August 18, 1968. How Jesus and I met on a hot Illinois summer Sunday morning.
It’s 1968, I’m 18, out of school. Hated school. Really, really hated school well past nausea. My choices seemed to be nurse and/or school teacher. I had no desire to empty bedpans and couldn’t fathom the concept of going to school to stay in school for the rest of my life to be a teacher although I had and have a gift for the language arts. I could have been one whale of dynamic English teacher, specialty in grammar. As it happened in real life, I got out of the house — out of school, to be precise. On my own!!! You see, if I had died and gone to hell, it would be 6 years before I would know I wasn’t simply back in school. I will never know if a college experience would have healed me from that dismal and depressing journey through puberty and pimples. Come to think of it, that was the age of flower power and I was impressionable. Let me think about that one. Maybe it’s a good thing that what did happen happened. Ya think?
Most of my peer graduates went on to college. The high school counselor did not explain that the college loans were not my dad’s responsibility who couldn’t take out a loan for college for me anyway so it was no use to even consider it, but that loans were through the NDSL — National Defense Student Loan program. I kid you not. I had no idea whatsoever I could have gone to school anywhere I wanted. Kinda blows my mind that no one took 10 seconds to communicate to me I could have acquired a degree in anything on the government’s dime. So I took a minimum wage job, first of lots’n’lots.
That’s a reason. It is not nor will it ever be an excuse. I could have asked anyone but assumed instead for lack of information that higher education was not in sight.
Why did I not go to college when I figured it out while I was still single? That’s another story. Why did I not go to college after I was married, before I had babies? Still another story. Why am I still apologizing after all these years? I’m not. I simply explain for the curious and in most cases they don’t understand. It just was. Had I postponed childbirth past when I actually did have the children I had, would the children I would have had been the same children? Think about that one.
That summer of ’68 I was ready to rock ‘n’ roll but God wasn’t going to let me. I once told a friend about 15 years later that God had me on a monorail. Maybe. Maybe not. The human race is privileged with choice which explains all the pain in the world. But He did have a plan for me. Am I and have I been in His perfect original plan for me? Huge question. Hooog. I don’t even know if it’s important for me to know that or question it. It is and was as it has been and is. We only go forward in this life.
I’ve often thought if I could go back to a certain point in time, what would I change? Each time I daydream such a thought, I always choose a point after which both my precious babies are born so that I don’t make different choices that would endanger their existence.
1968, more than a half century ago!
Summer. Kathy, Ruth Ann, and Heather decided I was their mission. I took a room in a dormitory within walking distance of my first job. Come to think of it, there wasn’t much in Galesburg that wasn’t within walking distance. Anyway, they lived there too. They hounded me, followed me, invited me to non-stop church functions. GEEZ! I was raised in the church, how stupid and hell bent do you think I am? Well….. So, okay, I’ll go to church with you only and I do mean only because
1. Mom would have a hissy if I didn’t go to church but she didn’t want to drive 15 or so whole miles to come and get me to go to the home church, so then….
2. Your church is air conditioned and the Baptist church isn’t.
Kathy, Ruth Ann, Heather, Anne, and Holy Spirit didn’t give up. That morning of August 18th I couldn’t resist any longer. My knuckles were white from gripping the chair in front of me. The girls were heavy into the hand raising, pastor Iverson was sweating and preaching and preaching and sweating. Off to the prayer room we go. I’ve written of this before but will mention it again. I knelt with my elbow on a chair. Heather was facing me in the row behind. Anne was on one side, Kathy on the other, and Ruth Ann was wailing, waving, and with eyes totally squinched tight, calling down the angels in hoards. When Spirit announced He was home, I sat back in perfect peace. Heather, Anne and Kathy hugged me and each other. Ruth Ann had to be grabbed. Really, it was a pity to interrupt her. I wonder how much more could have been accomplished had we let her go on. And on. And on.
I want to make one point here. If pastor Iverson had stopped at the end of his sermon for less than the 20 minutes he used to pull me in, ‘cuz, Honey, I saw him look at me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. If pastor Iverson had stopped with one verse of the invitation hymn and broken that move of the Spirit to make announcements…. My point is, when the Spirit is moving, when there’s opportunity for souls, don’t say “dismissed” to the crowd as if we were in a classroom or a meeting using Robert’s Rules of Order. If I were in charge, based on my personal experience, I would say the preacher should make it clear that the congregation can leave quietly or assist in praying with those who have come forward. This is not a social gathering. Church is not a club meeting! This is serious soul treatment, a spiritual hospital.
And then, in January of ’69, I was fired from a job. Rather than go backward to Mom and Dad’s, the minister set me up in Minneapolis mid term with North Central Bible College. I attended 1.5 yr. Not accredited. I can transfer … nothing! After that, I got a job, the usual minimum wage, was set up on a blind date with a sailor by a coworker, moved to where we married and raised two kids. It’s history. Look it up.
Over 50 years ago, I turned my life over to Yeshua, Messiah. Who knew that would happen, that I would be in Minnesota 29 years, and here now? He did. Jesus knew. We go forward from where we are. We bloom where we are planted.