It’s been YEARS since I really posted anything here. Obviously, so much has gone on. There’s just no way I can write it all here! Recently, Louis and I have faced significant challenges.
7 months ago TODAY (December 6th, 2018), Louis slipped on black ice on the back deck and broke his femur. On New Year’s Eve, he returned home after surgery to place an internal plate and other hardware and a short stint in the rehab hospital. A short 18 days later, the hardware failed; and he landed himself back in the hospital. He suffered many complications… blood clots, kidney failure (resulting in an additional 75+ pounds of fluid on his body), wound infection, lymphedema, sepsis, rigors with high fever, and other complications. Nearly 5 months in the hospital put quite a strain on us – emotionally, physically, financially, relationally, and even spiritually.
As he laid in the hospital bed, struggling with high fevers, rigors, delusions, an extra 75-100lbs of fluid, confusion, and more, there were times that I wasn’t sure that Louis was ever going to make it out of the hospital. Later, several doctors confirmed that they too weren’t sure that he would make it home. Finally, he made the turn for the better and made great strides toward totally healing.
Now ~ 7 months later, Louis is facing another surgery on his knee. It appears that his 6 year old knee replacement, was also damaged in the fall. Lots of risks are associated with doing another surgery, but we are trust the Lord who carried us through these difficult times.
I am surprised at people’s response to watching us go through the last 7 months, commenting that we have inspired them on how to keep the faith during challenging times. So, I thought I would share some of my tips… my survival guide.
- Keeping your Faith in difficult situations starts way before the challenging times. It’s like exercise. You build your strength and faith during the ‘easy times’ and in the minor challenges. Not only do we review the Bible for stories of God’s love and faithfulness long ago, but we can also review our own lives. We have our own stories. My walk with the Lord has been more and more dear as years have passed. I clung to Jesus like a barnacle on a Rock during a storm.
- Louis and I live our lives pretty out loud. Not everyone does. We don’t hesitate to share when we are in ‘trouble’. Honestly – I can’t even hide it anymore. The few years leading up to this medical crisis has been extremely difficult >> another medical crisis when Louis went septic due to a hole in his intestine, a unexpected loss of job, head on collision and totaled car for me, and a year later – a mac truck rear-ended me and totaled a 2nd car. This totally ruined me. Tears flow for different reasons, or no reason at all.
- Friends and family – they have totally rocked it!!!! in so many ways. Don’t be afraid to ‘not have it all together’. It’s OK to fall apart. It’s OK not to “wash your face”. It’s OK to ask for help. It’s OK to accept the help. Yard work. House work. Meals. Rides to/from therapy. Rearrange furniture. Build a ramp. Let the dogs in/out. Run errands. Visit him at the hospital. It’s also ok to say – “No visits. we are tired.” Take care of YOU!!! Invite people into the crisis.
- One friend had the gift of availability. She was at the hospital – nearly every day. And definitely whenever I called, and especially in crisis mode. On his worse days – when I sat in the corner of his room just staring at him – not knowing what to do. She would say – you sit there and take care of you. I will take care of him. It was OK for me to watch her care for my husband. No guilt or shame that I was a bad wife. No time for that!
- Other friends, who also have the gift of availability, managed ministry efforts we were doing at the jail, recovery homes, etc. Something I just didn’t have to think about.
- This is warfare! Prayer is a MUST! I prayed for Louis, and was also intentional about praying for others I knew were in need. Seeking friends to Fast and Pray with me. Just as Aaron and Hur held Moses’ arms up during the battle, friend’s and family’s prayers kept us going.
- Give Thanks!!! I looked for reasons to thank the Lord! It’s easy to get swallowed up in the dire or weary circumstances. When we focus on things that we are thankful for, things don’t seem as dire.
This song spoke volumes to me. “My weapon is a melody.”
Raise A Hallelujah – Bethel Music
The Story Behind the Song
- Praise and Worship!! We played worship music – all the time, well… OK… excect when March Madness was on!
- These were some of my Go-To songs while with Louis at the hospital.
- Kim Walker Smith Mix of Songs >> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktsPuZvH-rQ&list=RDktsPuZvH-rQ
- And this was my go-to sloppy, messy cry song at home…. when things seems to be impossible and I felt unseen by the Father.
- You Know My Name – Tasha Cobbs >> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7owFiihXgg
- Some friends brought guitars and played worship music (and some James Taylor – which might as well be worship music for Louis! HA!)
- These were some of my Go-To songs while with Louis at the hospital.
- Give – When I was the one who was always on the receiving end, it got hard to constantly accept. I looked for ways I could give. Giving goodies to the nurses and staff. We were there on Christmas, so we held a Christmas Eve Service for the others on the floor, family and staff members. One of the best memories I have. I found myself having conversations with other family members – praying with them, encouraging them, showing them the ropes.
- God’s Word – and read it often. We used these videos a lot. Left them playing when I left for home late every evening. I even played them at home when I laid my head down to sleep.
- 90+ Healing Bible Scriptures Looped and Soaking Music >> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wfewVsIdf0
- Rest Be Still and Trust God >> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E77Qza2hu7Q
- Psalm Bible Scripture >> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwCn12a-OwU
- Healing with Scriptures and Soaking >> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riL_UmSk_MM
- Soaking with Scriptures of Hope~ Robb Thompson >> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hSwTTpnRSw
- Communion – We took communion and took it often. I kept grape juice in the cabinet and used broken saltine crackers, graham crackers, or a roll off his dinner tray. One time, we almost used prune juice instead of grape. Whew… thankfully that wasn’t necessary. We invited guests, nurses and doctors to join us, and most times – they welcomed the opportunity. Pill cups came in so handy for serving grape juice!
- 7/6/2019 – Edit #1 – I can’t believe I forgot this part!!! A friend texted me this evening and it made me think about it! OK… so I have talked about the crying part. I have that down. But I also want to stress that it’s also OK to laugh and be silly. I know… I’m 56 years old…and I still like to be silly! I have this friend whose role was really important. She didn’t come to the hospital or provide a meal. But she provided me with laughter, silliness and distraction. I could call her and say let’s go and just laugh. Don’t ask me about Louis for the evening… or how I am… or anything deep. I just want to go and mentally get away from it all for a couple of hours. It was a little slice of heaven.
These are just some of the things we did to keep our eyes on Jesus. There were times we didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. Other times the light we saw felt like a freight train. The roller coaster ride continues. We still depend on friends and family. We are grateful for every role that every person has played and continues to play… showing up, praying, providing financial support, practical needs, emotional ones and more.
It’s not over yet. Earlier this week – a small group of us fasted and prayed together – storming the gates of heaven. A couple of days later – I was weepy, scared and felt that freight train barreling down. I find myself vacillating between… “Why? How much longer, Lord? We’re so done.” and “Wow – we got this. This is just a blip on the radar of eternity.” and “If only Louis was healed, we could….”
I am grateful for the Lord’s loving kindness, his presence, mercy and grace. I am grateful for friends and family who just keep showing up – pointing me to Jesus, when I glance away from him. He’s got the whole world in His hands… including me… and Louis.
If you want to partner with Louis and me during this time, this is how you can do so… https://lifetransformationchurch.org/partner-with-us/. Thanks for considering!!!
Thanks for reading! I had no idea it would be this long when I got started! Whew! You are champs for hanging in there!
Louis and I hosted a Memorial Service for Wesley today. If you want to read that, click here >>> How to Throw a Memorial Service for your Dog. Thanks again for the overwhelming support, love, encouragement we have received in the form of comments, emails, texts, calls, Sugar Shack Donuts, hugs, and more! We have the best group of friends ever! Thanks for loving us.
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RIP Sweet Wesley “Lover Boy” Williams
September 9, 1998 – March 14, 2014
Be sure to check out the video at the bottom of this post. And also grab your tissues.
When I married Louis, I knew that Calvin and Wesley (2 black labs…the liturgical hounds named for John Wesley and John Calvin) were part of the ‘package’. Love Louis…love his dogs. Calvin – he was nicknamed Houdini. Wesley – well…his nickname was Lover Boy, because he loved everyone very well. He never met a stranger. In our early time together, Calvin could get out of nearly any situation. His first night sleeping at my home, he combat crawled under the shed and wandered the neighborhood for quite a while before I realized it. Calvin loved to run…and Wesley, a loyal pal, would follow him anywhere and everywhere. When Calvin passed away on Veterans Day 2008, Wesley attached himself to me. He became my shadow. Wherever I went, Wesley went. Louis remained alpha of our pack, but I became Wesley’s companion, his buddy, his pal. And…he became mine.
Wesley passed on Friday afternoon after 15 1/2 years of a full life filled with love. Although I only knew him for the last 6 years, I felt like he was mine since forever. He truly was the best dog ever. If you ever met Wesley, you know exactly what I am talking about. A wonderful friend to all. He especially loved the neighborhood kids. Loved them deeply.
Wesley was an integral part of our family and our ministry in Southern Barton Heights, because he taught us all how to love deep and to love well, expecting virtually nothing in return.
I am a better person for having known and loved Wesley and to be known and loved by him. Now, I’m thankful he’s able to romp around with Calvin…and it’s comforting to know that they are both back together, pain-free in healthy bodies!
Memorial Service for Wesley
Sunday, March 16th at 2pm
2101 Barton Ave, RVA 23222
Come on by. Bring your dogs. Bella is a super great hostess…and she’s gonna be kinda lonely, too. The kids can make cards, write letters, etc. while we all tell stories and share memories of one super great dog.
John WESLEY Williams
Well done, good and faithful dog.
You loved well.
You were well-loved.
Here’s a video of my beloved friend. My way of dealing with my grief. Enjoy.
Wish I had included this picture in the video. It’s one of my faves… My 2 favorite boys, more found here… My 2 Favorite Boys in the World!!!
Since moving to Southern Barton Heights, I have more anniversaries than I ever thought I could. So many memories. So many reasons to PRAISE GOD!
So many reminders that…
- God protects us.
- God is in control.
- there’s power in the name of Jesus.
- there’s healing in the name of Jesus.
- God cares for every. living. soul.
- obedience is key.
- Jesus is the Word that became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood. (John 1:14 MSG) and…
- as Jesus Followers, Louis and I are called to our neighborhood.
- being a Jesus Follower isn’t the safest place to be on earth and IS absolutely the safest place to be…all at the same time!
- and…it’s totally worth it!
This week is another ‘anniversary’ that I will never forget! This time 6 years ago, Louis and I had been out like maybe 5 times in 4 weeks. So, we barely knew each other, and I wasn’t quite sure that I liked him…until January 26th – the date when I met Louis’ friends. That’s the night I decided I liked him. It was following weeks that I learned I really needed to consider him seriously. The next night, Frank got shot 9 times outside my back door and a bullet came in the house. Much to the surprise of everyone, Louis came back! Never hear this story? or want to hear it again, keep reading and check out the links below. If you are wondering where we got the name of our ministry Into The Neighborhood, read these links for that story, too!
This is the first song I heard this morning, while I was busy cooking breakfast for Louis and me. I was reminded again, that Frank is only alive today because he called on the GREAT NAME OF JESUS. As tears rolled down and dripped in the bacon, I praised God for his goodness, his healing, his tender loving care. It took me back to that night…. January 27, 2008 at 8:30pm when Frank was shot 9 times – right chest, left shoulder, left thigh, right hand and 5 times to the gut. The night that Louis and I met Frank we also gave him first aid. By the time the paramedics arrived that night, Frank was only breathing once a minute and had no pulse. I assured him that we weren’t leaving him. I prayed with him and shared that there was power in the name of Jesus. And if he called on Jesus’ name, he would be healed. Frank couldn’t talk at that point, but he did grab my thigh. I knew he was all good. Just as the lyrics say….”Sick are healed, and the dead are raised. At the sound of Your Great Name” (Rest of the lyrics are at the bottom of this post.)
This is what Louis and I were doing 6 years ago this week. Happy Reading!
Your Great Name Lyrics
Performed by Natalie Grant
Lost are saved; find their way; at the sound of Your Great Name
All condemned; feel no shame; at the sound of Your Great Name
Every fear; has no place; at the sound of Your Great Name
The enemy; he has to leave; at the sound of Your Great Name
Jesus, worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us
Son of God and man you are high and lifted up; that all the world will praise Your Great Name
All the weak; find their strength; at the sound of Your Great Name
Hungry souls; receive grace; at the sound of Your Great Name
The fatherless; they find their rest; at the sound of Your Great Name
Sick are healed, and the dead are raised. At the sound of Your Great Name
Jesus, worthy is the Lamb; that was slain for us
Son of God and man; you are high and lifted up
that all the world will praise Your Great Name.
Your Great Name.
Redeemer, my Healer; Lord Almighty
My Savior; Defender; you are my King
Redeemer; my Healer; Lord Almighty
My Savior; Defender; you are my King
“…for I know you well, and you are special to me. I know you by name.” Exodus 33:17
Wow! I think about branding and marketing. How we all know the swoosh of Nike and the golden arches of McDonald’s, right? And if you hear the term Shaq, Tiger, Cher, Madonna – there’s no second guessing who they are. Now…I hesitate to write this…because I nowhere near compare to the people of this popularity or status. No way! But, it is humbling when people don’t know you or your story….say….”OH…so YOU’RE Miss Marti!?!?!” Who knew?? It’s happened a few times lately. Most recent was a teacher who is new to JM (John Marshall High School). I met her recently at a dinner party in the community. She shared how one of her students told her at the beginning of the school year that she used a phrase was like something “Miss Marti” would have used. Again…who knew?
I tell this not to brag or point toward myself. I share this because it is humbling and scary….to know that what I am doing really makes an impact. What I say…how I react….how I act IS in fact being noticed…..whether it is good or bad. OUCH! I need to step up my game….for real. I confess that I lack in areas of patience, tolerance, and sometime grace and mercy. Thankfully, Louis makes up where I lack…in spades!
So…I need to step up my game….for the sake of my witness…AND because God knows me better than anyone. He knows not only my name, but my heart. And that can be much worse than the outside!
God forgive me…and thanks for sending me Louis and using him to teach me patience, tolerance, grace and mercy. He models it better than most! Amen.
there was a single 40+ year old woman who wondered if she would ever get married….
Yesterday was the 3rd Anniversary from when I married the other half of my pair, Louis. And it’s also the 4th Anniversary from the first time we spoke…on the phone. Time and time again, Louis and I have told this story of how we met. We try to tell it quickly, because we don’t want to bore the asker or monopolize the conversation, because the whole story could very well take all evening!!! LOL I laugh, but it’s true. But, to leave out the details would not be honoring to God, because that is where you will find God….in the details. And…I HATE details…usually. But, He loves the details of our lives. In this story, I love the details.
During Lent a couple of years ago, I started documenting the story of how I moved into my community and my life since, including the events leading up to meeting Louis. If you want the details of the story, start reading here (click the links), The Chair, where I begin telling the story and read forward to Don, Luke, Jesus & Marti, and SWF Seeks Other 1/2 of Pair, Be Still., Just for my friend, Jeanine…, For Melissa, Michelle and Jeannine….the list grows 🙂 , in honor of Judy O’Hara and Change of Heart…Just in Time. The story picks up at 4 months after I moved into my community.
Louis and I need to practice telling it a lot quicker, but yet still glorifying to God…so let me start here, for those of you who don’t like the details. 🙂
I was in my forties and wondering if I would ever get married. If it was in God’s plan for me. After Don Coleman gave me a scripture, Luke 10:1-7, my prayer changed from a future husband to “the other half of my pair”. Friends were praying with me. (As a matter of fact, there are several friends that I still pray will meet their other half!!! I haven’t forgotten!!!) God used so many people in the process.
OK. I have written that paragraph over and over again. I can’t do it! Can’t leave out the details!!! I give up!!! So…you will have to read it from the blog! But, I do want to point out some of the things I learned…
- God loves the details in our lives. Don’t be afraid to share them with Him. Nothing is too small or too big for Him. He works in the details. Don’t overlook them. Actually…watch for them!
- God uses other people. If you feel the nudge to talk or do something, pray about it. It just might be the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Then, do it. If people weren’t obedient, they wouldn’t have been part of the story and witnessed God’s movement. God would have just found another way to get it done. He doesn’t HAVE to use us. He chooses to use us. He chooses to allow us to be part of His mission. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that!
- Pray specifically and radically. Yes, I gave God a deadline…I want to meet “the other half” by the end of the year. Some people think that is crazy or bossy. Whatever. I just call it praying specifically. Praying the what seems impossible is praying radically.
- Don’t be afraid to ask others to pray with you. Find a couple of people you trust to be transparent with your “stuff” and ask them to pray expectantly. Then, watch God move.
- Remember…sometimes, it takes time. It took 2 years since I prayed the first prayer!! I know some of us are waiting longer than that for our prayers to be answered. There are prayers that I haven’t gotten the answer I want yet. But, He hears us and He answers us.
- Read the Bible. Meditate on His Word. See what God says to you through it.
- Make time in your busy schedule to read the Bible, meditate and pray. You gotta get still and quiet to hear His voice.
- People watch you and your behaviors. We were very conscious of that especially while dating. Louis didn’t spend the night…EVER. The kids especially watched for us to slip….expecting us to have sex before marriage, which we didn’t. You probably want to know how we know. Well…let’s just put it this way. They asked. A LOT. They would try to “catch us”.
- I don’t fully trust God, but I am learning to trust Him with all my heart, soul and strength. Still a work in progress. But, this, along with many other times, reminds me…God is in control. I just need to follow his leading and be obedient.
- Regarding marriage: Lots of people go into marriage thinking…”If it doesn’t work out, I will just divorce.” I never thought that. Divorce is not an option for me. Marriage, for me, is for life. (I know…there are reasons!!!) But, Marriage is WORK! Dating is WORK! From the beginning (OK…the 2nd date), I chose to just be myself. I wasn’t going to play any games. I thought, I need to be real. This is who I am. No, I didn’t dump all my stuff…my baggage…in the first month. That would have scared him off, even though the bullets didn’t! Some ask me if I felt like I ‘settled’. No. God told me His plan. I just walked obediently. Now, 3 years later… is it hard? You betcha! No doubt! For some short moments, I feel like it’s not worth it. It was so much easier being single! But, as Gary Thomas asks in his book Sacred Marriage… “What if God designed marriage more to make you holy than to make you happy?” Yowza. That ALWAYS stings a little…ok…A LOT! Marriage is a ministry. Louis and I (with God) are one, yet a pair. We are individuals with our own likes, dislikes, passions, opinions, etc.
But, this I know…we have been called to serve the Lord together…through thick and thin, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, for better or worse, and to love and cherish. In our whopping 3 years of marriage…we have experienced a little of all that…thick and thin, sickness and health, rich and poor, and better and worse. It’s teaching me how to love and cherish Louis…more than I do myself. It’s making me more holy. I confess…I have a loooong way to go.
Ministry can be hard work sometimes….and requires a little down time. That’s this afternoon…time to chill. Louis laid down on the floor for a few moments to stretch…and Wesley had to get right up there next to him. Well, the next thing you know…Louis is snoring…and Wesley is not far behind. I captured a few shots before Louis finally opened his eyes. Enjoy the pics of my 2 favorite boys in the world! Love ’em both!!!
There has been a ton going on!!! We’ve been so busy that we really haven’t had time to blog about it! So, I will get you caught up….but in no certain order! Just random posts about what has been going on the last month! Although our calendar has been full of serving our community (and a few persecutions by some who don’t necessarily like what we are doing in the name of Jesus!), we had a awesome time relaxing with our family.
My aunt Pat (I call her Aunti Patti) came for a visit from Oregon in early July and stayed with us. On Friday night of her visit, we had a bunch of friends over so Pat could see them all at once. It was a wonderful time to catch up with long-time (note… I did not say OLD!!!) friends (and their kids who have grown up soooo fast!!!) who I haven’t seen in too long. Although, I hope that we will all do a better job of staying on touch! I didn’t get nearly as many pictures as I had hoped to!
In addition, my sister Rebecca and Nat, my nephew, came to visit! It was a great time of catching up with family! Louis and I even managed to take Nat and Madison (my local niece) to Water Country USA on one of those 100+ degree days! And…we managed to make it to our first Squirrels game….we won!!! And…we had chill time with family in Mom and Dad’s back yard. I can’t believe I didn’t get a pic of my sister!!! Argh!
Last Sunday, we also had a wonderful time of fellowship with The Walkers, who are long-time friends of Louis’ and missionaries in Panama, Brenda’s home country. We, again, had a gathering to provide Chris and Brenda an opportunity to share the work they are doing in Panama and Chris’ online ministry, Evangelism Coach. We had a great time meeting some new people, as we welcomed their friends into our home. We also had a special time of prayer for the Walker Family as they serve the Lord in Panama. (This time, I realized I got no pics of the kids…dag.)
OK….the last family/friend night….was in Charlotte, NC, Louis’ old stompin’ grounds. Right after he wrapped up his Math Degree (yes…I said MATH!!!) at Davidson, Louis served in a church across the street from Piedmont Court, one of Charlotte’s project. He and a friend, Richard, bought a house together and lived and served there for about 5 years. Richard lives in that same house and until recently, continued to serve that same community even though the projects had since been torn down and replaced with mixed income housing.
While assisting with his mom as she continued to heal from her knee replacement, Louis was able to reconnect with Richard. And on our last trip to Charlotte, I was able to meet his long-time ministry partner who I had heard sooo much about. Meet Richard…a man I have grown to love and respect….and appreciate for his sound advice. (And, Ladies…he’s single!!!!
We are sooo blessed to have friends and family who love us…and whom we love! Being in ministry can sometimes be tough…and discouraging…but, God has blessed us with wonderful, loving, and caring family and friends with whom we can fellowship…and just chill! We are glad to have done that…a lot…in July.