Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Process of Forgiveness

Ephesians 4:31-32 (NKJV)

 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

"My husband has had an affair and we've separated." These were the words I read in an email last year from a dear friend. What do you do? My reaction was to defend her and put the people involved in their place and let them know exactly what I thought of them. After awhile though, I had to put the situation in God's hands. You see, even though it wasn't my marriage, for my friend's sake, I wanted to step in and fix it. I had to come to the realization that no matter how much I wanted to, I couldn't. I had to go through the process of forgiveness. I had to forgive her husband and also forgive the lady he had the affair with. I still have days where I want to ring their necks and tell them what I think, but I'm much closer to the forgiveness and grace point that I was before. What or who in your life do you still need to forgive. Though it won't happen overnight, if you let God take over and have complete control, you'll get there.

Father, help us each to forgive. We know it's a process Lord. In your time, show us the grace to release the people and the pain into Your hands. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Through It All

Some of you reading this article have possibly come to our morning show in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and have heard me share my story. Some of you will be reading it for the very first time. This is not a story I necessarily like to tell because in the telling of it sometimes my mind will flashback to the most painful time of my life but by the time I finish, I can smile and say, “Thank You God for healing me. I know that You spared my life to tell the world what a Great God You Are and that You are still the same, yesterday, today, and forever.”

In late January of 2012, I was diagnosed with inoperable Colorectal Cancer. I had an idea that I had a major problem but wouldn’t speak it to anyone. The moment I heard I had cancer I knew that God would be my only hope and that He would have to see me through it.

My husband, RW, and I got home that afternoon and I sat down and began to write Scriptures of Healing. I made copies of what I had written and posted them in areas I knew I would be…the kitchen cabinets, my dressing table mirror, the kitchen table, the bedside table, and on the door of the bathroom cabinet.

In March I began treatments of chemo and radiation. It was the day before my 65th birthday and I had to go into the “Chemo Suite” and get my first chemo treatment and then they attached a chemo pump that would go with me until Friday afternoon when I would return to the “Chemo Suite” and would have it removed. This would go on every week for the next few months. On Mondays it would be plugged into my port, On Fridays it would be removed.

I don’t know if any of you have experienced a Chemo Pump but you are attached to it 24/7. You eat with it, you sleep with it, you shower with it (without getting it wet…that was an ordeal), and in my case…I performed on our show with it. Not only that but literally every minute, especially in the quiet of the night, you hear it go off as it shoots that medicine into your system.

Not only did I have this chemo pump on but everyday, Monday through Friday, as soon as the show was over, RW would get me into the car and take me to Knoxville to UT Med Center to the “Radiation Suite” to have a radiation treatment. You become quickly acquainted with other patients and their families when each of you is in the waiting room everyday at the same time each day. You tend to become another kind of family.

Three days after all of these treatments started, as I was getting ready to go to the theater for our show, I brushed through my hair and what a shock, the brush was full of the hair and I had a big bald spot where the hair had been. I continued to brush and finally just called my husband into the room. He came in and the look on his face said it all. I told him to go get his electric razor and just shave my head. He balked momentarily but did as I had asked.

I need to tell you that I have worn wigs off and on through the years and actually had several wigs. One I had specifically bought, just in case I needed it, for the possible hair loss. The others were older ones I had for several years to use on ‘bad hair days’.

Two months into radiation, I had third degree burns on the inside of my legs and in other private areas. I could no longer wear anything but caftans because if anything touched my skin, the flesh would peel off in layers of skin and would leave the most painful open skin with blisters.

I need to inject that up to this time, I had gone into the theater everyday to try to perform/sing. Why do I use the word perform? In the ministry that God gave us, we are in world of many people who don’t know Jesus Christ and His love. We don’t preach because these are people who have paid for entertainment and give them that but through that entertainment we give them Jesus, His love, and hope through Him. I share my testimony of God’s healing right before intermission and when we go out to the lobby after the first half, many people come to us and share their needs, their healing, ask for prayer, etc.

At the beginning of treatment, I would be able to barely get through a show, then it was about half of a show, then it became one song, and finally I couldn’t go in at all.

One afternoon when I was so weak and burnt from the radiation, my Radiation/Oncologist came in as I was getting off of the radiation table. He told me that he was going to give me two weeks off of radiation and then we would pick it back up again as I had to finish the treatment. He said, “we’re going to pray and believe that God will regenerate your skin somewhat and we can get this done. But to be honest, if you live, you’ll be in a wheelchair the rest of your life with a colostomy.”

RW got me home that afternoon but I hadn’t told him anything that the doctor had said. I was too weak to even talk.

When he got me home and into our bedroom and I began to cry out to God. I was crying out the Scriptures that I had posted all over my house and I closed with, “God just go on and take me now, take me now! I’m ready to go! I can’t endure this any longer and I can’t put my family through anymore. But if You still have something left for me to do…I need you to heal me!”

On December 28, 2012, RW and I was in an examination room waiting for my Colorectal Specialist and the door opened, my doctor walked in, pointed his finger at me and said, “I pronounce you cured of Cancer!” My latest CT scan had showed the tumor was gone! Hallelujah!!!

On December 16th of 2013, after months of CTs, bloodwork, and numerous tests, RW and I were sitting across from my Oncologist and he said, “Donna, you are our Miracle patient. All of the doctors involved in your case have sat down and discussed it many times and we all realize it was your determination and your faith that made you Whole!

Yes, determination and faith works but be sure and add THE WORD OF GOD with it. What better prescription can you have.

And so as I share this rather lengthy testimony with you, I have to tell you that I must give a shorter version in the theater but we’ve seen God take it and use for His Glory. I know that is the reason God healed me and I know that He can do the same for you.

Donna Blackwood

Donna Blackwood likes to say she is one-half of the dynamic duo, the other half being her husband of 50 years, RW Blackwood.

The Blackwood Singers formed in 1967 where Donna joined her husband of two years traveling and singing all over America.  Donna has recorded on the Benson Heartwarming Impact label.  She 
has had several songs in the Gospel Charts in the early seventies, "Through It All", "He Was There All The Time", Find No Fault in Him" "Put Your Hand in the Hand", and several others as part of the Blackwood Singers group.

In the 1976, the group moved to Nashville where her husband signed the group to the Capitol recording label and had six Billboard Country Top 100 Charted Songs.

In the 1987, RW got a call from the Blackwood Brothers asking him to move back to Memphis and join the group.  Donna semi-retired to raise their two children, Andrea and Robbie, while RW was working with the Blackwood Brothers.

In 1990, the couple moved to Branson, Missouri and reformed the Blackwood Singers, with their adult children becoming a part of the group, singing the Ozark Country Jubilee and Shepherd of the Hills.

In the year 2000, RW and Donna moved to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to join RW's brother, Ron, and sing at the Louise Mandrell Theater.  RW's brother and his wife retired to Texas but Donna and RW remained in Pigeon Forge where they still perform their Blackwood Morning Show six days a week at the Smoky Mountain Opry Theater.

In the year 2016, RW and Donna will be moving back to Branson, Missouri where they will rejoin their children and their eleven grandchildren. They will be performing at the Starlite Theater as the morning show opening in mid-March of 2016.

Donna shares her testimony of healing everyday at the theater and knows that God healed her to tell her story, to give people hope, to let them know that Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

You Are My Strength

 Psalm 19:14 NIV  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

 I want to focus on those last few words, "my strength and my redeemer."

Over the last few weeks, the Lord has had me focusing on the last part of this verse. I have had days where if I didn't have Him, I'd completely lose it. And I'm sure, with this, many readers, I'm not alone. Ladies, let me encourage you to lean on Him. When you feel like you can't take another step, let Him be your strength. Let Him take the battle. It's not ours to fight anyway, so let's stop trying.

Father, help us all to realize that You are our strength and redeemer. Help us to release those battles, those fears, to You. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Love At The Cross

John 11:25-26 NIV " Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even though they die: and whoever loves by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

I want you to go back with me two thousand years. You're Mary, his mother. You're standing there as they nail him to that cross and you're watching the lashings they're giving him time and time again. Jesus goes from seeing you as his mother to seeing you as someone needing a savior. I can't even begin to imagine the grief and pain Mary was experiencing. Seeing her only son being tortured and beaten right in front of her was horrible. But ladies, as horrible as that was, the greatest thing happened three days later. Mary went back to the tomb and found that it was empty! It wasn't the nails that held him there, it was love. It was His love for us all. Though Easter has passed, let us not forget the sacrifice of love He showed.

Thank You Lord for your gift of love. Help us to always keep that at the for front of our minds. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Hidden Classic, Guest Blogger Carol Stratton

Ephesian 2:10 NKJV “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus…”

Flat, I thought as I bent my ear to the mandolin strings. Can't tune it here, I'll just listen. As a newcomer to the group I decided to sit on the sidelines and enjoy the Saturday morning Bluegrass jam session. These regular jam sessions are part of the great musical culture all over North Carolina and listening to them will make anyone a Bluegrass lover forever. In my town, Richard’s Coffee Shop opens their doors to anyone with a stringed instrument.  I knew my grandfather’s mandolin cradled in my arms, longed to join in. But as a beginning player I didn't want to add any sour notes to the lively group.

Too late. A jovial musician spied me in the back of the store and waved me into the group. With a bit of a stomach flip-flop, I stood up and walked to the middle of the circle where I scooted into the only open chair. Maybe I could just pretend to pick my instrument.

My plan of being low-key and inconspicuous evaporated.
“Where did you get that instrument?” a grisly guitar player with a flowing beard bellowed. I didn't know what to say. Is he accusing me of something?  Does he think I borrowed someone else’s?

I smiled and answered with a sheepish grin. “Well, I pulled this out of the bottom of my mother’s hall closet. No one had played it for years so I thought I’d take it for a spin.”

Suddenly, every musician’s eyes fixed on my instrument. After a few minutes of uncomfortable silence another member spoke up. “What you've got there is a classic. You’d better get that appraised and insured.”   Hesitantly, a reedy banjo player leaned over and asked if he could hold it for just a minute. “I won’t even play it,” he assured me. “It’s a treasure.”

In 2 Corinthians 4:17, it says “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not us.”  Hidden inside of us God has placed His gem, the indwelling of His spirit in our earthly bodies.  The container may have dents, cracks, and chips. Part of the glaze may have worn off of the exterior but God still sees us as treasures.

Isn't it just like God to rummage through a dusty coat closet and haul us out to be used for His purposes? He doesn't want to waste anyone’s life stuffed in some gloomy dark storage area. And not only does he use us for His plans, He also takes great joy in passing us around to be admired as His treasures.  To God, we are His “classics”.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Undeserved Forgiveness Grace Freely Given

Matthew 6: 14-15 NKJV

 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

"She doesn't deserve my forgiveness! The evil that was done is just too great." This is the story my pastor's wife and Bible study leader, Eva Ruth, shared with us about someone in her life. Though Eva didn't feel this person deserved her forgiveness, she knew God's instruction. She knew that there was also a day when she didn't deserve forgiveness. The forgiveness Eva showed to the person wasn't deserved, but grace was freely given that day. The same goes for us, ladies. We didn't deserve the forgiveness that Christ offers. But again, undeserved forgiveness, grace was freely given.

Father, thank You for the forgiveness You show to us each and every day. The forgiveness was undeserved but the grace was freely given. Thank You Lord! In Jesus Name, Amen.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Beauty of Prayer

A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24, NKJV)

Last week while attending a writers conference, I was able to spend time with a friend I've not seen in 2 years. On the last day, she gave me something I'll never forget. It was something that can't be bought with money, it can't be won in a contest. Susan Stilwell gave me the gift of prayer. Over the last 2 years, I've had her as a sweet prayer warrior. But to have her put her arms around me and say, "let me pray with you," meant the world to me. Out of all the classes I took and all the people I was fortunate to meet, that was the highlight for me. God brings people into our lives when we least expect it. Though we met at a writers retreat, I don't think either of us knew the friendship that would develop. Who in your life is a prayer warior?

Father, thank You for bring such awesome women into our lives. Help us to not take them for granted, to cherish them always. Lord I ask You provide my readers with someone they can call on at anytime for prayer. Lord give them a sweet prayer warrior like I've found in Susan. In Jesus name, amen.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

An Ordinary Day Interrupted By An Extraordinary God?

Eva Ruth
Isaiah 40: 1-8
Today as I prepared to teach, I was reminded of a day last year. It was an ordinary day, a Friday, which was just like any other Friday until the word “snow” was mentioned in the small South Carolina town where I lived. Children everywhere were filled with anticipation as the day progressed. More than one adult mumbled at the sheer mention of the word. BUT when the first flakes began to fall, children from everywhere ran out and danced with JOY at the wondrous sight as the snow blanketed the town. Even the stoic adults hardened hearts melted as the town experienced the first measureable snow fall in over seven years. An ordinary day had been transformed into an extraordinary one. Doesn’t God call us to worship, to spend time with Him in a similar fashion? At the very mention of the word “worship”, we should be filled with anticipation of the coming event, a time to be with God. As God pours out His spirit to blanket us, our hearts overflow with joy as we experience His very presence. An ordinary Friday was transformed into an extraordinary one. You know, snow doesn’t last forever but God’s love and desire to be among us does. Hear what the Bible says:

The grass withers, and the flower fades, but the word of our God, stands forever!”

Let us always be prepared in our hearts to worship God so that the ordinary may become the extraordinary.

Father God, thank you for the gift of your presence in our daily lives. May we be ever aware of you. May we be transformed day by day by your spirit. Amen.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

No Place Like Home

 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2, NKJV)

Go back with me to a sceen in a well-known movie, The Wizard of Oz. In this movie, Dorothy is looking for that sacred place, home. She tries to take the shortcut to get there but quickly realizes it's a bad idea. She finally understands that if she stays the course, she'll eventually make it home. That's how it is in life. We try to take the shortcuts, but each time we come running back to God wondering why we're in such a mess. This verse lets us know that He has a place prepared for us...if we'll only follow Him and stop trying to take the shortcuts. I know the shortcut may seem easier because we seem to be living on easy street, but I garentee, it will catch up with us. Stay in His will and you'll make it home. As a dear friend of mine, Brenda Blankenship reminded me, "when you're in God's will, you're going to be in Satan's way."

Father, I lift up my readers. Give us all the strength to stay the course-the course you have planned for us. It's so much better than anything we could ever plan or any shortcuts we could take. In Jesus Name, amen.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Is Your Baggage too Heavy?

 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Mathew 11:28-30, NKJV)

Picture being in an airport trying to carry your bags along with your purse and other items. Now, picture getting to the point of being so exhausted that you just drop everything in your arms to the ground. That's how we feel spiritually at times. We try to carry the "bags" of our lives and get exhausted doing it. We get exhaused, because they weren't meant for us to carry alone. The verse tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Ladies, give up your bags. Lay them down at His feet.
Father, give us the strength to lay our baggage down at Your feet. Help us to not pick it back up again. In Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Giving Into Life

 My adorable son, a toddler of 15 months sat propped on my hip. I dressed him in his cutest little construction boots, brown corduroy pants and a sweater vest to warm his back and chest. When they found him, I wanted him to look like the little angel he was. The little angel I was going to kill, along with my own life.
Postpartum depression was getting the better side of me. Divorce from my husband wasn't going to happen the way I wanted it. I was too scared of what the results could be. Scared to death that my child would be taken from me. Scared to death of life being hell on earth if I would leave my husband. I was tired of taking care of everyone else but myself. I made every excuse in the world to justify my sad and very sick mind. To me it all made sense. End it and you wouldn't hurt anymore. No one would ever hurt my boy if I took him with me in death.
All those thoughts burst in my head as I walked to the garage where my husband stored a van he was repairing. All I had to do was put my baby in his car seat and he and I could die, not alone, together. It would just take turning the ignition switch, start the van and cry myself to sleep as I would allow asphyxiation to choke us into the grave. My baby would never know the difference and my sadness would be gone. Forever.
D.j. was the picture perfect little boy. He has my eyes and his daddy's smile. He was his sister's best friend. This little man was adored by many. Yet, I struggled with him. He struggled with colic. He cried constantly. I wondered if he also cried because I did. I was being lead by the hand by Satan to rip away the life this little guy that he hadn't even lived yet.
As we walked across the cold driveway, I looked into his eyes. What big beautiful brown eyes he had. He just looked at me and grinned. When I could no longer focus on him through the tears in my eyes, I walked determined that what I was going to do would keep him from harm. Keep him from.....everyone.
I put my hand on the door knob of the garage door and froze. I couldn't move. I couldn't turn back and I couldn't go forward. I wanted to get in that door and get things over with. I stopped and fell to the ground. I sat and cried. I felt the Holy Spirit move within me. This enormous amount of love overcame every feeling caused by depression. And in that moment, I could feel God hold me as I held onto my little boy.
“I am so sorry God. Help me!” I cried out. “Help me, I whispered.” God guided me in his arms as I got up from the hard cold ground and gently walked back into my home. I sat slowly in the recliner holding my sweet innocent child against my chest. Tears dampened the top of his head. We rocked and rocked and fell asleep in the peacefulness of the presence of the Lord.

Not everyday was easy after that. But I knew then that I could rely on God to pull me through the depression that consumed me. The Holy Spirit is constant. He is available for me and for you, to help us out of what feels like the bottomless pits of life. He is here for us every minute of every hour of every day.

My son is now twelve. When I look in his eyes, like I did on that day that life was almost stripped from him, I see life. I see a blessing that God gave to me. I see joy. What a gift to feel love. God is gracious. He is giving and He is waiting for all of us to deeply know and accept His  love gift.

Proverbs 12:28 New American Standard 
In the way of righteousness is life, And in its pathway there is no death.

Can we pray?

Heavenly Father, Let us see Your faithfulness even when we are unfaithful to You. When circumstances surround us with pain, Lord, I ask for peace and for heart healing. Thank You God for letting us come to You, to trust and know that you will bring us through it all. Help all those who feel suicidal. Guide them so that they may receive the help that they need. Protect them, Father and let them feel Your love. Provide all their needs, Lord and ease the pain they feel. Give them hope in You and hope in healing. Bless each one Your treasured children.
In the precious name of Jesus, Amen

(Please see information after this song. )

If You are Suicidal...

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger
because of thoughts of suicide
Please call 911 now
There is help for you. Stay on the phone with the operator and wait for help to arrive. Do not hesitate to call. Your life is extremely valuable, and people care about you. Please reach out for help. Never act on your thoughts of suicide. Never.

If you are not in immediate danger because of thoughts of suicide, but need someone to talk with about your suicidal feelings, please do not hesitate to call one of the following national suicide prevention lines:

1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)


 Guest blogger Mary Edwards is a speaker and writer. Her own experiences lead her to focus her speaking and writing on child sexual abuse education, prevention and healing. She founded Be A Voice 4 kids in the spring of 2014. She is a 2013 graduate of Christian Communicators. Mary is a facilitator for Stewards of Children training through Darkness to Light. Visit Mary at www.writeblessings.com or email her at  wordsbyLOU@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Broken, But Still Usable

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corenthians 5:17, NKJV)

"God can no longer use me. What I've done is just too horrible for Him to be able to ever use me again." Those were the heartbreaking words my friend heard while ministering to another friend. This lady had the picture in her mind that her sin, her mistake was just too much for God to be able to forgive. My friend reminded her of a crayon. Just because the crayon was broken into little pieces, it still colored the most beautiful picture. It could still be used. Ladies, that's true for us as well. It doesn't matter what you've done, God can still use you. You may have had an abortion. You may have had an affair. It doesn't matter. When you ask His forgiveness, you can still be used by Him. You may be broken, but, you're still usable.

Father, remind us all that no matter what we've done, You can still use us. I pray for each reader. Remind her that though she may be broken, You still want to use her. In Jesus name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Yes That Would Change the World

 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38, NKJV)

Picture this sceen with me. A young teenaged girl going about her life, and all of a sudden, here comes an angel. This angel brings her the news that she will have a child. How in the world will this happen, she wonders? She's never been with a man in that way. It's not possible. But, we know that what man deems imposible, God says is possible. Mary said yes to the task God had given her. We've just come out of the Christmas season. Really, it's the only time of year when we hear Mary's story. Like Mary, will we begin our year with a resounding "yes" to God? Will we let Him use us in whatever way He sees fit? To others, it may look crazy, but to Him...it's just the thing we need. After all, He uses the most unlikely people to get done what needs to be accomplished. Will we be part of that Master plan as Mary was all those years ago?

Dear Lord, I pray for each of us. Give us the boldness of Mary to answer Your call on our lives. In Jesus Name, Amen.