an adventure in helping others

“All of us, at some time or other, need help.  Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world.  That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors–in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.”  Mr. Rogers

“If you see someone that needs help, help them.”  I have said these words to the children more than once, desiring to teach them to think beyond themselves and toward others.  I want to see this beautiful giving love in our family, in the schools, and in our communities.  I see and appreciate it in so many others, and I want to see it in my own children, and in myself.  I believe that a truly happy life, well lived, has this giving, selfless attitude at heart.

God in his providence, brought people to us yesterday with an opportunity to serve them in a wonderful, humbling way.  It was just after 1:30 in the afternoon and the sleet and snow were pouring from the sky.  I could see it through the windows as Caleb and I read books in bed, and I couldn’t resist taking my camera out to the porch to take a few pictures of the snow falling so quietly, and gently.

I was out on the porch when I heard the accident.  At first I thought it was a snow plow, “Did that snow plow just hit the guard rail?”  I looked down the hill to the road and saw the rail broken clumsily into the street, and to my horror, saw that a van had gone off the road, down the bank, and into the stream.  It happened so fast that all was quiet once again.  No sound, no motions from the van.  I quickly realized that no one could do anything for them, but the children and myself.   What we did wasn’t great or amazing, anyone could have done it, but I am so proud of the willingness I saw in the children, and the way they worked together to solve the problem was something I will hold in my heart forever.

I ran into the house, and called out excitedly to my teen boys that someone had gone off the road and into the stream and that we had to get to them.  Jacob was sound asleep on the couch, but he woke right up and his brother Ethan quickly pulled on boots and ran as fast as they could down the hill to the vehicle.  Meanwhile, I dialed 911 to report the accident.  I was filled with adrenaline and ran outside to the boys as soon as I got off the phone.  As I ran, I realized that all five of my older children were outside, busily working together.  They had already gotten the door of the vehicle open and Jacob came to me from out of the stream with a BABY CARRIER….my knees almost gave out as I realized that inside the carseat was a tiny baby boy, crying“Mom, take the baby to the house, he needs to get warm!”  Jacob gave me the baby and ran back to the van.  Grace came up to the house after me, with another boy, a toddler, in her arms.  Imagine the feeling that poor mother felt, as she sat in her vehicle with her babies and the icy water surrounding them!

I ran to the house as fast as I could and took the baby out of his seat.  He was in a soaking wet sleeper, and his carseat was soaked.  As soon as I got his clothes off him and wrapped in him a towel, he stopped crying and was happy, he was so sweet, dark curly hair and a round little body. So precious.  I held him in a towel as his (young!) mama came in, also wet and freezing cold.  I quickly got her some clothes out of my dresser and she changed in my room.

I realized then, that there was a third little boy, sitting on the couch with his brother.  He had big serious eyes, and was shivering uncontrollably in a blanket that one of the kids had put around him.  I bent down and discovered that he was drenched to the skin, from head to toe.  I found out later that he was five years old.  Caleb ran downstairs to get him some dry clothes and Grace made hot chocolate.  Seth passed around packages of fruit snacks and I found some treasured, saved baby clothes to dress the baby in.

We had the whole family in the house and dry before the police arrived.  And, praise God, NO ONE WAS HURT IN THE LEAST!

It was all such a blessing…..the young mom was sweet, pretty, with curly hair pulled back in a pony tail, and her boys were well behaved, quiet, and darling.  Three tiny boys…(and all with Bible names.)  She had been on her way to a family friend’s house to deliver milk and coffee.  She was a complete stranger to us and lived in another town.

Soon the EMT, police, fire department, and tow trucks arrived.  Our livingroom was filled with men, us two moms and our combined ten children, all standing around, or sitting on the couch, using the bathrooms, talking and buzzing about.  The police interviewed my children and took down their names.  They are going to be in the local paper.  (blush)

Ethan had gotten on the vehicle to get the door open.  The Mom and boys were sitting in freezing cold stream water and could not get out by themselves.  Her phone was in the water and didn’t work, but shortly after the accident she was able to honk on the horn a few times, as a distress signal.  Ethan cut his boot on something (praise the Lord he was wearing good steel toed boots) and stayed on the van to hold the door up and open so that Jacob could get the boys out.

Jacob got the three little ones out of the vehicle.

Grace helped carry the toddler to the house and when the boys were out of the water, Ethan and David helped the mom out of the van, and up the bank to the house.

Caleb and Seth shared their toys and played so nicely with their new friends.

The husband/Father came directly to our house from work and was full of thanksgiving that his family was safe and well-taken care of.

When they left, the Mom gave me yet another big hug and said, “Your son is so sweet.  He said to me, ‘It was a pleasure meeting you.  I’m just sorry it was under these unfortunate circumstances.”

(she was referring to my ten year old, David)

I agreed with David, and I’m actually hoping that our family made life-long friends through this experience!

This is a picture I took of the road, right before the accident.  All was quiet, but the road hadn’t been cleared in a while.  You can see the guard rails over the stream….the one on the left was the one she hit and broke.

This was the picture I took just as I heard the noise of the accident.  Sarah’s little dress on the clothesline.

Jacob stood on our front porch and took this picture.

This is the van in the stream.  Thankfully the stream is only about 2 feet deep, but the vehicle quickly took in water so that the mom and boys were all sitting in it and very cold.

We thank God for his providence, and that we were home to help these precious people.  The children would typically be at school, but were home because of a snow day.  I’ll never forget the laugh that came when the mom realized that I had clothes on hand in just the right sizes for her and her boys.  She even left wearing a pair of my shoes.  heart

All’s well that ends well.

0 thoughts on “an adventure in helping others

  1. Shanda what a precious post of love and care. I’m so thankful for God’s protection on this family. It will be fun seeing the friendships blossum between your two families. Would love to see the newspaper when it comes out.

  2. *chills*It had to have been God prompting you to take the photo at that exact moment. God’s providence. God’s timing. Sometimes angels are sent from heaven…and sometimes they come from earth. You must be so very proud of your children. I am, and I’ve never even met them!

  3. amazing story! would love to see the article too! so glad you guys were there and saw it happen to help and no one was hurt!

  4. wow! God was looking after that precious mother and her children. He had already planned out to have you and your children, there, ready to be of help. He is such a good God. God knew you had just what that mother and her children needed. 🙂 He made sure that even though something was going to happen, He knew her phone would not work, He had you close by to be of service. He is sovereign. How wonderful that your children were of such help and were bold, and their desire was to help those in need. What a blessing. I know you are so thankful and proud. Many praises for the family not being hurt. What an incredible day! You all were used in God’s plan… all were blessed. 🙂

  5. Wow…. I had tears in my eyes as I read that. I am speechless and yet amazed and humbled…. what a proud momma you must be of your kiddos!!! I would love to see the article when it comes out. What fine gentlemen you have raised Shanda!!!Jami

  6. Wow!!! What an amazing story!How perfect that God had you on your porch at just the right time. No reason to blush about your kids being in the paper…they deserve to be.I can’t imagine how thankful that mom was that your family came to the rescue. and how hospitable you are, hot chocolate and toys are always comforting. =)

  7. This is just an incredible story. How amazing it is that you were there, and had your children to be able to help this family in need, in just the many ways they needed it; from rescuing from the water, to providing warmth and dry clothing. You are heroes. Another part of this story I found sweetly ironic is that they were on their way to provide for yet another family.  My heart swells at the graciousness and genuine love for others which shines through in this blog. It is the way things are supposed to be. God bless.Plus, as always, you took a beautiful shot. I love that little dress brightly hanging on the line in the snow.

  8. Oh Shan, what a blessing you were to that woman and her boys! I cannot even imagine how cold they must have been and how scared the little ones must have been and how panicked I am sure their mamma was at seeing them freezing and scared. Wow! You are doing such a great job as a mother, I am sure that experience will stick with the kids forever. Much love, Chris

  9. what an amazing happening! You have every reason in the world to be proud of that crew of yours!!! Thank God it wasn’t worse. I’m sure the kids will remember this the rest of their lives – you have given them the heart to help. 🙂

  10. Look how exciting a snow day became for you all! 🙂 I pray every day for God to direct my steps to be at the right place at just the right time! He did that for you all yesterday – You were the angels to that lady and her boys! Always so important to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in us as you did going outside to capture the beauty in nature. May God be glorified as your story is published in the paper! What a great testimony to others of His care, protection, and provision!

  11. Oh so wonderful to have all of you working as a family to rescue and provide for this family in their time of need. You have told the tale beautifully. So proud of you all, and you and Rich have done such a great thing in giving your children the training and strength so they are ready in time of need. This ministers to me too, as just this week I have wondered if I should write a post that has been on my heart telling others to do more than entertain themselves. This comes as we have been caring for someone in our body who is homeless and has cancer.

  12. That is so scary! I’m glad it ended well and how fortunate the older children were home to help. I’m sure you would have gotten them all out of the car and up to the house, but it sure was easier with the many hands.

  13. hi shanda…….what a perfect way to learn how to have a helpful heart – by actually doing it! what an absolute blessing you all were to that family.  in hindsight, have you thought about the title of your post from tuesday, “sure to be a busy day”?  you certainly were right, but i’m sure you weren’t thinking it would be quite like how it ended up!  thanks for sharing your story.

  14. Sweet mother of God, I don’t tear up while reading, but I feel like a proud mom myself (I’m only in my 20s with no kids) – such kind, intelligent and hard-working boys! What an incredible story and I’m so relieved everyone got back safely and were warm. You’ve raised them so beautifully…God bless…

  15. wow, you and your family are so kind and courageous to help out the family in need, especially under these circumstances! And David has so much wisdom for a boy his age 🙂 Thanks for sharing! It brings warmth to my heart

  16. I am so proud of your kids! I can imagine a little of how much fear that mom and her kids experienced …. our flipped vehicle was terrorizing enough and we didn’t land in a stream. Your kids did a fantastic job and I think it shows just as much about you as a parent. Not only have you taught them to care for others, you allowed them to put themselves in a situation that could have been dangerous for them in order to help others. Your family was truly the hands and feet of Jesus!

  17. God is good all the time!!!! What a blessing to that momma and her children, I am sure she was surprised to see the boys out there so soon to help her. God has used your family in an amazing way!

  18. What an amazing story! Im so glad you were in the right place at the right time to help them! I cant imagine how scary that must have been for that family! Im relieved to hear no one was hurt! That looked like a steep fall for the car and i burst into tears when you started talking about bringing all the children out of the car and how brave and helpful your own were throughout the whole crisis. How neat that they will have their names shared in the paper for such a caring and brave act of character!

  19. What a blessing that you were on the porch at the time the accident happened and you and your family were able to help.  I can imagine how scared and shook up the mom and kids were and what a comfort your kindness was to them. 

  20. Amazing!!!  Yes, I had tears too!  You should be so proud of your children…What an amazing experience for them to look back on and have learned from.  What a blessing to all involved!

  21. I had tears as I read this beautiful account of God’s Sovereignty!! You walking out to snap that picture was a divine appointment orchestrated by the Hand of God. Bless you Shanda, and each one of your children for extending the hands of Jesus and embracing this precious family. What a blessing you ALL are!!

  22. Oh Shanda! This must have been so scary!! Praise God! everyone is ok! And I agree with Alyssa…those sweet children of yours have a heart like their mamma! Hugs!

  23. @Becky – Good to hear from you, sweet Becky!  I can’t believe this experience happened a week ago now…..I, too, am so thankful that everyone made it through without even a scratch.  Only a cold dunking in a very cold stream!  LOL  Much love to you, dear friend!  Hope you all are well!

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