Wendy J. Williams

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God Things, part 2

This is part 2 of your God Things. Click here to read part 1 and here to read a related story.


Musical message

My husband had been dead one year on March 11. I went to the cemetery to visit him, talked to him, told him I loved him. Got in my car to leave. I always keep my radio on in my car. This song started playing the second I turned my switch on: "If we never meet again this side of heaven, I'll leave this world loving you." I felt like he was sending me a message of love.

— Jurialean Black, Rocky Face


Long-distance vision

Last fall I experienced an extra-special blessing from God. My husband and I were planning a long-anticipated vacation in the Holy Land. The night before we were to leave I was invited to participate in a TV interview at 9 a.m. We were scheduled to leave at noon, so yes, I could make it.

Chattanooga is the home to the National Memorial for the Unborn, located on Vance Road.

Visitors from Kenya, Russia and other countries have come to visit "The Wall," where thousands of plaques have been placed as people have named their babies lost to abortion and found forgiveness and healing in Jesus' name.

I was delighted to find out the film crew turned out to be from Norway, and I have close relatives who live there. The memorial director, Debra, and I took them on a tour, which included the garden where babies lost in miscarriages are also remembered.

When we arrived home two weeks later, my sister told me she had been contacted by our Norwegian cousins in Bronnoysund and Oslo, who had seen the interview. Amazingly, they had not been contacted by us but saw me on TV anyway! I was blessed to know that they had been made aware in this way of a something that has long been dear to me and my husband.

— Wendy J. Williams


No cause for alarm

Do you believe in miracles?

For me, the proof that there are miracles came to me from my sister and her husband. Mary Ann and Tom were the perfect match and the best partners and friends a marriage could create. They loved, laughed, cried, argued and created, just like you and me. Two sons were their only offspring. They too grew up and had families of their own. Life was good and fulfilling.

We are all mortals and parts of us break down. In Mary Ann and Tom's case the beginning of the end of this fairy-tale romance was Tom developing prostate cancer. In his case, many diagnoses and other conditions interfered with him getting early

life-saving treatment.

Tom went to a doctor early on and complained about erectile dysfunction. His doctor gave him a rectal exam that detected no lumps. Viagra was then a new drug that doctors gave out willingly, and he was given a prescription to see if the drug would help him get over the hump.

Tom was also a corporate manager and was always flying across the United States and to Europe to fulfill the requirements of his job. The time and places for him to get together with his wife were infrequent and usually planned ahead of time for a dinner party or a weekend with the grandchildren.

The Viagra had no effect, so a frustrated Tom went back to the doctor. The warning signs were there, but they were misread, and cell by cell his body was multiplying this cancer deep inside.

This time when Tom went back to his doctor, they decided to do a PSA test. The results were an 11. Anything above a 2 is deemed strategically iffy. Above 5 the situation can be a requirement for more tests, but above 10 was almost proof positive he had prostate cancer.

The doctors involved with cancer of this type talked with Tom and Mary Ann about their options for dealing with the disease. They both agreed to attack it head on when the doctors in his cancer treatment center found that Tom had blockages in arteries in his neck.

"We can't do any radiation treatment until his blood flow is back to normal." This dilemma set back the radiation treatment that was planned to burn the cancer in the body. The cells multiplied and multiplied. What may seem a small area of cancer in reality is a vicious package of the body turning itself inside out.

Tom had stints inserted in his neck arteries and recovered enough blood flow so that his treatment could begin. Tests were given to find the root, and he was then tattooed so the radiologist always had the same target. Day by day, he was radiated at the source. X-ray beams are shot and focused into the body to burn the problem area, but they are also going through healthy tissue. Tom would vomit often and was losing his taste for food. But he survived the 16-week process.

The doctors told Tom and Mary Ann that this was a stopgap measure. They were informed that his PSA would be close to zero after radiation, however the case was so advanced that they said Tom would require chemotherapy some time in the future. They also told Tom that he would need transfusions, but that wouldn't be a problem because Tom had donated 10 gallons of his own blood throughout his life to save others.

I never knew what my sister and Tom discussed about the future. There had to be hundreds of issues dealing with insurance, their sons, their grandchildren and whatever we can think about when we know the end is coming within a known time frame. One thing my sister did insist to Tom is that when he died, she wanted immediate proof that his soul was out of his body and that he was off to somewhere better.

The countdown of weeks, months and the first year flew by. Tom's PSA did diminish, and for a while it was normal. Then one day, the weekly PSA level jumped to 3 from near zero and the next stage of treatment, chemotherapy, began.

The worst problem with the treatment is that it poisons everything good and bad at the same time. This is where the transfusions take place. Blood caries nourishment, oxygen and waste through our body. The blood is also affected by the poison. In order to survive, you need fresh blood.

This process of treatment, transfusion, rest went on for several months. Tom could still enjoy life and do almost anything he wished. The only thing he noticed was the lethargy and weakness caused by his illness.

One day in September my sister called me: "Tom fell, and I can't get him up."

"I'm on my way."

Tom was sitting on the floor looking confused. He had a little smile on his face as he said, "Whoops, I didn't see that coming."

Mary Ann and I got him in a chair, and she called the prearranged hospice care. Tom wanted to die in his own home looking over the east brow of Lookout Mountain.

When the hospice workers came with the hospital bed, I went home to pack some belongings and came back to be with my sister and Tom.

The end comes quicker than the beginning. Tom was in a coma only two hours later. One son was able to be there with his mother because of the suddenness of the situation. The other son was out of state on vacation.

We took turns holding his hand, tried to give him ice chips and watched as his breathing became slower and slower. Then the death rattles began.

Tom seemed very uncomfortable, and I injected a sedative into the IV in his arm. If anything, it stirred him more and his last breath left.

In a blink he was gone, and in a blink the alarm system began wailing in the house. We all jumped up to see if there was any cause or way to turn it off. For about 20 seconds it wailed, and then stopped.

I looked at my nephew and then at my sister. She was crying, moaning and had a smile on her face all at once.

"Thank you, Tom. Thank you, God. Thank you."

The miracle was complete.

Weeks later, I had the alarm people come out and check the system. I mentioned to the technicians that it hadn't been checked in several years due to Tom suffering from cancer. I said that I wanted to be sure my sister had some protection as she began her journey forward without her husband. The technician took time to test every window sensor, door sensor, smoke sensor, carbon monoxide sensor as well as the optical sensors that set off the alarm if anything passed by in front of them.

"There's nothing wrong with this system," said the technician. "Even the backup battery is fully charged."

I knew this was going to be the result. Somehow, some way, Tom had found a way to let Mary Ann know that his life wasn't in vain. He proved in his last instant in this mortal plane that we are all moving onward to a new existence.

— Michael Zemaitis, Chattanooga


Rainbow promises

My sister had called me home to Greenville, Alabama, where our dad lay dying. I only had time to kiss him with words of love on that bright, sunshiny day before leaving the hospital to go to our mother, a semi-invalid.

About an hour later, my sister called me to the front porch; a beautiful rainbow burst across the sunny sky. At the exact moment, in Annapolis, Maryland, my 5-year-old granddaughter called her mom and exclaimed at their equally rainless sky, "Look at the rainbow, Mommy! YanYan's in heaven."

Through this colorful vision, God had assured my family that our loved one was home.

— Ellen Phillips, Ooltewah


An Easter 'resurrection'

Many a memorable dog passed through the life of my grandmother. But few were more beloved than her last one, a brown beagle mix named Charlie Brown. He was my grandmother's constant companion in her later years, and his quiet presence ensured she was never alone in her old house on Lookout Mountain.

Then one tragic afternoon on Easter weekend of 1988, a neighbor appeared at my grandmother's door with sad news. Charlie Brown had been run over on Scenic Highway. A sympathetic repair man had also witnessed the accident from the top of a pole and graciously offered to bury Charlie Brown's body. Totally stricken, my grandmother accepted the favor and pressed a 10-dollar bill into her neighbor's hand. She declined to view her pet's lifeless body, preferring to remember Charlie Brown in the flower of his youth.

News traveled quickly that there had been a death in the neighborhood, and friends gathered at my grandmother's house to offer condolences. My mother and father brought hot soup, my uncle's family arrived en masse to pay their respects and everyone had a good cry over the loss of this beloved friend. Following the "wake," my grandmother retired to her room, suffering anew that Charlie Brown would never again sleep beside her bed.

The next day, Easter morning, my mother received a call from my grandmother at 6 a.m. "You will never guess who is scratching at my front door!" It was Charlie Brown, born again!

(A quick check of the grave site proved that Charlie had not escaped his earthly bounds but had merely been "out on the town" for the evening. My grandmother had paid $10 to have a total stranger put another dog to rest among her daffodils!)

— R.T.


Close calls

In the many years I have lived in North Chattanooga, I have learned to beware of reckless drivers on Hixson Pike, and not only on the famous deadly curves. I live close to the river now, and on a September morning in 2016 was driving to church for a meeting.

The drive takes me north to the traffic light at the intersection of Hixson Pike and Dorchester Road. Driving under the speed limit from the point where Barton Avenue becomes Hixson Pike, I saw that I had the green light. A black pickup truck was approaching Hixson Pike on my right from Dorchester Avenue, and I suddenly realized that the driver was not going to stop!

I slammed on my brake — the truck was not stopping — I pushed harder and harder on the brake and contemplated the inevitable. No, my life did not flash in front of me, but the prospect of death and injury did. When I had stopped, that black truck sped through the stoplight turning left in front of me with a swishing sound so clear and close it seemed that paint was stripped from my car.

Next to the small streetside curb there, trembling, I pulled over, stopped, got out, looked back to see the black truck speeding up to the Barton Avenue intersection. The paint on my car was intact. My car must have been missed by less than half an inch. That swishing sound will always linger in my mind and heart. It was as though an angel had swooped down and saved me. Still shaking, I gratefully arrived at the church for my meeting.

In 1988, on a Saturday morning my husband, Fred, would have dropped dead in an almost-deserted airport parking lot except for a young woman who happened to be there saved his life with CPR and gave him 25 more years of life — life that he used to serve our community in many ways.

— Jane N. Lupton, Chattanooga


Miracles and 'winks'

I definitely believe in miracles and saw a really big one in '91 when God revealed my birth family to me. I was age 43 and only knew that I was adopted — no info whatsoever about the birth family. And I would have never gone looking for them myself, so God just decided to reveal it all to me one May evening in '91. After all was revealed, it was obvious God had been orchestrating that reunion in tiny steps and for decades. It took lots of everyday miracles to come full circle into that big reveal.

I also believe in God Winks, little reminders that he knows what is special to our hearts, especially having to do with loved ones who have passed on.

Example 1: I lost my sister when she was just 60 years old, but we'd had 15 1/2 years together after the birth family reunion. The last car she owned was a Chrysler Sebring convertible, and it was a thing of beauty: candy apple red and with the tan/khaki canvas top. She had wanted a convertible for many years. She finally got it just a few years before she passed away.

Not long after my sister passed away, I started seeing Chrysler Sebrings on the highways It still happens on a regular basis, I call it God Winks. God knows, I suppose, that it touches my heart and reminds me of her. Her two children also see the Sebrings. As the years go along, that particular make and model gets older, and there are probably fewer of them on the road. Still we all see them. So, just a little miracle to remind me and her children of her.

Example 2: I have a childhood friend who lost her husband a few years ago. He and she were bird watchers, had bird feeders, were bird lovers, etc. She lives in western North Carolina, and her God Winks are bird feathers that appear in her pathway along a day's activities. She believes God is just reminding her of her late beloved husband. She picks up the feathers and adds them to a basket on her porch.

— Peggy Denton, Dayton


Miracle baby

After having five granddaughters, my only grandson, Darrel, was born on Feb. 27, 2018. Through the miracles of medicine he was diagnosed with renal failure while in vitro, when his mother was six months pregnant.

Due to his condition, she had challenges carrying him until he was ready to be born. He's had several challenges and several surgeries since birth. Our blessing has been that although the prognosis has been bleak at times, he has been a fighter and he continues to be a happy baby who is thriving. Although he's small for his age and has been delayed in his development, he has been a true blessing to our family.

Initially, Darrel's doctors didn't think he would make it due to him being on 100% oxygen at birth because of his undeveloped lungs. That was over a year ago.

— Linda Murray Bullard


Message received

I began to notice that when we or our pastor talked about baptism, that word alone was very loud. For instance, "How old were you, Mary, when you were BAPTIZED?

This went on for about two years. I spoke to my husband, but it was not happening to him. I wrote the church where I thought I had been baptized, but they found no record. I spoke to my pastor, and on Easter 2003, in front of my husband, four children and four grandchildren, I was baptized.

Suddenly the word 'baptism' is no longer very loud. God wanted me to be baptized!

— Karen Savor, Hixson


God's overarching plan

As an adoption agency [Bethany Christian Services of Greater Chattanooga], we often get to be a part of meetings where expectant parents are meeting and getting to know the families who will potentially adopt their baby.

Several times, when discussing potential names for the baby, there is a common connection between the name that is chosen by the adoptive family and a name that is important to the birth family — sometimes it is the same name as the birth mother, sometimes the name the expectant mother has been referring to the baby by during the pregnancy, sometimes an important family name.

Those moments are little glimpses into God's overarching plan for our lives, and he lets us see those little details as confirmation that he loves us so intimately.

— Amy B. Scott


Perfect timing

Our beautiful Great Pyrenees, Harley, was terrified when new neighbors set off loud fireworks. We couldn't find him anywhere, so I called a few good friends to pray for him on his first day missing, but by the fourth day, there was still no sign of him.

That day we went to our neighborhood cafe, here on the top of Lookout Mountain in Dade County. A friend introduced us to some new people after lunch, and we stayed and visited before leaving for home, so we were later than normal.

It was July and very hot! Great Pyreneeses sleep during the afternoon and patrol at night to protect the animals on the farm. They are NEVER out walking in the hot sun, but as we traveled down the very busy highway, we saw our beautiful Harley walking on the side of the road, 5 miles from home!

We stopped, I opened the back door, and he leaped in! Perfect timing! God caused our dear Harley to be at just the right place at the perfect time and had protected him on the highway, as well as for four days. This is one of my favorite God things!

— Sandy Harris, Cloudland, Georgia


Bird drop-in

My husband and I are avid birders who spend every April on Dauphin Island, Alabama, watching the spring migration. The past several years we had missed one of the earlier migrants, the northern parula, a colorful little warbler.

This year when making reservations, we had included the last week of March just to see this pretty little bird. In January, I fell and injured my shoulder, and it was not healing as anticipated. With some disappointment, we canceled our much anticipated trip so I could have more treatments.

Last week we were sitting on our back porch, missing our birding trip but watching the activity around the feeders and in the woods. First I heard the call of the northern parula, then he came and perched in a rose bush fairly close to the porch.

It was a wonderful surprise, a blessing from God who knows how much we love and appreciate his beautiful little birds.

— Judy Halleron, Marble, North Carolina


Shooting star

I was going through a period in my life of extreme loneliness, and I wasn't sure why. I didn't feel God's presence and thought maybe he had left me. I went outside to look at the stars, which helped my mood. When I went out, I told my daughter maybe God would send me a comet (I had only seen one in my life). I was talking to God and asked him to show he was with me by sending a comet. It seemed as if I heard it, and I heard turned behind me to see the most beautiful comet with its long shining tail streaking across the sky. I ran into the house with tears streaming down my face, shouting to my daughter, "Vicky, God's still with me." This is my true miracle.

— Peggy Gaber, Ooltewah


Lost and found

I know God answers my prayers every day. Here are two significant God Things that have been teachable moments for my grandboys and co-workers.

Last summer at the Bethel Super Heroes Run, my grandboys, their mom and I ran the 1-mile race. After the race, we played Frisbee and walked all over the large fields at Bethel. Getting ready to leave, I could not find my keys the small pocket inside my shorts was empty.

I told the boys I would pray that God would help us find the keys. We traversed the field but to no avail. The entire way from Bethel to Harrison for me to retrieve another set of keys my grandboys "lectured" me about how to not lose keys, i.e., just keep them in your hand, etc.

Arriving at home, I removed my shorts finding the "lost" keys. I took the keys to the boys telling them how good God is. He let me find the keys, answering the prayers I prayed. Their faith never wavered. After all, a prayer asked is a prayer answered.

The second God Thing concerns another "lost" item. I ordered a pair of vintage clip earrings on eBay and wore them to work for the first time. At lunch, I walk on a paved trail near the office. Deciding that should I begin to jog, the earrings may jostle off. I removed them, stumbling in the process, and one earring flew out of my hand.

Stopping to look for it, I prayed that I would like to have the earring back, but it was "no big deal." Grass surrounds the trail. It was the "needle in the haystack" situation trying to locate the earring. I surrendered, going back to work.

The next day, again I searched. Over the weekend we had high winds and lots of rain. I had given up. Either it was no big deal or I could continue to chide myself for being careless.

One week to the day, I walked the trail again, deciding to look one more time. Seeing a piece of cellophane in the grass catching the light, I looked down, and within 5 inches of the cellophane was the lost earring.

Telling co-workers about the find, I reminded them in the whole scheme of things, this earring was insignificant. Yet, God saw fit to allow me to find it, and because he cares for us so much the insignificant becomes significant. We can think ourselves to be "insignificant," yet God sees us as significant.

— Ginnie G., Harrison


Stranger's aid

My husband and I were riding a Honda Goldwing on a mountain road. We came to the end of the road, and there were gravels. The motorcycle turned over, and I knew we couldn't pick it up. I began praying, and there appeared a man. He helped pick it up. There were no houses, no cars or anything. He disappeared.

— Mary H. Gravett, Soddy-Daisy


Led to teaching

God gave me a desire for learning so that, from the age of 5, I always enjoyed school. When I began college, he led me to the field of teacher training. After graduation, marriage and a family, I applied for and was given my first choice of a job. For the next 30 years, I was a high school English teacher — something unplanned but a true joy.

— Carolyn D., East Ridge


White iris

I have the common lavender iris that have bloomed in my yard for many years.

In January 2013, my husband of 56 years passed away. That spring, the iris bloomed a beautiful lush white and have continued to do so every year.

No one can explain why, but I know.

— Dennie T., Signal Mountain


Smell of smoke

One summer evening many years ago, my husband and I went across town to visit some friends. It was a nice, warm evening, so we went out on their screened porch to sit and visit. We'd been there a short time when I began to smell smoke. I looked around but could see no evidence of it.

I asked the others if they smelled smoke. They did not. My friend even said she had a very good nose and could smell no smoke. I waited awhile, but still smelling smoke, I told my husband I believed we should go home.

When we arrived and opened the door, our house was filled with smoke every room, upstairs and downstairs. We soon found the source of the problem. I had left a pot of water on the stove. It had boiled dry and was smoking. It had not burst into flames yet, but soon would have.

How could I possibly have smelled smoke miles away? I've always believed it was a God Thing — God prompting me to do what needed to be done to save our house from burning.

Ironically, many years later, after we had relocated and no one lived in that house, someone left a jacket on top of that same stove and the house burned to the ground — only the chimney was left standing. I know it would have happened to us if I had not followed the Lord's prompting to go home.

— Milteen Cartwright, Cleveland


Saved by a stroke

Five years ago, my oldest brother had a massive stroke in his home. He was there by himself and wasn't discovered until over 18 hours after his stroke occurred, far outside the window to perform any stroke remedying procedures. A large chunk of his brain was nothing but dead tissue — the parts of his brain that control movement and communication. He lost all motor function — couldn't move his legs, arms or even his mouth. The only thing he could move were his eyes.

The doctors told us that the damage was permanent since brain tissue once dead stays dead. My family and I knew that God was bigger than any prognosis, and we became prayer warriors.

We stayed bedside for days doing nothing but praying for a miracle, and slowly that miracle started to show. First, his toes started to move, then his fingers. His legs and arms started to gain strength. Then his lips started to move.

At this point, the doctors were astonished and told us to keep doing whatever we were doing while simultaneously trying to temper our expectations. But we kept praying, and we kept believing.

My brother forgot how to speak. He forgot how to walk. He forgot how to eat. He forgot how to write. But what he got was a miracle. Over the days, weeks and months following his stroke, he slowly became stronger. He slowly relearned how to speak, walk, eat and write. But the biggest miracle came in his salvation. My brother credits the stroke with bringing him back to God — because God can use ALL things for good.

— Patrick Lance, Chattanooga


Answered prayers

My wife, Ruth, and I both had medical problems when we were young and were told by doctors we could not have children.

About two years after we got married, we started attending church. We both got saved and joined our church. My wife and I started asking the church to have prayers for us that God would let us have a child.

The prayers went on until we had been married for five years. Then my wife went to the doctor, and he told her she was pregnant. She told him about her problem, and he sent her for tests. When the test results came back, the doctor told her that he could not find anything and she was just fine.

She had a perfect pregnancy and God gave us a beautiful baby girl. We knew God has blessed us, and we thanked him. Then two years later, God blessed us again with a baby boy.

Our God can do all things, and our family is proof of his power.

— Bobby Davis, Hixson


Reminders of son

Our son died unexpectedly seven years ago at age 26. Although raised a Christian, he had drifted away from the church and was living his life in a way that was sometimes painful for my husband and me as parents to watch. He would go to church with us when he visited, but that was the only time he would attend.

One Sunday after coming home from church, we noticed that a message had been left on our answering machine. It was our son, who said that he had been feeling down and a friend had asked him to go to church with her, so he was walking there with her as he was leaving us a message. He said that he had tried lots of things and maybe this would help.

He died Sunday night or early Monday morning.

His friend that he went to church with, whom we have known for years, told us later that our son had been smiling during the sermon and had really enjoyed the message, which was about being kind. They had had a good rest of the day together also.

I believe God blessed us by giving us this message that our son had left on the phone, allowing us to believe that he was saved and we will be together again eventually in heaven.

Just a few months later, our nephew was getting married out of town. It was sad to attend this happy occasion without our son being there. Our other two sons and one girlfriend and my husband and I all stayed at an antebellum home there in New Orleans. When my husband and I were shown to our room, the first thing I noticed was a large brass turtle by the fireplace. My son and I both loved turtles and would often give each other turtle gifts. I had prayed and asked God before our trip if he would somehow let us feel our son's presence there with us — and this I felt was God's answer to my prayer.

— Jean Mauroner


God is good! Prayer is key

I was a teenager, and we had a four-drawer filing cabinet. It remained locked, with the key in the lock. I had opened the cabinet when someone knocked on our front door. Without thinking, I put the key in my shirt pocket.

It was a hot summer day, and several friends wanted me to go swimming with them. To get to the "Hole," a wide place in the Little Sequatchie River, you had to have a snake stick and walk a mile, cross the highway, walk a half mile, then through a friend's yard and a plowed field.

We swam, then returned home. I noticed the filing cabinet and saw it was locked, and the key was missing. I remembered putting it in my shirt pocket, and it was no longer there. I began retracing my steps. I got to the Hole, and found nothing.

I started back, and about halfway across the plowed field, stopped, knelt and while leaning on my snake stick prayed, and prayed, asking for help in finding the key.

Even though I felt this was too trivial for God's concern, I knew my father would be very disappointed in me. I got up and saw the sun twinkling off a shiny object about 30 feet ahead. It was the key. While not a life-shaming incident, I felt that I had help in finding the key and never forgot it.

— Ray Millard


Sacred plant

When my dad was dying back in 1993, he gave me a small peace lily and told me to take care of it because I inherited his green thumb.

I have cherished that plant for 26 years, and it blooms every year promptly the week of Father's Day. I believe this is my sign from heaven that my dad loves me and is at peace. My family calls it "mom's sacred plant."

— Debbie Brown