Monthly Archives: May 2016

Mama’s Warm Hugs

A Mother’s Day Tribute

It was a cold gray morning in February, 1998. Charlie had built a fire in the big north fireplace of Stone Gables early that morning. He wanted to cheer us for the task he and the other four brothers had asked us five sisters to do: go through Mama’s things and distribute them.

It had only been a few weeks since Mama died in December. It was still impossible to believe she was gone. Why should it be so hard? After all, she was 93 when she died and all ten of us had children and grandchildren of our own. But Mama had still been giving us strength and wisdom and encouragement right up to her last week. Yes, we could live without her soft voice on the phone, her joy in living, her prayers. But it would be dreary, comfortless. We would miss particularly Mama’s delight in giving and receiving surprises, whether a book or a cookie, or a memorized poem. And we’d miss so sharply her warm hugs!

We methodically sorted Mama’s many handkerchiefs, making little stacks for each recipient. We went through her cupboard and her linen closet, pausing nostalgically over a teapot or an embroidered pillow case that brought a spurt of memories and sometimes tears and hugs.

It was time to go upstairs. Though Mama hadn’t been able to climb the stairs for a long time she knew where everything was up there. She could send for a pair of scissors or a skein of yarn, telling the fetcher, not just which drawer it was in, but whether it was left, right, back or front. She knew what was in the cedar chest and every box and drawer or corner of the closet, or the contents of Grandfather’s big black trunk.

After several hours we had orderly batches of treasures all over the beds and even stacked in window ledges. But we hadn’t tackled the trunk yet. It sat huge and solid in the closet, the same place it had been all my life. The trunk’s hinges groaned as we raised the heavy lid. We began pulling out the expected old coats, a party dress, a box of baby sweaters. But–what was this?

Underneath everything else covered by an old sheet was a quilt none of us, even Pat, the oldest, had ever seen. We squealed like children in the excitement of discovery as we spread this beautiful velvet quilt between us, perfect tiny squares of rich burgundy, greens, gold, blue, and brown. Then one of us pulled out another quilt. It was entirely different, an interesting pattern of bright calico prints sewn in triangles but, again, one we’d never seen before. One by one we unearthed five quilts. Our ecstatic cries would have made a person believe we’d struck pure gold!

We took the quilts down to examine more closely by the warmth of the fire. Ginger voiced our curiosity. “Why didn’t Mama tell us about these quilts?”

“She knew they were here,” said Suzanne. “She had to know.”

“Five quilts, five girls,” added Pat in awe.

“She’s still surprising us,” breathed Jackie.

“And hugging us!” we all exclaimed as we wrapped ourselves in quilts.


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Hope Heals


I’ve just finished a book I must share with all of you. We never know when a cataclysmic event will change our lives forever, as one did for Katherine and Jay Wolf. How this young couple faced death, and more particularly, life, will leave you stunned and–hopeful!

Katherine and Jay Wolf know about suffering in a way few couples in their thirties do. Their character has been stretched to the breaking point over and over again. But instead of lying down and giving up they have found purpose in their pain. They have chosen to ask the question, “Could it be that God could use our pain to lead others to him, even people we will never see?”

In the book Hope Heals Katherine and Jay take turns telling their story in a very readable and gripping way.

Jay recalls meeting Katherine in their college cafeteria where he immediately knew she was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen, much less talked to for hours. He remembers that the first time she fell in his presence, she sprang back up declaring she was fine, just always clutzy. He had no idea, nor did she, what was behind the clutziness.

The two fell in love, got married, and followed their dreams which took them from Alabama and Georgia and very supportive families all the way to Los Angeles where they knew no one. Jay entered law school and Katherine pursued a career, which was off to a great start, in the entertainment industry.

I said they knew no one in that very big and scary new world. But they did know Someone. Following God’s nudging they sought, not just a church to attend, but a church home where they could be contributors as well as being blessed. Their small group of Young Marrieds would play a huge part in their surviving the very dark storm that would hit them all unawares in the midst of health and happiness.

When their son was six months old, Jay, contrary to his routine, came home one day from law school for lunch. He was studying for his last finals. Within minutes of his arrival Katherine suffered a massive brain stem stroke. Surviving with her life was a huge miracle.(Katherine’s stroke was caused by a congenital condition, “an abnormal collection of blood vessels” called an Arterial Venous Malformation, the removal of which took 60% of her cerebellum.) But the challenges were only beginning. Fighting to be able again to be an active mom to her baby son, Katherine, with Jay always at her side, learned very slowly and tediously to swallow (that was a big one, especially since Katherine really loves to eat!), to walk and talk and use her right hand. It took months and years.

From the day of her stroke, on through every disappointment and huge victory Katherine’s church, as well as praying folk all over the world petitioned God on her behalf. That Young Married small group pitched in to help family care for the baby, as well as help with numerous other needs.

Katherine, trapped in her body, was fully cognitive, and tells how it felt to try to connect with her family and with the world around her. Even after recovering to the place she could leave the hospital and rehabilitation centers after years, she faced an additional aneurysm seated behind her good eye. Because she wanted to have another baby (wanted fiercely to have more children), Katherine, Jay, and their neurosurgeon, Dr. Nestor Gonzalez, opted to go for surgery once again, this time planned.

Though still severely handicapped, deaf in one ear, her smile permanently twisted, Katherine became a mother again. Their second son is now part of Jay and Katherine’s team.

After all their suffering this couple has now begun a ministry called HopeHeals. They travel extensively speaking of how God gave them hope when there was no hope and healing when no one could have expected it.Their message is that hope, when placed in Jesus, heals when nothing else can. Katherine says, “The hope in our hearts has always been greater than despair because it anchors us.”

I laid down this book with trails of tears still on my face but with a burst of praise to our God Who truly can make “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

This book is a life changer. Please read it! You can order it now on


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