When we pledge to spend the rest of our lives with someone, we never fully know all that’s going to entail. We promise for better or worse, while our heads are in the clouds and all we can see are sunny skies ahead. We hope our better moments win out over our worse moments at the end of our journey and honestly can’t imagine it any other way.
Wes & Jen’s love story began in 2002 as a young couple (unbeknownst to them) on the verge of spending the rest of their lives together. It wasn’t long into their dating relationship when Wes revealed that he had Cystic Fibrosis, a deadly disease that renders the lungs useless.
Wes’s family had already experienced the devastation CF could unleash when his little sister, Lindsey, died from it at the tender age of 12 while waiting for a lung transplant. Not an easy thing to share with someone when you are just trying to have a lighthearted date night. But when you live with a disease like CF, the list of difficult things you have to face on a regular basis is pretty long.
Standing outside of an Olive Garden, Wes shared the news with Jen. He knew full well that this was the point where previous girls had closed down budding relationships with him. Wes knew it was asking a lot to walk along side someone with this disease. He prayed the Lord would one day bring a girl into his life that could see the blessings in the struggle, a girl who would see him as more than the disease he battled.
Jen was that kind of girl. In fact, she knew what it meant to live with someone with a debilitating disease because her dad has MS. Jen’s mother was a tremendous model of staying and living out in the day to day a life of faithful service to her family. She did not fear pain because it has a purifying power to bring the strongest and best out in a person if they would allow it.
It broke Jen’s heart to learn that girls had walked away at this point because all they saw was a disease and not the man Wes was. Girls could only see their dreams of happily ever after shattered before the dream had even begun; so they walked away. Could it be possible that happily ever after looks very different than we all imagined as little girls? Perhaps true happiness is found in the bowels of the very situations we would naturally want to run from in life?
When deciding what her response to Wes’s revelation would be, Jen told me that she had one immediate thought—‘…the biggest influence on my life has been my mom. Who wouldn’t want to be as strong as she is? She did it and so can I.’ (Kudos mom for modeling such amazing grace that you have now passed on as a heritage to your daughter!)
Wow, incredible wisdom and insight from such a young woman! That insight led Jen to pledge her life to Wes in 2007, after 5 years of dating. Just two years into their marriage, Jen had a health crisis that required her to have brain surgery. Her recovery was incorporated into the daily regimen of treatments Wes required to keep his lungs open. In many ways, adversity has always been a part of Wes and Jen’s relationship, making them stronger than they ever imagined they could be.
In 2012 Wes’s health began to decline and a series of infections left his lungs functioning at only 25% their capacity. A year later, his lung function dropped to 17% and this made him an active candidate for a lung transplant. Wes’s physical limitations really began to set in and Jen stepped in to be the load bearer for them both.
January of last year, Wes received a call about a potential donor and they set off to the hospital to prepare for surgery. The next day, surrounded by a host of prayer warriors, Wes received a double lung transplant. His diseased and failing lungs were removed and replaced with a healthy pair. That blows me away…life from death. Even more amazing is that he only required a ventilator to assist him with breathing via these new lungs for one day! Only a day after his surgery he was also able to stand up very briefly!
Completing the surgery was just one step in a very long recovery process that continues even today. The silent question that seemed to lurk below every conversation was, ‘will Wes’s body reject these lungs?’ Wes and Jen chose to live in the present and gave the Lord thanks for His provision. They understood the wisdom Jesus shared, “Who of you by worrying can add one hour to your life?” They chose to trust in Him rather than themselves and found strength renewed.
Instead of being sunk by the worries that could crush a soul, Wes focused on recuperating in the hospital while Jen prepared their home for the post-transplant lifestyle that awaited them. Wes was discharged just 10 days after his surgery and Jen stayed by his side while he continued his recovery at home. She coordinated family members to be with Wes when she could not.
One month after the surgery they took their first walk around the neighborhood together. Jen took the lead and assisted Wes with physical therapy. This enabled him to take the leap from a lap around the neighborhood to running a 5k race just 5 months later! From 17% lung capacity to double transplant surgery to running a 5k race in the course of 5 months!!!
The month after that race, Wes saw a post on my Facebook business page. I was gifting an Unveil your Cinderella portrait session with a print credit to a special woman. I asked followers to nominate someone they loved and felt should be honored. Wes nominated Jen in this moving tribute:
“I would like to nominate my wife and best friend, Jennifer Scott. Jen has demonstrated resilience in spite of adversity, rising up to overcome health challenges. She is and always will be a fighter, as demonstrated when fully recovering from a brain surgery in less than two months.
She loves her family fiercely, and is an amazing aunt to niece and nephew, Emma and Zach. Dedicated to her career, she is one of the hardest workers I know.
And her compassion and thoroughness as a caregiver leaves little to be desired. During recovery from my double lung transplant she was my most reliable patient advocate, and when home, was by my side as often as possible, keeping our household running smoothly.
It is difficult to articulate my level of admiration in her character, and how her faith has tempered the attributes of such a strong woman.
The past couple years have left little time or resources for her to pamper herself. This is an incredible offer for whatever deserving woman wins, but it would be incredible for my wife to feel as beautiful as I see her every day.”
So on this day we celebrate Wes’s current lung health functioning at over 90% with no transplant-related health complications. We celebrate the family who said ‘yes’ to organ donation and chose to link lives with the Scotts. We celebrate women who chose to stay and then to serve when walking away would be easier. We celebrate Wes and Jen’s moms who have modeled devotion and faith in their journeys that could have easily sunk them. We celebrate Wes & Jen who cling to each other through every challenge life presents them and are choosing daily to be made better and not bitter by their journey of faith to know the Lord every step of the way.