Chris and I lived in Radford, VA for the first 5 years of our marriage. This past January, we moved to Murphy, NC. Why Murphy?? Where is Murphy?? Does anyone else actually live in Murphy?? Well, Murphy is in the very South west tip of NC, we're 3 minutes from GA and 20 minutes from TN. It's a small mountain town, but a really nice place to live. But why did WE move here?? When Chris was injured and still in the hospital on a ventilator at the age of 20 his mom called every church in the phonebook (literally) asking them to send a pastor to talk to Chris. He kicked every single pastor out of his room on the first visit except one, Brian Saraney. He remembers Brian walking into his room while he was watching a baseball game, and asking if he could watch it with him. For 2 weeks Brian came everyday and just hung out with Chris, no deep conversations, no advice, just watching games together and talking about sports. After 2 weeks Brian got up to leave, paused, and said, "Do you mind if I ask you a question." Chris knew this was the beginning of the end.....he "knew" he was gonna start talking about God and give him all this advice about what he should or shouldn't be thinking, feeling, or doing right now. But he said, "Go ahead." anyway. Brian said, "Well, you know I'm a pastor, right? What do you think about all this, your accident, this situation of being paralyzed, God?" Chris says he was the first person to ask HIM what He thought instead of telling him what he SHOULD think. So Chris said, "Have a seat." And they began to talk. Brian continued to visit Chris several times/week in that hospital. Then he came weekly when Chris was in a different rehab center, 45 minutes away. Then he even visited him after that rehab at his mom's house, 4 hours away. After Chris went back to school, he and Brian lost contact. When Chris eventually became a christian 1 1/2 years later he tried to find Brian, but he'd moved and the old church didn't have any information to pass on.
About a year ago Chris was having a hard time, not feeling peaceful or settled about his life, and he asked God for some direction, clear direction. Immediately the phone rang and it was Brian Saraney.......after 8 years......Brian Saraney. What's funny is how Brian found Chris. Brian had moved to Murphy, NC a year prior to start a church. While the church was still just beginning he got a job as the drug and alcohol representative for the school system. He was doing a search for drug and alcohol speakers and the first name to pop up was Chris Skinner. He thought to himself, "Surely this can't be the SAME Chris Skinner." But of course it was. They began to talk weekly and then several times/week about God and life and the bible. Chris was learning a lot from him and said he'd love to be able to learn from a person like Brian. After visiting Brian this past summer, we started to ask God if we should move down to Murphy for Chris to get that opportunity. And the answer seemed to be yes.......everytime Chris opened his bible he read something about "Going, moving, following God's lead", every sermon he listened to happened to talk about taking steps of faith even when it means leaving what is comfortable, every conversation he had with friends (when the topic was something totally different) the overall message was to follow God to new places. And so, we gathered our data, prayed some more, and decided we should move. So here we are. I believe we did the right thing. I definitely do. If for no other reason than for me to learn to trust and follow Chris and for Chris to learn that I will trust and follow him. We've had to meet people, find a nanny for the kids so that I can return to work, find nursing care for Chris so that he can get up in the morning when I go to work. But we've done it. We've survived. Even though it was convenient in Radford and I always thought that because of the support system we had there we'd always stay, God led us to take a step of faith and trust Him to provide our needs. And He has.
It's not easy. Sometimes it's hard. Sometimes it's lonely. At times I'm tired. At times I don't feel like I'm keeping up. But we're learning to rely more on each other and more on God to fill the void of the friends and the help that we left behind. It's led to many deep discussions, many compromises, many situations where we have a choice to come together as a team or be frustrated or mad at each other. But through it all I can honestly say that I am so blessed to have Chris as my husband. He fights for our relationship to work, he fights to be the love of my life, day after day. He fights for our love to not grow cold or old or become a habit. His fight causes me to soften my heart and love him more, cherish him more, respect him more, adore him more......and for that, I thank my God. Thank you for bringing Chris into my life and for giving him such a commitment in his heart to me, I am truly blessed. Truly.