Feature Story, Online edition!

Words to Live By, Words are important!

Words To Live By
By Pamela Gauthier

From the time we are born until our very last day on earth, we will hear and speak words. We first hear words from our parents at birth. These words shape us and for most of us we are taught by them. As we grow older we also hear words from teachers, coaches, peers, strangers and others. We read words and are changed by them. No doubt we live and breathe by words. Words can hurt us, abuse us, anger us and mislead us also.

I remember when I was on a job as a Test Monitor. I chose to read the Bible while waiting for the testers to finish.

I was dealing with an abusive marriage at this time. I was desperate to hear some words of hope, when I came upon a particular scripture, John 3:16 (KJV), “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believed in Him would not perish but would have eternal life.” I learn this scripture as a little girl at a Christian school, but it did not have the impact on me that it did on this particular day. The part that said whosoever believes in Him came to life for me, (Him being Jesus).

I was never the same from this moment on, reading this scripture changed my life forever. I knew my sins were forgiven and that I had been given another chance to start over. I was given power to live my life the way God intended for me to live it. Romans 1:12 (KJV),says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes.”

As I continued living in the Word and being directed by the Lord, I discovered that not only were my sins forgiven, but I had also been given power to forgive others. This brought such a freedom to my new life. I discovered that the abusive words, the emotional and physical abuse that once held me captive, no longer kept me in bondage to fear. Instead, faith arose in my heart to receive words of significance, purpose and healing which came from receiving this eternal life. “By His wounds we are healed,” 1 Peter 2:24 (NLT).

The word of God says, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” Matthew 4:4 (KJV).

Many years have passed in my Christian faith, and I have learned through the years that God’s word sustains us, trains us, leads us and guides us. It is water to our very soul. “Study this book of instruction continually, meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” Joshua 1:8 (NLT).
These are, “words to live by”!

HeARTune Creations Poetry, LLC., is owned by Pamela Gauthier. Pamela is a writer and poet, who has been writing for over 20 years. She formally started her poetry as a business in October of 2013.

Her poetry has been at several boutiques and stores in the Baton Rouge area. Pamela is a native Baton Rougean, who has lived here all of her life. She is the wife of Ronnie Gauthier, and the mother of four: Mrs. Jamie Baham, Mrs. Jessica Chatman, Joshua and Joseph Gauthier. She is also the proud Grandmother of Five.

Pamela started her writing journey by writing poetry as a way to uplift the spirits of those in nursing homes and the like. This is still the goal today, to touch hearts and lives wherever encouragement is needed.

Feature Story, Online edition!

Three Ways to Trust God When Things Are Falling Apart….

3 Ways to Trust God When Things Are Falling Apart
(By: Alton Jamison)

It’s easy to trust God when things are going your way. But how do you keep your faith and trust in God when things are falling apart?

We all know life is a never-ending mosaic of both good and not-so-good.

From the incredible highs where you believe nothing can stand in your way and you can realize all your dreams; to the disheartening lows where it’s almost impossible to even find hope in the next hour, let alone the future.

But how do you continue to thrive despite the lows that life throws our way? How do you not get lost in the depths of sadness and heartbreak when the going gets tough?

Below are 3 ways to give you strength and hold on to hope and your faith in God no matter what is happening around you.

  1. Patience:
    While it may seem counterintuitive, patience is the best way to handle a challenging situation that appears, on the surface, to be making your life fall apart.

When things become challenging and uncomfortable, we tend to want to push through and past the pain and discomfort quickly and in any way possible; even if it’s not in our best interests.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5&6

Life is a journey and full of lessons. While trying life challenges and emotions are not easy, they are important. We learn the most during challenging times. So by practicing patience, we allow ourselves to slow down, reflect, understand and absorb the lesson being offered to us.

The willingness to stay the course, hold on tight to our faith and practice patience, allows us to remain open to what is in our best interest (which our heavenly Father knows) and adjust our path in life. Patience allows us to be in the moment and reconnect with our soul and our life purpose.  

  1. Prayer: Surrender yourself and your challenges to God through prayer. Prayer is our spiritual conversation with God who both hears and answers prayers.

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find.”
(Matthew 7:7)

Just as you would talk to your best friend during hard times, communicate and rely upon God who always knows what is best for you. Lean upon God’s strength through prayer and reflection and clear your mind of all the noise, confusion and sadness.

“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” (Psalm 62:8)

Trust in the power of prayer and know your heavenly Father is always listening regardless of how large or small your problems may seem. Prayer is also a form of meditation and will help relieve the overwhelming stress of whatever you’re facing. Prayer with deep faith will also open up your mind and heart to receiving guidance from above.

You are not expected to have all the answers; remember your life is a journey. But trusting in the connection to our higher source offers both peace and answers. Even Jesus prayed to God in his darkest moments in the Garden of Gethsemane for the strength to do God’s will.

Prayer enhances our most intimate relationship with our Creator and places our hope and trust in a power far greater than ourselves. In both good times and bad, prayers reach out for help and express gratitude for help received.

  1. Perseverance:
    It’s important to remember prayers are not always answered in our timeframe or in accordance with our expectations. But with perseverance and faith, answers and solutions will present themselves. As Joshua encouraged us:

“Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for
the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

When we persevere in our faith and trust in the Almighty, we avoid being intimidated into fear, hopelessness and inaction in the face of difficulties or obstacles. Instead, we hold our trust that God will provide the best for us in his infinite wisdom and at the right time.

Even if you feel your prayers are not being heard or answered fast enough, continue to practice patience, prayer and perseverance to find the strength to stay on course and remain faithful to God and his will and plan for us.

Alton and TaShawnda Jamison are the founders of The Empowerment Zone. This is a ministry designed to “empower people for everyday life”, through products, events, and messages. Alton and TaShawnda Jamison have been sharing the gospel together for over 20 years. They met in college on the campus of Old Dominion University and started teaching Bible Study together and the rest, they say, is history. God has gifted them in the areas of Families and Finances, and they have been blessed to be able to share their message around the country. They have recently completed their first book together: Purpose, Passion & Prosperity: 3 Keys To A Godly Marriage. Alton is the author of three additional books: Get Off The System: Moving From Lack To Abundance, No More Handcuffs: 5 Keys To Removing The Mental Handcuffs From Your Life, and Biblical Principles For Entrepreneurs. They have a genuine love for God and being transparent to others about their failures and successes. God has also blessed them with two beautiful children. For more information about Alton and TaShawnda or The Empowerment Zone, please visit: www.empowerlives.net

Online edition!

Goals and a prayer for 2019, with Dr. Todd Shupe

Setting Goals For 2019



As the new year approaches so does a surge in membership applications to local fitness centers.  Many of us make a new year’s resolution to lose weight, and this is a great resolution.  Our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, and we are to honor God with our bodies (1 Cor. 6:19-20).


At this time of the year, I like to reflect on Isaiah 43:19. “See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”  The prophet Isaiah is referring to the past deliverance of the Jews from Egypt and giving assurance that He will return them from captivity by the Babylonians.  I wonder what “new thing” God wants to do in my life.  I look forward to each new year with joyful anticipation to see how God is going to move in my life and those around me.


So, what new thing do you have planned for 2019?  Researchers have found that 80% of all New Year’s Resolutions will fail by February.   This begs the question of why?  I would like to offer up the following possible reasons for your consideration.

  1. No plan. If you do not make a plan to succeed, by default you have made a plan to fail. The Word teaches us in Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”
  2. Not realistic. A foolish person does begin by seeking first “His kingdom and His righteousness” as we are encouraged to do in Matthew 6:33. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” (Proverbs 12:15).
  3. Not known. We must be in community with others.  If we disclose our goals to our small groups, they can help us refine them and keep us from going astray.  Matthew 18:20 teaches us, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
  4. No reward. Many of us are not motivated if there is not a reward.  There is no true reward on this earth.   Our real reward awaits us in heaven and is described in Matthew 6:19-21.  Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”


I try to avoid the typical New Year trap by prayerfully setting goals that I know will bring honor to God and therefore He will honor in His way and in His time.


As you set your goals and resolutions for 2019, I ask you to consider the following guidelines.

  1. Find a secluded quiet place and ask God what do you need to prune to become more like Him?
  2. Talk with your pastor and share the results of your time of prayer and listening.Do not be discouraged if you are unable to discern His will.  Be open and honest with your pastor, and God will speak through him or her to you.
  3. Find a small support group at your local church to keep you on track with your goals.
  4. Check in with your pastor as often as you are moved by the Spirit.


Prayer for 2019.


Numbers 6:24-26 New International Version (NIV)

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you
 and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”




Todd Shupe is a native of Carrollton, IL, a small rural town in west central Illinois.  He is most proud of his son Kyle (age 16) and Emma (age 18).  He earned his BS and MS in Wood Science from the University of Illinois and a PhD in Wood Science from Louisiana State University.  He has a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma and is a Green Associate in LEED.  He worked as a Professor and ISO 17025 Lab Director for 20 years and now works as a wood science consultant at www.drtoddshupe.com to continue to help companies bring new building products and wood preservatives to market, conduct in house training, improve product quality and production, and serve as an expert witness.  Todd is currently in training to be a Men’s Ministry Specialist under the direction of the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is concurrently in training to become a Lay Minister under the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.  He enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, fishing, and writing inspirational Christian blogs at toddshupe.com and todd-shupe.com.

August 2018, Learning For Life

A Beautiful Mind

On the day he accepted a full scholarship from Southern University, Elijah could hardly contain his excitement.
Surrounded by family and members of the Southern University administration, Elijah poses for photos.
Elijah Precciely with his parents and two sisters, Brejena and Brianna.

A Beautiful Mind
by Lisa Tramontana

Elijah Precciely was literally the answer to a prayer — his father’s.

Steve Precciely was the last male in his family’s line, and after two daughters, he and his wife Pamela desperately wanted a son. They would have to wait 11 years. “At one point, I felt God say to me, ‘What is more important? My desire for you to do my will or your desire to have a son?’ I realized that I needed to be happy doing God’s will … that the situation was beyond my control … so I accepted that it might never happen, and I felt a burden lifted.”

And not long afterward, the Preccielys learned they were expecting. Elijah came into the world weighing 9 pounds, 6 ounces — a big baby destined for big things. “When he was born,” said Steve, “I heard God say, ‘Name him Elijah, for he will be a prophet to the nations.’”

At 11, Elijah is already a published author, host of a Christian radio show, and owner of five patents for several inventions. This month, he will become a licensed minister of The Church of God in Christ, and next spring, he will be a full-time student at Southern University, where just last month, he was offered a full scholarship to study physics and mechanical engineering.

Elijah is a true child prodigy and his parents say they are humbled by God’s grace. “We really believe he’s going to change the world,” said Pamela. “And we want to facilitate what God is doing in his life. We give the glory to God and we let the Holy Spirit lead us.”

The Preccielys’ faith is strong. Steve is pastor of Grace and Truth Church in Baton Rouge, while Pamela has served in many ministries throughout their marriage. They home-schooled all of their children and raised them in a godly household. At just 5 years old, Elijah was so comfortable talking about Scripture that he stepped up to the altar and preached his first “message.”

But his parents knew he was gifted long before that. At just 18 months, his daycare teacher told the Preccielys that he should probably be moved up with the 2- and 3-year-old children. This became a pattern. By age 3, Elijah’s parents were amazed by how quickly he soaked up information. “We had posters on the walls, lists of all the things he had learned,” said Pamela. “The planets, the presidents, the continents, all of the times tables. We couldn’t hold him back.”

Television and video games were limited, while books and musical instruments were encouraged. Elijah has played piano, guitar, the recorder, the violin and the drums. “I want to be a jack-of-all-trades,” he said, and a master of all!”

By age 6, he was flipping through college level textbooks, and by 7, he was learning about science and law, and was elected president of his class at Camp CEES. Through a program called TeenPact, he increased his knowledge of government and civics, and was elected governor among his peers. His parents took a Hebrew class and brought their son with them. Elijah learned Hebrew right alongside them. By age 8, Pamela says she had to find help and looked to nearby Southern University, where a professor suggested he enroll in classes right away.

“At that time, Elijah was doing experiments, every day using things from around the house,” Pamela said. “I was always looking for something that had disappeared from my kitchen.”

“I would ask my mom, ‘can we get some liquid nitrogen, some dry ice and some north and south magnets? Please?’” Elijah said. “I just had so many ideas and I didn’t want this information to just sit on a shelf in my brain! When I get thoughts and ideas in my mind, it’s … pop, pop, pop … like popcorn!”

The classes at Southern University opened up a new world for Elijah. For the past three years, he has taken one or two classes every semester, mostly math, science and engineering. One of his parents attends every class with him, and they say he is certainly not shy about discussing the material with his instructors. If anything, they have to remind him to let the other students engage in discussions as well. “His hand is always up,” says Steve.

As for faith, Elijah says he loves praying and speaking to God. “Someday, I want to use my academic knowledge and show how it’s tied to the stories and lessons in the Bible,” he said. “I want to explain that the Bible is the truth. If there is ever an opportunity to minister to someone, that’s what I’m going to do.”

He prays and talks with his parents to get ideas for his radio show. “Sometimes, I’m filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit,” he said, “and I speak in tongues. The Holy Spirit speaks through me and gives me solutions to problems, and shows me how things happening in the world can be used in my radio show. It’s not just a brainstorm. It’s a God-storm!”

Dressed smartly in a coat and tie, Elijah is all smiles as he shakes my hand when we meet. He is articulate and funny, modest and well-mannered. When we mention video games, he talks about their adverse effect on gray matter in the brain. When we mention a Bible verse about fear, he segues into a discussion on the chambers of the heart. When he talks about his love of cooking, he ends up explaining the difference between saturated and trans fats. It’s easy to forget that this little boy with so much encyclopedic knowledge is just 11 years old.

“As you can see, we have our own in-house scientist, doctor, dietitian …,” said Pamela. “You know that phrase — like a kid in a candy store?’ Well, Elijah is like that in a science lab or a library. He looks around and is so excited by the opportunity to learn new things.”

Steve and Pamela are clearly outstanding parents, and it’s easy to see the closeness they share with their son. Seated between them, Elijah smiles as they tell stories about him and occasionally reaches over to rub their arms or hold their hands.

“The key for us as parents was to pray every day,” said Steve. “And we got him into the Word of God early on. His faith in Christ is his foundation.”

“And you two,” says Elijah, looking at his mom and dad. “I couldn’t be who I am without my parents. They are my foundation, too.”


Elijah is often asked to speak at academic, community and religious gatherings. If your group would like to schedule an appearance, contact Brianna Craig at (225) 733-9245.

August 2018, BRCLM Lagniappe

Faith Life

In the Name of Jesus, Turn It into A Church

By Leslie Paul Wilbert

Leslie Paul Wilbert

Thirty-eight years ago, in Addis, Louisiana, I was talking to Ted Berthelot, Chief of Police, about the increasing crime in that once peaceful town. Chief Berthelot was sharing with me that he knew it was because of two bar rooms. Looking and pointing at one of the bar rooms, he told me, “In the name of Jesus, I’m going to turn this bar room into my police station.” I thought to myself, if he could pray and ask Jesus to change that bar room into a police station then I could pray and ask Jesus to change the other bar room into a church.

While driving to church in Baker one Sunday morning with a friend and fellow believer, Yancy Guerin, I shared with him my conversation with Chief Berthelot. Being new believers and having been taught that prayer changes things, Yancy and I started praying that God, in the name of Jesus, would turn that building into a church. On one occasion, we drove into the parking lot of that building, got out of our vehicle, laid hands on the building and prayed for God to turn it into a church. For the next 18 years, several times a week, as we would pass the building, we would point to it and pray aloud, “In the name of Jesus, turn it into a church!” As we grew in the Lord and started understanding more about the authority we had in Christ, we would boldly pray, “Jesus, don’t let anything succeed in that building except a church.”

During these years, a friend of ours was being saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. This man of God felt a call on his life and spent several years in Bible School and serving other ministries preparing himself to fulfill his call to pastor a church. One Sunday afternoon in 1997 as he and his wife were traveling through Addis, they were asking the question, “When we pastor a church, where do you think it will be located?” Immediately, their attention was drawn to the Addis water tower by a large, brilliant flash of light that went off directly above the tower. On the tower they saw the giant, bold words “ADDIS.” Knowing it was a sign from God, they looked at each other, laughed, and said “No way, not Addis!?”

Two years later, in 1999, under the direction and timing of the Holy Spirit, the church was started in that very building in Addis where the two believers had prayed for it to become a church! It just so happened to be directly across Louisiana Highway 1 from the Addis Water Tower where the brilliant light had flashed two years earlier!
The name of the church is River Ministries International and it is pastored by Butch LaBauve and his wife Susan. For the past 19 years, River Ministries International has been a thriving, life-giving, Holy Spirit-filled church spreading the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to West Baton Rouge, its surrounding communities and the nations of the world. It was really no surprise to the praying believers what God did, because for years God had shown Himself faithful through many other answered prayers.

Leslie Paul Wilbert was born in Plaquemine, LA into a family in the funeral service business, which was established in 1850. He has worked in the funeral home, cemetery, burial vault manufacturing, monuments and life insurance companies. Most of Leslie’s working life has been in the financial services business selling property and casualty, life insurance and investments. Currently, the Senior Wealth Strategist with Ozark Insurance in Baker, LA.


July 2018, Witness at Work

Witness at Work, Devotional Days Bring the Team Together

Devotional Days Bring Team Together

Leslie Wilbur, Pastor Butch LeBauve, Andy Bishop, and Kevin Carbo gather after their weekly devotional

It was a busy lunch hour at the offices of Baker Printing. Unlike most days, upon entering there were signs pointing to the large gathering in the back of the building. Wednesdays are devotion days, and most employees as well as special guests are starting to gather in anticipation of this weekly ritual. This week’s guest speaker was Pastor Butch LaBauve, Senior Pastor of Rivers Ministries International.

Located in the heart of Baker, Baker Printing (known as The Printing People), has been having a positive impact on the city since 1962. It was founded by Jack and Martha Bishop and has grown to become one of the largest and most prestigious commercial printers in the state of Louisiana.

The list of political dignitaries who have made personal visits to the offices is almost as impressive as the long list of awards. The company has been recognized for various kinds of professional excellence. Among them are:

  • In 2002, they were honored with the Douglas Manship Torch Award for Business Ethics
  • In 2003, the Better Business Bureau awarded them the International Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics
  • The company received the James C. Dobson Award from Focus on the Family for communicating the positive message of family.
  • The Eagle Award (one of their most treasured) was presented by Liberty Cards. This award is normally given to a division within their own company, rather than an outside vendor.

The team at Baker Printing is also known for civic and humanitarian accomplishments. Representatives have served in leadership roles in various community organizations such as the Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors Printing Industry of America South, Ad Federation of Baton Rouge, Rotary Club of Baker, Baker Chamber of Commerce, Associated Builders and Contractors, Louisiana Family Forum, Sales and Marketing Executives (SME), Cancer Relay for Life and the Better Business Bureau 2004 judges panel for the International Business Ethics Award in Virginia.

Their facility is one of the largest and most modern in the state with more than 21,500 square feet of working space and an additional 8,500 in offsite warehouse space. In-house they have pre-press, press, bindery, business mail processing, signage, digital printing, letterpress departments, and offices for management and sales associates.

The team is most proud of the strong roots they’ve built in the community. Their goal is to keep challenging themselves to stay on the leading edge of technology so they will be we ready to meet all of their clients’ needs.

Kevin Carbohas been attending the Bible studies for 26 years, and says it has made a huge impact on his life.

“I’ve learned that I didn’t know what I thought I knew about God. It wasn’t until much later that I found that man’s laws are not necessarily God’s laws. Follow the Bible, follow God. Don’t call yourself Catholic, Baptist or Methodist. Call yourself a Christian, a believer. Over the years, I’ve grown tremendously. I’m getting old and I try not to be grumpy or short tempered, but when I am, I try to slap myself in the face and say, ‘hey wait a minute!’ Then and I go and apologize if I’ve offended someone. But it’s all good and it’s all because of God.”


Breyana Wheeler was all smiles after the recent devotion. She recently moved from Ohio and has worked for Baker Printing since December. She was quick to offer kind words about the warm environment.

“I worked at a Chick-Fil-A before I moved here, so the Christian environment has definitely been amazing! My future father-in-law works here and that is how I learned about this job. I started working part-time during the holidays, but I loved the environment and they loved me too. Thankfully they gave me a full time position. This was an answer to prayer because I was came here with no Louisiana experience at all. Since then, I’ve been getting closer to everyone.”


Catalina Wilkinsonhas worked at Baker Printing for 29 years.

“This is like my second family. I came here after I got divorced, and it was the best move I ever made. I’m from Baker, and it’s like coming home.”


Faith Life, July 2016

The Power of Prayer

by Rachel Chustz

Michael and Rachel with their children.
Michael and Rachel with their children.

Our family had just spent a fantastic week at a Christian summer camp.  We had made some amazing new friends, listened to wise words from an inspiring speaker and had many exciting outdoor adventures. We felt refreshed from a peaceful week, and our spiritual tanks were full. We had no clue what God was preparing us for, and we didn’t know that only four short days later, we would find out.

On this hot July morning, my hard-working husband, Michael, woke up early, as usual. He sang as he showered. His cheerfulness seeped melodically throughout the rooms of our home.  He quickly dressed and gathered his things. Our children giggled as their playful daddy chased them around the house for goodbye kisses. I kissed Michael goodbye and told him I loved him.

Michael's truck after the accident.
Michael’s truck after the accident.

Only several hours later, I got the phone call from a stranger. The stranger’s voice shook as he regretfully told me, “Ma’am, your husband has been in a very serious wreck.” Michael had run into the back of an 18-wheeler on the interstate. The 18-wheeler was almost completely stopped, and Michael had crashed into him going full speed. “Is he bleeding? Is he going to be okay? Is he alive?” I hysterically asked.  The stranger explained that the Jaws of Life had pried him out of his smashed truck, and the helicopter would arrive any minute to fly him to the emergency room.

I was finally called back to see my husband. As I walked in, I saw Michael lying on the hospital bed with a horrified look on his face. His rapid, shallow breathing revealed how difficult and painful it was to breathe. When he saw me, his eyes filled with tears and he whispered, “I am so sorry.” I held his trembling hand and told him that everything was going to be okay. I could hear his broken bones in his chest snapping with each laborious breath.

Michael was moved to the trauma unit where they tried to manage his pain until surgery for his broken legs. Two surgeries later, both of his legs were full of hardware, covered in stitches and were two times their normal size. Michael was kept in a comatose state and remained on the ventilator to allow his lungs, sternum and ribs time to heal.

Rachel holding Michael's swollen and jaundiced hand during the recovery process.
Rachel holding Michael’s swollen and jaundiced hand during the recovery process.

After several days, I noticed that Michael started to look different. His body began to swell and he started to turn yellow. He also developed a fever and his vital signs were too high. It was very difficult to manage his pain, even though he was extremely sedated, and when they tried to get Michael off of the ventilator, it was clear that his lungs were not ready to support his breathing.

The days in the hospital began to run together. Michael’s reports did not get better.  His liver was still struggling, he had developed pneumonia, had several blood transfusions, had a persistent fever, and the doctors were beginning to worry that he had developed Staph. Then the worst news came. Michael had developed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). The doctors’ voices were low as they explained everything to us. The hopelessness and fear overwhelmed me, and I begged and pleaded for someone to tell me that he would be okay. Then one nurse explained, “I’ve seen people in much worse condition live, and I’ve seen people in much better condition die.”

My spirited husband, who was usually so full of life, lay so lifeless, taking only breaths that the ventilator initiated. As I stood over him, I saw the deep groove of where his wedding ring was and imagined him saying, “I have never taken this ring off and I never will.” I looked at the messy pink polish he had allowed our two-year-old daughter to paint onto his toes.  I begged, “God, please don’t take this amazing man from us.”

As their grandmother read books to our children that night, I hid in my bedroom and listened to voicemails from Michael. His soothing voice sounded so sweet in my ear. I went into Michael’s closet and could smell his fragrance on his clothes.  Michael felt so near. I could almost hear him saying the words he said to me only hours after his accident, “Rachel, I can’t tell you why this happened, but I know this happened for a reason. And I know God kept me alive for that reason.” I clung to his words so tightly.

As the fog of shock began to wear off, I was able to see and feel the indescribable outpouring of love from family and friends. Family and friends took care of our children, traveled to be with us, provided us with meals and groceries (which lasted for months!), set up a fund to help with the hospital expenses and constantly offered powerful words of encouragement and heartfelt prayers. They even built us a ramp so Michael could get into our home in his wheelchair. Churches all over our state were praying for Michael and his healing. Our community was lifting us up and carrying us through this terrifying time.

Michael coming home from the hospital after a long recovery process.
Michael coming home from the hospital after a long recovery process.

Over the next several days, Michael began to slowly improve. Then, I got the most incredible surprise of my life when I returned for the visitation with Michael one evening. Michael was off of the ventilator and was alert. He could barely lift his head or open his eyes, but when he saw me, he said, “Now there’s the love of my life.” I cannot even explain the joy that I felt in that moment.

We were very careful not to overwhelm Michael as he woke up. He had lost more than 20 pounds and was extremely weak. Michael remembered that he had been in a car accident but didn’t remember much of anything after that. He experienced lots of delusions and post-traumatic stress as he came back into consciousness.

As the days went on, Michael became more aware and was ready to see our two young children, and they were very excited to finally see their daddy. This was such a magical moment for us. Our children eagerly became little caretakers.  I remember the tears pouring down my cheeks as I watched our 2-year-old and 4-year-old so naturally and courageously take on this new careful and gentle demeanor with their father.

Michael worked hard. He didn’t let being in a wheelchair slow him down. He was bound and determined to walk. With some great physical therapy and dedication, Michael was walking four months before the doctors predicted. Despite all of his suffering, Michael’s attitude remained optimistic as he focused on making his suffering count. Michael is my hero. I have never seen anything like his faith, courage or perseverance.

This experience has given our family new eyes to see this life. It has revealed to us that even in the wake of such uncertainty and fear, there are so many blessings. It has been a long road to recovery. However, with every trial, we have more joyously celebrated our victories. Michael’s scars are a reminder to us of the miracle we experienced and that God has a very big plan for Michael here on Earth.