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Triumph over tragedy: Beth’s story (religion)

Painful memory: The Chancellor children lost their father in the wreck. (Contributed photos)

Painful memory: The Chancellor children lost their father in the wreck. (Contributed photos)

By Chanel Bingham

Mike and Beth Chancellor lived a normal, small-town life, always finding joy in the little things.

“We were just a regular, blue-collar family,” Beth Chancellor said. “Mike was a hard worker, loved his family and loved working outdoors. He was respectful, with a sensitive side, and took his role as a father very seriously. We lived a simple life full of love, hope and had plans for a very happy future.”

BINGHAM

BINGHAM

Sadly, that happy future came to an end on the night of Feb. 2, 2013. After spending an evening with friends, Mike, Beth and their two young sons loaded into their family vehicle for the drive home.

Traveling down Highway 31, both Mike and Beth noticed an oncoming vehicle with flashing lights. What they didn’t know at the time was that the driver of that vehicle was trying to alert them to a drunk driver rapidly approaching in the opposite lane.

But it was too late. The drunk driver collided with the Chancellor family in a head-on automobile accident. Mike was killed instantly, and Beth, along with her oldest son Peyton, were left with life-threatening injuries. Their youngest child, 14-month-old Lawson, suffered bruising from his car seat but was miraculously unscathed.

Beth lay in a coma for 10 days, not knowing the devastating reality she would awake to. Not only had she tragically lost the love of her life at the hands of a drunk driver, but she had sustained two collapsed lungs, a lacerated liver, fractures in two of her vertebra and a severely injured left arm, being broken in multiple places.

Peyton, only 7 years old at the time, suffered a broken humerus, significant fractures to his face and a severe traumatic brain injury that has left lasting effects. Also, it was later discovered that Peyton also sustained profound and permanent hearing loss in his right ear.

After the accident, Beth said she felt anger toward God.

“I directed my anger at God for a long time,” she said. “There was a corner in my bedroom where I imagined God to be, and I would point my finger at Him and shake my fist and let out all my anger. I fell away from church and continued to have all of this anger toward God.

“Then, one day, a friend invited me to New Life Community Church. At the end of their service, they led a sinner’s prayer that I remember praying when I was a kid. I realized I needed to pray that prayer, but I didn’t want to pray it. I asked God to please not hate me anymore, and I wouldn’t hate Him. I prayed He would show me that He was good, because I was tired of hating Him. That was my prayer.”

Family portrait: Beth, Lawson, Mike and Peyton Chancellor were involved in a wreck with a drunk driver in February 2013.

Family portrait: Beth, Lawson, Mike and Peyton Chancellor were involved in a wreck with a drunk driver in February 2013.

Beth said God answered that prayer.

“I can’t tell you exactly how it worked, but God showed me that He was good. I think it was a combination of being in His presence and people showing me His love, but I could feel Him.

“God is still working in my life, and He will always and forever. I’m finding my strength in Him. Through this, He is teaching me to be patient and rely on Him. I can now say I have a true relationship with God, and it’s a whole different ballgame. I rely on God for everything.”

Beth said she is grateful for those in the community who supported her family in so many ways after this tragedy.

“This community is absolutely fantastic,” she said. “Many individuals from church stepped up and brought us suppers. Other members of the community helped out with projects in our home. Many people posted words of encouragement to Facebook, and it really let me know how much Mike mattered to so many people. Love poured out from places I least expected, and that has been huge.”

Pain can lead us through a complicated journey of emotions, but in His goodness, God will never leave us in our pain. Through His word, God speaks healing over our hearts and restores our hope. He sends messengers of love to minister to us in our brokenness, all the while mending the pieces of our wounded heart.

Today, as Beth and her boys near the third year anniversary of the loss of their beloved husband and father, they cling to those life-giving promises of God’s word, and the peace that passes all understanding settles a little deeper into the rooms of their heart.

Beth recalls one of her favorite songs that has helped in her healing process.

“I am always caught off guard and brought to tears by the lyrics of “Great Are You Lord” when they say, ‘You are the breath in our lungs,’ because He is,” she said. “I believe God wanted/needed me here. Otherwise, I would have surely died that night.”

Beth is now a registered volunteer with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and helped plan a fundraising event for the nonprofit group in March 2015. She is actively working with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to come up with ways to educate people on the dangers of drunk driving in our area.

Through her painful journey, Christ has equipped Beth to forgive the drunk driver who destroyed her world that cold, February night. She has hope for the future and is moving forward.

“I don’t know what the future holds, and I’m OK with not knowing,” she said. “I want to raise my boys to be good Christian men, and I want to make sure they are surrounded at all times by individuals that will point them to Christ. I want to follow God’s plan, whatever it may be.”

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Chanel Bingham is a freelance writer, blogger and public speaker. She resides in Thorsby with her husband and four children. You can visit Chanel at www.thepolishedcanvas.com or on Facebook at “The Polished Canvas.” Her column publishes each Thursday.