Saturday, January 31, 2009

Until The Last Moment

“My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow me” - John 10:27

I’ve been sitting in front of the dwindling fire in the fireplace for the past hour. I stare at it and look over at the empty couch. Johnny has been sleeping on and off all day….mostly on. He finally gave up and went upstairs to bed. I don’t know how much longer he will be able to make it up the steps. He takes a few steps at a time and must rest before he continues up. We have 16 stairs. When he gets to the top he is exhausted.

I’ve tried to get him to start sleeping downstairs – but he is such a fighter. He won’t give up until he just can’t do it anymore – till he has fought with all his might. He has always been a good card player. He knows when to “hold em” and when to “fold em.” He also knows when to walk away. This week he walked away from the chemo and told the doctor – “no more.”

He weighed in about 145lbs and has never recovered from the devastating effects of the last chemo. He hasn’t eaten more than a handful daily in weeks. He threw up the night before the scheduled chemo. He walked out of the bathroom and told me “that’s it – let’s talk about hospice.”

I’ve been trying to broach the subject for weeks. But he would hold up his hand and forbid me to mention it, “don’t take away my hope” he would say. I couldn’t make him understand all the positive benefits of the improvements in his quality of life. Then “a God thing” happened when his friend Chuck came to visit one day.

In the course of a conversation they had, Chuck started relating his own experiences with hospice when his dad was sick. Something about hearing it from another man made Johnny listen. That began the process of Johnny’s mind being receptive to getting help in a different way.

And so this week Hospice came to the house and we began the process of setting up services here at home. They are wonderful. He is now getting a whole new level of medical attention that really gives us the security of someone “having our back” on a 24/7 basis. We have an assigned nurse. They handle all the medications from here on. He has instant access to doctors on call. New meds arrived on our doorstep within an hour of his assessment.

A shower chair arrived the next day. An aide is on call when he needs assistance of any kind doing daily activities. Counselors and pastors are available. Folks, this is medical care as it should be. Compassion combined with the philosophy that the patient’s best interest is their only interest.

There has been a flurry of activity going on the last few days that has exhausted Johnny. I think he has found a new peace in the process of letting go and giving up the chemo fight. He has been sleeping constantly as if finally allowing himself to relax. He is on a new medication regimen targeting his nausea first. But he still hardly eats.

I suddenly realize that this week has exhausted me also. But it is more than physical. I know my spirit took flight this week to help him fly. I feel as if spiritually, I have been with him on his journey trying to help him over this big hurdle. I’ve been holding his hand when I need to spiritually, and carrying him on my shoulders when he can’t go further. These are the moments our spirits came together as one.

I have not been able to write this week. My mind has been blank because my spirit was not present – it was with Johnny walking through the valley….trying to follow our Shepherd in a place we have never been. I have had to lead Johnny for the first time.

I’ve been holding our wedding picture clutched to my heart as I’ve stared at the fire tonight. It’s my favorite wedding picture. We had just turned around and were walking hand and hand towards our unknown future for the first time as man and wife. Johnny was leading the way.

Tonight, I felt so alone. He didn’t even finish watching the fire die out like he always does. Even when he was still there it’s like he wasn’t there. The man that now lays on the couch is not the same Johnny I have known for 33 years. He is a fragile shell of the old Johnny, whose zest for living and laughing and loving life to the fullest, always made our world an adventure.

There are many seasons that love travels through. I was not expecting this one for a few more decades. But here it is. It’s “baptism by fire.” Walking through this valley is indescribable. It really is like a fog you can’t see through. All we can do is listen for “the shepherd’s voice” calling out to us and guiding us through to the other side of the valley towards the light.

And so we walk – one day at a time – step by step – walking through fear, walking through uncertainty, walking through pain – and clinging to the peace that surpasses all understanding. God tells us “I know my sheep and am known by My own. We follow in faith because we know that all is well….no matter the circumstances….because we are loved, we are watched over….and we are together…….now and forever….until the last moment.

Beautiful Blessings,


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Keeping Your Faith When God Says "no."

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding" - Proverbs 3:5

Do you ever wonder why you don’t get some of the things you have prayed for? Do you feel like God has let you down or is not listening? Do you believe God answers all prayers? I have had several people ask me about my faith through all this, all so I thought I would share what God has taught me about the above questions. I want to reveal the secret of my peace.

First of all, let’s set the stage with some truths.

- No, I don’t want Johnny to die.

- Yes, this is the most traumatic experience I have ever been through.

- Yes, Johnny is the love of my life, who I fell in love with the moment I met him.

- No, peace doesn’t magically flow to me automatically.

- Yes, I work hard tending to my faith each day.

- Yes, I believe God answers all prayer.

- Yes, I believe God knows all things including what is best.

- Yes, I believe anything is possible with God.

Johnny and I live in a moment frozen in time right now. Our world is one of lazer beam focus directed to one priority – getting through each day, one day at a time, and hanging on to our faith with all our might. Every day for Johnny is a battle against pain and nausea and trying to get an appetite. Every day for me is a mission of taking control of our worlds so Johnny has nothing else to worry about but achieving the above objectives.

At first our battle was long range goals to reverse the cancer. Together we fought tooth and nail going to extreme lengths to try anything we could find to help the oncologists. We had tough times and we had good times in between. Now it is all tough times. The latest patch he wears for nausea has not worked all week.

The last meal Johnny ate was last Sunday. I fixed him turnip greens and pork chop and hoecakes. Every day since then he eats less piece of fruit a day. Last night he “got a wild hair” and thought he felt hungry. He sent me out for food.. By the time I rushed home with it and set it before him he had a frown on his face. “It’s gone,” he said. He tried to eat a few bites anyway but had to race to the bathroom to throw it up.

He gets weaker and weaker as he eats less and less. I know he’s lost more weight but he won’t weigh anymore. It depresses him. We are waiting to get the next CAT Scan on Tuesday and meet with the oncologist to review the results and decide whether or not to continue with the last chemo or contact hospice.

Johnny has tried to keep fighting on through the pain and nausea, but now with the way things are progressing, I think he is reaching that point of being ready to change his focus to quality of life rather than quantity of life. He knows his time is limited. He wants to truly live every moment while he is here, and enjoy the time he has left, as comfortably as possible.

Back to the question now, of keeping our faith with the outcome looking bleak. One might ask, why did God not answer our prayer for healing? As we have marched onward in “Johnny’s journey to victory,” we knew the greatest victory was being one with, the same as, and in tune with God’s will. We know that GOD heals and it is God’s call. Because God has a plan for each of us, that does not end when our time here on earth is up. It is a plan for all eternity.

The victory that we march towards each day is one of letting God control our destiny. Yes, we have our preferences of how we would like it to be. Yes, we express our opinions to God and request our wills be done. But, the bottom line is that GOD IS IN CONTROL. He sees our bigger picture in the grand scheme of things.

I can look back in the last year or two, at the things God said “no” to us about, and see how His “no’s” were leading towards our greater good in the events we are now experiencing. One “no” came when we prayed for our business to continue thriving. Circumstances forced us to close the business and retire early. Johnny was diagnosed six months later.

Also, I was going to start teaching. I had applied for a special program in the school system that was looking for retirees who wanted a second career to teach. I was really excited at the prospect and made it through the first cuts towards selection. But in the end I didn’t get it. I was really disappointed and had a hard time understanding God’s “no” on that one. He knew I always dreamed of being a teacher and I would be a good one! (Or so I thought.)

One month after my last school board interview, Johnny was in the hospital. Everything worked out for good. I never would have been able to juggle having a full time teaching job and going to school to get certified simultaneously with this journey. God knew what He was doing when he said “no” to that prayer request. God knew Johnny would need me more than ever.

The greatest victory is not losing our faith during this journey. Instead, individually and together, our faith has grown so strong that we can truly come to understand what “that peace that surpasses all understanding” really means. We have learned to trust God NO MATTER WHAT. We trust Him because we love him. We KNOW His name. We KNOW we are not alone. We know this journey is for His greater glory. We know he is using us to light the candles of faith in many people who are on this journey with us.

So finally, here are the answers we have learned to the initial questions I asked. I know why we didn’t get some things we prayed for. I believe God answers all prayer – just not necessarily the answers we were hoping for. I know God is always listening to us.

What is it you have prayed for that you are not getting the answer you expected? I encourage you to keep trusting God even when He says “no.” Everything works together for good to those who love God. We must believe His answers are always in our best interest. He is always pushing us towards the destiny we born for. In between our birth and death on this earth our purpose is to discover Him, know Him, honor Him and love Him with the same unconditional love that He loves us with.

Keep trusting Him no matter what your circumstances. Keep listening to Him as He whispers to your heart. Keep walking forward to the victory that waits for each of us, which always comes with surrendering ourselves to His divine timing and order for our greatest good. You might not get what you want, but God will give you what you need.

Beautiful Blessings!


Friday, January 23, 2009

Having A "Heart To Heart" With God

“Trust in Him at all times you people; pour out your heart before Him.” - Psalm 62:8

How do you talk to God? Did you ever think about your communication with Him? I have many Christian friends who have all taught me different things about my walk with God. But there is one friend in particular who taught me to talk to God.Her name is Donna Carter. We have been friends for almost 20 years. We met when her father, Jack Kulan, was placed in the nursing home I worked for. We were both going through troubled periods in our lives and used to have coffee a lot to help each other with girlfriend talk.

Back then I was still at a crossroads with my faith, and struggling to trust God enough to let Him be in control of my life. I was steering through stormy waters and feeling pretty sorry for myself, and acting accordingly. I knew there was a better way to get over some major issues, but I was too busy having a pity party back then to hear what God was trying to tell me.

And here was Donna at that time, going through major life struggles also, especially dealing with her Daddy and all the trauma of making a transition in their relationship, but yet, all she ever talked about was Jesus and the daily conversations they had, and how He was helping her through it all, and how wonderful He was, and on and on and on! I used to watch her over my coffee cup and think “she’s talking like God actually talks to her face to face!”

She would just light up like a candle, smiling those great big dimples as she gushed, relaying her words to Him as I just sat there in awe. And I’m thinking, is this fair? How is it He talks to her and not me? And how can she be so happy when her world is falling around her? Donna gave me a little maroon Bible Promises Book. She told me that whatever problem I had God had an answer for in that book. I still have that book. As a matter of fact, I have bought that book for others many times since then. But here’s the thing. We can study the Word. We can speak the Word. But until you can take those words and plant them in your heart and transform them into a love language with God, they are dead on a doorstep.

This is what Donna helped me to do. She taught me to have a relationship with God by learning to talk to him like I would anyone else. For instance, just think of talking to anyone you love in your family. You don’t pull out a book and read a script to them in a monotone voice do you? No. You have animated conversations with inflections and body language. Your eyes sparkle. You smile. You infuse your conversations with emotions. When you are talking to someone you love you are speaking from the heart. You are pouring out your heart to them. You are relating heart to heart. It is no different with God. Well, I take that back. It IS different. It is better.

Through the years on my journey to connect heart to heart with God, I found it interesting that though I have never been afraid to take centerstage in public, or meet strangers, or been the least shy about being a “ham,” I ALWAYS shied away from “saying the blessing” at any gathering. I used to listen to others just pour their hearts out with eloquence and think how blessed they were to be able to pray like that. As my faith has continued to grow, I have learned to relax and just “let her rip” with God. Privately I talk to Him through reciting the word and singing and just rambling on like to any other friend. Publicly, I am finding it easier and easier to speak through faith and share my faith with others. Because the more I surrender to it without thinking about it – the better I get at finding just the right words, at just the right time, for someone who needs to hear it.

And its all because I have learned to love God in more intimate and joyful ways then I ever could have imagined. He is my savior but he is my friend and always there. We are best friends forever! Girlfriends can be some of God’s best ministering angels to teach us about loving from the heart.

Now I am passing it forward to Johnny in unique and beautiful ways. Writing this blog has brought Johnny love and friendship, through the power of God, that has just EXPLODED in his life in ways he can hardly believe. People all over the county are pouring their hearts out to him like they have been friends all their lives. He shakes his head in wonder and sometimes get fearful because it’s hard to understand so much goodness coming at you at once. I tell him sit back and enjoy the ride and “feel the love.” This is how it is when you board “the soul train” that is fueled by God’s love. This is friendship at its very best. This is better than MySpace or Facebook could ever be. We all have more “friends in common” than the internet could fathom with a Christian community.

When God listens to you he looks at your heart. It speaks louder than any words. His heart is your heart. He is the tick. You are the tock. So just talk to him with your heart and unlock all the treasures you will find waiting there. The greatest treasure is your Heavenly friend who is waiting for another great conversation.

Beautiful Blessings!


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hearing God's Whispers

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart. Wait! I say upon the Lord.” - Psalm 27:13-14

It’s one of those moments where my get up and go has got up and went. I want to write inspiring words but tonight I am tired. My spirit needs to rest. Suddenly I realize what is wrong. There I go trying to do everything with my own power again – thinking I am superwoman.

I need God to carry me for a little bit. I need Him to lift me up and cleft me inside His wing and breath His holy breath into my soul. I need to hear Him talk to me. I need to let go and let God.

I need spiritual nourishment to give me endurance to run this race so I can shoulder Johnny as he gets weaker and weaker. I am stopping to lay my head on the bible for a few minutes because I can’t find the right passage that speaks to me. I need to get quiet so I can hear God whisper in my ear. I’ll be back……………………………….

Aha! I knew if I would just hush up that chatter in my soul He would speak. I rested a minute or two (or three) and received inspiration for direction. A thought was planted while I rested, to pick up a scrapbook of Christian poetry and and prose I have. I started flipping through and Oila! I found the perfect poem to lead me into God’s sustenance. I love it when God surprises me like this.

Here’s the poem. I hope it will lead you into the solutions for your own problems as well:

Prescription for Your Need

By Dr. Sunshine
To be taken according to directions

Though you may view your work in tears,
And count it all in vain,
Psalm one two-six will calm your fears,
And make you sing again.

Though darkness shuts you in like night,
You need not go astray;
John 8:12 tells about a light
That turns your night to day.

Are you restless, ever restless,
Like the billows of the sea?
There is perfect peace and quiet
In Isaiah two six three.

When assailed by foes unnumbered,
And you know not what to do,
Flee oh flee to David’s fortress
Named in Psalm eighteen verse two.

When you’re sick be not discouraged,
Though no earthly help is nigh,;
In James five you’ll find a healer
Who can hear your faintest cry.

If there’s but little in your purse
Or maybe nothing which is worse!
Your God will help you in your need,
Psalm 37 find and read.

If those around you seem unkind,
In John 15 your help you’ll find.
So read of Christ the friend for aye;
For he is with you everyday.

Are you needing food or raiment?
Are you poor as poor can be?
Matthew 6 verse 33.

Have you lost your faith in people?
In yourself and everything?
Take Mark ‘leven two and twenty,
It will make you shout and sing.

Are there strange conflicting signboards?
All along your upward way?
Take John 10 verse 27,
And you cannot go astray.

When death has claimed your loved ones,
And you are torn with grief,
1 Thessalonians 4 helps
And gives one great relief.

Do you often feel unhappy?
There’s a safe and certain cure,
Found in Proverbs 16:20
That will happiness insure.

Are you starting on a journey?
Does your heart sink with dismay?
Proverbs 3, verse 6 can strengthen,
And direct you on your way.

When you’re growing faint in heart,
And would a tonic find,
Psalm 27 can impart
New strength to heart and mind.

Are you oft inclined to worry?
Have you more than you can bear?
In 1 Peter 5, verse 7
There’s a balm for every care.

- Mrs. Clara S. Fisher.

I hope you will not only read this poem but let it lead you into the power of God’s answers for all our needs. Sometimes I get distracted and forget that my circumstances do not determine my joy! We all need strength for our own journey. If you need directions, just ask. God is always waiting to point the way to the power and the light.

Beautiful Blessings,


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Sunshine of Your Love

“I AM the light of the world” - John 9:5

I read something interesting about sunshine today. I got an email which was extolling the need for sunshine and the following exerpt really caught my attention:

“Sunlight comes to us in a spectrum of both visible colors and shades we can't see. These different shades, called wavelengths, bring energy and stimulate life. Plants use certain wavelengths to produce food and energy. Animals use other wavelengths to remain healthy.”

It made me think about the sunshine of God’s love for us. His love also comes to us in a spectrum of colors. Just as faith is believing that which we cannot see, so is the “Son’s” light coming to us on wavelengths, bringing us energy and stimulating life in our souls. Plants need certain wavelengths to produce food and energy. So do we.

The light of God feeds our bodies and souls like nothing else on earth can. We would perish without this light. All that is left without the light is darkness.

Today on the way to Mayo it was a glorious sunny day. I recalled the song by Eric Clapton “ called “The Sunshine of Your Love.” I sang it to Johnny on the way to Mayo Clinic:

“I’m with you my love,
The light’s shining through on you.
Yes, I’m with you my love,
It’s the morning and just we two.
I’ll stay with you darling now,
I’ll stay with you till my seas are dried up.

I’ve been waiting so long
To be where I’m going
In the sunshine of your love.”

I built him a fire when I got back and kept it going 11 hours all day long as we watched inaugural events. Johnny loves watching a fire but he wasn’t feeling good today. I knew he needed some sunshine in his soul. I remember he used to fix a fire for me every night when I had to sleep on the couch during my breast cancer journey.

I used to drift in and out of sleep and seeing the light of that fire made me feel like the light of God was bathing me in healing power. It was so comforting. It dispelled the darkness of the valley I was in. It made me sleep better. Every time my eyes blinked open I would see the fire getting smaller and smaller until it faded into glowing embers.

Now it was my turn to bring light to Johnny. He slept a lot on the couch after a brief visit with company. He needed sleep so those healing hormones could kick in. And I believe the fire has wavelengths just like the sun. I watched him from my recliner as he slept on the couch. I sent him another kind of wavelength. I sent him love. I sent him prayer.

Thoughts are electro-magnetic waves of light that I believe can penetrate the soul. This must be true because prayers are thoughts from one soul to another and as God is my witness (she said shaking her fist in the air,) we can feel those prayers and cares coming at us from every corner!

Today our dear friend Rachel sent us the following email:

This morning, my co-worker Barbara came to me and said ‘Your friend and her dad and family were on my mind this weekend. I thought about them and said a special prayer for them because I was thinking of them.’ I just wanted to share that with you all, and let you know that people everywhere are thinking of Johnny and of you.

This weekend, as I was cleaning around the house, a hymn came into my head that also made me think of Johnny. It’s fitting, since his blog is called “Johnny’s Journey to Victory” and I wanted to share it with you. I know that you know it, and I’m sure the tune will come to mind as you sing.

This happens to us frequently. People write us and tell us of the many different instances throughout the day that they are thinking of us and praying for us. Now that is what I call some “Son-shine” for the soul! These are little miracles of God’s light. It is hard for us to fathom we are in so many people’s thoughts. It could only be God at work.

The hymn Rachel mentioned was perfectly apropos, considering that today Johnny made the front page of our local newspaper on the same page of Barak Obama’s headline “Long Road To Victory.” There they were, Johnny and Barack, side by side on the road to hope! It tickled Johnny. I want to share part of the hymn with you:

Victory in Jesus

I heard an old, old story,
How a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me;

I heard about His groaning,
Of His precious blood’s atoning,
Then I repented of my sins
And won the victory.

O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;

He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.

I heard about His healing,
Of His cleansing pow’r revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see;

And then I cried, “Dear Jesus,
Come and heal my broken spirit,”
And somehow Jesus came and bro’t
To me the victory.

O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;

I hope when you read this entry today you will think of putting a little “Sonshine” in your soul today. Plugging into the power of God’s love will help you bloom and grow like plants basking in the sunlight above. Just as much as we need the sun OUTSIDE, we need the Son INSIDE of us to grow deeper and deeper into the knowledge of our miracle making Lord. Flowers bloom only in the sunlight. We too need our source of light to color our worlds with blessings from above.

Beautiful Blessings,


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Johnny Made Front Page News!

This morning we opened The Florida Times Union local newspaper in Jacksonville, Florida and on the bottom right corner they featured a promotion for Johnny's Journey To Victory blog that appears on the website. Woo hoo! My darlin was right there on the FRONT PAGE with Barack Obama on Inaugural Day bringing the same message - HOPE IS ON THE WAY!

I was so excited to have Johnny honored in this way. I consider it another victory for God. I know it can only be God that opened the doors for us to reach so many more people with the good news that JESUS IS LORD and GOD RULES!

Never forget:

"And this is the victory that has overcome the world - OUR FAITH" - 1 John 5:4

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Beauty of Doing What You Love

“Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us; and establish the work of our hands.” - Psalm 90:17

Sometimes it takes a slap in the face to stop us from spinning at breakneck speed through our lives and missing what is important. That is what this journey through Johnny’s cancer has done for us. We have learned the beauty of stopping to smell the roses.

We have found our entire life to be put on hold, as we struggle to make it through each day. Our priorities have changed. Our activities have changed. Our love has changed. The lense through which we look at life has changed. Despite the horrible circumstances which have caused this change, I know I like this view of life better.

We have returned to simplicity. It is all about getting back to the basics of things that really matter in your life. We have found the moments that count, are the sum total of all the little moments. It is the little moments we realized, that got left behind in our race through life to make money, pay our bills, keep crazy schedules and give priority to that which was really unimportant.

Our awareness of what is left, when all the rest is stripped away, is a joy to behold. My writing is a good example of this. I have wanted to write with unbridled pleasure all my life. I never took the time because I was always too busy. I now believe that what I kept inside by not releasing it, was destroying a little piece of my soul every day. Now I do write everyday. I don’t HAVE the time – I MAKE the time, because I have realized how important it is to me.

Here’s another example. Johnny and I are getting to know each other and appreciate things about each other, that we never took the time to know. When you are given a deadline to do it, you don’t waste a minute on other things that don’t matter.

This is what has brought our family closer together. This is where we drew the line in the sand, by turning to God instead of our own power to solve situations. This is what has breathed life into our spirits, despite the physical health problems we encounter. This is what has brought the beauty back into our everyday living – into every moment.

It didn’t have to be this way to get to where we are now. We could have figured this out a long time ago, by making the choice to put God first in our lives. One thing leads to another. Once your list of priorities is in right order, everything else starts falling in place. Once you seek Him with all your heart you will also find what you were born to do.

My suggestion to each of you is to make a “divine appointment” with God. Schedule Him into your life and into your appointment book. Start prioritizing what really counts, the same as you would any other appointment. Be determined to make the right turn – which is always, back to Him, to discover what your true goals should be. Make your spiritual goals as important as your financial, business or pastime goals. Don’t wait until catastrophe hits to be backed in a corner and finally “get it.” You can start this today.

It is never too late to be what you were meant to be. You will discover the beautiful truths you are searching for in the little moments. God designed our lives to be pretty simple. Somewhere along the way, through all the wonders of modern technology, and the way our lives have changed because of it – we have lost the lifeline that matters most. That is the connection to God, and to each other, and to the gifts we each were given.

I notice the younger generation would rather email, text, twitter or facebook, than even pick up the phone to visit or talk. I think we need a little less Blackberry and a little more one to one living in our lives. We start by slowing down. We start by truly looking at what is in front of us.

My question to you today is this. Are you doing what you truly love in life? What about your job? Are you working to fulfill your purpose or to simply pay your bills? I read a book a long time ago with the message “do what you love and money will follow.” I wish I had paid more attention to it then. I am paying attention now. I don't think I have ever been this happy as I am now writing everyday. I wake up each morning with a heart filled with joy and the anticipation of doing what I love.

This is what we have tried to teach Scarlett about life. Johnny never got the chance to be the wonderful history teacher he could have been, or the great coach I think he was destined to be. Working to make a paycheck got in the way. His passions were squeezed into spaces left in between appointments. I think passion should come first. I think this is where our happiness lies.

Though I know you can’t just up and quit your job, you CAN start seeking that which you love, and turn in the direction that honors your soul. This is part of what we were being taught, when we are told to love our neighbors AS OURSELF. It all flows from there. Being true to you. It leads us to the life of our dreams that God intended when He created us. I believe the purpose of living is to manifest our unique gift.

We are each different blueprints of God’s love. We were each born to be beautiful glimpses of Gods power and might. My prayer for you is that you will look in the mirror and see how wonderfully made you are, and start on the path today to your true destiny – just do it. I hope you can find the real life God intended for you.

Don’t look back at the end of your life and say I “would of, could of, should of.” You can find the “beauty of the Lord” by finding what it is you really love to do. They say your gift lies in that which you can spend hours doing and not realize so much time has passed until you suddenly you look up. I believe this is the work God wants to establish your hands to do.

They also say that a man who loves what he is doing never works a day in his life. My wish for each of you today is to have the courage to follow your heart to the happiness of doing what you really love.

Beautiful Blessings,


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Don't Let Clouds Get In Your Way

“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” - Matthew 5:16

I have a confession – one of my all time favorite movies is “Pollyanna,” starring Hayley Mills. I saw it when I growing up, and it left an indelible impression on my young girl’s heart. Pollyanna’s parents taught her to play “THE GLAD GAME” of life and it looked so simple! Just find the good in every situation and take your focus off the bad. Keep your eye on the light.

Pollyanna’s parents were missionaries who died. Pollyanna had to go live with her Aunt that she never knew, and move to a strange town she’d never been to. Now there’s a possible “bad cloud situation” that would be hard to deal with, but Pollyanna knew what to do, because she knew the “Glad Game,” and how to handle life.

In the movie, Pollyanna arrives in town and changes lives wherever she goes. She lights up the life of everyone in the town, by teaching them “The Glad Game.” Then she falls from a high tree and is never supposed to walk again. She stumbles in her faith. Her light goes out briefly. But the people that she touched with “The Glad Game,” return the favor and relight the candle of her soul.

Folks – it doesn’t get any better than that! How simple can it be? LOOK FOR THE GOOD IN EVERY SITUATION and the good will come back to you. Johnny and I been put to the test with this cancer journey. God says He makes everything work together for good if we love Him. We know it’s all about how you choose your handle for tomorrow. One of my favorite quotes is:

“Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.” - Henry Ward Beecher.

Johnny and I have chosen the handle of faith in this current challenge. It has not been an easy path – it has taken grace and we have prayed for courage. Courage does not mean that you are not afraid. It is being afraid and doing it anyway. When we step out in faith, there is always a risk. We have found it is worth the risk. We believe if we fall that God will catch us.

The rewards we have found from doing this have been indescribable. We have discovered the truth of what Paul reveals to us in the bible, that suffering is a great opportunity to show others the reflection of God’s power inside you. When we do it for His sake, our weakness becomes strength and we always triumph.

By turning to God in our “tribulation” we receive comfort from Him, and in turn, are able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort we have received. We now have a purpose driven life. There is a purpose in our battle.

Writing this blog has become a such a blessing to us in so many ways. It has:

1. Enabled me to reach out and touch the world in doing what I love most – writing.
2. Allowed us to inspire others by sharing our faith through our trials.
3. Connected us with hearts all over the country, who shower us with the light of hope and prayers, and inspire us in return, with their cards and letters and packages and calls and emails and visits.

It has humbled us, when we see how God has touched lives through us, for those who are in need of faith. This is the gladness described by an unknown author when we read:

“You can’t light a candle
to show others the way,
Without feeling the warmth
of that bright little ray.
And you cant give a rose
all fragrant with dew,
Without some of its sweetness
remaining on you.”

Whatever storm you face – try to think “What’s GOOD about this? I invite each of you to play “The Glad Game” in your own life. Look with an expectant heart for the good that is to be found in all things. Think on that which is noble, just, pure, lovely and of any good report. Plug in to the goodness of God.

Do all this and God will be with you, and you will be able to handle life with the right handle – the handle of faith. My wish for you is, that your clouds become “ice cream castles in the sky,” that bring you joy and dreams come true, as the dark clouds disappear.

Beautiful Blessings,


The ABC's of Hope

“But sanctify the Lord in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” - 1 Peter 3:15

I’ve had several inquiries about my speaking program “The ABC’s of Hope” so I thought I’d give you a “sneak peek” of the message I want to share with folks everywhere. It is all about holding on to hope in a hopeless situation. I learned many lessons during my own battle with cancer. Hope is more than wishful thinking. It is an indispensable weapon for soul survival.

Hope is not contingent on getting the outcome you want in a situation. Hope is all about putting your trust in a power greater than you, to help you get through dire circumstances. When I was near death in the hospital during Christmas week 2004, I discovered that it did not matter whether I lived or died. We all must go one day. It mattered that I felt the presence of God, not only touching my heart, but filling my entire body and soul with a nearness that is indescribable. I knew everything would be allright, no matter what, because HE was there.

That’s victory folks! That is moving beyond fear of anything that confronts you. That is a power no man, no money, no things can give you. It is an anchor for our souls that can secure us through any storm. How do we cross the bridge to hope? We look at the anchor. We look at that which we put our trust in. We look at our Lord through new eyes – the eyes of KNOWING.

When you say you trust God my first question to you is this. Who is your God to you? Really. If I were standing in front of you right now and asked you this question would you be able to immediately respond in full? Would you be able to describe Him and everything you KNOW to be true about Him and what He does on a day to day basis for you right off the cuff? I can.

A long time ago I took Karate. One of the most important things we spent time on during each session was learning “katas” (I think that is the right name) which were choreographed fight movements. We practiced them over and over and over and over. The purpose for all the repetition was to implant them in our memory, so in the event of an unexpected fight encounter, we would not THINK but REACT automatically, with power no matter which way we were attacked. We had rehearsed every possible situation. We KNEW what to do in a way that went deeper than thinking.

I thought about this when I was reflecting on hope one day. I decided to make a list of what I KNEW God to be and all the reasons I should trust him. I also decided to imprint this upon my mind – to etch it indelibly – so in any moment of crisis I would be prepared to face the circumstance with a calm assurance of power.

I went through the alphabet and created my “hope prayer” which reminded me of everything God does for me each day. I wanted God to know how much I appreciate Him everyday. I also wanted to be prepared with an answer to anyone who asked me how I could be so hopeful. So I remembered my lessons from Karate and decided to memorize the prayer. I now recite it by heart every morning of my life or in any moment of crisis.

The ABC’s of Hope

Thank You Lord for:

Always being available to me every second, every minute, every hour, every day of my life. You are always on time no matter what time I call you. And You always answer all prayer.

Blessing me with beauty in all I see hear and touch and feel. Your beauty is everywhere and in everyone.

Comforting me with compassion when I make mistakes. Your understanding and forgiveness get me up off my knees when I am knocked down.

Designing my dreams according to Your divine plan for my life, which is always perfect for my true heart’s desire. You alone know what makes me happy, and what I was born to do.

Expecting excellence in all I say and do bringing me to my very best potential to serve you in all things great and small.

Freshening the foundation of my heart with your unconditional love and power. With You, I can do all things

Giving me grace to get through the day to handle every problem, obstacle or situation with Your divine solution.

Helping me to heal when my heart, my body or my spirit is broken. Your love is the best medicine I could ever take.

Instilling integrity in my soul to always do the right thing, at the right time, at the right place. I do unto others as I would have them do to me.

Jumpstarting my joy, with laughter and music. You keep a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

Kindling Your kindness in me, to remind me of how to treat each person I meet, knowing each one is my neighbor.

Lifting me with love and showing me why I was created, to simply love and be loved.

Making miracles that appear each day that I can see when I look with an expectant heart

Never needing anything – because you provide me with prosperity and abundance

Overseeing the Outcome of my life – and reminding me that You are the one in control

Providing me with that peace that surpasses all understanding

Quenching my soul with quietness so I can hear your voice and direction in the stillness.

Restoring my righteousness when I lose sight of the truth. You are the beacon of light my soul follows.

Strengthening my spirit when I am weak by carrying me on your shoulders. It is at these moments that I see one set of footprints in the sand.

Teaching me to trust You that all is well all the time, even when I cannot see the light in the darkness.

Unveiling my universe and showing me the magnitude of how great Thou art when I look up at the stars or across the ocean. Your magnificence takes my breath away.

Visualizing my victory, which gives me the courage to fight for the truth.

Washing me in wisdom each morning as I set out to do Your will each day and spread Your amazing grace everywhere

Yanking out my yesterdays, to make room for my tomorrows, that are filled with your promises for today.

Zapping me with the zeal for life I know in living each day according to your will.

I am excited about the possibility of speaking to groups of any size and bringing hope to hearts that need it. I look forward to sharing a message that will help others to renew their power and faith, and to understand what God means when He tells us that nothing is impossible if we KNOW Him and TRUST Him.

Beautiful Blessings!


Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Resurrection of Rene Williams

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy endures forever; do not forsake the work of Your hands.” - Psalm 138:7-8

It is never too late to make a comeback. We all get detoured in our walk in life. We make mistakes. We get discouraged. We give up. We don’t believe we have the power to be what we used to be. We believe we are beyond redemption. But we forget too often, that there is a greater power that can raise us from the deadness of our own self-destruction.

Tonight I realized that by the grace of God I am coming back to life. I have spent the last ten years spiraling down into a cave of hiding from myself, of punishing myself for mistakes made, and building walls to keep me from facing the insurmountable challenge of picking up the pieces and starting over again.

Though I beat cancer 5 years ago, I have been unable to beat the voices in my head that continued to tell me my best years were over. It is a living hell to be stuck in a place you can’t get out of. It is frightening to look in the mirror and not recognize yourself anymore. Where did the power and pizaaz go?

Johnny has always taken such good care of me that it has been easy to hide. I have been allowed to prolong my stay in the comfort zone for too long. But everything changed last year, when Johnny received the prognosis of terminal stage 4 lung cancer and given one year to live. My world was turned upside down. It was time to come out of my cave and back into the light – because the love of my life needed me.

This past year has been a slow journey back to myself, as Johnny has battled for his life. My life has been through a transition of growing in grace, but only because I allowed God to step in and show me the way. I have gone through all the stages of denial, anger, walking forward, taking three steps back ward, getting up from my knees, and somehow have kept moving in my spirit. It could only be grace.

Tonight we watched the premier episode of “Friday Night Lights” on TV. The coach was trying to help an injured player named “Smash” make a comeback after an injury that sideswiped his life. He was giving up because he didn’t believe he could do it. Coach finally told “Smash,” his destiny was waiting in front of him, and that he would do everything he could to help him, until he achieved his dream, but “Smash” had TO WANT IT. Coach said the only thing he couldn’t do for him is MAKE HIM WANT IT.

My heavenly coach has been patiently waiting for me to get over myself this past year. He has been waiting for me to allow Him to call the gameplan and make the plays He tells me too. I saw my time was running out as I watched Johnny grow weaker and weaker. I realized I had no choice, but to step up to the plate and change positions with Johnny. It was a 2 minute warning and I grabbed the ball just in time.

If you had told me a year ago I would be in charge of our lives, I never would have believed it. But tonight Johnny smiled at me from where he lay on the couch as he watched me tending the fire, adding new logs, doing what he used to do. I patiently follow his instructions, not only in firetending, but in tending to our lives in all areas. He has spent the last year teaching me how to be strong and unafraid of any situation.

After I placed the screen back in place he told me how proud he was of me for becoming strong again. He told me we really have made a good team during our life. I agreed but now I realize what its like to be the quarterback. I have always been the woman behind the successful man. He always made it look easy. Now it is my turn to take the lead.

Now I take care of him. I handle all business. I finally understand our investments. I battle the insurance company. I handle our legal affairs. I plunge the toilets. I change the water cooler. I turn on the all the faucets outside on freezing nights. I haul in all the potted flowers to save them from the freeze. I take out the garbage. I kill the fire ants. I turn on the lights outside at night. I turn them off at morningtime. I lock up to secure the house. I build fires. I keep track of all medical appointments. I take him to Mayo Clinic every week. I barbecue on the grill. I do all the endless things he used to do that I took for granted.

The only thing I don’t do is hold the remote. I will never ever take that away from him.

We all have a moment of reckoning when we have to make a decision to sink or swim in life. Only we can choose for ourselves. Our friends and family can support us and encourage us to be everything we were meant to be, but they cannot do it for us.

The first step is the hardest and the scariest. We must keep putting one foot in front of the other. But here’s a secret. Once we decide we WANT to, we CANNOT do it with our own human power. Trust me. It is a futile effort no matter how much you want it, unless you let God in, to help you pave the way with HIS power.

Only HE can revive you. Only HE can save you from your greatest enemy – which is always yourself. Only HE can take our weakness and make it strength. We must surrender ourselves. The moment I did this and decided to trust God to do the impossible, I could feel mountains move in my spirit. That peace that surpasses all understanding filled me with an indescribable hope that I could conquer anything.

What is your mountain? I am here to tell you that when you allow the grace to flow, there is nothing that can happen that you and God can’t handle together. Living a life without fear is a heaven on earth. I wish each of you the joy of resurrection, through the power of He who was resurrected for us so many years ago. If I can do it you can do it to. So run don’t walk, to the blessings that are waiting for you. Say YES to God and begin to live the life of your dreams.

Beautiful Blessings!


Friday, January 16, 2009

Counting The Blessings of Friendship

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” - Proverbs 17:17

One of the treasures you discover in a crisis situation, is the crowning jewels of friendship. I was reflecting this morning, with a heart full of gratitude, on the joy our friends have brought to us during our current trials. You never really understand the value of friends sometimes, until your world is turned upside down. When the dust settles, your true friends are the ones left standing beside you no matter what.

I wish I could express to each of them, just how much their friendship means. But words cannot describe the magnitude of what I want to convey. It is more than I could ever say. Friends become “brothers” in every sense of the word in times of trouble. They are more valuable than any precious stone. When the going gets tough, your friends get going to rally by your side and share the journey.

I came across a beautiful poem this morning, from my collection of poems over the years. The author is unknown. But the words are known, in every heart of someone who has had a true friend. I would like to share it with you now.

Friends That Count

The friends that love us always,
In the good times and the bad;
The friends that love us always
Are the friends that keep us glad.

The friends that cling in tempest
As they do in calms, are those
That make the paths of hardship
Seem the paths of song and rose.

The friends that love us always,
When we go their way or not,
Are the friends our hearts remember
When the others are forgot.

The friends that stick the closest
When the trouble grows the worst;
The friends that love us always,
Just the way they did at first-

They are the crowning jewels
Of the coronets we weave
In the dream of tender moments
When the troubles start to leave.

We revere their names forever
And we see their faces clear.
The friends that love us always,
Whether sun or shadow’s near.

Don’t you love it? How perfectly true are those words. The thing about friends is this. They don’t have to “do anything.” They just have to be there. Right now we have so much love and support from our friends and family. They are ready at a moment’s notice to do whatever it takes to help us. It takes my breath away to be surrounded by such kindness.

I know as things progress with Johnny’s situation, I will need them more and more. Right now, their phone calls, their visits, their letters and their emails give us incredible strength to face whatever is in front of us. I do not fear what is ahead of me, because I know my friends are there, waiting to help our family fight the good fight.

Friends come in all shapes and sizes and genders. But through this incredible journey, we have discovered a new kind of friendship beyond our wildest imagination. Strangers that we never knew before have joined us on this journey. When we initially put out a rally call to everyone we knew, for prayers and support, we were unprepared for the deluge that came flowing to us.

All our friends and family rallied everyone they knew, who rallied everyone they knew, and it just went on and on. We had also specifically requested people write “snail mail” to Johnny, so he would receive mail and look forward each day to walking to the mailbox. The cards and letters and postcards began pouring in by the dozens each day. Now, over six months later, there is always a letter waiting for Johnny in the mailbox each day. And the beauty of this is, the letters mostly come from people we have never met.

I am amazed at the wondrous ways God can bring people together, and form friendships through the spirit of Christ that unites us all. Friends DO love at all times, and DO become “brothers” in the face of adversity. They absolutely are the most precious gifts in life that we must treasure. “Things” don’t matter. Friends matter. Friends count.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all our friends out there, that lift us up on their shoulders to help us through this valley. I do see that “one set of footprints in the sand” when I look down. I know it is our sweet Lord walking through each of you, and carrying us to His victory.

Today I wish each of you the blessings of having true friends. Remember, the best way to have a friend is to BE a friend.

Beautiful blessings,


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Finding The Way To Forgiveness

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will forgive you” - Matthew 6:14

It takes a lot to take a smile off my face. If you’ve been following the blog for the last six months, on our journey through my husband Johnny’s battle with stage 4 terminal lung cancer, you know that no matter how trying the circumstances, I look for the rainbow of God’s grace in every situation.

Yesterday my faith was really put to the test. I’m not sure what “grade” God would give me on this test because I “lost my cool” in the situation in a fit of anger. Even though the situation was resolved by the grace of God, I really had to struggle with unforgiveness. But God works in mysterious ways. I tried to write my blog last night to tell you all about the situation but one thing after another kept getting in the way of my writing. I think God was helping me TOTALLY get the forgiveness thing firmly planted in my heart so I could authentically reflect his message on this matter, in the words I bring to you.

Here’s what happened. I went to fill Johnny’s new prescription yesterday that our doctor had written the day before for Oxycontin. Johnny had one pill left in the bottle at home. He currently is on a pain management regimen of 2 pills every 12 hours. The doctor increased the pill count in the bottle to 180 pills, allow for possible 3 pills per dose if increased pain required it.

His next dose was coming up yesterday evening. I had driven out of my way to another drugstore because our usual one (who shall remain nameless) was out of the generic brand. Our health insurance company refuses to pay for the name brand. I even considered going ahead and paying the cost for the namebrand and biting the bullet on the difference, just to avoid having to run all over town to get the meds in time

That was until they told me the price would be $737 for one bottle. My temperature started to rise at this point, thinking about how unfair it is that the drug companies have the audacity to charge such outrageous prices and the average person in this country cannot really AFFORD to be sick. But off I drove headed to the out of the way store, so I would not have to wait a day or two for our usual drugstore to refill their coffers.

I drove up to the new drive-thru window and asked them to fill it immediately due to the circumstances of coming out of my way. They said no problem, to wait and they would fill it immediately. Things were looking good. That is, until they came back a moment later and told me that the insurance company was refusing the order. My mouth dropped. I asked what the problem was. They told me they needed to get the doctors approval for the order. I responded that they were holding a prescription in their hand and how much more approval did they need?

Then they explained that apparently the “drug benefits” in our plan had run out and the insurance company would have to go through a red tape process of having the doctor “apply for approval of extension of benefits.” This involved the insurance company having to get in touch with the doctor and getting information and this process would take days. Up goes my temperature again!

I told them that this was totally unacceptable. In my mind I am computing the cost of our insurance at $18,000 a year and multiplying it by ten years that we have had it with this company, which adds up to about $180,000 we have paid them over the years and how dare they have the nerve to interfere with our doctors decision and interrupt my husband’s pain care so they could get through all their red tape? Hold me back Lord! I’m about to blow!

The drugstore told me it might help if I called the doctor myself to speed up the process. They gave me the number to give the doctor to call. I took down the number and asked them if I could call this number also. They told me no one had ever down this before but it couldn’t hurt to try. I prayed for the person that was about to receive my phone call at this number. They were about to receive the wrath of Rene Williams with a “mad-on!”

I pulled around in the parking lot and parked to make the phone call after I made the call to the doctor with the information first. The voice on the other end that answered asked me if they could have my ID number. I told them they MAY NOT because I had one general question that I wanted one general answer to and I wanted that answer NOW. I explained that I would try to remain as calm as possible but they would have to forgive the mounting frustration in my voice because I was furious.

I first asked what in the heck was I paying $1,500 a month for, if I could not get the services and the medicine that my doctor prescribed, that they promised to provide in return. I explained how the drugstore was unable to fill the prescription because their “company,” which,by the way, was not my insurance company, but a “contracted” company handling the benefits apparently. I got the pat scripted response from the lady who informed me of the benefits problem and how she would have to “start a new case”to see about extending the benefits.

I asked “just who is treating my husband? You or the doctor?” I explained the regimen he was on and how his next dose was coming up and I didn’t care about all the red tape procedures. I told her SHE could go home and tell my husband who was laying in bed in pain after an exhausting chemo session that he wasn’t going to get his pain meds!

I said “Madame? I am appealing to you from one human heart to another to do something about this and do it now because I am not leaving this drugstore until you start this case and finish this case right here and now.” I explained all the above mentioned circumstances. By the grace of God I reached her. She told me to hold on and she would get her supervisor to see if an exception could be made.

By this tine almost an hour has gone by in the back and forth while I am on hold and she periodically is coming back on the line telling me of the progress and how they are talking with the doctor on the other line yada yada. AS I’m waiting in the car on hold I start talking God.

I began reciting Psalm 91 over and over and over. Thank goodness I have learned it by heart. Now I can use it as a weapon with the sword of the spirit going to work on my behalf and resolving this situation. Here is an important point about why we should implant God’s word in our heart by memory. You never know when you are going to battle and need it on the spot and I did not have my bible with me!

Finally the lady comes back on the line and tells me everything has been approved and that I can drive back around to the drive through and pick up the meds. By now an hour and a half has passed. So I drive around and say “Its me again!” and tell the girl at the window everything has been approved and II give her the name of the person that instructed me to pick up the medicine.

She goes to process it and asks me “are you sure they didn’t tell you there would be a delay? Its not in the computer. I replied, totally exhausted by now “don’t even go there.” So there I sit for another round in this battle while the store makes more calls to this company. The cars are piling up behind me in line. I ask her if she wants me to move to help the other customers but suddenly they get the approval – except for one thing. They are not allowed to fill the entire amount because the drug company says we are filling it too soon.

OK. Now I am at exploding point. I tell her that is unacceptable because the doctor has increased the dosage and that will not be enough if he has to take three at a time and the bottle will run out sooner, if he does need the extra amount and we will be dealing with the same issue when it is time for refill again and that our doctor prescribed a determined amount and that I WANTED IT FILLED AS ORDERED!

They said that would require more phone calls back to this company. Is it me, or is there something wrong with this grand picture? I told them to make those phone calls and I would pull around and NOW GET OUT AND COME IN while they did, but I was not leaving until I got what the doctor ordered for my husband.

So I come in the store and they make the more phone calls and finally tell me the company will not budge and that’s all I can have for today. I finally give up in exhaustion and tell them ok give me what ever, just so I can get the medicine to him. I will bite the bullet on the 48 pilkls we cannot have and deal with all later. They say fine I say “what is the amount due?” as I pull out my check book. They reply “oh now we have to process the order. It will be another 10-15 minutes.”

I tell them “I have been her 2 hours now. Cant you JUST THROW SOME PILLS IN THE BOTTLE AND LET ME GO HOME?” NO deal. I must wait my turn in line. So at that pint I just give up and fall exhausted into the waiting chair and resign myself to give up and just wait in peace. 10 minutes later I get the order and go home.

Whew! It is exhausting just to retell this story! But the end of this story is the beginning of my journey in finding the way to forgiveness on this matter. It took me a long time to regroup and get rid of my anger and get my equilibrium back. Once I got home and tended to Johnny, who still had not left the bed since the chemo on Tuesday, I walked downstairs and headed for my bible.

I needed God to talk to me and set me right, to be one with, the same as, and in tune with God’s thought on the matter. How do I forgive in an unforgivable and unfair situation? I prayed for God to lead me to the light in the matter. This is why I reach for my bible each day. I feel like the more time you spend in reading the bible, the better you get to understand God’s language. This is how He speaks to our hearts – through HIS WORD. Through HIS LANGUAGE.

The more we read and study what He is trying to tell us – the more gets planted in our hearts as a foundation of our faith. It makes our faith stronger. It makes grace abound. It releases all the gifts He has waiting for us. When we are instructed to immerse ourselves in the word it is not supposed to be a drudgery assignment. It is intended as a place we can meet God everyday and spend time with Him by getting to know Him.

This is how we place our problems in His hands knowing that HE can make a way where there is no way. Last night HE made a way for me to find forgiveness, I was led to Colossians 3:12-15. He makes it abundantly clear that the only way to peace ruling again in our hearts is through forgiving as Christ has forgiven us.

It emphatically states: “if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also MUST DO.” So there it is. I must rest and “give up the ghost” of unforgiveness. No bones about it. Just do it. I must trust that GOOD will come out of this situation but not until I give it up to God to handle.

And now I believe that good is on the way. I am watching for it to arrive. My heart is at peace. I have renewed my trust that God is in control. That applies to EVERYTHING. It is all or nothing. And so I slept good last night. I woke up refreshed in the spirit because my burden had been removed.

Do you have a situation that requires forgiveness in your life? It also tells us elsewhere in the bible that bitterness is a poison that will destroy you little by little. I believe that unforgiveness hurts YOU more than it hurts the person or situation you cannot forgive. So I encourage each of you to deal with unforgiveness immediately for your own sake. Set your spirit free. Get into God’s words and let him speak to your heart.

God wants us to live a life of joy – no matter what the circumstance. So I wish for each of you – a heart that is happy and free from whatever separates you from the joy of God. Every moment counts. Deal with it now. Live the life God designed for you and follow the path to peace. The Chinese have a saying that “the journey of a thousands miles begins with one step.” I hope you will make your first step today.

Beautiful Blessings!


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Apple of Our Father's Eye

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name” - Matthew 6:1

Seeing the river on the horizon that Johnny will be crossing over one day soon, can be a daunting thing to deal with. Thank goodness our Lord is here with us holding my hand, Johnny’s hand, and Scarlett’s hand. Especially my sweet Scarlett. She is who I worry about more. Johnny has the courage of a warrior. I have the strength that comes from years of wisdom and overcoming many other trials. But my sweet Scarlett is the apple of Johnny’s eye. She is “Daddy’s little girl”and all that that implies. She has a fragile heart that adores the man who has been the only true love of her life.

Will another man ever be able to love her as tenderly as her Father has? I hope so. Because he will have big shoes to fill. Johnny has never been a perfect man. But he has been a perfect Daddy. He calls her “HIS LITTLE BUNKINS” or his “girl baby.” Trust me. That’s movin on up from his first nickname for her when she was a baby.

In her early diaper days (for the record he changed ONE diaper I can remember) he had to babysit one time and she messed her diaper. He drove 20 miles to his nearest friend, Gary Lourcey, so Gary’s wife could change her. During those days he started calling her “fart-blossom.” I had to put my foot down there. That was not even REMOTELY cute and I didn’t want the nickname to STICK! (Excuse the pun.)

We decided when she was born that we would do everything we could to foster her gifts – whatever they were – to help her find her own path in life. We wanted her to maximize her greatest potential for happiness. I think this was especially important to Johnny because his dreams were dashed, at a young age, of having a professional basketball career. He didn’t have the kind of family support to help him overcome obstacles and keep him pointed in the right direction.

No one in his family had attended college. Johnny had started at Chipola College in Marianna, Florida but got detoured due to injuries and family circumstances. I think he always regretted it. He wanted to lead the way and leave a good legacy for his family’s name. His path took a detour for many years until Scarlett came along.

Scarlett was and still is his pride and joy. He has beamed as he has watched her bloom and grow over the years. Though she has many of my creative and artistic qualities, he is thrilled to see his own part of her that comes from only him. From Johnny she got a fighting spirit and a competitiveness in life to be the best at whatever she tackles. They are both zealous in whatever they undertake and they are great finishers.

They both attack everything they do with a passion for excellence. They both have hearts of gold but the memory of an elephant if you ever cross them. They both love deeply. They both laugh hard and cry hard. They both are not afraid to step outside the box and do things differently from anyone else. This is part of their secrets of success in the business world. The both see beyond the smoke and mirrors of things to the heart of the matter.

Johnny has made sure Scarlett understands the beauty of her Southern heritage. He greatly admired the qualities of his own relatives and their pride in their land and culture. He remembers when the local radio stations used to sign off with the song Dixie.” He remembers his school teachers recounting stories of local ancestors from the Civil War. He remembers a people bound together through values that seem to be fading with the wind.

Things like when a man’s word and handshake meant something. Or how everyone had a “garden” which was really an acre or two of seasonal vegetables and they shared them with each other. It was the kind of community where everyone watched out for each other and each other’s children. He remembers running out of gas miles away from home and knocking on someone’s door for help. They would reply “Oh yeah! You are Bernice’s boy!” This also applied to getting in trouble with mischief. There were no secrets in Jackson county!

Things like this are what Johnny wanted so much to pass down to Scarlett. Character counts. Your word counts. Your reputation counts. Church is important. Honor your elders. Work hard. Make a difference. Don’t owe anybody.

It sounds a lot like what our Heavenly Father tries to teach us. We too, are the “apple of His eye.” He sees us for what we truly are and tries to show us how special we are to Him by revealing our true nature – which is His nature. We don’t have to “get” anything – it is already there. We simply have to claim it. How simple is that?

Need courage? He tells us He has given us a spirit of power already to overcome ANYTHING. Need prosperity? He tells us we are already prosperous and gives us the path to discover what we already possess if we follow His instructions to it. Need love? We are love – because He lives inside our hearts.

We think like God. We look like God. We act like God. We are God in action. So take a look in God’s mirror if you are searching for the “real you.” You will see your true reflection of everything you inherited from your Heavenly Father in the greatest mirror of all – the Holy Bible. You will see the “apple of God’s eye” and all that you already are.

Just as Scarlett’s Daddy adores her – our Heavenly Daddy adores each and every one of us in uniquely different and wonderful ways. He too wants us to be all that we were created to be. Scarlett will always carry her Daddy in her heart, despite any physical separation that may come, and Johnny will live on through her in all he taught her.

Let us carry God on in the same way by accepting our inheritance and listening to everything He tries to teach us – which is always for our very best.

Beautiful Blessings!


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Amazing Grace How Sweet The Sound

“I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continuously be in my mouth” - Psalm 34:1

Good news! The patch has kicked in! Thursday Johnny woke up from a nap and proclaimed “I don’t feel the nausea!” He wasn’t quite ready to eat but at least his stomache was not queasy. I told him not to worry – one step before the other. Just savor the moment of freedom from the pain. I can’t imagine what is worse – the pain in the side or the feeling constantly like you might throw up.

He took another nap and woke up with an appetite. Mind you, at this point it was the third day since we had applied the patch to his arm to fight the nausea and we were giving up hope that it would work. Since Sunday he had only consumed the equivalent of 1 apple and a popsicle or two. He was still on the other nausea pills waiting for the patch to take effect.

So the big moment was here and I asked him what he wanted to eat. His answer was steak and lobster. I had to laugh. Only my Johnny. From eating like a pauper to eating like a king. He has never ceased to amaze me all my life so why stop now. I grabbed the car keys and made a beeline for the nearby Outback Restaurant. The smallest meal we could get was the earlybird $9.99 special – a 6oz steak and he chose a small salad and a sweet potato for the sides, along with the petite lobster tail. As Scarlett would say – I “worked that traffic” racing home with the bounty for my baby!

I cut the steak and lobster tail up in tiny little pieces so it would be easier to digest. He ate almost all the steak and finished off the lobster. Yippee! But that was it. He was full. He wanted to save the sweet potato for later. I gave him some papaya tablets to help him digest the meal. Then he had a piece of homemade chocolate candy that our neighbor Brenda made for us over the holidays. Success! Day one of eating again. No nausea pills necessary.

Then yesterday he requested King Crab legs. There goes my baby again. Its zero to sixty or nothing at all (a reference from his drag racing days – a story for another day.) He wanted fresh corn on the cob with okra and tomatoes. I made him homemade buttermilk biscuits to go with it. I’m sad to report that it’s been so long since I made him biscuits and I was racing to get it done that I knew when I was mixing the batter that the biscuits would be too heavy and they were. You can’t win them all.

He ate the leftover sweet potatoes last night and had had a half egg sandwich yesterday morning. So we were building momentum and he was getting more alert (and sassy) with each hour. I loved seeing the ole Johnny coming back.

But this morning I saw the frown on his face. Slight queasiness was returning. He had to resume taking the pills again along with the patch (so much for getting our $135 of nausea relief that is supposed to last 5-7 days) he couldn’t eat until around 4pm. But he did eat a “crab salad sandwich” I made from the leftover crab yesterday and a sliver or two of cheese. And just awhile ago he ate a fudgesicle.

But he still takes it slow – most of the day spent on the couch. Thank goodness for continued basketball and football games to give him something to focus on. I asked him if he wanted to take a shower and he is too tired to. So we continue to walk with baby steps forward. His next scheduled chemo day is next Tuesday. That gives him two more days to develop strength. He winces at the thought of it. I cringe. But he insists on still fighting. We will see.

I gave him a manicure yesterday. He needs a beard trim. Though it has shape, the hair is growing long and getting in his way when he drinks and eats. I might take him to the barber shop. right before next Tuesday. Hopefully his strength will be at its best then.

So praise the Lord! He gives us just enough light for the step we are on. In the bible when God rained manna on the people for sustenance He only gave them enough for one day. They had to trust Him that more would be on the way the next morning. This is the walk of faith we are on right now. We say “Yes Lord! Yes Lord!” with every step. It is a very strange place to exist indeed. It is that place where all you have to hang on to is God. We never know what the next moment brings.

But, what we DO know is that God has brought us this far, and as we rely more and more on His promises to take care of us, He gives us more and more grace to handle anything. I think THAT is the key to unlocking His gifts of grace. You never truly learn to trust God until you have nothing else to rely on. What we find is that God stands there with armfuls of gifts waiting to give to us. Everytime we say to Him “I trust you” he hands us another gift with delight.

There are so many ways to say “I trust you” to God. It is music to His ears. I find that the most important way is to praise Him continuously. No matter what the circumstances are that surrounds us, no matter how bleak things look, we MUST REMEMBER that God can make a way where there is no way. Get your eyes off the world and get your eyes BACK ON GOD. He is the one in control. Get out of the driver’s seat and let God steer your life. All things will only lead to good for those who love the Lord.

So today I wish each of you that gift of grace. Unwrap your present and you will find that with God you can handle any situation. But first you have to pull the ribbon off by praising Him every second, every minute, every hour and every day. God bless you all with amazing grace, now and forever!

Beautiful Blessings,


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Winds of Change

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” - Jeremiah 29:11-13

God is so good. The winds of change swept in this morning to refresh our hearts and souls. I can just feel the prayers being prayed around us, and the results bring me so much joy. I wanted to write as quickly as possible and share it with you. I have been praising God all morning. Too often we only cry out when our hearts are hurting and when things get better we put God on the back burner again. Giving thanks is just as important as prayer requests.

I knew it was going to be a good day after my morning prayer walk with Lucky, my canine angel (who miraculously arrived on my doorstep out of the blue 9 years ago.) Remind me to tell you about Lucky sometime and how she appeared in our life one day. It truly was a miracle. She looks like the old Hollywood Benji dog but guards us like a pit bulldog.

On our walk this morning a beautiful hawk swooped down to visit us and perched about 30 feet from me on a house ledge I was passing. It was about a foot tall. I was whistling at the moment he arrived in full spread wing slendor before he perched. I just knew it was God sending me another bird to give me a sign of my continuing miracle from Christmas 2004. So I stopped and wished him “namaste’ (the God within me salutes the God within you) and stood there reveling in this wonderful manifestation of God’s beauty.

It was a breezy and glorious walk. I got back home just before the rains came to wash the air, nourish the flowers and trees and grass and cleanse my soul. I walked upstairs to find Johnny awake and alert. God had heard my cry for his resurrection – if only for a moment. We are learning to take one day at a time. I thank God for every moment that Johnny feels good.

We got his pills taken and he drank some Gatorade and sat up on the bed for awhile. He decided that he felt good enough to try to get up today and take a shower and attempt to go downstairs. But one baby step at a time. He needed to lay back down to rally the strength to carry through the events to come. It’s funny how we take for granted the effort it takes to do what most of us consider small things. So I opened the windows in our bedroom so he could see the trees outside from our second story view. The rain had stopped. I made sure he was comfortable and headed out for my solitary health walk I have been doing daily as part of my new year’s resolutions.

When I cam back up our front walk the roses were blooming by our front porch so I stopped and smelled them. They smelled heavenly sweet so I darted in quickly to grab the scissors and cut one for Johnny to smell. I put it in a little wine glass full of water and took it up to him. He was waiting for me awake and smiling. He was ready for his shower. So together we got him undressed and showered and back in fresh, crisp lounge clothes. He brushed his teeth and looked like a new person not the one I had seen the last few days.

He felt as good as he could for the moment. So we made the trek downstairs with me ahead of him in case he stumbled. He settled in his recliner and asked for the remote. That’s when I knew he was back. I started doing some chores and finishing up bagging the Christmas tree. Lucky wanted to go our front. Big winds have been blowing after the rain and she has to assess the situation. We walked out side together and I checked all my hanging flowers on the veranda for water.

At that moment ANOTHER hawk swooped down in front of me making a lovely glide across our yard. I know God when I see HIM. That’s when I realized I needed to come write about answered prayer.

Jeremiah tells us so beautifully, that God wants nothing more for us than peace, a good future and hope. It is so coincidental that I was praying for peace last night knowing that the only way I could find it was to BE THE PEACE THAT I WAS SEEKING. I prayed my Psalm 91 as I was falling asleep and placing my total trust in HIM. I called upon Him through the Word. I chose to exchange my distress over Johnny for HIS promises to me through the word.

This is how I seek Him with all my heart. This is how I find peace. This is how I find God. Just like when my own father used to tuck me in to bed at night and when I was afraid he told me everything was alright. I believed him. I trusted him. I slept without fear. It is the same with God, our heavenly Father.

All we have is the moment. I don’t know what the next moment holds but I don’t worry about it. Because I know God will be there, with me, and watching over me. If I can “be still and know that He is God” I will be alright. And so will Johnny. For I know HE has good plans for us. Not just in this life but for eternity. HE is my refuge. HE is my fortress. HE is my God in whom I trust.

Thank You Lord for a good day today. I ask Him to bless each one of you reading with this same peace.

Beautiful Blessings to you all,


Praying for Peace

“My peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” - John 14:27

Johnny had another chemo yesterday and this time has been an especially rocky road. I now have to roll him into Mayo in a wheelchair. He is simply too weak to walk far. He weighed in at 153 pounds with his tennis shoes on. His constant state of nausea is uncontrollable. It prevents him from being able to eat hardly anything. The doctor did prescribe a patch for nausea that has just been approved for release on the market.

I picked it up today at the drugstore. They had to order it. I had to ask the pharmacist to repeat himself when he told me it cost $400 and only lasts 5 days. The insurance paid for part of it and left us with a $135 balance. Is it me or are the drug companies out of control?

You can do the math and figure our expense if we have to keep him on this non-stop. Not that money is an issue at all when it comes to doing whatever it takes for his comfort and pain, but I feel like the drug companies prey upon the helpless, because they know we will sell the shirt off our back to help ones we love in distress. I confess that this is a real challenge to my peace.

However, all I can do is to keep my eyes on the Lord and keep his WORD planted in me that tells me to not let my heart be troubled. There is no other choice. Well, there is but I have to hold myself back from letting my protective instincts rear their ugly head when my family is threatened or taken advantage of when they are vulnerable. If I was not a Christian I could seriously hurt somebody. You know what they say about “hell hath no fury like a woman’s wrath!”

And so I bite my tongue as I watch over Johnny suffering in anguish, his body wasting away from his robust 215-220 pounds that he used to be to a frail, bony shell of a man. Today he never got out of bed. I had to reassure him it was alright to just release the need to do anything but try to heal. I knew he’d never make it back up the steps today if he went downstairs. Not today. So he just sighed with relief and surrendered to it and slept all day.

On the way out of Mayo yesterday, as I rolled him down the hall he suddenly flailed his arms in desperation. A wave of nausea hit him suddenly. By the grace of God we were passing a trash can and I threw everything off his lap trying to secure the wheelchair quickly so he could step out safely. He stumbled to the can puking on the way, but managed to grab the can quickly. It was the end of the day and not many people were around. But the few people that passed, stopped to help us and a volunteer brought us a cup of water and a bag in case we had another incident on the way home.

Now he is struggling with being able to reach the bathroom in time when those “gotta go” moments hit. We had to take measures to protect his clothes and the bed. I also need to buy a shower chair now to help him when he bathes. He didn’t protest at all when I mentioned it. I did get him to eat a popsicle today and take a few sips of Gatorade and water.

The good news is that by the end of the day he said he didn’t feel nausea. Hallelujah on that note. I told him maybe if he can get a good night’s sleep his appetite might be restored some tomorrow and that would help him to eat more and regain some strength in general.

Whew! Thank God the Lord is my shepherd and walking with us through this current valley! I can’t imagine going this alone without Him. I know I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. My prayer tonight is that He will also give Johnny some strength to make it day by day. Johnny never complains. I hope he will rally and be able to watch the Gator game on Thursday. The past week of football marathons really gave him something to look forward to each day.

It’s past midnight now and my eyes are blinking as I write. I just checked on him again and his voice sounds better. I’ve been doing laundry all day and taking down the Christmas tree. I am hoping that “tomorrow will be another day” filled with hope and resurrection.

Though I am tired I will recite Psalm 91 out loud as I fall asleep and continue to thank God for all the good in our lives knowing that, though there are tough times, they never last – but tough cookies do! Our trials always lead to blessings. Our hope is alive and well that God the Father is in control. I will continuously praise the Lord no matter what. His faithfulness is my shield and buckler. Goodnight God! Blessings to all. We covet your prayers.

In His Love,


Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Resolutions!

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised.” – Proverbs 31:30

Here we are on the first day of the year – the annual chance for new beginnings! I’m sitting here reflecting on all the changes in the past year that have changed me, and looking forward to the future through a different lense than I ever have before. The one thing I have learned through this past year’s journey with Johnny is that EVERY MOMENT COUNTS! We do not have the luxury of time to waste, because we just really never know when that time will be over.

I am determined to live this year in a new way. I’m making a long “bucket list” of experiences I want to enjoy before my life is over. But that is just a part of my new appreciation for living. The most important part is giving my vital attention to my true purpose for being here. And frankly, I have come to realize, it is all about serving the Lord in my minute to minute walk with Him.

I think, as a Christian woman, we have a uniquely beautiful and powerful role to play in bringing the message of Christ to the world. We are women of influence as Mothers and Wives and share so much responsibility for shaping the lives of our families and communities that surround us. WE bring loveliness to the world. My grandmother has a favorite saying, “Beauty is as beauty does!”

This year my biggest goal is to become a more beautiful Christian woman by acting more like Christ, in all I do. I have made a list of what I call my “BEAUTY B’s” that I am posting on my mirror to remind me each morning of what I want to BE everyday. Here is my alphabetical (because it helps me memorize it) list of traits that I believe define a Christian woman and all she should be to shine that light bright!


BE Authentic – the real me is who you see!

BE Benevolent - one good turn deserves another

BE Compassionate – walk a mile in someone else’s shoes

BE Determined – I will never give up never!

BE Expressive – have I told you lately I love you?

BE Forgiving – 7 X 7 X 7 X & 7

BE Gracious - it just takes a little more to go first class!

BE Healthy – you are what you eat

BE Inspirational - lead and others follow

BE Joyful - live love laugh and be happy!

BE Kind – if the choice is to be right or be kind – be kind

BE Loving - whatever the question love is the answer

BE Merciful - always give the benefit of the doubt

BE Nice – it takes more muscles to frown than smile

BE Optimistic – your choice every morning – be happy

BE Prayerful - make your life a living prayer

BE Quiet - spend more time talking to God

BE Romantic - stop and smell the roses!

BE Strong - tough times never last but tough cookies do

BE Thankful - music to God’s ears!

BE Unflinching - close your eyes and hold on

BE Victorious - press on until you cross the finish line!

BE Wise - learn the lessons from mistakes

BE Young - the only way to enter the kingdom of heaven

BE Zealous - zap somebody to day with some Christian love!

Happy 2009 to each of you! May all your dreams come true!

Beautiful Blessings,