Friday, August 31, 2018

What God Can Do

What God Can Do
Dee Barroso

I have been in nursing 36 years and have seen many miracles.  One of them remains very vivid in my memory!   When talking with other nurses working that day, they always bring up this amazing event…
I was working in a Medical Intensive Care Unit.  We received an older lady named Shirley from a nursing home who was in respiratory distress and on a ventilator.  Shirley’s husband, though healthy, was unable to take care of his wife at home.  They were now living in a nursing home so they could be together.  While she was in the hospital, he came to visit everyday.  Sitting next to her, he would talk to her while holding her hand.  
One day Shirley started fighting the ventilator - trying to get out of bed!  Since she was fighting so hard, the doctor said, “Let’s remove the breathing tube and get her off the machine.”  Shortly after taking her off the ventilator, she started screaming!  I went in and asked her what was wrong.  She said she needed to go home and be with her husband!  I tried to calm her down and told her we needed to get her breathing better so that she could go home.  She calmed down and then started screaming again.  She repeatedly insisted that she had to go home and be with her husband!  I told her he would be there shortly, since visiting time was getting close.  Hearing that settled her down once more. 
Shortly after leaving her room, I heard Shirley scream again, "He's here! He's here!”  Going back into the room, I asked her what was wrong.   She exclaimed,  “My husband is here with me!” Shirley was in a rotating bed that had an air mattress and an arm pad.  She was patting the arm pad.  I told her that it was just the arm pad.  “No, it’s not!”  she responded emphatically.  “My husband is lying here next to me! He has come to say good-bye!  He is in the Coronary Care Unit next door.”  Strangely, she felt as though her husband was in both places.
I went out to the desk and called the CCU, "Hi, this is Dee in MICU.  I know this is going to sound crazy - but do you have Mr. Bailey there?”  The nurse told me to hold on and then put the nurse manager Carol on the phone, “Hi, Dee, how can I help you?”  I again said, “ I know this is going to sound crazy, but Mrs. Bailey is insisting that Mr. Bailey is over there and that he is here lying in bed next to with her telling her good-bye!”  Carol then replied, “A couple hours earlier Mr. Bailey was brought in, and he has just died!!”  I was flabbergasted!
When the hospital chaplin went into the room to tell Shirley that Mr. Bailey had passed, she was crying.  As soon as she heard the news of his passing, a smile appeared on her face. She told us he had already told her good bye, and that he would see her soon.  She was very quiet from that point forward.  
Shirley recovered enough to return to the nursing home.  However, she passed away a short time later.
God works in wonderful and mysterious ways to comfort us.

Friday, August 24, 2018

What Are the Chances?

What Are the Chances?
Debora Lisle

            There comes a time in many people’s lives when it’s their turn to look after their parents.  It became that time in my life - my mother could no longer live alone.  I was going to have to find a place where she could live and be cared for.  
After some searching I was able to find such a facility, where she would be able to live in a little apartment that would allow her some independence.  Although it did not have a full kitchen, it did have a microwave, so she would be able to do some cooking for herself.  Having seen the place, she liked it but… found one fault.  It did not have a “real oven.”  Having only a microwave made it unacceptable to her, because she loved to bake.  This was very discouraging since the apartments at this facility did not offer such ovens.
It wasn’t long, however, before another apartment did become available.  We decided to take a look at it just in case she might like it better.  Lo and behold, to our amazement, on entering, we saw a real oven!!  AND not just any oven – but a pink one!  My mom’s favorite color!!  The lady who previously lived in this apartment had gotten the oven specially installed. Right away my mom found this abode to her liking.  She was even permitted to paint the whole kitchen pink!

What are the chances of something like this happening??  God knows.

Friday, August 17, 2018

The Prodigal Son

The Prodigal Son
Karl Stephens
                 All scripture is profitable for teaching, for correction, and for training… (2 Tim 3:16).  The Biblical story of the “prodigal son”  (Luke 15:11-31) is a popular message for most prison chaplains.  In this story, a father has two sons. The younger son asks for his inheritance, leaves home and, after wasting his fortune, becomes destitute. He returns home with the intention of begging his father to be made one of his hired servants, since he expected his relationship with his father to likely be severed.  Instead, his father welcomes him back joyfully and celebrates his return.  The themes of repentance, reconciliation, and unconditional love from that scripture speak to many of us prisoners.­­­­­             I can personally relate to this story, because years ago I was that lost son. I thought I could live my life on my own terms.  However, due to selfishness and substance abuse, I eventually descended to my lowest state of reckless behavior.  I, too, left home and found myself in a dangerous and foreign place.  I was not only feeding the swine so to speak, like the prodigal did while he was away, but I was also wallowing in the mud right beside them.  My condition was dark and hopeless.  I had ended up in a place where not even my family knew where I was.  Yet, my father did not give up hope. He was prompted by the Holy Spirit to keep searching for me.  He responded in obedience, miraculously found me, and brought me home.  On that day, Jesus saved my life, and the seeds of God’s love were planted.
However, my troubles did not immediately go away. But I did come to realize God had always loved me unconditionally and had never given up on me.  There is a song that I hear from time to time on the radio.  I just love the chorus – and can now sing  it with understanding:
                                                All my hope is in Jesus           
                                                Thank God my yesterday’s gone.
                                                Yes, all my sins are forgiven.
                                                I’ve been washed by the blood.

            It’s been a long way back, but God has me in a place now that is close to Him.  For that, I will be eternally grateful!                     

Friday, August 10, 2018

Sunday Service

Sunday Service
                                                            Jon Schultz

One Sunday morning when my wife and I were getting ready to go to church, the phone rang.  It was my son, Jameson, calling to tell us that the wheel had just come off his big 4 x 4 pick up truck, as he and his family were on their way to church.  Thankfully, he, his wife and two girls were okay.  He had only very recently gotten his truck out of the shop where the wheels had been rotated. Apparently, someone didn’t tighten the lug nuts enough. This mishap could have resulted in someone being seriously injured!
When I arrived at the scene to help, I was amazed! There were two men working on his truck.  They had a jack under it and were putting the retrieved wheel back on. As they were working, my son started telling me more about the incident.  He said when the wheel left the truck, it went rolling very fast past him.  Then he saw these men take off in their truck to retrieve it. [Keep in mind… this was a big wheel which could have hurt someone as it rolled away.] One of the men blocked off traffic and picked it up. After returning with the wheel, one of the men asked my son if he had found any of the lug nuts.  My son said no.  Jameson said these men once again jumped into action and insisted on taking the wheel to Pep Boys to have it checked out. They even purchased a new set of lug nuts! Now they were reinstalling it.
 I was just amazed at the generosity that this man and his friend showed my son. I thanked them repeatedly and so did Jameson.  I told the man who had done most of the work, “You are an angel!” I offered him money, but he refused it.  I insisted, “No, please take it. You have been so very kind.” Finally he agreed and told me he was going to put it in the offering plate at church.
That afternoon I couldn’t stop thinking about the random act of kindness this man and his friend displayed. I felt God had a message here, but I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it. Here we were… all going to church, and this misfortune occurred. I missed church obviously, but my wife and I were able to see the service televised on TV Monday night. Our minister told a story about a songwriter Bill Withers who wrote the song, “Lean on Me.”  This is the story….

Bill Withers, as a young black man, had to travel to visit his ill mother. He purchased a used car that unfortunately had four worn tires.  On his journey, while passing through Birmingham Alabama, he had a flat tire.  It happened during the time when there were so many racial problems. He was scared, because he didn’t know what to do. All of a sudden a Caucasian man walked up to him and said, “Looks like you have a problem!” Then the man disappeared. Bill thought that was kind of strange, and it didn’t reassure him in his present situation. Not long after, he spotted a man in the distance walking towards him with a tire and a set of tools. It was the very same man!  The man put the tire on the car for Bill and went on his way. A random act of generosity!

After our minister finished his story I looked at my wife and said, “That’s pretty cool!”  Was this a coincidence?  I think not – it was the good Lord letting us know that there is still hope in the world, if we just continue to love one another and be kind. The kindness and generosity of those two African American men changed all of our lives that Sunday.  

Friday, August 3, 2018

Right Time - Right Reason

Right Time – Right Reason
Meg Folsom

I work in a family birthing center with midwives.  In 2006 a sweet young Christian couple came in.  That day was a bad one for me, as I had just been diagnosed with cancer.  When I came out to see them, they could tell I had been crying.  Even though I did not tell them what was wrong, they showed a lot of concern for me.
When the young lady, Bethany, and her mom returned for another appointment, they overheard me telling another staffer about my upcoming surgery.  They asked about it, and I told them then that I had cancer.  They asked if they could pray for me.  I said yes, and we went into another room for them to pray.  This family really touched my heart because of the love they showed me. They had come here for me to serve them, yet they were ministering to me.
The day Bethany came in to have her baby, I was there to assist.  While I was with her mom and her, I learned they often went on mission trips.  That was something I had been wanting to do for a long time.  However, I recognized that I only really wanted to do so for the accolades I would receive for going.  In my heart, I knew that was not the right reason.  Therefore, I decided not to pursue such an adventure.
After the birth of Bethany’s child, Lockland, I kept in touch with the family for years.  I would hear about their mission trips to Haiti - and long to go with them.   However, now I was fighting cancer which made it impossible.
Finally, in 2017, the time became right.  I had won my battle against cancer, and… my mind and heart were right about the reason I wanted to go.  In March I heard from Bethany that she, her mom, and her son Lockland, now 11, were going to make a trip to Haiti in November.  I asked to be included on this trip.  By November I had raised enough money to go.
During my week in Port-au paix, Haiti, I witnessed the Lord’s presence in many ways I had never seen before.  Amazingly, I was able to see Lockland, that little boy I helped bring into the world, ministering to other little boys.  In spite of the extreme poverty in the area where we served, it was beautiful to see how happy and loving these people were! The children were so joyful - giving such warm hugs.  Their happiness did not depend on having material objects, as is so often the case in our country. They displayed such unconditional love!  One day I ministered to ladies who worked in brothels. These ladies were sacrificing themselves in order to provide for their families.  On another day I worked with teens and single moms.  Yet all these ladies, even though having to endure such difficulties in life, were able to sing songs of praise with a resounding and heartfelt spirit.
Going on this mission trip was a life-changing experience for me.  Each night I slept soundly - eagerly awaiting the next morning when I could once again be with these people.  Each evening those of us on the trip would gather to tell about our day and to spend time praying for the needs we saw.  There was no doubt but that God there and with us!  Thanks be to God for this being the right time and the right reason for my going!  I hope to return!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Recovering Joy

Recovering Joy
The Reverend Sarah Bronos

I came to Christ in my early 30s and was baptized and confirmed on the same day as my young children.  Soon thereafter I became part of a study group, read copious amounts of Christian literature, and became involved in many of my church’s ministries. I had never felt more alive as a Christian. But after almost ten years the Lord called my family to leave that community and move to Orlando, Florida.
We had moved to start a business.  Although what I wanted more than anything was to be in ministry in a church, my time instead was consumed with work and my children who were now in middle and high school.  My prayer life dried up.  For almost two years I was in a dark and dry place spiritually.  I grieved the loss of the sense of God’s nearness that I had experienced during those early years in the church.
During this time someone sent me a book, the title I cannot now recall, in which there was one phrase that stood out to me as if in neon lights: “no person, place, or thing can be Christ to you.”  Reading that made me stop and realize that I had become more attached to the blessing of doing ministry than to the person who had called me into that ministry.  That previous church, its community, and the ministries that had so much been part of my life, had become like idols.  They had replaced Christ in my affections.
One night near daybreak while still asleep, I knew I was sobbing and my pillow was drenched.  It seemed to me as though I was with Mary Magdalene as she ran to the tomb early that first Easter morning.  I was actually sobbing with her as she found the tomb empty.  All of her grief was my grief - it was overwhelming!  As she longed for her beloved Savior Jesus, I, too, felt the absence of my Lord.  Turning around we were blinded by the rays of the rising sun.  Yet we were able to make out a figure.  I heard Him call my name and then He said, “Child, I am not back there, but I am here.  I will never leave you.  I am always where you are.”
Immediately my dark cloud lifted.  JOY!   Once again, I felt the nearness of the Lord!  Very soon thereafter I joined another church and was once again involved in Christian ministries.  But this time, I knew better than to allow the love for ministry to replace the love for my Lord who never leaves me or any of His children.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Prayers Heard

Prayers Heard
Lillian Petersen

Several months ago I was having severe migraine headaches, nose bleeds, and high blood pressure, in spite of medication.  I was taken to the emergency room.  I was told that I might have an aneurysm.  Both a CT scan as well as an MRI of my brain were going to be necessary to determine what was wrong.  The MRI came first.  I was highly anxious – especially since I had heard from so many friends that it was a frightening experience since you are encapsulated inside the machine.  Never having had one before, I didn’t know how I was going to react.  I was told the procedure would take two hours, and I was to keep my head and neck perfectly still.  Those were even more reasons for my anxiety.
            Before the procedure, I prayed.  I asked the Lord for healing; I also told Him I would accept whatever was His will.  Once inside the “tunnel” I began praying again – moving my lips without moving my neck or head.  Soon a doctor in a white coat came to stand beside me, and thankfully, he put me at ease.  
            Forty-five minutes into the procedure, I heard the tech say I was going to be given a break.  While outside the tunnel, I asked the tech who the doctor was.  He said no doctor had been there.  I then said, “I mean the man who was in the white coat.”  He told me there was no man in a white coat either.   He said, “I saw you praying while being tested, then I heard you snoring.”  I was astonished by his comments.  The man was so very real to me! When I returned to the scanner to complete the test, I was at complete ease.
            The results of all the testing done in October 2017 showed nothing was found to be wrong with me.  Since that time, I have not experienced any migraine headaches, nosebleeds, or high blood pressure. It is now March of 2018!
             I have no doubt the Lord was the one who put me at ease and healed me.  My prayers were heard and answered!  Praise be to God!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Making Connections

Making Connections
Jeanne Graham / Ann Cooper

I (Jeanne Graham) received a copy of Magnify the Living Lord- Volume 7- a publication containing testimonies by individuals telling of ways they have been personally touched by the Lord's hand.  It was compiled at my church, The Church of the Good Shepherd in Maitland, Florida. While reading it, I noticed one of the writers was Ann Cooper.  Many years ago I had a dear friend by that name.  Could it be?  After losing contact with her for over 25 years, could I once again be finding her?  I called Joy Sutton, the compiler, and we determined that indeed she was my friend!  Joy told me that Ann had moved from Florida to Tennessee to live near her daughter.  I was absolutely delighted to find out Joy had her phone number!
I called.  How marvelous it was to hear Ann's voice once again!  As we talked and caught up on our lives, we discovered that for years both of us have struggled with an eye condition which had made it almost impossible for each of us to see.  The renewal of our friendship is truly a blessing for me!
            I (Ann Cooper) was ELATED when Jeanne called me! I'm so glad to be back in touch with her!  As a result of talking with her, a really great thing has happened.  When we talked about our eyesight, Jeanne told me about a lighted magnifying device that was making it so much easier for her to read.  I had never heard about this device. My daughter found one online, but it was way too expensive for me.  However, she was able to also find a used one that cost only a fraction of that amount.  My daughter ordered it, and NOW I can read again!   My reconnection with Jeanne as well my discovering this device have truly been blessings for me.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Friday, July 6, 2018

God's Healing Power

God’s Healing Power
Jan Ramsey

In the fall of 1999, I became interested in the healing power of faith while visiting my sister, Missy, in Winter Park, Florida.  We attended a healing service at All Saints Episcopal Church, and it made a lasting impression on me.  Because my sister and I were very close and daughters of a minister who taught the power of prayer, attending this service with her brought us even closer together.
About that same time, I read the book, The Healing Power of Faith, written by Harold G. Koenig, director of the Center of Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University.  This book reinforced the motivation I received at All Saints.  In the fall of 2000, at my home church in Mississippi, I helped to organize a “healing weekend,” to be held in the spring of 2001.  I emailed Dr. Koenig inviting him to speak to our congregation.  To my surprise, he replied to me immediately agreeing to travel to Mississippi for our weekend.  However, my hopes were dashed when I learned about Dr. Koenig’s long and distinguished curriculum resume, and about his high fee.  I knew our church could not afford him.  Serendipitously, while working on a church committee with a faculty member from the Mississippi University Medical Center, I learned that he was also looking for a speaker.  Our timing coincided perfectly with the medical school’s annual symposium for new students. (At this time, medical schools began to focus on spirituality as one way to treat patients.)   Graciously Dr. Koenig agreed to speak at both the MUMC symposium as well as our church’s healing weekend.  Amazingly, the school paid for half of Dr. Koenig’s fee, and the complicated schedule fell into place.  Surely, God’s hand was evident to us all!
In September of 2000, my dear sister Missy and her husband Jimmy were killed in a plane crash.  Thankfully, their two daughters were grown and not with them.  While I knew God did not cause or plan this horrific event, I also knew that He was ever present in our suffering.  Nevertheless, all of our family churned in grief and turmoil as we grappled with the aftermath of the tragedy. 
Missy and Jimmy had lived very full lives, raised two beautiful daughters, travelled the world, and were loved by friends and family.  They were also valuable contributors to their community.   I heard from well-meaning friends questioning — “Why?”   Why and how could such a tragedy happen to such a young and vital couple with so much more life to live and give?  I can honestly say that practical answers come easily — because of Jim’s love of flying and the many hours they spent in the air.  
Sometimes I think when we ask, “Why, Oh God?”, we’re really like children throwing tantrums demanding, “I want my cake and to eat it too, and…a second helping, please!”   Why do we take lives fore granted until we lose them?  Each life is a gift.   
The appropriate response to a gift, even when it is taken away, is gratitude.  When I remember this truth, I am personally able to change my focus and to thank God for Missy’s beautiful life and legacy.
When I returned to Mississippi after the funeral, I continued to give thanks in spite of my grief as I dealt with the loss.  And I then resumed my preparations for the healing weekend.
The healing symposium took place in the spring of 2001, and became even more meaningful and comforting to me.
On a trip to Florida later in 2001, I again attended a healing service at All Saints.  I sat in the very same pew where my sister Missy and I had sat. During the passing of the peace*, the woman sitting beside me introduced herself.  Her name was Missy.  I was astonished, and told her my sister’s name was Missy….actually Margaret Melissa.  Her name was also Margaret Melissa!  At that moment, my eyes drifted up and across the entire body of believers.  I realized that I still had a sister, and a family in the Body of Christ.  I was deeply comforted.  I remembered the words from The Life of the World to Come, by Carol Zaleski.
“Every death, every bitter separation, every uncharted change we face is part of the price we must pay for our share in the deifying light, which confers fullness of life and clarity of vision. It is a terrible price, but God paid it first, and that is our comfort.  This does not make the universe a friendly place. It is still vast beyond comprehension.  There is no security except in knowing that however far and fast we fall, there is God beneath us; we are falling into God’s arms.”  

Friday, June 29, 2018

Divine Interactions

Divine Interactions
Sandra Costin

            I love to reflect on how God interacts in our lives.  In so many ways He shows His loves for us, and that He cares for every aspect of our lives.
            My husband Dick and I live in an apartment complex at Canterbury Retreat Center. One month we received a very high water bill. It was obvious that there was a leaky, underground pipe.  The repairmen searched and dug for several days but to no avail.  As my husband, Deacon Dick, was leaving for the clergy conference, he stopped with the workers and prayed, “Dear Lord, please help these men find the leak.”  Before Dick was even able to get into his car, the leak was discovered!  Shortly, thereafter, it was fixed.  This was a sure example of the scripture that says, “Ask and you will receive.”  (Matt 7:7)
            The Lord also has intervened dramatically in my own life.  We live on a very busy six-lane state road in Oviedo, Florida – Highway 434.  Directly across that highway, there are many shops and restaurants where I like to go.  One day I decided to make a five-minute walk across this road which almost ended in disaster.  After checking for traffic and seeing no cars, I started to cross.  After crossing the first two lanes, I suddenly felt as if I had literally hit a wall – I could not move.  I tried to take a step, but my feet would not work. I looked up, and out of nowhere a car zoomed by in lane three – right in front of me.  I had no idea where it had come from - all the lanes were perfectly clear when I started crossing.  Immediately I was aware that God had protected me from danger.
Another God moment happened to me on a beautiful day at the beach. While I was walking alone near the shore, a memory from my childhood surfaced from deep within me. This was a special memory - one that had a healing effect on me.  As my tears started to fall, I stopped and prayed, “Oh God, if I only had a pen…”  At that exact moment something in the surf hit my foot.  Yes, you may have guessed, it was a PEN.  Now I know what you are wondering, “Did it write?”  No, it did not.  However, I realized once again how God is in tune with our smallest desires. 
Our God is truly awesome!  He knows every intimate thought and delights in surprising us in unexpected ways to let us know He is there.  He is our everlasting defender – “our very present help in trouble.(Ps 46:1)  Praise God!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Christ is Alive and Well in Prison

Christ is Alive and Well in Prison
 Charles Norman
In 1980 I was incarcerated at Union Correctional Institute in Raiford, Florida. Fellow prisoners repeatedly tried to get me to attend a “Kairos* Weekend.”  But I did not want to go and be with child molesters and hypocrites. 
However, in 1982, after my friend Joe Miller gave me a different insight -- the church was more a hospital for sinners than a showcase for saints, I did sign up.  I began to understand that if prisoners were going to church, it gave them a chance to change their lives and to become better men.  I also realized that I needed to deal with my own shortcomings.
When the Kairos weekend arrived, I did my best to keep my judgmental nature in check. While there, I discovered that those men were actually glad to meet me and considered me a brother.  They shared the joy they felt when they hugged me and told me Jesus loved me. It might sound hokey, but they were for real. The feelings were contagious.  And I sensed myself becoming a better man.
During the intervening years since that weekend, I have volunteered in many Christian programs. I have needed the reinforcement and fellowship that such gatherings offer.  In the midst of such worldly evil and degeneracy that dominates prison life, these gatherings serve to maintain our hope, faith and belief in a God who forgives and delivers us - which is crucial to our survival, both physically and spiritually.
I am still incarcerated but have now been moved to Tomoka Correctional Institute in Daytona Beach, Florida.  In 2010 I attended a “Kairos Reunion” program at the prison chapel. Such reunions give the prisoners, who have previously attended Kairos Weekends, a chance to reinforce the faith and spiritual lessons they learned during the “short course in Christianity.”  During these follow-up monthly programs, volunteers come from surrounding communities. These two-hour programs consist of testimonies, prayers, songs, and discussions.
At this particular gathering several prisoners with guitars and other musical instruments led an introductory hymn, “Victory In Jesus.” As I sang along with the group with my eyes closed, I imagined that I was a child in Redwater Baptist Church in East Texas in the 1950’s.  I was in the comforting midst and security of my family, hearing those same words for the first time.
I heard an old, old story, how a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary, to save a wretch like me.

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

When I opened my eyes, I returned to reality – no longer a child in Texas.  Instead it
was 2010, and I was in a prison chapel filled with convicted felons. There were also a handful of well-meaning citizens who could see beyond these sins.  They demonstrated their faith by coming through the razor wire and prison gates to encourage the men whom society has written off and cast aside.
For the couple of hours we spent in the chapel, we couldn’t see the fences, the guard towers, and the gun trucks cruising around. We were able to see the best in our fellow man, as we continued to sing:
O Victory in Jesus, my Savior forever,

He sought me and bought me, with His redeeming blood.
He loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him.
He plunged me to victory, beneath the cleansing flood.”

Thank God, Christ is alive and well in prison!

* Kairos Prison Ministry is a Christian program which shares the transforming love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.  The goal is to impact the hearts and lives of incarcerated men, women, and youth, as well as their families. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Being There

Being There
Sue  Steward

A Vision
When my husband and I were raising our four small children, times were difficult.  Being a carpenter and living in Minnesota, my husband was only employed during the warmer months of the year.  When he didn’t have work, I would always find a second job to make ends meet.  During this time, I searched for security in my life.
At this stage of my life I did a lot of church hopping.  I wanted to find a place where I could really feel the presence of God.  One Sunday, while worshipping and praying with a congregation of believers that met in an old country school, I closed my eyes and raised my hands in praise.  After a moment, the room filled with warmth and light.  An unbelievable feeling came over me!  In my mind’s eye, I could see a large hand come into that light and wrap around me.  The experience gave me the secure feeling I had been longing for.    I knew then that everything was going to be all right.  The Lord gave me that assurance!

Answered Prayer
Later in life, I became an LPN, which I felt to be my calling.  There were many occasions when I and my nursing friends were able to gather around those patients in need of prayer.  There were even instances when we would baptize an infant if time made it imperative.  How joyful it was to be able to share my faith with others! 
On one occasion a man was told by his doctor that he had cancer in his leg which would require surgery.  During the surgery, a biopsy was to be done to confirm the diagnosis.  If it proved to be positive, he was told his leg would have to be amputated.  As I cared for him before surgery, I called in another nurse who was also a believer, and we laid hands on him.  When he returned from surgery that afternoon, he returned with his leg.  No cancer was found to be present.  Our prayer had been answered!  Thanks be to God!
I know that my mission as a nurse was to be where God needed me.  My relationship with Him and His presence in my life makes my life complete.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Arranged by God

Arranged by God

Recently, my wife Terri and I were driving on a rural Florida forest road exploring, miles from civilization, enjoying the views of nature. Suddenly we came up behind a group of five motorcycles. Being bikers ourselves, we decided not to pass the group and followed them at a safe distance. While going around a curve, the last biker in the group drifted off the road into the grass, and the bike immediately flipped over 2 or 3 times. I braked fast, pulled off the road, and ran over to the crashed bike. However, I could not find the rider. Looking around, I saw the motorcyclist - unconscious, face up in the shallow water of the roadway drainage creek. Without any hesitation, I went through knee-deep water to reach the man. and held his head above the water. The other motorcyclists did not see the crash and continued riding away. We knew it was going to be up to us help the man.  Terri called 911 to let them know we needed help – out here in the middle of nowhere! Luckily, the dispatchers knew precisely where we were by the cell phone’s GPS. I said a quick prayer that this man would be all right.
While waiting, we decided not to move the rider out of the water fearing possible neck injury. Slowly Bill started to come back into a semi-conscious state of awareness.  He was having a difficult time breathing as he tried to sit up. We helped him out of the water onto the bank of the creek and laid him back down. The Fire Rescue and a Deputy Sheriff officer arrived after about 15-20 minutes and took over his emergency care.  About the same time, the other bikers returned to find their friend. 
Amazingly, out of the ten people at the scene, including the Deputy Sheriff, we discovered not a single person had cell phone service! How was Terri able to make the emergency call to 911?!  How incredibly remarkable!!  God had us there for a reason. 
Terri and I came away from this experience, once again realizing that God guides us, protects us, and uses us.   

Friday, June 1, 2018

All Right With God

All Right with God
Joan May

            My great niece Katrina Alexandra Hall was born in 1992 with a congenital heart defect.  What a big name for a tinier than usual baby!  Shortly after she was born, the surgeon performed heart surgery.  He told my sister Ann (Katie’s grandmother who was an RN), “Mrs. Hall, this baby is a miracle! While doing the surgery, I had to go to a place I’ve never gone before – near her lungs.”
            Since I live in Florida, I only see this family when I go on trips back to Illinois where they live.  The first time I saw Katie was when she was just an infant. While there, I was asked to babysit Katie for a short period while Ann took Katie’s mother, Lisa, to an appointment.  I was almost afraid to hold this fragile little baby. It was such a joy!  During the following years, I regretted not being able to visit them more often. 
Katie required other heart surgeries during her early years.  Although Katie’s condition kept her from doing physical activities, she did survive and grow. My sister Ann looked out for Katie and sent her to summer camps for children with disabilities.  Katie developed into a sweet-natured pre-teen, well-liked by other kids.
When she was 14 years old, she was scheduled for her eighth heart operation. As Ann tucked Katie into bed the night before her surgery, she asked her how she was feeling.  Katie replied, “I talked to God, Grandma, and He said I was going to be all right.”  The following day right after the surgery, the sorrowful surgeon told the family the heart surgery went fine, but her lungs gave out. 
When Ann told me the details of Katie’s passing and the conversation they had the night before, we both rejoiced that she was now truly… all right with God.

Friday, May 25, 2018

A Remarkable Reunion

A Remarkable Reunion
Faye Hobbs

         During Thanksgiving in 2017, I remembered how grateful I was for friends.  I became determined to find all those old friends that I'd lost touch with over the years. Since I had moved around a lot and had even lost my address book, I realized my commitment to this search was going to be a difficult task.  I decided to begin by finding the oldest and first friend I'd made when I moved to Orlando back in 1959!   I was delighted when I found that her children had set up a Facebook page for her!  She lives in Maryland and is 95 years young! We are now in contact, and I read her comments on social media!
       I felt God's hand in this work of being grateful and letting people know how they touched my life along the way.   I succeeded in my quest… except for locating one lady I had known and loved, Rosena.  We used to attend Good Shepherd Church in Hayesville, North Carolina together.
       My pursuit became quite serious when I woke up in the middle of the night and heard the Holy Spirit’s voice saying, “Go find Rosena.”  I was stunned!   I answered, “It will take some doing since I have no idea where her children have moved her. It has been over eight years since I last saw her.”  I prayed, Lord, I need your help if I'm going to find her. I haven't got a clue!” and I heard, “You are going to St. Augustine, aren't you?!
Actually, I did have plans to go there for the Christmas Festival of Lights!  Suddenly I recalled that Rosena had a daughter who lived there, but I didn't know her name. However, I did know that she had attended the Episcopal church in the city and was a member of Daughters of the King.  My prayers went up again for the Lord’s help.                                           
      I called the church and left a message.  No reply.   I then called our former church in Hayesville and asked the secretary if she had any forwarding address. The latest one they had was in St. Augustine, Florida!  “YES!” I thought to myself, “With the Lord’s help, I am going to find my dear friend.” Excitedly, I searched the internet for the address.  It was listed as a memory loss facility. My heart jumped! I called the number.  Due to rules and regulations, the lady who answered could tell me nothing.
            I was not going to give up! I wrote a card to her and sent a picture of the two of us in years past. Still I heard nothing back from anyone.  Still I kept hoping that God would let me find her.   I continued to kept faith that there would be a way.  I needed to let her know how much she is loved and missed.
            On December 21st as I was about to leave the old city, I decided to check out this facility even though I had no right to information about her.  I arrived about one o'clock.  The residents were just coming into the lobby from the dining room.  They were still sitting in their wheelchairs; some talking to others. I saw Rosena immediately - just as pretty ever and with the same sweet smile I remembered. I could see she was still the kind and compassionate soul I called my friend. I didn't even have to ask permission from anyone if I could see her!  As I approached her, her eyes filled with tears.  She grabbed her heart and said, “Oh my, this is almost too much to take in! I can't believe you found me!”  We both shed tears and laughter as we sat recalling our happy adventures together.  She said she was now 87; I told her I would soon be 80.  I told her that I remembered her birthday to be April 12, 1923.  She replied quite quickly, “Well, guess I'm 94 then! But how did you remember that?” I answered that she was very important to me, and that I had given her a party for her 85th birthday. She shook her head and said, “Oh, yes, now I remember!” As we talked I learned that she, too, had lost touch with most of her friends.  She was thankful that her son had found this lovely home for her, and that her granddaughter came every Wednesday night to see her.  Her daughter still lives in the city. It warmed my heart to know she was happy, relatively well and doing just fine getting around. Although she displayed some memory loss, it was not easily recognizable.
          During my visit I told her that Father John Rice, who was our priest at Good Shepherd Hayesville, sent his love and best wishes.  Hearing this, her eyes filled with tears again as she said, “Oh, My Father John!” for she loved him dearly – just as he loved her.
            Jesus gave us such a precious gift of friendship for many years. We shared the joy and love as we were reunited.  We had the chance to let each other know how much we have impacted each others’ lives.
            Since our visit, sadly her number has been disconnected.  Although she hasn’t responded to my letters or cards, I have a feeling she is still there.  When I return next summer, you can bet I will try my best to see my dear friend once again.
            The laughter we shared remains in my heart.   We had so much to be thankful for - especially the way the Lord orchestrated all this so perfectly - down to the very last minute. The Master himself set this all up; I just followed each nudge.