XIII

OUR STORY

Part I

FRAN'S TESTIMONY

Nearer, my God, to Thee,

Nearer to thee!

E'en though it be a cross

That raiseth me.

By: Sarah F. Adams

After living at the YWCA for a year and half, Betty and I rented an apartment (half a duplex) together. The night we moved in, three other girls and I were having a moving party. Of course the stereo was too loud. Ray one of our new neighbors was a milkman and had to get up at 3 am. He sent Al (his roommate) over to ask us to turn the stereo down.

We turned the music down and invited Al to stay. I had plenty of boy-friends and needed another one like I needed another hole in the head. I kept trying to match Al and Charlene up because she didn't have a boy-friend.

Al didn't care for Charlene and kept coming over each day even if one of my boy friends was there. I guess he grew on me real fast because after a week, I wanted to be with him instead of the other boy-friends I had.

After dating several men who only had one thing in mind, it was refreshing to meet someone like Al. One of the things that attracted me to him was his moral principles. He respected me enough to want to wait until after we married to have sex. Most men seemed to only want my body: Al seemed to care about me as a person.

Al was quiet and although serious, he seemed to have an easy going, gentle manner. We became friends as soon as we met and spent a lot of time on the front porch talking. We were comfortable with each other and wanted the same things in life.

We never dated: Al was always broke and no one had invented Dutch dating yet. Knowing Al, he wouldn't have gone for that anyway. He was a little old fashioned.

We had only known each other about three weeks when he asked me to marry him (Easter, 1965). Then, he left for Navy boot camp.

He assured me our children could go to church and I could teach them about Jesus. He felt moral values were important and they could get that in church; but, he would not go to church and did not believe there was a God. He said our children could make up their own minds about God.

Al was coming into Houston on the train from boot camp late Thursday night before we were to be married on Sunday. I was going to borrow Mama's VW to go pick him up. It broke down and I was in a dilemma as to how to go get him (Beaumont is over 100 miles from Houston).

Mr. Alexander, my boss, came over and asked me if I needed transportation to go get Al. He then offered me a new Olds 98 to make the trip. He told Bette (I was training her to take my place) and me to take off early and go get Al.

Al almost dropped his teeth when he saw the car I was driving. He was afraid I had bought it and knew we could not afford it. He sure was relieved and flabbergasted that my boss had loaned it to us.

I returned the car Friday morning and Mama picked us up in the VW. We went to the new hospital in Buna and got our blood tests. The technician was an old friend and back dated our blood test so we could get married on Sunday. The hospital gave us the blood test for free because we were the first couple to get a blood test at the new hospital.

We went to Jasper and got our marriage license and found that we were the first couple to apply for one in June that year in Texas.

We went to the church and talked to Bro. Oglesbee and then went and talked to Lonnie about being the best man.

Mama had already gotten everything prepared for the wedding. Several ladies from the church helped her put it together and even though I had a big wedding (over 100 people), it cost very little.

I had been buying my clothes from the same dress shop for the past two years. As a wedding present, they sold me my gown (White Spanish lace), hoop and veil at cost. I purchased an expensive wedding gown and accessories for $65.

Mrs. Scurlock was in Mamaís Sunday School class. She owned the local florist shop and gave us all the flowers, etc. at cost ($35.00). Another friend made the three tier wedding cake for free.

Mama's Sunday School class gave me a wedding shower the week before I got married. They also put together the reception after the wedding for us. I feel eternally grateful to those wonderful ladies who were also my examples and teachers in High School, Sunday School, GAs, YWAs and Training Union.

Mama had remarried when I was 16. Fred was like a father to me and I loved him dearly. He refused to give me away when I got married. I asked him if I married a millionaire and lived next door would he care if I got married to anyone." He said he just didn't want his little girl to get married. He liked Al a lot - he just sincerely didnít wont me to get married at all. My boss gave me away.

The night before our wedding, Fred gave me $50.00 for a wedding present. If he had known that Al and I only had two cents between us and his $50.00 paid for our honeymoon, he would have died.

We went to church Sunday morning and straight home to get ready for the wedding. I was so nervous I could not eat a thing.

I rode with Mama to the church. The VW ran out of gas on the way to the church. We were close to a gas station and were only 15 minutes late for my wedding.

Al rode with the best man and everything was fine until Lonnie found out he had to stand in front of everyone. Al did not have a chance to worry about me being late: he had his hands full trying to keep Lonnie from leaving.

Even though Al was not a Christian, we married on June 6, 1965. Our wedding went without a hitch and the reception was really nice.

Since we did not have a car, my Mama took us on our honeymoon. We had decided to rent a motel room in Kirbyville where no one knew us.

On the way into town, we became very hungry and stopped at a restaurant to eat. Pat, a girl I grew up with, told the restaurant owner it was our wedding day and got us free lunches as a wedding present.

While we were eating, several carloads of our friends from Beaumont stopped to wish us well. They were on their way to the Christening of Rayburn Dam by Lyndon Johnson and saw the decorated VW. They figured it was Al and I. So much for no one knowing where we were.

When we got to the motel, it was so dirty and smelly we decided to look elsewhere. Mama drove up and down the back streets of Kirbyville looking for a for rent sign.

We spotted one in front of a trailer and stopped. The lady said she had just rented it. On the way back to the car, she yelled, "Did you two just get married?" We said yes and she took us around back of her house. Her son, who was in Vietnam, had a private room with private entrance and private bath on the back of their house. She rented it to us for a week for $35.00 room and board.

She and her husband were really nice people. We watched Billy Graham preach a sermon on Sex with them on our wedding night. They loaned us their car when we wanted to go into town and threw us a fish fry at their camp on Dam "B" the last day of our honeymoon. Al and I couldn't have had a better honeymoon. The day we left to go home, we found out that she was the gossip columnist for the Beaumont Enterprise. She was nice though - she did not tell anyone where we had stayed until after we left.

My Mom picked us up on Friday and took us to her house. The next day, we put Al on a train to North Chicago, Ill. We had a week together; then, separated for a month while Al searched for an apartment.

Al found us a furnished apartment two miles from ET "A" school. It had a kitchen, living room and bedroom. There were no doors between the rooms, just large arches. We had to share the bathroom (located on the porch) with the couple next door.

Mama took me to the airport and put me on a plane for Chicago. As the plane was taking off, it hit me hard that I was going to live in a strange city with a stranger. I was an absolute nervous wreck by the time the plane landed in Chicago. I was the last person off the plane and Al thought I had chickened out by the time I came off.

His Lieutenant had brought him to the airport to pick me up. They hadn't eaten yet and stopped for food. I was too nervous to eat. About three hours after we got to our apartment (about 2 am), I was ravenously hungry. Al walked a mile and brought me a hamburger.

We did not have a car; so, we had to walk everywhere. We didn't mind because we had each other. It was fun setting up housekeeping even though a lot of things were makeshift (our nightstand was a cardboard box with a scarf over it).

Al only made $200.00 per month and that left no room for extras. We walked around our first Christmas eve looking at trees, knowing we could not afford one. The owner of one lot asked us if we wanted to buy a tree. We told him we were just wishing because we could not afford one. He gave us a tree for $1.00. I had decorations from before Al and I married and we had a blast decorating that tree.

I had cooked most of my life; but not the kinds of things Al liked to eat. I would try - he would take a bite and tell me how good it was. I would take a bite and cry: it was so awful. I decided that if Al loved me enough to eat that awful food and smile, I would learn to be the best cook he had ever met. He says I made it.

We were broke all the time but life was good for us and we fell deeper in love. We were together nine months before Al shipped out the first time.

We bought our first car just before we were transferred.

The Navy sent him to Norfolk, Va. on destroyer duty. They were to leave for a 3 month Caribbean cruise as soon as he arrived. I was seven and half months pregnant and stayed in Buna with my Mom.

Stephi was a month overdue when I finally went into labor with her. She was born May 12, 1966 in the middle of a hurricane in Beaumont, TX. Al had gotten leave and made it home the day after she was born. We had a week together and he had to go back to the ship.

When Stephi was six weeks old, Al found us an apartment. Stephi and I rode a bus from Beaumont, TX. to Norfolk, Va. It sounds like it would really be hard with a baby; but, everyone helped me along the way and I really enjoyed the trip. I love going and seeing new places and that surely helped.

The police found a dead body in the bushes in our back yard the first week we were there. Al and I went and bought a 10 X 51 mobile home with a 4 x 9 tip-out in the living room. We moved into Casterton's trailer park and loved it there.

I met Alice and started going to a Baptist Church near the park with her. I started working with the GAs.

Al introduced me to Barb and Lee (on the same ship as Al) and we became fast friends. Barb's baby was due anytime and the ship was going out to sea. She and her daughter Terry came and stayed with me so she would have someone to help her and get her to the hospital if she went into labor.

It was close to Christmas and Terry (age 2) wanted a bedtime story. I told her the nativity story and half way through she fell asleep. I quit telling the story and Barb almost knocked me off the couch. She said, "Don't quit Ė I have never heard that story before." I was dumbfounded. I thought everyone in America had heard about Jesus. I told her the rest of the story all the way through the resurrection.

Barb said that was the neatest story she had ever heard. I explained that it was not a story - it was the truth. She wanted to know where the story was at and I handed her a Bible.

It turned out Barb's parents would not let her read or hear anything they considered make believe including nursery rhymes and children's stories. She was not allowed to believe in Santa or anything. She asked if there were any other good stories in the Bible and I said there were. I gave her a Bible and she read it. She loved the Bible Stories.

When Stephi was a little over one year old, I got pregnant again. I had a miscarriage in July at 6 weeks. I got pregnant again in October 1967 and had a very difficult time. I felt fine; but, if I did anything, I would start to hemorrhage. I had to stay seated or laying down for nine months. I had wonderful neighbors who helped; but it was not easy.

Two weeks before David was due and the ship was due back from the North Atlantic, I started hemorrhaging real bad. The Doctor said I had placenta previa and was surprised I had managed to carry the baby as long as I did. He did an emergency cesarean section (July 1, 1968).

David and I had lost so much blood, that we were both in critical condition. I woke up in a private room in the officerís section of Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Va. Every time I asked how my baby was, they would give me a shot and knock me out.

I vaguely remember Barb and Alice coming to see me. I was in a haze. Al came home four days after David was born and they told us about David.

They kept David and I in the hospital for two weeks. David was 10 days old before they let me see, and hold him. My brother Sam (age 18) flew out to Virginia to help me after David was born.

After David was born cesarean section, I went into a postoperative depression that lasted five years before finding a doctor who could diagnose and treat me successfully. Until David was born, life had been easy for us Ė there had been no real problems. Now there was a big problem - keeping the house picked up the way Al wanted was impossible and sexual desires began to diminish.

After five years of depression, I saw little, felt little and did not respond at all. I felt as though I were a dead person who had to function. During this period of time is when Al became so domineering and hard to live with. He did not understand and didn't seem to care about how I felt. He just wanted things to go a certain way and if they didn't, he would explode.

As long as things were going right, Al was the person I thought I had married. There seemed no need for him to change; I just wanted him saved so he would go to church with me.

When our problems started, a hidden side of Al emerged. Oh, I had heard about this person from other people who knew us; but he was not that way toward me.

Al had always been the type person who needed me to prove I loved him over and over again. It was as though he had a hole that needed to be filled with love. I could never seem to love him enough. Now, no matter how hard I tried, he always felt unloved.

Al turned out to be the kind of person that if I did one thing wrong, I automatically did everything wrong: that is how he saw things. There was no pleasing him and he let me know it in no uncertain terms. I began to feel incapable of doing anything right.

Although Al never hit me, he would throw things and start yelling. Violence of any kind made me nervous. Adding bad nerves to the depression didn't help matters.

In January 1969 Al received orders for PMEL School in Denver, Colorado. He was on an LST out of Oceana, VA at the time and they were headed for Panama. He would go from Panama to Denver.

Mama flew out to Virginia and we packed everything absolutely necessary and loaded a ten-foot U-haul to take to Texas and wait for Al. We put our Mobile Home in storage and the Navy picked up the things we would need in Denver and put them in storage until we got there.

We left Norfolk and drove straight into a blizzard. I was driving our GTO with the U-haul on back and Mama was driving our Nash Rambler. We stopped to get snow chains and then found a Motel in North Carolina for the night.

The next morning, we left and did not stop again to sleep until we were in Birmingham, Ala. We were in Buna the next day. It was a long, enjoyable, crazy, impossible trip; but we made it.

Al came home in April and we moved to Denver. Denver was beautiful. We enjoyed the scenery and visited Boulder and Estes Park while we were there. It was also the worst time in our marriage.

At one point, I decided to divorce Al. God intervened and he came home with orders to Vietnam: I could not leave him until he came back. Change of heart came with time: a year is a long time.

Looking back, I realize that because I was not obeying my husband like God said was the root cause of how Al was treating me. He would go out to sea and I would do what I wanted to do even though I knew he would disapprove. In Denver, he wanted to file bankruptcy and I flat refused. The Navy had changed his orders after our arrival and they would not pay the extra expenses. Because of the extra financial hardship, Al had to work full time for the Navy plus a full time job for us to make it. I put a horrible hardship on him that should have never been. In my out and out rebellion, I caused him to treat me worse.

Our children and I moved next door to my mother while Al was in Vietnam and we started going to church again. I had grown up in this church and felt at home.

Eight months after Al left for Vietnam, the college kids came home from the summer. They were in my Sunday School department. Immediately they brought the war into the department. They were against the bombing of Parrots Peak about 50 miles from where Al was stationed in Na Bay (the communications repair center). I thought Na Bay was one of the prime targets of the munitions build up at Parrots Peak. The college kids were verbally abusive and militant in their protest.

I finally stood up, told them the way it was and that if they loved my husband and me at all, they would consider that his life would be in danger if we had not bombed them. They said they didn't care. I walked out and never went back.

After that, I would go to a cafe next to the church during Sunday School, purchase a newspaper, read it and then go to the worship services after Sunday School was over.

I was very concerned that Al would be killed in Vietnam and realized that I still loved him and did not want him dead. By not going to Sunday School, I avoided being emotionally upset. I was home for another eight months and during that time, no one came to talk to me about coming back to Sunday School or to console me about my husband. I felt betrayed by the church and did not go to church anywhere after we moved.

Seven years later, God showed me I had to forgive the church and reconcile myself to the fact that people in church are not perfect. I was only hurting myself and needed Christian leadership and friends to encourage me.

Had I stayed in a Navy town, I would have had the help and support I needed from the church while Al was in a war zone. My hometown was the wrong place to be and could not understand my problems because others there did not have the same problems.

Vietnam was a hard time for families left behind with a liberal news media and militant anti-war demonstrators. There was no where to escape the prejudices. Good did come out of this: I hate all kinds of prejudices and so do our children.

In July 1970, Al got R & R to Hawaii and the kids and I flew out to join him. We had one week together at Kiloa Military Camp on the big island. We loved it there and hated to leave. It was really strange though. The war had changed Al and he was distant. I felt like I was shacking up with a stranger. I've been told it was because we were separated for such a long time; but we had been separated for 5 to 7 month cruises before. This was different. I guess it was just the war.

Al flew back to Nam. The kids and I stayed a week with Lee and Barb. They were stationed at Pearl Harbor at the time. Barb showed us all the sights and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit with them.

Al was transferred to Quonset Point, R. I. in October 1970. We had 30 days together before he had to go. He went through Michigan and saw his Dad for the first time since he was four years old.

Al finally found a trailer space just after Christmas. Actually, we had to wait for the Navy to build the trailer park because housing was so crowded up there.

We got to Rhode Island the first of January 1971 and had to wait two weeks for our Mobile Home because it was snowed-in in Tennessee. We stayed in Navy Guest Housing.

I had only been there for one week and I knew why the pilgrims died. Rhode Island has a humid cold that goes to the bone and the wind blows hard (20-60 knots) all the time.

There was no Baptist church close enough for me to go to so when I went (not very often), it was to the Navel chapel.

Things were good for a while after Al came home; but, I was still in the depression and unable to function properly. Shortly after he came home, I found a doctor who knew what was wrong with me and put me on medication. Three months after treatment started, the depression lifted. It felt like I was a new creation: the world seemed new and beautiful. I was hearing, seeing and feeling everything for the first time in years. Feeling I could handle or do anything, I became like a superwoman: the extreme opposite of the past five years.

Even though I kept the house clean, served meals on time, and had myself and the children presentable when Al came home, his temper flared for no apparent reason. He seemed both stuck in the angry mode and unable to shake his hurt feelings; or, he felt like I should be punished for being ill (something I had no control over). Remembering that Jesus said "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." helped me forgive Al and stay with him. Obviously, non-Christians didn't know what they were doing: this was my way of protecting myself from the pain and anger I would have felt with any other attitude.

Instead of being happy, he accused me of being a women's libber because I was so efficient at home helped other people and worked a part time job. The nature of Navy life had taught me to be independent and he did not like it.

Walking on eggs trying to do or say whatever was necessary to prevent a flair-up of his temper did no good. I couldn't talk to him about anything: he took everything wrong. When we went out, he would belittle me in public; then, wonder why I didn't care to go out with him. I wanted to be protected in every way.

I felt neglected because Al always came first. What he wanted was more important than anything else in the world was. He acted as though he was the only one who needed or felt anything. We always did what he wanted.

Divorcing Al was out of the question because he had never committed adultery. He was of such high moral character: he never would. I felt helpless in hopeless circumstances. God did not seem to hear me anymore. Knowing God is the only person who can change a person, I started praying for God to save Al so he would be easier to live with.

He never understood why I helped people. He would ask me, "Why do you help those people when you know they will never turn a hand to help you?" I always answered, "If I help them, when I need help, God will see I get it." He never ordered me to stop helping people; but I could tell he resented it.

In spite of all the extra jobs Al had, we still had not recovered from the TDY orders to Denver. My Mom explained to me that maybe Al was upset because I put a huge burden on him by not agreeing to file bankruptcy. When the Navy transferred us less than 50 miles away (there was a $1.00 per trip each way toll bridge between us and Al's new duty station) and we had to foot the bill, our financial situation became worse. I agreed to file bankruptcy. We lost our house and car. But, Al was no longer hard to live with. He was now more like the man I married. Our marriage was worth more than things.

In January of 1974, the Navy transplanted us in Newport, Rhode Island, the sailing capitol of our hemisphere. Al decided he should take up sailing. Translated: this means "we" should take up sailing. I remembered Richard III by Shakespeare:

I saw a thousand fearful wrecks

A thousand men that fishes gnaw'd upon:

Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,

Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,

All scatter'd in the bottom of the sea.

 

and revolted. After all, those things looked like a good puff of wind would just knock them over sailboats sure looked top heavy to me.

Al knew how to get his "chicken" to do most anything. We sat on boulders on the south tip of Newport Island and watched sailboats go from Narragansett Bay into the North Atlantic and, amazingly, back again. Yes they did stay upright but it sure looked like complicated maneuvering to me.

After four months of watching sailboats, Al came home one day all excited: "Guess what! The Red Cross is offering a "FREE" sailing course at the Navy Marina. `We' just have to pay for our books. `We' can take the course and if `we' don't like it, `we'll' forget sailing." "No, I don't see a mouse in his pocket."

Ground school was meant to excite and scare you to death. Learning the safety rules scares you because in the process you learn all the different ways you can get killed. The Boat? Well, turns out its tougher than you are and will probably survive whether you do or not. With an autopilot, it can even sail home without you. The instructor is a romantic and makes dying sound exciting.

Al didn't tell me I had to learn a foreign language. A rope is not a rope - itís a halyard, sheet or Rhode according to what itís attached to. Left is port; right is starboard; front is bow and rear is stern. The floor is the deck; a wall is a bulkhead; the kitchen is the galley; etc. Sails are sails? Yes but be specific - main, jib, Genoa, mizzen, tri-sail, spinnaker, etc.

Ah, now the fun part. AERODYNAMICS? I don't want to fly an airplane - oh! I fly the boat. He has not got me on it yet.

The class is split up with two students per instructor and we get on little twelve-foot sailboats with centerboards. I interrupt my prayer asking God to protect me long enough to ask, "Where's the motor?" The instructor informs me, "Real sailors don't have motors." Rhode Island type navy men are weird. I ask, "What if the wind stops blowing!" My patient instructor tells me, "We wait for it to start blowing again." I remember the Mariners Rhyme:

Water, water everywhere and all the boards did shrink;

water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink.

In hindsight I realize this really is a dumb question. The wind in Rhode Island may get strong enough to rip the doors off your house (we lost two, one frame and all); but it never stops blowing there. You really donít need a motor - a sea anchor, maybe, but a motor - ever.

Our little boat is tipsy but we learn to distribute body weight to keep it upright. In the wind on the bay, we learn how to retrieve a person if they fall overboard; how to stop the boat (if you luff, its like hitting mushy brakes); how to trim the boat and use the wind for whatever you want to do. THIS IS FUN!

Solo? I am nervous! What if I kill myself or worse misjudge the distance and ram the dock? I pass with flying colors and the bow gently touches the dock when I come back. I now have a license that says I know how to sail.

It took Al five months to coax me into sailing and I'm glad he did. I realize Byron understood sailing:

How gloriously her gallant course she goes!

Her white wings flying - never from her foes;

She walks the waters like a thing of life,

And seems to dare the elements of strife.

We went out and bought a twelve-foot sloop. Al finally found something I enjoyed doing with him.

Sailing did not solve our problems. In fact it seemed that Al wanted to keep us on the boat most of the time regardless of the weather. It seemed his latest way of keeping me to himself. Al always left me with the impression that he wanted me exclusively for himself and would have been happy if I never saw anyone but him and the kids. I began to feel smothered.

Al got out of the Navy in August 1974 and we moved to Livingston, Texas. He could not find a job; so, he opened a TV shop in the living room with a screwdriver and $100.00. A year later, he sold the shop and took a job in Beaumont, TX in marine electronics.

We bought a house and our children and I started going to church regularly. Bringing preachers home, telling Al about Jesus and quoting scripture had no affect on him. He just worked longer hours and took flying lessons.

He got his pilots license and decided I should take lessons so I could land the plane should anything happen to him. I had no desire to get my pilotís license. Al finally said I could take the survivorís course so I could land the plane. I still balked. Finally, he asked me to take a $5.00 intro flight to see if I would like it. I agreed.

I read Al's course books and learned a little about the Cessna 152. It was interesting; but I still didn't care about flying. I would prefer an airliner with stewardesses.

When we arrived at the flight school (A B C Aviation) for my appointment, an elderly gentleman jumped up and said, "I'll take her up."

We went out to the plane and did the flight check. I taxied the plane out to the end of the runway and the instructor handed the plane off to me as soon as we cleared the runway. I took it up to 300 feet and banked 45 degrees to the left over Beaumont. Two more 45-degree turns and we were lined up with the runway.

My instructor asked if I wanted to land the plane. I said, "sure, why not." We hardly felt the wheels touch when we landed. I stopped short and took the first taxiway back to the flight school.

As we entered the office, my instructor proclaimed, "I don't know why she needed a check ride: sheís a natural. You should have seen the way she greased that plane on the runway."

You could feel the shock in the room as the owner replied, "You let her land the plane - she has never been in a cockpit before in her life." My instructor turned white and lay across the counter. I told Al we could go home now because I could land a plane and that was all he wanted me to learn.

I did go back and take ground school and several hours of flight instruction; but I never did really like it. Al, our two children and I flew to Florida, Oklahoma and several not so far away places during the next year.

During flying lessons I learned something very valuable about the spiritual realm. If a plane goes into a spin, you should push the yoke forward and go into a steep dive toward the ground. After you pick up airspeed, you should then tap the rudder and the plane will stop spinning. After the plane stops spinning, you can pull back on the yoke and fly out of the dive. If you do what you feel is right, you will pull back on the yoke to prevent a dive while spinning. If you do this, you will die.

God created certain principles into the universe and if we use these principles, we will live. If we go by our feelings and worldly logic, we will die spiritually. We find the principles God built into the spiritual universe in the Holy Bible. I knew that when I was a child; but had forgotten as an adult. I started reading my Bible - God kept me in 1 Corinthians. Later I realized he kept me there because I was so messed up. Corinthians was to the messed up church.

In 1976, Al decided if he was going to work 12-14 hours per day, he might as well be in the Navy because he never saw us anyway. Al took the kids and I out to dinner to discuss his re-enlisting. The kids remembered Vietnam and Stephi asked if there was a war anywhere. Al said no and David asked if anyone was mad at anyone. We had a good laugh and told Al it was OK with us if he wanted to go back in the Navy.

The Navy sent us back to Norfolk, Va. and I found a local church and glory be, some Christian friends. I had changed: previously I would turn the other cheek; but be verbally and physically unmoving in what I believed. I was now more docile and would move rather than defend my views or position.

Early in 1977, I had a strange dream. I dreamed I was a pebble in the edge of the ocean and the waves would break over me. Each time the waves broke over me, I felt like I was going to drown and would shift around in the sand.

Each time the waves receded, I would be a little bigger and shift in the sand less. Over a period of time, I slowly grew into a large boulder.

After I became a boulder, the waves would come in; but only spray passed over me. I no longer felt like I was drowning and no longer shifted in the sand.

More time passed and I was a huge boulder. The waves hit around my ankles and none of the spray hit my head. I stood solid and firm Ė unmoving.

I woke up knowing the rock was my faith and the waves were problems in this world. As the waves washed over me, all the trash was washed away and I was left clean. Because I wasn't washed away, my faith grew stronger. As my faith grew, I grew. Eventually my faith would grow to the point that problems of this world would no longer bother me.

Of major importance: I remembered that a rock does not hit or hurt anyone - nor does it move. Jesus reminded me through a dream that he wanted me to be strong and unmoving in him.

After 15 years of allowing me to drift, Jesus put me in the oven and refined me as a refiner refines silver. When a refiner puts silver in the oven, he watches it closely so it will not be over refined and ruined. As the impurities come to the top of the silver, he removes it. He knows the silver is ready when he sees a reflection of himself in the silver.

In February 1977 the tenants in our house (1,000 miles away) had to be evicted because they had not paid their rent in three months. We had to hire a lawyer and take them to court to get them out. They did extensive damage and we had to get it repaired before the house could be rented again: very expensive.

In May 1977 I had 10 days of migraine headaches; my Grandma died; Stephi fell out of a tree and there were race riots at our apartment complex.

I was the Avon Lady for the apartment complex. This one particular day when I went into a white customer's home, they would tell me I should get a gun and sleep with it beside my bed because the blacks were going to riot. When I went into a black customer's home, they would tell me I should get a gun and sleep with it beside my bed because the whites were going to riot. I told all of them that I would not get a gun because God would protect me no matter what happened.

The next morning I woke up and every apartment had at least one window broken and some had heavy damage. The kids and I had slept through all the violence and we didn't have any damage to our apartment at all. God reminded me he was still with me.

In August 1977 the windshield in our car broke for no apparent reason and had to be replaced. All the above happened while Al was out to sea. Believe me, I was inquiring at the different churches trying to figure out how to get my life strait and how to get my husband saved. I was told the same things I had already tried and knew it did not work.

Since the churches didn't seem to know how to reach Al (I had tried everything they suggested to no avail), I began searching the scriptures for an answer to my dilemma. In August of 1977, I found a grain of hope in 1 Peter 3:1-7 and decided to put it into practice. I would obey my husband and keep my mouth shut. It was very difficult because my love for him had begun to fade.

Almost immediately, Al came home and asked me to do something that was out of character for him and would break a commandment. I turned and said, "I have to go to the bathroom."

After I closed the bathroom door, I said, "Lord, I want my husband saved. I do not want to break your commandment; but I am going to do what you told me to do in your Word to get my husband saved. It is up to you to take care of what Al wants me to do."

As I reentered the living room, Al uttered, "That was the stupidest thing I have ever wanted to do. We can't do that." Knowing I could not tell Al what happened, I found it hard to contain myself: God had heard and acted! Hope began to grow.

An apartment finally come open in Navy Housing and they moved us in the middle of September 1977. Our expenses were finally within reason.

In September Al went into a suicidal depression and I became concerned for his soul. I started praying for him for his Soulís sake and not for my comfort. Deep down I still loved him and did not want him to spend eternity in hell.

Al and I had stayed up late setting up a budget that would have us debt free by August 1978, when his enlistment was up. This would make his choice of getting out of the Navy easier when the time came.

About 1 am on October 8, 1977, we headed up the stairs to bed. We felt we were in control of our destiny. As I drifted off to sleep praying for Al, God asked, "Are you willing to give up everything (meaning possessions) for Al's salvation?" I said, "Yes."

About 4:30 am, we awoke to a house full of smoke. Al pulled his pants on and ran to David's room. He wrapped David's quilt around him and picked him up. I ran to Stephanie's room to get her before I remembered that she had spent the night with a friend seven doors down from us. Windy, our dog, was dancing around our feet. We approached the stairs very carefully. We stopped half way down because it felt extremely hot below. Windy started down the steps ahead of us. We figured she would not go down if it was too dangerous and followed her. We could see a bright glow in the living room area; the last thing I saw as we turned away from the living room was the black velvet oil painting of a guardian angel hovering over two children as they crossed a rickety old bridge over a deep gorge.

We turned away from the living room, went down the hall and out the front door. As we went out the door, we heard a loud whoosh behind us and a cold blast of wind hit us in the face. The fire chief told us later the whoosh was the smoldering area bursting into flames as it received oxygen from the strong wind that was blowing. He explained that had we gone out the living room door there would have been an explosion instead of a whoosh and we probably would have been killed.

We put David and Windy in the car. We, then, started pounding on the doors in our building warning people to get out because our apartment was on fire. My best friend, Samantha who lived two doors down from us, called the fire department. All of us moved our cars to the opposite side of the courtyard to make room for the fire trucks. Oceana fire department arrived three minutes thirty seconds after they were called. Virginia Beach fire department arrived five minutes after they were called.

I went to check on David and Windy and discovered that David had been sleeping in the nude. I told him to keep the quilt around him until we could find him some clothes. As I was crossing the courtyard, I heard a loud explosion and looked up. Flames were jumping from the lower windows into the upstairs windows. I realized we were going to lose everything and doubled over sobbing.

The lady next door was the only woman I had ever met whom I had trouble getting along with. She and I basically had agreed to disagree. She came over and put her arms around me and held me for a long time. At that moment, I felt like she was an angel.

Someone said the shore patrol was looking for Al or me. I didn't know where Al was (I later found out he and one of our neighbors were behind the apartments with water hoses wetting down several storage sheds). As I headed for the shore patrol truck, the shore patrolman pulled off his jacket and handed it to me. It was then that I realized I had nothing on except a nightgown. The shore patrolman just needed basic information: Alís name, rank, serial number and ship he was attached to. We sat in his truck where it was warm and I answered his questions.

The fire departments had the fire out within twenty minutes after they arrived.

I saw the lights go on at Gordon and Ellen's, where Stephanie was staying, and went over to let them know what had happened. They gave me robes for David and myself and had me bring David and Windy into their home.

The Virginia Beach fire chief came over and asked me to keep an eye on our apartment for about three hours until it had cooled off enough for them to go in and see if they could figure out what had caused the fire. They were concerned that a child might go in and get hurt.

Ellen loaned me some clothes, shoes and a jacket and I went outside so I could watch the apartment. Samantha came over and upon learning David had no clothes, took some of her son's clothes over for him to wear.

About 10 am, the fire department came back and started checking for hot spots. When the fireman pulled our books out the door, I started crying again. I had a marvelous collection including a first edition Ivanhoe given to me by my uncle.

Samantha (Sam) said she had coffee made and I was freezing. I told the fire chief where I would be if he needed me and left. I was numb and felt like all the tears were gone - not so. The fire chief called me over to see if I knew what had been on the refrigerator. When I realized it was the kerosene lamp I had learned to read by, I cried again.

There was a strange blob with a handle upstairs: that was two tape recorders and a hand message stacked one on top of the other. All the clothes upstairs looked like frozen raindrops hanging on hangers. Everything upstairs was either charred or melted. My Timex watch had melted into the top of the clock radio and was still ticking. It rusted solid a few days later. All papers upstairs were either charred, soaked or ashes. David's little matchbox cars were the only thing salvageable upstairs.

Downstairs was ashes except in the laundry room. The clothes smelled smokey but seemed OK. We sent them to a cleaner that said they could get the smell out. They did exactly that; but the next time I washed them they fell apart. What a waste of money.

We thought the washer and dryer would be OK. After a couple of days they rusted solid and the rubber seals cracked from the intense heat. They were beyond repair. Most of our pictures were in albums in the downstairs closet. The albums were melted blobs; but, when we cut them open with a knife, the pictures were OK. Our home movies were in metal containers that had welded themselves shut. When we finally got them open (no easy task), the movies were OK.

The kitchen cabinets were every bright color under the sun. The fire chief stated, "you had a lot of Tupperware: didnít you." I had a cardboard box sitting on the kitchen table full of pictures to be put in albums the next day. There was nothing but ashes where the table had been. I took my foot and moved the ashes and spotted some pictures unharmed. Al and I went on a treasure hunt for pictures in the ashes. The best we could tell when we finished was that none were missing: all were OK.

The chest in the dining area was so charred that when we went to open it the drawer fronts fell off. In the drawers, we found ashes where material had been; but next to the ashes were poems I had written - not even singed. It was as if God had protected the memories during the fire.

We lost everything else. Al called our insurance company and the adjuster came over and told us they would put us up in the motel of our choice and pay for our meals until we could find a place to live.

About 10 AM Gordon told us he had gotten hold of an officer friend of his at Navy housing and they had issued us another apartment. Al went with Gordon and I stayed to watch the apartment until the shore patrol could get it boarded up. Al never did come back and I was told he and Gordon were going to get a hid-a-bed sofa for us to use.

About 3 PM the apartment was finally boarded up and I decided to go and get some basics from the store: toothbrushes, toothpaste, shaving equipment, instant coffee, sugar, two coffee cups and a pot to boil water in. About 10 minutes after I entered the store, I started shaking all over because we needed everything in the store plus. I grabbed what I had come for and left as quickly as possible.

As I drove up to the new apartment, I realized I had forgotten the sugar and started crying because I hated coffee without sugar. As I entered the apartment, a woman, who turned out to be the head of Navy relief, asked me why I was crying. I said, "I forgot the sugar." She put her arms around me and said, "Oh, honey, you have 30 pounds of sugar."

Navy housing had assigned us new housing at 10 am. Trucks filled by individuals all over Virginia Beach started arriving and unloading at 10 am. Just to give you an idea of what we received: set of china, set of dinner ware, flat ware, glasses, 25 coffee pots, 30 pounds of sugar, 4 feather pillows with a 25 lb. turkey in the middle, 3 living room suits, dinette set, 2 lamps, enough canned vegetables to last two years, a roast, pork chops, bacon, eggs, blankets, beds, dressers, sheets, so many clothes we could not find the sofas or beds and we sent enough truck loads to storage at one church that they furnished two other burned out families that year.

As if that were not enough, Stephanie's Girl Scout troop went door to door and collected $1,000 and brought it over to us. One man we had never seen before loaned us a TV. He taped his name and address to it and we returned it a few weeks later after we bought one. Even though we had a home and beds, we could not find the beds and had to stay at a motel that night. On the way to the motel, David started crying because his teddy bear was dead. I held him and he finally calmed down. When we arrived at the motel, Al started crying. I told him it was going to be alright because God was taking care of everything. He looked at me with tears in his eyes, and said, "You don't understand. You always said that if you helped people, when you needed help, God would see you got it. Today He did!" This was the first time that Al acknowledged God's existence.

I don't know how to explain my feelings. On the one hand, I was terribly distraught; but, on the other, I felt extremely blessed. Stephanie had gone home with Ed and Alice about noon that day. Alice said she heard about the fire on the radio and came over to see if she could help. It really was a help to have her there.

Sunday afternoon, we went to get Stephanie and have dinner with Ed and Alice. As we were going down the freeway, my throat closed up so bad I couldn't swallow and was having a hard time breathing. I pointed at the Navy Hospital Clinic exit sign and Al took me to the clinic. The doctor gave me a shot for my nerves and had me lay still for about half and hour. When I started to leave, the corpsman would not give me my ID card because it was burned around the edges. I got hysterical because I felt like he was trying to steal my identity.

In the military, you can't do anything without that ID card. We still needed underwear and numerous other items that would cost a fortune off base. The doctor came over, chewed the corpsman out, gave me my ID card and took me back in for another shot. Everything had closed up again. He said he wanted me on nerve pills for a while; but he wanted me to get them under psychiatric supervision. He made an appointment for me for the next day.

Our insurance adjuster showed up on Monday with a check for $2,000 dollars to tide us over until we could complete the inventory. Our claims representative walked through the house with us and because we had pictures of everything, the inventory only took 2 days.

When we got to $35,000 worth of loss, we quit counting. On Friday, they gave us a check for $8,000. We were horribly under-insured.

I saw the psychiatrist for about two visits. He said he saw no reason for me to see him any more because other than bad nerves from a traumatic experience, I was the most emotionally healthy person he had ever met.

A week after the house burned down, David started setting little fires. I took him to the psychiatrist and David saw him for a couple of visits. The doctor told us that David would be OK from now on; but, because we lived across the street from the house that burned, we should get him away from the area for a couple of weeks.

I took David and Stephi's teachers a letter from the psychiatrist and they gave me their homework for the next two weeks so we could get away.

We chartered a sailboat in the Caribbean; but could not get a flight down. They were booked up. We canceled the Caribbean and chartered a 42' ketch sailboat out of Clearwater, Florida instead.

On the way to the airport, two weeks after the house burned down, a truck ran a red light and totaled our car. Our daughter, Stephi, had a concussion. I had a double concussion, fractured skull, laceration of the head, three severed arteries and a broken tailbone. David and Al had a few bruises.

I had migraine headaches that lasted nine months before God miraculously healed my head. Either Satan was trying to kill me because he knew that I was trying to do what God said to get my husband saved or I was really messed up and God was trying to tell me something.

Between the house burning down and the accident, I became very meek: the headaches kept me meek. Reflecting on all I had done wrong and trying to get myself in line with whatever God's will was for me became a full time job. Telling someone else how to run their life when I had messed up royally was out of the question.

One thing I learned extremely well is that people are to be loved and things are to be used. I had loved our things too much.

I was in the hospital for two days. The doctor gave me permission to go on the sailing trip only if I promised to moan and groan and not do anything. He said I probably had a hard time convincing doctors I was sick because I smiled too much and that he personally knew I was in a lot of pain.

The first time Stephi saw me after the accident she cried because I was bald like Daddy. Al bought me a wig and a couple of scarves so she wouldn't cry.

We left the next day for Florida and had a wonderful vacation. We spent two weeks island hopping through the Florida Keys on a 45', center cockpit, ketch rigged sailboat.

We arrived in St. Petersburg and took a taxi to a grocery store. We purchased enough supplies for two weeks and stowed them on the boat. Stephi and David stowed their clothes and schoolbooks in the V birth forward and Al and I stowed our things in the aft cabin.

We spent the night at the pier, cast off the first thing the next day and sailed out into the Gulf of Mexico. We sailed down the coast and anchored on the sheltered side of an island to spend the night.

When we woke up the next morning, my head was twice as big as it should have been. We sailed back up into Tampa Bay and I took a cab to the hospital emergency room. The doctor took x-rays and said I was getting air from a hairline fracture in my skull. He gave me some "air pills" and told me to sleep in as upright position as I could. I went back to the boat and we spent the night at the pier. The next morning, my head was back to normal so we sailed back into the Gulf.

We saw a lagoon on the chart that looked interesting. We went out far enough that we could just barely see land and sailed south. Just before dark, a thick fog rolled in and we still weren't far enough south to find a harbor. We lowered all the sails and turned the motor on.

Al was real tired. I told him to go down below and take a nap and I would wake him when we were off from the entrance. I was motoring south using the compass, chart and speed to determine where we were. This had to be the most eerie experience of my life. The fog was so thick I could only see the boat we were on. I also had to sound the foghorn occasionally and watch for ships because we were close to the shipping lines.

After about an hour, I looked over my shoulder and saw a mountain of lights just aft of us. Honestly, my heart stopped, I sounded the foghorn and I ran below to turn on every light on our boat. Of course, that woke Al and the kids up.

A loud, amplified voice proclaimed, "this is the U. S. Coast Guard, is everyone OK over there?" I yelled back that we were fine and he went around us. Lord, I didn't know the Coast Guard had cutters that big. I told Al what happened and we had a good laugh. Thank God the Coast Guard was on duty in case we did need help.

We turned east and found the entrance to the inner-coastal waterway we were looking for. We had to maneuver slowly because the entrance was narrow and there were a lot of large underground rocks on both sides of us. We had sonar so Al could steer and stay in the deepest part of the entrance; but I went on the bow with a floodlight to watch for rocks. We made in through the entrance and tied up to a pier for the night.

The next morning we restocked Ice and headed for the lagoon. The entrance was shoaled but the tide was high and we made it in. One of the highlights of our trip was being trapped in that lonely lagoon. The Tarpon were spawning: we had never seen anything like it. The water was crystal clear and white beaches surrounded us. The trees and underbrush provided shade for most of the day. Stephi and David did all their homework on deck, under the stars the two nights we were in the lagoon.

We spent two days there playing in the water and beach combing before a tide high enough to get over the shoaled entrance came in. It was the kind of place you never want to leave.

On the way back out to the Gulf, we saw a store/restaurant on poles in the middle of a large area of water and decided to sail over and restock ice. The water was not as deep as it looked and we went aground. The motor could not pull us off.

Al decided to swim out and use the anchor to kedge us off the sandbar. He grabbed the anchor and jumped off the boat - he sank like a lead weight. He forgot you can't swim and carry the anchor. He came up laughing and I pulled the anchor back in.

Al got into the dinghy and I eased the anchor down to him. He rowed out a ways and dropped the anchor. The boat kedged off the sandbar and we sailed elsewhere for ice.

We headed back into the gulf and went South right into a storm. We lowered the sails and everyone except Al went below where it was dry. David decided he would go up and help Daddy. He was halfway up the steps when a wave broke over the ship and soaked Al. I have never seen David move so fast before or since: he backtracked into the cabin. He believes to this day a tidal-wave hit us.

Al and David were on their own until the storm passed. Stephi and I still had concussions and though we had never been seasick before, we spent the rest of the storm in the aft head being sick. Boy were we glad to see a port that night. The song "Harbor Lights" took on new meaning.

The rest of our vacation was uneventful. We island hopped and enjoyed the scenery. David caught the biggest fish of the trip: a two-inch catfish.

The doctor was right: we were all OK nerve wise after our trip. David was back to normal, Stephanie's concussion was gone and I had my stitches out.

My head and broken tailbone still hurt. Al said he sure would be gland when my head was well. I told him I didn't sit on my head - I wanted the tailbone well.

On the Monday before Easter, 1978, the ship went out for a week and I started praying "Lord, if you will save Al I will join the church of his choice." This was my last concession.

On Good Friday, March 23, 1978, the ship came in and Al got off looking to be baptized. God had finally answered my prayers. We called the local churches and found that no one would baptize Al that weekend because they had their Easter programs set up and couldn't change anything.

Mike, a friend, on the USS John F. Kennedy told Al the Mormon Church would baptize him. We met with two missionaries at Mike and Nancy's house. The next day Al and I met with the section leaders of the church.

The Elder I talked to wanted me to make a covenant with God never to smoke again. I could not. I planned not to smoke; but felt it would be worse to take a chance on lying to God than to smoke. I had enough guilt without doing that.

Al and I were baptized at 2 PM on March 24, 1978 at the Norfolk Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints. We were confirmed at 4 PM.

Immediately after Al became a Christian, a new problem arose: The man I married was dead and a stranger lived in his body. I tried to get to know the new man.

Al was now joyful, happy and reading his Bible constantly. He was in great shape: I was a wreck. All the pain from the past thirteen years welled up in me. I hurt and became very angry. "How dare he be happy when he had caused so much pain in my life."

All the bitterness I had hidden from myself came bubbling up. I ranted and raved and everyone stayed out of my way. The root of my anger was, "Why was he so hard-headed and why did he wait so long to accept Jesus? We could have avoided thirteen years of pain if he weren't so hard-headed!"

Jesus said in a firm compassionate voice, "Forgive him."

My response was, "NO! He hurt me and I can't forgive him."

Again, Jesus said, "Forgive him."

"No," I responded, "I have every reason to be angry."

"Forgive him," Jesus said for the third time.

"No." I reasoned. "I have a right to be angry and I want to be angry."

Jesus declared, "This is what it feels like to be unforgiven."

Suddenly, it felt as though I had fallen into a dark pit of loneliness, surrounded by fear, hate and anger: the pain was excruciating. I cried, screamed and yelled for three days. I could not eat, sleep or drink.

On the third day, I fell to my knees beside our bed in tears and begged God to forgive me. I asked him to love and forgive Al through me because the pain is too great to do it on my own. In an instant all the pain left me and I felt loved. I felt love and forgiveness flow through me. I, now, loved my husband more than I thought was possible.

I had accepted Jesus when I was 3 years old. I couldn't remember feeling unforgiven. Now that I know what it feels like, I have more compassion for people who do not know Jesus. Loneliness, fear, hate and anger has to be the greatest pain there is. God had not taken His forgiveness from me. He did show me what it felt like to be unforgiven.

Also, I had grieved His Holy Spirit by retaining my anger. I had never done that before and, hopefully, will never do it again. I thought I was depression free; but, when I forgave Al, I found a sadness that had been with me a long time lifted. Evidently I had such deep-rooted anger at Al that it was keeping me depressed. I didn't know anger could cause depression!

God had filled Al's Love hole and he no longer needed me to prove I loved him. In fact, he didn't seem to need me at all. To combat the feeling of neglect, I joined him in extensive Bible study. We started to grow together in the Lord instead of separately. God blessed us with a deeper love than we thought possible.

When my mate died, I should have talked to fellow Christians who had been in the same situation. They would have understood and helped pray me through. I should have talked to the Lord and as-soon-as I was rational, talked to my mate honestly.

Our churches in reaching out for souls to save neglect the Old Christian, who once their mate is reborn, need prayer and caring desperately. We are widows and widowers who are still mated.

We have done half a job when we reach the non-Christian mate and neglect to council the old Christian to prepare him/her for what is to come.

After three weeks, I have finished the Book of Mormon and am starting on the Doctrine and Covenants. We pay our tithe at the expense of not paying something else. We feel good about what we give to the Lord. We feel that somehow, he will help us get the others paid.

I don't think I should have been so bad in the past. If I had not, I would not be having so many bad dreams and sleepless nights as I do right now. Last night I dreamed I was trying to leave the Mormon Church and demons were chasing me. Every time I tried to hide, one of the elders would tell the demons where I was.

The guilt is going away slowly and being replaced with a peaceful feeling. Its as though I have to deal with all my past life in order to feel good in the present and future.

I have always had the Holy Spirit; but, since I know completely what God wants of me, He seems to really be coming down hard on me.

Somewhere I am going to have to find a complete history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) and a history of the part of the church that broke away.

People have such a misconception of what is Mormon Doctrine that I feel God wants me to write an article clarifying what is what; but, I have a lot of studding to do before I can do this. I have to find out how these misconceptions occurred first. The library and I are about to become very close friends.

I have read three books from the Public library, part of the D & C and am into the History of the church. There is no misconception of the doctrines of the church. It is all true. D & C 132 proves it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Hopefully through prayer I can find the truth if it is there. If 132 is not a fraud, it discredits the church. I need all the prayer I can get.

I try so hard; but it is not enough.

I gave up so much; but it is not enough.

Faith I have to move a mountain,

Strength of character have I none - Save it is of God

Love and charity have I more than most

But deeds seem to be out of reach

The torture of past sins goes on.

I love you and miss you

I miss the nearness of your being

I miss the love of your nearness

I miss the feeling of wholeness

I feel when you are here

I miss your voice

And the strength in you.

I miss the guidance of your love

I miss the advice you give in love

Oh how impatient I await

Your return and the chance

For your eternal love.

I walk in darkness

In search of the truth

I see the light ahead

Just out of reach

I pray the Lord to guide me

Out of eternal darkness

Into the bright shinning light

Of the true fulfillment of Him.

I will continually study

His word and works

To seek his guidance

And find eternal Glory

 

The more I searched into the history of the church and my Holy Bible, the more I was convinced the Mormon's are misguided. There is D & Cs (84:40-42, 55-57, 74) that are threats. Jesus offered us freedom, not bondage. He never threatened us.

Any church or organization that scares us into being a member is classed as a cult. Cults are dangerous. END DIARY

We attended Church every time the doors were open. After about three months, Al went out to sea for a one-month cruise. The Sunday after he left, the teacher told us about D & C 132. "If a man and a woman do everything the Church tells them to do and are sealed (married) in the Temple, when they die, they will be god and goddess. As god and goddess they would create their own world, have spirit children, populate their world and be god to the population.

It came in my head and out my mouth, "isn't that why Satan was kicked out of Heaven: because he wanted to be equal to God?"

You could have heard a pin drop. One of the Elders immediately took over the class and asked me were that was found in the Bible. I told him I thought it was in Isaiah but wasnít sure. I would find it and let him know next Sunday.

I had to read most of the Old Testament to find it; but I did find it in Isaiah 14:12-15. I went back to class the next Sunday. The instructor, Elder and I were the only ones out of 35 people (the previous Sunday) to show up. I showed them Isaiah.

I went to a special seminar given by the Church Ė taught by professors from Brigham Young University. I read everything I could get my hands on about the Church (material in their own library). I highlighted every place in the Bible that contradicted the Mormon D & C with a blue pencil. You would not believe how blue my Bible is. The only contradiction I found in the Book of Mormon was that there was darkness on the face of the earth for three days when Jesus died. The Bible says three hours.

The day before the ship was to come in I realized I had to tell Al what I found out about the Mormon Church. I prayed and asked Jesus what I should do. I was very concerned. Al was a Baby Christian and I did not want to do or say anything that would damage his faith.

Jesus said, "if his faith is in me, it will make no difference."

Al and I were in the car on the way home and I was trying to figure out how to tell him about the Mormon Church. He told me he was sorry we got mixed up in the Mormon Church. It seems he was doing the same thing I had been doing.

When we got home, we compared our Bibles and found that on each page the exact same verses were highlighted. We were over a thousand miles apart and God had led us to the exact same conclusions. Our wonderful Lord is the only teacher we need if we would only listen.

We submitted a letter of resignation to the Mormon Church and started studying our Bibles carefully. We never wanted to be fooled again. If we knew the Book, we would recognize the truth when we heard it.

We felt God put us in the Mormon Church to teach us why we should know our Bible. The word of God is a sword to be used against evil. If anyone gives us a testimony instead of the word of God as proof that an organization is what it says - we will walk away. If the church is of Christ, they will use the word of God when talking to you. Also, we will not be able to confound them with God's word. When a group has to leave God's word and lean on a testimony to prove itself worthy, we should turn and walk away.

We started attending Sunday School and worship services at London Bridge Baptist Church. We did not join because Al's enlistment was almost up and he wanted out of the Navy. We were going back to Texas.

There was Satan worshiping a few blocks from our house at a lake in the woods. One girl had disappeared and we felt it was not safe to stay.

Al took the kids and I back to Texas to stay with my brother the first of June 1978. He flew back to the ship and went on the Med-cruise.

I found us an apartment in Nederland and told the Navy where to deliver our household goods. The truck broke down in Atlanta, Ga. I bought a living room set with a hid-a-bed sofa so the kids and I would have a place to sleep. My brother and Mom loaned us some dishes and cookware until the truck finally got there about six weeks late.

Al flew into Houston and I met him there. We drove to Dallas and he was released from the Navy two days later (August 18, 1978). I thought Al had changed completely when he accepted Jesus. I was in for another surprise. God showed Al unconditional love on the ship and he had changed even more. He was more loving and less condemning of everyone and everything.

We decided to let God lead us to the right job, home and church. We wanted to do God's will in all things. I felt God wanted us to go to Houston. Al said, "There is no way I'm going to Sodom and Gomorrah to live." Al got a job in an Avionics Shop at Jefferson County Airport and we started looking for a church home.

We started attending a non-denominational church. The people there were loving and we enjoyed the services. The pastor there believed that if you denied you were sick, you would not be ill. I tried; but the migraine headaches were still there.

My doctor said I probably had cysts under the scare tissue. They would have to do exploratory surgery on my head to find out why the headaches continued. I didn't want any part of that. The next Sunday, I went down and asked the pastor to have the elders of the church pray for God to heal my head. They anointed me with oil and prayed. The headache left.

Even though I had always had migraines about once a month prior to the accident, I have never had another migraine headache. I didn't even have dandruff for two years after that. When God heals your head, He does it right.

Even though we loved the people in this church, we did not feel it was where God wanted us. We felt led to join the local Baptist Church. The pastor felt like Al should be baptized again. Al felt God accepted his first baptism because God knew what was in his heart. He didn't see anything wrong with being baptized again though and agreed. I had been a member of the Baptist Church since I was a kid and could simply move my letter. I couldn't remember the name of the church where my letter was in Beaumont. I also wanted to make a public statement against the Mormon Church (my way of making a complete break with them) and requested baptism. Al and I were re-baptized together.

Since the time God showed Al and I the same thing even though we were 1,000 miles apart, if I think God wants me to do something, I ask him to tell Al. This is my verification. God has never let me down. You see if I tell Al, he questions the validity of what I say. But when God tells him what He wants me to do, Al gets super excited and helps me in every way to do it.

God always tells me what he wants me to do and then he tells Al. If He wants Al to do something, he tells Al and then tells me: this is confirmation to Al. The Bible does say that out of the mouth of two or more witnesses a matter will be established. Isn't Jesus wonderful?

I wonder if that's what the Bible was talking about when it said the husband should be the Spiritual leader of the family. No, God hasn't stopped communicating with me: He just verifies things through Al for me. I am to be patient and allow my husband to lead.

Al and I still disagree on some things; but we know it is ok to disagree so long as we are not disagreeable in the disagreement. We have learned to wait on the Lord for the answer that will resolve the disagreement. Again, He has never failed us.

There will always be problems when two people live together but with Christ and His Word as our guide, we will always be able to overcome them.

We are truly one when we marry: whatever happens to one of us affects the other. Al and I are on a journey of life with God that will last through eternity.

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