Tammy’s Story

What are you choosing to believe today?

Erica and TammyI was co-hosting a radio show in Charlotte, North Carolina and one morning, we asked that question.  One woman’s answer left me inspired to my core and determined to make a difference in the life of this one beautiful, brave soul.

Tammy Powell called to say she was choosing to believe that God would heal her cancer.  She was en route to the hospital for further testing that day.  Her hopeful words spoke volumes to everyone who heard them.  Tammy sounded like someone very much alive while facing what might be her death.

In a follow-up phone conversation on the air, Tammy shared that she was putting butterfly stickers up in radiation machines.  She wanted to offer hurting people hope and felt the butterfly was the perfect symbol.  This simple, uplifting gesture touched places in my heart that often go ignored in the midst of life’s daily chaos.

Operation Butterfly“Operation Butterfly,” was launched, a sweet, sentimental campaign to collect butterfly stickers from listeners on Tammy’ behalf.

Stickers flew in, along with letters filled with encouragement, Bible verses, positive thoughts, and beautiful butterflies made of construction paper in every color. Children drew pictures.  Ladies sent lovely personal gifts for Tammy:  a butterfly pendant, butterfly chimes, an elegant butterfly purse, a butterfly mobile, the devotional “Jesus Calling,” a handmade butterfly flannel blanket, decorative butterflies, and more.

One special morning, I had the honor of visiting Tammy in her precious home.  It was a sanctuary, with the love of God tucked into every nook and cranny.  Butterflies danced from the ceiling, from twinkling white lights in her bedroom, from paintings on the wall, created by Tammy’s own beautiful hands.  Her home was a haven of comfort and hope.

Butterfly Handmade CardSitting in her living room, I was privileged to see and touch her prized possessions. Tammy’s favorite things were the handmade cards from children, especially the ones God purposely planted in her life.  I watched as Tammy reverently held pieces of colored construction paper filled with innocent pictures… like they were fragile butterfly wings.

She had such a gentle spirit.  A listener named Crystal once emailed me to say she wanted to order a box of real butterflies for Tammy.  The idea was that Tammy would release the butterflies into her backyard, to remind her of hope and the resurrection of Christ, and eternal life.

She was deeply touched when I told her, but concerned that the butterflies would not live if there was another frost in the Carolinas.  Her heart was large and rare.

Tammy understood life:  love God and tell everyone about His love, help others, be a friend, marvel at God’s creation, hold tightly to hope… like a child gripping her Daddy’s hand.

She inspired an entire city to look up, to know that there is a God, Who never ceases to be good, that heaven is her real home; that joy in life can be found no matter what you are going through.  What a gift to a broken, confused, hurting world.

To her last breath, Tammy believed that nothing was impossible with God.  I spoke with her by phone in those last days, and she was telling me how her friend was coming to paint her toenails.  ‘I’m picking purple,’ she said.  Those words contained the dignity and hope of an immortal soul.

Butterfly PaintingWhen I visited Tammy in the hospital, I went to her window, hoping to adjust the blinds and let more light in the room. It was a bright sunny day and it felt so lifeless and gray and sterile in her room.  Peering out, I understood why:  Tammy’s room was in the middle of the hospital towers and so cast in shadows.  I didn’t like it and said so.  “Oh, Erica,” Tammy said, “When I look out there, I feel like I’m in a castle.”

She was and is a princess in every way, because her Daddy is the King of Kings.  And now she is finally Home, in her own beautiful castle.  It is a Home where cancer can’t get through the door, and where words like tears, pain, fear and death are foreign concepts… God’s Home.  I like to imagine flocks of butterflies soaring through her windows and flitting through each room.

I promised Tammy that I would give her butterflies away.  She made me promise to give them to the saddest people I could find.  And so it begins…

21 thoughts on “Tammy’s Story

  1. What a beautiful tribute and legacy for a friend- to scatter butterflies like wings of hope to those who need it!

  2. What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful life. May this be a gift that doesn’t ever stop giving:)
    “Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.”

  3. This is beautiful! What a sweet friend you are to still continue her project and legacy. I can hear the Nicole Nordeman song now. :) There is a Fields a Flutter Butterfly exhibit going on now through Sept. 9th at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens in Lake Wylie. We plan to go. I know what I will be thinking about! HOPE!

  4. God could not have chosen a better person to put in Tammy’s path. I’m so glad that you have found a way to pass on Tammy’s (and your) positivity!

  5. I am blessed to have a friend like you with a very sensible heart and compassion.
    My sister Carmen is a recipient of one of these Beautiful Butterflies and she loves them. You are welcome to use her picture for your website. May God Bless you abundantly for what you do. We love you!

  6. What a beautiful story of TWO Godly women! Your words and Tammy’s example have truly touched my heart. Sending love to you and praying for all the Fathers might blessings upon you. Thank you so very much for sharing her story and sharing your love

  7. Nice, Erica, very nice….I, too, am a butterfly admirer (doesn’t look like I spelled it right…you took Tammy’s “heart” and shared it with us all…we, too, must let our wings dry and then fly…to where ever God calls us….

  8. This is so inspiring! What a beautiful story. You are truly an angel! Thank you for the bright light you shed on this world! Xxoo

  9. Erica, I have truly believed that you have an amazing purpose, and amazing gift. You can not only find ways that God works miracles in His way, but you share that with others, giving them the rare gift of hope. So many struggle with believing. Thank you for blessing the world more and more every day! <3

  10. Erica, I love the way you tell a story. You have such a sweet spirit and God’s words become your words. Thank you for sharing Tammy’s inspiring story. Praise the Lord for NO MORE CANCER!!!!

  11. Thank you Erica for sharing this beautiful and inspiring story…it touched me deeply. I too believe that butterflies bring hope and peace. You are a wonderful friend for following through with her wishes…spreading hope and peace to those in need. May Tammy fly high, cancer free and at peace with all the other butterflies…

  12. Wow Erica u always touch my heart! My favorite part is it’s a home where cancer can’t get through the door! I never met Tammy but boy woul I like to wrap my arms around her and give her a huge hug! What a inspiration she is and yourself! I like to imagine apart of gods home is a lake where my father can fish all day and see all the beautiful butterflies pass him by ;) thank you for sharing this amazing story! I love u!

  13. Erica:
    You are so inspiring, I look forward to your prayers and thoughts each day:
    Tammy could not pick a more beautiful person to carry on her wishes and tell her story:} God Bless you always with Love and Good Health:}
    Much Love
    Joan:}

  14. Erica this is so Amazing!!!! Tammy loved you with all her heart and I can see why! Thank you for what you are doing to honor my sweet sweet sister!!!

  15. What a beautiful tribute to Tammy, who touched our lives with hope! Thank you, Erica, for bringing this site to us, and inspiring us all!

  16. I’VE POSTED ON THIS SO MANY TIMES BUT I NEVER SEE MY COMMENTS??? SIGH….MUST BE HOLDING MY MOUTH WRONG I GUESS!! HEARD A THOUGHT THE OTHER DAY THAT MADE ME THINK OF YOU MY FRIEND:

    GOD ALWAYS HAS A POT OF MILK AND HONEY
    TEA ON SOMEWHERE IN A BACK ROOM!!

  17. Today I received a butterfly and I was very surprised and overjoyed with the feeling of Jesus and his powerful love..what a beautiful thing you are doing…God bless!!

  18. Thank you for telling me about this Erica. I love the idea of the butterfly for hope. My gmail is RN4Hope and I work at the cancer center. It may sound depressing but it is a place of real kinship and hope for people with cancer. A very supportive atmosphere where people bless and are blessed every day. I hope that this idea of sharing butterflies to encourage people and give them hope will grow.

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