The Accident That Took Home My Friend Herm.

On March 7, 2010, my friend, mentor, and neighbor of eight years, Hermione Joy Wommack, was killed by a drunk driver slamming into her SUV head-on at 80 miles per hour. Reports say his blood alcohol levels were 2x over the legal limit and he was driving without a license.

Let me take you back to that day.

On March 6, 2010, I gave birth to my youngest daughter and final baby. I telephoned Herm later that day to tell her the good news and see if she could come take a peek at my new bundle of joy at the hospital. I was greatly looking forward to her visit because she and I had both recently moved miles apart and hadn’t seen each other in months. She told me she could visit the next day since it was Sunday and a bit less hectic for her. I was due to return home Monday, so I assured her Sunday was perfect and couldn’t wait to see her again.

Herm, an Argentinean high school Spanish teacher, had always been a precious friend and neighbor to me. Going through difficult times in the early days of marriage and job loss was made easier by her wisdom, counsel, and prayers. There wasn’t much I didn’t tell Herm and her presence in my life was constant.

There would be times when I would open up my front door to find bags of gifts awaiting me that she cleverly sneaked there. Generosity was always nothing but second nature to Herm.

I vividly remember watching my oldest daughter, who was three at that time, putting on the gorgeous Sunday dress Herm had given her and walking next door to show it off to Herm before church. I can still see Herm’s smile as she knelt down to admire the dress, and my daughter trotting proudly back across the lawn towards me.

Sunday evening March 7, 2010 at around dinner time, Herm came into my hospital room, and immediately took my newest baby in her arms. It was so good to see her again. She and I caught up a bit and I promised her I would come visit her at her new farm they had just bought in the country. I grabbed my digital camera and asked for a picture. She said she looked awful since her grandkids had been with her all day and they’d been gardening together. I assured her she looked great as always and began snapping away.

Herm holding my youngest just moments before her death.

I’m so glad I did. Those were the last pictures ever taken of Herm, for only an hour later she was taken to heaven.

She was on the phone counseling another friend when the drunk driver, a man named Mark Elliot, slammed his vehicle into her Honda SUV.

Her husband later told me she had the presence of mind to tell the police officer his phone number and he arrived at the scene to be with her in her final moments.

The news of Herm’s death hit me very hard. One friend tried to comfort me by telling me that Herm could have been killed before she saw me and then I would have never seen her, visited, and gotten photos of her. For years I felt guilty for asking her to visit me and experienced severe grief and remorse. Knowing Herm, she would have told me to stop.

“STOP CHICA” is what she would have said. Herm never let me wallow!

Whenever I start missing her and feeling remorse, I’m reminded that God is still in control, even in this crazy out-of-control world. He was with Herm in her final moments comforting and ministering to her. He came to her that night with His hands outstretched towards her saying, “Come Home Child”. She was driving along Leesville road that night journeying towards her true Home in heaven.

She was never alone in death. Knowing Herm, she was praying hard as her body breathed it’s last and God answered by giving her peace and everlasting happiness in heaven with Jesus her Lord.

1 Corinthians 2:9 King James Version (KJV)

9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

This verse gives me comfort knowing that right now Herm is experiencing delights unimaginable in heaven that await those who love Him.

Several years before her death, Herm shared this scripture verse with me from 2 Samuel 15:26. ‘But if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him.’ I’ve highlighted that verse in my bible with her name marked beside it. It encourages me to surrender to God’s will for my life and to hand over everything to Him saying, ‘here I am’. Whatever seems good to God is what’s best for me. It may not always look like it at the time but I’m trusting, as my Herm did, that He always knows what’s best. Always.

So many have been killed or severely disabled by drunk drivers. Although my brain injury is not from drunk driving, I’m still heartbroken when I find other TBI survivors (there are many) robbed of their happy lives by the carelessness and selfishness of others. It needs to STOP.

In honor of my friend Herm, please share this post with others.

Herm and my two oldest making Christmas cookies together Christmas 2008.

The article that explains the accident and sentencing of Mark Elliot.

http://www.newsadvance.com/go_dan_river/news/man-pleads-guilty-in-wreck-that-killed-campbell-county-teacher/article_818e9b0a-2f8d-5be4-9dde-d98c7886015e.html

Everyone’s Broken

Last spring when things got hard with my TBI journey, I was crying to my best friend saying, “I feel so broken!” Her response to me was, “Everyone’s broken.”

It’s amazing how God can use the honest words of a friend to wake us up.

Yet, it was not the response I was hoping for just then. I yearned for words of comfort, instead I felt like my brain injury was being undermined. Of course she didn’t mean to hurt me, it was my emotional state of brokenness at that time.

Then God did something in my thought process and heart that only He can do. He showed me that even though what she said to me came at a difficult time in my life, those two words are 100% true and I needed to hear them.

The problem with chronic pain, illness, or severe bodily injuries is that they can make a person extremely self absorbed. It’s impossible to not be so fully caught up in the pain and suffering that scream for our attention 24/7. We can’t help but forget that others we love have issues of brokenness in their lives and are just as broken. They may not be broken physically, yet in some way they’re broken emotionally or spiritually. Everyone’s broken.

In Ann Voskamp’s book, The Broken Way, she writes on how Jesus was broken first, so that we can be healed by His brokenness. She writes, ‘Could all brokenness meet in the mystery of Christ’s brokenness and givenness and become a miracle of abundance?’ I’ve often dwelled upon these beautiful words. Everyone’s broken, yet Jesus meets us in our pain and since He overcame all brokenness we are made whole by His broken body on the cross.

I’m so blessed to have a wonderful friend and sister in Christ who understands the big picture here. Her words have stayed with me and kept me from throwing myself a huge pity party or turning into “Debbie Downer” on tougher days of dizziness, nausea, pain, fatigue etc. and staying there. I still struggle with negative thinking, but those two words keep reminding me, that even though there’s a big, sad world of suffering, there’s a bigger God who meets us in our suffering and brokenness and gives us hope to keep fighting.

Compassion starts with Jesus.

I believe that much of the secret of soul-winning lies in having bowels of compassion, in having spirits that can be touched with the feeling of human infirmities.

C. H. Spurgeon

The good Samaritan, he had compassion. A very unlikely person to show compassion to a helpless Jew, but he did. Jesus used this story to demonstrate what compassion is. It doesn’t come from personal gain or selfish motives, it comes from love.

Luke 10:25-37 King James Version (KJV)

25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.


When I see a broken person treated with love or helped by others it reminds me of that verse in scripture where Jesus was “moved with compassion”. The verb “moved” is two-fold. He was moved in his Spirit with emotion and desire to help and those feelings became the act of moving in order to physically heal.

Mark 1:41 King James Version (KJV)

41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.

Compassion defined is “sorrow for the sufferings or trouble of another or others, accompanied by an urge to help.”

Compassion flows from a heart filled with kindness. It should not be confused with pity which is sometimes a feeling of contempt because the object is looked at as ‘weak’ or ‘inferior’. Pity may in fact bring about kind actions that flow out of a superior mindset which may in fact be detected by the recipient.

Jesus is our example of compassion because He is kindness itself. He feels compassion for our wounds and sufferings and can relate better than anyone because he suffered and was wounded first.

Jesus is our example of compassion because He is kindness itself.

One of the most profound ways to demonstrate Christian love is by giving our compassion towards others through prayer and acts of genuine service. We can feel sorry for someone, but real compassion is more than a frown, a furrowed brow, or a wee tear. Our genuine compassion comes from our love of God poured out upon others through acts of love. True compassion will bring tangible results.

Years ago a man at my church plant preached on the love of Jesus and said, (paraphrased) ‘There is nothing anyone could say or do to hurt you that you haven’t already done to Jesus.’

He feels deep compassion for the broken because He KNOWS how it feels. His compassion comes from His love. Love is kind (compassionate).

One of the truest examples of showing Christ’s character towards others is by loving them through acts of kindness.

Compassion is not something we automatically feel but is a virtue gained by close communion with Jesus. When we truly love our Lord and others, compassion pours from Jesus’s heart into ours, which spills into the hearts of others. It’s a spiritual current that springs from God’s grace.

Why am I writing about compassion?

I have TBI.

And so do many others….

The number one complaint I hear from my brain injury Facebook group is the total lack of compassion they receive from friends, family, or acquaintances. It’s pretty much universal and it’s the saddest part of invisible illness or injury because when you are broken, and then judged ON TOP OF IT, it shatters you.

I’m not writing this to make anyone sad or negative, I’m writing to shine light on the grim sadness that brain injured and others who suffer from illness feel to be judged, ignored or shunned and why?

People who don’t try to take time to understand but choose to judge without first being aware of the profound difficulty of TBI are doing so out of ignorance or maybe just lack of compassion.

Whatever the reason we are treated this way, I’m almost certain it comes from lack of love because love will bring compassion and kindness. The absence of these virtues will instead bring indifference, harsh words, judgement, and ridicule.

So, I’m writing to kindly ask, please reach out. Show compassion. Send a card or email. Get to know the sick or injured in your church or neighborhood. It doesn’t have to be much.

Having a brain injury does not mean stupidity along with it, so we can understand when we are mistreated for being broken. And we feel just the same way a uninjured person feels and then some, due to bruised emotions and nerves.

The greatest kindness ever shown the world was Jesus stretching out His hands nailed on a cross for us. We can show Jesus’s love towards others through stretching out our hands towards them and pouring out Christ’s love, in whatever way we are able through kindness.

‘Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.’

Do you ever have times when you just feel defeated? You try this or that to only end up disappointed and disheartened? It happens to everyone.

I’ve been tasting the bitterness of disappointed hopes lately with my recovery. I’ve tried new tasks I think I can handle just to end up once again taking two steps back. These were simple things like climbing stairs, or household chores, things that used to come easily but are now difficult and frustrating, resulting in nausea and fatigue.

That’s the physical struggle, but then there’s the spiritual struggle which accompanies the physical struggle because we are all connected: soul, body, spirit.

In her book ‘Beauty Marks’, Linda Barrick explains the difference between our bodies, souls and spirits like this:

Body: physiological, sense awareness, sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch.

Soul: psychological, self-awareness, mind, will, emotions.

Spirit: Spiritual, God awareness, Conscience, faith, worship, dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.

Just like God is Triune meaning three Persons in One, our bodies are so intricately designed that we can’t separate our broken bodies from our emotions and spirits. When the emotions go low so does our energy levels, and the pain seems to flare up or vice versa.

I’m unable to attend church or listen to sermons online because the sound negatively effects my nerves. Last week I tried reading a sermon on my iPhone (the print was super small) and it resulted in eye strain that left me cross-eyed and hypersensitive to light for days. I severely felt the spiritual battle for my soul just then.

I find it easy to feel discouraged but then God is teaching me to find the grace to carry on while healing from this brain injury and that grace comes from Him alone. We CAN ‘stand’ emotionally, physically, and spiritually by the power of Christ who is our Victor in every battle we face.

My copy of the hymn I rescued after a friend’s boy made it into a paper airplane.

The other day, my 12 year old son was listening to the hymn ‘In Christ Alone’ and the power of the lyrics struck me. We can only stand against the wiles of the Evil One undefeated by Christ’s strength alone. We will never face spiritual defeat because Christ has already claimed our victory in the fight by His victory over sin, death and separation from Himself through His triumphant work on the cross.

Only by Christ’s strength alone, will the fight gain a winning outcome but it won’t be easy. Christ has promised to carry us true but the battle is hard.

The lie that we can overcome spiritual battles by our own tactics is dangerous. The minute we think we are spiritual giants and can handle the world and sin on our own is precisely the minute we must get to God for help.

He doesn’t ask us to fight them alone. He knows how much we need Him and He is faithful in helping us when we seek Him for it.

He understands our physical limitations or weaknesses and can give us physical strength entirely sourced from Him. He can also heal our emotions and I believe as my body heals, my emotions will too. They’ve come a long way and God is gluing my shattered pieces back together again with hope.

The other day I was resting with closed eyes in my sofa chair and it hit me. While I don’t know exactly what is occurring with all the physical changes in my body that are scary, painful and hard, my spirit is directly connected to God who does KNOW. My comfort is this: Resting and trusting in the One who knows every detail of my life and believing that He will heal, and carry my body, soul and spirit to the very end. It gives me a lot of hope to stand in His strength alone and trust him.

Psalm 18:35 King James Version (KJV)

35 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.

Psalm 44:8 King James Version (KJV)

8 In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah.

Psalm 20:7-8 King James Version (KJV)

7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.

8 They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright.

1 Corinthians 15:57 King James Version (KJV)

57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:14 King James Version (KJV)

14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.

Here are the lyrics to ‘ In Christ Alone’.

Lyrics

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! – who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

Stuart Townend & Keith GettyCopyright © 2001 Thankyou Music (Adm. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com excl. UK & Europe, adm. by Integrity Music, part of the David C Cook family, songs@integritymusic.com)

A Time To Heal

About one year ago, I went to an eye specialist because of the extreme light sensitivity and pressure in my eyes. After examining my eyes and conducting numerous tests he concluded they were healthy but I was in need of special lenses for the glare and light sensitivities. He also told me from his experience with brain injury that it would take a “long time” for my brain to heal. He said this with big eyes to add emphasis to his words.

I could only think at that moment, “I hope he’s wrong!” I didn’t get it. I didn’t want to get it.

Who has time to heal nowadays? I certainly don’t. There’s too much to do with four kids, a home to run, and every day life with all it’s constant demands. Having an impatient nature and a type A personality wasn’t helping matters either. Yet….

The brain heals slowly.

I’ve dedicated hours of researching and reading information about brain injury and the time required for it to heal. Most doctors say 12-24 months but did my brain get that memo? Some may take years upon years to heal like Jennifer Barrick who is still healing 10 years after her horrible car wreck. She has made huge progress but still requires lots of TLC and therapy for her injury. Also, Michelle Munt from the UK who is still healing three years after her accident that required airlifting to the Royal London Hospital in England, with a serious injury most people don’t recover from. She still suffers from many symptoms daily.

No two brain injuries are like. Because of the complexity of the human brain and the fine tuning required for the neurons to heal, some will heal faster than others.

It’s seems to me in our fast paced society that we AREN’T accustomed to allowing our bodies time to heal. We want bandaids and quick shots of this or that.

The beauty of God’s word says there is a season and a TIME for every purpose under the sun….later it says A Time To Heal. God wants us to know that He has created us fearfully and wonderfully in His own image. We are His works of art, and His masterpiece. Our bodies are beautifully designed to heal. Healing is a gift to us. God says in His word, there IS a time to heal. Sadly, we don’t want to take the time to heal because we don’t want healing to take time.

Some brain inuries may take decades to heal or even a lifetime. Some may only heal to a point.

I struggle with thoughts like, “Am I going to heal? Will I be back to my old self again? I will never be the same.”

I have to give it over to God constantly. It’s too hard to try to glimpse into my perceived scenarios of the future. I must take one day at a time. When I give my worries over to the Lord, it gives me a sense of peace. I can envision a cardboard sign with each and every fear I feel written on it, sitting at the foot of the cross where Jesus calls me to cast my burdens.

Trusting in God’s perfect timing is my hope.

Psalm 31:15 says; My times are in thy hand..

That verse is so freeing to me because my healing and the time my body needs to heal aren’t up to me, but to God. There are plenty of things I can do to enhance my healing but really, it’s in His hands. He wants me to work at eating right, rest, get loads of sunshine, take my supplements, keep my appointments, etc. But actually, He is the one blessing those means which my body is using to recover. He wants me to trust Him and rest in His perfect timing for my brain to heal.

Will my family and friends be around after I’m healed? Some will. Some have already drifted away. Yet Jesus will be here because He will stay by my side during the process and be faithful to complete in me the good work He’s already begun. I’m trusting as far as timing goes that my times and healing are all in His magnificent and wonderful hands.