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.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Praise You In This Storm

Lance has loved music from a very young age.  I remember the first bass guitar purchase - shopping for the guitar, selecting an amplifier, and of course one must have a case to protect the instrument - wondering, in the days before many days after Christmas it would be before it was just another old  toy.  Well for Lance it was a wonderful toy that was constantly  in his hands being practiced and mastered.  In fact, the next Christmas, Gena and I purchased another guitar, this time a 6 string, so that he could expand his musicianship.  He enjoys making music and listening to music from multiple genres.

He used both of those guitars(and others since) to play worship and praise music in many churches and other settings.  We have discussed our friendship with Ted Gilbert as we have kept updating the blog(this is Shannon's dad).  The friendship started when Ted and Holly were attending Fly Branch Church of Christ while Kevin Angel(husband to Rayetta), another old rock and roller, served as minister. Gena, Chelcee, Lance, Brock and I were also part of the congregation at that time.  The boys were teenagers at the time; Brock was a beginner drummer and Lance was learning fast.  Kevin, Ted, Lance, Brock, and I started spending our Saturday mornings practicing so we could play for worship services.  We played hymns, contemporary Christian songs, and a few songs that were modified for learning about or glorifying God.  We all learned alot through that experience, made friendships with one another, and most importantly used our time and talent for the Lord and His Kingdom.  (I've always expected that I was in the band only because I owned some of the equipment and transported two very important band members to practices.)  The greatest thrill of all, as a dad, was to get to spend all those hours over a 3 year time frame with my sons.  I had always thought that as a father of two sons, I would be in ball parks and gymnasiums as they were growing up.  Wow, was I wrong!  They were not like me; all I had been able to think about,during my young years, was sports.

What a gift Lance and Brock gave me - their music.  We spent time at band camp and competitions, at concerts, practicing around the piano.....time with Ted and Kevin and others just learning how to play.  The band, Joyful Racket, had lots of chances to play at church camps,  youth events, and at other churches in the area.  Brock continues to develope his mutiple music talents; he and I have prayed, from the first days after the accident, that Lance's music - playing the guitar as he jumped around in his bare feet - would be a part of his future.  Thank-you, Brock and Lance for such a special memory - getting to praise God though song with both sons.  More praise after update......

Lance was very busy on Monday; speech therapy was very exciting as Heather showed us how he was positioning his lips and tongue to make certain sounds.  At this point no noise comes out, but this is a first step.  As the day progressed he just seemed to notice his surroundings and people more.  His long looks with those big brown eyes seem to be communicating alot, but it is up to those around him to interpret the meaning.  One of the difficult daily(especially during the evening and nighttime hours) occurrences  is storming.  This is a symptom of many patients who experience brain injuries.  During the "brainstorm", the patient will usually sweat profusely, appear agitated or uncomfortable; sometimes the pulse and blood pressure elevate.  These storms are part of Lance life (and part of our life) for the immediate future.  We just do what we can to comfort him and cool him down - pain meds and cooling off techniques - as you would any patient with an elevated temperature.  A song comes to mind that combines praise and storms.  It is written and performed by Casting Crowns; several of their songs were favorites of Joyful Racket.

Praise You In The Storm

I was sure by now
God you would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
 Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and  it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

 I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I wll praise You in this storm

I praise God tonight for the Vanceburg Christian Church, our home congregation.  But I praise God for THE CHURCH.  I thank God for letting me see it in action.  I feel its presence in our lives.  I learn daily of how groups of believers around the world continue to pray to God and lift Lance up to Him through their prayers.  The church is God's Kingdom; we are a part of something great, something big and powerful.  Many have made me realize God's abiding presence through their love, prayers, visits, cards, emails, and other ways.  We have visitors that often make me feel like I've been in revival after they leave - such as today.  Guy Priester (of First Baptist of Snellville) and our new friend Sarah Ott(Passion Church)  were both in Lance's room at the same time today; we all joined in prayer as we gathered around his bed.  Yesterday's visit from Jennifer Barnes, so warm and so genuine, brought so much of God's comfort to us.  These people, who we didn't know before this event, are being sent by divine ordination.  All I can say is we will continue to praise during this storm, and the next, and the next.  One day, we are promised, that the storms will cease.  If we desire to follow Christ, we can claim all the promises of scripture.  Our lives will have storms; it may even seem that you have a stormy life - all the time.  Please know and trust that peace is promised.........then, take the next step - seek God with all your heart......that is when we will be truly blessed.  That is when we can claim all the promises!



  1. Thanks John for the up date and your right we all have to get through some storms to see the sunshine and sometimes even the rainbow! Thank you for the story and the note I really enjoyed the story. Those times or moments really do make you think! I am so glad yours ended up with a good ending. Chelcee came by and brought me some bracelets I really appreciate them and proud to wear one in honor of Lance. My day care kids made some cards for Lance and Shannon and we got them in the mail yesterday. I explained as simply as I could about Lance and Shannon's accidents and how they were in the hospital to get better and they wanted to do something to make them feel better. Were excited about the dance for Lance too Saturday! This is such a wonderful way for our community to come together and show our support for Lance and your family. This will also give others the opportunity to help out in some manner as they otherwise may not have gotten to. It is a very good feeling to participate in something that can be helpful to others and I am hoping that sometime soon we can have another zumbathon for Shannon too. Her progress is sounding really good too and we are so glad to hear that! Give Lance a thumbs up for us and tell him to keep up the good fight!

  2. Karen, thank you so much for the cards from your kids. Shannon really enjoyed them, and she told me exactly where they came from. I am sure Lance will enjoy the cards as well, and I know that every effort that is made by friends and family are helping get him one step closer to the old Lance that we all know and love so much. I look forward to seeing everyone saturday at the dance. Ted

  3. As I read the update today from Lance's father, I was filled with hope for Lance and for you all as a family. The song that you posted captures the essence of what it means to follow Christ in a broken world and to know that God is present even when the storm rages on.
    I worked with Lance at KY Refugee Ministries and also worshiped with him a few times at Communality. His spirit and energy are truly missed around our office and we are always telling "Lance" stories!
    My prayers continue!

    Karissa Porter

  4. Dear John, This is Anna Richmonds mom and I want you to know Im so sorry about Lance and I want you to know that Anna and I and many others are praying for you all daily. At the wreck when they pulled anna from the car and she came to from being hit by the air bags she said she looked around not knowing who was in the other cars but she started praying right there on the ground while they was putting her on the stretcher.. Just want you to know you have a great family and I know God is a healer and I know of many miracles. My father pastors a church and he has a preacher friends wife that had a wreck and brain injury they said she would never be normal. God healed her she is still married and now has children.. God will bring you thru this and there will be a testimony to be told. I can tell your faith is strong in God and he will bring you thru the storm. When God closes one door he opens another and I know that Lance has Gods hands upon him. Praying for you all and not a day i dont think about you all and pray. Shelby Richmond Riley.