David wasn’t much of a reader, but in the last year or so, he was reading much more than he had in previous years. He loved Don Piper’s 90 Minutes in Heaven, co-written with Cecil Murphey.
While he was in the hospital recovering from his heart attack, I brought him many books and magazines to read, but he shoved them aside, saying he didn’t feel like reading. One day when I was visiting him, he spotted the book I was holding. “What’s that book?” he asked, and I told him it was Getting to Heaven by Don Piper and Cecil Murphey. “The same authors who wrote 90 Minutes in Heaven,” I said.
“Can you leave that book here for me?” he asked, and of course I did. It was the only book he’d shown any interest in.
I will never know if he read any of it. The next day when I stopped for a visit, everything from the table near his bed was up high on a shelf. All I know is that book was the last book David wanted to read, the last book he would touch here on earth. He wasn’t doing any reading in the three days after he came home from the hospital.
The day my husband died, someone handed me my mail as I sat on the couch, stunned and in shock. Sometime during the night, my beloved’s heart stopped and my world would change forever.
There were birthday cards in that stack of mail. David died the day before his 61st birthday.
There was also an envelope from a Twila Belk, Heavenly Company Book. I couldn’t bear to open the birthday cards, but I did open that envelope, and inside was a piece of paper and a check. The paper informed me that an angel story I’d written would be included in Cecil Murphey’s Heavenly Company: Entertaining Angels Unaware book to be published by Guideposts in August. My breath caught in my throat and fresh tears poured down my cheeks. A Cecil Murphey book, one David would likely have enjoyed reading… it was a heart-wrenching moment.
On the evening of my husband’s wake, an e-mail awaited in my inbox. I had won a Cecil Murphey scholarship to a writer’s conference in IL, a scholarship that covered the four-day conference, a room, and meals, a value of over $750. Cecil Murphey again~ what are the odds? Coincidence?
The last day of the conference was June 2nd, what would have been David and my 33rd anniversary.
Before I’d applied for the scholarship, I’d ask David if it would be terrible if I won it, and we were apart on our anniversary.
“No, we can celebrate our anniversary anytime. Go ahead and apply,” he’d encouraged.
I cried when I got the e-mail about the conference; in bittersweet joy, sadness, and in fear.
How could I leave my fatherless children for days, so soon after a loss?
How could I not?
I knew what David would want. He’d been my number one fan and supporter these past months. He’d encouraged me to go to KS last November for a conference, to Cedar Falls last June for my very first conference, the one that lit a fire inside me for more. But David had been at home, caring for our children during those conferences. That fact, alone, allowed me to go and enjoy the conferences, fully secure in the knowledge that their father, who loved them, would be there in my absence. He told me after the November conference that our youngest, Abby, had fallen asleep next to him every night, holding his hand, “so he wouldn’t feel lonely without Mom.”
I was torn. My heart ached, with the loss of David, and with the possibility of leaving my children for several days. I e-mailed Cecil, who kindly responded that I could use the scholarship for next year’s conference if I couldn’t bring myself to attend this year. I asked family and friends for advice. My adult children insisted I go, that there was a reason for my win. Friends prayed for me. Two weeks, and I still hadn’t decided. Frustrated, I turned to a group of new Christian writer friends I had met at KS. Their replies were swift and gentle. Can’t you trust their Father to care for them in your absence? was the gist of some of the comments. Others reminded me of the doors God had opened up for me in the last months. I remembered then,the biggest piece of advice I’d gleaned from the November conference; If God opens a door, walk right through it.”
I’d been following that advice ever since. The workshops, the weekly newspaper column; the swiftness of these doors opening had been mind-boggling to both David and I. Was I going to let fear paralyze me now and prevent me from walking through yet another door?
With a leap of faith and a supreme amount of trust in my older children and siblings who might check on my family in my absence, this morning I filled out my online registration and I am now scheduled to attend the Write-to-Publish Christian Writer’s conference the end of May.
Today’s prayer: “I believe you have a reason for me to attend this conference, and I trust in you to reveal it. I trust in you to care for my children in my absence. I ask for healing in the Holy Spirit, and wisdom to discern the path you wish for me to follow. Please, God, I ask that you take the fear and anxiety from me, and continue to bless me in the people you have chosen to work through.”