His goodness toward them even when things are impossible. They tell their stories to offer hope...especially when things are impossible.

Did the people know the stories already? Some.
Weren't the stories old? Not to folks who hadn't heard them.
What difference could that old story make? All the difference in the world.
Who would want to hear it anyway? Someone looking for a light in their dark place.

We tell stories to remind ourselves,
to give glory to God for His goodness,
to give people a reason to hope.

So, you have any good stories?


Copyright 2014 Jerri Kelley Phillips

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Preparing to Receive the Gift--Day 5

It was about 20 years ago when I read it and I prayed it.

Matthew 7:12:
 
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I memorized the verse before I ever went to grade school. It seems like I've always just known it.

However that day, I saw it differently.

That day I didn't see it as a command. I saw it as a way of life.

Do for others like you want someone else to do for you.

And I wondered, "If anyone could do anything for me right now, what would it be?"

I made a list. I would want someone to:
--encourage me.
--point out the things I'm doing well since I get imprisoned by the things I'm doing wrong.
--notice when I'm not there.
--think about how to help before I have to ask.
--be a safe place.

Over time the list has changed. When I became a parent, I thought of things like:
--hold the squirming baby so I can have a bit of rest since my husband was on the road or catching up on sleep all the time.
--invite me to coffee with no hubby or kids are welcome.
--just know being a mom is exhausting and hard.

More things happened, and I added bits about when parents get sick and die. Or when a spouse dies. Or when a spouse leaves.

The list isn't in concrete. It isn't even on paper. It's just a mental list I keep, and I've prayed often for God to let me be those things for others. Hard times happen. I wanted to be the haven when they do.

This week the Lord granted me the gift of being several of those things. I can't tell you the details because obviously the needs were personal. I don't want you to think I'm telling you this because I'm so great or look what I did. It's not that.

I'm telling you because I prayed a prayer 20 years ago that the Lord is faithfully answering, and I am humbled that He heard and even more humbled that He gives me this gift. It isn't that these people don't have someone else they can call. It's that they called me. It's that He gave me a big house so I can let folks stay when they need a place, and I can feed them, and I can offer a reprieve and maybe give them time to rest so they can keep on this journey and move forward with courage and hope. To be able to do that is priceless to me.

Sometimes the greatest gift isn't what He gives me. Sometimes the greatest gift He gives is who He empowers me to be and what He lets me give to others. Sometimes the greatest gift is being the tool He uses to help someone else live their story.

Copyright 2014 Jerri Kelley Phillips

Preparing to Receive the Gift--Day 4 The Story that Started Me Talking--My Truck

In my post Preparing to Receive the Gift--Day 1 I mentioned that my friend John Perron challenged me. He asked me why I don't talk more about what God is doing or has done for me. He knows there is a reason I tell people I am God's favorite. It's because God treats me like I'm His favorite. He is lavish with His kindness and gifts, and John asked why I don't talk about that more.

He specifically mentioned my truck.

A lot of you don't know about my truck, and he only knows part of the story on my truck, so let me share with you all the story about Farmer Ted.

I think to truly understand God's hand in how I lost Farmer Ted, it is important to know about God's hand in how I got him in the first place. A comment later will make much more sense if you know the story from the beginning.

My husband died in February 2011. I hadn't been single in over 19 years. I had not been single my entire adult life. There was so much I didn't know and so much was overwhelming, not to mention that with the happenings of the last 8 months, I was an emotional wreck trying to hold life together for my kids.

Do you get that this was not the most stable place I've ever been and probably not the place I would choose to make big decisions from?

A month after my husband died, my van became ill. I had put in a few thousand dollars in repairs the year before, and I was looking at putting in at least a few thousand more, and that didn't include the "expected" work. It was time for the van to go.

I had never picked out a vehicle on my own, and I have had some less than glorious experiences with men who sell and/or repair vehicles, and I didn't really want to buy new, and I knew nothing about buying used and....just breathe, Jerri, just breathe....

That was my mantra a lot.

Just breathe, Jerri, just breathe.

In mid-April, I called my brother-in-law who is the best mechanic and one of the most automobile-knowledgeable people on the planet and got some guidance.

"I want a truck. I know nothing about trucks. What do you suggest?"

Without hesitation, "Toyota Tundra, under 60,000 miles. You don't have to buy new. They are great trucks."

I had a starting point.

I didn't want to buy new. Actually, the idea of finding my way through a new car experience was more than I could fathom, so I got on Craigslist. I found a beautiful 2005 Tundra with camper having about 35,000 miles. Crazy good. Probably too good.

I asked my cousin Rae to look at it for me since she and her husband are all things truck. She called, asked the questions, talked to the lady, called me and said, "This is the perfect truck for you. You need to buy it."

Except I didn't.

Instead, I survived my mom's first birthday without her and my daughter's first birthday without her dad and my first mother's day without a husband and without a mom and prepared for my first anniversary in 20 years in which I wasn't married. The last thing on my mind was a truck.

Except the van was getting sicker.

Astonishingly, the truck was still for sale. If you know Craigslist, you know how utterly impossible that is.

Finally, I went over and drove it, and I really liked the truck, and although I asked for a few days to think about it, I was on the phone before I ever got home. I wanted the truck.

Then I found out I had to rearrange some funds so I could get a cashier's check to pay the owner. That was another ten days. About day 2, the owner called me. "Jerri, someone has called and wants to look at the truck. What should I do?"

"Let them look at the truck."

"What if he wants to buy it?"

"Then it is his truck. He gets the truck he needs. You sell the truck you need to sell, and I don't get a truck God doesn't want me to have. We all win. Really. It's okay."

He looked at the truck. The owner called. The disgust was obvious in her voice, "He didn't even drive it. He opened the door and said, 'This isn't leather interior,' was rude, and left." I laughed. "Jerri, this is your truck."

She knew it. I knew it. My cousin new it. We were just waiting for everything to work through.

And it did.

On June 1, six weeks after I first saw this truck listed, nearly 2 weeks after I knew I wanted it, one day before my dreaded anniversary, I drove home in my new truck. I loved that truck.
 
I don't think I have ever driven a vehicle I enjoyed more than that truck. It was perfect. He was beautiful, perfect condition, easy to drive. He was blessed. He was God's gift. Farmer Ted was most certainly my truck.

In the next 2 1/2 years, he had some minor repairs done, and then he went shimmy crazy on me once. Took two days for the repair men to figure out what was up with my beloved Farmer Ted. I have no clue how many hours they put in or the parts they tried. Nothing worked, and I was getting nervous. Finally, the manager called. Would I be willing to let him send a tech to the tire shop and let them replace the tires with heavy duty "the life Jerri really lives" kind of tires? It wouldn't be cheap, but they had tried everything from rotating tires, to balancing, to adjusting the front end, to fixing this and that, realigning, and then some. Nothing worked. This was all they could come up with despite the fact the tires looked perfect. He told me honestly, "I'm not sure it will work. In fact, it is a long shot that it is the tires, but we have no other idea."

I started to laugh. "Oh, thank goodness I'm not crazy. I thought it was the tires the whole time but couldn't figure out how since they look like they are in perfect shape. I think this is what we should do."

And they did.

And Farmer Ted was fine.

While I was thankful to have Farmer Ted back, I was dreading that bill. They had spent HOURS on the truck and who knows how much trying different parts. Just taking the truck to get the tires had been 6 hours of tech time lost on my truck.

Just breathe, Jerri, just breathe.

When the manager of Christian Brothers handed me the bill, I was shocked. Surely there was a mistake. He went over it with me. "The tires were this much." He pointed at a number. "The bushings were this much." He pointed at the other number. "This is how much they come to."

Uh. What about everything else? You know, like labor?

He shrugged. "I'm not worried about it." He jerked his head back toward the bay where the techs worked. "We're all good with this."

Is it appropriate to hug a car repair shop manager? I didn't know, so I didn't. Instead, I handed him my credit card, paid the absurdly underpriced bill, and drove Farmer Ted home...crying tears of gratitude the whole way.

That is just how blessed and good my 2 1/2 years with Famer Ted were. It was a good 2 1/2 years.

Then it came to an abrupt end.

On November 1, 2013, I texted my kids to let them know I was leaving a friend's house and would be home in about 20 minutes.

I was headed home, driving down a road I had driven untold times, nearing a large intersection when a teenage kid heading my direction, turning across my lane of traffic, didn't look up at the light, didn't look at the traffic coming toward him, just followed the car in front of him...right into my lane...right in front of me.

When the screeching and crunching stopped, the kid and his car had finished the turn. (I don't know about his car, but I'm guessing from what I was told it was totaled. He miraculously was unhurt.)

Farmer Ted and I sat in the intersection, and from what I could see. It was bad.

I just sat there.

Honestly, I was afraid to move because I was afraid my knees would give way if I tried to stand, and I didn't want to look stupid. Plus, traffic was still going by us, and I have read too many reports of folks surviving an accident only to be hurt by folks driving by. I was safer in my truck.

Almost instantly, three women were by my door asking if I was okay. They had seen everything and would give their accounts. They had already called 911. Police were on the way. Seconds later a policeman was by my other door. He had an ambulance on the way.

I sat there still stunned.

I called my kids. "There has been an accident, and I'm going to be a bit later than I thought." Since I'm an emergency responder, they didn't question. They assumed I was helping. Never occurred to them I was being helped. I had chosen my words carefully just for that reason.

I texted John. "I've been in a wreck. I think my truck is totaled." I wanted him to know in case this took awhile and I needed someone to go to the house. He's the only one the kids had permission to let in the house, and I thought I might need backup.

I kept waiting to hurt. I kept thinking I was so much in shock that I just wasn't feeling how much pain I was in.

When the ambulance arrived, they did their check and asked me all the right questions, and finally I said, "Really. I think I'm fine. If we were to swap places, and you could tell me exactly what this feels like, I'd tell you to take some ibuprofen, keep a rolled towel behind your head to keep your neck curve protected, and you probably won't like being you in 48 hours because that is how long soft tissue takes to work through the trauma. Really. I would think you were blessed  and God took good care of you."
 
When I stepped out of the ambulance and saw Farmer Ted, I realized how truly blessed I was.

 See that big bump under the hood? That is part of the side of the motor that was sitting on top of the motor.

 You can't see it from here, but radiator isn't okay. The axle mostly looked alright. Mostly.

But when I looked closer, I could see, and really, my stomach rolled.

The frame was bent. Not only was Farmer Ted totaled, but there was no denying just how bad it was...or blessed I was.



The next concern for me became how to get home to my kids. We were still new to the area, and while I knew people, I didn't know phone numbers, and I didn't know anyone well enough to call to pick me up. You might be wondering about my friend I texted to check on the kids if I needed him. Well, he was over 30 minutes away at his son's activity. Asking him to check on my kids if I had to go to the hospital was one thing, but just getting a ride home? Surely they had taxis here.

I don't know. I didn't have to find out. Two of the witnesses, opened their hearts and their car door and told me they would happily take me home. As it turned out, they are believers in Christ, and we had great church and worship time as they drove me home, and they openly agreed in God's safety because, "We still can't believe you walked away from that unhurt. That's a miracle."

Yep. That's God.

As it turned out, the young lady had been the prom date of a wonderful young man I volunteered with at the volunteer fire department.

They were beautiful women. They were God-gifts.

While some folks know I totaled my truck and I walked away with only a bit of soreness, let me tell you what few folks know.

First of all, my children go everywhere with me. It's what we do. We load in the truck, go somewhere, and talk. It's good family time.

On that day, we were all at the front door when I stopped and said, "You know, I'm just going to run in and run out (at our friends'). Why don't y'all stay home and get school done that you need to do? I won't be gone an hour."

They hugged and kissed me, told me they loved me, and went back to their rooms.

My daughter always sat up front, and my son sat behind her. Had they been in the truck, the impact--you know, the one so great it bent the frame--would have been on their side.

I thank God for airbags, but there are no airbags in the backseat, and while an airbag "helps", how much could it help against impact that bends truck frames?



As we all expected, Farmer Ted was declared totaled. Folks had told me about their experiences with the paltry sums offered in exchange for their vehicles. I doubted I would get anything near what Farmer Ted was worth. When the phone call came to negotiate, I braced myself. When the woman gave me the total, I asked her to repeat herself.

She did.

I was silent.

"Ma'am, do you feel that is an unfair settlement?"

I answered, "Let me make sure I understood you." I repeated the number back to her.

She assured me that was the right number and again asked about the fairness.

I assured her I thought it was fair. It was within dollars of being $2,000 more than I had originally paid for Farmer Ted.

How do you buy a used truck, drive it 2 1/2 years, total it, and make $2,000?

Only God.

During the process of settling with insurance companies, I spent a lot of time on the phone with the other driver's insurance. The representative and I ended up having long conversations about faith, God, His goodness, and the story of how I got Farmer Ted in the first place. One day while we were discussing specifics about the wreck and settlement, he grew very quiet.

"Jerri?" We had been on first name basis for awhile. "Do you believe God knows what is going to happen?"

Yes, I do.

Again, he was quiet. "Jerri, 2 1/2 years ago God knew you'd be in this wreck, and He held that truck for you. I'm looking at the pictures and the written reports and all the notes, and the fact you aren't hurt just shocks me."

As he had done multiple times, he asked me if I needed to see a doctor. Get an MRI. At least get x-rays? I assured him that really I was totally fine. Not even sore.

He said it's just because he's dealt with wrecks like this and no one walks out unhurt and he wanted to make sure I was fine because really this was a bad wreck, so bad that...he grew very quiet. Then he said in a voice I can't describe:

"I've read a lot of reports and seen a lot of injuries. You should be in the hospital as it is, but if you hadn't been driving a truck that big, not just a truck but one that big, we wouldn't be having this conversation. I'd be writing your kids a check. Jerri, God gave you that truck because He knew you'd have this wreck and He knew what it would take to keep you alive. He just gave you the 2 1/2 years to enjoy it as an extra gift."

People wonder why I think I am God's favorite. Part of it is because God gave me a wonderful truck to drive for 2 1/2 years, and I'm still here to tell about it.