Charles & Spring: The Reed’s Family Story
Who We Are
Charles is 40 and he suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which was diagnosed when he was 4 years old. Spring is 33 and we have 10 month old twins, Charles Lucian and London. We live a life that may seem beyond the “norm” but is our normal. Our “normal” life often leads to treading deep waters, but at the same time holding onto Christ even harder on a daily basis than a “normal life” that makes our faith even stronger. On a daily basis, we experience God’s grace and His provision far beyond what we could ever imagine.
The Plan for the Future from the Beginning
Like most couples we had great plans for our future and an idea of “how life would be” once we got married! But within less than 100 hours of saying “I do,” all of those ideas quickly blew away and we were in a new reality. Before marriage, there was no way to know what the future held. And the situations we talked through and thought through before we were married became almost totally void just days after we got married, as many unexpected things came our way. Most of all, we had to know that embarking on marriage and life with kids etc. was God’s plan and that we were both willing to be obedient to God’s plan no matter what unexpected difficulties we might face. Although we thought we had worked through how daily life would go, God had different plans. These plans were more difficult, but led us to be able to spend more time together and grew us stronger as a couple.
If the steps we walk through in life is God’s will, He will give you the strength and abilities, wisdom, knowledge and resources you need to carry out His will. We can’t answer all the questions, or figure out all of the unknowns, because like anyone, the future is unknown.
Life’s Limitations to Overcome
Charles is fully dependent and is also fully dependent on a ventilator 24 hours a day. He has to have someone to dress him, feed him, bathe him, do his respiratory therapy, drive him, secure his wheelchair in the van, and the list goes on. He also has to have someone do anything that voice technology assists with because of lack of inflexion in his voice such as typing, holding and dialing the phone, texting, etc. He is blessed though that he is able to move his right thumb enough to control his wheelchair using a mini joystick. So, other than being able to wiggle his toes and his thumb, that is all of the movement he is able to do. Being on a ventilator also comes with many complexities that increase limitations beyond just being dependent. Because of the complexities related to the ventilator, he has to have several caregivers to live the life that he knows God wants him to live. He can also never be alone in case he were to come unhooked from the ventilator or have other issues that would cause him not to be able to breathe. Charles also suffers from severe and debilitating non-allergic rhinitis and asthma type reactions to any smells both natural and chemical. This makes finding caregivers that will agree to be “scent free” very difficult. This also impacts his quality of life. With a weak heart, rest is also very important and with strict care routines that mostly involve respiratory care, there is often very limited time left in the day to spend working, or with family.
Despite the difficulties, God has given Charles the ability to overcome obstacles and live a very full life including the ability to get up every day, go to work, start a company, run companies, speak at churches and events, go to church, and take classes in seminary, etc.
Life Worth Living
Why live? Why would someone want to continue living facing all that Charles faces and living life on a ventilator, the same ventilator that most people may consider to be called “life support,” even in the medical community?
Charles and Spring’s purpose in life is to bring glory to God as is referred to in 1 Corinthians 10:31,33, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. . . . just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.” So if we are living to serve God and bring glory to Him, we put others and God above ourselves. With that being the case, Charles believes he has no right to place his own agenda above God’s and should do everything he can to live and serve Him on whom he is totally dependent. Even if life means suffering and not being able to do the things the average person can do, Charles looks to the gifts that God has given him to equip him to overcome his physical deficiencies. Everything that God equips him to do – work, have a marriage and family, speak, etc. – he does to serve the main purpose of being able to live so that he can continue to bring glory to God. “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). Charles believes that he not only has no right to end his life that really belongs to God, but that he can also flourish despite his disability through God who gives Him strength.
Lately, in the news and in mainstream media, even at the local box office on the big screen it has been difficult to see a big push that a life with difficulties and disabilities is not worth living. It is another terrible lie that there is no life if you aren’t physically perfect. Even the theme that love conquers all was challenged in the latest euthanasia push in the movie, Me Before You. Love for Mr. Traynor wasn’t enough and, sadly, nothing that he knew gave him the desire to live. His life was full as well, it was full of fun, laughs, and love, but he chose to be bitter and depressed and reject the love in front of him and chose death.
It is somewhat surprising that these ideas are supported and somewhat “glorified” by the general public when those that live seemingly “perfect” lives still feel purposeless even themselves. One such example is the Olympian swimmer, Michael Phelps. A truly dynamic athlete, who holds 28 Olympic medals has conquered great feats in the world of sports, yet at a time when his career was at its peak, he was broken, depressed, looking for hope, and near suicide. Having all that the world could offer, including fame, money, women and physical greatness, it still was not enough. He still did not see life to be worth living. Thankfully, he found hope and purpose in Christ before it was too late. (Fox News: Michael Phelps)
No matter who you are, where you come from, what you have, or what you don’t have, what you are able to do or not do, or how “abnormal” you are, life is worth living because of the One who gave us life. It is only through Him that hope and purpose come. He is the one that can take someone, like Charles, who can not move on their own, and can not even breathe on their own and give them life…and give them an abundant life. Yes, life is hard. Yes, it is difficult some days to imagine waking up to what he wakes up to all of the rest of his days, but he is able to do that because of Christ and Christ alone. Our hope and purpose only comes through Christ.
From the beginning of our marriage, Charles and I had a desire to have children. This was a desire that was ignited when we got married and believed it was from the Lord. Spring had always had a desire to be there for children who didn’t have a home, but with their current situation, she didn’t know how God would, or even if He would, fulfill that desire. With a desire to adopt/foster parent, we attended an adoption class at church. As we began pursuing the possibilities of adoption, we quickly learned that it would be a very difficult road; a road that our life was not in place at that time to fight. Spring began to pray that if it were God’s will for them, that the opportunity would just “fall in their lap.” And it did. Just a couple of months later, a text message from a former employee presented us with an opportunity to adopt twins that were to be born in 6-8 weeks. After a lot of prayer, (a LOT of prayer) we believed it was God’s will. And within 6 weeks, we were able to get everything done (home study, legal paperwork etc.), the babies were born, and we brought them home from the hospital. The adoption was private, without any agency involvement.
Though it is disappointing that most agencies probably would have not even talked to us because of Charles’ disabilities, it is understandable because there are so few babies up for adoption. We knew that if it was God’s will, regardless of what agencies rules were, that God would provide the opportunity. For us, it was even more meaningful that God orchestrated through what others would have thought were “impossible” circumstances and we sat across from a woman, who knew our situation inside and out, and she still chose us to become the parents to her children.
There is Hope
Life is full of obstacles, uncertainties and trials. No matter what “disease” or “diagnosis” you or your loved ones may face, God is a God of the impossible. He is also a God that can bring purpose to your life, no matter what the world says. Sometimes we face greater trials and deeper waters than those around us, but we also know and have experienced God’s grace on a daily basis in ways that others may never know or experience on this earth. We have experienced God’s provision and strength in ways that it is difficult to even look back and understand. God’s grace is sufficient. His promises are true. There is hope and there is purpose in Him.
Connecting with Charles and Spring
If anyone has any questions, needs someone to talk to or wants to know more details of how we make it work, please feel free to email us at email@example.com or visit our website at www.charlesandspring.com or come by and see us if you are ever in West Tennessee!
Written by Charles & Spring Reed
We are sad to share that our dear friend and hero Charles Spring went to be with the Lord not soon after this beautiful article was written. If you would like to contact Spring Reed, his loving wife, she is available to share the hope she has to one day see her beloved Charles one day again. Spring Reed will be sharing at our annual Speak Foundation conference in 2017. You are invited to attend.