facebook twitter instagram linkedin google youtube vimeo tumblr yelp rss email podcast phone blog search brokercheck brokercheck Play Pause
Stephany Bening Shares Her Remarkable Story of Faith and Forgiveness Thumbnail

Stephany Bening Shares Her Remarkable Story of Faith and Forgiveness

The power of the human spirit. Resilience. Forgiveness. Advocacy. Redemption. Character. Faith.

These are just some of the words that came to mind when I reflected on our guest today, Stephany Bening, and the incredible story that she shares on this episode. Stephany and her children suffered a wrenching loss. But, guided by her faith, Stephany was able to turn that experience into a force for good that, hopefully, will make Missouri a lot safer and a little kinder for years to come.

"Mom? Who's going to take care of us now that daddy's gone?"

Stephany met Mike Bening when he came into her church looking for a place to do community service. He was a successful engineer at Black & Veatch and, in Stephany's words, "the ultimate family guy."

On May 13, 2021, Mike and his daughter were on their way to a weekend of camping and fishing when a distracted driver struck and killed Mike as he was clearing something from the roadside. "All of a sudden my phone's ringing, and it's my daughter," Stephany remembers. "And she says to me, 'Mom, Dad's not coming back. I need you to get here.'"

Stephany and her son rushed to the scene of the accident. "My daughter's first words to me were, 'Who's going to take care of us now that daddy's gone?’” Stephany says. "I was a stay-at-home mom. And I just looked at her and said, 'I don't know.' My son was six at the time, and he said, 'Who's going to teach us to drive a jon boat?' And I just looked at him and I'm like, 'Guys, I don't know.' And at that point I started telling the officers on the scene about Jesus. If my husband is going to die, we're going to make sure that when he is in heaven, there are so many people that are going to tell him that I'm here today because your wife and your kids pointed us to Jesus. That was the start of the day that completely changed my life."

"Can I give you a hug?"

Stephany relied on her faith to guide her through the difficult process of settling Mike's estate and putting her family's life back together.

"One thing I told God was, I don't want to be 70 and still dealing with repercussions of things that I should have dealt with at 39 when all this happened," Stephany says. "My kids kept me going. Having a six-year-old and an eight-year-old, your life can't completely stop. I remember thinking, I don't want my kids to remember me as just being a mom lying in bed, crying all the time. And I just kept telling my kids, ‘Guys, I don't know how we're going to do it, but I believe God is going to use our story to change the world.’ And my goal is for you guys to not be raised as victims, but to be raised as victors, because the world has enough victims and victims don't accomplish anything. All they do is bring the world down. Whereas victors are ones that rise above the circumstance and say, ‘You know what? It really stinks that this happened to us, but we have seen God in a way that we would have never seen him had we not walked through this.’"

The woman who killed Mike was a pregnant 25-year-old who admitted to the police that she had been using her phone at the time of the accident. At her sentencing, Mike's sister testified to all the pain and loss that the family was suffering. Then Stephany spoke to the judge.

She said, "I just want her to know that my kids and I hold nothing against her, and we've been praying for her and her household to know Jesus if they haven't. My kids and I forgive her. And I turned around and she's sitting next to her attorney. And I just looked at her and I said, 'Can I hug you?' And I got to walk over and hug the gal who killed Mike. It was the most powerful moment of forgiveness I have ever experienced in my life. And I just remember looking around the courtroom and thinking, no one's going to leave here the same because forgiveness is such a powerful tool that we can give people. But in our society and in our life, we want to hold grudges and hold things against people. But like I told her, this was a true accident. She wasn't paying attention, but you know what? How many times have I been driving, and I might not be a hundred percent engaged in the road? So, it was just a powerful moment."

As Stephany worked through the arduous process of settling Mike's estate and working through her own grief, she was in regular contact with local authorities. Through their conversations, she learned that Missouri was one of only two states that did not have hands-free cellphone laws. So, she started working with advocacy groups and visiting with lawmakers to tell them her story. The “Siddens Bening Hands Free Law” was passed in Missouri almost two years to the day after Mike's death.

"I can sleep at night."

Like many engineers, Mike was a detail-oriented person who planned ahead. He made sure that Stephany knew how the family's finances were organized and had arranged for their security in the event of his untimely passing. At Mike's funeral service, one of his coworkers suggested that Stephany call Keen Wealth for some guidance on how to manage his estate, especially the life insurance and Social Security survivor's benefits she would be receiving.

"I've known a lot of widows who have gotten a large chunk of money, and it is gone within a couple of years," Stephany says. "My brother, my dad, and I came into Keen Wealth, and it was the most amazing meeting ever. And honestly, finding Keen Wealth has been the greatest blessing of my life. I can sleep at night and I'm not worried about 10 years down the road. I love that it's not just a financial group, but it is more like, 'We want to partner with you. We want to do life with you. We know that there are times that life is hard and the reasons why you might be here aren't exactly the ideal reasons.' You guys are like a family in so many ways."

I'm so proud that Keen Wealth has played a small part in Stephany's inspiring story. And I hope folks really take in the totality of what that story has to teach us. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. We have to be ready emotionally, spiritually, and yes, financially for whatever comes our way.

"Let's just take a moment and evaluate our lives and ask, 'Am I living a forgiving kind of life?'" says Stephany. "And, 'Am I living the best life that I can live?' Because life is short. I don't know about you, but I want to make every single day count because it's worth it." 

About Bill

Bill Keen is a financial advisor with over 30 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he focuses on providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.

KWMG, LLC’s dba Keen Wealth Advisors (“company”) is an SEC Registered Investment Advisor located in Overland Park, KS. The company and its representatives may only conduct business in those states where registered or where excluded/exempt or from licensure. For registration information please contact the SEC or the state securities regulators for the states where the company is notice filed. A copy of the company ADV is available upon request. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where the company and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered by the company unless a client service agreement is in place. This information is not intended to be investment advice or construed as a recommendation or endorsement of any particular investment or investment strategy and is for illustrative purposes only. Clients and prospective clients must consider all relevant risk factors involved with each strategy, including costs or fees, and their own personal financial situations before trading.

The views outlined in the book, Keen on Retirement Engineering the Second Half of Your Life, are those of the author and should not be construed as individualized or personalized investment advice. Any economic and/or performance information cited is historical and not indicative of future results. Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted.

The Amazon Best Seller ranking listed on marketing materials is specifically referring to Best Seller rankings for the Kindle Top 100 Paid Lists under the subcategories of: Budgeting and Financial Risk Management, based on data as of September 5, 2019 and the second edition under Financial Risk Management on October 26, 2022. Amazon rankings although relevant on how a product is selling overall doesn’t necessarily indicate how well an item is selling among other similar items or similar item categories. Amazon may choose the most popular categories or subcategories within which an item has a high ranking to determine its best seller rankings. These rankings are updated hourly and as a result, should be expected to fluctuate as such. Keen Wealth Advisors and Amazon are not affiliated entities. 

Stephany Bening is a client of Keen Wealth Advisors. The client provided this testimonial without solicitation. The client did not receive any cash or non-cash compensation for this testimonial. Client testimonials are unique and are not representative of all client situations.

The Steve Sanduski Advisor Network, Belay Advisor, LLC and other third-party contributors to our blogs and podcasts are not affiliated with Keen Wealth Advisors.

For additional details on Keen Wealth Advisors, please visit https://www.keenwealthadvisors.com/important-disclosures.


Schedule a Complimentary 15 Minute Strategy Call

Schedule a Time