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.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Tour de Lance

Hello to all and I continue to be so grateful to each of you for your interest in and prayers for Lance.  My last blog described Lance's move to Cardinal Hill Rehab Hospital in Lexington, Ky.  Sorry it has been so long but hours of driving the 100.5 miles from our driveway to the C.H. parking lot, 3-4 days per week for treating patients, a little sleep, and every possible hour with Lance has busied me the past 2 months.  He has been blessed with 2 months of time at C. H. in which he received wonderful nursing care, outstanding therapy, and excellent medical supervision by Dr. Nickerson.  These truly are a dedicated group of individuals who have rallied around Lance and family and have played a huge role in his recovery.  There have been bleak days during the stay - times when progress seemed very slow.  But there have been exciting days as well.  The past 10 have been like traveling when you were young - you are very anxious to get to the destination, you feel that something special is going to happen, but it seems like you will never arrive.

In the past few days he has eaten his first food since Thanksgiving weekend.  It seems to be going well and Gena cannot wait for him to be home so she can cook some of his favorites.  The current plan has him returning home by this weekend; we will start outpatient therapy as soon as consults can be done.

Lance has been trying to get some words out for the past 3 weeks - thanks in a large way to Gretchen, his speech therapist for the past 8 weeks.  Jill had seen him move his lips to "mom" and other times we could make out names and phrases "I love you" and "God is good".  A week ago Thursday about 6AM he said the first syllable of Chontale, a member of the nursing staff; this was with enough volume that it surprised me.  Later that same day he whispered "dad" and I had never heard a more beautiful sound than that faint whisper.  Since that time he has said (or attempted to say each of our names).  Chelcee asked him "Who is our dad?" and "Who is our mom?" - he quickly whispered "John" and "Jill".  That was middle of last week.  On Friday he said "Gena" to her.  Saturday morning, during a visit from Tom and Karen Cox, he faintly whispered "Tom".

Tonight was really cool.  The speech therapist called Lance after she had gone home for the day; Jill was there in the room and answered phone, then handed it to Lance.  He whispered "hi" and "bye" to Gretchen.  Soon afterward, I called and Lance said those word to me as well.  I asked him about Brock(who was also in the room) and he said "Brock" audibly.  When you have not heard from someone you cherish for 7 1/2 months, these are big events.  We celebrate and give God all  the glory for the good that is coming from this experience.  We know and trust that God is taking care of Lance, consoling him during fearful times, and providing the Holy Spirit abiding presence so he knows that the Creator of the universe is still watching over his every  breath - knowing the number of hairs on his head.

After the phonecall this evening and after watching Stage 9 of the Tour de France earlier today, I felt the compelling need to take a bicycle ride.  It was dusk and it was very hot/humid but I jumped on Lance's  Felt bicycle which he had purchased with graduation cash he received after earning his Master's Degree at the Patterson School of Diplomacy.  I rode 3 miles to one of my favorite spots - the peak of the Ronald Reagan Road.  This is a connector road from the AA Hwy to the Black Oak community; it is one mile road and is a decent challenge on a bicycle because of the grade.  Just as one begins the descent, you get a beautiful panoramic view of the Ohio River valley.  Tonight the sun looked like a bright red molten ball as it dropped over the mountain.  I enjoy the beauty of this place for many reasons.  Often I would stop as I gazed across the valley and call Lance - he would always give me time to describe what it looked like at that moment.  He would say I wish I was there with you, dad......and I felt like he meant it.  Tonight seated on his bicycle, listening to his voice, realizing the long and grueling tour he has traveled (and knowing there are many miles left before we arrive in Paris) made me feel him very close.  Thank-you, his fans and friends, who line the narrow mountain path and cheer him on each day with your prayers, with your love, with your tears.

An FFH song goes something like this: "This would not be the road I would choose for me; but it still feels right somehow.  I have never felt Him as close to me - as I do right now, as I do right now."  Him is capitalized because Him is God.  Thank you God for victorious days like today.  Thanks for being close though, even on days that seem gray.



  1. Amazed..proud..cheering..and praising Him for victories in this journey for Lance and for all those who surround him. Your continued steadfast faith is a testimony to all who read and hear the words written in this blog.

  2. How marvelous ! I am ready to cry with joy for Lance and all of you. Many hugs to each. Prayers still going up. Gina Insko

  3. Praying for many more joyful days like today. What a great model you and your family are.
    Am very thankful that God spared us this with Terra's accident but still pray daily for his protective hands to be on my family. May God bless your family with daily improvements from this day forward.

  4. Reading this just brings so many emotions but most of all a warm feeling in my heart. What a journey and I know it is not without purpose. I am so happy to hear of Lance's progress! As always you all are in our thoughts and prayers.....

  5. We are so glad to hear of Lance's progress. We know this is "music" to everyone's ears to hear him speak a few words. It has been a very long journey....but God is showing you a light at the end of the tunnel. GO, Lance!!!
    Steve & Carol

  6. How wonderful for Lance's progress. How wonderful to hear him speak your names. So thankful for a prayer answering God and for faith to know when we're down in the Valley or up on the Mountain God is always there with us.Keeping you all in my prayers. Gayle Pettit

  7. John, we have just read this most recent blog and we are just so happy to hear of his improvements. Your strong faith is an inspiration to all of us. Even though we don't see you that often, you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. George and Sharon

  8. Your journey reminds me of new favorite song. Love and prayers from Jackson, OH and the Radune Family

    Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
    What if Your healing comes through tears
    What if a thousand sleepless nights
    Are what it takes to know You’re near?

    What if trials of this life
    Are Your mercies in disguise?

    We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
    We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
    We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
    As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

    And all the while You hear each desperate plea
    And long that we'd have faith to believe

    Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
    What if Your healing comes through tears?
    What if a thousand sleepless nights
    Are what it takes to know You’re near?

    And what if trials of this life
    Are Your mercies in disguise

  9. What a work He is doing in Lance and your family. He is faithful - what great words Lance is saying - family names and "God is good" He is being glorified. Prayers are for continued healing. Blessings and love, Kathy Orner

  10. This was a well-written message, John. Move over Max Lucado! We shared your joy as we read this inspiring message. We will continue to stand along the winding road, cheering all the way. Tom and Karen

  11. Tears of joy filled my eyes as I read your report. You know we've been there and it is true, when I heard the whisper calling me "mom" it was more exciting than the first time Danny outer the name for the first time as a baby. I praise the Lord, my soul rejoice with yours.

  12. I praise our most awesome God. I love hearing all the wonderful things He is doing in your lives.Lance is such a strong young man, was in childhood and now in adulthood. Glory to God and your family. Debbie S.

  13. Amen! I have been waiting for awhile to read this post!!! I was am so glad that Lance is speaking!!! :) Knowing this makes everything that I thought to be so bad in my life lately to fade.

    Actually last night as I drove to work I was listening to The Vine cd. I was remembering that while in college, Lance and I often went to Southeast Christian Church and attended The Vine on Sunday nights. I wondered when his voice would begin to return, because I know he loved to worship Our God!

    Keep going Lance! The finish line may not be in sight, but it is near!

  14. While reading your post, I felt as if I was right there hearing Lance say his beautiful words and I know how they were like music to your ears and your heart filled with even more love and hope. I could also see the beautiful scene on your bike ride. God has a plan for Lance and He will bring him through this challenge. Thoughts and prayers continue for all of you. (Anita)