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  • hollyfory

Keeping the Faith- My 20 Year Journey

Updated: Jan 22, 2023

I have an unusual story. Even some of my closest friends don’t know the details. It’s the story of how my family’s world was turned completely upside down on a cold January afternoon in 2003. It was my senior year of high school. My brother, Joe, was 20 years old. The call I received was heart wrenching. The memories are painful. We prayed to keep him here with us and God answered. Not in the way we wanted Him to answer, but He answered. So, here’s my story. A story of how a shaken faith has been turned into one of a mustard seed. (Matthew 17: 14-20)

Sunday School- 2001- I'm so glad I forced him to take this picture with me that morning.

January 16, 2003, my dad arrived at the scene of an accident about a mile from our home. Being chief of the fire department at the time, he stopped to report and make the necessary calls. Someone had already thrown blankets over the limp body that had been thrown from the car, and just a hand was sticking out. My dad recognized those hands- very distinct scars from a motorcycle incident that had happened just 6 months back. He then knew it was his son. I can’t imagine what that exact moment would have felt like.


I had gone to my best friend’s house after school that day instead of going home, so that saved me the heartache of also coming upon the accident. No one knew I had gone to her house, and not everyone had cell phones at this time (a lot has happened in 2 decades), so it was a few hours later that someone was finally able to catch me as I was walking into work. I was instructed to call a neighbor- they told me the news and that someone was on the way to get me. Joe had already been STAT flown to Louisville. The hour drive there was painful and the words I heard from my mom and a room full of tearful people when I arrived were even more painful. “The doctor says there’s not much hope.” But that’s why I’m writing this story- there’s ALWAYS hope.


That dreadful night turned into several weeks and even months living in the ICU waiting room. Literally, my parents moved in, while I held down the fort at home and tried to focus on finishing my senior year and my final high school track season. My brother amazed doctor after doctor and continued to pull through each obstacle they continued to say would be impossible. In May, Joe came home just in time for my high school graduation party. It was the best present. He was bound to a wheelchair and his condition was labeled as a “semi-coma”. We clung to the hope that he would wake up soon, maybe even within that year, but flash forward 20 years, and here we are - still clinging.


My graduation party- 2003

Finding Blessings Through Tragedy


These passed years have been anything but easy, and there are so many pieces left to the story. Amongst the broken pieces and through every tragedy we’ve witnessed throughout, it is certain God has been in every detail. There are blessings hidden in the storm. Do I have to dig really deep to find them? YES. Absolutely, yes. But they are there.


From the day of the accident, my mom was forced to leave her job to become a fulltime caregiver. This slashed our family income in half and presented us with a whole new way to live. A tragedy for sure, but here’s the blessing- My brother has received tip top care and attention from the time he was rolled back home through our doors. ZERO bed sores for 19 years. That takes commitment and just pure love that no one, but a mother and father could give. My parents have had to sacrifice so much, but they do it willingly. Joe can sit in the same room with us, as we enjoy movies and eat family meals. He is there for birthdays and on Christmas morning. THAT is a blessing to me.



Maybe the most special part of the story that I haven’t mentioned yet is my niece. Two weeks before the accident, my brother and his then girlfriend found out they were expecting. It was a shock, but his eyes beamed with excitement for those two weeks. I’ll never forget the name conversation we had. I suggested “Harley”, and well, “Harley Ann” was born in August of 2003. She has never had a conversation with her daddy (where he’s responded) and seeing him in a wheelchair is all she has ever known. She has always loved caring for him and assisting with his care. Tragedy? You could say yes. The blessing is the fact that we were rewarded full custody and have been a part of every detail of her life. I received a bonus daughter the day she was born, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. She finishes her “medical assistant” degree soon and we couldn’t be prouder of her servant’s heart. She is one of our biggest blessings from it all.



Another unique aspect of the story (or tragedies in the story) is the fact that the day of the car accident wasn’t the only day we’ve almost lost him. Not many people can say they’ve planned their brother’s funeral five times; not a potential record I’m proud of. And yes, I’m such an obsessive-compulsive planner, that this is how I’ve coped with the potential loss that was coming each time. Sadly, being sentenced to years in a wheelchair leads to higher susceptibility to upper respiratory infections, pneumonia, and other things. Being able to move your body is SO important. In 2009 Joe caught his first bout of pneumonia. It was a scary, scary time. Later in 2016 we had yet another close call, pneumonia and almost bleeding out while at the hospital- he should not have survived. In September of 2021, he was rushed to the hospital by ambulance, diagnosed with another type of deadly pneumonia and then a few days later we heard the words, “He has COVID.” I get nauseas typing those words. I thought, “This is it. This is how God is going to answer my prayer for full restoration.” All I could pray for was peace and the acceptance of God’s will. After a two month stay in the hospital, a rollercoaster of emotions and so many unknowns, God delivered him again. He came home to us in time for Christmas. Wow. Just wow.


Christmas 2021 - This photo is proof of God's power.

God's Not Finished Yet


Now, I told you I had planned my brother’s funeral 5 times… I’ve only listed 4. Remember when I mentioned the unique scars on his hand sticking out from under the blanket? I wasn’t sure he’d walk away from that motorcycle accident either- but he did. There’s the fifth.


Another huge blessing? All the TRAGEDY and grief I just shared is what God has used to grow my faith. (Remember that faith of a mustard seed) I have seen what God can do when you believe. Clinging to scripture and Christian music has given me faith to keep going on my weakest days. I need the constant reminder that God isn’t going to run out of miracles anytime soon and that he brings blessings out of tragedies. He’s still rolling stones away, He is greater, He is stronger, and He IS the GOD OF POSSIBLE.


In fact, I’ll never forget the song that came on as I was pulling out of my driveway after getting a discouraging call from my mom this last time we almost lost him. I had “heard” it several times before but never actually listened. It hit me. I cried and my faith instantly grew….


They say this mountain can't be moved They say these chains will never break But they don't know You like we do There is power in Your name


We've heard that there is no way through We've heard the tide will never change They haven't seen what You can do There is power in Your name So much power in Your name


Move the unmovable Break the unbreakable God we believe God we believe for it


From the impossible We'll see a miracle God we believe, God we believe for it


Song By: Cece Winans


Why, oh why would God put my family and my brother through this if there wasn’t a bigger purpose? Why has he had to live half of his life sitting in a chair? We may not ever know on this side of heaven the reasons why. But this is the reality we have been dealt and I believe that God works all things for the good (Romans 8:28), even if that good is hard to see or completely invisible at times.


Every birthday I must believe we are one moment closer to our miracle.

When the waiting seems unbearable, I remember one of my favorite bible stories. The story of Lazarus- one of Jesus’ dear friends who was sick. Jesus was far away at the time when he had heard the news. Instead of rushing to be by Lazarus’ side to heal Him, he decided to wait two whole days. Jesus didn’t even start his journey until He knew Lazarus had passed away. By the time Jesus and his disciples arrived, he had been in his grave four days already! Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary, both said to Jesus, “Lord if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus responded, “Your brother will rise again.” Of course, they thought he meant eternal life in heaven at that point. Little did they know that Jesus was doing something bigger. He commanded the stone to the grave to be rolled away and he commanded Lazarus to come out! Lazarus walked out of the grave alive and well! So why did Jesus wait? Why did He allow the pain? So that ALL may BELIEVE in the power of the one who sent Him. He waited so that we may TRULY believe.


I pray my story will touch your heart and help to grow your faith. God uses my brother’s life daily to strengthen mine. My family and I will welcome your prayers, as there are so many unseen trials that come along with the day to day care. We are thankful for every belief filled prayer that is sent.


I’ll leave you with these scriptures (and daily reminders) -

“Dear brothers and sisters, when trouble comes your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow…” James 1:2-3


“Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Pslam 27:14


-Amen-






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6 comentários


Jessica Vanessa Rondón Escobar
Jessica Vanessa Rondón Escobar
22 de jan. de 2023

God has truly been with your family by allowing you to enjoy your brother and at the same time use him as an instrument to search for our Heavenly Father... He will surely continue to answer... He listens to the prayers of those who seek him. Thank you for sharing GOD with your family today, tomorrow and always.


Vanessa.

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paulalhartman
18 de jan. de 2023

Oh, Holly.… I loved reading your words. Your faith in God is inspirational! I just met Harley at Autumn Trace this past weekend. What a beautiful soul. I told her that I knew her dad and you from our time at the Ridge. Prayers for Joe, you, and your sweet family. 🙏

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tina.linker
17 de jan. de 2023

Beautifully written.

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christibrown75
16 de jan. de 2023

omg…i’m your family and I never knew all this! Thank you for sharing..and prayers for you and the family. CLAIM your miracle. ❤️

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Valerie Wilson
Valerie Wilson
16 de jan. de 2023

In seeing your many posts with your brother in them, I wondered what had happened. May God continue to give your family the strength to meet your brother's needs. One day he will experience healing, this side of Heaven or Heaven itself!

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