A Story of God’s Grace

A Story of God’s Grace

Stories make truth come alive. The larger context is The Best News Ever. As part of that, I was interviewed about my story, focusing on the last 1.5 years since the accident. My story was entitled – not by me but appropriately – A Story of God’s Grace. The interview follows:

  • Collene, you were in education all your life. Where and in what capacity?
    1. I started teaching kindergarten and remedial reading in Hudsonville in a joint position between the public and Chr. schools.
    2. We moved to Lansing and …
      1. I taught first at Lansing Chr. in primary grades and reading support.
      2. When our children were born, I taught a variety of classes, part time at Lansing Community College, teaching adults to read.
  • When the boys were in school full time, I began at Waverly Community Schools focusing on K-12 reading support and became the curriculum director.
  1. When we moved to Harrisburg, PA, I became the Asst. Supt. and ultimately the Superintendent in the Palmyra Area School District.
  • What happened that put you in a wheelchair?
    We had just retired mid summer of 2013 and begun to sail The Chesapeake Bay and to travel. We moved our belongings to Holland in November. On March 19, 2014 I was hit by another car in Florida. I broke about a dozen bones from my scull to my left fibula, had 2 collapsed lungs, required 7 units of blood, and was on life support, but most severe was the spinal cord injury at T-6. I’m paralyzed from the chest down.
  • Such a major change, how do you handle it?
    1. First, I don’t want to minimize how difficult this is. Everything I do from the time I get up until I go to bed, including how I sleep is different and more difficult. That said, from the day of the accident, the word miraculously spread and many, many people were praying for me. A girlhood friend got the word out to our graduating class from Unity Chr. HS. The accident happened on a Wednesday and Alan’s sister is in the choir here. They began praying. Prayer groups I didn’t even know about meeting that Wednesday in Palmyra prayed for me. An order of Nuns in Lansing was praying for me. Of course, we also had our family and their friends from across the country and world praying. Our daughter-in-law began a CarePage which had over 900 followers. I firmly believe that the prayers are why I am alive, why I don’t have brain damage despite having had a closed head injury, why I have my arms and hands, and why we can deal with this. It is a 180* turn but not the end of the road.
    2. We have seen God Moments throughout this journey.
      1. One of my nurses in intensive care in FL had Jeremiah 29:11 tattooed across her lower arm. That became my special text. “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.”
      2. Our two sons and daughter-in-law came when I was in intensive care, along with my sister and Alan. Our children are all in the area of science and they reminded me from Day 1 that “I am an N of one.” “N” stands for a critical number in research and science. If 5% of people can improve with this injury, I can (and will) be that one of those 5/100. I am an N of one.
      3. A very special physical therapist was placed in my life at Mary Free Bed. Marium was raised Muslim but is now an amazing Christian. She was there to say the things I needed to hear on difficult days. One day she climbed onto the therapy table with me, grabbed my hand, and said, “There is a difference between fact and truth. The fact is that right now you have a spinal cord injury and cannot move below the T-6. The truth is that God can and does perform miracles and I believe He can do a miracle in your life.” Over the next couple days she shared miracles she had seen in her own life. We keep praying for that miracle which could be in the form of medical breakthroughs.
  1. During our years in Lansing, we kept our sailboat at Anchorage Marina. We first heard about Christ Memorial from our friends Ron & Sherrie. We attended Christ Memorial several times each year when we were out here. The preaching always spoke to us and was true to the word. The music was excellent. When we moved to Holland in retirement, this is where we wanted to join. Before we were even members, Bill Boersma met with Alan after my accident. He then began to meet with both of us and we appreciated him so much. Quality music is important to us so we’ve always belonged to churches with beautiful music. The thing about Christ Memorial is how naturally and beautifully the music blends with the sermon and the liturgy. It is seamless.
  2. My SCI happened to me but it really happened to my family and friends as well. Each one of their lives has changed, especially Alan and our children. Family and friends support us with prayer and in countless ways. We are given grace to make it through one day at a time. I am an N of one. Glory be to God.

To hear the entire context as well as the interview in my own words, click below. You won’t want to miss the message by Dr. Bill Brownson, former voice of Words of Hope radio. At about 88 years old, he speaks without a note in front of him.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Elly
    Nov 01, 2015 @ 10:18:18

    Thank you for your powerful reminder. You truly are an N of One.



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