GATHER: The story of Jenny Franks

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There I was. Living through the biggest tragedy of my life. Had this really happened to me, my family, my husband?

Why God?

This is not the life I had planned for myself…

I don’t want to live like this…

I could go on and on with all the questions, complaints, and tears that were shed beginning on June 2, 2005. The day that marked an event in my life that changed my world forever.

On September 22, 1995, I married my lifelong friend John. We had 2 beautiful daughters and had 2 little boys who were 3 and 5 years old. Our life revolved around our children and being involved with every aspect of their lives. I was a stay at home mom only because John worked 2 jobs.  He was a school teacher during the day, and he worked on the dock of a trucking company at night and during the summer to provide for all of us.

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We didn’t have the perfect marriage. In fact, divorce was talked about on several occasions, but GOD…

Our passion was traveling and spending time together. Making memories that would last a lifetime is what I always thrived on. Any chance to go, see, and do was my motto! I would find a way to make it happen. You see, I was very much an optimist.  I saw nothing stand in my way. In fact, the spring of 2005, I had spent a lot of time planning a vacation for us to travel through Tennessee and North Carolina to see some beautiful places that my husband had traveled to when he was young.

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I am  very much a planner and wanted every detail of our trip written out with our schedule. Little did I know that the Lord was preparing my heart even then to let go of all the details and choose trust in the middle of chaos.

As school ended in 2005, we had the summer ahead of us ready to take on our plans with nothing standing in our way! But GOD…

June 2, 2005. God had other plans. I will never forget the moment, the day, the call that changed my life forever. At 2:30 am I received a phone call from John’s work. You see, he worked 3rd shift.

“Jenny. John’s had an accident. He is on his way to UAB by ambulance, you need to go there.”

I had no idea of what I was facing when I arrived, but I will never forget the ER at that hospital. At UAB.

I arrive alone and am taken to a consultation room to sit and wait. I still know nothing. I waited what seemed like 2 hours before a nurse came to get me.

“You can come with me.”

As we started down the longest hallway ever, she begins explaining that your husband has broken his neck, using alot of medical language that I had never heard before. Frankly, all I wanted was to see John. What seemed like an eternity walking down that hallway, we finally made another couple of turns and I could see a huge trauma room with lots of doctors, nurses, bright lights, and my husband strapped to the table with blood covering the floor.

It took my breath away as I walked in the room and I felt extremely weak at that moment. I remember looking at him and him saying…

It’s pretty serious.”

I just looked at him and said “It will be okay. I love you.”

I was called out of the room by a nurse saying the doctor wants to talk to you. I so vividly recall the words from this doctor.

Your husband will never walk again. We will take him into surgery. We look remove some of his hip bone to repair his neck.”

After she said that to me, I grabbed the wall and a hospital bed that was in the hallway.

I felt a cold sweat come over me as I almost sank in that bed thinking…

Is this real?

Are you serious?

Why would you be so cruel to tell me that?

This doctor was way too blunt and cold for me to handle. This was truly a nightmare. This couldn’t really be happening to me. Oh, but it was.

My summer that I had planned and scheduled for my family was not going my way. Everything was messed up. God had different plans. I lived in the NICU waiting room at UAB for days. My sweet parents let my children live with them for 6 weeks.

It was a long summer for all of us.

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After a month of staying with John at UAB day and night, we moved to Healthsouth at Lakeshore to begin some aggressive rehab. They wanted me to go home and begin to let him to do things on his own. This was a very hard thing for me to do since I had spent every moment the last month with me virtually doing everything for him.

He was making progress, but he had to learn to live all over again. Learn how to get out of bed. Learn how to take a shower. Learn how to put his clothes on. How to get from one place to another. Things that he had always done had within a second become such a difficult task.

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John was an athlete and loved working out and being fit.The night before his injury, he had ran 6 miles in the rain. He was dedicated, motivated, and very independent. This new lifestyle for both of us was nothing short of disappointment…

But God had other plans.

“For my ways are not your ways. Neither are my thoughts your thoughts, says the Lord. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts…” Isaiah 55:8-9

His plans are not always our plans and in spite of our tragedy, God began to move in my family. SIX family members including myself, John, my son and my daughter turned to God and trusted Him as our Lord and Savior.

We began realizing that life is not all about us. We are here for His purpose!He will get the Glory from this tragedy! Lives were saved, people were changed all for His glory!

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We can make our plans and try to steer our lives in the directions we want, but GOD…His plans are always the best plans and they are certainly working together for our good.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Romans 8:28 has been my constant go to verse throughout times in my life when things were just not going as I had planned.

Everyday we can make choices about how we are going to live. We can choose to be positive and see the good in people and life or we can choose the opposite.

Sure,  I have days where I want to feel sorry for myself and still ask “Why God?”, BUT I know and trust that my God has other plans FOR ME.  He has a purpose for me and me alone!

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The truth is He wants us to share our lives with others and tell our stories so that He gets all the glory.

The truth is I have a husband that survived his tragedy and beat the odds.

The truth is I have a family that strongly supports us and loves the Lord. A family of which several in it came to know Christ BECAUSE of this tragedy.

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God supplied every need and paid every bill after John’s accident. We were a one income home and He met EVERY NEED. He indeed was  in every part of our journey and worked out every detail of HIS plan. In fact, He is still working out the details today!

I don’t have it all figured out, but I have learned to TRUST him more than ever. He knows you, He loves you and He wants you to trust Him with every detail of your life.

You can certainly trust HIM, even when life doesn’t look the way you planned. HIS ways are higher. And HIS plans are greater.

Flourish, BABY, Flourish,

Jenny

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Mama doesn’t know this, but I’m writing her bio. This woman right here. A beautiful picture of Jesus. A walking, breathing, radiating example of laying her life down for another and humbly surrendering her heart to the One who created it. I’ve seen her walk out brutal tragedy in her marriage with my stepdad and it’s honestly pointed me to Jesus in a way I can’t describe with words. To put her faith in her God. To choose trust instead of bitterness. To do everything with a smile on her face and a song in her heart to the Lord. Taking care of  John all throughout his time in the hospital and after. I know as a daughter who got this tragic news while at a church camp that “something’s happened to John and you need to come home…”, my world was rocked. But my mom? Her life as she knew it would never be the same. John would never be  same. When I say that, I look to Jesus, because it was through this tragedy that John found Jesus. So, truly, John really WOULD never be the same. My mom is one of the most giving, loving mothers that I know. She not only gives of herself to her husband and kids, but to strangers. To those in need. She loves the sweet simple things in life. The rain. Disney World. I love Lucy runs. Candles that smell so good you wanna eat ’em. And she sure does love her husband. I’ve seen their relationship grow deeper because of this. Ya know when you stand at that altar and utter those words…for better, for worse? Mama meant them when she committed her life to her husband and God has continued to honor her because of it. I sure do love my mama and If you ever get a chance to  her, I know you’ll love her just the same too. Love you mama. So proud of you. Flourish MAMA Flourish, Ashleigh

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