Summer had brought that debilitating explosion of me being kicked out of that ministry, but that fall things moved like a roaring river running downstream, not just trickling along. Normally fresh starts take a little kick to get them going. This start acted like it had been prepared from the beginning. In fact, an evangelist who came to minister for Marie Louise told me the Holy Spirit was saying that my ministry was just now starting.
Marcel asked me to form a Catholic/Protestant Prayer Group with him on Monday nights. He thought we would hold the meetings in the chapel he had built in the attic of his house. I heard the question he asked with amazement spread across my face. The Lord had spoken to me in the morning and told me Marcel and I would have prayer meetings in his chapel, and we would teach Bible studies together.
The people in my Bible studies were starting to refer to me as their pastor, and the head of the Bible school where I taught told me to start a church, and that he would pay the rent. Someone found a hotel for us, and we rented the restaurant. Since it was off-season, we could have it till summer. The already combined Bible studies made up the membership of “The Glorious Church.” We met Sunday and Tuesday nights for services and prayed on Thursday. We called Tuesday nights our Ministry to the Lord, and Ivan led us in some of the greatest praise and worship I ever participated in.
Without warning, upon arriving for church services one Sunday, the hotel owner informed us he had decided to close his hotel for the winter as he was losing money. Overnight we lost our church home and had one week to find another nest. Then the best happened. The owners of the restaurant where we held the “Gospel Night” opened their establishment to us. Their meeting room, with the little stage and tiered seating, made a perfect little church. They gave it to us for free, which was a good thing because the head of the Bible School stopped paying the rent to the hotel after the second Sunday.
The next day, I entered the bakery, politely waited my turn, and asked the girl at the counter if I could talk with Marcel. He came bustling out of the back, shook my hand, and in front of quizzical customers I explained I was a Protestant Missionary and would like to talk to him about working together. You could have heard a pin drop. He asked me to come back later when he wasn’t busy, like after dinner.
That evening I headed for Marcel’s bakery, trembling in great trepidation. Closed for the evening, the houses lined the streets like cliffs, carrying me down a deserted canyon. My thoughts churned. Yes, I had prayed to work with the Catholics, but not to embrace them! All the hair-raising stories I had ever heard about them came flooding into my head: levitation, bloodletting, chains, whips. . . . Maybe I should turn back, maybe they really were the enemy. As I walked alone down those shuttered corridors, I had the distinct impression of heading for the gallows. But I knew I had heard from God, so I pressed forward.
Sitting on the tarmac waiting for take-off, on July 1st as the Lord had said, I ticked off a whole list of unfinished items. Oh well. I settled back in my seat glad to be on my way. Unfinished tasks vanish if left unattended. Mine vanished. If I finished every task undertaken in my life, an encyclopedia would not be big enough to write about them.
I landed in Brussels after having no sleep during the overnight flight. The more I fought for sleep, the more it evaded me. Then in the airport the signs made no sense, and the bus into the city eluded me. I wondered if I would spend my days wandering from panel to panel trying to figure out a way into town. My bags weighed seventy-five pounds each, plus two bulging carry-ons, after all this was moving day. Even with a cart, the sweat poured down my back as I wheeled around the terminal.
Finally, the light dawned, and I rode the bus with self-determination. Then a taxi, not too accommodating to my budget, whisked me to the car dealership where I encountered my purchase, my new car. Here, wrapped in this moment of love at first sight, life changed for the better.
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 Dan 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.
Dan 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 Dan 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, Dan, Noelle 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 Dan—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 Dan out to his new home.
“Hey, brother! Let’s get a good look at you! Welcome to The Farm!” They slapped his back, shook his hand and dragged him inside. Noelle and I parked the car, looked at each other left outside, shrugged and sneaked in behind.
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.
“Can you go up there for her group to pray for you?”
One enormous aid, which captivated my mind, was the fact that while waiting, we attended J.J. and Véronique’s wedding in York, England. Our money being depleted by this time, we took out a loan to be able to go. J.J. 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 Noelle’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.
Multiple fittings took place, re-cutting, re-stitching, but it was more than she could handle. She roped her mother into working with her night and day. We picked up our garments the night before we left, and we showed up in England with clothes we hadn’t tried on or pressed. None of them fit! It became a laughing matter because what else could we do?
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.