"Sure, Id love
to go to the Tiger game with you!"
"Little Al" Hughes had called to ask my sister out, but found her gone into the Navy. A long time friend of our family, he asked me out instead.
We chatted for a while about what we had done since we both moved from the old neighborhood in Wayne, Michigan. He had lived with his Uncles family after his parents deaths. He was now sharing an apartment with a co-worker. Our family had relocated to another side of town.
Just before we said our good-byes, Al carefully interjected, "Im going to be a Baptist preacher! How do you feel about dating a preacher?"
My heart beat loudly in my ears. Years earlier, I had read a book named "Papas Wife" when I was a library aide in Junior High. After I finished the book, my heart was so impressed with the relationships in that preachers home that I decided I wanted to be a preachers wife. Raised in a Catholic home, there was little chance of that happening, but I harbored the dream for several years before changing directions in my occupational goals. Now God reminded me of my previous desire. In my heart I knew I was about to date the man I would someday marry.
"Thats great!" I cautiously replied. Little did we imagine what that eventful summer held for us both!
That past year had already been momentous for both of us. Al had been saved at Christmastime. He had been living alone in a cheap boardinghouse, trying to find a church where he could learn how to live for his Savior. Many of his friends had disassociated themselves from him. Then he recently moved into a shared apartment with his co-worker.
I still lived with my mother and had graduated from high school that week. This was June, and I was prepared to begin college in September. My life had been marred by sin. At this moment, I was carefully considering my options as I dealt with raising a newborn child, born out of wedlock.
I had carefully laid plans to give the baby up for adoption through Catholic Charities. At the Hospital in May, the doctors and nurses had done everything they could to prevent our bonding. The foster parents would collect her on her fifth day to keep her until the adoption was finalized. A family had already been chosen and alerted of her arrival.
Although I loved babies and children, I was not ready to raise a child alone. With a child, college would be delayed for several years, and I would lose the two scholarships I had earned. I was no longer seeing the babys biological father and had no other prospects to help raise this child. My mom left the decision up to me whether I should keep or give away the baby; and I believed my baby had her best chance with a "whole" family. I sincerely wanted to do what was the best for both of us.
The day before we were to be discharged from the hospital and go our separate ways, my heart became burdened to see and hold her at least one time. After several hours of frustrating attempts to get more information on that possibility, I was referred to the office for Social Services downstairs. They assured me there was no one who could stop me from seeing and holding her, and arranged to have the matter resolved.
Afterwards, I spent some quiet time talking with "Jesus". I began to realize that God was asking me to take this child home with me. I argued my case before Jesus that I was not qualified to provide for this child at this time. I had never held a job and had no prospects for getting one. Finally, I agreed to take her home. I began to cry and prayed to Jesus "Please send someone to be a father to this baby You want me to keep. And please send some one to tell me how to know you better!"
Over the years, God had sent several opportunities for me to know Him. When I was hospitalized for three weeks at age twelve, an elderly lady patient had told me about Jesus and how to be saved. I politely ignored her attempts to "convert" me. In high school I had gone on vacation with a friends family and attended church several times with them. Again I heard the gospel. Now, when I faced this major decision, I needed to have Gods direction and guidance. I was emotionally unable to handle the idea of raising a baby alone, to forsake college plans and do what? What did God have in mind for me, I wondered?
Later that afternoon the nurse brought my baby to me for the first time and I was awed at her perfectly formed hands and feet, her creamy white complexion and her golden fuzzy crown of hair. What a life of adventure we had ahead for us! How would Jesus answer my prayer to know Him better and provide a daddy for her? I was confident that I had given Him the option to answer my prayer any way He wanted!
My little girl was now two weeks old. As I did my normal Saturday chores and cared for my little girl, Al called to ask me out for a date. I was so excited to be seeing him again after several years!
That night after our first date, Al told me about Jesus and how I needed to trust Him to save me. These were strange words to me. I had never read the bible, but I parroted phrases from catechism as a rebuttal. Surely the word "saved" was not in the bible, was it? How had I never heard it before? Al gave me his bible from the glove box and some gospel booklets to read to help me know Jesus better.
This information from Al was just what I had asked God for, so why was I stalling? It was just TOO simple! How could it be any easier? After a week of reading the booklets by Dr. Oliver Greene every night, the booklet by Mrs. Greene finally touched my heart. When I read the passages in the Word of God for myself, God spoke to my heart and I yielded my heart and life to Him.
Al was talking of marriage the day after our first date. He could not marry someone who was not a Christian believer. (He had learned much from Dr. Oliver Greene on the radio.)
By the fourth week he was talking about setting dates for our wedding. Mom wanted us to marry in the local Catholic church. We tried to agree with her, but felt the whole idea went against our future plans to attend a Baptist church. Avoiding conflict, we decided for a Justice of the Peace wedding. We were married less than seven weeks from that first date at the ball game!
We knew from the beginning that if our marriage was to survive, we had to make the commitment that our home would endure whatever calamity or trial we passed. Our own parents had given up on their marriages; but we would, with Gods help, commit to "go on". My mom did not expect us to be married very long. No one seemed to agree with us about being married, except God. We were confident He was leading and that He would help.
Our life together of over thirty years has been one adventure after another. Bible college, with four children (and more than fifteen grandchildren), and planting two churches along the way, our marriage is still an adventure. We have been in the ministry since his graduation in 1974!
My girlhood dream to be a preachers wife was fulfilled in more exciting ways than I had ever imagined!