The Lord told us to move back to California where we knew people. So, in May, in time for J.J.’s graduation from Bible School, we wrapped up our business in France and returned to California. We wanted to set up base in the gold country, having always wanted to live there, and after a few frustrating days of finding nothing to rent, Dan pouted, “See? I told you we shouldn’t come back. If the Lord wanted us here, we’d have a place to live.”
The next day, I took a drive, just Jesus and me. He told me where to go, arriving at a community I didn’t know existed, a little town called Cool. There I stopped by a Realtor’s office, and since I always try to check a person’s spiritual pulse, I discovered her to be a born-again woman. She said it would be a joy to find something for me.
She called the next morning saying the Lord had wakened her in the night telling her the exact house to put us in. The builder had been unable to sell; she called him first thing that morning and convinced him his best option would be to rent. So, we moved into a tree house, imaginatively hanging down a cliff, suspended decks on both levels, surrounded by forest, peeking through the trees at the snow-capped mountains of the Sierras.
Then we went back to Oklahoma for the graduation and to get our furniture from storage, pick up Noelle and the baby, and return to California. Events in Oklahoma seized my heart and stopped it cold. J.J.’s best friend was an obvious homosexual. Should I be alarmed or not?
“J.J.,” I took him aside, “you know that your friend is gay, don’t you?”
“No way!” he hotly replied.
“It’s obvious. I don’t know why you can’t see it. Just look at him; watch the way he moves. Observe whom he is observing. He looks every man over like he was inspecting a delicious piece of meat.” I insisted.
“Until he tells me he’s one, I won’t believe it.” J.J. responded. “We have shared too much for him not to have told me that!”
“J.J.,” I asked, holding my breath, “you aren’t one, are you?”
“Mother! That isn’t even worthy of a reply.” J.J. slammed the door on his way out. Anytime I broached the subject again he told me to be quiet.
Noelle refused to return to California with us. She had reverted to blaming me for all her woes in life. I knew what God had said in my heart, that she would be living with us, but I could not help but be dismayed. She was involved in an abusive relationship, and I wanted her out. I especially wanted my grandbaby out of there. J.J. was leaving for Colorado to go to Law School, and no one would be in Oklahoma to help her.
On our final parting, she drove us to the airport and dumped us at the curb saying she never wanted to see us again. By that point Dan wasn’t speaking to her, except to sneer. She sped away, with my grandbaby waving to me from her car-seat, and I rooted to the sidewalk, fossilized with grief. I cried all the way to California. Somehow it all seemed to be my fault, and I couldn’t understand the dynamics of our family. What had I done wrong? Or what was wrong with me? I seemed to be creating all the problems, but I didn’t understand how! Dan sat next to me, sizzling with contempt at my emotion.
Back in California, I unpacked the furniture, placing a bed in Noelle’s future room and one in my grandbaby’s room, speaking as if they were on their way, even though Noelle had said never. I put a Persian rug under the dining table so our little girl wouldn’t dirty the new carpet, walking out my faith. Four months later, Noelle called and said she had had enough abuse and would I please come get her. I was on the next flight, and we drove across country bringing her and the baby to the bedrooms in waiting.
In the meantime, I told Dan I couldn’t stand living with him anymore, that he had to do something. Change! Even though I didn’t really believe in it anymore, after our other attempts, maybe he should get some counseling. He agreed. He couldn’t stand himself. We found a Christian therapist who ran tests on both of us. The therapist discovered that Dan had a chemical imbalance and put him on medication. He arranged for Dan to have a session twice a week.
The first couple of weeks I attended with Dan, begrudging every minute. Why should I have to submit myself to this? I tried to let Dan do all the talking, twisting in my chair as he painted himself a rosy little picture. But even so the counselor said, “Dan, it sounds to me like you are a misogynist.”
“I can’t accept that,” Dan huffed. “The other counselor I had said that, too, but the only people I’m around are women. All Maggie’s friends are women.”
“Well,” the counselor said, “she couldn’t very well have any other friends now could she, unless she made friends with other homosexuals, but they would probably be misogynists too. She can’t make friends with straight men because they aren’t comfortable around homosexuals.”
Dan, affronted, said, “I don’t think anyone has ever discovered the homosexuality. None of our married friends know.”
“They may not know consciously, but they know. There are no real secrets in the universe.” I chewed on this as the counselor continued. The twisted thinking in my pea brain had always told me our friends departed because of some flaw they detected in me. I checked back into the conversation to hear the counselor say, “Probably much of Noelle’s problems stem from your hatred of women.”
He gave us two books to read: one about misogyny, and one about co-dependency, and much of what I read did apply to me. The therapist analyzed Dan to be either a narcissist or a compulsive/repressive personality. He felt it was probably the latter because Dan did care for certain people and a narcissist doesn’t care for anyone but him or herself.
One day the therapist called me in and told me Dan could never be in the ministry again, that it had been a big mistake to put him there. Puzzled, I wondered how I had put him there. He had been the one to insist on being pastor. But I didn’t address the issue because I felt like someone had given me a mortal wound. Frantic, my breathing came in little puffs, “No more ministry?”
“No more ministry,” he confirmed. “Let me show you the written tests you took.” He pulled out huge sheets of graphs, showed me the lines, and I could plainly see that mine fell right down the middle. I am as normal as apple pie. Dan’s however, swooped from top to bottom, curving outside of all lines.
“As you can see,” he said, “Dan has a hermit personality. He cannot tolerate people for any length of time. He can tolerate you, Maggie, if you don’t talk too much. Too much talking and he resorts to verbal barbs in order to get you to stop. He tells me he does the same thing in public. It would be best to leave him at home. Go on about your life without him.”
The counselor indicated some other lines, “You can see here that Dan has severe suicidal tendencies. He’s like a powder keg ready to blow. I cannot stress this enough; I am perfectly serious about this. Stop dragging him around socially. Stop insisting he be a minister. Let him be the hermit that he is.”
I didn’t mind the thought of leaving Dan at home. But in my mind I couldn’t be in the ministry without him. A woman rarely makes it alone. That night I spent the whole night praying. “God,” I called to Him. “Does this mean I can’t serve You in the ministry?” In agony I rolled around and around on the living room floor, groaning my dismay. Finally, at four in the morning, the Lord stopped me. Suddenly, like a flash of light, He gave me a fresh vision of the cross-shaped building housing all the media as I had seen from the beginning.
“You will serve Me in the ministry.” He said. This time I recognized that cross to be the Huguenot cross, the identifying cross of the persecuted Christians of the French reformation.
Though I didn’t know how, I knew God was at work. I waited to see what His behind the scenes laboring would produce. I could see Him at work in my daughter. Noelle rededicated her life to the Lord in the little church we attended in Roseville. She got a job in Auburn, and we put our grandbaby in a local day-care. Frankly, I could not see anything for myself. Not knowing what to do next, I did nothing.
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.