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Monthly Archives: August 2013

A Walk Through The Dark with Eva

It’s a true honor to introduce you to Eva Piper, author of recently released A Walk Through The Dark. Eva is the wife of Don Piper who authored New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes In Heaven. In 1989, Don was in a significant head-on crash with an 18 wheeler. He was proclaimed dead on the scene, spent 90 minutes in heaven, and miraculously survived to share his account with millions worldwide.

Anyone who has experienced trauma knows it has a life-changing impact not just on the individual, but on family members as well. In her book, A Walk Through The Dark, Eva courageously shares her faith-filled journey as wife and caregiver following Don’s accident. Don had the privilege of spending 90 glorious minutes in heaven, but returned to find himself in excruciating pain, stuck in a hospital bed for months, and Eva was by his side every step of the way.

I read Don’s book, 90 Minutes In Heaven, and Eva’s book, A Walk Through The Dark, back to back, which I highly recommend as the books complement each other perfectly. One thing that struck me as I read each book was the powerful presence of a man named David Gentiles. David played a significant role in Don’s recovery after the accident, and was ultimately the one who convinced Don to share his story about heaven. I asked Eva to share more about David in this guest post, and consider it an absolute honor that she entrusted me with the sharing of this miraculous story today.

My husband had miraculously survived being hit head-on by an 18 wheeler on a rural Texas highway on January 18, 1989. It had taken 5 1/2 hours for him to finally arrive at Hermann Memorial Hospital in Houston. His right kneecap was shattered, his left arm had been lying on the back seat, four inches of femur from his left leg had been ejected from his body and thrown out of the car never to be found.

Those injuries were catastrophic themselves but now 17 days later we faced an even more dangerous situation. Following what was suppose to be a minor surgery he developed double pneumonia. Due to the massive injuries to his legs there was no way to elevate him in order to provide the needed breathing treatments. Don got worse and worse each day. The ICU staff, his doctors, and I tried our best to get him to attempt to breathe.

I found myself begging, pleading, yelling at him “Breathe, breathe you have to breathe.” Each time he would respond, “Hurts too much.” By the third day doctors were talking about putting him on a respirator. They told me that once he was on that his chances of survival were slim. I couldn’t believe God had brought him through the accident, the long trip to Houston, an all night surgery just to have him die from pneumonia.

I was exhausted from being at the hospital non stop. I kept questioning myself “Why can’t I get through to him? Why won’t he listen to me about how important it is to try and breathe?” In complete despair I took my fears to God. I began to pray, asking for God to help me know what to say to Don. I begged Him to give me the right words. I claimed His promise never to leave me. In the midst of the prayer I realized God had a different plan from the one I was seeking. I raised my head, walked over to the phone and called Don’s closest friend.

David Gentiles was living in Austin about 160 miles away. When David picked up the phone I told him all that was going on with Don. Before I could even form the question asking him to come to the hospital, David said “I’m on my way.” I thanked him and hung up the phone. Instead of praying for Don I began to pray for David and his safe travel.

Three hours later I looked up to see David walking down the hall towards me. His strong embrace said more than any words he could have uttered. Since David was a minister he was allowed into the ICU to see Don. I didn’t go in with him so I didn’t hear their conversation in person. I do know Don told David he didn’t have it in him to fight to survive to which David replied, “That’s alright. You don’t have to do a thing. We are going to pray you through this. We are going to pray all night.”

True to his word David gathered a group of believers who began an all night prayer vigil for my husband. The following morning Don’s breathing had improved. His doctors were thrilled with his progress and began to make plans to move his healing process along. It would require 34 surgeries to repair the damage to Don’s legs and arm. But they would not have been possible if his breathing had not improved.

Throughout the ordeal of Don’s wreck and recovery I was shown over and over that God always answers prayer. He answered my prayer that night not as I had asked but in His bigger and better plan. Because I was led to call David, and because David called others who prayed many had the experience of seeing our prayers answered. I’m so very thankful I didn’t try to do things my way but instead followed God’s guidance. His way is always best.

David continued to be an important part of our lives. It was David who realized Don had experienced something while lying dead in that crushed car and through his patient questioning helped Don share his remarkable experience. It was David who convinced Don to share his story of seeing heaven. It was David who co-officiated with Don at our daughter Nicole’s wedding. It was David who served as president of the board of Don Piper Ministries. It was David who prayed for my mom when she suffered a stroke. It was David who Don would call to talk baseball, football, ministry, life. David brought much joy, happiness, and love to all who had the privilege of knowing him. We miss him terribly. At times we still want to pick up the phone and call him. There is a big hole in our heart but we know one day he’ll greet us in heaven with that same big smile and huge hug.

Eva Piper

 

Eva’s book, A Walk Through The Dark, is available for purchase through many outlets listed on her website www.evapiper.com. Don’s book, 90 Minutes In Heaven, is available for purchase through Amazon and on his website Don Piper Ministries.

 

Tom Baunsgard - Susan and I have both read “90 Minutes In Heaven” and we are looking forward to reading Eva’s book!August 29, 2013 – 9:32 pm

Where Words Connect The World

In February 2007, long before Pinterest boards existed, I created a vision board as part of a Whole-Life Coaching course offered at Lifetime Fitness which you can see has since been punched through and written on with pens by one of my kids. In case you’ve never heard of a vision board, it’s a way to vision your best, most ideal life through a collage of pictures. In other words, if all of your God-Sized Dreams came true, this is what your life would look like.

On one side of my vision board I pasted fanciful visions of cruise ships, mission trips, nightly family dinners, Pottery Barn bedrooms, and extraordinary health and wellness. On the other side, a God-Sized Dream bigger than life. And in the center of that vision? A  woman smiling kindly and genuinely, captioned We’ve never chatted at the grocery store, but I’ll help save your life.

While I don’t believe there was anything magical about pasting cut-out magazine pictures on a piece of foam board six and a half years ago, I do believe God creates us uniquely and places purposes in each of our hearts. If we follow His promptings one by one, our dreams can become reality.

We’ve never chatted at the grocery store, but I’ll help save your life.

That picture in the center of my vision was big and bold and it meant something to me in February 2007, but I didn’t know why. In August 2010 I joined Twitter, and three years later as I look at that board, I know without a doubt that part of the vision has been fulfilled, is being fulfilled, daily. That photograph represents the family of soul sisters and brothers I have found through Twitter – a family of bloggers, authors, and all kinds of extraordinarily ordinary people that have become my special place, my hiding place, the place where my heart feels known. Where facades are stripped and souls remain, speaking truths of reality and beauty from pain. We understand each other completely through the sharing and baring of words. And this place where words connect the world – is where I belong.

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.  2 Corinthians 3:2-3

Amy

*This was originally written as a Five Minute Friday post on July 19, 2013, but not published until today. The word of the week was belong.

Amy B. Pederson - Idelette, thanks for stopping by and for your encouragement!August 28, 2013 – 3:16 pm

Idelette McVicker - This is beautiful, Amy. I still love vision boards…

Btw, I got to listen in on some of the 143 Voxer messages that awaited me and I LOVE your voice… I haven’t made my way through enough of the conversation to comment–seriously!–but I will get there.August 23, 2013 – 6:02 am

When You Know It’s Time To Break Free

Gibby, right? Sweet and funny sidekick from iCarly? But think twice. He’s more than just Gibby. He’s Noah Munck.

I had the privilege of meeting Noah for a couple minutes at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards pre-party in March. Being the mom that I am, I of course explained that my kids love watching him on iCarly and we were sad the show had wrapped. Noah thanked me kindly, but made it clear he was looking forward to moving on with his acting career in movies and TV shows.

I’ve pulled this picture up on my computer screen more than once since March because as much as I enjoyed meeting Gibby, Noah got me thinking. How many of us want to break free from old, out-of-date, worn-out images of ourselves?

Maybe you’ve been the funny sidekick like Gibby, and you desperately want to be taken seriously for who you really are.

Maybe you’ve always felt like the fat girl, the fat boy, the one on the sidelines, insecure, not good enough.

Maybe you’ve been the quiet one, you feel small, you’re afraid to express your opinions, but long to break out of your shell.

Maybe you’re the good girl, the “perfect” one, doing what’s best, making the right decision in every circumstance, and you just can’t do it anymore.

Maybe you’re the sarcastic one, hiding your true feelings behind jokes that make others feel bad, looking for a laugh when you’re dying on the inside.

Maybe you’ve been addicted, looking for security and stability here, there, anywhere, and you haven’t found it yet, so you shop and you eat and you drink and you work, you wander and you roam, you’re aimless, and it’s getting you nowhere.

Maybe you’ve felt alone, nobody understands, you’ve been abandoned and abused, and you can’t shake the feeling that nobody notices or even cares.

I give you permission today. Break free. You’ve been you, and nothing is wasted on God’s clock, but it’s time to break out of your shell and become who He created you to be. You’re even more than you’ve been. You’re beautiful, you’re you. Perfectly unique, ready to bloom right where you are.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.  Jeremiah 1:5

Amy

Noah’s next project, Swindle, premiering on Nickelodeon August 24th! Best wishes to you Noah.

It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another Meet Me At This Moment for Five Minute Friday post. I spend the last hour of Thursday chatting with a group of authentic and inspiring Five Minute Friday bloggers on Twitter (#fmfparty). One minute past midnight EST Friday, Lisa-Jo Baker gives us a single word prompt and we all write a blog post centered around that word. We write for five minutes, and five minutes only! In the words of Lisa, this is “unscripted. unedited. real.” You meet me at this moment in time…my thoughts and opinions, my joys and sorrows, my dilemmas and dreams. And I receive one of the greatest gifts ever – a regular outlet for processing and expressing my thoughts without constantly editing myself. This is my life, my perspective, unfiltered.

The word of the week is SMALL.

 

Amy - Hi Debi, and thanks for YOUR encouragement! I just ran across that passage a day or two ago, so funny you posted it here today! Thanks for stopping by!August 19, 2013 – 9:39 am

Amy - Tanya, so glad this post spoke to you at the right moment. I hope with all of my heart you are able to break free from whatever has been holding you back! God bless you on the journey!August 19, 2013 – 9:37 am

Amy - Thanks Grace for stopping by!August 19, 2013 – 9:36 am

Debi @ DebiStangeland.com - Great take on this week’s word. I liked reading it a lot. You are a great encourager. Keep it up!!

“Your beginning will seem so small, since your future will flourish.” Job 8:7August 18, 2013 – 10:52 pm

Tanya @ TypicalTanya.com - Love the timing of your words here, Amy. They really spoke to my heart at the exact moment I read them. It’s as if I really was looking for permission to break free after feeling misguided and small for so long. It’s time to break free indeed! Thanks for the inspiration.August 17, 2013 – 8:34 pm

Grace Aspinwall - Love this post and happy to have found your blog :)August 16, 2013 – 11:48 am

One Song, One Man, One Day Changer

The day started with a bang!

Just three hours in to the morning, I received news that had the potential to change the direction of my future, and if it was true, I had no choice but to surrender. Goose bumps and tears, shock and peace ran through me all at once.

So later that afternoon after I dropped my daughter off at the American Girl store for a birthday party, I found myself with an hour and a half of free time. Normally, I revel in free time at the Mall of America because it means access to every store I love, and provides endless opportunities to engage with interesting people. But before I knew it, I found myself at the Nestle Toll House store buying diet soda and two chocolate chip cookies. I plopped down on a bench in front of H&M and spent a half hour pouring over the words that might change my life, trying to make sense of it all. Carefree shoppers passed with bags in their hands, and there was a part of me that wanted to forget it all and just chill, but I was in a fog – just me, my smart phone, and my Nestle cookies. Yes, I do believe those Nestle cookies provided me a bit of solace in that moment!

My time alone was running short, so after a half hour, I forced myself to get up and spend the last 45 minutes shopping! I bought a first day of school shirt for my daughter at Gymboree, and then after wandering aimlessly, found myself at Old Navy, drawn in by thoughts of a cute dress I had recently seen advertised in a magazine.

I can’t remember why it was a special day for Old Navy, but there were balloons and big signs advertising fashion shows in the rotunda. I don’t do a lot of shopping at Old Navy, but the Mall of America location is the best by far, and the promise of that dress kept me going deeper into the store. The dress was nowhere to be found, so I kept wandering back to the activewear where I picked up a few pair of workout pants as possible replacements for the one with holes I just threw in the garbage!

I held those workout pants and not-so-passionately began looking for a dressing room, but my mood got the best of me. As I thought of those potentially life changing words, worry, doubt, and uncertainty snuck in, grabbing ahold of any reserve energy I had to try on the pants. But as I hung all three pants back on the rack, I realized there was music playing in the background, louder than any music I’d ever heard in a store.

I’ll admit, as I moved further back, deeper into Old Navy to determine where the music was coming from, I quickly became annoyed with how loud it was. Empty handed, moody, annoyed and now overstimulated by the way-too-loud music, I looked around at all the clothes and people shopping and started thinking even more negatively – we’re obsessed, consumption driven maniacs driven by the acquisition of more and more, and for what?

But suddenly, I had a change of heart and my mood shifted. The volume of the music was no longer annoying because for the first time, I really listened to the words. “Don’t You Worry, Don’t You Worry Child. See heaven’s got a plan for you.” The beat was fast and the words repeated over and over, and to be honest, that music was no longer an annoyance, but a relief for all of my worrying and obsessing about something I had no control over.

So I walked a little deeper and turned right, and there was DJLow getting his groove on next to his equipment! Just the sight of him dancing helped me chill out to the next level. The song ended and my anxiety remained much lower than it had been just a few minutes earlier, so I knew I had to let DJLow know how his choice of music had impacted me so positively in that moment.

Just as I suspected, DJLow was kind and chilled out, and he waited patiently as I tried to make room on my phone to take a picture. “No worries,” he said, when I apologized for taking so long. He wished me a better day and bid farewell.

And a shy boy with little expression danced reluctantly with another brave enough to dance freely in the middle of the Old Navy store. I smiled. DJLow smiled, and kept playing his music, on and on.

(Perhaps you needed that reminder, too?)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

Amy

*If you’d like to hire DJLow for your wedding or special event, follow him on Facebook here!

Amy - Tara, you’re welcome and so glad this was what you needed today! Hope you enjoy the last couple weeks of summer with your girls. :)August 14, 2013 – 3:38 pm

Tara - I totally needed that reminder today, Amy! Thank you for using your gift of writing to touch others (especially me!).August 14, 2013 – 12:56 pm