Archive for April, 2013

The Cancer Thing!

So from 2009 to July of 2012, the bleeding was non-stop and
painless.   Then, in July of last year, it was almost like some
one flipped a switch!   The bleeding stopped overnight and the
pain started!    Slight at first, but within a week, it degenerated
to me on the couch, just crying and praying for it to stop!!
That went on for over 3 months.   I know my poor Hubby
suffered as much as I did, but bless his heart, there was no
nagging — not one word.   Folks would say, “Take her to the
hospital!!”   But he just replied, “It’s her body, her faith and
her decision.”   I kept flashing back to what Clayton had said;
that if & when God wanted me in the hospital, He’d get me
there.   
And get me there He did.    After months of pain, I woke up
one night in late October and just KNEW I had to go to the
ER and get something for the pain stronger than the Alleve
I’d been swallowing like TicTacs.  Poor Rich had the car fired
up before I even got dressed!
After that, things moved quickly.    The ER staff, after taking
my history, refused to prescribe anything until they’d done a 
scan to make sure all the Alleve hadn’t damaged my internal
organs.     But when they tried to do the scan, they discovered
a tumor SO large they couldn’t see through it or around it.
It appeared to be firmly attached to and surrounding my
reproductive organs.     They gave me a mild sedative and
immediately set up an appointment for me with an
oncologist, Dr. Tait over at Levine Cancer Institute for the
following Wednesday. 
Rich was tickled to pieces and very relieved!   God had
gotten me to the hospital so now I had to keep MY word
and let the doctors do their thing.  Sigh…
Had the appointment with Dr. Tait, who took one look at the
scan results and scheduled my surgery for that Friday.   Two
days later  (so much for having a few weeks to adjust to the
idea!)  they did the surgery on November 2nd, and even
though I was scheduled for a 6-day hospital stay, I was home
by the following Monday.   Apparently, I make a lousy patient
because the nurses were ready to stage a major protest if I
wasn’t sent home!   LOL!   But, to be fair, I was on a
morphine drip which obviously alters your personality to a
large degree!
The tumor weighed over 40 pounds and the doctor was
unable to explain how it had not affected my other soft
tissue organs.    But he’d successfully removed 98% of it
and set me up for a round of Taxol and Carboplatin, two
new chemotherapy drugs.    
The original plan was to start chemo in the spring, as soon as
my surgical incision had healed.   But when I went back for
my post-op exam, the doctor was amazed!     It was only one
month later and he said my incision looked as if it had
happened 3 months ago!!    God is good!    So I started
chemo on Dec 4th, 2012.  
Carried home tons of books and literature all detailing
what the side effects of chemo would be like, as well as
several prescriptions called in to our neighborhood
Wal-Mart, awaiting pick-up.
But God was good.   I had gone online to cancel my regular
thought for the day email and suspend the Front Porch
updates back before the surgery because I didn’t know how
long recovery would take.   Now I just sent out an update to
all my thought subscribers to let them know about the
chemo and where we were in the process.    The result of
that, obviously, was thousands of people praying for me!!
I sailed through most of the chemotherapy with no side
effects!   No nausea, no bone pain, mouth sores, etc.   Never
picked up one prescription from Walmart.    All I ever
noticed was some weakness towards the end of the treat-
ment.        Did run into a problem with my veins though.
When you are undergoing chemo, it also involves regular
blood draws so they can test your white blood cell count.
I had small, tiny veins that like to hide anyway and the
chemotherapy just made things worse.   It reached the
point where it was taking over an hour to just get a vein
open to take blood.     They showed me patients who had
what they called a chest port installed for easy access to
veins.     One look was enough to convince me….NO WAY
JOSE!!!    No one was cutting a 2″ hole in my chest!
The only other alternative was what they call a PICCLINE.
Which stands for Peripherally Inserted Catheter.   Basically, 
it’s a plastic tube inserted into a vein  and threaded  up your arm,
across your chest and into your Vena Cava ( big vein over your heart ).    
They attach two plastic ports to the open end and just leave it in there.  
That way they can inject drugs and take blood without any needles.  
Not fun, but definitely better than being a human pincushion twice a
week. 
Having a PICCLINE also meant trips to the chemo lab
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to have it flushed out with
Heparin.   Not a big deal because we live so close to the
hospital…and I got to know most of the staff on a first name
basis.   My Hats for the Homeless project morphed into a
Chemo Caps project…..I‘d bring a bunch every time I showed
up for chemo.   They loved’em!   Also gave me  a chance to do some
serious Jesus promo during chemo rounds and in the waiting
rooms!    I keep the seating areas stocked with my little
pink Front Porch cards and strike up conversations with any
one who’s handy!  Met some really nice people and sure do
hope I’ve made a difference for  Christ in attitudes and lives!!
On February 11, they scheduled me for a CT scan to see if the
chemo had eradicated the stray cancer cells that had been
floating around in my abdomen.  The results of that CT
showed that the cancer in the abdomen was virtually gone,   
but the cancer had morphed into my bones.   There was a
tumor in my spine and several in my femurs (thighbones).    
The prognosis  was not good.    We were told it was
basically terminal, even though they would try to shrink or
slow down the tumors’ growth with what they call low-dose
radiation.
They recommended that we finish the current round of chemo
and then follow up with another CT Scan in May.    Shortly after
that, my chemo ended and the PICCLINE stopped working.  So
they removed that.      My next CT Scan is May 2nd.    That will
tell us more about the speed and growth of the tumors.   The
doctor’s probably going to recommend another round of what
he calls “ALTERNATIVE” chemo.    For the uninitiated, that’s
code for EXPERIMENTAL!    Not a big fan.    So we’re going
to wait and see what he says before we decide.
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Health Issues!

Early in 2009, I had some troublesome  female issues develop...
I’ll give the boys a break and stay away from graphic detail
except to say that it involved heavy bleeding.     Like daily,
constant bleeding.  No pain though.  None at all.   Strange?
Very!   Especially since I’d gone through early menopause  in
the  90s after my original you’re gonna die diagnosis
back in Winston!       But it didn’t interfere with my
schedule in any way and I wasn’t in any pain, so I just gave
it to God and went about my business.   
 
During that time, I got laid off at Cirrus, started with the jail
ministry, began painting Witness Wear t-shirts, making my
little Disciples Crosses, etc.    I thought about the bleeding
from time to time.     Now in May of 2009, one of our older
pastors over at Garr, who had retired due to chronic illness,
gave one final sermon which really made an impression on
me.    Garr’s non-denominational, but it’s roots are firmly
Pentecostal, so they had lots of folks who faithfully prayed for
whoever was sick to be healed.  Like Pastor Byrd.
 
But his sermon that Sunday was about how we should never
doubt God’s will because if he hadn’t spent the last 12 years
battling illness he never would have impacted the number
of folks he had for Jesus.    People in hospitals, waiting rooms,
dialysis clinics….staff, doctors, nurses, patients, families of
patients, etc.      These folks would all see him and know how
sick he was and how much pain he was in and were unable
to figure out the source of the man’s attitude and joy and
the peace that just emanated from him all the time!!   That
gave him just the opportunity he needed to start a conversa-
tion and bring it around to Jesus!    He reminded us that
had he not been sick he never would have had access to any
of those people and how God always had a plan, even if we
couldn’t always see it!
 
Now my imagination began to work overtime!  Was Pastor
Byrd’s sermon God’s way of telling me I should go to the
hospital and get the bleeding checked out?   I’d just assumed
that I should do what I did back in ’93 which was  leave
it in His hands.   But what if, this time, I was supposed to
be in a hospital setting and touch people there for Him?
Everything was different now then it was back then….the kids
were on their own and reproducing at an alarming rate, my
marriage was good and solid.     I was SO confused!   I didn’t
want to do anything that was AGAINST God’s will for me,
but I didn’t know what His will was!!!     So I called Clayton
and laid it all out for him.  
 
As usual, he laughed and laughed.  (Wonder what he would have
done for comedy in his life if I had ever quit calling?) He told me
not to worry my head about it.    He said, “I’m not saying you
WON’T end your life in a hospital someday, and I’m also sure
that as long as there’s breath in your body, you’ll be telling
folks about Jesus wherever you happen to be,  but for now?  
If you’re not in any pain?
Just keep on keeping on, girl.    You’re a cutie pie, but you’re
not big enough to get in God’s way or mess up His plans.   If &
when He wants you in the hospital, trust me, He’ll get you there
and you won’t have a thing to say about it.   When that happens
just go with the flow…until then?  Do what you’re doing!”
 
Made sense to me, especially in the light of how busy I was!!  
Seemed like, back then, every morning I’d wake up with a
new plan or task to get done!  Mostly on the porch, which
was growing by leaps and bounds!!    In 2010, one morning
in March, God wanted to know why there wasn’t anything
about Easter on the Porch!     GULP!!   I said, “I’ll get right
on that Lord!”   And I did!     Built 4 new pages all about
the Easter Story….how He died, how He suffered, WHY
He did it all for us and how He rose again, defeating death
and guaranteeing our home in Heaven!   Then I put a
picture of a pretty little garden gate on the front page and
 labeled it simply The Easter Gate.    Got all this done
around the end of March…..about a week before Easter
and posted a message asking folks to email me their
names and ages and locations if their walk through the
Gate had impacted them in any way for Jesus.  
 
Well, one of the first to email was a lady from Marseilles, which
is outside of Paris, France.   She was SO excited…wanted me to
send her my cell phone # so she could talk to me.   So I did.
That was a hinky conversation….cause she spoke fluent French
and very little English so we had to go s-l-o-w!!    But the gist
of her story was that she’d been a NON-believer and her sister
was constantly bugging her about it.   ‘Specially at Easter–you
know how we get!!  LOL!    Anyway, she went upstairs and
slammed the door to shut out her sister’s nagging and sat down
to check her email and all of a sudden, she’s on this website
called Dusty’s Front Porch!!    She figured she hit the wrong
key or something and tries to X out of it, but the X box won’t
work.   So she starts circling the page looking for another
way to exit out and she sees the Easter Gate and thinks that
might work.    She says….”by page 2?  You had me….I read
all the pages, then I just sat there and cried for an hour before
I gave Jesus my heart.    I had to call and thank-you!!
This has been the most amazing 2 weeks of my life!!”   Right
then?   The goosebumps hit me BIG Time!
 
I asked her, “Two weeks?  When did you first click the Easter
Gate?”  She said, “I’ll never forget the date: it was March 16th,
the night before St. Patrick’s Day!!”    I swallowed hard and
tried to explain to her and myself, that I hadn’t even built the
Easter pages until the 27th or so of March!!   So how did she
find & click on it March 16th and was she sure of the date?”
She was absolutely sure!   So God not only got her to the
Porch somehow…..He got her  through a gate that hadn’t
even been built yet!!   Say it with me:   GODWINK!!!!!!!!!
 
I’ll return to this entry later and blog about even more
Godwinks that occurred between 2009 and 2012.    That period
was chockfull of God’s plans for growing the Front Porch….
how it went from being just a database to hold my stories to
an online community complete with chapels, prayer wheels,
guest books and an interactive chat box!
 
 
 
 
 

More Godwinks!!

 
From 2006 to 2009 the Godwinks  kept coming!   I remember
one time during football season, I kept noticing signs in 
yards for this team or that team and one day I said to Rich,
“We need to put a sign up for God!”   He just grinned and said,
“We’re going to the Christian store, aren’t we?”    So we did.  
What I wanted was a sign that had Hebrews 13:8 on it.  
Jesus Christ….the same yesterday, today and forever.    I found
one right away!   For $50!!  That wasn’t happening.    So on the
way home, I said “Lord?  If find $50 in the pocket of last years
jeans or something, I’m coming right back to buy that sign..
otherwise?  It’s gotta wait!
Well, the next morning, I’m upstairs on my “cuddle couch”
(just a small loveseat big enough for me and the dog where I
say my prayers in the morning in the winter).     I’m halfway
through Corinthians and I hear His voice, “Look behind the
trash can.”
I knew it was Him, but I figured I’d heard Him wrong.   
The Lord of the Universe talking about trash cans?     So I
went back to Corinthians, till I heard Him again.   “Look
behind the trashcan!”   OK….still convinced I’d mis-heard
Him, I put down the Bible, trotted downstairs and out to the
patio.  
I open the gate and pull out the trash can to look into the
little cubby hole behind it ( something I’d never bothered to
do before) & what do I see?   On the ground, in the corner is
this small square of old board….covered with mildew and
cobwebs…all stained and filthy.     I pick it up and realize
it’s just the right size!!!     So I scrubbed it, scoured it & 
bleached it to get all the nasty off, then I painted it white & 
got out my brushes and black paint.    I lettered  Hebrews
13:8 on it & nailed it up over the window on the patio!   
Who knew? God did!!   He obviously liked the idea of a sign
for Him, but He wasn’t crazy about the idea of  having to
wait!!  GODWINK!!!
Another time, money was super tight….we were down to like
$70 & some change in the checking account and the next cash
day was over 2 weeks away.    I’ve lived hand-to-mouth most of
my life, but Rich was definitely not used to cutting things that
close so he wasn’t exactly a happy camper when things got that
tight.
One day, he goes off to do errands and calls me about an hour
later.      He’s run over something and gotten a flat tire!    Had
to get it fixed of course, no options there.  He tells me “You
better pray cause I don’t know if we even have enough money
to get a new one!!”    So I hung up and hit my knees, right
there in the kitchen, just to let Jesus know what was going on.
Rich comes home an hour later, grumbling a mile a minute…
he got it fixed but it cost $73 and some change which, of
course, pretty much cleaned out the bank account.   He asked
me, “Did you pray this morning?”   To which I replied, “Is the
sky blue? Course I prayed!”    He said, “Well, doesn’t look like
it worked!” I answered, “The day’s not over yet!”   
Later that afternoon, he goes out to get the mail and finds an
envelope from one of the utility companies, I forget which one,
but he opens it up and it’s not a bill.    It’s a REFUND check for
something we overpaid…. in the amount of $73 and some
change!!”  He was stunned!!   I was tickled!!    GODWINK!!!
Then, one time in 2009 God sent me a story about a prisoner
in jail somewhere and I felt He was pushing me towards some
kind of jail ministry.    Well, I didn’t know a thing about jail
ministries of any kind so I called up my pastor and he gave
me the number of a man named Sam Inman who went to our
church.    So, one day, while I was on a break sitting outside at
Cirrus, I gave Sam a call, introduced myself and asked him what
was involved in getting certified to work in a jail like that.   Well,
he laid it all out for me and my heart sank.    Lots of time
for one thing and that’s the one thing I didn’t have right then!
So I told him I’d pray about it and in the future if I had any
free time I’d give him a call back, but I didn’t know how long
it would be cause I was working full-time and my schedule
was super tight.   He said no problem, he didn’t think it’d
be too long and for me to just call when I was ready, that
they’d be glad to have me.    Well, that kinda burst my bubble,
but I promised God right then that I really thought my stories
and poems that He and I had worked so hard on  would be 
inspiring if I could read them to inmates and I promised Him
that as soon as I had some free time open up that I’d do just that! 
Remember that old saying, “Be careful what you
 pray for cause God’s always listening?  I need that on a
license plate, cause I walked back into Cirrus two minutes
after this chat with the Lord and got laid off!    No lie!!
So what could I do?   I called Rich to come pick me up & while
I was sitting outside waiting for him, I called Mr. Sam back &
said, “You’re not going to believe this!”   But he just said, “Let
me guess…..you just had a big chunk of time open up!”   I was
flabbergasted!  “How’d you know??”   He laughed, “That’s
the way God usually works!!”    GODWINK!!
I’m typing away trying to remember some other Godwinks but
I’ll just have to come back and stick them into these blogs as
they come to mind cause looking back it seems like my life has
been full of them! 

A New Life….A New ME!!!

 After that, things happened very quickly!!   

Within 6 months,  I had built and launched my website:  

Dusty’s Front Porch,  started my little Thought for the

Day email, began crocheting my Hats for the Homeless, hand-
crafting my Disciples Crosses as witness tools, returned to
painting T-shirts that I called Witness Wear,  located and
joined a jail ministry in downtown Charlotte and just
generally focused and searched for new and different ways
to impact the world for Jesus.
The most bizarre Godwink was the website.   Remember, this
was back in 2006.    I’d only just gotten a computer and was still
trying to figure the whole thing out!    I could type like the wind,
but when it came to computer technology I was hopelessly
ignorant!
I’d had some of my poetry out on the web, but it was scattered
all over the place.   One lady, Miriam, was in her 80s and lived
in Stockholm, Sweden, was a big fan.    She emailed me one day
and asked where she could find my poem The Mustard Seed so
she could read it to her sister.     I told her to Google it….I had
no idea where it was.   That’s when she told me, “Girl….you
need to build a website and put all your wonderful stories in
one place so your readers can find them.”   I laughed and
laughed!
“Miriam?   I can hardly open my email, much less build a
website!!”   She told me to pray about it and I promised I
would.
So that night, when I said my prayers, I added a P. S. saying
“Lord?  How about that crazy Miriam over in Sweden!!  You
know and I know that when you were passing out
technological savvy I was waiting over in the Rhyme line!! 
But she won’t believe me, so I’m gonna let You tell her ok? 
Thanks…Amen”
Next morning, I go into the office and my monitor was NOT
on my inbox where I always left it….instead,.I had a HUGE
yellow screen, with GIANT red letters that said
“WEBSITE BUILDING — TUTORIAL FOR IDIOTS
                           CLICK HERE !!”
I sat and stared for a while, then fought my way through
the goosebumps and clicked on the link……this was a
definite case of God’s on Miriam’s side!!! 
Major GODWINK!
It took me 3 months to get through that tutorial and build
a website!     Plus several more smaller winks to actually
get it launched!     Yahoo had a startup fee of over $100,
which we did NOT have handy.   The next day?   They call
and tell me they’ll waive the fee if I can launch that day!! 
Wink-wink!
Then I had to pick a name for the site before it could launch. 
My first thought?   God’s Front Porch!!   Of course, right?  
WRONG!
I made it halfway to the phone to call YAHOO and heard His
voice:  “Not MY Porch….YOUR porch!”     HUH?  Now trust me,
when I say that arguing with the Lord is NOT a habit of mine,
but this I just didn’t understand!!  “But Lord….the porch is
about YOU, not me!!”    All He said was, “Trust Me!”    So, even
though I definitely did NOT agree….I called Yahoo and told
them the name of the website would be Dusty’s Front Porch.
WINK-WINK!!
It was only months later, after I realized that the little site I’d
built to hold  my “stories” was morphing into an online
community, with a readership bigger than I’d ever imagined,
that Clayton solved the mystery!       We were talking on the
phone and I mentioned the whole name thing, and he just
laughed and laughed, “Don’t you get it?   If you had called it
God’s Front Porch….you’d have gotten believers to click in
but folks that didn’t believe in God?   The name alone would
have made them not even bother…..but this way?   They
click to see what it’s all about and a lot of them are hooked
halfway down the front page of a site they never would have
come to if you hadn’t obeyed the Lord!!   Granted, the Porch
is a great daily stop for inspiration and encouraging believers,
but His aim is also to attract and interest UNbelievers!!  Good
thing obedience comes natural to you!!”
Then there was the time, when the Porch was only about 6
months old and my computer just up and died.  Kaput.  NADA. 
Dead in the water.    No way we could afford a  new computer
….we were robbing Peter to pay Paul already!     So I had a
heart-to-heart with Jesus out on the patio one day…..”Lord?  
You bent over backwards to bring the Porch into being and I
know You know what the situation is down here….so if you’ve
got any ideas?   I’m definitely listening!!”
Very next day, I go to work and the Vice-President calls me
into his office.    Now I’m not known for suffering or worrying
in silence by any means….so he knew that my computer at
home had died, etc.    He did not however, know anything
about the Porch website.    So I’m standing there in his office,
totally baffled, wondering, “Now what??”    He says, “Do you
remember Matt, the guy who worked for us remotely from his
home in Colorado?”    Well, sure I did.  He went on, “Well,
since he’s no longer with us, he’s shipping the computer we
gave him back to us ….it should arrive today.    Now, it’s an
older, 2-year old version that we’re not going to use anymore
so the powers-that-be told us to toss it.    What we’re gonna
do is re-vamp it and toss it indeed…..right into the back of
your car if you can get your hubby here by noon today!  
Then we’ll send a guru tech out to your place tomorrow
to get you all hooked up!   How’s that sound??” GODWINK!
All I could do was hug his neck…HARD!!   He had no idea why
I was crying…OR why I walked out of his office and into the
empty conference room next door, fell on my knees and cried
even harder!!   Talk about Godwinks!!!    When you get the
Lord on board?  He’s definitely a Mover and a Shaker!!!  
So when I tell folks that God Himself moved Heaven & Earth
to make this whole Front Porch thing happen, I’m not just
whistling Dixie!!     Too many “mini-miracles” in a row for it
to have been anyone BUT God!!
Even my working at Cirrus was the result of a Godwink!   I’d
gotten laid off from the modeling agency in April of 2006 and
had spent the summer going to interviews, filling out apps, etc.  
I knew God had something up His sleeve that He’d share when
the time was right.     So after going to about a gazillion
interviews, I found myself with a 10:30 appointment at this
one particular office building.   We’re early, as always, and I’m
just sitting in the truck watching all these women file out of the
building and gather around the concrete ashtray, juggling
coffee cups & phones as they light up for what was obviously
their morning coffee break.    Clear as a bell and out of nowhere,
I hear the Lord’s voice, “Get out and go talk to those girls….”   
Okie-dokie!   I tell Rich where I’m going and he asks, “Do you
know any of them?”I answered, “Nope!   But God wants me to
talk to ’em!”    So off I go.
I strike up a conversation and one of the girls nods at my
portfolio and says, “Job hunting?”   I told her yeah and the
market was rough so they should all be grateful they were
working!!    She asked, “What do you do?”  I told her I was an
excellent typist with moderate computer skills who could learn
to do anything!”  She laughed and said, “If things don’t work out
at your interview? Stop by Cirrus on the 2nd floor  and ask for CJ!!”
So I left the interview, stopped and asked for CJ.    She hauls
me into the office, introduces me around and tells Greg and Jeff
that I’m who they need.   Well, they hired me on the spot…..no
resume,no application, nothing.    I started the next day and
worked there for three years!    Definitely a GODWINK!!

The Epiphany

Early in 2006, we were actively involved in the “church search”
I’ve written about earlier.   Rich met a young man downtown one
day who was putting flyers under windshields to advertise a new
home church he was starting up.    We decided to go to a meeting
and see what it was about.     The young man and his wife were
Mark & Lisa Basnight.   We liked them right away and, felt very
comfortable at their home and thoroughly enjoyed Mark’s
preaching….very Bible-based and straightforward.       Although
membership in the new church, Charlotte Metro, was still very
small, Lisa as the pastor’s wife, decided one day in early fall, to
take the “church ladies” (all 6 of us!) to a restaurant one evening
for a ladies night out!   We had a ball!
During the course of the evening as we lingered over coffee and
dessert, one by one, we all told our “stories”.   Lisa was
truly horrified by my tale of never having been able to forgive
the individual responsible for all the abuse I suffered as a child
and a teenager.   “Dusty” she said, “You HAVE to forgive him!”
I just shook my head, “Not gonna happen, Lisa….you weren’t
there!”  She insisted, “Do you trust Jesus, D?” I nodded my
head, “Of course I do….but I can’t forgive the person who did
that to me.”  She explained, “YOU can’t, but Jesus can!!  You
just have to go through the motions and put it in His hands!”
I sighed, “Going thru the motions?   That’s saying something
you don’t mean and that’s the same as lying.”   Then it was her
turn to shake her head.    “It’s not lying….it’s admitting that
you can’t do it on your own and asking Christ to do it for you!
Promise me you’ll try?”     So I promised her I would.   Did I
think it had a chance of working?   Nope.   But I gave my word
and I’d keep it.
So I get home and Rich asks, “How was dinner?”   “Fine” I said.
I have to forgive what was done to me as a kid.”   Rich knew the
whole story and also knew how adamant I was that no
forgiveness was deserved, so all he said was, “Good luck with
that!”
I went upstairs to the office and emailed my sister in Florida. 
Did she have an email address for the person in question?   She
did, but was very leery….”Why do you want it after all these
years?  Do you know he’s almost 85 years old?”   I told her to
just give me the address and she did.
I took Lisa’s advice, kept it short …Dear ______, no need to
reply to this email….I just need you to know that I forgive you.  
For everything I remember and probably some things I don’t.  
It’s important to me that you know that.  Hope you’re well. 
 
Then I sat there with my finger on the send button for a long
time.  I said, “Lord?  You know as well as I do that I don’t mean
a word of this.   He’s never even admitted what he did OR asked
for my forgiveness, so this email is a lie.   But Lisa said to ask
Your help and put it in Your hands, so here it is:   I can’t do it…..
but the ball’s in Your court now Lord.  Amen.
Then I hit send.    I also avoided my computer like the plague
for the next week.   Even though I’d asked him NOT to reply
I knew in my heart that he would.   Probably with a 12-page
rant about how I was STILL a liar after all these years and
needed mental help, etc….   but I couldn’t avoid it forever and
on October 10, 2006, I dragged myself up the stairs to the office
and opened my email.  
Sure enough—there it was.   The reply I’d been dreading.   I
took a deep breath, clicked and this is what I read:
Dear Dusty, I was thrilled to get your email.  You don’t know
how hard I’ve prayed for over 30 years that you would some
how, someday find it in your heart to forgive me.   I can’t thank
you enough for writing to tell me….God truly does answer
prayers.
Love, _________
I was in shock!   No denials, no name-calling, just gratitude for
forgiveness granted!!   I sat there, totally numb for I don’t know
how long, before I realized two things.   That Jesus had really
done it!   Because, after reading the emai  I realized that all of
a sudden it wasn’t a lie…..I really could forgive him!!   And the
second thing?   I felt or sensed two hands on my shoulders, as
if Someone were standing behind me and I just KNEW, in my
heart, that if I turned around at that moment, I’d be face to face
with my Savior.    For that instant, time stopped.  Nothing
moved except the tears that were rolling down my face and
splashing on the keyboard (kinda like now as I re-tell this
story!)    I never did turn around, but from that instant on my
life has NEVER been the same!     That’s the day that Rich
said I went UP the stairs as one person and came down some
one totally different.
Now don’t get me wrong….I’ve been a Christian my whole life.  
I’ve always prayed to, believed in and trusted God.   But I was a
closet-Christian.   It honestly never occurred to me to talk about
God with other people.  My faith was mine.   A-B conversation —-
others could C their way out, thank-you.
But after that day, I became an in-your-face Christian.   Totally
amazed at what God had done in MY life and completely on
fire to tell everyone else about it.   
First person I called was Clayton, my mentor from the Steam-
boat.   Lots of questions I had!    Like why on earth, if God was
able to make it possible for me to forgive like this, had He not
done it 30 years earlier?    I felt like I’d wasted 30 years of my
life!!     Clayton said, “Girl, never doubt the Lord’s timing. 
Just think about it….now you’re on a mission to spread the
Gospel and the Name of Christ to everyone you can, as fast
as you can.    But, if you had started all this 30 years ago,
would you have pursued it with the same fire and passion
that I hear in your voice today?    I don’t think so.    You’ve
always had the gifts He blessed you with and He’s always
wanted to use you to bless and touch others, but He wasn’t
able to because you’d never given Him complete control
of your heart.     You’re unwillingness to forgive was like
a wall between you and all the things Jesus wanted to do
in you and through you.     Once you gave the problem over
to Him, that wall came tumbling down…..what you’re
experiencing now is God fully in control of your life.  Your
talents, your gifts, your WHOLE being.    I’m thrilled for
you and all I can say is;  Hand on tight and eat your
Wheatties…. it’s gonna be a wild ride!!”   And it has been!
Details to follow!!

Settling In….

The first two years at Candlewood were extremely busy.    Since
we’d either sold or given away most of our furniture up in New
England before driving South, we had to furnish the condo
from the bottom up.   That was an adventure that produced
great furniture and some pretty awesome memories at the
same time!   
So 2005 and 2006 were a blur of activity, but certain things will
always stand out in history, for us anyway!   One thing we did in
2006 was acquire our beloved pooch, Sugar.   That was God too!
I tell this story to illustrate that God not only takes an interest in
the big stuff of our lives, but also the little stuff.  He’s interested in
everything about us!!    
I had two little parakeets in a cage in the kitchen that I
absolutely adored, but when we had the new security system
installed….it didn’t mesh well with the birdies, who kept
setting off the alarm.    So, despite much heartache, the birdies
were given away to a friend in Winston-Salem.    I cried for
days.     Finally, Rich said, “Let’s get you a dog!”   MIRACLES
do still happen!  LOL!     
So we set out one Saturday to visit the pet fairs at all the Pet
Smart stores in search of a Yorkie.   I’m thinking small condo =
small dog, right?  WRONG!    After an amazingly UNsuccessful
afternoon we were still Yorkie-less and about to head home,
when all of a sudden I heard God say, “One more store!”   I
told Rich the Lord said we should try one more!    So we went
to the next store in line up in Matthews.    They had 2 yorkies
out being walked and invited me to sit down.   I did and the
next thing I know, this little black and white dog, part spaniel-
part beagle, is in my lap, licking my face, yipping excitedly!!
The staff were amazed…..they’d had her almost a year and she
never approached anyone…that’s why she’d never been
adopted.
She obviously saw, sensed or smelled something about me that
hit home because she adored me!     And one look into those
brown eyes and I was hopelessly in love!     We adopted her on
the spot and she’s been with us ever since.    We can’t imagine
our lives or our home without her now….definitely a member
of the family.    One that we never would have found without God
prompting us to check “one more store”!!! 
So don’t ever let anything or anyone convince you that God is
only to be sought out concerning the BIG decisions or the BIG
problems….He cares about every detail of your life—He loves
us so much that if it’s important to us?  It matters to Him! 
Also, the church search I blogged about earlier took place during
this period.   That led to the episode I now refer to as  THE EPIPHANY!  
 Details in the next blog!!

Housemates!!

So it was that in mid-September of 2004, we rolled into
Charlotte, NC.   
We’d visited before but the thought of  living in a city as
big as Charlotte was a bit daunting!   I’d thought Winston-
Salem was BIG, but Charlotte was HUGE!!!  Would I ever feel
at home in such a big city? 
   
I’d transferred  to another Walmart in Charlotte, near
where the kids lived and worked there until January of 2005.   
Then came the layoffs.    Rich was happy living with the kids…. 
he’d joined a few tennis leagues and was making friends, etc.
But in the winter of 2005, since I found myself job-hunting
again, we decided it was time to get our own place.   
Having learned my lesson long ago about charging ahead
without asking God for His advice, the first thing I did was
pray!   
I found a new job working as a receptionist / administrative
assistant to the owner of a modeling agency on the other side of
Charlotte.    Quite a ways from where the kids lived, but the pay
was good.    As soon as I was settled into the new job, we started
house-hunting.     Rich was determined to get a condo….
claimed he’d mowed enough lawns to last him the rest of his
life!  LOL! 
What an adventure!   We must have looked at 100 different
places & all I remember is that most of them had nothing that
even remotely resembled a front porch!   This is where I should
explain that even though Rich and I are perfectly suited to one
another on a personal level, we come from extremely different
backgrounds! 
He’s quiet and on the introverted side, then there’s me….fresh
from the “redneck roundup”!!    Most of the places I’ve lived in
have sported HUGE front porches, complete with flowers,
swings, rocking chairs and tables, with a wide view of the street.  
This enabled yours truly, who usually could be spotted in her
favorite rocker, coffee cup in hand,  watching all the comings and
goings in the neighborhood and yellingl at the top of her lungs to
various folks  “Hey Gina!   Morning!!   C’mon over for a coffee
…just made it fresh!!” etc….   You get the idea.
Now we were condo-shopping….most condos/townhomes do
NOT come equipped with front porches of any kind.    If you’re
lucky you might find a patio out back the size of a postage
stamp, or a balcony with enough room for a plant. Period.   
Sigh……
We looked at big ones, little ones, medium-size ones, etc…
without finding anything we liked.    Finally, one of the girls at
the modeling agency suggested I look online.   Now back then?  
Not only did I not have a computer,  I had no idea they had
real estates sites !   So she agreed to help me when she got
back from lunch.   
Well, I was on my way to make copies and
when I returned to my desk, my monitor was showing what
looked liked newspaper listings of houses for sale.   One of
them was in bolder type than anything else on the page….it
was for a condo.    
I just assumed that my co-worker had decided to “help me”
before she went to lunch instead of after so I hollered over
“Thank-you!!”
She yelled back, “For what?”   “For finding this real estate
page on the Internet for me!”    She came over right away,
claiming she hadn’t been NEAR my computer.  “I said, but
look….these are condo listings right in this neighborhood!!!”  
She said, “That’s great, but I didn’t find them.”   Now this was
on a Tuesday morning and there was literally no one in the
office that day except for she and I.    We looked at each other
and she said, “We’ve got SPOOKS!!”   To which I replied, “No…
what we have is a truly amazing God!!”
The listing that was in bold type sounded perfect….2 bedroom,
with patio, in a neighborhood right around the corner from
the modeling agency!   And God had found it for us!!    I called
Rich to let him know that the Lord had found us a place to look
at!  As soon as he picked me up after work, we went to look at it.
It was perfect!!   Being sold by a young couple who, for job-related
reasons, had to move…the place had brand-new everything!!   We
weren’t in a position to buy right that minute because we still
had the house in Winston to sell, but we traded information
and said we’d keep in touch.   And we did.
Four months later, the house in Winston was taken care of so
not expecting too much after 4 months, I called Bridget about
the condo we’d looked at.    She was SO excited to hear from
me!!  
Said she was SURE God wanted us to have the condo cause He’d
been saving it for us!    Apparently, they’d continued to show the
place and had several people interested, but for one reason or
another, every offer  they’d received had fallen through!!  
One lady’s mom got sick so she was forced to re-locate…..another
young couple who were very interested in it were suddenly
transferred out of state without warning….one buyer couldn’t
secure enough financing at the last minute, etc….She said, “It’s
like He was saving it just for you!!”
I was tickled and Rich loved it anyway so we bought it and became
the newest residents of our beloved little village here in Charlotte
known as Candlewood Condominiums!!