Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Remembering Sheila

Sheila is finally Home.

Her husband Jimmy called me on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 6:20 AM and told me, "She's gone."

We all knew it was coming.  Somehow that didn't make it any easier.

Dave Cruse, who does the morning show at our sister station, the Joy FM in Florida, put together a tremendous audio tribute.  I've added a few pictures.  The video/audio is below.

Thank you for all your wonderful thoughts, prayers and memories shared on this blog, the J93.3 Face Book page and through phone calls on the air.  Please continue to pray for Jimmy and the rest of Sheila's family.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Standing In The Driveway Waving Good-Bye

I have left.  And I have been left.  Leaving is usually easier.

When we're the ones doing the leaving the journey lies before us.  There is often a sense of expectation, excitement.  Maybe a little anxiety.  But our attention is fixed on our destination.  When we're the ones being left there's little we can do.  In those instances where I've been left I find myself standing in the driveway, watching until the car is out of sight and then reluctantly returning to a house that suddenly seems too empty, too quiet.

Sometime in late 1995 or early 1996 I was sitting in my office at a radio station in Louisville, Kentucky.  I got a phone call from a woman who introduced herself as the new morning show host at a cross town radio station.  She told me she was a Christian, was originally from Louisville and had just recently moved back from Shreveport, Louisiana where she had been honored with a Country Music Association Disc Jockey of the Year Award.  She wanted to know if I could get her tickets to an upcoming Carman concert, and maybe get her backstage to meet the singer.  That was my introduction to Sheila Richards.

A few months later I was working with her, doing the morning show at that mainstream station across town.  When I came to Atlanta to be program director and do the morning show at J93.3 Sheila was my first choice as a co-host.  By then she had moved back to Shreveport to her old radio station.  It took a little convincing and a few phone conversations with a local pastor who told her to think about where she could have the biggest impact for the Kingdom of God.  Sheila liked that idea and accepted the job here.

Sheila loved lighthouses.  For her they were a reminder to "Let Your Light Shine."

When you start your day with someone as many times as I did with Sheila, you get to know that person pretty well.  She was never afraid to ask for anything.  As her faith grew over the years she asked less often for herself and more often for others.  If there was a listener in need, a family going through a tough time, a single mom who needed a break, Sheila would ask on their behalf.

Looking back it's hard to believe that it's been some 16 years since that first phone call I had with Sheila. And now here we are, all of us who love her, who listened to her, standing in the driveway, watching as she gets ready to roll out of sight.  When she does, this old world is going to seem a little too empty, too quiet.  But we know her destination, and our hope and comfort comes in the knowing that one day we'll be there with her.

Keep Jimmy and the rest of her family in your prayers in the coming days.  Our hope is sure and real.  But sometimes that quiet can be almost more than we're able to bear.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sheila's Husband Jimmy Calls In

We aired this conversation with Sheila's husband Jimmy this morning (Monday 8/22/11).  It was not an easy phone call for Jimmy to make.  Sheila is not doing well.  Keep praying for her.  I don't know what else I could possibly add to what Jimmy has to say here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Phone Call From Sheila

Sheila called in on the air this morning (Monday August 8).  Here's that phone call so you can have the latest update from Sheila herself.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Latest From Sheila

I spoke with Sheila last night (Thursday 8/4/11) around 8 PM.  Got a good news/bad news report.  First the good news.  The pain is finally at least tolerable.  Sheila reported that there was vast improvement on Thursday compared to the two weeks or so before then.

The less than good news is that the blood clot in her leg doesn't seem to be responding as the doctors had hoped it would.  They are keeping a close eye on it and keeping Sheila on blood thinners to try and counter it.

Sheila is scheduled for another round of chemo later today (Friday 8/5/11), so she will remain in the hospital until at least sometime on Saturday, but perhaps longer.

We'll keep you updated on her progress as we hear more.  Please remember to pray for both Sheila and her husband Jimmy.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I Never Prayed For Amy Winehouse

I don't know much about Amy Winehouse.  Though since her death on July 23, 2011 I've learned more about her than I ever knew while she was alive.  I was aware of her, had heard her name in passing.  But I couldn't have picked her out in a crowd.  Never listened to her music, never visited her website.  Never prayed for her.  Now she's dead.  Too late for Amy.

Amy Winehouse: September 14, 1983 - July 23, 2011
In the summer of 1977 I was still living at home with my parents and brother and sister in Wheeling, West Virginia.  We had moved there from New Jersey three years earlier.  We received a letter in late August from a friend back in Jersey, Kay Knight.

Kay was my first (non-relative) hero of the faith.  She'd been a missionary in India through much of the 50s and 60s.  When she returned to the States she attended the church my dad was the pastor of.  Kay was the only person in that church who had the courage to scold me.  One Sunday morning she was sitting right behind me and a couple of other young boys, I was maybe 11.  Apparently we weren't sitting still and getting a little loud during the service.  Kay leaned forward, poked me and stared down the other guys and said in her best church whisper, "You, especially, ought to know better."

So years later we got a letter from Kay.  It was within a week of the death of Elvis Presley.  And in her letter Kay wrote, "Elvis is dead.  I never prayed for him.  How far does our responsibility go?"

Now whenever I hear about the death of a celebrity those three short sentences echo in my head.  I still don't know the answer to Kay's question, how far does our responsibility go?  I'm pretty sure it goes further than what I'm doing.

I don't know what Amy Winehouse's relationship was with God.  To be honest, that was not my responsibility.  But a prayer for her may have made a difference.  She was such a non-factor in my life, like I said, I was only vaguely aware of her existence, that I think I'm off the hook here.  But what about other celeb-types?  Those whose work in movies or TV or music or sports or politics I admire?

That prayer list keeps getting longer.  No wonder the apostle Paul told us to pray without ceasing.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Update On Sheila

I spoke with Sheila's husband, Jimmy, around 5pm today (Tuesday 8/2).  Sheila was released and came home from the hospital yesterday, Monday.  However, she had a very rough night and the medicine she was sent home with did little or nothing to relieve the pain.

On her doctor's advice she returned to the hospital and was re-admitted this morning.  That's about all Jimmy knew at this point.  Keep Sheila in your prayers, this battle with pain has been going on now for several weeks and has to be wearing her out, though her spirits remain quite good.  Also remember to pray for Jimmy as this is also wearing him down emotionally and physically.  Thankfully Jimmy's mom is able to be at the house and help out.

We'll keep you updated as more information becomes available.