Sunday, December 16, 2012


In 1962 my parents were serving as missionaries on Guam.  On November 11, 1962 we endured one of the deadliest typhoons ever to hit Guam.  I wrote about it a little while back.

Tonight I was looking through some of Dad's sermon notes and found something he had written about experiencing the typhoon.  I'm not sure when he wrote this but from some of the other notes in this notebook I believe it was the fall of 1968.  The title of the sermon was "The Blessedness of Possessing Nothing".  Here is what he wrote:

"During Typhoon Karen, this lesson of the 'Blessedness of Possessing Nothing' was made very vivid to me.  When for 8 grueling hours winds of 150 to 200 mph are driving rain and debris through your house, you have time to get over some of your 'scared-ness'  and think.  God's power is certainly not doubted in such an hour, as you see your furniture smashed, even the big upright piano being blown around like a matchbox, you sure feel your helplessness!  Somehow, at a time like that, when you see your prized possessions being blown around and broken, the books that you so dearly loved dripping with water, it doesn't seem to matter too much.  But when you see your children huddled, sopping wet under water-soaked mattresses to protect them from the wind and flying debris, it makes you feel your nothingness.  You search for a dry corner and their is none.  you search for dry clothing but the clothes in the closet are dripping and the chest of drawers is filling with water.  All is black.  The wind is howling.  The rain soaked clothing chills the body.  Yet there was a light and peace and warmth that came to my soul and an assurance that all would be well.  Believe me, it was a night spent in prayer, and it was a night of real spiritual victory.  Striped to nothing, yet richest of all, we simply had God."

I went to the jail tonight for Bible study with the ladies of cell block C.  When I got home I was reading through the prayer requests I had collected.  Most of the requests centered around prayers for children and families of the women (my heart really goes out to them as they face the holidays apart) or for upcoming court dates.  But one of the prayer requests really struck me.  This young lady simply wrote "Pray for the families of the people and children involved in the school shootings".

Wow!  This young woman certainly knows what it feels like to be striped to nothing yet her prayer request is for those involved in this horrific tragedy.  God, may I never forget what is most important!  May I never get so wrapped up in things, busy-ness, and just plain ME that I lose sight of others.  Please join with me in honoring this prayer request throughout the upcoming days, weeks, and months.  I feel certain that if we spend nights in prayer for these families, God will have the victory in this senseless act of evil.

Proverbs 15:3 (The Message)

God doesn’t miss a thing—
    he’s alert to good and evil alike.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I just got back from Kentucky where I was visiting with Uncle Jim and Aunt Lee Wilburn and Aunt Frankie.  My son, Mike, and grandson, Kristopher, went with me.  What a wonderful time we had reminiscing about the past and hearing stories from long before I was born.

As I was listening to Dad's sisters and brother-in-law, it struck me all over again that I am blessed with a rich spiritual heritage.  Throughout past decades (and even centuries!)  many of my ancestors loved the Lord and served Him with their very lives.  I am sure that many of them prayed for me long before they had any idea I would ever be born.  They have prayed for my children and grandchildren.  I feel confident they even prayed for my yet unborn great-grandchildren and their children!

I am so very blessed!  These ancestors of my mine did not leave me great material wealth but they left me a far greater wealth!  The wealth they left me with will never fade away.  No one can take it away from me.  It has no dependence on the stock market or the current price of gold.  Because of this, I feel compelled to pray for my children, grandchildren and yes even my great-grandchildren, their children and their children.

Dad spoke often about the importance of praying through the generations.  My life can impact lives for decades and centuries to come!  I do not live in vain.  As long as I spend time on my knees in prayer, my life will matter not only to people around me today but to those who are yet unborn!

Deuteronomy 7:6-9 (The Message)

Do this because you are a people set apart as holy to God, your God. God, your God, chose you out of all the people on Earth for himself as a cherished, personal treasure.
God wasn’t attracted to you and didn’t choose you because you were big and important—the fact is, there was almost nothing to you. He did it out of sheer love, keeping the promise he made to your ancestors. God stepped in and mightily bought you back out of that world of slavery, freed you from the iron grip of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know this: God, your God, is God indeed, a God you can depend upon. He keeps his covenant of loyal love with those who love him and observe his commandments for a thousand generations.

 Hallelujah!  Thank you, Aunt Frankie, Aunt Lee, and Uncle Jim for reminding me not only of the value of our lives but how fleeting time is.  I love you!

Friday, December 7, 2012


As my daughter, Stacie, was digging out the Christmas decorations the other day she found a stack of cards.  Who knows why I stuck them in the box with the Christmas stuff but as she scanned through them she found a Thanksgiving card Mom had sent me.

I am not sure when she sent it but it must have been about 4 or 5 years ago.  I think that because she mentioned my son-in-law, Troy.  She most likely sent it shortly after Sarah and Troy were married.  It was just like Mom to be sure that everyone felt included.

The front of the card has a sunflower - my favorite flower - and says "For You, Daughter, and Your Family".  On the inside she wrote "Donna - " just above the printed portion.  She always did that - personalized whatever was written on the card by adding my name just above.  Mom's mother, Gram, always did that, too and so does my Aunt Sis.  Such a nice personal touch.

The printed portion said "May your home be warm with love and happiness on this Thanksgiving Day"

Of course, she always wrote a note herself as well.  Her note on this card is what really got to me.  In her perfect handwriting she wrote:

You will be in our thoughts - we'll miss seeing you, but pray your Day will be filled with joy as you reflect on your many blessings.  We love you and all your "offspring" and thank God for each one - including Troy. 

Mom & Dad

As I read and re-read her note, I thought that her prayers must be just as effective today as they were before her death.  My Thanksgiving Day was filled with joy this year even though I miss Mom and Dad terribly.  I know they would both want it that way.  How thankful I am for the prayers of my faithful parents!

Psalm 22:27-31 (The Message)

From the four corners of the earth
    people are coming to their senses,
    are running back to God.
Long-lost families
    are falling on their faces before him.
God has taken charge;
    from now on he has the last word.

All the power-mongers are before him
All the poor and powerless, too
Along with those who never got it together
Our children and their children
    will get in on this
As the word is passed along
    from parent to child.
Babies not yet conceived
    will hear the good news—
    that God does what he says.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

O Come All Ye Faithful

I cannot believe December is here already.  Time just keeps moving right along.  Sometimes I feel Mom and Dad's passing has been forgotten.  The days and months march right along as though nothing happened.  Sometimes my life seems so normal and then something will strike me and their memory comes flooding back.

I attended my first Christmas concert of the season last night.  My son, Mike, was kind enough to escort me.  It was the Vespers program at Milliken University in Decatur, Illinois.  What an eventful evening it was!  I am grateful to my dear friend Eric Hendrickson for providing my son and I with tickets.  The music was heavenly.  I was struck by the discipline of the choir members in their presentation.  The message was divine as well.  I literally had goose bumps from the very first song.

At a few points during evening they had the audience stand and sing along on some of the old standard Christmas carols.  One of the songs they asked us to join in on was "O Come All Ye Faithful".  As we were singing I thought how much Mom and Dad would enjoy this concert.  Then came the verse:

Sing choirs of angels.  Sing in exultation.  
Sing all ye citizens of heaven above.  
Glory to God all glory in the highest.
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord. 

As soon as I saw the familiar words, "Sing all ye citizens of heaven above" flash on the screen I immediately thought I could hear Dad's beautiful tenor voice and mom's tender soprano voice singing along with us.  For a moment I could not sing at all.  I just listened.  Are you there?  Are you singing praises to God?

Then the answer came, Yes!  Yes we are singing praises to our Lord right along with you, Donna.  With tears in my eyes I sang the rest of the song with new gusto.  All the citizens of heaven are singing along!

Psalm 149:1-4 (The Message)

Sing to God a brand-new song,
    praise him in the company of all who love him.
Let all Israel celebrate their Sovereign Creator,
    Zion’s children exult in their King.
Let them praise his name in dance;
    strike up the band and make great music!
And why? Because God delights in his people,
    festoons plain folk with salvation garlands!

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Church Family

At church this weekend, our Pastor opened the mics up to anyone who wanted to share a "Thank you".  I just had to say that I am thankful for my family and my church family.  Of course, my family is awesome.  Anyone who has known any member of my family knows how blessed I am.  Wonderful parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sister-in-laws, nieces, nephews, not to mention my fantastic children, and grandchildren.  What did I ever do to deserve such a family?

But I have to admit that I am just as blessed when it comes to my church family.  Without them I do not think I could have made it through these past 19 months.  They are a constant source of strength and courage.  They pray for me relentlessly.  They encourage me regularly.  I cannot imagine going through life without them.

Of course, Mom and Dad always encouraged us to be an active part of a good local church.  I know I would not be where I am in my walk with the Lord today had it not been for all the churches I have been a part of in various parts of the world throughout my life but I am especially grateful for First United Methodist Church in Springfield, IL.  Even though I definitely grew up Baptist and do not believe everything the Methodist Church as a denomination teaches, I love my church!  I am grateful that God led me to this church for this phase of my life.

Mom and Dad loved this church, too.  They tried to plan their visits with me so they could attend services if at all possible.  In particular they had come to the Easter services here for several years.  Easter Sunday, April 24, 2011 was the last church service they attended in this world and it was here at my church.

If you do not have a church home, I urge you to find one.  If you live in the Springfield area, I invite you to visit my church.  While we are still in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I just wanted to give a big "shout-out" to my church, my Sunday School teachers, my Bible study gals, my pastors ~ too many to name here personally!  Thank you for all you have done for me and for carrying me through the most difficult time in my life!  I love you all!

Ephesians 1:20-23 (The Message)

All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Sometimes people ask me how I can be happy, go on with my life, smile, etc since Mom and Dad were murdered.  Sometimes I do not but for the most part I do.  I have so much to be thankful for...really.  I am not just saying that.  I mean it from the bottom of my heart.

God keeps using me and blessing me in huge ways.  I have an amazing, loving family.  I have good relationships with my children and grandchildren.  I have wonderful friends.  I have a job I enjoy and fun people working with me.  My church is a blessing to me.  My pastors care about me and pray for me. 

This blog would be very long if I tried to name everyone who has blessed me and supported me.  But without them I doubt I would even be writing this at all.  God has provided richly for me. 

God knows what I need long before I have any inkling that I even need anything.  Nothing that happens to me comes as a surprise to God.  Where would I be without my family?  My church?  My Christian friends and mentors?  My fellow Bible study ladies?  My workplace?  I cannot imagine going through the past 19 months without them.

It does not matter what my circumstances are in this broken world.  My joy is in my Lord who loves me with all His heart.  After all, He gave His only Son to save me!  If you are going through difficult times this Thanksgiving season, I implore you to examine your life and make a list of all the things you can be thankful for.  If you start with the little things, it will not be long until you see the big things that God has provided for you as well.

Psalm 100 (The Message)

A Thanksgiving Psalm

 On your feet now—applaud God!
    Bring a gift of laughter,
    sing yourselves into his presence.
 Know this: God is God, and God, God.
    He made us; we didn’t make him.
    We’re his people, his well-tended sheep. 
 Enter with the password: “Thank you!”
    Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
    Thank him. Worship him.
 For God is sheer beauty,
    all-generous in love,
    loyal always and ever.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


I had an opportunity to spend a little time talking to Sherry Pittman late this afternoon.  She called me yesterday to see if she could interview me about the jail ministry on her TV show, "Survive and Thrive with Sherry".  I have known Sherry for a number of years as a fellow Christian and Realtor but I did not know that she had a TV show.  Of course, I was thrilled to be able to share the blessings God has poured out on me through the jail ministry.

I was just as excited to get to know Sherry a little bit better and learn some of the interesting things she was doing with her life!  Sherry is a remarkable woman who has accomplished a lot.  One of the things she is doing now is life coaching.  As we talked she shared that she is planning an upcoming seminar and one of the things she wanted to include was a segment on journaling.  She asked if I might think about sharing some of the ways writing has been good for me.

Little did she know that not only is writing a wonderful way for me to deal with losing Mom and Dad in such a horrific way but their journals have been a great comfort to me in the months since they were so abruptly taken from us.  I literally have boxes of notebooks and journals that Mom and Dad both wrote in on a fairly regular basis.  In their writings, they each shared daily events and spiritual awakenings.  How powerful to see how God worked in their lives!

I am truly grateful to have this rich resource.  It was a big part of what inspired me to begin this blog.  I now realize the importance of recording my own journey.  Not only is it healing to me but it helps me to keep a handle on reality.  I trust it will also help my children and grandchildren as they grow in the Lord.

If you don't journal (or the old fashioned term - write in a diary), please consider regularly writing down just one or two things that speak to you.  It does not have to be lengthy and it does not have to be daily.  Just a sentence or two every few days can help you a great deal.  If nothing else, at least keep a prayer journal.  Jot down the things you are praying for and when you see an answer to that prayer make a quick note of how it was answered.  Not only will it help you to remember everything you want to pray about, it will increase your faith as you see answers to prayer.

Psalm 102:18-22 (The Message)

Write this down for the next generation
    so people not yet born will praise God:
God looked out from his high holy place;
    from heaven he surveyed the earth.
He listened to the groans of the doomed,
    he opened the doors of their death cells.”
Write it so the story can be told in Zion,
    so God’s praise will be sung in Jerusalem’s streets
And wherever people gather together
    along with their rulers to worship him.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cry Out to God

In my ladies group, I am leading a study on prayer.  In our meeting tonight I was struck at how much we are all growing in our prayer life and in our walk with God.  As I drove home I was thinking about the daily prayer guide that Dad and I wrote together for my church several years ago.  There was one segment that Dad wrote and sent me that I did not include in the guide.  Not because I did not like it but it just did not fit into the book that the guide was accompanying.  I would like to share it with you.  Here is what Dad wrote in his e-mail to me:

It seemed to me you may have taken material from different sections. Thats OK, I will just send you what ever I get done and you can redo as needed to fit your program.
Here is one I wrote today: (you may recognize it)
A killer storm was brewing out in the Pacific, heading toward the Island of Guam. The missionary and his family boarded up their windows and made preparations as best they could.
Family devotions were being conducted when the raging winds began ripping the roof off and the ceiling lifted up and waffled before settling down again. The missionary knew the roof, ceiling and all was going to go and began to make preprations for his family to be safe, when his daughter came running up to him saying, "Let's pray daddy, let's pray." The missionary told her to pray and pray she did. She cried out to God asking Him to save us, and protect us from the howling wind.  He felt it necessary to get mattresses nailed into place with books stacked up forming pillars to hold the mattress up in case something fell on top of the children.
The last nails were driven and the children safely under the matress when the roof was completely blown away by winds that exceded 200 MPH. The wind blew the back door in, cabinets flew open, and a big piano was flung across the room. But God kept the family safe from all harm.
In times of distress, CRY OUT TO GOD! The Israelites did it numerous times and God saved them. Apply Psa. 107:6 and 107:31

Of course, this was autobiographical.  The missionary in this story was my Dad and the little girl was me.  God brought us through that harrowing night as only God can! 

Psalm 107:6 (New Living Translation)

Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,
    and he rescued them from their distress.

Psalm 107:31 (New Living Translation)

Let them praise the Lord for his great love
    and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Actively Waiting

I think one of the most important things I learned from Mom and Dad is that there is always more to learn.  Mom actively studied her Bible and one of her favorite ways was through Bible Study Fellowship.  Not only did she do that very intense study every week but she spent time in the Word every day.

Dad, too, spent hours every day studying and praying that God would teach him more.  They spent time in the Word together nearly every day as well.  It was important to them to remain in the Word.  Both of them would readily admit they had a lot to learn.

That is one of the beautiful things about the mystery of God.  There are so many layers to uncover!  As I have contemplated the subject of faith the past 10 days or so I have been reminded of the fact that I can never become complacent in my studies! 

I thought I knew a lot about faith.  After all, Mom & Dad taught me a lot about faith just through the way they lived their lives.  I have done my own studies on faith and I felt I had grown a lot in faith thought the past 55 years but I still have so much to learn!

After writing a few blogs recently on the subject of faith requiring both action and waiting God began speaking to me about actively waiting.  What?  Wait actively?  How does that work?

Dr Henry Blackaby said, "Biblically, waiting on the Lord is never passive; it is always active.  Waiting require us to cease our own pursuits and give God our complete attention.  We may have to give up some of the activities we have allowed to inundate our lives.  We may need to take an entire day to sit quietly before the Lord.  If we ask Him, God will show us the resources He has provided to help with the work we have been attempting on our own.  God may address feelings of guilt that have motivated us to do things that he has not asked us to do.  Jesus carried more responsibility than you do.  More people needed Him than will ever need you.  Yet He was never overwhelmed or inadequate for the task.  Now Christ offers to guide you so that you will fulfill your heavenly Father's will and gain the strength necessary for each day."

Hmm, I may be doing things, perhaps many good things, that are not things God has called me to do.  When I feel overwhelmed I really need to examine what I am doing.  Am I in God's Will for my life?  If I am doing the things God called me to do, am I trying to do it in my own strength and not actively waiting on God?

Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wait? Act!

One last thought on the WAIT or ACT controversy.  My son said, "Mom, I'm confused.  You had me all ready to ACT and then you said WAIT.  What do I do?"

It's pretty simple, really.  God promised Joshua he would win the battle.  In order to win a battle you have to show up for the fight, so Joshua started marching.

When David could have easily taken Saul's life, he would not.  Yes, it would have been a shortcut to becoming king and it would have saved David years of fighting for his own life.  But David did not want to become king that way. 

If your action would at worst go against Scripture and at best it would be questionable or find yourself justifying your action, most likely you need to wait.  However if God promises you victory in a battle then show up for the fight with your weapons cleaned, sharpened and ready to go.  And if you need to march all night to get there, take your pj's off, put your hiking boots on and get moving!

Want to follow Christ?  ACTION is REQUIRED!

Matthew 25:34-40 (The Message)

 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Faith Needs Action - But Wait!

I know that in yesterdays post I talked about the importance of putting our faith into action in order to see God moving powerfully in our lives but I want to add a caution ~ WAIT!

Most of the time when God is calling us to something it requires us to step out in faith - ACT!  But sometimes God says wait. I have been re-reading a daily devotional book that Mom and Dad gave me for Christmas in 2005.  It's entitled Experiencing God Day-By-Day by Dr. Henry Blackaby and Dr. Richard Blackaby.

In today's reading they talked about how we can be tempted to take shortcuts to God's will for our lives.  Sometimes we think we need to help move things along because God's timing is not our timing.  They referred to 1 Samuel 26 when David and his men had an opportunity to kill Saul.

The background to this is that God had called David to be the next king of Israel.  The only problem is that Saul was still king.  Because Saul knew David had been anointed as the next king by the prophet Samuel, Saul wanted to kill David.  He had been relentlessly pursing David.

In chapter 26 David and his men had entered the kings camp while Saul and his men were sleeping.  David's comrade, Abishai held his spear above the king and begged David to let him kill Davids enemy.  But David refused.  What would have been so wrong for them to kill the enemy when David was chosen by God to be the next king?  David knew it was against Scripture.  You see, God will never call you to do anything contrary to His Word.

So how do we know when to act and when to wait?  We must listen to Gods voice and be in the Word, hide it in your heart, and listen.  God will speak to you.

David could have killed Saul right then and there and become king right away but David wanted to be in Gods will and in Gods time.  Resist the urge to help God out ~ wait on Him.  But when God calls you to step out in faith, act.  

1 Samuel 26:7-11 (The Message)

So David and Abishai entered the encampment by night, and there he was—Saul, stretched out asleep at the center of the camp, his spear stuck in the ground near his head, with Abner and the troops sound asleep on all sides.
 Abishai said, “This is the moment! God has put your enemy in your grasp. Let me nail him to the ground with his spear. One hit will do it, believe me; I won’t need a second!”
 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t you dare hurt him! Who could lay a hand on God’s anointed and even think of getting away with it?”
 He went on, “As God lives, either God will strike him, or his time will come and he’ll die in bed, or he’ll fall in battle, but God forbid that I should lay a finger on God’s anointed. Now, grab the spear at his head and the water jug and let’s get out of here.”

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Faith Needs Action

God always has a way of working on me in a multitude of ways.  When God is working on a particular area with me I seem to hear about it everywhere from all different sources.  I do not think it is because I am so special, but rather because I am a very slow learner!  My latest lesson is faith.  I have heard about it in a sermon by Dr. Ross at church, in teachings on the radio and TV, in Dr. Stanleys CD's I talked about the other day, in my own Scripture reading and Bible study, in a text from a friend...I think you get the idea.

In the past few weeks, God has pounded me with the fact that action must accompany faith.  Of course, Mom and Dad exemplified this throughout their lives.  When God called them to a new ministry, they stepped out in faith.  God used them in mighty ways because they consistently acted upon their faith.

One other place I received this lesson was in a book I read recently entitled "Sun Stand Still" by Steven Furtick, which I highly recommend.  Steven talked about how faith has to have action or it is not really faith at all.  When we pray and ask God for something but then we do not step out in faith, our prayers lack power.  The author has based his book (and hence the title) on Joshua 10:7-13.  I am quoting below from The Message version:

So Joshua set out from Gilgal, his whole army with him—all those tough soldiers! God told him, “Don’t give them a second thought. I’ve put them under your thumb—not one of them will stand up to you.”
Joshua marched all night from Gilgal and took them by total surprise. God threw them into total confusion before Israel, a major victory at Gibeon. Israel chased them along the ridge to Beth Horon and fought them all the way down to Azekah and Makkedah. As they ran from the People of Israel, down from the Beth Horon ridge and all the way to Azekah, God pitched huge stones on them out of the sky and many died. More died from the hailstones than the People of Israel killed with the sword.
The day God gave the Amorites up to Israel, Joshua spoke to God, with all Israel listening:

“Stop, Sun, over Gibeon;
Halt, Moon, over Aijalon Valley.”
And Sun stopped,
Moon stood stock still
Until he defeated his enemies.

In this text, Joshua was leading Israel into battle.  God had promised them he would be with them.  In the heat of the battle, Israel's enemies were dropping like flies but as the battle wore on, Joshua realized they were running out of daylight.  He boldly asked God to make the sun stand still - stop time - and guess what?  God did it!  The sun stopped until they finished off their enemies.

I have read this historical account several times.  I have heard several sermons on the topic but Furtick pointed out something I had never thought about before.  In verse 8 God gave Joshua a promise that they will be victorious in this fight.  In verse 10 Joshua asks God to make the sun stand still.  But what happens in verse 9?  Joshua took his men and marched all night!

He did not sit back on his laurels and wait for God to fulfill His promise.  He gathered his men and marched all night long and then began fighting.  He did his part and, wow, did God ever show up in a huge way!

Have you, like me, wondered why your prayers do not seem to have any power?  Do you feel your faith is faltering because of seemingly unanswered prayers?  I do not know about you but I need to start marching!

James 2:14-18 (The Message)

Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the
right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith
indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old
friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend!
Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off
without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous

I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”

Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Anyone who talked to Dad for more than a minute about politics did not have to wonder where he stood on the issues!  Mom and Dad both were very civic minded.  They knew the importance of checking out the candidates and then to vote for the candidate of their choice.

We often had rousing discussions around the dinner table about pertinent issues or candidates.  Although they would try very hard to convince you to see the candidates the way they saw them, in the end they would respect your right to your view and encouraged everyone to vote.

In America, we have been given a huge responsibility to participate in government.  We all need to take that responsibility seriously  As we face another election I want to urge you to do your part, make your voice heard, and vote according to your conscience.

Romans 13:1-7  (The Message)

To Be a Responsible Citizen

Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.

Do you want to be on good terms with the government? Be a responsible citizen and you’ll get on just fine, the government working to your advantage. But if you’re breaking the rules right and left, watch out. The police aren’t there just to be admired in their uniforms. God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses them to do it. That’s why you must live responsibly—not just to avoid punishment but also because it’s the right way to live.

That’s also why you pay taxes—so that an orderly way of life can be maintained. Fulfill your obligations as a citizen. Pay your taxes, pay your bills, respect your leaders.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bathed in Prayer

One of the ladies Bible study groups that I lead has just begun a new study on prayer.  As I was contemplating the topic and, yes, praying about it, I happened to catch the end of one of Dr. Charles Stanley's radio broadcasts on the topic of prayer.  It was so powerful that I knew I had to hear the whole thing so I ordered the 4 disc CD set of the entire message.  I have since listened to the entire set 6 times.  It is powerful indeed!

Now I have known for a long time that all teaching should be bathed in prayer but Dr. Stanley really drove the point home.  It amazed me how much time he spends in preparation on his knees!  Dad was the same way.  He knew the importance of prayer not just for his ministry but for him as a son of God.  It is of utmost importance for all of us as children of God!

This afternoon as I was preparing to go to the jail tonight I prayed about what God would have me share with the ladies of cell block C.  I already had a lesson prepared and was just putting the final touches on it but I sincerely prayed that I would say the things that God wanted me to say.  I pray for this all the time but all this week I have had this on my heart as I prayed and sincerely wanted God to take over.  I did not want to do anything from my power but only through the power of God.

As I was sharing at the jail tonight I was talking about one of the points in the Scripture but I went on to share some other aspects of the Scripture that I had not intended to discuss when I was preparing.  All at once some of the women started nodding, looking around at each other, and one asked, "Did God tell you to say that?  It was just what we needed!"

Friends, that can only be God.  Yes, I had studied and prepared.  I had a nice tidy study all laid out but bathed in prayer it became a powerful force that spoke to hearts all around.  The Spirit of God moved among the women at the jail and it would not have happened if it had not been for my willing spirit and the prayers that were offered up.  For all those who pray for me as I teach at the jail, I want to say thank you!  I could not do what I do without a solid foundation of prayer.

1 Corinthians 2:3-5 (The Message)

I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it—and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

No Excuse

Today is my birthday.  55 years ago this morning I came into this world.  My Aunt Sis said she kept my "three rowdy brothers" (her words) while Mom and Dad were at the hospital.  Of course, she added that only one of them was actually rowdy and he would remain nameless.  I too will not name him but anyone who knows our family will immediately know which brother would have been "rowdy" for his Aunt Sis.

I remember the stories that I was told about my birthday.  Dad was the pastor at a small General Baptist church in Chaffee, Missouri.  He was fresh out of Bible college and this was his first "full-time" pastorate (as if it were possible to pastor part-time).  They were in the midst of a revival.  There do not seem to be revivals today as there were when I was growing up but hopefully most of you are familiar with the concept.

They had a different emphasis each evening of the revival (yes, they actually had "church" every night of the week for 7 days in a row!).  One night was Pack the Pew night.  One was Bring a Friend night.  One was Youth night.  You get the idea.  Something to draw people in to the revival.

The revival was drawing to a close and the Sunday morning service was the climatic end to the week of services.  The theme for Sunday morning was No Excuse Sunday.  There certainly could be no reason why anyone should miss church on Sunday morning, right?  Certainly there was no excuse if you were the wife of the pastor!  Well, I had other plans for my Mom that day.

Mom went into labor at some point that night (note to self, ask Aunt Sis when they went to the hospital) and Dad took Mom to St. Francis hospital in nearby Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  I was born early Sunday morning.  Dad was able to make it back in time for church but Mom was in the hospital with her newborn daughter.

Mom said it set the stage for the rest of my life.  She said it was though I were saying, "What, there is NO EXCUSE to miss church?  Wanna bet?  How about this for an excuse?!"

Lord, I thank you for Mom and Dad who not only gave me physical life but who taught me about spiritual life.  Help me to not accept any excuse that might keep me from serving You!  

I John 2:28 (The Message)

And now, children, stay with Christ. Live deeply in Christ. Then we’ll be ready for him when he appears, ready to receive him with open arms, with no cause for red-faced guilt or lame excuses when he arrives.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Michael's Birthday

Today is my oldest child's birthday.  He is not only my firstborn child but he is Mom and Dad's firstborn grandchild.  Although Mom and Dad loved all their grandchildren dearly, they always said there was just something very special about their first grandchild.

Mom and Dad doted on Michael.  Dad said he was the most beautiful baby he had ever seen.  Of course, having jaundice caused him to have a nice "tan".  Put that together with his baby blue eyes and peach fuzz blonde hair and I am sure you would all agree he was beautiful.

He is still beautiful.  I can no longer cradle him in my arms.  I have to reach up and stand on the tips of my toes to give him a kiss on the cheek but he will always be my baby boy.  Today he is a Mom's dream as he delves deep into his Bible and spends hours in prayer.

For about a year before Mom and Dad were killed, he and his Granddad spent a lot of time talking over the phone about spiritual things.  Dad wanted so badly for Michael to get what a relationship with God was all about.  He tried to impress on Michael the power and intimacy available through a relationship with God because of Christ's death and resurrection.  Dad would be thrilled to see that Michael is "getting it" now.  Praise God!

Isaiah 59:20-21 (The Message)

"I'll arrive in Zion as Redeemer,
   to those in Jacob who leave their sins."
         God's Decree.

"As for me," God says, "this is my covenant with them: My Spirit that I've placed upon you and the words that I've given you to speak, they're not going to leave your mouths nor the mouths of your children nor the mouths of your grandchildren. You will keep repeating these words and won't ever stop." God's orders.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I have been so busy the past month or so with work.  I am trying not to complain since I am paid on commissions.  It is good to be selling!  But I simply cannot let the month of May get away from me without writing about my brother, Dave.

Dave had a birthday this month so he is now officially 3 years older than me (at least until my birthday in November).  David was undeniably Mom's favorite child.  Dave could do anything and get away with it.  "That's just Dave", Mom would say.  Whenever things went awry it seemed that Dave was in the middle of it.  It is rather ironic that he became a successful insurance salesman.  He certainly had plenty of experience dealing with the claims side of insurance as a young driver! 

For all the trouble David undoubtedly caused you could never stay mad at him.  His smile and twinkling eyes made it seem not so bad after all.  Yes, I am referring to the brother who would hold me down with his knees on my arms, rolling a big wad of spit around in his mouth above my head.  After tormenting me for a bit he would finally let it loose with a big splat on my face.

David is all grown up now and I am sure he has not dropped a wad of spit on anyone in years.  As a matter of fact, I am sure you would be hard pressed to find many people who do not love him dearly.  He is a most generous soul!  He has bailed me out of many tight spots over the years and even took me on vacation with him when I could not afford to go.

Life with Dave as a brother has been an exciting ride.  He loves to have fun and there is never a dull moment with him around!  He loves a challenge and does not hesitate to jump into new ventures.  I am so blessed to have him as a brother. 

When Mom and Dad were killed, it fell on David to call everyone and tell them the shocking news.  Since he was the only one who lived close by, he has been the go to guy for the police and newscasters.  He was the executor of Mom and Dad's estate which he handled wonderfully.  I will never be able to repay him for all he has done for our family.

Thank you, Dave, for being you!

Proverbs 11:24-25 (The Message)

The world of the generous gets larger and larger;
   the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed;
   those who help others are helped.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Last weekend was a tough one for me.  This Mother's Day was harder on me than last year.  I think I was still in shock last year.  Last Saturday, my daughter's dear friend got married.  I am so happy for her but it reminded me of my marriage and the death of my husband 6 years ago.  I wore our wedding rings on a necklace to the wedding as a way to honor him.  Sadness and happiness all mixed together.  It was a very emotional weekend for me.

But a very bright spot was the graduation of my niece, Krista Willingham.  She is now Dr. Krista Willingham!  My only regret was that since my kids and grandkids were home and we had the wedding here, I could not make it to the graduation in Kirksville.

Krista has worked hard to get to this point in her life.  She is extremely well organized and disciplined - not to mention intelligent!  Residency was no cake walk but she made it through all the tough times and sleepless nights.  Mom and Dad were so proud of her!  I am sorry that Krista did not have her Granny and Granddad there to cheer for her as she walked across the stage but I know they were with her in spirit.

Krista, I am so proud to call you my niece!  You have worked so long and hard to complete your goal and you did it with flying colors!  Not only did you complete a difficult and arduous task,  you did it without comprising your morals.  You have remained true to the Lord.  You have kept your faith as your focal point.  You have been a beautiful example of God's love!  I love you!

Hebrews 12: 1-3 The Message

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Not An Accident

Yesterday I shared a journal entry Mom had written about being created in the image of God - for God and by God.  The next day, she continued the thought.  On December 17, 2002 she wrote:

Your Are Not An Accident

God made me so He could love me.  He prescribed every detail of my body...race, color of skin, hair, and every other feature.  God chose my parents - He knew that those two individuals possessed exactly the right genetic makeup to create the custom me He had in mind.  They had the DNA God wanted.  Knowing that God uniquely created me, I will accept my personality and physical appearance and move on to discovering His purpose for my being here today.  My plan is to address Christmas cards, write and mail a Christmas letter to our church family and send our kids and grandkids suggestions for a Time Capsule.  Perhaps I can write words of encouragement on these mailings.

God is my Creator.  I was in His care even before I was born!  Isaiah 44:2 "...He who made you, who formed you in the womb...will help you."

Again, I have typed this out exactly as Mom wrote it.  As I read what she wrote about her parents it caused me to think of my parents.  What wonderful DNA God prepared for me!  What could God possibly want to use me for and why is it taking me so long to figure this all out?

When I read the line that said "perhaps I can write words of encouragement" I chuckled.  Mom wrote words of encouragement to so many people over the years!  Her notes and cards always had a positive thought.  Even when she gave books or bookmarks to me or my kids she would write a note of encouragement on them. 

I am so blessed to have her for a Mom!  I have so much to live up to with my own kids and grandkids as I struggle to follow in her footsteps!  Lord, help me to hear Your voice!

Isaiah 44:2-4 (The Message)

God who made you has something to say to you;
   the God who formed you in the womb wants to help you.
Don't be afraid, dear servant Jacob,
   Jeshurun, the one I chose.
For I will pour water on the thirsty ground
   and send streams coursing through the parched earth.
I will pour my Spirit into your descendants
   and my blessing on your children.
They shall sprout like grass on the prairie,
   like willows alongside creeks.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

One Year

This past week marked one year since Mom & Dad were stabbed to death in their modest home on a quiet street in Springfield, MO.  I traveled there to attend a briefing with the sheriff and do some press conferences with my brother and Aunt Sis.  There still have been no arrests made despite all the tireless work on the part of the detectives.  Please keep praying for justice as well as for the detectives who have sacrificed so much in their pursuit of justice.  I have a great deal of respect for these men!

Today I just happened to pick up one of Dad's little notebooks (he always had one in his shirt pocket).  This note he had written just popped out at me: The heart of worship is surrender.  The more you grow in Christ, the more you'll love His body and want to sacrifice for it.

The notebook is from late December 2007.  It was the only thing he had written on this page and nothing before it or after it had any connection.  Was it just a random thought he had while waiting somewhere?  I know that Dad would willingly have surrendered his life if it would help further the body of Christ.

This notebook was lying right on top of a journal of Mom's which I picked up and opened to this writing by her.  It was titled

It All Starts With God

The biggest change that I recognized in my life after I totally surrendered to God at age 19 was that now I had a purpose for living - life had been meaningless before.  Today, recognizing that my days for living here on earth are few now, I want to really focus on what matters most - spend less time on the unimportant.
"I was born BY God's purpose and FOR God's purpose."
It is difficult to keep the "mind set".
"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." Colossians 3:2 (NIV)
I was created by Him and for Him.
Colossians 1:16b (King James) "...all things were created by Him and for Him."

This was dated December 16, 2002.  I typed this out exactly as Mom had written it.  It's in one of her "fancy" journals (not just a plain notebook) so I know she took great care in how she wrote it in her beautiful handwriting.  The fact that she would say that she needs to spend less time on the unimportant really struck me.  Mom did so little for herself and certainly did not live her life frivolously!

It really causes me to pause and consider my life and how I spend my time.  Am I sacrificing myself for the body of Christ?  Do I really live as though my life belonged to God?  That I was created by Him and for Him?  I have a very long way to go in my walk with the Lord! 

Colossians 1:15-18 (The Message)

We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God's original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Who to mourn?

This might sound weird to you but sometimes I feel guilty for mourning the loss of one of my parents.  The other day I was really missing my Mom and started to cry just knowing I could not call her just to chat as we often would.  I then began to feel guilty that I was just missing Mom at that moment.  Why wasn't I missing Dad in the same way.  The converse of that has been true as well.

There have been many times my heart has just ached at the loss of my Dad and then I'll feel that I am not giving Mom her full respect.  So how do you pay due honor and homage to both?  How do I grieve both of them at the same time?  Why do I sometimes feel this way when I just happen to be thinking about one of them more than the other?

Truly if anyone has the answer, I would love to hear it!  Next Wednesday will mark one year since they were killed.  Some days I feel it is no easier now than it was that first week.  What would I do without my God who strengthens me? 

Joshua 1:5-9 (The Message)

All your life, no one will be able to hold out against you. In the same way I was with Moses, I'll be with you. I won't give up on you; I won't leave you. Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don't get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you're going. And don't for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you'll get where you're going; then you'll succeed. Haven't I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don't be timid; don't get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take."

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


One week from today will mark 1 year since Mom & Dad were murdered.  No arrests have been made but I know detectives are working relentlessly on the case.  My brother Dave, Aunt Sis and I will meet with the sheriff next Wednesday.  That meeting will be followed by yet another press conference.

I am grateful that the press has kept this case before the public in Springfield, MO but it discouraging that we still have no closure.  I have found myself feeling quite anxious about the upcoming meeting.  I've had some crazy dreams off and on for the past month.  I know God is working in this tragic event but I wish I could see into the future and know the outcome.  It would certainly make trust a whole lot easier!

I have been reading through the Bible this year and just finished the book of Job.  By God's standards and by Satan's, Job was a good man who loved the Lord.  Yet he still suffered great losses and illness.  When Job questioned God, God's basic reply was who are you to question Me, the Creator of the universe?  It does help if I keep things in perspective!

Job 42:1-6 (The Message)

Job answered God: "I'm convinced: You can do anything and everything.
   Nothing and no one can upset your plans.
You asked, 'Who is this muddying the water,
   ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?'
I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me,
   made small talk about wonders way over my head.
You told me, 'Listen, and let me do the talking.
   Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.'
I admit I once lived by rumors of you;
   now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!
I'm sorry—forgive me. I'll never do that again, I promise!
   I'll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Awesome Big Brother, Doug

I know I have not written for a long while.  It's not because I have not wanted to but rather I just felt that I could not bring myself to write.  It dawned on me tonight as I listened to a Spirit filled Christian speaker that I really should write about my brother, Doug.  I said, okay, God.  I can do that.  So here I am writing again.

Doug's birthday was two weeks ago.  I am so grateful to have him as my oldest brother.  I do not say that just to point out that he is old (since all my brothers and I are only a year apart that is nothing now that we are all in our 50's!) but rather to give you an idea of our relationship.

There is a home movie that shows us all dressed up in our Easter best.  I was about 4 or 5 so Doug would have been about 7 or 8.  Doug was quite busy trying to get all of us lined up and looking proper.  Once he felt we were ship shape, he popped into the line with us and beamed toward Dad and the camera.  

That was Doug and typical of the oldest child.  Always trying to keep us in line.  What a job he had, too!  I know we were not an easy bunch to keep straight.  David was so mischievous and Stephen would often follow whatever Dave suggested.  Of course, I was a perfect angel.  Ha!

Doug was wonderful student.  He set the bar high for all of us to follow!  He played the piano well and practiced diligently.  Since I was the only other one to take piano that set a wonderful example for me!  I remember once when Doug was in high school (I think he was junior).  He was playing in the jazz band during a basketball game.  A man sitting by me in the bleachers said, "What is that kid doing in the band?  He should be playing basketball!"  Of course, Doug was tall but it actually made me mad.  Just because he was tall it certainly did not mean that his musical talents should be set aside to play ball.  I always regretted that I did not say anything to that man. 

Today, Doug is married to a very sweet, godly woman.  He is a proud and loving father to four extremely gifted children.  His oldest child is about to graduate with her Doctorate!  Needless to say, I am very proud of my brother.  I know Mom and Dad were proud of him, too.

He was such a rock through the ordeal of Mom and Dad's death.  He made many trips from his home in Texas to help with all the work that had to be done.  I do not know what we would have done without him.

Thank you, Doug, for always being there for me when it counts the most!  I know I do not say it enough but I do love you!

Proverbs 17:17 (New Living Translation)

A friend is always loyal,
    and a brother is born to help in time of need.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Aunt Sis

Today is my Aunt Sis' birthday.  Aunt Sis (Marilyn Mitchelle Edwards) is my Mom's sister and best friend.  Can you imagine growing up with your best friend and always having them around?

Mom and Aunt Sis spent most of their birthdays together.  As a matter of fact, we spent most of our birthdays with Aunt Sis and Uncle Virgil.  It was never anything fancy or expensive.  Just an awesome home cooked meal and home made cake with a few gifts to open.  Just being together was enough.  Knowing how far Virg, Sis, and their boys traveled to be with us (or vice versa - we would drive to them) was enough to make anyone feel special!

Family was important to Mom and Aunt Sis and each one of us kids were made to feel so loved!  I cannot imagine growing up any other way.

When my kids were growing up, Aunt Sis and Uncle Virgil made time for them as well.  Taking them fishing and just hanging out.  Their time spent with us was precious!  I am so grateful that they valued us enough to take time out of their busy schedules to get together.  We never did live close to them mileage wise but that did not matter.  Our families made time for each other.

What a wonderful legacy I have!  If you have not seen your family or spent time with them lately, drop everything and go see them!  Make time!  None of us have any promises of tomorrow.  Do not take today for granted! 

2 Samuel 7:28-29 (The Message)

"And now, Master God, being the God you are, speaking sure words as you do, and having just said this wonderful thing to me, please, just one more thing: Bless my family; keep your eye on them always. You've already as much as said that you would, Master God! Oh, may your blessing be on my family permanently!" 

I love you Aunt Sis!  Happy Birthday!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Memorial Service

We had a memorial service for my sweet sister-in-law, Kate Willingham Wednesday.  What a beautiful celebration of Kate's life!  Kate's daughter, my beautiful niece Vanessa, danced beautifully with Margaret Wagner and Erica DeCoste.  They danced to a IHOP version of Jesu of Man's Desiring.  It was the song Kate walked down the isle to when she married my brother, Stephen over 25 years ago.

I was honored to speak at the request of Kate herself.  As usual, God was so good.  He gave me the words to say and the strength to say them.  Pastor Kathy Melson offered a hope-filled prophetic message.  At the end we sang Amazing Grace - My Chains Are Gone.  As we were singing Margaret and Erica danced around the church.  As they went by me I literally felt a breeze from heaven!  It gave me such a feeling of peace!

Last Thursday and Friday I kept thinking that if only Mom and Dad were here they would know what to do - what needs to be done.  I hope I was able to do a part of what they would have done if they had been there.

I am so thankful I went to be with my brother and his family when I did.  As soon as my plane landed it began snowing and snowed over a foot in Denver.  Many flights were cancelled that night and the next day.  God is so good!

Thank you to everyone who have been praying for my family and me!  I can feel the prayers and they are so appreciated!  While we are grateful that Kate is no longer suffering, she will be greatly missed!  Please continue to pray for my brother, Stephen, nephew Daniel, and niece Vanessa. 

John 6:35-40 (The Message)

Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don't really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don't let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.

"This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time."

Kate is on her feet dancing on streets of gold - whole and complete!  I love you, Kate!

Sunday, February 5, 2012


I would be remiss if I did not tell you about my nephew Daniel.  He is the son of my brother, Stephen and his wife Kate.  Daniel is very special but not just because he was born with a severe form of cerebral palsy. 

Doctors did not give Daniel much hope when he was very young.  They said he would never be able to walk, communicate, or basically function.  Boy, did he prove them wrong!  With supportive loving care and a lot of determination at the age of 23 not only does Daniel walk but he was an amazing caregiver to his mother as she lost the use of her muscles.  When Stephen was at work and Vanessa was at school and work Daniel took care of Kate.

Daniel is amazingly spiritual as well.  He has an incredible faith and more Biblical knowledge than many people I know who have been Christians all their lives!  He loves to listen to praise music and sermons.  He constantly has his iPod or CD player going.  And he doesn't listen passively.  He worships! 

Daniel is also a prayer warrior.  He can bring down the power of the Holy Spirit.  He loves to pray for people.  He knows how to pray in different situations to bring the Holy Spirit in and make a huge difference.

It breaks my heart that kids have bullied him because of the way God created him but he is a prime example that God doesn't make mistakes.  God doesn't look on the outside but rather His main concern is our heart. 

I am SO proud of you Daniel!  I have a lot to learn from you!  I love you!

Psalm  40:1-3 (The Message)

I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened.
   He lifted me out of the ditch,
      pulled me from deep mud.
   He stood me up on a solid rock
      to make sure I wouldn't slip.
   He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,
      a praise-song to our God.
   More and more people are seeing this:
      they enter the mystery,
      abandoning themselves to God.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


My sweet sister-in-law, Kate, went to be with Jesus tonight.  I am so grateful that I was able to make it to Colorado in time to talk to her, hold her hand, and brush her hair out of her eyes. 

I first met Kate in 1985 when she and my brother became engaged.  We bonded instantly.  Even though we lived nearly a 1000 miles apart and didn't get to see each other often we had a special connection that I cannot explain but one that I am very blessed to have experienced.

Kate was so compassionate.  She was always more concerned about me than she was about herself.  I know she endured so much pain for many years as the disease progressed.  She lost the use of her arms and legs - her entire body betrayed her!  Yet her mind was still sharp right up to the end. 

When I would call to talk she would never complain but she would ask about me.  She would tell me she was praying for me.  I complain about the least little thing!  I certainly didn't deserve her prayers but when I would say that she would brush me off.  She kept praying.

Oh that I could have her faith and her attitude!  Tonight as we stood around her bed trying to keep her comfortable it hit me that I should ask God to allow me to have her spirit.  As Elijah passed on his spirit to Elisha, I asked God to pass her sweet spirit onto to me.  Oh that He would so bless me!

I will miss you Kate but we will spend eternity together!  We will swim in the Emerald Sea and dance on streets of gold!  Enjoy your party with Mom & Dad tonight!  I love you!

Psalm 91:14-16 (The Message)

"If you'll hold on to me for dear life," says God,
      "I'll get you out of any trouble.
   I'll give you the best of care
      if you'll only get to know and trust me.
   Call me and I'll answer, be at your side in bad times;
      I'll rescue you, then throw you a party.
   I'll give you a long life,
      give you a long drink of salvation!"

Friday, February 3, 2012


Ok, I bragged on my brother.  Now I need to brag on my niece.  Vanessa is so good with her mother.  She has constantly been by her side through this entire ordeal.  She wipes her face, soothes her hair, pats her hand, reads Scripture to her.  When Kate tries to tell us something - which is quite difficult with the multiple tubes running down her throat - Vanessa is the one who can usually figure out what she is trying to say.

It is obvious that Vanessa loves her mother dearly.  She is learning some very tough lessons at the tender age of 20.  Through it all, Vanessa's faith is strong.  I can learn so much from her.  While she is still hoping for the miracle of all miracles - her mother's complete healing here in this life - she seems prepared to accept that God may call her mother home and give her a perfect body in heaven.

Obviously, that is not an easy thing to accept at any age.  Please keep Vanessa and the rest of our family in your prayers.

I love you and am so proud of you Vanessa!

I Corinthians 1:4-9 (The Message)

Every time I think of you—and I think of you often!—I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus. There's no end to what has happened in you—it's beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives.

Just think—you don't need a thing, you've got it all! All God's gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that.


My brother, Stephen, is an amazing man!  The things he has been selflessly doing for his wife Kate is nothing short of saintliness!  Because her muscles have deteriorated so, she has to be turned 3-6 times every night.  Stephen does this.  If she needs to use the bathroom or get a drink, Stephen helps her.

Then he gets up around 3:30 a.m. to begin getting ready for work.  He has a long commute and he gets Kate cleaned up, fed, and situated for her day before he leaves.  While Stephen is at work my nephew, Daniel, takes care of his Mom.  Daniel is 23 with a severe form of Cerebral Palsy.  He's loving, kind, and strong - in many ways!

When Stephen gets home from work, he prepares dinner and then does all that needs to be done for Kate.  Around 7:30 or so, he gets her ready for bed.  He tends to her during the night then gets up about 3:30 to start his day all over again.

On his days off he does the grocery shopping, cleans house, mows the lawn (or shovels the snow!), fixes whatever needs fixing, prepares meals, gets Kate ready and takes her to church.  He does all that needs to be done for her, day and night.  He then gets up at 3:30 Monday morning and starts all over again. 

I read a study recently (and I wish I could remember where I read it) that said when a spouse becomes severely ill and requires much care, a very high percentage of the time (again, I can't remember the exact number) men are more likely to leave their wives rather than stick around to take care of her.  So much for "in sickness and in health" huh?

Not Stephen.  He selflessly and cheerfully cares for Kate.  He dotes on her.  He jokes with her.  He prays with her.  He includes her in as many activities as he can.  He tells her how much he loves her!

He has laid up his treasures in heaven and put his faith into action every single day.  Kate is on total life support now.  Stephen and Kate face a very difficult decision now.  I am so glad I am here for them.  I love them both so much. 

Matthew 25:34-40 (The Message)

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:

   I was hungry and you fed me,
   I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
   I was homeless and you gave me a room,
   I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
   I was sick and you stopped to visit,
   I was in prison and you came to me.'

"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I am flying to Denver tomorrow to see my brother Stephen and his family.  I have been wanting to visit them for some time now.  I was hoping that I could take Stacie and her kids with me when I went.  Maybe next time.  For now it will just have to be me. 

I wish I were going under better circumstances.  Stephen's wife, Kate is very ill.  She has ALS.  It is a very cruel disease.  Kate is slowly becoming trapped in her own body.  So many people have been praying for her healing.  The last time she and I talked about it she said that she knows she will be healed.  It may be that she will be healed while she is still on this earth but if not, she knows that when she gets to heaven she will have a perfect body.

And that she will.  No more pain and suffering when God decides to call her home. 

I love you, my dear sister Kate! I will see you tomorrow!

2 Corinthians 4:16 - 5:5 (The Message)

So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever. 

 For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we'll never have to relocate our "tents" again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what's coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we're tired of it! We've been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what's ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we'll never settle for less.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

9 Months

Yesterday marked 9 months since Mom and Dad were killed.  It weighed on me all day.  I could not sleep at all last night.  My stomach churned and I was physically ill throughout the night.  I thought I had food poisoning.  In talking to a veteran who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder he thought perhaps I was suffering from that, too.

Maybe he's right.  All of us who were close to Mom and Dad have endured a very traumatic event.  What I do know for sure is that I kept thinking, "It's been 9 months.  I could have birthed a baby in 9 months but still we do not seem to be any closer to having any closure to this.  No arrests.  No justice."  I do not understand why it is taking so long.

In choir tonight as we were singing "I Will Not Be Shaken" it struck me that it does not matter if if an arrest is never made.  I will continue to trust God and know that He is in complete control.  His justice is just.  He knows who killed them and they will not be able to escape His judgement. 

Psalm 18:1-3 (The Message)

I love you, God— you make me strong.
   God is bedrock under my feet,
      the castle in which I live,
      my rescuing knight.
   My God—the high crag
      where I run for dear life,
      hiding behind the boulders,
      safe in the granite hideout.
I sing to God, the Praise-Lofty,
      and find myself safe and saved.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Family Dinner

In one of he groups I'm a part of at church we've been discussing a book about how the church is losing it's youth.  We're not retaining young people.  The biggest reason is that parents do not live out their faith.  Sadly, many parents do not even know why they go to church and do not have a personal relationship with God themselves.

On a Christian radio program I was listening to briefly tonight they were discussing the important of the family dinner in the life of the family.  Statistics show that children in families that eat dinner together in a traditional way (sitting down together without TV and other distractions) at least 3 times a week do better in school, they are more secure, they are far less likely to suffer from depression, and they are more likely to stay in church.

When I was growing up, family dinners were the norm.  It was a rare evening that we didn't sit down and eat together.  Even when my brothers and I were teenagers we managed to eat together most nights despite our busy schedules.  It was something Mom insisted on.

We shared about our day.  We talked about what we were doing in school, the latest book we were reading - whatever was going on in our lives.  We shared and laughed.  We fed our souls and our bodies at the same time.

Time is much shorter than you may think.  If you still have kids at home, please, make time as often as possible to sit down and eat together.  It's the best way to teach them about the love of God.  It could make all the difference in the world in your kids lives!

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (The Message)
Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that's in you, love him with all you've got!  Write these commandments that I've given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Music was always a big part of our home when I was growing up.  Dad had a beautiful tenor voice and sang often at church.  There are so many songs that I have a hard time listening to now because I remember Dad singing them.  Whenever we visited my grandparents church (my Dad's parents) Gram Willingham always (and I do mean ALWAYS) wanted Dad to sing "Home Sweet Home". 

For some reason, Mom didn't think she had a good voice but she did.  She was always singing around the house.  I loved hearing her!  I've been told that Mom's mother (my other Gram) had a great alto voice and used to sing in a quartet. I'm sad to say that I don't ever remember hearing her sing.  But her brother, my great Uncle Connie, had a wonderful bass voice.  He would sing with a men's quartet at New Home General Baptist Church in Poplar Bluff.  I loved listening to them!  They would sing peppy, old-fashioned gospel music.  Real toe tappers!

Tonight at choir practice we were singing a gospel song and it made me think of Uncle Connie's quartet.  I began wondering if all my family members who have gone on to heaven gathered to sing praises together.  What beautiful music they must be making!  I look forward to the day when I can join them in singing praises to our Lord.

Music has long been a source of comfort to me and while I may cry when singing songs like "How Great Thou Art" I still love to sing them.  The tears may roll down my cheeks but I'll continue to sing.

Isaiah 52:8-10 (The Message)

Break into song! Boom it out, ruins of Jerusalem:
   "God has comforted his people!
   He's redeemed Jerusalem!"
God has rolled up his sleeves.
   All the nations can see his holy, muscled arm.
Everyone, from one end of the earth to the other,
   sees him at work, doing his salvation work.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I know you have all heard the saying, "Laughter is the best medicine".  Well, it is true!  Dad was a big proponent of that idea.  I have been a bit under the weather the past couple of days and it brought to mind what all Dad had told me about the effect of humor on healing.

I know he had been studying it but I have not been able to find those notes yet.  I do know that he was convinced that laughter is one of God's greatest avenues toward healing. 

Some friends of mine have a daughter who was nearly killed in a jet ski accident.  She is now confined to a wheelchair unable to eat or even speak for over a year now.  They look forward to her day of healing.  She has already come a very long way but still has so far to go.  I am sure it is agonizing for them to see their beautiful young daughter suffering so. 

In her Caring Bridge update today my friend spoke of how she and her husband can see the effects humor is having on their daughter.  It is nothing short of miraculous really but it does not surprise me in the least.  God gave us laughter for a reason.  Please keep their daughter Danielle in your prayers!

The past few months have been very hard for me and I cannot pinpoint why but I do know that my life must go forward as it is.  I cannot change what happened.  I have replayed the day before Mom and Dad's deaths over and over in my head.  If only I could have convinced them to stay one more day!  I am sure my friends do the same thing.  If only they had not allowed their daughter on the jet ski that day.  We all have many "what if's" but none of us can go back in time.  We can only go forward.

I am reminding myself as I remind you to laugh.  No matter what your circumstances are, laugh.  Laugh whether you feel like it or not.  Even if you have to force a laugh.  Laugh with gusto.

Psalm 30:3-5  The Message (MSG)

God, my God, I yelled for help
      and you put me together.
   God, you pulled me out of the grave,
      gave me another chance at life
      when I was down-and-out.

All you saints! Sing your hearts out to God!
      Thank him to his face!
   He gets angry once in a while, but across
      a lifetime there is only love.
   The nights of crying your eyes out
      give way to days of laughter.