Sunday, November 10, 2013

Beth Moore

I have been privileged to see Beth Moore in person at a Living Proof Live event three times in the past four years. The first time was October, 2009.  Beth was coming to Springfield, IL.  I learned she was coming early in the year and told my daughters and Mom that for my birthday I wanted to go hear Beth Moore teach with my favorite girls.  I bought the tickets, Mom and Dad came into town and off we went to see Beth while the guys hung out.

It was amazing!  Beth taught on John the Baptist.  Afterward I was in the kitchen getting ready for dinner. Mom and Dad were in the living room and Mom was going through her notes telling Dad the highlights of what she had learned.  It was so sweet listening to her.

I found out that Beth was coming to St. Louis the following June so I got tickets for my daughter, Mom, and Dad to go. He was one of a handful of men with a whole bunch of women but he did not care. That weekend she taught on the image of God.  She literally began with Genesis 1 and ended with Revelation 22. She nearly hit on every book in between.  My head was swimming by the end but it was well worth it!  My parents really enjoyed it and we talked about what we had learned for months!

Little did I know that the following April they would be killed.  I am so grateful that we went to hear the in depth teaching on God's Word together.

When I heard that Beth was coming to Springfield again this October and I knew I had to be there.  I was blessed to have my daughters go with me. Beth taught on John Mark, the quitter. John Mark came from a well-to-do home. He had a fairly easy life. He went on a mission trip with Barnabas and Paul but when the going got rough he quit and went back home. Thankfully, Barnabas did not quit on him.  He took John Mark under his wing and mentored him. He went from being a quitter to a worker.

He ended up leaving the easy life behind to serve his Lord. He worked on mission trips. He ministered to Paul and to Peter at different times when they were in prison. He was with each of them near the end of their lives. He went on to write the Gospel of Mark!

I am blessed to have Godly parents, Godly grandparents, Godly aunts and uncles, Godly cousins, Godly great grandparents...well you get the idea. But only I can do the things God leads me to do and go where God tells me to go.  No one else can do it for me.

Beth talked about each one of us being a stone as the temple of the Lord is rebuilt.  We all have a part in the building of the church.  She then commissioned us to go and do the things God is calling us to do.

In the weeks prior to Beth Moore coming to Springfield, God was working overtime in my life! It was to the point of being overwhelmed but in a very good way! I have never felt such peace and joy! I feel that God is ready to unleash His Spirit on our community. The things that Beth shared just confirmed what God was saying to me and so many other women that I have been praying with.

I will be sharing more about the coming spiritual awakening in the days to come. Honestly, I am still trying to sort it all out! In the meantime, consider the Scripture that Beth opened the Friday night session with:

Ephesians 2:18-22 (New Living Translation)

Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God's holy people. You are members of God's family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.

Saturday, August 31, 2013


Most of you know about Danielle Loftus.  I have written about her here before.  She is now 17 years old but when she was just 14 she was injured in a jet ski accident.  She has been in a semiconscious state ever since.  

Her family is an amazing testament to faith in God!  They hold firmly to the fact that she will be completely healed and restored in this world.  Even though outwardly she shows little progress they cling to the hope of the Lord.  They believe in His promises.  But in the meantime they painstakingly care for her.

This is not an easy task and while they do have their moments but overall they live a very positive life.  It is amazing to see this faith not just in her parents but in her younger sisters as well.  If you ever have times that you may be feeling sorry for yourself just go to and in no time you will realize how petty your problems truly are.

I was listening to Danielle's mother, Lynell, recount the story of Danielle's accident.  She told about the initial event, the helicopter lift to another hospital, the excruciating days of not knowing whether she would live or die.  The night she and her husband surrendered Danielle to the Lord and the promise they received that she would be healed.

Those days grew into weeks, months, and now years.  There have been very small signs of recovery but Danielle still needs constant care.  She still has no motor skills.  She must still be fed through a feeding tube.  Everything must be done for her.

As Lynell was telling this she was asked how she could keep thinking Danielle would still be healed?  Wasn't she just setting herself up for disappointment?  Lynell's response still rings in my ears.  She said, "If I did not have hope, how could I go on?  It is that hope every morning that gives me the energy I need for that day."

It immediately reminded me of the Scripture I had just been reading in Lamentations.

Lamentations 3:22-24 (New Living Translation)

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in him!”

I can still hear my Mom's sweet voice singing as she worked around the house.  She loved to sing hymns.  One that she liked to sing was Great Is Thy Faithfulness.  The end of it goes like this:

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

God is faithful.  His promises are true.  His love is everlasting.  Hallelujah!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Refuse Him Not

I have quite a few notebooks with Dad's sermon notes.  One seemed to jump off the book shelf tonight.  I picked it up and turned right to a page that was dated 11/10/1957 - exactly one week after I was born.  This intrigued me.

Dad had titled it "Refuse Him Not".  It is just an outline on one page with the traditional three points and several bullets under each point.  Dad used Hebrews 12:25 as his main Scripture text.  He had this portion typed out in his notes: "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh".  Of course, this is the King James Version but the meaning is clear.  Dad went on to explain the various ways we refuse to listen to God as well as some reasons we should listen.

He pointed out that this was a personal warning; a positive warning; a present warning; a purposeful warning; and a passionate warning.  I can just hear Dad preaching this.  I know he would have been passionate in his delivery because he had a heart for people.  He did not preach to condemn but to transform.
Dad's last point under the heading explaining why we should listen simply said this: "Because of the Spirit that moves him to speak.  'God so loved the world...'  The strongest force in the universe."  That is the point that struck me the hardest.  Love is the strongest force in the universe.  It was because of this force that Mom and Dad dedicated their lives to spreading the Gospel.

This is why I know it is so important to forgive Jose.  Because God so loved the world.  Because God so loved Jose.  He gave His only Son for Jose just as much as He gave His Son for me

Is there someone God is nudging you to forgive?  Time is too short on this earth.  Love as God loves you.  Forgive as God forgives you.  If you have not experienced the transforming power of God's love, I pray that today you will allow Him to become Lord of your life. 

Hebrews 12:25-28 (New Living Translation)

 Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain. Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 

An unshakable Kingdom.  What a wonderful promise!  May we all heed His voice.  Refuse Him not.

Monday, August 5, 2013


My Dad's family had their reunion in July.  It was a wonderful event as always.  There were over 90 people present.  Most families would consider that to be enormous but it is about average for the Willingham clan.  It is a weekend affair and family members literally come from all over the world to get together.  We begin on Friday evening with a cookout and end on Sunday with our own church service followed by a luncheon.

I was honored to be able to share briefly with the family on that Sunday about the hearing and some of the details of Mom and Dad's case.  Since the hearing this has been on my heart to share with all of you.  I have just struggled to actually put into words what I was feeling.

Time and again I have stated and even shared through this blog that I offer forgiveness to the young man, Jose, who confessed to participating in the murders and has been charged with stabbing them to death.  I sincerely meant that but I had never been in the same room as Jose.  I prayed earnestly before the hearing that I would still be able to offer forgiveness after seeing him in person.  God answered my prayer!

As I was sitting the small courtroom it struck me that there was not one person there in support of Jose.  Keep in mind that this young man is from Springfield, MO.  He has many family members living right there.  No one came to court on his behalf.  No one.

There were some people there who had dealings with him before and were there to make sure he was not getting out this time either.  Of course, several of our family members were there.  It truly broke my heart to think of this young man having to face this all alone.  I was able to feel forgiveness for him in my heart and even offered up a prayer as I sat there looking at the side of his face.  Even as he sat emotionless through the horrific testimony.  Even when he shook his head disagreeing with something the detective on the witness stand said.  My heart broke for him.

Yes, I still want to see justice done.  Yes, I am still praying he will have a change of heart and plead guilty so our family does not have to suffer through the trial process but I will still pray for him.  I pray for his salvation.  I pray for his family and the heartbreak I am sure they are feeling.  I am praying that God will be glorified through it all.

I am so grateful for my family.  I am grateful that they support my brothers and me.  I am grateful that they love the Lord and serve Him with all their hearts.  I am grateful for their prayers on my behalf.  I am so blessed!

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!”

And, Lord, please bless Jose and his family.  Give them peace.  Return their honor.  In Jesus' mighty name, Amen.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Preliminary Hearing

The preliminary hearing was held today in Mom and Dad's case.  Basically it was a mini-trial to determine if there was enough evidence to hold Jose Huckleberry over for trial.

I believe this was the hardest day I have had endure in this whole ordeal to date.  They played the 911 tape from the call Mom made.  It was very short but I was amazed at how calm Mom seemed giving the exact address before the line went dead.

Some of the officers in the case were called to testify.  The details were very hard to hear.  Thankfully the judge did rule that there was enough evidence to go to trial.  The arraignment will be Friday morning.  It will be very short and Jose Huckleberry will have to enter a plea.  The prosecuting attorney believes he will plead not guilty.  Most likely the trial will not start for another 9-12 months.

Although there is still a long way to go I know God will see us through this.  I have been reading in the Old Testament lately and I have been struck with the number of times that God defeated Israel's enemies without Israel having to do anything.

Over and over again, one impossible thing after another happens to give Israel victory.  Weird things.  Things that could never happen in the natural.  It really is amazing!  I am confident that God will bring victory for our family in this case.  I don't know how He will do it but He will do it.

I do appreciate the prayers of my church family and friends.  It is only through those prayers that I made it through this day!  I am blessed!  I cannot imagine not having that incredible support!  Thank you all so much for lifting my family and me up before our Lord.

2 Chronicles 20:16-19 (The Message)

This is God’s war, not yours. Tomorrow you’ll go after them; see, they’re already on their way up the slopes of Ziz; you’ll meet them at the end of the ravine near the wilderness of Jeruel. You won’t have to lift a hand in this battle; just stand firm, Judah and Jerusalem, and watch God’s saving work for you take shape. Don’t be afraid, don’t waver. March out boldly tomorrow—God is with you.”  Then Jehoshaphat knelt down, bowing with his face to the ground. All Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping God. The Levites (both Kohathites and Korahites) stood to their feet to praise God, the God of Israel; they praised at the top of their lungs!

Thank you, Lord, that You go to battle for us!  Father, bless the detectives and prosecutors in this case.  Bring justice for this most unjust act!  In the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, May 13, 2013

First Appearance

The young man who has been charged with murdering Mom and Dad will make his first appearance before the judge tomorrow.  It will be short.  The charges will be read and he will be assigned a public defender to represent him.  Then a preliminary hearing date will be set.

It is a formality really but it is the first step toward prosecution.  I feel that I should be there but it is silly to think of driving 5 hours each way for a 15 minute process.  Still, a part of me wants to meet this young man face to face.  I know that day will come but it will not be tomorrow.

I am praying that he will be ministered to while he is in jail there in Springfield.  If he could come to know Jesus as his personal Savior angels will rejoice!  I still pray that God will allow me the opportunity to offer forgiveness to him in person.  I know this is easier said than done but I keep claiming it.  If I say it enough perhaps I will actually be able to do it.

I was thinking about when Jesus chose the 12 disciples.  Did He know at the time He chose Judas that he would be the one to betray Him?  He spent 3 years in ministry with Judas.  He sent him out on missionary trips with the other disciples.  Did He know?  Scriptures tell us that He did know and I believe He loved Judas anyway.  I am sure He prayed for Judas' soul that whole time.

In much the same way (but of course, in a much shorter time frame) I feel that Mom and Dad prayed for Jose.  Even as he was attacking them I am sure they offered forgiveness and asked God to intervene in his life so he could come to Jesus.

John 6:61-65 (New Living Translation)

Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you?  Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again?  The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.  But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.)  Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.”

Lord, I pray that You would call Jose to You.  Send someone to minister to him in the power of Your Spirit so that he can experience Your love.  Lord, You knew from the beginning of his life that Jose would choose to follow the Evil One down this violent path.  Father, I pray You would give him over to Jesus.  Speak Your truth into him that he might be set free.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Two Years

What a beautiful day it was today in Springfield, Missouri!  So different than this day two years ago.  Across Missouri and Illinois, it rained harder than I have ever seen it rain all day long that day.  It seemed to me that heaven was crying out over the evil act that was committed against Mon and Dad so early that morning.

I knew I wanted to be here today.  I called my brother, Dave a few weeks ago and made arrangements to stay with him.  He made an appointment for us to talk to the lead detective on Mom and Dad's case this morning.  After a reassuring talk with the detective we took some flowers to the cemetery.  This evening we went to the annual service that is conducted every year at this time for crime victims.  There is a lovely garden that is set aside to honor victims.  Last year at the ceremony there was a paver placed in honor of Mom and Dad.  This year there were more that were memorialized.  As I spoke with the sheriff afterward,
he expressed that he would like to see the day that there would be no more victims to honor.  Unfortunately, we live in a broken and fallen world.  Evil will continue.

Although not a good picture, it was taken April 24, 2011, less than 24 hours before Mom & Dad were murdered

In many ways it seems like just yesterday that I was visiting with Mom and Dad but in other ways it feels like it was a lifetime ago.  So much has happened since their murders.  It is a stark reminder that life does go on despite the tragedies that occur in our lives.  I know that Mom and Dad would want us all to continue to live our lives to the best of our abilities but more importantly, they would want us to live our lives for the Lord.  Our obedient lives bring glory to God and nothing would thrill Mom and Dad more.

Hebrews 10:22-25 (The Message)

 So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

I miss you, Mom & Dad!  

Thursday, April 11, 2013


A few weeks ago I wrote about my granddaughter, Zemirah's, birth and how her little arm was broken between her elbow and shoulder during delivery.  They did not cast it.  The doctors just said not to put her arm through her sleeves and try to keep it immobilized against her chest.  Every once in a while she would move it and it would make a popping noise.  It was quite nerve wracking!

A few days before Easter I was talking to my brother, Stephen, about it.  I was stressed about work, the baby, bills - about life in general.  He prayed with me and gave me some good advice about allowing God's peace to prevail within me.  He said he would have his healing team at church (which he is a member of) pray about Zemirahs arm the following Saturday morning which also was the day before Easter.

That Saturday morning Stacie was getting the kids ready to go to Sarah's home for our annual Easter egg hunt and family get together.  While she was tending to Zemirah, she stretched the broken arm out and up over her head!  Without a broken arm that is pretty unusual for a baby to pull her arm above her head and especially a broken arm!  I would like to remind you that her name means joyful songs of praise to the Lord. 

A little bit later Stephen texted me and said that while the prophetic and healing team was praying God revealed that the enemy was coming to make our joy weaker.  He encouraged us to stand firm and do not receive this from the enemy.  If we did so we would see the impossible happen before our eyes.  I knew without a doubt that Zemirah had been completely healed that morning. 

The following Monday she had another appointment with the orthopedic doctor.  He took new x-rays of her arm.  He told Stacie that he could not explain it but the x-rays showed a completely normal bone with no break at all!  Praise God!

Ezekiel 37:1-7 (The Message)

God grabbed me. God’s Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones. He led me around and among them—a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain—dry bones, bleached by the sun.
He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Master God, only you know that.”
 He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones: ‘Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!’”
God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!”
I prophesied just as I’d been commanded. As I prophesied, there was a sound and, oh, rustling! The bones moved and came together, bone to bone.

With God, all things are possible!

Sunday, March 31, 2013


Although it was not two years ago today, it was two years ago on Easter that I last saw Mom and Dad.  I will never forget that weekend.  My kids, parents, aunt, uncle, cousins, one brother and my only grandson had gathered at my daughter's home on Saturday before Easter for lunch and an Easter egg hunt.  We had a great day together.

Yesterday we gathered again at Sarah and Troy's home.  Now I have four grandchildren instead of one.  Aunt Sis, Uncle Virgil, my kids, and my brother were again present.  We had a wonderful visit and, of course, an Easter egg hunt.

Two years ago this Easter my Dad and I attended sunrise service together.  I have not been able to bring myself to go to sunrise service since then.  Mom and Dad attended Easter services with us and we then went home where I grilled lamb chops.  Mom commented that she had never had lamb before.  She loved the size of the lamb chop and asked how I seasoned them.  Later I found a little notebook she carried and she had written a shopping list with lamb chops and the seasonings I had mentioned.  I knew she had to have written that in the car on their way home later that Easter Sunday.  I have fixed lamb chops on Easter since then.

We had an awesome worship service that day so it was fitting that we had equally awesome worship services today but when we sang "How Great Thou Art" I lost it.  The tears flowed!  Even though we did a more rocking version of the song it was the same melody and words that I heard my Dad sing so many times through the years - often with tears running down his face as he sang and Mom dabbing her eyes as she listened to him.

Two years ago Easter, I went to the jail and ministered to the ladies of cell block C.  When I got to my car afterward I had a text message from Mom.  They had made it home safe and sound.  I texted her back that 2 ladies had given their lives to the Lord that night at the jail.  She texted me back one word, "Hallelujah!".  That was the last communication I had with Mom.  How fitting!

Isaiah 53:10 (The Message)

Still, it’s what God had in mind all along,
    to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
    so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
    And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him. 

Mark 16:5-6 (New Living Translation)
When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked,  but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body.

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! 


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Zemirah Ann

I have a new granddaughter!  Zemirah (pronounced zeh-mee-RAH) was born Thursday, March 14th.  Her name is Hebrew for joyous song.  Her middle name, Ann, means favored grace.  I love her name!

When Stacie first found out she was pregnant she felt she was going to have a boy but God showed me she was having a girl and her name would be Joy.  Even though I shared that with Stacie right away, she was trying out many different names and wondered what I thought about this name or that name.  Finally I said, "You can name her whatever you want but she will always be Joy to me."  After that Stacie began looking for other names that meant Joy and settled on Zemirah.

Even though Zemirah was born very quickly (only about 3 hours of actual labor), she broke her arm during delivery.  Her right arm is broken between her elbow and shoulder.  Doctors say it will heal very quickly - between 4 and 6 weeks.  With so many people praying for her I am sure it will be healed much sooner than that!

I am saddened  by the fact that this is Mom & Dad's third great-grandchild that they will not be able to meet.  All four of their great-grandchildren will have to grow up without ever knowing their great-grandparents personally.  I will do everything I can to make sure that my grandchildren know about my parents.

However I take great joy in knowing that Mom & Dad have been praying for these precious children for years.  They were in the habit of praying through the generations.  Now that is my habit.  I not only pray for my grandchildren that are here but also for those who will not be born for years to come.  This includes those that will not be born until long after my physical death.  It is amazing to me that we can do this.  Our prayers can have impact for centuries to come!  As a matter of fact the Bible tells us that our prayers are as incense to God!

Revelation 5:8b (New International Version)

Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.

Yesterday my brother, Stephen called and said as he focused on Zemirah's name and it's meaning he felt she would become a worship leader.  Nothing would make me happier!  Stephen's wife, Kate died last February after a long battle with ALS.  I think it's only fitting that I choose Kate's favorite verse as Zemirah's life verse.

Zephaniah 3:17 (New Living Translation)

 For the Lord your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.

He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

Thursday, March 7, 2013

God's Eye View

Matthew 16:21-23 (New Living Translation)

From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.
 But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”
 Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

When Peter had a better "idea" for Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus said he was seeing things from a human point of view, not God's.  How often are we guilty of doing the exact same thing? 

My grandson, Kristopher, loves puzzles.  Even though he is only 3 he can do 100 piece puzzles pretty easily!  Lately he has been doing 300 piece puzzles, with some help, of course.  When we are working on puzzles, the small pieces do not often make any sense.  Apart they do not look like anything but as the pieces come together a picture begins to emerge. 

That is how our lives are to God.  He sees the finished product ~ the picture on the box. We can only see these small bits and pieces.  It does not look like anything usable.  But, oh, if we could see ourselves and our lives from His viewpoint!  Instead of a "birds eye view" we need a "Gods eye view"! 

I can only imagine some of the things God is doing through Mom & Dad's deaths.  I know many people have already been touched and begun to look at this spiritual world in a whole new way but it is far from over.  We have only seen a few of the little pieces.  Some day we will see the completed picture.  How beautiful it will be!

Isaiah 55:8-9 (New Living Translation)

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Steal, Kill, and Destroy

I have read the 10th chapter of the gospel John many times over in my life but for some reason when I read the 10th verse again this morning it struck me in a whole new way.  I love that about God's Word!  It truly is alive!

This is a verse that I memorized many years ago.  I know the verse well.  When I read it this morning I had a picture of Jose Huckleberry, the man who has been arrested for being involved in Mom and Dad's murders.  According to the police report, he entered the home to rob it.  To steal.  He ended up killing and destroying.

If that were the end of the story it would be very depressing indeed!  But praise God, He has the last Word!  Many people have commented to me how wonderful it is that I am being so forgiving.  In my heart and mind right now, I am committed to forgiving.  When I actually come face to face with their killer(s) I may not feel that way.  So I am putting it out there now.  I want to have this foundation to stand on.  The more I say it and claim it now, the more likely I will be able to forgive when I come face to face with the person (or people) responsible.

Satan has used this young man to try to destroy Mom and Dad in this physical realm.  Satan will try to use you and me to steal, kill, and destroy, too.  We might feel great about ourselves because we have never physically killed anyone but how many times have my words struck like daggers into anothers heart?  I have to choose to forgive for I want to be forgiven.  We all have to choose who we will serve.  We may think we are serving ourselves but the Bible tells us quite plainly that we either serve God or Satan.  The choice is ours and those are the only 2 choices we have.  I choose to stand with God on His firm foundation.

We are in a spiritual battle.  This physical world is just a facade, a mere fuzzy image of the spiritual world around us.  We have to take a stand to live according to God's standard.  If we do not, we will fall prey to Satan's lies.  There is no compromising.  It will be worth it in the end.

In reading the different notes, journals and studies that I have from both Mom and Dad, I do believe they were very close in bringing another dimension of God's Kingdom to earth.  That is why Satan went to such great lengths to destroy them.  Even though they may be gone from this physical life, they are not gone.  Their work has not ended.  I believe it has only now begun in earnest.

John 10:6 - 10 (The Message)

Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

Choose to serve God.  Dream big God dreams and just watch what He will do!

Thursday, February 21, 2013


My Dad had been tracing our ancestry quite diligently with the help of before his death.  His sister, my Aunt Frankie, picked up where he left off.  She has discovered that our branch of the Willingham family traces back to several English kings including King James (yes the one that had the Bible translated into English)!

We do have a lot of preachers in our family but since all the ones I knew were simple Baptist preachers, I was surprised to learn that we are related to this very famous king!  While this is pleasing and interesting news, I want to tell you (and I know Mom & Dad would concur) if you are a Christian, you are the child of The King of all Kings!  No matter how great our physical ancestry might be it cannot hold a candle to our spiritual ancestry!

Mom and Dad would also want you to know that there are no grandchildren in the Kingdom of God.  Each one of us has to personally come into the intimate Father/child relationship with our Lord through His Son Jesus.  We will not enter heaven based on the faith of any of our ancestors.  Even if you are a descendant of King James himself it will not help you get into heaven!

John 14:6-7 (New Living Translation)

 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.  If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”

I know that God was not surprised when Mom and Dad were killed.  Although it was a shock to me it was not a shock to Him.  If even one person comes to know God as their Father because of their deaths I know they would say it was worth it!  Simply ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and become Lord of your life and you too will be a child of God!

Revelation 21:5-7 (New Living Translation)

 And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”  And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.  All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.

You can begin all things new, too!  No matter where you are in life, God wants to give you a fresh start.  If you have accepted the invitation to become a part of the family of God, or if you want to know more about how to do this, please leave a comment.  I would love to connect with you and send you a free booklet to help you begin your faith walk.  Yes, my parents were wonderful people who loved God with all their hearts but they would want all of you to know they were not loved by God any more than you are.  Warts and all, God loves you just the way the you are.

Revelation 22:17 (New Living Translation)

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


People often tell me how amazing it is that I am so at peace with Mom and Dad's horrendous deaths.  Now that an arrest has been made people are surprised that I still portray peace when I am confronted with forgiving the young man who has confessed to participating in their murders.

I truly am at peace (at least most of the time) and it is all because of God.  He is the God of peace.  His peace can soothe a raging soul but we have to let Him.  Peace comes from abiding in Him.  Peace has been popping up at me in Scripture lately.  Actually, just the past couple of days. It is incredible how that happens but, again, it is all God!

Isaiah 26:3 (New Living Translation)

You will keep in perfect peace
    all who trust in you,
    all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

God will keep in perfect peace all whose thoughts are fixed on Him!  Not just peace but perfect peace.  You cannot get any better than that!  It sounds pretty easy on the surface but the important part is keeping our thoughts focused on God.  I cannot do that if I am filling my mind with garbage.  What am I focusing on when I am watching TV or surfing the internet?  What books am I reading?  How much time am I spending in prayer?  How much of my prayer time is spent listening to God?  Hmm...

John 16:33  (Amplified Bible)
 I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

In Jesus we can have perfect peace and confidence!  Notice we are not promised an easy life.  As a matter of fact we are told we will have trials and frustrations.  God is so open with us!  No matter what comes my way if I remain in Christ, I will have peace.  What a promise!

Romans 8:5-6 (New Living Translation)

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.  So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.

We have to think about things that please the Holy Spirit.  In order to do that we have to let the Spirit control our minds.  It is our choice but the outcome on one hand is death and on the other it is life and peace.  That is a no brainer!

There are many other Scriptures I have "happened" to come across in the past two days alone that deal with peace but I would just like to leave you with one last one.  I says it so well.  I challenge you to join me in meditating on these verses.  Look them up in other translations.  Write them out on index cards or post-it notes and read them over and over again this week.  Then think about what you are thinking about!

Philippians 4:4-8 (New Living Translation)

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Angels 2

I wrote about angels on August 4, 2011 but I feel the need to write about it again only this time I'm going to use Dad's own words.  I hope you will go back and read the first post I wrote on angels.  

Some people can become obsessed with angels which is not good.  We are warned in God's Word not to worship angels but that does not mean we should forget about them and act as though they are not there.  The Holy Spirit reminded me just the other day that our prayers actually bring angels to our aid and empowers them.  We must never forget the spiritual warfare we are in!

I was going through some of Dad's writings over the weekend and came across this one.  If you knew my Dad you would recognize that these are indeed his very own words: 

Warning: I am chasing a rabbit here. There is a question floating around in my mind. “If people can be demonized, why can’t they be ANGELIZED?” We have a clock that projects the time on the ceiling of our bedroom. When I wake up in the night, I can look up on the ceiling and see the time. Numerous times here of late, when I wake up in the night and look up to see the time on the ceiling instead of seeing the time, I see people. I strain and try to get my eyes focused to see the time, but I only see people. One night I saw my father. However, most often I see one, two or three girls with golden hair dressed in white. They are beautiful and they move. Being slow to think, I just wanted the moving pictures of people to get off my ceiling so I could see the time. But the other night, I saw my two sisters that are presently in China, Bonnie and Frankie. This really startled me and immediately I asked the Lord why did I see my two sisters? I thought that something might have happened to them. No answer came. Then I asked the Lord why was I seeing the pretty (apparently preteen) girls? The Lord responded by telling me they were angels sent to watch over me. The next night the girls’ image morphed into three young ladies dressed in business clothes. The next night, the ladies changed into typical looking angels with long flowing robes and wings, except for one. He had no wings but He had a beard and started rising up and disappeared into the clouds. I heard Him say to me, “I am the Lord” after his image disappeared. WOW! I have much more confidence since that encounter. I thank The Lord that He cares enough to send his angels to watch over and minister to us.  “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Heb 1:14 AV) God is so good.

Back to my question about why can’t people be “Angelized”: there is no question that demons can have a significant negative impact on people. Demons are fallen angels. If that is true, then why cannot the Angels of heaven directly influence our lives, (behavior and attitudes)? Just remember Gideon. “And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him, and said to him, "The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!"” (Judges 6:12 NKJV)  The angel influenced his confidence to go from hiding from the enemy, to leading the Israelites to victory over the enemy. Now, I not only try to be open to hear what the Holy Spirit tells me, but also I try to know what the angels God has sent to minister to me are doing for me. “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.” (Ps 91:11 NKJV). Believe me I need all the help I can get.

When we stand in obedience to the Lord, preparing to step out for the Kingdom, the enemy tries to intimidate us. What would our faith be like if our eyes were opened, like Elisha’s servant, and we could see a multitude of angelic chariots? Would that embolden us if we knew that there are more of “us” than there is of the enemy trying to intimidate us? John tells us: “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1John 4:4 NKJV) I venture to say that indeed, if we really believed that, we would step out with courage to speak to someone about his salvation, or pray for someone who is hurting. When we realize that angels are present, who would back away from a fight with the enemy?

Certainly not you, Dad!  How I love you and miss you!

Psalm 34: 6-8 (The Message)

 When I was desperate, I called out,
and God got me out of a tight spot.

 God’s angel sets up a circle
of protection around us while we pray.

 Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
 Blessed are you who run to him.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


I had literally just gotten off the phone from my brother Dave when he called me with the news that Mom & Dad had been murdered in their home when the thought struck me, "This is going to be quite a lesson in forgiveness". That thought has continued to enter my mind on occasion in the nearly two years since that fateful day but it has consumed me since last Tuesday when faced with the identity (and picture) of the young man who confessed to participating in their stabbing deaths.

Looking into the picture of that young man it struck me that he is so young. Yes, Mom & Dad died a brutal, unjust death but at least they lived to be 79 in good health and with each other. Now they have gone to heaven together. This young man, Jose, is a mere 25 years old - in the prime of his life.  He most likely will face execution or life in prison without the possibility of parole. When I was 25 I had finished college, been married for 5 years, had a 1 year old son (who is now 31) and gave birth to my first daughter. Even now in my fifties, I feel I have a lot of time ahead of me. So much to do. What does Jose have to look forward to?

I felt compelled to look him up on a website that the Missouri Department of Corrections has. It seems that Jose has had anger issues for some time. He was the subject of several orders of protection including a child order of protection. As a matter of fact a warrant was issued for his arrest on April 3, 2011 due to a failure to appear in court. He has been incarcerated for nearly 2 years now on other charges. This was not his first offense. How can I forgive someone like that?

How can I not? Hallelujah, Jesus has forgiven me my many sins (and, yes, they ARE many!).  Consider Jesus' words in Matthew:

Matthew 6:14-15 (The Message)
 “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.

I certainly do not want to be cut off from God's forgiveness! Jose has not asked me to forgive him and he may not care if I forgive him, but forgive I must, whether he wants it or not.  Whether he is sorry or not. Neither matters. What matters is that I forgive him. If I do not I will begin to harbor bitterness and hatred. I will begin to think that I am better than him. Jesus died for me and my sins. Jesus died for Jose and his sins. No difference.

Psalm 130:1-2 (The Message)

Help, God—the bottom has fallen out of my life!
    Master, hear my cry for help!
Listen hard! Open your ears!
    Listen to my cries for mercy.

If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings,
    who would stand a chance?
As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit,
    and that’s why you’re worshiped.

Thank you, Lord, my sins are forgiven! My guilt is washed away by the blood of the perfect Lamb! Worship the Lord who has forgiven me when I least deserved it!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


At a press conference yesterday, the Greene County sheriff and the prosecuting attorney announced they had filed charges against Jose Huckleberry, Jr for Mom & Dad's murder. Of course, he has not been proven guilty but according to court documents, he did confess to entering the home to rob it and participating in the murders.  It is my personal believe that more arrests will follow but have no idea as to how many others may have been involved.  Since the investigation is still active, the detectives cannot tell us a lot about the case and that is fine.  I do not want the case to be jeopardized.  I just want the truth to prevail.

The sheriff was good to talk to us as a family before they actually filed the charges and held the news conference.  I could not be more pleased with the concern and professionalism that the detectives have shown us.  They have worked relentlessly on the case and are still plugging away on it.  Thank you just does not seem adequate but it is all I have to offer them.  Words cannot express my gratitude. 

It is good to see this arrest but it is bittersweet.  As I look at the picture of this young man (only 25 years old!) my heart breaks for him and his family.  Jose is someones son, grandson, nephew, and perhaps, brother.  How do they feel?  What is going through their heats and minds right now?

I know without a doubt that Mom and Dad would reach out to them if they could.  They would offer forgiveness.  I know I have to do the same.  I pray Jose will experience the peace of God's love and forgiveness.  I pray for comfort for his family.  I pray that God will help me to never harbor hatred or unforgiveness.  After all, God is already the victor.  Satan may think he has won this battle, but I have news for him.  He has lost big time!

Under old testament law we are told an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth but Jesus has fulfilled that law and now calls us to a new standard.  Here is what He had to say about it:

Matthew 5:42-48 (The Message)

 “Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
  “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

What an amazing, victorious life our Lord calls us to live!  I love you, Mom and Dad!  I hope to do you proud!  Jose, I am praying for you and your family.  Our Lord reigns!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Mom's Birthday

Today is Mom's birthday.  I looked back at the blog I wrote about her last year on her birthday.  I realized in reading through it did not make the best sense.  I know I must have been emotional when I wrote it.  I hope you could figure out what I meant to say.  I have a feeling this one may not be the best written piece either but I have to say something about Mom on her special day.

Mom was a simple country girl who was very intelligent, very quiet, very loving and most of all a Godly woman.  She loved her husband and family dearly.  I think of her every day but she has been heavy on my mind all this week as her birthday was approaching.

I wish I could be half the woman she was.  As I was preparing to teach at the jail tonight I thought about what she would want me to teach.  I ended up teaching a lesson on putting faith into action, selflessly loving those around you.  I think she would have liked the lesson.

It was communion Sunday at church this morning and at the jail tonight.  The thought of Jesus' body broken for me and His blood shed for me takes on a whole new dimension for me since Mom and Dad were killed.  Because of Christ's sacrifice I know I will be reunited with them again.

I love you Mom and I am grateful for the many lessons you taught me throughout my life.  I am grateful that I was able to worship with you and cook for you the day before you died.  I am grateful that I told you I loved you as we hugged before you and Dad hit the road for Missouri.

I strive to live by the "life verses" you sent me when I was just 17 years old:

Proverbs 3:5-7 (The Message)

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Happy Birthday, Mom!  I love you!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Another New Year

2013 is officially here.  In many ways it just does not seem possible that it has come.  Another New Year celebration.  I have to be honest.  I did not feel like celebrating.

It has been several weeks since I have written in my blog.  Many times I sat down thinking I was ready to write and ended up staring at a blank screen.  I just could not write.  It seems that this holiday season has been harder on me than last year was.  Maybe I just do not remember last year.  Do not get me wrong.  I enjoyed being with my kids and grandkids.  It was so much fun watching them open their presents and just spending time together.  But I feel a big hole in my heart.

I miss Mom and Dad so much that it hurts.

I had a call from the lead detective on Mom and Dads case two weeks ago.  He really did not have much to report but it was good to hear from him.  I worry that the detectives are working too hard on the case.  I pleaded with him to take time for his family.  As much as I want justice for Mom and Dad, solving this double homicide case will not bring Mom and Dad back.  Their families are here now.  This day is the only day we can count on.

I believe the main thing I have learned through this ordeal is to enjoy today.  Enjoy the people I am with right now.  Enjoy what I do every day.  Do not wish for tomorrow for it will bring a whole new set of problems.

Matthew 6:34 (The Message)

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

When combined with Psalm 118:24 it becomes clear that God wants us to live in the present moment.  Today.  

Psalm 118:24 (English Standard Version)

This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

 Enjoy this moment every day all year long!