I turned on the car and watched the muffled grey light dance through the sleet pounding on the wind shield. I surveyed the ice piled up over two inches thick on the slick, steep, curvy road ahead, and prayed.
The 150 miles separating me from my destination seemed impassible. There were 590,000 people without power from New Mexico through Arkansas due to this huge ice storm, and I was about to drive right through the middle of it alone. This was a journey that I felt God was asking me to attempt. So, even though there was no one else in my car physically, God’s presence filled the interior, asking me to trust Him.
“God, I know you want me to go to this mission conference, but this is impossible,” I whispered. “If you want me to make this drive, I’m going to need a miracle.”
While some people believe in them, the more dubious think it’s just the emotion-filled endorphins of a weak mind creating fantasy explanations for the events altered by flawed memories to fit into a particular belief-system framework. Believers try to use them as “proof” for God. However, since they don’t fit into the scientific method and cannot be replicated over and over in an in-vitro study, the skeptics will continue to dismiss them.
Until it happens to them…
I’ve heard personal testimonies of amazing miracles in other people’s lives. Testimonies that defy all logic and reason if you were crazy enough to attempt to apply them.
However, those are their stories. I wasn’t there. I can’t validate them. I can only choose to believe the testimony of another. I guess that’s all anyone can ask.
But I have my own experience with miracles. And, I’ve decided to share a few of them here to add my voice to the many others that give God credit for direct answers to prayers.
I don’t do this to offer proof of God. I will never be able to box God up in the scientific method and deliver Him to the skeptics in a pretty package. He’s just too big for that, and He doesn’t need me to defend Him or provide proof of Him to the world. Honestly, I’m not sure I would do it for the right reason anyway… He just asks that I love Him, love others, and give my personal testimony of what He’s done for me.
So, I will simply lay my stories before you with no expectation. For those who believe that I somehow am remembering my past incorrectly, I do keep diaries of these events and record them immediately after they occur. I can assure you, I am not offering further embellishment. This is just what happened, and it’s only a few small threads of the background tapestry behind my faith.
The four experiences that I will share are just the tip of a very deep ice burg. However, some situations are more personal and cannot be revealed publicly because I have other people’s stories embedded deeply within my own. So, until I gain further permission, some of the most amazing miracles will have to stay locked away from the public eye, because they aren’t just my tale to tell.
Water and Ice
Let’s go back to my opening story. It was December 26, 2000 when I was sitting in my car on that crazy day watching ice pellets pitter patter on my windshield. We were right in the middle of one of the worst ice storms in Arkansas’ history. (You can read about it here.) Somehow, I had to drive in my rear-wheel-powered caddy from my sleepy little town in Mountain Home, AR to catch a bus in Siloam Springs, AR, and then drive to Urbana, Illinois for a missions conference.
When the sleet started falling on Christmas day, I felt extremely disappointed that I wouldn’t get to go to this life-changing global conference. However, the next day, even though the sleet continued to fall outside and the ice filled the roads, I felt a strong impression that I needed go anyway. I found out that the bus from Siloam Springs was still leaving as planned. I just had to get there to catch it.
So, I loaded the car, scrapped the ice off of my windshield, leaned my head against the steering wheel, and asked for my miracle.
And God delivered!
As soon as I raised my head from the steering wheel and put the car in drive, something amazing happened. I noticed the ice was no longer hitting my windshield. It had turned to rain.
Now, this isn’t normally all that amazing. Weather often can’t make up its mind in Arkansas. But, the timing was pretty incredible. Even more incredible, I happen to have a thermostat in my car that read the outside temperature. The temperature hadn’t changed. (For those weather history buffs, here is the actual temperature readings for that date.) My car thermostat read 26 degrees Fahrenheit at the time the rain started. The high stayed well below freezing, reaching only 28 for the entire day.
I began to drive, and the rain didn’t let up. It made the ice turn to a wet, slushy mixture that my tires found more appealing. I never once slide on that entire lonely drive through the Ozark Mountains. If you ever get a chance to drive the road, it has some beautiful scenery; but the majority of the trip is through country with twisting turns combined with steep drop offs. No other drivers joined me on most of that isolated highway. One overshot turn and I would have been stranded. However, I found I wasn’t afraid, because I knew God was with me. Without snow tires, chains, or four-wheel drive, I was able to safely get to my destination in the middle of one of the worst ice storms in Arkansas’ history through a soft curtain of warming rain.
The storm continued into the next day. However, our bus still left as scheduled after a prayer for safety on the roads. We were able to drive from Siloam Springs, AR to the mission conference in Urbana, IL with absolutely no issues past four-wheel drive trucks that had slide off the road moments earlier.
Now, before all of you meteorologists and science lovers jump in to educate me, I do know that it is scientifically possible for it to rain when the temperature is below freezing. It’s rare, but it does happen. The precipitation can pass through warmer areas of the atmosphere and turn to rain as it hits the ground.
However, the fact that it started right when I prayed, that it continued to rain over the entire 150 miles that I drove across the state of Arkansas alone, and that instead of freezing when it hit the road and making things worse, it melted the ice into slush where I was able to get good traction all add up to a lot of perfect coincidences. I choose to believe God had His hand in this one.
(Disclaimer: Now, before everyone jumps out in the next ice storm to see how God saves them, let me clarify… I had already resigned myself to not going to this conference. During my prayer time, God specifically impressed on me to go forward with this trip. I am not advocating driving on dangerous roads just because you want to see how God will protect you.)
The mission conference was amazing. While I was there, I dedicated my life to always following God’s calling, no matter how much it scared me. My faith felt so big then. I forgot that promise as the years passed, and had to be reminded of it.
Give It Up to Gain It All
Several job titles and promotions later, I found myself again at a difficult cross road. I really enjoyed the security of my current job and loved our nice golf-course house and company car, but I was losing myself as I continued to rely on my own efforts over God’s will for my life. I had gotten comfortable and my character was suffering.
Ten years had passed since that December faith journey, and the person that would once drive an icy road alone to go to a mission conference now held onto perceived corporate success with a vice-like death grip.
I had lived for over a year without my husband in my life. His career had taken him to a tropical island of Grenada, and I stayed behind to continue my sales job and pay the mortgage. It was the worst decision we could have made emotionally, although it made the best sense financially. Several difficult trials that followed that decision nearly ruined our marriage and threw me into a deep depression.
Why is it so hard to give up all our stuff? I was afraid that I would look like a failure if I let our house go and quit a cushy job that most people would crawl across broken glass to obtain. My pride was my biggest obstacle. I wasn’t happy, no matter how much I tried to convince myself otherwise.
After much prayer and study, I felt God was telling me to leave my job and join my husband in Grenada. He was asking me to trust Him, to put our marriage first, and to let go of every iota of control I felt I still possessed.
However, I’m ashamed to say that I lacked the faith of my youth. I had so much more to give up now. So, I asked God for a sign instead of immediately obeying Him. I felt that He was asking too much for me to just commit career and financial suicide based on a gut feeling. The fact that He answered my prayer just shows how much He loves us even when we are at our weakest. I didn’t deserve a sign. God certainly wasn’t obligated to provide it. But, He still did.
I told God, “O.k. If you really want me to sell everything, quit my job, and move to a tiny Caribbean island, I need to you make this extremely crystal clear to me.”
So, I gave God a pretty big test on a tight time frame. I told Him in the next seven days, I would need a realtor who specialized in short-sales to come to me unsolicited and tell me that I needed to leave my current life in the US and join my husband in another country.
I chose this particular test because one of the reasons that I had stayed behind was that we couldn’t sell our home. We bought at the height of the Florida market. We lost all our equity and about 50% of our total home value when the real estate bubble burst. We hadn’t consulted God when we purchased the house, and now we were stuck with our poor decision. The only way I could get out from under the property was to do a short sale, which I was afraid to do. This fear kept me separated for over a year from my husband, with plans to have several more years apart before he could move back and live with me.
So, I put my test before Him, kept my pact with God a secret, went on a water fast so I could be more attuned to God’s direction, and waited. I waited for six days with no sign that my prayers would be answered.
Then, on the seventh day, one of my friends came up to me after church. He asked how I was doing. I did the typical exchange where you say you are fine even when you aren’t, and then he stopped me.
“How’s your husband doing in school down in Grenada?” he asked.
“Oh, he’s doing great and studying very hard.” I answered. “I’m very proud of him.”
Then he looked at me with the look that told me I wasn’t fooling anyone with my have-it-all-together act.
“You know, you really need to just leave everything and move down there to live with him. It’s not right for you guys to be separated for this long.”
I stopped in my tracks. Even though this guy wasn’t a realtor now, I suddenly remembered that he used to do real estate full time before changing careers.
“This may seem like a weird question, but what did you specialize in when you did real estate work?”
My friend looked at me and smiled at the off-topic query. I’m sure he thought I was just trying to change the subject.
“I used to do short sales. Why?”
There was my conformation, on the final day of my test.
“I was just curious. And your right, I’ve just decided to go down and join my husband in Grenada. Your encouragement was the final straw that I needed to make up my mind.”
I couldn’t have asked for anything more. God had fulfilled my request. Now, it was my turn to fulfill His.
So, I left it all behind. Even though He didn’t have to, God answered my faithless plea with the exact confirmation that I requested. We sold our house, car, possessions, and I left my career to go to a tiny tropical island. The short sale actually went very smoothly, and we were able to walk away from our house with very little in penalty payments.
While I’ve been in Grenada, God has healed my marriage and opened the door to a career in writing that fulfills me far more than any corporate commission check. And, while we certainly aren’t as financially secure, God has always provided for us with just what we needed… as evidenced by my next miracle.
When my husband and I were first married, we lived very simply. With a biology degree, my husband took a very low-paying job making $7.40 per hour as a rehab tech so he could stay in the health care field working with patients and better his chances of getting into medical school. I worked as a television producer, making $9 per hour. We weren’t exactly high rollers.
I realized very quickly once I was married that I would never get to see my husband on our current trajectory. The days that he had off never coincided with the times that I didn’t work. I also worked nights producing the evening news, and usually got home around midnight, while he worked days. The work / life balance just wasn’t tipping in our favor.
So, I quit my job at the news station with no additional work prospects. I realize in retrospect that this wasn’t the best decision, but I really felt I could find a job much faster if I had more time to focus on the employment hunt. I was so burned out as a newly wed who never saw her husband, that I simply quit with no back up plan.
I immediately brushed up my resume and hit the streets. Unfortunately, this was not long after 9/11, and many people weren’t hiring in the journalism field. After over a month knocking door to door, I still didn’t have a job.
Without the two salaries that we had based our budget on, we were running out of money quickly. We didn’t buy food, and we didn’t tell anyone that our pantry was bare. Somehow, people just knew we needed food and left it on our porch. I was humbled by their kindness.
We barely scrapped enough money to make our tiny rental payment. And then, the utility bill came.
I remember looking at our account. I wanted to pay that bill, but even if we brought our bank account down to zero, we were still $40 short. I remember sinking to the floor with that bill in front of me in tears. I felt so stressed and guilty for quitting my job. It really is a sickening feeling to know that you can’t even pay your basic electric and water bill.
I began to pray. I asked God for any work possible so I would never feel like I couldn’t pay a basic utility bill again.
I was on my knees, and looked to the ceiling of our tiny trailer as the tears streamed down my face and asked out loud, “God, what do you want me to do? I’m out of options! I’ve tried to find a job everywhere!”
The second after these words left my lips, the phone rang. I wiped the tears from my face and tried to answer with some dignity. It was a temp agency that I had applied to a few weeks ago. They were calling to tell me about an interview with Procter & Gamble to do a month-long stint for the P&G Wal-Mart Team. They asked if I could be ready to interview in an hour.
I was ready in 20 minutes and sitting outside in the waiting room with the other prospects. As I was talking to my competition, I realized that I had no chance of getting this job. Everyone else had years of business experience. I was fresh out of college with just a year as a TV producer. What would they possibly want with me? I wasn’t even in the right field for the position.
I did the interview on a Friday with a kind director, and went home feeling even more hopeless.
That weekend, we went to church. I kept thinking about the $40 we owed on our utility bill and how we couldn’t pay it. After church, we shook the pastor’s hand as he greeted his parishioners filing out by the front door.
“Hey, didn’t you two just get married recently?” our pastor asked.
“I completely forgot to get you a wedding present.”
He handed my husband two rolled up bills.
“Here son, go take your new bride out for a nice dinner on me.”
We thanked him and as we walked away, we looked at the roll of money. It was two $20 bills. The exact amount we needed to pay the utility bill.
On that Monday, as I paid our bill, I also received a call from the temp agency telling me that I was the temp chosen to work for the next month at P&G. How I got that job over a much more qualified applicant pool defies all reason.
During the month I temped at P&G, I just happened to work for an amazing director who saw something in me that he decided was worth keeping around permanently. He pushed the internal HR department to hire me. And so began my nearly nine-year career with Procter & Gamble. Every year, I received a new promotion until I was managing entire states as an account manager with my own sales territory. From that time forward, we were never unable to pay a utility bill again.
While there is nothing earth shattering about each individual event, when you put it all together, it takes just as much faith to trust in extraordinary coincidence as it does to believe in God. Now, you may be able to chalk up one story to coincidence, but this is just one of many that have worked out exactly in the same fashion. For me, there is no more proof needed that God is real than to simply look at what He has done for us over and over.
From the moment that I asked God the question about my job prospects, to the answer coming in a telephone call less than a second later. From the $40 that I asked God for on Friday to our pastor giving us a $40 gift over the weekend. From the fact that a month-long temp business position was not only given to a journalist with zero business experience, but that it turned into a nine-year career that took me across the country and allowed me to gain amazing business knowledge and sales experience from the most prestigious consumer goods company in the world. From the fact that we told no one but God we were out of food, to bags of groceries left anomalously on our porch. All of those “coincidences” strike me as answers to my cries for help from a God who cares about us even when we are too scared to trust Him completely. Of course, He used the kind hearts of many wonderful people as well, and I am eternally grateful to my friends, co-workers, and family for their support in my life.
Should I Take the Deal?
My final testimony also occurred during a very tumultuous time in my career. I was working for P&G Pharmaceuticals in Florida. P&G wanted to get out of the pharmaceutical industry, and they gave us a warning that they were putting the prescription brands up for sale. Like many of my peers, I began looking for another job.
True to their word, a few months later P&G sold their pharmaceutical division to Warner Chilcott. I interviewed at Colgate Palmolive to join their dental division, and they extended me a generous offer. However, a part of me was afraid to leave P&G. A small amount of reps would be allowed to remain to continue to work with doctors on P&G’s OTC market. The rest would be transferred to Warner Chilcott. However, on the exact day that I was offered the job at Colgate within their oral care sales force, I received a call that my position in Florida with P&G would be eliminated.
I was flown in to meet with Procter & Gamble’s top executives. They told me that they valued my time with the company, and they wanted to keep me. However, they no longer needed me in Florida. They were willing to pay to relocated me to the northeast in another division, should I decide to stay with them.
However, since my house’s value had dropped with the market crash, I was stuck in Florida unless I wanted to short sale the property. At the time, this didn’t seem like the best move. I asked for a few hours to think about it, and I was released from the meeting.
While it may seem like an easy decision, it wasn’t for me. I really enjoyed working for P&G. I realized that if I took the deal and moved, I could still get into some other area of the company if I wasn’t happy there and make a life-long career with a stable, blue-chip corporation. P&G also offers some amazing retirement and profit-sharing options that are difficult to leave. So, I prayed. I asked God to help me decide, and went back into the meeting.
I hadn’t told anyone within P&G that I had an offer from Colgate. But, I whispered a prayer to God that it would be really helpful if the company was just brought up randomly in our conversation by upper management as confirmation that I was doing the right thing.
I had no sooner thought these words, when I decided to ask about conflict of interest should I take another job.
“So, are there any restrictions on conflict of interest if I decide to leave P&G for another company instead of move?”
My manager nodded.
“Yes, there are some. However, due to the circumstances, we won’t be too strict as long as it’s not a direct conflict. For example, I know you worked for the Iams Vet division and sold against Hills and Science Diet (owed by Colgate). While you couldn’t work for Colgate’s Pet Care division, you could still work for their oral care side of things, even though we compete directly against them with Crest. But, since you didn’t work on Crest and weren’t privy to proprietary information, there would be no conflict for us.”
Now, keep in mind, P&G has hundreds of brands. I worked directly with many of them during my career. This was also my pharmaceutical manager. He should have more likely given a scenario of an OTC drug competitor than going back into my work history and dusting off my past work with Iams. At that moment, it was no longer difficult to turn down P&G’s offer.
I actually asked my manager later if he had mentioned Colgate because of some amazing company computer spyware that had discovered that I had an offer on the table from them. He assured me that he didn’t know anything about it, that the example just popped into his head.
And, God took care of us. My last day with P&G ended on a Friday. I took the weekend off, and started with Colgate on a Monday. Because P&G eliminated my position, they gave me the opportunity to take a benefits package. Colgate ended up being an even better work environment and higher salary with my added sales commissions than P&G offered.
As with everything else in my life, what I thought was a horrible trial turned into an amazing blessing.
I share just a snippet of these experiences to show that God has shown up time and time again for me in very real ways. While it won’t convince the skeptics that God it real, I hope it will at least give people in similar situations courage to reach out to a loving Creator who cares about the smallest details of our lives. God deserves credit and glory for the things that He has done in my life, and since He has given me a passion for writing, it would be very selfish for me not use that gift to honor Him. Someday, I hope to share some of the more intense miracles as time brings healing and safety to deeper emotional battles and refining moments.
Could all these “miracles” be arbitrary and meaningless flashes of chance? Sure, I guess you could look at it that way. But, given that this type of thing occurs much more often than I have time to embellish further in this post, I think it takes just as much faith to believe in its designless randomness as it does to believe in a Designer with a plan for my life.
I obviously believe the latter, and I wanted to give God the glory for His part in changing my life for the better and offer hope to others who may be in the midst of similar struggles. If you’re out of work or worried about downsizing or elimination, even though it’s terribly scary, God may open doors with opportunities that you never dreamed possible. For those who lack food or money to pay bills, God will provide for your basic needs. For those who have excess, be the hands and feet God uses to bless others through actual service and giving. For those who are facing physical danger, trust your life into God’s hands. For those being asked to give up something, I can promise you that nothing you are clinging to is worth what God has in store for you if you will just let go. It’s like a father asking his daughter to give up her plastic pearl imitation necklace, so that her hands and heart are free to receive the authentic pearl string that he’s just waiting to give her.
In my experience, in your walk with God, you will always gain far more than you ever lose.
So, are miracles real? They certainly are to me.