I remember seeing posts going around Facebook after MaKenzie had her wreck, asking people to pray. I didn’t know her or her family, but several of my friends shared the post. And so I prayed. And I watched as God began working in her life, allowing her to do things the doctors weren’t sure she ever would again. And faster than they thought she could. I don’t remember who friended who, but several months later, I was scrolling and just happened to see her and her brother singing one of my songs. She reached out to me and told me her story and I was even more amazed. I’m thankful there are still young people who want to please the Lord and live for Him, even when their lives and hearts shatter. And that He can take anyone’s pain and use it for His glory – from broken to beautiful in His hands.
I grew up as a pastor’s kid, and my fondest memories were spent in church and involved in church! Every time the doors were open, my family was there. I was saved on Feb. 24, 2012 at a radio station in Asheville, NC, after many false professions. We were there to sing for a Share-A-Thon, but little did I know the Lord would tug at my heart, all the while I was trusting in being a preacher’s kid to save me, not the sinless Son of God. I wouldn’t trade my upbringing and heritage for anything in the world, but my upbringing did not save me. It did however, set the foundation that would carry me through some of the darkest days of my life.
My older brother and I went through our childhood and teenage years as what some refer to as ‘sheltered.’ (The Lord calls us to protect what we deem as precious, so why not protect the hearts and minds of children? That is a philosophy I strongly believe in.) I am eternally grateful for that because it prepared my mind to combat seeing the most wicked of things come to life before my very eyes.
I got married on Oct. 13, 2018 with the intent of living out the rest of my life with that one person… that is something I grew up believing in: “Always and forever,” you know? However, some things began to unfold shortly after this crucial point that shook my belief in man’s honesty. I learned the meaning of things I would’ve never thought I’d need to know, pornography being one.
My Dad continued to pastor, and there was nothing I loved more than being a pastor’s daughter. I was an outgoing character, so that environment made me so happy… I loved talking and getting close to people. I remember starting a prayer early on in my teenage years, where I begged the Lord to use me, and if it took breaking my heart then so be it. I cried out wanting that more than anything. I can’t say that I haven’t looked back to then and wondered… why? I mean, Jesus even questioned God. There are days today that I wish I could go back and just avoid the heartbreak. I wonder what I could’ve done differently to avoid it.
Fast forward to Feb. 16, 2020, a day that would change my life forever. It was the Sunday of Valentines weekend my dad preached on, “Taking care of the tender grapes”. I hung onto every word. That night after service, my husband and I headed home. We came to and stopped at the red light. As the light changed my husband proceeded to pull forward, and right then an ambulance was coming through the intersection with lights and sirens, not following the due regard protocol. The ambulance proceeded to hit my passenger seat side at a speed upwards of 40mph. I honestly don’t remember a lot leading up to that moment and after. The emergency personnel had to pull me out with the jaws of life, and I was immediately rushed by ambulance to Grady Hospital in Atlanta, GA. This hospital is known to be one of the top trauma hospitals in the country, for that I am thankful, because I was taken such good care of by the surgeons and nurses.
Looking back, I can see the Lord’s hand on everything that was going on. It just so happens that the surgeon who was on call that night was one of the top trauma surgeons in the country; he was the only one there who knew how to perform the surgery I needed (he also currently travels the country teaching classes, now using my injuries, x-rays, and progress as a lesson). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve went back in for a checkup, and the nurses are awestruck at the odds of the surgeon I needed being there the very night I needed. My injuries involved a shattered hip and pelvis (which led to needing a total hip reconstruction, just what my surgeon specialized in), a basal skull fracture, multiple head fractures, and a front fracture which has led to vision problems and loss of movement on the left, upper side of my face. I also had 4 broke ribs and a broke femur that caused an open fracture through my body causing all the blood loss. I had 3 surgeries in total, two of which being exploratory because I was bleeding out upon arrival, and they couldn’t find the origin. The third surgery was for my hip reconstruction surgery. I recall waking up off and on the first week, groaning in pain as they moved me from bed to table for tests. I was there a total of two weeks and don’t recall waking up until the second half of the second week, due to sedation. I had thousands of people all over the country praying for me, as my family and friends took to social media requesting prayer. I would not have made it if not for God’s people praying for me. I can also see the Lord’s hand in the timing because I was in the hospital 3-4 weeks before Covid really came out, and protocols were put in place to keep visitors out. Whether it was my mom, Dad, or brother, someone was there every day with me. It was some of the sweetest moments spent with my family and close friends.
Everyday a new doctor would come in and explain everything that had been damaged in my body. Physical therapy started while I was in the hospital, as they taught me how to operate a wheelchair and other simple gestures like leaning up, moving from bed to chair, and using the restroom. The pain of therapy was excruciating. In a moment’s time what used to be every-day, simple activities became a struggle. To be honest it all feels like a blur now, or more like a nightmare. I didn’t fully grasp what had happened until coming home. Everything was different.
Upon arriving home, I then spent the next 5 months living and sleeping in a recliner. I got around in a wheelchair because I wasn’t able to put pressure on my right leg for 2 months, then I was put on crutches and remained on them for 6 months. I have had 2 surgeries since then removing hardware from my hip and my crutches have become my best friend for any strenuous activity. Every week following the accident involved multiple doctor’s appointments and hospital stays. I’ve made this statement to multiple people…. growing up I was afraid and disliked the doctor’s office and hospitals, now here, I was spending every day talking to and seeing doctors. It quickly became my second home. I remember one particular moment where I had to go in the hospital because of a CSF leak. They had to run an MRI to examine the damage done to my head. As they placed me in the turning machine, they had to put a cage-like thing around my head to stabilize. For an hour I had to stay in the machine, and I have never been so sick. I was in shock that I was here, trapped in this machine. You never really expect to find yourself there, or to be told you have cancer or another illness, and I was scared. As the hour went by, my heart beating out of my chest, I quoted Psalm 56:3 over and over again. While my anxious heart was still pounding, I found comfort while saying that verse. I was scared, but I was able to breathe knowing that I wasn’t in that machine alone and I wouldn’t come out alone.
I have never felt so alone in my life. No matter how many people came to see me and constantly having my family’s presence around, what I was going through was MINE. My family has faced trials, but this was the moment my faith would be determined real or fake. It was at this time every sermon I’ve heard preached throughout my life would be laid out as a foundation, keeping myself every day from saying that I couldn’t make it; that I was Not alone. Most nights I would cry myself to sleep around 5 in the morning because my thoughts ran rapid. I would go back to the Facebook posts, messages, and comments, and reread them every single night, because it gave me comfort knowing someone was praying for me. It pushed me forward to see the light at the end of this long tunnel.
I went to the beach last July and it was heart breaking for me. Growing up I almost went as far as I could out in the water and would play with my siblings and Dad…it was what we did for fun. Now, here I was sitting on the sand, watching people go in and out of the ocean, knowing that I couldn’t do those things because of my broke body. Everyday activities such as walking and going outside around our farm animals, had become so fearful for me, because I knew that if something went wrong, I would end up having major surgery again. I live in so much fear now due to my physical position.
I will never be able to do the things I use to like running and playing ball with my siblings, because of my hip reconstructions. I now have severe nerve damage and am not able to stand, sit, or walk for long periods. My muscles ache throughout the day. My body has aged rapidly due to all the aches and pains I have now, and this was all at age 21. Physical therapy has become an everyday thing since coming home. I have lost so much hair due to the many times I’ve been put under. I have been told that I possibly will not have children, and if I am able to, it will be a high-risk pregnancy and will need c-sections for every pregnancy. What hurts is I’ve always loved and wanted to have a big family of my own, now I live in fear that if I even can get pregnant it will be dangerous due to all of the hardware in my body. It’s also important to know that I have a chain that connects my right hip to my left hip in order to keep in stable. Along that chain are countless screws that hold my pelvis and hip in place.
We all face trials, and not just the physical which I have described in detail above; there’s also the spiritual and emotional…. On August 14th, 2020, I began a fight I never thought I would have to face. My husband abandoned me for extra-marital affairs, which had been going on way before my accident. That honestly hit the nail on the head for my spiritual and emotional pain because I thought my marriage was something that was something I could count on and that would last forever. I’ll never forget, I reached out to a dear pastor’s wife shortly after my world fell apart, and she made the statement, “Yes, feeling physical pain was awful, but your physical pain is nothing compared to your spiritual and emotional pain”. I felt that. You don’t know pain until you’ve cried so much that your eyes burn and your face hurts. You can feel that pain at the bottom your chest and in your stomach. It makes it to where you can’t eat or sleep. Here I was holding onto the hope of things turning out to be semi-normal, back to where they were before. I longed for night because I could just sit and cry alone with no one watching. Every night my prayer would be that the Lord was use this pain, so this life-changing trial would not be wasted. I begged Him not to allow me to grow bitter. I prayed and begged that my husband would come back, in spite of all the proof and pictures I received from my friends and my own looking of who he was sleeping with. I wanted my marriage back, and from what he had told me, I thought he believed in the sanctity of marriage too, but I found out that was not true.
I reached out to multiple pastors and pastor’s wives, and very few would even talk without completely turning me off. The very time in my life when I needed help from the people I looked up to, they wouldn’t talk to me. I was raised, thankfully, by my parents, who taught us to not rely on groups or cliques. So even though it hurt not having hardly anyone to help me through this trial, it was not as bad having this foreknowledge in the back of my mind. But that doesn’t change the heartache that I felt knowing people I trusted and admired would just walk away from what’s real and what was right.
Months past and every night I prayed the same prayer: that my husband would come home, and that I wouldn’t grow bitter; that if I’m to feel this pain, help it not be in vain.
I had to have another surgery this past September and I’ll never forget the way I felt. My mom took me around 5:00 that morning for prepping, and as I spoke to the nurse, she began to ask questions about myself. She was so sweet! She saw my wedding band and asked about my husband… I proceeded to tell her about him, not saying that he had left me. My surgeon then proceeded to talk to me before surgery and asked if my husband was there to pick me up. I answered, “no, my mom is”, fighting back tears because I couldn’t tell him where he was. Instantly the thought crossed my mind that, I was alone, my husband didn’t even want to care for me. And I broke.
Thankfully my family was there to care for me the whole way, and they continue to support me even now.
Since my accident and the day my husband left, I can’t tell you the emotions I’ve felt. Not only am I recovering from physical ailments, but I also have to adjust to my new normal, physically and emotionally. I know exactly what depression feels like, as I was placed with a doctor after finding out what all had happened. Every day I have woke with the weight of the world on my chest because my life has felt over with, “but I’m 21… my life should just be beginning!”
I honestly forget what a nightmare the last year and a half has been, until I began to write it out and think on it. I find it easier to just place it all on the back burner and push forward. But in all reality, there will be no continuing on without the remembrance of the circumstances that have brought me here. I can’t rest in God’s promise of hope unless I go back to the days when I felt hopeless and He gave me strength to press forward. I can’t rest in His promise of comfort, and not remember the days I couldn’t rest. When I say the emotional pain I’ve felt is worse than any physical pain I’ve felt, I mean that. I can place my thoughts on a time in the future where maybe it will be easier to do some of those physical things, but my mind becomes overwhelmed at even the thought of seeing a day where I won’t break down in tears when I see the people that abandoned and hurt me. There will never be a time when I won’t cry over a life that once was and what could’ve been. Physical pain can be treated most of the time by doctors and pharmaceuticals, but the pain that we feel in our heart cannot be treated. I have come to the point in my life where I no longer beg God to stop the pain, but for Him to let it be worth it; to use it somewhere down the road to encourage someone that, there is one who we as Christians can place a full and total confidence! This body fails us, and people will come and go, but the God of all Heaven and Earth, the One who controls every living creature to live and die, He not only cares for me but loves me with an everlasting love!
Every long night I sat awake, crying over my husband’s Bible he left behind; every painful moment I return to the hospital to be evaluated; seeing every dream I once had slip through my fingertips; thinking back to the hearts who once told me they loved me just to see them turn away; I’m reminded that every moment of every day all I have to do is pray and the Lord will hear my every thought and feel my every pain…He is THE God of suffering, and specializes in the department of pain. He himself was abandoned, left alone for dead, and physically beaten, yet He took all of it upon Himself knowing it had to be done FOR ME. I don’t rest in earthly happiness because all the Earth has offered me is pain!
The Lord has allowed me the opportunity to help other ladies privately as they face the same situations as I have. My doctors call me a walking miracle because I shouldn’t have healed as well as I have, much less have survived the crash itself. If my head had been any closer to the window of my passenger door last February, I would’ve died instantly or been left brain dead; I had nurses tell my family and friends that while I was unconscious.
I am going to fast forward now, to July 18th of this year. My family and I went on vacation to the beach in FL. We were so excited to get away from life for a few days, and I couldn’t wait to go out in the ocean, because I wasn’t able to last year. But what happened on our first day on the ocean, was something none of us saw coming.
While I was out in the ocean, I had a seizure, causing my head to go under water and I drowned. My dad had to do CPR on me to bring me back. If you ask what I remember it is very little besides waking up in a hospital bed. I was in the ICU for 3 days…. they did an MRI, CT scan, EEG, and EKG, and was released being told that there is slower brain activity on my right side. My right side was where the ambulance hit, and they could see from my tests that I still have fractures all over my head that haven’t healed… they said this was the cause of my seizure, and I am now on medication to hopefully prevent more from happening in the future. I was given breathing treatments because my lungs were filled up with toxic water from the red tide. They almost had to do an intubation, until I finally came to in the hospital. I broke down on my parents, shortly after, telling them I was tired. Tired of fighting, tired of hurting, tired of the fear I now live with because of my physical state. One moment I feel as though I’m finally pushing forward, and then something happens and I’m pushed back further than I was before.
We are all called to fight different battles, and I am not here trying to focus on mine or cause anyone to feel sorry for me, because honestly, because of the battles I’ve faced I’ve grown more spiritually than I ever would have if life had turned out the way I thought it would. Everything I was taught, preached to, and sang about growing up had to become reality in my heart. You find out who other people are in hard times, and you most certainly find out who you are when everything falls apart. What will you do when you’re living day to day on your own, and not with a crowd of a hundred cheering you on, because that’s what it takes. My view of life, love, grace, and strength has changed so much in the past 3 years and for that, I’m thankful. I know what it’s like to hold on to a time when rest will come, but the true meaning of a genuine Christian walk is not found in rest but in turmoil. He shows Himself true when nothing else will, and that’s what I want other people to know.
If for any other reason we press on, press on knowing that when the trial ends God will receive ultimate glory. Every trial we face is in vain if we do not point to the One who never and will never leave us to ourselves. God’s grace is sufficient through every physical, mental, and emotional battle we face… I stand as proof of that today! Hold everything this life offers, both physical relationships and emotional promises, with a loose grip knowing that “only what’s done for Christ will last.” He is and will always be sufficient and His sovereignty remains the same!
Here is a song Makenzie wrote through this trial she is in, “Then It’s Worth It” :
I am the second oldest of 6. I grew up a Pastor’s daughter and I consider it the greatest privilege in the world! That life is all I’ve ever known, and the sheltered atmosphere my parents raised me in is one I would never change… it’s helped bring me through my darkest hours. I love to sing, play the guitar, and write songs! My family now travels in evangelism and when not traveling, my time is spent at our home-based family farm, surrounded by dwarf goats and mini horses. I have a broken story, beginning in February of 2020 I was hit by an ambulance going 60 mph… that began a wave of heartbreak that will last throughout my life. God’s been so faithful to me, and if someone is helped by the story I’ve been given, then all of the pain will be worth it!