God Wink: A to Z. Birth to Death. Viewing life as a Snowflake, is Best

My friends, you are about to be led into the unique world of Keith Bonnstetter, Master of Snowflakes and Mystic of the stories they tell. And it would not be a “Joyce Godwin Grubbs” blog piece if there wasn’t a personal and revealing story about why I would write about this creative author.  First and foremost there is a “miracle” in the story x’s three so just hang on for the ride.


(Shown with permission of the artist.) A donation to Animal Family Veterinary Care Center from Snickers in honor of Cubby. Do you see what I see? doghouse with A F and pawprint, dog, giraffe face, giraffe, snake, rabbit, sheltie and cat and heart, a Macaw, boxer, iguana, rat, German Shepherd, Lab, guinea pig, Cockatiel, pawprint, Lizard, tarantula, Dachshund, nail clipper and brush, cat laying down, cat walking, fox, ferret, kangaroo, chicken foot, V for veterinarian (Permissions from Keith Bonnstetter for the visual and content explanation. )

In the closing days of 2016 I was surprised, almost shocked, to receive a Christmas gift in the mail from a beautiful friend of many years. Her family was a “peer” family to my son’s and thus I watched as their lives changed as they had their family, and I saw their successes and championed their dreams. When I opened the gift, my life was opened to a whole new concept of 21st century possibilities.  Of all things it revolved around “Snowflakes.”

When I went to the Facebook site of Keith Bonnstetter, it was a revelation of a skill and talent that took his art work beyond “beautiful, unique, and decorative” to having something that is “essential, personally fulfilling and relatable”.  My friend showed me the framed picture she had Keith do of a custom work to memorialize her mother.

A memorial snowflake custom designed for remembering a mother.


This settled an issue for me. For some time my daughters have fussed over what to do “with mother’s ashes” when she’s gone. I actually didn’t even want them saved. Now there is a viable and more meaningful way to remember me, and it is a custom snowflake by Keith. Furthermore, it is perfect as I am “that child” who grew up with very little and on the “Wrong/Strong Side of the Tracks” as one of my novels is titled. One of the favorite childhood memories is when our mother would make us “snow ice cream” and we would play from morning to dark creating snow angels, snow forts, having the proverbial snow ball fights. 

We often wondered how God could make all of the snowflakes different as we were told He did. We knew He was good, but wow, never repeating a pattern? It made us feel good because we were told that we were like snowflakes, individually created and loved by God. Actually I’m thinking of turning the tables on my children and having one snowflake done for each of them; making my own memorial is just the kind of thing this old contrary Okie would do.

Made for a Parish Priest
  1. Hands of God
    Holy Spirit
    angels holding star
    angel appearing to Joseph
    journey to Bethlehem
    Flight into Egypt
    wood shavings
    Holy Family
    Joseph had to believe, trust, listen and most importantly ACT!

This is the book I received as my gift. It should not surprise me, although it did, that the author generously provided in the creation of his book, ways for you to have ongoing patterns at no cost by taking the patterns and recreating them as desired. As an author I still respect and appreciate receiving books with the author’s autograph. It is our stamp of appreciation and also our “thanks” for you buying our books. So thank you again, Keith Bonnstetter.


Sitting in a window so Christmas strollers can watch Keith in action, and even come into the store to see how it is done.  There are reasons, or maybe I should say miracles which give him a resume’ which includes being on the Martha Stewart Show,  newspapers, and various opportunities for interviews.

One might even get to hear some of his Snowflake Story, or just read it right here.  Miracles flow.



Permission for use of excerpt from Keith Bonnstetter





My sister, Police Officer Trula Ann Godwin, would have had to have this one. Throughout her life as an individual, author,  or as a police officer she always signed her name with the peace symbol at the end.




One of Keith’s first and his favorite. I believe there are 40 Snowmen on here.



Multiple snowflakes and with his book, you too can begin to “branch out”.

Keith can be found on Facebook and his products on Etsy.  His business is: Clear Visions Snowflakes.  As a teacher he uses his snowflakes to bond with students, and also with other teachers. That is how I got my book; my friend teaches with Keith and she knew it would be a good fit as I am now “home-bound” and need to be “hands on” with some activities to stay sane. Also I am about always doing/being unique in all that I do.

Whether you are just intrigued, or possibly seeing a “cottage industry” in your future, you cannot go wrong acquainting yourself with all the outstanding items and ideas of Keith Bonnstetter.  I could not possibly show you all of his fantastic pieces, so please take time to go to the sites and see for yourself. You know I always pick “winners.”




Permission for excerpt from Keith Bonnstetter


May the beauty of your outreach in snowflakes continue to bless you and your family Keith. And may those touched by your story and your snowflakes see the bigger picture as we rejoice in Miracles and God Winks . It is fitting I believe, that I close this post with my standard author’s signature:

                                        Believe You Can

                                                                      Author Joyce Godwin Grubbs.






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Dedicated to Police Officer Trula Ann Godwin

Her first day following her swearing in ceremony for the Davenport Police Department in Davenport, Iowa.

When I think of one of the holiday presents that has meant the most to me, it is one that I received,  almost as a “posthumous gift” or God Wink from my sister. After her death and after a career change for me to return to work as an advocate/counselor for domestic violence and rape sexual assault victims at a confidentially located shelter, I found myself preparing for the Christmas holidays. I had been melancholy and really having to reach deep inside to pump myself up for the festivities. This was very unusual for me when it comes to Christmas but I was now working for high risk families and the circumstances of their lives could not help but impact my own.

One night working third shift and thinking of the Christmas gifts needed to see to it that all the children in the shelter would get one, and also include their mothers, I considered that perhaps the mother’s need one equally as bad as the children.   If anyone needed to experience the spirit and meaning of Christmas, it was these moms. I had seen  domestic violence situations play out for years. First, in my early life and then in my career working with people through advocacy and nursing. Christmas was a tough time if you were too old to believe in Santa.

I believe my sister was looking over me that night as I was tried to focus on the holidays and how to help the children. Almost an impossible task, was my thought at that point. Then, while leafing through some papers I had brought with me from my sludge-fund collection of old newspapers , my eyes lighted up as I saw the headline of a small human interest article from a news paper.

The story had been written by a humorist and personal story teller of great repute in our area. He had been a friend of ours   and as a police officer my sister Trula gave him many stories over the years. He also wrote on many of my previous clients in my work as an activist and  advocate to the homeless. This current human interest story was recounting a Christmas incident my sister had told me about many years before. It was  written from the perspective of her partner during that time, recounting his memories of that night. Suddenly, I knew it was the key to my holiday and had something powerful to offer in creating a momentum for the holiday ahead.

The story was written in the humorist’s unique style and was meant to be both heart warming and heart wrenching. It was both. But in truth, the story as told to me by my sister and now by her partner to the humorist, needed no embellishments and the simple truth of the facts spoke volumes.

Trula told me the story by way of explaining her absence from our holiday meal. She usually worked the busy holidays and always made time to go to an inner city bar in the heart of her beat to serve meals to the street people and the down and out folks of the neighborhood.  She would  drop by to share a bite with us but this holiday she had missed.


This Christmas took place years ago and she would have only been on the force a few years. She was riding with an officer that over the long haul became one of her favorite friends in the department. She loved his red hair and bad boy attitude. Like her, he took no guff and nothing over the next years as he moved into the detective bureau would change . That is, nothing except my sister “T” who had seen his other side and knew the secret he carried around for those next twenty years they worked together in the department.

It was Christmas Eve and they’d had an unusually quiet shift and were looking forward to getting off. My sister had five children and Christmas was a hard time for her at best with working and trying to meet family expectations.


Pictured with 4 of the five children and her husband at home.

A bright spot in their shift had been delivering gifts to kids on the inner city beat. In those days the officers knew who the families were that were likely to have nothing and they would go about collecting gifts and distributing them between calls on Christmas Eve. I have no doubt they had a good story for the children receiving the gifts about Santa needing help and who better to ask than the officers who could run their squad lights to get them delivered fast if need be.

Just before shift change they got a call to an address in a tough neighborhood, for a domestic violence call. Bad enough being that kind of a call, but on Christmas it seemed  to trample the character of the holiday. Reluctantly they went on the call.

They arrived to find the wife had been assaulted and was distraught. After investigating, the dad was sent to the station for processing which another squad handled while the mom was interviewed. The children present were crying, confused and when their dad was removed from the house, they began calling for their dad and couldn’t understand why he was leaving.

Trula  and Billy were doing their best with the children and in truth my sister was very good with kids. The human interest article mentioned that her partner pointed out how she took the children on her lap to calm them down. He stated that she was “wonderful”.

No one could doubt that if you are witness to your mother being beaten, your dad leaving in a squad car with officers who handcuffed him, you are definitely having a bad Christmas. Never-the-less, the children began to settle in.

It now was near Christmas as it was close to midnight. “T” and Billy tried to help the mom by spending time with the children so she could collect her thoughts and decide what to do and who to call. They had time to really take in the scene and realized at about the same time, there was no Christmas tree. No sign of Christmas could be seen. Too late, her partner had already asked the oldest child, about age six, if “Santa had been good” to him.

The little boy responded to the attention and the question by moving across the room and bringing to the big burly police officer a plastic sandwich bag. It was apparently the only gift the children had received. It was merely a sandwich bag of hard candy. The biggest thing in the bag was a lone purple lollipop and  it was the thing the little boy was most proud of.


I am sure both officers thought of the gifts they had been able to give out so liberally earlier in their shift, leaving not even one to be had now. It was too late to go to store and buy something. No Walmarts in those days and even the small convenience stores were closed for Christmas.

The tough and seasoned officer  literally thought to himself, “God I wish I had some gifts to give to these kids”. Especially these kids whose Christmas had been so devastated by all that had gone on with their parents.

Suddenly the officer had a thought. He knew of a promotional items businessman that was always good for a donation to fundraisers and police events. As late as it was, he took the chance and called him. He simply stated the facts. There were kids with no gifts, no visit from Santa, and not even a tree. The business man said without hesitation, ‘meet me at my business’.

The officer met the business man, but on the way there,  realized that he was between paychecks and wouldn’t be able to buy much or to pay for it right then. The business man told him to ‘forget it’ entirely and loaded the squad car with toys.


Returning to the house Billy and “T”, now off shift, sat on the floor and played with the children and their toys. He relates in the telling of the story that they had been given toys the children had never even seen before. The cache included a train-set he and the six year old boy set up together.

As the officers prepared to leave the house the little boy pressed the purple lollipop into the big hand of the officer and simply said, “Here” and “Thanks”. The officer admittedly wept.


In these twenty years since that night, the officer reported my sister kept after him (and knowing her, harped on him) to share that story. He had been too private to do this, despite the fact that he has carried that purple lollipop in it’s original wrapper inside a plastic sandwich bag in his uniform vest pocket, daily ever since. He only makes an exception when the weather is too warm and might damage it.

So why did it appear in the paper after twenty long years? He decided to tell the story because he said it was to “acknowledge “T” and that night, because she died on December 23, just a couple of days before Christmas the year before. She had begged him to tell the story, but in twenty years he’d never told it to anyone.” Now he did it for her.


Billy said the lollipop is a sign of faith for him when life seems like crap. He pulls it out and looks at it. He has never encountered the family again but he has never forgotten the “night of the purple lollipop“, or the officer and friend who shared it with him.

The renewal of that story and memory of her telling me about it absolutely renewed my enthusiasm for the hope and faith that is Christmas. I remembered it isn’t about me or my dreary attitude, it is about the children. And here I was, blessed to be surrounded by several families, moms and kids in that same situation.

Our Shelter toys went further on Christmas than anyone could have believed and with the over-flow, we even served at risk families outside of shelter that were very much in need. The moms in the shelter received surprise gifts as did each family, for Santa had found his way into each shelter room. I also made sure that staff and families got copies of the news story and a purple lollipop.

I felt a special bond with my sister Trula that Christmas and I treasure the memory. The next Christmas my new boss gave me a purple lollipop at Christmas and once again I was touched by the true meaning of Christmas and the purple lollipop ,my sister, and how the color purple plays into the holiday in sad and in-welcome ways.

I wore this to most of my talks, book signings and still have it by my computer.

I wore this to most of my talks on domestic violence, book signings and still have it by my computer as I write this story.

When I think of Christmas now, I think of the color purple and the legacy of the little boy’s purple lollipop. I also finally connected the fact that the ribbon which designates hope for domestic violence to end and the victims to heal, is purple.


Trula on Christmas dropping by to wish us a Merry Christmas as she was on night shift and didn't make Christmas dinner. She loved Christmas, and ironically would die the 23rd of December, 2002.

Trula years later, dropping by on Christmas  to wish us a Merry Christmas.  She was on night shift and didn’t make Christmas dinner again. She loved Christmas, and ironically would die of breast cancer the 23rd of December, 2002.

  trula and amy

trula-with-the-kids-at-christmas-on-ricker-hill-rdThe last time Trula dropped by on Christmas with all five of the kids with her.
Author pic with books orangeYes Christmas is still a deeply moving time for me and my heart is always with those I love, but also with the families enduring domestic violence. Please keep in  your heart and mind all of these and at each season, make time to make a gift of money or items for those in need. “As ye have given to the least of these, ye have given unto me.” Jesus, and it doesn’t get much better than that. A BLESSED SEASON OF LOVE TO EACH OF YOU.

Believe………..you can ! Author Joyce Godwin Grubbs

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The traveling table in our family for over 50 years. 4 households embracing the lives of 13 children and the saga of many lives changed and challenged.

The need to tell the tales was brought home to me recently when a high school friend, Phillis Crawford-Dickey, contacted me about our upcoming high school reunion and stated that she “wished we could sit down together and have a cup of coffee and just talk.” Sadly I had to decline for reasons of health, but it did make me think of all the times I have sat around the very table pictured above.


One of the first events at the table was to celebrate the 6th birthday of Trula Dee Ann Grubbs who chose a “Purple Party” which included a “real doll cake” with purple icing dress. From left to right are: Steven Grubbs, Darrin Tanner, Trula Grubbs, (seated in red) Shannon Grubbs, Behind her, Amy Tanner, and then Bradley Tanner.  This was when the table started serving its duties for the family and was with grandparents, Dr. Willard Smith and Marguerite Smith.

Of course when it was new there were six chairs, two with arms. The picture above depicts it as it is today. Two benches lovingly crafted by my husband to replace the chairs that finally fell apart after the grandchildren made good use of them and the boys became over six feet tall. They have replaced four chairs, and the table recently received a loving restoration from a grandson who was born years after it came into the family; Steven Hensler. Now grown  sitting at this table his entire life time he was able to sit while planning his wedding and establishing his career choices.

*****A Humorous Memory**********


Our son Steven and sister Shannon at his “graduation from pre-school”. It was the just in the months before this picture that his “sleepwalking” adventure witnessed by The Table took place.

An early memory when the table was new happened the first time we sat at it. It belonged to my parents Dr. Willard and Marguerite Smith, in their new home in Iowa and we were visiting there from Kansas. With the children in bed we visited with the usual “catch us all up” kind of conversations. At about 9 p.m. my almost 4 year old son came wandering down the hallway from the bedroom and glanced at the 4 of us sitting there in relaxed conversation. He had a smile on his face as he kept walking, passing us at the table and turning into the galley kitchen. He stopped in front of the stove and pulled down the oven door. Not missing a beat he pushed his undershorts down and grabbed hold of his “utensil” (as his grandmother referred to his male anatomy) As we sat shocked into amazed silence, he allowed a stream of urine to shoot out of his utensil and he began to turn round and round. The urine of course then went into the oven, toward us at the table, then hit the lower cabinets under the sink, and shot toward the back door as he completed the circle. Then he repeated until he was depleted of urine. He calmly pulled up his undershorts, gave us a relaxed glance while turning his eyes to his return path to the bedroom.

Momentarily we sat not speaking and then a rush of conversation began. My parents insisted he was awake when he did that and I could see where they were going with the whole “that wasn’t funny” and “he might need some discipline” attitude. It compelled me to tell them this was a Grubbs family trait. My husband, who sat near enough to have witnessed it and attest to the facts, was a trusted member of the family. I on the other hand apparently had no “street creds” with my parents.


Taken weeks before our wedding at the apartment we would rent, which on this night, was New Year’s Eve 1961 in Stillwater, Ok. . When we rented it I moved the bed so the headboard was against the window and wall and the vanity I was using there to comb my hair, was moved to the other side of the room and doorway. You could see the greater portion of the bed from the living room. (Yes, that’s my hubby-to-be sitting there waiting for me to come back and finish the card game with my Aunt Danita and Uncle Phil.

I continued to tell them that the first week we were married, I awoke during the night feeling the bed in motion and hearing my husband talking. I opened my eyes to behold him at the foot of the bed, down in a football stance shouting, “Down” (hesitation) “Set” (hesitation) and I suddenly knew what would follow if he said “Hut”. He would forge forward with his imaginary football he had tucked in one arm.

The problem was further complicated by the fact he would make a powerful lunge and hit the wall or window in back of our low headboard and either break his neck or go out the window of our second floor apartment. Instinctively I raised my leg quickly placing my foot against his chest and shoved with all my might. He went flying out of the bed backwards and through the bedroom door which sat just not quite 3 feet from the bottom of the bed. Let me just say he would not accept my explanation that he was asleep or playing football, but then he also could not understand why he would be in a vulnerable positon for his 100# wife to be able to kick him into another room, or why she would even want too.

For years to come, there would be hilarious and scary sleep walking events to be traversed in the middle of the night. From grabbing me in the night warning me in a conspiratol whisper, “Stay quiet. We have to get out of here before they see us.” His grip would be powerful and I knew he was deadly serious. Or the times he would jump out of bed and rush through the house, going into the yard (even in the rain once) and walking around the house’s perimeter believing the house was sinking.

For years both father and son (who inherited some Grubbs genetics) would entertain us over and over with their somnambulist expeditions and be furious refusing to believe we told the truth about it. My husband’s nephew Tom was also  quite a sleepwalker.  His parents had to put furniture and other impediments in front of the doors at nights (he would always find a way to unlock the doors). They lived in a small community, Billings, Ok.  with a main street and just a few side streets.


Herman Grubbs and granddaughter Aspen standing on the newly improved streets (with lights) in Billings Oklahoma.  When the next story takes place, there were not street lights, and the road though paved was not a “quality” street. When it got to the furthest end where you can see Trees, the road to the left was dirt. And that’s where the story begins.

At one point, the family of Jack, Lynda and Tom Grubbs were living in the opposite ends of the town from his family, Bill and Rosa Grubbs. It became a problem when Tom, barely in grade school, would “escape” in the middle of the night from the trailer , often in his t-shirt and underwear, no shoes, and sound asleep but eyes wide open, would get out without his parents hearing him. More than once the town’s night watchman who patrolled the small community would spot Tom walking in the very middle of town, in the middle of the street, lit only by moonlight. (No street lights in those years.) The night watchman knew the story and not to wake him and freak him out. He would slowly follow at a distance until Tom safely reached his grandparents. Because their doors were never locked, he would watch Tom enter then figure his work was done and go about his business.


The Grubbs house (grandparents) in Billings Oklahoma where Tom would sleepwalk to in the night hours. It was on a dirt road and from where he started his walk would be approximately 9 blocks.

Over the years all the “sleepwalkers” have entertained us but refused to believe they are guilty and believe us to be just punking them.

*****A Terrifying Memory*****

The Table witnessed one of the most terrifying life events in our collective family history. My parents had “moved on” from the new house and moved across the Mississippi River to Rock Island, Il. where they bought a building with a specialized handicapped residence built above as my mother’s health was declining. The chiropractic clinic already built below it was perfect for my dad to expand his practice and still teach at Palmer College of Chiropractic just commuting the bridge daily. They left The Table at the house for my sister Trula’s family which was  soon to be five children. One can imagine all the birthdays and holidays celebrated on it, and my grandson Bradley sitting there trying to gag down his broccoli.

It was after the birth of the fifth child that my sister had to go in the hospital for surgery overnight. My mother came and stayed with the children and was diligent to see the house was secured, locking the doors, checking the windows. My sister’s purse had been stolen a few weeks before as she had a habit of leaving it on the kitchen counter just inside the back interior door, which after two steps down, one could access the back door which led outside. 


The four generations picture shows me standing (author Joyce Godwin Grubbs), my young daughter Trula Dee, then far left, Grandma Rhoda Marrs and far right my mother, Marguerite Marrs Godwin. The photo was taken in my parents house with “The Table” witnessing the picture as it was taken by the photographer my mother hired to come to the house for a portrait of family.

The next night mother stayed to feed the children their supper and put them to bed before leaving for home. My sister was miserable with a very sore abdomen and was using cold packs and taking pain meds so she went to bed as soon as mother left. At two in the morning, she was uncomfortable again and got up to get some pain medication and renew the cold pack. She went back to bed leaving the hall light on so the children could get up and go to the bathroom and her daughter Amy who was scared of the dark would not have a problem and call to her to take her to the bathroom. Amy strongly believed there was a “witch in the house” at night that would get her.

We would learn later that my sister’s rapist came in the back door (locked) and passed The Table, to get to the hallway and bedrooms. A silent witness who would never be able to divulge the identity of the attacker. A witness who would hear her fearful gasp when she saw him in the doorway of her darkened room, and lit by the back light of the hallway he would look like a witch with a pointed hat. The silent witness, who with my sister realized it was a man in a pointed hooded sweat shirt. The instructions to her, the warnings to her about not reporting the rape and the warning that he would come back and kill the kids and her, were forever contained in the inanimate witness.


Trula Godwin (Tanner) with her children at Christmas after she had been on the force a about 12 years. Each child was affected in negative ways by the rape and eventual dissolution of marriage, but each struggle to have their maternal family unit remain in tact.

Terror had come to the family and The Table bore witness, but could not tell.

The Walls? They really do not talk.

*****The Table Travels*****

And so the table began it’s odyssey of travels in the family. My sister’s life was forever changed and challenged and her marriage could not be sustained against the pressures brought about by “Rape Trauma Syndrome.” Neither she nor her husband could come to terms about the man who went on to rape 9 more women in home invasion rapes, each one more violent than the last. While her “coping” method was a positive effort as she returned to college taking Criminal Justice courses, and then became the second female police officer on the Davenport, Iowa force, it only furthered the chasm between husband and wife. She became a sex crime expert and the next 28 years her job would become all-consuming and the family dynamics would shift time and again.

The Family of five, all grown up. They all had to admit they were never the same after the night of the rape, and each had their own way of being affected. In the bottom right corner is Charles "Chuck" Wright, who was the Chief of Police who hired Trula and later went on to be Mayor.

The Family of five, all grown up. They all had to admit they were never the same after the night of the rape, and each had their own way of being affected. In the bottom right corner is Charles “Chuck” Wright, who was the Chief of Police who hired Trula and later went on to be Mayor.

The Table was left behind when the family  left the house as the parents divorced, and it then went to my house for a few years. Our family of five did not need that large of a table and chairs, but our adolescents were creating a dynamic of “company” that was ongoing so it served its purpose.  Truth be told, in those years I was glad The Table was a silent “witness”.


Trula Dee’s family a few years after they received The Table for their new home.

When our daughter Trula Dee got her first home in Wisconsin she had her own “gang of five” like the Aunt for whom she was named. The Table went through many years of which a remarkable book could be written about family, life, love, and challenges of health issues overcome that could teach many lessons about resilience and reliance on God.  Through all the 25 years it has been there with them in Wisconsin, The Table has served them well. When it got its most recent refinishing job by the grandson Steven, there was a great deal of loving care given to what had now become a focal point of “family”. 

Each person could tell stories about The Table and things it had witnessed. They would honestly point out, some would be “the good, the bad and the ugly” as could each former caretaker of The Table.

*****In Summation******

Let us realize that this table is still in use and Trula Dee is now  a grandmother for the first time and it will be a opportunity for even greater bonding around The Table. As for me,  a  great-grandmother for the first time, it will bring back memories of the occasions of welcoming my first grandchild when it was at my home, as she will her first grandchild at her home. 

And while my mother Marguerite is gone, it would do her frugal heart good to know The Table still serves her family and within the elements of the table are the memories of over 50 years of family history.


My 72 birthday with my daughter Trula Dee.

Life doesn’t get more real than that.




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Imagine a Writer’s World and an Editor Who Loves to Edit; Experience counts, rapport makes the difference.




LYLE ERNST WAS A TRUE ENIGMA:  His motto was, Experience counts, rapport makes the difference.

Rarely do you hear any writer say they love to edit, but if there was a business called “Editing ‘R’ Us”, Lyle Ernst would be the CEO.

No matter the content, or genre, he was there for the writer. He made himself available personally and one to one with any author he worked with.  His patience was part of the package deal when he was working with clients and his passion kept them on track. No such thing as writer’s block in his world. His fees did not reflect his talent and ability, but rather the fees told the story of a man who loved the written word and wanted to mentor and encourage any writer, of any level, to keep writing.

orange book pic 2


Imagine saving a lifetime of accumulated writings and thinking when you retire it will all come together and you would be published. I was such a dreamer. I found myself incredibly frustrated when I wanted to submit my works to editors, and found the expectations of submissions had gone “high tech, and meticulous”. Those weren’t anywhere close to describing my writings.

 I met Lyle at a writer’s conference and immediately contacted him.We met at his favorite business office, the Village Inn in Davenport, Iowa. I showed him my writing and my dilemma. I couldn’t even imagine trying to get queries, synopsis, and chapters ready for my novels submissions.

For his part, he admitted to being a little amazed at the number of completed books I had written and immediately set out to help me formulate a plan to reach out to publishers/editors ,and agents. He did some “Reality Therapy for a Writer 101″ per Lyle Ernst, and helped me through.

Today, Lyle has done edits on seven of my 15 books and helped me find “pro-bono” editing for my military book to salute pre-deployment issues on behalf of soldiers being deployed to Afghanistan. He helped me realize content needs and basic editing needs,  and was a resource for seeking out editors, agents, and submission planning. I don’t know where I would be without him, but I think the word “unpublished” would cover it. He helped me engage my writings into a photo journalism sideline, creating areas to fill my need for more “immediate gratification” than novels bring.

The thing that stands out is that you could multiply my experience by scores of other writer “wanna be’s” and struggling writers who needed the mentoring hand of an experienced and caring man. Thus, the “Literary Godfather” Lyle Ernst came to be.

I wanted to give this testimonial  so others  know he was the ‘real deal’ and for anyone beginning their career as a writer there was no one better. He created a very high bar in “paying it forward”. And so I salute Author Lyle Ernst for his caring beyond himself to mentoring other authors. I personally wish to thank him, knowing that without his intense encouragement and leadership, I would not be published today.

Lyle was many things to many people: I offer this photo album of pictures for those who knew and loved him, and for those who would have wanted too, had they known it.


The “River Man” loved all rivers, but the Mighty Mississippi was his passion, and in particular, the area of Prairie du Chien.


Lyle was one of the co-founders of the Mississippi River Writers and it was a catalyst to even more mentoring and expanding his involvement in helping writers “take the plunge.”


With the many hours he devoted to editing and mentoring, he still had time to fulfill his love of writing and his favorite writing partner was Ojibway author Kimberly Sigafus (McIver). Awards found there way to their writing series.


Lyle and Kimberly had just finished their release of the second book of the Mida series.



Lyle was one of the most avid readers and in many genres. How he was able to consume the volumes weekly that he did only added to the mystique of this Author, Editor, Mentor, Reader, Workshop presenter, News reporter, photo journalist, and husband, father, and friend extraordinaire.


Our last words are of thanks to Pat Jeffers Ernst. Thank you Pat for the many hours you shared Lyle with all of us. Thank you for your gentle spirit and loving care on his behalf. You my friend were the one who gave him encouragement, inspiration, and as he always said, “She’s my best content reader,” (and we all know how he valued and was inspired by that.) He credited you with his life’s success as you stayed at his side encouraging and believing in him.


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Author, Editor, Lyle Ernst. Dream Taskmaster to the Literary-dreamers, and Champion to the “Indies’ ” successes

When your best buddy puts on Facebook that he has Stage 4 lung cancer and won’t be on Facebook while “fighting the good fight,” a get well card just doesn’t cut it.


Lyle and I were an “unlikely” couple to become best buddies but we did because we both have this piece of common ground. “At the end of the day, we love people who love to write.” Those who want to be published, want to share their ideas and stories, and those who are willing to WORK to make it happen.  Whatever the hold-up; money, editing, lack of confidence, a need to be “traditionally published only”, and those, like me, who just want to be read so voices and stories of the un-sung heroes and sheroes of the victims and survivors do not die.

(“See how long that sentence was? Where’s my editor when I need him??? Lyle?)

Let me take you back to our first meeting and bring it forward. You might understand us better after you can see our friendship as it came together. 

It was so cold and I was nervous as I grabbed my leather portfolio and hurried to my appointment, struggling in heels across the icy parking lot of the Village Inn in Davenport. So many meetings in my career had been held there, day and night. It was like a “safe place” to meet and not be shooed out the door by staff, many of whom I’d known on a first name basis for almost 20 years.  Confession is good for the soul and makes me admit that my meetings often went on for hours. I am a talker. I am a stickler for research, and I have to know the people I am involved with. With this new man, Lyle Ernst, I was headed into uncharted waters as I entered and scanned the room. Then I spotted him and the wait staff smiled and nodded toward him. “He’s been waiting for you.”

I had seen pictures on the internet when I googled him and had a preconceived notion as to what he was going to be like. However, nothing could have prepared me for “Editor, Author, Lyle Ernst”. The first words out of his mouth were not words; the sound was laughter. “I saw you getting out of your vehicle and didn’t know whether to come help or watch you blow away from the wind.”  Full laughter now.


Lyle's laugh is the most identifiable and memorable thing about him. It is infectious and yet reassuring as it comes from a good place and is sincere. Few people have ever gained my trust because of their laugh. Lyle ranks #1

Lyle’s laugh is the most identifiable and memorable thing about him. It is infectious and yet reassuring as it comes from a good place and is sincere. Few people have ever gained my trust because of their laugh. Lyle ranks #1


I tried to project my business-like persona but he kept coming up with these side-ways zingers and laughing as though it didn’t matter if I did or not. He had short grey hair that still boasted some reddish-brown top hair. Glasses and a beard made me think they were the only “sedate” thing about him, and his glasses were a necessity but the beard was just that touch that rounded out his “cocky” look. At his side on the seat of the booth was a hat he undoubtedly wore fondly. It was what I called a “cocky hat” and the fact it came from Oklahoma made it all the more notable to an Okie like me. I had already identified him as a “grizzled, rascal of a newsman” and I was not disappointed. He could have been a character in one of my books. 


In his signature hat, with his eye’s twinkling, we spent so many hours conferring at “our office” (The Village Inn) where he drove the waitresses into fits of laughter, and always ordering a Miller Lite and being shocked “they were out”.

I had already written 4 novels and was here to get his input on how to get them “out there.”  I didn’t write a best-seller, I knew that. But I did write to champion victims and survivors of rape/sexual assault and domestic violence. I wrote to champion the men and women who struggle with those issues, and those who help them and guide the highest risk victims underground. I wanted to “inform” and help people who know nothing about the hurt and pain of victims, to learn to empathize and perhaps be drawn in to help. Mostly, I just needed to be read to accomplish all of that.

I needed Lyle to guide me through the process of publication, perhaps help me write a more appealing cover letter, and most of all, I needed a trustworthy, experienced, and aggressive ally to help me counter the way my work was perceived. Now to find out if he was the one.

Already 60 I knew my viable years as an author were limited. I also was aware my health would be strained to the limits making book signings which are crucial to the success of any author and especially one who didn’t have “time” in the 21st century timeline to traverse the maze of publicists and the hoops one had to jump through just to be screened. I had already had some responses from some of my submissions, but despite a cover letter revealing the clear disclosure that the events in the books were all from real cases though “disguised” through creative fiction, I would receive back good responses but inevitably somewhere it would point out some part in the book and say “this would never happen.” In the beginning I would be indignant and write back “if it was in the book, as the cover letter said,  it has already happened in a real case . These are the voices of the victims/survivors.”

Author pic with books orange

Author Joyce Godwin Grubbs after Lyle Ernst helped her get more than a dozen novels “out there.” He was everything needed; at times editor, at times content reader, at times a sounding board, and at all times, my friend and champion.


That was the beginning of a now, 12 year friendship and a most amazing find in my long years of people watching and working with the “good, the bad, and the ugly.” I did not know it then, but I had just scored a lifelong friend that at no time in my years of knowing him, ever exhibited any self-promoting or selfish desires for himself. I had been thrown into the “world according to Lyle.”

When I had a stroke while writing Footsteps Out of Darkness, a memoir with Annabelle Kindig, I had trouble completing some interviews. Lyle to the rescue and he became an important team member and instrumental in helping us wrap up the story in the promised time-line to meet distribution needs for the 40th anniversary of MESA (Moving to End Sexual Assault) in Boulder, Co. He kept Annabelle and I laughing to the very end of a very tense, highly-risky. timeline. 10 months, beginning to end.

annabelle 3 optimists

I believe Margaret Atwood’s quote was the only one that fit our mindset about the completion of Footsteps Out of Darkness; the Annabelle Kindig Story.

An elegant affair which had to change venues to accommodate all who wanted to attend. Ironically it was an overflow crowd with many of the organizers choosing to stand along a back wall for the presentations, to accommodate the over-flow crowd.

An elegant affair which had to change venues to accommodate all who wanted to attend. Ironically it was an overflow crowd with many of the organizers choosing to stand along a back wall for the presentations, to accommodate the over-flow crowd.













For Lyle, it was never about the money when helping others to write, edit, market, encourage or guide those needing help. He wrote for the love of writing, and did so with gusto. He was a news reporter, a non-fiction and fiction writer and known to most of us as “The River Man.”


And while many would recognize you more readily in casual clothes, they would love to see you with your books and collections.










Lyle’s love of the Mississippi River is legendary. He also has a love of writing about rivers and their small towns that cluster near them. That is why to many he is known as “The River Man.”


And above all Lyle, when we talk about fighting the evil “C” word, keep in mind the words of Robert Frost.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.




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“Sow’s Ear” into Silk Dresses is Successful; Estella Frances Godwin Creator. A Godwin family legacy story.


First, the dresses. You must put yourself in the setting where they were created. South East Oklahoma. You must imagine that the beautiful girl wearing the dresses did not come from a wealthy family but a loving one where dad provided for the needs of the family and mom stayed at home to raise the daughters.   Mom is the key in this story.

But how did she get the skills to create these and so many more outfits, without a pattern, and only a thought in her head as to how to make it happen? She didn’t even have a proper sewing machine, at least not for this generation. What she had were daughters who needed to “shine” at various events. Unlike when  momma “Frances” was young and lived a hand to mouth existence with her loving parents Leman and Rosalee Godwin. Frances was determined to prevent her daughters from as much bullying by their peers as she possibly could, remembering the torment of her own young life and that of her sisters. But how?



Connie models one of her mother’s creations made on the old “Sow’s Ear”.




 Momma Frances, was named Estella Frances Godwin after her grandmother Estella Frances Hill Godwin #1 (the first) who died of tuberculosis when her two young sons, Lloyd and Leman were just 5 and 2.

Estella Frances Godwin Lloyd Jewel Godwin5 Leman Godwin 2

Estella Frances Hill Godwin, Lloyd Jewel Godwin 5
Leman Godwin 2

Lloyd and Leman were then in the sole custody of a now widowed father, Agrippa Wesley Godwin.


Unfortunately the “Old Man” as he became known in later years by his sons, didn’t have the “fatherly instinct” as a priority. Despite marrying again, and fathering 4 more children, he struggled with what to do with his first two. Both sons had problems accepting a new step-mom and then siblings, or so it was said, and that led to the “Old Man” practicing some un-acceptable parenting skills fueled by his need for alcohol.

As a classic “wino” (meaning yes, he was an alcoholic, but wine, not beer or hard liquors were his choice of ‘drug’).  When he was “on a drunk” and ran out of money, he would lead the younger son Leman to Uncle Jim and Aunt Nora Hubble’s,  and leave him there with the childless couple. For the Old Man it was respite from putting up with the “acting out anger issues” described by the wife, and for the childless couple it was a time of great love and affection for the small boy. He would arrive with only the clothes on his back, and they were worn and threadbare. Aunt Nora would whip out her trusty treadle sewing machine and in no time have a small wardrobe for him to wear.

However, the inevitable pattern had become that the Old Man would show up and demand money if they wanted to keep the boy. Having little to get by on themselves, and not being able to trust “the deal would hold” and they wouldn’t be approached again for money, they would always relinquish him and his new clothes,  back to his dad. This pattern continued for some years and the older brother Lloyd was also eventually sent to live with relatives in Arkansas.


The Godwin boys united  as men. Lloyd on the left is 23, Leman is 19, and it’s Lloyd’s wedding day. Leman is his Best Man and in this picture, recreating the picture of when they were 5 and 2,  their hats are in keeping with the passage of time. They would remain close until death parted them with Lloyd going first, then Leman.


Wedding day of Lloyd J. Godwin and Marguerite Marrs Godwin. Leman Godwin was the Best Man.

The young boy Leman grew up to be a grounded,  husband, father, and lifelong worker for the railroad system of Oklahoma. He had a family of his own, 3 girls and a boy. His life was a study in hard-times but it was also known that he could quote the Bible readily and with devotion thanks to the Hubbles who took him to church on Sundays and did Bible study with him. His faith was  his mainstay  to keep the hard times in perspective. He would never drink alcohol; lesson remembered from the Old Man’s life. 

His faith was a testimony to his family when they each relied on it during tragedies that occurred in their life together. This included a nearly fatal blow on the job when a crew member  laying track hit him in the head with a beam that hospitalized him for many weeks. He had not awakened for 3 days after the blow and Rosalee was at his side for weeks as he slowly regained his senses and could care for himself. Life was not easy for him but he returned to the railroad he loved until retirement.

Thus it was that the devotion to family also still included his beloved extended family, Uncle Jim and Aunt Nora Hubble. When they passed away, Leman would inherit “the Sow’s Ear.”


For years when the old treadle sewing machine was viewed, it was a mixture of sadness for the family, reminding them of the dysfunctional family  and hard times Daddy Leman suffered as a young child being a pawn in the Old Man’s schemes.  Thus the designation of “a Sow’s Ear” would be appropriate. Many times people would look at the family of  the Old Man and say that nothing good would come of them because “you can’t make a silk purse out of a Sow’s Ear.” All 6 of the children of the Old Man would grow up under that condemnation.  

Daddy Leman would stay the course and be the man who loved his wife, raised his children, and lived out his days helping his wife oversee care for their disabled son Leon (Buddy) until her passing. Leman and wife Rosalee were the first benefactors of the “Sow’s Ear”, but not the last.


Rosalee holding "Buddy" as the children are all dressed in their "Sunday go to meeting clothes" as southerners are fond of saying. In this case, their Easter clothes, no doubt.

Rosalee holding “Buddy” as the children are all dressed in their “Sunday go to meeting clothes” (as southerners are fond of saying.) In this case, their Easter clothes, no doubt.

Of Daddy Leman’s 3 girls, it was Frances, (Estella Frances #2) that inherited the “Sow’s Ear” treadle machine of Aunt Nora’s. From the beginning of her marriage to her beloved Cornell,  and the family they created together, Frances knew that the machine was hers to make beautiful things come into her life so that she could make “silk purses” and anything else she wanted for the betterment of her family. The value and “magic” of that machine which had been a “Sow’s Ear” of sorrow-filled memories before, became the very thing that transported her girls, Connie and Carla,  into joy as they received and wore the numerous things made for them on the old treadle machine. Frances never failed to be able to sit down and create whatever was trending and wanted by the girls.

Of course it wasn’t just the clothing that was changed by the “Sow’s Ear” but it was the faith and life lessons to those it touched. The knowledge that no matter the challenge, NEVER let anyone hold you down by looking at your life and opportunities and saying “you can’t make a silk purse our of a “sow’s ear,” because it is not true. 



AUTHOR’S FULL DISCLOSURE:  The people in this story/post are related to me. Frances (Estella Frances Godwin Roberts) is my beloved cousin, as is Norma Godwin Titsworth and the late Doris Godwin Woods.)  Leman Godwin was the only fully biological sibling of my father, Lloyd Godwin.


This picture of Estella Frances Godwin is current in 2016. Note the smile, and note the endearment at the bottom. This lady taught her family how to take the Sow's Ears of their lives and work with it. She takes joy in the things of her family and the memories in her life. She is the family genealogist for the Leman Godwin family and takes pride in passing on the traditions, hopes and dreams of all who follow. She does so by setting the example, not just talking. Frances, I love you too.

This picture of Estella Frances Godwin Roberts, “Frances”  is current in 2016. Note the smile, and note the endearment at the bottom. This lady taught her family how to take the Sow’s Ears of their lives and “make it work”. She takes joy in the things of her family and the memories in her life. She is the family genealogist for the Leman Godwin family and takes pride in passing on the traditions, hopes and dreams of all who follow. She does so by setting the example, not just talking. Frances, I love you too.

My Aunt Rosalee was a gentle and caring person who always extended me kindness whenever we were together. She was also my protector when Norma and I latched onto each other’s arms with our teeth  drawing blood and refused to let go no matter Aunt Rosalee’s efforts and demands to separate us. She finally had to literally pry our teeth apart with a utensil from the kitchen utensil drawer to force our grip on each other’s arms. 


She was also a “shero” as she cared for her son, my cousin Leon, who would become known to all as Buddy. In the times of the 1940’s if a doctor damaged a child with forceps, for any reason, he was not liable. There were no such things as lawsuits or aid to care for their life-long needs. Indeed, in those days, the answer to the situation was “family.”

Leon "Buddy" Godwin and mother Rosalee. He was loved and wanted his whole life, and what more can we hope for in this life, than to be loved by those whom we belong with.

Leon “Buddy” Godwin and Grandmother Murray. He was loved and wanted his whole life, and what more can we hope for in this life, than to be loved by those whom we belong with.

Buddy was a very large baby and during the delivery his doctor used forceps and very unskillfully I might add. The damage to Buddy’s head would be immeasurable, leaving an area of his forehead indented where two fingers could fit into the skull. It would damage his brain and its function.

Buddy would be cared for by his loving family  including his sisters who made many sacrifices and suffered much emotional abuse from people who lived near them. They suffered from  fellow students  who bullied them and ridiculed them as they played and cared for their brother. The bulk of his care still fell to  his parents, until in adulthood, he became very large, over six feet tall and was limited  with very childlike behaviors. He was in need of full-time care. Loving sisters offered to take him but his parents knew it was time to allow him to become accustomed to  the care of others, knowing the time would come when he would outlive them and his sisters would be needed for caring for their own families.


Held and loved by his Grandfather Murray. Buddy had a large family circle to support him.

And it did come to pass that when his parents were gone, he lived in care centers of Oklahoma, visited by his siblings. When he passed away the staff and nurses at the care center he came to love wrote glowing messages of love and personal affection about him and his gentle and loving nature. A Gentle Giant, Buddy made it in his own way. He too was able to embrace in a simple way, the guidance of his gentler emotions taking hold. He took his “Sow’s Ear” and made it a positive. So I salute a cousin for whom I had great hopes and for whom my prayers never ceased through the years.


Above is a picture of the “Godwin Women” in the 1940’s. (Only one known to exist.)

  1. Left to right: Aunt Mildred “Mid”  Kiser holding Kathryn Ann Kiser .
  2. In the white flowered dress is my mother, Marguerite Marrs Godwin,
  3. Aunt Bernice Godwin holding Marie.
  4. In the turban it is being debated whether this is , Aunt Sylvia “Sib” Godwin Snyder holding Carla, or Aunt Charlotta “Chard” Godwin Bearden holding Willajeanne.???? Please leave a comment if you know/have thoughts.
  5.   Next is Grandma Amy Godwin (2nd wife of Agrippa)
  6. Aunt Rosalee Godwin with Estella Frances Godwin (#2) (named after Grandma Estella Frances Godwin who died at age 24 and was the first wife of Agrippa.)

As I always say, “The End is but an opportunity to begin again.”

Posted in FAMILY, Family Legacies, fathers, hard times, Life lessons about prejudice., Ohana, poor, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

UPDATED; Police Officer Meets Angel Unaware Initiating a 3 part God Wink PLUS ONE; Spanning 28 years


L) Trula Ann Godwin (Tanner) at 17 in Lubbock, Tx. M) Swearing in as a police officer on the Davenport, IA force. R) Mother of 5, victim of an in-home invasion rape.

YOU READ IT CORRECTLY. This story  happened in 3 parts beginning 1998.  In my belief system God Winks are like anonymous contacts allowed by God. Never doubt that it can be subtle or blatant; unsettling or reassuring, but it lets you know that there is something profound in the “lesson” or “experience” that is meant to touch your life…Author Joyce Godwin Grubbs.

Police officer Trula Ann Godwin (Tanner)  was a decorated police officer of the Davenport Iowa Police Department. The second woman added to the department, she was also the first in the nation to have her own patrol car. She was  honored by the International Women Police,

Trula International award

She was also recognized for heroism with two other officers involving removing tenants from an active residential fire. A training officer and first woman to work undercover with the QC MEG (Quad Cities Metropolitan Enforcement Group) she was also used  undercover on various department stings. A sex crime expert who became a vocal rape victim/survivor, she became a police officer as a mother of 5 children (1 toddler and 4 pre-school and elementary age, when she joined the force. She received an appointment as an  Honorary Colonel in the Iowa National Guard and was awarded her “wings” at the Iowa Capitol by Governor Terry Branstad.

TrulaTanner kiddos

Picture 1: Brad, Darrin, Amy and Rhoda. Picture 2 and 3: Jason This is a picture of the ages of the children when Trula joined the police force following the in-home invasion rape at a time before there were any advocate/counselors for victims, and no police women on the Davenport force. Trula determined to fill the void and help bring resources to victims to see them into being survivors.

Trula, Gov. Branstad and Steve

L:) Iowa State Representative Steve Grubbs (Trula’s nephew) M) Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, and R) is Trula Ann Godwin Tanner  at the Iowa State Capitol.  She  is about to be presented her honorary Colonel’s wings designating her as an Honorary Colonel in the Iowa National Guard.

YET, AS THE FIRST GOD WINK APPROACHES, HERE SHE SAT, ALONE AND IN DESPAIR . A frequent visitor to the various bars in the area of her beat and after shift with fellow officers, she had chosen one that was not her usual. A small bar where cops weren’t the usual customers and she could be alone and quiet.  She wanted to contemplate the devastating news she had just received.  It would not only end her career, but her life. It would be her lowest moment in her life. The doctors had informed her that the personal  breast cancer war she had battled for five years was coming to an end. NOTHING MORE TO BE DONE. She was dying.

Trula had shared with this author, her sister, that during that period she felt as though “she had worn out her friends and family who had stood by her in that period of time.  They were faithful, supportive, but dwindling in contact and in availability.”  She expressed feeling for the first time as though she had “worn out her welcome” . While she still had the desire to “fight on” she realized it might be a small support group that cared to see her through to the end.

Alone at the bar, no doubt feeding money to the juke box to hear old classics by Bob Dylan, Buddy Holly, Sam Cooke, and any others from her youthful era of the 50’s and 60’s, she would have been sipping her beer pouring it over ice. A newly acquired habit following her chemotherapy days. She normally would have been one who would make small talk with the man who came in and sat next to her at the bar. Hearing the stories of people, their lives and struggles, was her favorite pass-time. Yet that day she had to be “prodded into it” by the naïve man who tried to strike up a conversation, undoubtedly ignorant of the fact he was speaking to a cop, as she was in her familiar Harley shirt and jeans.

Trula at the Col Ballroom with Buddy Hollys Crickets and Ray Congrove photographer

Trula in 1984 with The Crickets after friend Buddy Holly’s death. Also pictured in dark suit is Photographer and friend Raymond Congrove.

Described later as a “scruffy”, un-kempt, small Hispanic male, looking more like a migrant worker than a “townie”, Trula found herself slowly making small talk with him, mostly listening rather than talking. But whether it was the beers or something he was saying in his calm, broken English, she found herself confiding her private pain to him.

The facts were that she had been told by the doctors that she was at the end, and there was nothing more to do. No more surgeries, the double mastectomies hadn’t worked. The cancer was in her body in several different places. She was at the end of the chemotherapy or having any expectations of it working. She had almost died due to a medical, surgical, error when the specialist slipped and punctured through her esophagus into the chest cavity during what was supposed to be a minor outpatient procedure. It caused her to spend almost a month in the University Hospitals, requiring 24/7 treatments even after she got out of ICU. The doctors had painfully admitted it was a miracle she survived.

trula and amy

Seen here with her oldest daughter, Amy, it was a night to forget the cancer and go the theatre and out to her favorite restaurant.

Sometimes a listener is enough to be grateful for. And this man listened, not asking questions, but looking at her as she spoke and letting her “get it all out.” At the end of her  story he reacted by removing a necklace and pressing it into her hand. “This was given to me by my mother, and she said it would keep me safe. I want you to have it and it will keep you safe.”

Trula did not even look at the necklace but slipped it into her jeans pocket and thanked him. Knowing my sister she would have had a hard time doing more than just saying thank you. She was, inside, an emotional person, but after 2 decades on the police department, she had learned restraint and caution in letting her emotions show. After all, she had just “bared her soul” to a stranger and that was not her usual reaction.

That night, having returned to her apartment, she began to undress for bed. She reached into her jeans pocket and felt the chain of the necklace and pulled it out. It was, to her amazement, a gold necklace with a gold medal of St. Guadalupe. Her recent  intent in exploring conversion to Catholicism made her aware  of St. Guadalupe .  She knew about her appearing to an humble, Indian male, December 9, 1531 ( his baptismal name became Juan Diego thus causing many to believe he was Hispanic). Trula knew about the appearances of The Lady to him, and to his uncle who was seriously ill and expected to die. The uncle  recovered after her visitation directly to him.  The Bishop who had to be “persuaded” with additional proof, then sanctioned building her chapel where she had first appeared and which still stands near Mexico City today. 

Many times Trula would return to the little bar, scan the populace as she drove thru her inner city beat, looking for her 21st century Juan Diego, the Angel Unaware. She was on a mission with a thankful heart. It was remarkable that in the days, and finally weeks, following the encounter where she was given and now wearing the St. Guadalupe necklace, SHE WENT INTO REMISSION, and LIVED another 4 YEARS in what her oncologist and doctors at the University  called a “most unexpected, unexplained,  remission.”  She never found her benefactor again, but began to think it was “meant to be.”  After all, she had entertained the company of an Angel Unaware.  Heb 13:2: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels unaware.”

Trula God wink 2 in 1

Officer Trula Ann Godwin Tanner’s picture provided by her son Jason Tanner. He has kept this picture with her St. Guadalupe medal and police badge together with the knowledge of this story and it’s significance until the “contacted him posthumously, yes I said posthumously, and initiated Part 2 of the 3 parts of the God-winks.

PART TWO: GOD WINK 2: My Sister Trula’s Time Capsule Arrived 13 Years After Her Death: It would change lives forever, but specifically her “baby boy” whose life was about to ‘go back in time’.

In the beginning;

It was Sunday in January, 2016 when I  checked my Facebook.  There was a private message; not unusual, I often get them and this one had just popped on. It was from a “Ben Miller.”and Ben was wondering if I might be a contact for a lady named Trula Godwin? His wife (Dana I found out later) was working on a dresser they bought at the local DAV store and used for the last 12 years. That day, when she tried to return a drawer to the dresser, it would not go in. Couldn’t budge it. They examined it and there seemed to be a hidden or special area hiding a large amount of materials in it. He could not wait to deliver it to me after finding out my sister had passed away in 2002.

ben miller and dana

Ben and Dana Miller thought they would refinish the old dresser they bought 12 years before at a DAV. Their discovery of a hidden compartment during the preparation, revealed the items of the “time capsule” of Trula Ann Godwin (Tanner). Their generosity of spirit and attitude resulted in their delivery of the capsule that same day.

When Ben delivered it there were so many items and as I sorted through them I was astonished at the selected items she had secreted in the special area hidden in the dresser’s structure.  To read about each of them please feel free to read the entire encounter/story by looking at the index of stories here on my WordPress blog and selecting “God Wink: My sister Trula’s Time Capsule Arrived 13 Years After Her Death. It is in the heading (black area) above. https://joycegodwingrubbs2.wordpress.com/god-wink-my-sister-trulas-time-capsule-arrived-13-years-after-her-death/

For now, the relevant item of the bunch in discussion is a letter written 24 years ago. Due to this “God Wink” I am now able to reveal with permission, the nature of the letter in the time capsule which I could not when it was first opened and I wrote the original God wink story. “THINGS HAD TO HAPPEN FIRST”. (Many pictures and details are in this post you can access in the original post..)

 There was a letter written to my sister Trula from a young woman in response to Trula’s letter to her.  She discussed with Trula the decision to raise her baby on her own with the loving support of the man she was to marry. However, she wanted Trula to know that this baby would be well cared for, loved, but not told of his biological father. The biological father was Trula’s son. This was about Trula’s grandson that she would never live to see.  I gave the letter to Trula’s son Jason as I knew that was why it was included in the time capsule.


Jason and Zac2

This was the trip Jason made to meet his son. It would turn out to be his only visit. It was agreed that thereafter, Jason would be given  information, but would not be known to Zach as his father. His mother was married to a loving man who would be a loving father to Zach.  Jason honored the wishes of this mother, his friend,  who he knew would give Zach a life filled with stability and love. He has not seen Zach in person in 24 years since this picture.  

Jason and Zac

In full disclosure again, Jason is my nephew whom I love dearly. This picture tore at my heart as I know the struggles of his life in the military, with his other 2 children, and the desire to be a father to be counted on. I see how young he was here and it reminds me of the melancholy that would always be a part of the robust, leader and warrior, whose life was often defined by the Army and the challenge to be strong.












reunion Jason Tanner

The Army received the fresh-faced 18 year old right out of high school as he determined to “become a man that my family can be proud of”. Thus, with that decision breaking up his marriage, he would find himself on his own and the Army became his family until his retirement from the military.

In the habit of pacing outside his home when in turmoil, Trula’s son Jason would often “talk to Trula and his beloved grandmother Marguerite” and felt he often “heard” from them.  After receiving the letter from the Time capsule while in Iowa to meet his first grandchild, he went through his “ritual” conversation, then felt led to contact the mother of his child and tell her he was ready, if she was willing, for his son to know about him. This was a long time in coming for Jason due to concerns of how his son would take knowing his biological father had not been in the picture to raise him.

The urgency was, when Jason made contact with the mother of Zach, he found his son was expecting to be a father in his own right in just months. Family medical history was becoming important. This tried and proven former Army Sgt. was fearful of his son’s reaction and afraid that it would over-shadow his son’s happy expectations about the baby girl he would meet in October.

Jason had recently married and his new wife Kellie D. was a rock. She urged him to take the leap, she steadied him when he waited impatiently not knowing if he would get a scathing reaction from his son, or worse, hear nothing.

Kellie D

Jason and Kellie at their outdoor wedding in Arizona. Their passion is hiking and spending time traveling in Arizona and surrounding areas.

Hearing from his son Zach was overwhelming. Zach’s mother had shared with him that it was her decision and Jason had honored it as he was in the service and deployed to Somalia and later to Afghanistan, and as a career Army personnel, he was often in a ‘dark place” in his life, personally and professionally. The most important thing Zach learned about Jason from his mother was that buried in Jason’s heart was a radar about his son. At critical junctures in Zach’s life and his mother’s, Jason thru the years would call and check on them, as he had last done when he went, then survived Afghanistan.

zach and skyler with margaritas

A caption of “happiness and promise” on their faces. Skyler and Zach are in love.


Zach Reese and Skyler Roberts ice cream (2)

Zach and Skyler enjoying life, love and awaiting their “bundle of Joy.”








The status now is that Jason will be going to “meet” face to face, his new granddaughter after her birth in October. Jason and Zach are in contact and finding their “way” that is mutually comfortable, and that Jason feels isn’t intrusive out of respect for the wonderful family Zach has had and who love him.

zach and skyler with baby pic (2)

Zach and Skyler, their contented and proud smiles say it all.

But as Jason says, “I’ve always needed to know what my mom thought about all of that, and the letter in the time capsule allowed me to know her thoughts, her struggles and her love for Zach. It was right before me in black and white. It was the catalyst to me contacting Zach’s mom to learn more about Zach and re-unite. The timing was perfect for me to get the letter, perfect for Zach to learn about his family and its members. Especially, his grandmother who loved him from afar.

It was no coincidence that when his great-grandmother died, Zach’s name appeared with those of her great-grandchildren,  all those years ago in 1998. It was on the written materials used for her funeral and memorial. (Yes, many were trying to figure out who he was as Jason had protected his son from scrutiny.) But anyone who knew Jason’s grandmother Marguerite Marrs Godwin (Smith), would know she and his mother Trula Ann Godwin (Tanner) would have had it no other way. ( Her funeral happened in 1998, the same year Trula encountered her Angel Unaware.)   .


Part Three: God-wink 3

As part of his reconciliation with his son Zach, it was clear to Jason that Zach had never received any gifts from him since that first and last visit together. He wanted to make a meaningful gesture of love and inclusion as he had already shared so many things with his first born, his daughter Bridgette who was already actively texting and becoming acquainted with her “new brother” and had just had the first grandchild, a son. Jason had also given many of his military possessions to his son Brayden. He searched his heart, conferred with various family members, including this author, as to whether his idea was “appropriate” and would be meaningful. Then he decided.

Bridgette and Jason

Jason with his first born, daughter Bridgette on a recent visit to see him in Arizona.

Brayden profile pic

Brayden, Jason’s third child is now out of high school and deciding his future.

Jason valued the fact that when his mother  gave him the St. Guadalupe necklace from the Angel Unaware, she wanted him to wear it in when he was deployed to keep him safe. He chuckled as he remembered he did not wear it in Afghanistan because of the heat and problems it would have caused, including his fear of losing it. Instead, he always kept it hanging on her picture along with her police badge she had worn during her career. These three things he valued more than any mementos, and thus after informing his children of his choice and reasoning, he packaged up his treasure and sent it to his son Zach.

He told Zach that he wanted him to have it and possibly wear it until the new grandchild was old enough to appreciate it and understand the legacy behind it. He told Zach that his mother had specifically said, that the story of the Angel Unaware was to be told and remembered as part of the family “legacy”, so Jason charged Zach with keeping it in the family and passing it down. He was holding his breath when he didn’t hear back from Zach right away and wondering if he received the package, when Zach contacted him. He was very grateful for the gift that meant so much to Jason, and was like a validation he was an integral part of the family. He was excited to know the story of the necklace, and more about his grandmother.


This is then, my effort to help and share the story. It is especially important to remember that there truly are angels unaware among us, and there is a reason we come into contact with them. So Zach, from your great-aunt Joyce Godwin Grubbs, this is my way of welcoming you in the family and giving you the charge to carry on for your grandmother who loved you and whose blessing would definitely be given in this gifting of the necklace to you.

Trula God wink 2 in 1

UPDATE; UPDATE;UPDATE;UPDATE********************************************



She did it again and so the God Winks continue;

After trying to plan a reunion around the birth of his son’s first child, and holidays and other thoughts, it wasn’t until January, his mother Trula’s  birthday (now in heaven) that Jason was able, with his wife, to visit his son Zach, wife Skyler and new, beautiful baby girl Lilly. I believe it was her way of letting them know she was there and knew of the reunion. From Tucson to the Southeast U.S., the trip was more than they could have hoped for.

Jason described it as all four adults being on the “same thread from beginning to end” and no awkwardness whatsoever. His son Zach used the same words. So just a couple of pictures from that wonderful occasion.

zach-with-familyjason-with-zach-familyWe look forward to my sister Trula manipulating many more things in their lifetimes, and we know that she is thrilled they are ‘together”.

zacj-ice-creamFather and son and their own brand of humor; finding out it “meshes” and the two are one.

Posted in Angel Unaware, Army Strong, Davenport Police Department, Family Legacies, God winks, Governor Terry Branstad, Grandparent Love, Honorary Colonel Iowa National Guard, Iowa State Representative Steve Grubbs, love child, Military, Ohana, police woman, Q.C. Metropolitan enforcement Group MEG, reconciliation, secrets, Signs after death, St. Guadalupe, Trula Ann Godwin (Tanner) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments