Noelle came bouncing in and plopped down on the sofa. Jordan, like a tin soldier, marched through the living room and sat rigidly beside her. She took his hand. He had the air about him of “Oh, sure, right, yeah, that’s what we should do, hold hands.”
I said, “Well, Jordan, this is rather surprising news. What do you want to do about this?”
Giving an excellent impression of a puppy dog he looked like he should have his tongue hanging out dripping saliva. “We should get married, don’t you think?”
Noelle chimed in, “We want to get married. I don’t want to go to France.”
“Where do you think you’ll live?” My voice seemed rather whispery to me.
“We can live with my mom,” Jordan breathlessly offered. “She already said we could.” My insides went into convulsion.
“Have you saved up any money to pay for a baby, much less for a wife?”
He hung his head in shame. “No. I just make minimum wage.”
Like an open door beckoning me to charge through, these words tumbled from my lips, “Why doesn’t Noelle come with us for the summer? That will give you time to find a better job and save some money, and if you two still feel strongly about getting married after summer is over, then you can do so. But frankly, I think you ought to save your money and move to France to be with us, Jordan. You two can get married there or here after summer is over if you prefer, and then come have the baby in France. We can put you to work in the ministry.”
Jordan’s eyes lighted up. “Wow! I’d love to live in France.”
“Wait a minute,” Noelle interjected. “Are you sure you’re not just trying to break us up?”
“No.” I intoned, “but just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you have to get married. At least not right away. I think you need some time to know if this is the right step or not, and to know what to do after the marriage.”
“What if we get married right now? Would you still take Jordan with us to France?” Noelle demanded.
Gulping, I launched my lance. “No, because it would not be a decision that had been weighed and prayed over.”
Jordan turned to Noelle, “I’d much rather live in France with your folks than in my dinky bedroom with my mom and her friend. Let’s do what your mom says. A summer isn’t a long time.”
Noelle sighed and agreed to my plan. I sighed and thanked God for giving me a plan. Later that night, after Jordan went home, I told Noelle I would do whatever she wanted to do. If she wanted to marry, I would do everything to help him become a responsible adult. Bringing him to France would be the best way. If she wanted to give the baby up for adoption I would help her do that, and even if she wanted an abortion, I would not stand in her way. I only asked that she pray and do whatever God wanted her to do.
She said, “Mom, I’m not unhappy about this baby. I’m going to have it, I’m going to keep it, and I’m going to marry Jordan.”
I marveled at her buoyancy, but insisted. “Noelle, just be sure you do what God wants you to do.” We prayed, she asked for forgiveness, but she, obviously, was too excited to encounter repentance. However, she did ask the Lord to tell her what to do.
A few days later, as I repacked the kitchen with tears flowing down my face, an angel suddenly appeared in the doorway. Standing knee deep in boxes and wrapping paper strewn about the floor, counters piled high with casseroles, pots and pans, the appearance did not move me. The angel asked, “Why are you crying?”
As if the angel were a nincompoop, I started my diatribe, “Because I can’t take my things to France, and I have to do all this repacking in a few short days; we don’t have a visa to stay in the country and,” I wailed, “my daughter is pregnant.”
The angel said, “Don’t you see the joy that is set before you?” and disappeared.
“What joy?” I wondered. Surveying the chaos around me, I couldn’t consider anything as being joy. But then I thought about the wonderful young man waiting for us in France to minister in his church. I thought about J.J. and Noelle going with us. I thought about the work of God we all would do, and then I could see it. There would be great joy! Surely God would turn Noelle’s pregnancy to joy as well. Whatever Satan planned for evil, God always turned it to good. And so, still crying, I started singing and packing and affirming that all would be well, no matter what it looked like now.
Noelle wavered back and forth, should she go or not, and in the end, she went to France with us, intent upon returning to the States and marrying Jordan, but she agreed to put it in God’s hands. While we attended language school in Tours, she visited a French doctor for a routine exam. He told her she could not fly in an airplane as her cervix was open just enough to cause trouble in a pressurized cabin. She took this as a sign from God not to marry Jordan. Thank God! His cards and letters never materialized anyway, and Noelle discovered several years later that he had sired another child at the same time he fathered her baby.
That year in France gave Noelle back to me. We took walks and talked profoundly. We planned for her baby, laid hands on her tummy every day and prayed for the little thing. The angel was right. Little Brittany brought me more joy than I could have foreseen. The Christian community embraced us and all our problems, the ones they knew about, at least, and loved Noelle.
They accepted Dan as a stalwart leader, and the wonderful young man who pastored us invited Dan to be a part of the church’s administration. Dan attended two meetings and then wouldn’t go anymore. The pastor asked me what was wrong, and I said I would try to find out.
The night of the next meeting I asked, “Aren’t you going tonight? Isn’t this when the leaders meet?”
“Naw. I’m not going to anymore of those.”
“They don’t do anything right.”
“What do you mean?”
“There’s no order. They don’t seem to follow any plan. Everybody talks, talks, talks, and nothing gets done.”
“Isn’t that why you are here, to help them get organized?”
“It’s just a mess.”
“Dan, listen to me. When things are a mess, that’s the time to roll up your sleeves and get to work.”
“Not for me.”
“You mean things have to be perfect before you will participate?”
“That’s right!” He jutted his chin out defensively.
“If things were perfect, there would be no need for your being there,” I riposted, but there was no moving Dan. He didn’t attend any more meetings. I didn’t tell the pastor what Dan had said. I just told him Dan thought he got in the way.
For a little over a year we lived and taught in this wonderful community, which shaped us as well as embraced us. Then we moved north to start the church. The kids returned to Oklahoma, Noelle to attend the University and J.J. to attend Logos. For the first time in our lives Dan and I were alone—really alone. Being the only one Dan could lash at, since he didn’t know how to be cutting in French, I received the brunt of his stress. For a year and a half, I put up with his superior snarling. No affection, no sex, no recognition, doing all the work, suffering under his venomous tongue, writing the sermons and pretending they were his, I quit.
I enrolled full time in French language school, which meant I truly had no time to help Dan. He existed like this for one month and came to me dejected and defeated. “Florence and Claude came to see me. They said they are leaving the church.”
I looked up from my workbook, “Oh, really? Did they say why?”
Dan sounded like he wanted to cry. “They said I have no anointing.”
“What did you say?”
“I said I had as much anointing as the next guy.” His hands hung lifelessly between his legs as he perched on the edge of a chair.
“Do you believe that?” I asked mildly.
Dan looked out the window, and after a pause, he said, “No. They’re right. I have no anointing.” Defeated he looked at me. “What should I do?”
“What do you want to do?”
“Will you help me again?” His words were practically whispered.
I must have made a turn I didn’t see somewhere along the line because nothing in me wanted to help. Nothing in me wanted to partner with him. Nothing in me even wanted revenge. “I can’t. School takes up too much time.” Dan looked to be on the verge of tears. After a pause, as we both reflected on our positions, I realized I could not restrain from helping him. I suggested, “But I have an idea. Why don’t we go away for a weekend and pray? Let’s see what God says to do.”
Dan agreed to get someone to preach for him. We went to La Rochelle on the coast, took a lovely little hotel room overlooking the water, and spent hours in prayer. At least I did. Dan’s duration for prayer was limited, at best, so he slept, or went out walking, while I prayed. I felt the Lord told me during this prayer time to return to the States and to gather money to begin work on the center He had shown me now these many years ago.
Dan became angry when I shared this with him. “That’s a ridiculous idea! Look how much money it will cost! We’ll have to pack everything, put it in storage, and get a house. Where will we live anyway? Who’s going to Pastor the church while we’re gone? Where will we get the money for all this?”
I wasn’t moved by his outburst. “If it’s God’s idea He will provide everything. We just have to take the steps to get where He wants us to go. It’s not up to us. Our job is just to pray and obey.”
“How will I know if it’s God’s plan?” Dan asked.
“I guess you’ll have to pray.”
“Are you sure you hear correctly?” he pouted.
I said, “I believe I heard from God. Check it out, and ask Him for yourself.”
“I don’t hear from God! You know that!” He snorted and pursed his lips. “Okay, I’ll go.”
“Dan!” I gasped. “Are you going to take my word for something you don’t want to do rather than take the time to hear from God for yourself?”
“Yes!” he said defiantly, then turned and left the room.
I knew I’d heard from God. He was getting us out of something He never told us to do. I also knew the Lord was giving me a desire of my heart—to be reunited with my daughter. She had gotten into distress at the university, and I knew I had to get her out of Oklahoma.
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.