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Dr Villarreal delivers message of faith at Rockwall YMCA’s Teacher Prayer Breakfast

(ROCKWALL, TX – August 4, 2017) The J.E.R. Chilton YMCA at Rockwall welcomed Rockwall ISD teachers for some good food, fellowship and prayer during the RISD Teacher Prayer Breakfast on Friday, August 4.

Guests helped themselves to steaming hot plates of delicious breakfast food served by Preston Hollow Catering as they enjoyed a beautiful musical selection performed by Lauren Atkins and Karen Frazier, followed by addresses from retired educator Sherry Packer and keynote speakers Rockwall ISD Superintendent Dr. JJ Villarreal and his wife, Kim Villarreal. Teachers were then invited to submit prayer requests and partook in moments of prayer led by prayer leaders assigned to each table.

Dr. Villarreal’s message for the morning was themed around a single word – “no.” When you’re at peace with the way things are going, he said, how do you handle a major roadblock, or a “no”? He said he experienced his hardest “no” on the day when he learned that his wife was diagnosed with Stage 2A breast cancer, the same day he found out he was to become the new superintendent for Rockwall ISD.

Using the story of Paul’s Thorn and God’s Grace from Corinthians, in which Paul pleads three times for the Lord to remove the painful thorn in his side and the Lord replies, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness,” Dr. Villarreal said he was able to realize his strength through God during that time of weakness and hardship.

“My “no” kind of grew to a level I hadn’t ever handled in my life – we had to sell a house, buy a house, move our kids, and just found out my wife has cancer,” said Dr. Villarreal. “When I’m driving on 635 for an hour to come back here to Rockwall with a smile on my face during my transition, all of my kids jumped in and helped their mom. My “no” became really simple: I just needed to get through the next hour. And in the end, when I gave God the opportunity, my grace is sufficient and when I’m weak, I’m really strong.”

After three surgeries, Kim received some very good news: she had hit the “cancer lottery” where she would not need to undergo chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

“When cancer hit, I was not in control,” Kim said. “I had no idea what was happening – buying a house, selling a house, moving to a new community where we knew a few people but not many, getting our children on board with that, it was all overwhelming. And so my first lesson was that God was in charge, and I was not.

“When you hit those roadblocks where you need help, it’s humbling but it’s also such a blessing to just feel the love of others. From gift cards left on our front porch to meals delivered to our home both before and after the move, the amount of support we received was overwhelming to me.”

Story and photos by Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News. 

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