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The Perfect Storms

Shannon Chamberlin

I remember the sound of the phone ringing as it ripped through the 1:00 am silence in our home. I wondered who could be calling at such a time.

In November of 2005, my husband Frank’s daughter Megan was five years old. At the time, Frank and Megan did not have a close relationship, but we both prayed that we could be a part of her life.

The voice on the other end of the phone shared shocking news with me: little Megan had been shot, point-blank, in the head by her mother’s enraged boyfriend. As Megan lay in a coma for a month following the incident, we prayed for a miracle as her life held on by a thread. Miraculously, Megan did pull through, but not without challenges.

Four years later, Frank and our four-year-old son, Jared were driving home early in the morning after Frank finished a graveyard shift. The drive was long and Frank had a hard night at work without much rest. As they continued down the road in our truck, Frank fell asleep at the wheel. The truck lost control and hit the center divider, which catapulted into the air. The truck slid about forty feet across the pavement, but only after flipping twice and landing on its side - Frank and Jared still remained inside the vehicle. 

When the tow truck driver arrived, he took one look at the pile on the asphalt that was once a truck and assumed that anyone inside was dead.

When the door to the truck was opened, they discovered that Jared and Frank were still alive. Frank walked away with only a scratch and while Jared had a severely injured hand and arm, he was safe. Somehow they had beaten the odds.

In August 2013, I received yet another phone call that would finally force me to walk in faith. Our cousin’s 8-month-old baby suddenly passed away in her sleep. This unexpected loss of a precious new life shook me out of my own comfort and when that cousin, in her grief, invited me to join her at Sandals Church, I accepted.

Initially, we were just going out of sympathy, not out of want or willingness. However, when I stepped foot in Sandals Church and started to sing with the band, I can still remember how it felt to hold back my tears. I felt God’s presence in that moment.

As each storm has wiped through our family over the years, we have had to do our best to bind together and truly rely on God’s strength to overcome. Each storm brought different obstacles into our lives, but God has been faithful to calm the waters in order to prepare us for the next storm. 

Though we were unable to see that God was the one working in those moments, we now can clearly see that it was Him all along.

Megan is now fourteen years old, and Frank and I have full custody. When Megan came out of her coma, she had to relearn how to walk and talk. Though you wouldn’t notice her disabilities by looking at her, the bullet that entered her head when she was just a little girl still remains inside to this day. She still suffers from memory issues and is mentally stuck at the level of a kindergartener. 

I struggled for a long time with the idea of forgiving Megan's shooter and held onto a lot of resentment. I can now say that I have been able to forgive the shooter with God's peace. Though I cannot forget his actions, God has given me the ability to hand over the responsibility and realize that I am not in control.

Jared was able to avoid having his arm amputated, but he has had to endure eleven surgeries, infections and other complications since the car accident. Regardless of Jared's ongoing need for surgeries, I am at peace that there is someone greater taking care of him.

Without these storms, my family would not have come to know and be part of God’s family. 

Without Sandals Church, we would have never had the opportunity to experience God's wonderful grace or hear his wonderful word. Where chaos once reigned, we now know true comfort and can appreciate the calm of the seas.

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