How An Interfaith Minister Empowered Me To Be The Co-Creator With Spirit of My Life Story

by Judy Parker

Judy and Pat

Reverend Patty Furino was one of the first neighbors I met after moving to an apartment in Rock Hill, South Carolina, close to my daughter. Other than my daughter I knew no one in Rock Hill.  Patty’s kind words of encouragement as she walked her dog Coba past my patio meant a lot. From our initial encounter Patty’s deep genuineness and care for others was apparent. Within a couple weeks after meeting Patty I lost my beloved rescue Sophie. The support Patty gave me (along with loaning her sweet Coba to me on multiple occasions) confirmed my first impression of her. She has now become a very important part of my life.

I honestly don’t know how I would have made it through the last 5 months without the emotional support Reverend Patty Furino has given me.  Between dealing with the loss of my beloved dog Sophie on 2/15/21 after 12 years as my sole companion, transitioning to life in a new city far from my remaining nine siblings, and developing a new and healthier relationship with my grown daughter, it has been a challenging time to say the least.

Among many things Patty has taught me is that if I don’t take care of myself,  I won’t be able to take care of anyone else.  Thanks to Patty I am learning to listen to my own heart and to focus some attention on what Judy needs.  I no longer rush to anybody I perceived as needing my help; to some it may sound selfish, but I have discovered that self-care is essential to my peace of mind. She has helped me see that being still is a wonderful gift we can give ourselves ,without feeling guilty. I have experienced first-hand the benefit of Patty’s advice to meditate and listen for guidance before making a major decision.

With Patty’s mentoring my whole attitude is changing to a more positive one.  More than ever before I see that the way I look at life greatly affects my experience.  As Patty likes to say, I am the co-creator with spirit of my own life story. So with that in mind, I work daily on keeping my thoughts more positive because I now believe that our thoughts affect our reality. I have always enjoyed helping others, but Patty has helped me realize that sometimes you need to help them help themselves. It is tough not doing what your loved ones expect but sometimes it is better in the long run to empower them to find their own truth.  Patty is teaching me to be cognizant of my impact on everyone with whom I interact including the lady at Walmart, the waitress, the store clerk, the guy at the park and not just on my loved ones. She is helping me see that by walking with awareness, together we can create a better world one small step at a time.   

Featured background image used with permission of Kim Doyle ©2021

About The Writer

Judy Parker was born on July 30,1951 in rural Williamsburg County, South Carolina.  As a middle child of 11 in a farming family she learned at an early age what hard work really meant.  Judy attended Winthrop College, in Rock Hill, South Carolina from August 1969 until December 1970, after which time she transferred to the University of South Carolina(USC) in Columbia.  Judy earned a Bachelor of Science in Education (mathematics) in 1974 and a Master of Mathematics in 1977 from USC.

Judy’s first career was as a mathematics teacher at junior and senior high schools in Columbia ,South Carolina from August 1977 until January 1983. After teaching, she transitioned to the field of Information Technologies. From January 1983 until her retirement in May 2013, her positions included: insurance and real estate computer systems installation and troubleshooting, data systems analyst, instructor of insurance principles ,system software, and computer systems problem management.  She enjoyed her career and found immense satisfaction in her work.

She is divorced and the mother of one 34-year-old daughter. After retirement, Judy had a little difficulty in figuring out what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. Because of her passion for the outdoors, she quickly decided to use her free time to hike in state and national parks.  Judy is currently exploring the idea of buying an RV and “traveling this grand land of ours. “

Discovering the Joy of Being Still and Other Thoughts on “When The Psychology Professor Met The Minister”

By Judy Parker

Old Forge Pond, Old Forge,NY ©2020 by Kathleen Spatuzzi Photography and used with permission

I feel an overwhelming need to share just how much Dave Roberts’ and Patty Furino’s book When The Psychology Professor Met The Minister has impacted me. The effect is so profound that I have already sent copies to two dear people who have suffered loss. I plan to send more to others whom I believe will benefit from the message in this book. I believe in the healing power and comfort of this book.

Whether the loss is of a child as Dave and my brother experienced, loss of a mother, father, sibling, nephew, friend, or a beloved dog, the hurt and loneliness can become almost unbearable. This book gives me hope and strengthens my faith that death is not the end of our existence. The effect on my perspective has been far-reaching and I want others to know about the peace, comfort, and joyful expectations this book has brought me. With my existing faith I believed I would be reunited with loved ones in the future but now I know I don’t have to wait until then. I am learning that I can make my own connections with them. I am even discovering the joy of being still,  which is something new for me. During those still moments more peace comes to me than when I rushed hither and yon for years,  looking for the next great thing.  Practices like Dave’s “Pieces of Me” provides more opportunity for the growth we all need to be truly happy.

I think about messages that I previously perceived as mere random occurrences. I now realize that life is not just a series of coincidences. I accept the fact that I can’t control a lot of life,  and that’s ok. Instead of being fearful about what the future will bring, I now eagerly anticipate the gifts of presence from loved ones who have transitioned, in the here and now. Walking with spiritual awareness as advocated in this book allows me to not only be receptive to change but to actually look forward to what life can bring me. I know it won’t always be rosy, but I have faith that the good will far outweigh the bad. I can now envision a future filled with wonder and possibility.

Dave and Patty’s book helped me believe that we really don’t lose our loved ones but develop a new connection with them.  I am so happy that I don’t have to abandon my core beliefs but can be empowered to develop a deeper understanding of life’s mysteries. What a marvelous thought that we can learn from so many different sources! In fact this book helped me learn to tap into many more resources than I could ever have imagined before. Who would have thought we could learn so much from Native Americans, animals, people who are put in our life path like Patty for Dave, and even random strangers whose paths cross ours. I love the fact that you don’t have to be a “gifted” individual to develop a higher awareness of life. We just need to believe .

Another great benefit from this book is that I now have a large reference list of material in which I can delve even deeper and, in the process, explore myriad avenues of thought. Neil Peart’s “healing road” to which the book refers is not just a healing road, but an elevation to a higher life experience. I see more clearly that life is a wonderful gift that keeps on giving if we are receptive and open to connecting to something greater than ourselves.

Dave and Patty express to the reader that our individual paths are not like anyone else’s and that there is no one “right” way to live. I believe this book has started me on what I hope is a never-ending road of discovery. I am excited about looking at the world with wider eyes and without fear of what I may find. I feel joy in reaching out to others and sharing my newfound knowledge. As Dave said, the power of community to work through grief is real. In the process of sharing in our community’s growth and supporting each other we can make this a better world for everyone. I am more attuned to opportunities to “help” others not just in big ways but even in simple acts like smiling. I want this to become a part of who I am.

My heartfelt thanks go to Dave and Patty for this book and for my new outlook on life and death.

About The Author

Judy Parker was born on July 30,1951 in rural Williamsburg County, South Carolina.  As a middle child of 11 in a farming family she learned at an early age what hard work really meant.  Judy attended Winthrop College, in Rock Hill, South Carolina from August 1969 until December 1970, after which time she transferred to the University of South Carolina(USC) in Columbia.  Judy earned a Bachelor of Science in Education (mathematics) in 1974 and a Master of Mathematics in 1977 from USC.

Judy’s first career was as a mathematics teacher at junior and senior high schools in Columbia ,South Carolina from August 1977 until January 1983. After teaching, she transitioned to the field of Information Technologies. From January 1983 until her retirement in May 2013, her positions included: insurance and real estate computer systems installation and troubleshooting, data systems analyst, instructor of insurance principles, system software, and computer systems problem management.  She enjoyed her career and found immense satisfaction in her work.

She is divorced and the mother of a 34-year-old daughter. After retirement, Judy had a little difficulty in figuring out what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. Because of her passion for the outdoors, she quickly decided to use her free time to hike in state and national parks.  Judy is currently exploring the idea of buying an RV and “traveling this grand land of ours. “