CBN.com“All the top guys have their specialties, and I guess mine probably would be the get-off -- getting off your horse. That’s quite a rush. Horses run anywhere from 15-25 miles per hour. You’re getting off going that fast. That to me has always been the exciting part.”
But seven to eight years into his professional career, when Stran Smith was at the top of his game, he almost lost it all.
“I was standing talking to a guy who was working for me,” Stan recalls. “Right before I was fixin’ to start practicing, and while I was talking, I slurred a word. I asked him, “Does it sound like I’m having a hard time talking?’ He said no, so I tried to repeat that but nothing would come out.”
His wife, Jennifer, tellsThe 700 Club, “Initially, they either thought it was MS, a brain tumor or a very bad migraine or a stroke. After testing, they found a blood clot. Then it was finding out how a 32-year-old man had a stroke.”
“I had a hole in my heart,” Stan says. “It’s called a PFO. The two chambers of my heart had never sealed over.”
A doctor explained exactly how this would affect Stran’s health and his career. “’The good news is you’re going to be able to live a long, happy normal life.’ I’m like, ‘Thank You, Lord.’ I just wanted to know that I was going to be there for my little boy to be born.”
His wife was five months pregnant at the time with their first child.
“He said, ‘But [life] as you know it is going to be over. We’re going to put you on medication, blood thinners, and your career – you’ll have to give it up. So, any kind of accident at all, you could bleed to death.’ So pretty much the only think I could do was stand around and water my grass. I’m not much of a farmer, because my grass never did grow.”
But his faith in God did.
Stran says, “There was so much uncertainly. I remember how the Bible just came to life for me and how I could see things that I had read about many times before and how they were connected. I got so much peace. It was an unbelievable place for me. In that time of my life, I feel like I learned and gained more than any other time.”
“I knew the Lord was going to take care of us,” Jennifer says, “but it was an opportunity to just do what He says. ‘Hush, be still and know that I am God.’”
The couple prayed together about everything and decided that experimental surgery was the best option for Stran.
Stran says, “It wasn’t FDA-approved. What they do is they go up through the artery in your leg and put more or less what I call a patch on a tire.”
The surgery would include risks, but Stran was up for the challenge, even if it cost him his life. He had a theory on death.
“You’re really not ready to live until you’re ready to die,” Stan says. “When you look at death and you know this could happen, you’ve reached that place where you say, ‘Hey, if it is my turn and that door closes, then I want it to?’ Then you’ve started to arrive and put things in perspective.”
That’s what Stran did. Fortunately for Jennifer and the baby in her womb, the surgery went perfectly.
“I’m completely 100% healed and healthy,” Stan says. “I started back rodeoing in about two months from the procedure. It just went from me having everything taken away to everything just here. It is back. I’m actually healthier today than I’ve ever been.”
Today, Stran and Jennifer have two sons: Stone and Scout. And just this last year, Stran became the world champion of tie-down ropers at NFR – the world series of rodeos.
Jennifer says, “I have never been more proud of someone than I am of my husband and how he always, always looks to the Lord for direction.”
“Everything I’ve accomplished, I’ve accomplished through blood, sweat and tears,” Stan says, “but most importantly on my knees before God. I want to be that guy that’s not about me. It’s just what Christ has done through me, because I stepped out of the way and let Him work. He works in all things. He doesn’t work in a few things, not most things. He works in all things!”
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