22 Years Ago

Tragedy, fear, faith, and prayer came together that morning and changed a family’s trajectory for generations to come. ◊

On this day 22 years ago our family endured an experience that changed each of us. While enjoying our annual family ski trip to Lake Tahoe, my then 9-year old daughter was struck by a speeding adult skier. Catching up to her after she tumbled 20 yards down the slope, I found Lisa moaning and bleeding from her ear and nose. She was conscious but incoherent.

My wife and I were numb in shock and fear.

While my wife took our younger 6-year old son and followed the ski-patrol taking Lisa down the mountain in a stretcher and then by ambulance to the Truckee Emergency Center, I had to take two ski lifts to find and pick up my older 12-year old son and his friend who were meeting us all for lunch at the lodge.

When I arrived at the Truckee hospital, my daughter was being given a CT scan. The doctor had told my wife that Lisa just suffered a concussion. He offered to conduct a CT scan just to be sure. My wife wisely did not hesitate. Within moments the doctors and nurses rushed about and mobilized to arrange an emergency transport to the larger Reno Hospital Trauma Center. Lisa’s ski collision had resulted in an epidural hematoma (bleeding between the skull and brain) and now time was of the essence.

She needed immediate surgery to release the growing pressure on her brain.

I followed the ambulance for the 45 minute drive to Reno. The Hospital Emergency Room doors burst open upon arrival like an ER episode and my daughter was in surgery for 3 hours. We all waited in a side room and tried to stay calm in the midst of such a shocking occurrence.

Where’s God in This?
In fact, God was everywhere in this. God is not in the business of preventing tragedy, nor necessarily causing it either. Rather He is ever present in the midst of tragedy and events that are accidental, intentional, or by natural causes. He’s given us a saving way out of this fallen world, not a free pass from its consequences.

Yes, tragedy and God came headlong together that morning for our family. Incredible fear and helplessness combined with deep faith and prayer as I recall the emotions that fateful morning. We can look back now in deep gratitude, wonder and awe at all that transpired then and since for a family whose trajectory was forever changed.

I’ll never forget eyeing the brain surgeon walking slowly to our waiting room down that long corridor. Only I could see him coming toward us with the verdict of success or failure of the surgery. I tried unsuccessfully to read his body language and even his stride. Was our daughter even alive? The good news that doctor delivered to us moved me to a renewed commitment to life, family, marriage, God and purpose.

I have seen so much.

I saw God respond to an anguished father’s prayer on a ski lift praying for somehow word to spread for others to pray for us. I saw God provide an angel-friend of our family, a devout woman of prayer who just happened to be at that resort for the first time and in a position to spot my wife from afar as Lisa was being loaded into the ambulance at the base of the mountain. She mobilized an immediate prayer-chain involving hundreds of people praying for Lisa and our family.

I saw God bring a peace beyond description to that father while he (I) was on that ski lift in prayer acknowledging God and His will as Sovereign while yet petitioning for my daughter’s life. I felt loving assurance undeserved.

I saw God touch a mother to new depths of faith and love and reverence for Scripture and prayer as He led her to become a woman of further substance and wisdom and capacity for nurturing support and encouragement of others.

I saw God move a 9-year old girl to become a stalwart of faith and prayer who not only survived but thrived in life and love and wisdom and a deep and abiding faith in her Savior God.

I saw God impact a normal family in ways that were not obvious but nevertheless altered by a brush with tragedy and trauma that thrust us all closer to God. We each have grown significantly since then in ways that reveal God’s patient hand and tremendous blessings for His children.

Below is a current picture of our daughter, her husband, and their 3 beautiful children. I’ve watched with blessed assurance as she has matured and grown in faith and beauty and trust in the Lord. Long ago, in God’s unique and mysterious ways, we both had been separately assured that God is Sovereign, that He loves us, and that He has great plans for us. Of course, we also know this from His Word in a verse that has become significant for all of our family:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11

Do you trust God in faith and prayer in the midst of difficulties and even tragedy?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6

Read Lisa’s account here.

Categories: Faith, Family, Jesus, Parenting, Prayer, Purpose

Tags: , , , , , ,

6 replies

  1. Such an encouraging story about faith and God’s turning all things for good. So appreciate the share of this saga.


  2. Thanks, Tom. Yes, quite the saga!


  3. Thank you for this, Mike. And thank you for the witness to God’s grace and presence in the midst of all things.


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