Monday, August 10, 2020

Five Years Cancer Free! Choice of my books ends September 17th

It's been a crazy 5 years for us. Our journey started with Joe's cancer and along the way he lost his mother and I lost my father. But through it all God has been so good to us, always working things out for us. I am finally returning to writing. Maybe not 100% full-time but I hope to be back to writing a couple books a year. By the end of August, Bride by Blackmail, is scheduled to be released, and I am well over half-way through my medieval sequel to Sword of Forgiveness! It's good to be back doing something I love so much.

Five years cancer-free!
We've had a busy few years since we came back from Houston. We started building our new home. We moved in 9 months ago. Building a house has been time consuming but also good for both of us to get busy and work on something together. I know we are both glad that all the hard work is done and what we have left is less physical! It's been nice to focus on something other than MCL. 

God is so good. MCL’s life expectancy at the time of Joe’s diagnosis was 2 to 5 years. But we are approaching five years cancer free! So what is it like now for us? We have moved into the house that we built. Joe continued to work a full time job and build this house. It has been quite an undertaking I have to say. We’ve been working on this house for 3 years now from groundbreaking but praise God we are in! We have graduated to returning to Houston for checkups from every 4 months to every 6 months. However, on our last checkup we got some tough news. Yes, Joe is still in remission (good news) but 19 out of the 131 windows trial patients have relapsed and 3 have passed away. So what does that mean for us? The patients that relapsed were in what they called ‘high risk’ meaning they have 1 of 5 high risk factors. Joe unfortunately falls into that category. So for the next two years Joe will be on what they call a maintenance treatment. He won’t be on the harsh chemo which made him lose all his hair but will be on the trial drugs that actually put him in remission. He will take a pill every day and will go into the hospital for an infusion of another drug every month.

I don’t question why God has chosen to do it this way. I’m just thankful that He has provided a way to keep Joe in remission. So do I think that God didn’t heal Joe after all? Absolutely not! God did not give Joe a miracle, He gave him a healing and He used the doctors to do that. This next round of treatment is just another part of Joe’s healing and I am so thankful for it.

If you haven’t read our story, read on to see where God has taken us and the AMAZING way He ordains people, places, and events in our lives, For us we see His hand 20 years ago when He began moving people for this very time in our lives.

The following are posts I wrote at different times in this journey. I am so thankful I have a Father in Heaven who loves us so much and cares for us each and every day.


Life prior to MCL
My husband went to the doctor for a check-up and the doctor discovered a lump near his collarbone. Well, Joe knew it was there and had ignored it, thinking it was nothing. The doctor sent us to another doctor.

This doctor thought it was a fatty tumor—nothing to worry about. But at the last minute (and I'm sure the looks of concern on our face played a part) he said, "Well, there is no way to know for sure without a biopsy. So I'll send you to a surgeon to have it biopsied."

Two days later we are sitting in the surgeon's office and he is telling us it is in the wrong spot to be a lymph node. He thinks it is a benign fatty tumor, come back on Friday and he will remove it. So we returned on Friday. Half way through the surgery he said, I'm beginning to think this is a lymph node. Several minutes later he reached the lump and confirmed it is a node. He sent it off and told us it isn't big and he isn't to concerned that it is cancer.

A week passes while we wait and pray. We return to the office to find out Joe has a rare form of Non- Hodgkins Lymphoma called Mantle Cell. Suddenly our lives are turned upside down!

Next week we are in the Oncologists office scared to death. He's telling us how we will put this into remission with some very tough chemo and then a stem cell transplant, but it isn't curable. It will come back, the question is when. Wow!!! These things happen to other people right? 

This was a barn raising! Friends came and helped 
us put up a barn for our horses for shelter while
we were gone. 
After several more tests we were to start the next week. However our daughter who is a PA and a dear friend who is a NP talked us into going to MD Anderson and getting a second opinion. Three weeks later we are in Houston at MD Anderson and they are telling us about a clinical trial they'd like to see Joe in. They ran more tests and repeated some that had already been done. What they discovered in the CT scan was that in a month Joe's lymph nodes that were swollen throughout his body hadn't grown. And though there are a lot of them, they aren't large like a lot of Mantle Cell (MCL) patients.

God is so good! Had Joe taken just one treatment of Chemo he wouldn't have qualified for the clinical trial which will eliminate the stem cell transplant!  Dr. Wang at MD Anderson is the top MCL doctor in the nation. He said since Joe's nodes hadn't grown they would take the 'watch and wait' approach. We will return every 3 months for another CT scan to see if anything is changing.

The 3 month reprieve is an answer to prayer. We are now juicing and eating fresh fruit and vegetables trying to get Joe's immune system up along with lots of vitamins! Everything we read tells us that building his immune system is the key to beating this 'so-called' incurable disease.

But I know God is bigger than MCL and I truly believe God is going to heal Joe. Now whether it is through divine healing, healthy eating, or the wisdom God has given doctors, I don't know. But I do know Joe will beat this!

My life was turned upside down this past April when my husband was diagnosed with a rare form of non-hodgkin’s lymphoma called Mantle Cell. He wasn’t even seeing the doctor because he was sick. The man is never sick. And I mean never
George W Bush Library
Since April has been living in Houston more j than South Carolina. But God has been here with us in amazing ways!

The first thing I did as a Christian, I fell to my knees and cried out to God. I don’t mean just pray I cried out—out loud—pleading with God. I contacted every person I knew who would pray and asked them for prayers. And God moved. First He guided us to MD Anderson. A dear friend and nurse practitioner from Dallas called when she heard about Joe. She convinced us to come to Houston to MD Anderson for a second opinion. She then called her best friend in Houston and got us a place to stay when we came.
George W Bush Library
Then I got an email from a lady who had called me weeks earlier about getting a sheltie puppy from me. This woman knows nothing about Joe. Her email goes something like this. “I don’t know what is going on but God told me to tell you that He’s got this.” I cried. I responded and told her what WAS going on. She told me that she didn’t want me to think she was weird or anything but that she’d been driving down the road and God told her to pray for me. She said I thought to myself okay God I’ll pray when I get home, but she felt like God was yelling at her in her head saying pray now! She said she almost pulled her car over. Then people started telling me they were praying and they really felt like God told them He’s got this! I probably heard that at least 6 times. And no one knew what this other woman had told me.

It seemed every time my faith got low, God sent someone else to remind me He had this! It was so amazing. I’m a person who believes in ‘bugging’ God. I remind Him of His promises. I am like the man in the bible who has company come in the middle of the night and so he goes to his neighbors and won’t quit knocking on his door until he gets up. God wants us to cry out to Him.
My babies happy to see me

In the lowest valley we’ve ever walked, God has been there every step of the way. We never said why us? Things like this can bring a person closer to God. I know I want God to use me through this. It has been amazing to watch God move. I’ll quick give you some ways He blessed us.

Friends, neighbors, and family stepped up to the plate to help. It was unbelievable. You see I have 3 shelties, 1 German Shepherd, 1 cat, 5 horses (one is a young colt), and a miniature donkey. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. Friends and family take care of our animals when we are gone. 
Some of our other 4 footed family
We went to the hospital and Joe was put with Doctor Wang. People ask us, How did you get in with Dr. Wang? You see he is one of the 2 top doctors for Mantle Cell Lymphoma in the World!

Joe has probably had MCL for 2 to 4 years. But God wanted us at MDA at this time. Because it just so happened that Dr. Wang was starting a clinical trial for MCL patients and Joe was immediately accepted into the study! Had his Mantle Cell been discovered earlier we would have missed the trial.
Our PA daughter, Kacie, Dr. Wang, Joe and me

We fell in love with the woman we were staying with. She’s like family. She offered her home to us every time we come down and even when we have to stay for 5 months!

God has been so good to us and I am so thankful for all His blessings. That’s not to say we never have hard days. We do! We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. But keeping our eyes on the Lord is the key to keeping a good attitude. I don’t think God is disappointed with us for hurting sometimes or getting discouraged. But what He does want is for us to know where to turn when that happens. He wants us to look up and run into His open arms.

Today I’d like to share what it is like after the chemo and the words remission. When we first heard those magical words a weight lifted off our shoulders and
Ringing the remission bell!
each day was like a new lease on life. But every four months we have to return to MD Anderson for PET/CT scans and that reminds us that the doctors aren’t so sure this cancer will never return.

God healed Joe—he just used MD Anderson to do it. So when we return every 4 months for those rechecks Satan wants us to live in fear that the mantle cell has returned. He wants to rob us of the joy and assurance the Lord has given us. It’s hard sometimes not to look over your shoulder to see what is there, but God wants us to look up rather than back.

So how does one go on after beating a cancer like MCL? Joe and I have found that keeping our eyes focused ahead of us and on God keeps us putting one foot in front of the other. It’s been a year this month that Joe was declared cancer free. When we walk out
of MDA with the new results it is always a positive feeling. And the next three or so months we continue on with our normal life which is always busy.

But as the weeks creep by to the next four month checkup, there is Satan whispering fear and negativity into our ears. I am the one who sees a glass half-full and Joe is the realist. LOL! His words. Mine are more like pessimist. We agree to disagree on that title. So I expect him to worry but not me! No, I am the positive one. I’m not supposed to have these doubts. However, try as I may to keep my faith and not let fear get a foothold, many times it does.

Like countless other things on this journey, God had already put things in place, this time a scripture to cling to when my faith waivered. Several years ago our pastor chose Mark 9:24 for our verse that year. Many of the sermons throughout the following months tied in to that verse. Mark 9:24 is a short verse and reads, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

It’s a reminder to me that though God wants us to have faith and trust Him, He recognizes that we are human and at times our faith is going to waiver. For those times He has given us a verse to cling to. It’s a verse that shouts out to us that God wants to help us when we face hard situations where our faith wanes.

Leave a comment, ask a question, share your story, to be entered to win choice of my novels/novellas and choice of format. 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Time for Healing by Ramona K. Cecil ends August 10th

Please welcome a very sweet friend, Ramona K. Cecil to my blog this week. Ramona I'm so glad to have you here! Congratulations on your new release!

Hi! I’m Ramona K. Cecil and I live in southern Indiana. I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, poet, and author of historical romance novels for the Christian market. My husband and I have been married for forty-seven years and are now empty-nesters. We have two grown daughters and three young-adult grandchildren. We make our home in Seymour, Indiana, the “small town” made famous in rocker John Mellencamp’s song of the same name. I’ve always loved history, especially the history of my Hoosier state. Like The Time for Healing, many of my stories are set in Indiana’s past. When not writing, my hobbies include reading, gardening, and visiting places of historical interest.

My latest novel, The Time for Healing, releases August 7th with Pelican Book Group. This award-winning story is inspired by a real life event—The Pigeon Roost Massacre—that happened in 1812 about thirty miles south of where I live.  

Winner - Best in Fiction Indiana Faith and Writing Contest 2014

Ginny Red Fawn McLain, a Shawnee medicine woman, is thrust back into the world of her birth family twelve years after her abduction. While she eschews the Christianity preached by her birth uncle who found her, Ginny's heart refuses to shun his friend and fellow Christian minister, Jeremiah Dunbar. Jeremiah is immediately smitten with his friend's long-lost niece. But unless Ginny Red Fawn joins Christ's fold—something she adamantly resists—any future with the woman he loves is impossible.



A soft, moist touch against his lips jerked Jeremiah awake. At the sight of the white Indian girl kneeling over him, myriad emotions darted around his chest like a bevy of barn swallows. Surely she had not…

Red Fawn dipped her finger into a little wooden bowl then touched it to his lips, moistening them with an oily salve. “I am sorry to wake you, but the sun is rising in the sky, and your friend asked me to bring you medicines.”

Jeremiah pushed up to a sitting position on his woolen-blanket cot. Heat suffused his neck and face at his initial mistaken impression of her actions. He poked out the tip of his tongue to taste the oil she’d spread over his cracked lips. The sweet, light taste told him it must be either plant or mineral based.

“It is sweet birch oil,” she said, answering his silent question. “It will heal your lips and make the skin soft again.” Her smile transformed her features from comely to breathtakingly beautiful.

“You speak English well.” He found it surprising that she hadn’t lost the language of her childhood during her years with the Shawnee.

She set the bowl aside. “My father wanted me to keep the white man’s language and to teach it to him and my mother. He said it would be good for our family and our tribe when dealing with the whites, so we spoke it often in our home.”

“Where is Zeb?” Jeremiah cleared his burning throat and glanced around the longhouse. He needed to direct his thoughts away from this girl who made his heart hammer like a woodpecker’s beak on a dead log.

 “He has gone to Chief Great Hawk’s lodge to tell him what is written in the book you brought,” she said, her voice turning harder. She walked to the fire, bent over a steaming iron pot, and stirred its contents with a shaved stick.

She spoke as if the Bible was new to her, but Zeb said the Shawnee had taken her at the age of six. Jeremiah recalled his own sixth year vividly. That year, his family had traveled from Kentucky to Indiana, and his mother gave birth to his brother Joel in the Conestoga along the way. He and his seven-year-old sister, Dorcas, had kept three-year-old Lydia occupied by fishing for crawdads on a creek bank during Mother’s travails. It seemed inconceivable that this girl, who remembered her given name as Ginny McLain, had no memory of her parents or Zeb and his wife, Ruth, setting her on their laps and telling her stories from the Scriptures.

“Surely, you remember the Bible. I remember the Bible stories my ma and pa told me and my sisters when I was six.”

She stopped stirring the sweet-smelling contents of the pot and became still. At her silence, hope leapt in Jeremiah that perhaps he’d jogged a long-buried memory in her.

Without answering him, she grasped the pot handle with a scrap of wool material to protect her hand, lifted the pot from the fire, and set it on a flat rock. She dipped an earthen bowl into the pot and then carried the vessel to him. She set the bowl on the ground in front of him. “When it is cool enough, drink it. It will heal your sore throat.”

As she walked out of the longhouse, an ache not associated with his illness throbbed in Jeremiah’s chest. Regret filled him. God had given him an opportunity to share Christ with Red Fawn, and he had squandered it.

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Monday, March 16, 2020

Taming Julia by Jodie Wolfe

I've always been a fan of mail-order bride stories. They make for good fiction. It's hard to believe that it actually is part of our Nation's history. Can you imagine what scenarios caused a woman to take a chance, to travel a far distance to marry a man she'd never met? Most times they didn't correspond more than a few letters before they decided to get hitched.
I saw one advertisement that a man desired an ugly wife. I can't imagine. How do you know if you qualify as being ugly enough to suit him? Chuckle. The scenario I came up with for my mail-order bride story is what happens if a man sends off for a genteel bride and the woman who shows up is anything but that. What would he do, especially if they were already married by proxy. It wasn't like he could send her back. 

Here's a sneak peek:
Matrimony News, February 6, 1875 edition
Minister bachelor aged 27, height 5 feet 10 inches seeks genteel, honest and first-rate homemaker with a desire to serve God. Must be willing to marry by proxy and arrive in Burrton Springs, Kansas by May 1. 


Burrton Springs, Kansas, Saturday, May 1, 1875 

Dear Lord, please don’t let that creature be my new wife. Drew Montgomery swiped the sweat trickling a path down his neck and shoved the new hat back on his head. He squinted, taking in the lone passenger stepping from the stagecoach. At least, he thought it was a woman. He shielded his eyes from the sun, taking in the britches. 

Britches? A gun belt strapped to a slim waist. He gulped. A rifle rested on her shoulder, and she wore a Stetson situated low on her brow. The figure shifted sideways, and Drew groaned, fearing his proxy mail-order bride had arrived by the look of all the curves. He squared his shoulders and crossed the street. 

"Are you Montgomery?" Her coffee-brown gaze seared through him. 

He snapped his gaping mouth shut and nodded. "Y-yes." 

"Name’s Jules Walker." She shoved her hand into his and shook it so hard his teeth clattered. "I reckon, Jules Montgomery since we’re hitched." She waved a slip of paper in his face. "Got the paper here to prove it. So are you my husband or not?" 

Drew caught a whiff of dirt. He coughed and cleared his throat. 

She peered at him as if he were a chicken with one leg. 

"I’m Drew." He managed to choke the words out. "Isn’t your name Julia?" 

She scrunched her face, pushed her Stetson from her head, and allowed it to dangle from the string around her neck. Her brown hair scattered in disarray, slipping from a shoulder-length braid. "I can’t remember the last time I’ve been called Julia. Like I said, name’s Jules." 

"But..." Drew let the word hang between them. No matter. "Where’re your things?" 

"Got my knapsack and that there." She pointed to the top of the stagecoach. He expected to see a trunk, but a saddle rested there instead. What kind of woman brought a saddle into a marriage? What kind of woman showed up dressed like a man? No. No. Something was terribly wrong. 

About Taming Julia
In 1875, Kansas bachelor Drew Montgomery's sole desire is to serve God, but his congregation's ultimatum that he marry or leave, forces him to advertise for a wife by proxy. Jules Walker strides into Drew's life wearing breeches and toting a gun and saddle--more cowboy than bride. After years on the trail, she's not exactly wife material, but she longs for home and family, and will do anything to ensure Drew never discovers what she really is. 
Purchase Here

About the Author
Jodie Wolfe creates novels where hope and quirky meet. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Romance Writers of America (RWA), and COMPEL Training. She's been a semi-finalist and finalist in various writing contests. A former columnist for Home School Enrichment magazine, her articles can be found online at: Crosswalk, Christian Devotions, and Heirloom Audio. She's a contributor and co-founder of Stitches Thru Time blog. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a Grammie. Learn more at

What do you like about mail-order bride stories? Leave a comment for a chance to win a free ebook.