Monday, October 21, 2013

Joy in the Journey - A review and GIVEAWAY!!! (Winner announced)

Well, the odds were pretty good for the few people who entered this giveaway. ;)
(I apologize to anyone who was having difficulty using my comment section. I heard that they weren't posting)

The winner is: Julie S. Contact me at kelleytutas (at) gmail (dot) com so I can send you your copy of the ebook! Congrats!


I'm so excited to be able to share this ebook with one of you!

Joy in the Journey is a compilation of 12 women's stories of how they were able to find joy through Christ in some of the toughest circumstances life can offer.

Joy in the Journey was a work God inspired in the heart of the wife of my worship pastor from our church in Green Bay, WI, when God had taken her family through several very challenging years.

There are stories of babies with health issues, delayed adoptions, financial disasters, lost babies, sick loved ones, infertility, etc.

Personally, we've gone through some heart-wrenching situations as well.

We were told we were most likely miscarrying our daughter.

We took a missionary position (we have to raise our own support) at a Christian camp in Colorado, and our 1 year old daughter started having seizures.

I lost control of our truck on a mountain pass and the truck and I rolled down the mountain, being stopped by trees. In that moment, we lost our only vehicle.

(See a few of these stories here and here)

We're looking for the peace that passes all understanding and hoping to answers to the big, fat question of 'why'?

Sometimes it doesn't get answered right away. Sometimes it doesn't get answered at all.

"And it’s hard to close the gap between what you thought would be and what God has actually put in front of you." - Ginny Mooney (Chapter 4)

That's why it's important to find joy in the journey.

In all honesty, some (read: most) days I find this really challenging.

I am learning to rely on God not day by day or situation by situation, but instead moment by moment.

I know we are blessed. I didn't miscarry that sweet girl. Her seizures are controlled by oral meds so far and she is developmentally right on track. We don't have a vehicle we can call our own yet and are waiting on answers for that one, but I walked away without a scratch.

This is where we practice resting in Him.

Lately, the song Perfect Peace by Laura Story has really been resonating with me. These lines in particular stand out, "Though I (God) may not calm the storms around you, you can hide in Me."

I think this takes practice. I get distracted by worries. But, friends, that is why is it so good to be reminded of others who are also trying to make this their reality. Dependence on God for peace and hope. Oh, how I want my soul to rest in Him. Even if He doesn't change my circumstances.

I hope you win this ebook because the stories are inspiring and encouraging.

They are stories of faithful followers who faced the kinds of heartache and questions we ourselves face. It is always good to know that you are not alone.

And, if you don't win, I encourage you to buy it anyway.
(You can do so by visiting their website HERE)

We're in this journey together. We all have things that are breaking our hearts and things that are worth rejoicing over. Let's do that together, friends.

Encourage someone today by simply letting them know that you are there for them, whether they are having a good day or a bad one. We can do this life together.

We're better together.  ;)

To enter this giveaway, we're keeping it simple.
Leave a blog post comment sharing how you have or hope to experience God's peace in uncertain circumstances and I'll use a random number generator to choose the winner on the night of October 26th.

Winner will be announced here on the blog on the morning of October 28th.

I hope it blesses you like it blessed me!

Monday, October 14, 2013

The day I didn't die.

This past weekend I had one of the most terrifying, humbling, nightmarish experiences I have ever had.

I lost control of my pickup truck on a snowy mountain pass in CO and went nose-first over the edge of a mountain cliff, rolling the truck until it eventually stopped in some trees.

I was heading to Denver to pick up my d-group from my summer project in Lake Tahoe (that was 9 1/2 years ago) when the snowy pass bested me.

I was going slow and being SO careful. I was doing everything my husband taught me. I loved that truck. Cars, trucks, all sorts of vehicles were flying past me over the pass no problem. I don't know, maybe I was being too careful.

The truck hit a slick spot and started to swerve. The brakes, turning the wheel, nothing… nothing helped. 

I suddenly found myself sliding uncontrollably toward the cliff, nose first. 

The nose went over and I went right down with it. The grade of the cliff was so steep that the truck started to roll, driver's side first. Then I was upside down, then on the passenger side, then upright again. 

I don't know if I rolled again or not.

What I do know is that I (fortunately) finally settled in some trees, on my tires, upright and thinking, "Oh my God, I have to get out of this truck. Get me out of this truck!" 

It was braced in some trees, but I was unsure if the truck was going to break the trees and keep rolling.  

It's SHOCKING how many thoughts can flash through your brain when in an emergency situation.

Praise God for adrenaline.

My mind went to my husband's advice for traveling through the mountains and I knew my best bet would be to find an ID, my water bottle and my phone (even though we don't have reception over the pass) and get back up to the road to wave down some help. Luckily, all of those things were within my reach along with my backpack that had emptied when I flipped. I threw those things in there and climbed up (because of the angle of the truck) to the passenger side door. 

It would only open about an inch but no more. With EXTREME care, so as not to shake the truck, I climbed into the backseat and tried to get out that door but it would not open either. My last hope was the small sliding window along the back. I slid it open, climbed onto the bed of our truck, shimmied down the back and using the right back tire, hopped off and landed in snow up to my knees.

Then, I dropped my phone.

Not surprising since I was shaking so bad and constantly repeating over and over, "Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, OH MY GOD." 

You can feel emotionally alone, but let me tell you, there is no more lonely feeling then standing knee deep in snow, next to your destroyed pickup (that probably just saved your life), without your cell phone, while oblivious drivers are safely in their vehicles passing out of sight above your head. And, not one human knows where you are.

It was morning. It was cold. No one had their windows open to hear my screams for help.

I begged God to help me find that phone quickly.

By His grace, He immediately answered that one.

Then my concern was being seen/heard.

Every stick/tree I grabbed pulled out. Every rock I grabbed slid down. 

I had been trying to keep my hands as dry as possible to avoid freezing but quickly realized that survival depended on digging into the snow and scaling up this cliff.

I was almost to the road, but slipping, so when I heard a vehicle approaching I reached as high as I could and waved, screaming, "Help me!"

When that car had passed, I used all of my remaining energy to get the rest of the way up and I saw that driver with his backup lights on.

At this point, I'm back on the road, covered in snow and as this man gets out to help, my emotions overwhelm me. 

Hysterically, I try to answer his questions and he calls 911. 

I'm saying over and over, "Oh my God! I just rolled my truck down the mountain!"

The operator speaks to me. More people stop to help. I'm talking, I'm breathing heavily, trying to make sense of this and to grasp my current reality. I look down at my truck and lose it again. I'm nauseous. I'm grateful. I'm terrified.

All I wanted to do was get down from that pass, but no one had the intention of taking me anywhere until the emergency crews came. 

The fire chief showed up and had me warm up in his truck.

Each man told me that in these situations, they are normally extracting a body, not standing next to the driver chatting about what happened. I am lucky to be alive and unharmed.

Then came the fire trucks, you know, in case mine burst suddenly into flames.

We were so remote, it took the tow trucks about an hour to arrive.

And then, because my truck is such a beast, it took two tow trucks to bring it up anyway!

I don't even know how long traffic was backed up for. It felt like an eternity.

When my poor truck was finally back on solid ground, I snapped some pictures.

I truly believe it saved my life. What a tank.
(It doesn't even look that bad, but apparently there is a bunch of damage to the under carriage.) 

Right before they had to hook up the 2nd truck to finish the job.
I was speaking with my dad this morning when he mentioned that there are so many things to be thankful for.

Just to name a few of the ways God was good to me through this:
  • I never hit my head or blacked out.
  • My truck rolled on it's side, not end to end.
  • The side windows stayed intact, not shattering all over me or making it treacherous to climb out the back window.
  • The trees stopped me without going through any windows.
  • My seatbelt kept me right where I needed to be.
  • Because there was no front end collision, my airbags didn't deploy.
  • John had cleaned out the truck so my friends would have plenty of room so there weren't many things flying around with me that could've injured me.
  • This one is weird - we lost Jake's Soc. Sec. card on his first day of school. I found it in the passenger door at the impound lot. (SO RANDOM)
  • The people who stopped to help me actually had cell reception. 
  • My husband, my children, my friends were not with me. 
  • No one else was close enough for the truck to take them out with me.
  • I didn't get cut on any glass. 
  • I had grabbed my best winter coat in an off-the-cuff decision because I thought maybe my friend from Florida would be cold.
  • The State Trooper that came for me has a wife and kids my age and he was very professional and kind and made me feel like he was going to make sure to take care of me. 
  • One of the first vehicles that my accident stopped was a truck with flashing lights from the set of The Fast and the Furious 7 that was filming on the pass. She was able to use the lights to warn traffic that they had to stop for us. 
  • I was able to share a lot about my faith, my life, and camp with the men who came to my aid. The State Trooper, fire chief and tow truck guys should have no doubt that I believe God spared me and isn't finished with me here yet.

My friends were very gracious and rented a car to drive here. We ended up having a wonderful weekend catching up and being able to speak encouraging and challenging words to one another. I love having friends like that. I love that these sweet friends took all the time and effort to get here so we could all be together for the first time in about 4 years. I feel blessed that I have more time to be with people I love. 

I'm only a little stiff in my joints. I have headaches and feel dizzy often and I kind of feel like some words got knocked out of my head sometimes… but I'm all in one piece!

I'm also having a hard time sleeping. My brain replays it all over and over and I'm having some scary dreams. I don't want to be the person who is too afraid to travel on the highway where they had an accident… but geez.

(What are some scriptures you cling to when trying to overcome fear? Please leave a comment with tips!)

The Little Mister went to Sunday school and, after they did their scheduled project, he asked camp's CEO (who was teaching that day) if he could draw our truck being towed. 

I'm actually really afraid that this is going to be hard on him. He loved that truck, too.

For now we are dealing with the insurance company and the reality that we don't have any vehicle we can call our own. There is literally no way we can pay for a vehicle (which is why we currently only had one).

So, as usual, we are in a place where we are waiting on God's provision.

He provided a way for me to stay safe in our truck and to get off that mountain with only a few tiny pieces of glass in my hand and one in my cheek (that didn't even leave marks). Now I just have to wait to see how He's going to provide for us this time!

I hope this post finds you well (and safe!)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


The kids and I are still trying to kick some pretty nasty head colds, so while I would've preferred to head to Ouray to swim in the hot springs and check out the fall color change in the different valleys, we settled for a day at the house.

It began with the Hubster making Martha Stewart's Pumpkin Pancakes. (Seriously, yum!) I made them for the kiddos about a week ago and the Little Mister is hooked. He asks for them almost everyday now.

Hubby and Little Mister started stocking us up on wood (the primary way we heat our house in the fall/winter/spring). We should have quite the stockpile by now, but fall seems to be busier than we thought it would be. The Little Mister really likes putting on his 'working gloves' and helping daddy with outside chores.

The kids sure like to play with our wagon, even though it's really hard to pull on the gravel (and really LOUD).

The Little Miss and I went for a walk up to the top of our neighborhood to see the colors across the way. The reds are starting to pop.

Coop enjoyed the sunshine, too.

We even saw the area helicopter circling. Sure hope it was just a test flight.

So, that was our big, exciting Saturday!
What did you do this weekend?