Friday, May 23, 2008

When you pass through the waters

I will always remember Memorial Day weekend, 2001, which was just two weeks after I graduated from college. I was out on a boat with my friends Erin and Loren, and despite it being late May, it was cold and gloomy. The crisp wind sprayed water drops across our faces, and I closed my eyes as we sped across the wide lake, one of Iowa's largest. It was exhilirating. The line of water and sky seemed to fade so that we were completely enveloped by gray.

Few boats were on the lake that day because of the chilly temperature, and after an hour, we decided to head back to Loren's truck. As we cruised back toward shore, I started noticing that my tennis shoes were getting wet. Suddenly there seemed to be a lot of water spilling into the boat. Not being an experienced boater, I assumed our speed was causing big splashes. I quickly realized this was not the case.

Loren, who was steering, looked at me in the back of the boat. "Where's that water coming from?" he yelled.

Waves started pouring over the sides, and I stumbled to the front where my friends were. We tried frantically to bail water from the sinking boat, which suddenly lurched forward, killing the engine upon submersion.

Realizing we were going down with the boat, we began screaming for help. We grabbed life jackets (we had been foolishly sailing without them on), and in less than a minute, we were in the freezing water. I have never been so petrified.

My purple wool sweater was completely soaked and the heavy fabric weighed me down. I grabbed ahold of Loren's arm. "Don't let go of me no matter what," I pleaded. Loren's black Adidas sandal floated a few feet away, but I refused to let him retrieve it. We bobbed helplessly in the water, frozen by fear and cold.

"HELP!" we screamed into the wind. "God," I gasped, "please don't let me die like this!" I still get chills thinking about it, but God brought this verse to my mind at that time: "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you." (Isaiah 43:2)

I have no idea how long we were out there, but finally, finally, we heard the roar of a jet ski. We flailed wildly, splashing and yelling. The rider was a teenage boy, who looked terrified when he saw us in the water. He took Erin into shore first, and then alerted a rescue boat to come for Loren and me.

I struggled to climb the ladder of the large boat, fumbling my way up the steel rungs. My clothes clung to my skin, and my teeth chattered relentlessly. The chilled wind whipped my face as I huddled on the plastic seat. The officer checked us over, and I remember being told I was in the beginning stages of hypothermia.

Several people were waiting for us when we reached the shore, and someone put a coat around my shoulders. I was numb with shock and cold.

After Loren reported details of the accident to the lake patrol, a man offered to drive us to Erin's grandma's house so we could shower and get warmed up. How good it felt to let the hot water soothe my aching, trembling body. Having brought no extra clothing, we had to borrow a change of clothes.

After grabbing a bite to eat, Erin, Loren, and I got in the car for the hour's drive home. We were mostly silent on the way back, and I know we were all mentally re-playing what had just happened.

I sometimes wonder why God saved our lives that day. I remember being in the water and thinking, "I'm only 22, and I don't want my life to end this way!" I am so thankful God showed us His mercy by not letting the rivers sweep over us.

Side note and epilogue: It took rescue divers two days to find the boat, which was completely submerged at the bottom of the lake. Apparently, there had been a small hole in the fiberglass on the underside of the boat, which filled with water as we sped back across the lake.

I am still nervous around the water, and it's interesting that I married someone who practically grew up on a lake in Michigan and who learned to water ski at the age of 3!


Niki RuralWritings said...

Wow! That's quite a harrowing event. It always surprises and shocks us when an everyday outing turns into something significant, but really all we know in life can be changed in the blink of an eye. At a time like that it is such a comfort to know you are held by everlasting arms.

Anonymous said...

Dear Carrie -- of course, I have heard this story before, but I still weep at the memory of my precious daughter being in such a frightening situation. I am thankful again that God spared all three of you that day. I think of it every Memorial Day weekend (and sometimes in between!). I've reminded myself more than once that you (and all my loved ones) are in God's hands whether you are across the ocean in France, going to college hundreds of miles from home, driving cross country, boating, or in your own backyard. I love you very much -- Mom

thehomespunheart said...

I was thinking a lot yesterday about how fast life can really change - it is sort of frightening, but encouraging that we know Who is in control of everything. I am so thankful that your life was spared as well, while I'm sorry you had to go through this - you never know how God will use this story of His faithfulness!
Love you,

mer said...

Oh my horrific! I am thankful that God's hand was on you that day.

jody said...

So often we can look BACK at times in our lives when God provided and protected us from whatever we were in the midst of. This is truly one of those times. How good to be able to cry out to Him in our distress - no matter what it is.
I'm SO thankful you and Loren and Erin were saved that cold, dreary day in May of 2001!

gail said...

wow! i can't even imagine. wow!!! i'm so glad that the Lord saved you that day.

i love that verse too. it has been my mantra for the last 5 years.

Linds said...

Wow! What a terrifying experience and yet what an amazing reminder of God's plan. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Carrie - What a well written account of this terrifying memory. I too am grateful that God sent that teenager when he did, and that a tragedy was avoided. I can't imagine life without you!

I'm also proud that despite this memory, you have been able to get back in a boat, canoe in the Boundary Waters, and even go tubing with us in Michigan.

I love you.


Anonymous said...

Dear Carrie:

How well I remember that day when you called me to tell me of your experience, because your Mom & Dad were not at home. I don't know if I was any comfort to you or not, but I do know how very THANKFUL I was that our Great & Mighty God spared you for us. I shudder at what the alternative might have been. Praise His Holy Name!

I'm proud of you for being able to write so eloquently about your experience & I agree with Monica, that we may never know how God can & will use your account of that day to bring someone else closer to Himself.

I love you dearly, Grandma

Ewokgirl said...

Seeing as I nearly drowned when I was 4 and have been terrified of water ever since, I was on edge reading this.

And then I read the comments from your husband, mom, and grandma, and now I'm crying.

But what a testimony! I know I don't really know you other than through our blogs, but I, too, am grateful that the Lord rescued you that day. It also goes to show just how unpredictable and fleeting life can be. We can plan and plan all we want, but our lives truly are in the Lord's hands only.

A, B & C said...


Such a scary event in your life. It's wonderful that you took confort in God's words at that moment. Sometimes when we're panicking and we need him most, is the time we call on him the least!

Oh, and I'm back!

Abbey :-)

Jenn said...

I'm scared of it too and thank goodness that's never happened to me , you are very lucky that boy found you ! Have a good weekend !

Susan said...

I remember you mentioning this story back in the WH days. It was the first time hearing it in detail. Gives me the chills to read it. Life is so precious. Good for you for getting back on the horse for your husband. That takes a lot of courage.

Frances said...

Wow, indeed. It's easier reading a story like that knowing that you made it out alive and well. Thanks for the reminder not to take boats for granted - if I think about it, they are just a few layers of fiberglass, metal, wood, etc keeping us out of dangerous waters. I will definitely wear my life jacket when I'm on the boat this summer.

Lauren@Baseballs&Bows said...

Wow! What an amazing story. I am sure the experience is one you will never forget. I am so thankful that God was watching over you!

Jenn said...

You are welcome and thank you ! Nice to meet you as well ,I have been reading for awhile just not sure if I commented until today. Hope you have a good weekend !

Angela - Life w/ One Busy Boy said...

Incredible story.

Bobbie said...

Very scary story! But that verse is perfect and it is a testimony that God not only brought you through it but gave you that perfect verse.

Hayley said...

How frightening! It's hard to believe how fast things can change....God is amazing, and he knew your work here was not done! Praise be to God!

Elizabeth - Scrappygolden said...

That story gave me chills, especially as we just got back from the lake. But what a beautiful blessing that you have used that story and verse to share with us all. Thank you. :)