Monday, December 28, 2009

A Tribute to Shirley Harkins by her Writing Friends

One of our contributors, Shirley Harkins, lost her battle with cancer today.

She wrote this about herself on her Caring Bridges site:

"I was admitted to the hospital on April 11th, 2008 complaining of excruciating pain in my back. At that time, my prognosis was "iffy" at best. At that time, the cancer was aggressive, spreading to my spine, pelvis, ribs, and liver. Thank God, He seems to have had other plans for my life. After months of chemo therapy, there no longer is evidence of cancer in my liver or pelvis. God is merciful and good.I continue to follow the suggestions of a nutritionist to support the more aggressive therapies, by strengthening my immune system and helping my body fight off the cancer cells. I also exercise doing water jogging and I exercise spiritual muscles and faith by regularly studying God's Word and extra biblical resources. Daily prayer and meditation is also a vital part of my protocol. I rely on the prayers of family and friends for support.
I have tremendous respect for all the professionals on "Team Shirley," but I rest my faith on the Great Physician, the one true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Because of His compassion, mercy, and love, and not due to any righteousness on my part, the cancer is succumbing to treatment. God is good! His results are always glorious and the Glory is forever His. Amen and amen."

Moonine Sue Watson's Thoughts About Shirley:

I first met Shirley on line when she joined our critique group. She was working on a book based on her experiences in the first platoon in the Women's Army Corp to participate in requiring the same level of training for women as the men. As I read her stories and met her personally, I grew to respect this courageous woman whose deep faith as she fought the battle of a lifetime deepened my own. If I had only heard her story of her Army days, I would have thought she was a unique woman I was proud to call friend. But to share her battle with her as the disease attacked her body was a spiritual journey that has changed me as a person. She loved the Wichita Mountains. We met at the chapel in the Holy City for prayer and devotions on a beautiful July day last summer. God was there with us. She and I split a huge buffalo burger at Meirs as well as a peach cobbler with homemade ice cream. We laughed and enjoyed each bite. Shortly after that, she lost the ability to eat solid foods. I miss her, but I know she's in Heaven, laughing and dancing with Jesus. Bless you, Shirley. I'm a better person for having known you.

The Day I Met Shirley Harkins

With love by

Janet K. Brown

Debra Calloway and I waited in Applebee’s in Wichita Falls, Texas for the newest member of our writing group to arrive. We’d only “talked” by e-mail. Our other member, Sue Watson, was unable to attend. Time ticked by. Shirley was late.
“How will we recognize her?” I asked.
Debra thought about our problem. “I wish we’d thought to get a cell phone number. Maybe she’s not coming.”

A dark headed lady walked in with a teenaged girl. No introduction was necessary. Shirley headed for our table, and we hugged in greeting. She always belonged.
Last Christmas, Shirley visited my house to critique, just she and I. “I worry you’ll be nice critiquing my work because I’m sick. I want the truth,” she said.

The truth is she was a great writer. I also remember her humor, her serious study of God’s word, her talent at drama, and her love for her family. Our circle at the writing table stands vacant, but God’s circle in heaven is more complete.

Steph Gallentine's thought on Shirley:

How do I sum up in one short post the impact someone had on your life? Shirley was an awesome encourager, a great writer, an honest critique partner, a wonderful friend, and my number one fan. :0)

The most memorable time we had was this summer when we all traveled to the Refuge, a place in the Oklahoma Mountains, where we had our July writer's meeting. Shirley had brought the DVD she had written and had gotten filmed and I had brought my newly published book, Refuge. Neither one of us had brought cash money so we couldn't purchase the other's item.

"I'll trade you a DVD for a book," I said.

She smiled and within moments, our barter was happy and successful.

Later, after we'd eaten lunch, we parted with Shirley and headed back home. Shirley kept waving for us to pull over. We all were worried because she had forgotten her medicine. Assuming she was sick, we pulled over, fully expecting to drive her back home. She got out of the car and met us at our car. "You forgot to sign my book." We all laughed for the longest time. She was so precious and I'm so thankful God brought her into my life.

Debra Calloway's Thoughts on Shirley:

I'll never forget two years ago when we first formed our local critique group, I began looking for new members. I saw Shirley's name pop up on the American Christian Fiction Writers loop as a new member. I was so excited and contacted her immediately since I knew she was nearby.

Instantly, there was a bond. We just clicked. She was so excited to meet our little group. It was some time before we had our first meeting with her. We met at a local restaurant and I was so worried I wouldn't know who she was and miss her, but that wasn't the case. We gravitated toward each other the second she walked in the building.

From the beginning of our friendship with Shirley, each of us has learned something new from one another. I will miss her terribly.

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