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The Moose and a Miracle - by Kerry Sprague

I tossed and turned in bed, trying not to wake my husband, Don, who slept peacefully beside me.  My heart raced, my palms were sweaty and I could barely breathe.  Another panic attack was keeping me awake.

  As I watched the sun rise and brighten the sky, dread filled me.   I had to face another day.  My husband knew about my anxiety attacks but he had no idea how I longed for my life to end. No one knew that. 

The next morning, after another sleepless night, we loaded up our Jeep Grand Cherokee and buckled the girls into their car seats.  I took my spot in the passenger seat, and tried to put on a smile.

“It’ll be fun to be away for a couple of weeks,” I said.  I didn’t want to disappoint Don so I pretended to be excited, but inside I was scared.  I worried about the car breaking down, where we would stay at night, if the girls might get sick, if the weather would ruin our trip, if Don would have fun.  I fought the panic that threatened to smother me.   

I did my best to appear cheerful and enjoy the trip, but I continually battled panic attacks.  I also kept secretly wishing to see a moose. This became more and more important to me as we covered more miles. I wanted to see one, to remember the joy I felt as a child, to know I could have some relief from my anxiety, even if for a moment. This would somehow give me assurance that I could be okay in the future. 

As we neared the end of our vacation my hope to see a moose faded.  The usual gloom I felt began clouding my thoughts as the rain clouds darkened the skies.  We entered northern Wyoming in a thick fog, making it difficult to see much, but on the side of the road I noticed a moose crossing sign.   

“Okay, girls, you know how we haven’t seen a single moose on this whole trip?” I said, looking over my shoulder.  They nodded their heads in unison.  “Well, I need you to help me spot one.  Can you guys keep your eyes on the lookout for a moose?  This is where we might see one before we get home.”

The girls, Don, and I began searching the hillsides, trying desperately to see a moose.  This game helped pass the time. But no luck--no moose.

On our last day of the trip I had given up all hope of seeing one.  I fought back the tears that were pooling in my eyes.  It was time to go home and continue fighting my unending battle with anxiety.  In desperation I silently cried out to God, Lord, I need to know if I’m going to be okay.  Will You please show me a moose?  But, Lord, it can’t be any moose just walking out of the woods-- it has to be something unique.  I need to know it’s a sign from You that I’ll be all right. 

We were only a few hours from home as Don turned into Dubois, a little town in Wyoming, to fill the car with gas.  As we came around the corner into town I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  On my right was a car wash and on the roof of the building stood a giant concrete moose.

“Don, stop!  I have to get a picture of that moose,” I practically yelled.

“What?” he asked. “You’re not going to believe this, but I just prayed and asked God to show me a moose, a sign from Him to me.  Not just a moose off in the distance, but somehow unique, so I would know it was from Him.”

“Well, that’s definitely unique,” he said as he smiled and pulled into the car wash.

I grabbed my camera, stood in front of the beast and clicked.  WHIRRRR. “Oh,  no.  I’m out of film!  I have to have a picture of this.”  

We drove around to a few nearby stores but it was Sunday after 5 pm and all the stores in this tiny town were closed.  Yet I still felt excited that God had answered my prayer. We drove home.

Unfortunately, during the next five days, my anxiety drastically increased.  I hardly slept or ate anything.  Don asked his mom to come over and help with the girls because I could barely function.  I thought often about that moose but as time went on, and I became worse, my thoughts turned negative.  It wasn’t a real moose anyway.  Or that probably wasn’t from God.  I chided myself for holding hope in seeing a silly concrete moose.

Then on the fifth night I hit rock bottom as I stared at the static on the TV in our family room.  “Lord please either help me or take my life,” I pleaded again.  I tried to sleep on the couch but kept watch as the clock slowly ticked towards morning.  Around 3 am I heard a still, small voice say, “Look for the cross in the moose picture.” 

What moose picture? I didn’t get a picture of it.  I’m losing my mind.  I thought as I rolled onto my back.  Then I heard it again, “Look for the cross in the moose picture.”  I must be making this up.  Then I heard the same words for a third time.   Maybe I’m not making this up.  Okay, I’ll take the film in tomorrow.

The next morning, feeling ridiculous about what I was doing, I prayed, “Lord, if that voice was from you last night then let me grab the right roll of film.”  I reached into the brown paper lunch bag that held 40 rolls of undeveloped film , and grabbed one roll.  

I went to the grocery store, dropped off the roll at the one-hour developing counter, and shopped for an hour.  When I picked up the film my hands were shaking.  I desperately wanted to see a cross in the picture, but I didn’t even know if this was the right roll of film, or if I even got that picture of the moose.  I opened the envelope right there and I flipped through the pictures.  

Then I saw it, the moose on top of the car wash.  I had captured it on film after all.  I stared at it looking for a cross. My eyes scanned the picture I studied the moose then the clouds in the sky and suddenly a shiver went through my body and goose bumps caused the hair on my arms and neck to stand up.  There in the sky were two jet streams crossing over each other, A cross! “Wow.  Thank you, Lord.” I whispered.

When I got home I called Don.  “Don, I have to tell you what just happened….” Then I told him about the voice I heard in the night and the picture.   I choked back sobs as I said, “I can’t believe God would do this for me.  I know I’m going to be okay.”

From that moment on my healing began.  For the first time in 20 years I began to see results.  I felt purpose in my life.  I began doing things I never would have dreamed of doing before like teaching a Bible study, speaking publicly, and volunteering in my daughter’s classrooms.  I even slept peacefully, and ate normally.  Slowly my anxiety disappeared and was replaced with an excitement for life and a peace that was foreign to me.

I still keep the picture of that moose with the cross in it on my refrigerator as a reminder that God healed me from my anxiety.  But more importantly I know God answers prayer.  He answered mine in a unique way that had personal meaning just for me.

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