Halifax Street, Winslow
It was a cold November morning when God decided I was to be brought into the world. But on the day I was born, I was dying. No one could figure out what was wrong. I was vomiting so much that my weight started decreasing rapidly, and an infant can’t survive rapid weight loss. My mother kept asking everyone, “why aren’t they bringing my baby to me?” but no one had the heart to tell her I might be dying, so they just evaded the question with, “We’re stabilizing her.” But my mother saw a lot of activity around the nursery, doctors and nurses scurrying around hurriedly. There was tension in the air and she had a sense that something was very wrong. My mother’s sister, my aunt Jan, was a maternity nurse in that hospital and was on duty that morning, so you can imagine her distress as she watched her newborn niece heading toward death. Nothing they tried was working, and it looked hopeless.
And then …you see, those who are destined to walk with God and serve him …they are somehow known by Satan. I’ve heard many similar stories by other believers whom Satan tried “to destroy the child as soon as it’s born” (Rev 12:4). Others he tries to kill in their youth. How many believers today can tell the stories of how they survived an almost-accident that surely would have killed them had the Lord not intervened. You see this throughout the Scriptures as well. Satan tried to kill Moses through a decree by the Pharoah to kill all the baby boys when Moses was born. And likewise, Satan tried to kill Jesus through a decree by Herod that all the baby boys under the age of two were to be killed. So often, Satan tries to kill those destined to belong to and serve the Lord. And he was determined to kill me.
After hours of intense bewilderment, an idea suddenly came to my aunt’s mind. She gave me solid food. Have you ever heard of giving solid food to a newborn infant? A dying infant at that! An infant who’s vomiting? But …for some “unexplainable” reason …it worked. …Perhaps not so strange?
But damage had been done in the soul. They say that the first hours of an infant’s life are crucial in the bonding between mother and child. I did not bond with my mother, nor she with me and I would feel the rift for the rest of my life. My mother was not cruel or hateful to me, but there was no bond there. And there never would be.
But the hand of God was with me from even before conception. My mother had had a miscarriage, and later when I was conceived, it was during the time she should still have been pregnant with the first child. In other words, I had a brother or sister who had to die so that I could be conceived. I’ve argued with God whether that was a good idea or not! At times later in life I would have preferred that that first child had made it through instead. As Job said, “May the day perish on which I was born, and the night in which it was said, a child is conceived” (Job 3:3). I’ve since repented of those words, but there was many a time when I truly meant them.
Our first apartment, my first home, was opposite a small park in Winslow, Maine. In that park was a cannon — pointed right at our apartment.
Burleigh Street, Waterville
I wasn’t sure what to make of the figure, I had never seen anything like it before. My heart was beating so hard I feared the figure might hear it. I clung tightly to Mum’s hand and shrunk back behind her as the figure came toward us. “What kind of place is this?” I shuddered silently.
Mum had told me that we were going to register me to begin school in the fall. She said I will meet my new teacher. I had never been inside a school before, and knew not at all what to expect, but never in my wildest dreams had I anticipated that the school was a place where such creatures as that one lived.
I stared at it with an incredulous fear; it was tall, taller than my mother – taller even, I thought, than my father. It was black from the head, all the way down to the ground, except for an open square which revealed a face, and two openings, one on each side of the dress from which protruded two hands. The square face was bordered on the top by a very rigid, hard white vinyl cover over the forehead. And from the neck just below the chin hung a border that was large and round and hard white vinyl.
I hoped that they kept these beings restrained somewhere; surely this was one the likes of which I had never seen and hoped would not have to see again when I came to attend this school. And I wondered what this apparition had to do with registering for kindergarten.
“What is your name?” the figure said, obviously to me.
I wanted to run, but I was paralyzed, buried in my mother’s skirt. I tried to open my mouth, but nothing came out, my mouth was paralyzed too. My heart was pounding so hard that I felt faint.
“Tell me, what is your name?!” the figure repeated.
My mother was somewhat annoyed at my uncooperative silence, and she said, “Well go on now, tell the teacher your name.”
“The teacher???” my mind screamed in disbelief as my head whirled in confusion and panic!?! “The creature is going to be my teacher???”
I didn’t understand why they were doing this to me. My friend Warren who lived upstairs over us never planted in my mind such a picture of his teacher. He’d been in school a whole year now, and he never let on that teachers wore what looked to me like Halloween costumes to school. But Warren went to a different school, one that I wasn’t allowed to go to. I had asked why, but I didn’t understand their answers. All I knew was that Warren went to First Grammar and I had to go to Saint Francis. Maybe it was because I was so bad, always so bad like Dad so often said. Maybe bad kids had to have these special teachers. But why did they have to wear such costumes? It’s the middle of summer! Maybe to scare us, because bad kids need to be scared? I truly didn’t think I was more “bad” than Warren. But I did know I was very bad. That’s what I was told constantly. Dad told me I will eventually end up in a “reform school.” I told him I’d run away. He said you can’t run away because it’s surrounded by a moat with alligators in it. (Yes, he really did say that.)
“Paula, we’re going to go inside the classroom,” Mum said, “and the teacher is going to talk to you. I want you to behave now, and show her how smart you are. I want you to recite the alphabet for her and show her that you know your numbers too. Ok?”
No, it wasn’t ok! It was like those bad dreams I so often had at night, “night terrors” they call them. I’d wake up with my whole body shaking but I never remembered the dreams afterward, only that they came so often. This time I was having a bad dream with my eyes open.
Mum tugged me along toward the classroom. As I turned toward the room, I froze. There were two more of the creatures in the hallway. I guessed now that this was a whole school of creatures. I wondered if maybe this is the “reform school” Dad had threatened me with. Maybe he meant it and maybe I’d gone over the limit one time too many and now I was being sent to this kind of school.
Mum was tugging and I was moving sort of in a daze. It was one of those dreams, it must be. I’ll wake up with my whole body shaking and then I’ll forget it.
We entered a large classroom and the “teacher” told me to sit down. By now I realized that the teacher was female. At least it spoke with a woman’s voice. She told me she wanted to talk with me for a little while. Mum pulled her hand away and I looked at her in panic. I blurted out ever so quietly, my voice almost inaudible, “Mum please don’t leave me, and please don’t close the door, and please sit next to me.” The teacher said that she must talk to me alone, and motioned Mum to leave. A little louder, I begged Mum not to leave me alone, and especially not to shut the door. The creature went to the door with Mum, and whispered something to her. Then she turned back to the room and closed the door. I don’t remember anything else. I don’t remember anything more until the first day of school. Just like I never remembered my frequent nightmares.
Mum walked with me on the first school day. We entered the schoolyard which was teeming with boys and girls. Everyone had a new schoolbag, and I did too. I wasn’t sure yet what it was for, but I loved the smell of it. It kind of smelled like the plastic on my dolls. There were crayons inside, and I liked the smell of them too.
A loud bell rang, and all the boys and girls stopped still in their tracks. Then another loud bell pealed, and everyone walked silently toward his or her respective line. Mum took me to my line, and told me just to do what the other kids do. We waited for a short while, then a third bell sounded and we marched into the school. My place in the line was at the back of the row on the girls’ side. At the back, because I was so tall. I was still only four years old, and shouldn’t have been placed in school until I was five, but Mum had insisted that I begin school this fall because even at four years old, I was taller than the five-year-olds. The nurse at the well-child clinic had told Mum that at the rate I was growing, I’d probably reach six feet. Mum thought I’d develop a complex if I waited another year to enter kindergarten, after all, if I was taller than the five-year-olds now, how much taller and bigger than next year’s five-year-olds would I be if I waited to enter school with the children of my own age? Much better, Mum thought, to go in with kids older than me. I wouldn’t stand out quite so much. Mum had no idea how this was going to affect me, not because of my height but because I was not emotionally ready to go to school, and this fact would have a very detrimental effect upon my life throughout my school years. I had not matured. I was shy, overly sensitive, and fear controlled all I did. So to be placed in with children more mature than me was a huge mistake. I would live in fear and humiliation all the way through.
The teacher rang a small bell which always sat on her desk. The children rose. She rang the bell again, and everyone kneeled on the shiny hardwood floor. She said that we were now going to pray, so I sat back on my heels, folded my hands, and closed my eyes. Someone nudged me. I opened my eyes. The teacher was saying something, and everyone in the class was looking at me. I became paralyzed again. I didn’t understand what was happening.
“You there in the back, kneel up straight!”
I looked around, not having a clue what was going on. “You there, in the back, I told you to kneel up straight! Now kneel straight!” she insisted, her voice rising. Why was everyone looking at me? I looked around to maybe spot someone who wasn’t kneeling, but everyone seemed to be poised for prayer. A girl whispered, “She’s talking to you!” I just looked at her. I couldn’t figure out what the teacher wanted me to do. I was kneeling, like I always do when I say my prayers at home.
The girl near me said, “You’re sitting back on your heels. Kneel up straight!”
Kneel up straight? But this was the way I had said my prayers for as long as I could remember. But I didn’t take the time to sort it out in my mind, and I shot up straight. I fought the tears, and forbade them from falling, though some did. I knew I wasn’t supposed to cry. Most of the children in my neighborhood were boys and Warren who lived upstairs told me that only cowards cry so don’t ever be caught crying. So I held my breath and focused on something other than what was going on until I could get myself under control. I did not cry, but every bone in my body was trembling.
Then the teacher began the chant of morning prayers, and the class joined in unison, kneeling up straight which was the new way one must pray. “Hail Mary full of grace…”
After the prayers, the teacher rang the desk bell and everyone stood up. We pledged allegiance to the flag, sang a religious song, then she rang the bell again and everyone sat down. Not a sound was made by any child in the room.
One boy was rubbing his ears. The teacher told him to take his hands away from his ears. A short time later, he was rubbing his ears again. The teacher now told him in a voice tinged with sarcasm that he was not a baby anymore, he was in school now, and that he must no longer rub his ears. “And, when I speak to you,” she said, “you are to answer, ‘Yes Mother!’” He whispered the proper response, and I could see a look in his eyes that I would come to know so very well -the look of terror. The next day I noticed the same boy mindlessly rubbing his ears again. Of course the teacher noticed it too, and she came over with a roll of tape, and taped his ears to his head. She told him he would have to wear the tape all week, or until he learned not to tug at his ears. His eyes filled with tears, but he didn’t dare to cry, at least not out loud. He didn’t make a sound. The teacher put new tape on him every day for the rest of the week.
I sat in my seat and didn’t move, from fright. I was petrified that I would be caught breaking one of the teacher’s rules. I sat so still that I started to lose feeling in my arm which was folded up on the desk in the “proper” way. I didn’t dare to reposition my arm. I didn’t dare to move at all. I kept my whole body rigid lest I forget and be found not sitting properly.
We were duly told the rules. One of the most important ones was that the side of the schoolyard between the building and the sidewalk was the girls’ side of the playground, and the yard on the farther side, after the sidewalk, was the boys’ side, and woe to any boy caught on the girls’ side, or girl caught on the boys’ side! That was fine with me. I didn’t play at recess anyway, because the other children didn’t invite me and were just generally unfriendly. I didn’t mind though. I went over to where my “line” would be forming when the bell rang, and secured for myself a sure place there. I felt safer being there ahead of time. What, oh what might happen if I were to forget about that sidewalk and inadvertently let a foot cross over to the forbidden side? No, better to stand still in the spot where my class’s line will form. The creatures’ eyes seemed to be everywhere, and not a thing went unnoticed. I wasn’t sufficiently familiar yet with all the rules, so the only safe place, to my thinking, was to just stand where the queue was going to be.
The loud bell rang, and everyone stopped in their tracks. We were told that if we happened to be bent over when the bell rang, that we were to stay in that bent over position, or in whatever position we were in when the bell sounded. Then the second bell rang and everyone straightened themselves and stood at attention. The third bell rang, and we all walked silently to our queue. A wiry girl with dark hair and glasses pushed me aside and said, “I get to be first in line.” I didn’t answer her, because I sensed early that it was of utmost importance not to bring attention to myself. So I moved to second place, but was pushed out of that place too. I walked silently in the procession up the stairs with anger and hatred raging in my heart. But I knew to remain silent.
The teacher rang her desk bell and everyone stood at silent attention next to his or her desk. She rang it the second time, and we all kneeled next to our desk. Then she began the chant of afternoon prayers. By the third prayer, my knees ached and I felt lightheaded, but I didn’t move. When she finally rang the third bell I arose slowly, because my legs were stiff and my knees were red from the hard floor. She then rang the final bell and we all sat down. Shortly afterward, there was a knock on the door. The boy who sat nearest the door was responsible to rise and open the door whenever someone knocked. He did so, and two teachers entered. The class stood to attention. We were then told to sit, and the two teachers brought into the class a boy dressed in a dress. He didn’t make a sound, but tears were streaming down his face.
“Class, this boy was found on the girls’ side in the schoolyard,” the older teacher said. “This little sissy wanted to be with the girls, so we’re going to treat him like a little girl now. Everyone take a real good look at him. If any of you boys want to play on the girls’ side, this is what we do to little sissies, we dress them like the girls, and treat them like the girls. So class, what do you think of him now? Come on, what do you think, isn’t he pathetic? Laugh at the little sissy!” The class started laughing and jeering, and the two teachers took the broken little boy to the next class, to be made an example of. They eventually took him before all the classes in the school. I felt a strange fierceness coming from the older teacher. It was obvious to me that she was thoroughly enjoying this. I hated her. Then I stiffened in my chair. Maybe someone would see the horror in my eyes, or detect the hatred in my heart, so I folded my hands and offered a forced laugh so that I would appear like the others. But something happened in my heart that I would never even know had happened until many, many years would pass.
There were many incidents of cruelty that I was to witness during my education at Saint Francis de Sales School. But we were told that the nuns were the “Bride of Christ,” (therefore beyond reproach) and they even wore a gold band on their fourth finger to witness that they were “wedded to Christ.” They had left all the pleasures of the sinful world, we were told, to dedicate themselves to the vows they had taken when they had wedded Christ. They had taken three vows, the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Poverty, we were told, meant that they did not own anything that they had, it all belonged to the order. In fact, when they took their final vows, they had to bring a dowry from their father which would go toward the expense they would cause the order. Thereafter, if anyone were ever to give any of them a personal gift, the gift had to be presented to the Mother Superior, who would then decide how to dispose of it.
Then the second vow, the vow of chastity, was explained as their acceptance of a totally chaste and sexless life. In my younger years of course, I didn’t understand what “chaste” was. However later on when we were old enough to go to confession, it was explained to us that “chastity” meant the total denial of all sexuality, including thoughts and desires. We were repeatedly warned that when we bathed we were to be especially careful not to touch ourselves in “impure” places lest we might cause an impure thought or desire to be aroused. In fact, we were told, we were not even to scratch if we should itch in an “impure” place. We would be hearing a lot about these things before we left the loving care of the nuns.
The third vow, obedience, meant that the Mother Superior was the highest authority in the convent, and that they had pledged to obey her implicitly, as well as to obey all the rules of God, the Church, and the order which the nuns belonged to which in this case was the Ursuline Order. They were not allowed to leave the convent. If a teacher had need of something, such as materials for the classroom, she would summons one of the children, give her a dollar from the “school expenses” fund, and tell her to go into town and purchase the things for her. Many a mother was called upon to do “errands” for the hostage nuns, and most tried to avoid that even with a hastily made-up “excuse,” because all knew that when the nuns found a willing means of transportation, that poor mother would thereafter never cease to be called upon to do the bidding of these poor holy creatures who had to stay within the confines of the convent.
We were also told, and this was stressed all the way up through high school, that if any of us had a “calling” to become a nun and did not heed that calling, we would be relegated to a life of misery because only in one’s calling can one be happy. Eventually I was persuaded that I must desire to become a nun. Like these creatures.
I was still four years old.
I know that there are children who have suffered far more serious traumas than I have, but I’ve learned in life that it is gross error to compare one’s suffering to another’s that may be worse. That kind of comparison is to dismiss or trivialize the impact of one’s own suffering. There’s always going to be something worse than your case. To dismiss one’s suffering on that basis is a huge mistake. The greatest healing comes in the acknowledging of someone’s pain. Never trivialize the pain of a child.
The following story could have had a much different impact had there been an adult who might have understood that, and held out a hand of comfort.
I loved the smell of the neighborhood grocery store a short walk from our home. I loved hearing the bell ding when someone opened the door, and the smell of the freezer where the ice cream was. There were always glass jars filled with candy. This was back in the days before Walmart and the other big-box retailers. When I was a child, each neighborhood had a “corner store.” I remember a special they were running one time: if you bought a pack of gum you’d get a whistle with it. Mr. Chicke greatly regretted letting us kids take those whistles and he stopped that “special” as soon as he could. But most of all I loved the smell of the bread. Mum would send me to the store and I’d go pushing my doll carriage; on the way back I had my nose right up against the loaf of bread absolutely delighting in the aroma. Back then we had real bread, not the highly-processed spongy white stuff they call bread these days.
One day, I went to the store for my mother, and when I arrived I saw the Mrs. Chicke hitting a dog with a rolled up newspaper. My heart melted in compassion for that dog, and I approached him and he let me pet him. Then he followed me home. There wasn’t a lot of love in our home, and I began to experience for the first time another living being actually loving me and I didn’t care that it was “just” a dog, our hearts knit and that dog was with me everywhere I went. We were three siblings at home, but that dog was mine.
One night, I remember looking out of my bedroom window in the darkness of night, and I prayed to God, “Oh God, if ever I’m going to lose Ladd, please take him now before I love him too much.” I muse on this now, wondering why I was thinking of losing him. Where did this fear of loss come in at such an early age, before I had known anyone who died, before I had been aware of death, before I could have been aware of loss? Why did those thoughts even occur to me? I don’t know…
Every day when I came home from school, Ladd was sitting on the first step, looking in my direction, alert, head straight up, ears perked, waiting for me. As soon as he saw me he bolted on all fours and leaped all over me. It’s hard to explain how a person could love an animal as much as I did that dog. He loved me. I wasn’t used to this. This animal loved me. Someone loved me.
One day when I came home from school, he wasn’t there. I couldn’t believe it -he was ALWAYS there! Panic invaded my soul and I went looking for him. My sister and I searched everywhere, calling his name, pleading with life to return my dog to me. Even my mother took pity, and went out with the car looking for him. As soon as I woke up the next morning which was a Saturday, I took my sister and we went looking for him again, yelling out his name as we went.
We came to the school yard and suddenly I heard a whimper. Could it be? The school building was three stories high, yellow clapboard with outside porches and steps going up and around until the top. We followed the sound and there he was …he had gone up to the third story and he couldn’t get back down. I ran to him and threw my arms around him and he cried and slobbered my face with his kisses. It felt like a miracle because he could have gone anywhere, for all I knew. I was too young to reason that he had followed me to school and that when he saw he couldn’t go into the school where I was, he climbed to the top, then couldn’t get back down. Well there he was, and what a joyous reunion, what a celebration, Ladd was home!
Months later, the lady who lived upstairs over us, Warren’s mother, told my mother that the dog didn’t look right. I didn’t see anything wrong with him. But she had lost her dog to “distemper,” and was concerned that my dog might have been afflicted with the germ that might still be in the house.
So my mother took my dog to the vet and left him there overnight. But that overnight went into two nights, then three nights, and then four …and I dearly missed him. I asked every day if the vet was ready for us to take Ladd home, but my mother said no, that everything was the same. So before leaving for school one morning I told my mother that I knew where the vet’s office was, and that I’d be late coming home from school because I needed to go see my dog.
I saw the look of distress come across my mother’s face, but I didn’t “get it.” She put her head down and told me that the vet had called …and the dog had died.
I descended for the first time in my life into that place in hell where shock and pain dwell. I was so stunned I couldn’t move for a few minutes. This was my first experience with overwhelming trauma. I turned around and went into another room and opened a closet door and went inside so that my mother wouldn’t see me crying. I’m not sure why I was so adamant that she not see me crying. Why didn’t I feel that I had a mother, and that she was supposed to take me in her arms and comfort me? I don’t know how I knew that wasn’t going to happen. It never did.
So I cried alone. In the closet. Heart-wrenching, hysterical yet silent sobs so deep that I was surprised a person could hurt this much. I saw the brush I used to brush my dog’s hair with, and some of his hair was still on the brush, and it made me cry bitterly. But silently. In the closet.
It was a home where you could feel the tension just being there. There was tension between my parents, and my mother was often angry. My father was ALWAYS angry. I never, ever saw any demonstration of love between them. As for me – I was the “difficult child,” and my parents never ceased letting me know that. And it never stopped until the day I left at age 18. Every word directed at me was a word of criticism or humiliation. I wasn’t just lazy, I was the laziest, I wasn’t just hateful, I was the most hateful, and so it was with the name of the day, whatever it may be it would have “est” after it.
I had a cousin who I would later in life realize he had some problems I would recognize as demonic in nature. From his babyhood he caused constant turmoil, shaking his crib so fiercely that he’d shake it all across the room to the other side. As he grew older he was destructive, destroying toys, destroying whatever was in front of him. I particularly remember that we went to their house one day just before Christmas, and as we were leaving he came out into the yard with us …with no shoes on. The driveway was covered in snow and ice, and he stood there for quite awhile seemingly unaware of any pain or discomfort. One day his mother dropped him off at our house for a day, and during that time he managed to destroy some of my brother’s toys, and caused such havoc that when he left we all breathed a sigh of relief. Several days later I viewed my opportunity to maybe receive some emotional relief from my mother, and I went to her and asked, “At least I’m not as bad as Mitch, am I?” “Yes,” she said, “you are!” And from that day forward I viewed myself as some kind of monster. Until that day, Mitch was the most terrible person in our world. And now I’m being told that I am.
My entire experience in my parents’ home was this and more of this and more. I heard my father tell my mother one night, after we kids were in bed (so he had no idea I’d hear him.) He said, “I just wish God would come and take her.” He couldn’t make me into what he wanted me to be, so he hated me. In grade school, we sat according to our rank in the class, and my father demanded that I not only be in the first row, but that I must be near the beginning of the first row. I was constantly asked what position my desk was in the row, and after awhile I came to hate it so much that I gave up. I couldn’t please him no matter what I did, so I gave up. And that was to set the tone for the rest of my school years – I was so unable to please them that I went entirely the other way, into total rebellion. I became the “difficult child” that they always said I was. Somewhere around the 4th grade I stopped doing homework and accepted that I was just the black sheep and that was never going to change. I stopped trying and allowed the hatred in my heart to take over me.
My sister was two years younger than me and she witnessed the hatred, name-calling, and constant humiliation leveled at me, and she went the other way. She became the “good girl,” and as I saw her constantly praised, I hated her too. I was filled with hatred. There was nothing good inside me. Dad was right, on that point.
There was another element in this story which I would realize only later in life. When I was born, my mother had three unmarried sisters at home and I was the new excitement in the family. From what I could gather later, my aunts doted on me, swathering me with all kinds of attention. My father also had an unmarried sister, so between them all I was the golden child. Until my sister was born two years later. Then SHE became the new excitement in the family, and no care was taken to help me avoid the jealousy that would fill my heart towards her well into our adult years. I have a particular memory of this. We went to another city to visit other relatives who lived “away,” and I was very excited because I hadn’t seen these cousins in a long time. All the way there I kept asking, “Are we almost there?” Then finally when we arrived, the cousin I was so anxious to see, ran out of the house toward us yelling, “Cinnnnndyyyyy!” I just sat there, unnoticed, and incapable of translating this correctly to my soul. She was the new golden child and would always be …because she was “cute” and I wasn’t. She was passive and I wasn’t. She was demuring and I wasn’t. I couldn’t compete and I knew it. My hatred of her was deep-seated and would someday take the almighty power of God to heal.
12 years old…
The summer shortly before I turned twelve my parents decided we were going to move across town. What excitement! A whole new place to live and maybe …just maybe …a friend? It sure would be nice to have a friend. I had had two friends, but Warren’s family who lived upstairs over us moved away, and Nancy, the little Jewish girl who lived down the street also moved away. My life had become very, very empty and lonely. So I was beside myself with excitement when I was told we were moving. Suddenly there was hope again, for something good to arise in my life.
It was the summer before seventh grade. I walked down to what was to be our new school to take a look. It wasn’t as grand as our former school and church, it was an older brick building and not attractive, but it was the parish church and school for that part of town. I wondered if the kids would like me. I’d never had a friend at school before, maybe this would be different. On the first day of school I was filled with anxiety, but hoping for the best. I was dressed in the new skirt my mother had made me, a pretty blue with tiny white flowers. I took my assigned seat and looked around. No one looked back at me.
On the third week I came back to class early from lunch one day, and Candace was alone in the classroom. She came to me and leaned forward as though she was going to tell me a secret and said, “I just want you to know that the girls don’t like you.” Have you ever heard Satan speak through the mouth of a twelve-year-old girl? I simply replied, “thank you for telling me,” hiding the pain behind a forced smile. From that day on I just sat silently at my desk and wished I could disappear. The thought Satan planted in my mind that day would keep me in the same expectation throughout the rest of my school years. I didn’t make friends, but that was because I kept quiet and kept to myself, “knowing” the girls didn’t like me.
But something new was about to begin. Across the street from our new home there was a boy about my age, and he sent another boy to ask if he could come over and just sit around with me. Now THAT was a shock! Someone liked ME??? Are you kidding??? A boy, at that??? Of course I said yes, and Don began coming over every day. He was from a good family, his father was a doctor and his mother ran a spotless home. I think that impressed my parents, allowing him to come freely whenever he wanted to. It didn’t take long before I was totally “in love” with Don. “When school gets out each day,” he said, “come by my school and we’ll walk home together.” After 6th grade, girls’ classes were girls only, and and the boys went to the boys’ school, run by the “Brothers,” which was only a short walk away. So at 3:00 every afternoon I’d walk over to “the Brothers” school and Don and I would walk home together, as he lived just across the street from me. My mother was working so the house was empty when we kids got home. My sister Cindy became close friends with Ellen, Don’s sister, and most days they would play at Ellen’s house, while Don came over to mine. Don became my whole life. He filled a very, very deep void inside, a place that the love of parents should have filled, but didn’t. I had only known love one other time in my life, and I lost it. When Ladd died.
Don and I were together every moment we weren’t in school, and one day he asked if he could kiss me and I said yes. We were “in love.” One day Don gave me a love letter, and asked me to respond. I did, and from that day on when we were apart we were writing love letters to each other.
One afternoon Don asked his mother if he could take me up to his bedroom to show me the totem pole he had made. The previous summer he had attended a boys’ summer camp and a real live Indian had made that totem pole with him. Don had it standing next to his window in the corner of his room. It was very colorful, and almost as tall as he was. He took it and showed me the different carvings on it and I handled it. It was a true work of art and I told him I loved it. He was relly proud of it. Someday that totem pole would have a greater meaning to me.
After about a year, our parents became very concerned at how close we had become. They told us that we had to stop seeing each other. Neither of us understood why they felt this way, but they did and our parents suddenly became “the enemy.” We began talking about how we were going to continue without them knowing it. Don had the idea first, “Let’s meet at the cemetery,” he said, “that way no one will see us and we can just be alone there.” “Ok,” I said, and then proceeded to tell Mum that I had made a friend at school, that her name was Sylvia and she lived on Water Street, (which was true) but they don’t have a telephone (which was not true.) I told her that I’d go to her house every day until suppertime, then I’d be home for supper. My mother believed me. Our plan worked!
Don and I met at the cemetery every day for another year. We walked among the graves hand-in-hand and read the tombstones and just talked and enjoyed each other. At supper time we both went home. Then before going to bed, we had a “good night” signal. Don would flick his bedroom light off and on several times, and I would answer by flicking my light off and on several times. And then we each would go to bed dreaming about each other.
I was happy. I didn’t have a single friend in the world, but I didn’t care that the girls didn’t “like” me as Candace had told me. I had Don and I would have been content to love only him for the rest of my life. He agreed. Every day we parted with “I love you,” and a kiss that became a bit more intense as time went on, but never more than that.
One day two years later, Don called me at home. It was a Friday night and we were nearing the end of the school year. We had to get together and “synchronize our plans,” as he put it. One thing we could do was go to the public swimming pool as often as possible, our parents wouldn’t be there so we could be together there. “But we need to talk about this and make sure we have the right stories,” he said. “Meet me at Rummel’s tomorrow at 10:00.” Rummel’s was the ice cream store nearby, where we had met several times in the back by the woods for short visits. “Ok,” I said, “see you tomorrow at 10:00.” “I love you,” he said. “Love you too,” I answered.
Then I went downstairs to put my rock-n-roll music on. My sister Cindy would often join me downstairs. We each had a rocking chair and we’d sing for hours along with our favorite singers like the Everly Brothers, Neil Sedaka, and the Beatles. We had one song we acted out – and would we ever laugh. “If I was a tower of strength,” the song went, “I’d tell you goodbye, I don’t want you, I don’t need you, I don’t love you anymore, and I’d walk out the door!” We made all kinds of grimaces as we’d act out the words to that song, and then we’d laugh like the crazy teenagers that we were.
Saturday morning came and I was up early. I had breakfast and then I told Mum I was going over to Sylvia’s. I arrived at Rummel’s at quarter of 10 and sat at one of the picnic benches they had there in the back. It was a beautiful sunny Saturday morning in June. The birds were singing and one dropped a “turd” right next to me. It didn’t bother me, in fact I had to laugh. Everything was right in the world.
By 10:15 Don hadn’t showed up. I began to wonder what was wrong. I suspected that his mother intercepted him. I waited another fifteen minutes then I went home. I looked over into his yard and saw him there, so I cornered one of the neighborhood boys and gave him a nickel and said “please go over to Don and ask him if he plans on being at Rummel’s today.” So the little boy left on his bike. A few minutes later he came back and said, “Don told me to tell you to go to hell!”
? ? ?
I told that boy I’d never give him a nickel again as long as I lived and that he’d better be outa my sight before I could count to five. The little boy squealed his bike tires as he zoomed out of my yard.
I went into the livingroom and kept watch over Don’s back yard. He lived across the street from us, but the front of his house faced the street parallel to ours, so when I looked over toward his house, I was looking into his back yard. I watched and waited. Finally, I saw him get onto his bike and leave. He left in the direction of downtown, so I knew which way he’d be coming back. I went down the street to a wooded lot and hid in the bushes and waited. After about half an hour, I saw him round the corner on his bike and I ran out in front of him. He either had to stop or run me over, I didn’t care which. So he stopped. And I said, “Donny, what on earth is this all about???” He grabbed his bike away from me, went around me, and blurted out something like “when we’re older,” and left me standing there.
I watched him go, and went into a state of numbing paralysis. Later in life I would recognize this first reaction to shock. I just go numb. No emotion. Just numb. For hours. And there would be many more of these to come. Someone’s “plan” for my life.
I just stood there for a long, long time. Then I walked home and went in and sat on my bed, still numb. And then …this was the first time of many to come, when I went truly out of my mind. My heart was reeling with shock and horror. He had not given me a reason, although I later found out that his father told him they were sending him to Alfred, a boy’s school up north, if he didn’t say goodbye to me forever. I heard it was quite a scene and they terrified him.
I was a child. Experiencing all the emotions that an adult would experience at having the same thing happen. An overwhelming shock that hurts beyond the enduring. My life as I knew it was over. And great damage was added to my already-ruined soul.
After many hours of being just silently stunned, the tears finally came and filled my eyes and stayed there for the next several years. It would be months before the initial shock wore off, but years before I would be able to come out of emotional hell. Truly, the rug had been pulled out from under me. I felt like I had died and gone to hell. Hell was beginning to feel like a familiar place.
I did not have a friend in the world. I had not made friends when we moved across town, because before school began I had entered into this relationship with Don and was with him exclusively every day for two whole years. I did not have a mother, I was “a difficult child” so she kept her distance. I did not have a father. He was a tyrant and felt that I was getting what I deserved. He hated me, and I certainly hated him. I had no aunt, no uncle, no teacher, no friend, there was absolutely no one for me to turn to. Life had left me totally abandoned, and I was spinning out of control. Modern medicine might have called it “a breakdown.” A child having a breakdown? Yes. That’s what it was. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, and all kinds of evil entered my soul. I filled up with even more hatred, and rage, and my world became total darkness. And that’s the way it would stay for many, many years.
I lived as a zombie after that. Went through the motions of life. Began a new school in the fall, as I entered the all-girls Catholic high school in town. Every day I went home from school, went into my bedroom, closed the door and got on my knees on the hardwood floor before my statues of the Blessed Virgin and the saints that I had on a shelf in the corner of the room. Every day, every single day, I sobbed and sobbed till my body was shaking all over. I pleaded with God, “oh please, I’ll do ANYTHING if only you’ll send Don back to me.” But God wasn’t listening to me. And I knew that I had lived in sin with Don, not sexually, but lying to my parents and sneaking off to be with him daily for a long, long time. My life had become a lie. I knew that this was punishment. But I had no relief, nothing, not a single friend, no one. My mother surely heard my sobs, but left me alone to suffer it. There was not a soul in the world who loved me. Not one.
As the school semester was coming to a close Ellen, Don’s sister, came over to our house and told us that her family was moving to Ohio. I felt the blood drain to my feet and my stomach turned hard as a very cold stone. “You’re moving to Ohio?” “Yes, right after Christmas, my father will be taking a course there and we’ll be gone for two years.”
Reeling now, the world spinning around me, this was God’s answer to my desperate pleas that he send Don back to me? To say I was devastated is the closest but remotest word I can think of to express the depth of emotion taking over me. Not only was Don out of my life, but now I wouldn’t even be able to see him in his backyard. My life was over. I entered the world of the walking dead. And believe me, that’s no exaggeration. I began to have “tics,” which caused a whole other set of problems with my parents humiliating me because of them and telling me they’d never be seen in public with me as long as I continued to “do that.” One night at the supper table my mother said that she saw a man today, walking across Main Street “doing that thing that you do,” and how totally stupid he looked. My father told me another time that he had planned to get seasons tickets to Colby’s concerts and would have taken me, but “I’ll never be seen in public with you as long as you shake like that.” I remember sitting down and watching a clock with a second hand going around, to see how long I could “stop the shaking.” I couldn’t do it for sixty seconds. How was I supposed to “stop it?”
Desperate for SOMEONE to listen to me, I wrote my heart out to “Dear Abby.” Several weeks later I received a reply in the mail. She said, “you’ll be starting a whole new life in Ohio, you’ll meet many new friends, just be patient and all will be well.” Not even Dear Abby could comfort me. She hadn’t even read my letter right. It’s not I who was moving to a whole new world, it’s Don who’s going away. To find new friends, and all will be well …with him.
The day after Christmas at 5:30, the time Ellen had told us they were leaving, I went out to the roadside and hid behind a snowbank. I watched them load up the car. I watched the car slowly back out of the driveway, and I watched them turn onto Silver Street and drive out of my life. I stayed there a long time, sobbing, just sobbing, my body wracked with the heaves and convulsions of the deepest kind of grief.
In all this, I didn’t hate God. I knew how sinful I was and never questioned the fact that this was judgment on my sin. Besides, if I didn’t have God to cry to, and cry I did, I would have no one. No one. Not a single one in this world.
I was totally alone. Dying. If a dead person can die.
For many years I was absolutely convinced God had abandoned me because of my sin. But I had no one else to turn to, so I turned to him. I repented before him. Then I took a needle, scratched my leg, and wrote out a dedication of my life to him – in my own blood. Then I pasted a picture of myself onto the paper, folded it, and put it in my jewelry box. God was my only hope, and I surrendered my life to him, without knowing who he was, only that he was God. And then I forgot about that and just put one foot in front of another to walk out the rest of my miserable existence. What else could I do?
One item of interest: my mother had put me in school a year early when I was four years old because I was taller than all the kids my age. During my heartache over the loss of Don, and as I turned to the Lord because he was the only one there, I made one more request: “Please, please don’t let me grow any taller.” And I never grew another fraction of an inch. I leveled out at 5’4. One prayer answered. I remained at a totally normal height for a girl. Other than my begging and pleading for God to bring Don back to me, this was the first prayer I remember praying, and it amazed me that God answered it immediately.
I was enrolled at Mount Merici Academy, a Catholic girls’ high school run by the same Ursuline nuns. The school had a reputation of giving the best education to be found anywhere. One day I was out with my mother getting school supplies and she said to me, “You’re going into a whole new environment where no one will know you. Now’s the time to change and do everything right, now’s your chance, now that no one is going to know your past. (My “past?” )
Well for one thing, that wasn’t exactly right. The students from my former school would know me because many of them would also be continuing on to the girls’ Catholic high school. But I didn’t miss her point. Instead I began to wonder what “change” meant. Change WHAT? I knew I was a bad person, I had known that since my earliest days, but I didn’t know what was bad in me. I supposed it was all the names they called me, the hateful names that could almost be called child abuse today. Was I really all those things? Was I the worst this and the worst that – that they had ever known? Really? And if so, then how do you change any of it? I remember thinking it would be like asking a dog to be a cat. You are what you are, and what I was was not clearly defined for me, except that I was bad.
By now, they had a point, because I was filled with hatred. I hated life. I hated them. I hated the nuns. And most of all, I hated myself.
On my first day at Mount Merici, the old fear came over me. I didn’t know what I feared, only that I feared. The girl sitting in the seat next to me asked me, “why do you keep shaking your head like that?” That was my introduction to high school, more humiliation. The “tics,” as they are rightly called, continued through my highschool years and only disappeared when I finally left home at age 18. Occasionally, when under extreme duress, they would reappear for a short time, but for the most part they left.
The procedures were just as regimented here as they were in grade school. At the bell everyone lined up by grade in the four halls that met in the center. And the prayers began. I looked over at the seniors and thought to myself that it would be an eternity before I was a senior and had some hope of escaping. With each passing year I was promoted to the next hallway as we lined up in the morning by grade. It was no nonsense, and I mean no nonsense.
One day, Mother Superior had an announcement to make. Someone in the school had gone into one of the bathroom stalls and had scotch-taped a paper onto the inside of the door and it said, “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera.” And Mother Superior wanted to know who did it, and that she needed the one who did it to come forward right now and confess. We all stood there, and stood there and stood there, and of course no one came forward. Mother Superior kept us standing there for a very long time, and told us that we would be doing the same thing each morning until the terrible girl who did such a thing came forward. And I remember relishing the hatred I had in my heart, I remember it SO well, savoring the fact that whoever did this was defying the Mother Superior and not coming forward. The next morning we stood there again for a very long time, the whole school, every class, and waited. Then Mother Superior began telling us that whoever was guilty was guilty not only of taping a piece of paper with “lewd” words on it to the inside of a door, but she was also guilty of the cost every of every hour of education being missed by all the students, and of the waste of their parents’ money as we just stood there missing our classes. I thought to myself, “the money-value of each hour of missed education is not the fault of the girl who taped a piece of paper on a door, it’s YOUR fault, holding us in this standing position from your insanity. I mentally sent out thought messages to whoever that girl was, “don’t you DARE go forward. Don’t you DARE succumb to this foolishness.”
On the third morning of our standing there, Mother Superior said that she knew who the girl is, and she was giving one more chance for her to come forward, and that if she didn’t, she would be expelled from the school. (For taping a piece of paper on a door!)
I guess that got to the girl, because later that day she went forward privately and confessed. Mother Superior called a general assembly for the next morning. We all went into the gymnasium and sat down, and Mother Superior made the girl come out onto the stage before us all and confess, and apologize to the student body and to each of the teachers in the school. I felt the rage rise within me filling every fiber of my being, rage at the craziness of what I was witnessing, anger at the girl for confessing, enough anger to fill every nook and cranny in my soul.
She had scotch-taped a paper saying, “Smile, you’re on Candid Camera.” And for that – a general assembly was called? A public humiliation was warranted?
I got them back! One day after all activities at the school were over, I went into the fuse boxes which were well marked, and I shut off the juice to the bells system. The next morning I purposely went milling around the center where we would be gathering when the bell rang. Well …the bell didn’t ring. And Mother Superior went wild. When I arrived she was yelling at the custodian, “What do you mean you don’t know why the bells aren’t ringing, you go and FIND OUT why!!!!” And of course, he found the fuses had been shut off. And I stood there like a demon, relishing the satisfaction, and saying to myself, “Go ahead, I defy you, go ahead and call a general assembly! I guarantee you you’re dealing with one student who is NOT going to confess!” I don’t know if it was because of all the embarrassment over the girl who scotch-taped the paper to the inside of a bathroom door, but Mother Superior didn’t pull that stunt again. There was no standing there for an hour each morning, and I was glad there wasn’t because if there had been, we would have stood there till the cows came home, NO WAY was I ever going to confess that I had shut the fuses off. And I found that I loved the sensation of hatred inside me. I was so overwhelmed with anger and hatred that it’s a wonder I made it through high school.
While I was savoring – totally relishing – the feeling of defiance I was feeling inside, I was unaware that those emotions open doors to deep darkness, and darkness is only too willing to come in. And it did. The lights were on in that hallway, but inside was only darkness.
I was not one to get involved in school activities, I was timid and shy and stayed to myself, but in high school I did join the glee club because I loved to sing. Mr. Re was the music director at Colby College, a beautiful ivy-league college in our town, so we were delighted when he became the music director for Mount Merici Academy. I remember how talented he was, and I loved the classical pieces he had us sing in 4-part harmonies. We worked hard. We spent that entire year practicing for the great concert that we would present in May. All the parents attended, and my parents came too. The concert went flawlessly and we were supremely excited! I could hardly wait to hear what my parents would say. Surely this concert that we worked so hard on and that came out so well …should evoke a word of praise? Well ….no. All of us in the glee club had worn our dress-up uniforms. But I had inadvertently worn a headband to keep my hair back. Apparently it was noticed because my mother’s only remark to me was “I heard the people behind me laugh at you because you stood out, you were the only one wearing a yellow headband.” My face fell. And we went home. Not a single word about all our hard work. Not a single word.
The next year I stopped taking piano lessons because I had learned as much as Mrs. Robar could teach me. That meant that this upcoming piano recital would be my last one. I remember the day before the recital, going for rehearsal at the public high school auditorium. This was the first time it was held there, and the piano was a baby grand. I wasn’t expecting it to be any different, as I had never touched a baby grand, but the moment my fingers went down on those keys, a chill went up and down my spine. I had never before heard the kind of sound that came out of that instrument. It was beyond awesome, a thrill I had never expected.
The next day was the big day, my final recital. My parents came, along with all the parents of Mrs. Robar’s students. I had practiced my father’s favorite piece, “The Moonlight Sonata,” and had mastered it. I could have sat at that piano all day, so beautiful was the sound, and it was so fine-tuned that I could bring out all the variations of pressure and lightness and the notes glided out as though from heaven.
After the recital when all the parents were exuberantly collecting their sons and daughters, I went to my parents and this is what my mother had to say: “I really should never buy clothes for you. I bought you that nice dress but you looked so terrible up there because of your round shoulders. I’m sure that’s what everyone else was thinking too!”
I was glad I’d never have to play in public again, and I wouldn’t …to this day.
One more, while I’m on the subject and then I’ll drop this because it’s too painful to continue bringing these memories up. Besides, I’ve gone through the forgiveness process, so it’s better to just let the rest go. I’m only telling these things in order to show the background in which a broken child would eventually go from broken to dead inside.
It was a Sunday and we were at the coast, as the family always did every Sunday in the summertime, and as usual my father went off on his walk, loving to see all the ships. My mother and I usually sat on a bench just watching the boats come in and out. But this Sunday I got up and ran after my father. What is so amazing to me is the heart of a child who is hated. Why does that child constantly try to get the attention of his or her parent? Why doesn’t the child just give up and spare himself or herself what they surely should know is going to come of it by now? That it’s only going to go bad. But no, he or she continues to try. That craving for the father never goes away, no matter how cruel the father is.
So I ran and caught up to my father and we walked a mile or so, and then he sat down on a large rock where he would smoke a cigarette. In those days the dangers of cigarette smoking weren’t known as they are today, and all the adults I knew smoked. So I sat down next to him. I said something, I do not remember what, and he responded to me in a clear and calm voice, “The one thing I can’t understand is why God would make something as awful as you.”
According to my Dad, Almighty God actually made a mistake when he made me. I wasn’t worth living.
I died that day. My heart would go totally black in the future, but death set in with that incredibly cruel remark from the father I so wanted love from. And it was on that day that the depths of rebellion crept in, a rebellion rooted in the worst kind of hatred a child could contain. I would never be the same afterwards. The hatred would be the backdrop of all that would take place in my life for many years to come. Hatred. Self-will. Pride born out of self-will. All the things God hates.
My aunt Jan, the aunt who had saved my life when I was born, told me one day that as a little child, when I first started speaking in sentences I asked her, “Why my daddy doesn’t love me?” It would be years before I would realize that a father hating a very young child showed the character of the father, not of the child. For some reason he hated me from my birth, …and loved my sister. As an adult looking back, something is just SO obvious to me. They say “God has a plan for your life,” and I would later find out that that is very true. But another thing is also true: Satan has a plan for your life too. And I lived in his kingdom for a very long time.
After a long period of begging God to send Don back into my life, I finally asked God something else instead. Kneeling before my statues, I prayed, “God, if you’re not going to send Don back into my life, please send the one I’m going to marry someday. I’m all alone, God, I have absolutely no one. I need him.”
Not long after that prayer, my cousin Jeanie came to the house with her parents. My mother’s cousin Marge and her husband always came over on Friday nights; Dad and Raleigh would go out and Mum and Marge would sit at the kitchen table and have a few drinks, and talk. On this particular Friday night, their daughter Jeanie came in after being out on a date. She was anxious to tell us that a brand new roller-skating rink was opening for teenagers, and could I go with her on Friday nights? Cornered, my parents gave tacit permission. How could they say no? They would have looked foolish. They always “behaved” in front of people. So they agreed that I could go.
The roller skating rink was magical. I’d never seen anything like it before. They did a marvelous job controlling the lights, all in beautiful colors that kept changing from one “skate” to another. Skates were typically the length of three or four songs playing over the speakers. There were different kinds of skates, too. For example, they’d call a “girls only,” or “boys only,” or “a couples only” skate. To a kid who had never experienced anything like this before, it truly was magical.
One night as I was skating around the rink, a boy skated by me, turned toward me and smiled. I thought that was odd. A few minutes later he skated up to me and as he went by, he turned and gave me a huge smile. Now, this really WAS odd. Finally they called a “couples skate.” We all had to clear the rink and only couples could go out and skate the next round. So I just stood there watching and then suddenly, there was a tap on my shoulder. It was the boy who had skated by me several times while flashing a huge smile at me. Would I skate with him on this couples skate? Well …I would if I could stop my heart from pounding, if I could stop myself from fainting right there. He didn’t wait for my answer, he took my hand and led me out onto the rink. We skated around and around until they called the next skate, and as we cleared the floor he held my hand firmly in his and brought me along with him. We went to the counter and he bought me a soda. I was sure I was going to wake up and find this was only a dream. Odd though …I never had good dreams. Could this be real?
A couple weeks later Bob told me that if I’d bring a necklace next Saturday night, he’d give me his class ring. We’d be “going steady,” which in those days meant we were committed to each other exclusively. I could barely believe what was happening. I had forgotten about my prayer request when I realized God was not going to bring Don back into my life. It didn’t occur to me at the time that this was GOD, answering my prayer.
Bob and I went through high school together, though not at the same school, he lived in a town outside of Waterville where I lived. I had in no way “gotten over” Don, but I appreciated the attention and companionship Bob brought to me and I was very flattered that he pursued me. He pursued ME? Outside of Don, no one had ever taken an interest in me. Now this guy actually WANTED me??? I just couldn’t fathom it.
We dated until the day I turned 18, the legal age of marriage in the state of Maine. The day after my 18th birthday we went and got the legal papers we needed to get married, and less than two weeks after my 18th birthday we were husband and wife. We moved To Massachusetts where Bob got a good job.
Life with Bob was ok. I didn’t love him …because I did not have love within my being. Zero. I was operating on empty. I loved no one and nothing, because I had not been loved. One is not born with love, one is nurtured into love, and if this doesn’t happen in childhood, more often than not it’s not possible to achieve it in adulthood when the heart is hardened. Love is learned. I had not bonded with my mother, my father made it very clear that he hated me, Don was the first human being who loved me, then abandoned me. My heart was dark. Very dark. I needed Bob — to take care of me. I needed his “love,” and I think he really did love me but I was unable to believe it or to receive it. My soul was just too dark.
I got pregnant right away. I wanted children because I reasoned that if I had a few children maybe one of them might love me. I had no idea, none whatsoever that I was not fit to take on the role of motherhood, let alone any other role in life. I had no love inside me. My soul was black. It was filled with the things of darkness, yet I craved love, I wanted love with all my heart, so I had children. But of course it didn’t turn out the way I expected. These children were born into a dysfunctional family, a proud ladder-climber and mostly-absentee father, a man who worked all day and went to school nights because he realized he needed degrees in order to climb the ladder, and a mother whose heart was saturated with hatred, bitterness, and depression.
But …something that would “help” was on the way…
Bob was rising fast in the company he worked for and he observed the game carefully and took note of “how” you climb the ladder. One way was that we had to entertain his coworkers, especially his boss. So we began going to dinner with the people he worked with. I was hugely uncomfortable with this, as I realized I was supposed to fill a role that I didn’t know how to fill. I was out of my league, totally. Framingham was not Waterville. Waterville was homey, small town, comfortable. Framingham was higher class, an entirely different way of life, and I was a fish out of water. I was overly shy, timid, and fearful, but I went along because Bob insisted. Because I was still underage, I couldn’t drink with them, so Bob would order me a “Shirley Temple,” which was a drink that looked like an alcoholic drink, but had no alcohol in it. Then one night …
Before we were married, I had sat Bob down one night for a very serious talk. He came from a home with a seriously alcoholic father, and there was alcoholism in my family too. It scared the daylights out of me and I asked him to agree with me that there would never be alcohol in our home. I was petrified of it and requested that we take this seriously and never go that way. He agreed. His father was a drunk. In fact, I don’t know that I EVER saw him sober. One time, Bob actually had to knock him out because his father had taken the gun and was going to go after a man he hated. That really scared Bob, so I believed him when he agreed we’d stay away from alcohol. But at our wedding reception there was wine on the table. I hadn’t wanted it, but my mother had insisted. Well …Bob drank his wine. …And then he drank mine!
That was a “red flag,” the first of many to come, but I drove it out of my mind because I couldn’t handle the implications, refused to see the omen, and hoped this would be a one-time thing. Later of course, I realized I should have noticed, because it was the beginning of my walk through the hell of alcoholism.
It began as soon as I turned 21, the legal age of drinking alcohol in the state of Massachusetts. We were out to dinner with Rich and Connie, Bob’s boss and his wife. He announced to me before leaving, “no more Shirley Temples for you! You WILL be drinking with us!” I was appalled. Then at the restaurant he proceeded to order a drink for me, no longer a Shirley Temple, but a full-fledged alcoholic drink. I was shaking all over and I took a sip as I knew I was being expected to. I began to drink it, hoping no one would notice the tremor in my hands. But a funny thing happened. Suddenly …I felt good! The terrible anxiety I had when being with people -just left me. I was relaxed. I actually enjoyed myself. I was amazed, and in total awe of this unexpected experience. I hadn’t “felt good” in many years, probably never.
Later, we had Rich and Connie over for dinner, and the same thing happened. The only difference was …now we had to have alcohol in the house because we would be entertaining. I had discovered that when I drank it, the darkness inside went away. My life was a living hell, but alcohol turned it into something pretty akin to heaven, I thought. And thus began the years of alcoholism that would eventually bring me to the edges of death.
We had four children while living in Massachusetts, five including one I lost. I loved every minute of pregnancy. One of the greatest thrills in my lifetime was feeling that little child moving around within me. It was the closest thing to joy that I had ever experienced in life. I still lived in the awe of knowing that God gave us the ability to create life. When my first child came I was over-the-moon with happiness.
But when more children came, I was aghast at my inability to mother them. I saw to everything they needed, they were well fed, clothed and educated, and I made sure all their medical needs were taken care of, they were always up-to-date with their immunizations, etc. But what I hadn’t expected was that my very heightened sensitivity to noise and movement was going to make me totally unable to function. And with four children – there’s going to be noise and movement. They were normal. But I wasn’t. I was always available to them if they wanted to come and sit with me. But I could not take part in the things kids do, and the noise shattered my nerves so badly that I mostly made them play outside. I was a nervous wreck. Things were far different from the way I had imagined motherhood would be. I didn’t know that I was living with as-yet-undiagnosed PTSD. I had sought out doctors trying to find out why I always felt so drained, but all medical tests came back normal, so I concluded that I was “bad,” again – a “bad” mother. And the truth of it was that I actually WAS. I had zero patience. I had taken on a load I had no idea I’d be unable to handle, or at least, to handle right. Depression was my constant companion and that spells disaster for the tenor set in the home. And it drove me into drinking – now not only at events, but I started drinking during the day when the noise and commotion got to me. I didn’t think I was going to be a drunk, far from it; I thought I was making myself a warmer, more fun person to be around. And for awhile, that WAS the case. Alcohol deadens the jangled nerves and anxieties, and it seemed to me it was the best thing I could do for the kids and for our home life.
But of course, that’s a deception. That’s the insidious nature of the beast. After awhile I was no longer nice or warm or fun when drinking. I actually read years later that the change comes when the alcoholism begins to affect the liver. Until then, many people, myself included, were put in a a good mood when drinking … UNTIL – it has progressed to the point where the liver becomes involved and at that point the person is no longer warm and cute, but actually becomes a monster. The drinking continued to increase as time went on, and it would get to the point where I had a drink first thing in the morning to “set my day,” but of course I had no idea that I was becoming a skid-row drunk.
The children suffered, and I knew it, but was totally unable to do anything about it. I longed for death. The depression worsened as time went by, as I slowly became aware that there wasn’t a thing I could succeed at, even at being a mother to children I wanted so much but was too damaged and empty inside to nourish properly. No – i take that back, I wasn’t empty inside, I was filled with darkness. That’s what constitutes depression – darkness inside. It’s one thing to look back and be able to see the explanation, but it’s quite another thing to live it when you have no idea WHY it is. So I drank, and drank, and drank some more …to escape from a hell one simply cannot escape from.
Davidson Road, Framingham
I don’t know why I didn’t “get it.” I was no more fit to be a mother than I was to be an astronaut, but there just was this insatiable urge inside me to have children. I look back now and wonder how on earth I could have been thinking the way I did. I couldn’t stand noise. I couldn’t stand commotion. I couldn’t stand the constant interruptions and demands for my attention. Well …that is, when I was sober, which was almost never by now. Yet still I believed that if I had another child, and then another, and another, maybe one would love me. I know it’s “supposed” to be the other way around, but human emotion or reason can’t demand those things of you. The depths of emotion are not possible to control. I was the one who was supposed to be giving out love, but I had nothing to give. ALL was darkness inside.
But there was an even greater reason behind my obsession to have children. I had a profound fixation with the knowledge that I could give life. I had done nothing else of worth in my dark life, but this I could do. I could give life. And isn’t that the greatest thing a person can do? To give life? The very thought of it put me in awe. I remember one day as I toyed with the knowledge that I couldn’t be a good mother, I said to myself that I only had to give each one 18 years, and then they’d have a whole life to live in front of them. I had that power. That power to give life. To create a human being who would live forever. I could not think of a single more wonderful thing a person could do than to create a human being. I was in awe at the very thought, and totally obsessed with this knowledge. Maybe because it was the only good thing I could do. But even that …
Bob didn’t want more children, but one night we were both drunk and Dan was conceived. I didn’t even remember that night. That was frequent now, the blackouts. I’d lose whole days, not knowing where I had been or what I had done. But surprise …another child was on the way, and I was thrilled. Another person. A human life I had created. And maybe he or she would love me. If not now, because I was hardly a mother to them, then maybe later when they were older and could maybe understand and forgive my inability to be to them what they needed me to be.
Two months into the pregnancy, I had a miscarriage. Bob rushed me to the hospital, bleeding a lot, I did pass what looked like a very tiny fetus, and the doctor confirmed that I had had a miscarriage. He wanted to do a “D&C,” but I refused. I somehow knew, don’t ask me how, but incredibly I somehow knew I was still pregnant. The doctor was angry, yelling at me “you most definitely have had a miscarriage, the cervix is open, and you could die if you don’t let me treat you.” And Bob was angry too, but I refused. And sure enough …I WAS still pregnant. I had lost one of a set of twins.
Perhaps one reason I knew I was still pregnant was because I had been given the name of the child. His name was to be Dan, and it was stressed to me that it was NOT to be Daniel. Just Dan. How did I know this? Who told me this? I had no idea, I just knew his name was Dan. NOT Daniel. Dan.
The doctor told me that this is a high-risk pregnancy, and to take it really easy. I marked off the days on a calendar as I had for each of my children, recording on each interval what was developing in the child. One day he got fingernails, another day his eyes were completely formed. It was just the most awesome thing in the world. As it had been with each of my other children, I was obsessed with the life I had created which was growing inside of me, staying alive from every breath I took. As we began the third trimester, I remember telling someone that now the child is viable, meaning that if he or she were born now, there was a good chance he would survive.
That all changed on the morning of January 28. I was ironing. And I started having pain. At first I thought I was sick, it didn’t register to me that these might be labor pains, I still had 8 weeks to go, no, this isn’t that.
But it was. I called Bob at work and got a babysitter for the children and went to the doctor’s office. He examined me and said, “you’re in full labor. We cannot stop this,, go right to the hospital.” I cried, “you HAVE to stop this, this child still has 8 weeks to go!” “No,” he said, “there’s nothing I can do. Go immediately to the hospital.”
I labored all that day and Dan was born at 7:05 that night. The doctor was surprised that he was larger than expected. My babies had all been small, my first son was the largest at only 6-1/2 pounds, so the fact that Dan weighed 4-1/2 pounds suggested that perhaps I had been farther along than we thought, and that would mean the baby would have a better chance now for survival.
As soon as I was totally awake in the morning, I sat up and was combing my hair, getting ready to get up and go to the nursery to see my new son. Suddenly the door opened and the pediatrician came in and said in all bluntness, “The baby did not survive. His lungs failed.” Just like that. No warning look, no easing the words, he just blurted it out as though we were talking about burning the toast.
I went into my usual shock response. I felt nothing. I very calmly asked, “what time did he die?” The doctor answered, “at 7:05 this morning.” I noted the timing. Not 7:00 or 7:10, but 7:05. Dan lived exactly twelve hours to the minute.
Later that morning a nurse’s aid came and sat at my bedside. I felt a great invasion of privacy and asked her to leave. I had to process what had just happened. She told me she couldn’t leave because the doctor placed me on suicide watch. To this day I don’t know why he did that, because ending my life had never occurred to me, not then, not ever. I just wanted her to go away, but she couldn’t.
On the day Bob picked me up to come home, the first thing I saw when I entered the livingroom was my February issue of the layman’s journal of the American Medical Association. On the cover was the happy announcement that they have now perfected the way to save premature infants whose lungs aren’t completely ready. They give them a medicine that acts as a surfactant, and this gets their lungs working right away, preventing the hyaline membrane from forming and suffocating them. The article went on to say that now they have reversed the premature infant mortality rate from 85% to 15%. That’s what I saw first, on entering my house. I knew that if there was a devil, he had arranged this. He threw it in my face, this new procedure being announced on the day I came home from the hospital without my baby.
Bob saw that I was inconsolable, so he suggested that we go down to the Irish Tavern and have some Irish Coffee, my favorite alcoholic drink. So we went. As they delivered my Irish Coffee, the band started playing. The song?
“Oh Danny boy.”
I kid you not. I was never told that he who had “a plan” for my life comes only to steal, to kill, and to destroy. And …to torment.
It had never been a good marriage. And that was mostly my fault. I was a destroyed human being when I fled my father’s house into a marriage I was in no way ready for. I was devoid of love. I was not capable of love. All inside me was darkness.
Bob was consumed with his own world. He was not a bad person, he just took refuge in the things he was interested in. He rose high in the company, and got all the schooling he needed to go even higher. His interests in his personal life were hunting and fishing, and I loathed the very thought of either. I had absolutely zero interest in either of those or in his sports programs. He enjoyed basketball and I couldn’t even stand the noise of the crowds cheering over the tv and the announcer’s loud voice as he related everything going on. Bob and I had absolutely nothing in common, zero, nada. Nothing. Never, EVER, were any two people on earth more incompatible than we were.
We met a couple who were also from Maine and befriended them. They played a card game we liked, so we got together frequently to play cards. That was the total extent of our social life, that and having dinner with Bob’s coworkers.
We had another child, a daughter – for which I was greatly thankful. Had I had another son I would always have been thinking I was replacing Dan, and I didn’t want that. I delighted in this new little girl, as I had when each of my children were born. There’s just something about bringing a child into the world, that to this day defies to me any argument that there could be anything better in life.
But we lived in a city outside of Boston and I was miserable. For years I thought that if only I could return to my hometown I’d be happy. I was sure of it. I was convinced that the explanation for my depression was that I was living in a kind of community that I just could not adjust to. There was no way I could fit in with the people in this upscale suburb. To me it was as though they were from a different planet. Or that I was. No one was interested in relaxing over a cup of coffee as was the pace of life where I was from. The people in this posh suburb were into a totally different lifestyle than I was and I hated it. Esther next door had invited me into her home. We walked past the gold and ivory statue in the entryway, and past the living room which was covered with snow-white carpeting, I asked her, “Don’t you get nervous when someone sits on your couch with a cup of coffee? One drop would ruin your carpet.”
“Oh we don’t USE that room,” she said, “it’s just for show.”
Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine having a room “for show.” In one house later, I would sleep in the cellar so my children could have the bedrooms.
I hated big city suburbs. To me, people there weren’t real. There was a movie called, “The Stepford Wives,” which so reminded me of the people in the suburbs in which I found myself. The Stepford wives weren’t human. They were robots perfectly designed to look like humans, but really robots who kept immaculate houses, cooked perfect meals, smiled all the time, and kept everyone happy. I was glad I had watched that movie because it gave me a way to explain my reaction to the residents of this everything-has-to-be-perfect metropolitan suburb. I just absolutely hated it there.
I yearned for home with all my being. I was beyond miserable.
One day, although I was pretty intoxicated I remember this vividly, I said to God, “please either do something, or take my life.” I truly, truly wanted to die but feared to take my own life because I knew there was a hell and if it was anything worse than the life I was living, I feared it too much to take a chance on an eternity there. So I cried out to this God I didn’t know, hoping there WAS a God, and that he would hear my cry and end my life.
Before that week was over, Bob came home one day and told me to sit down. By the look on his face I knew I’d better sit down. Oh what now!
“I’m being transferred,” he said.
I had known for a long time that that meant either Rhode Island, or New Jersey, God forbid. I groaned.
“No,” he said, “let me finish. We …are going home. I’ve been transferred to Maine.”
Funny, that shock thing. Although this was good news, in fact there couldn’t possibly have been any better news, I felt that numbness come over me. I guess the body doesn’t differentiate between bad shock and good shock, I just felt numb. I just sat there and stared at him.
And then …I remembered my prayer…
Finally, after several years in suburb hell, we moved back to my hometown. Not only that, but we moved on August 25, the anniversary of the day Bob had asked me to “go steady” with him when we were teenagers and gave me his ring, the date our life together had begun. I didn’t know how to recognize the hand of God in things like this yet, but somehow I knew God had done this, it was all just too coincidental. I was beyond excited and was sure I’d now be happy for the rest of my life. We celebrated the announcement with a drink. His first drink on that day, mine …I don’t have any idea how many. Just very many.
We moved to Maine on August 25.
Several months later I realized to my incredible surprise that this wasn’t the answer for me. I now had everything I wanted in life. A husband, children, our own home, and the privilege of living in the community where I was most comfortable. I had it all. Not a single thing could have been added to my life that could have improved it. All was good, except the darkness inside, darkness that not even this could alleviate.
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Roosevelt Avenue, Waterville
Alcohol had been my constant companion for several years now. It quieted the misery inside, or at least I thought it did. But its familiar solace wasn’t there so much anymore. Even alcohol was letting me down. I guess I was down as far as a person could go. Nothing in life was able to pry me out of the depths of depression. It made no sense. I had nothing to explain it. I had all I wanted in life, so why oh why the depression?
One afternoon something happened that really threw me for a loop. I remember it so well. I was standing in the hallway near the door in the front of the house when all of a sudden I heard from deep within me, “how do you know you’re right?”
“How do you know YOU are right?” the voice repeated.
The voice continued, “Picture a long line. In that line is a person who represents each of the major religions in the world. There’s a Catholic, a Baptist, a Lutheran, a Jew, a Moslem, a Buddhist, and one from all the other religions as well, representing all the religions in the world. They all have one thing in common: the people in this line have been taught the tenets of their religion since babyhood. They all live in communities populated with like-minded believers of their faith. Their parents, their relatives, and all their friends are of the same persuasion.But there can be only one TRUTH. And because they so differ, even contradicting each other, if there can only be ONE who has the right religion, how do you know it’s yours?”
The implications of this left me staggering. It was so true and I “saw” it. I had been taught the tenets of my religion from babyhood. I attended a religious school throughout my education. All my relatives and most of my friends were of the same religion. But suddenly I understood something that had never occurred to me in all my years upon this earth. I realized that the only reason I believed what I believed was because I had been taught it from my earliest years and had been brought up with it surrounding me all my days. It was the only thing I knew. But is that a foundation one can build truth on?
It can’t be. Because others of other beliefs believe just as strongly as I do that THEY have the right religion. And they believe it for the same reason: they were taught it from babyhood, and were brought up with their religion surrounding all that made up their lives. I would say they are so wrong, and they would say I’M so wrong. How do I know I’m the one with the truth?
For many of us, the religious system we grow up with is such a huge part of who we are. Truly, being steeped in it from our earliest years, it overshadows all we think, all we do, all we are. For most, it will never occur to them that it may not be THE TRUTH.
And for me, realizing this shook me to the core. Where did this realization come from? Where did that voice come from? Even in my worst times, I’d never heard voices. And this wasn’t even a voice …I didn’t hear it with my ears, it was words spoken INTO me. For three days I staggered around the house, trying to deal with this, pacing back and forth under the huge implications of it. My entire foundation had been pulled out from under me, because I recognized it as not being justifiable. Having been taught all these things from babyhood no longer validated them as truth.
The tremendous ramifications of this ate away at me and I felt like I was dying. I had no more foundation. Life could no longer make sense. I could not filter the things of life through my religion because I no longer had a religion. I couldn’t go to my parents, because they of course would only justify their beliefs. I couldn’t go to a priest because of course he would do the same. I did, though, write a letter to a priest I had greatly respected, telling him of this horrible quandary I was in, asking for guidance, and that priest did not respond to either of the two letters I mailed to him. I checked to see if he was still in the parish I remembered him from, and yes he was there. He obviously could not answer my questions.
On the third day after this revealing “voice,” on the third day of this trauma, I staggered into the livingroom, looked upward and said, “God, I do not have any reason to believe that you exist. I realize that the foundation upon which I did believe it -is no foundation at all. Having been told by mortal man that you exist, and it being in contradiction to what other parents tell their children, it just doesn’t have validity to me anymore. I can hardly believe I’m saying these words, but I have to, because they’re true. All I ask is that IF YOU DO exist, please show me WHO you are and which is the right religion. I don’t care which is the right one. If you exist, just show me the right one, and I’ll join it. Show me who you are, and I’ll follow you no matter who you are. If you’re “Allah” I’ll become a Moslem. If you’re “Yahweh” I’ll become a Jew. If you’re “Jehovah,” I’ll become a Jehovah’s Witness. Just show me WHO you are. PLEASE. I want to know the TRUTH.”
Weeks went by. I was in such an indescribable state — my mind in a maelstrom. I had been reading the works of a psychic by the name of “Edgar Cayce.” What he said not only sounded plausible, but he had some kind of power, and that validated him to me. I made an appointment with a psychic in another city and I sent away and had my astrological chart done by a professional. When the chart came, the bottom line on the report said, “You will always seek, but never find.” At the time, I didn’t know that those words were in exact opposition to the words of Jesus Christ who said, “seek, and you will find.” But never mind …HE was seeking …me!
One day there was a knock on my door. When I found two Mormons on my doorstep, I concluded that this must be the answer from God because of the request I had made that fateful day in my livingroom, IF in fact there IS a “God,” I thought. So I let them in, and I let them take over my mind. They taught me the precepts of Mormonism, and I was nearing the point where I’d be received in baptism, but something happened. They were bringing me through some teachings using a cassette player and an easel. Each time the cassette would beep, they’d flip the easel to the next page. Suddenly they flipped the chart and there before me was a picture of Satan. Before I had time to process this information, I blurted out, “why do you have a picture of Satan?!!” Immediately I wished I could take back the words, but they had come forth all on their own.
“That’s not Satan,” they said, “that’s Joseph Smith the founder of our religion!”
But I had “seen” Satan. Little did I know that even at that primitive state in my walk, the Lord was with me. I had no understanding at the time of what had just happened, and I was very embarrassed.
Well, there was a further hitch in the story. The Mormon church could not receive me unless my husband gave permission. And he wouldn’t. To this day I don’t understand why he wouldn’t. He wasn’t a spiritual or religious man in any sense of the word, nor did he put any obstacles in anything I wanted to do. He had no knowledge of this church. In short, he had no reason whatsoever to not allow me to join this church. But he wouldn’t. And that pretty well ended that story. And I was back to drinking alcohol and just trying to block out life as before. Maybe the psychic can help me, I thought.
It was early in Thanksgiving week and my sister Cindy came to my door. She had joined some kind of prayer group, and when she told me some of the people prayed “in tongues,” I pretty much tuned her out. But she had something to tell me. She said that there was a man in my town who was counseling people like me, and she asked if I would be willing to see him. She wouldn’t tell me anything about him, and I really didn’t much care.
So. He’s counselling “people like me,” huh? Counseling for alcoholics, probably. Well, I sure couldn’t deny that I needed help. What have I got to lose? “Sure, set it up,” I said.
“Where’s your phone book?” she asked. And she proceeded right there on the spot to call him. She explained to him briefly how “down” I was, and how hopeless, and how I was going to my death from alcoholism. Would he see me? Well, he told her, right now he was pretty over-extended with a full load of hurting people. But he told her he couldn’t just say no. He said, “give me a few days to pray about it and discuss it with my wife and call me back.”
“Ok,” I said to Cindy, “call him back in a few days. Whatever.”
Thanksgiving came and we all went to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving dinner. At this point, I wonder what it must have been like in heaven as they observed from there the story that was about to unfold on earth.
We finished dinner, and as we were clearing away the dishes, my sister said, “I’m going to call that man right now.”
“Of COURSE not!” I said, SO annoyed! “It’s a holiday! They’re doing the very same thing we’re doing. They’re involved with family. Don’t bother them today, we can call tomorrow.
“Ok,” she said.
And we continued to bring all the pots and pans and dishes to the kitchen.
A short while afterward, Cindy said, “No, I HAVE to call him, NOW!” And with that, she went to the phone and placed that call. And I stood there bewildered that she was going to bother this man on a holiday.
Little did I know what he said to her on the phone that day. I was told only that we were to meet him at his office the next morning.
So the next morning my sister and I showed up early. We sat in the darkness of the hallway at the top of the stairs. I had jeans on and I looked terrible. Sitting in darkness was such an apt picture of the reality of my life. But I was a little anxious to see what this man would say to me.
After a bit, the door downstairs opened and in came a man and a woman, each carrying a large book. “For once she got it right,” I said to myself, “that really looks like an astrology book, just by the sheer size of it.”
We made introductions and went into his office. And he and his wife proceeded to ask me the source of my misery. I began to TRY to explain, but I didn’t know how to put profound depression and gross darkness into words. If you haven’t lived it, there’s no way on earth that you can possibly describe it. They asked about my upbringing, my home life, the schools I attended, my parents, brother and sister, about everything that could in any way shed light on the cause of the deep depression I had lived with for so many years, and concerning which I found escape only in alcohol — alcohol which in the not-distant future would have taken my life because at this point there was no bum on skid row who was more an alcoholic than I. It was the only thing that deadened the pain. And I didn’t care if I died.
After about a half hour of questions the man stood up, looked me deep in the eyes, and suddenly said, “do you know the Lord Jesus Christ?”
“Oh nooooooooo,” I thought. I thought he was going to show me something that really works. And my heart sunk into my toes.
“I graduated from an all-girls’ Catholic high school and you ask me if I know Jesus Christ?” I said angrily. “I doubt that there’s anything the Pope knows that I don’t know.”
“I’m not asking if you know ABOUT Him,” he replied, “I’m asking if you KNOW HIM.”
“Well I guess so,” I said disgustedly. “I’m sure I know as much about him as you do.”
“If the President of the United States were walking down Main Street here, and you saw him coming, would you greet him as a longtime friend and ask about his family?”
“Of course not.”
“Because I don’t know him personally, and he doesn’t know me.”
“And if it were Jesus Christ walking down Main Street, you wouldn’t approach him -for the very same reason. You don’t KNOW Him.”
“Well I know all about him, born in Bethlehem and all.”
“But you don’t KNOW him.”
“Well I know they crucified him.”
“But you don’t KNOW Him.”
“No, I guess not,” I said greatly agitated and growingly annoyed. “It never occurred to me that one could know him as a personal friend. Is that what you’re saying?”
“Yes. I want to tell you that it is not by accident that you sit here today. The Lord Jesus Christ has arranged this.”
I was floored. Chills went up and down my spine. Just the thought of HIM caring about me so much that he’d arranged all this …??? No, I’m a bad person, surely he couldn’t love me or even care enough to create a set-up like this. This is just ridiculous. I lost interest, was angry, and I wanted to just get up and go home.
But Elie proceeded to tell me what my sister hadn’t yet told me. When she had called him the second time, when she called ON Thanksgiving Day, THAT was the sign he had asked for. He and his wife Van were counseling a full load of people and didn’t feel they could take on any more. They had prayed together about my sister’s request and had agreed that IF my sister called them back at the least likely time, ON THANKSGIVING DAY, they would know that they were directed to take me on.”
I sat there stunned. I remembered how I had argued with her not to place that call! All she had to do was wait one more day, I had said, I didn’t want her to bother anyone on my behalf on a holiday when they were busy with their own festivities and family. But if she had not called back ON that day, we would not be sitting here.
I sat there speechless. I could not open my mouth. I had never encountered anything so “real” as this in all my life. God did this??? And then I remembered that day in the livingroom when I begged him to tell me WHO he is. And I remembered that day when the Mormons were trying hard to bring me into their fold and I “SAW” Satan in the face of their founder. I began to tremble inside as I realized this is from God, and HE is answering me.
As the woman wiped the tears streaming down her face, the man stood directly in front of me and once again looked deeply into my eyes. “Yes, you certainly CAN know Jesus as personally as you know anyone in your family. And He WANTS you to. That is WHY he brought you here!”
I felt the tears coming now …because I was being touched by love. I was being touched in the depths of my soul by the most High God whom I had begged to let me know who He was; I was being touched by the most High God who protected me from the cults when I was SO vulnerable. And I began to realize that the voice that spoke to me that day asking “how do you know YOU are right?” was the same voice I was hearing now. The voice of the man standing in front of me changed. It was no longer that man’s voice I was hearing, it was that same voice I heard that day asking me, “how do you know YOU are right?” This was the voice of God, and I knew that as surely as I knew anything.
I broke. I melted into a deluge of tears as I realized God himself had set this up. For me. Because he LOVED me. It was not that I had gone to Him, but that he had approached ME that day asking, “How do you know YOU are right?” He was listening attentively back then, and he was listening on the third day later when I came to the utmost end of myself, foundation destroyed, and had cried out “then who ARE you???” And He had set this meeting up because it was His plan to reveal himself to the likes of me. I sobbed hysterically as this all washed over my soul in realization that the Lord God Almighty had chosen to reveal himself to me of all people.
My sister began to speak, she had more to reveal. “Remember that day when I came to your house and asked you if you would be willing to meet this man? Well I didn’t tell you the whole story. This experience you’re having right now — I have had it too. And since the day the Lord revealed himself to me I have been praying for you. Two years!!! Two years I have begged and pleaded for your soul. Until one day last week. I went to the prayer group I’ve been attending and I broke down in sobs. They asked me what was the matter and I told them that I had been interceding for my sister for two years, and the more I prayed the worse she got, almost dead from alcoholism, and searching into all those occult things, and cults, and all. I told them I couldn’t carry this burden anymore, it was killing me. And then a man in the prayer group spoke up and said, ‘YOUR SISTER’S TIME HAS COME!’ And someone gave me this man’s name, and before calling him I came to your house to see if you’d see him. And here we are.”
“Your sister’s TIME has come!”
I didn’t know where the flood of tears was coming from. I hadn’t poured myself out like this ever before, in all of my life. In fact, over the previous events and all that ensued, I had become a person who couldn’t cry. I could NOT cry. But now …I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t answer her. I couldn’t say any more to her or to him or to his wife. I did notice though, his wife was crying too. They all were.
The man stood in front of me in all seriousness of manner tinged with a gentle love, and said to me, “are you willing to give your life over to the Lord Jesus Christ?”
“Oh yes,” I sobbed, “yes, yes, yes, yes, yes…”
Then his voice changed again. It was that familiar voice again, not Elie’s voice, it was the voice I had first heard that day in my livingroom. It was as though the entire room disappeared and I could only hear that familiar voice as it said: “You have been the lord of your life all these years. Are you satisfied with what you have done with your life?”
“No, of course not,” I sobbed.
Elie continued, “The Lord Jesus Christ wants to purchase you.” It was Elie speaking, but I heard it in that other voice. “You are a house of many, many rooms,” he continued. “Each room represents a part of your life. There’s your emotional life. Your family life. Your marital life. Your financial life. Your educational life. Your social life. Many, many, many rooms. And the Lord Jesus wants to purchase this house. But you have to be willing to give over to him the keys to each room in the house. He will take possession, and will come in. He will redo it, bottom to top. He’ll knock out walls, even tear down the foundation, and redecorate. He’ll want the keys to the most hidden rooms too, the places within yourself where no other has ever been, the places you have most deeply kept shut off. Are you willing to give over the keys to every part of you, to every part of your life? “
I understood on a level deeper than I had ever gone to before in my life -I understood exactly what he was saying. I could never put into words how truly I KNEW and understood, because this was a supernatural thing happening. It wasn’t just a man offering me some psycho-babble in order to help me out of depression. This was NOT the voice of any man. This truly, truly, truly was a supernatural thing happening in the depths of me, and the depths of me were answering in my place, “YES! YES! I KNOW YOU! Finally I KNOW you! I KNOW WHO you are! Yes, you can have ALL of me,” I cried.”
The voice continued, “You must understand that this is an eternal exchange. You’re making an eternal commitment.”
“Yes, I understand.”
“There’s one more thing.”
The price of the house.
“There’s a price? He’s going to BUY me?”
“Yes. You will be led into a covenant of commitment. You surrender your house, your life, every part of you. He brings the price and offers it to the Father. The price is…..”
“The price is …HIS BLOOD! The sacrifice of his life on that Cross. Which He did for You. That’s the price.”
All I could think was, “I’m not WORTH that. Why would he give his life for ME?”
I don’t know how I spoke the words in the prayer of covenant he led me through. I don’t know how I had breath left in me at all, so deeply had I been sobbing all this time. It was as though all my soul had been poured out of me. I was lifeless. I was spent.
I followed the words of the commitment, the acceptance of the covenant. And I became HIS.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It has been many years since that day, and tears pour down my face even as I write this. It’s as though it were yesterday.
He DID come in. And He DID tear down walls, and destroy treasures, he tore up the foundation and I felt him pounding nails as he redid the insides of my “house.” It did hurt. It continues to hurt. But the hurt can not compare to the glory he brought inside.
Now I can say that I have known love that cannot be known any other way. I have known faithfulness, and comfort and encouragement. He took that wretch, and truly I was a wretch if there ever was one, and he made me new. Now, so many years later I live “in” him and he lives “in” me 24-hours a day. I’ve been in his actual presence, not only on that day, but from time to time through the years. He has NEVER left me, he has NEVER forsaken me. He has provided ALL my needs, and then some. I could write books, a book for every story that has taken place from that day forward, for there are many. And maybe I’ll write them.
But there is more to this story.
I was born again on Thanksgiving weekend, and the following happened shortly after that.
It was the day before Christmas eve. I was sitting in my kitchen, with a glass of vodka in my hand. Having a drink before me didn’t seem to me as a “sin,” because it had been a part of my every waking hour for years now. Oh, from time to time I had tried to stop drinking because I could see how it was leading me to death, I’d lose days at a time, with no memory of where I had been or what I had done. But each time I had tried to break off from it, I couldn’t get past withdrawal. Withdrawal was just way more painful than I could endure. So I had failed. Several times.
So there I was in the kitchen, the day before Christmas eve, and I got up for some reason, out of the chair, when all of a sudden Jesus himself was standing there next to me. I didn’t see his physical body. Unless you’ve ever “seen” anything or anyone “in the spirit,” there’s no way I can describe to you what that’s like except to say maybe you could call it a hallucination. That’s one thing that had never happened to me, no matter how much I drank. I had never had anything like a hallucination. So, with no other words to describe this, I’ll just say he was there, standing there to the right of me. And I knew who he was. I knew this wasn’t an angel. I knew this was my Lord, Jesus Christ. And he said to me, “If you will pour that drink down the drain, I will set you free.”
Oh the patience God has to have with us stubborn and rebellious people! Oh the extents of his love! My first thought was that tomorrow night we were having a Christmas eve gathering and we always all got drunk and sang songs and told jokes, and “had a ball.” My pattern of thought zipped through me in a flash, “why couldn’t you have come the day AFTER tomorrow?” But I didn’t say those words. I had recognized the seriousness of his voice. Though he hadn’t said it, I “knew” by the tone of his voice that He was offering me deliverance from this demon, and I dare not trifle with the offer.
Shaking, I went over to the sink, poured the drink down the drain, and as that liquid flushed down the drain every desire for alcohol instantly and completely left me. I stood there stunned. He was gone. And so was the demon. I was completely and totally stunned. I slowly turned to my left where the bottle of vodka was still on the counter, and I gagged. I looked away, just unable to believe what was happening, and then turned to look again, and I gagged again at the sight of the bottle.
What was this “gagging?” To this day I don’t have any explanation for it. All I know is that’s what happened, and continued to happen for several months afterward. I would gag at the sight of any alcohol. After six months or so, I lost all awareness of alcohol, and when I was around it, I just had no interest and just didn’t notice it anymore. It no longer occupied any of my thoughts at all, not at all.
But back to that day — I jumped into the car and drove to my mother’s house, burst through the door and said to her, “you are NOT going to believe what just happened!!!!”
She just looked at me blankly, having no idea what I was going to say.
I told her what had just happened, how the Lord Jesus himself had come into the kitchen and stood at my side, to the right of me, and how he had set me free from bondage to alcoholism. “I’m totally and completely free!” I exulted.
I was right. My mother didn’t believe me. She just faintly said, “we’ll see.” She had known me that way for so many years, this seemed too much to believe.
The proof was in the pudding. We had the Christmas eve party and I had NO WITHDRAWAL!!! After all those years — NO withdrawal! We sang, we told jokes, and everyone else was drinking, and I think I enjoyed that Christmas eve party more than any I had ever been to in all my life. I felt light as a feather, and I was free. SO free! I had had a miracle. A real, true honest-to-goodness miracle!
There is power in the Gospel. Scripture says, “For the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the POWER of God.”
I have been blessed with the power of God operating in me and in my life ever since. No, not as though there would never be pain again in my life. Oh, there was pain to come — and I’m glad I didn’t know what was coming. But the Scripture also says that ALL things work together for the good of those who love God, and who are the CALLED according to his purposes. And surely, and most assuredly can I attest to the reality of that word. Every single thing that has been painful in my life, has been turned to my good. Truly, and experientially.
Walking with the Lord is not a theology. It is not a theory. It is not head-knowledge. It is a relationship, a personal experience, an adventure, a challenge, and the greatest joy possible to man. If I had a hundred lives, I’d give each one to the Lord Jesus Christ who I can say I KNOW as I know my family members. If I saw him walking down Main Street, I’d drop whatever I had in my arms and run into his embrace. And he would receive me and call me by my name.
There are many chapters yet to write in this story. But there will be none more glorious than this one. I know what it is to be “born again,” because on a Thanksgiving weekend I was born again by the power of Almighty God. I live my life walking with him daily, and in the great and joyful anticipation of the day when I will be taken with him to his “Father’s house” which has “many mansions.” He has gone to prepare a place for ME there. And he WILL come and receive me to himself, that where HE is, I will be there with him — forever.
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I had no idea how drastically my life was going to change now as I walked with the Master.
One afternoon as I sat on the piano bench in my livingroom, the Lord Jesus came into the room. It’s odd, I never feel fear when he comes, not that he comes often because he doesn’t. But when he does, I have no fear reaction, which truly amazes me. I mean …he’s the MOST HIGH GOD! And I feel comfortable in his presence??? Anyway, that afternoon he spoke to me one sentence,
“Forsaking all, come follow me.”
Tears are flowing again as I recall this scene and the impact it had on me. I didn’t even have time to consider an answer, immediately from deep within me my heart leaped and cried, “YES LORD!” I don’t have to wonder why the apostles left their nets immediately when he called them. There is POWER in his words, and it has a tremendous impact on you. My whole spirit, soul, and body immediately cried out, “YES LORD.” And I have walked with him ever since. And I did not forget the words, “forsaking all.” He would call upon me to live those words.
But there were first things to address. I was deeply involved in the occult. What had drawn me to the occult was the undeniable power I saw in it. I was reading everything of Edgar Cayce’s that I could get my hands on. I was into astrology, reincarnation, and all that was “New Age” or out-and-out occult. Elie and Van tried to tell me that this was evil, but I didn’t believe them. How could it be evil? There was the evidence of supernatural power there. That validated it! They argued, but they could not convince me.
One day I was at their house and Elie asked if I’d be willing to listen to a teaching by a man by the name of Derek Prince. “Sure,” I said. Why not? I was voraciously hungry for all they would send my way. I was devouring every book they gave me to read. I was deeply, deeply hungry to know all I could know about God. And the occult, I believed, was of God. I just didn’t know at the time …which god.
Elie put the tape on, and I started to listen to this man with a very British accent. He spoke “as one with authority.” On he went, until he came to the place where he quoted a Scripture:
“There shall not be found among you anyone
who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire,
or one who practices witchcraft,
or a soothsayer,
or one who interprets omens,
or a sorcerer,
or one who conjures spells,
or a medium,
or a spiritist,
or one who calls up the dead.
For ALL WHO DO these things are an abomination to the Lord…
For ALL WHO DO these things? Are an abomination to the LORD? Not only are these abominable to God, but all who DO them are abominations to God?
The Word of God hit me like a bomb. I, even I, was AN ABOMINATION to God???
The Scripture pierced deep down inside of me and I came under “the conviction of the Holy Spirit.” If you’ve never felt this, there’s no way to tell you what that’s like, except that it’s very painful. You suddenly “see” whatever it is the Lord is convicting you of.
“I had no idea…!” I said to Elie and Van. “I’ve been deceived.”
That same afternoon, Elie came to my house with me and I gathered all my occult books and everything I could find that was of a “New Age” or occult nature, we lit a fire in the fireplace, and burned it all. I’ll never forget the look on Elie’s face as he said, “This does my heart so much good!”
“Mine too,” I answered.
But that was just the beginning. I didn’t know anything about the occult as defined in the Bible. Elie had instructed me that the most important thing in life that I will do is feed in the Bible every day for the rest of my life. So I had begun, but I had not read this far yet. I knew nothing about what God has to say about the Satanic kingdom.
Of all the sins that God says he detests, involvement in the occult is the one he hates the most, and it’s the one carrying the most severe ramifications. Why? Because it’s “spiritual adultery.” We are to take every single need, every request, every question, everything …to the Lord, for HE ALONE is our God. To seek knowledge or experiences, by going to a fortune teller or medium or spiritist, is to make direct contact with Satan, for he is “the god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4) He is the enemy. He speaks through his servants, his mediums, his fortune tellers, his astrologists. And he has one purpose, and that is to destroy you.
At the time, I was taking a class at a local university, and the next time I went to class the professor decided to cancel class and take us to a talk about transcendental meditation. The whole class went. We actually took part, each sitting on the gym floor and following the instructions of the instructor. I actually felt something happening to me, but I didn’t make the connection between this and what I was learning about the occult. To say I was blinded, is to say the least. I marvel now that I didn’t make that connection. But on the way home, “someone” said inside me, “Do NOT tell Elie and Van about this.” So I planned not to, thinking that that was my own thought, not a thought some demon spoke to me.
The next time I was at Elie and Van’s house, I had that strange warning again, “Do NOT tell them.” But for some reason, only God knows, I did tell them. And they erupted like Mount Vesuvius! I had just come out of the occult and already there was a demonic attempt to bring me back into it? Of course, as soon as they told me this, I realized what had happened, and as I write this I warn anyone coming out of the New Age or the occult, be alert for any demonic attempt to get you back, because it surely will happen. Satan will not let you go easily.
That same week, a cousin came to my door, a cousin I hadn’t seen in years. He was into some very strange ideas about the cosmos, and I discerned that it was all in that New Age area. I told him, “I’ve just come into something new and I want to see it through. Maybe we’ll talk about this later when I’m sure of what I’m doing.” So he left. …
He’s dead today.
Time went on and I continued to learn about both the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of “the god of this world. Elie and Van fed me book after book after book, and they all said that there is a curse that comes upon those who involve themselves in the occult, and the curse will afflict them and their children down to the third and fourth generation. So I had my work cut out for me. God sure knew what he was doing when he put Elie and Van into my life. They had been trained BY Derek Prince, so they were able to greatly help me as I approached God asking for deliverance from whatever I had picked up as I dabbled in the occult. And not only me, but I had to investigate even the generation before me, because those things are passed down.
One night, the Lord came to me in a dream. He said to me, “I want you to renounce totem poles.”
“What???” I responded.
“Lord, I don’t have a totem pole, and I’ve never had one. Why do you want me to do that?”
“Renounce totem poles!”
“Ok Lord, I renounce totem poles and I renounce any time I ever had contact with one.”
Then the Lord took me back to my young friend Don’s bedroom, where I handled a real totem pole he had made with a real Indian camp counselor. That was so many years ago now, I had forgotten all about it. Apparently, that’s when my drawing to the world of the occult had begun. I remember one other incident too, back around that time. I was at a girl’s house and they were playing “seance.” I don’t remember what happened because at that time I didn’t know what a seance was or what a medium was. But later that came back to my mind and I had to renounce that too.
Incidentally …she’s dead now too.
As I began learning about the occult, I became petrified at what I might have brought onto myself. The knowledge that anyone becoming involved in the occult will incur a curse not only upon themselves, but upon their children down to the third and fourth generation surely might explain some of the misery in my life. So I renounced every single thing that came to mind and determined to learn all I could about this subject, because I saw the tragedy it brings upon a family and I was desperate to start down the long road to being set free by the power of God from all demonic influence.
As I learned about family curses, or “generational curses” as they’re sometimes called, I began wondering if the misery in our family had any roots in the occult. So I began asking questions.
On my mother’s side? Absolutely. There were all kinds of occult “manifestations” that took place in my mother’s family, and in her mother’s family, and even in her grandmother’s family. The kettle on the stove would start singing …when the stove was off. There would be a certain kind of knock on the door, taking place when someone had died. My grandmother would hear the knock, and would know that so-and-so died. My mother herself had stayed at her grandmother’s house for a few days, and during the night a man appeared to her. Petrified, she cried out to her grandmother who said, “Oh that’s Mr. so-and-so. He often appears.” They had a Ouija board both at her mother’s house and at her grandmother’s house. And my mother had had several other supernatural experiences throughout her life. All of this was ample evidence to explain the unhappy lives of my mother’s family members. And mine.
Then I approached my father. He was not happy with what I was “into,” because it wasn’t Catholic. He was angry that Elie and Van were counseling me, because they had left the Catholic church. But I hadn’t yet, so at least he would talk to me. I explained to him what the Bible said about supernatural things in the realm of the occult, and asked if he or his parents were ever involved in anything like that. He immediately became enraged. With his voice raised and his face beet red he yelled, “My parents were good Catholics! We said the rosary together, we went to Mass every Sunday, my parents were good people!” I was dismayed, but I just let him talk. He had a brother who had died in an accident, another brother who had “tics,” a sister in a disastrous marriage, her life destroyed, so it was legit that I should ask these questions. After he expended his rage, he calmed down and said, “Well my mother told fortunes with tea leaves.”
! ! ! Enough said.
“Deliverance” was going to be a long process stretching over the next many years. On a few occasions, I actually saw the spirits when they would leave me. It usually happened when I was totally relaxed, as you are when you’re ready to fall into sleep but not quite there yet. That’s when the Lord would cast them out. I guess he needed to anesthetize me. I had no fear at all. One time, it was at that stage of “not-yet-asleep” when suddenly I saw one leaving me. My attention was absolutely fixed on this spirit. It looked like a man, his back to me, walking away out of my life. The Lord ordered me VERY sharply, “Let it go!” So I broke my fixation on it and I asked the Lord, “What was that?” He answered, “What did it look like?” I said, “It looked like it was dressed in what the priest wears, that white collar and all.” “Yes,” the Lord answered, “and what was he carrying?” I had noticed that he was carrying what looked like the work clothes my father-in-law wore when he was working at the factory. “Is that what it was, Lord? Work clothes?”
“Yes. It was a religious spirit of works!”
And from that day, my soul loathes anything “religious,” as in rites or rituals -which I believe the Lord also hates. Religion is man’s attempt to placate God by doing “religious” things. Being born again is God’s action on the human heart to change him from inside, not through rituals, but through a living relationship with the living God and the outworking of his Holy Spirit teaching and maturing you.
That was one of the many experiences I had as the Lord began a series of deliverances which would take place over the next many years. And the way I always knew that that’s what was happening is that the part of my personality that had been under the control of the spirit leaving …was totally released. The bondage was gone. And the change was always dramatic. Every time.
Why doesn’t the Lord cast them all out at once? I believe it’s because he has to prepare you first, to make sure you’ll keep your deliverance afterward. There is a passage in the Scriptures that says that when an evil spirit leaves a person, it will come back later trying to get back in and if it succeeds, it brings seven more like itself but worse (Luke 11:24-26). So the Lord waited until I left the Catholic church, and later set me free when I was sufficiently educated on what NOT to do ritually in order to “please” God, so that another “religious” spirit would not have opportunity to come back to enslave me in religion ever again.
And to make the point absolutely clear, the Lord gave me a learning lesson where I would actually see this play out. My husband’s sister was married to an alcoholic, and Carl was as much an alcoholic as I had been. He drank 24/7. So I began praying for him. I prayed earnestly for his deliverance, because I saw what a difference it makes in one’s life. One day we went out to the farm where they lived, to visit. Carl and I got into a discussion and he said to me, “I can accept that there’s a god, but it’s Jesus that I can’t accept.” I rebuked that spirit and he coughed. I had been told that when a spirit leaves, the person may cough, or cry, or scream, not always but you have to be watching for it. Carl coughed as soon as I rebuked that spirit.
A couple weeks later we at my mother-in-law’s house when Bob’s sister came in. She was glowing. She told us that Carl hasn’t had a drink in two weeks and he says he can’t even stand the sight of it. I was so excited I didn’t know what to do with myself. It WORKED! Wow! Just think what good we can do for others! It works! Carl is free!
Two weeks later …Carl was dead. The spirit came back bringing seven more like it and killed him.
I have told this story often, warning people not to get involved in “delivering” a person if that person does not belong to Jesus Christ. Carl had confessed that he could not believe in Jesus. I should NOT have tried to cast out that spirit of alcoholism while Carl was yet unsaved. It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten. This is something we are NOT to try to do, except when directly and sovereignly led to by the Spirit of God. There have only been a couple times in my life after this incident when I WAS led by the Holy Spirit to cast out a demon, and saw success. It’s something I would never, ever try to do of my own volition.
Elie had made it very clear that I was to feed in the Bible every single day for the rest of my life. I deeply loved and respected this man whom the Lord had used to bring me to himself. He had an anointing on him that amazed me. Every question I asked, he gave an answer that I “knew” inside was correct.
Why must we feed in the Bible every day?
Because we are 3-part beings. Body, soul, and spirit. “Would you consider eating only once a week,”he asked? Isn’t that what people do who “go to church” once a week? Just as your body needs food, water, and sleep, so your spirit won’t survive if it’s neglected. And the Word of God tells us that his WORD, the Bible, is the food of our spirit. Neglect it to your peril. No one who omits this daily nourishment will grow in the Lord.
So I began to read that Bible. And I have been reading it every day since. The amazing part is that it’s still “new” to me. Even after all this time, I still “see” things in the Scriptures that I never noticed before. And that’s because the Holy Spirit is in charge of portioning out our nourishment as we go along. When Jesus told us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” he wasn’t speaking only of food for the body. We can confidently ask the Lord to give us each day our spirit’s daily bread, the “rhema.” There are two words in Greek for the term “word.” Logos is the written word, the black or red letters on white paper. “Rhema,” also translated “word,” is the spoken word. It’s when the Holy Spirit “quickens” or speaks or clarifies a word to a believer. And that will take place for as long as the believer keeps feeding daily in his Word.
An example, though an unhappy one, was shown to me as I read through the first books of the Bible. I was learning the story of the twelve sons of Jacob, the forefathers of the Jewish people. My Bible had tons of study material in it, and as I read the names of those twelve sons, I found that one was called “Dan.” Not Daniel. Just Dan. How odd!!! and my mind went back to when I was told my son’s name was Dan, NOT Daniel, but Dan! On the side of the page was a list of all twelve names of the sons of Jacob and the meaning of each. The meaning of “Dan” …was …judgment.
Judgment. Now I understood. My involvement in the occult had cost me a son. Maybe two, because he was a twin.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Along with reading the Word of God every day, I was voraciously hungry to learn all I could possibly learn about all things pertaining to God. Elie and Van fed me book after book after book, amazed at my voracious hunger. In addition, they supplied me with teachings on cassette tapes, which I devoured also.
One day in my prayer time, I asked the Lord, “Father, do you have anything that might bring a bit of joy to my sad life?”
Oh boy, DID HE!
One night at a prayer meeting at Elie and Van’s house, I heard someone speak of “the Rapture.” I asked, “what is that?” I remember Van rolling her eyes, wishing I hadn’t asked. “You’re not ready for that,” she said. “Oh but I am! I want it ALL.” So they gave me …Hal Lindsey’s book, “The Late Great Planet Earth.”
That book opened up a whole new world to me. I could hardly believe what I was reading. Hal tells the story of Israel. As I look back incredulously now, I didn’t even know that there was a country called “Israel” upon the earth in these days. I thought it was a place only in ancient Bible stories, when Jesus was on the earth. Oh my, little did I know…
Bible prophecy became the second foundation in my life. The first foundation is the Lord Jesus Christ and his Word. Next, is the love he put into my heart for all the Bible has to say about “the last days.” I discovered that Israel had been dispersed throughout the world for 2,000 years, but that God was restoring her …NOW…in fulfillment of his promise to her, right now as we are reading this it’s happening.
It’s beyond amazing. How can a people be scattered throughout the world for centuries and remain a people? When was the last time you heard about the Amorites, or the Perrizites, or the Girgashites, all contemporaries of ancient Israel? You haven’t heard about them because they’re gone. They were conquered and reconquered and assimilated into the nations that conquered them. I am of French descent. My forefathers and mothers were French. But there’s nothing of France left in me. I don’t speak French and I have no interest in France whatsoever. My generation, indeed my parents’ generation, has been totally assimilated. We’re Americans, period. And so it was with all the “ites” who were contemporary with ancient Israel. They were assimilated. As a people, they’re just gone. But not Israel …
Before God dispersed Israel, he sent many, many warnings to them. The first time when they refused the warnings of the prophets who pleaded with them to repent of their rebellion against God, the Lord sent them into captivity to Babylon for a period of 70 years. At the end of that time, he brought them back to Israel as he had said he would. But after awhile they rebelled against him again, and again he took a lot of time to send prophet after prophet to them, warning that the next captivity was going to be for a very long time. They killed the prophets. So in the year 70 AD, Rome attacked Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple, and took the Jews captive, sending them throughout the world. There are Jews in almost every country on earth. After 2,000 years!!! They’ve been scattered throughout the world for 2,000 years, yet they’ve remained a people! But …God also said that he would once again regather them and bring them back to the land of their fathers “in the last days.”
Friends, if this doesn’t excite you, nothing will. It’s happened in our generation. God has brought them back to Israel. Israel was declared a nation again on May 14, 1948 …after 2,000 years!!!
During that 2,000 year period, the land lay desolate. Different peoples tried to settle it, the Turks, the British, but incredibly, it didn’t rain there as long as the Jews were gone. No one could work the land. So it lay desolate. Samuel Clemons, known as Mark Twain, traveled to the land and wrote about his experience there.
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Today, there are more than 7 million Jews living in Israel, and what’s more, they are speaking Hebrew, the ancient language of their forefathers. Hebrew is the national language of the Israeli people, a language that had gone dead for 2,000 years, only quoted in some religious rites here and there, like Catholics did with Latin. No one spoke Hebrew anymore. But today, it’s Israel’s national language once again. Their currency is the shekel! And their land is prospering. It’s raining in Israel and Israel is so productive that it EXPORTS fruits, vegetables, and flowers.
This is a miracle. It couldn’t have happened outside of the direct action of the God of Israel.
If I had no other reason to believe, the Israel story would be enough for me, because what has happened is the impossible.
But that’s not all…
The Scriptures tell us a lot about what’s to happen in “the last days.” And just as exciting as the Israel story is, equally exciting is the promise of “the Rapture.”
The Lord tells us that the church age has been a parenthesis in the Bible story. The church age was not revealed in the Old Testament. After the resurrection of Jesus, God raised up the apostle Paul to be “the apostle to the gentiles,” and he made known to us “the mystery of the church age.” Briefly, that’s when the Israel story stopped when Israel refused her Messiah and crucified him. Days later, the Holy Spirit came upon the believers in Jesus on the day of Pentecost, and that was the birth of the unannounced “church age” which took everyone by surprise. Well …the church age began unexpectedly, and it will end unexpectedly. It will end with “the Rapture.” And then after that event, the story goes back to Israel as God prepares her in the final 7 years for the coming of her Messiah.
The Rapture. What is it?
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout,
with the voice of an archangel,
and with the trumpet of God.
And the dead in Christ will RISE first.
Then we who are alive and remain
shall be CAUGHT UP TOGETHER with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air.
And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
As I studied this subject, I found that there is a lot of disagreement on the timing of the unfolding of these events. Some say the Rapture happens before the last 7 years, some say it happens during the Tribulation, and some say it happens at the end. It was very confusing to me because the arguments for each position made absolute sense. So …I asked God. “Which is the correct understanding of this?” And he answered me on the very day I asked. He showed me that it is the end of the church age, and it happens before the seven-year period of the Tribulation.
Now this is where some of you readers may want to leave me, because those who hold the other positions hold them strongly. But you don’t have to believe what I believe. Taking the wrong stand on this subject will not send you to hell. Keep your different positions if you like. Mine shouldn’t be a threat to you, should it? All believers are going to get there one time or another aren’t we? So let’s not make this a point of argument among believers. If there’s one thing Satan enjoys, it’s causing division among believers.
I created a blog to answer some of the arguments. You can take a look if you’re interested.
The Rapture Generation:
I believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is going to call all born-again believers to himself before the last 7 years, the “Apocalypse,” or “the Great Tribulation” begins. That period of seven years will see the wrath of Almighty God being poured out on a Christ-rejecting world. The promise, though, is that his people, all who have been born again, will be taken before the time of judgment begins. Believers in Jesus Christ who have died will rise first, and then we will be gathered together with them to meet the Lord “in the air,” and we will be taken to heaven to await the end of the time of judgment that will fall upon the earth. At the end of the 7 years, we will return with the Lord to the earth, where he will reveal himself to the Jews who survive the horrors of those seven years, and Christ will set up his Kingdom upon the earth, get rid of Satan and the Antichrist, and he will bring in the age of peace and righteousness and joy.
The Bible refers to the Rapture as, “The Blessed Hope” (Titus 2:13) Hmmm, where have I heard that before? Oh yeah ..!!! I was baptized at “The Blessed Hope” church in my home town.
The Rapture! If that doesn’t excite you …
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Lloyd Road, Waterville
After my born-again experience, realizing I was starting a brand new life, I mused on how life was going to change. I had been told about Jesus the healer. “He’s going to heal you, he’s going to set you free, and he’s going to use you,” they said. Elie and Van, the couple who had brought me to the Lord, were always available to me to listen to my damaged soul’s cries, and to pray with me. Never in my life have I known a couple more patient, more loving, more the actual parents I had never had. They fed me books, and I just couldn’t get enough of them. They marveled at my hunger for more. “You’ve already finished that???” “Yes, more please.”
These books became my hospital room. I was a voracious reader. I knew I had to unlearn all I had ever been taught about “religion,” and re-learn the truth. One very stern and very serious order Elie gave me was, “Read your Bible every single day. Every single day for the rest of your life. It’s the Word of God. That’s where the Lord will meet you. Through his Word he will heal you.”
And I did that. I had never read the Bible before because the Catholic nuns had told us NOT to. They said it’s too hard to understand, and that there’s an order of priests called the Jesuits whose responsibility is to interpret the Bible to us (or mis-interpret it as I would later learn.) Elie was a man anointed of God to answer all my questions with so much wisdom that it blew me away, so when he told me I must read the Bible every day, I did. I began right away. And I continue to this very day. It has truly been my LIFE.
One day I was sitting in my livingroom musing on the changes taking place in me and on the new life of healing and deliverance I was going into. My imagination carried me away with the expectation that all things were going to be made good and that I’d glorify God by telling everyone who’d listen.
Suddenly, Jesus was standing in the room. I saw him as in previous times, “in the spirit.” I hope you the reader won’t underestimate this kind of experience. It is very, VERY real. It is not a figment of one’s imagination. And that’s often proved by what he says, which is always something totally unexpected.
He stood there and then he spoke. “Do you REALLY trust me?” he asked.
Again, the seriousness of the voice made me not answer quickly. I would have loved to answer “after all I’ve experienced with you in the past few months and you’d ask me this? Of course I trust you.” But I didn’t say that, because I had a strong impression that I’d better think this over before answering.
I went through all the “what if’s.” What if I was going to get a serious illness? What if I were to lose a child? What if the house was going to burn down? What if one of my parents died? What if Elie or Van died? I rotated through the rolodex in my brain and considered each “what if” and finally came to where I could answer, “Yes. I trust you, no matter what.”
If only I had known…..
Shortly after my born-again experience, Bob saw the joy that had come into my life and he started attending the prayer meetings held at Elie and Van’s house. He spoke at length with Elie and “saw” the truth of the Gospel. A new joy seemed to come into his life too.
It wasn’t long before the Lord began speaking to my heart of my need to be baptized. I saw in the Bible that baptism is something a believer in Jesus Christ does, he does it publicly, and in doing so he’s showing that he is not ashamed of the Gospel. Elie explained that when we go down into the water, we’re identifying with Jesus’s death, and when we come back up we’re identifying with his resurrection. There is never, ever anywhere in the Bible any record of an infant being baptized, because baptism is something one does in indentifying with the death and resurrection of Jesus, and obviously a small child can’t do that. As time went on I learned that for everything God has, Satan has a counterfeit. For every doctrine in the Word of God, Satan has an opposing “doctrine.” Satan leads the unaware into the things of his kingdom, through “seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1) That’s why it’s so important to be reading daily in the Word of God. Only in knowing the truth, and knowing it well, can one avoid the deception that is rampant across the world in various forms and credes.
But how am I going to do this? It’s wintertime.
I spoke at length about this with Elie and Van, and Elie suggested maybe we could rent the local indoor pool for an hour. “I guess maybe we can try that,” I said.
But I didn’t have to worry about it …a woman came knocking on my door.
She was selling something, I don’t even remember what it was now, maybe Amway. Anyway we were overjoyed to find out that we are both believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, and I shared my story with her and somehow ended up on the subject of the Lord nudging me now to get baptized, but how can I in the middle of winter? She perked right up and said, “My church has a baptismal font. Let me ask my pastor – in fact, I’m going to see him tonight and I’ll ask him.”
Well the pastor was agreeable with the stipulation that we meet first so that he could be satisfied that we know what we’re doing and have truly been born again. By this time several of us in Elie’s prayer group were going to be baptized together. So the pastor came to Elie’s house and met with each of us. Satisfied that we were true believers, he agreed to baptize us at his church.
It was one of the most glorious days of my life. A lady said afterwards that I actually glowed when I came up out of the water, and I don’t think that was an exaggeration because I felt aglow throughout my being. And one detail I didn’t catch at the time, being so new in the Lord, was that the name of the church was “Blessed Hope.” I would only learn later that the Rapture is called “our blessed hope!!!” (Titus 2:13)
One day in my prayer time I asked the Lord for a personal Scripture, from him to me, one that would be mine for the rest of my life. He gave me Revelation 3:7-13. I read and reread that countless times trying to glean what it meant. All I could understand was the part where he said that he is the one who opens doors that no one can close, and closes doors that no one can open. And truly …he HAS been that in my life, many times over.
But what I wouldn’t understand until much later is that this is the 6th letter to a series of 7 churches, each with a message, and in this one the Lord makes clear that this is the people who will be taken in the Rapture!!!!! I remember the day I stumbled upon that information, and the chills went up and down my spine. WOW!!!!
Well time went on and all was fine. Bob seemed to be growing in the Lord and he actually had a few supernatural experiences of his own. One night he told me that while driving home after work a “demonic-sounding” song came onto the radio. He said he rebuked that spirit and the next song that came on was “Great Is Thy Faithfulness!” Another time he accompanied Elie to a conference in Kansas City, and when they were on their way home he called me from the airport and immediately I sensed something in his voice and asked if something was wrong. He answered, “No, I’ll tell you about it when I get home.” That night he sat down and related the following story. He said on the last night of the conference, a holy hush came across the people and some of them even took their shoes off, feeling that this was such a holy thing happening. But …it didn’t touch Bob. Hurt, he pondered why all the people there had had such an experience, but he didn’t. The next day, as they flew home, he had his experience. He said he was in the presence of the Lord and totally overwhelmed with his love and his majesty. He said he’s never experienced anything like that in all his life. He spoke on about the awe, the liquid glory, and he was just transposed into this realm that he wouldn’t have believed possible. He said he asked the Lord about me (I had not had deliverances yet) and the Lord said, “She’ll be ok.” He went on to say that while in that presence nothing else in life mattered to him. All care for hunting, fishing, his job, or anything else just left him, became nothing to him. It was good that the Lord did it this way, because now he had his own personal experience of God, not with a lot of people, but for himself personally. He began to read his Bible and listen to taped teachings and things were good. One day his brother and his wife were visiting, and Bob told them that that book, the Bible, contains the answer to every question about life that you’ll ever have. And he told them that there’s no such thing as death, because death is just a change of location. I was so proud of him. Awestruck, actually.
On another occasion Elie and Van were at our house, and were praying with me for the elephant in my room, namely, my shattered emotions concerning my father and his hatred of me. On and on they prayed and Bob got up at one point, then returned with a piece of paper and a pen. After we were finished praying, Bob said, “while you were praying the Lord gave me a word and it was so strongly impressed upon me that I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to interrupt you, so I wrote it down. Here’s what the Lord said to Bob concerning me:
“You are not on this earth by the will of your father. You are on this earth by MY will.”
I was beginning to know that I was not hated by this Father, I was loved. I was going to have a hard time with that one because I was not used to love and didn’t even know what the word meant. And it would be a LONG time before I would.
But it didn’t last. Bob began to lose the excitement as life went on without meeting his expectations. And he began to take a critical look at the other people in the prayer group. Elie had started a project, trying to get a local television station in our area up and running, and he asked Bob to help. After a few sessions with the men who were working together on the project, he became very disillusioned. He criticized them mercilessly. “They can’t even make a decision no matter how small, unless they have a hundred percent agreement. They think that if anything is God’s will, he’ll show that by bringing them all to the same conclusion and if they don’t all come to the same conclusion, they won’t make a decision. This stuff makes me sick.” And he began disparaging them one by one.
He might have had a point sometimes, we were all new in the Lord – “baby Christians” – and of course we were rough around the edges. Almost all in the group were people who had come to the Lord and left the Catholic church. We were having growing pains as all babies do. No one in the group was perfect. There were a couple in the group that got on my nerves too, but it didn’t get to me the way it got to him. He started skipping the prayer meetings. He’d call from work and say he had to work late. At first I understood, but when it happened over and over again on prayer meeting nights, I should have paid attention to the red flag but didn’t.
There was a total change in Bob’s demeanor too. The insights were gone, the joy was gone, there was a feeling in the house that I had never felt before.
I began to complain so one night Bob did come to a prayer meeting. I remember it as though it were yesterday. He was sitting on the opposite side of the room because he came in late, and he had his Bible open in his lap. Suddenly there was an expression in his face hard to decode, but something was definitely up. After the prayer meeting we stayed to talk with Elie and Van and Bob said to Elie, “Did you ever read this verse? Romans 10:9?”
“…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart
that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
“Yes, that’s right Bob,” said Elie.
“No, don’t you see what this is saying? It says that all I have to do is believe that Jesus is Lord and that he was raised from the dead ….that’s ALL I have to do to be saved.”
Elie wasn’t sure he was following Bob’s line of thinking and he asked him to expound on it.
“It’s simple,” Bob said, “I do not have to do a single thing other than believe, and I’m saved. I can do anything I want and I’ll be saved as long as I believe this.”
Elie was getting uncomfortable. He sensed that Bob was being deceived, but wasn’t sure how to make him realize that.
This was a turning point in Bob’s life. This was THE turning point in Bob’s life. He was convinced that he could do anything he wants to do, and will be saved by simply believing this verse.
It was years later that I saw the error. I had a new Bible, an Interlinear Greek-English Bible and I looked up that verse in the original Greek, and instantly I saw it. It all stands or falls on the word “THE.” It reads, “…if you confess with your mouth Lord Jesus….” There isn’t any THE in the original. You don’t confess with your mouth the fact THAT Jesus is Lord, you confess with your mouth, “Lord Jesus!” No, you’re not free to do anything you want, far from it. If he isn’t your LORD, you aren’t saved.
The answer is in Romans chapter 8:
“Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”
And it was becoming very obvious that the Spirit of God had left Bob. And it wasn’t just a passing sin or a depressed heart that caused it. There was far more going on than any of us had any idea.
Lloyd Road, Waterville
Maybe I should have seen it coming. We were two years into our walk with the Lord, and I hadn’t seen the red flags. He told me he was being transferred back to the Boston suburb we had lived in before. In fact, he said, he had his choice of three senior positions available to him.
Well …I was not ready to move. The very thought of going back to the big city made me nauseous. I was home, I was happy, I had made Christian friends, our children were in a Christian school, and no way was I ready to leave all that and go back to where I had been so miserable. So I began to pray fervently. “Lord,” I cried, “I’m just not ready for this.”
All three of those doors closed on him. That was a huge surprise to him, something bordering on the impossible. But the Lord had heard my prayer. We were staying here.
And then later he told me he was being transferred back there again and this time it wasn’t going to fall through. Did I want to come?
“What do you mean, ‘do I want to come?”
“I want a divorce.”
What??? Are you serious???
“Yes. I’m not happy, I haven’t been in a long time. I want a divorce.”
And that sent me reeling. I began to see why he would not come to prayer meetings. He couldn’t. He wanted a divorce. There was someone else though I wouldn’t know that for quite some time.
I asked him why he would do something that opposed the Word of God. He looked at me very seriously and said, “Look, I know what I want out of life and if God won’t get it for me, I’ll do it myself!”
Horrified, I asked, “You have no fear to make such a statement?”
“No,” he said. “I refuse to submit to anyone, even God. I know what I want and he hasn’t opened it up for me, so I’m going to get it myself.”
Needless to say, my knees almost buckled as I staggered in shock.
But then …
One day he came home and told me that maybe he would be willing “to work things out.” If you come to Boston with me, I’ll do what I can to make the marriage work.”
“Ok,” I said, “but I ask one thing of you first. Please don’t take me away from my home. my family, my church family, my prayer group, my friends, and bring me to the city if you’re not sure you want to make this marriage work.”
“I am sure,” he said.
Little did I know …he didn’t want to leave the abode, because I’d get the house. Women can be so stupid sometimes. I had no idea.
Mohawk Drive, Framingham
We sold the house, left all, and moved back to the suburbs of Boston. For awhile he played the game. We’d go out into the garden hand-in-hand and walk through the rows of vegetables we’d planted. We’d sit out in the back yard at the picnic table with the kids, eating popcorn. We played a lot of games of Scrabble. Things seemed back to normal.
Until New Year’s day.
“Come down to the family room alone. I want us to talk.”
Oh God, please no!
We made sure the kids were busy, and we went down and closed the door.
“It’s not working. I want the divorce.”
I was blindsided! I still didn’t “get it,” still not realizing he had taken me here to make sure he wasn’t leaving the domicile so that I’d not get the house. I wouldn’t realize this till much later.
I cried my heart out that night. He went up to bed and I stayed down in the family room all night. I didn’t sleep at all. I fell on my knees broken before the Lord. The Lord had given me SUCH encouragement for months, which I had interpreted as his assurance that this was going to work. That’s not what he meant at all. But not knowing that, I begged and pleaded and cried all night long.
After a couple hours, I got up and opened my Bible at random, something I never do. I’ve heard of people who do that, but it seems too much like fortune-telling to me, and I just would never do that. But as I took the Bible, it opened of itself. To this verse:
“But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
he is their strength in the time of trouble.
And the Lord shall help them and deliver them;
he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them,
because they trust in him.”
I read that, not able to make sense of it, then closed the Bible back up and went and prayed some more. I think I’d cried every tear of a lifetime of tears that night. Or there was some dam somewhere refilling my tears tank which never seemed to get emptied.
Another couple hours later I went and picked up the Bible again. And of itself, it opened again to that very same place. There was no paper, nothing in the Bible that would cause it to open in that place. Then the third time the same thing happened, I knew it was the Lord, so I sat down and took a close look at what he was saying.
“He shall deliver them from the wicked…”
“Aha,” I said! The Lord is going to come against Satan, the wicked one, and not let him destroy this family. Satan and his workers are “the wicked,” aren’t they? So I fully expected that that’s exactly what was going to happen.
But of course, it wasn’t.
And it wasn’t Satan that the Lord was referring to.
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Back to Silvermount, Waterville
Shortly after moving back to Maine, and while at my parents’ house, I was sitting before the Lord one morning and I asked, “Lord, when are you going to do what you promised me?”
He said …”I already have.”
That said absolutely nothing to me, there was no way I had any clue what he meant. Until the phone rang.
It was my daughter Sherry. She had asked if she could stay with Bob until the end of the school year, and I had agreed because she had friends, and was into youth group, I couldn’t see any harm in allowing her to finish that semester. I was in Maine right now for the holiday weekend, and was having dinner with Elie and Van and another couple I was close to, and they were up in arms.
“NO WAY should you let her stay with THAT MAN!” they all said together.
“THAT MAN? He’s her father! Why are you talking to me like that?” I asked, “I’m letting her stay to finish the semester, that’s all. He’s her father. What’s the problem with that?”
“NO WAY should you go along with this.”
“Well, I’ve already told her she could. She’ll come home when school gets out.
My friends were absolutely adamant and angry and warning and yelling, but I did not understand why they were acting this way.
Until I moved back to Maine weeks later, on that fateful day when the phone rang.
It was my daughter Sherry. She told me that a woman had moved into the house with a child, and that the child had run to Bob crying, “Papa!” My daughter was in shock. Who is this woman? Who is this child and why is she calling my father, “Papa?”
I was silent on the phone. I couldn’t speak. Then my daughter said, “Mum, there’s more.”
“Yes, he’s married to her. He was married to her even while you were still living here.”
There isn’t a word in the English language that can adequately describe the destruction of a human soul. I felt my insides split, come apart. I said, “I’m going to hang up now.” And I went into that numb place. Only …I knew that that numb place was a temporary thing my body does when it goes into shock.
I picked up the phone and called Elie and Van. Van answered. I said, “Van, you aren’t going to believe this. …Bob is married.”
Van answered, “Paula, we’ve known about her for five years.”
I’m not going to go on describing the rest of this scene, because reliving it is too horrible. I felt SO betrayed. There would be more to come. A lot more. But not now.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
In the next few weeks I lost almost 50 pounds. I could neither eat nor sleep. My doctor told me I HAD to eat, but I couldn’t make him understand I just could not. So, he said, get milkshakes and drink them. He didn’t realize that I was in the deepest shock and depression a human being could possibly sink down into. But it didn’t scare me, because I wanted to die. I begged and pleaded with the Lord to “Let it be enough, I can’t take anymore, just take my life.” I’ll tell you in advance anyone who might be thinking along these lines, don’t even bother asking the Lord to take you. He won’t. One thing I learned later in life is that our afflictions are CHOSEN for us, according to God’s purpose for us. As bad as the story would get, if one person is given hope by this book, then all the suffering was worth it, wasn’t it? What’s the value of one human soul?
Well that’s easy to say now, but at the time I should have been locked up. I was just a mess. I’ve known the depths of depression so deep that hell couldn’t be worse. Well, maybe hell …which is why I wouldn’t make the choice myself to end my life.
Incredible as it might seem, my greatest struggle wasn’t with grief over Bob, my greatest struggle was with the God who was supposed to heal me, deliver me, remake me, and use me. They lied to me! The God I knew now was not that same God at all. This was a God who allowed the most terrible of sufferings to happen to those he supposedly loves. How was I supposed to relate to a God like that? I’d already lived a life of hell, and I thought that when I gave my life to the Lord that he would now be changing that around to a life of heaven. Had he not sent me encouragement all along the way? Encouragement that I interpreted to mean that he was going to heal my marriage, and save my home, and heal us all? HOW could he do this to me???
I began thinking that I didn’t want any more to do with this God. And I told him why: “Because I can’t trust you. You say good things to me, and then you pull the rug out from under me and I go flying down into some human hell. I have no more trust in you and no more interest in going on with you.”
I decided I would go to church one last time before turning my back on God forever. I don’t know why I was even willing to do that, I surely had no more love for him. Was it fear? Was it the realization that I wouldn’t survive without him? But I didn’t care if I didn’t survive, I hoped I wouldn’t. Was it that I knew he let the rich young ruler go and he’d just as easily let me go if I wanted to? One time, when Jesus made a statement that people could in no way understand, Scripture says that from that day many no longer walked with him. He didn’t run after them asking for a chance to explain. HE LET THEM GO. Then he turned to the twelve and asked if they wanted to leave also (John 6:67). He offered to let them go too! I knew that you don’t play games with God. If you want to leave, he will let you leave. I wanted to leave.
But I didn’t want to leave. But I wanted to. But I didn’t want to. But…
Anyway, I decided I’d go one last Sunday before turning away from him forever.
It was Palm Sunday. Pastor Hickam began his sermon by suggesting that we IDENTIFYwith the apostle Peter in the following Palm Sunday story.
Jesus got onto a donkey and started down the Mount of Olives and across the Kidron Valley towards the holy city. Peter and the other apostles were following and there was exuberance in the air. This is the day they had been waiting for! They knew Jesus was the Messiah. They’d seen all he’d done these past 3-1/2 years. Healed the sick. Casted out demons. Fed thousands from one loaf of bread and a few fish. Even raised the dead. Jesus had once asked his disciples who people were saying he was. They told him some said this, some said that, but then Jesus asked, “Who do YOU say that I am?” And Peter was the one who answered. He said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” And Jesus delighted in him for this understanding, saying “Blessed are you Peter son of Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven!”
So there was no question that the Messiah was about to enter Jerusalem as he rode onward toward the city. He was going to put down the Roman Empire and raise up his own Kingdom. And guess who is going to rule and reign with him. WE are! WE are the ones he has chosen and trained for more than three years! And now it’s finally happening! Fireworks were going off in Peter’s mind. There just couldn’t be anything more joyful in all of the universe than what was happening right now. And the crowds, they were throwing down clothing and palm branches in front of Jesus as he made his way down that hill. It seemed like the heavens were singing and the trees were clapping their hands. Are you identifying with Peter? Can you tangibly feel his joy?
A few days later…
…Jesus was dead.
Identify with Peter.
This is where Pastor Hickam’s voice ended in my ears. The walls of the church evaporated and I was in the presence of the Lord. He spoke. He said to me, “I know you don’t understand and I do not expect you to understand. I just ask you to put your hand back in mine and come follow me.”
I don’t know how to explain what happens inside a person when the most high God speaks. I had entered that church with such hatred in my heart, for everyone, and even toward God. I didn’t know why I even chose to go to church one more time.
But when HE SPOKE…
His words contain a power that one cannot fathom until one hears that voice for himself. I didn’t want to stop hating him, but I did. I could not resist the power his words had over me. I dissolved into rivers of tears. Oceans couldn’t have contained the tears I shed that morning in the presence of Almighty God. He destroyed my hatred of him. He destroyed my refusal to ever trust him again. His words EMBRACED me.
And I fell apart into his arms.
“Yes, Lord,” I said.
That’s all I could say.
I wasn’t about to just hand over my marriage to Satan, “the wicked one.” Not on your life. I started praying earnestly, trusting God to save the marriage. Bob stopped talking to me and slept down in the family room. The tension in the house was so thick you could have sliced it with a fingernail. But I wouldn’t let go. TEN MONTHS went by like this.
One night Bob’s brother called, and Bob was drunk and out cold, so I talked with his brother. He asked me why on earth I was staying with this terrible situation, and I told him that the Lord had not given me leave to go. I swore I’d stay with Bob for better or worse, and I wasn’t going to go back on my vow when worse came. He couldn’t understand that, but again, he wasn’t a believer so there was no way to explain it to him – the Lord had NOT given me permission to leave. So I stayed. For ten months.
Then one day Bob told me he was going to Maine on a hunting trip with his brother. So I packed him his clothes and cooked some meals for him, and off he went. While he was gone, I was in my prayer time one morning and the Lord gave me permission to leave. I asked, “Lord, how can you tell me to go against my vows. That’s against your Word.” The Lord came back to me with another of his Words, “I want you to submit to your husband.” Shocked, I asked, “You want me to leave???” He directed me to submit to Bob, to do whatever Bob needed me to do to enable him to get his divorce, and that’s all. So when Bob came home, I told him what the Lord had said. And Bob gave me papers he wanted me to sign. I told him that I would not get a lawyer, I would not take part in this at all except to do what he needed me to do so that he could get his divorce. And I signed the papers. Without reading them. He told me they stipulated we were to sell the house, divide the profit, that I was to go to Maine and get a house for myself and the kids, and that he would send alimony and child support.
So I went to Maine, bought a little house – almost a dump, because he told me how much I could spend and it wasn’t much. And I took the kids and we went to Maine. I was still walking “in faith,” believing the Lord was still going to resurrect the marriage.
As it turned out, my parents were going to Florida for the winter and they allowed us to stay in their house until the papers cleared on our new house. The day after we arrived, I was sitting in my mother’s chair in the livingroom and I asked the Lord, “Ok Lord, I’ve done all you’ve told me to do. Now when are you going to do all you’ve promised me?” He answered, “I already have.”
Whipple Street, Winslow
It was hard. It was awful. I was home with children who needed me and I was so distraught that I had nothing to give. There were problems with the kids. Of course there were problems! The kids had gone through a lot. A LOT.
After moving back to Maine I realized I would have to go to work. I had no training beyond high school, so I applied for government help. They put me through some job-training courses and then opened the way for me to take an eight-month college-level computer technology course.
When I got the phone call from CETA, I argued with them. I had no idea what a computer was and was not interested, to say the least. Bob was into electronics and I knew that I had absolutely no intention of getting into anything remotely connected to electronics. “Sorry,” they told me, “this is the only opening we have. Take it or leave it. Oh and another thing, if you decide to take it, you’ll have to be tested and you’ll be competing with 30 people for a seat in the 16-student class.”
I was just overwhelmed. Hadn’t I gone through enough already?
At the time I was attending another home fellowship group, so I ran to them begging them to pray with me that God open another door, because no way was I interested in studying computers. They did pray with me, but CETA did not open any other door. My mother talked to me about it and told me to at least give it a chance. I didn’t want to. The very thought of it made me sick inside. “Electronics? Are you kidding me?” “You don’t know that it’s electronics,” she said, “neither of us has any idea what a computer is. Just take it, it’s the only door open, you have no choice.”
So the Lord dragged me, kicking and screaming all the way to that college. You could easily have seen the scrape marks from my shoes as he grabbed me by the shoulders and dragged me there. I refused to study, to brush up for the test I had to take, hoping I’d not come in in the top 16 and then it wouldn’t be my fault, would it?
I took the test and of course …good news? …I passed. Oh nooooooo.
Little did I know …not only was I going to love it, but from that time on, every job I would ever have was going to be on a computer. It became my life. I got one at home and when I wasn’t working on a computer at school, I was doing it at home. It changed my whole life. When the course finished, I instantly got a job I loved and thought things had finally turned around for the good.
There were still troubles ahead. Bob had set things up so that I could lose the house when the kids left at age 18. It was quite by accident that I found this out. I searched the Lord’s will and he directed me to fight it. I did. And I won. But it was the most horrendous battle I’d ever experienced in my life. And it took its toll on me.
One day I was sitting at my computer at work, and suddenly I felt weak. I asked the girl I worked with to get me a candy bar from the machine. She did. I felt weaker, and so dizzy, so I asked her to get me some water, and she did. Then I collapsed. There was a man in the company who was also an Emergency Medical Technician, so my boss called him in. He took my vitals and loaded me into his car and headed for the hospital. On the way, he judged that I might not make it to the hospital so he stopped at the fire station and they put me into an ambulance, then sped me off to the hospital. And thus began another sojourn down through another hell. My name must really be known by now in hell.
I remember the physician’s assistant in the emergency room calling the doctor and telling him he had to get here immediately because my heart was failing. I don’t know what the doctor said to him, but the PA yelled at him loudly, “Get here fast! NOW! I’m losing her!”
They did all kinds of tests, but nothing revealed what was happening. So they admitted me into the hospital. I was to spend the next six weeks there. I continued to have these attacks, and they just couldn’t find out why. One evening, my father came to visit and he brought my youngest daughter with him. While we were pleasantly chatting, I went into one of those attacks. They had me hooked up to monitors in the nurses’s station, and a nurse came running. She told my father and daughter, “I’m sorry but you’ll have to leave.” I will never, ever, as long as I live, forget the look on my young daughter’s face. Absolute terror. It just broke my heart. My little girl…
During my stay, one of the doctors asked me if I had a will. I said no, of course I don’t have a will, I’m 37 years old, of course I don’t have a will. “You’d better make one,” he said. Then he asked me an odd question. “Have you ever had a heart attack before?” “No, never,” I answered, “why?” “Because,” he continued, “there’s a scar on your heart.” …I could have told him that!
Funny, I had a peace I couldn’t explain. For a long time now, I had had no fear of death. I don’t know if it was God’s peace, or if it was just that I was in such a fog that I didn’t realize what was happening. But there was no fear.
Finally, the doctors had done every scan known to man and could not find out why these attacks were happening. With every attack my whole body was affected and it appeared as though I was going to die, but they could not find what was causing them. Then my primary care doctor said he wanted me to go to the psyche ward for testing. I absolutely refused. I am NOT mentally ill, and I will not subject my mind to the “New Age” stuff that those doctors peddle! The doctor argued with me, and walked out dismayed. The next morning when I woke up, the Lord Jesus was there next to the window. “I want you to go there,” he said. I was so shocked I couldn’t answer. Finally, I said, “YouWANTme to subject myself to that???”
So when the doctor came in again later, I told him I would go to the psyche ward. And off I went. It was as awful as I expected. All the New Age stuff about self esteem and pride and all that garbage. They put me through a battery of tests of every kind, and my mother was there when the top psychiatrist in charge finally came in to give me the diagnosis. “You have no mental illness,” he said, “so we cannot shed any light on why you keep having these attacks. We have to put you in a category we call ‘Atypical,’ meaning we have no answers but we have to come up with something for the records.”
There in my hospital room, I wrote a letter to the author of a book I had read on people who need deliverance from demonic spirits. I told him I’d beg, borrow, or steal to get to Texas where he was if they would receive me and help me. He wrote back that he had trained a man on the east coast, near Boston, and suggested I contact him. I did. They told me to come. So my mother and I drove to the Boston suburbs and we were received by this minister and his assistant.
Hours. Hours. More hours. Nothing. No success. My only hope. Nothing. Gone. We were going to return the next day for one more try. That would prove to be once again, nothing.
That night my mother and I went to the mall because she wanted to get a book to read. While she was looking for a book, — this was SO God — I felt myself being taken over to a section and made to pick up a specific book, and in that book I saw the story of a woman who had the EXACT same symptoms I was having. I mean ….EXACT! Your body goes cold. Your intestines demand to be emptied. Your vision blurs. Your heart goes into arhythmia, and you have an INTENSE sensation that you’re dying. I could not believe it!!!!
I went home and made an appointment with that psychiatrist. I had bought two copies of that book, one for me and one for him. I went into his office and threw that book down loudly onto his desk and yelled, “THIS is what’s happening to me!!!” He picked up the book and remarked that he had heard of this doctor and agreed, this was nothing more or less than acute panic attacks. Life-threatening panic attacks. Real panic attacks that cause all kinds of disasters in your body while they are happening, and can take your life. He ordered a test to “prove” that I had had sufficient trauma to actually change my biochemistry, and perhaps that would show it to be true. Of course the test came back positive. My biochemistry had been damaged by too much trauma. He prescribed medication for it and the attacks stopped immediately. Had I not gone the whole route when the doctor wanted me to go to the psyche ward, I would never have found out that I do NOT have ANY mental illness, but I do have a trauma-induced biochemical disorder that can be treated with the right medication.
As I went home and thought this whole thing over, a memory came to mind. During the first week of my hospital stay, they had assigned a male nurse to stay with me because they didn’t know if I was going to survive the next attacks. As an attack came on, I described to him exactly what was happening, and I asked him, “have you ever seen anything like this in your career?” “Yes, ma’am,” he said. “On the fields of Vietnam.”
Well, at least I didn’t come home in a body bag.
I was ok now. Taking medication that actually made me well. And I had some with me at all times, in case an attack were to come on, and in such a case I was to put one under my tongue. It would stop it almost instantly.
The job at hand now was to finish raising my children. I went back to work, but only on a part-time basis because that was all I could handle. My son was very much affected by all that he had gone through with his parents, he was a teenager now and he started getting into all kinds of trouble. I tried talking with him, but there was no getting through. The poor kid had no stability, no sense of safety, and the “wrong crowd” was wooing him. Finally, after telling him that he would have to go live with his father if this didn’t change, I finally had to send him there.
I had tried hard to avoid this, but it had gotten to the point where he was involving his next-younger sister and I just had to step in. One night I awakened to a noise that wasn’t familiar. So I got up and went to check on the cats whom I thought must be into something. But they were both asleep. So I went to check on the kids, and my son and his younger sister were gone. So I went into the livingroom, all lights off, and waited. Finally, I heard them sneaking back into the house ever so quietly, and I YELLED, “You don’t have to be so quiet!!!” Well that sure shook them up. And that was the last straw. I hawled them into the livingroom, sat them down, and told my son this is the end of it. It was bad enough, what he was doing, but when he involves the other kids, it has to stop. The next day I contacted his father and asked him to take our son, and he agreed to it. I’ll never forget the day I put him on that bus. My heart was breaking into a million pieces.
Things weren’t any better with the younger children after my son left, how could they be? They had a father who traded his family in for a woman like himself, and a mother who was cracking at the seams trying to deal with everything, OF COURSE the kids were in trouble. They were living in the same kind of devastation that I was. So they did what most teenagers do, and especially hurting, damaged, teenagers, they “did their own thing,” with the wisdom, or lack thereof, of children who don’t realize what they’re doing.
My middle daughter was particularly hurt by all that had happened. She seemed the closest one to Bob, in much the same way I had craved the love of my own father. One day while I was praying, these words came into my mind:
“The glory of children is their father.”
I wondered if that might be a Scripture because if it was, I knew what the Lord was saying to me. So I looked it up and sure enough, it IS a Scripture, Proverbs 17:6. I thought on that one long and hard, because obviously the Lord was bringing me this word so I’d respect that need in my daughter. That would mean that I was not to speak negatively about Bob anymore, especially to my children. There was a lot of water already under the bridge because they had witnessed all that happened, but from then on I kept that Scripture in my heart and tried to the best of my ability to respect that need in their hearts.
Eventually that need won out. They decided they didn’t want me in their lives anymore, and clung instead to him. He convinced them I’m a tongues-talking, demon believing, religious fanatic. How do you fight that? You don’t. I’ve come to peace about my children, trusting the several times the Lord has assured me of their salvation. In his mercy, the Lord did leave me one of them, my firstborn, Sherry. She had the “born-again” experience at the age of 9, so she and I are on the same page and she has remained more faithful to me than I could ever have wished. She is one of the most Spirit-filled Godly women I have ever known, and there’s no way I could ever thank God enough for this gift of his love. Sherry is a mystery to me. She is FILLED with love.
I don’t name my other children because that would be unfair to them. They are not in any way in my life, there is no contact between us whatsoever, and it would not be fair to them to name them in my story. They will probably never read this, but I will give them that respect.
They finally left, one by one one graduating high school, and the very end of that period was the most difficult of it all. My youngest daughter, a tender-hearted but hurting little girl got involved with the wrong crowd and we had all kinds of hell to get through it. One day I was particularly overwhelmed and I yelled at her “Just get out of here.” She thought I meant “move out,” and she ran to a friend’s house where she stayed for quite awhile. I was so upset over this that I thought I might just not survive anymore stress. If the Lord hadn’t warned me sternly years ago not to ever go near alcohol again, I definitely would have drunk myself to sleep that day. But I had enough sense not to, as the Lord had severely warned me. So instead I took a double dose of my medication in order to force myself to sleep because I just could not stand another hour in this world. I just wanted to sleep. The double dose did not put me to sleep as it should have, so I took another double dose, -anything to just escape this horror and sleep. I don’t know how many of those pills I took, and no I was NOT trying to kill myself, God forbid, but apparently I took too much and when I woke up there was my pastor and my daughter and my best friend in my bedroom. Imagine my shock! One of them had come into the house and found me, and couldn’t rouse me, so she called the pastor. They determined to wait and see if they could bring me around because otherwise it would have to be the hospital and we just didn’t need that after all we’d been through. But that’s how bad life had gotten.
Then one day, this same girlfriend asked me to join her at a prayer meeting at a place I had never been to before. So I went. I was in such a state of depression that I couldn’t even raise my head. I just sat there, head down, and listened. Then one of the ladies in the leadership of the group came over to me and said, “The Lord is saying something to me about a move. Are you planning a move?” I looked up into her clear blue eyes, having no idea what she was talking about. I said, “there’s only one place I would LIKE to go to if I’m going anywhere. Jerusalem. Is that what the Lord is saying?” She said she didn’t know, only that there is going to be a move.
Love for Israel and Bible prophecy was born in me almost immediately after I was born again. It occupied my heart as nothing I had ever known before. I hoped that someday I might be able to see God’s land and his people.
Early in my walk with the Lord, I heard inside me one day, “Start learning Hebrew.” To say I was surprised is an understatement. In the city I live in, there aren’t enough Jews to even hold a “minyan” (the required number of 10 in order to hold a service), so why on earth should I take on this humongous task of learning a foreign language?
But the urge didn’t stop. Almost daily I felt a strong push to start learning Hebrew. Then one day there was an ad in the newspaper saying that the local Rabbi was going to be giving beginner’s Hebrew classes at the synagogue. What a coincidence? Well …I went. And I learned beginner’s Hebrew, and I can tell you it was the beginning of beginner’s almost ready for the beginning of beginner’s Hebrew. Did I mention “beginners?”
Wow. What a hard language to learn. It’s not like what is called the “romance languages,” which all have their base in latin and have many very similar words. There is nothing in the world of Hebrew with which to compare it. He is “hoo” and she is “hee,” and on and on like that. But …I must say I did enjoy it. Then I got some Hebrew songs and began listening to them to get familiar with what the language sounded like. And I picked up a couple books that were a tremendous help, and made charts, all kinds of charts. This was going to be a very long process but I didn’t care, because it gave me something to put my mind on rather than on my problems. I spent a huge amount of time with this, and someday …it would pay off.
One day my pastor announced that he was taking a group to Israel, and anyone interested should sign up. There was no way I could go, I was a single mother, working, and could never have afforded it. I ached inside as I watched people sign up and prepare to go on that tour to Israel.
Then shortly before they were due to leave, two of the people in the group became sick and told the pastor to give their tickets to anyone he wanted to. I bit my tongue as I waited to see what he would do; after all, everyone knew that I was all about Israel and Bible prophecy and I was sure he’d give me one of those tickets. But I was passed over. So I went into one of my rants before the Lord and said to him, “Everyone in that church knows that I’m all about Israel and Bible prophecy and should have had one of those tickets, and you certainly could have arranged it! I can’t believe you didn’t! To the other people in the group, it was to be just a fun trip, they could have been going anywhere. To me it would have meant everything. I can’t believe YOU passed me over!”
The next day I was driving home and I can tell you exactly where I was, I was going over the railroad tracks, when the Lord spoke to me. He said, “You didn’t ask me for two weeks in Israel.” Stunned, I remembered that I had told him long ago that I wanted to go and STAY in Israel, like for a couple years. What does the Lord mean? Could it be ….??? I was dumbfounded.
It was November. I was sitting at my desk one day when the Lord said to me, “You have one year to prepare.” Don’t you just love it when the Lord drops something into your heart like that and you have absolutely no idea what he’s talking about??? I asked what he meant by that, and got no answer. So I began turning that over and over in my mind wondering what on earth I was to prepare FOR. Finally, I concluded that maybe the Lord is going to take me home and he’s giving me a year to get everything in order so my family won’t have to afterwards. So I started doing exactly that. Cleaning drawers and closets, giving away a lot of things, throwing out a lot of “stuff.” Gradually over that year I got everything in order so that if the Lord took me, my family wouldn’t have much to do to sort things out.
Exactly one year later, the very following November, my sister called from California telling me she was sending me tickets to fly out there and spend a couple weeks with her. What a surprise! I got excited and couldn’t wait to go. Before leaving, I received an unexpected check, I can’t even remember now from where, and so I asked the Lord where he would have me send the tithe. He answered, “to the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.” I wasn’t very familiar with that organization, but I had seen it’s founder, Jan Willem van der Hoeven on tv recently so I knew the organization the Lord was speaking of. I mailed the tithe. And went to California. My daughter was still home, attending a university nearby and coming home weekends, but I knew she’d be ok alone for two weeks.
In California, my sister took me to a Messianic prayer group. I guess I must have spoken about Israel, (could I talk about anything other than Israel?) and one lady looked at me and said, “Looks like you’re supposed to BE in Israel.” I answered her that, number one, I didn’t have the money to go, and number two I couldn’t go anyway because I still had a daughter at home. And I thought no more about it.
A day or two later, my sister and I were sitting at her dining table when the phone rang. It was my daughter. She was hysterical. Her boyfriend had broken up with her and she needed to leave because she saw him everywhere and she thought she’d lose her mind if she didn’t get away. She asked if she could go live with her father who lived in another state. My heart was aching for my daughter and I told her that yes, if she felt that’s what she needed to do, of course she could go. We talked and we cried and we talked some more and cried some more. When we finally got off the phone, my sister who had been sitting there and saw all this said to me …”Well that’s one obstacle down, isn’t it?” I just looked at her, I didn’t “get it” at first. Huh??? “You know,” she said, “you had two reasons you couldn’t go to Israel, and now one has been taken care of for you.” I just stared at her, astonished. But oh well, on second thought …the other obstacle was just as big. If you don’t have the money to go, it’s impossible. Not only that, but I don’t know anyone in Israel, so where would I go?
Well the visit with my sister was over and I flew back home. The next Sunday morning I went to church as usual. After the service, the church secretary came to me and asked me to come into the office. We went in and she shut the door. She told me I’d better sit down. What on earth??? So I sat down. She took an envelope off the desk and handed it to me. She said, “Someone who insists on remaining anonymous came to me and gave me this check for you. The stipulation is that it can only be used to go to Israel.”
I felt like I had been hit by lightning. I couldn’t move. And the tears started flowing. I was just in total shock. Numb, but with tears I couldn’t stop. My God had done it again!
You know, all the people I knew, they all knew I still had a daughter at home, so this would not be the time to send me to Israel. So who could have given me this check? I never found out.
I went home, and when I got to my bedroom and my mind began to clear, I remembered what my sister had said, “well that’s one obstacle that’s been taken care of for you.” And now …the second obstacle had been taken care of, all at once, just within days!!! My head was spinning. I could hardly take it all in.
The next day, I went to the Lord and asked how can this take place? I don’t know anyone in Israel. Where would I go?
It was several weeks later now and my friend Lori told me that Jan Willem van der Hoeven from the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem was coming to Maine to speak, and did I want to go down with her to Scarborough to hear him? “Sure, I said. Love to.” This was odd. It was winter here, and you don’t go to Maine in the wintertime. I wonder why he’s here now? Doesn’t make sense.
We were going with a few other friends and one of them said to me, “bring him your resume.” I answered, “huh???” “Yes, bring him your resume!” I said, “I don’t even know him, I’ve only seen him once on tv, and he certainly doesn’t know me.” She continued, “You HAVE to bring him your resume!” “Ok, ok, I’ll bring it,” I said, “but I probably won’t get to talk to him anyway, there will be a lot of people there all crowding around him.” Do you ever look back on your life and wonder at how come you didn’t get it? I truly didn’t get it at this point.
So we went to Scarborough and I asked if I could have five minutes of his time. I sat down next to him and told him, “I know I’m going to Israel, I don’t know when or how, but the Lord has moved in my life to show me that I will be going.” Jan Willem asked me a whole host of questions. He wasn’t even interested in my resume, he wanted to know how I know this, what exactly did the Lord say, how did my family feel about it, and many, many, many questions. Then he put the resume in his pocket and told me he’d give it to the administrator when he got back to Jerusalem. I went back to the girls who were waiting to hear what he said, and all I could say was, “he didn’t say no!!!” I was -once again – shocked. Yet …I still didn’t get it. How could I believe something so fantastic as this?
Time went by, he was travelling so I knew it would be awhile if and when I’d hear from the Christian Embassy. In the meantime, I began to “get it.” Big time. I started to see this story from the beginning and realize this was God, my God who created this whole story from beginning to end, from the day I crossed those railroad tracks and he said to me, “because you didn’t ask me for two weeks in Israel.” My dream was going to come true.
But my friends began to worry because they saw I was convinced now that this was God and that I’d be going to Israel. They started telling me what a long shot this is, he might even lose your resume because he’s on a speaking tour across America, he’s busy and the last thing he’s going to be thinking about is you. Don’t get your hopes up like this because if he doesn’t call, the let-down will be enormous. We’re worried about you.
One night after a session like that with my friends, I went to the Lord and said, “You know Lord, my friends aren’t trying to destroy my faith, they’re just worried about me putting so much faith in this, afraid I’m headed for a fall if this doesn’t happen. I forgive them that. But Lord, it gets to me when I hear this over and over again, how I’m heading for a downfall. Would you please give me one sign, some kind of assurance that this truly is you, because I’m the only one believing it is. What if I’m wrong? Then I went to bed.
The next thing I knew, the phone was ringing. It was 5:30 in the morning. Groggily I answered. The voice on the phone said, “Paula, this is Jim from the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem. I have your resume here. How soon can you come? And can you give us a two-year commitment?”
Have you ever felt like you’ve been put into one of those cannons and shot up into the sky? It was surreal. I felt like I was soaring in the heavens. Was this really happening???
I had a lot to do, I had to find a way to store all my furniture, there’s just a million things you have to do before making a total change of your life. I couldn’t sell everything because I would need it all when I came back two years from now. But how…? Well …the Lord had anticipated that too. Tears come as I remember this. Actually tears come as I write every part of this story.
One Sunday morning for some reason I wasn’t in church, but my friend Lori was. After the service a woman came up to her and introduced herself because she saw Lori’s Star-of-David around her neck, and this woman was an Israel-lover. This woman and her husband had just moved into town and they were looking for a church. As it would turn out, they didn’t like our church and would never come back, this was the one and only time they’d be there. In the course of the conversation, Lori told her about her friend Paula who was preparing to go to Jerusalem but there was a huge problem, what to do with all her furnishings. This woman told Lori that they had just bought a huge house with many, many bedrooms, actually a historic house, and would be happy to store my things for the two years I’d be gone…!!! When I think of it …if Lori hadn’t been wearing her Star-of-David, if the woman hadn’t seen Lori, and if this meeting had not taken place on this one and only Sunday they would be in our church, it never would have happened. It still boggles my mind when I think of it.
So, I went to work at the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. They provide lodging and the big meal of the day, and even give you spending money. I shared an apartment with another American woman, and it was a beautiful apartment. And that’s another thing. I didn’t know about the new city Jerusalem, I had thought I’d be in the Old City where the lodgings are very spartan and unattractive, holes in the wall pretty much. I was picked up at the airport at night, so I had no idea of the surroundings until the next morning. I remember opening the “trissim,” (the blinds) and stood there absolutely speechless. I looked out the window to see a modern, beautiful city, all white, all the trees were in bursting bloom, the air was charged with beauty, and I could hardly believe what I was seeing. I actually wondered if I had died and was in heaven. It was just overwhelmingly beautiful. I just stood there. I couldn’t move. It was too beautiful. So unexpected! Beyond unexpected! I was transfixed. I felt the presence of the Lord, as though he was standing next to me with his arm around me. A memory etched in my heart, forever.
The woman I shared this apartment with had left directions to the Christian Embassy, a five-minute walk, and I went at lunchtime and was warmly received. The atmosphere there was like nothing I had ever felt before. The people were happy. Laughing. Teasing. Having a wonderful time. I knew I was going to love it here. There was no mention of a person’s denomination, all were united in only one thing, love for Israel. That was the bond that connected us all. A wonderful, deep, heartfelt love for Israel.
I was assigned as secretary to Jim. He was very kind and I did whatever he told me to. The job, though, was not a fit for me, yet I tried to do it well. I didn’t care. As long as I was here in Israel, I didn’t care about anything else.
After three days Jim called me into his office. I sat down and he said, “You’re not really happy in this job, are you?” I could not imagine how on earth he knew, because I did everything he asked of me and did it cheerfully. I told him, “Jim, this is such a miracle -my being here, and I told the Lord I was so thankful that I would not complain about ANYTHING.” Then he said to me words I would never, ever forget. He said, “Paula, I’m not only your boss, I’m your brother.” I can’t tell you how that pierced my heart, love that I wasn’t used to, a warmth I was unfamiliar with.
He continued, “I read your resume and I think you’d be happier behind a computer?” And my eyes lit up like lightbulbs. “You have computers here???” He took me upstairs and sat me down in front of a computer and told the girls, “train her.” A couple hours later he came back to check on me. I didn’t see him because I had my back to him. Finally when I heard him speak, I turned around and he was grinning from ear to ear. “I guess that sure was the right move!” he said.
But Jim had more to tell me. He said that when Jan Willem came back from his tour across America, he was supposed to give my resume to Johann, the administrator. But Johann was out sick. So …he gave it to Jim. Jim read my resume and saw that I was basically a computer person, but Johann needed an administrative secretary and that wasn’t me. But the Lord spoke to Jim and directed him to call me. “I knew for certain inside that I was to call you,” he said. But see, he said, Johann wouldn’t have. If Johann hadn’t been out sick, he would have reviewed my resume and would have realized I couldn’t do admin, and he would not have called me. So the Lord stepped in, removed Johann that week, and spoke to Jim’s heart. Every single obstacle throughout this story was removed. When it’s God, it’s going to work. No matter what obstacles seem to be preventing it.
This is my God. And this is his story, what he’ll do for anyone who will surrender their lives to him. When you’re born again, he makes all things new and he knows exactly the deep desires of the heart and will move mountains to bring those desires to fruition. After all, he put those desires there!
“But may the God of all grace, who called us
to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus,
AFTER YOU HAVE SUFFERED A WHILE,
perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”
1 Peter 5:10
I had asked the Lord for two years in Israel. He gave me six!
Hovovei Tzion, Jerusalem
I had turned him down twice, and here he was again asking me to go for coffee with him. So I decided this time I’d go and explain to him why I was turning him down. He didn’t speak English, so it was truly an effort to try to make him understand what I was saying. My Hebrew wasn’t that good at this point.
“I’m a Christian, you’re a Jew,” I said. “It wouldn’t be right for either of us.”
“Don’t get me wrong,” he said. “I’m not looking for a wife, not even a girlfriend. My wife died 5 months ago and I can’t seem to get out of this depression. I am just so alone. I asked God for a friend, man or woman, just a friend, anyone, someone to be with over a cup of coffee.”
Funny, I had asked God for the same. At the Christian Embassy in Jerusalem where I worked, maybe a third of the people were married, so I couldn’t socialize with them, and most of the rest were young people doing what young people do. So I didn’t fit in socially. The people at work really were wonderful. I’d never had a job I enjoyed as much as this one. But after work, I was alone and very, very lonely.
“Well this could work,” I said, “if that’s all you want. It would be nice to have someone to go places with. Would you be interested in helping me speak better Hebrew?”
“Absolutely!” he said.
As it turned out, that really WAS a good deal for me. I could only speak the language enough to make myself understood, and THAT with many mistakes. Like some other languages, Hebrew words have masculine and feminine forms, among many other things hard to get used to, and someone with an English background will find it very difficult. So we began meeting at “Arno’s” in downtown Jerusalem every day after work. He would teach and correct my Hebrew, and I would give him companionship. Life was good.
Those of you who aren’t as naive perhaps as me, can probably predict the rest of the story. Yes, we grew close. I began to thoroughly enjoy those meetings every day after work. I came to greatly look forward to them. We couldn’t be seen in public at first, because he wanted to honor his wife’s memory by being discreet. “After the year has passed,” he said, “we can start going out in public.” And so we did. When the year had passed, instead of meeting indoors, we began walking the streets of Jerusalem. I couldn’t remember how long it had been since I was this happy.
One of the things I loved about Simon was that he was a great conversationalist. He was interesting to listen to, and he was truly interested in listening to me. My Hebrew improved daily. Simon couldn’t speak English at all, so I was forced to speak only in Hebrew and that’s truly the best way to learn a language, in fact I couldn’t have learned it any other way. Books and tapes, even Ulpan (Hebrew school) can only bring you so far. Speaking it is the only way to really learn a language.
Simon and I had to stay low key. He still had two sons at home, and they did not want anything to do with me. They had been very close to their mother. On the day of the oldest brother’s wedding, their mother had taken sick. After a period of testing and more testing, the doctors finally concluded that she had an illness common to Jewish people from Morocco, where both she and Simon had been born. The disease destroys the liver, and she eventually had to have a liver transplant. She was sent to a specialized hospital in France, where she stayed a year before she died.
What a sad story that was. She and Simon had started out life from the very bottom. When Simon left Morocco as an adolescent, he was smuggled out, with permission from his father, by the Jewish Agency along with several other boys, and left with only the clothes on his back. He stayed at an orphanage in France until reaching military age, and then was sent to Israel and went into the army. He told me that he remembered being overjoyed that he could now count on having three meals a day. He had known what it was to be hungry.
After he completed his military duty, he entered into an arranged marriage. They bought a small house. It wasn’t anything to write home about, but it was all they could afford at the time. Years later, after working long and hard, they decided to completely redo the inside of the house. His wife oversaw all the details and turned that house into something beautiful. They stayed with relatives while the construction was taking place, and moved back in shortly before their oldest son got married. That very short period was to be the only time she would get to enjoy her new home. On the day of her son’s wedding she took sick. She was sent to France, had the transplant but never recovered and died there a year later. So naturally, when their children found out that their father was seeing someone new, they wanted nothing to do with me. I can only imagine how hard it was for them to think of me in their mother’s kitchen which she had so lovingly designed. I never made any attempt to meet his children, because I thoroughly understood how they felt.
Actually it was good that way. Both Simon and I brought a lot of “baggage” into the story. We were both very intense people, and sometimes, actually many times, that created problems. The “good” was very good, but the “bad” was very bad. I would SO often go to the Lord and stamp my feet and scream, “what on earth are you doing? This man is impossible!” Simon had a very short fuse, and he often lost it and burst out into a raging anger. It felt like I was back with my father once again. When he became angry, he called me every name in the book and my poor damaged soul suffered greatly. WHY, God, WHY would you put a man like this in my life? His angry tirades just about kill me. How can I stand this? Simon never hit me, but his words pierced the very fabric of my already fragmented soul.
But it was obvious to both of us that it was the Lord’s doing from the very beginning. Simon later told me his version of how we began. He said that approaching me three times was extremely humiliating to him. He said that if he ever were turned down by a woman even once, he would NEVER approach her again. “But,” he said, “as I walked up Ben Yehudah Street and saw you standing there with those musicians you came to listen to each day, I actually felt as though there were a hand on my back pushing me in your direction. That happened not once, but three times,” he said, “I actually physically felt as though a hand on my back was nudging me toward you. It had to be God, because my pride would never have allowed me to do that otherwise.”
On my part, I felt a tremendous amount of compassion for someone who had gone through so much in life and was now so alone. His life had been very traumatic. At the age of 4, he came home one day to find his mother had died suddenly. That nearly destroyed him.
Never did I intend our friendship to become more than one friend comforting another. Simon was 13 years older than me, and not attractive to me. But as time went on I began to see the hand of the Lord in it over and over again, much to my amazement because we were not of the same faith. Several times I tried to end it because of his angry outbursts, but the ways the Lord would bring us back together were absolutely dumbfounding. I deeply feared being “unequally yoked.” So I went back to the US after fulfilling my two-year commitment to the Christian Embassy, and those few months I stayed in the US were some of the most painful and frustrating months I had experienced in a long, long time. I hated my job in Portland. I hated where I lived. I was miserable. I realized I shouldn’t have left Israel. I prayed and prayed about this, feeling I should go back, but I was confused – I couldn’t understand why the Lord would want me with a man who didn’t share my faith.
Finally – I put what some Christians call “a fleece” before the Lord. This is something I do not advise anyone to do except in the extremest of cases. It’s one thing to need to know for sure in the case of a major life decision, but quite another to “test the Lord,” which the Bible makes clear we are NOT to do. The “fleece” goes back to the Biblical story of Gideon. Gideon could hardly believe that what God was telling him to do was really God saying it, so he suggested to the Lord some impossible thing and said that if this impossible thing would happen, he’d know it was God. In this story God did cause the impossible thing to happen so Gideon would know without a doubt that it was God speaking to him. In like manner, I suggested to the Lord that if He, God, would cause Simon to call me in the middle of the night Israel time, then I would know God wanted me back in Israel to complete the story HE, God, had begun with Simon, because calling me from Israel, in the middle of the night, was the most impossible thing I could think of to put before the Lord as “a fleece.” Simon would just never do that!
Well …shortly afterwards I was speaking on the phone with a friend. It was about 8:00 in the evening which would be 3:00 A.M. Israel time – the middle of the night there — and there was a beep on the line. I switched over to see who it was. I was speechless. I could hardly believe it. I am not kidding! It was Simon!!! This was truly impossible. Simon would never, EVER call me, an overseas call …in the middle of the night? I answered the phone, “Simon???” “Yes,” he said, “I don’t know why I’m calling you.”
So, after a few more clear confirmations that I was doing the right thing, I went back to Israel. I noticed, too, that the date I returned to Israel turned out to be the same date, March 27, (March 27!!!) that I had gone the first time. This in no way was planned by me that way. It just worked out to be the very same date, TWICE! March 27. It was also Simon’s birthday.
Before deciding to return to Israel, I had asked the Lord if there was any way He could put my life back exactly as it had been before, as though I had never left. I had been in the US ten months by now, and that seemed like a pretty unlikely request. But the Lord is so faithful. He’ll never let one of his children make huge decisions like this without being very, very clear that they’re doing the right thing. One way He showed me that, was that not only did I return to the Christian Embassy, but I was housed in the very same apartment I had had before, and slept in the very same bed. The Embassy has more than 25 apartments, so this would have been almost impossible to happen outside of the direct action of the Lord. But that’s not all — at work I found myself at the very same desk I had left. Only God could do that. It just blew me away that after leaving for almost a year, and having someone else take over my job, I was able now to return to it exactly as it had been.
By this time, Simon’s sons had left home. One married, and the other went into the military. But there was still another problem in the family. Simon’s other family members still didn’t accept me because I wasn’t Jewish. Simon asked me to convert because he wanted his family to accept me. He wanted me to study Judaism at B’nai Brit, an English-speaking pre-conversion course conducted by three orthodox Rabbis. I did this gladly for him, because the point was to make me more acceptable to his family and friends, not including his sons, of course. BUT, I told him, if they ask me “the” question – whether I believe in Yeshua, — I will never deny him, just know that before I begin.
The way this course worked, you attended class twice a week and every so often you had to go before the “Bet Din,” the court, where you were questioned to see if you would be allowed to continue the course. As the story usually goes, at some point they’ll be satisfied that you’re sufficiently knowledgeable in, and practicing Judaism, and they declare you fit for the conversion. It was a pretty daunting task and thoroughly frightening. As I entered that courtroom the first time, I almost turned around and fled. There was this large panel high up, with three orthodox Rabbi judges seated before it, each with the dreadlocks, the long beard, and dressed all in black. I actually was shaking as they questioned me. And it had to be done in Hebrew! I had to go before the Bet Din several times over the next year. “That question?” They never asked.
From the very beginning of this story, I told the Lord that if HE had any intentions of bringing Simon to the knowledge of Jesus, HE would have to do it alone because I vowed never to do to Simon – or to anyone else, for that matter — what I had done to Bob. In the case with Bob I had been married for nine years before I entered into the “born again” relationship with God. Having experienced God in a most remarkable way, I SO wanted my husband to know him that way too. So I barraged him with books to read and tapes to listen to, and dragged him to this meeting and that conference, so desperate was I to share this new life with him, not realizing that my very efforts were having the opposite effect upon him. Later when I came to understand that, I decided I would never do that to another human being. Not only does it NOT WORK, but oftentimes it will turn the person AGAINST the Lord. Having seen this so clearly, I told the Lord that I didn’t know his plans concerning Simon, but that I would not do to him what I did to Bob. “He’s all yours, Lord, but you’ll have to bring him to yourself alone, if that’s what you intend.”
Simon loved to listen to my stories. He asked me about Jesus, “Yeshua” in Hebrew, and all I did was tell him the stories of how the Lord answered my prayers and did wonderful things in my life. He wanted to hear them again and again. I could see that Simon loved the Lord. I didn’t “teach” him doctrine, all I did was tell him the stories. He told me stories too, of the Lord’s guidance and provision in his own life. He didn’t “know” Him intimately and personally as one does when they become “born again,” but he knew that God had guided his life and always made provision for him.
One day Simon had a problem. His son had finished his army duty and now wanted to go to college. How to pay for his son’s college education? Simon didn’t have enough money to finance it. Would I pray, he wanted to know? He had heard so many of my stories of answered prayer, that it suddenly had occurred to him to ask me to ask Yeshua (Jesus) to make a way for him to send his son to college. “Of course I’ll pray,” I told him.
Not long after, a man approached Simon and told him that a relative of Simon’s wife had willed his apartment to Simon because he had done some good deed to him a long time ago…!?! Simon was stunned. He just sat there trying to take this information in. All of a sudden he’s the owner of an apartment someone just happened to leave him??? He couldn’t believe it! He just sat there stunned. I did too!
Upon looking into it further, he found there were complications to the story, there was someone else who should have inherited the place. What to do? Simon asked me if I would mind asking “Yeshua” just one more thing, to show him what to do. I did, and of course the Lord came through and Simon ended up being the recipient of that property, which he rented out and thus had a way to pay his son’s college education. This blew his mind. All the way from not knowing about the apartment, to finding out about it in a most unusual way, shortly after asking for prayer that a way be made, and then to receive it over the objection of someone else, thus making the ONLY way available to him to pay for his son’s schooling. He knew beyond any shadow of a doubt, that “Yeshua” had answered his unlikely prayer.
Simon began telling his friends about how the Lord answered my prayers, and in the most remarkable ways! He told this to his sister, who had been kind, but not welcoming toward me, because I wasn’t Jewish. But Simon’s stories of how the Lord answered my prayers intrigued her, so she spoke to another sister and the two sisters cooked up a plot to test me. His sister who lived in Haifa invited us to spend the weekend with them.
Now this sister, Janet, was very welcoming towards me because she saw her brother happier than she had ever known him. Janet had a daughter whose husband was studying to be a Rabbi. They asked if I’d like to meet this daughter as well as two other daughters who lived nearby. So we went to the house of the budding Rabbi.
After the initial pleasantries, we settled into the livingroom and in comes the Rabbi-to-be, quite intimidating to someone not used to being in the same room with such a one, complete with dreadlocks, long beard, and all dressed in black. He sat down and made some small talk very briefly, and then he asked me to tell them all why I came to Israel.
Well it just so happened that that entire story was an amazing story of God’s dealing with a daughter in a very, very sovereign way leaving no question whatsoever that this was an act of God. So I told the story, all in my not-so-good Hebrew -because they also didn’t speak English. The Rabbi just sat there and listened intently. Afterwards, Simon said to me, “Now tell them the story of…..” and then he asked for another and another of my stories, and the whole family sat there in rapt attention as I told one story after another among the many that Simon had heard from me. Little did I realize that this was a setup, from which I’d be judged according to the pronouncement of the Rabbi.
After telling the last story, everyone’s eyes turned to the Rabbi, and suddenly I realized what was going on, and that this man was going to tell them what he thought of this Christian woman who had come into Simon’s life claiming to have a relationship with God. It’s a good thing I didn’t realize until now what was going on, because had I known I was “on trial” I would have been too nervous to tell these stories. But anyway, the moment had come and everyone awaited the Rabbi’s judgment.
He looked me right in the eye and said, “It’s obvious to me ………that the Shekinah (glory of God) has been upon you.”
When I look back at that moment, I can hardly believe it happened. They were impressed by my stories of God’s guidance and provision, but I was impressed, no – I was shocked — that an orthodox Rabbi-in-the-making would ever pronounce with his lips such an observation about someone first of all not Jewish, and second of all a Christian. The Jewish people have been persecuted for centuries by so-called Christians — and all many of them knew was that we thought of them as Christ-killers. So how God brought this about makes me shake my head in wonder to this day.
But there was a greater story taking place here. Little did I know it at the time, but this was only one part of God’s moving upon Simon’s heart. This was just a part, a necessary element in the story that would lead him to discover his Messiah.
Shortly after that, Simon met another friend of mine, Paul whom I had known in America. Paul was a Messianic pastor with a small congregation in Jerusalem, and Simon liked Paul. One day we visited Paul and his wife at their apartment just off Ben Yehudah Street, and Paul gave Simon a video. It was the life of Jesus — in Hebrew!!! All the actors were Israeli, and all the scenes were the actual places where each scene had taken place. I sat with Simon one afternoon and we watched it together. Simon was blown away. “He was one of us!” he blurted out, “look, he even wears a talit!” Simon, along with most Israelis, knew absolutely nothing about Jesus. The only thing I ever heard from his friends was, “you think we’re Christ killers, don’t you?” That’s all they had EVER heard about Jesus. And most of them had never met a Christian in their lives.
A few months later, a friend of mine from the Christian Embassy came to visit at my apartment. Simon liked Glen because Glen could speak some Hebrew and loved to try it out on Simon. After a short while, Glen asked Simon, “do you have a Bible?” Well I had a Hebrew Bible so I got up and brought it to Glen, and Glen turned to Isaiah 53, which is a chapter in Isaiah that is omitted during the Jewish yearly scheduled readings. It’s all about the Messiah.
Glen is an evangelist at heart, fully equipped by God to perform his role impeccably. I’d seen him in operation time and time again and was really awed at the way he reached people. But my heart sank when I saw what he was going to do, because I had never come onto Simon hot and heavy with doctrine, and I knew Simon was going to resent this. Simon had told me back in the beginning that he was born a Jew and he would die a Jew, and I had reassured him that I was 100% in agreement with that, and that was the truth. I never played games with him about this, I left him totally in the Lord’s hands.
Glen opened up to the 53rd chapter of Isaiah and read it to him phrase by phrase, very slowly, deliberately, asking him if there was anyone else who could have fulfilled this prophecy. Simon just sat there silently. Glen got up after awhile to go to the rest room, and Simon turned and glared at me, and I immediately said, “I did NOT put him up to this, Simon, I had NO idea he was going to do this.” Simon believed me because he knew from the beginning that I always speak the truth. Glen returned, finished up the chapter, and then left, much to my relief. I was in no way expecting what was going to happen next.
The next morning Glen came into my office at the Christian Embassy. He had just returned from the bank on an errand for the Embassy and he said to me, “Do you know where Simon is right now?” I answered, “at this time of day he would be on his way to the shuk, probably down on Ben Yehudah at this point …???” “Yes, that’s exactly where he is,” Glen said. “He’s down on Ben Yehudah Street telling his friends that Yeshua is ………the MESSIAH!” He’s telling them that he saw it last night in the Bible!!!
I couldn’t answer. I was dumbfounded.
The next installment in the Lord’s story with Simon took place during the Feast of Tabernacles. Each year the Christian Embassy hosts a week-long celebration of the Jewish Feast of Succot, or Tabernacles. Thousands of Christians from all over the world come to Jerusalem for the Feast. I worked in registrations. By the time the celebrations began, I had registered most of them who traveled in tour groups, usually five or six thousand. But during the seminars I had to sit in the lobby to register the many who came only for single sessions. This particular night was the opening session, and the convention center was packed. All seats were filled, and there wasn’t even standing room left. The Prime Minister of Israel always spoke at our opening session.
Suddenly, the Lord spoke to my heart, “I want Simon in there tonight.”
“Wha…..??? Lord, you know I can’t get him in there, there’s not a single place left, not even standing room!”
“I want him in there tonight.”
So I decided to just wait on the Lord, because only HE could make this happen.
Simon had come to wait for me to finish up with registrations that night, and then we’d leave together. I said to him, “would you like to see how many people have come from all over the world to worship God in Jerusalem?” I took him over to a side door and opened it, and there right in front of him was my good friend Nancy from the Christian Embassy, another of my friends that Simon liked. The crowd were singing worship songs to the Lord, and many of them had their arms raised in praise to God. Nancy was standing there, her arms raised in worship, her eyes closed and tears streaming down her face. Simon stopped short, stunned, and just looked at her. Then a man and woman got up from their seats and left, so Simon and I sat down. Simon didn’t understand the speech by the Prime Minister because he spoke in English, but he experienced being in the midst of a people who loved God so much they would come to Israel to worship him with all of their hearts. Simon was very quiet.
Then after we left, he said to me, “Did– you — see …..”
“Yes, I saw her.”
“She had tears pouring down her face.”
“Do you ….I mean, when you pray, …uhh, do you pray like that?”
“With your arms raised and tears?”
“How come I’ve never seen you do that?”
“Because I don’t do it in front of you. I pray in the morning after you’ve left the house.”
Simon didn’t say any more. He had witnessed something he had never seen in all his life – that a person can love the Lord so much that they’d pour out worship to Him as though they were standing right in front of Him, in wholehearted abandon with tears flowing down their faces. I saw that realization penetrate his heart deep down to the very depths of him. God himself had touched his heart that night with an impact that would bring him to the edge of the Kingdom.
One more story was to take place in Simon’s life, and I guess this is the one I appreciate the most. Simon was, and had been for many years, addicted to cigarettes. He had asthma, and cigarette smoking so weakened his lungs that he had frequent very serious asthma attacks. He knew he needed to stop smoking but he just couldn’t do it. One night after an asthma attack, Simon asked me to “ask Yeshua” to help him stop smoking.
“Simon,” I said, “I’ve brought so many of your requests to him, and you’ve seen for yourself how he has answered them. I think it’s time now that you ask him yourself.”
Simon squirmed in the chair, and his face got white.
I said to him, “you have nothing to fear, Simon, hasn’t he only given kindness to you?”
He sat there and thought about it. And then very suddenly he got up, went into the kitchen and stood before the window facing the southern end of the Mount of Olives, he raised his hands as he had seen Nancy do, and he said, “Yeshua, please, I ask you to help me to stop smoking.”
I had no more goosebumps left after I witnessed this.
To make a long story short, several months later his son called and told him he was coming over, he needed to discuss something with him. “Paula’s here, b’ni.” “Well ok, I just need to talk to you.”
So his son came over and I met him for the first time. He was cordial, shook my hand, and went into the livingroom and sat down. I sat down also, but didn’t say a word, very uncomfortable and trying to fade into the background.
After talking for awhile, his son suddenly said, “Dad, where are the ashtrays?”
Simon didn’t answer right away.
“Dad, you’re not smoking???”
“No.” Simon said.
“How long has this been?”
“About a year.”
“A YEAR??? You haven’t smoked in a YEAR!!? How did that happen?!?”
Simon couldn’t tell his son that Yeshua had set him free. One day I was with Simon when he had a near-fatal asthma attack, and as soon as he recovered he “knew” he would never smoke again. “I’ll never smoke again,” he said. And he didn’t. He was free.
His son was spiritually where Simon was back when I had met him. The only thing he could say to his son was, “Paula prayed for me.”
At that, his son slowly turned to me –and said, …”maybe you’d pray for me too?”
And I have prayed for him, for him and his brothers, ever since. And that might have been the reason I was granted the privilege of living in Israel. I’ve prayed to this day for all of his family, and for all the people I met through Simon, whom the Lord brought to my attention for prayer while I was there.
Life was “normal” for awhile, until one day when I met Simon after work only to find him extremely distressed. He asked me if I can interpret dreams. “No,” I said, “Why? Have you had an odd dream?”
“I dreamed,” he said, “that I was trying to get to your home. It was across this highway that had a lot of traffic. When the cars stopped for the light, I tried to climb over them to get across to your home on the other side, but I couldn’t. So then I tried to crawl under them, and I couldn’t. The cars started moving again and I saw there was no way for me to get to the other side, to your home. But then, out of the blue, Yeshua came. He was very tall. He came and went into the traffic and stopped the traffic, parted the way for me, and I went across to the other side, to your home.”
I sat there stunned, the hairs standing up stiffly on my arms, chills going down my back. Of course I understood the dream, but I didn’t tell him that. Little did I realize that someday that dream would mean a lot to me but for now, I could only wonder why the Lord would give him a dream like that.
Simon was several years older than I was. He’d only live a few more years when the Lord would come for him. I had gotten to the point where I just could not bear his rages any more. I had threatened him a million times that I was going to leave and he’d try harder to keep his temper. But he just couldn’t. Rage was locked up inside his traumatized heart.
Finally, I was at Simon’s house on the day of Passover and he was at the synagogue. I was having my prayer time and the Lord spoke to me. He said, “My purpose in bringing you here has been completed.” Shocked, I said “well if you mean I’m to go home, YOU will have to tell Simon that, I can’t. How many times have I threatened it, only to back down?”
Simon came home and I truly don’t remember what it was that set him off, but he erupted into one of his rages. I wondered if this was the Lord. I said to Simon, “If you say that one more time, I’m going to leave, and this time I mean it.” He screamed back at me, “Get out! Go back to America.” I left. I gave the Embassy a month’s notice, and then I went home.
Throughout this next month the Lord went overboard giving me every sign and signal that I was doing the right thing. A funny example, I was walking to work and all of a sudden I heard someone playing a piano. They were playing, “There’s no place like home!” I kid you not! I looked all around and couldn’t tell where the song was coming from, but I heard it just as clear as could be. That was one incident, but there were many, many, I mean many others. It seemed like daily there was something happening that said to me, “This is the right thing. Go home.
I went home. When the high holidays were coming up, the Lord moved upon my heart to send Simon a greeting card. Incredibly, I was able to find one in Hebrew so I sent it to him, along with a personal note wishing God’s greatest blessings on him. He received the card, and sent one to me joyfully wishing God’s best blessings on me. He was clearly happy to receive my card which was my way of saying, “I forgive you.”
A few weeks later, I received a phone call from my boss at the Christian Embassy. He was calling to inform me that Simon had been found dead.
Once again I descended into a shocked grief that wracked my soul. Oh if only I had toughed it out longer, he wouldn’t have died. I was back in the hell of grief again. There was no way I could reconcile the guilt I felt for leaving him.
One morning, I was grieving. I was crying my eyes out. Then suddenly, Simon was standing next to me, I saw him only “in the spirit,” and he said to me, “Paulaaaaaaa!!!!!” …conveying “what on earth are you doing?!” I understood that I should not be crying, I should be rejoicing!
That’s when the Lord brought me back to see the story I hadn’t connected the dots in, the story of God’s wooing a little Jewish man on the other side of the world, the story that brought him to recognize his Messiah and be led by him across the busy highway and on over not only to my home, but to his home now, there to live in the joy of the Lord for all eternity. The Lord, all in one sitting, showed me Glen, and Nancy, and the Rabbi, and the video, all the events that took place which I truly didn’t “get” at the time. When Simon was on Ben Yehudah Street that day telling his friends that he had seen Yeshua in the Bible the night before, he was “confessing with his mouth the Lord Jesus!” Simon was saved. He believed that Jesus is the Messiah. That was the whole point of my going to Israel, the whole point of all the stories I was able to tell him, the whole point that led Simon that day to raise his hands and cry, “Yeshua, please set me free from cigarettes.” I just hadn’t connected the dots. I hadn’t seen what was happening. Simon was saved! He believed in Yeshua enough to pray to him. Now he was with him. At my home, which was now HIS home!
One of the characteristics of God’s dealings with us is that we almost always are not given to understand the story we’re in at the time, but are called to walk it in faith knowing that God brings about blessings beyond our ability to imagine if only we commit our way to him and walk each step in obedience, ESPECIALLY when it makes no sense to us. And it WON’T make sense to us until the Lord sheds light upon it later, sometimes YEARS later.
So before I ever went to Israel, I had studied the Hebrew language – for three years – with no understanding whatsoever why I should do such a thing. Little did I know — oh how I had NO idea — that I was being prepared to take the message of the Messiah to one little Jewish man on the other side of the world, one who didn’t speak English at all, therefore I had to know his language, one who had never in his life EVER met a Christian! When I sit back and take the whole story in, it just overwhelms me to realize the extents God will go to in order to bring one person to himself.
Husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, don’t badger your loved ones. God is well able to reveal his salvation to them, but will be HINDERED if you get in the way and do things or say things that will cause them to feel like they’re under pressure. They will only resent you for it. Take yourself OUT of the way! And just pray for them. God is well able to do super-abundantly beyond all that you ask or even think.
Trust him. He IS trustworthy.
Mohawk Drive, Framingham
Bob went to Maine for a weekend, as he was doing frequently, presumable to hunt and fish with his brother. He would be gone on our anniversary. All the time he was gone, I spent that time before the Lord. Then on the second day he was gone, the Lord spoke very clearly to my heart: “You’re in the cemetery trying to keep the dead alive. I want you to leave the cemetery.”
“Lord,” I cried, “you mean you want me to consent to the divorce? That’s against your Word…???”
“I want you to submit to your husband.”
When Bob came home, I told him what the Lord had said.
“Can we do this civily?” he asked.
“How could you imagine it would be anything other?” I asked. I am not a confrontational person, and not a fighter. Of course we’ll do it “civily.”
He continued, “You know, I’m still not sure about this. I’ll get the divorce and you go back to Maine. You take half the equity in this house and buy a home for you and the kids. Then I’ll settle things here and come back to Maine myself. We can start over again. Begin by dating. And do right everything that we did wrong in the past.”
A ray of hope. I was too naive to realize he wanted to make sure my parents or friends didn’t talk me into contesting him in any way. He didn’t want any trouble. And he knew people smarter than I would be talking to me.
I told him, “I will not take part in any way in this divorce. I will not get a lawyer. The only thing I’ll do is sign whatever you need me to sign so that you can do what you want.”
And that’s exactly what we did. He brought me the papers, I signed, and he went off to the Dominican Republic for a 24-hour quicky divorce which took place on March 27.
The next morning, as this divorce was taking place, I was sitting before the Lord broken. Suddenly I “saw” three crosses, Jesus in the middle and two others, one on each side. “Lord,” I asked, “what do you mean by this?” “The one on the one side,” he answered, “is the believer. The one on the other side is the one who scorned me.” Jesus -crucified between two sinners. One believed. One didn’t.
Two days later Bob returned to our home, the divorce completed. As he came into the livingroom he said to me, “A very, very strange thing happened in that court room.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “Well when the lawyer who represented me saw me come in, he came to me and said, ‘Bob, when I saw you come in I saw something like a vision. I saw Jesus Christ crucified between two thieves. I have no idea why I would see such a thing. Does that mean anything to you?'” Bob just looked at me questioningly. But I didn’t tell him that at the very same time, the very same hour, I was sitting here before the Lord and I “saw” the very same thing.
I took the kids and we moved back to Maine. We stayed at my parents’ house while they were gone for the winter, and we moved into our new home on the 27th day of March, one year to the day from the divorce. Not to the big house we had all lived in of course, he had sold that. The children and I had half the equity, so we got a very small house. I slept in the cellar so the kids could have the bedrooms.
And we waited.
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Elm Street, Waterville
It was January 27, 2014 and I was before the Lord in my morning prayer time. I had asked him once if it’s ok if I sometimes just talk to him, not formal prayer, just share what’s on my heart as though he was sitting right across from me. He gave me overwhelming assurance plus confirmation that yes, that’s what he wants from his children. “Ok, Lord, I’m just going to share this with you then.”
I began telling the Lord that though I’ve been blogging for a few years now, and that my entire motive is to serve him, nevertheless after all these years later I have nothing to show for it. I had done all the things I knew to do to get the posts “out there” to people, to boost the traffic to the blog, you submit them to pinging services and a few other things but after all that, I might have 20 views on the blog in a month. So why bother? It’s going nowhere. I love to do it but if it’s fruitless I can’t see why I should continue.
After having continued to seek the Lord about the apparent fruitlessness of my ministry of posting, and after having fasted many times about it, seeking to be empowered in my calling, I finally got to the place where I just said to him, “I’ve honestly done everything I know to do to reach people. I just don’t know what more I can do, and I don’t see any point in continuing on.”
Suddenly as I sat there in prayer, I had a vision, the first true vision I’d ever had, this was completely unexpected. I saw Jesus standing in a field feeding thousands. I just looked and looked, blinked my eyes …and it didn’t go away. I asked the Lord, “Lord, what do you mean by this?” He answered, “Pray it.” “PRAY it??? What does that mean??? How do you pray what I’m looking at???” No answer. So I shook my head and said, “Well, ok, I’ll pray it, whatever that means.” So I began to thank the Lord for the vision, and I prayed that whatever I was seeing in this vision would come to pass. I had no idea what I was saying, I was just obeying to the best of my ability. I continued on like that, thanking him and praying that this vision would come to fruition according to whatever he meant by it.
The next day I started seeing the word “multiply” again and again. I knew this was the Lord because I was just seeing it everywhere, but nothing “clicked.” I had no idea what this was all about. Then my Scripture reading that day was:
“Now may he who supplies seed to the sower,
and bread for food,
SUPPLY and MULTIPLY the seed you have sown
and increase the fruits of your righteousness…”
2 Corinthians 9:10
“Oh my goodness! Oh wow! Oh Lord, what are you saying to me?”
I still didn’t “get it” but expectancy was born in my heart. Something was up.
A few days later a friend sent me a link to a video by a pastor in Hawaii by the name of pastor JD Farag, whom I had never heard of. I watched the video and was awestruck by what he said. He went on to talk about the great commission and that this Gospel must be preached in all the world before the end comes. And now, he said, only in this generation are we able to preach to all the world — through the internet! He said that even in poor countries, people have cell phones, and that this is a tool we can use to bring the Gospel to the entire world. I didn’t make the connection to the vision yet, but this stirred my heart to beating hard and I was breathing fast and got very excited. This was a spiritual thing happening inside, not a “flesh” thing. I was touched in the depths of my spirit. I got so excited I could hardly contain myself because he was talking about the very desire of my heart – to reach souls for Christ. He went on to say that anyone called of God to minister online has a very special calling, so USE IT!
…Well yeah, I’ve been trying to do exactly that for a few years now and have gotten nowhere. But never mind, I waited for him to get to the end of the message and tell us HOW to do that. I knew this was God and fully expected a revelation, that he was going to show us HOW to do it. What I’ve BEEN doing doesn’t work. What I need to know is HOW. What am I missing? But …he ended it there!!! I couldn’t believe it! I could not believe that after all this, he did not deliver what I thought was going to be the answer. I sat here stunned. My heart was on fire from hearing that man’s words, but he never said how to do it. Frustrated, but my heart still beating up in my throat, I went to his site and found the contact information, and emailed him. I told him how touched I was by what he said, that I knew with no shadow of doubt that this IS my calling, but “you never told us HOW to do it!”
The next morning there was an email from him, and he just gave me a link. So I clicked on the link and it took me to a site called, “Rapture Watch.” It looked like a great site, a huge site, and I began looking around it. Everything I saw was exactly all along the lines of what I was interested in, taking the Gospel to the world, Bible prophecy which has always been a chief love of mine from the very beginning, the doctrines and topics 100% in agreement with mine. WHAT a great site!
…Then I saw it! ….The map!
The site owner had a “cluster map” gadget on the side panel showing where people are coming from when they come to view the site. There are red dots showing the origin, the country, of wherever people have come to the site from. The map was almost entirely covered!!! My eyes were transfixed on that map as my mind raced, trying to make sense of what was happening. I’d never, EVER seen a cluster map gadget filled like this one was. This ministry, this site, was reaching …the whole world! It’s literally feeding the thousands!!! As I just sat there and looked at that, the vision flooded into my mind. Jesus feeding the thousands. Suddenly …it clicked, I “got it!” I realized this was the answer to my obedience when he said, “Pray it!” I had prayed it, and now I was seeing it.
And then the Lord began to speak to me, “I am the God who multiplies.” The apostles had brought to him their little loaves and fish, Jesus took them and multiplied them and fed the thousands. “Oh Lord, I see it, I SEE it!!!”
Now what do I do? I looked around the site and found the contact information with directions on how to become a contributing member, and I emailed the owner. He emailed back with directions which I followed. And I was in! A contributing member of Rapture Watch. Reaching the world with the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! And drawing them to him through Bible prophecy.
It was February 3, 2014 and I submitted my first post. And lo and behold – the views started coming in. The numbers began to rise and I just sat there with my mouth open. I was astonished. Shocked is an understatement. I went from maybe 20 views in a month on my blog, to scores and scores here ON JUST ONE POST, and it would accumulate to over 2,000 views in a month! I felt the presence of the Lord, smiling. He was multiplying. My little loaves and fish were feeding the multitudes. Just as he showed me in that vision. All I could say was “WOW!!!” I mean, “WOW!!!!” and that doesn’t even come close.
It started with a vision, an absolutely, totally unexpected visitation of the Lord that morning in my prayer time, and today the vision is a reality as we bring the great message of the Gospel daily, and the Lord multiplies the message daily, reaching the nations through the simplicity of our meager loaves and fish with which he feeds the multitudes.
Over time I’ve come to know Steve, the owner of the site and have found that we have a kindred heart, the same interests, the same love for Bible prophecy, the same calling, and the same love for the Lord to compel us. Steve is an absolute joy to work with and we talk frequently.
Steve told me something that brought me to tears. He said that he remembered my application for membership on Rapture Watch, and that it came at a time when he was not taking new members. He had shut off all membership applications for awhile. But for some reason, he said, he let me in. He didn’t know me from Adam …well, from Eve …but he said that out of all the scores of applications he had at that time, he only let me in. And my heart began breaking as I realized that this story was the work of God from the beginning, from the vision, to pastor JD’s video, to the Rapture Watch site which wasn’t open to new members at the time …but when it’s God …the rest is history. I’ve been posting for Rapture Watch daily, and that …is the hand of my God!
I truly marvel when I think of all that the Lord has accomplished through Steve and his ministry. He asked the Lord for the nations and through his dedication, his faithfulness, and his hard work, the Lord has given him the nations. Steve is a man who preaches the Gospel and the message of “the last days” daily to more than 200 countries worldwide. I see him as a modern-day apostle Paul. And as Paul suffered, so Steve has suffered the agonies of hell because of it, and like me, Satan targeted him from his childhood. I’ve seen him go through the most overwhelming and constant never-ending attacks, and it has grieved me deeply as I’ve seen him suffer. And they’re severe attacks. I’ve never seen a human being so hated by hell as he is.Yet he presses on. He’s a man SO faithful to God, and see how God has been faithful to him!
Friends, take your concerns to the Lord about your calling. If you are doing what you believe he has called you to do and getting nowhere, go to the Lord and have a chat with him about it. He might just blow your mind with his answer. He’ll show you HOW to do what he’s called you to do, but without his direction you’ll just keep on getting nowhere. He is only too happy to show you how to make the most of your calling. You only need to take the time to go before him and ask.
And it’s all good. It’s all Very Good!