Editor’s note: Sue Murphy has agreed to share her baking column with our readers weekly. They will begin in April.
XENIA — Meet Sue Murphy.
On the surface, Sue Murphy is a kind and fun-loving hospice nurse who enjoys baking, helping others, and sharing about her journey in life — as featured in a multitude of segments over the years on one of oldest Christian radio stations in the Miami Valley WEEC 100.7 FM.
Beneath the surface, however, there’s more than meets the eye as the southern woman has endured life’s hardships and overcome obstacles that one will seldom hear her speak about.
From a young age, Murphy’s love for baking started in her native home in Mississippi with an Easy Bake Oven. From there, it has grown into a ministry as she and her late husband, Greg, traveled extensively throughout the US for 20 years, culminating in the publication of her cookbook “Baking A Memory,” and her subsequent arrival and settling in to Greene County, where she found another calling in life as a familiar voice in Christian radio.
The story of how it all came into being, and how it continues to grow to this day, she says is no coincidence.
And, Murphy finds irony that in all her travels and years living in various states abroad, she wound up in Xenia –“the City of Hospitality.”
“I find it interesting that I ended up in Xenia,” she said. “Hospitality is my thing.”
The changes that brought her to this new life in Xenia, in the wake of her husband’s unexpected death Oct. 18, 2009, were quick and were many.
“During that time when we lived in Fort Wayne, I came to Xenia often because my best friend lived here at the time,” Murphy said. “After my husband died, this was the community that I was most familiar with and most comfortable with. I didn’t know it was the ‘City of Hospitality’ until after I moved here.”
Hospitality in its most simple form, she’s come to learn, is sharing what you have with another.
“Even if it’s just a smile or engaging someone in a conversation, you are sharing yourself,” she said. “We tend to think about it as big events, or dinner parties, or something that has to be a big deal. But hospitality is simply sharing what you have, or sharing yourself, with another.”
After having settled in Xenia, finding the radio station that first night in her home with no other media around, she has been listening to it ever since.
“I had no media in my home to keep me company,” Murphy said. “I turned the dial and there they were and I haven’t changed it ever since.”
One day while listening to the station, she said, a producer announced that they wanted listeners to come in and share about their passions and tell their stories.
“I said ‘why not,’” she explained. “I grew a lot in that last year, and the station was pivotal during my grieving process. This was 2010, a year after my husband passed away unexpectedly. The station had been inspirational to me, and it encouraged me to keep on keeping on.”
Murphy called the station and ended up being the first interview for that series of interviews, which included many others.
“I went in with a cookbook, two types of cookies and a story,” she said. “The rest, as they say, is history.”
After the interview, she connected with that producer, who led her to the president of Strong Tower Christian Media, who liked the idea of having her on the air regularly.
Murphy ended up helping the station out during fundraising events and when it relocated its offices to Xenia a few years later, though still broadcasting out of Springfield, she was on the air live for three days a week during a seven month period to help with the transition.
“After they didn’t need me live on air, they asked me to reformat ‘Confectionately Yours’ to be on air five days a week,” she explained. “So, I went back and reformatted it.”
Today, she said, the segment runs on their station and their sister station, WFCJ 93.7 FM (The Source) out of Miamisburg.
More than just baking
When Sue Murphy’s husband passed away quickly and unexpectedly, the tragedy nearly shook her to her core.
“I did everything they tell you not to do when someone passes,” she said. “I bought a house within two months. I moved here without a job. I was so mentally foggy after Greg died cause of the shock.”
Leading up to her husband’s passing, Murphy said the plan had been to retire from nursing to start a hospitality-related business. God, she said, had other plans.
“In my 38 years of nursing, the job I have now at Hospice of the Miami Valley, here in Xenia, is the most satisfying job I’ve ever had,” she said. “As a hospice nurse, we care for folks who have a life-limiting illness, folks who are terminal with an end of life prognosis within six months.”
Caring for these people, Murphy explained, and interacting with their families gives her a great sense of fulfillment, in addition to all the other things she is involved with.
“This is the kind of nursing that they teach you about that you never get to do,” she said. “You hear people’s stories. You provide comfort and care, which is our mission. When people are nearing the end of life, many want to stay home and we make that possible.”
Hospice care, combined with the radio show, her cookbook and website, her involvement with her church and many friends in her new life in Xenia was not the season of life Murphy was expecting when life took that unexpected tragic turn more than seven years ago.
“Greg and I had been married almost 32 years,” she said. “He was only 52 and in good health. We were getting ready to have an empty nest, with the kids (Emily and Andrew) going to college. We were very close. We were looking forward to that season of life.”
In that year, leading up to her appearance on the radio, she said she grew stronger, little by little, carried by what she calls “the arms of grace.”
“My walk changed in that year,” she explained. “I started seeking God in a way I never had before.”
As she did this, she explained, relationships and situations began to develop in a way like never before.
Listening, she said, is often the simplest and purest form of hospitality, a word that continues to take on new meaning for this “unexpected season of life.”
Brian Evans is a freelance writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.