TARA:  I am a normally happy, people person...never really met a
stranger...I love my family and there isn't anything I would not do for
them..I love to just have fun with my kids...One of the perks to being a
young mom...laughter is wonderful!!! I believe that Faith will take you all
the way if you refuse to stop believing!!

DUSTY here:  She's also WAY too humble...she's an amazing woman!!  
We've been friends for what seems like forever & my heart broke to find out
she's suffering from a genetic lung disorder that's left her with only 15%
lung capacity.     But despite weekly infusions, oxygen therapy and
debilitating weakness, her courage and her faith continue to shine inspiring
everyone who knows her, especially her children!!  I'm proud to call her my
friend & look forward to an eternity of rocking & singing with her on my
porch in Heaven.....Shine ON little bit!!   
Since I've been unable to contact Gillian, our much-loved Bible scholar...
( and YES, I'll keep trying!!)  I've offered Tara a spot as a regular columnist
here on the porch.      Y'all are going to LOVE her as much as a writer as you
do a poet!!   And don't forget the FEEDBACK....all writers need and
appreciate it!!
Its hard to say goodbye

So...I had this great message I was going to put in this column...It was a really good
message that I felt truly needed to be heard, but as I was finishing it up with a spit
shine polish I decided to take a break and check my email...There was an email from
mama D...or Dusty as everyone else knows her...and in the email she was giving me
an update on what her doctors are saying concerning the battle she has been fighting
with cancer...as I was reading I started feeling sad, but not only sad, I was also excited
for her.

Now before yall go writing Dusty and telling her to kick her new columnist to the curb
cause that Tara chic is crazy and insensitive, please just hear me out...so I was sitting
here praying and thinking about all this and I got this overwhelming urge to just drop
everything I was doing and just write about it...what?? Are you kidding me right now??

For two weeks I have worked through migraines and nausea from my weekly
infusions, a screaming grandbaby, and every teenager this side of town in order to
write (the perfect) piece for Dusty's Front Porch so all the readers could get
something wonderful for their heart, mind, and soul out of the message on Tara's
Tales...apparently it wasn't the right time for that particular message because
suddenly I had a fire under my butt and hadn't put down my pen since...look here..I
have been known to argue and fight with the best of them, but let me tell you, when
God smacks my little hand and says he wants things done his way?

Yea, well like I said, I had a different message all thought out but looks like this one is
going out first in hopes that it will help someone..anyone..even if it is only one..

So mama D and I have known each other for a long time...we have been through alot
together..I used to babysit for her and anyone that knows Dusty knows that she didn't
leave her babies with just anyone..she worked both day and night on many occasion
in order to take care of them kids.
..Dusty was there as my labor coach when I had my very first baby, Crystal...I
remember not wanting to call anyone but her when I went in labor...I was only fifteen
years old and terrified!! She laughed and said "what you crying for child? We are
having a baby on mothers day!" and that we did...

She got me my first job at Mr. Omelet and threatened the lives of many a drunk
straggling in to eat right after leaving the bar at closing time..I was the omelets baby
and believe me when I tell you that nobody messed with me...If a wild-eyed drunk
came in she would politely step in front of me...take my pad and pen with a big ole
smile and say "break time kid! I got this one!" and off I went...

Dusty and I shared a genuine love for music. We used to sing together all the time,
and folks let me tell you..she loved Loretta Lynn and Janis Joplin..you haven't heard
singing til you have heard Dusty singing me and Bobby McGee...I could sit and go on
and on and on about all the fun stuff we used to do as well as some really tough
things we went through or helped one another get through...

I hate that because of my own debilitating illness I am fighting that I can't be there
physically to help my dear sweet friend in the fight for her life that she is currently
battling...it seems so unfair..but she knows that in my heart I am right there on that
porch swing of hers "just a swingin"...

As I said I could go on for days and days about the things that Dusty has done for
me...some of it that she doesn't even realize she did but that could literally take
days...What I am getting at by telling y'all all this is so that you can see why losing her
to this awful disease is very heart breaking and sad for the fleshy human side of me..

.Losing her is as though I am losing my own mother...a little more painful actually..in
order to understand that last statement you would have to know about my childhood
and some of the things I was forced to go through, but hey...thats another story for
another time...my mother was never there for me and so I raised myself and both of
my younger brothers...God knows I could never had done it alone and so he made it
so that i didn't have to...I always had God to turn to and I had mama D to turn to as
well...she was there throughout my teen years and i learned alot from her...like how to
make two days worth of food stretch far enough to make it a week...who knew you
could do so many things with chicken or ground turkey meat in order to feed your
She taught me how to take what seemed to be a hopeless dump in a horrible
neighborhood and make it into a charming, cozy, little home where my babies and I
could live safe...she taught me not to always be terrified of strangers or accepting help
from them...amazingly enough..it turns out that there really are a few good people left
in this world that aren't out to hurt you...one of my favorite things I saw her do was
how she used to put a simple mark on her tickets for her customers when she waited
tables...she would put down their order and the tallied total and then when she signed
her ticket she would simply put a smiley face in the D and hand it to them...it almost
always brought a smile to her customers faces...it is funny how one little gesture such
as that can mean so much..

.I dont remember seeing her pout..she would get some bad breaks in life and at times
she would even cry...but then she would go off by herself away from the normal
craziness of kids running and fighting and she would pray...not just halfway either...it
was a full heartfelt deep conversation she would have with God...lol...to hear her you
would swear she was nuts and talking to herself...then she would come out to the
kitchen a different person..not showing any more worry or pain and we would just sit
and drink coffee and talk...she would tell me story after story of some things that had
happened in her life...she would say...I ain't gonna worry about this mess today..it will
all work out..it just has to..it was like she had a direct line to the man himself...if you go
read her stories and poems you will see what I mean..she has testimony after
testimony of the wonderful things that God has done for her...we call them miracles
but Dusty calls them "God winks"...

Now I know I have been rambling about all the great things that Dusty has done for
me and others but she is not perfect..no one is perfect..she has done her fair share of
sinning but she has taken those sins to the Lord who has promised in

Psalm 18:2 the Lord is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth
and in..
James 4:17 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one
another, and the blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from all sin.

Dusty knew that by praying, fasting, believing, and being obedient to God that he
would be with her every single step of the way..through both the good and the bad...

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble..
Even though Dusty is very sick...she can hold her head up high and continue to do
his great works because
Psalm 29:11 the Lord gives strength to his people, the Lord
blesses his people with peace..
It is true that Dusty is dying and I can relate because my health is very poor as well,
but we know that there is no need to worry or be afraid because
Revelations 21:4 he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no
more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former
things have passed away
I know that when I am aggravated, in tears, or feeling down or depressed I can just
close my eyes and hear him saying the words written in
Isaiah 41:10  Fear not, for I am
with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will
uphold you with my righteous hand..

Dusty signed those DNR papers because she did not want to live on machines
alone..I feel the same way..when it is time to go..I want to go..I know there are
awesome things waiting for me in heaven!! It can be very hard to understand because
our loved ones care so much that they just dont want to let us go...they dont
understand that we are excited to be going to meet Jesus!! We are excited to be able
to run, laugh, sing or dance in heaven with no pain or worries.. Everyone was made
for a purpose and everything happens for a reason...at times the hardest thing to do is
say goodbye and let go.. When our father says "ok, time to go..you have suffered all
that I am going to allow you to suffer, lets go home now" ...please do not be sad for

Psalm 116:15 precious in the sight of the Lord is in the death of his saints..

You know? We have to believe that there is something way better in heaven

1 John 4:16 and we have known and believed the love that God hath to us, God is
love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God; and God in him..

If God is love and we all know how beautiful love is...can you imagine how absolutely
perfect heaven is?? I'm with you mama D for sure!! Save me a spot on that lovely
porch of yours if you get there before I do... If you ask my opinion Dusty? I believe our
loved ones should be crying ...not because we are leaving, but because they are left
here on earth while we are up there having coffee and cookies with Jesus!! We are the
lucky ones!! Our father knows our limitations and how much we can handle before he
takes the pain and sickness away from us and carries us home...We are ready!! Are
y'all?? If the answer is no..or I dont know? Well now would be a good time to have
that talk with God..tell him you love him..tell him you believe in him..let him know you
know and appreciate that he sacrificed his son for our sins and ask him to forgive
you...to wipe your slate clean..he is always knocking..you just gotta open that door!!
Don't you want to sit on Dusty's porch with us and sing with Jesus???

Isaiah 40:31 but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall
mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk,
and not faint...

Love you Mama D!!
Keep on..keepin on!!!



I have known Dusty for several years and can absolutely, easily envision her
doing the things that you mention. The article that you have written is
wonderfully inspiring, heartfelt, and thought-provoking. I look forward to reading
more of your writing in the future. I thank God for giving us examples of how to
face our final chapter in life by giving us you and Dusty. Most Christians say they
are excited to go to heaven. The only problem is they don't want to die to have to
do it. Thank you for showing us how it's done.

Uncle Carle
Riverdale, Ga

Well, given the topic of my little friend's column I guess the first comment shoud be
mine!   When it showed up in my inbox the other day....I read it with tears streaming
down, then read it again...and again....all day long!    I remember all the things she
writes about....but I had no idea at the time how important they were to her or how
much of an impact they would have on her life.....But isn't that just like God?    He
knows what we need, who we need and when and just like it says in Romans 8:28....He
will work all things for our good!!   thanks Tara....this is truly beautiful....can't wait to
see the comments this one's gonna generate....and I hope those reading it will learn
that ANYthing you can do for someone else is an opportunity.....so whenever Jesus
gives you the chance?  Don't hesitate....dive right in!!   I better stop or this comment is
going to turn into a blog....love you all!!     D

Praying for you both!!!!   
Mrs. Donald Rhinehard ~~ France

Oh good heavens.....pass the Kleenex!!   God Bless you and the
wonderful friendship you've found and thanks for sharing it
with the rest of us!!   
Denise Swanson ~~ Philadelphia

wonderful piece tara....makes me wish I'd had a chance to meet
both you and Dusty on THIS side of Heaven!! God bless you both!
Michelle Turner~~  Quebec, Canada

BRAVO-BRAVO...stand up and take a bow Ms. Thomas
This is truly some wonderful heart-felt writing!
Lionel Bishop ~~  Wales

Gracious..>WHERE did I put those tissues!!   You two are truly an
inspiration to the rest of us about how the faithful in Christ should face
life & death & trials & tests!!
Marguerita Caronzo ~~  Buenos Aries

Oh my goodness....greatest testimony ever of Jeremiah 29:11~~~  He always
has the details of our lives planned out well in advance....all we have to do
is trust Him~
Marian Baptiste ~~ Arles, France

Very well-written Ms. Thomas....I can almost see you and our Dusty
sitting and rocking on her heavenly porch, sipping coffee as you
cheer the rest of us on!!   
Rev. Martin Logan~~ Phoenix AZ

PRAISE THE LORD~~    stories like this  make it SO easy to see the
truth in Romans 8:28!!   Our lives DO make a difference ..in ways
only the Father knows!!
Lauriebell Phillips~~ Boston Mass