I have met two people in my life that I cannot forget. Ever. They're not normal. They're utterly amazing. When you're in their presence, you can only marvel at them. And at God.
I believe I spoke about Nick Vijicic a while back on my blog. Look, I have a bit of a bad memory, so if I didn't, then do yourself one of the biggest favors you can do for yourself and go to his website at lifewithoutlimbs.org. Amazing! He was born without limbs. Without limbs. OK, picture that for just a moment. You have no arms. And no legs. Can you picture yourself or your child without the basics of hands and feet? Every day. I'll wait. OK. But guess what Nick's motto is? "No limbs? No limits!" Today, he is an international motivational speaker who shares his struggles as well as his passion for the Lord any chance he gets.
I had the privilege of meeting Nick a few years ago. If I'm honest, I was terribly scared to meet him as I couldn't imagine seeing someone like this. As I stood there before this beautiful man (oh, he's a looker!) and was being introduced to him, I did thee most STUPIDEST thing I could have done. I reached out to shake his hand. Who does that? Me! I wanted to die! I immediately pulled my hand back and I'm sure my face said, "I AM SUCH AN IDIOT!" And what did he say to me with a warm, beautiful smile? "Give me a hug." You fall in love with the guy instantly.
Well, I won't say any more about him because you just need to go to his
website and read his story. He actually lives in our community as his ministry is across the street from Costco. He's a local! We've seen him out at Chipotle (the kids and I took a picture with him while he was eating a burrito -- I'm sure he loved that!) and that was my screen saver for the longest time.
But I will tell you this. I have heard him speak several times. And each time, I am utterly convinced of this one truth: that God does not make mistakes. When Nick was born, I can bet you that every single solitary person (including his parents) said, "What was God thinking? How could anything good ever come of this little boy's life?" Go listen to Nick's testimony. You will be utterly convinced of this truth too.
OK, so last month, Donna and I were asked to speak at our church's spring event about our ministry His Flower Girls. We were not the main guest speakers, but we spoke right after them. And being guest speakers, they sat us at the very front table closest to the stage. We were so close to it, in fact, that my weird brain kept thinking, "Boy, I can see up everyone's noses!" We were that close! (By the way, in case you were on stage that day and reading this blog, there were no "bats in your cave" as my daughter likes to say!)
The main guest speakers that day were Linda and Jen Barrick, a mother and daughter from Virginia who, along with Linda's husband and son, were hit head on by a drunk driver just miles from their home after one of Jen's choir performances at church. They all sustained such terrible injuries that each one of them had to be transported to four different trauma hospitals. Jen, just 15 at the time, sustained the worst. She had a severe brain injury and wasn't expected to live through the night. Her prognosis was pretty horrendous.
OK, six years later, they're standing before us on stage sharing their testimony. I have never been more captivated by a story in my life. Truly. Jen was unable to speak, eat or see in the hospital, yet she was able to sing praise songs letter perfect and recite scriptures that were tucked away in her heart since before the accident. Perfectly. Though she didn't know her name or recognize her own mom in the hospital, she began praying outloud as if she was uninjured. A miracle. NOT normal. The hospital staff was freaked out to say the least.
OK, well I won't tell you their entire story, but I want to tell you that I witnessed Jesus radiate from Jennifer Barrick that afternoon. And remember, I had a ring-side seat. Her face literally had a glow come over it that was captivating and when she spoke and prayed, I sobbed. Can't imagine how many napkins and Kleenex I reached for. She closed her story by signing the words to the song, Lord You're Holy. As the spotlight was on her face, her joy was off the charts and she looked as if Jesus was the only one she was performing for. It was a sight I will never, ever forget.
I remember sitting there at our table thinking, "Lord, thank you for allowing Donna and I the opportunity of speaking here today. But I don't care if one person liked us or listened to us, for I am just thankful that you arranged this day for me to witness You through them."
When the event was over, I bought their book, "Miracle for Jen." I waited in line to meet her (which I rarely do -- and then totally kick myself afterward for not waiting in line) and then I knelt before Jen who was sitting in a chair by her table of books.
With tears flooding my eyes, I said, "Jen, would you write down your most favorite scripture in my book?" She sat there for a minute, thought about it and then wrote, "God has amazing plans in store for your life. Jesus is going to use you in ways you never dreamed possible! God is faithful! Nahum 1:7. Love, Jen Barrick, 1 Cor. 2:9.
As I walked away, I opened the book to see what she had written to me. It blew me away. You see, I already know that God is using my cancer and my journey and my faith in ways I never dreamed possible. Jen's words to me confimed that the Lord is not finished with me yet. And that excites and humbles me to my core.
In fact, I photocopied Jen's words to me and framed them. The Lord's promise, through Jen Barrick, is something I will stand on. Come good news or bad news. And I know there will be amazing news in His perfect time.
Please visit Linda and Jen Barrick's website Hope Out Loud at hopeoutloud.com. And if I can play Oprah for a moment -- If I had to start a book club this summer, this is the book I would select. (My dad, who is not a reader, is loving it!) Barnes and Noble carries it. Go run out and grab one. In fact, the first person who emails me and tells me that they want to read it, I will buy you one. If you live near, I will leave it on my front porch (please knock and say "hi" if I'm home). If you live far, it will be in the mail to you on Wednesday. I hope to receive many emails that read, "Barnes and Noble is sold out!" Good -- let's get them to re-order and re-stock those shelves!
I couldn't close out this email (a very long one, I'm sorry) without extending our family's deepest gratitude to every person who is or who has served in our military. We thank you and we thank your families on this special day. If I lived close to an airport, I would park myself in a terminal every Memorial Day and give hugs out to every military man and woman I saw. That's the least I could do.
So who's unforgettable in your life? I'd love to know...