It’s been over a month since I’ve done one of my Tuesday posts. My soul is just beginning to catch up on all the places my body has been in the past 30 days: Nashville for a trade show, New York City to assist with an author interview and then a five-day float on the Western Caribbean with my mom, sister and sister-in-law. I know, tough life, right?
And then the past several weeks I’ve been totally distracted by the phenomenal, precedent-busting weather we’ve experienced in northern Illinois – 14 plus days of sun and temps in the 70s and 80s. “Chicago is the new Phoenix!” Mike commented as he pulled out the lawn mower last week. When have we EVER mowed in March?!
Not that I’m complaining.
And speaking of which, we’re now nearly three full months into YOLU – the Year of Living Uncomplainingly. At least one friend is YOLU’ing along with me. Despite a husband with a cancer diagnosis and a personal workload that doubled after a colleague left suddenly for urgent medical reasons, my friend in Kenya is determined to grab joy by the fistful and plunge her nose into its fragrance.
Some people are great at just being grateful while others…just grate. If spring comes early, they gloomily predict snow by month’s end. If they’ve enjoyed a few days away, they heave a sigh when it’s time to return to work. If an acquaintance comments on the good in their life, they’re quick to point out the bad.
It’s easy to be positive when spring comes early and your fatigue is caused by the good fortune of being gainfully employed. It’s hard not to be happy when, like the cowboy in Oklahoma, you’ve got “a wonderful feeling that everything’s going your way.”
But how do you respond when what’s coming your way, in your very lane in fact, is a drunk driver doing 80 mph? How do you react when your teenage daughter slowly begins to emerge from a five-week coma and she doesn’t know that your family’s minivan was crushed in a head- on collision, or what her brother’s name is, or how to add 2+2? How do you possibly find the good in an accident that damaged every part of your precious girl’s brain?
The answers to these questions lie in an extraordinary hardcover book Tyndale House released this month called Miracle for Jen, written by my friend and Jen’s mom, Linda Barrick.
In her memoir, Linda describes the crisp November evening just over five years ago when their family was on their way home from church in Lynchburg, VA where Jen had been singing in a youth choir. Just one mile from home, a drunk driver with no headlights slammed head-on into their van. Linda, her husband Andy, and their children Jennifer and Josh had to be extricated from their van and rushed to four different hospitals. Jen suffered the most life-threatening injuries and it was feared she would not survive the night.
But thanks to thousands of prayers and the miraculous healing hand of God, Jen survived, as did the entire Barrick family. Yet the road to recovery has been long and grueling.
With severe traumatic brain injury and multiple skull fractures, Jen remained in a coma for five weeks. Yet little-by-little she began to recover, and miracle-after-miracle began to unfold.
As Linda relates the story, “Even though she couldn’t remember that 2 + 2 = 4, Jen could remember every Bible verse she had ever memorized and the words of every worship song she had ever sung. Jen would talk to God out loud and praise Him continually as if she could see Him standing right beside her in the hospital room. Everyone – even the doctors – knew that God was at work. There was no other explanation. God was whispering ‘HOPE’ in Jen’s ear.”
I had the privilege of assisting Linda and Jen with a TV interview in New York City late last month. (You can watch the 4 minute feature here.) Like the hosts and producers at Fox News, NBC’s Today Show and others, I felt humbled just to be in this young woman’s presence.
Although Jen is legally blind and suffers from chronic pain and fatigue, there is a radiance about her very being that causes people to notice and be drawn to her. I believe it’s because Jen Barrick reminds others of Someone they have heard of but have never actually met. The spirit of the presence of Christ around her is so powerful that people by the thousands have asked Jen to pray for them – not because of any special power in her but because she is so clearly close to the One who not only restored her life but has given her a powerful new purpose.
Linda tells me that God is continuing to produce miracles in their situation. Tomorrow I’ll post a few of those.