Live the Lion was created in an attempt to keep everyone up to date on Lance O'Cull and his road to recovery.

Lance was involved in a car accident near Morehead, Kentucky about 30 miles from where we grew up Thanksgiving weekend of 2010. He was airlifted from the scene of the accident to UK Medical Center in Lexington. The doctors told us that they could fix everything below the neck, but his brain was in God's hands. On December 22, after multiple surgeries, Lance was transferred to The Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia for an intense rehabilitation program.

It was there that Lance began to gradually emerge from a coma. Lance was discharged to home, in Vanceburg on February 17th, to continue his therapy with family.

On March 10th, Lance's 25th birthday, he stood on his feet for the first time in 103 days, with lots of help. On May 11th, Lance was accepted into Cardinal Hill's brain injury unit. There he impressed and amazed our family and friends, as well as his therapists through the progress he made everyday.

Between September 2011 and April of 2012, Lance was back and forth between Cardinal Hill's inpatient program and Shepherd Center's inpatient and outpatient program. He has had a couple minor surgeries to enhance his healing and a baclofen pump inserted to help with the tone in his body.

For the past year, Lance is back in Lewis County splitting his time with both parents. He continues to travel to Ashland 3 times a week and Lexington once a week. He is learning to walk again and we couldn't be more thrilled.

It hasn't been easy, Lance has had some setbacks and tears still fall. But he is up and running this marathon. And we are all running right along beside him.

Most of the blog entries have been made by myself, Chelcee, the big sister, Brock, our baby brother, and Dr. Johnny, our dad. Our goal is for Lance to finish this blog as soon as he is able.

God has been with Lance and our entire family, giving us strength. We give Him the Glory. He is the God of Miracles.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Boat Rides............Too Short or Too Long

   A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, on a beautiful Friday afternoon, I met Lance at Farmers which is just outside of Morehead, Kentucky.  He had attended Friday morning classes while I had worked on some office obligations; we had planned to connect and spend afternoon together.  Our goal was to move our small pontoon boat from Cave Run Lake, get it winterized (with the help of our friend Wayne Johnson), and into storage for the cold months ahead.  The huge surprise for us was the weather treat - incredible for a November afternoon.  Lance jumped into car with me and we headed out to the marina where Karen shuttled us out to buoy #70.  We uncovered the pontoon, then started the motor; it was sluggish as it had been used sparingly this season and especially during the fall.  Then we sat back and slowly trolled across the glistening lake. 
   We talked of life, it's ups and downs, and the inevitable decisions that come our way.  I was so proud of Lance on that day; he had worked diligently on the challenging science classes during the semester, but he had also sorted through much of life in recent months.  I frankly was surprised at how he had handled the "pre-med experiment" - earning decent grades despite being away from Biology, Chemistry, and Calculus for several years.  Anatomy under David Saxon had been very challenging but Dr. Saxon's zeal in teaching had inspired Lance; he provides great testimony of how one can remain enthusiastic through a long career of teaching and working with young people.  Also Lance had been in a spiritual awakening, realizing that serving God and being in relationship with Him is our life's primary purpose.  Secondary to that is our relationships with one another - befriending others, developing relationships.  Lance's screen saver, at the time of his accident, was a picture with the inscription "Be kind - everyone you meet is facing a hard battle."
  To me, that is like a paraphrase of the Golden Rule......and that combined with all I was oberving in his life and character......made a father proud.  Lance had made decision to return to Lexington and accept a part-time position at the Nunn Center (UK Library).  It was not necessarily what his training had prepared him to do, nor was it glamorous like living in a remote part of the world may have been.  But it was who Lance was right now - and the cool thing was - he was comfortable in that skin.  His faith was strong and his future was in God's hands; he just thought he would step through the next door and see where it led.  We laughed(easy to do now) as we talked about a close call I had earlier in the summer on another boat outing with several family members, including all four grandchildren. (To learn more about this adventure, request "Johnny's Big Swim" from Chelcee or me.)
   The boat ride was way too short, for both of us.  Wayne was waiting for us on the ramp;  we closed out the 2010 lake season as the boat went on the trailer.   Lance and I walked to the car and I told him how much I had enjoyed the aftenoon.  His reply; one many of you may have heard accompanied by his big smile....... "Good times!".   I headed back home and he went back to his house for a weekend of study after one of our usual, long man-hugs.
   Today is day 43 of Lance's journey: I decided to liken it to Noah's journey (not that I have often been likened to any of the heroes of the Bible).  I do like that the story of God is told and the mysteries are unraveled through rather ordinary people, like you and me, who He uses in extraordinary ways.  Noah worked on the ark for over 100 years; God has been getting each of us prepared for what lies ahead.  I have said over the past four years that He is getting me ready for something; maybe this is it - Lance's journey or his accident and resulting injuries.
     Noah boarded the ark with his wife, three sons, and three daughter-in-laws (and a boatload of animals) one week before the rain started.  Then it rained for 40 days and 40 nights; also water was gushing from the earth in this cataclysmic event in which the pre-flood water canopy, which had created a greenhouse effect, provided even more water - adequate to cover all existing land.  What I was considering on day 40 (of our journey), was how those eight individuals on the ark, had experienced 40 straight days/nights of pounding rain; with no motors, they were probably tossing to and fro as they heard many storm sounds while the earth went through the radical changes which the Bible simply calls The Flood.  It is during these dark hours of the storms of life that each heartbeat is heard and each hour drags by slowly.
   Finally the rain stopped; the boat ride however, was far from over.  (An excellent accounting of the days on the ark can be found in a book entitled the Genesis Record by Henry M. Morris.)  If the math is right, Noah and his family (and all those animals) were on the boat 371 days.  That my friends is a long boat ride....too, too long.  If Lance, all of us, and all of you journey that long - it means there are 328 days left.  If the doctors are accurate in their predictions, we may be on a journey which is that long, or longer.  Some have mentioned 18 months as the time length for nerve recovery. 
   When Noah deboarded the ark, they walked into a world that had not been annihilated, but was new and different.  Our world, at the end of our journey,  will be that way as well.  I think most of you will agree that the world will look different AND each of us have already changed.  That is ok because change is needed for growth; I believe we have all grown in faith, love, and hope.  Our prayer lives have changed. We see acquaintances through different eyes - with more acceptance, with greater compassion.  We are hugging our kids, our parents, our spouses, our friends - longer and tighter than before.  In this we will show our love and it will bring glory to God when we do.  Tonight or tomorrow, before you pray, read 1 John chapters 3-5.  chapter 3, verse 10 says "In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother."   Remember, everyone you meet is facing a hard battle.



  1. Wow! now I want to hear about Johnny's big swim! This is better then Chicken soup for the Soul!! especially since we know the characters involved! Love it. As always you all are in our hearts and prayers :)

  2. Thanks John for that.It's amazing how I am uplifted by you all each time I come here. I hope one day when Lance is recovered you all sit down and make a book of this blog. It is an inspiration to me and many others.
    Much love and many prayers continue for Lance and you all.

  3. Johnny, As you travel on this path with family and friends, it is good to know and realize that we are just a part in God's plan. I am so thankful that you have a strong faith and I know that God will continue to watch over you as this journey continues. It is amazing to see how God works in our lives and provides us with the opportunity to grow in faith.
    We continue to lift up the family in prayer to our Father.
    James Paul

  4. That was so awesome John. I felt that I was being prepared for mom and dad's death after they died I looked back at the steps that were set before me and realized had I not gone through those steps, I don't know if I could've handled their death. So I understand what you are saying.
    I hope your journey with Lance's healing is shorter than expected. Praise Jesus for his love and mercy. Continued prayers, Glenda

  5. WOW! How powerful! The O'Cull family meets no strangers and yet thru the this difficult time you are speaking thru GOD and opening your life to many people and touching lifes, as we pray for Lance you are opening our hearts.Thank-you for your posts as we in Vanceburg become a stronger community and learn more about GOD.
    ALL IN GOD"S TIME Praying from the riverbank