Throughout the years of our journey with God, and most definitely during these 20+ years of full-time ministry, we have found that, no matter what the circumstance, His grace is sufficient to walk through the fire and come out victorious on the other side. We have also become keenly aware that whatever God is currently teaching us by His Spirit is for a divine purpose, both in our own lives and the lives of those to whom we minister. The morning of March 12th, this was the post on the Wholly His Facebook page— “What God arranges for us to experience at each moment is the best and holiest thing that can happen to us”. A few hours later, as many of you already know, my left hand was nearly severed by a circular saw. The physical and emotional trauma of that day is indescribable, but in the midst of it all, grace brought the peace that passes understanding. I remember being in the emergency room when all I could do was say, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” and I knew that however it turned out, the rest of my days on earth spent with or without my left hand, all was well with my soul because God had my life in HIS hands. Without the revelation that my heavenly Father IS love and He works ALL things together for GOOD, this injury may have shipwrecked my faith and left me feeling abandoned and shunned by a merciless God. But I KNOW whom I have believed and am fully persuaded that He is more than able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. There are not sufficient words nor space to convey our gratitude for the overwhelming support we have received, so we will just say again, Thank You for being a vessel of God’s love and care. We can tangibly feel all your prayers which is more of a blessing than you will ever know. We don’t ask why, we don’t look back, we don’t second guess, we simply receive God’s grace for each day, and trust the future to His omnipotent love. After two surgeries, some intense therapy, and at least two more surgeries to come, the prognosis is that, by this time next year, I will once again have full use of my hand. We are certain that this road of restoration will cross the path of many whose lives will be eternally changed by the light of the knowledge of the glory of God.
Two weeks after my injury, and five days after the second surgery, our first grandchild was born! The timing worked out so that I was able to be present during the delivery—quite an experience! Little Anna Leigh provides great motivation to endure and persevere until I have two functional hands to hold her with!
We realize that this newsletter is extremely late, but with my typing reduced to one hand, and Butch taking on the additional roles of cook, housekeeper, my caregiver, and chauffeur to therapy three times a week, we are way, way behind. I am convinced that, in many ways, this injury has been harder on him than it has been on me. How blessed I am to be married to such a selfless, hard-working man of God who stays strong in faith, keeps me encouraged, and lovingly makes certain that all of my many needs are met.
Back in January, we returned to Rome, GA for the annual Three Rivers Invitational Bull Riding, one of our favorite events, and to Lakeland, FL for the PRCA rodeo. Thanks to the Lakeland Center and Leroy and Judy Mason for welcoming us and providing one of the large dressing rooms for the services. Our next stop was the SSBR Finals in Palmetto, FL which always proves to be an effective time for ministry. The PRCA rodeo in Dade City, FL ended up February, and March began with the ABAC rodeo in Tifton, GA where a good crowd braved extremely cold and windy weather to gather up for church. The rodeo in Lake City, FL began the day I came home from the hospital and, since I had family at home to take care of me, Butch and I both agreed that he should not miss the opportunity to preach. I even went over for church before the Sunday performance and it was wonderful to be in the fresh air and with our 4L Rodeo ‘family’. The rodeo in Nashville, GA was the next weekend and, with my sister here to help after the 2nd surgery, Butch left me in good hands and headed a few hours north to have meetings there.
Just when I think that our annual Easter resurrection celebration could not possibly get any better, it again exceeds my expectations. Many people graciously pitched in to take up my slack, and it was a truly blessed day of fellowship and fun.
Our rodeo schedule continued in April, and I was able to travel with Butch to Swainsboro, GA for two excellent services with great crowds. It was good to be back on the road doing what God has called us to do!