The details of moving to France cascaded around me like so many moving boxes stacked to the sky. They buried me: insurance, purchasing a car, renting my place in Texas, storing my things, shipping some things, the list seemed endless. One day, immobilized by fear, I sat in my overstuffed chair and called out, “God, HELP!”
Just then the phone rang. A man introduced himself as Ken’s brother, Everett. He said, “I hear you’re interested in renting your place.” Stupefied, I said yes. I hadn’t advertised or told hardly anyone, with only five weeks till my parting date I wasn’t coping well.
He said, “We’ll be right over.” He and his wife arrived ten minutes later, came in my front door, sat down on the couch surveying the L shaped living room/dining room, they looked at each other, nodded and said, “We’ll take it.”
I returned to the States with my heart decidedly fixed on getting a divorce. I called John and told him, and he said to do whatever I wanted. When I talked it over with my Thursday nights group of ladies, they were relieved. However, the directors of the sexual addiction division were a couple who had married after he came out of homosexuality. They thought I should stick it out. So, they asked me to give up leading the group. In the end they apologized, but for the remainder of my time in Texas my support group was taken away.
John didn’t sound particularly interested in the details of the divorce until I mentioned it seemed a shame to divide the duplexes.
“You’re right. And when you go to France, the Lord will take care of you.”
“Wait a minute!” I interrupted. “I’m thinking of taking the duplexes as alimony. I am entitled to alimony, and you have no means of paying me that.”
One morning, I can’t remember exactly when, sometime at the beginning of March, I woke up with the word DIVORCE superimposed before my eyes. It took me a full ten minutes to make it disappear. That frightened me; I’d never had it happen before, and besides, I did not want a divorce. Yes, even though I was glad John was gone and determined he would stay gone until he changed, I didn’t want a divorce. It’s not that divorce was alien to my family. In my mother and her four siblings there had been seven divorces. My father, an only child, divorced my mother.
The next day before I opened my eyes, I saw the word DIVORCE standing on the inside of my head. This time I argued with the word. “Where did you come from?” I demanded impatiently. Any infirmity presents itself as a nuisance, and something corrupting the eyesight is especially annoying. “You’re coming at me from the outside in. That means you can’t be coming from God. Get out! I command you in the name of Jesus.” But it took another thirty minutes for the word to fade.
As we drove to Tennessee, John, Jo and I talked the whole twelve-hour trip, chattering like magpies over absolutely nothing, nervous as hens. That night—arriving about 9:00 p.m., following their map, locating landmarks that would soon become boundaries for John—we drove up to a white columned estate where men acting like happy campers awaited us. Five of them bounded outside, romping about like teenagers when our lights swept the grounds as we turned into the property.
“Hey! You’re here! You’re here! Glad to see ya!” They waved, surrounding the rolling car, slapping its skin. One of the young ones jumped up and down like springs were attached to his feet. This riotous carnival atmosphere seemed juxta-positional against the destruction my husband and these men had committed against their families, but I wrote it off as an exaggerated welcoming committee. Besides, what did I want – a warden and some prison guards to haul him off for retribution? They indicated a parking place in front of a trailer behind the Farmhouse, as they called it, and before I could park, they yanked open all the doors, pulling John out to his new home.
Jamie called to see if I’d like to meet her for coffee. I sailed into the coffee shop on top of the world. However, ten words had not left my mouth when my feet slipped on that spinning ball, and I tumbled to the bottom. For two hours I cried and told Jamie all my lonely secrets. I kept apologizing for the tears, saying I didn’t know where they were coming from. They felt like they were coming all the way from my toes. Jamie and I were the only ones frequenting the normally busy coffee shop that day; I’m sure it was the hand of the Lord keeping people away, and I hope He blessed the owner with multiplied business after we left.
I finally ran out of things to share and we sat in silence. The shopkeeper looked up in surprise, wondering if we wanted something, but shrugged and went back to reading his newspaper. Jamie concluded our time together by saying, “You need prayer. You need more prayer than I can give you. I’m contacting Linda in Minneapolis. Have you heard of her and her prayer group?” I nodded numbly.
One enormous aid, which captivated my mind, was the fact that while waiting, we attended Jeff and Vicki’s wedding in York, England. Our money being depleted by this time, we took out a loan to be able to go. Jeff married into a beautiful family, loving mother, involved father, happily married with two doting daughters, moneyed background, and private schooling. Feeling lower than a snake’s belly anyway, the event became a comedy at just how low I could go.
Knowing this wedding would be the epitome of British propriety, we despaired of appearing as poor American relations. Being poor, a new circumstance for us, sat uncomfortably on our squared shoulders. A friend of Drew’s, who had just opened her own seamstress business, offered to make each of us, granddaughters included, a new wardrobe to take to England. We accepted with glee, rushed about finding material and patterns, and took them to Karen, certain we would be the hit of the parade.
My ministry trip continued in Florida, traversing the Panhandle and landing in my aunt’s retirement apartment in Pensacola—a typical senior citizen setting—overlooking a pond maintaining a resident alligator. We investigated the city, ogled the beaches, and tested the restaurants, her for the millionth time, mine being the first. Her apartment, located a few blocks from famed Brownsville (a church known for its constant state of revival), made it easy for me to attend some of their meetings. I coveted revival. I wanted to grab it and run with it, whatever it was.
The first day my aunt dropped me at the church about 11:00 a.m. to stand in line, which I discovered was too late because the line weaving between me and the front door filled the main auditorium. The masses of people, staking their claim ahead of me, were already lounging in their lawn chairs, reading newspapers, making new friends, talking to each other about their experiences with God and what was happening in Brownsville. One miraculous story followed another. A sort of “Let’s see if you can top this one,” happening. We clumped up, whiling away the time, holding each other’s place in line for bathroom breaks, or food runs.
We returned to the States in time for Thanksgiving and to celebrate my mother’s 75th birthday. She and my step-dad came to Texas to visit us, and to make a big deal of her big birthday we took her to Corpus Christi, which she hated. I adore Corpus Christi, but it was like sharing my best china with a raging bull. I was putting forth my best effort at creating a party atmosphere with the clamoring grandkids while my tight-lipped mother and stepfather pouted. At that point in time I didn’t need dissension in the ranks, so I didn’t handle it well. We muddled through the birthday.
In spite of December being so full of activities, which I had no heart to participate in anyway, I made time to fast and pray for John, staying up all night, as I like to do, until I heard the Lord speak. I secluded myself in the spare bedroom, praying, worshiping, and finally at 4:00 a.m. He obliged me. He said, “I have an acceptable will, a good will, and a perfect will. My perfect will for John is for him to be totally set free. When he is free, I have a ministry for him in France. I want him to be an administrator for Me.” The Lord told me the name of the ministry, and I could see it was a perfect place for him.
A month later, John and I left for France. Our itinerary called for traveling for two months, and I anticipated the sharp scent of autumn, lumbering wagons hauling grapes, vineyards turning red, wrapping myself against a cold snap. France wears a coat of full fall, and I relish it.
I did not want to take John along, but he plaintively asked to go, and it seemed cruel to leave him home. Paul and Ann, our friends from Dundee, joined us for the relaxing first week, and then Ann and I left the men in France and accompanied Marie-Louise on a rollicking road trip, taking us to minister in Italy and Switzerland. Marie-Louise, an inspiring French woman, and I had become mutually admiring friends in Bible school, and she now pastored a church in Sospel (no connection intended with Gospel). Unsuspecting of the discomfort they caused, neither of them knew of John’s “condition,” the two women chattered about us as a couple as if nothing were awry. Since I wasn’t ready to reveal anything, I felt like taffy being pulled on an automated machine, demonstrating its wares in a windowed candy shop.
After Paul and Ann left, John and I visited with Charles and Barbara, staying in a little apartment cozied underneath the welcoming home of the newly-elected director of the Christian Businessmen’s Club. Pampering us, the harvesting weather stayed warm, which facilitated our use of the toilet just outside our front door, couched in a cubicle tucked under the stairs. The shower had a 5-liter capacity, which meant you got soaped up and ran out of hot water! But these people were such a blessing to us. Beyond the toilet, like an exquisitely appointed tea tray, laid a beautiful garden, and I had peace and quiet to write my sermons as I ministered in various places in the area.
Being able to attend the meetings given by the South African Evangelist in Orlando required a two-hour drive. It was worth it. One Friday night I went by myself, feeling the need to touch God and have Him touch me. After the brother preached, he called for the ministers to be the first to come forward for prayer. We lined up, and he went down the line laying hands on each one. A spirit of laughter came over us; we laughed uproariously, some of us sitting on the floor because we could no longer stand we were laughing so hard. Periodically, when the laughter subsided, the brother would wave his hand at us and say, “Have another dose!” and we would fall to hard laughing once more.
At the end of the evening, on his way out of the church, the evangelist passed me sitting on the floor. He put his hand on my head and said, “Have a double dose.” I did not fall back laughing. From my old drinking days, before I was born-again, I recognized this dose as being one drink too many. There was always a limit where, if I drank one more drink, I would be sick. It felt like that. I had taken one spiritual drink too many. I pulled myself off the floor, staggered to my car, and drove home in a stupor.
Writing has been in my blood, so to speak, but when I surren-dered my life to Jesus Christ and He told me to write, all my trepidations rolled away and I began in earnest! After all, if God Almighty says it was His idea that I be a writer, who am I to stand in His way? My hope is that you not only like what I write, but that your life is moved by it, and that your party to Jesus and with Jesus turns your life into days of Heaven on Earth.