Heart of a Lion

This maybe one of the most personal posts I’ve ever written but this week, someone said something to me and I felt so ashamed and unworthy of her comments that I almost wanted to cry, but they were the most sincere heartfelt comments I’ve heard anyone tell me in a while…

Wednesday, I went to a Toys for Tots benefit being held at a local restaurant. There weren’t a lot of people there, but from the minute I walked in, I could feel the Christmas spirit and the love that filled the place… Coincidentally, the restaurant’s name is The Place, but that’s another story…

I’d been there a few minutes and at first I felt completely out of place, sitting off by myself by the dance floor like I always do, looking for the right opportunity to take a few pictures… A couple US Marines were there helping with the benefit and they posed for a couple pictures, when a waitress friend of mine walked over and wanted to have her picture taken with me. Well, next thing I knew, I was the man of the hour, for the next couple hours….

Anyway, while I was handing the camera to somebody to take our picture, I noticed a woman standing off to the side and I motioned for her to jump in the picture with us… My waitress friend and the other woman knelt down, and I noticed the woman I asked to join us had put her hand over my heart… I didn’t think much of it at the time until we started talking.

After we took the picture, the waitress went to check on a few other customers and the my new friend and I started talking… She said she could feel my spirit and that she knew I was going to soar with eagles one day and that I had the heart of a lion. She said she could feel it while we were taking the picture. Now understand, I’d barely known the woman five minutes, and to have her say I had the heart of a lion? Come on… I’m just an ordinary guy, trying my best to fit into society.

IMG_7738She said that my heartbeat was so strong and that I had touched her heart that night. I told her thanks, but that I wasn’t anything special… I told her I just do the best I can with what life gives me and try to make a difference in the world. She said I could do anything I set my mind to and while we were talking, she kind of brushed my face and touched my forehead and my heart and mentioned that I have a good mind and a good heart and to never give up.

Later that night, when I got ready to leave I told her goodbye and asked if she wanted to dance with me before I left. She asked me how, and I kind of pulled her in close and showed her that even a guy in a wheelchair knows how to slow dance… Well, she and I kind of stole the spotlight for a few minutes, and except for the time I spend with my best friend Rebecca, they were the most precious moments I’ve had in a while.

While we were dancing, we talked again about how I had the heart of a lion and would soar with eagles, but all I could think about was how unworthy I am of being someone with the heart of a lion. Lions to me are some of the most dangerous predators in the world and I’m just a lost lamb looking for my place in the world. To even be considered as someone with that kind of influence is totally inspiring to me… The woman said I had really touched her heart and again she placed her hand over mine to feel my heartbeat and said it was beating strong and loud (I was probably nervous getting all the attention. I’d glanced around and every eye in the place was looking at us…). When I turned my eyes back to meet her’s she kind of grabbed my hands and placed them over her heart to let me feel how I’d touched her that night. Right then, I almost started crying because except for a couple people, I’ve never been told what a difference I had made in someone’s life.

IMG_4622To be honest, for a while now, I’ve been wondering where I fit into society and whether I mattered to someone. My best friend Rebecca has told me on several occasions how much I’ve impacted her and has even let me share some of my personal story with her about my disability… But I can honestly say that after those precious moments the other night, there is not a doubt in my mind that I belong in the world… It would just be nice to hear it from someone other than friends, coworkers or someone I just met.

This Christmas, if you have a spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, child or grandparent who has a disability or is suffering from a disease or has cancer, I hope that you would let them know how much they mean to your life and let them know how they’ve made a difference in your life. Those few words of encouragement would mean so much to them and let them know that they do matter to someone. You have no idea how much you will change their perspective on life and perhaps save them from making a life or death decision that neither of you can ever take back.

Souls Are Perfect

Souls Are Perfect

By Michelle Martin Dobbins 

In the Hamrick family, we’ve been blessed in many ways. We are a quite unique collection of people, and we have always been closer than most extended families. We have disagreements, and we have hurt each other unintentionally, but we always forgive. We hold family as important, and we get together often, even though we are scattered around the country and sometimes the planet. Homer and Roena Hamrick, my grandparents, knitted us tightly together.

My cousin, Brian, drew us in, too. Brian had cerebral palsy, and he spent his life in a wheelchair. He was a bright and shining light in our family, and we all loved him beyond measure. He loved music and was almost always smiling. When I was little, though, I was afraid of him. I was afraid of his chair and the sounds that he made, and I couldn’t understand him. I thought he was different from me.

BrianOne rainy afternoon with Brian changed how I saw him and the world forever. We were watching a parade, but as often happened in our town, the weather did not cooperate with the local festival. My aunt parked a camper along the parade route and the children watched the parade perched in the loft of the camper, peering out of the window. At one point in time, it was just me and Brian. He looked at me and clearly said, “Why are you afraid of me? I’m just like you, except that my body is different. It just doesn’t work the same way as yours.” Normally, I had difficulty understanding Brian’s words, but that day they rang our perfectly clear to me. He spoke to me from his heart. Although I was sometimes still shy around him, I learned something from him that day I will never forget.

I learned that all souls are perfect. Bodies can be disabled, minds can be damaged, and spirits can be crushed, but souls are created by God perfect and remain ever perfect. This knowledge welled up in me and overflowed as a desire to work with special-needs children. I went to college and spend eight years teaching special-needs children, until I left to have my own children. I loved my job, and I adored those kids. They lit me up. I saw my students differently than most people did. I connected with them on a soul level, and I could feel who they were. I didn’t see their disabilities. We can all do that with anyone if we try. I don’t know why we all come in to this life with different challenges, but I have experienced that many people who have physical or mental disabilities have stronger spirits. We all have challenges to bear, and people without apparent disabilities are no exception. We all have gifts to share, and people with disabilities are no exception. We are all more alike than different, so reach out and connect with everyone you can.

Brian died, unexpectedly, a few weeks after his fortieth birthday. Our family was sad to lose the person he was, but his perfect soul still exists and this gives us comfort. I am thankful for the love he shared with our family and how his spirit made us all closer to each other.

Michelle 2012About Michelle Dobbins

Michelle Dobbins is a pre-published author, who shares tips for positive living and true stories of magic, creation and love in everyday life on her blog. You can connect with her and get her Magic Question of the Day on Facebook and Twitter.
Michelle, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting my readers know that, yes, souls are perfectly and wholly made by God, and that we are indeed perfect in His eyes. We do all have something special to give, and I want to sincerely thank you for opening my eyes and showing me that everyone has their own struggles and difficulties. Sometimes I’m guilty of “assuming” that nothing is wrong with someone else, because I cannot physically see a disability. Thank you for your amazing gift that you’ve given me, the ability to see through to the soul of someone who’s truly a role model for others and has inspired not only me, but the countless students you’ve taught. God bless you.

Everyday Hero, Doing My Best

One of the things I get asked most often, especially if I am out taking pictures and writing an article for work about the local Veteran’s Day or Fourth of July parades on the Square is if I am a veteran. Most of the people who ask me are veterans themselves, currently on active duty overseas or having served in Korea, World War II or Vietnam. Now I can totally understand why they would ask… I’m in a wheelchair and could have suffered an injury fighting on the front lines in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Jason BourneI really hate to “burst their bubble” and tell them that I’m not a veteran (in the most-common sense of the word), but after talking with several veterans the past five or six years, I’ve come to understand that, in truth, I really am a veteran of a much bigger war. The war of everyday life. Let me explain because I know you have that “deer in the headlight” look right about now, thinking “What is this guy talking about?”

As most of you who’ve followed my journey may know, and for those who just joined the journey, I was born with spina bifida and have been in a wheelchair for more than 25 years. Every day when I get out of bed, I’m fighting some kind of battle, whether it be an aching back, not getting enough sleep, a stomach ache that never stops or seemingly trying to play catch up with the ever-changing pace of society and their attitudes toward people with special needs. No matter how much I get done at work, it seems like I’m always running on empty when I get home and just want to crawl in bed and go to sleep for eight solid hours. But I think I do have one thing in common with the U.S. military, and that is my work ethic and my determination to never give up and keep fighting because I know I’d be letting a lot of people down, epsecially my friends, family and co-workers.

I really hate to put my name in the same sentence with the U.S. military because nobody can compare to the bravery and courage of our men and women in uniform, but some days I feel like a soldier in the infantry on the front lines near Baghdad. I may just be “infantry” but I know the man right beside me, or the person in the next cubicle, is depending on me to get the job done and do it right. Sure I may make mistakes, but that’s one of the best things about being a team, whether in the desert of Iraq or at the office working the daily grind of a nine-to-five shift. A team sticks together and helps each other be the best they can possibly be, and God knows I would not be where I am today without the encouragement and support of my co-workers and friends. I’d probably be sitting at home, looking through the want ads for another job or out picking up trash on the side of the road, and definitely would not be living my dream and having the best job in the world.

In my line of work, I meet a lot of co-workers, in different departments, and have developed what I think are great relationships and friendships with most of them. Like I’ve said previously I’m out on the streets a lot, or in other departments, talking to people about what’s going on in the city where I work, and apparently from the e-mails and feedback I receive from co-workers, I must be doing something right. Here are several e-mails from friends and co-workers I’ve received the past couple years.

IMG_2477Heroes come from all walks of life and are heroes because someone thinks they are. We all think you are.

I know you’re a fighter.

Keep smiling. Don’t let the energy vampires sap your strength!!! They are everywhere, and positive people are their enemy. Fight on! 🙂

All your efforts are greatly appreciated, Jason.

A couple months ago, I went to an event celebrating Gone With the Wind, and met an author whose aunt worked as technical adviser on the movie back in 1939. She said I am a real hero. I don’t mind sitting here today and saying that I felt almost ashamed when she called me a hero. I haven’t done anything special. I am just living life and trying to beat spina bifida any way I know how. You have no idea how unworthy I am of being called a hero. Every day, police officers, firefighters, paramedics and the military put their lives on the line to keep our cities, counties and nation safe.

I’m sure everybody remembers the tragic events the past few months in Oklahoma, Texas and Boston. The men and women who saved countless lives after these tragic events are the REAL heroes and deserve so much more respect than I do. I’m just a man, doing the best I can with what God gave me. Sometimes it feels like I can do so much more, and sometimes I just want to go up to a soldier or a police officer and thank them for everything they do to protect the freedom I love so much. Next time you see a soldier, police officer, firefighter or paramedic, take a few minutes and thank them for everything they do every day. Most of them hardly see their families, and I cannot imagine how hard it must be for a family to sit and worry whether their loved one is coming home.

I remember a couple days after I talked to my author friend at the GWTW event, I e-mailed a co-worker for something and told her what the author called me. A few minutes later, my co-worker wrote back and said, “You are a hero and I applaud her for recognizing that!! With all the challenges you face each day, you still get up each morning, come to work, do an outstanding job and all with a cheerful, helpful, positive attitude. Do you have any idea how many people NEVER do that? You are a hero to me, too!”

I felt so humbled and honored that people do actually see me as a hero, but please understand something… I don’t do what I do for recognition or praise or awards. I don’t go out every day, beating my chest saying, “Hmm, I wonder who’s hero I can be today?” And I sure as hell wouldn’t put myself in the same category as the U.S. military or law enforcement. My accomplishments pale in comparison to what these people do for each and every one of us every day. I will say it again. I just take it one day, one step at a time and try to do the best I can despite the obstacles that are thrown in my way. I genuinely love helping people and if I can offer a hug, a word of encouragement, a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to listen, then that’s what I’m going to do.

IMG_4622One thing I’ve learned the past few years is that a little pat on the back, a word of thanks, a hug or someone saying I’m proud of you can make all the difference in someone’s life, especially if that person has special needs. You have no idea how good it makes me feel to get an e-mail from a co-worker, a text from a friend or a thank you from someone I come across in the community. If you have a family member or a friend with special needs, please, please take the time to tell them how much they mean to your life, even if it’s just “Hey, thank you for coming to eat with us today. We’re really glad to see you.” Or “Hey, great job on that project at work. I know how hard you worked on it, and you’ve really done a great job. Keep it up!!” You’ll never know how big these seemingly small words can be to a person struggling to face their challenges every day.

As I close, I want to dedicate this post to anyone who has a disability or knows someone whose life has been impacted by a disability or cancer. You can do anything you set your mind to. Sure we may look a little different, or talk a little bit different, but one thing I can guarantee. We’re doing alright for the shape we’re in!!!

Do yourself a favor and connect with me on Twitter or send me an e-mail letting me know what you thought about this post. I’d love to hear from you 😉

Heartbroken and Confused

I’d really planned to have a tribute to mothers everywhere today, in honor of Mother’s Day, but when I got to my grandparents’ house after church, my heart broke and it’ll take years to put the pieces back together. My mom, dad and sisters came out to get me, and they told me that my grandfather had passed away. I’ve been numb and in a daze all day, and want this damn nightmare to end and my grandfather to call me and tell me he loves me.

Of course, I know he’s in a better place and isn’t suffering from Alzheimer’s disease anymore. But that can never take the pain away. I’ll be away from the blog for a few days, I need to take care of family first… But I wanted to re-post something I wrote a couple years ago. It sums up everything I’m feeling and so much more. I can just see my grandfather now, on his green John Deere tractor, plowing God’s back forty.

I love you grandpa and miss you so much. Have a bowl of peach ice cream for me in Heaven with Andy and Barney, would you?

The last week, and the past few years, have been really tough on our family, and if you’ve been following the blog, you probably know what I’m talking about. My grandfather has Alzheimers, and it’s really hit me hard personally especially since I saw him on Thanksgiving, and I just wanted to share with all of you what’s been on my heart lately…

We had Thanksgiving at my grandparents’ (mom’s parents) house this year, like we normally do, and I had a great time seeing my aunts, uncles, granny and grandpa, but I noticed that my grandpa wasn’t acting right when we got ready to eat because he said he wasn’t hungry. It turns out that he wasn’t feeling good, and after everything he has been through the past few years I really can’t blame him. When we got ready to leave later Thursday evening, I went over to where grandpa was relaxing in his recliner and just held him for a few minutes. I sat there talking to him and told him how much I loved him, and if he needed anything to call us. While I was sitting there holding him and talking to him, the emotions just took over, and I started crying my eyes out and told my grandfather I loved him and didn’t want him to die. He said he didn’t want to say goodbye or have to make “a call.”

When he told me that, I started crying even more because I knew exactly what he meant. He doesn’t want to leave his family behind and have to say a final “goodbye” or have my grandmother make the most horrible phone call I think she ever will have to make. I thought about my grandfather all the way home and all that night. The next morning, I was talking to mom and I started crying AGAIN because I was telling her what my grandfather said. Then later Friday, or it might’ve been Saturday, my sisters were talking about Christmas and asked me when I was going to go shopping with them. Then I just broke down and lost all control…

I forget exactly what I said, but I remember I said something like, “Can’t we just skip shopping this year? Can’t we just go over and spend some time with grandpa and enjoy this Christmas? Doesn’t ANYBODY care about what I want???” Keep in mind I was frustrated and fighting back tears while saying this because I was and still AM heartbroken that my grandfather is slowly dying, and I’m having to just sit on the sidelines and watch.

Before I go any further, I want to back track and mention that I have always believed in God, and He has always, and I do mean ALWAYS, been there for me through a lot of sad times and a lot of great times. God has really lifted my family up the past few years, especially my mom’s family, having to deal with my granny’s diabetes and my grandpa’s Alzheimer’s, but lately I think my faith has been lacking in God’s ability to shelter us from Satan’s blows and attacks.

You see, sometimes I really have no idea what to pray for, or for that matter HOW to pray, and I just do not want to seem foolish or stupid to God. But yesterday morning, thanks to my very best friend and a dear co-worker, I now know I am never foolish in God’s eyes because He created me and He knew me before I was even born. I know my grandpa is going to heaven one sweet day to live side-by-side with our Heavenly Father, but lately I’ve been so caught up in my grandpa slowly dying that that’s all I can think about… Maybe I’m being selfish because I don’t want my grandpa to die and leave ME and his family, but I need to shift my focus to what waits for my grandpa on the other side. I know God already has a place for him in the middle of a beautiful meadow overlooking a valley or lake, with a new house where he will never be in any pain, won’t have to face the horrors and torment of a cruel world and can live forever rejoicing that he can remember who he is and who his family is. As I close, I am reminded of what Charles and Caroline Ingalls said when they found out their newborn son had just passed away….

Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

And Vince Gill’s moving tribute to his brother, which is a great reminder to all of us who’ve lost a loved one that they have gone to heaven “a-shouting, love for the Father and the Son.”

Or Brooks and Dunn’s amazing reminder that “There’s more to life than just what I can see.”

Or Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill’s powerful, heart-warming proclamation: “My God, How GREAT Thou Art.”

Karen Magill: MS Survivor, One Woman’s Journey

I recently sat down with inspiring author, blogger, writer, friend and survivor, Karen Magill, and talked about her books, how she finds the time to write, where she draws inspiration and her advice for new writers. Through talking with her via e-mail I found out she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This is her story, and it reminds all of us to stay in the fight, keep our head up and keep surviving.

I am not a cancer survivor and hope I won’t ever have to face that. I have multiple sclerosis.

On June 5, 2000 – exactly three weeks before my 35th birthday – I woke to find myself partially paralyzed on one side of my body. It was if someone had drawn a line down the center of my body, and one side was fine while the other was wrong.

I went to work and made a doctor’s appointment for later. He sent me to the emergency room at the hospital across the street where I sat for around six hours until they could get to me – St. Paul’s is downtown Vancouver, and there are many emergencies!

No one could give me an answer and after another hour, I was ready to leave. I had seen an emergency room doctor who told me it wasn’t a stroke and didn’t look like a brain tumor (My maternal grandmother died of a brain tumor, and it has always stayed in my mind). He called an intern from neurology who looked at me – did the same tests the previous two doctors had done – then left. He called a neurologist and made an appointment for me in two days.

On June 14, I had a MRI done and when I later went into see the neurologist, he told me it was a suspicion of MS. And that was it. As with many diseases that not a lot is known about, it is up to the individual to find out information.

I connected with the local MS chapter and took five weeks off work. After the five weeks, I went back to work and worked my full-time schedule. I had been warned that if I went part-time and had to go on disability, the pension would base my income on the part-time hours. So I stuck it out, but I couldn’t do it for long.

At the end of September 2000, I went to the MS Clinic at UBC – University of British Columbia. My MS specialist and I decided that the best thing for me was to go on disability, so that’s what I did.

That didn’t make my life any easier, at least not right away. I had months of stress while I tried to get the benefits due me. Part of the problem was that my diagnosis happened on the one-year anniversary of my hiring, which was when all my benefits became available. I will admit that this is a fact to be questioned – it looks as if I had known about the disease beforehand. But we got that straightened out.

206990_6171996245_1695_nMy turning point came when a social worker visited to help me emotionally with all this. I explained how frustrating MS can be. Symptoms appear and disappear; it makes a person wonder what is really going on with his or her body. When the social worker left, she said that at least now I was admitting that I was making up my symptoms.

That upset me so I left a message on her machine cancelling our next appointment, informing her I didn’t need her help any longer. It may have been around that time that I realized I had been given a gift.

Because I had been a government employee, I have disability insurance, extended health and numerous other benefits in place. Now I get to write and not worry about how I am going to pay my bills. In January 2001, I wrote a poem that appeared in the MS Newsletter. It wasn’t much, but it got me started.

There have been bad times over the last thirteen years and good ones. Some of the negatives can be blamed on MS, and a lot can’t. That’s life.

Having a chronic illness can make a person more understanding of others. I know when I walk and someone is walking slowly in front of me, I am more patient if they have a disability. I know how it feels to not be able to make my legs work the way I want them to. I also know that coming down with a chronic illness is not the worst thing that can happen to a person.

I know a few people with MS, and the ones who concentrate on how bad it is to have this disease and how unfair it is are usually the ones that have the most problems. Though there are exceptions.

If you are inflicted with any disease, try to find the bright side to it. Some days when I can’t walk properly or am exhausted and just lay around, it is hard to remember that there is a positive spin to all of this but there is.

Limit your exposure to negative influences. Recently, I realized that watching a lot of reality shows has a bad effect on me. It is so easy to be caught up in the drama, and it has a depressing consequence on me. In order to stay positive and focused, I try to surround myself with happy, upbeat entertainment. I am also always trying to improve myself, my writing and my life.

I dreamed of living in a downtown apartment and being able to stay at home and write for a living. Of course I didn’t mean living in a second-floor apartment in east Vancouver (I was thinking a penthouse right downtown or historic Gastown), and I wasn’t intending on living on a disability income, but I presume that is what it means when a person is told to be careful what they wish for! I am free now to spend my days writing, and it is a true test on whether I can make a career out of this.

me 001About Karen Magill

Karen Magill is on a mission to make the paranormal, normal. Everything she writes shows extrasensory powers as a common ability because she believes that these attributes are within us all.

Forced to leave the workforce in 2000 by the onslaught of MS, Karen saw this as an opportunity to explore her lifelong desire to write. Initially she explored other areas of writing before deciding that her future lay with creating novels.

Missing Flowers is the start of a new series in which Karen will combine paranormal fiction with historical facts.

Karen lives in an eclectic area of Vancouver Canada and draws inspiration from the history and stories around her.

Karen, you are a true friend and inspire so many, including me. Thank you for being one of life’s heroes.

Do You Believe in Easter?

I’ve posted this story on the blog before, but it has such a wonderful message I pray each of you receives as much joy and hope as I did when I read it. Happy Easter and God bless you all!!!

Edith Burns was a wonderful Christian who lived in San Antonio, Texas. She was the patient of doctor by the name of Will Phillips. Dr. Phillips was a gentle doctor who saw patients as people.

His favorite patient was Edith Burns. One morning he went to his office with a heavy heart and it was because of Edith Burns. When he walked into that waiting room, there sat Edith with her big black Bible in her lap earnestly talking to a young mother sitting beside her.

Edith Burns had a habit of introducing herself in this way: “Hello, my name is Edith Burns. Do you believe in Easter?” Then she would explain the meaning of Easter, and many times people would be saved.

Dr. Phillips walked into that office and there he saw the head nurse, Beverly. Beverly had first met Edith when she was taking her blood pressure. Edith began by saying, “My name is Edith Burns. Do you believe in Easter?”

Beverly said, “Why yes I do.” Edith said, “Well, what do you believe about Easter?” Beverly said, “Well, it’s all about egg hunts, going to church, and dressing up.” Edith kept pressing her about the real meaning of Easter, and finally led her to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Dr. Phillips said, “Beverly, don’t call Edith into the office quite yet. I believe there is another delivery taking place in the waiting room.”

After being called back in the doctor’s office, Edith sat down and when she took a look at the doctor she said, “Dr. Will, why are you so sad? Are you reading your Bible? Are you praying?”

Dr. Phillips said gently, “Edith, I’m the doctor and you’re the patient.”

With a heavy heart he said, “Your lab report came back and it says you have cancer, and Edith, you’re not going to live very long.”

Edith said, “Why Will Phillips, shame on you. Why are you so sad? Do you think God makes mistakes? You have just told me I’m going to see my precious Lord Jesus, my husband, and my friends. You have just told me that I am going to celebrate Easter forever, and here you are having difficulty giving me my ticket!”

Dr. Phillips thought to himself, “What a magnificent woman this Edith Burns is!”

Edith continued coming to Dr. Phillips. Christmas came and the office was closed through January 3. On the day the office opened, Edith did not show up. Later that afternoon, Edith called Dr. Phillips and said she would have to be moving her story to the hospital and said, “Will, I’m very near home, so would you make sure that they put women in here next to me in my room who need to know about Easter.”

Well, they did just that and women began to come in and share that room with Edith. Many women were saved. Everybody on that floor from staff to patients were so excited about Edith, that they started calling her Edith Easter; that is everyone except Phyllis Cross, the head nurse.

Phyllis made it plain that she wanted nothing to do with Edith because she was a “religious nut.” She had been a nurse in an army hospital. She had seen it all and heard it all. She was the original G.I. Jane. She had been married three times, she was hard, cold and did everything by the book.

One morning the two nurses who were to attend to Edith were sick. Edith had the flu and Phyllis Cross had to go in and give her a shot. When she walked in, Edith had a big smile on her face and said, “Phyllis, God loves you and I love you, and I have been praying for you.”

Phyllis Cross said, “Well, you can quit praying for me, it won’t work. I’m not interested.” Edith said, “Well, I will pray and I have asked God not to let me go home until you come into the family.”

Phyllis Cross said, “Then you will never die because that will never happen,” and curtly walked out of the room.

Every day Phyllis Cross would walk into the room and Edith would say, “God loves you Phyllis and I love you, and I’m praying for you.” One day Phyllis Cross said she was literally drawn to Edith’s room like a magnet would draw iron. She sat down on the bed and Edith said, “I’m so glad you have come, because God told me that today is your special day.”

Phyllis Cross said, “Edith, you have asked everybody here the question, ‘Do you believe in Easter?’ but you have never asked me.” Edith said, “Phyllis, I wanted to many times, but God told me to wait until you asked, and now that you have asked…”

Edith Burns took her Bible and shared with Phyllis Cross the Easter story of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Edith said, “Phyllis, do you believe in Easter? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is alive and that He wants to live in your heart?” Phyllis Cross said, “Oh I want to believe that with all of my heart, and I do want Jesus in my life.” Right there, Phyllis Cross prayed and invited Jesus Christ into her heart. For the first time Phyllis Cross did not walk out of a hospital room, she was carried out on the wings of angels.

Two days later, Phyllis Cross came in and Edith said, “Do you know what day it is?” Phyllis Cross said, “Why Edith, it’s Good Friday.” Edith said, “Oh, no, for you every day is Easter. Happy Easter Phyllis!”

Two days later, on Easter Sunday, Phyllis Cross came into work, did some of her duties and then went down to the flower shop and got some Easter lilies because she wanted to go up to see Edith and give her some Easter lilies and wish her a Happy Easter. When she walked into Edith’s room, Edith was in bed. That big black Bible was on her lap. Her hands were in that Bible. There was a sweet smile on her face.

When Phyllis Cross went to pick up Edith’s hand, she realized Edith was dead.

Her left hand was on John 14: “In my Father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” Her right hand was on Revelation 21:4, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Phyllis Cross took one look at that dead body, and then lifted her face toward heaven, and with tears streaming down here cheeks, said, “Happy Easter, Edith – Happy Easter!”

Phyllis Cross left Edith’s body, walked out of the room, and over to a table where two student nurses were sitting. She said, “My name is Phyllis Cross. Do you believe in Easter?”

— Author Unknown

Mom’s On The Roof and I Can’t Get Her Down

Here’s another inspiring story given to us by the beautiful, inspiring Cindy Hanson. Cindy, thank you so much for sharing these stories with my readers. I really have enjoyed having you on my blog.

Based on the copyright date and what mom said about the future, this book is proving God’s word without much human intervention.

Miracles occur, and I believe.

I invite you to take a journey to the afterlife and back through Mom’s book!

My favorite question during book interviews is: How did you get started writing? The short answer is that in 1991 my mother died. Some people dream of being authors; my writing began as what could be described as a nightmare! However, as she died, mom experienced what would be called a Christian near death experience (NDE) or miracle full of prophecy that HAS or will come true in my lifetime. My witness became my first nonfiction and is entitled Mom’s on the Roof and I Can’t Get Her Down

While writing my first book, I cataloged mom’s predictions. Even though she forcefully informed me that God guided her assumptions-that portion of her nonsense chatter does not necessarily prove that The Lord took part in her prattle. Her testimony standing alone cannot confirm that the Master of the Universe shared His wonderful news with us as a reminder of how close He is to our human condition. Logically, some might say that I tampered with that data to enhance the recollection of those last days with mom. I will give you that possible explanation; however, remarkably, some predictions occurred many years after the initial publication and copyright date of my first book. Thus, the proof of the power of The Almighty and His promises came into being without this writer’s help; the book is proving itself to be a valid part of The Master’s will. Most of mom’s prophesy materialized in the past eighteen plus years. There were three prophesies left when my first book was copyrighted; they are a wedding, a baby from heaven and a child named John.

My mother died more than twenty years ago. While here, she lived in tune with The Lord and didn’t blame Him for her troubles including her slow march to death from her breast cancer. Maybe, if she’d gone for mammograms routinely, she would have lived longer.  Regardless of that neglect, because of her relationship with Her Maker, He arrived on the scene as illustrated in this book. Many minor miracles and messages were presented to me. With the help of The Holy Spirit, I wrote it all down for posterity. 

The Introduction or Foreword from my first book shows the reason I began writing this book and other Christian-based testimonies from God.

I Will Survive

When I tell people about my recent losses, they just reel back and ask me how I am surviving it. I simply look at them and say, “I don’t know.” While my parents may have left some pennies behind for the heirs to squabble and fuss over, my mother left me the story of her journey beyond this world’s process of dying. She asked me over and over again if I would be okay the day after she left. With all the strength of my soul, I affirmed her question by saying, “I think so.”

In the veil of darkness, at 2:24 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24, 1991, my mother’s body gave up its last round with breast cancer. In the gloom of night, at 9:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 1991, an emergency call came into my house from one of my father’s neighbors. My father had killed himself. After a routine mammogram on March 5, 1991, my doctor told me that I had an irregular mass and needed more tests. The tests revealed that it was not cancer, but I found myself thoroughly exhausted. How much can the human soul take?

One day, while at church, I heard a sermon about an African tribal leader who lost his very young son to death. The priest remarked, “At the funeral, this father seemed joyous, in spite of his loss.” Continuing, “When I asked him why he didn’t mourn the son’s death, this leader said that he could not question his God’s will.”

Through primitive faith, the tribal leader taught the learned priest the meaning of the Sermon on the Mount, “Thy will be done.”

The missionary priest said, “This leader of men took his orders from God. He didn’t live by, ‘My will be done.’ This man’s total acceptance of God’s will gave him the inner peace to accept his child’s death.”

This missionary priest told the congregation he wished for faith that strong. As I wrote this book, I prayed for the same strength.

Mom’s_on_the_Roof_an_Cover_for_Kindle[1]Sometimes events occur in life that do not make sense until we reflect back on them. Some of the things I will share with the reader are translations so that they will make better sense. Others are events exactly as they occurred. Many of God’s mysteries are beyond human words and concepts. Thus, I will interpret ideas into more fluid ones for the reader.  Some of the translations were easy enough for me to handle alone. For other communications, I needed a parish priest to explain the symbolic idea to me. In God’s will, my mother delivered every key for each door God would allow me to access. However, I had to find each door and open it.

The outcome of this story is not just death, but it is a story of peace. In your darkest hours, I hope this book can generate the strength you need to survive a loss. If you need to widen your faith in a loving, caring God, I pray these words can help you. Remembering I lived through it all, I hope to deliver courage as well as faith, hope, and love.

My favorite phrase is “I am surviving!” And so will you.

An excerpt from Mom’s on the Roof and I Can’t Get Her Down follows.

We (a Hospice worker and I) went down the hall to find her asleep. Her eyes were ajar.  “The sleep of death,” the nurse explained. “Stay close to the house because it is happening. Your mother is ready to leave.” Mom overheard our whispers and woke up.

“I am at the doors of heaven, again. I have passed over the waters and am at the doors of heaven.” My mother wanted to sing and pray.

“Margie is on her way. We can do that when she gets here.”

She wanted to know why Mike, my brother, wasn’t there. “I told him to bring two bottles of water. I need them, now.” Telling me she was on the other side and couldn’t come back, mom kept waiting for me to understand these messages.

“Where is Margie?” mom asked again. “Where is Mike?” I informed her that Mike was home, asking should I call him. She simply shook her head and noted, “Mike is always late.” She asked where Debbie, my older sister, had been. I told her Debbie was in Key West but had telephoned often. She told me to tell Debbie and everyone who was late that she loved them.

In her final moments, my mother admitted she even loved Debbie. My soul screamed out, “YES! Way to go, mom.”

Repeatedly, she said, “I am on the other side of the line and can’t come back to help you with the kids.” Pointing in the air, “Now, I am here. There is the water between us. So, I can’t come back from this side of the line. Now, you take care of the kids. There are the kids! Now, there is Julie Hanson, Jenny Hanson, Stacey and John.”

My mother told me a secret about a bride and groom. We should all throw rice at the bride and the groom. Or, was it throw ice? Ice had become her lifesaver. When she was parched, we’d feed her ice. We’d put it on her feverish body. It was refreshing to her.  Thus, she wanted the bride and groom to have ice thrown on them.

While she revealed other secrets about the future, I repeated them back to her making sure I got them right. I was like a parrot trying to make sense of it all. One of her heirs will have a baby from heaven. The name is Mary. Another will have a son named John. One will marry again. This time happily. To keep these predictions from being forced into existence, I will not tell you exactly whom she attached to each event.

Continuing, mom insisted that a person named Margaret or Mary was related to this cancer episode in our life. I thought my mother meant our Aunt Mary, who died from cancer at least ten years before that night. This lady was really a very elderly cousin that out of respect we called aunt. Wondering about the significance of Patricia and Mary, I had to find Patricia. The same persistence in my soul that made me long for the Holy Water (from Lourdes) caused the search for Patricia to begin.

“Who is this person named Patricia?”

After this conversation, I went to the rest room. Upon re-entering the room, mom wanted to know, “Was there ice in the bathroom? Was there ice in the bathroom?  Does the bathroom have ice?”

Booming back at her, “Come on! You just like to hear yourself talk! If I went to the kitchen or living room, I’d probably come back to hear you question about the ice being there.” Ice became her thread of life. We fed it to her by the bag full in these days. “You just like your own voice.”

“Right!” she admitted.

When Margie finally arrived, I was too tired. Therefore, I left her to sing and pray with our mother and the nurse.

According to Margie, they talked about another baby from heaven named Regina. They talked about salmon that mom ate at age ten.

“It tasted so good, like fish from heaven,” Margie retold this event mimicking mom’s voice inflection and gestures.

Reaching in the air, she caught a heavenly salmon and wanted my sister to tell Stacey and me to eat and enjoy it. Obviously, she was still worried about the two of us.

On my way home that night, I saw a friend’s light on, so I knew she was awake. Stopping the car, I knocked at her door. As I arrived, this friend was just preparing tea. She offered me a cup of herbal tea. Usually, I turn down exotic teas but I was ready for company.

Sitting down to sip the tea, I informed her, “The end is nearer today than ever.” 

You can read the whole story in the paperback or e-book version of Mom’s on the Roof and I Can’t Get Her Down available at Amazon and Kindle as well as Smashwords and its affiliates KOBO, Sony, Barnes and Noble, etc.

Cruise2012 001About Cindy Hanson

I work for GOD! Is she crazy or telling the truth? What I mean to say is that I write many nonfiction books that are really just scribing the history of His stories. My tales are Christian-based; at least one of those books points directly to heaven. Most of the time, I explain how bad situations and good ones have the potential to bring hope and love along with stronger faith.

My writing started after a major life change or trauma. In fact, my favorite question during book interviews is: How did you get started writing? The short answer is that in 1991 my mother died. Some people dream of being authors; my writing began as what could be described as a nightmare! However, as she died, mom experienced what would be called a Christian near death experience (NDE) or miracle. My nonfiction witness became Mom’s on the Roof, and I Can’t Get Her Down by Cynthia Meyers-Hanson.

Since then, I diversified into the other books and genres; I continue to toy with writing. I’ve co-authored or compiled several other divine tales. Meanwhile, I have ghostwritten many novels under the pen name Sydney S. Song. I use a pseudonym so that people know when my books are telling the truth and when I am fibbing (a bit). Recently, I’ve produced many picture books for children. I also compile collections and anthologies filled with true short stories from the Divine to mundane including humorous tales.

In real life, I’m a friendly Floridian, born and raised in Miami’s megalopolis. I currently live a bit further north with my husband. We are semi-retired. Our children are out of the house; some are married with their own children. We love outdoor activities such as boating and swimming at the pool, springs or beach.

My author site on Amazon includes my paperbacks and Kindles.

My other author site includes sections for my book genres as well as a blog and video section (the videos are mini movies as book trailers). This site also has my contact information.

Smashwords includes all other e-book providers and formats used for my books including Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo, etc.

Check out my other blog on Blogspot.

Other contact information

The Presence, The Presents

Welcome to the third installment of the series by Cindy Hanson. This story is about how a wonderful woman survived the heart attack, with some Divine intervention. If you don’t believe in God, this story will definitely change your mind.

Anne is almost 81 and has had many setbacks including since Mother’s Day 2012 when she suffered a heart attack and had stints put in. She’s had so many comebacks after health problems such as cancer, strokes and a potential bleed out that those close to her expected her miracles healings to continue. However, Anne has been having trouble learning to walk and transfer herself from a bed to a wheelchair, so she faces permanent care in a nursing home.

Have the Divine interventions stopped? Her current situation reminds me of Lazarus, the guy Jesus brought back to life. Lazarus eventually died; Jesus Christ’s miracle of awakening that man from the dead served a purpose but all mortals eventually die in the flesh. It’s inevitable.

Before Anne goes she’d want to tell you a few things. This blog will serve as her voice.

When speaking about faith and survival, so many people respond, “I just DO NOT believe!” or “I certainly DO NOT want to hear your testimony!” They may even jest about Bible thumping or ask for proof before accepting a religious belief-especially “a certainty in the afterlife.” Trust me, having faith helped me survive so many things; in some ways, that is enough in my life. Except, I do expect more, “in the eternity,” after I die and go to Heaven. Even if I am wrong, my viewpoint gave me the will to go forward especially through the roughest times. Plus, unlike some people, I never felt alone in the tragedies or good moments. A comforting, positive, healing “presence” guided me.

Betty_scanThe good sisters of Notre Dame told their students, including me, all about our guardian angels and the Holy Spirit. These spiritual beings are ALWAYS WITH US especially WHEN WE NEED THEM THE MOST!  By that, I mean that they are ever-present but make themselves better known when their human counterpart needs comforting or aid. Ever since learning about this special relationship, when I sense that someone stands nearby but no humans are present, when I feel a “PRESENCE” of some sort (God) especially during a traumatic situation-my soul reminds me that my guardian angel as well as our Maker remains within reach helping me keep from stumbling on the current rough patch in my life’s path. This Being guides my soul. This idea comforts me, and I wonder why everyone cannot accept such a spiritual blessing as never feeling lonely or alone in their turmoil.

Feeling this warmth and love many times, knowing my body experienced spontaneous healings on many occasions as well, I believe in a supreme plan and an unseen force, God, available to direct us on this path of life. The ultimate designer of things in this world is always available to pick the spirit up and calm the soul down. After you finish my life account, you can decide for yourself.

Regardless of your opinion, it is comforting to possess my outlook. When I find myself in times of trouble, seeking words of wisdom, my spirit relies on the spiritual leader that speaks to my soul while guiding my flesh! The comforter, the Holy Spirit, His angels, and the mercy of God push me through and past the ordeal. No one knows for sure what lies ahead or after this world’s life but my gut feels that my destiny is Heaven.


The storyteller

Elizabeth Anne Powalisz

AKA- birth name- Anne LaMonte

An excerpt from her book and testimony follows; it’s about faith healing!

Even though, the time of day made it April Fool’s Day, the doctor looked her straight in her eye saying, “If we can’t stop your bleeding, you will be dead by the end of the day!”  The announcement was not followed by laughter and a clever line about how this hospital visit was all just a bad joke. That would not be funny, anyway! Unbelievable thoughts raced through her mind as Anne heard, “This fever must break before you can receive a blood transfusion. Without it, there is not much hope!”

This news shook Anne to her soul. She finally heard that her bruising indicated internal bleeding that might kill her. When lunch arrived, she nibbled not feeling any urge to eat. She felt some contentment but she could not rest or sleep, either-not right away.

About three in the afternoon, two women from her church came in and gave her communion. They asked Anne to pray with them, which she did. All of the sudden, tears rolled down the patient’s cheeks. She sobbed as they continued praising. Soon, she heard Father Joe’s shuffle coming down the hallway.

The two women greeted this priest at the door informing him, “Our sister in Christ is crying but we do not know why!”

He entered the room as the two women left. Anne failed to speak because of her emotional state. Without delay, the priest started anointing this sick parishioner. As his healing hands moved over Anne’s forehead, again, with God as her witness, her body felt on fire. The tears really flowed through the prayers of this man. Without uttering a word, she remained mystified as he finished his sacramental blessing then left her hospital room.

Near the end of his blessing, she stopped crying. Anne felt a comforting “presence.” It lulled her into very sound sleep.

She failed to awaken for supper. After midnight, as the night nurse took her vitals, Anne finally spoke asking the woman, “Can you change this bedding and my gown? I am soaking wet!”

PersoninPresence_cover 001Her nurse recognized her, “I remember you from September of last year. I remember your heart’s irregularities spontaneously healed last time you visited us.” Then, she helped change this patient as well as the sheets. As she finished her tasks, the lady added, “I believe you broke that fever. I can call the lab technician to draw your blood.  You may be well enough for that transfusion but the blood count will be studied before that procedure. I have a good feeling about your blood work.”

This nurse winked at Anne because this medical worker believed that her patient received blessings and presents of healing from a Supreme Source.

Anne felt very comfortable falling easily back to sleep. About four in the morning, she heard a male voice calling her out of slumber. The face of her technician became less blurry as she opened her eyes. Another familiar face; he drew her blood in September.

“Mrs. LaMonte?” He looked shocked and amazed to see her back.

“Jock, is that you?”

He asked, “How do you know my name?”

Anne answered, “When someone is as patient as you trying to find veins, your attitude remains a great memory especially when you had to use one directly connected to my heart. When you mentioned that only a few people are permitted to use that vein, how could I forget you and your gentleness?”

So you remember me?”

Yes, you introduced yourself by name back then. You are from Jamaica, right?” He shook his head smiling while completing his current task.

About a half hour later, the night nurse returned with a huge smile, “Just as I suspected! Your internal bleeding stopped; your blood count is back to normal. There is NO reason for a blood transfusion!”

This woman shared the secret of this healing with Anne but soon others would hear the good news-the God news.

After hearing the test results, Anne let out a sigh of relief falling back to sleep while feeling very content! Voices interrupted her rest. While making rounds with the entourage, the mentoring physician reviewed her blood results. As she remained drowsy, he listened to her heart. He announced to the interns, “This patient arrived with internal bleeding because of unmonitored Coumadin. For some unexplained reason, her bleeding stopped when her fever broke. A technician drew blood a couple of hours ago; her blood count returned to completely standard range. A scheduled blood transfusion became unnecessary.”

Pleasantly pleased, these resident interns and their mentor talked very softly among themselves while shooting strange looks Anne’s direction.

Did her spontaneous healing stump them? 

She heard versions of mind over body, power of positive thinking over healing, and some blessing and thanking of God’s redeeming power. Before she fully assessed the outcome and affect on these medical people, they all moved on to their next patient.

Anne felt just as amazed and astounded. She sincerely believed that she-once again- witnessed the faith driven power of healing. She firmly believed that her reliance on God and His angels brought this supernatural cure. In her opinion, His angels sustained her as His priest bestowed The Lord’s therapeutic force upon her ailing body during the sacrament performed. 

“To have the supernatural world pick you up once you have fallen is the greatest feeling; everyone should be blessed with this experience!” Anne spoke these words often after her second, miracle cure-if you don’t count the natural ones from medication after her breast cancer, which would place this count at four including her resulting staph infection. She wondered if there might be a limit to how many times God presents the gift of healing to one soul. She felt remarkably blessed. Her spirit praised God for sending the priest, twice, with His gift of renewed health.

Soon after these curative experiences, Father Joe’s advanced age and his illnesses got the best of him. The priest returned to his Connecticut seminary. There, he died. She wondered if this soul knew what a special talent and privilege he was to Anne’s world.

Father Joe was a faith healer and tool or vessel used by God to get the job done. You can find the full story in Anne’s book entitled The PRESENCE-The Presents. The book and eBook version are available at Amazon and Kindle as well as Smashwords and its affiliates Kobo, Sony, and Barnes and Noble.

Cruise2012 001About Cindy Hanson

I work for GOD! Is she crazy or telling the truth? What I mean to say is that I write many nonfiction books that are really just scribing the history of His stories. My tales are Christian-based; at least one of those books points directly to heaven. Most of the time, I explain how bad situations and good ones have the potential to bring hope and love along with stronger faith.

My writing started after a major life change or trauma. In fact, my favorite question during book interviews is: How did you get started writing? The short answer is that in 1991 my mother died. Some people dream of being authors; my writing began as what could be described as a nightmare! However, as she died, mom experienced what would be called a Christian near death experience (NDE) or miracle. My nonfiction witness became Mom’s on the Roof, and I Can’t Get Her Down by Cynthia Meyers-Hanson.

Since then, I diversified into the other books and genres; I continue to toy with writing. I’ve co-authored or compiled several other divine tales. Meanwhile, I have ghostwritten many novels under the pen name Sydney S. Song. I use a pseudonym so that people know when my books are telling the truth and when I am fibbing (a bit). Recently, I’ve produced many picture books for children. I also compile collections and anthologies filled with true short stories from the Divine to mundane including humorous tales.

In real life, I’m a friendly Floridian, born and raised in Miami’s megalopolis. I currently live a bit further north with my husband. We are semi-retired. Our children are out of the house; some are married with their own children. We love outdoor activities such as boating and swimming at the pool, springs or beach.

My author site on Amazon includes my paperbacks and Kindles.

My other author site includes sections for my book genres as well as a blog and video section (the videos are mini movies as book trailers). This site also has my contact information.

Smashwords includes all other e-book providers and formats used for my books including Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo, etc.

Check out my other blog on Blogspot.

Other contact information

Author’s Roundtable: Roberta Goodman

How long have you been writing?

I’ve always been a writer to some extent, but I didn’t seriously pursue a writing career until January 2009. I was busy raising two kids, so I waited until they were both in school to concentrate on writing my first manuscript.

Has writing always been something you wanted to do?

Since childhood I’ve truly enjoyed writing, but it wasn’t something I ever considered doing professionally. When I turned thirty-six, I found myself on a quest to find my passion in life. Part of it might have been influenced by the fact I didn’t work outside of my home, so I was looking for some way to express myself, in addition to earning a bit of money. I also think there’s always been this desire inside of me to tell stories. I have tremendous respect for those involved in the arts. My artistic outlet happens to be writing. If I didn’t do it, I would be denying my reason for being on this earth. It would be like a musician not making music, or a painter not painting. 

IMG_3372What books or stories have you written? Published?

I’ve completed three manuscripts in addition to several short stories. I’ve recently revised my first manuscript, which is a tragic romance/family saga. I’m currently trying to land an agent with this story. Snow Escape was my second manuscript, which was published by an independent publisher in e-book format in October 2011 and paperback in May 2012. My third manuscript, Persevering through the Unforeseen-One Couple’s Experience Conquering Testicular Cancer, documents my husband’s battle with T.C. I posted it on my blog this past September, because my hope is to give hope to individuals in similar situations. Two of my short stories, entitled The Reunion and Delusions of Grandeur, are also on my blog.

Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?

Well, like I said, my first manuscript is a tragic romance/family saga. When Serafina meets Joe in October of 1936, both of them realize immediately they’re soul mates. Their intimate encounters can only be described as earth-shatteringly intense. Remaining inseparable for two years, Joe becomes sick and decides to end their romance to save Serafina the heartache of having to watch him die. Unaware as to why he’s broken up with her, and devastated beyond belief, she eventually turns to the man who will become her husband. It’s a multi-generational tale spanning almost eighty years. From the Great Depression through WWII and beyond, the reader is a witness to the changes one woman’s life undergoes as she becomes a wife, mother, and grandmother as well as the trials and tribulations her own children end up going through. Alcoholism, untimely deaths, physical and mental abuse, adultery and life-long regrets abound in this heartbreaking character study of human emotions. I hope to get this story published in the near future.

My second manuscript/debut novel, Snow Escape, is a murder mystery/thriller that takes place in Brooklyn, N.Y., on the night the biggest snowstorm in history is occurring. My main character is a 30-year-old single school teacher named Allegra Maxwell. She’s used online dating to meet potential love interests. One of these men chooses the night of the snowstorm to contact her. They talk via Instant Messenger for several hours. During this conversation she discovers he’s been stalking her and claims to live in her building. This is where his threats to harm her begin and will continue throughout the night. She turns to neighbors for help with tragic consequences ensuing. She’s basically trapped in her apartment building, because there’s a tremendous amount of snow on the ground hampering her attempts to leave. It’s also keeping the police from reaching her.

As I’ve mentioned previously, Persevering through the Unforeseen-One Couple’s Experience Conquering Testicular Cancer is a factual account of what my husband and I went through while he was being treated for T.C. It’s an incredibly personal story that reads more like a journal or diary. When I was searching for information about what to expect after my husband was diagnosed, I had no trouble finding medical material. What I couldn’t find was many personal accounts written about everyday people and their families dealing with this disease. Sure, people can buy Lance Armstrong’s book, but I think many of them can’t relate to a celebrity in the same way as they can relate to someone like my husband and I.

How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?

Everything inspires me. Nature, real-life and family situations, even current events will spark my creativity. In the case of Snow Escape, I endured three huge snowstorms. Two occurred within a week of each other. About a week after the back-to-back storms I was sitting at my computer querying agents for my first manuscript. I looked out the window and watched as more snow fell. Thankfully, this storm was going to pass my area and head up to New York. I remember thinking, “Thank God we’re not going to get hit from another storm. Let New York get clobbered with it, because I’ve had enough snow.” That’s when I had this “light bulb” moment. What if you had a woman in New York, and she’s trapped in her apartment because it just keeps snowing? What if this woman uses online dating to meet guys and one of them decides to contact her during the blizzard, etc. The details basically came flooding to me, so I was compelled to write them down. It’s funny because it’s not something I can control. When inspiration hits me, I have to sit down in front of my computer and just go with it.  

Are the books based on personal experiences?

My first manuscript is loosely based on events that happened on my mother’s side of the family. They were dysfunctional, and I chose to weave stories I heard growing up into a full-length account. Several of the events actually happened to me. Snow Escape was a completely made-up story, so I didn’t have any personal experiences to include. The manuscript about my husband’s cancer was completely fact-based, so that was definitely written from events we both experienced. It goes into great detail about what’s involved when someone receives chemotherapy.

Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?

If you’re a person who dreams of being a writer, never give up! Even in the face of adversity, push through it and don’t let others tell you that your work isn’t good enough to get published. It’s a tough business to break into, especially without an agent. Sometimes you have to take a non-traditional route to get your work out there such as using an independent publisher or self-publishing. If you happen to get published, or you make the decision to self-publish, promote your work everywhere. No one will work harder to get your work the attention it deserves than you.

Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?

Unfortunately, I’ve never used a professional editor because of financial constraints. I’ve had to be the one experiencing hours upon hours of tedious proofreading in order to perfect my books. I definitely feel it’s worthwhile to use one, if a writer can afford to, because it’s harder for someone to see his or her mistakes. Sometimes utilizing another set of eyes can save someone’s sanity, in addition to hours of time.

goodman_SnowEscape_ARWhat are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?

I apologize in advance for this lengthy response. My journey to become a published novelist hasn’t been an easy one. In January 2009 I began writing my first manuscript. My tragic romance/family saga took ten months to complete. After many months of querying to agents, I failed to secure representation. I decided to set it aside. A few months later, while enduring the worst winter I can ever remember, I was inspired to write Snow Escape. It took me a total of five months to complete it.

Again, I started the process of querying to agents. I had high hopes someone would feel as passionate about this work as I did. I sent out more than a hundred queries and waited patiently for the responses. Rejections started to pour in from about half of those queried. After several months I ended up shelving Snow Escape. I started doing some freelance work, because I couldn’t bring myself to attempt to write a third manuscript. I didn’t even consider self-publishing, because I didn’t feel that was a road I wanted to go down.

As I’ve already mentioned several times, at the beginning of 2011 my husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer. It was an incredibly devastating time in my life. I knew I had to stay strong and find a way to cope with the stress of his having to go through surgery and chemotherapy, so I began to write a manuscript about our struggle. I felt it was important to get the word out about this disease. He endured four aggressive cycles of chemo for a total of twenty doses. In May 2011, he was told he was cancer-free. He continues to show no signs of the cancer’s return, and for this my family is grateful.

For the third time I started the process of querying to agents, but I didn’t get very far. I was told several times our story is too personal, therefore it isn’t marketable. I made the difficult decision to set it aside. In September 2012 I published it on my blog for everyone to read free of charge. I want those suffering in similar circumstances to be able to read our story and realize they can get through it. My goal is to give them hope.

In July 2011 something compelled me to revise Snow Escape. Within a week, through fate, I had the number of a small independent publisher. I called her up and told her about my project. I ended up sending her a query, a synopsis, and the first three chapters of my manuscript. A little more than a week later I received an e-mail stating my work was going to be published.

In the midst of promoting my debut novel, I made the decision to revise my first manuscript. The revisions are complete, and I feel my tragic romance/family saga has been enhanced to be a profoundly deep and thought-provoking tale. I continue to query agents with this story. Hopefully, I will finally secure representation. If I don’t, then I will probably end up utilizing an independent publisher once again.

How did you find time to write your books?

It wasn’t always easy. I’m fortunate my husband supports me in my decision to pursue a writing career and that he’s been willing to be the sole financial provider for our family. I don’t have a job outside our home, so I was able to do the majority of my writing when my kids were in school. This is a practice I still engage in. I will admit that if they’re home, and I have an overwhelming urge to write, I explain to them I need some time alone. It works better if they’re able to go outside and play. I actually wrote a large part of my cancer manuscript while sitting beside my husband while he received chemotherapy treatments. 

Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?

I believe everyone can benefit from writing their thoughts down. An individual doesn’t have to be a “professional” writer to keep a diary or journal. Capturing an emotional time such as a traumatic incident in one’s life can help with resolving inner turmoil, regret, anger, etc. When a loved one or friend dies, writing about that person can help with the grieving process. It’s also an excellent way to memorialize the departed. Self-reflection is a healthy practice that’s enhanced when an individual can go back and read over the experiences they’ve been through so they can see how far they’ve grown emotionally. 

Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share? Can you also talk a little about how writing your book was therapeutic? What do you mean?

Writing is a way for me to express myself so I don’t explode. I can purge myself of every bad experience I’ve ever had just by weaving it into my stories. The most therapeutic writing I’ve ever done is when I documented my husband’s battle with T.C. I chose to write about his struggle early on because I needed a way to cope. It was a situation that was out of our control, so writing about it gave me some measure of reassurance that everything was going to be fine, if that makes any sense.

Has writing made you a better person?

Yes, writing has definitely made me a better person. I’ve been blessed with an ability to help people escape their everyday lives through reading my stories, and that’s a very powerful thing. Writing makes me feel like I’m contributing to the collective human experience in a way I wouldn’t be able to otherwise. It gives me confidence to create situations that will entertain readers. Through freelancing, and writing articles on my blog, I feel I can help people by being a source of information that could possibly benefit their lives.

Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?

I love to read, but don’t always have enough time to indulge it. I’m primarily a fiction reader, but ironically enough one of my favorite books of all time, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, is non-fiction. I also loved Eat Pray Love, which is a memoir. Overall, I think I prefer fiction because the writer’s imagination can go anywhere without having to worry about being true to facts. I adore tragic romances because people don’t always live happily ever after, and love doesn’t always conquer all. I enjoy horror if it’s well-written and is more psychologically based than gore-based. Classic literature has always had a place in my heart because it transports me to another time and place.  

Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?

Reviews can make a huge difference in the amount of books a writer sells. If a book has predominately good reviews, then a writer could possibly sell more of his or her story. If the reviews aren’t so good, it could possibly dissuade readers from buying it. By writing a review, a reader lets others know how a particular book affected him or her. Writers want that feedback because it lets us know we’ve done our job of entertaining with our words. Even the bad reviews serve a purpose in that they force a writer to improve his or her skills. 

Have you ever received a bad review? If so how did it make you feel?

So far I haven’t received a truly horrendous one. I would probably be crushed to have anything I’ve written be totally bashed, but I’ve put my work out there, so I would have to deal with it. Several people have pointed out flaws in Snow Escape, but I don’t view their feedback as criticisms. I believe what they’ve told me will improve my future writing. Every person comes away with something important to say about what they’ve read. The only way I can grow as an artist is to absorb people’s reactions to what I’ve written.

DSCN1992About Roberta Goodman

Roberta Goodman grew up in Philadelphia. As a stay-at-home mom of two children, she discovered her creativity could be expressed through the written word when she embarked on writing her first manuscript in January 2009. In addition to freelance writing, she’s written a total of three manuscripts and is currently working on her fourth. Snow Escape is her first published novel. Persevering through the Unforeseen-One Couple’s Experience Conquering Testicular Cancer, which chronicles her husband’s battle with T.C., can be read on her blog Ro-Always Inspired. Roberta and her family live on the upper eastern shore of Maryland.  

Learn more about Roberta and find her books on the Internet

Buy Snow Escape

Angels Among Us

About a year ago, I featured the inspiring video and story about Becky Kelley’s “Where’s the Line to See Jesus.” A couple weeks ago I found out that she recorded a new song, “Send An Angel,” and Becky was gracious enough to share with me how the song came about and what the holidays mean to her. I hope everyone who reads this and listens to the video are inspired as much as I am. Welcome Becky, and thank you for sharing your amazing story and voice with us. 

I actually started this song almost seven or eight years ago. It was inspired by my friend who lost her mom at the age of 12 because of cancer. I don’t know what made me think of that to write about, but I had the chorus for years. Finally a few years ago, I came up with some verses and a tune for them that I liked, which for some reason is hard to do sometimes. 

beckyThe first verse is a true story about her mom dying, and the second verse I wanted to reach out to another group of girls (teen moms) and try to connect with them on where they are. Overall, I really just want to inspire anyone and everyone on where they are at in life to hold on for HOPE. We all hear stories about horrible things that people go through, and if this song helps someone get through their day, week, month, or year holding out for hope, then awesome.  I’ve already received messages from women saying how much “Send an Angel” has helped them deal with what they are currently experiencing in life. I want people to KNOW there is a God who is listening. The chorus and bridge are actually a prayer… “Could you send her an angel or two? She’s been dealt a rough hand and doesn’t know what to do.” Bridge: “Wrap your arms around her, fill her soul with love. Let her feel the hope that comes from above.” When we had to decide on which song to choose for a video off of my new album, I knew already. This one reaches people at the heart, and that’s what I want to be about. 

The holidays, for me, mean time with family and celebrating the birth of Jesus! We talk about Christmas being a birthday party for Jesus around our house 🙂 Merry Christmas!!

Check out Becky’s website, become her fan on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.