Eight years ago, when she was 17 years old, Jaquie Goncher broke her neck in a diving accident in a friend's pool. The injury left her paralysed from the chest down and she was told by surgeons that she would never walk again; she would instead have to use a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
But Jaquie has defied the odds and her incredible recovery has meant that she was able to walk down the aisle on her wedding day this year.
For Jaquie, though, it's no stroke of luck or her own deterimination that made it possible. The photographer from Marietta, Georgia, told Christian Today that it was really God who made it possible for her to get from wheelchair to walking down the aisle.
Her amazing recovery has blown away the doctors who treated her in the immediate aftermath of her accident and Jaquie says what's happened to her since the accident is nothing short of a miracle.
"The initial movement I got back, I credit it to God because my blood pressure was so low so I wasn't able to get out of the bed and really do anything. When the surgeon found out that I had started moving my toe [before I was even able to do therapy] he was just in shock.
"The actual healing from the very beginning when I was able to move, I totally believe is a miracle."
Although Jaquie's ability to move at all, let alone so soon after her accident, surprised medical staff, her recovery wasn't entirely without additional setbacks. One of the main obstacles to Jaquie's rehabilitation was her inability to sleep. Doctor's had given her everything they could think of to help her but nothing had worked. It wasn't until some friends from her church came and prayed with her that she experienced a surprisingly quick answer to her prayers.
An hour after they prayed, a new doctor came into her room standing in for her regular doctor and he just so happened to be a sleep specialist. He prescribed her a different pill and that night, Jaquie had her first eight hours of sleep since before the accident.
"It was incredible. It was an answered prayer immediately. I just [thought] 'Wow. God, He's just so good! And so nice and loving."
One of the most memorable developments in her journey came when she was at a ministry school called The Ramp in Alabama and one of the teachers talked about using the word of God to self-medicate. At the time, Jaquie was taking a considerable amount of medication to stabilise her blood pressure.
"I remember he said: 'Don't go throw all of your pills away, that's silly. If you need the pills, take the pills.' But he said: 'supplement that with the word of God and eventually the word of God will take over the medication' so to speak."
The teacher's words stuck with her and she made it a point to go home and read her Bible regularly until one day she forgot to take her pills and noticed something remarkable had happened.
"I realised that I was standing with no medication for over five hours and I had to take it every four hours. The next day I didn't take any and I was able to do everything as if I had it."
Jaquie had previously needed to take the pills before she got out of bed to prevent her from passing out when she stood. In Jaquie's mind there's no doubt that this improvement was another example of God's miraculous intervention.
"There have been so many specific miracles that were just God-given in this recovery. I was told that I wasn't even supposed to move anything and now I'm walking."
Jaquie attributes her faith in God with helping her get through it all but she admits there were times it did dip. One particular night as she was speaking healing scriptures over her body, she stopped and cried out to God, complaining that nothing was changing – she was still relying a lot on her wheelchair and was only able to stand for minutes at a time. In those heartbreaking moments, she asked Him where He was.
"My faith was just kind of in the dumps that night and I can remember scripture that peeped up out my spirit and it was 'every good and perfect gift comes from the Lord [James 1:17] and 'I withhold no good thing from you' [Psalm 84:11]."
She suddenly felt overjoyed and was again hopeful that God was going to heal her.
"I've had times where I was like 'forget it' and I just felt so left alone but I think that's what makes the gospel so amazing about God because he kept seeking after me even when I was running from him."
Regular Bible reading was an important part of the 25-year-old's recovery process and some passages were a source particular motivation during her journey. In addition to the healing stories of the New Testament, Isaiah 40:31 was a verse that she habitually returned to.
"It was perfect for me because my blood pressure was such an issue that I was literally always passing out and so that verse was a promise from God and if He says it, then He has to do it.
"[Jesus] healed everyone so I took that to [mean], well, if he's gonna heal everyone back then, why would he change? He doesn't change, so he's gonna heal me too."
But she also had to make some tough decisions on her road to recovery and one in particular stands out in her mind as being significant.
After listening to her pastor preach on "holiness today, miracles tomorrow", Jaquie felt an urge to go up to the altar. She was cohabiting with her then-fiance, Andy, at the time and had felt God had been telling her that this wasn't the way things should be. At the altar she resolved to do things God's way, believing that by doing so God would bless her, and so she took the step to move out the home she shared with Andy for a year and a half.
"I remember my pastor giving me a word that said that by obeying what God was saying, God was going to cause my spirit to run and my body was going to follow."
Jaquie says that Andy, who she met via a dating app in 2013, was understanding and emotionally supportive of her decision to move back in with her mum four months before they got married.
"He supported me in so many different ways...He was always there. He was very supportive about what I was doing and the choices that I was making."
Four months later, she walked down the aisle on her wedding day, something that was a surprise to friends and family and even a bit of a surprise to Jaquie herself. While she had been confident that she would be able to stand for the duration of the ceremony, she thought her blood pressure would get the better of her after that.
"I remember just being in shock that I had not only walked down the aisle, which I was positive I'd be able to do, but I stood for the entire ceremony and I genuinely was standing and dancing for practically my entire wedding. I was just blown away.
"I didn't even feel tired at all throughout the entire night. I was just so excited and enjoying the moment. And I totally believe God allowed me to have that."
Her heart-warming wedding day story has gone viral and given Jaquie a platform to share her faith and give glory to God on a global scale, but this isn't something she expected to happen the way it has - even though several people told her of dreams and visions they had had of her sharing her story and bringing many into the Kingdom.
"I've never actually seen the fullness of God's promises. Even with my healing, I'm still waiting to see that fullness of me running again. So to see how this has just gone everywhere and viral it amazes me that God does fulfil promises that He gives His children."
Jaquie is hopeful that she will regain more strength and movement in her legs but she also has hopes for others who hear her story. The main thing that she prays her story will do is enable others to see that God is faithful and trustworthy, which are just two of the things she's learned about Him herself over the years.
"I just feel like these past eight years, more than anything God has always just been so patient, loving and so merciful and gracious in this journey that I've been on."
From her family and friends to her physiotherapist and her pastor, this newlywed has benefitted from the advice and encouragement of many people as she worked with God to walk again. So it's no surprise that she has some advice of her own to pass on to anyone experiencing something similar.
"Pursue God above all else. When you just seek after who He is, He tells you what to do, He gives you what you need. And I think the biggest thing is just to persevere. You just have to keep going and keep having hope and faith that God is who He says He is...And just read the promises of God, they're yours. Take them."
Photos courtesy of Love Stories