My Brave Story- Melanie Martineau

My Brave Story- Melanie Martineau

What once was our hobby is now our full time job. Bryan has kept his best horse shoeing clients for his side job. We just completed our third successful show at South Point during the NFR and WSTRC. So much hard work, time, blood, sweat and tears goes into our business on a daily basis, but it has shaped us and keeps molding us into the direction God has planned for our lives.  We have been beyond blessed with all the amazing friendships and wonderful people we’ve met through our business journey. We’ve won a design award and have been featured in iconic Western Magazines. Our marriage has grown and blossomed in countless ways.  I’ve become more easy going and mellow towards life in general. One of the greatest blessings out of all of this, our kids are now allowed to have more time with us because our business is run from home.

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My Brave Story- Fallon Wentz

My Brave Story- Fallon Wentz

I was brought up on a ranch in Prosser, Washington, where my family raises bucking bulls. On our ranch, I assist my dad with the care and maintenance of our bulls, as well as flanking, and helping select which ones will travel to events. My name is Fallon Wentz, and I am nineteen years old. I originally attended public school, but I later became homeschooled my sophomore year of high school. I am now a student at Columbia Basin College, where I am working towards receiving my Associate’s of Arts Degree.

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My Brave Story- Brooklyn McIntosh

My Brave Story- Brooklyn McIntosh

I first ran across Warbonnet Hats Works a few years ago on IG. I was drawn to the beautiful designs and colors and for a cowgirl that grew up wearing a cowboy hat every weekend at the rodeo, barrel race or just to work cows, I really appreciate a gorgeous custom hat. I was even more drawn to the people behind the company. A husband and wife team that not only works together, but creates together. Brooklyn McIntosh is the face behind Lady Warbonnet, the women's line in Warbonnet Hat Works.

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My Brave Story- Holly Frick

My Brave Story- Holly Frick

The parable of the Prodigal Son is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Jesus laid this rich tapestry out through all of the characters in this story. From the patient and loving father, to the wild and wayward son, I think it portrays our Papa God's heart for his children in such a beautiful way. My favorite part is to place myself in the father's place when he would've seen his son coming back from afar.

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My Brave Story- Melissa Walter

My Brave Story- Melissa Walter

Focus... a point of concentration. When we focus on the distractions of this world and how we feel at the moment (hopeless, despair, inadequacy) we are led down a path away from our Father's heart. When we choose to focus and center our lives on His Love and how He sees us we are able to walk into our destiny with the full force of heaven behind us. 

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My Brave Story- Meghan Gates

My Brave Story- Meghan Gates

Surrender...that's the word that sticks out to me after I read Meghan Gates Brave Story. It's a tale of learning what the price of living in the world versus living a life in Jesus. She found out that although things are not always easy following Jesus, they are worth it. Complete surrender only happens when we realize that Jesus is not asking us to give up who we are but to find our true selves in Him.

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My Brave Story- Tana Johnston

My Brave Story- Tana Johnston

The first time I ever stepped out in faith was a cold and snowy night in February, 2008.  I was stepping away from a broken relationship.  It was the first time I had fallen to my knees and cried out to God.  A God who I knew in my heart was there, but that I had no relationship with.  He was this huge, far off “thing” that I had been taught about, but never had entered into relationship with. 

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What does it mean to be Brave?

As I look back on the last couple of years, my life has been a constant state of stepping out of my comfort zone. Kirste and I started this blog almost 3 years ago, back when having a western-style blog was pretty new. We wanted to pour our hearts out from what God was giving to us. It was scary to start, scary to keep up, we experienced lots of blessings and some major criticism.

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My Brave Story- Nila Rhoades

When I was little, I always wanted to be something cool. I think everyone does to an extent. But, when I was little, I dreamed of being a superhero. Not somebody with a cape, some tights or someone who wore their underwear on the outside of their pants. I wanted to be someone in law enforcement. I dreamed of being in the FBI or the CIA or the military even. When I was in high school, my workouts would consist of passing a PT test for the Army.

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My Brave Story- Megan Holdren

This story was last posted June of 2014 when Candace and I first started the blog. We thought that it was time to bring back some of these amazing woman's stories that you may have not read! This here is Megan Holdren from LiveWire. Candace first met Megan through their high school rodeo days. Candace always appreciated the fact that Megan marched to the beat of her own drum when it came to her style. I, Kirste first met Megan Holdren about 2011 when we were both pregnant with our first kiddos! Candace and I could both agree to say that it's such an honor to call Megan one of our mommy friends! Megan has such a bubbly outgoing personality and brings her creativity into everything that she does. From the way she decorates her house, her personal style and the style of her LiveWire designs Megan is quite a unique creative person! Megan has always been so kind enough to dress Candace and I for our blog pics, as well as donating a good chunk of her time to photograph us during a crazy days outside with kiddos and dogs running everywhere! I know you will enjoy reading more about Megan! 

Megan lives with her husband Ryan of almost 8 years and three beautiful babies in Greeley, CO. Ryan and Megan met in High School, but for the most part Megan knew little of Ryan’s existence. However, from a young age the boy knew exactly what he wanted. So, with some convincing the young man got exactly what he wanted, maybe not what he bargained for, but definitely what he wanted. Ryan is now the Regional Manager for Peak Oil Services, and most importantly one of the best men that ever lived. Before Megan had her firstborn, Paige, she worked in the supply chain of the poultry division at JBS for two & a half years. It wasn't until Paige was 8 months old that she decided to stay at home with her. She has since has had another precious little girl, named Gracie May, 2 1/2 and a dapper young man, Braxson, 1.

During the past 5 years since Megan has been in the corporate industry, she has been very busy. She was the Fashion Editor for Dirt road daughters Magazine, created Live wire clothing line in 2013, and became a Miss rodeo Colorado sponsor the same year. She has made multiple custom gowns for state queens, styled 2013 Miss Rodeo America fashion show, as well as had designs on the runway. LiveWire has a HAT collection with Greeley HAT works in multiple stores including PFI Western, Rods and others. Megan was also featured in the Cowboys and Indians fashion show at Dallas market in 2013.

Upon opening the LiveWire Boutique in November  of 2014, Megan was featured as, "The Best Northern Colorado Boutique" in the Greeley Tribune in May, 2015. Megan styled the 2015 Greeley Hat Works ad campaign with Past Miss Rodeo America Lauren Heaton, as well as styled multiple clients form the 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, as well as 2015-2016 and various other award ceremonies. Currently, Megan is working on a Collaboration with Kimes Ranch, called Kimes Kutoure by LiveWire as well as a Collaboration with Katy Jade for an exclusive line in 2017. 

Cooped UP: What and who pushed you to start designing, as well as your own business? Family, friends, God, yourself?

Megan: God definitely pushed me through all of this, giving me the creativity to always have my own style from a young age and to be different in my own unique way. It was definitely hard to always believe in myself, it still is, but I had to learn and start believing and doing what God was telling me to do. This has meant stepping out in new ways, not always knowing the path or what the heck I’m doing, but doing all that I do completely under His covering. Also, relying on friends and family has always been important! One person in particular who was inspirational to me along the way was my friend Kristin at Spur Ridewear. She told me I needed to get my stuff together and start designing seriously. It's awesome how people speak into your life at the exact time that we need to hear it! Kristen was really the person who breathed the “hope” or idea of a line. Trent at Greeley Hat Works saw it and took the idea even further. I just couldn’t believe that people believed in me! Support comes from first God, your family and friends and your peers in your business. 

Cooped UP: Where do you find inspiration?

Megan: Everywhere! In my kiddos, watching movies, people,  but mostly I get inspired when I’m in the Word. I have noticed that when I’m in the Word or listening to podcasts from our church (I have been gone most weekends and can’t be there in person), God just moves in me and my creativity just pours out, uncontrollably. The Word begins to minister to me, and my mind starts to create different things. God shows me what it looks like, like a movie or a commercial, just in a flash. It's always best to write any ideas down that pop into your head because if you don't you will forget! Or, I try to explain it to my husband and he hands me a "pass to the looney bin", either way.

Cooped UP: How do you overcome obstacles in life, family and business?

Megan: It is definitely easier said than done! You have to make choices and stick to them. You can't have guilt for stronghold goals! My motive is family first! Sometimes this means a lost style appointment or a custom look that has to be pushed back, but that's ok. As a business standpoint I’m sure that’s not a fantastic choice, however with a growing family I have to be able to control the amount of time I get to invest in my children. It wouldn’t make sense to quit one arena just to do the same practice in another. Our kiddos are our only true heritage, I’m going to invest in them. I know that God will keep my business at bay while I grow his Kingdom.

Cooped UP: What goals/plans do you have  for 2017?

Megan: I’m so excited to be growing my styling business! You will see new features, custom looks and event styling by LiveWire Style. Also stay tuned for Collaborations with LiveWire and Kimes Ranch, Katy Jade, and Greeley Hat Works!

Cooped UP: What are your 10 year goals?

Megan: I wouldn’t be where I am without the help from others in the industry, friends and people just taking a chance on me. In the years to come,  you will see me at speaking engagements for women, talking about style and who God has called them to be, mentoring women coming up in the industry, and growing my beautiful babies!

Cooped UP: What are 5 principles you want to instill in your kids?

Megan: 

1. Love God 

2. Love each other; I drill that into them, no matter what, your siblings are Gold, no exceptions.

3. You can do anything, but you MUST do something. I don't care what they choose to do in life, I want them to go and do it, and do their best! 

4. Be kind & accepting of people, no one is the same, and that’s on purpose.

5. Don't let others’ actions affect your own, don’t get easily pushed out of the saddle when it get windy stay strong in your calling.

Cooped UP: What advice could you give other woman who may be on the fence about starting their own business?

Megan: Step One: Have cohunes! Being a business owner is hard work! Be prepared. It may get muddy, and be emotionally exhausting, but no one owes you anything! I'd advise them to find someone successful in business. This could be someone you want to be like, and ask them to help mentor you. You will learn a lot from them. Also, do your homework and know "what's what" in comparison to what you are doing in your business. Know the "in's and out's" of the trade. And most importantly, seek God's counsel and wisdom on everything! 

Cooped UP: Looking back now what have you learned? Was it worth it? How has your life changed?

Megan: I learned to stay the course. It's so easy to get side tracked and change what your doing when your work doesn't get the hoped for response. Just keep your nose to the grind stone and stay in the race. You choose to quit, no one makes you. It's been so worth it, I have met so many amazing people along this path that have changed not only my life but my family's. God will place people in your life that stretch you, help you grow and when needed, feed you a good word when you can feed yourself. 

Cooped UP: Think back as to when God first opened the door for you to step out. Has there been anything that God continues to show you about yourself or how to trust Him? And, what does this look like for you? 

Megan: God shows me each day how good He truly is. I know so many people say that same thing, but dang, you just don't know until you know! And then, you just can't believe it!! God changes my path continually, like a river ever changing as it flows. I have found that when you allow yourself to be the dreamer of Gods path, you are just the vessel who follows where it goes. The best choice I have ever made in life is choosing to be the vessel. God continues to grow His kingdom through me by talking and ministering to women. Talking to women about stepping out, looking and feeling like the amazing creature God called them to be. 

LiveWire Clothing Co.

Megan.livewire@gmail.com

(970) 685-7325

My Brave Story- Tracy Glasgow

Tracy Glasgow's testimony brings to mind Chris McClarney's song, "Beauty for Ashes." It's a story of heartache, but from it God turns it to good. Not just good, amazing and beautiful when it's a life given over to follow Him. I love how precious our Father treats us, He never pushes us but just looks us in the eye and holds His hand out to us.

I'm blessed to call Tracy my friend, we crossed paths at high school rodeos and then we were reunited at church years later. I'm so honored to share her story and I pray that it helps heal wounds and urges you to seek out God in a deeper way.

-Candace

My ever growing, ever changing, but always the same…. Testimony.

I was thirty one years old and had never actually sat down and wrote out my testimony on a piece of paper. I had told bits and pieces of it to people, but to be honest for a long time I hadn’t ever really been sure what mine actually was… My life up to that point had been lots of peaks and many valleys. It was one that seemed more like the Grand Canyon. There have been trials and tribulations and there has been love and celebrations. However, through it all, one thing has remained the same and that is my love for my Savior. Ever growing, ever changing, but always the same.

There are days I feel like I am still in my infancy in my spiritual walk and then there are days I feel like I could carry the weight of the world on my shoulders because I know I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I was thirteen years old at a slumber party when my Dad called and was making me go home early. As any teenager would be, I was angry and not wanting to miss the fun. Little did I know my life was about to change forever. I got in the truck and my Dad told me that my mom had died. Died? What? How? My Mom was sick, but not in the way most would think. She had a mental illness that she battled for years before this. At the time, my parents had recently divorced and my Dad had full custody of my two sisters and I. We were going to therapy, having supervised visits with my Mom… To put it brutally honest, going through things that a child should never have to go through. On that day in the truck my Dad told me, "Your mom took her own life." These words have forever changed my life.

My Mom was a believer, she loved the Lord and I know she was saved. She made sure we were in church. She played the piano. I have memories being in the church plays, being a lamb in the nativity scene during Christmas. One of my favorite things my mom wrote in my baby book is that during the alter-call one Sunday morning I stood up, walked right up there and set my pacifier on the alter. I gave my paci to Jesus and never had it again. I love that.

My sisters and I were so young when this tragedy struck our family. My Dad had taken on the daunting task of raising three girls on his own. Life had changed. My sisters and I had to grow up faster than most kids, my childhood sometimes feels like a blur. For a longer than I’d like to admit there was a lot of anger in me towards my Mom and towards the Lord. I would ask Him over and over why us? Why our family? Why my Mom? I wanted so badly to not be the girl that is growing up without her mother. I know that I am not the only person that has gone through tragedy and I know I am not the only person that has asked God those questions. What I later learned is that God sometimes brings us to a point of total despair and frustration so that we will give up trying to live this life in our own strength and cast ourselves wholly upon Christ. Fast forward to my sophomore year of college I had reached that point. I had been doing just that, living life in my own strength. The hurt, the anger and the sadness had been bottled up inside me. I didn't want to be a victim of my circumstances, so I had been putting on a brave face to show everyone that I was fine, but on the inside I was fighting a losing battle. A battle that I knew in my heart that could only be won by finding the courage, putting my hands in the air and giving it all to the one Person that could take it away. I had not been putting Him first in my life for a long time.

In that moment I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted and God said, “Okay, lets get started!”

However, I had started going back to church with a friend and one Sunday morning my sophomore year, our Pastor told everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes. She prayed that if someone in there that day had been struggling, had been trying to figure this life out on their own, that needed the Holy Spirit to give them strength and direction, to raise their hand… As the Pastor is saying all of this I had this overwhelming feeling inside me that God was telling me, "Wake up Tracy, this is for you." So with one eye I peaked up to make sure everyone had their head bowed and eyes closed. Then, I quickly closed mine again, took a deep breath and raised my hand. In that moment I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted and God said, "Okay, lets get started!" The next Sunday I didn't just raise my hand, I got up, walked to the alter, prayed the Sinner's Prayer and rededicated my life to Christ.

We are meant to "be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."-Ephesians 4:23-24

Paul tells us, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will."-Romans 12:2

Jesus encourages us to remain steadfast through trials. To have complete dependence upon Him for direction, purpose, fulfillment, and strength. To follow His plan for our lives. Life for me, got a lot easier when I figured that out. No doubt there are still a lot of days I have to remind myself to stop trying to control everything and trust that God has a plan and His plan is so much better than my own. And when He designed that plan it wasn't dependent on me being perfect, I’m not. I mess up, I make mistakes, but His grace is bigger than my sins. I truly believe now that God uses the situations that we go through to help shape us and prepare us for where and what He has planned for us for tomorrow. To become something different from what we were, better than what we were, and with stronger testimonies than what we had before.

I do know that even though my Mom cut short the good works that God had prepared for her to accomplish, I know I will see her again in His glorious kingdom. My anger is gone.

I’ve now been married for four years to an amazing Godly man and have a beautiful, healthy two year old daughter. God continues to work in my life daily. Through the trials and tribulations, and the love and celebration. Now more than ever I want and need my heart open to receive His love, His mercy and His unwavering grace. I want to be the wife the Bible teaches me to be and the mother that raises her children to love Jesus and to know that He loves them. I want His light to shine through me and into my home. In order to do so I know I have to continually work on my personal relationship with the Him. Last year I was Baptized - I wasn’t 100 percent sure if I had been before my mom passed away. I know that God had been working in me for a long time and that my story… my path was not straight, it was full of twists and turns and ups and downs and maybe even a little backwards. In His perfecting timing, God brought me to Lee Park Baptist Church in Monroe, NC to show my outward expression of my personal commitment to the Lord with my husband and daughter by my side - To continue my walk in faith and be an example of Him. I have been made new and I cannot wait to see where He takes me next.

So here is my testimony …. for now, but always for His glory. Ever growing, ever changing, but always the same.

My Brave Story- Catie Kershner

My Brave Story- Catie Kershner

Being vulnerable is the first step in letting God use our testimony. In this vulnerability, we most likely show how imperfect we are...but you know what, it sets the stage for us to show good our Jesus is! I love Catie's story because even though she's been very blessed in life, she still has her pitfalls and where she's felt like she's failed. They may not seem like big failures to some people, but she was falling short of what God had for her. Through being real with herself she realized that she needed a Savior. When this happened she could truly step into the abundant life that God had for her. I challenge you to read her story and take a look at your own life. Not in shame or to feel guilt, that's what the devil wants to point out, but ask Holy Spirit to show you what you need to lay down in order to go further with God.

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My Brave Story- Brittney Ford

This ladies name is Brittney Ford! I met Brittney over 8 years ago when my husband got a phone call from his friend Heath saying that he had met this amazing woman! CW and Heath had lived together for a couple of years before they both were married. CW had walked side by side with Heath in his relationship with God and everything that life brought! I remember shortly after Heath had told CW and I about Brittney I was able to share a car ride up to Montana with her and Heath. CW, my husband had been working out of town and they offered for me to jump in to head up to see my husband! I got to know Brittney more that trip and realized how perfectly she and Heath matched together! It's so neat to see the way that God brings people along in our lives when we need them the most and that's just what God did with these two! I know you'll enjoy her story of walking through tribulation, but learning to trust God along the way! Here's her Brave Story!

First off I want to share that Kirste contacted me in May about writing for her and Candace’s blog.  May, guys, as in months ago. Even as I type this, I can feel my flesh rebelling. I have been a faithful reader however I have never felt like I had something “good enough” to say. I have never been very shy about sharing Jesus, however when you see women like Tiffany Davis and LeAnn Hart pouring their hearts out the devil can begin the lies of how unimportant and unqualified your testimony is compared to theirs. But God…God had a different idea and had no problem using the devil’s plans to spread His word. For it was LeAnn Hart’s words a while back that finally pushed me to write this. Mrs. LeAnn said, “If God has given you five words, He has given you five words with authority.” Wow! With that being said, here is what I have to share.

My name is Brittney Ford. I grew up in a little town in Montana with rodeo being the center of everything. I was fairly successful with nationals in high school and college, all of this leading me to the love of my life. For three years, God worked on bringing Heath and I together and when we finally met, I knew he was perfect. He, however, had a heart that had been drug through the mud, was sitting 2nd in the world, and had no time for a girl. However, God had been setting this up without us realizing. Looking back, we are able to see His hand in everything. One common point we had was Jesus. Anyone who has been around Heath knows how much God means to him. As Heath and I’s relationship grew, it was impossible for my relationship with Jesus not to do the same. I had never felt closer to the two most important men in my life. Soon after, we married and had talks about starting a family.

I was able to get pregnant right away. However a couple short months later, our baby had gone to Heaven. It took a whole year to become pregnant again, yet this baby now in Heaven as well. It was at this time I began to struggle with healing.  When the first signs of miscarriage showed, I found a scripture and prayed and believed with all my heart that Jesus would save my baby. When that didn’t happen, I was shaken to the core. I am going to be completely honest, I had a stomach bug a couple of weeks later and didn’t even bother praying because the devil was telling me, “He didn’t fix that other situation, why would He fix this one.” I was hearing him more clearly than I was hearing Jesus. Like I said, full honesty. After lot's of time on my knees screaming, fighting, crying, and finally loving God, I was once again able to trust God’s will for my life. Today I have two daughters (3 and 1), who are the spitting image of their father and more than I could have ever asked for.

Just recently God was able to confirm what I had been building on for all these years. Heath had been rodeoing around the house but decided to go a little further for a little bit over the 4th of July. He was able to win 2nd in Greeley, CO however dislocated his shoulder. Even after much praying, it didn’t seem to get better and a doctor’s appointment was made. After surgery, Dr. Tandy Freeman said Heath’s shoulder would be in the hall of fame of worse cases; his shoulder had been completely torn to pieces. Immediately I could feel my weak spot. Why didn’t my prayers heal him? Little did we know, it was only the beginning of more tribulations. 

Over the next few weeks, our trials would include: a blown water heater that destroyed our master bathroom, holes in brand new truck tires, broken pipes that would destroy our kitchen, a tragic death in the family, accidental death of Heath’s family dog, a few more injuries and then the "big one."

Heath and the girls were driving home from Colorado. He called at 10:30 pm from Amarillo saying it was raining pretty hard and rather than pushing it, I should just book them a room. He said he was going to stop at a gas station until I called with an address. Five minutes later when I called with the information, Heath answered with a panic I have never heard. He half screamed, half cried that he had just been in a wreck. Our car was totaled and it had killed our dog. I could hear my youngest daughter screaming. It was a “scared to death” cry that was forcefully repetitive. I thought it was by far the worse sound I had ever heard until I realized I couldn’t hear my oldest daughter make any sound at all. Immediately I asked about her and Heath said she was just looking around stunned. I was 7 hours away. I jumped in the truck and took off driving. A moment later Jesus and I were deep in conversation. I started praying for the results I wanted as I waited for more news. I told Jesus exactly how He needed to work everything and what He needed to do for it to be this way. It was in that moment that Jesus told me, “I don’t need your help to take care of them.”

 As a mother, that was a punch in the face. But, it was one I definitely needed. So many times we get hung up on the right scripture or the right prayer to “fix” the situation. However it is the fix to what we think it needs to be, rather than what God already has written. Please don’t misunderstand, I fully believe in standing on scripture and praying for things on Earth as they are in Heaven, however a lot of time they get very “person” centered. More specifically, what can I do to fix this? Or how can I pray? Or the worse yet (and yes I’ve been there recently) how come I prayed and it was fixed this time, but when I prayed this time, it wasn’t fixed? We become so centered on what we can do, we forget it is all about Jesus. Not only what He is doing, but what He has already done. When we gave our lives to Christ, we inherit all that He earned on the cross including His protection, His healing, and His will for our lives. It moves from being about us to being completely about Christ. Our vehicle was completely smashed except for the box around my family. Jesus didn’t need my prayers, He already had my family in the palm of His hand.

In the beginning of this I shared how I have had difficulty writing this. I also shared about my amazing husband who has no problem sharing the word of God and has had an amazing platform to do so. This has led me to allow myself to stand in his shadow, allowing what he says to be good enough for the both of us. However, a couple of weeks ago I went to a women’s weekend where they handed out stones to the women. These stones have a word on them that has been prayed over weeks leading up to the weekend. When I got my stone, it said “Anointed.” I felt my heart stir. I felt God tell me that I was “good enough” to share as well. If nothing else, I hope me stepping out encourages someone else to do the same. We all have a testimony to help expand the Kingdom and it may be yours that changes someone’s life. Be blessed everyone!

-Brittney

    

My Brave Story- Shanna Means

The greatest congruency to come out of sharing all these amazing Brave Stories is that no matter what God speaks to so many through the words that are written. For most of these women putting actual words to what God has done in their life is a real "God experience." Most have told me that there are tears involved, they feel Him very intensely and God brings to light how much He held them through valleys where they thought He had stood a far. I smile when I get to hear this because sharing our testimonies is how God ministers to us as well as to others and we are able to move into forgiveness, redemption and into the true calling for what God created us for.

Shanna Means is no different. She heard God's voice, chose to follow it, pushed back against society's standards and is here to share that it was worth it because God is a good, good Father. Through reading her story, let Holy Spirit speak to you and don't listen to the condemning and judgmental voice, that's not Holy Spirit. Listen to the gentle whisper that says, "this is what I have for you if you will follow Me."

In her own words, Shanna is a Santa Fe, New Mexico native who group in rodeo. She went to school to be a speech-pathologist and set that aside to follow her heart and train horses along side her husband full-time. She's a firm believer in living in true freedom, purpose, having as much fun as possible and feeling and looking good doing it. She finds herself inspired by people every day, people who are living their lives based on what God put on the inside of them-not what the world dictates they should be. The Western Revival is a true overflow of her life and her natural compulsion to give people hope, inspiration, truth, a good time and to set them free. The Western Revival (website under construction) is best described as a blogazine- a destination where everything faith, style, horses, people, the western lifestyle and everything in between can be found.

I can't wait for you to take a seat, grab some coffee and dig into to Shanna's words, I pray they go deep into your soul and resonate with your spirit because I know God really wants to speak to you!!

Much love,

Candace

I was twenty-four, happily engaged, finishing up grad school, and trying to plan a wedding.  While I had been “saved” for a long time, it was that year, that I was “transformed”. I am not able to trace it back to a single moment or event. I had just become hungry for God, and answers.  We began to seek him out, starting a real and constant relationship with him.  Through this, we received the revelation of Him being a good Father.  I was finally able to put into words the difference between a relationship and solely religion. We were reading as many books as we could, listening to podcasts, going to conferences, digging into His word, and had learned how to hear His voice when He was speaking. My life was finally open to Him in a way in which I trusted Him enough to invite His will into all areas of my life.  

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

My husband, Chance, and I got home pretty late one night; we had split up to feed and do all the outside chores.  While he was feeding the horses on one side of the property, I took care of the ones on the other side.  As I was feeding, I heard God speak to me.  I can best describe His message as a word of direction, wisdom, or the next step for us. It was clear that His will was for Chance and I to stop having sex until we were married!  He had spoken to me in many different ways, but this time was different. I had heard Him before as clear as you can hear something, without hearing an audible voice. Chance has heard Him speak audibly before. This was different, because of the feeling behind the words. They had such a sense of love, trust, and tenderness behind them.

It had come out of nowhere. I wanted to tell Chance what had happened right away, but I also knew that it wasn’t going to be the easiest thing. After feeding, I went to him to tell him what had just happened. Let me tell you how awesome God is. It turned out that He was kind enough to tell both of us at the same time! The same thing had happened to Chance. It would’ve been much more difficult if He would’ve only told one of us. That just goes to show the nature of God.

The Truth actually sets you free.

It’s important to me to point out a couple things. One, being that nobody had spoken to us about our pre-marital love-life. We had obviously been taught a little bit about purity when we were younger, and we “knew better," but the conviction to change did not come from people shaming us. It didn’t come from rules we were trying to follow, it didn’t come from well-meaning people telling us right from wrong, and it didn’t come from us feeling guilty. We changed because we were crazy enough to believe in a loving God, who speaks to us, and made a relationship with Him the priority. Through that, came a loving, condemnation-free, healthy conviction.  The Truth actually sets you free. There is a huge difference between being set free, and behavior modification.

“When we pursue kingdom principles above His presence, we are looking for the kingdom without a king.” –Bill Johnson

From this freedom-filled conviction, we were empowered to make a change. We didn’t even have to necessarily understand “the why," because we had become so familiar with “the Who."  The next step was simple. It was simple, but it wasn’t easy. The choice was made, and from that point on, we followed His direction.

I had learned a valuable lesson earlier that year, and re-learned it through this: Always recognize the first thought or the first voice that you have, after doing something. It is that thought or voice, that you are most congruent and aligned with.  After making this choice, it was clear that I was battling with what everyone thought about us. I had to focus on one voice and one Truth- even if it meant losing “friends."

“Our problem with faith is not the inability to hear His voice – it’s the willingness to hear others.” –Bill Johnson

They said: She’s already done it, even with other people.

I agree! They’re right! That’s what makes my testimony relatable to other people who have already “messed up."  I actually need Jesus!

              They said: It’s a little too late for that!

I disagree! God makes all things new- even me.

             They said: They’re faking it- there’s no way.

I laugh. Yes, because all of this that we’re going through is worth faking it.

             They said: That’s cheating because they’re getting married anyways.

I disagree. Nobody can assume the difficulty of something until they’re in the middle of it.  It would have been easier for this to not be the topic of our wedding.  

             My favorite: They’re getting religious and weird.

I was puzzled. This is actually a product of relationship. Very well-meaning religious people (who I love and respect) had already tried shoving purity down my throat. That didn’t work. It made me sad to know people immediately associated all of this with religion. The hardest to swallow, were claims from Christians friends, that we were surely in a cult to be making such decisions. What was puzzling, is that we were simply following the very same principle that they had taught to their kids and church youth group.

            Allow me to take you back a few years.  I tried to make the same decision about purity, during a high school relationship.  I was able to ‘follow the rules’ for maybe six months. Why wasn’t I able to make it? I was being fed from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but that tree doesn’t have any sustainable “fruit” to offer.  In the garden, Adam and Eve were told to eat from the tree of life. They chose to eat from the knowledge of good and evil.  The tree of life gives; it gives life, it gives grace, it’s about relationship. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, on the other hand, takes; it requires our “works," it creates guilt, fear, and mistrust, which leads us to self-righteousness in effort to prove ourselves.  This time, my decision came from eating from the tree of life- not eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

God spoke to me saying, ‘I didn’t call you to be of the world.

             Long story short, I eventually ended up moving out, so that we could live separately until the wedding.  Obviously, that was difficult and inconvenient on many levels- double the rent, dealing with questions, rumors, and hurtful assumptions, and having to live apart after spending all of our time together.  I was eventually free from the opinions, but I wasn’t at peace with the example I was setting for other younger girls and couples I knew.  It didn’t feel right to be living together, because it didn’t look any different.  I didn’t know why this was even important to me.  Confused, I studied the subject of ‘living together.' Eventually, God spoke to me saying, “I didn’t call you to be of the world.” Which is what I needed to hear.  Dealing with the opinions of people close to me was hard- but knowing the example it set to younger girls, who look up to me, made it worth it. 

              Turns out, God is brilliant. He’s not holding out on any of us; in fact, he is always trying to give us better than what we are trying to get on our own. God loves sex! I mean, He is the one who created it for us. The enemy can’t create, so he perverts everything he can- including the gift of sexuality.  Trusting God with His original intention, is the best thing we could have done for our relationship. 

             We were able to break soul-ties from past relationships. Our relationship grew in ways I couldn’t imagine.  The best thing though, was that on our wedding night we had something to give to each other- something that we had fought hard for, that we had sacrificed for!  Having that experience, I realized that I would’ve never predicted how special that could be.  Had we not trusted God, we would have really missed out.  Most importantly, I cannot even begin to tell you how it has helped our marriage in ways that there was no way for us to foresee.  We had a clean slate, a strong foundation of nonsexual love and intimacy, and became one, as God originally intended.

“Others of us have grown up in rule keeping, religious environments and have heard the “keep your virginity” stuff for years without a good explanation for why. We’re trying to play the game, but we aren’t set to win because no one is telling us that there’s a trophy worth paying a price for.” –Kris Vallotton (Moral Revolution)

  Like I said, I didn’t understand everything behind what I was being asked to do.  I didn’t find every answer easily spelled out in the Bible. I will say, through a lot of studying, and getting to know the Author of the book, I was able to find answers very clearly. His original intent, found in Genesis, eventually cleared up so much for me.  Obedience to an all-knowing, loving Father, who had our best interests, was just the beginning. Personally, I found that my trust grew as I obeyed, because He was faithful and surpassed every expectation we had.

             The one thing I want anyone reading this to realize, is that grace looks different for everyone. There is always, always grace for your situation.  God is so personal, and so liberating, and so redemptive, that there is ALWAYS grace for your situation.  I only told you what it looked like for us. For you, it may look totally different. The answer may not play out like it did for us. For some people that I have known, it looked like getting married! I know of several girls who physically, had their virginity restored! I know of older women, divorced women, who are as pure as can be, through the blood of Jesus, and are starting over and dating differently. For others, it may look like different dating styles and even different significant others coming into the picture. 

I once had a married woman, with a beautiful Godly family, ask me if I thought her and her husband had a “less-pure” marriage and needed to go back somehow. I don’t have every answer, but what I do know, is that God wants you to look forward. I know the family personally, and was able to point out several examples of how grace had already been at work- starting with their children! In her situation, that was absolutely amazing grace.  I know that if there are any negative residual effects that came into their life stemming from their past, God will redeem and bring healing to that in two seconds. If she felt like she needed to have an honest conversation with God about something from the past she wishes she could change, then she should have the conversation and watch God wipe it clean as if it hadn’t happened. Simple, honest conversations, that we may be afraid to have with Him or feel like aren’t enough, bring unexpected peace and restoration.

Never underestimate the power of grace. It is never too late, your situation is never too bad, and no guilt, shame, or condemnation can stop God from redeeming your situation through love. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Brave Story- Erin Rich

 

Meet my new friend Erin Rich! Although I feel like social media can consume us sometimes in the wrong way, I do have to admit that I love the interactions with numerous people and the relationships that we gain from getting to be a part of a persons life on social media. Without having met Erin in person but seeing her posts on instagram and reaching out to her as a sister in Christ, I love that we get to be a part of each others life by simply, social media photo's and posts. This amazing gal is a beauty. I love love her vintage/western lifestyle. Everything from clothes and style, her life represents one that I truly admire, faith and creativity. As Erin told me, she met her husband in a really funny way. She was out walking at a park one night, 6 years ago and noticed this cute guy playing tennis on the courts. She said to her friend that she thought he was cute and in turn her friend knew him. Erin's friend contacted him and said that her and her friend would like to play tennis with him sometime. The two of them got to talking, about Erin mostly, and he finally worked up the courage to "cut out the middle man" and contact her directly. And, since then they have been together ever since! Erin is a loving and encouraging wife, a mother to an amazing little man, an artist, a Christ follower, and has a passion for creativity! Meet my new friend Erin!  

My name is Erin Rich and I am 26 years old. My husband's name is CJ and we have a rowdy year and a half old son named Jeremiah. I grew up in a Christian family so I've been going to churches my whole life. My father was a Command Master Chief in the Navy so it's safe to say we moved around quite a bit. When I was eight years old we lived in Pensacola, Florida and every Sunday my mom would drive us kids an hour each way to the Bible Baptist Church. Under the preaching of Dr. Peter S. Ruckman I gave my life to Christ. Dr. Ruckman, who went on to be with the Lord earlier this year, had an amazing ministry called "Drawing Men to Christ." He was an incredibly gifted artist who would get to the heart of his message through his giant canvas chalk drawings. As a child all I ever wanted was to be an artist so I related well to his "visual preaching." Every Sunday night I would sit up front on the floor near the pulpit with my drawing pad to try and copy his artwork. I still remember the sermon he preached when the Lord spoke to my heart. It was entitled "You Reap What You Sow." It was then and there that I realized how badly I needed to be saved and gave myself over to the Lord. I'd never been so filled with joy. I couldn't wait to tell everyone about Jesus!

Currently my husband CJ, our son, and myself live on our church's property. Our church, Shiloh Youth Ranch in Sebastian, Florida, is not only a church but a cattle ranch, school, and has small cottages for staff and a few church members. My husband and I were married in January of 2014 and my husband was in "job limbo" at the time. He had been on several out of state interviews and it was really looking like we were moving to Texas within a few months. As we journeyed further along it felt like things kept getting in the way and prolonging the hiring process. In May of 2014 our apartment lease was up and we were essentially homeless and still stuck in job limbo. My parents graciously invited us to come live with them until CJ got the green light for the new job. For the whole summer we stayed with my parents. As for the job in Texas, the plans just completely fell through. This ended up being a total blessing in disguise as the Lord answered our prayer with a more "permanent" place to live that October. The hiring process abruptly stopped and it was obvious the Lord was closing that door. Not long after CJ didn't get hired the company suffered a huge financial loss and let dozens of employees go. Fast forward a few months to September of 2014, when we found out we were pregnant. I'd never wanted anything more in my whole life! But, we couldn't stay at my parents house forever. That October a cottage opened up on Shiloh and we were invited to stay. What a blessing! Talk about seeing the Lord's handiwork. This really brings to life Matthew 6:26, "Behold the fowls of the air for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?" And verse 33 of the same chapters says, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." Wow. His plans are so much better than anything I could ever set for myself. 

Growing and maturing as a Christian hasn't always been easy. In fact it never really has been, that's what makes it so sweet. But, the hardest trial I had experienced was after our son was born. I suffered from postpartum depression. I didn't eat for weeks after coming home from the hospital and in turn didn't produce any milk to feed him, leaving me racked with guilt every time I made him a bottle. It didn't help that my poor son had colic and a sensitive tummy. There were lot's of tears shed between the two of us! There were times I couldn't even find the words to pray. I'd just sing old hymns to myself and to Jeremiah. My favorite was "Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus." I'd repeat the stanza, "Oh, for grace to trust him more," over and over again. When I was suffering from the depression I went directly to my mother. She's my best (girl)friend and I knew I needed her because she would understand me. It took me a long time to reach out to my husband though. I didn't go to him at first because I wanted him to think I was a strong, capable mother and not struggling. In all honestly, he reached out to me. He finally sat me down one day and asked me to open up and let him in on how I was feeling. Opening up to him and then us continually lifting the issue up in prayer is what truly helped me. It encouraged us to come together and confide in one another. This definitely made us stronger as a couple. Through the tender love of my mother and husband who would pray with me daily and support me, I finally felt that dark cloud of depression lift. I've never felt closer to the Lord in my walk and daily fellowship than since Jeremiah's arrival. He's such a blessing to everyone he meets!

Lately, I've also felt the inspiration to work on art again. I've been seeing and feeling the Lord direct me to something that's both exciting as it is terrifying, writing and illustrating a children's book. For the last 5 years I've worked in an independent bookstore. The first year there I started getting an inkling of an idea for a children's book. I always knew I wanted it to be a western but I wasn't sure what else. No real plot line. When I was pregnant, after finding out we were having a boy, I wanted the story to be about a little cowboy. Using my son as the model and inspiration. But again it didn't go any further than that. Last December, the wonderful lady who had been doing the children's story hour at my store fulfilled her lifelong dream of getting hired as an elementary school teacher full time so she could no longer do Friday morning story hour. I immediately was chosen to take her spot. I was honored, excited, and a bit scared. Kids can be the toughest crowds! I've been doing story hour for almost a whole year and we've had record numbers in attendance, which really helped through our slow season. Recently I started thinking about my book again and I feel now that I have experience with what books resonate with kids and what they like to see and hear.

One early morning in October I awoke at 4:30am and for the life of me couldn't fall back asleep. So I started talking to the Lord. It was then that I got the plot line for my story. It would follow a little cowpoke named Jem who lives on a ranch. Our church property would be the inspiration for the location along with a new calf that was born named Coconut. We had an albino calf a few months back that was a bit of an oddity because he was all white! I'm pretty sure all the cattle here are red angus, but I'm not totally positive on that. Either way it was the only white calf they've ever had! To get back to the plot, it's the time of the year that they have to move the cattle to another pasture so they can start making hay. Jem is helping his dad move cattle and they break for lunch. Dad says to close to gate but in Jem's haste for lunch he doesn't shut it all the way. Jem's cattle dog notices a cat sneaking around the field and causes a big ruckus, in turn frightening all the cows to stampede out the gate. Jem and his dad must then wrangle all the cattle. At the end of the day they've collected them all except poor baby Coconut. In the end they finally find him and Jem learns a lesson about always listening to your parents (Ephesians 6) and doing the right thing. I've always considered my "life verse" to be Romans 8:31. "What shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" So powerful and inspiring to chase those dreams!

Please pray for me in this new artistic venture and pray God's will for this project idea. 

Shine like a light. Eyes on the Kingdom. Hearts on fire for Christ. 

-Erin

 

My Brave Story- Kelly Taylor

Kelly Taylor and I have a lot of things in common. We both married our high school sweethearts. We married young and started our families. We've both dealt with the ups and downs of our husbands and their bull riding careers and we both love Jesus. But we differ tremendously when it comes to the "fire" we've had to walk through that tests our faith. I'm learning not to compare testimonies because everyone's if very unique because our God created us that way, but I admire and hold in great esteem the woman you're about to read about. She has been through so much, but has remained steadfast in her love for God, never blaming Him, perhaps asking him "why," but she knows for sure that He's a good Father. Get your seat belts on because this is what "Brave" looks like!     

Candace          

 Kelly and Cole Taylor

Kelly and Cole Taylor

When I was first asked to share my “Brave” story, I wasn’t sure if I could do it. I am usually a private person when it comes to health issues involving my family. My husband is an even more private person than I am. I also wondered if anyone would even want to hear my story. A close friend kept reassuring me that there would be someone that NEEDED to hear it, and that I would be a blessing to someone out there. Maybe you are that someone.

                Cole and I met and began dating when we were teenagers at 15 & 16, and got married when we were still teenagers at 18 & 19. People thought we were too young, and that it wouldn’t work out. Well, we just celebrated our 11th anniversary by going out to eat sushi in western Oklahoma and a trip to Atwood’s without kids. Sometimes it’s the little things that keep a marriage going! We’ve been through a lot in our eleven years of marriage. My dad once told me that he feels Cole and I have been through more in our marriage than most people will in fifty years of marriage.

                Cole has been around rodeo his entire life, and he is a third generation cowboy. He’s won more saddles and buckles since childhood than I can even count. He made an incredible ride in 2007 in Oklahoma City that sealed the deal for him to qualify for the 2007 PBR Finals. We decided that next year that we would start our family. Calli Paige was born in February 2009. Cole’s rodeo career slowed down a little after she was born. We were both working full time jobs and trying to figure out how to make ends meet. In May of 2010, while Cole was thinking about making a major job change, we decided to spend Memorial Weekend at the lake camping with my parents and some family friends. We had been out on the boat knee boarding all day and Cole had a pretty good wipeout so we decided to call it a day. The next morning he woke up with a golf ball size lump protruding from his neck. We first thought maybe he had pulled a muscle, but he wasn’t hurting at all. It was one of those moments that we knew something wasn’t right. I called the doctor on Tuesday morning and told him I was concerned about my husband. Tuesday afternoon the doctor called us and wanted us to come meet him at his office. Something had to be wrong. He told us that he thought Cole had thyroid cancer, and he had already made us an appointment on Friday in Oklahoma City with an ENT that specialized in cancer.

Tuesday afternoon the doctor called us and wanted us to come meet him at his office. Something had to be wrong.

                We were scared to say the least! How could my 24 year old husband; father to our 16 month old daughter; high school sweetheart; healthy as a horse person that rarely fell ill, have the “c word” thrown at him? The next couple of years felt like a blur. Cole had major surgery to remove the tumor. The doctors also had to remove all of the lymph nodes on the left side and center of his neck, a nerve, and a major muscle connecting from his neck to his shoulder. We ended up at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa after the surgery. We were blessed with amazing doctors and nurses, some of whom have become lifelong friends. He took a round of radioactive iodine treatment to kill the remaining cancer.  After three months, we went back for a scan to find out that the cancer in his neck was not entirely gone, and that a couple very small spots were detected on his lungs. He went back for an even bigger dose of radioactive iodine. The treatment involves 3-5 days of complete hospital isolation followed by an extra precaution of isolation from other people and especially small children for two weeks.  This proved to be incredibly hard on all of us, especially Calli. The second round of treatment was successful! We were later told that Cole’s cancer was classified as stage 4.  After all the treatments and surgeries, we began to try to cope with our once normal life.  Cole was told that he would more than likely never be able to ride bulls again because of the muscle the doctors were forced to remove. He was left with insufficient head-neck stability and slightly limited range of motion in his left arm, which happened to be his free arm. Cancer was the scary news, this was the heartbreaking news. Bull riding was his passion, hobby and career.

By this time Calli was 2 ½ years old and the thought of having another baby was on the back of our minds. We were told because of the intense treatment he had received, we shouldn’t even try to have another child for at least one year. After that year, we could try to become pregnant on our own, but we could very likely need fertility help. Some time had passed and we were both ready to have another baby. We celebrated Calli’s 4th birthday in 2013. I had been so wrapped up with planning her birthday party that I didn’t realize how much time had passed. I called the doctor to make an appointment to confirm what I thought. Sure enough, I was right. I was pregnant! I rushed to the children’s store and bought Calli a “big sister” shirt for her to wear when Cole got home from work. I dressed her in the shirt and we surprised Cole. We were all overjoyed! We had actually been able to get pregnant without help from doctors. I was only about 6 weeks pregnant so we decided we would wait a few more weeks to make the announcement to our family and friends.

                Just a few days later I started having some pain. I checked in with the doctor, but the pain wasn’t severe enough at the time that we were worried. Over the weekend the pain became more intense. We were also warned about a blizzard coming in so I was trying to prepare. Late Sunday evening it began to snow. Cole had been called to work and Calli was sound asleep. I still wasn’t feeling good so I decided to go take a bath. When I stood up to get out of the bathtub I was struck with the most intense pain I’ve ever experienced, followed by a gush of blood. Cole was home shortly after that. You’re probably wondering why we didn’t rush to the emergency room. Well, I have no idea. I really don’t remember what was going through my head at the moment.

                The next morning I called my doctor. He wanted me to get an ultrasound to check things out. We still hadn’t told anybody about our news. We ended up telling Cole’s mom because we needed her to watch Calli for a few hours while we were at the hospital. The snow continued to fall and pile up. The hospital was short staffed because some areas had already received ten inches of snow. They finally worked us in for our ultrasound, but told us not to leave the hospital. A few minutes later a pre-op nurse came to the door and called us back. This was the moment I knew something was wrong. She told us I was having an ectopic pregnancy and my doctor would be in shortly to take me to surgery.  I had heard the term, but wasn’t very familiar with it. The nurse explained to us that we were losing the baby. You know that ugly, hysterical cry that you see people break into? Well I just became that person. In an instant, Cole and I had suddenly switched roles. It was usually him in the hospital bed with me standing by his side trying to be the strong person. This time it was completely different. Our overjoyed hearts were suddenly breaking.

The nurse explained to us that we were losing the baby.

                Cole stepped out of the room to call his family and mine. We hadn’t even told them I was pregnant, and he was now telling them we were losing the baby and I was being rushed into emergency surgery. Under normal circumstances, our families and close friends would have been comforting Cole in the waiting room while I was in surgery. But, we were in the midst of that crazy February blizzard that had dumped close to fifteen inches of snow by this time. Our family couldn’t get to us. We were scared, and only had each other.

                The doctor explained to us after surgery that I had suffered an ectopic pregnancy with a ruptured tube. He had to remove the tube, and we lost the baby. Surgery turned out being the easy part. The next two weeks were the worst. I was sad, angry, confused, thankful, and so many other emotions. I cried every day, but was also thankful that we discovered I could indeed get pregnant. I healed from that surgery, and I was soon back in the doctor’s office pregnant with a healthy baby boy. We welcomed Maverick Rio in late December of 2013. Cole wanted more kids after this, but I was content with the two healthy kids we had. However, as I have learned, God has a great sense of humor. When Maverick was 15 months old I was pregnant again. I often tell people that God had a plan for us having three kids. After cancer treatment for Cole, and a pregnancy leaving me with just one fallopian tube, we still had two more kids.

                Knox River decided to make his appearance a little earlier than we had planned.  I woke up on November 22, 2015 having no idea of what was to come that evening. Cole was planning a day of hunting, and Calli had stayed the night with my parents. Maverick and I had plans of meeting the rest of my family at my grandma’s house to celebrate her birthday. I woke up feeling great! Other than having morning sickness, pregnancy was agreeing with me this time around. And let me just tell you, I was having an amazing hair and makeup day. That will make any girl feel good! Maverick and I loaded up and headed out on our hour long drive to the birthday party. I stopped by my parent’s house on the way and my sister jumped in the car with Maverick and I.

I was driving and began having spotty vision when I pulled out of the driveway. We started down the road anyway. It suddenly turned to tunnel vision. I’ll never forget the panic in the car when I said to my sister, “I can’t see!” She jumped back with a “pull over now!” I had experienced some blood pressure issues at the end of my pregnancy with Maverick so I recognized some of the symptoms. She called her friend that had a home blood pressure cuff and asked her if we could borrow it. We picked it up and went on to my grandma’s house. My sister-in-law just happens to be a nurse and EMT, and trying to not alarm anyone, we called her in the bedroom to take my blood pressure. It was outrageously high, somewhere around 150/104. She insisted that I call my doctor, but I fought her and told her we would check it again in twenty minutes, and then we would call. It was still really high the second time. I was reluctant again, and made her give me another twenty minutes. The third time was even higher. I called the doctor’s wife and explained to her what I was feeling. She said to me, “I’m not telling you to speed, but you need to get to the hospital as fast as you can.”

I’m not telling you to speed, but you need to get to the hospital as fast as you can.

My mom took Calli and Maverick. My sister, my dad, and I got in my car to head to the hospital. I called Cole and told him I was going to get checked out. I really didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I was 37 weeks pregnant so I thought the doctor would probably give me some medicine, and put me on bed rest for the next three weeks. Luckily my sister was driving, because on the 35 mile drive I blacked out several times. She later told me that we made that trip in record time. By the time we arrived at the hospital my blood pressure was so high that was unable to make out words. The nurses were asking me questions, but what came out of my mouth was complete gibberish. My dad was by my side trying to help me as much as he could. I began to vomit as soon as they got an IV in my arm. My sister began calling Cole, my mom, and my in-laws to tell them that we were pretty sure we would have a baby that day. The same amazing doctor that delivered my other two children, and performed surgery on me when I had the ruptured ectopic pregnancy was there trying to calm my nerves. He told me we would go to surgery in about an hour. Both of my children were delivered via cesarean section so I was prepared for surgery. We were waiting on Cole to arrive at the hospital because he had held my hand, and witnessed the delivery of our other children. The doctor came back in the room, looked straight at me with the most serious face, and said, “I don’t order a stat C-section very often, but when I do, I mean business. Where’s Cole? We’re going now.”

Cole walked down the labor and delivery hall just seconds after that. The doctor met him in the hall and explained that the baby was in distress and he would be taking me into emergency surgery. I would be completely asleep so Cole wouldn’t be able to be in the room with us. I literally met Cole in the hallway as they were wheeling my bed to the operating room. I told him I loved him and that I was scared.

The next thing I remember was waking up in recovery in extreme pain. I told the nurses I was in pain, and one of them said, “Honey, the medicine just won’t touch the level of pain you are experiencing.” What in the world was that supposed to mean? They explained to me that they needed to change my gown because there was a lot of blood on it. I didn’t understand that either. I kept asking them where my baby was at, and if he was okay. They could only tell me that everything was fine, and the baby was upstairs.

I don’t remember much else from that day. I’ve struggled with this feeling for months. I was groggy, but I still remember the days we brought both Calli and Maverick into this world. I remember periodically opening my eyes and seeing people crying around me. I remember realizing I had an IV in each arm.  My mother-in-law told me what had happened, but I couldn’t make sense of it. I remember a doctor coming to my side telling me that my baby was in ICU. I can remember seeing Cole sitting on the couch in the hospital room, and a family member taking Maverick out of the room because he was crying.  I will never forget looking at his worried, little face with his quivering lip. He wasn’t quite 23 months old at the time, so he couldn’t even begin to grasp what had just happened.

Later in the evening when I was more alert they explained to me the events of the day.  They put me to sleep in the operating room, and the doctor began making his incision. As soon as he did, blood began to spurt everywhere indicating something was wrong. He was able to find the baby’s head and get him out. My uterus had ruptured and I was losing a lot of blood, very fast. To this day, I’d love to hear the play by play from one of the nurses in the room. From what I understand, it was a pretty wild surgery. My very skilled doctor was able to stop the bleeding, and stitch my uterus back up. When he came out to talk to my family, he told them not to be surprised if they saw blood in my hair. From what I gathered, the operating room looked like a scene from a horror movie. I had to have two blood transfusions, on top of a lot of other medicine. This explained why I woke up with an IV in each arm. Knox River spent four days in ICU on oxygen because his little lungs just weren’t quite ready for the world. He was born at 4:10 pm, but I didn’t get to see or hold him until almost noon that next day. That is hard on a momma! Cole and I were later told that each one of us, Knox and myself, were only given a 50% chance of living. My doctor had been delivering babies for 33 years, and he had only seen this happen one other time, 18 years ago. In that case, he was able to save the mom, but not the baby. We were told that within 3 minutes, we both would have more than likely died.

 The first time Kelly got to hold Knox. He was still in ICU and Kelly had just finished recieveing two blood transfusions.

The first time Kelly got to hold Knox. He was still in ICU and Kelly had just finished recieveing two blood transfusions.

I’ve struggled with the fact that I was so close to death, but God spared my life and my baby’s life. My family could have very easily been planning a funeral instead of making Thanksgiving dinner. I barely slept the next few weeks after we were released from the hospital. Not because I had a newborn at home, but because I was scared to go to sleep. I was afraid that if I fell asleep, I wouldn’t wake up. I am not scared of dying because I know I will live an eternal life with my heavenly Father, but I’m scared of leaving my family alone. Maybe that's a maternal instinct kicking in. I'm really not sure. The only thing I do know is that I’m thankful my heavenly Father knew it wasn’t time for me.

I tried to pick just one testimonial, but I felt like they all lead into each other and would give a better insight into my motivation for sharing my Brave story. And to spare you all from reading for hours, I've left out several small details. I had a feeling in my heart that there was somebody out there that needed to hear all three stories. I could probably write a book about how many times we’ve looked death in the eye during our marriage. But the one thing that remains constant is that God has been right in the middle of each event. I once asked Cole, “Why? Why us? Why does everything always happen to us?” I don’t remember his answer, but I know he reassured me that God wouldn’t give us more than we could handle. God must think we can handle a lot! Or maybe he is using us as an example of faith for other couples. I don't have all of the answers. I don't think God intended for us to have all of the answers. I can’t quote Bible scriptures, and I can barely tell you bible stories that most kids know. But I do know, without a shadow of a doubt, that we wouldn't be where we are today if God wasn't right in the middle of our family.  I can also tell you that I serve an awesome, almighty God.

 The Taylor kids. Calli is 7; Maverick is almost 3; and Knox is 1. 

The Taylor kids. Calli is 7; Maverick is almost 3; and Knox is 1. 

My name is Kelly. I am a child of God. I am the wife of a survivor. I am a mother of four. I am a laborer and a provider. But above all, I am brave!