Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What Kind Of A Tree Are YOU?

It's been such a long time since this ole' tree has blogged or, "shared any fruit", so to speak. Too long. Quite frankly, I've experienced a long season which has included a healthy dose of pruning, some great weather, some not-so-great weather, maybe a little fertilization here and there (some might more lovingly and accurately refer to this as "getting shat upon") and, ultimately, the good stuff: GROWTH. Without question, I've felt the desire to write but have known deep down that I lacked both the time and the energy to do it well. So, it's taken a back-seat. Basically, I've kept my nose to the grindstone and tried my level best to pour my all into my spiritual walk, my family, CFS, and my training. Although everyone knows there are a million moving pieces to all the aforementioned puzzles (faith, family, work, and competing) here's my quick and dirty summation of the most recent leg of my life's journey: I'm thankful for all that has transpired in my world this past year; adding a few rings to my trunk has made me a STRONGER TREE indeed.

There...I spared you the boring details...you're welcome. The bottom line is that I've learned and had to relearn - the hard way at times - that VIRTUOSITY applies to far more than just my squats, deadlifts, and handstands. I know, I know...seems like an easy enough concept to grasp in theory but, for some odd reason, when it's YOUR LIFE and not someone else's it's much tougher to put the idea of virtuosity or, "mastering the basics", into practice. When life happens, the fragile castle walls to our kingdoms are broken down and we're no longer allowed to rely solely on our bogus self-absorbed Facebook status updates, our worldly possessions, our bank statements, our precious egos, or yes, even our elite fitness levels (GASP!), we are left with only one thing: Our relationships. We are husbands, wives, parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, workers and co-workers. True beauty in every type of relationship is found in mastering the basics. I've found beauty in the relationships of my life most often when I'm living out, striving diligently to achieve, and praying for God to help me live a life filled with the essence of Galatians 5:22-23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." You don't have to be a Christ follower to acknowledge that infusing these traits into your life would probably benefit, not butcher, your relationships.

I have a large tree tattooed up my side and onto my chest and back. The tree is sharp and jagged looking. It has on its branches no leaves, no fruit, no life...or so it would seem, but it is far from dead...

Most who know me well know the story of what happened to Jenny and I the morning of April 7th, 2008. I've touched on it before here on my Proximal Strength blog, but never fully explained what took place...here goes:

We woke up that morning with great excitement cause we were headed off to Lawrence, KS to cheer on the Kansas Jayhawks (for the purposes of this story, lets all just agree to refer to KU as "God's team") from Allen Fieldhouse as they were playing the Kentucky Wildcats (obviously not "God's team") in the 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship game. I loaded an 8-week-old Vincent Lee Mhire into his car seat, Jenny buckled herself up in the back seat next to the baby, and I took the helm as we hit I-44 West toward Joplin. Our plan was to stop there and drop Vin off with his grandparents and then continue on toward Kansas to see God's team win the big game. We were about 30 minutes into the trip near Sarcoxie, MO - Jenny and Vin had dozed off, napping peacefully in the back, when all of the sudden, a semi truck I was passing came over hard and fast into our lane. I apparently was in his blind spot. He was attempting to change lanes, completely impervious to our position alongside him. I laid on the horn, slammed on my brakes, and braced myself for a collision. It never came. Instead, as the driver recognized he'd almost side-swiped us and veered back into his lane, I looked up in my rear view mirror to see Jenny suddenly awake, clearly startled. She sat upright, took one deep breath, and then slumped over lifelessly onto Vincent's lap. Her eyes were wide open. For a brief moment I thought maybe she was having a seizure or something. I turned around screaming her name over and over to try to get her to come out of whatever she'd gone into. But nothing. I panicked. "Jesus!", I cried out. "Jesus, please help me!" Sidebar: It's easy for one to assume that at this moment I was crying out to God to help me know how to save my wife's life, but I kidd you not, I was pulled over and was simply looking for the dang emergency lights button and couldn't find it anywhere! At some point I realized I needed to stop freaking out about the button and get Jenny out of the car to check her pulse and breathing. I got out, ran around the car to her door, unbuckled her seatbelt, and pulled my wife from the car down to the roadside. At this point, baby Vincent could be heard screaming and crying in the car. Through the chaos of the moment I remember telling myself to breath, stay calm and check Jenny's vitals. I checked to see if Jenny was breathing; she was not. I checked her pulse; none. We didn't know it at the time but Jenny had gone into cardiac arrest due to a heart condition where the electrical impulses of her heart stop firing properly. It's a condition called Long QT Syndrome. Those, like Jenny, who go undiagnosed but have Long QT have only a 2% chance of survival should they experience a cardiac event like she did that April 7th morning on I-44 West.

Back to the battle for LIFE. Jenny was losing color and turning blue although I had already begun CPR breaths and chest compressions. All I had learned up to that point in my Sports Medicine and Athletic Training Degree Program at Missouri State University prepared me to know how to properly give CPR but I also knew I didn't have much time if Jenny were going to be able to survive. Time seemed to be creeping by slowly. In between breaths and chest compressions, I prayed that an ambulance would arrive fast so that Jenny could receive a defibrillator and have her heart shocked back into rhythm. Finally, thanks to good Samaritans who had called 911, a highway patrolman named Sam and an ambulance arrived about 5-10 minutes after the whole ordeal had begun. After placing the electrodes and delivering the first shock, I heard the machine's robotic female voice say, "analyzing for heart rhythm...no rhythm detected." Again, PANICK. "Please God, don't let this happen." The defibrillator then reset and began cycling through it's order of operations: "Analyzing heart for rhythm, no rhythm detected, shock advised- deliver shock." The EMT pushed the button. This time, it worked - Jenny's heart went into what's called "V-tach", an unstable and very dangerous arrhythmia but, hey, at this point I think it was pretty safe to say we were all encouraged any type of heart beat!

The road to recovery and healing from here was long. An elderly couple had pulled over to help us and while Jenny went in the ambulance, the man's wife drove her vehicle to Freeman Hospital in Joplin while the man drove me and Vincent there in our car. As we began the 20 to 25 minute drive to the hospital the reality of what had just occurred hit me. Jenny, my wife, my love and best friend, had just basically died right in my arms and at the last possible second I received a glimmer of hope in an extremely unstable and dangerous heart rhythm. The faces of the EMT workers were very telling as they loaded her into the ambulance. I'll never forget their eyes. They didn't exactly instill in me confidence that Jenny would be alright. Their eyes told me it wasn't likely that Jenny would survive at all or that if she did, she'd likely be a brain-damaged vegetable.

I felt hopeless. I needed something. I needed God to speak to me. As I sat in the right back seat next to a tiny baby Vincent, who, at this point, had fallen back asleep in his car seat in the middle, I remembered that my bible was in the vehicle underneath the passenger side seat. I grabbed it and opened it up, haphazardly attempting to land somewhere in the Psalms (I have Psalm 28:7 "The LORD is my strength and my shield" tattooed on my back so it was the first verse that came to my mind). "God give me something, please! I don't wanna lose Jenny!" My eyes scanned...I saw Psalm 28 but my eyes were pulled away from it and upward...my eyes shifted to the verse right above Psalm 28...The last verses of Psalm chapter 27...Psalm 27:13-14..."I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD".

My heart was helped. I felt peace...peace that I'll never be able to truly or fully explain. But IN THAT MOMENT God's Spirit spoke ever so clearly to my heart saying, "Jeremy, she's not yours; she's MINE if I would choose to take her. Either way, whether Jenny lives or dies today, I am with you. I am in control. Be brave. Be patient. Trust in me to fulfill my will and purpose for you and for Jenny."

So, there you go. I almost argued, but decided against it as God has proven himself over the years as quite the formidable opponent for me to argue with. Instead, as best I could, I listened. Later that day in the ICU at Freeman Hospital, doctors took me into the room just as Jenny came out of a coma. I swear it remains just as memorable and precious a moment for me as the days that each of my children, Vin and Emille, were born.

Here's the grand finale: If the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control and you find yourself lacking these things in your life, check first the roots of your tree. Are they dug in deep? Are they healthy? Are you doing your part to make sure they're watered and fed? Even if the tree looks dead at the time - even if you are worn and weary - when you dig deep within your soul, can you sense the thirst and desire you have for goodness? You and I both know it's there. See, my bet is that at the root of all humanity most of us would agree that our greatest desire is not to be evil, but it is actually to be HOLY.

So I'm asking you: What kind of a tree are you? We're all to an extent bruised and battered - we all have our baggage and circumstances. Continue to LOVE. Be JOYFUL. Pray for PEACE in your life and in the lives of your loved ones. Practice PATIENCE. Be KIND. Look for the GOODNESS in life and in others. Remain FAITHFUL in all you do. Be GENTLE. Remain in CONTROL, show restraint, and practice SELF-CONTROL. Lord knows we'll all still fail, maybe break a branch or two along the way - but when we do, let us be like the strong, well-aged trees that withstand the test of seasons and of time, not like the weak trees that bend and break so easily.

"By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." ~ Matthew 7:16-19

Stay thirsty, my friends.

~ Cochise


  1. That was an awesome story God is always with us. Thanks for taking the time to write. ~Rhonda :)

  2. I will NEVER FORGET that day and the days following. There were tears of sadness and tears of joy. There's were many moments of silence and prayer and moments of laughter (with Bonnie when Jenny's short term memory was a "bit off"). I LOVE U Jeremy for saving my best friends life. Xoxo - Liz

  3. Ahh.. tears so early in the morning Jeremy Mhire.. what a testament to our God, your family, and your unending love for both.

    Lisa G

  4. Beautiful writing Jeremy! Thanks for sharing. I need a root check daily.

    Amy H.

  5. Amazing. I'm sure you've already considered this but I wondered while reading this if perhaps Jenny was already in Cardiac Arrest and God caused that brief moment of chaos by the truck driver to alert you to what was already taking place in that back seat. Simply an amazing story and the lessons learned and conveyed are invaluable...good stuff...thanks!

    Billy A.

  6. Thank you for sharing this story, Jeremy. Our God is ever present...and I needed this reminder today. God bless you and your family.

  7. ahhh...It's stories like this that bring negative emotions to stillness. This was a reminder to me that though people fail us. Institutions fail us. Life at times seems to fail us. He is there, orchestrating each day as He has always intended that day to be for us. THAT is where the peace is. Peace in knowing that it's already planned. Peace in knowing that we are called to simply, "Love your neighbor as yourself" and when doing that, He has always promised to provide.
    He lets us see a small bit of His greatness through stories like yours and reminds us that He's got a plan. We are all His...and that Guy loves His kids.
    Thanks for sharing Jeremy. We love you guys...so much. He couldn't have chosen a better couple to show what He can do through people and relationships.
    ~H Worthy