Ghost Writer for the Angels

A True Story by Sandy Penny:

When I moved to Taos, New Mexico in January 2006, I had no idea that my location would be the deciding factor in garnering a book-writing project from Houston, Texas. I lived in Houston for 35 years, and I had mutual friends with Dr. Johnnie Lerma, but we had never met. In fact, I had never even heard his name. He was a hospice doctor, and when we were introduced by phone and email, he was the head of the largest hospice in the country.


One of my best friends, Claire Papin, met him when she went to hear him speak about people who see angels when they’re dying. As they became closer friends, he asked if she might be able to help him write a book about the deathbed experiences of his patients, specifically as it pertained to what the angels taught them. She told him that she was not a writer, but that she knew someone who could do a great job working with him. He said, “Let me think about it. I’m already working with someone, but I’m not happy with the way it’s going. I’d like to make a change.” 

Claire offered to introduce us, but he put it off for a while. Meanwhile, she mentioned the project to me, and I felt a strong urge to do it. A couple of months later, I finally talked with Johnnie on the phone. He hesitated and bobbed and weaved. However, being pretty sure I would do the project, I offered to go to Houston to meet with him and sort out the beginnings, the money and connection. He agreed.

After meeting with him personally, and offering to write one story free to show him what it was like to work with me, he laughed. He said, “I knew I was going to hire you from the first time Claire told me you were living in Taos, NM.” “Really?” I questioned, “Why is that?” 

He replied, “Years ago, before I even knew I would write this book, I was at a party where there was a psychic. She told me that I would write a book about angels with a woman from New Mexico. 

At the time, I shrugged it off, but as events unfolded, I remembered what she had said.” 

I got a shiver through my body, a confirmation that a spiritual process was at work. Johnnie continued, “I’ve been collecting these experiences for over ten years, knowing that one day I would write a book, and getting permission from the patients before they died, to share their stories. They were quite enthusiastic and encouraged me to do it to help others. They felt it made their life and death more meaningful.”

I asked if the families would want their loved ones’ stories to be told, and whether it was a conflict for him as a doctor. He said it could be a problem, but that he knew that Spirit would take care of the details. He knew that, in addition to his mission as a hospice doctor, he was meant to reveal the spiritual side of the death process. 

He said, “When the first little boy told me his angel stories, he told me that I had to write his story to help other children, and that I had to write all the other angel stories to help people who were dying, and their families. How could I deny what a joyful child sage with a huge tumor over his eye was telling me? Especially since he knew about my illness, when no one else knew about it, and he had no way to know. I knew something supernatural was at work. I could feel it.” 

Johnnie wrote me a check, and I recorded the first few stories and headed back to New Mexico to start writing. The first day, as I sat at my computer looking at the blank screen and listening to Matthew’s story (the sage), I was not quite sure how to start the book. Beginning a writing project is always the hardest part. 

I was staying with my friend Tom in Albuquerque for a few days, so I walked outside to his rock garden to breathe in the sunshine and try to get inspired. I breathed in the warm air, felt the breeze on my face, and reached down to pick up a rock to play with while I thought about the story. I turned the smooth rock over and over in my right hand, and the story started to form. As I headed back to my computer to start typing, I glanced at the rock in my hand. It was black and smooth on one side, but when I turned it over, I got a huge surprise. The image of an angel was etched in the rock. It was a natural formation, not something carved. There were white spaces that outlined a face, suggested a body and definitely showed wings on the back of the being. I gasped, and another shiver went through my whole body. 

I knew I was doing exactly what I needed to be doing. I called Johnnie right away and told him what just happened. He said, “Yep, every time someone connects with the angels, they get signs like that.” I love that kind of magic in my life. I was truly inspired to move forward. I wrote in a frenzy for weeks, and every time I got into my car, some angel song was playing, like “In the Arms of the Angels” or “Johnnie Angel.” It was uncanny.

Some time later, I was visiting Houston again, just for fun, and I was staying at my friend Ellie’s house. I set up my laptop in her den, and read back through the list of stories I had not yet written. One about a woman who was given a feather by the angels to comfort her jumped out at me. I listened to some of the recording, then went to the kitchen for a glass of water to give myself time to think about how to begin. 

When I returned to my work, there on my computer, was a small white feather. I looked around trying to figure out where it could have come from. It certainly was not there when I had left for the kitchen. I felt that shudder again, and knew this was another encouragement from the angels.

Later in the week, Johnnie and I were at his apartment with the spectacular view of the Houston skyline spread out before us. I told him about my experience as we sat on his long couch with the black fur throw pillows. He started to tell me another story about feathers. One day, a huge storm came up just as a priest died, and white feathers rained down from the ceiling in the room. The strange event was witnessed by Johnnie and several nurses who confirmed that many feathers fell and then just disappeared. 

 That priest had been known to save feathers in a jar and to call them angel feathers. As Johnnie related the story, a storm blew in, and lightning flashed right in front of the picture windows. It was a little scary, but beautiful as well. 

As we settled back into the story again, we both, at the same time said, “Did you put that there?” “No, you put that there.” On the black pillow between us was a medium sized white feather. We started laughing. It had definitely not been there before, and neither of us had gone anywhere to get a feather. It just appeared while we were watching the storm. And the bigger coincidence was that the storm blew in while we were discussing a stormy death. That was a bit eerie too. We both got chills on that one. 

 I began to collect objects and stories about what happened during the writing of the book. I put the angel stone and all the feathers into a plastic baggie that I kept in my purse to show interested parties. Hmm, now that I think of it, I have no idea where that baggie is. I’ll have to look for it. Maybe the angels took it back, but I don’t think so.

 Anyway, another synchronicity happened when I was flying into Houston on a family visit after the book was done. I was seated next to a woman on a plane. We began to talk, and our conversation turned to what we do for a living. Never one to hide my spiritual connection, I began to relate the story of the book I had just finished. I told her about it in detail, and she listened attentively without saying a word. When I finished the story, she quietly said, “My mother died in that hospice, and Dr. Johnnie was her doctor.” 

Her mother was from New York, but had been transferred to the Houston Medical Center for cancer treatment. Nothing helped, and finally they were referred to hospice. She said that Johnnie had been a great comfort to her and her family, and that his spiritual take on death was very powerful for them. Although they did not experience angels, her mother died very peacefully, and Dr. Johnnie had made them all laugh, even on the last day of her mother's life. Perhaps this was her mother’s way of confirming that Dr. Johnnie had been right about the angels. 

What are the chances that that I could be sitting next to someone who actually knew Dr. Johnnie in that way? She wasn’t even from Houston or going there. She was just making a connecting flight.

Many more synchronicities, blessings, and coincidences happened along the way, but that’s enough for me for now. It certainly was enough to keep me focused on the book. It’s a great challenge and a greater joy to be the ghost writer for the angels. The book is now on the market, “Into the Light,” by Dr. John Lerma.

I leave you with this quote, “Angels fly because they take themselves lightly.” So, lighten up and soar to your greatest heights.

Enjoy Beautiful Angel Pictures 
on my Pinterest Page: I Love Angels. 

Into the Light by John Lerma 

Real Life Stories About Angelic Visits,
Visions of the Afterlife, and
Other Pre-Death Experiences (2007) Paperback