And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea.  Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.”  And he went with him  ……….   Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.  And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.  (Mark 5:21-24 ESV and Mark 5:41-42 ESV)


When I read this passage referenced before last week, I read it while keeping my eyes on Jesus and what He was doing.  Two weeks ago, I entered into Jairus’ world, who was a lesser character in the drama, and my eyes fell on him.  For the first time when I read the passage I entered the emotional human drama that was described, and I saw myself feeling as Jairus did … a man desperate for Jesus’ help.  His wife and family and friends were also desperate for an intervention in the sure death that his daughter was slipping into.  I realized that I was reading about a leader in the synagogue who shed his pride and ego and literally fell at the feet of Jesus and begged His help with healing his daughter.  In my case it was my granddaughter.


For the first time I knew personally what Jairus was feeling, for I felt the same about my granddaughter Sallie Jewel, and her mother and father.  I felt Jairus’ anguish and pain and uncertainty.  Like him, I fell at the feet of Jesus and asked His intervention.  I must share this story with you. 


This blog will be longer than most, for I have much to say.  It will require a little more time for you to read it, maybe it might even require an investment of your time?  Perhaps you should not just scan this blog but put it aside for a time that you can really read it, for at some point in your life you may need to remember this account and it comfort you in your own trial?  At the end of it you will understand that I am giving you this account for two reasons.  First, I must testify to God’s glorious intervention and His help to a child and her family, when things seemed so desperate.  Second … I just want you to see Jesus as I do and be safely undergirded as we were by His angels, His Spirit, His children, and His presence.  What I have seen and experienced must be shared, for it is something that must be understood that His help is always available to His children.  He wants us to come to Him when we are desperate for His help just like Jairus did … to not hold back … to look to Him in our most desperate times … to be encircled by choruses of prayers and prayer warriors … and to be lifted up when we are down.  This is our story with Jesus, and Sallie Jewel:


Two weeks ago, I was in Memphis speaking to Influencers in that city.  My dear friend and the NWA Regional Director Tom Seay traveled with me to meet with those precious men and women on that trip. The night before our return trip my daughter Joanna called me and told me that Sallie Jewel was having an MRI of her brain the next day.  She had been having several symptoms for months that the doctor tried to treat symptomatically, such as nausea and such thinking it was related to the intestine.  But when headaches began to wake our nine-year old up in the middle of the night, her doctor recommended the MRI.  We initially felt the MRI was more precautionary than a clear diagnosis, and we were not greatly concerned at that point.  The next day as Tom and I drove the six-hours home to NWA my son called.  He asked me if I had spoken to Joanna.  I told him that I had not.  As his voice broke by his obvious emotional pain he was in, he said, “Dad they found a large mass on Sallie Jewel’s brain.  She is being rushed to Children’s Hospital to be admitted for surgery.”  My heart sank to the floor.  A few minutes later I received a call from Joanna confirming the news, as she shared from her emotional fear and pain.  She asked if my wife Sallie and I would come to them.  I told her that I would rush home, repack, pick up her mother, and then drive six more hours to McKinney where they live.  That day would require of me about twelve hours of driving, with little sleep, little food, weariness from the emotional investment I had made the two days before.  A time like this has great potential to pull a man and woman to many spiritual, emotional and physical challenges that they are not ready to face.  I knew I would not be able to offer the much needed emotional and spiritual encouragement to others that would be required of me unless I had the Father’s help.  So, what does one do when faced with such a crisis?  We bring in the big guns to battle it.  Thank God Influencers prayer network engaged around us, and there were hundreds if not thousands of men and women across the country taking Sallie Jewel and her family to our King’s throne room and strengthening my wife and me as well.


As soon as I heard the disheartening news, Tom, who sat next to me in the car, reacted like the battle captain he once was, and got on the phone and vectored “prayer bombs” from Influencers across the country toward our little girl.  Three hours later I picked up my wife and we headed south to Texas, with a band of angels escorting us all the way.


Here is a point I want to make.  In times like this we need something more than people and doctors can give us.  We need God’s intervention and comfort.  But God uses people such as doctors and friends and supporters to be conduits of His help and comfort and intervention.  This is another reason we must be investing in others to help them have the comfort of Jesus as He uses our love and spiritual gifts to be this for them, for one day we will need to be on the receiving end.  This was just such a time that we were in, and we were on the intensive receiving end.  I cannot tell all of you how much it has been appreciated.  I can only say that you became the voice and love of Jesus to us.  The notes of encouragement, the prayers, and the many things done to carry us during that time was greatly needed and appreciated. 


After arriving in McKinney and then to Dallas we entered the waiting room to wait out the ten hours required for the surgery.  Our son-in-law’s family was there, along with friends from work, their church and their pastor.  We saw the love and concern they all had for our family, and it greatly comforted us.  I was heartbroken to see my daughter and son-in-law so distraught.  My wife and I are still emotionally impacted by several recent losses by friends, family members, and children connected with the ministry.  It has been all around us.  I could not help but think that this might be my family’s time that must face such a loss?  This brought back memories of words that my friend Pete McKenzie had been asked by God.  He was asked, “Pete will you purpose in your heart to praise Me and love Me even if I chose to take your dearest loved one at this time?”  Pete answered “yes” to that question two times, and in both cases the Lord chose to take his child and his wife home to heaven.  Still Pete has been purposed to love and give praises to our King, just as he said he would.


That question was now being asked of me.  There was no choice for me to make, for it had already been made years before.  That is what “personal abandon (of our self) and absolute trust (in Christ)” requires of us.  I knew that I must choose to trust Him and accept His plan, though it might break my heart as it has never been broken before.  This decision brings us very close to a metaphorical death, if not a literal death, and it is very painful to choose to release a loved one such as this.  But this release also gives us freedom to release to the Lord that which we cannot control and that which we may hold too tightly, and it allows Him to take care of it as we cannot, and then return to us something that fills that void that is left.  Pete discovered this, along with many other friends who have faced the same thing.  Would I be required to discover it as well?


The surgery progressed slowly through the day.  The first thirty percent of the large tumor removed indicated that it was benign.  Seven days later this would be confirmed.  But the location and size of the tumor was such, the doctors said that there was high risk that there would be permanent damage to her brain that could impact vison, hearing, motor functions, and several other things.  Therefore, even the good news was tempered with the somber reality that there is much more to be concerned about. 


Finally, at the end of the surgery we were told that ninety-five percent of the tumor had been removed.  The remaining five percent will be watched and if necessary treated with radiation or some other therapy to control or remove it.  The doctors are not too concerned about it.  But our little girl was being returned to us with no impairments.  As if to punctuate this good news, when Sallie Jewel was waking up from her ten hours of anesthesia she began to sing loudly, “Jesus loves me this I know ….”.  I didn’t realize the significance of this until I received a note from my friend Mike Eldredge who said, “Jesus Loves Me” is our Lord’s message to your family directly from The Throne.”   Indeed, I got His message loud and clear.


That night when we returned to our daughter’s house to stay with and care for our grandson Beck, I was finally able to be alone with God and reflect on the last two days.  I had been bottled up and held up by His Spirit to be a voice of encouragement to others for about forty of the last forty-eight hours.  On the bed that night I broke down with the deepest sobbing and relief and thankfulness that I have ever experienced.  I felt like Abraham when his son Isaac was given back to him after he had purposed to obey God no matter what, even if it meant plunging his knife into his precious son because he was told by God to do so.  I could never had imagined the joyful relief that Abraham had felt until this time.  I also felt like Jairus who also had his child returned to him.  How can we not enter the deepest thanksgiving we could ever have for such a blessing?  Word after word I cried out “Thank You!  Thank You!!  Thank You.!!!”  I left my bedroom and went to another room to not be heard, as I continued my prayer of thanksgiving.  All through the night I cried out the same words, and then in the morning I did the same.  Never have I felt so deeply thankful, for my granddaughter was returned to me.  I remember saying to the Lord, “I thought that I loved You.  But I realize now that there was more love that I could give You, for I have grown even more deeply in my love for You.”


The next few days allowed me some amazing mentoring and shared quiet times with our ten-year old grandson Beck. He is an old soul in a young body, and we were able to bridge some deep places of understanding through the things we all went through.  He too was progressing through his own PTSD.  Scriptures came alive as he could see from his own pain and then joy that these holy words are our guide in life.  The first night Sallie Jewel was home from the hospital she sat next to me while we watched together a movie that all children love, and grandfathers hate.  I didn’t care.  When she laid her head on my chest I was the happiest I’ve ever been.  This is when life really gets good for us … as a result of understanding what is really important.  Only a week before I did not know if I would ever see her again.  I did not know if she would even know me.  But here I was cuddling with this beautiful child while singing in my mind, “Jesus loves me this I know…”.  Indeed, I knew this fact first hand, for He was showing me right then how much He loves me.


During this traumatic time, I was asked if I would be purposed to love God and serve Him and praise Him no matter what would come out of the ordeal.  In response, this is one reason I share this lengthy account.  I do not want to waste an opportunity to honor God’s name and His ways, and this is just such an opportunity for me to say “YES!”.  I hope these words will in some way, or one day be words of encouragement to you to trust your King and His love and His plans, even though the path may seem very difficult.  Make sure you have “go to people” as we did to hold you up during times such as we faced.  Raise people like this up around you by you being a “go to person” for them, because they will one day be serving you as you have them.  Finally let me say this:  Purpose in your heart to live a life of thanksgiving before Christ.  Seize the moment.  Do not waste any of your life with things that you will one day regret.  Life is short, and life is fragile.  Invest it wisely.  Never forget this.


I have found that this has now taken me to a place that has the greatest joy and peace that I‘ve ever found.  God does indeed occupy this place of thanksgiving, and it drives so many fears away.  If there is one thing that feels so right, it is when I have cried out through tears of joy, relief and thanksgiving to my Father, “THANK YOU!!!”  That is why I say now ….




13 comments on “Sallie Jewel’s Story

  • Thank you for that inspiring encouragement
    Only those having shared in those moments of utter disparities can intertwine with your heart spoke words.

  • This touches the very heart of Jesus, and of His presence and of His action in our lives.
    Thank you Lord for revealing yourself to this family, and to us through your presence in their lives.

  • Thank you for sharing your story of God’s love for you and his answer to the many prayers given for Sallie Jewell. If I am ever faced with a similar situation I hope I can emphatically answer “YES” as you and Pete have done. Thank you for your example to me and others.

  • This story brought tears of joy to my eyes as I felt the pain that you were going through. As a relatively new christian my wife and I went through a similar ordeal whereby our grandson was born months prematurely ( 1 1/2 pounds) and your story brought even more tear to my eyes as I remembered how we prayed and cried and prayed during our 100 mile trip to the children’s hospital. My grandson is now a 6’4″ 30 year old man of God with a son of his own.

    Thank you Jesus that you love us so much, thank you Holy Spirit for seeing us thru times of trouble and despair.

  • Thank you Rocky.

    Praise God no matter what.
    Thank you Lord, thank you for your endless mercy and grace.

  • Beautiful thank you for sharing. The love of a Grandchild is a precious thing and the love of Jesus is so powerful.

  • Such a gut wrenching, but beautiful story. Praise God that your sweet granddaughter is back home and recovering. Of all the great things you wrote above, this last part pierced me to the core….Finally let me say this: Purpose in your heart to live a life of thanksgiving before Christ. Seize the moment. Do not waste any of your life with things that you will one day regret. Life is short, and life is fragile. Invest it wisely. Never forget this.

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Rocky it is a humbling experience to have been able to pray for Sallie and all the immediate family members. Jesus is on the throne interceding on all our behalf. Praise God for His wonderful goodness!

  • Rocky,
    I have read your Blog multiple times and each time I feel totally consumed by God’s love for sweet Sallie Jewel. It is a very powerful word packed with wisdom for the challenges life sends. It is definitely a “reset” on priorities and perspective for this life. Blessings to you and your family!

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