Rural Route Heroes: Part 2


Deacon’s meetings are usually memorable for all the wrong reasons.  Not so at Cottage Grove.  Our deacon’s are men who love God and serve their Church diligently.  On September 7, 2008 I met with our deacons as I always do on the first Sunday of the month.  As usual we joked around, conducted business, and then prayed together.  This deacon’s meeting stands out in my mind, not because of the business that we conducted or the jokes that were told but because it was the last time that I would verbally talk to Payton Bullock for another 3 months.

If you have read this blog before you are familiar with his story.  I just could not leave Payton and his wife Stacy off my list of Rural Route Heroes.  On Monday, September 8, Payton ate breakfast, got in his pick-up-truck, and drove 5 miles to Kevin Bomar’s (Payton’s best friend) house to pick up a tractor trailer full of grain.  Once there, he got out of his pick up but never made it to the cab of the Semi.  We wouldn’t know for another several hours that he had a massive brain stem stroke. For the next ten minutes Payton, whose sight was impaired by the stroke, laid on the ground trying to see the numbers on his cell phone in order to call his wife Stacy.

Stacy rushed to the scene, picked Payton up, and took him to the E.R. where he drifted in and out of consciousness for a few hours.  Payton ended up at Jackson Madison County General Hospital where he was finally diagnosed correctly.  I visited with them on Tuesday and felt confident in his recovery because Stacy and the rest of the family believed that things were turning around.  I got that phone call that all pastors dread around 1:00 A.M. on Wednesday morning.  I was told that Payton had taken a terrible turn and that Payton wasn’t expected to live through the next couple of hours.

We would later learn from Payton that he remembered every conversation and every agonizing moment that occurred during that Wednesday morning.  He remembered that breathing felt like drowning.  He remembered trying to talk but not being able to speak and how frustrating that was.  He remembered the conversations going on around him about his life and death struggle and how frightening that was.  As a last resort Stacy made the heart wrenching decision to put her 31 year old husband on life support.  The combination of drug induced coma and the breathing tube helped stabilize the situation but the next few hours were very touch and go. . . so we prayed.

I began to notice something in Stacy through those early morning hours.  The more critical Payton became the more resilient she became.  Everyone else around her was falling apart but she was busy.  She was busy talking to God, talking to doctors, and talking to Payton.  With every bit of bad news she ratcheted her game up a notch.  She believed that Payton was going to make it.  She knew her husband better than anyone else in the hospital and she had not lost faith in God or Payton.  She remembered the one thing that most of us had forgotten.  She remembered that God decides the issue of life and death.  She also remembered that Payton was a stubborn, strong willed, go down swinging farmer.

Payton was fighting.  Payton was Praying.  Payton, to our amazement, was recovering one little bit at a time.  He began to communicate by blinking.  He graduated to spelling  words with a letter board.  He began to whisper and “mouth” words.   Then he began to speak by blowing enough air over his breathing tube so that we could hear him.  Payton began to practice, by himself, moving fingers and limbs.  The Shepherd’s Center in Atlanta saw how determined Payton was and how committed Stacy was so they invited them to participate in Shepherd’s world renowned physical therapy program.  At Shepherd Payton and Stacy got the encouragement they needed to continue the fight.  Today Payton is talking and has more movement than anyone believed possible on September 10, 2008. . . . everyone except for Payton and Stacy that is.

They continue to encourage the rest of us with their full faith in God.  Payton’s insurance didn’t pay for a motorized wheel chair that he needs so they prayed.  In one week the company that makes the chair decided to give it to him.  With that need taken care of they are now praying for a van with a wheelchair ramp.  They believe God will provide just as He has provided for them time after time.  Stacy and Payton are coming home on February 28 almost 6 months after the stroke.  Some people would say that they have lost 6 months.  They would say that they have gained a new appreciation for God, each other, and life in general.

They have become two of my rural route heroes.  Heroes, not because Payton survived, but because he persevered.  Payton kept the faith.  He never lost sight of the fact that he was in God’s hands, live or die.  He was able, with God’s help, to transition from farmer on 9-8-08 to a full time recovery program on 9-9-08.   Stacy is my hero, not because she “stood by her man”, but because she stood on the firm foundation of God’s Word.  She allowed God to help her transition from house wife on 9-8-08  to coach and physical therapist on 9-9-08.  She is Payton’s greatest cheerleader.  Their roles will, undoubtedly, change again.  Payton and Stacy will be ready for the next challenge  and they will be confident that God is leading them to a good place.

Published in: on February 16, 2009 at 3:40 pm  Comments (4)  


  1. I am so thankful that we were able to meet them at the New Years party that we attended. I really like your concluding paragraph. Perseverance not survival is what makes them heroes!!

  2. An awesome story. Inspiring and uplifting.

  3. I met Payton and Stacey when they were in college with my son Michael at Murray State. They are indeed a special young couple. Go Payton and show everyone how strong you really are!

  4. […] home yesterday after being away from us for 6 months.  You can read about their story here and  here. We sang Victory in Jesus and the words seemed to take on new meaning.  James 1:2-4 took on an […]

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