Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Wonderful Blessing

Ann Cooper
            In 2007 my husband and I bought a small Tennessee farm and spent the next two years happily repairing and improving the old farm house and barn on the property.  We were enjoying all our projects and seeing the farm take shape.
            In 2009 my husband had an accident while he was putting up fences that caused a small wound in his arm.  He ignored it, wrapped it in a bandana handkerchief, and continued working.  The wound became infected, which the doctors said had “turned septic”.  This is just a fancy word for blood poisoning.  He was very ill and all of his vital organs, especially his lungs, were very badly damaged. 
            My beloved husband of 62 years was never the same again.  He had to have a sleeping mask that would turn on when he quit breathing.  This was to control his sleep apnea.  Soon afterward he had to have oxygen at all times.  Several times an extended hospital stay was required. 
            When he returned from his last stay in the hospital he called our daughter Mary Ann and me to his bedside and demanded a promise that we would never put him in the hospital again.  Many days he was not in touch with reality and was drifting in and out, sometimes clear and sometimes understanding nothing.  The second stage of Alzheimer’s was setting in also.
            Mary Ann, who is a nurse, said, “Mom, let’s move everything out of the living room and set it up like a hospital room.”  No sooner was that done than he failed to recognize either of us.  Mary Ann gave him the most tender, loving care --above and beyond expectations.  I could not have done it without her.  For two weeks we could not communicate with him.
            This was such a sad time for me, as day by day he moved further and further away.  At 3:00 a.m. on April 28, 2010, as I slept near him on a cot, he called my name twice.  I jumped up and ran to his bedside.  Very clearly he said to me, “Ann, I love you very much.”  I had heard of moments of clarity shortly before death, but I had never seen it.  I called Mary Ann and together we sat on either side of his bed holding his hand.  We hoped that he could understand that we were telling him good-bye, and how much we loved him.  At 7:00 o’clock that same morning he quietly passed away.
            I shall thank God forever for that last time to say “I love you” and to say “Good-bye”.  What a wonderful blessing!

Friday, May 18, 2012

An Incredible Gift

Dede Eshleman
One Saturday morning some years ago, I didn't know I was going to meet the man I would fall in love with.  I was only planning on "doing my job" as a youth leader for the Episcopal Diocese.  My assignment was to take a group of teenage girls to St. Mary of the Angels for a Diocesan-wide volleyball tournament. We expected to have fun -- not to win any awards.  That day I was also dog-and-house sitting.  
After the tournament the plan was for the girls to come back there with me, hang out at the pool, and order pizza.  Later we were to join other youth group members for a dance at the Cathedral of St. Luke.  This was a pretty typical Saturday for me when I was a youth leader.  
The activities for the day began.  I was playing volleyball with the kids when one of the girls asked if she could invite the youth group from St. Gabriel's to join us for the pool party and the dance later in the evening.  I readily agreed, since I was a friend of their youth leader, Marcia.  Later Marcia told me she'd have to run a couple of kids home, but would send her assistant, Jamie, with the teenagers.  
It wasn't until we were loading into cars around three o'clock that I realized 'Jamie' was not a girl!  Within a few minutes I learned that the girls in my youth group had hatched a plot over lunch to set me up with Jamie. In the process, they set themselves up with the guys from St. Gabe's.
A year later, when Jamie and I started our pre-marital counseling, we realized one thing--had we not met that day, it would have been incredibly unlikely that we would ever have met at all.  Jamie was along to help Marcia because he liked to play volleyball.  I was just “doing my job”.
Sometimes God’s most incredible blessings come along when I just show up for work

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Big George and the Good Shepherd

Elizabeth Gardner
Big George, my dad, was a very loving person who knew no strangers.  This is an incident in time, that I feel should be shared.
In late May 1971, my husband Bob and I went to Clearwater, Florida, where he had business appointments.  We were supposed to have gone to visit my parents in Durham, North Carolina, that weekend, but were unable to make it.
When we returned to our Longwood home on June 1, I felt that something was not quite right. Bob had gone outside to do yard work, and I was in the house unpacking from our trip.  Suddenly I ran out into the yard and began talking rapidly to him.  I said, “Bob, I feel that, for some reason, we are going to go through deep waters.” After going back inside, this unsettled feeling was still with me.
That night after supper I developed a terrible headache - - the worst one I have ever had.  I had to sit in semi-darkness as my eyes were so sensitive to light.  About 9:00 o’clock while still sitting in the darkness of our small living room, I somehow began moving into this dark tunnel with great speed.  Quickly I approached the end of the tunnel, saw a very bright light, and came to an abrupt halt.  At that very moment, my headache was gone, and I was aware of being back in my chair.  Just then the telephone rang, and my mother gave me the sad news that my beloved dad had just died.
After the shock of our loss, I realized that as close as I was to my dad, I was allowed to travel with him along the path he was
on, but I was stopped.  Dad traveled on to meet Jesus and entered the larger life.
As sad as it was, Jesus was with us both in this earthly separation.  “He is with us always even to the end of the ages.”
While attending my dad’s funeral in the church where I had gone as a child, I looked up at the gorgeous Good Shepherd altar window.  I saw my dad standing there in a beautiful blue jacket right next to Jesus and the sheep, smiling his wonderful sweet smile at me.  
I was comforted seeing him with Jesus, the Great Shepherd.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

In the Eye of the Beholder

Barbara S. White 
Robert Pasquel-White, my son, was born in Rio Piedras, a suburb of San Juan, Puerto Rico on November 17, 1972. Even though we moved back to the U.S. mainland when he was six months old, he retained an unexplained love of Puerto Rico and was proud of his birthplace.
On October 30, 1990 (four months after graduating from high school in Virginia, a week after returning from working with his father in San Juan, and a week before entering the U. S. Army), Robert was killed in a tragic automobile accident. His exuberant love of life was stilled a few days before his 18th birthday.
Six weeks later I moved to Puerto Rico to join my husband in San Juan. I gave up a successful and most enjoyable career with Girl Scouts USA, left our home in a scenic and historic area of
Virginia and said farewell to many friends and the close-knit community of Buck Mountain Episcopal Church. I also left an English-speaking culture. All of this caused a loss of my identity and a strong base of support while bearing intense pain in my heart and soul.
          It was several months later, during a visit to the Art Museum of Ponce on the Caribbean side of the island, that the miracle happened. While viewing an extraordinary collection of pre-Renaissance paintings, all of which had religious themes, I encountered one among the many that held my focus. How did the artist capture such grief in the eyes of the Virgin Mary? Where had I seen that look before? It took a few minutes to realize that I had seen the same look of absolute sorrow in the mirror. I realized that when I was at my lowest, there in the bottom of my soul were God and Mary. They, too, had lost a beloved son.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

God’s Messenger

The Reverend Debra Rice

            At one of St. John’s outdoor services, I was preaching about how important it is to stop and pay attention to God’s voice in our lives, rather than to our own. At just the right moment it was as if God said, “Cue the hummingbird.”   A beautiful hummer flew in and feasted on our altar flowers!  He lingered and seemed unconcerned that I was only two feet away.  Just in case we didn’t get the point, God had sent a visual exclamation point!  I simply stopped preaching, and we all watched in delight.  It was a gift from God to stop us and remind us that He is always present.

St. John’s Episcopal Church
Cartoogechaye, North Carolina

Monday, May 14, 2012

Jesus’s Walk with Me

Louise Field
Many years ago I began receiving revelations.  It was a time when circumstances of my life were in upheaval.  Prayer counseling at Good Shepherd with Father David Suellau, Father Bruce Medaris, and Betty Beamer was a huge gift.  They were instrumental in clarifying what follows:
As I left the church after a prayer session with Betty, I sensed the power of a presence.  The presence was Jesus.  There was no voice, no visual image, yet His power was such that I knew who He was, how tall He was, and that He was walking with me at my right side.  The experience was shocking but joyful.  I still remember this as if it were happening now.
A new door had been opened – I had been knocking.  My prayers had always been with Father God; now this would expand with understanding of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  Books by the British author and Christian mystic Evelyn Underhill helped to clarify the visions, healing light, and dreams that began to appear.  The Lord in His loving way drew me out of my spiritual comfort zone into new dimensions.  The journey continues.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Message by Song

Joy Sutton
            My mother was very near death in the hospital.  I was at my sister's house.  At 3:00 a.m. I awoke and felt compelled to go to see her.  Not long after I arrived, some of the hospital staff began coming in to perform more senseless testing.  I convinced them that there was no point, and she would not want the tests done.  It was as though I had been sent to speak for her.  Her doctor came in later, and I explained to him why I had taken such action and that it was my mother's wish to join my dad who had passed away ten years earlier. 
            It was a hard day as she continued to decline.  I went back to my sister's house to get some rest and figure out what I should do.  It was a Friday and the first day of school was on Monday.  I was in TOTAL despair!  I thought no one else could handle the first day with my new class, and yet I didn't want to leave my mother.  Finally, I decided to return to Longwood.  I traveled home in one car while Jim, my husband, followed me in our other car.  As we were traveling, a blinding rainstorm began.  The turmoil in the outside world was reflecting what I was feeling inside.  I had my Jim Nabors' tape playing.  All of a sudden it stopped raining, and a ray of sunshine came through.  It was the exact moment that I heard him sing these words from his song, “I Can See Clearly Now”,
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-shiny day.
I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I've been prayin’ for
It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-shiny day.
Look all around, there's nothin’ but blue skies
Look straight ahead, nothin’ but blue skies
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-shiny Day

            I felt like these words had double meaning for me.  As soon as I got home, I called my mother's room to talk to the private nurse we'd hired.  No answer!  I called the nurse's desk and was told that my mother had passed away a short while ago...about the very same time I had heard those lyrics and had seen that ray of sun. 
            What a powerful and comforting message I had received.  I had no doubt but that the Holy Spirit was with me that day.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Blue Light

Keith Anderson
Having been born and raised in North Dakota some 70+ years ago, my boyhood days were quite adventuresome.  In fact, my two chums and I did some things that would raise the hair on the back of your neck.  I’d like to tell about one such time.
            One day we decided to make some snakeskin belts.  Well, the three of us headed five miles out of town, down to the Powder River where there were some caves.  We figured that would be a good place to find the one kind of snake we knew about -- rattlesnakes.
            We found this one cave with an opening big enough that I could just walk in.  The other two boys decided not to go inside.  I entered with a big, heavy stick thinking I was gonna kill me some snakes.  [Boys at our age don’t have good sense.]  Right when I got inside, there, two feet in front of me, was a big rattlesnake coiled up, rattles up in the air…shaking back and forth.  His tongue was twitching.  He was just gettin’ ready to uncoil and strike.  All of a sudden, coming in from the side of the very dark cave was a hazy, blue light.  Now I was able to see lots of coiled snakes up on a ledge at the back of the cave with their rattles shaking.  When this blue light passed by them, they went down out of their coils and just lay there totally quiet.  Then I looked down at the snake next to me. He was out of his coil and laying practically at my feet.  Of course, I got my stick, jumped on him, and killed him.  When I was quite sure he was dead, I grabbed him by his rattles and drug him outside.  He was about five feet long.
            While this was all going on, the other two boys standing outside heard all the rattles.  They peeked their heads around the corner to see what was happening.
            On the way home, the other boys asked me if I had seen the blue light.  I said, “Yea, yea, I did.”  I never gave it another thought until years later.  I then realized that it was my guardian angel!  Had that snake bitten me that day, I would have never made it because the first thing we would have done is to take off running.  Since we were miles out of town, I would have been history.
Today I know that I have worked my guardian angel to death.  I can only imagine…when I walk through the gates of heaven, he’s gonna wipe the sweat off his brow and say, “I thought this was never going to end!”

Friday, May 11, 2012

To God Be the Glory

Peggy Schulke
As I reflect on special, personal times in my life when God has been there for me, three occurrences come to mind right away.  Times when there was just no doubt in my mind of God’s presence.  I just knew!
             The first occurrence took place when I was vacationing with a friend on a small island in the Virgin Islands.  Across from the small town where we stayed (Georgetown) was a smaller, uninhabited island, accessible only by boat.  My friend suggested we go scuba diving.  I had only done that once before.  However, in all bravado, I said O.K., and that I knew what to do. 
We suited up and started out. We came upon a large group of fish that looked like a huge boulder.  When it quickly moved, it startled me.  I gasped in surprise and dropped my mouthpiece.  I knew enough to grab the mouthpiece, blow out, and I’d be able to breath again.  But in my panic, all I could think to do was get to the surface for air. 
I was frantically struggling… each breath of air I got from the tank would roll me over and under the water again.  I truly was thinking, “This is it…I’m drowning.”  Just then a man took my backpack harness, lifted me out of the water, and sat me down on the beach.  All he said was, “You’ll be O.K. now,” and walked away. 
All I remember was that he was tall, blonde, and quite good-looking.  (What a thought as he had just saved me from drowning!)  I looked and looked for this person throughout the rest of our vacation time there, and never saw him again.  I have to believe he was my guardian angel.  God is SO good!
            The second occurrence was when my husband, three children and I were sailing from St. Petersburg, Florida to New Zealand in our 44-foot sailboat.  We were tied up in to the pier in Tahiti with several other sailboats.  My husband had to return to Florida to take care of business; the children and I lived on the boat.  The only way to get from our boat to the pier was a plank about 10 to12 feet long. 
Our youngest child Carolyn (nine at the time) got sick and was running a dangerously high temperature.  Having heard awful reports about how inadequate the hospital was there, I was at a loss as to what to do.  I knew a woman about three boats away was a nurse.  It was late evening and Carolyn was asleep so I quickly went to the other boat for help. 
As we started back to our boat, I saw Carolyn on the pier!  I couldn’t believe she had managed to walk across that narrow plank!  If she had fallen off, I don’t know whether we would have found her.  In my heart I know that God’s hand got her across that plank safely.  Carolyn’s fever broke later that night. A few days she was feeling better--thanks be to God!
            The third occurrence was one morning when I had just gotten up and was making my coffee.  My chest felt heavy, it was difficult to get a breath, and I felt light-headed like I might faint.  It was such a scary feeling! I sat down, thinking it would get better,
but it didn’t.  Then I began thinking, “Is this a heart attack? Should I call 911? What to do?”.  I had the presence of mind to unlock the front door (just in case) and took an aspirin.  When I sat down again, I was gasping for breath …terrified.  My thinking now was, “Oh Lord, I’m so scared! I don’t know what to do. Should I call 911? Help me!”
Without a thought of my own, I reached for the phone and dialed 911.  God is so good!  In a very short time the paramedics arrived, tried to calm me, and got me ready to transport to the hospital. After a few tests, they found I had several blood clots affecting both lungs, and started treatment.  Over and over I was told “It’s a good thing you called 911 – this could have been fatal.”  So…to God the glory!  I’m so glad I asked for help and am in awe, realizing He was there for me.

 “Thank you, God!” seems such a small thing to say for these three miracles in my life!  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Who Was Playing the Organ?

Donna Passarella
            When my mother, Mike, and I moved to Orlando, we had no idea where anything was.  One task on our priority list was to find a new church. That search not only yielded Good Shepherd but also a miracle.  Here’s how it happened.
            One day while driving to the post office located on Edgewater Drive, I got lost.  Somehow I wound up going east on Lake Avenue.  As I was looking for a road I might recognize, I had to slow down for railroad tracks.  It was then that I saw Good Shepherd’s sign, so I turned into the driveway to “check it out”, even though I realized that my mom probably wouldn’t like it because of its modern architecture. 
            I got out of the car and went up to the welcoming red door, which I found to be unlocked.  As I stood inside I wondered if I should even bother, knowing how my mother felt. Suddenly I heard the most beautiful organ music I had ever heard.
            I walked inside to see who was playing.  At least they have great music here, I thought.  Walking down the center aisle, I turned to see who was playing the organ up in the choir loft.  Before I could turn, the music suddenly stopped.  I thought, that’s weird.  Who was there?  Well, they’re gone now.  They probably went down a back staircase to that room I saw on the right as I came in.  
            It was then that I found a visitor’s card on the floor.  I decided to fill it out, thinking… Well, at least they have good music here. 
A few weeks later a Good Shepherd couple, Jap and Kathy,
called to ask if they could come for a short visit.  I said we really weren’t able to entertain because we were still unpacking.  Gently they pressed on, saying they were not afraid of the boxes.  So I invited them to come.  We all had a nice chat, ending with an invitation to go to church with them the next day.  We happily accepted. At church they sat with us and introduced us to other people.  We all enjoyed the singing and meeting the many warm and welcoming parishioners.
            My mom decided she liked the place, so we agreed to join the parish.  We were invited to become choir members.  Mom had been on the Altar Guild in our church up North for over 30 years and wanted a change.  She had been a singer in her youth, and asked me to come with her to rehearsals, so I did.  (Twenty-three years later, I’m still in the choir!)
            A few months after I joined the choir, the miracle became evident.  The choir was seated in the loft, and I suddenly needed to use the restroom but didn’t want to disturb the service by going down the steps.  I asked the late Dee Vorhees, the choir director, where the back stairs were. 
            She said, “What back stairs?”
            I replied, “The ones you must have gone down into that little room under the choir loft.”
            She remarked, “The only steps in and out of the loft are the ones in the front.  That little room below is just a closet.”
            I knew then that she could not have been playing the organ that day of my first visit to the church.  I would have seen her come
down those steps.  When I told her what had happened, she just smiled knowingly.  In amazement I said, “Dee, who was playing the organ?”
            She just smiled and said, “It must have been one of the angels welcoming you.  You’ll be aware of them soon enough.”  And I was

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Yellow Roses

By Maggie Gula
            When my dad retired after fifty years in dentistry, he continued playing golf several times a week and took up rose gardening.  He grew beautiful roses that he always shared with my mom, the neighbors and me.
            Several years later when his health began to fail, the once beautiful rose garden went untended and the bushes looked like sticks.  Caretakers had their hands full just taking care of Mom and Dad, so the rose garden had to be neglected.
            When Dad died, I can remember noticing how hopeless the rose garden looked and thought about cutting the rose bushes way back. However, Mom’s care was becoming paramount so that didn't get done before she died four months after Dad.  
            As I drove away from their villa to make plans for the Memorial Service for Mom, I wondered if I could transplant at least one of my dad's once beautiful rose bushes to my house to see if I could revive it. 
            Two weeks later, when I returned to their home for the Memorial Service, I was amazed to see two beautiful yellow roses with leaves at the top of one of the tall stems.  The family pastor instructed me to cut the two roses and put them in a bud vase, which was displayed on the altar for the Memorial Service. To my family it was a sign from God that he had my mom and dad safely in his arms.  Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

His Watchful Eye

 Louise Arbetman
In my son Matthew's senior year, we had many trials with him and his choice of friends.  It was as if he was on a collision course and wouldn’t listen to anything we had to say.  He was always testing his limits with us.  
One evening, he had gone to his girlfriend's home where they apparently had a beer or two.  On his way home Matthew was stopped by an Orlando Police officer.  He wasn't drunk, but the officer could smell alcohol on his breath.  The policeman called me, since I was the owner of the vehicle, and asked my husband and me to meet him and Matthew at a nearby gas station.  His dad and I retrieved him and his pickup.  No ticket was issued -- just a warning.
Once we got home, Matthew began to pitch a temper tantrum.  He was going through the house, hitting and punching holes in two of the walls.  We pleaded with him to quit, but he would not listen to reason.  So in desperation, I dialed 911. Then he started to beg me to hang up.  We did not realize that once you dial, you cannot change your mind.  When the operator answered, my husband told her it was all a mistake.  The operator asked to speak to me and wanted to know the problem. I briefly explained what had happened and how upset our son was with us. However, I told her I thought things would be better now and then hung up.
Less than 10 minutes later, our doorbell rang.  At the door stood two OPD officers.  One was a lady from our church whom I knew personally.  Of all the police employees of the city, someone whom we knew answered our 911 call in spite of our saying we did not need for anyone to come.  
Matthew was unhappy with us and left home in a rage at the late hour of 1:00 a.m.  I was hysterical, thinking something really bad was bound to happen to him.  My friend, the policewoman said, “Do not worry about him. It is a slow night, and we will keep an eye on him.”  She said that he probably would go someplace nearby and stay with a friend.  Sure enough, less than 15 minutes later, one of Matthew's friend's parents called to say that they had picked him up, and he would be spending the rest of the night with them.  For the first time in quite awhile, we were able to sleep the rest of the night.  I know for a fact that God was in control of that night.
As I look back on this episode in the parenting of our son, I can see clearly that God intervened.  He told us to call 911, and  then sent someone from our church that could help us in the heartbreaking situation.  God continued to watch over Matthew as he left our house by guiding him to call a responsible friend to come and get him. Prayers were answered.  That was a turning point in his destructive behavior.  He now realized that we were not going to put up with his out-of-control behavior.  I give God the glory and credit for giving us the strength to do what needed to be done for our son

Monday, May 7, 2012

Wonder-Filled Times

Terri Sims
In my life I have had two positively wonder-filled experiences I would like others to know about.
The first one happened when my sister was 14 years old. She was diagnosed with “Chronic/Aggressive Hepatitis B” and was expected to live only another five years. Doctors continuously monitored her blood, and did liver biopsies to track the progression of the disease. My mother was at her wit’s end as to what to do with a dying teenage daughter.
While working at her job, my mom met a woman who was a born-again Christian and a charismatic catholic. She told my mother about a priest, Father Frank DiOrio, with a healing ministry in Boston.  My sister’s condition was deteriorating (she was around 18 at this time) and my mother figured, what did she have to lose?  She, my stepfather, and sister flew to Boston to attend a healing service. My sister thought it pretty strange and was reluctant to go forward in prayer, but Fr. DiOrio called out, “There is a young girl with a liver disease.  Don’t worry. God will heal you.”  She went up for his healing.
On the plane ride home, my sister noticed that her liver didn’t hurt as much (before the healing service she had been in constant pain), and as an added bonus, my mom’s back pain was gone!
My mom waited a few months before she took my sister to the doctor since she had started feeling better. The doctor ran some tests, asked for more tests, and did a liver biopsy.  When the results came back, the doctor spoke with my mom and sister.  He said that something unexplainable had happened.  Not only was the hepatitis gone, but also her liver was perfectly fine.  There were no signs of the hepatitis, and her blood had absolutely no antigens of the disease.
Still to this day, 28 years later, she is fine!
This is actually what got me thinking about this whole “Jesus-thing” in my own life. About a year later I gave my life to the Lord as well.
The second experience occurred when Hurricane Andrew was heading for Florida.  The storm was approaching south Florida with a vengeance. The police had already knocked on our door telling my (then) husband and I that we needed to evacuate immediately.  We had no time to board up our windows, nor do any other preparation for the storm. Our friends were going to “put us up” and we had to leave. Before we left, though, we did the only thing we could think of doing. We prayed over our home. We anointed each wall and even touched the roof!
We rode out the storm in our friend’s home.  God was good! Although their home was destroyed, all of us (four adults and three children age three and under) had remained safe.
As we drove to our house, I saw complete and utter destruction.  I heard that less than one mile from our house, they had clocked wind gusts over 200 mph before the wind instrument broke. I expected our house to be destroyed when we reached it. I couldn’t have been more wrong! The house was intact! We lost the front siding to the home, the roof ended up only missing ten shingles, and only six window panes were broken. Although the large trees in the backyard fell and blocked the sliding glass doors, the doors themselves remained perfectly fine. We were the only house on our block which was intact! The neighbors were in shock. Since they were having to leave their homes for an extended period of time, they gave us all their food. In fact, we ended up with so much food that when the Red Cross truck came by, we gave THEM food!
While these were trying times for sure, God’s hand was in this. We are utterly grateful for each day!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Overcoming Adversity

Sharon Graham
Fifteen years ago a special miracle occurred in our family.  My eighteen-year-old niece Melina had just graduated from high school and was dealing with a lot of turmoil in her life due to her pregnancy.  The miracle was the survival of her daughter Courtney.
When Melina went into labor, she was taken to the hospital in the rural area of northern Alabama where she lived.  She was then sent home because her pains were considered to be “false labor”.  Returning to the hospital a few hours later, the nurse did an ultrasound and immediately called the doctor,  who arranged for her transfer to a hospital with a pediatric intensive care unit.  The ultrasound showed the baby’s organs were outside her body. Melina had had previous ultrasounds even into her last month, but none of them had ever shown this!
If Melina had had a vaginal delivery, the baby would have died.  However, she arrived at University of Alabama Birmingham in time to have a C-section.  The baby was given a 50% chance of survival. Those attending the baby managed to push Courtney’s organs back into her body a little at the time.  Miraculously she never had an infection.  She was able to leave the hospital in six weeks instead of the four to six months that was predicted. Many prayers from her concerned family were also adding to her care.
Courtney did have some early developmental delays in her life.  Now the only signs of what happened to her is a scar that goes vertically down her abdomen and the absence of a naval – neither of which bothers Courtney, a very confident young lady.  The scar actually reminds her that she did not come easily into this world and that God chose for her to live.
Courtney is now sixteen.  Although she will always be petite, she caught up on her areas of early delay.  She’s an outstanding student.  Melina, her mother, did a tremendous job raising her.  Her grandparents have given them both great support and provided for needed interventions.  Courtney’s life is an example of God’s grace and healing!
Melina has now completed college and is a social worker.  She is in a happy marriage and also has a son.  Although during her adolescent years she faced great adversity, she has overcome it with God’s grace and power. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

In God’s Time

Joann Darville
My father was in the hospital for a bipolar condition, while my mother was in a nursing home.  The hospital called to say that it was time for my father to go home.  I wasn’t at all sure I would be able to take care of him while working full time and having my family to take care of as well.   I was also going to the nursing home every night after work to help my mother with her dinner. 
On the night I had to bring my father home, it was too late to go to the nursing home to see my mother.  So the first thing the next morning, I took my father to visit her.  They hadn’t seen each other in over three weeks because of my father being hospitalized. 
When we got to the nursing home we found out that my mother had had a stroke.  She knew us but couldn’t speak.  Each day for the next week I was able to take my father to visit my mother.  Little did we know that would be our last week with her.  She passed away early the next Sunday morning. 
During that week when I was taking my father to visit her, I couldn’t see how I was going to be able to handle all of this.  The burden was great.  Through a lot of prayer, though, God gave me the strength.  
Over time, I have come to realize that this was part of God’s plan for me.  I know He carried me many days so I could keep things going. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Presence of an Angel

Mary Jo MacDonald
On September 26th, 1999, I suffered a major heart attack.
While waiting for the good doctors at Winter Park Memorial to make a decision as to what to do with me and where to do it, I was aware that I was in a hospital bed with rails on both sides.  It was here that I heard a soft voice call to me from my left side.  I looked over into a beautiful face framed in dark curls with large dark eyes!  She said, "Don't be afraid.  You will be all right. You have the light around you."
And so I was. 
After being moved to Florida Hospital and spending eight days there, I was discharged.
Still today, I remember that sweet lady’s face and the sound of her voice.  She had to have been an angel! 

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Nancy Gardner
            It was the week before school was to begin and being a teacher, I was looking forward to a long weekend at the beach with some girlfriends.  The last hurrah.  On the Tuesday prior to that weekend, I became seriously ill.  I first thought it was a 24-hour intestinal virus.   But no, it was a terrible flare-up of my ulcerative colitis.  Not realizing this and being the controlling person I am, I decided that, even though I was in severe pain and vomiting for about 24 hours, I would wait before going to the emergency room.  The wait was too long. I ended up in the hospital for three days with dehydration and my colon completely inflamed.
            Shortly after being admitted into the hospital, a friend came just in time to give my husband Rocky a break from nursing me for over 24 hours. I didn’t want any more visitors because I knew I looked like death, and I was not very alert due to the medication. I told my friend to tell others from church not to come.  I didn’t think I needed anyone except Rocky.  That, however, was the last time I tried to be in control of the situation.  
            The next day another friend, who has a vivacious personality and speaks with a strong accent, stood at my door.  Being in a medicated stupor, I instantly worried about how I was going to understand her.  I began to recognize that I was no longer in control!  She was an angel sent by God.  After caring for my physical needs, she went home to make chicken broth for me.  Later another church friend showed up with a goody-bag containing a stuffed penguin.  Little did I realize how this penguin would impact my life.
             After being released from the hospital, I tried going back to work.  A few weeks later I had a relapse and had to take time off.  During my convalescence at home, I would awake almost every night at 3 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep.  So I would use this time to pray for people I knew with serious illnesses. 
            Then something unusual would happen.  Without realizing it, I would drift off into what might be called a “sleep daze”.  One night during this time God reminded me in a dream that people were praying for me also.  He said that they were standing in the GAP for me.  I asked him what GAP meant, and he said “God’s Anointed People”.  I said, “So they are Gappers!”  
            On another night God revealed that the penguin I had received represented Gappers.  In the movie, “The March of the Penguins”, once the eggs are laid, the female gives the eggs to the male, who keeps them protected between his feet.  Whenever winds and storms come, the “nursemaids” huddle together leaving no gap between them, which protects the eggs. I was told the little stuffed penguin represented the people who were standing in the GAP for me.  God told me that when I was better I was to give the penguin to someone else to represent that I was standing in the GAP -- praying for them.
            The Bible says God reveals himself to people in dreams.  I truly believe that was happening to me. There is no other explanation.  I’m certainly not clever enough to think all this up!
Another wonderful occurrence happened during my physical weakness.  Whenever I started to read scripture, I felt directed to passages which spoke to my exact needs at that time.  I, too, feel God was leading the way here as well – providing from His word the comfort and understanding that I needed.   Although God did not cause my illness, He surely did use it to teach me many things. God knew what I needed. Thank goodness my friends listened to God, not me, and came when they did. 
            May we all be Gappers for God.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

God’s Healing Touch

Sandy Giles
For six months I had been having trouble with stomach pain and bloating.  It was to the point where I could no longer wear a lot of my clothes.  In addition, I was having trouble with my knee, and surgery was needed.  However, before I could have the surgery, I was told to see my gastrologist and get his approval.  So I went to see him, and he ordered a CAT scan, which showed I had a blockage in my aorta.  I was shocked!  This required me to see a heart doctor, who confirmed the blockage and ordered a heart catheterization.
After seeing that doctor and before getting the catheterization, the Rev. Sharon Lewis, an Episcopal priest who leads the internationally known Amazing Love Healing Ministries, was doing a service at Good Shepherd.  During the service she and my priest, the Rev. Sarah Bronos, invited individuals who needed healing to come up for prayer.  I went.
The following week I went to have the catheterization.  It showed no blockage.  In fact, in a matter of days the stomach pain and bloating also went away.  I was told I could go ahead and have the knee surgery.
I feel absolutely certain that it was God who healed me of those ailments.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Tailbone Tale

The Reverend Sarah Bronos
At the age of twenty I had a horse-riding accident.  It was the day after Christmas, Boxing Day in my native United Kingdom.  My brother and I went to a local stable where a new mare, Emma, had recently been delivered.  It was decided, against my protestations, that I should ride her.  At best I was only an adequate rider, if that.  I preferred the more sedate horses.  Emma was anything but sedate.  Since there had been a few days of heavy frost, the ground was like iron and certainly not a good day for me to be riding this horse. 
As we were galloping down one field, Emma shied at something in the hedgerow and threw me.  Although shaken, I got back on, and we started up to a gallop again.   A bit later, Emma shied again.  This time I not only had the wind knocked out of me, but I also had a searing pain in my back and couldn’t feel my legs.  The others finally realized I wasn’t in the group and came back to me.  Somehow they managed to get me back into the saddle.
When Emma began to trot again, I started to faint from the pain, so my brother went to get his little sports car.  He drove it over the field to where I was.  They managed to get me into the passenger seat.  As he set off bumping over the uneven ground, more shock waves were sent through my back.  He took me to the hospital and then went to get our parents, who were at a Boxing Day party. 
The doctor said I had fractured my pelvis and damaged my coccyx (the tailbone). (Several years later I found out that a couple of my vertebrae had also been compressed.)  What I remember the most clearly was the doctor saying that when I got older, my coccyx would probably give me trouble.  As a result of my injury I was in a body cast in the hospital for six months – released in time for my 21st birthday party.
After being discharged from the hospital, I had no pain from the injuries until many years later.  In my early 50s I began to experience pain in the area of my coccyx, and it continued to worsen over the months.  The pain was the most severe on arising in the morning; sitting for any period of time was impossible.  I finally went to the doctor who found nothing wrong on the scans.  I figured I had reached the time in my life the doctor in the UK had talked about and that I would just have to deal with the pain.
During this time I was attending All Saints in Winter Park.  I was scheduled to be a Lay Eucharistic Minister for a healing mission, with Maria Rocha as the guest speaker.  After her teaching, a woman in the audience got up to say that at Maria’s last healing mission, she had thought that the Lord was prompting her to go up for a healing.  However, she hadn’t responded to his prompting.  She exhorted us not to do what she had done – if we felt the Lord’s prompting, we should respond. 
After she had finished speaking, Maria Rocha said, “The Lord is healing someone with a cyst at the base of their spine.  Please come forward for prayer.”  Before I could think, I was up and out of my chair.  As I walked toward her, I was thinking, “I don’t know that I have a cyst at the base of my spine.  Why am I going up here?”  Having started to walk, though, I continued. 
When I was in front of Maria, she asked, “Do you have a cyst at the base of your spine?”  I replied,  “I’m not too sure.”  She laid her hand on my lower back and said a quick prayer, and I went to sit down.  I was so embarrassed that I sat down quickly and heavily, something I realized I shouldn’t be doing as that would cause me to have pain shooting up my spine – but there was no pain! 
I started lifting up slightly from my seat and then sitting back down several times.  I turned to my neighbor and said, “I think the Lord has healed me!”  She called over someone with a microphone and told me I needed to tell the congregation.  Beet red with embarrassment and without complete conviction, I said, “The Lord has healed me.”           
The following morning as I got up, there was only the faintest memory of the pain. In my quiet time I understood the Lord to say, “You have to claim this healing as mine if you are to be completely pain free.”  That day and those following as well as to this day, I do not cease to proclaim that it was the Lord who healed me.  And I have never again experienced any pain in my tailbone since the day He healed me.