THIS IS MY STORY—Turning Tragedy into Triumph

By on February 1, 2016
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By MARILYN TINNIN

Felicia Kent felt the blood drain from her face and her knees turn to Jello the night she got the call from her husband’s boss. This was just his fourth evening on the job. There had been an accident and Aaron had suffered a severe injury to his left leg. He would be rushed by ambulance to the hospital, and she should come quickly.

The previous weeks had been among the most difficult of their marriage. The weak economy had claimed their family business, and they were grieving that loss at the same time they were trying to make viable plans for their future. They were literally starting over.

And now this. She knew even as Aaron’s boss was still speaking that God was sovereign, that He does not make mistakes, that He would not send anything to her that did not come through the filter of His loving hands, that He is the one who works all things together for good in the lives of His children. She knew all of that, but she could not resist asking that very human question— “Why? Why this? Why now?”

MCL-Kent-CoverFelicia and Aaron were on top of the world when we featured them on our cover in October 2013. As the proprietors of the Madison eatery, “Kent’s Cajun Kitchen,” they were successful entrepreneurs with a loyal customer base and a reputation for the most delicious and authentic Louisiana cuisine in the metro area. Aside from the 5-star quality of the food, there was genuine warmth, hospitality and service that quickly turned customers into friends.

It was a sad day for many when the couple closed their doors in December 2015.

Felicia and Aaron sought comfort in their relationship with each other and their deep faith in God. It was tempting to dwell on the question, “Was it our fault or was it the fragile economy? Was it just that God has something else for us now?”

As one who had grown up in housing projects of New Orleans, Felicia was no stranger to adversity. Her life was testimony to God’s faithfulness to answer prayer and to bless those who seek him. Now, she willed herself to pray even when she did not feel like it, immersed herself in the scriptures, and asked God specifically to keep her from being bitter over the loss of that dream.

Two scriptures were written on her heart and she reminded herself of them daily. “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

The Kent’s immediate need in those first days after closing the restaurant was employment. Aaron took a temporary job at a food service company working the night shift. A freak accident on that fourth evening changed the course of his life as well as Felicia’s.

When Felicia arrived at the hospital, the doctor explained that she would have to amputate Aaron’s leg below the knee immediately in order to save his life. A few days later when he was more stable, she would go back to surgery to take the femur as well.

For the first time in weeks, Felicia says she did not have so much as a fleeting thought of the restaurant or the question of what direction to go next. She wasn’t thinking about money or bills or her next job. The only thing on her mind was the well being of her husband. Her prayers were 100% focused on Aaron’s healing.

Only 27 days after the accident, Aaron was released from UMMC and allowed to go home. Much therapy continued as he and Felicia learned to live well with their “new normal.”

“Adversity has a way of changing your perspective,” Felicia says. “All of a sudden, you know what matters most.”

Kent_4317a_8x10Reflecting on this past year’s journey, Felicia describes a deeper level of faith and trust in God than she ever had before. “I also count more blessings than I could ever have imagined. God gave us so many opportunities to turn this challenge into opportunities to witness to others. I was blessed not to have a job at the time of the accident because I was able to be with Aaron and to take care of him. Our marriage is stronger today because of what we went through together.”

Family, customers, and church family from Word of Life were constantly encouraging the Kent’s with cards, visits, and prayers. Felicia’s Facebook posts gave updates, but her hashtags always revealed a woman who was spending time in the Word every day. Instead of fear, there was strength, courage, and a faith in God’s ability to meet every need in His way and in His time. And her spirit of gratitude sparked an optimism that inspired her husband as he worked very hard to set goals and to achieve them.

Today, Felicia is the Director of Development at JSU where she raises money for scholarships for students who are facing the same obstacles that she faced as a young girl in New Orleans’ Ninth Ward. She is passionate as she shares with others her own success story. Aaron can once again drive, and he works as a Special Olympics Coordinator. He has turned that position into a personal ministry encouraging others who live with physical challenges. Felicia says, “ I look at where we are now and how far we have come. I don’t see us as having something taken away. I see that we have had something added—blessings that we might have missed.”

Her big eyes brim with tears, but she smiles as she adds, “And Aaron is still my Superman!”