From Our Hearts to Yours
Collated by Sandy Cobb, contributions by many authors
This book is work of love. It is a compilation of stories freely shared with whoever wishes to read them. It is our hope that our stories will give YOU hope. Please pass this little book on to others along the way, sharing the encouragement with all who will take the time to read it.
These stories are written by individuals in their own words. Some have given permission to include their email address. Some have not. If you see an email address under a by-line, feel free to contact that writer if you have comments or questions. Most of the scripture references are from ‘The Message’. Some writers preferred to use a different version of the Bible to quote scriptures from.
First edition, Copyright January, 2016, Sandra Cobb and all the Authors
This book is dedicated to all the authors who contributed their stories. I know it takes courage to share personal experiences, but these brave folks have done so for the sake of encouraging others. In addition I would like to thank Jane Dyson for her assistance gathering stories and Norma Swaney for assisting with editing. This has truly been a collaborative effort!
Coping With Unbearable Loss 6
Love After Seventy 14
Yes Dad, I Love You! 16
How I Almost Let Satan Destroy Me 18
Thank you for the sign God 21
Strange Place to Meet an Angel 22
God answered my prayers and met my need! 26
An Urge to Help 27
The Stalker 28
A Big Tiny Miracle 30
Land Now! 33
Help for Someone In Need 35
Just in Time 36
A House Fire 37
God Knows Me! 39
A Roof of Another Color 40
Faith…and Gardens 41
From Living in Fear to Living by Faith 42
Sometimes the blessings just flow! 44
$20 Tissue 47
A Story of Amazing Recovery 55
A Tribute to Dusty 59
Seeing God 63
There’s a Right Time for Everything
There’s an opportune time to do things,
a right time for everything on the earth:
^[*2-8 *]^A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.
by Bonnie Shows
It was February 2008 when I had my third hip replacement. I was at home on medical leave. My younger brother Gary, a general contractor, was between jobs and was “volunteered” to hang out with me during the day so I wouldn’t be by myself while my husband Mark was at work. Gary and I spent every weekday for a month just hanging out in Mark’s “Man Cave” with the usual blackout curtains, recliners, a big TV and surround sound. Until now, Gary and I would get together at seasonal gatherings or birthday parties. We both had families and jobs and, well, life happened. Being together like this let us get to know each other again which was very healing for the both of us.
Gary and I watched our favorite childhood Disney animated films between John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies. We were close siblings and understood each other. We joked about our family being the epitome of THE Dysfunctional Family! After I returned to work, Gary’s family ate dinner with us alternating houses each week. We cherished our new relationship with each other and our spouses.
Fast forward to 2010: Mark took a job in Kentucky. We hired Gary to finish Mark’s “Honey-Do” list so we could get our house in Texas sold. Gary followed us to Kentucky and stayed on and off for three months to remodel our house there. During his stay, he confided in us some medical issues and concerns. He was embarrassed, but felt very comfortable in talking with us. We are educated people. We didn’t judge him or make fun of him. We treated him with respect and dignity. In fact, I was very protective of my younger brother. Gary knew we loved him and NOTHING would ever change that.
Now fast forward to August 11, 2013. One of the worst days of my life: Gary took his own life. I was devastated! The pain I felt was unimaginable. I was so heartsick and in shock of the news that everything after that moment was a blur to me. I recollect phoning Mark who was out of town on business, then i was numb.
My strength and ability to cope with something so traumatic came from God through five women: Norma, Alice, Sandy, Jane and Penny. I vaguely remember these ladies at my house; although I don’t know how or when they got there. I just know that in my moment of sorrow, I turned and they were there along with Pastor Eddie Bromley. I believe with all my heart everything happened for a reason. God knew my needs to cope with such a life-changing event and He put me where I needed to be to help me overcome these difficulties. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for any of my girlfriends and nothing they wouldn’t do for me. I thank God for putting each of them on my path. The love I have for these women is forever etched in my heart. I love you Alice, Sandy, Jane, Penny and Norma.
A Story of Anger, Hope, and Forgiveness
by Frankie Stanfield
Have you ever wondered, “Why bad things happened to good people?” I use to think this way until God allowed a number of devastating events to happen in my life, and I learned how to grow from the pain. God used these events to shape and mold me into the person I am today.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”.
My name is Frankie Stanfield, and this is my God story. I was born in 1959 to loving parents and grandparents. I never doubted their love for me while growing up. God started preparing me for the years of adversity, and pain I would have to endure at a very early age. He knew He was going to have to equip me with a strong will and steadfast perseverance.
At the age of 6, I was sexually assaulted by a close family member. I carried that secret with me all my life until 2013. I never told anyone, not even my husband. I thought it would be easier for everyone if I just kept quiet. I did not want to bring shame on my family. After all, no one would believe me, right? That’s what I was told by my abuser, so I just kept quiet and went on with my life.
I gave my life to the Lord at age 13, and tried to live my life the best I knew how. I was married the first time at age 16. I knew it was a mistake shortly into the marriage. My husband became very abusive about three months into the marriage. I wanted to make things work out because I did love my husband. He was in the military, and left for Germany when I was three months pregnant. I filed for divorce with the help of my parents. I found myself a single mother at age 18, faced with raising my son alone. He was a beautiful baby boy and I loved him so much.
At the age of 19, God put my current husband Hank into my life. (To date, we have been married for 37 years.) When I was 20 we had a baby girl. We named her Kristie. She was very sick when she was born. I held her for the first time when she was only 17 hours old, and no longer breathing. God in His infinite wisdom must have known that I could not care for a child with her extreme special needs. God granted me the strength I needed to accept and move forward. I knew I had to remain strong and move forward with life because I still had my son and husband to think about.
My mother passed away when she was just 46 years old. I was 23. I was very close to both my parents, and I thought my world was ending the day she died. The pain felt unbearable, but somehow I managed to go on and remain strong once again, for my daddy. Eight years later, I found my father lying dead in his home. Both of my parents died of health issues related to alcoholism.
By the time I was 34 years old, I had lost a child, both parents, and both sets of grandparents. In addition, we had experienced a house fire, in which we lost everything we owned. We had no insurance. I was having a real hard time seeing God in any of this loss. I felt like I was drawing farther and farther away from God every day. The days seemed dark, and I grew very angry with God.
My husband Hank and I were in the practice of indulging in drugs, alcohol and all night partying. I eventually realized this was not a healthy lifestyle, and surely not what God had planned for me. I just could not understand God. Why had He allowed all these hurtful things to happen to me if He really loved me? I was so discouraged, and I was feeling forsaken by God.
Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God will go ahead of you. He will never fail you nor forsake you.”
In 1997 my son and his wife gave birth to a beautiful set of twin girls. Grandchildren! What joy! This bundle of joy, however would also come with a fair share of sorrow. My son and his wife divorced when the twins were three-years-old. My son ended up with full custody due to the mother’s history of poor choices and actions. He and the girls moved back home with Hank and me. We loved our son and granddaughters, and it was a joy to have them in our home. Little did we know, this would be the beginning of trials and heartache beyond our wildest dreams!
2008, almost 11 years had passed since the twins came to live with us. They would turn 11 in August of that year. The girls lived with us most of their lives. We did not go anywhere without them, except to work. Sometimes they did go to work with Hank! If he was in a ditch digging up waterlines, they were in the ditch with him! We sacrificed much for them, because we loved them so much. The were and still are the apples of our eyes. I don’t think I ever really knew the true meaning of the word love until they came into our lives. My son signed the paperwork for us to petition the court for custodial rights. Soon, the biggest upset to our family ever was about to begin. The twin’s mother petitioned the court against us.
In May 2008, we headed to family court. We lost our case. The judge gave the girls back to their mother, because her parental rights trumped ours as grandparents. This was a shock, considering her known history of drug use, child abuse in 2004, verbal abuse, neglect, filthy living conditions, having a registered sex offender boyfriend, and arrested for four counts of contributing and neglect due to the sex offender being around her children! This felt like the worst day of my life. It was unbearable, having to tell the girls they would have to go back and live with their mother. They screamed and cried, stomped their feet, and begged not to have to go. They asked “why can’t we talk to the judge?”, “what about all the notes you have Nanny?, What about all the nasty clothes you have saved Nanny?”. I was crying so hard, I could not even answer them. I had never seen Hank cry until that day. Our hearts were broken. We promised the girls we would continue to fight with all we had to get them back with us, no matter how long or what it took.
That lead into a huge fight between my son and me. I was so filled with anger and hurt that I allowed Satan in. I told my son I hated him. I told him to never step foot on my property again. Did I mean it? Yes, at the time I did. Did I mean it the next day? No, but the damage was done. Now I would have to reap what I had sown. Always remember, with every action there is a consequence. I could not understand how I could let myself get so filled with anger. Now I had to deal with the loneliness, bitterness, and depression that would consume me for the next five years (along with the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer within that same timeframe).
Ephesian 4:26-27 “And don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you, Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, or anger will give a mighty foothold to the Devil”.
James 1: 19-20 “My dear Brothers and Sisters be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. Your anger can never make things right in God’s sight.”
No matter who the girls talked to, no matter who they told, no one could or would help. One lady that was a neighbor to the girls even told me, “I don’t want to be involved”. The girls would often eat at her house and she would drive them home so they would not have to walk down the highway. Many calls were placed to the Department of Children Services but no investigation took place.
Hank and I went through three attorneys, a private investigator, and $67,000.00 in the process. I spent endless sleepless nights. I prayed to God day and night, beseeching him to please bring the twins back to us. God just did not seem to hear my prayers. My life seemed hopeless. I even contemplated suicide. Somehow, God gave me grace and the willpower to hold my head up and continue on. During this time, I went through 33 rounds of radiation for my breast cancer and gratefully, survived, but I was depressed.
One day the Lord brought Pastor Tricia Trull into my life, when I so desperately needed Jesus. She witnessed my struggles with anger, and depression that had built up inside of me. She understood my desperation. She began to help me. First, she taught me to pray differently than how I had been praying. She said, “instead of praying for God to bring the girls back to you, pray for God to change the mother’s heart, to change the hearts of people with authority, and to ask God to put people in their path that can make a difference”. So, I started praying the way she advised. For a year or longer, I would ask God to show me a sign that would give me hope.
I also prayed for happiness for both my son and for the twin’s mother.
On three occasions I experienced what I believed to be signs from God. Once while driving down the road, three white doves flew along beside me. Another time, three white doves flew across the road in front of me. I believed the doves represented my son and the two girls and that this was a sign that we would all be together again soon. A few weeks later, I was again driving and praying when I felt a strong prompting to look up into the sky. It was a rainy, gloomy day. There, right in the middle of this big dark gray cloud was a small bright white cloud shaped like the letter J, or an upside down shepherd’s staff. I knew at this point God was trying to tell me “let it go, and give it to me, take your hands off this situation”. I knew right then there was hope.
Luke 1:37 “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
At this point I told God, “If you will bring those girls home, I will let you use me anyway you desire”.
A few days later God started working in a mighty way. He prompted the girl’s mother to move to Weakley County, TN. Shortly after moving there, the girl’s mother dropped the girls out into the parking lot of Jolley Springs Baptist Church. Little did the mother know, she was introducing her girls to a Department of Human Services employee, Pastor Tony Michael. Over the next several months God would allow things to happen like more physical abuse, verbal abuse, mental abuse, neglect, and filthy living conditions. On two separate occasions, the pastor and his wife took two electric heaters to the girls, due to the fact that the step-father had cut the heat off to the girls part of the house as punishment.
By now, Hank and I were arguing almost day and night. The financial stress and the worry had taken over our lives and our relationship. It got really bad some days. At one point Hank told me “I don’t care about the girls anymore”, and I told him “I did care, and that I had turned the situation over to God to handle, and was at peace with that choice”. It was a strange mixture of pressure at home but peace with God. This is hard to reconcile.
Martin Luther King Day, January 21, 2013 – God released those girls from their hell. the Department of Children Services did an emergency removal due to the abuse of the step-father. He has slammed one of the girls against the floor, the temperature in the house was 53 degrees and there was no food for the girls to eat. Our granddaughters were finally returned to our care! My granddaughter’s Jennifer and Jessica came back to live with us the very next day.
Naturally, there were many adjustments to be made. They were 15 when we got them back in January of 2013. They turned 16 the following August. They will be back with us this January 2016, for three years now. It was a very hard adjustment especially for my husband. When they left they were little girls and he was a hero who could do no wrong in their eyes. But when they came back they were young ladies with their own ideas and own way of doing things. It has been a rough road. But if I had to do it again I would do it all over again.
The twins are well adjusted and healthy, except Jennifer has anemia right now. Jennifer plans to attend Murray State University where she will study music and social work. Jessica is undecided which college, but most likely Murray State also. She plans to become a teacher, and major in Spanish. She may minor in photography. She also loves art. It is amazing how well they are doing these days, considering what they had to endure. God has surely covered them with His amazing love.
There is still much healing to be done. As far as my relationship with my husband goes, well I guess I can say it is still a work in progress. I won’t lie. The whole situation darn near broke us up. The future is never promised. I’m still trying to hang in there with him. We just had our 38th wedding anniversary. Our relationship was damaged, that’s for sure. Hank has not yet learned to let go of everything.
I don’t know if my relationship with my son will ever be the same. We have reconciled and we have both said we was sorry, but I don’t know that he is truly over all the hurt either. He has two other children that I’ve never seen. His wife he is married to now refuses to let me and my husband see them because of the past. I’ve talked with her, and we have both cried, but she is still on her guard.
Remember the bargain I had made with God? Well, He started using me almost immediately. I started feeling in my heart to do mission work. I had the urge but didn’t know how or where to begin. God showed me the way. I was invited to attend the United Methodist Church Generative Leadership Academy (GLA) 2014. After our second weekend session there was homework assigned. The assignment was to implement a mission into our local church or community. I started a blanket mission for the sick, and a handmade greeting card mission for our local United Methodist Women (UMW) group. The urge kept getting stronger and stronger to do more mission work beyond my own church. After the third weekend session of GLA I was invited to go along on the Volunteer in Missions trip to Mexico. Not knowing how I would raise the money to cover my expenses, I said yes. I immediately began to worry about how I was going to finance the mission trip. God was about to show me!
To make a long story short, I have gone to several churches to share my story and have collected enough money to cover my first mission trip. There are more mission trips in my near future as well! More good news; I am now officially a breast cancer survivor with more than five years since my treatment! God is good!
Romans 8:28 and we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.
By Norma (Martin) Swaney
Have you ever been so far down in the valley of strife and sorrow that you could not imagine ever being happy again?
Many years ago I received a card of encouragement from a fellow church member with the following scripture on the front;
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
I was so inspired by this scripture that I framed it, and set it on my windowsill. Little did my friend know just how much I needed this encouragement and how much it would help me time and again.
That time in my life was very dark, felt crumbly and so out of control. Tom, my husband was steadily going downhill physically, and I certainly had little hope and no eye for the future. I remember crying out loud that I sure was glad someone knew about my future because I surely did not!
Tom, who had been wheelchair bound for several years following an accident, was fairly adept at hiding how he felt and answering “doing pretty good”, to anyone who asked. He tended to say this even when he clearly was not doing well at all. We attended Calvert City United Methodist Church. He loved our church and loved to sing. We were both members of our church choir. As time progressed, Tom’s health continued to decline and he died on April 12, 2013, after many years of pain and incapacity.
Let’s take a look at another situation happening in our church body during the same time period. Roger Swaney and his wife Jeanne moved to Calvert City, Kentucky (my home town) in 2010. They bought a historical home that was beautiful, but in need of some repair. Roger dedicated the next year of his life and resources to restoring this historical landmark. Jeanne loved it even though she had always been a ‘large city person’. Roger felt like he was returning to the small town type environment where he had spent his formative years. About 18 months after their arrival, and finally being settled in their home, fate struck an awful blow. Jeanne succumbed to a rebounding, lethal cancer she had thought had been put permanently behind her some years before. By the time of this recurrence, Roger had joined our church, because his mother had raised him in a United Methodist Church in Springfield, Ohio. He joined our church and our choir. Jeanne was of another faith, but we loved her like one of ours and reached out in support to her and Roger. In time, Jeanne died. This was a short time after Tom had died.
I watched Roger in church and in the choir. I knew how badly he hurt since I had already walked that same path when Tom died. Roger had no one to talk with and I sensed he deeply needed at least a partial release. One Friday afternoon I called him up and said “We need to talk. Let’s go have dinner.” So we did. Over dinner, we talked a lot. I talked about Tom and my life with him as well as the hard adjustment to life without him. Roger talked about Jeanne. I watched as some of the lines in his face began to relax. I felt better for him.
The next morning he knocked on my door looking for coffee. He looked sort of confused and later told me he had been on his way to sit by the lake and make some final decisions about what to do with the rest of his life. His plans were to leave Calvert City and go back on the road doing his life work as a certified vessel inspector both in the US and globally. He didn’t realize he was driving to my house until he was there!
The next Sunday afternoon we went to Grand Rivers to hear some good southern gospel quartet music, which happens to be his favorite. I also enjoy this type of music very much. That was the beginning of a growing and more meaningful relationship. Roger and I exchanged our wedding vows on May 30, 2015 at the Calvert City United Methodist Church. We were joined by our families and many good friends.
To say it has been an easy adjustment and all mountaintops might be a stretch. We have grown closer and more loving with each other day by day. Our past lives (joys and sorrows) are constantly with us and we recognize those people, times and trials are what have made us who we are today. We are both stronger and more dependent on our good God. We are thankful for each day and each other. We truly feel God is in our story of being together.
by Sara Schoubye
My Dad was born on Dec. 25, 1910. While he was in the ER for his last time on this Earth, he asked me if he was such a bad father. It made me wonder why he would ask me such a question at this time. I wanted to grow up to be just like my Dad. He was well liked in the community. He built half the town I grew up in. There are 12 children he and my mother brought into this world and raised well. I was, to say the least, ‘dumbfounded’ by his question!
You see, he was dying of colon cancer. Dad fought it for over five years and it won in the end. "Yes Dad I Love You" was all I could say with tears welling up and choking on these words I meant with all my heart. They moved him to a private room after that and I began to think of what Dad had asked me. I wasn't the best example of what 'a daughter' should be. I was a tomboy which scared my mother half out of her wits most of the time. I grew up to be quite the adventurer. When graduating from High School I left the town I grew up in and joined the State Carnivals. Travel was my dream-to see the world. See the World- no-but I did travel the States and two other ports of interest. Oh how I love the Ocean! Is this what Dad was talking about?
I really imagine he was talking about my bad choices in life with drugs and alcohol. You see my father was an alcoholic. He didn’t want me to ‘be just like him’. He thought ( I suppose ) he had failed me. I can see now why he would ask me that question. He wanted to know that I would be okay after he went home to his Father in heaven. Somehow I think he wanted that closure, for me to say “ everything is okay Dad. You can rest now”.
I stayed with him the last night before he passed. Something alarmed him and he almost rose up out of the hospital bed. He told me to tell those people to leave the room. I turned around to see who he was talking to, seeing no one, I could only imagine they were there to take him home. You see, my father accepted Jesus Christ as his savior a few years back. He was ready but afraid; I knew he would make the trip just fine!
He slipped into a coma later that night with me holding his hand. My family took our mother home before he quietly passed on that next morning. I will join him one day, as I am a born again Christian, and he will be waiting for me when my God calls me home. I do believe Dad, you are smiling. Yes Dad, I Love you.
Psalm 30 – Joy in the Morning
[*30 *]I give you all the credit, God—
p. you got me out of that mess,
p. you didn’t let my foes gloat.
^[*2-3 *]^God, my God, I yelled for help
p. and you put me together.
God, you pulled me out of the grave,
p. gave me another chance at life
p. when I was down-and-out.
^[*4-5 *]^All you saints! Sing your hearts out to God!
p. Thank him to his face!
He gets angry once in awhile, but across
p. a lifetime there is only love.
[[The nights of crying your eyes out
* give way to days of laughter.*]]
^[*6-7 *]^When things were going great
p. I crowed, “I’ve got it made.
I’m God’s favorite.
p. He made me king of the mountain.”
Then you looked the other way
p. and I fell to pieces.
^[*8-10 *]^I called out to you, God;
p. I laid my case before you:
“Can you sell me for a profit when I’m dead?
p. auction me off at a cemetery yard sale?
When I’m ‘dust to dust’ my songs
p. and stories of you won’t sell.
So listen! and be kind!
p. Help me out of this!”
^[*11-12 *]^You did it: you changed wild lament
p. into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band
p. and decked me with wildflowers.
I’m about to burst with song;
p. I can’t keep quiet about you.
God, my God,
p. I can’t thank you enough.
by John Muncher
I have always believed in God, and have received many blessings from Him, One important blessing I received was my girlfriend. She is the sweetest, most caring person in the world. I call her Angel because she was a dream come true. I had drifted away from God by the time I met her. She gave me a bible. She was a blessing to me in so many ways. She attended church regularly, and convinced me to attend with her. We fell in love quickly during an ice storm in 2009 when our hands touched while removing a tree from the roadway. We both felt that God had brought us together for a reason, but never knew why. I always figured it was to fill a void we both had in our hearts. We had wonderful relationship like most people only dream of having. I asked her to marry me, and she said yes. I was so in love with her I never wanted her away from my side.
Angel’s mother took sick, and Angel became her full-time caregiver. She was spending much less time with me. She was no longer able to attend church regularly, and I also stopped going because I was not comfortable going without her. Our relationship became very stressful and Angel called off our engagement. The more distant we came the harder I would try to keep us together which just resulted in our relationship falling apart entirely. This was very painful because I just knew she was my soul mate, and that no other living person could take her place in my heart. I did not want to lose her, but the more I tried to hold on the more I drove her away.
To compound my already unhappy and unstable life, two tragedies occurred within two months’ time. First I lost a brother, next I lost a daughter. I was heartbroken. Within a short time span I had lost a brother, a daughter and knew I was losing my girlfriend (my Angel). Angel was worried about me mentally, and told me I needed help. I prayed to God and spoke with friends about the deaths, but would only open up to God about my relationship problems. God impressed upon my heart that I needed to let Him in and let Him help me change my lifestyle. Even though I was praying I had not really surrendered my heart, will and life to God.
My job requires me to work away from home 28 days at a time. (28 days away, 28 days home). During those away days I missed my girlfriend so much I felt like it was driving me insane. I was obsessed with the need to hear her voice, and to hear her tell me we were going to be okay. In reality, I was only able to speak with her a couple times. These conversations were short and her voice flat. My heart told me I had lost her completely. I felt I was on a path of mental, emotional and spiritual destruction. I prayed more and harder. I even submitted a prayer request to TV pastor Joyce Meyer. I began to feel a breakthrough. God began really coming into my heart, and showing me how my greed, and selfishness was what drove my girlfriend away. (Perhaps I was holding on too tight and demanding more than she was able to give). I realized that God had used this experience to get my attention and cause me see how desperately it was Him that I needed. No person or relationship can fill the void within us. Only God can do that. I need to see life through God’s eyes and let Him change me. I still pray that someday Angel will forgive me and give our relationship another chance, but God’s will be done. I try to read scriptures every day now to help me grow in my new relationship with God, and to deal with what I have going in my life. God has helped me understand a little more every day. The pain is still there but I know God is also there helping me along the path.
I now attend church regularly again, with an open heart. I thank God for the guidance of Pastor Gregory and others at Calvert City United Methodist Church. They help me so much just by being there for me. They are my new spiritual family, and my support. I know in my heart that the Lord had to get me to the weakest point in my life to where I could go no lower without dying in order to turn my life over to him. One day maybe Angel will forgive me. I may have lost her forever but I gained something far more important. The LORD!!!!!!!
by Lucy Owen
When my daughter Terrie was ten years old she became very ill. At first her doctor thought she had the flu, but when she did not improve we returned for a second medical appointment. The doctor conducted a few tests and sent Terrie to the hospital. A surgeon was called in to remove a portion of two ribs which turned out to have a cancer considered to be ninety eight percent fatal. After surgery, the same day she was sent home because of people talking. The doctor did not want Terrie to overhear any of the negative conversations. They sent all of her medical information on to St. Jude’s Hospital and told us that they would notify us of when to take her to St. Jude’s.
I well remember taking Terrie home. On the way to her room I was overcome with what seemed to me to be the strangest of sensations. I felt as though God was telling me that my daughter was going to be all right.
St. Jude’s refused to admit her. The Dr. then decided to send her to University of Kentucky Medical Center. She and I stayed there for a week. Terrie endured many examinations and tests. I will always believe that a miracle happened to Terrie sometime during this experience. Whatever the doctors group in Paducah had originally found, St. Jude’s had not noticed from the medical files and information they had received. Apparently, the removal of the portion of two ribs that first day in Paducah had resulted in the cancer being completely removed from her body. Who really knows but God himself? I do believe that God spoke to me and assured me that my daughter would be all right. Terrie celebrated her 53rd birthday in April, 2015, and has remained healthy throughout her life.
by Mysti Distance
My Pastor Gregory Waldrop (whom I have always called Preacherboy) left my church a few months ago. We received a young (and I mean young) woman named Sara Tate as his replacement. I (with Gregory’s encouragement) have kept an open mind. I was not sure where I stood on this young woman. I liked her but could she help me and lead me? I doubted it. Gregory told me to my keep my butt in my church seat and pray. I laughed because that is what I did about him.
When I was trying to decide if being a Methodist and under Gregory’s guiding eyes was where I needed to be, I asked for a sign. The very next week Gregory asked the whole congregation to pray for my dog, Jolleen (who was having cancer surgery at the time) and I knew that was my sign. I was where I supposed to be. I mean a Pastor who would announce that he was praying for my dog…where would i get that again?
I liked Sara very much but I just was not sure about her as my pastor. Then, today out nowhere, Sara announced in her sermon that she is praying for my dog Riley (who is now battling jaw cancer and a huge infection), and will continue to do so. I knew at that very moment, I had just found my second Pastor. My Pastor is Sara Tate at Fountain Avenue United Methodist Church and I thank her for coming home. I thank Gregory for once again knowing where to lead me, and I thank God for letting me know that I now have a PREACHERGIRL!
[*Your past does not have to define your present or future. Some say “people don’t change” and “ he/she is like that because of how he/ she was raised”. It doesn’t have to be that way. With God all things are possible and we can overcome a troubled past. *]
by Sandy Cobb
The Bible tells us that angels are messengers sent by God to tell us something we need to know. My angel gave me a map and a key.
This story is hard to write because I still feel deep shame for the person I was before God changed me. I also still have sad regrets for those my actions hurt (my children). I can only write it now because the worst of me ended over 33 years ago, and I know I am not that same person today. If this story can help one person in some small way, then it is worth the telling.
When I was 22 years old I was a single mother with very few life goals. One summer Friday evening I left my daughter at home with a babysitter so I could go out on the town for a little while. I ambled into one of my small town’s taverns, sat at the bar and ordered a beer. A man I did not know sat down on the stool beside mine. Generally, everyone knew everyone in this small town. He was clearly a stranger. I was very willing to carry on a conversation with him. He told me his name was John. Our conversation led into areas of life’s passions and disappointments.
I am amazed at how well I remember this entire incident because it was almost 40 years ago, but I do remember it well. I suppose that is because this night would turn out to be a mystical foretelling of my future.
John said he was a writer of novels. I told him I also liked to write. “Have you ever been published” he asked. “No” I replied. “I’ve submitted several poems and short stories, but the only one ever published was in a high school anthology.” He said he himself had submitted hundreds of pieces and most had been rejected. Rejection is part of the pathway, if you really want to make it you just have to keep on trying, he told me.
“As a matter of fact I have just completed a manuscript that I am ready to submit for publication this week” John said.
“I would like to read it” I said.
“It’s in my truck. If you really want to read it, I will let you take it home tonight and you can give it back to me tomorrow.”
I took John up on his offer. We left the bar and went to his truck in the parking lot. He reached into the back, which was covered by a camper top, and pulled out a box. In the box were many numbered pages of a neatly typed manuscript. After a bit more tipsy small talk, he went his way and I went mine. Surprisingly, I went home (instead of another bar) and began reading John’s manuscript.
Now there are several things about this story that are strange. First of all I had been drinking, Yet I clearly remember details of this encounter and the book. Second of all, I had just met this total stranger, who entrusted me (a total stranger to him) with his unpublished manuscript. Thirdly, I went home to read his book on a Friday night! None of this was normal.
I began to read the manuscript and found that I could not put it down. I read through the night, devouring every page. John’s book told the story of two people, a man and a woman, who drifted slowly but surely into alcoholism. The story told how alcohol ruined their lives, little by little. It told specifics of how each declined morally, emotionally, and spiritually doing things under the influence that they would never do otherwise. It emphasized their shame and self-hatred. Details of how the alcohol dependence caused them to make poor decisions, lose jobs, neglect family and totally lose all self-respect. Finally, after they had gone downhill about as far a person could go, they each turned to God. The story told how they came to believe, slowly but surely in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and how God empowered them to overcome their addiction to alcohol, and to gradually be transformed into the people they had the potential to become all along. Clearly, alcoholism robbed them of the ability to be all that God intended, and clearly, turning to God restored that potential.
Early the next morning, I walked to the park down the street. I sat on a swing, thinking about all that I had read. The manuscript had penetrated my very being. When I returned to my apartment, my roommate told me that a man named John had stopped by and asked for the manuscript. She gave it to him and he left. Over the following weeks I searched for John. I asked everyone if they knew him. No one did. I drove by the place he said he lived. There was no indication he had ever been there. I never saw him again. Something deep inside told me he had been an angel, sent to deliver a message to me. The message got my attention and certainly made me begin to think about the path I was on, and about God. I never forgot him, that strange night or the story told by his manuscript.
Over the next five years, I continued to drift steadily downhill. My life became more unmanageable. Several times I thought long and hard about what I had read in John’s book and wondered if it could be true. Was there a possibility, that a person could come to know God and be changed for the better? On two occasions I found myself at AA meetings, but I could not wait to get away once there.
By the age of 27, I finally hit my bottom. By this time I had remarried and had a second child. I was separated from my second husband and barely making ends meet. More than anything, I wanted to be better for my children. It broke my heart to realize I was not doing a good job of providing all my children needed in life (physically, spiritually and emotionally). To make a long story shorter, I pretty much lived the story as told in John’s manuscript. Miraculously, I finally joined AA, came to believe in God, and He did change me. Of course it wasn’t that simple, or that quick. I could not afford babysitters so both my children attended AA with me nearly every night. It was the only option. To not go to AA meetings because I couldn’t afford a babysitter would have prevented me from getting sober, so we all went! It took years for me to grow up and become someone I could stand to look at in the mirror. Eventually, we started going to church for actual church (not just AA) and became a Christian family. The gist of this God Story is that a total stranger entered my life one night in a way that I could receive him, and blessed me with the map to the way out of the path of destruction I was on. I believe that stranger was an angel sent by God to deliver something I needed; in a way I could receive it.
The Bible says that we may entertain Angels, unaware that we are doing so. One would never think that an angel would go into a bar and talk with a tipsy young woman, but where else would have I, at that time in my life found someone to hand me truth that I would listen to? God will give us what we need in a way that we can receive it. That manuscript foretold what was to come for me. I experienced much of what was in that book in similar ways! The book told me how alcohol would try to destroy me, and that God was my only answer, my only way out.
Now, almost 40 years later, I look back on a mostly good life. Yes, I wasted the first 27 years, but for the past 33-34 years now I have lived a pretty good life. I have not had a drink since the age of 28. (I first joined AA at 27 but it took me a few months to really “join”). Today I have a wonderful family. I have gained a formal education including a terminal degree in the field of education and e-learning. I have had a good career. I have a wonderful husband, and I belong to a strong church community. There have been heartaches and obstacles, but nothing nearly so bad as how I felt about myself prior to getting sober with the help of AA and God. With sobriety came maturity, stability, common sense and wisdom (slowly). I prayed often for God to stand in and overcome the heritage of our past for my children and to raise them up to become the well-balanced, good-hearted people HE wanted them to be.
Today, both of my children have wonderful spouses, children of their own, and, Christian values. They are loving parents. I am proud of them, and ever so grateful to God for intervening as He did so that they would have a chance in this life. My husband of 17 years, and I enjoy a peaceful, contented life, sharing our home with seven rescue fur kids. It is a happy life and that is amazing because when I was young I really never believed I could ever know happiness. I praise God for the many miracles He has blessed me with.
There are two photos following this story; the first is of my daughter and I at ages 22 and 5. The other one is of me today, filling my empty nest with loving my dogs!
by Alice Day
From birth to now God has been with me. I was adopted at age three to my parents in Tennessee who already had two children ages 15 and 20. My adopted sister had 2 children that are the same ages as my biological sister and brother. My adopted brother was in the Navy. My adopted mother wanted another child but wasn’t able to have any more. I cried for my family that I was taken from. My heart ached for my siblings, and no one could fill that emptiness in my heart.
My adopted parents raised me in the church where I learned to have faith and to pray to God. They knew my biological mother and about things going on in her life over the years. They always knew when she had other children. Mine was an open adoption. I would hear them talking and I knew my biological mother gave birth to other children after giving me away. That hurt. I was loved by many people in church, community and my new family. That said, I still wanted to know who I looked like, and I wanted to be with my real family. There were times when I would get so depressed I wanted to die. I contemplated suicide. God sent angels to me many times. Some were spiritual and some human. My adopted dad loved me unconditionally, and there was a strong bound between us. This was possibly due to the fact his mother died when he was three, and he was raised by is grandparents.
Bad things happened to me as I grew up, but I still hung on to my faith and knew Jesus loved me. When I gave birth to my own child I finally had some sense of fulfillment, but still had this emptiness. By the time I was married, and had a child my adopted parents were both deceased.
One day I was on ancestry.com and entered in my biological history hoping to find some family members. First, I found a few cousins on my biological father’s side. At age 47 God answered my prayers; my biological sister was on ancestry.com for the first time, and had found my post.
God does answer prayers, but not always within our timeframe. Finally, I spoke with my sister on the phone. I was afraid to hang up because I didn’t want to lose her again. My heart was full! The void was filled! I was so happy to have found my sister! Life was finally good; I was married, had a child, and now I had my sister back in my life. God answered my prayers and met my need!
Alice and two of her siblings
Sometimes that inner urge to do something is from God!
by Ashlie Rowland
I was running behind this morning, i overslept and took my son to daycare an hour later than normal. On the way I passed a woman walking and thought, I should offer to give her a ride. I dropped my son off, and headed back into town where I passed her again, but had no place to stop. I pulled over and argued with God for a minute. I eventually gave in to the pull on my heart. I pulled up and asked her if she wanted a ride. She said she was just going to the park up the road but I insisted. We chatted a bit and then she asked “Can I ask you a weird question?” I said of course, and she asked if I knew of any homeless shelters around here. She went on to explain that her kids, that are older, are at the park because her and her husband had a big fight this morning and he kicked them all out, and to top it off, her car was broken down. I got her phone number and name. I told her I would contact her with some help.
We are in the process now of trying to find a shelter. As I pray for her and her family, I’m turning control over to God to lead me in finding help. I am praying for this family in this time of need. There was a time in my life where I was abandoned by my husband and left with no job, no car, and a 2 year old son. Thankfully I had my family to help me, but God is truly the one who pulled me out of that dark place. I told this woman that she is not alone and God loves her. We can all be that woman walking down the road in need, and we can all be that person that listens to God’s whisper to help.
God bless. Ashlie
by Bonnie Shows
We moved to Kentucky from our home state of Texas in December 2010 when my husband took a position with another company. We prayed about this move and felt in our hearts it was what God wanted for us. Though we had been to Kentucky visiting our youngest son stationed at Fort Campbell, he was now assigned to Fort Hood in Texas and we knew no one in this state. We hired my brother Gary, a general contractor, to remodel our house and I stayed busy decorating it to make it feel like home.
When the work was done, Gary went home and I was alone. As is common with me, depression set in. I had to get out and meet people! Mark and I visited many churches searching for a church home and one Sunday in April we visited Calvert City United Methodist Church. There in the bulletin was an announcement about an upcoming United Methodist Women (UMW) meeting. It was at this meeting that I met Penny Story, the UMW District President. We spoke briefly about UMW, my background with UMW in Texas, and my interest in a bible study and we exchanged phone numbers. The weather was crazy that Spring with record flooding which caused roads to be closed due to washout.
So now I’m back at home…alone. I called Penny many times. She was not one for returning calls. Calvert City United Methodist Church UMW unit went to dinner in June for their monthly meeting; however, Mark had a business dinner that evening so I joined him. Little did I know, but UMW didn’t meet in July or August. (Crazy, I know!) In September Penny and I connect on Facebook and she sends me a message about a bible study. The study was into its third week when I started and who was my group leader? Yes! Penny. I dove into my study eager to learn about God. My studies kept coming back to these words: BE STILL AND LISTEN.
A couple more weeks went by when Penny broke down during the study. She spoke through sobs about how she was so overwhelmed that she couldn’t bring herself to cook dinner, clean house, do laundry, take care of her family, etc. She was truly hurting inside. SHHH! BE STILL. LISTEN. I left bible study with a determination I hadn’t seen in months. I went home and prayed for Penny. God spoke to me and continued to speak for the rest of the day and into the evening. As the group leader, Penny had given us her phone number and address. For the life of me, the GPS couldn’t find her house. Hoping only to leave a message to call me back first thing, I called Penny at 5:30 am. Well, she answered the phone! I told her I had something for her and I needed directions to her house. She all but told me NO, do not come over. I told her I had been praying for her since the class the previous day. I said, “God spoke to me to do this, Penny. Please don’t rob me of this blessing.” These were God’s words coming out of my mouth. Penny reluctantly gave me directions and I told her I would be over after her kiddos got on the school bus.
I arrived around 7:00 am to find Penny standing at her back door. She had been crying. I marched in with my bags like I owned the place! I told her how God told me, “Be still”. (Trust in Me). “Listen”. (Hear the cries of others around you who are hurting). God put upon my heart to clean her house, do her laundry, and cook dinner for her and her family. Penny was embarrassed; I told her not to be. A few hugs later, we rolled up our sleeves and cleaned the house top to bottom, laundry was washed, dried, folded and put away, and dinner was on the table with a peach cobbler in the oven when I went home. This day formed a bond stronger than I could have ever imagined. We laugh to this day how I “stalked” her into being my friend.
BY CHRISTINA HUFFMAN
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Tomorrow, November 8th, our baby boy turns five. He informed us a couple of months ago that he never had a “public” party, and so next week we will have a Cars party for him. He’s quite excited! On Sunday, November 9th, we celebrate the 4th anniversary of him officially joining the Huffman family.
There have been many miracles in our little man’s life! He was born prematurely and weighed under 2 pounds at birth. We don’t know exactly how early he was born. Some records say he was a 28 weeker, and others say 32 weeks. The bottom line is that he was very tiny and sickly. His birth parents decided to take an extended trip after he was born, and he was left alone in the NICU. This is the part that breaks my heart! How I wish that I could have been there for him.
In January the doctors decided that he was strong enough to handle hernia repair surgery. It was expected that after that he would go to a foster home. That surgery did not go as planned. For several years the only information we had was the doctor’s notes from his medical records. We knew that he was not expected to live. His social worker told us about how she stayed at the hospital with him all night waiting for him to pass away. Finally the doctors told her to go home. They said they would call her when it happened. That call never came! He made it! But, we never knew the full story of what exactly happened.
I am a writer and a storyteller. I had to know my son’s story! I didn’t know if I would ever get to hear it. However, a couple of years ago we took him to a consult with a surgeon about a certain optional procedure that never got done at the hospital due to his other issues. The doctor that we went to also happened to be the doctor that did his hernia repair. I was doubtful that he would recall Will or that day, but I decided to ask anyway. I’m glad I did. The doctor looked at Will and I saw emotion in his eyes. He explained that in his career he has had 2 cases that impacted him to the point that he could remember every single thing that happened that day. Will was one of those cases! (God is so good!) He proceeded to tell us all the little details and he was able to fill in the holes. We asked him why Will was not expected to live. He had had some severe seizures as a result of the anesthesia. After that, he simply would not wake up. He was not breathing on his own. They did a brain scan on him and they thought he was brain dead. (This is where I start to cry!) They were going to remove him from life support. The doctor that shared the story with us said, “Thank God they decided to send the scan to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for second opinion before pulling the plug.” The second opinion was that he was not brain dead and they did not remove life support.
He eventually woke up and was released to a medically fragile foster home in March. He had spent nearly five months in the NICU. I know that his foster mom was with him during a lot of that time. I am so thankful to her and to all of those that loved on our baby in those early months. He has never had an attachment issue. Meanwhile, we had been praying about adopting another baby. I even had some vivid dreams about a baby boy. However, it didn’t seem like it was going to happen.
We had adopted two children through foster care and we had fostered two other babies that went home. It was hard on our children to have babies coming and going. My oldest daughter had a really difficult time after we had to let one of the babies go. He was medically fragile and I depended on her a lot to help me take care of him. She got extremely attached to him and was depressed for a long time after we lost him. I did not ever want to do that to her again, so foster care was not an option. I prayed that if God wanted to add another child to our family, it would be a straight up adoption.
In the summer of 2010 I did my annual house purge. It seemed that the baby thing was not going to happen, so I decided to get rid of all the baby stuff. I sold my furniture and I took a box full of bottles, toys, etc. to Goodwill. Even as I dumped the stuff in the box I thought to myself, “I may regret this!” Less than a week later I was sitting at my computer. I had just posted a picture of my kids on Facebook. Someone commented on how blessed I was. my heart was filled with gratitude and in that moment I was overwhelmed with the joy of motherhood. Then, the phone rang. My heart leapt! I knew it was going to be about a baby, even though I had no reason to expect any such call. I answered the phone and heard the voice of our former social worker. I about fell over! She even asked, “Did you know it was going to be me?” She went on to say that she knew our home was closed, but she wanted to tell us about a special situation. She told me about Will and how this would be an adoptive situation. We got on the mountains of paperwork, home studies, special training and three months later, Will came home.
The first time that we saw a picture of him, Joshua gave him the nickname Big Tiny. He looked like a tiny boy with a huge personality. That name fit perfectly! His life has continued to amaze people. He is a miracle. He is also one of the most loving kids that you will ever meet. He will jump in your arms and kiss your face. He loves everybody! He makes friends everywhere he goes. He is still super tiny, but he thinks he’s huge. He likes muscular men. He goes up to them, roars and shows them his muscles. He hugs kids he’s never met and says, “You are my friend, right? Let’s play.” What slays my heart is when he crawls up in my lap and says, “Hey, you are my mom. And you are gonna be my mom forever, right?” How is it that God entrusted this precious boy to me? I am blessed and honored that I get to be his mom. Happy 5th birthday Big Tiny!
Addendum: I was trying to remember the baby dream that I had before we got Will. I looked through my old journal and found it. This was written 3 months before he was born and one year before we found out about him.
I dreamed about a baby. It was a strange dream! I was in a room with all of these people’s souls. They were all in a state between life and death. Most were dying, but some were still waiting to find out if they would live or die. A tiny baby was brought in and I rushed over to him. I picked him up and held him and wondered why he had to die. Then somebody plucked him from my arms and said, “This one is going to live.” Then, they carried him out of the room. What does it mean? I know one thing. Whenever I have these dreams, a baby comes shortly thereafter.
by William Cobb
I am a licensed pilot and have been one for many years. They say that “Flying is man’s SECOND greatest thrill”. Each time I would quote that saying to a Lady she would get that look on her face that says “Here we go again” then she would invariably respond with, “ I guess I’m supposed to ask what the first greatest thrill is” while rolling her eyes and impatiently awaiting the expected answer, at which point I would respond, LANDING OF COURSE. Another old aviation cliché states that “There are old pilots & there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots”
So one sunshiny spring day I decided to go waste some fuel and just punch a few holes in the sky. That’s what we called it when we flew for no other reason than the fact that we could. A real ego boost to have an airplane, a license and two full tanks of AVgas. Makes you really feel like “THE MAN” until your struts are knocked out from under you by a simple act of dumbassery.
I pulled the airplane out of the Hangar & carefully went about my preflight inspection of ole ”Shenanigans” I walked around the plane checking the control surface hinges, the brake pads, struts wings and tail feathers to ensure that all necessary parts were securely fastened when finally I got to the engine compartment. I opened the oil door access hatch and checked the oil, the plug wires, looked for bird nests, or whatever abode may have been constructed by the local airport creature population
So me & ole Shenanigans are ready to hit the wild blue yonder. By the time we reached take off speed while barreling down the runway at fifty five miles per hour and you feel that calm smooth feeling of finally becoming airborne and flying around at twenty five hundred feet for the next five minutes when out of the clear blue sky and the drone of the squirrel panting and spinning that little wheel … er I mean the engine I hear a voice in my head just as clearly as I have heard anything else in my life. This phantom voice said “LAND NOW”
Ordinarily I might have ignored this voice however many years ago I heard the same voice tell me not to Ride my Harley that evening. I did ignore that voice and suffered an accident which resulted in the amputation of the lower half of my right leg. So I abruptly turned 180 degrees and landed. Still haunted by my phantom voice I walked around the plane to see which wing was about to fall off, and when I looked down the passenger’s side of the plane it was dripping with oil. There was oil all over the side of the plane. I 0pened the access hatch in order to see where the oil ad come from, which brings me back to the simple act of dumbassery as mentioned earlier. I had forgotten to put the oil cap & dipstick back in place and the ninety five mile per hour wind flowing across the engine compartment had syphoned the oil out of the engine and deposited it all over the side of Ole shenanigans.
I can’t say with any certainty where the voice came from but based upon my previous experience I have learned to pay closer attention, and you know what they say “The good lord looks out for fools and drunks” and I don’t get drunk anymore.
by Denae Shelton
Monday afternoon before our church’s Open Hearts Food Pantry was open, our pastor Brother Gregory stopped me to ask if I knew of a family in Calvert that would be a good candidate for a Habitat for Humanity House in Calvert. I immediately thought of the Woods Family. I met Mr. Woods when I interviewed him for his groceries from our food pantry. He proceeded to tell me that he pays over $600.00 a month in rent for their small home in Calvert City, Kentucky. He also told me that he was about to be out of work for many weeks due to having shoulder surgery. When I contacted him and told him about Habitat for Humanity, he just broke down, so emotional that we thought of referring his family.
Brother Gregory contacted the Woods family again on Tuesday, and they joined us for our church community meal on Wednesday. They stayed after the meal for bible study and the children/youth events. They just LOVED this time at our church and just kept commenting about how warm and welcoming everyone was. It is too soon to know the end of this story yet, but even if this family does not get a new physical home, they already have a new spiritual home!
God stories happen when you least expect them, and you never know how it will impact someone’s life. It still gives me goosebumps (I call them “God Bumps”) when I think about this story!
By Rachel Lovins-Probus
On Friday, August 27, 2015, my friend David was not looking well. He said he was fine but something told me he was not fine at all. I took him to see the doctor in spite of his resistance. I went into the examination room with him. Dr. Perez administered an EKG because of David’s symptoms and the results were not good. The doctor had David wear a heart monitor for the next 24 hours. The reading from the monitor showed that David’s heart had abnormal starts and stops. On stop was for 3 seconds!
On Thursday, September 3, 2015 a pacemaker was installed. The doctor said David would have died if he had not sought medical treatment the previous Friday. The bottom line here is that If I had not pushed the issue and insisted David let me take him to the doctor, he would not be here today. I believe God gave me the wisdom to know what was needed at that very critical time.
I wonder how many times God intervenes on our behalf and never gets the credit? People often say “That was a real stroke of luck!” when they hear of someone avoiding tragedy or death. One must wonder, was it luck, or was it God?
by Sandy Cobb
On November 13, 2014, my husband and I had a cozy fire burning in our fireplace. My husband went to bed before I did. By the time I was ready for bed the fire was completely out. There were no burning embers. As I prepared for bed I noticed a smell that I interpreted to be the smell of smoldering embers. I went and checked in the fireplace, but did not see any smoldering embers at all. I went back into the bedroom and crawled into bed. A few minutes later I noticed the smell again getting a little stronger. For the second time, I went to the fireplace to check for embers, and again found none. There was no smoke in the room and no sparks in the fireplace. I went back to bed.
A few minutes later the smell seems stronger still, so I got up for the third time to check the fireplace. Once again everything seemed fine. We have smoke alarms and they had not been triggered, so I told myself the smell must just be lingering in the air from earlier when the fire in the fireplace was blazing. I went back to bed for the fourth time. The smell seemed to grow stronger still. Again, I got up, went and checked the fireplace, confirming once again there were no smoldering embers, no smoke no sign of what could be causing this smell. I turned on the ceiling fan thinking that would help to dissipate this smell. I went back to bed. I was just about to take my sleeping pill and lie down, all the while assuring myself that surely the ceiling fan would get rid of the nuisance smell by morning. Almost immediately something prompted me to not trust that thought. I felt a strong urge to grab a flashlight and walk out on the back deck and look up at the roof. This time I began thinking that the smell really didn’t smell like wood-burning, but something was surely burning! I grabbed a flashlight, went out the back door, walked down the deck and shown the light up on the roof above the area where our fireplace was, which connects to our bedroom. I immediately saw the source of the smell! I saw through the vent an orange glow and it was crackling. We had a fire in our ceiling and the roof over our bedroom! The odd smell was from smothering burning insulation! Evidently, the smoke alarms had not been triggered because the fire was above them.
I quickly rushed inside and told my husband to get dressed and get out because we had a house fire! I grabbed my cell phone and rushed down the steps to get our dogs out of the house. We have six dogs and we were taking care of a friend’s dog while she was away. Seven dogs had to be evacuated from crates and doggie beds, to the back yard. I pushed them all out and quickly put the lock out on the doggie door so that they couldn’t get back in. On my way back up the steps I called 911 and reported the fire.
I threw a coat on over my pajamas, grabbed my purse, and jumped into my shoes. My husband and I both went out the front door, he to his truck, me to my car and we drove both vehicles away from the burning house, parking on either side of the driveway. We sat in our vehicles and waited, and waited, and waited for the fire truck to arrive. Finally we heard sirens nearby, but our hearts dropped as we watched the fire truck racing down the road below us, missing us by a block. All the while we waited the fire grew bigger and bigger spreading across the top of the roof. The fire truck did finally come to our house and the firemen were able to eventually put out the fire. When it was done we learned that the ceiling had caved in on top of our bed. That was a very chilling realization because if I had not gotten up for the fifth time, and discovered the fire; the ceiling would’ve fallen down on our bed. We probably would have been killed. What a terrifying realization.
Between the fire and the water used to put out the fire our house was totally ruined. We spent the next seven months living in our garage while our house was restored. It was a very unfortunate experience to go through but I would like to think it made us stronger. After seven months we moved back into a house that was like brand-new. It was better than it was before the fire because it had been completely gutted and everything was now brand new. During the experience people from my church, coworkers, neighbors, friends, and family were so very supportive that it warmed our hearts greatly. They helped us with converting the garage into a living space, with clothes, money and moral support. This outpouring of compassion was transforming. I have no doubt that it was God that prompted me that night to grab a flashlight, go outside on the deck look up and find the source of the smell. Evidently it was not our time to die that night. Praise God.
God always listens to our prayers. He always answers them as well. Sometimes it takes a while for the answer to come through, and sometimes the answer is not what we expect.
by Amanda Jetton
O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. —Psalm 139:1
I was fourteen the first time I truly realized that God knew me. I had gone from a class of 28 students to the largest high school in the area, and that transition was challenging. I was trying to find my place among all those new people, and like most young teens, I was beginning to struggle with peer pressure. I found myself facing a situation for which I was not ready. Right versus wrong, should I or shouldn’t I? I knew what was right in my heart, yet I was torn. One night, alone in my room, I prayed about it. I’m not sure what I expected or if I even believed that God would hear me, but I prayed. I told God that I didn’t know what to do, and I asked for guidance.
The next morning, my friend arrived to drive me to school, as she did every day. When I got in her car, she didn’t say hello. She didn’t say good morning or ask me how I was. She didn’t give me any kind of greeting. The first words out of her mouth were a direct answer to my prayer. It was then that I knew without a doubt that God knew me, and that God listened to the prayers of a fourteen year old girl from Lynnville, Kentucky. I knew in that moment that God cared about me, no matter how insignificant I felt. God used my friend that day to teach me that no matter what situation I face, I can turn to Him. God hears the prayers of His children, and God answers!
By Barbara Colburn
I came home from working at Lourdes Hospital one afternoon in September to discover the roof of my house was teeming with guys. It was dusk and getting dark. The Mexicans were there! They had arrived, unannounced, and had already removed all the shingles from the roof and were applying the new shingles on the far edge of the front of the house.
Fantastic! Then I noticed the bundles of shingles laying in my front yard. They were NOT the shingles that were ordered. Not only were they from a different company --they were NOT the color ordered.
I yelled up to the workers—” Does anyone up there Speak English “ The answer came back—“SI, SI “. Finally one descended the ladder to speak with me. At that point I had totally lost it! Rain was forecast for the next day and Nothing was Right.
I had managed to get my youngest son on his cell phone. He answered to his Mother screaming -"Get over here Right Now!" He come over, surveyed the situation, calmed his Mother and explained. Basically, the shingles were a reliable brand with the same specs as the ones ordered, but it was so dark, we could not see how the color blended with the brick. He was on the phone talking to the person in charge of the project so I went on into my house.
I was anything but calm. I was pacing the floor and muttering to myself. I was in mid-step when a voice said—Loud and Clear—“Was this NOT what you prayed for?”
It stopped me cold. It was indeed EXACTLY what I had been praying for. Starting that end of August, I had prayed each night that the roofing on my house would be done by the beginning of October. The day’s date was September 30th.
A sense of calmness spread through me. I was no longer upset. My LORD GOD was in Charge! The roofing would be done properly and the color of the shingles would be perfect with the brick! And It was! I pray that My LORD always helps me to remember the times that HE has spoken to me.
by Christina Huffman
visit her Blog at
Well, my little guy who had been sick is better today. He’s been his happy-happy-joy-joy self today. I hear him downstairs giggling and chasing his sister. I am so glad. And while I shared the other night that I have “responsible faith”, I have to say that it wasn’t modern medicine that made my son better. I took him to he doctor twice and both times he said it was a virus and it would run its course. We are talking 105.2 temperatures here! My boy was feeling pretty awful. He was still very sick yesterday, so I took him back to the doctor. As I was leaving to go to the doctor, I very specifically asked some friends to pray for him. The doctor did a chest x-ray and some blood work. Everything looked okay, so the doctor sent me home once again, saying it needed to run its course. Within hours of returning home, he was well. He was running around and playing, after four days of lying on the couch. Maybe it ran its course and he suddenly felt like a million bucks, but I think it was the prayer.
I also thought about faith yesterday as I was working on my garden. I tilled the fertilizer into the soil. I made rows and mounds. I planted the seeds, and I watered them. If I didn’t do any of those things, I wouldn’t have a garden. Maybe a few volunteer plants would come up here and there, but the weeds would most likely choke them out. If you want a good garden, you have to work. However, no amount of hard work can make those seeds grow and produce. God miraculously makes things grow. I do my part, in faith, believing that if I plant those seeds, God will cause them to grow. Also, I find it amazing that some of the tiniest seeds produce the most fruit. There is a life application here. Do you see it?
by Alice Day
I lived with a man for ten years and most of the time things were good. Even though I had been raised in the church, I was not going to church during this time. I believe that even though I was not walking with God, He was still closely watching me in my darkness, waiting on me to call on Him.
This ten year relationship was going from good to bad to my worst nightmare. Drugs were taking over our lives. My boyfriend became very abusive. He would sometimes cry for help, but there was no way I could help him. I was lost also. Nothing we tried to help heal our relationship worked. I did pray to God, and shared the faith I had left with my boyfriend. I shared with him that when he was in need all he had to do was say “Jesus” and He would be there. One day he shared with me that he thought his plane was going to crash, and as he called out “Jesus” things turned around.
As drugs became more of a problem he became abusive to the point where the police came to the door. I told them everything was okay, so they left. Another time a gun was held to my head, and I believed he was going to kill me. As I prayed, God saved my life, and peace fell over me.
I started to make plans over the next few weeks for my escape. He had ask for help so I took him to the hospital to check himself in. That didn’t last long. He checked himself back out. One day, I was planning my escape and he was suspicious because he wouldn’t let me out of his sight. As I was cleaning house I was finding excuses to go outside. I re-parked the car in such a way that I could drive out without needing to back up. I had put my purse in the car but no clothes. I planned to run for my life.
He had become angry with me. I was at the back door with my back to the door when he came toward me to beat me again. As I stood there and saw him coming toward me, all of a sudden a shield force came over me from above my head to my feet. I felt the Spirit and could see a great force that surrounded me. Peace was all around me. He wanted to hit me, but for the first time he could not touch me. I believe an angel of the Lord protected me, and my life was spared. I was not able to make my escape that day.
Another day he asked me to take him to the hospital for help, and as we were driving in Dallas I missed my turn. This made him angry, and he started tearing the car apart, and hitting me. I pulled over, jumped out of the car with keys in hand, and ran down the highway. As I looked back to see if he was coming after me he was still in the car hitting everything. I kept running. A jeep came by and stopped to ask if they could help. I jumped in and started telling them to take me anywhere so I could call for help. They took me to a hotel where I called my parents for help, and Tina, his sister. God saw my need and heard my cry. From that moment God made a way, and saw me through. I moved from fear to faith. Once again God sent both spiritual angels and human angels to help me. I left Dallas that day and never went back. I returned to church and got my life in order.
By Christina Huffman
Visit her Blog at
A few weeks ago I had this thought. I thought, “Our family is outgrowing our fridge! I sure wish we could get one of those fancy double door fridges.” That was all. Just a thought. Then, my fridge broke! It leaked water everywhere and made a big mess. I had to call the repairman twice, because they didn’t fix the problem the first time. The second time the man informed us that it wasn’t repairable. There was water trapped inside and there was no way to get it out.
Sears gave us a $500 voucher to put towards a new one. I got on line and they were having a big sale. Joshua told me to get a really big one, and I happily shopped. I ended up getting an amazing deal!
I called to order it and the man said I would be waiting six to twelve weeks. The other fridge was functional, so I was fine with that. Imagine my surprise when today a Sears truck came up my driveway! There was no warning. It’s only been four days! It was a wonderful surprise. What an awesome fridge! Thank you, Heavenly Father! (and Sears…and Joshua.) I am blessed.
God often does for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
This is Tim Hawkins’ God story as told to Jane Dyson, edited by Sandy Cobb
Tim Hawkins was a young man, starting out in a promising career as a manager at the Holiday Inn in Henderson, Kentucky. Little did he know that his career was about to be cut very short, and life as he knew it was about to change forever. He was at work on August 18, 1983 when a somewhat disheveled man entered the Holiday Inn. The man was upset over a bad drug deal, and was ranting and raving that someone was going to kill him. Tim called the police to help the man. After some delay the police arrived and arrested the man, but not before he had shot Tim.
Tim was taken to Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, Indiana where he spent the next four weeks. The bullet had severely damaged his spinal cord and he was unable to walk. He was transferred directly from the hospital to a rehabilitation center at Southern Illinois University (SIU) medical campus where he spent another three months and a week. Tim and his parents were told he would never walk again. It was at this point he realized the extent of his injuries. He struggled to accept this awful fate he could not change.
At that point Tim said “I questioned how a loving God could let this happen?” Tim also said, “I was disappointed in God.” He went to stay with his parents and live-in attendant upon returning to his home town of Calvert City, Kentucky. He was wheelchair bound and needed assistance with simple acts like getting into and out of bed, bathing, cooking, etc. Adjustments to this new way of life were very hard and Tim was very depressed.
Tim said “I was angry, and it took a long time for me to come to understand I had to forgive the man who shot me”. He began to get this message as he heard Reverend Roger Joseph preach on the need to “Forgive But Don’t Forget”. Other ministers preached on forgiveness being the only way to get through the gates of Heaven. Tim also realized he would not know peace until he did learn to forgive his attacker. It was not easy, but through prayer and counsel, Tim was finally able to forgive the man who put him in a wheelchair and come to peace with his situation.
The man who shot Tim went to jail. Eventually though, a parole hearing was scheduled. Tim felt that God’s presence was in force when a letter writing campaign from family, friends, and church members was held, trying to stop the release from prison. Although it failed, Tim said “believing in God has helped me keep believing that God still has a mission for me”. After serving 30 years the shooter was paroled. He was ordered to stay far away from Tim.
Tim still lives in Calvert City, KY in his own home. Over the years he has had a number of different live-in attendants to help him with his needs. Some have been good but some have taken advantage. It has not been an easy life to live, but Tim is encouraged by his church family and friends. His faith keeps him optimistic and he does enjoy life. He has a wheelchair accessible van which he drives, and attends most church activities. He serves as a city councilman, and contributes his services to the church and community. People have told Tim how admired he is for his ambition to not be bedridden, and not feeling sorry for himself. He feels he has been helped by his belief in God.
Sometimes we get just what we need when we didn’t even know we needed it! When this happens we may wonder if it was a gift from God or just a coincidence.
by Sandy Cobb
It was early December 2011, and my brother–in-law Joe had just died the week before. I was staying with my sister Irene to comfort and help her through. My niece Ellen, along with her two little girls Sara and Kaylee had picked us up and we were on our way to see a Christmas light display at Shelby Farms in Memphis, TN. Ellen was driving, and Irene was riding in the front passenger seat. I was sitting behind Ellen in the back with the girls. It was an emotional time and Irene tended to cry sporadically. There was a heavy sadness in the family over the loss of Joe who was so loved. Aside from that, Irene had a cold.
So, we were just driving along trying to find our turn when Ellen looked over at Irene and nonchalantly stated “Mama you are blowing your nose on a twenty dollar bill.”
Looking up from the back it certainly looked like she was right! Irene did indeed appear to be blowing her nose into a twenty dollar bill! In reality though, Irene had taken out the twenty dollar bill to pay our admission to the Christmas light display, and was holding it between her fingers while blowing her nose into a tissue. The illusion was so funny! We all roared with uncontrollable laughter until our cheeks hurt and tears ran down our faces! What a spontaneous stress buster! It was just what we needed to temporarily break through all the sadness. God knows when we need healing laughter.
2 Corinthians 5:15-20, The Message (MSG)
A New Life
14-15: Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.
16-20 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.
When I became broken enough to admit that I could not change myself or fix my life, I finally reached out to a God I barely knew, and admitted my defeat. I was finally at a place where He could send His Holy Spirit, to do for me what I could not do for myself.
Always remember where you came from
by Sandy Cobb
A good friend of mine named Bonnie got a call from someone from her past who expressed a need for a new place to go for a new beginning. We will call the friend Kerry. She was the guardian of her 10-year-old grandson who we will call Randy. Bonnie explained to us (her close circle of friends) that Kerry was someone with a lot of personal problems. Kerry had once been married to Bonnie’s older brother, but had divorced him after the birth of two daughters. The youngest daughter gave birth to a son at the age of 14. Kerry has raised her grandson Randy from the beginning. According to Bonnie, Randy’s mother was both physically and verbally abusive to him so he was better off with Kerry. Kerry had a history of problems that included abusive relationships, drug use, and many legal problems. Her current husband was serving time in prison for charges related to manufacturing methamphetamine. For reasons not totally clear to us at the time, Kerry was in a bad way and needed to leave her home state of Texas. She told Bonnie she wanted to relocate to get a fresh start.
Six of us gals considered ourselves a close circle of friends. This included Bonnie, Norma, Penny, Alice, Jane and me. We all agreed to wholeheartedly welcome Kerry and Randy and help them get a new start in our community and within our church family. We were a very close knit sisterhood who did many things together including having a game night once per month at one of our houses. For this reason we called ourselves the “ladies who love to laugh players”, LLLP for short. We were committed to supporting one another. There was no question that we would all help Kerry, because Bonnie asked us to.
A few days later Bonnie brought Kerry with her to our monthly LLLP game night. I happened to be hosting the event at my house this particular night. Kerry and Randy had arrived at Bonnie’s house at midnight the night before. All they owned had been packed into the borrowed car she arrived in. The car was returned a few days later and replaced with a bicycle. The arrangement agreed upon between Bonnie, her husband Mark and Kerry was that Kerry and Randy would stay with them for a maximum or two weeks. Within that time Kerry was to secure an apartment in Calvert City at a subsidized development where the rent was based on income. Kerry currently had no income, but was expected to get a job pronto.
Our LLLP group welcomed Kerry with open arms and set about advising her and figuring out how we could help her get a job, furniture and other life essentials. She accompanied our small group to every event we attended together for the next six weeks. This included church, Sunday school, choir practice, a UMW retreat, game nights and parties. Wherever Bonnie went, Kerry also went. Randy was enrolled in the local school and became active in the church youth group. Members from our church were very generous and lovingly pitched in to help Kerry and Randy. Kerry did get a job cleaning rooms at a nearby hotel and she rode her donated bike to and from work.
As the weeks went by more was revealed about Kerry. First, she was not able to get into the subsidized rental apartments because it turned out she has a 19 page negative credit report. Apparently, Kerry was not in the habit of paying bills, rent or utilities. It was also revealed that the real reason she fled Texas was to jump bond. She had been arrested for several bad check charges plus some traffic related charges like driving without a license and having false identification. Our group still believed she wanted to change her life and we continued to support and try to help her. Her two week stay at Bonnie and Mark’s house turned into six weeks. During this stay Kerry was supposed to be taking care of some house cleaning and washing dishes. It was not uncommon to find Kerry lying on the couch watching TV while the kitchen was full of dirty dishes. Patience with this situation at Bonnie and Mark’s house was wearing thin.
Finally, a good-hearted woman agreed to let Kerry and Randy move into a mobile home she owned and not pay any rent upfront. This would give Kerry some time to save a couple of paychecks and come up with the rent money by the first of the next month. The mobile home was in need of much repair but it was livable. Many people pitched in to help make it livable. Another kind-hearted woman gave Kerry $180.00 to get utilities turned on. Many folks from our church and local agencies donated furniture and other household items help her and Randy get set up in their new home. Sadly, it was becoming clear to all of us that Kerry was a master at getting something for nothing. She was busy calling this one and that one asking for this and that. It was at this point that some of her greatest supporters began to doubt her sincerity. It appeared that she used Randy to get pity and resources. Because she had him she was able to get food stamps and other free resources. About 2 weeks after moving into the mobile home Kerry lost her job. She said it was because business at the motel was slow. We hoped she was speaking the truth but honestly, some of us had doubts.
So, she needed another bail out. The LLLP gals were still willing to help but were no longer gullible enough to believe Kerry really wanted to change. It was becoming more evident that what she wanted was to stay out jail in Texas and to get all the freebies she could glean in Kentucky. It was also becoming evident that she did not have Randy’s best interest at heart. She would leave him home alone and often pull him out of school early to benefit her own scheming agenda. If someone gave Randy something new, Kerry was likely to take it back to the store and return it for the cash. We all loved Randy and wanted to keep him safe. We tried to ensure his needs were provided for so that did mean we had to continue helping Kerry as they were a package deal.
Her next move, with our help was to be a live-in caretaker for a paraplegic man from our church. Room and board was provided. All she had to do was cook for him, keep the house clean, help him get up in the morning, and go to bed in the evening. Well, she apparently didn’t care to do much of this. She did the bare minimum and her behavior deteriorated even more. She took advantage of the very person she was expected to take care of. It is also worth noting that she never paid the owner or the mobile home any rent and did not return the money provided for the utilities when it was refunded to her. Neither did she return any of the household items she had been given but no longer needed.
The bottom line is that Kerry appeared to us to be a very selfish, and dishonest person who only cared about herself. When Bonnie discovered Kerry wearing an expensive ring that Mark had gifted her with on their previous anniversary, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as I was concerned. In my mind, anyone who would steal from people who were trying to help was not welcome in my house ever again. I found myself judging Kerry very harshly. I had no faith that she would ever change and become a Christian woman with whom I could build a real and lasting friendship. I washed my hands of her.
And then, I remembered where I came from! I am in my sixties now, but up to age 27 I led a pretty shady life. I too was self-seeking and blind to my own faults. I too was dishonest in many ways, with a poor credit rating due to many financial problems, and a sketchy employment history. I certainly would not have won any mother of the year awards either! I had a serious problem with alcohol and had a terrible track record with relationships and by age 27 was pending my second divorce. That was more than 34 years ago before I finally hit my bottom and allowed God to step in and transform my life. I actually was a lot like Kerry.
I shamefully realized that God would not want me to write Kerry off as hopeless because if He could transform me, surely He could do the same for Kerry if she would only let him. Additionally, I realized that I was not better than Kerry. I was just someone fortunate enough to have received very heavy doses of God’s unmerited grace. If Kerry ever hits her bottom, and calls upon God to help her, she too can be transformed. The seeds have certainly been planted in both Kerry and Randy. Perhaps when the time is right, they will sprout and grow.
The Ladies Love to Laugh Players (LLLP)
Penny Story, Alice Day, Bonnie Shows, Jane Dyson, Norma Swaney, Sandy Cobb
What some call “coincidence”, others call “God”.
by Cee Koenig
On a sultry summer’s night in June, my husband and I, Collette (my best friend) and her husband, plus two of Collette’s friends visiting from Chicago, went to Big Sandy, TN. We drove out to Pace Pointe, way out in the sticks in the Wildlife Refuge. By the time we headed home, it was dark. The men were in the lead car with us gals following. Collette was driving and I was sitting behind her and we were all chatting as we drove along in the dark. We were following the guys but Collette drove slower than them and we fell behind.
One of her friends handed me her phone to look at some pictures. In the dark, the phone got dropped. At that moment when the phone was dropped and I was bent down searching for it, Collette had turned the wrong way in the dark at an intersection. When I found the phone and sat back up and looked around, I knew immediately what had happened. I had her stop, turn around, and go back to Elkhorn, the main road. This whole episode took maybe 3-4 minutes.
We continued driving then someone remarked about what an odd fog cloud was right ahead of us on the road. We were close to a slough so I thought it must be from that. We drove thru it and I IMMEDIATELY heard a voice inside of me saying ’STOP! Go back.’ I knew then that it wasn’t a fog cloud; it was a dust cloud caused by someone driving off the road. I yelled for Collette to stop, turn around and go back, and explained why. The others thought I was kind of nuts but we went back. The cloud had dissipated and we weren’t sure exactly where it had been when I spied headlights down below the road. Collette stopped and I asked one of the others for the phone again so I could use its flashlight. We all got out and saw a wrecked car down below us. Almost immediately came the voice inside of me again saying that it wasn’t our husbands but it was still SOMEBODY down there who needed help. It was pitch dark and I was in shorts, sleeveless top, and flip flops – not good rescue clothes. I looked down the embankment and saw it was too steep to climb down but the voice said ‘Go!’ so I got on my butt and scooted down the approximately 15’ embankment and into this unknown bramble/briar patch. I yelled for the gals to call 911. I made my way to the car and saw that it had rolled then landed upright. The windshield and side windows were gone. I called out and looked around for a person. I pushed passed the car and in about 8 feet came out on a lawn. Thank goodness! I could feel where the brambles had torn me. I walked along, paralleling the brambles and the road up above. One of my friends called and asked where we were so they could tell 911. I saw the reflection of a mailbox a little ways away and the voice told to run to it to get the address. (I’m 65 and 200 pounds so I don’t run usually, but run I did!) I yelled back to them the number on the mailbox was 8885.
Looking around in the dark, I saw a light on in a house about 75 yards away. I headed towards it, thinking the person may have gone towards the light. Again, I was told to go back into the brambles, which I REALLY didn’t want to do. But I obeyed and walked on the lawn beside the brambles a ways, then was compelled to re-enter them at a certain point. With my little flashlight phone, I saw a body. I made my way over and knelt beside her and took her pulse. It was weak and thready and she was unconscious and very clammy, but alive. I yelled back to my friends and told them. She was on her side and her arm was at an impossible angle. I figured that her shoulder had to be broken so brought it back into a natural position. I pulled her long, dark hair off of her face and cleaned debris out of her mouth and nose to clear her airways, but was afraid her neck was broken so did not move her. I stroked her cheek and talked to her, telling her that God and I were with her and she was not alone; that help was coming but she had to keep breathing. I got in a sitting position as my bad knee was aching and continued to stroke and talk to and reassure her, then prayed out loud. I kept this up maybe 10 minutes then heard help arrive.
I shined my poor little cell phone light to show where I was and yelled for them to NOT come down as I had but to go towards the mailbox and come on the grass, which they did. The first responder came and said he was an EMT and asked how she was. I told him, and let him exam her. He checked her breathing and said it was good that I hadn’t turned her on her back, just left her as I’d found her. He asked if there was anyone else in the car and I said I didn’t know but didn’t think so (I have no idea why I said that as I had stopped at the woman, but I felt sure that she was alone). He asked if I’d continue staying with and monitoring her breathing while he helped look for anyone else. Of course I said yes. Someone found her purse and I assume called her family to tell about the accident and ask if she had been alone. A little while later, sirens sounded and several more people arrived. The first responder came back and rechecked her, then helped me up. The ambulance arrived so I got out of the way and left. I walked back to the mailbox then up the road to my friends.
We drove home and found that when Collette had taken the wrong turn, another car was at the intersection and had turned right onto Elkhorn and they were behind our husband’s car so our hubby’s thought the whole way back that it was us behind them! When we weren’t right behind them at Collette’s house, which is just off Hwy 79, they assumed we’d gone to Dollar General. They were shocked to learn what had happened. Anyhow, when we got to C’s house, I went inside to wash up and – unbelievably – I had NO blood or scratches or anything on me! My butt wasn’t even dirty from scooting on it down the embankment. This is NOT possible. I felt the brambles tear my skin and yet there was nothing on me, nothing at all to indicate what I’d been thru. I prayed a prayer of thanks to the good Lord for using me as His instrument to find and help the woman. I’m sure she heard me and was comforted. Why else would God have put me there?
As I said, I’m 65 years old and not in shape physically to do all that I did, but I did it. I went in and out and thru those brambles in flip flops and shorts, and came away unscathed. I’ve pondered over and over the whole situation and don’t know all the answers. If the phone hadn’t of been dropped when Collette made the wrong turn, we would have been past the accident scene before it happened. Being as how the car was down the embankment on that dark and lonely road, the headlights probably wouldn’t have been seen by other passersby cars, of which there were few that time of night. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I learned later that woman had died; that really threw me. Why had I been called to be with her if she was going to die anyhow? Maybe it was just to bring comfort to her in her hour of need. Maybe it was to bring comfort to her family to know she wasn’t alone on that terrible night. And lastly, when I read her Obituary and saw her picture, I realized that I knew her. I didn’t know her last name was Davis but did know her as Gayla and had spoken with her on several occasions. She was a lovely person and I’m so sorry that she’s gone. I know she was loved and will be missed. God bless you, Gayla, and watch over you and your family and loved ones.
as told to Sandy Cobb by Jimmy Harrell and Doris Ellington
**]I lead the weekly discussion for the Good News Sunday School Class at the Calvert City United Methodist Church. Some say I am the ‘teacher’, but I don’t really teach these good folks who have been Christians longer than I have been alive anything. Once a week we just dig deep into the topics of our lessons, as we ponder the wonders of God together. Last year, one of our class members became seriously ill. What follows is the story of that amazing experience, as told to me by Jimmy Harrell and Doris Ellington, both long term members of the Good News Sunday School Class.
Jimmy said this:
I was saved and baptized at 13 years of age. I cried and others in the church cried for me as I professed my intention to live my life for Jesus Christ. I lived most of my life as a Christian. Admittedly I got off the path some from time to time. By age 50 though, I had sewed all my wild oats and determined to live the rest of my life as a strong Christian. I have tried my best to treat people with love, and fairness, and to honor God.
At age 78 I was struck down with some kind of serious illness. I am still not sure if it was pneumonia, a heart condition or both. Somehow or other I ended up in the hospital where I remained for 48 days. I feel like five of these days were near death. The doctor told my family I was dying and was not going to get better. A little nurse who was taking care of me did not accept this prognosis and she told my family she was going to get me through this. She went to work on me. Sometimes I felt I was aware of people visiting me, but was not sure if I was actually aware of them or if I was dreaming. At any rate, I had a lot of visitors who came to my hospital room and prayed to Jesus for my recovery. To everyone who came through and asked me if they could pray for me, my responses were yes, just say it. I need all the prayers I can get.
Doris Ellington was one of those prayer warrior visitors.
Doris said this:
I heard from others how very sick Jimmy was, so I went to see him. There were a few family members visiting at the time I went to his hospital room. I went over to Jimmy and held his hand. His face was beat red and his hand was hot. I said “Jimmy, you have got to get out of here. They tell me that you are not going to make it. We have got to pray that you get to come home and come back to Sunday School.” One of the nieces in the room shook her head no (to indicate he was not going to get better, he was dying). Doris said “Jimmy, I am going to pray for you.” I took his hand and kissed him before beginning to pray. “Lord we need Jimmy. We need him in church and back in our Sunday School class. You can’t leave us Jimmy. God you have got to help us.” Doris started to cry as did others in the room. Doris continued to pray. “God we need him. We need you to heal him. He is a pillar in our Sunday School class.” Doris broke down crying hard as she turned to leave the room. Outside the room, the nurse stopped her and asked “How do you know this man?” Doris replied “Jimmy and I go back a long way. I feel as though he is kin to me”. The nurse said, “well I will do the best I can to help him. I heard your prayer and I believe God heard you.” Doris went home with a heavy heart, expecting Jimmy to die.
During this same time period at our Sunday morning service, our pastor Brother Eddie Bromely announced from the pulpit that the doctors had told the family Jimmy was not going to survive this illness. The doctor said there was nothing more medically that could done to save him. It was a very sad time indeed. Those who cared about Jimmy were already morning his impending death.
A little while later Doris asked Jimmy’s brother Mike how Jimmy was doing. Mike said Jimmy appeared to be doing a little bit better. Praise God! Jimmy continued to get better, and better, day-by-day. Soon after, Jimmy came walking into our Sunday school class. He was thinner and needed a cane to walk but praise God he was alive! We were so shocked to see him, and we all rejoiced with him!
Doris and Jimmy agree that God healed him for a reason. Jimmy said he is still waiting to discover what that reason is. Jimmy has three granddaughters that he loves with all his heart. He is glad he is able to see them continue to grow up, and thinks perhaps that is why God is allowing him more time on this earth. Doris says that Jimmy is a good and kind person who blesses all who know him. Perhaps that is reason enough for God to have healed him, and allowed him more time on this earth. Whatever the reason, those of us in the Good News Sunday School Class at Calvert City United Methodist Church are sure happy to have Jimmy back with us. We love him dearly, and need his presence with us.
Isaiah 11:6-9The Message (MSG)
A Living Knowledge of God
6-9 The wolf will romp with the lamb,
the leopard sleep with the kid.
Calf and lion will eat from the same trough,
and a little child will tend them.
Cow and bear will graze the same pasture,
their calves and cubs grow up together,
and the lion eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child will crawl over rattlesnake dens,
the toddler stick his hand down the hole of a serpent.
Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill
on my holy mountain.
The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive,
a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide.
by Sandy Cobb
Do you believe animals have spirits? Do you believe they go back to God in Heaven when they die?
I am reviving this story I first wrote 25 years ago. If you have ever loved and lost a pet, you will appreciate this story.
Dusty was a little brindle-colored Shih Tzu dog who stole my heart at Christmas, 1988. He was given to me as a gift. It was love at first sight. As he grew, so did the bond between us. He was a special being who added much joy to my life. He was always at my feet. It didn’t matter if I was walking around or sitting down, he was always there. At night he slept with me in my bed. When I came home from work he was waiting at the door.
Shih Tzu’s have long shaggy hair, pug noses and their little tails curl up over their backs when they walk. They are usually tri-colored but mostly white. Dusty was unique in that he was mostly blond (no white), had some brindle streaks and a dark brown mask around his mouth that made him look like a little bandit. This type of coloring is rare in a Shih Tzu.
Shih Tzu’s are often referred to as “ladies lap dogs” because they love to be held and are very gentle. Dusty was true to character in this respect. He had this way of looking up at me with his big brown eyes peeking through his shaggy bangs. I remember that look so well because it always melted my heart.
Dusty was very playful and intelligent. I enrolled him in doggy obedience school where he excelled. He learned how to obey the basic commands to sit, stay, down, stand, and come. Most of all he seemed to love frolicking with the others dogs after his lessons.
Dusty had certain quirks and silly things that he would do. For instance, he used to flop on my shoulder and lick my ear relentlessly whenever we would lie down on the bed. When I took him for a car ride he would lie with his front paws and head resting on my right leg. His absolute favorite snack was Pup-Peroni (jerky treats for dogs). He would do anything for a Pup-Peroni.
On May 21st, 1990 my best friend Dusty was hit and killed by a car. My heart was broken. Dusty was so special, and so close to my heart. There are no words to express my sadness. I prayed often during the following days. I knew that God alone understood the depth of my pain. I sensed His compassion and felt strongly that His hand was upon me through this time. I prayed for knowledge that my Dusty was alive in spirit. My prayers seemed to have been answered when I found comfort in an article in the December, 1989 issue of Dog Fancy magazine entitled “Do Dogs Go To Heaven” by Pastor Ken Dannen. Let me be clear in saying that the Bible does not come right out and speak about animals in heaven. In this article, Pastor Dannen quoted several scriptures from the Bible that eluded to the notion that there will probably be animals in Heaven. This helped me to come to the very comforting, personal conclusion that my Dusty was indeed in Heaven. In the same article Pastor Dannen quoted Methodist John Wesley as describing what dogs and other animals experience in Heaven this way; “They all shine with best in show faultlessness, with joy beyond that of playing puppies and with perfection of behavior that makes a line of obedience trial champions pale by comparison.”
Later, a friend sent me a sympathy card that included the following poem;
High in the courts of Heaven today
a little dog bravely waits
with all the others he will not play
but sits alone at the gates
“For someday my mistress
will come.” says he
“And when she comes
she will call for me:.
Although this poem paints rather a sad scenario (I’d like to visualize Dusty joyfully playing, not sitting alone by a gate), both the poem and Pastor Dannen’s article comforted me by strengthening my personal conviction that my Dusty had not simply returned to dust, but that his spirit does live on in Heaven!
I prayed another prayer that went something like this…”God, I know you can’t give Dusty back to me, but would you possibly give me a new puppy that is so much like him that I can feel as though I still have him with me?” I didn’t really expect my prayer to be answered but I prayed it anyway.
After some time, I called a friend who breeds Shih Tzu’s. I described to her what my Dusty looked like and asked her if she had any puppies that might fit my description. To my great surprise she said she did have two that might be what I was looking for. (I had my heart set on one that looked like Dusty). I drove over to her place to see these little puppies. Sure enough I found a little brindle male with a black mask around his mouth just like my Dusty! I knew without a doubt that God was answering my prayer at least in finding a puppy that looked like my Dusty. My Dusty had been purchased from a breeder in another state so I was not able to get another from the same bloodline.
Several weeks later when I picked my puppy up to take him home, I officially named him Dusty Tu as a tribute to my first Dusty. On the way home in the car, he laid his little head and front paws on my right leg, just like the first Dusty use to do! Later when I got him home and we lay down on my bed to rest, he immediately flopped onto my shoulder and began licking my ear, just like my first Dusty used to do.
I soon discovered that Dusty Tu loved Pup-Peroni treats and it was so familiar the way he would sometimes look up at me with those big brown eyes, peeking through his shaggy bangs. He was a different dog with his own personality and I loved him for himself, however he did have several ways about him that were so similar to the first Dusty. I thought to myself, “I can’t believe how much Dusty Tu is like Dusty”.
To my great joy and surprise when I sat down to review Dusty Tu’s pedigree (family tree) I discovered that Dusty was in fact Dusty Tu’s blood uncle! Some might call this coincidence but I call it the caring intervention of my loving God!
Addendum -2016: Over the years since the two Dustys entered my life, my husband and I have filled our home with other fur babies. We moved away from the practice of buying dogs from breeders and instead began adopting rescue dogs from animal shelters. At present we have seven fur babies that range in size from 6 to 80 pounds and in age from 2 to 15. We love them dearly and I still have no doubt that when they pass on, dogs do go to heaven.
by Paula Harrington
I love a new school year and getting to see old friends and learn new faces.
While on my first recess duty of the year with the Kindergarteners, one cute little blond walked up beside me, told me his name, and then sincerely said, “I love you.” I looked down into his sweet eyes and replied with the only adequate reply I could think of and told him that I loved him, too.
He skipped away and left me standing there recalling the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:3, “Unless you change and become like little children…”
Kids don’t have a problem loving others. They don’t tell those who care for them that they have to behave a certain way or follow a specific set of rules before they will love unconditionally. Children, even if broken and bruised by those they trust the most, offer genuine love.
Someone asked recently where I see God and I immediately thought of that sweet kid on the playground. I see God in the way children love. I see him in a true emotion that isn’t based on what I do or don’t do. I see him in a love that isn’t going to be jerked away if I fail. I see him in a bond that isn’t going to be broken just because I might be. I see him in a relationship that isn’t based on rules but an affection that was established long before I ever took my first breath.
I see God in a love I can’t even wrap my mind around because the one who set the universe in motion choose to enter that universe, not as a great and mighty warrior but as a tiny, helpless child.
Jesus looked at a group of adults who were struggling with sin, heartache and a worldly view of religion and told them that they needed to be more like children. Unless you change and become:
It’s time to put away our fears and anxieties and love and trust without boundaries. God wants us to look at those around us, tell them our name and then tell them that we love them, not for what they can do but because of what he did for them.
It’s time to shine a light into a dark and violent world. It’s time to love.
Don’t be afraid of change. It’s the only way we’ll enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
This book is work of love. It is a compilation of God stories freely shared with whoever wishes to read them. It is our hope that our stories will give YOU hope. Please pass this little book on to others along the way, sharing the encouragement with all who will take the time to read it. These stories are true personal experiences, written by individuals in their own words. Some have given permission to include their email address. Some have not. If you see an email address under a by-line, feel free to contact that writer if you have comments or questions. Most of the scripture references are from â€˜The Messageâ€™. Some writers preferred to use a different version of the Bible to quote scriptures from.