When Joy and Sorrow Collide or Calling 9-1-1…Again


“Shay…Shay…wake up!”

Huh? What? What’s going on?

It was just a little after 10:30 am and my head was buried under my pillow. I had been napping because I’ve been battling some kind of sickness all week, not to mention just overall tiredness from helping with late night feedings and diaper changes for baby Levi who was just 11 days old.

“I’ve got chest pain!I think you need to call 9-1-1.”

Oh, no. Not again.

As I scrambled to wake up and make sense of what was happening, I got my phone and the fire department arrived no more than ninety seconds later. By this point Bethany was on the ground, looked pale, and the medics began taking her vitals. Even though Bethany could answer basic questions, it didn’t take them long to order an ambulance and other personnel to run more tests before getting her off the floor of our bedroom and out the door. I grabbed Levi who had been hanging out in a jumper in the kitchen where Bethany was making food for herself before her chest started hurting. He and I got in the van and off we were to the hospital, following the ambulance in what felt eerily like deja-vu from everything that happened back in late 2021.

That was Friday. Today is Sunday. After two CT scans, countless EKGs, bloodwork and I’m sure some other stuff, it has become very clear that Bethany has experienced another SCAD (spontaneous coronary artery dissection)–exactly what happened in 2021. Praise the Lord she is OK and recovering! In fact, she’s recovering faster than she did before even though this was technically even more serious than her previous one. We are extremely grateful she is OK, that we got her to a hospital quickly, and for the many trained people who helped. In God’s incredible kindness, he once again protected Bethany. The “could-haves” could have been very bad, but that wasn’t God’s plan and we can’t help but praise Him for his mercy.

Bethany has been in the hospital all weekend (3 days now) and they have been monitoring everything closely. Because of the heart medicine they were using she had to stop breastfeeding Levi for now so we switched him to a bottle which he took easily (praise the Lord). With the help of my in-laws at home I’ve been doing the nightly bottle feedings for Levi while Bethany remains at the hospital. Sadly she’s had to “pump and dump” her milk at the hospital, but as a few hours ago she was off the meds and will be able to breastfeed again this evening for the first time since Friday morning. Lord willing, she might even be able to come home on Monday (tomorrow).

Bethany with the kids this weekend in her hospital room.

“Dad, why does this always happen to our family? Why does this keep happening to Mommy?” Those are hard questions from my daughter who just so happened to be turning nine this weekend (June 1). I would be lying if the same questions didn’t pop through my head a time or two this weekend. But my best answer in that moment was that we truly live in a broken world and our bodies don’t always work exactly like they should. Even though God is good and He’s kind and He’s gracious, we still live in a broken world, one in which we long to be made right and whole again. I don’t know exactly what truth got through, if any, but I know I was preaching that to myself as much as I was to her.

As I was parking the car in the hospital garage for the umpteenth time this weekend a song we sing at church came on and I finally broke down in tears and just sat in the car and listened. The first two verses are simply about God being everlasting, timeless, and a reminder of who He is. But it was the third verse and subsequent chorus that hit me:

Verse 3

O God, when joy and tragedy collide
And loss reminds us life is but a sigh
From everlasting, You are God

Chorus

And all our days are held within Your hands
Your perfect love and favor have no end
We rest within the wisdom of Your plan
Everlasting God

Joy and tragedy felt like they collided a bit the past two weeks. We have gone from the joy of celebrating the birth of our fifth child, little baby Levi, to the pain of watching Bethany grab her chest as blood couldn’t flow properly to her heart. Praise the Lord this didn’t turn into a full loss or a full tragedy! They literally call the artery where Bethany’s dissection happened the “widow maker”–praise the Lord it didn’t lead to that! But we are reminded that “life is but a sigh.” While I believe fully that all our days are held within the perfect Hands and plan of God, and I affirm that his love and favor have no end, can I rest within the wisdom of His plan? That’s the challenge before Bethany and I as we lead our family through these trials. That’s the challenge of the Christian life in general. Do I trust the everlasting God?

Bethany is feeling great at this moment, but we have some decisions going forward that require some prayer. Would you pray with us? Pray that God would continue to heal Bethany’s artery and protect her heart from any damage. Additionally, in the midst of all this we’ve learned that Bethany’s cholesterol levels are “through the roof” which the doctor’s believe to be genetic. The cardiologist said, “This isn’t about your diet. In fact, you couldn’t eat bad enough to have cholesterol like this.” We have a decision of whether to put Bethany on meds to help with that, but she can’t breastfeed if she’s on it. Pray for wisdom and good counsel. Thank you to everyone for walking with us and loving us and praying for us. We are grateful to you and to our good, everlasting God who has all of our days held tight within His hands.


9 responses to “When Joy and Sorrow Collide or Calling 9-1-1…Again”

  1. praying for you guys!!! that is so scary to have momma be seriously ill repeatedly! We were just recently given a fruit tree from the Shanks that was supposedly a gift to your family when Titus was born….. so if you ever are in the Sand Canyon area of Santa Clarita, you will have to look us up and come see the Titus tree 😉

  2. So thankful Bethany is doing okay. May he give you wisdom as to what meds to take/ not take. Praise the Lord for sustaining her life- she is a sweet to all of us who know and love her!!

  3. Oh Shay and Bethany. I am praying with you. Praise the Lord for His presence in your lives.

  4. Thank you so much Shay for posting this story of your family. Thank you for being so vulnerable and transparent. Sometimes we don’t understand Gods plans for our lives but as yiou said, you trust that God loves you and has a plan for every trial. I love how your children were involved in the asking of the “why us?”. It’s like in the Psalms “How Long?” or “Out of the depths I cried to Thee”. I also felt your pain in the car when that song came on at the perfect time and the Lord healed your heart with his promises. So beautiful. Congratulations on your growing family. 5 now. So glad to see how the Lord is blessing your family. Praying for your whole family and Bethany’s heart. ❤️Carol

  5. Praying. Praying. Praying. We will not stop and join you in TRUSTING a Father who can heal and restore. Sending love.

  6. This sobering news Shay and Bethany. Thanking the Lord that he has preserved Bethany’s life. Praying for wisdom as you make decisions regarding Bethany’s health and as you shepherd your family through this these hard things. We love your family! – Love The Fillmores

  7. Farther, thank you for sparing Bethany and for the paramedics and doctors. Bless this family with health and grace and an awareness of your loving presence.

  8. Thank you for sharing your journey. Your family is so dear to us. Praying for all of you and decisions that need to be made and for healing for Bethany during this difficult time.

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