FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Facing Adversity With Faith

with Sandy and Ken Calwell | July 10, 2015
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What do you want your children to know before they leave home? Ken Calwell, CEO of Papa Murphy's Pizza, joins his wife, Sandy, to talk about some of the things they wanted to teach their son before he left for college, such as how to handle adversity. Ken recalls his own brush with adversity when he was hit by a car while training for a triathlon.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • What do you want your children to know before they leave home? Ken Calwell, CEO of Papa Murphy's Pizza, joins his wife, Sandy, to talk about some of the things they wanted to teach their son before he left for college, such as how to handle adversity. Ken recalls his own brush with adversity when he was hit by a car while training for a triathlon.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Ken Calwell, joins his wife, Sandy, to talk about some of the things they wanted to teach their son before he left for college, such as how to handle adversity. Ken recalls his own brush with adversity.

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Facing Adversity With Faith

With Sandy and Ken Calwell
July 10, 2015
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Bob: Ken Calwell was a bicycling enthusiast who went out, one summer morning, for his normal ride.

Ken: I had a buddy of mine, who was riding right behind me. We just went on our morning ride. It was a 30-mile ride, and we were riding out in the country outside of Wichita. It was one of those roads that you’d only see a car every few minutes because it was so lightly-travelled—particularly at six in the morning. We were over on the right-hand side of the road, near the shoulder, and I was leading.

All of a sudden, what I saw was a car that had jerked. The woman had fallen asleep in it and jerked on the wheel, and it came across the center line. I went right into the grill, and then into the windshield of the car. You know, there were a lot of loud breaking sounds and things. Then, when it finished, I was kind of looking straight up. It was all quiet, and I’m just looking up at a beautiful Kansas blue sky.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, July 10th.



Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine.  Ken Calwell joins us today to share about the wreck, about the road to recovery, and about where God was the whole time. Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. You know, we’ve been talking this week about a mom and a dad wrestling with the decision about whether the mom stays home once the baby is born: “Do you do that?  Do you get back in the job market?  How do you make that decision?”  

Was that something you and Barbara discussed before you got married?  I mean, you were both in ministry together. Did you ever talk about how her ministry involvement might shift, once kids came along?


Dennis: You know, much like our guests on today’s broadcast, we had some general discussions—



—but not down to the specifics of how it works its way out in everyday life—I mean, FamilyLife started growing like a weed, and we started having children—

Bob: —like weeds.

Dennis: Yes, like weeds too. [Laughter] What happens is—your true core values do come out in your decisions. And for Barbara, I wanted her to primarily be focused on our home, and raising those children, and creating a sense of family, and making that the place to be. She was a magnet, in those first years—drawing me home, and drawing the kids together, and drawing our family together. I think that’s a power, that only a woman has, that needs to be exercised and needs to be focused on by women today.

And we have a couple of folks in the studio with us who, I think, agree with us—Sandy and Ken Calwell join us again. Sandy/Ken, welcome back.

Sandy: Thank you.

Ken: Thank you.

Dennis: Sandy is a mom.



She is also an author / a speaker. She, along with Ken, live in the Portland area. She has written a book called What if Parenting Is the Most Important Job in the World?   It’s subtitled, Sandy: 20 Lessons You Want to Teach Your Own Children.

I want us to get to Lesson 2 in just a moment—but when Ken walked into the studio, I could have sworn I smelled pizza as he came in here. [Laughter]  There is a reason—because Ken is the leader of Papa Murphy’s, which is known as a take-and-bake pizza. Explain what you guys do.

Ken: That’s right. We got 1,300 restaurants across the country, but it started in the Pacific Northwest. The idea is to kind of concentrate all the focus and resources on just putting the best ingredients on a pizza. You put it in your oven, and you cook it fresh for your family when you’re ready.

Bob: I can get extra cheese if I want; right?—I just want to make sure.

Ken: You absolutely can.

Bob: Because I like that cheese to just kind of clog up in my mouth; you know? [Laughter]



I mean, that’s what I want!  [Laughter]

Sandy: Clog up?!

Dennis: Not in your veins, but in your mouth.

Bob: No, in my mouth—I like chewing on that cheese.

Ken: I’m not sure if I’m going to use that in my next ad. [Laughter]

Sandy: Clog is an interesting choice of words.

Bob: [Announcer voice] “Clogs up in your mouth—Papa Murphy’s!”

Dennis: Well, Sandy, you’ve written a book that is really your heart between two covers because you’re all about being a wife and a mom and wanting to really bring a focus on raising the next generation. You made a heroic decision to go home and stay home after you were pregnant with Kasey, and you have continued to stay there.

Initially, it was a two-year commitment—you were going to kind of check it out and see how it went.

But one of the things you did in your book—and I kind of call this book a two-for because it’s really two books in one. It’s one—a book that causes, I think, women to think about the most important job they’re ever going to have in their lifetimes— 



—but, then, it’s also a great model of what every mom and, as far as that goes, dad needs to do in determining what life lessons you want to pass on.

I wanted to focus on Number 2, here, at the beginning of the broadcast. Share with our listeners what that is. Then, I want to talk about something that really has an application here—that Ken models out of his life because he’s experienced it.

Sandy: Well, Life Lesson Number 2 is “How to Handle Adversity.”  I brought that in this because—like many of the lessons that I mention—modeling is key in parenting. We can’t teach our kids anything if we’re not willing to do it ourselves, and life is not easy. There are going to be wins in your kid’s life, and there are going to be losses. You’re going to have to help them navigate how to figure their way out of those losses and make those into positives.

Fortunately, for us, we have a very strong leader in my husband.



He has a story of his own that has to do with overcoming adversity that is tremendous. So, my son has learned that about his father, very early on, and knows that is part of his character.

Bob: That story goes back to before you were married. We heard just a little bit about it already this week, but it had to do with—you were a triathlete?

Ken: That’s correct; yes.

Bob: And this was kind of a hobby for you to run, and to bike, and to swim. Did you compete in a number of triathlons?

Ken: Yes, I did. You basically start with a swim. There are varying distances, but I did the international distance. Typically, the swim would be a half-mile swim or so; and then, you get out of that and you transition to a bike. The distances I would typically do there would be about a 25-mile bike or so. Then, you jump to the run, and you’d run usually a 10K—about 6.2 miles. I would—

Bob: Now wait. You enjoyed doing this?

Ken: I did. [Laughter]

Bob: Just checking.

Sandy: He’d be doing it still, if this corporate thing—

Ken: Yes, I loved it.



So, in the mornings, basically, I’d go out on bike rides. I would bike six days a week, each morning, at around six am, before work. It was on August 8, 1991—I was in Wichita, Kansas. I got up that morning—like I had done for a couple of years, at that point, each morning—jumped on my bike and rode out to a country road that I’d ridden on, probably a thousand times before.

Sandy: You and your buddy—your training buddy.

Ken: Yes. I had a buddy of mine, who was riding right behind me. We just went out on our morning ride—it was a 30-mile ride. We were riding out in the country, outside of Wichita—


Dennis: Now, did you do that on purpose because of safety issues?

Ken: Yes. Yes, we did. This road that we had been on—it was one of those roads that you’d only see a car every few minutes because it was so lightly-traveled—particularly, at six in the morning. So, we were out there, and we were over on the right-hand side of the road, near the shoulder. I was leading; and we were going about 20/ 25 miles an hour, down that road, south of Wichita.

Cars would go on the oncoming lane and go by, and you wouldn’t really pay them much notice because you’re riding over in your lane—



—but, all of a sudden, what I saw was a car that had jerked. It was basically a car going about 50/55 miles an hour, coming the other direction. The woman had fallen asleep in it and jerked on the wheel, and it came across the center line. I took my bike and tried to jerk over into the ditch, but there wasn’t time. She was going 50/55 miles an hour towards me; and I was going 25, in the other direction. I went right into the grill and into the windshield of the car. Then, the car was going that fast—it pulled me alongside the car. I got caught under the back wheel—

Bob: Oh my!

Ken: —and drug a little bit. Then, the tire went over my right shoulder and left me on the road, on my back. I heard a lot of loud breaking sounds and things. Then, when it finished, I was kind of looking straight up. It was all quiet, and I’m just looking up at a beautiful Kansas blue sky.


Dennis: You were how old, at this point?

Ken: I was 29—29 years old.

Bob: In shock, certainly, at that point.

Ken: They said it was very interesting—they said that I never actually went into shock. I do remember lying there. I was lying there; and the first thing I thought was: “I’ve got to get out of this road. There are still cars that would be coming, eventually.”  So, I went to try to get out of the road, like you would normally do. I didn’t know what had fully happened. You go to move and neither leg moved at all. My left leg was shattered, four times below the knee—three of those were compound fractures. Then, my right femur on my leg was compound fractured. My pelvis was broken in four places. My right arm was fractured in four places, and three of those were compound fractures. I had no use of my right arm; but my left arm still worked.

I propped myself up with my left arm so I could be seen in the road. I propped myself up there as long as I could, but eventually strength gave out. When I fell back on the pavement, it was really just a pool of my own blood.



And so—

Dennis: Where was your buddy, at this point?

Ken: He was just laying probably about 10 or 15 feet away from me.

Bob: So, he’d gotten hit too.

Ken: He got hit too.

Sandy: He got flipped over the car.

Ken: Yes, I kind of went into the car and under, and he went over. We ended up only about 10 to 12 feet apart. It was interesting because I said I was in the best shape of my life. I was training for the National Championships, at the time, in triathlon. Just minutes—as I said—just seconds before, I’m in the best shape of my life; but a couple of seconds later, I can’t—

Bob: You’re in the worst shape of your life.

Ken: I can’t—I don’t even have the strength to lift my head above the pavement.

Bob: Right.

Ken: It’s at that point you say: “God’s got it. He’s always had it, but now I know it’s all Him. There’s none of me here. So, ‘What do You have for me?’”  They came out—



—there are many, many God stories in it.

One of them was that, at a very precise moment in Wichita, the EMS—they built a new EMS station—Emergency Services Station—out here in this rural part of Wichita. It had only opened like a year before that. At that very time, two different EMS squads—the one getting off and the one coming on—were there at the same time. Within minutes, they were out at the scene, and they were able to stabilize me / stabilize us and take us back to the hospital. I had nine hours of trauma surgery.

Sandy: And the driver, that was following the lady that hit you, was a nurse; right?

Ken: That’s right. Yes, the driver, following the woman that hit us, saw the whole thing happen. She was able to—no cell phones at the time—so, she went down to the corner immediately—saw what had happened, went down, and called. That’s why we had that quick medical attention.

When the two EMS folks came out and looked at me and my friend, the more-experienced of the two, who had done this a lot, looked at both of us—I was told about this later—



—but he said—pointed towards me and told his assistant, “You go ahead and find out if he has anything last to say to his relatives and things.”  He said, “And then, we’re going to have to bag him up and go take care of this other one because I think we can save the other one.”  He didn’t think I would make it.

But she came and talked to me, and I talked with her. As she was talking, she was doing my blood pressure and stuff. She yelled back, “Well, he’s talking and his blood pressure is better than I’d think.”  So, they ended up putting these pressure pants on me—they were experimenting with at the time—which pushed the blood out of your legs and your stomach to keep it in your heart and brain to keep you alive—and took me down to the hospital.

They did nine hours of surgery with a team, and I came to. Then, I was in intensive care for seven days. On the seventh day, August 15th—my condition, each day, kind of got worse as the—



—you think you’re out of it. You think, “Okay, I survived that.”  But on that seventh day, my condition continued to drop—the oxygen content of my blood and things—because your body is trying to absorb all that trauma.

It was late that day. All of a sudden, they stationed a surgical intensive care nurse in my room with me who was talking to me constantly and asking how things were. There was a point there where they even thought that they would lose me again. My condition dropped so much; but they stabilized me, again, that evening. When they left my room, the nurse was telling me—you know, she goes: “You are really”—I was a pretty optimistic person—but she was saying, “Things are pretty rough.” 

So, that night—it was interesting—because I was raised in a Christian home, we had always, before we went to bed every night, said the Lord’s Prayer. As the room got quiet—and I’m in there about seven o’clock at night—I just started—

Sandy: And you can’t sleep because of the pain; right?

Ken: Yes. The challenging thing, too, with that is—



—over the period of seven days, you just didn’t sleep. The pain—they really can’t quite take care of that kind of pain. So, you just are in and out for nights/days and things like that. So, that night, I started—and I just started the Lord’s Prayer. I just started saying the Lord’s Prayer, like I had done a million times before.

You get to things like, “Thy will be done,” and I just hung out there for a second on “Thy will be done”—“Boy, God, what is Your will?  Where are You taking me?  Where are we going on this?”  All of a sudden, I looked up. The sun was coming up, and I realized that I had said these kind of rote prayers my whole life; but, at that point, I was still praying that same prayer, and I felt the presence of God being right with me. As the sun came up, I realized I’d been praying all night. I’d always been told and taught that Jesus loved me—



—but I think that was the morning I would say that I knew that Jesus loved me and He was with me through all of this.

I could tell you, from that point forward—that next morning, I said: “Well, this is the toughest point right here; and every minute after this minute is going to be a better minute. Every hour is going to be a better hour. Every day is going to be a better day. Every year is going to be a better year. My dreams are bigger than anything that has ever happened in the past. We’ve got to / we are going to—I’m going to pray about this and see where God takes it.”

What I feel blessed with, now, is that He was—God was so gracious to me through all that. I can’t even tell you how—I mean, I was told that I was going to lose my left leg, below the knee. I was told that my right arm—it was very sketchy whether—very low probability that I would get the use of it back again. With lots of prayer, five months later, I learned I was keeping my left leg. A little later than that—a year later—I learned that I was going to be able to use my right arm again, and learn to walk again, and learn to run again.



God has just been so gracious and given me gifts beyond anything that I can imagine. Honestly, I look back on it, and I really believe that He gave me a softer heart. I have a much stronger relationship with Christ and see His work in everything that happens. Sandy came, as a gift, a few years later; and Kasey came, as a gift, a couple of years after that.

And I do—I look back now and you almost say, “The accident was a gift.”  It’s an opportunity, when that comes along, to be faithful and to just trust God—trust Him that He doesn’t make mistakes. This all happened for a reason. You’ve just got to figure out what that reason is—and I’m still trying to figure out what that reason is.

Bob: Your body today—still reminders of the accident?

Ken: Yes, I still have a steel rod in my left leg. I still have a steel plate and 12 screws in my right arm, but I—



Sandy: —and a few scars.

Ken: A few scars, yes—“chick-stick scars”; right?  [Laughter] But—

Bob: Can you tell when the weather is changing?

Ken: A little bit. A little bit, yes—some tougher days. But you know, it just doesn’t compare with the pain back then—so, to me, it’s all been a gift.

One of my prayers, when I was in the hospital, was that I would be able to run again, and bike again, and swim again—and more importantly than that, I knew I was going to be a father someday. I wanted to be able to swim with my son, run with my son, and bike with him. So, I get out there with Kasey—just a month or so ago—for a big run around the lake. I’m just practically crying out there that I’m able to go run—not very fast anymore. He’s beaten me, bad, but just to be out there with him—God is good. God is very good.

Dennis: When I was reading your book, Sandy, and I saw this—



—“Life Lesson Number 2: How to Handle Adversity”—you guys are very much kindred spirits with Barbara and me because, if you live long enough, you’re going to have adversity.

Ken: Absolutely.

Dennis: You’ve got to know how to handle it, you’ve got to know how to process it, and you’ve got to think rightly about who God is and what your assignment is. There were two things that came to mind as you were sharing. Psalm 71, verse 17, “Oh God, from my youth You have taught me, and I still proclaim Your wondrous deeds.”

Ken: Yes; amen.

Dennis: He called us to that. The other thing that came to my mind—I’ll show you guys this—I really don’t show it to a lot of people.

Ken: Oh, wow!

Dennis: [Emotion in voice] You’ll see the footprints of my granddaughter, who lived seven days—



—and the valley—you can see a lot better from the valley. That’s what you’re talking about with your helmet. That represents the life lessons of those dark moments that you would never choose. I mean, you would never have chosen to hit that car—

Ken: That’s exactly right.

Dennis: —but on the other side of it, there is a purpose. It does display the splendor of His love and what He’s about in our lives and our family.

Sandy, I just want to commend you—not only for being a hero and making the decision to stay at home and care for Kasey and be a mom, and make that choice as one who had been a career woman—but also, of really taking moms and dads into the intimate places of your family and talking about “What are you trying to teach to the next generation?” 


As I finished up your book, I thought,  “You know, the real challenge for every listener, after hearing your story this week, is to take some time and say, ‘What are my life lessons?’ because every family has got a context.” That is part of why I wanted them to hear your story, Ken and Sandy, because the context of your lives is a dramatic story of that accident that you brought into your marriage and into your family. There’s a reason why it’s number two on your life lessons. It is an important lesson to teach our kids—how you handle adversity. I want to thank you both for living it and for being here with us on FamilyLife Today.

Sandy: Thank you.

Ken: Thank you, Dennis.

Sandy: It’s been a blessing.

Bob: You know, there is something about the kind of adversity that you guys have gone through that I think helps clarify what really matters in life.



I have to think that—when you faced the decision about what you were going to do, once you had a son—looking back on the value of life was one of the factors that contributed to what you ultimately decided to do. I mention that because Sandy has, of course, written a book called What if Parenting Is the Most Important Job in the World? 

It’s a book that we’ve talked about this week, and we have copies in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. If you go, online, at and you click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER,” you’ll see a copy of Sandy’s book available there. You can order it from FamilyLife Today, online, if you’d like. Again, our website is The book is called What if Parenting Is the Most Important Job in the World?  If you’d prefer to order your copy of the book by phone, you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”



You know, we are in the middle of the year—we just passed the midpoint for 2015. Feels like the year is flying by; and I think part of the reason for that is the number of things that are happening, here at FamilyLife, as we look toward the future—some of the events we have scheduled that we’ll be telling you more about as we head into fall / some of the new resources that are being developed—there is just a lot going on, here at FamilyLife.

Our commitment is to continue to provide you with practical, biblical, authentic help and hope for your marriage and for your family. More than anything, we want to see your family grow in godliness. We want you, as individuals / as couples, and as a family unit, to all be growing in your love for Christ and your obedience to Him. Now, we are joined in this mission by folks, all across the country, who say, “Not only do I believe in what FamilyLife is doing, but Family Life has had that kind of an impact in my life,”—



—maybe, you’ve been to a Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway or you’ve used our resources. Maybe, you’re just a regular FamilyLife Today listener; and God has used this program in your life in some significant ways.

We’re grateful for the part you play when you join with us as a financial contributor to this ministry, either as a Legacy Partner or as someone who makes a donation, from time to time. We’re always grateful to hear from you. In fact, you can make a donation online today by going to Click the link in the upper right-hand corner of the screen that says, “I CARE,” to make an online donation; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to make your donation over the phone. Or you can mail a donation to us. Our mailing address is FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR. And our zip code is 72223.

And with that, we hope you have a great weekend.



Hope you and your family are able to worship together in church this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday when we are going to meet a couple whose marriage fell apart, early on. In fact, this couple stayed separated for almost a decade until God brought them back together. It’s a pretty remarkable story. You’ll meet Clint and Penny Bragg on Monday. I hope you can be here for that.

I’d like to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

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