I was incredibly blessed the weekend of Sept. 7 – 8 with three opportunities to meet and sing for old friends and new ones, too. Saturday night, at Our Lady of Nazareth Catholic Church, I was overwhelmed to see and minister to SO many friends from ALL corners of my 13 years living in Roanoke. That was the icing on the cake of the weekend. And I LOVE icing!!!!
Friday was one of the most emotional days I’ve had in a long time. I want to tell you about Friday.
Friday, at 4 pm, I shared a small portion of my show for the Rally at the Rescue Mission of Roanoke with the men and women who are in their residential Recovery program. I worked several years at the Rescue Mission as their Director of Industry, running the thrift store and retail operations, and also taught a class for the Recovery program when we lived in Roanoke. I was so thrilled to see and hear how the recovery program is running stronger than ever and still changing lives, one day and one person at a time.
That evening at 6:30, I was honored to lead the Chapel service they offer every evening to the men and women who come off the streets for a dinner, shower and a cozy place to sleep. Chapel is a mandatory part of the evening, and even with the many years I worked there, I never participated in the evening services. I know now that I truly missed a lifetime of blessing by missing those services. I encourage ALL of you in Roanoke or nearby to attend or lead at least one of these services. I “preached” on Paul and his “secret” to being content. Philippians 4:12 -13. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned THE SECRET of BEING CONTENT in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” That’s powerful stuff right there! That’s also a tough room to preach that truth in. [any who want the copy of the mini-sermon or notes on this, let me know, I’ll send it to you] Basically, I wrap up with stating that “to be content is to choose to rest in the TRUTH, to choose to see the JOY in whatever situation, with the strength and vision God gives. Like Paul, I was blind, but now I see. I have made my choice to be content like Paul. To choose to laugh, love and live.” Then the song…. “I Choose to Live”… It was a well-received message and many came forward for prayer and I was able to take with me a handful of their written requests to pray over. It was an amazing time to be in a room full of God’s children and know God was really there, too.
After that service (we ended at 7:15 pm) it was still daylight. I felt a strong urge to go to our old neighborhood, and see if Rick and Margie, our neighbors were sitting out on their front porch drinking a can or glass with the other neighbors, just like the days when we lived there. Bill and I drove out there, saw their car in the driveway, but no one on the porch. Lights on, so we knocked on the door. Margie came out and broke the news that Rick had died – just 3 hours earlier. Massive coronary. Had just started mowing the front yard. Ambulance took him to the hospital, but he didn’t make it. And, in a remarkable Roanoke way, One of the EMT’s came back and finished mowing their yard.
That afternoon, I knew I needed to see and hug Margie. I didn’t know why. I look back at how I was sharing my story of looking death straight in the eye and not allowing fear to interfere – of being content in every situation, every condition. Later, realizing how sudden death can be so shocking, I had to pull myself together emotionally to share my “funny show about living (and dying) with cancer” with a sanctuary full of friends and people who came to receive a word of hope because they or someone they love is walking on this scary cancer path with me.
I gave and received so many powerful hugs that weekend, but the 2 most powerful ones were given to me by Margie and God. I can only hope and pray that God is hugging Margie now.