Utomo Music Pic
“Celebrating 11 months of marriage, and looking forward to a month of concerts with my best friend!” – This was the caption Grace posted around Thanksgiving three years ago, when we thought we’d have a whole month of Christmas concerts ahead.


Dear friends, today marks three years since December 3, 2016, when God allowed a rogue driver to drastically change the course of our lives. In preparation for this post, Grace asked me if we are where I thought we’d be three years out from the accident. She asked me how I felt at the three year mark, and where we see ourselves going from here. My initial response to her questions was, “I don’t know.”

When something as terrible as Grace’s accident happens, the stakes in life suddenly get much higher. The balance between “needs” and “wants” shifts pretty dramatically and almost all your time and energy becomes devoted to keeping the boat afloat. At least something like that has been my experience. Have I had time to pause and feel what the accident has been like? Yes and no. I wouldn’t describe myself as shutting out the painful feelings associated with hardship, but at the same time my experience has been one focused mostly on just trusting God to get me and Grace through each day.

Wake up, go to work, go home and help Grace, do my own doctoral schoolwork, sleep.

The reason I don’t know if we are where I thought we would be at the three year mark is that Grace’s recovery has not followed a typical upward trajectory. To be sure, we went through the initial critical phase and have long since been in the plateau phase; but Grace has had some unexpected seizure developments during that plateau, and we are still working with neurologists to get a better understanding of what is going on with her brain and what we can do about it.

Where do I see us going in the next five, ten years? Health-wise, who knows. Hopefully we can continue to tweak Grace’s medication so that she won’t have a seizure every time she encounters a bright or flashing light. Lifestyle-wise, both Grace and I are in school, so I would look forward to finishing our degrees as our next significant life goal.

As difficult as the past three years have been, I wouldn’t change a thing about them. Not because I wouldn’t rather have had an easier, more pleasant time; but because God’s always in control and His plans are always best. Hard times do have a way of helping you realize just how much you need to rely on God and His help.

So if I could share, here are some reflections from the past three years:

  1. The accident was not an accident. God is Sovereign, and everything He does is for His glory and the ultimate good of His children (Rom 8:28).
  2. Human understanding is frightfully limited; God’s understanding is limitless. The “accident” didn’t change the course of Grace’s life as God had planned it; it only changed our understanding of how we thought Grace’s life should go (Prov 16:9).
  3. No one is entitled to an easy life. In fact, Jesus promised us that we would have trouble on earth (John 16:33). But Jesus also reminded us that He has overcome the world with its many sorrows and troubles.
  4. We all know there must be a greater good out there. The brokenness of this world serves as a cosmic sign pointing toward the redemption offered to us by God (Rom 8:19-24).
  5. This life is short; Heaven has no time limits. All the suffering we experience now cannot be quantified against the infinite goodness of living in perfect harmony with God and those who have accepted His gift of eternal life (Rom 8:18).

We could go on and on about God’s boundless goodness, mercy, and grace. The more I reflect on these things the more grateful I am that God would love us enough to care for our eternal wellbeing so passionately. He didn’t leave us to suffer; He took on our suffering and made something beautiful out of it (Isaiah 53:5).

Friends, we are grateful for your prayers and support thus far and can’t wait to keep moving forward with all of you. Please know that Grace and I also pray for you, that God would help all of us serve Him well and bear faithfully the tasks He has entrusted to each of us during our time on earth. Our prayer is that God would continue to renew our hearts and minds each day so that we will better know Him and understand His purposes throughout both the big and little moments of this life (Phil 3:8-10).

Remember, the battle has already been won! Rest in that truth, and don’t forget to let others know! 🙂

7 thoughts on “Three Years Since the Third

  1. May the Lord Jesus wrap His loving arms around you, Grace and Ivan. This blog is a powerful testimony to those of us who need to be inspired in times of hardship.
    God is good. His plan was to send His Son to endure earth. He also has a plan for both of you.
    Continuing to pray. KC


  2. Thank you, Ivan. The truths you share are not new, but they penetrate my heart deeper because they are believed by you and Grace in the midst of your trial. I am resolved to do bettter in my own trials. I always look forward to reading whatever you each write.


  3. Dear Ivan and Grace,

    Now I know what you must be getting your doctorate in: doctrine! Wait, no, encouragement! Or maybe, in the process of going through all of this together, God is developing incredible new gifts in both of you. Thank you for letting all of us benefit from the priceless lessons God is teaching both of you. To Him be all the glory!


  4. Keep walking step by step. Your existence and relationship are what matters. We can’t affect rd to look back. Your post as always encourages like no one else. I have former students who know they are facing the end. Their courage and trust in God is more motivating than any sermon. Thanks for the reminder to pray for you.


  5. Both of you are an inspiration as you faithfully show us how to continue walking every day with your eyes fixed on God, his leading, his strength and trust that HE is in control of your future.
    Your faith at this young age is amazing!


  6. You two are definitely an inspiration to so many of us. Wishing God could change your lives in an instant but we must be patient and wait on Him. Just continue to follow His plan and let us pray for you. You are an example for us to continue in prayer and watch Him work in your lives.


  7. > …where we see ourselves going from here… “I don’t know.”

    More honest than that it cannot get.

    ‘Rock Bottom.’ came to my mind… and offering that to you two just felt not right. So I was looking for an exit from this thought. Even for myself. And this is the turn it took:

    ‘It all depends!’ is the axiomatic always correct and ever true response to any (engineering) question. Just now begins working for me (also) for this engineering unrelated – as prevailing understood around you – context.

    It all depends what – or more so – Who – this Rock is… – …and the rain will come down and the house on the rock … stood firm.

    So ‘it’ – the house – goes nowhere? Not a good enough answer – yet.

    I’m glad that mentioned rock is the rock of a parable and a metaphor, because the Rock in my thread of thought gets everyone of us everywhere and exactly where we need to be at any given time… for ever. In different settings – well known to us – we express our longing to be as close as possible to Jesus and to be like him: …and this is that Rock.

    Let me close with a life-song spoken, sang or taken to heart and followed way before – but in ancestry line of – Him: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3ulEQFJMLo – and (the) Grace to rest on this Rock will take you soaring ‘…surpassing any understanding…’ for ever and ever – in peace and without the ultimate limit the lyrics writer had to live with (not even applicable what is mentioned at the end of the song).


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