The contest is officially over, and I just have to take a minute to express how blessed I have been through these past two months. Those of you that entered have allowed me to become a teeny tiny part of your lives, sharing precious memories of loved ones that have entered the church triumphant or very special loved ones here on Earth, making a difference in the lives of others everyday. At the risk of sounding sappy, you all quite honestly made a difference in my life. I never planned on having this contest affect me the way it has. I was just hoping to make others happy by honoring their loved ones, but the stories you shared with me touched me very deeply - the way my mom still misses her grandmother or how my sister learned more about life and herself from her son. I received more nominations than I can possibly mention here, but one that truly changed my life was sent to me by a grandmother who wanted to nominate her precious young grandson (he would have been 7 this past April) who courageously battled a brain tumor for a year and a half and hung on long enough to see his baby brother into this world. And then, unfortunately, he left this world for a life with his Father. Obviously, the female nominee was the boy's mother. I mean, imagine bringing one child into this world as another one is leaving. I wept as I read this entry mostly because I just felt so heavily grieved for this family but also because this grandmother, as was the case with many of you, though she desperately misses her grandson, she maintains a positive outlook. And that's when it hit me - people make a difference in the lives of others when they are able to look at any situation and find the good in it - the "little somethin' special"! That was certainly the case with the winners of the What a Difference You've Made in My Life contest. And, without further ado, the winners are . . . DRUM ROLL PLEASE!
Dan Olien, nominated by Brenda Olien, and Cassie Ground, nominated by Tammy Ruthsatz. Congratulations to all! Both are very compelling stories and I can't wait to introduce them to you. More details to follow in the days, weeks, and months ahead, but keep those names in the back of your mind. You will see them again in the pages of The Heart's Journey Home! (On a side note, aren't my girls cute holding their little cowboy hat for me to pick a name from? They'd just gotten out of the bathtub and were smelling so sweet in their Hannah Montanna jammies. How'd I ever get to be such a blessed mama? Oh, and of course I have to give kudos to my husband, Chris, the photographer. It was a family affair!)
PRAYER CONCERNS AND UPDATES: This has been a busy week! I have two new prayer concerns to add to our list. First, please pray mightily for Larry Harris. He is the husband of one of the ladies in our writer's group. Kathy took him to the hospital Saturday night and from the updates we've received, he needs to have a triple or quadruple bypass tomorrow which will be a risky surgery because his heart rhythms are not good. Please pray for miraculous healing, that Larry's heart strengthens and heals. Also pray for God's loving arms to wrap Kathy up in his comfort and peace. She seems to be a strong person, but I'm sure she'll need a heavy dose of prayers during the days and weeks to come as Larry's recovery may take a while. Also, please pray for Phyllis Gentry, the caregiver of the grown disabled child of another lady from our writer's group. Phyllis has chronic back problems and is in a considerable amount of pain right now - obviously in no shape to care for Ramona's daughter. So please pray for strength and healing for Phyllis. Oh, and btw, Ramona has a new book out. To find out more, click on the link down the page that says "Author Ramona Richards". You won't be sorry! Onto updates . . . I'm very happy to say that Grace Burris has recovered from gallbladder surgery and has been back to teaching now for a couple of weeks. Also, Laura Marske is doing much better from her appendectomy, so I've taken both of those ladies off of the list. My dear friend Patty Smith began her third round of chemo on Friday which was supposed to be "the bad one" but as of yesterday afternoon she was still doing okay. Please pray for continued healing and strength for her. She has FIVE children to help take care of! She needs mountains of strength! So please continue to pray for my dear friend. Little William Hickson has had some trouble this past week with seizures. Please pray for him and for his mama and daddy, Alice-Lyle and Stan, as they work with the doctors to find just the right combination of meds to minimalize the sweet boy's seizures and pray for peace and patience for Alice-Lyle and Stan. My grandma, Angela Dominick, is continuing to heal from her broken hip. She is still getting around with a walker and trying to graduate to a cane, but either way, she's just not able to enjoy the active, independent lifestyle that she'd always known until recently. Please continue to pray for patience and healing for her. Sadly, I do have one update that's not good news. Amber Grant seems to be becoming more lost. She has moved away from her Christian parents with her non-Christian boyfriend and his parents. Please pray that her Christian roots are stronger than anything she is being exposed to and that this road she's on will be an eye-opening journey causing her to do a quick U-turn! God allows and even welcome U-turns!!! Please pray mightily for Amber to come back to the fold. And remember, if you or someone you know has a prayer concern (even if it is unspoken - God knows all of our needs after all) please email me personally through my profile and I will be more than happy to post it. There IS power in prayer!