Saturday, July 23

A week makes a huge difference. A week can change your life. A week can bring joy. A week ago, I was told my wife might not survive this tragic incident. A week ago, my world was falling apart. This week, things have changed. If you can see what has happened to my wife and the progression she has made and not believe that God is real and still performs miracles, I don’t know what it would take to convince you.

The past week has been an emotional rollercoaster. There have been ups and downs, but we’ve seen the faithfulness of the Lord. A few summers ago, I thought I saw what His faithfulness was about. This summer I have experienced a different glimpse. When I first heard the news about my wife, my world stopped. I could not understand why this would happen. The Lord always had a plan.

This week, my wife has made improvements that have left doctors clueless. I’m perfectly fine with that. I love that. I love that through this, the Gospel is being shared. Kelly’s life has shown people who Christ is. I am so proud to be her husband.

The progress Kelly has made is amazing. From the start, Kelly was responsive. She could not speak, but she could motion with her right hand. Since Saturday, she has made amazing leaps. Her breathing has become more stable. They are slowly but surely lowering the level of pressure and assistance that the machine gives her. She’s following the commands the doctors give her. She is opening her eyes from time to time. The doctors are telling us all these things are great.

One of the hardest things to watch is when she coughs. I hate seeing my wife struggle against the breathing tube. It’s something that makes me feel helpless because I know there is nothing that I can physically do to help. I step out of the room as the nurses help and I pray. This is one of the most difficult things for me.

Today, a very close friend of ours came to Jackson to see us. His name is Wesley Wallace. He’s been an amazing friend to us. We absolutely love him. We were able to joke around and laugh. We were also able to be serious and talk about the Lord and His faithfulness. I was so encouraged by his words and his friendship. He left Jackson around 10 to head back to Monroe. After he left, I wanted to go check on Kelly. I got to her room and she was coughing. I hated to see it. I walked over to her side. Her eyes were already open. I grabbed her hand and said, “Babe I’m here. Can you see me? Squeeze me hand if you can see me.” I’ve never been so excited to have someone squeeze my hand. I told her that I was right beside her and I was not going anywhere. I asked her to squeeze my hand again if she wanted me to stay where she could see me. Another squeeze. At this point, I’m on cloud 9. My wife knows I’m here and she wants me to stay where she can see me. We’ve been playing some worship music through a speaker for her so I asked her to squeeze my hand again if she wanted the music turned on. Another squeeze. We turned the music on and I asked if it was too loud. Another squeeze. I let her know that I was there, I would be there until she fell asleep, and that all she needed to do was rest. I watched her close her eyes and begin to settle down. I stayed and rubbed her arm until I knew she was back asleep.

This has by far been the greatest moment of my life. The Lord has been so faithful and Kelly has been such a fighter. In the words of the piano player at our church Mary Easterling, “God has already done the miracle, we’re just playing catch up.”

Trials

Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James tells us to count it all joy when we face trials. He’s basically telling us we need to look at trials in the light of what God is doing for us. To respond to difficulty with joy seems a little ridiculous at first. We try to avoid trials for the most part. James isn’t telling us to go through life and these trials with a fake smile acting like nothing is wrong. We can’t always control what happens to us but we can control how we react to them. This joy is different from happiness. Joy is being content in whatever situation that is going on. Basically James is saying that this is more than a feeling. It means choosing to live above our feelings. Trials have a purifying quality. It’s a place where something good develops.

Have you ever looked at the bottom of a rug? It’s ugly. There’s a pattern that doesn’t make sense, loose ends, and yarn everywhere. But the thing is this, you cannot judge the work or the worker by looking at the wrong side. It would be easy for us in a trial to just say I’m done. The reason it’s so easy is because we haven’t seen the top of the rug, only God has.

God’s approval of our faith is priceless because it assures us that our faith is genuine. The result of testing our faith produces steadfastness or perseverance. Perseverance is colored with the idea of hope. The focus isn’t to look at what is going on right now, it’s to look beyond this situation. This isn’t positive thinking but an inner confidence in trusting God through the trial. There’s a story about a man who sees a caterpillar. He brought it home so could watch it come out of the cocoon. The man watched it struggle for a couple of hours as the caterpillar struggled to get through the small opening. It began to seem like progress stopped and the caterpillar was stuck. The man, trying to help the caterpillar, cuts off the rest of the cocoon. The caterpillar comes out easy. It had a swollen body and small wings. The man watched it hoping to see the wings to pop out. They didn’t. The caterpillar spent the rest of his existence crawling around and was never able to fly.

Because the man was impatient, he failed to see that the caterpillar needed to struggle with the cocoon to shape the caterpillar to be what he needed to be in order to fly. Freedom and flight would only come after the struggle. Depriving him of his struggle, the man deprived the caterpillar of its potential.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need. If God removed the obstacles in our lives, we would never grow.

Perseverance is also a means to an end. We shouldn’t be satisfied with where we are. We should let ourselves grow to our fullest so we can become mature, lacking nothing. Completeness here means maturity. Maturity here has nothing to do with age. It has to do with everything we learn from the trials we face.The complete person is one whose character is fully formed to what Christ wants them to be. God wants us to be perfect and complete after we face a trial.

And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘TheLord is my God.’” Zechariah 13:9

In ancient times when someone was refining gold, they would heat a fire as hot as they could get it and they would put the gold in the furnace. As the gold would start to melt down, black dross and slag would rise to the top and the person refining the gold would use a tool to scrape all these impurities off. After he scraped off the impurities he would put the gold back in the furnace and repeat this process until he could look down and see his reflection perfectly in the gold.

This is what is happening to us now. God is putting us through a process that will strengthen us. He is making us into everything he wants us to be, everything he is calling us to be.

Next time you find yourself in a trial remember that. Remember that you haven’t seen the top side of the rug, remember that caterpillar and that freedom and flight would only come after the struggle and that sometimes we have to struggle. Remember that even though it may seem hard and it feels like there’s flames all around you, the things that are keeping us from being like Christ are rising to the top and He is scraping those things back till he can perfectly see himself in our lives.

Think of the words to that old song.

He never promised that the cross would not get heavy and the hill would not be hard to climb. He never offered victories without fighting but He said help would always come in time. Just remember when you’re standing in the valley of decision and the adversary says give in, Just hold on. Our Lord will show up and He will take you through the fire again.

We have a friend in Jesus. He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. When you’re facing tough times, remember that he is making you into everything he sees that you are.

Saturday, July 16th

On July 16th, my life changed forever. We thought it was a regular day. Kelly left for a store meeting at 6:40. She was going to the meeting, to paint for a while, and then pack for Cross Camp. I got up, went to Ezell’s in Wisner. I called my mom and we talked about when we were leaving for camp, how many we were bringing and how great it would be. I got home and tried to start a new TV series. After about 15 minutes, Peyton Sparks knocked on my door. He told me we had to go and that Kelly had been in an accident. We got in his car, drove to Franklin Medical and waited to see what was going on. In a short while, I saw my wife being wheeled in on a stretcher. She looked at me and seemed to say with her eyes, “We’re ok. We’re going to be ok.” I had no idea what was going on. The doctor came out and told us that kelly had been shot. Words can’t describe how I felt. He told us that she was in critical condition and would be flown to Jackson. He told us that she was answering commands. I still had no idea what to say. They wheeled her by us to get her to the helicopter. I dropped when I saw her. I got in the car with Peyton and we drove to Jackson. The ride over felt like an eternity. My Pastor, Kevin Bates, rode with us as well. They did a fantastic job comforting me. We got to Jackson and heard words from doctors that I wasn’t ready to hear. The chance of survival was slim. I was devastated. My pastor pulled me aside and said, “She’s responding to commands, she looked at you in Winnsboro, do not take a death sentence.” I’m so appreciative of my pastor. The next few hours were full of questions. Myself, Lisa (Kelly’s Mom), and Shelby (Kelly’s Sister) had the chance to go look at her again. I couldn’t breathe. I immediately started asking God why. Why my wife? Why Kelly? What has she ever done to anyone? My heart was breaking. The transport team told us they were moving her to the 4th floor to the NSICU. They moved her and we came upstairs. Fear is terrible. Fear tries to grip you and doesn’t let go. Fear tries tells you how to feel. It will do what it wants to do but only if you let it. I got to go see her in the NSICU and there were no words I can say. My wife of thirteen months was fighting for her life. These things aren’t supposed to happen. I came back out and tried to lay down but my mind was racing. Around 3 in the morning I felt hopeless. I know this was an attack from the enemy. I was hearing things like, “You’ve lost her. She’s not coming back. She’s not going to make it.” In the midst of this, the Lord spoke. There’s a song called Great I Am. The bridge says,”The mountains shake before Him.The demons run and flee. At the mention of the name, King of Majesty. There is no power in hell or any who can stand before the power and the presence of the Great I am.” This is so true. When the Lord spoke, the thought stopped. The Lord showed me Philippians 1:6, And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. I just felt like God was saying, “Look Shane, I have the last word. It’s not over until I say it’s over.” There was such a comfort in those words. Since Saturday night, I’ve known that we were going to be ok. The doctors were still saying that we were taking it day by day. The Lord had told me that the battle was already won. Since Saturday, Kelly has made huge improvements. She is following commands and doing what the doctors tell her to do. It is amazing to feel her squeeze my hand. It’s crazy how seeing her hold up 2 fingers makes me so happy. Today makes 6 days that we’ve been here. The doctors have asked how she is still alive, how she is following commands, how she’s responding to what they’re saying. My only answer is that we have a God that is not limited to our understanding. Kelly is a fighter and she has the strength of Christ in her. I’ve played the “what if” game and said if I was in the car it wouldn’t have happened. I don’t know that for sure. What I do know is that my wife wouldn’t have the testimony that she is going to have. Kelly is my hero.