It’s been almost three years since Penny’s accident, and I still have custody of Shayla. She celebrated her tenth birthday last September, and she has never been happier. She is part of the missionette team at church, which includes choir performances, plays, fund-raising, and other activities. Every night before bed she asks God to take care of everyone. In her eyes, there’s not a bad person in the world, and she thinks everybody should be loved. If you have one encounter with Shayla, you will understand how overwhelming God’s love is.
A gentleman who works with me once said, “It’s so sad about your daughter.” I told him Shayla is a gift from God, and even with her infirmities she’s a blessing to a lot of people. Folks look at her and see how happy she is, even with her handicaps. In her little world, everything is perfect.
She is a tremendous blessing to people who think their lives are difficult. You don’t know what tough is until you see this little angel with her handicaps smiling and loving everyone. That’s God’s kind of love, and she knows no other kind.
I had Shayla at my office recently, and a colleague of mine got to see her for the first time. As she dragged her little body along, she smiled and waved at him. The next day he said, “Thank you for letting me meet your daughter. What a beautiful, happy little princess. She made me realize how precious life is and that all the stuff we worry about on a daily basis really doesn’t matter.”
Life can be cruel for a little girl with a handicap. At only ten years old, she has been through more pain and heartache than I’ve been through in fifty years. But when I look at Shayla, I see how strong she is. She never tells me she got teased by somebody at school or that someone was mean to her. She is always happy and eager to give me a hug or kiss, or to say something kind that makes my world a better place.
Shayla never asks me why she can’t run, jump, or dance like other children. She says she understands that this is the way God made her.
I still pray for my daughter’s physical healing. I don’t want for an instant to stop standing firm in my faith for her. But now a lot of variations of that come to mind. As I come to better understand the Scriptures and God’s love for us, I realize that if He wants Shayla to be healed, it will be in His timing, not mine. And nothing I do or say will have any bearing on whether or not Shayla is healed. Jesus told us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
The Bible promises in John 14:13 that if we ask God for anything in His name, it will be given to us. But do we truly understand what that means? Scripture says that if we have enough faith, we can move mountains (Matthew 17:20). But really, who has the faith to move a mountain? I don’t.
Yet I will never stop believing in divine healing for my daughter. How could I? I’ve seen it in my own life. God has healed me from the horrible disease of living in the flesh. Shayla was a big part of that process. The Lord put her in my life to open my heart, eyes, and mind.
I will continue to press in and believe that God is healing Shayla. He hears our prayers, and with His divine presence in our lives, Shayla will be healed … in His timing, according to His will. God is infinitely powerful, and my desires are nothing compared to the ultimate plan He has for Shayla and for me.
I sometimes wonder if my prayers for Shayla’s divine healing are a bit selfish. Wouldn’t it be better for her to be with God so she can run and dance with Him in heaven, with no more pain and heartache? Wouldn’t she be much better off with Jesus than with me, especially considering all the infirmities she’s afflicted with? Not to mention all the turmoil in my life, and in her mother’s life, and in the world in general?
I know that being with Jesus would be more enjoyable for us both. But I also believe that God is using Shayla and me to show the world that no matter what we’re going through or have gone through, His grace and mercy abounds beyond measure or our understanding.
Sometimes I wish God would take both me and Shayla so we could be together in heaven. But then I think about my other children and grandchildren, and how that might affect them. I want to live out God’s plan for me. I believe I am called to do His work, to help save others.
In our prayer time one night, Shayla said, “Daddy, I have an idea. I’ll pray first by myself, then you pray, OK?”
I told her to go ahead.
“Heavenly Father,” she said so softly I could barely hear her, “please help my daddy to have whatever he wants. And Jesus, let my daddy live forever and ever. Amen.”
“That was a beautiful prayer.”
“You don’t even know what I said.”
“Yes, I do.” When I repeated her words back to her, she got a big smile.
Shayla could have prayed for herself, for something she wanted, including her own healing. But she cared more that her daddy would get what he needs, and that he would live forever. That’s love. That’s Shayla.
I wouldn’t want my daughter to be any other way than she is. I am exceedingly thankful to God for putting her in my life.
Before Shayla was born, I wanted a normal, healthy baby girl. Instead God gave me a daughter with physical limitations and a heart full of love. As a result, I have been brought to a higher level of understanding His power, love, and glory. I can’t imagine where my life or my faith would be now if God had not blessed me with such a precious gift as Shayla.
Last month, Nadine took Shayla to a beauty pageant in Seattle. Not a pageant for handicapped children, but for all girls her age. My daughter has developed into a beautiful little girl with an infectious smile, but I was afraid that her being the only contestant in a wheelchair might make her feel out of place. I didn’t want her feelings to be hurt.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Shayla was welcomed with tremendous affection by her fellow contestants, the judges, and everyone on the staff. She even won the Best Fresh Face award for being the newest member of the pageant.
After receiving this honor, Nadine took her to the dressing room to get her clothes changed for the ride home. She heard Shayla’s name being called over and over. So she left Shayla in the dressing room and went back to the stage to see what the ruckus was about. When the judges saw Nadine, they told her that Shayla had won first place in the talent competition for singing “You Are My Sunshine,” which her helper at school, Molly, had taught her. (You can see her performance at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Xrpmglx6Hw.)
Shayla continues to surprise and delight everyone she encounters with the love in her heart. She never complains about her circumstances. As she gets older, she is becoming more aware that she is different from other kids. And when we say our prayers, once in a while she asks God to help her walk and run and jump. But she thanks God every day for her family and for keeping us together.
Shayla has a new little sister now, whom she adores. Taytum was born on November 15, 2011, completely healthy. This addition to our family is a gift from God, and one more example of His love and grace.
In the roller-coaster path I’ve traveled in life, God has shown me that eternity is what really matters. That He remains faithful, no matter what. And as long as I follow Him and strive to be the man He has called me to be, His grace will continue to abound beyond measure.
Every day God reveals to me more of the mysteries in life. He has a reason for everything, even the broken body of my daughter. I have learned not to question His plan or reasons, but to trust that His divine will is far more desirable than anything I could imagine or attempt to make happen.
Having Shayla in my life and being confident in our eternal destination is what matters, not the temporary time we have on earth. Because someday, when He raises us up to be with Him, we will have perfect bodies and minds. And we will spend eternity with Him and with one another.
When I look at Shayla, I get a glimpse of how infinite God’s love is and how blessed I am to have received that gift from Him. I no longer question if my daughter will be healed. We are all healed through Jesus’ stripes.
As I look back on my life, I realize how real spiritual warfare is … and how powerful God is. Through everything that happens to us, God uses Satan like a pawn in the ultimate plan of glorifying His kingdom. When He’s had enough, He drives Satan from our lives with a vengeance. At least that’s what He did for me. In turn He gave me so much love, I can’t even put it into words.
I have been blessed beyond measure. I now have my own business and a good reputation among my colleagues and peers. And I have a happy home with an amazing wife and family members who all love one another. A far cry from where I was in October 2009, before I gave my life to God.
God placed on my heart years ago a desire to share my testimony with the world. I longed to show that no matter how much pain or struggles a person may go through, He is an ever-sovereign God.
Before and since starting this book, God has continued to work miracles in my life and the lives of others, restoring hearts and minds, relationships, and finances, and providing other blessings too numerous to write about.
Whatever your current situation, I promise you God will restore and rebuild. He will touch you in ways you never imagined. If you turn your circumstances over to Him and lean on Him, He will bless you beyond your wildest dreams. Let Him have all your fears and troubles. Let him have your heart.
If you’ve never asked Jesus to come into your life, won’t you say this simple prayer right now?
God, I know I’m a sinner and that I’ve done things unpleasing to you. I ask You to forgive me of my sins, to cleanse me and make me whole. Father, I choose now to follow You and listen to You. All my life I’ve done things my way, but from this moment on I want to listen, be diligent, and consciously do what You tell me to do.
Thank You for Your unselfish love for me. I am amazed that You care for me so much that You sent Your only Son, Jesus, to die for me. I put my trust in Christ as my personal Savior, knowing that His death and resurrection provided for my forgiveness.
Praise You, God! I commit to follow You all the days of my life, forever and ever. Use me as You will. I am Yours.
In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
I have become a witness of God’s grace and mercy through all the tragedy in my life from the murder of my parents, through all the drug and alcohol abuse, the fighting, etc. you read the book. Then even to having had an undeniable powerful touch from the Holy Spirit at one point and turning away from him back to the ways of the world. All of this and then to have had a daughter born with a fatal disease yet through it all God was my Redeemer using it all to bring me to a closer relationship with him and then to reveal to me that none of it really matters anyway except to have a Loving relationship with him and one another then he will restore everything to it’s perfect place and in perfect order to give us peace here on earth knowing all things are made perfect through him all we have to do is trust and believe in him. Then we can begin to store our treasures up in heaven where he will share his Kingdom with us and we can live in his glory with no more hurt and no more pain in perfect body forever. Amen!
I need a touch from you Lord, no matter where I am, no matter what I am doing, I am nothing without you in my life. I have gone astray, I have lost hope, because I did not rely on you. I did not trust in you Lord or depend on you through the difficult times, through the heartache, loss and tragedies I decided to do it my way and now I am lost, my heart and soul ache and I am weak and full of sorrow and despair without you in my life. Restore me Lord God, Restore me, make me whole, shield me in your armor, with the breast plate of righteousness and the shield of faith help me that I will never deny you again. Hide me in the refuge of your wings, protect me Lord, guide me and guard me in everything I do, fill me with the Holy Spirit from the inside out and let your spirit take rest in me. I know my life here is but a vapor, forgive me of my weakness and my backsliding, see my heart and know I seek whole heartedly a relationship with you for eternal salvation in your kingdom. Touch me now Father no matter where I’m at or where I am going that I will always be with you and you with me forever and ever in Jesus name I pray, Amen….
God is faithful. He will always be there for us. All we have to do is seek and we will find, knock and He will answer (Matthew 7:7–8; Luke 11:9–10).