If you haven’t encountered pain in your life, than you haven’t been alive long. Life’s challenges come in with a blazing speed often with zero time to prepare or brace ourselves. When we are faced with the devastation that breaks the routine of busyness encircling our lives, we have a decision to make. Will this make us bitter or will this make us better? That was the case for Josh and Katie Redding just 3 weeks ago.
While coming home from a family camping trip, the Reddings were in a devastating car accident. While driving home on route 97, a tractor trailer sped by creating a strong draft that unsettled the RV they were pulling. This caused the RV to roll, which then pulled their SUV over with it.
How many times have you sat in a back up, cursing under your breath for the delays it caused you, completely unaware of the devastation a stranger was neck deep in? We’ve all been there/done that. What if we considered exchanging the curses for prayers to intervene on behalf of those whose accident has caused our minor delay to our business as usual.
Katie’s mom woke the morning of the accident to a feeling of dread deep in her soul. However, she knew no amount of worry changes the course of life. ‘Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.’ She would not allow worry to trap her. Instead this dread led her into prayer. No obligatory 30-second generic prayer. Her prayers flooded God’s heavenly throne for 3 hours that morning!
This prayer vigil, held without a definite understanding of
why at the time, is what Josh and Katie attribute their lives to today. Their three young children, Brady, Luke and Tali
all walked away from the accident. Josh
walked away fine as well. So amazing how her obedience to that call to prayer changed her family forever!
Katie was stuck in the car for an hour hanging partially upside down. She had to be cut out. By most people’s accounts she should have been wailing. Instead she was celebrating that although she knew she had sustained serious injuries, she was fully aware she could move her feet! This was cause for celebration!
Katie and the kids were taken to Baltimore Washington Medical Center immediately. Katie was then sent on to Shock Trauma. Thorough examinations revealed her kids were fine. Josh held out on being checked out until he knew things were fine with his precious wife and children. He was stepping into the gap for what he holds most dear in this life—his family.
This would start the journey that would lead to the realization that Katie’s upper back was broken and parts of her neck. Many would have given in to despair at this point. Josh and Katie began recounting God’s blessing to have them at one of the finest medical facilities in the world. Josh fell to his knees and with tears said, ‘thank You Jesus that my wife is alive, she can move and my children are alive and physically fine.’
Josh’s tears through this journey have never been a ‘why me’ but instead have been a very real acknowledgement of God’s provision through this valley. He is repeatedly brought back to humbling praise for miracle after miracle through this journey.
Katie’s journey to recovery started at Shock Trauma where she received amazing care and her first surgery. She transitioned to Kernan Hospital which specializes in spinal cord injury rehabilitation. The hope was that the broken C1 part of Katie’s spine would heal to avoid surgery that would require a halo to be installed. A halo would immobilize her upper body by bolting into her skull…think head gear for the whole upper part of your body.
Last week, a much anticipated CT scan revealed God would have other plans that did not involve healing Katie’s C1. Her scan revealed the C1 did not heal and instead the base of Katie’s skull is turning in the wrong direction. This alarming news means Katie will require an invasive surgery asap to correct this turn of the skull.
The medical team at Shock Trauma wanted to prep Katie for surgery immediately after viewing the CT scan results. However, one of the medications she is on necessitated they wait a week before performing the surgery.
Josh and Katie’s response to this devastating news---Thank You Lord for this incredible medical team you have placed in our path. Thank You Lord we will get time with the children before the surgery as Katie was discharged from Kernan to her home for several days to await her surgery. She remains in her immobilizing neck brace as they anticipate the surgery coming this Wednesday.
The Reddings wanted to share this story with their dear friends and family who have surrounded them with prayer, brought meals, visited with hospital with home made chicken soup, sat vigil with them, raised their children, sent worship music, cards and flowers and flooded them with support in countless other ways. We are throwing the prayer net wider through my portrait blog to garner more prayer support.
Currently Josh’s mom and dad have moved into the Redding home to be a constant source of support and presence for Brady, Luke and Tali. Josh and Katie are overwhelmed with gratitude for the stability this is providing their children and the ability this has given Josh to be by Katie’s side daily at the hospital.
Katie’s remarked Josh’s mom, Patty, appears invigorated and energized by her time with her grandchildren! Katie expected to see her ragged and instead is amazed at her ability to step into the role so seamlessly. What an incredible peace of mind this has given Josh and Katie! Patty’s service to her grandchildren is certainly a milestone marker in this journey! Katie’s sister Stacy has also stepped in to care for the children.
Both extended families have stepped in in countless ways to carry Josh and Katie through this. When many would have their hearts flooded with fear, the Reddings are awash in gratitude right now.
After visiting with Katie in the hospital I noticed she had photos from a portrait session I did with her family when I first began my business. I decided Katie needed to have some updated portraits in her hospital room as she undergoes these surgeries and the long road to rehabilitation that lies ahead.
This swirled in my brain while I was making dinner the day I visited her in Shock Trauma. Operation ‘unplanned photo shoot’ was born. I knew I wanted to surprise Katie with some portraits but fall is an especially challenging time for a portrait business, aka it’s our busiest time of the year. Time was of the essence because I wanted to get her the photos prior to any additional surgeries. Falls weather can be challenging and I knew if we needed a reschedule the plan would fall apart.
While preparing dinner I mulled over how to make this work. I noticed how beautiful it was and thought, what if I could do the session right now??!!
I called Patty and found she was home with the kids. I said, ‘what are you guys doing?’ I informed her of my plan, which she was excited about. So I went out on a limb and said, ‘I will have exactly 30 minutes to shoot before sunset if I leave right now. Can you fly by the seat of your pants and do this?’ To which super-Mom Mom said, ‘yes, let’s do it!’
Josh and Katie had no idea. They knew I had taken a few photos while we all prayed at Shock Trauma for their record of the story God is writing into their lives. They had no idea photos of their babies were coming. It’s been especially hard for Katie to be away from her babies for 3 weeks and the plan was for this to ease that pain a bit.
Just prior to the accident the Redding’s were studying the Old Testament book of Joshua as a family. God was teaching them about the stones of Gilgal where the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel each took up a stone from the Jordan river after the Lord stopped the river from flowing. They made a monument to remember what God had done so they could tell future generations of God’s great deed.
Often times in the Old Testament God calls His people to raise up tangible reminders to His faithfulness. When He does something big, He says, ‘build a monument here where I performed this miracle, so when your children ask, you can tell them of My provision.’ He knows our children will ask us questions all day long and uses those questions as a means to point them to His great love. This is how our faith is passed onto the next generation.
Josh and Katie strongly desire to raise up their monument to God’s faithfulness during this whole ordeal. They shared with me they are learning intimately that God places us in situations we would never choose for ourselves in order to produce things in us that we would never be able to produce or imagine in ourselves. He is certainly the Master at bringing beauty from our ashes.
Josh and Katie are looking to God for continued care and provision during this next phase and every phase of this journey. I’ve encouraged them to remember they don’t have to be strong every step along the way. His power is perfected in our weakness.
Josh’s care for Katie has been the model of Christ like servanthood. He is her champion, her prayer warrior, her advocate with the medical staff, her bather, her hand holder, her comic relief, her confidant, and her constant encourager. To watch how this has knit them even more tightly together as husband and wife has been an amazing thing to behold.
I’ve seen a new side of Josh during this ordeal. God is certainly growing His child to know Him more and taking Him deeper into the Kingdom. Josh and Katie are learning as a couple what a sacrifice of praise is….they are learning the truths learned and proclaimed in the light still hold true in the dark.
Josh and Katie’s rally cry since the beginning has been, “God is in control and God is good!” No matter what lies ahead they cling to this truth. They are finding a fellowship with our sweet Lord that is not found in busyness as usual.
Please join in praying for Josh and Katie on this journey. Specifically, prayer for the doctors whose hands will operate on Katie Wednesday at Shock Trauma are coveted. They want to say thank you again for all the many, many hands that have stepped in with service and love for their family! Hug your family tightly today!