Updated: Jul 8, 2020
| This is the 164th story of Our Life Logs |
When I think back on all the ups and downs of my time on Earth, I’ve come to know one thing: we don’t get to plan our lives. We can’t. While this might make us feel weak, I believe that strength comes from simply going where we are led.
I was born in 1939 and grew up in the lush state of Washington. I spent many summers swimming and fishing in the lake near our house, taking in the sweet forest air. Down the road from my family lived a farmer, who taught me how to ride horses. It took a while, naturally, to get used to the reigns and the movement of the horse beneath me, with my little legs hoisted over a saddle that weighed more than me. But once I learned, any good horse would do what I needed them to do, at the speed I told them to do it. I fell in love with that freedom.
But sometimes, we have to part with our freedoms. When I was about 11, my family moved to the city. Of course, I was grumpy about it. But what I didn’t know at the time was that I would be trading the horses on the farm for other happy times that, in hindsight, I would never wish to be without. In the city, I got to study Greek, psychology, and music; I learned to play the saxophone and just about every stringed instrument you can think of. Lastly, the city was where I chose to become a Christian—and thank goodness for that, because I don’t think I could have done the rest of life without my faith!
High school and college went smoothly. I worked at a Salvation Army camp during my junior year of college. Here, I was back on the water and into the forests again. Not to mention, I met a boy there named Vince. Well, okay, maybe he wasn’t a boy. This man had been divorced and already had kids when I met him. I never thought someone like him would be the one for me. But he was, he really was.
We got married in 1961, when I was just 22 years old. His toddler, Greg, became part of our family just before we had our son, Tad, in 1962. We settled right into married life, you know, like normal families do. We had a small farm, a few horses for me, and acres of land for our boys to play on. All normal. All under control.
A couple of years into our marriage, Vince asked me something I’ll never forget, “How would you like an Arab horse?” Before I could answer, he continued, “There’s a catch. We have to go to Saudi Arabia.”
When something so out of the blue happens like that, it’s hard to turn away. Vince was part of a United States Geology Survey Team that had been requested by the Saudi government to aid in some influential projects. If Vince accompanied his team, our family would have to move to Saudi Arabia. A lot of uncertainty rested on our move halfway across the globe. How easy would it be to raise our kids there? I feared for them the most.
As nervous as I was, I knew we needed to be there. Vince was important to his team, and the experience would give us memories that would last a lifetime–well, you got to go if you feel led. Otherwise, you’re just a stubborn horse, standing still forever. So, within three months we were off on the greatest adventure a family could imagine.
We arrived in 1967 and lived in a small compound, caddy corner to the king’s summer palace, near the Red Sea, and oh, it was beautiful. There were sights I never imagined I would see! We went snorkeling in the crystal blue water, with beautiful coral reefs and every color of fish all within a stone’s throw. A little farm girl from Washington was now in Saudi Arabia, meeting and greeting people of different histories and cultures. What a blessing it was to be there!
I believe God opened so many doors for me in our new community. While I had been resistant and downright terrified of the uncertainty of changing our lifestyle, I found that truly, our family could fit in just about anywhere. I became a third-grade teacher at a Western school where our two sons attended. I taught the students their academics and life skills, and they taught me that people are really all the same at our core. Together, we had a ball.
We only planned to stay in Saudi Arabia for two years, but as it goes, two turned into seven. We came back to the States in 1974. Vince continued to travel for work, and we moved to Bailey, Colorado. We brought over Arab and Quarter horses (like I was promised) and were blessed to find an incredible property in the mountains of Bailey. Life was good.
In the summer of 1979, Vince and I were on a horse ride when my horse collapsed. My head hit the ground, and Vince told me later it sounded like a watermelon splitting. I was in a coma for a week, and the doctors didn’t expect me to live. With no warning, our lives changed.
Our family was thrown into a season of unknown, but this time, it wasn’t one that was joyful or exciting. It was painful, and worrisome. My brain didn’t function properly, and I wasn’t as sharp as I had previously been. It was terrifying to believe that I might not be the same ever again. But I kept going, along with my family and friends who surrounded me in prayer.
I know life doesn’t always give us those miraculous stories of recovery, but it did for me. Due to scheduling errors, my brain surgery was postponed three times. When we were booking the operation for the fourth time, I had healed enough and was progressing on a good pace that I was no longer in need of getting my head cut open. Instead, with the miracle of life, I walked to the other side of recovery.
I don’t know why some people heal and others don’t.
In 1998, Vince had a stroke and passed away a few years later. He never healed. The man who took care of me for so many years, through the good and bad, was gone. He was called home by God. A desire to return to the Middle East, the place we journeyed together in our young marriage, grabbed my heart.
I took several trips to different countries in the Middle East with an evangelical organization called the Jesus Film. The organization helped share the story of Jesus in different languages across the world.
By sharing God’s love with people, I was able to move on with my life while keeping Vince in my heart.
Life is a myth sometimes. I can’t explain why bad things happen. I also can’t explain why good things happen. I believe everything is in God’s hand. So, as long as I’m led, I’ll go.
This is the story of Sharon Flannigan
Sharon lives in the mountains of Bailey, Colorado, in a house that borders a national forest. She is grateful to live surrounded by natural beauty and loves spending time outdoors taking care of her land and riding her horses. Throughout her life, Sharon has had her fair share of good and bad experiences. She miraculously survived a brain injury, but had to suffer the loss of her husband years later due to a stroke. She believes that everything is in God’s hand and chooses to live everyday as it comes.
Sharon is a member of Platte Canyon Community Church and serves the Bailey community through her church involvement and her prayers and encouragement for others in the church. Having lived in Saudi Arabia for seven years she has a heart for the nations and loves to be a part of service trips where she can help people through teaching, building projects, or showing the Jesus Film to present bible stories in various language. She also enjoys going on cruise trips with her junior high classmates. Sharon holds a Master’s degree in School Psychology. She could have continued her research to earn a doctorate, but she didn’t think she needed it. Her greatest love is working with people, and she doesn’t think she needs a doctorate to keep doing that.
This story first touched our hearts on August 2, 2018.
| Writer: Cailey Thiessen; Colleen Walker | Editors: Kristen Petronio |