Sunday, August 31, 2014

Heaven's Gain

Judy Sliger and I ended up at the same table at lunch at my very first Kentucky Christian Writers Conference in 2004. I was one of a handful of guys at the conference and the only one at this particular lunch table. Turns out all of us were teachers who also happened to write, so we swapped many "war" stories and bonded over sandwiches and chips. Judy, especially, made me feel at ease and showed true interest in my work.

She and I became fast friends a few years later when we both assumed new roles on the KCWC Planning Committee--Judy as Coordinator and me as Publicity Chair. Talk about blind leading the blind! We spent hours on the phone talking, planning, and learning from each other. Judy never failed to ask about my sons and gave me lots of good advice. I, too, asked about her family, and she loved talking about them--to the point that I feel like I have known them forever even though I've only met her husband one time and have never met her son.

Judy worked hard as KCWC Coordinator, poring over every detail and making everyone feel loved and important. She even handled the worship herself when there were last minute changes in that area.

Judy and I continued to exchange emails and phone calls. If I needed prayer for any reason, I knew to contact Judy, knew that she would lift my needs up to the Lord. We even sent each other samples of our writing and did honest critiques of each other's work (I hardly ever found anything wrong, as she was an amazing writer of both fiction and nonfiction).

One of the main highlights of attending KCWC each year was getting to see Judy, to catch up on each other's lives. She even befriended my wife and sons and always wanted to hear about what they had been up to over the course of a year.

Even this past June, when she was frail and could only visit for a little while, she was still the same Judy, asking about my family and my job and how she could pray for me. That was one thing that always amazed me about Judy--how, in the midst of her battle with cancer, she always thought of others first and how she could pray for them.

In a world where professional athletes are glorified and all manner of superheroes are heralded onscreen, Judy Sliger was a true heroine. She fought the good fight with grace and honor and finished her course, and now she is enjoying her reward. I already miss her and I ache for her husband Russell and for her son Sam, but I take comfort in the fact that she is walking those streets of Glory, healed and whole with Jesus.

--Carlton Hughes
KCWC Planning Committee


Crystal A Murray said...

What a beautiful remembrance of her, Carlton. (And I could hear you speaking it in my head too.) As her time was drawing near, I thought of her with many prayers, and it kept coming back to me that her greatest desires were to see her son finish high school and to publish her book. She guessed she had five years (based on typical life expectancy for ovarian cancer) to get both done after her first surgery, and I'm so thankful God extended it to seven instead and answered both of those requests with a resounding "yes."

Thanks, again, for your great post. You captured her personality wonderfully, and now I can imagine her rejoicing in the rewards she got here and the great reward she now has with God.

Diana Derringer said...

A beautiful tribute for a beautiful lady. Thanks, Carlton.

WritePathway said...

Thank you for letting us know about Judy. I was on staff at KCWC in 2012 and met with her to talk about her current project. I don't remember the storyline, but I remember it sounded like a Mark Twain story.Did she publish her story?
I'd like to have a copy if it's available somewhere.
My husband spent some time talking with her around the reading tables. She was special. We both felt a spiritual kinship with her.
We emailed a few times over the next two years and then I stopped hearing from her. The last time I emailed was in Aug. 2014 and I never heard back from her. We do meet such wonderful friends at writers' conferences!

Ann Knowles
Wilmington, NC

Ann Knowles said...

I met Judy at KCWC in 2012 and found her to be a very special person. We agreed that we would keep in touch. My husband and I had prayer with her and we e-mailed for a couple of months afterwards.Thank you for posting this tribute, Carlton.You're right--our loss is heaven's gain.

Ann Knowles, Wilmington, NC