Tyler’s Mountain Fall and God’s Protection

 As many of you know, Tyler had a pretty serious fall in the Colorado mountains last Saturday.  We are extremely grateful that he only has a broken arm, a very small amount of bruising and a couple of stitches.  Knowing the entire story, it is truly a miracle that Tyler has so few injuries, and I have no doubt that God held him as he was falling.

A few weeks ago, John decided that he wanted to take the two older boys on a hiking trip in Colorado for some father/son bonding time.  He had specific things he had been praying for the boys and for this trip and was really looking forward to his time with them. For weeks they have been plotting and planning their route, buying hiking gear, staying up late talking about what their adventure would be like and spending a lot of waking hours talking about the trip.  When John buys things, he tends to buy the best and most quality he can find.  When we got the pants in the mail, I couldn’t believe how heavy they were.  I think the boys’ pants were probably three pounds each – literally.  They felt about two times thicker than jeans and were lined with pockets running the length of the legs. Inwardly, I thought it was a bit overboard, but as you’ll see soon, I am thanking God for those overly protective pants. Thursday night, they packed up all of their gear and headed out early Friday morning.  I hugged them good-bye, and as they were walking out, I felt a strong urging to go back and pray for their safety once again.  We gathered in a circle and I prayed a quick prayer for God’s protection.  I felt it strongly enough that it did kind of give me pause and I was hoping that it was just my overprotective mom side kicking in.

Friday night, the John sent me a picture of he and the boys at the trailhead of where they would be hiking.  They were so excited for the next day, they had driven out to the trailhead to see where they would be going.  Tyler had on his signature white sunglasses and they were all smiling with anticipation.  I talked to John later Friday evening and told him to call me after their hike.

At the trailhead

The next day, I took Drew, Makayla and one of her friends to CoCo Key waterpark.  We were supposed to go to Adventureland Amusement Park about 2.5 hours away, but the weather looked kind of bad suddenly, so I opted to stay in town for the day.  I left my phone in the car and we went in for a few hours of fun.  If you know me, I hate buying food at places like that because it’s overpriced and really close to not edible.  The kids were not even asking to eat and all of a sudden I asked them if they would like to eat.  We had eaten a huge breakfast, so no one was really that hungry, but I went out to the car anyway to grab my wallet and my phone had a missed call from John with no message.  I thought it was kind of strange to have a call because they were supposed to be hiking where I didn’t think there would be cell reception.  When John picked up, I thought we had a bad connection because I couldn’t hear a lot, but then I realized that he was crying and couldn’t talk.  My heart dropped as I could make out that Tyler was hurt from a fall and John is not one to cry, so I knew that it had to be bad.  He told me that Tyler was more composed, but I heard that Tyler had broken his nose.  When Tyler took the phone, I said, “You broke your nose?”  Dead silence on the other end and then he said, “No, I broke my ARM.”  That initial phone call had a lot of chaos and misinformation as I was piecing together what had happened and emotions went chaotic in my heart as my mind went into slow motion.  I didn’t get the story immediately because John was too distraught to be able to talk about it in the first phone call.  Now I know why…

John and the boys had decided to hike a less traveled trail that met up again with the main trail again later.  This had been planned out for weeks, so was not a spur of the moment decision.  From what they understood, the trail was mildly more challenging than the main trail and they had seen purse dogs on the main trail, so didn’t think a little more challenging would be any big deal.  As they got past the meadows and into the rocky area, the trail was more strenuous, but nothing they couldn’t do.  Eventually, they got to this rock formation they had to get over.  They thought that once they got through it, the rest of the hike to the peak would be easier terrain like they had just come through.  Getting close to the peak, they were excited to see the view and keep hiking to the other two peaks.  When they got partway through the rock formation, John could see that there was not a safe way through for the boys, so gave them the bad news that they would have to turn around and go back the way they came and start over on the main trail.  They had already been hiking for over 3 hours at almost 14,000 feet, so were disappointed but decided that it was best.  As they were climbing out of the rocks, a large boulder (about beach ball or basketball size) came rolling toward John.  The boys started yelling to him and John put his arm up.  The boulder ricocheted off his elbow ONLY BRUISING IT and landed on his pack which obviously was on his back and very close to his head, pinning him to a rock.  He and the boys were able to get his pack off and get his backpack free and continued down through the rocks.  Tensions were already high because of the process of climbing down through the rocks and the close call with the boulder.  They made it back to the bottom of the rock formation and then Tyler misstepped…

Tyler stepped off and slid on some loose gravel.  Trying to catch himself, he jumped into what he thought was snow thinking that the snow would stop a fall.  Instead, the snow turned out to be covered with a sheet of ice and he fell and slid 50+ feet on the ice gaining momentum.  At the end of the ice was a boulder field.  Racing down the ice, he hit the boulder field and tumbled through the boulders causing a rockslide with large rocks that carried him another 50+ feet.  These were not playground rocks that you painted as a kid, but were small boulders.  Watching him fall, John was honestly not sure that Tyler would even survive. John was above him, but couldn’t get to him for 15 MINUTES, because every time he would move his feet at all, boulders would roll towards Tyler who was on the ground and couldn’t get up.  Josiah was off to the side and able to get to Tyler, shield him from rock that was still falling, take his pack off and move him so that John could get to him.

Climbing Mt. Democrat

Tyler had clearly broken his arm because it was limp at his side.  From where Tyler had fallen, they couldn’t get back up to the trail they were on because it was too steep and rocky.  Using GPS, they had to continue down the mountain through the rocks that Tyler had just fallen down.  Josiah had to go first, finding safe places for John to follow with Tyler.  It took 2 HOURS of hiking down the mountain, much of it through rough terrain, to get back to the car.  Driving to the nearest place with cell reception, John tried to call me, but got my voicemail which was the missed call I talked about earlier.  They got to the ER about an hour later and that’s when I called John back.

To say that God protected Tyler is an understatement.  After tumbling, sliding and rolling  over 100 feet down a mountain, through boulders in a rockslide, to only come away with a couple of minor bruises, a broken arm and two stitches is AMAZING!  The only bruising he really has is right where his arm broke, his right shin near the stitches (I’m thanking God for the ridiculously thick pants) and a large but light minor bruise on his forehead.  He said that bruise is from his hand that was between a rock and his head. His left arm, left leg and the rest of him is literally completely fine.  Obviously, it could have been fatal, but the list of injuries he could have and should have had are endless.  His lack of bruising and cuts is absolutely a miracle.  Even where his arm broke, he has a cut the size of a papercut.  The other miracle is the lack of pain he has experienced.  Going down the mountain, he was joking and seeming okay.  Obviously, he was most likely in shock, but the ER doctor told him he’d be in a lot of pain on Sunday because of the falling and the break.  Even on Sunday, he was resisting ibuprofen, but we made him take it for the swelling.  It’s simply amazing…

For John and I, the week has been emotional.  Of course for John, the memories are difficult because of what he saw and the trauma surrounding the situation and for me, the images are burned into my mind from what I have heard.

Last Saturday night, every time I slept I had nightmares of Tyler falling or I would dream I was at his funeral and all kinds of other things.  I decided to get up so that I could control my thoughts and was sitting in the chair where I have so many sweet times with God. Feeling small, blank and numb I couldn’t even think.  The Lord broke through my non-thoughts and spoke to my heart.  He told me not to imagine Tyler falling without also imagining His hands around him, protecting his life and body, because that is the reality of what happened.  He reminded me that in my last blog I had written about fear of the future and that we imagine our lives without His loving arms surrounding us in our situations.  He showed me that often with traumatic events or even close calls, we do the same.  We picture them without His loving arms around our lives.  That has helped so much in processing what has happened and the fear surrounding the situation.  When the Lord spoke that to my heart, my heart was also feeling, “Yeah, but what if?  That stuff happens to people all the time.  I couldn’t have walked down THAT road.”  Here’s the thing, a lot of people will say that you shouldn’t think that way because it didn’t go that direction.  It’s true that it didn’t, but it also caused a fear so deep and the could have and should have was so close to reality that it was impossible to ignore.  Previously, I would have stuffed it and just tried not to think about it, but the Lord wanted to speak to that fear so that it wasn’t lodged somewhere deep inside haunting me.  If He didn’t speak to the fear, I would walk fearing the next turn.  Fear is one of my struggles and God wanted to deal with the root.  The Lord gently spoke that if the unthinkable had happened, I would have found His arms to be strong enough.  I needed to know that.  I needed to know that not only for this situation, but also to keep moving forward in this uncertain life that we all have.  I needed to know that so that I don’t respond in fear to what life may hold.  We all need that don’t we?  We need to know that His arms are strong enough to hold our lives, both the future and our past.  When we imagine the pieces of our lives without God we forget that He is a God who is near to us and not far away.

What situations are you haunted by or fearful of?  His arms are strong enough…  They’re strong enough to carry you.  Psalm 66:9 says that He holds our lives in His hands and He keeps our feet from stumbling. 

I know I need to keep remembering that as Tyler’s body heals and our hearts heal from the trauma of the situation.  His arms are strong enough to carry us and they’re strong enough for your situation too.

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