Thursday, December 31, 2015

I've Always Loved Christmas

Chuckie, Mom Evans, Tina, and Chuck Evans
Doug, Amanda, Brantey and Drake Evans

Jennifer and David Ramey

Cody, Will, Angie, and Austin
Ryan, and Mom Evans
Stephanie, Mom Evans, and Nate Hanks

                                Photos from our family gathering Christmas Eve
                                                        shared by Wayne and Chris Watson

     I've always loved Christmas.  As a child, it wasn't just abut getting toys from "Santa", but it meant a trip to West Virginia to be with Grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins.  As I've gotten older and especially now that I've been caring for Mom, I realize even more the truth that it isn't the presents under the tree but the family around the table that makes it Christmas.

     Years ago when the nieces and nephews were very young, we started a Christmas tradition of having a birthday cake for Jesus, read the Christmas story from the Bible in the book of Luke, and then sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus.  This helped keep the focus on the true meaning of the season and to teach the little ones what it was truly about.  Then, after the reading and the singing, the children would be given their gifts to open.  

     As they all grew up, we choose not to exchange gifts, just to be together and have a great dinner.  So to help pass the time, I began bringing party games to the gathering so that we could have some fun and it helps keep everyone from getting bore!  I have to confess here that I am NOT a game person and to be the one in charge of this activity really takes me out of my comfort zone!  I told my husband I'm about as interesting as the Activities Director on the Titantic!  But my family is so kind and gracious and always goes along with whatever games I happen to find for them to play.

     This year, after the games and the laughing we were sitting around the living room and I began asking each one to share with us what their favorite Christmas gift had been.  There were the usual electronic games and toys from the younger ones.  One of my niece-in-laws said hers was when she was given her first horse (I could relate to that!); one nephew said it was a box with the results of the pregnancy test telling him he was going to be a Dad (very precious!).  

     Then Austin, one of my nephews, said that all of the gifts he had ever been given were the best because it was for the age that he was then and what he really wanted at the time.  Very insightful for a 16 year old, I thought.  

     Later when everyone was gone and I was cleaning up the kitchen, I thought again about what he said and I realized that isn't just for gifts, but for Christmases, too.  Every Christmas is the best one ever because of who we were at that time, what was happening in our life, and the dynamics of the relationships we had then.  

     Those past Christmases are a memory, yet in each of them there is something that remains a part of who we are now, helping to mold us into what we are today.  We may not realize it or understand it, but our loving Lord is in control and directing our paths even in those times when we weren't seeking His direction nor acknowledging Him.

     We are preparing to move into a new year and none of us knows just what is waiting there in 2016.  My prayer both for you and for myself is that we will cherish these moments that we have with our loved ones, especially the ones we are caring for.  The Lord will change this season that we are in; the greatest tragedy would be to squander the time and then look back and say "I wish I had...."

      My Caregiving Friend, keep looking up and stay on your knees.  Remember that you are loved with an everlasting love.


Monday, November 23, 2015

A Whole New List of Things To Be Thankful For!

Photo courtesy of

     I thought I had a pretty good handle on emergencies and situations since I have been taking care of Mom for about 5 years now.  But on Friday night, November 6th, my husband had a major heart attack and the ride in the ambulance to the emergency room showed me that I don’t have a handle on anything!! 

     Totally unable to do anything but watch the EMT’s as they worked on Wayne to try to stabilize him, I realized that life can indeed change dramatically in a moment!

     After doing an emergency heart catheterization, the doctor told me that my husband had a 100% and another 90% blockage in one artery and a 90% blockage in another artery. Had we delayed in getting him to the hospital, he probably would have had a massive stroke or even died.  How merciful the Lord was to all of me! 

      Now, that my husband is back home with me and Mom is still with us, too, I realize anew that Thanksgiving is a good time to pause, take a deep breath, and remember all of the people and situations we have to be thankful for.  

     Just with the new situation of Wayne’s heart attack, I am so very thankful for:

     1.  Trained people that rush into situations we want to run away from.

     2.  The Lord impressing upon us months ago to get Wayne into an insurance program so that he has the option of not going to the VA

   3.  The heart specialist on call in the ER (Dr. Newton) spoken of as one of the best in the field. 

     4.  My sister-in-law, Martha, and my brother, Chuck and his wife, Tina, willing and able to stay with Mom from Friday, November 6th  to Wednesday, November 15th so that I could be at the hospital around the clock with Wayne.

     5.  Other family members and friends calling with offers of prayers and to help in any way we need them.

     6.  Mom’s calmness during all of this and her ability to be flexible and workable with all that was going on.

     7.  Wayne’s cooperative and workable attitude toward the situation and the changes necessary for our future.

     8.  Most of all, the Lord’s love, protection, care, and provision.  And especially  His grace and compassion in giving us a Second Chance – with Him and with each other. Our Lord’s grace and mercy are indeed abundant!  

     Caregiver, regardless of where you are in your situation, there truly is something you have to be thankful for, too. Please take a moment, recount those blessings, and tell the Lord how grateful you are.  It’s good for the soul and the heart and helps us keep our focus heaven-ward.

     Have a blessed Thanksgiving.  And make wonderful memories while you can.

        Shared in love, 



Friday, October 30, 2015

Strong Women of Faith

(Photo courtesty of

A friend of mine posted on her blog recently that one of the books she read with her daughters this past summer was Evidence Not Seen by Darlene D. Rose.  Though I haven’t read Darlene Rose’s book in a long time, my friend’s post reminded me about this most favorite book of mine.   It was a source of blessing and encouragement to me at a time in my life when I needed to be reminded that the Lord loves me and is still there even when it seems He had abandoned me.

I think another reason Darlene Rose’ testimony means so much to me is that she is the kind of woman I want to be: strong in faith, loving the Lord in the dark times, faithful in the hard times, trusting God thru it all. 

Another tremendous woman of faith that has shared her life’s experiences is Elizabeth Elliott.  I also highly recommend her books to women of any age –  her writings and teachings are timeless.

And I have the privilege of personally knowing such strong, humble, quiet, and faithful women.  Several are care givers of a parent or spouse and are dealing with far worse situations than I am; two others are young ladies in their 30s and have never been married, yet they live their single-ness with dignity, grace, and a precious smile; and the Lord has blessed me with the friendship of several teen girls that show me optimism and hope for a bright future lived in the center of the Lord’s perfect will for them.

These are the kind of woman I want to be, but in all honesty I cringe back from the possibility of hardship and suffering that the Lord often uses to show His mighty love and comfort.  I want the blessing without the pain!  

While I fail to be this kind of woman, I need to be around them – to see their smile in the midst of their struggle, to hear of the Lord’s comfort in the depths of their hurt, to read their testimony of how the Lord delivered them – because it encourages me and challenges me to do as Paul wrote in Philippians 3:14,  “... press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”  

I may never reach my goal, may fall on my face and make a complete mess some days, but I take great comfort in knowing that, by the Lord’s grace, I am not what I used to be.  And that, more than anything, keeps me seeking the Lord for more grace and more strength.  The greatest blessing is that He is willing to give it ... I just need to be surrendered to receive it. 

      Caregiver, remember that you are loved with an everlasting love!  Stay on your knees, and keep looking up!

       Shared in love, 



Friday, October 2, 2015

"The Dandelion", by Audella B. Evans

William"Bill" Evans, Sr.
Photo courtesy of Wayne Watson

On October 2, 2002,  my older brother, William Bernard Evans, Sr., died.  A blood clot to the lung was the diagnosis.  He was already dead by the time we received the call that something was wrong and Mom got to him, and it has always grieved her that she wasn’t with him when he took his final breath.

All of us in the family still miss him, but Mom does in a totally different way.  She doesn’t talk a lot about Bill as it grieves her too much, but I know she thinks about him all the time.  Whenever she does talk about him, she will tell me that parents are supposed to raise their children, enjoy the grandchildren, and die in a good old age.  Parents aren’t supposed to out-live their children.

But the Bible says in II Samuel 7:12 “And when thy days be fulfilled, ... thou shalt sleep with thy fathers,...”  Today, thirteen years ago, God’s days for Bill were fulfilled and the Lord took him home.  We all will make that journey, too, when our days are fulfilled.   

Mom has told me that she loves all four of us kids equally, but she dealt with us according to our need.  I know that she would grieve the same way if it had been me, or my brother Chuck, or my brother Doug that had died that day instead of Bill.  She will always be Mother ... we will always be her children, regardless of how old we all get or whether we are here with her or waiting for her in Heaven.  Mothers love that way: totally, unconditionally, and forever.  I’m so glad God made them that way and gave them such a huge capacity to love because I need my Mother’s love every day and in every way.  

Mom wrote the following on October 6, 2002, just before Bill’s funeral.  It was her way of sharing a precious memory of her first-born son.  I share it here in remembrance of my brother, Bill.  

Shared in love

* * * 

The Dandelion

Written by Mom Evans,
October 6, 2002, to share the memory she had of Bill first bringing her flowers.

I shall never forget Bill’s little hand as he so proudly displayed me, carrying me as if I were a rose or a costly orchid, so beautiful and loved, admired and coveted by all.  But me, I grew wild, carefree, not cared for, destroyed by most, trampled sometimes. Often considered annoying for being a pesky one.  But I continued to bask in the sun and drink in the rain. Though I grew in poor soil, my roots remained.

I had a purpose in life.  God planted me there for Bill to come my way and choose me for his mother, who would love me anyway, regardless of my lowly existence.  She admire me so much because her son loved her and wanted a flower for his Mom.  As he grew into a man, bouquets of beautiful, expensive flowers he gave. But often still he would stoop down and again choose me.

Bill is gone to be with the Lord, but I will continue to grow wild and carefree, for someone like Bill – maybe, just maybe! – will choose me.

Dandelions photo courtesy of



Thursday, August 13, 2015

"Alzheimer's Communication"

          A friend shared this with me on facebook.  Mom and I are not in this situation right now. but I found this to have some very interesting things to consider.  

          Sharing it here to help someone else - and to remind me!  

My friend, Kelli, shared the following as a prayer request, but it is such a heartfelt description of what the family of an Altzeimers patient deals with on a daily basis.  These brave families need our prayers.

Kelli Swinney, facebook post 10/1/2015

Prayer request. Heading to check on my parents. My Dad seems to be adjusting to nursing home life. Alzheimers is a horrible disease.- it takes your loved one away emotionally \mentally long before you lose them physically. The grieving process begins much early. Not sure he will know me this time, been about 2 months since I have seen him. 

My is now moved into her own room at my brother's home. She has dementia as well and is getting worse but there's a difference... My dad knew he had dementia and understood that.. my Mom is in complete denial. She does not understand things at all and it's making things frustrating. She simply doesn't realize she has dementia. We are having a lot more trouble with her now than my Dad.

My prayer request is... pray for my Dad's health - emotionally \physically. Also that we could find a nursing closer to home. We have a 4 hour round trip to visit him-actually is out of state. Pray for my Mom's physical health and her emotional \mental health. Help her to understand more about what's going on. We can't get her to walk around, exercise, or do any chores or take care of her personal hygiene. She is getting weaker . She is no longer the person that raised me and my brother. It's heart - breaking to see her this way... fading away.

God has me... and everyone for that matter, a journey... a difficult one but I know that my God will be at my side every step of the way. This journey has drawn me closer to God.. more focused on the important things in life, He is teaching me something daily. .. some days I am not sure..but that's ok. God is in control.... I just claim 
              Philippians 4 :13. Pray for traveling mercies too.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Remembering our cousin, Regina Pizzino Toler

Left to right: Regina, C.E. behind Doug, and Dale. 

Regina's Senior High School Photo

                                        Left to Right: C.E., Doug, Regina, Dwayne, and Dale.

On July 20, 2015, my cousin, Regina Pizzino Toler, died. She and I had just talked at the end of May and I still remember the sound of her voice as she said, “I know you’re praying for me and I wanted to share with you that the doctor said my lung cancer is in remission.”  She sounded so joyous!  She laughed ... I cried!  Both of us excited and rejoicing in our own way as together we gave the Lord the glory for her good news.  

But while Regina’s lungs were clear, just a few weeks ago cancer showed up in her brain and the Lord that we praised together saw it best to take her Home.  She is now there with her Dad, her Mom, and her older brother; Heaven is richer while earth is a shade grayer without her.

I read a quote that says, “a cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost”.  I understand that saying. Regina was about 18 months older than me and was one of those special people that have been a part of my life all of my life.  When I was young, I would spend my summers with my grandparents there in West Virginia and she allowed me to invade her life for a while.  She was always fun, seemed to know everybody, and ... she was so, so pretty!  She had the most beautiful complexion and raven-black hair!  Even though I always felt pale (I’m the blond cousin!) and plain, she made me feel pretty just by being with her.

Unfortunately it happens all too often that as we get older life becomes consumed with the day to day living of it.  Regina and I would visit together whenever I was able to return to West Virginia and she always made me feel welcome and loved in her home.  After I became interested in our family genealogy, she was a wealth of information and memories, freely sharing photos and information, giving tidbits that added color and interest to our family's story.

The Bible says in Psalms 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”  Our lives are richer for having Regina in our family.  We mourn with her husband, her sons and their families, her brothers ... all of which now have to create a new “normal” life without her being in it.  But with them, we rejoice that she is with the Lord and we will see her again.

The broken heart and sorrow we feel is a tribute to the relationship and the love we have for the person who has died. The empty place they leave here makes Heaven more real.  We never forget them –  we aren’t supposed to.  We are to remember them, to love them, to cry when our heart aches so much we feel it will break ... then we get up and go on with life. And the time will come when we will touch their memory and it will be warm, precious, and comforting.  Just not today.

     Shared in love,




Friday, June 19, 2015

My Dad, a Coal Miner

This photo was taken in 1953 at the Bellmead Coal Mines.
My Dad, Doug Evans, is the man on the front row, far left.

Father's Day is always a heartache for me.  My father died when I was 26 – he was just 49.  And he died before I was mature enough to appreciate him and all that he tried to teach us kids. Looking back on my teen-age years, I regret the grief and frustration I caused him and Mom.

My father and grandfather and many other men in our families were coal miners in West Virginia.  It was hard, strenuous work, but the men were willing to do it to provide for their families. Fathers do that.  Real men do that.  They honor their obligations, love their families, they provided what is needed.  Even if the work is hard and not very glamorous, they still get up every day and do what they need to do.  

       Good, bad, or indifferent, our father will always be our father. They will always be a part of who we are.  If you, like me, had a great father, try to find a way as often as you can to tell him you love and appreciate him.  If your father was less than what he could or should have been, remember that the Lord still allowed him to be your father and God doesn't make mistakes – and please remember in this situation that your Heavenly Father loves you with a perfect and an unconditional love and He can be trusted with your heart. 

In 2002, I had the opportunity to go into the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine.  The following is something I wrote at that time regarding that experience.  I share it here to honor my Dad, and in a way to say "Thank you for what you did for us every day!"

         Shared in love, 


Personal Note:  I realized that when I write about my Dad, I seem to always refer to him as a coal miner, which he was.  But that wasn't his only occupation.  Dad was a WWII Marine veteran, a coal miner, and after the mines closed he moved us to Virginia where he worked as a carpenter, installed ATF bowling equipment, headed up the crew that installed one of the first satellite systems along the east coast, was a millwright, an ironworker, was such a good welder that he taught the welding for the millwright apprenticeship program, was asked to teach welding at John Tyler Community College but declined, and taught my brothers and my husband welding, too.  And he was a private pilot.  But with all of these abilities and accomplishments, Dad identified himself as a coal miner.  I don't know why; he died before I realized this so I never had the opportunity to discuss it with him. So, since he choose to identify himself this way, I do, too.  

       And I am proud to be this Coal Miner's daughter.  Chris 



On July 19, 2002, Mom, Drake, and I took our first tour of the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine.  Even though I was 52 at the time, I had never been in a mine and my only knowledge of mining came from hearing my Dad and Grandfathers talk about working in them.  I must say that the Exhibition Coal Mine tour has changed my life forever!

As the transport car moved from the warm, bright sunshine into the cool darkness of the mine, I physically chocked back a gasp as I was overwhelmed with the realization of what my Dad had to experience every day!  I never before realized the magnitude of it all!  The dampness, the smell of earth, the almost claustrophobic closeness of the tunnel, were daily habitat as he worked beneath the ground to make a living for Mom and us kids.  

I tried hard to focus on the tour guide, Jim, as he patiently explained the details of the equipment and mining, how the miners worked the coal and handled situations.  I had to focus on something in order to fight back the tears that burned my eyes and to control an almost overwhelming compulsion to run back out into the sunshine!  My Dad had worked long days in such a place - I could hardly handle the emotion!

After what seemed like an eternity, the man-cars moved out of the tunnels and back into the summer sunshine.  We were again outside, and the warm air felt good against my face - but the reality of the mine clung to me as cold as the air I had just left.

The tour guide mentioned how the mines had been good to him.  I never heard Dad or my Grandfathers say that the mines were good to them, but in remembering what Dad and the men would say about the mines, I don't think they were ever ashamed or resented what they did.  It was honest work, it was a way to support their family, and they just did it.

For me personally, the experience of being in the mine has changed me for ever, and given me a tangible link to the realty of my heritage.  And a greater respect for my Dad and Grandfathers and Uncles who spent their days there.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Momma's Prayer

Photo of a drawing done by our cousin, 
Ashley Stepp Hatfield

While helping Mom look for some documents, I came across a hand-written piece of paper.  Mom said it was something she wrote during a very emotional time in her life.  I share it here because it gives a glimpse into her love and devotion for us.

My Prayer for My Children

     Lord,  Help me to remember these things about You and my children:

               1. That I gave them birth, but You gave them life and made them a living soul.

               2. That my claiming them as a possession is wrong as You only lent them to me for a time.

               3. That You give instructions in Your Holy Word as to how to raise them and in my failing to follow Your instructions, they have been made to suffer along with me.

               4. That I love them so much, but You love them even greater, for You gave Your life that they may live forever.

Let this be my prayer each night that I will never forget Your existence and be a better mother for doing so.

I am so very grateful for my Mom’s dedication to the Lord and her commitment to be the best mother she could possibly be.  She has always been a nurturer, a comforter, and an intercessor, and the best Christian Lady I have ever known.

     I am so very blessed!  




Friday, April 10, 2015

Daffodils and Relationships

Photo courtesy of C.E. Watson

     My daffodils bloomed.  They are a bright patch of yellow at the edge of the yard and their fragrance is delicate and sweet.  I love these first flowers of spring mainly because they are so very forgiving - they suffer from my neglect yet still come up faithfully each spring and give me great joy!

     These past weeks when I have been recovering from my own bouts with sinus infections and bronchitis, I have also neglected my time with the Lord.  I didn’t mean to, but for days all I could do was lie in bed and sleep!  That meant that everything I normally do went undone ... including my personal time in Bible reading and prayer.

     It came to me this week that the Lord is like my little daffodils: forgiving and faithful.  And like these flowers that don’t need my attention to grow and fulfill their purpose in life, the Lord doesn’t need my attention in order to be God - He is the “I Am”, the “Most High God”, whether or not I bow in His presence and worship Him.

     You see, it isn’t the Lord that suffers from my neglect of Him but it is ME that suffers!

     Pastor tells us all the time that the Lord wants a personal relationship with us, but He will never force it on us.  We have to choose to make time to be with Him, to read His word and learn the truths that are there, to kneel quietly in His presence and listen for Him to speak to our heart.  It has to be our choice to enjoy Him and grow spiritually.  

     While any relationship can be neglected in the short term, it truly cannot survive without nurturing.  All relationships - spiritual with the Lord or emotional and physical with a spouse, family member, or close friend - all need continual attention and, yes, effort, in order to grow and mature.  

     Mom and I have decided to re-start having a devotional time each day.  Since Mom is having trouble focusing her eyes to read, I now read the Bible out loud to her every day along with reading the current day’s devotion from the monthly booklets that we receive.  Doing this gives both of us time in the Lord’s word and also allows us to share with each other our thoughts on the passage and the devotional reading.  Mom’s mind is still clear and her thoughts on what I read are on-point and insightful.  I am blessed that she is still teaching me spiritual truths and that I have this time to share with her  ... and can continue to grow under her guidance!

Caregiver, remember that you are loved with an everlasting love!  Stay on your knees, and keep looking up!