It was just a shopping day with her mother and eighteen-month-old daughter Laura. Linda was driving the car that fateful day after Christmas when an unguarded moment sent them careening into the path of a minivan at sixty miles an hour. The collision took off the back seat of their car.
Linda and her mother were dazed but okay. But little Laura’s car seat went flying out of the car on impact and landed in the middle of the freeway with Laura still buckled in. She was much too quiet.
At the hospital, Linda discovered Laura had suffered a devastating brain injury. She was sent to ICU, where she was wracked with seizures. Surgery relieved the swelling, but she remained unconscious and hooked up to a ventilator. Linda repelled the doctor’s suggestion they remove Laura from the ventilator, and when they had the opportunity to move her to a hospital closer to home, Linda was sure her daughter would begin to improve.
At the Colorado hospital, however, twenty-four health care professionals gave her an unanimous decision: Laura was in a vegetative state. She was given no hope for improvement.
Although Linda outwardly fought for her daughter to be kept on the ventilator, inwardly she was in turmoil. One desperate night she made plans to take Laura off the ventilator and overdose herself on pills to end their suffering. As she contemplated this, she knew her actions would also be taking the life of her unborn child, barely two weeks old.
Thankfully, her reason returned before she acted on her impulse. She went to sleep that night terrified of her own dark thoughts and the knowledge she had almost acted on them.
That moment signaled a turning point for the Shepherd family. Linda surrendered her life and the lives of her children once again to God. Laura stayed the same until, ironically, she awakened from her coma one day at the sound of her new baby brother crying.
Today Laura remains paralyzed and on a ventilator. But she smiles and laughs and fills her family with joy. Her father Paul and brother Jimmy are her tender protectors. She has taught her world much about the value of those who are broken by the world’s standards, but beautiful beyond comparison in the eyes of God.
Linda is an author and speaker who shares the lessons God has taught her through their tragedy. The trials she has endured form the springboard from which she ministers the peace and healing she has received through her Savior.
Laura’s life is a reminder we are all broken in some way, and God loves all the imperfect vessels He calls His children.
Linda Evans Shepherd lives at home in Longmont, Colorado, with her husband and their two children, Jimmy and Laura.
Linda is an author and speaker, the publisher of Right To the Heart of Women Electronic Magazine and president of the nonprofit organization, Right to the Heart.
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Photos courtesy Linda Evans Shepherd
Nominate a family to be featured in this series!
Do you know a very special family that personifies the word “unstoppable?” Can you think of someone that has taken on the challenge of disability or chronic disease and turned it into a victory dance?
They are all around us, people who live with what others might think of as loss. They are people with incurable conditions, devastating disabilities, or birth defects. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, they have risen above their suffering to live fully. These people and their families have learned how to appreciate the beautiful in the broken. Trials are just bumps in the road for them
They are the everyday heroes.
They are unstoppable.
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