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LIFE WILL CONTINUE
 Christianity Oasis Ministry has provided you with this Life Will Continue book with Life Will Continue study. This Life Will Continue book on Life Will Continue hope looks into Life Will Continue message as shared by Linda Doyle-Rodriguez. This Life Will Continue book looks into how the choice to believe that Life Will Continue after trials and tribulations affects your life. The Life Will Continue study on the Life Will Continue issue is very important as determination that Life Will Continue means everything to many people. Let us delve into this Life Will Continue book with Life Will Continue study and find what this author's Life Will Continue message has to share on choosing that Life Will Continue in this Life Will Continue book, shall we?


 

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LIFE CONTINUES

By Lynda Doyle-Rodriguez
 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1  Life Continues
CHAPTER 2  The Journey
CHAPTER 3  Deception
CHAPTER 4  Baytown
CHAPTER 5  God Closed The Door

 

CHAPTER 1

Life Continues

           
            Lynn stayed with Andres trying against all odds to make the relationship work.

            She wanted and needed love in her life. It wasn’t the kind of relationship that she needed, but it was better than living alone.  And Andy took care of her financial needs. He worked hard to provide things she wanted. Her old Chevy finally broke down. In the spring of 1991, he bought her a new car, a 1990 Chevy Berretta.

            Andres provided Lynn the material things that Javier could never have afforded.

Lynn let herself become content with these things. During the times when the alcohol took over his mind, turning him into that dark, mean and nasty stranger with the fowl language she didn’t like, Lynn would escape into her world of writing.

            Too many times she just wanted to pack her things and run, but where was the question? And how in the devil could she manage on her small SSI disability check? $300. Would not go very far, pay rent and buy food, and insurance for her car; those were the necessary things she would need to cover. No, like so many other times in her life, She was out of options, if she could find a place she could afford, it would be a shack or a dump filled with roaches; and a life of poverty.

            It was better to stay, take the mental abuse and when he passed out, escape into her writing; a world of her own choosing, where she was in control, a world of fantasy where the realities of life did not exist.

            In March of 1991, Andy took his vacation and they took a trip to Texas. He took his truck, which meant he would have to stay sober, because Lynn could not drive the truck. Thank you God.

            He showed her the big city of Houston; Lynn was impressed, thinking her girls too would have loved this, because it was like visiting Mexico.  All Lynn’s grandchildren, with the exception of Nina, (Chuck’s little girl) were Spanish. Texas was a big state and Lynn was impressed with its size and scenery and with its people and Spanish heritage.

            There were many places they wanted to visit, but lack of time and money prevented them. “I wanted to take you down into Mexico,” Andy said, “But we don’t have the time, I need to get back to work and make some more money,” he laughed. It was during these times when he wasn’t drinking, that Lynn felt love for him. Lynn cuddled in his arms. “That’s okay,” she said, “There is always next year.” “I wanted to talk to you about that,” he said, “next year I want to come down here and look for a house to buy. I don’t like Virginia, Texas is like my home, where I spent a lot of time working; and one-day I want to live here again.”

            “I can see why,” she said, “Texas is little Mexico!” They laughed together and made love. Then he stared drinking. “Just a little bottle okay?” If he was asking her permission to drink, no it wasn’t okay. But Andy was not asking her permission, he was telling her that it was just a little bottle and he would not drink very much.

            At least here in the motel room he would not get drunk, not like he would in his own home. She didn’t know when or where he had gotten the bottle. That was the very thing that always bewildered Lynn, you could strand Andy on a deserted island and somehow, he would find a liquor store!

            Lynn had a good time in Texas, and she would not let the drinking spoil the time they had enjoyed together. Andy wanted to buy a house and move back to Texas. It was time she thought about her options. If the drinking were unbearable in Virginia, what would it be like if she gave up everything and moved hundreds of miles away? At least in Virginia she had the support of her children. If she ever made the decision to leave, Charles was not too far away. He lived in Harper’s Ferry, West VA. Susan, Kelly and Shawn lived in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

            If she moved with him to Texas she would have no support system, but she would not think about that now. Next year was a long way off; this was not a decision that she would have to make right away.

            As they made their way North, back to Virginia, they ran into a blizzard. Coming up Rt. 66 East, to get off the interstate, Andy took a short cut. It was a bad decision that stranded them in a little small town somewhere between Gainesville and Chantilly. He tried to turn around and get back on the interstate, but the roads had become impassable.

            Andy pulled the truck into the parking lot of a little café; they went inside for sandwiches and coffee. Andy asked about the conditions of the roads that lay ahead. Two truck drivers laughed, “Impassable,” they said. “Buddy, we are all stranded here, maybe for the next couple days. Find a room and settle down,” he said, “Until this blizzard let’s up, nobody is going anywhere.”      

            But the little motel beside the café was booked with stranded motorists. Andy and Lynn spent the next few hours in the truck. When the manager of the café noticed they were sleeping in the truck, she braved the storm to invite them inside.

            “You can’t stay out here in this blizzard,” she said, “it is too cold and if you keep your truck running to keep the heat on while you sleep, you could die from carbon monoxide poisoning. Please,’ she told Andy, “You and your wife come inside.” Lynn did not tell her that she was not his wife. They welcomed the invitation and spent the rest of the cold night inside the warmth of the café.

            “Thank you for the coffee and sandwiches and thank you for staying open and letting us spend the night.” “Its no problem,’ she replied, “Its my place I own it,” she laughed, “That is, the bank and I own it together.”

            The next morning they awoke to a changed world; snow covered everything. The state was busy with snowplows trying as best they could to clean the main roads and the interstate.

            “Andy, maybe we should wait a couple hours before starting out?” “Yeah, maybe. The roads don’t look too good; I hate driving in this mess. By the time we have more coffee and some breakfast, the interstate should be cleared enough for us to make it home.” Andy waited two hours to give the state a chance to plow before leaving the cafe to make our way home. A drive that on normal roadways would have taken thirty minutes, took more than six hours. Interstate 66 was jammed with accidents to avoid them Andy had to get off the interstate and take the scenic route home.

            Most of the back roads had not been plowed and those that had been plowed were covered with drifting and blowing snow. Finally after six long hours we made it into Chantilly. Pleasant Valley road that led to our house had not been plowed. We had driven halfway down the road when his truck became stuck in the snow.

            “I guess we need to walk the rest of the way,” he said, disgusted, “I’ll have to get the company tractor and pull it out.” By the time we had walked through snowdrifts of at least three feet high, we were both wet and cold.

            Susan met us at the door, the grandchildren Michelle and Juan jumped happily into my arms, excitingly shouting the good news. “Grandma, grandma,” they yelled, “ Princess had puppies!” “Six,” Juan said, holding up six fingers. “Come on grandma!” Michelle shouted, excited as she led me to the box in my room, where the puppies were.  Princess yelped and sniffed as Michelle reached down inside the box where her offspring lay. “Oh no, Andy come and look at your new family! Six of them and Buzz is the proud papa!” “Oh my God,” he said looking down in the box. “How we going to buy food for these animals? And now, six more!  Honey, I spend $50.00 a week now on the cats, kittens and our two dogs. “

            Hey,” I laughed, “Its your dog Buzz who is the culprit.”  Princess had crawled into the box with her babies; over her objection, Andy picked one from the litter. “They are cute.” he said, “But now I need to spend more money. Maybe honey we need to get rid of some of our animals.”

            “I have to agree with you, with all the pets, this place is turning into a farm. All that is lacking for it to be a farm is a horse, maybe a cow and a goat.” “You forgot the pig and a sheep,” he said putting the puppy back in the box. “Okay, I need to get my truck out of the snow. I need to get up to the big house. I’ll see you later.”

            I changed out of my wet clothes and spent some quality time with Susan and the grandchildren. “Thanks honey, for staying down here and taking care of the animals while we were gone.” “Your welcome mom, I didn’t have anything else to do and it gave me a break from Chambersburg. I’m glad I was here when this blizzard hit or those poor dogs would have frozen to death.”

            “Mom? What are you going to do about your relationship with Andy?” “I don’t like his drinking and the person he becomes when he is drunk. But, I will probably stay. Until I reach the point where I can no longer deal with his alcohol.” In the middle of April, Andy plowed a spot on the side of the house. “I guess you’re trying to make a farmer out of me.” “We need a garden, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, potatoes, corn, whatever you want,” he said. “You like tomatoes, green beans?” “Yes of course.” “You don’t want a garden?” “Andy, a garden is a lot of work. I wasn’t always disabled. I did a lot of gardening when my kids were younger. I just don’t know if I can do it now.” “Okay, I have worked all day and I ‘m tired now. Leave it alone until tomorrow.”

            His answer was not related to what she had said. He wasn’t listening. But Lynn didn’t want to argue. Sure enough before going into the house, she watched him take the bottle from his truck and take a swig. It was going to be one of those nights.

            Before she had finished fixing his dinner, he was drunk. It wouldn’t have been that bad if when he drank, he would just pass out. Sometimes he would, but other times he would get, what Lynn called,’ diarrhea of the mouth,’ and nag worse than an old woman.

            “I did all that work and you don’t want the----garden. What is your problem? You lazy or what? You no different than your----- ---daughters, or crazy like your—son.” And on and on it went. She had learned months before that it was useless to try and carry on a conversation when he was in this kind of mood. And whatever had happened at work that day, he would take it out on her.

            She listened until he started nodding off, she escaped to her room.  If she could just publish the book, about her and papa that would be her out. She would not have to depend on him for financial needs.

            The only prospects she had were self-publishing companies. Lynn didn’t know if it was her writing, the subject matter, or because the last name was still Hernandez. Some day’s depression overwhelmed her and she felt like giving up. As soon as the rejection came in the mail, she would stay depressed for a few days but some strange power that she did not understand, refused to let her give up on the dream.

            Within days her manuscript would be making the rounds again. Not being able to attend college, Lynn bought as many books as she could on the subject or writing; books on creating characters, dialogue between characters, learning to create vivid scenes; She subscribed to Writer’s Digest. While her manuscript made the rounds, Lynn worked on learning to improve her craft.

            Writing, tending to the animals, to Andy’s house and his needs, and the garden, kept her busy with little time to dwell on the past and mistakes made in her present. Sometimes, when she would dwell too much on the mistake she had made in the present. Her mother’s words would return to haunt her, ‘when you make your bed you lie in it.’

            In other words, when you make mistakes deal with it or get out; Lynn was finding it impossible to deal with it and unless money started falling from heaven, there was no way she could get out. In June Andy celebrated his birthday, June 13, he was forty-six; one year older than Lynn.  But the drinking had aged him, making him older than his forty-six years. “Hey, for my birthday I want you to fix a good supper. I’m having a party for my friends and me. My friends like beer, lots of beer.” “Happy birthday,” I said, “What do you want me to fix?” “Honey, Mexican food.” “What kind of Mexican food? Chicken and rice and beans, or tacos, burritos?” “I don’t care, Mexican food and lots of beer.”

            Those were her instructions for the day, buy cases of beer and spend the rest of the day in the hot kitchen. Lynn wanted to celebrate with him, she wanted to show him that she loved him, but every Time she tried to show her love, he would drink and turn into the dark, mean and nasty stranger with the fowl mouth, who would curse at her, and yell nasty and hateful words about her children.

            Lynn wanted to celebrate, but she could not, her heart was not in it. She went about the day, doing needed chores before heading off to the store. She spent the rest of the day making enchiladas; tortillas rolled around a meat filling with hot sauce.

            Making enchiladas takes more time than other foods; boiling the chicken, picking it off, dipping the tortillas in hot chili sauce. She fixed refried beans and Spanish rice. Lynn didn’t know how many people were coming by the time she had finished she had more than thirty enchiladas, a large pot of hot sauce, a skillet of refried beans and a pot of Spanish rice.

            When Andy came in from work that day, he looked at the spread of food on the table and hugged her. “Thank you honey, “ He sampled the enchiladas, “Good!” She bought him a present. A black western belt and a birthday card, she had also made a cake and bought ice cream. “Honey, I don’t need cake, but thank you.” Lynn kissed him, “Happy birthday Andy, “Did you buy soda and chips for you?” Lynn laughed. “Of course, and I put aside three enchiladas for me without the sauce and bought three cases of beer, ‘corona,’ and two cases of, ‘Budweiser.’ I hope its enough.”

            “It’s enough,” he said, “I got two bottles. But maybe I won’t drink too much, Just a little bit for my birthday. Arturo has a girlfriend, I told him to bring her, is that okay with you, if the girlfriend comes?” “Sure, I welcome someone to talk too, another female.” “Maybe you and her could become friends, she doesn’t have any friends.”

            Lynn was glad she had enough food to feed a camp. Andy’s house was filled with guys, Arturo had brought his girlfriend, and her name was Sandra. While helping Lynn in the kitchen she said, “Thank you for inviting me, you seem to be a person I can talk with and I need help.”

            “Whatever I can do,” Lynn said, “Just let me know, I’ll help anyway I can.”  Sandra smiled, “Wait until the guys pass out and I will tell you, okay?” Sandra was friendly and polite and she was scared and in trouble.  Lynn didn’t know what the problem was; Sandra had not yet shared it with her. But whatever it was, Sandra reminded Lynn of her daughter, Kelly; a little shy and intimated, needing help but a little afraid of asking for it, afraid of being let down.

            When the beer ran out, Andy sent Lynn to the store to buy more.  Lynn asked Sandra to ride with her. It was the chance she needed to ask Sandra what was going on and what could Lynn do to help her. “What can I do to help you Sandra?” Sandra wiped the tears falling down her face. Lynn pulled into the parking lot of the store. “Sandra, I feel you are in trouble. I don’t know what it is, but you can trust me okay?” “Arturo has been beating me,” she said, “I want to get away, but I don’t have transportation. I need somebody to take me to the bus station in Winchester.” “Don’t cry,” Lynn told her, “When do you want to go?” “Tonight after Arturo gets drunk enough to pass out, by the time he wakes up and knows I am gone, it will be too late for him to find me. I’ll be on the bus headed for Georgia.” Lynn reached over and hugged her,

            “I have a plan,” she said, “On the way back from the store we can stop by the big house, pack your stuff and leave it in my car. Then when the guys pass out, we can take off.” “What about Andy?  Won’t he be ticked off at you?” “Leave Andy to me, he won’t even know I have left.”  Sandra hugged her, a big smile spread across her face. “Thank you,” she said, “When you buy the beer, buy lots of it.” “I will buy cases of it!” Lynn said laughing.

            Lynn stayed in the car while Sandra went inside the big house to pack her belongings. They didn’t want anyone to know that Lynn had helped her.  While she was waiting, Lynn thought about her own situation and the mess she had made of her life. Just because Lynn had chosen to stay, she was glad that Sandra had a mother who was able and willing to help her; and she was glad that Sandra was leaving an abusive relationship.

            After the guys passed, Lynn drove Sandra to the bus station in Winchester, and waited with her until the bus arrived. She helped Sandra gather her bags and hugged her. “Good luck,” Lynn said, “I’m glad your not staying in an abusive relationship.” “Thank you Lynn for helping me,” she said, “You know the other ladies told me, ‘you were snobbish, but you’re not that way at all. You’re vary caring and loving, and Lynn, Andy is a good person, but you need better. You need somebody whose life is not liquor. “Somebody who can and will love you for the person your are.”

            On the drive home, Lynn thought about what Sandra had said, and why would the ladies think that she Lynn, was, ‘snobbish?’ Maybe it was because Lynn kept to herself and didn’t associate. Sandra had spoke frankly and her words haunted Lynn, ‘Andy is a good person but you need better that somebody whose life is liquor. You need someone who will love you for the person you are.’

            Maybe Sandra was right, but no thank you, Lynn had been down that road before; As the old saying goes, ‘been there and done that, Lynn had been there, she had down that, and she wasn’t about to put herself through that kind of pain ever again. As far as not associating, it wasn’t because she considered herself, ‘snobbish,’ or above anyone else, she didn’t; how could she communicate when the other two ladies did not speak English?

            Lynn knew a little bit of Spanish, but when Javier died, so did her knowledge of the Spanish language. Lynn was no longer interested; she was an American woman and English was her native language.

            When she arrived home Andy and his friends were still pass out. Lynn went to her room, being quiet as not to awaken Andy or his drunken guests. It seemed as if she had just went to bed, when she was awakened by the sound of someone roaming about the house, cursing in Spanish. Just as she was about to climb our bed to investigate, Andy began pounding on the door.

            “Hey Lynn, where is Sandra?” Arturo was behind him cursing in Spanish. “What? Sandra? I don’t know, I went to bed, I heard of being, ‘my brothers keeper,’ But you want me to be responsible for guests too?” ‘Don’t get smart,” Andy snapped. Lynn wanted to say, ‘and if I do, what?’ But she didn’t. “Andy I have no idea what you’re talking about, or what he is cursing about. I went to bed last night.”

            “”Sandra took off in the middle of the night,” Andy said,” Arturo checked the big house, she is not in their bedroom and her stuff is gone.” “Well, I’m sorry,” she said, “But if he checked the big house and her stuff is gone, why ask me? I’ve been asleep, I have no idea where the girl went.”

            “Never mind, go back to bed, it’s his problem anyway.” Andy said, “Thanks for the party and the birthday dinner, I enjoyed it,” he said giving her a kiss, “go back to bed.” Lynn rubbed sleep from her eyes. “It’s too late now, once I’m awake I can’t get back to sleep.” “If you’re up, make coffee okay? While I clean up the mess.”  Wow! Lynn thought, what has gotten into him! He was actually going to stay sober clean up the beer cans, beer bottles and the dirty ashtrays!

            Later after the guys had left and Andy was in the kitchen helping her put away the food and dump the trash, he kissed her tenderly on the mouth. “It’s okay with me,” he said, “If you helped the girl. Arturo is my friend but my other friend told me last night, that sometimes Arturo would beat on Sandra.”

            Careful Lynn! Her mind warned, he is fishing for information. Lynn didn’t like to be deceitful but it had been for a worthy cause. “Helped her with what Andy?” Lynn smiled asked, smiling sweetly. “Never mind, “ Andy said, “After we get this mess cleaned up, let’s look for some yard sales. Ray wanted me to work but I don’t feel like it today. I feel like spending time with you okay?”

            Andy took care of the animals while she finished cleaning the kitchen and dumping the garbage.             The sun was shining and it was a perfect day to cruise around looking for yard sales. They went from one yard sale to the other, starting in Chantilly, going into Berryville, and coming back a different route by way of Charles Town, W.VA, to Leesburg, VA and back home to Chantilly.

            In addition to stopping at the many yard sales, they also stopped at the many flea markets and they had lunch in Charles Town. They had made many stops, looking for nothing in particular, just whatever it was that might interest them. There were many items on display, some of the merchandise was very nice with a nice price, too much value for yard sale stuff; and other stuff they checked out was just junk

            At the flea market in Berryville, Andy bought her a necklace with a silver chain; Indian turquoise.  Her would have bought her the matching bracelet with the ring, but Lynn told him no, the vendor wanted double for what she could buy it for at a quality Jewelry store.

            Andy found a pair of cowboy boots he could use for work, four short sleeve tee shirts and three pair of black jeans that could also be used for work. They picked up some household items, two pots with lids, some flatware and a cast-iron skillet. “This is good for refried beans,” he laughed.

            It turned out to be a good day and Lynn was glad he had taken the day off from work. Andy had stayed sober, allowing them to spend quality time together. Most the time when he took off on Saturday’s it was because he was too hung over to drive the tractor. He would take off and wanted to hunt for yard sales, Lynn would have to drive, because he was hung over he could not drive. And even if he had wanted to drive, Lynn would not have let him. She loved her life too much to let him get behind the wheel of her car, or his car, or any car she might be a passenger in and Lynn would never let Andy drive if he was hung over or drinking.

            Andy stayed sober for two weeks; it was a record for him. Life continued on as before. Lynn spent her days taking care of the animals, planting, and when she could find the time, Lynn would write.

            Lynn loved writing it was her way of escaping into a world of her own creation. The first advice always given to new writers was to write about what you know. Lynn’s thoughts were on her children and the unhappiness they had experienced during times of childhood. Lynn decided to try and create a character for a juvenile novel, as an example Lynn used her eldest son, Charles. With her son as the example Lynn created her main character she named him, ‘Randy.’ Lynn decided she would take Randy through a series of adventures, which would pit Randy against nature and man. In this first series, Randy would have to overcome many obstacles; she would endow her character with athletic abilities to overcome the obstacles he would face.

            As Lynn became engrossed in planning her novels and developing traits for her Main character, she forgot about the, ‘real,’ world she was living in, and life continued.

            Andy would stay sober for weeks at a time, loving her and wanting her to return that love; during those times, her would surprise her with small little gifts. But his bouts with sobriety would never last.

            He would drink at night, get drunk and pass out; get up, hung over, sick and throwing up. Most the time he would pass out leaving Lynn to her own devices. At other times he would turn into the mean and nasty stranger with the fowl mouth, cussing at her, accusing Lynn of all sorts of stuff.

            Lynn learned to handle the emotional pain, pushing down into her soul. Andy was never physically abusive, but he was very emotionally abusive.

            Summer turned to fall and Thanksgiving Day was two weeks away. Lynn wanted to fix a big dinner and invite all her children. “What do want for Thanksgiving Day,” she asked Andy, “Turkey or Ham?” “I don’t want anything,” he said, he was drinking but he was not drunk. “I thought I’d fix a big dinner and have all the kids come down,” she said,’ is that okay with you?” “The girls and the children and Chuck is okay,” he answered, “but not your crazy boy Shawn.” “Never mind Andy,” she said, “I’ll go to Pennsylvania and celebrate the day.” “Do what you want,” was his response, “I don’t care.”

            Lynn left him alone to sink into his world of alcohol and she escaped to her room, slamming her door, she was angry and she wanted him to know it. A few minutes later he was banging on the door. “Open the door!” he yelled. Lynn didn’t want to unlock the door, but if she didn’t he would just break it down. When she opened the door he started in again. “My friends are here,” he yelled, “You need to go buy some beer.’ Defiant, Lynn ignored his command.  She walked past him and into the kitchen; he followed her into the kitchen. Lynn continued to ignore him and went about fixing her a sandwich.

            “Never mind,” he said, “go to your room,” he ordered, like she was a child that needed to obey her father. Lynn walked into her room; she set the sandwich and drink down on the table.  Andy had closed her door. Angrily, Lynn jerked the door open and walked back into the living room, she stood defiantly before him.

            “I am not a child,” she said, “And, I will not be ordered to stay in my room!” And, if you want the damn beer you can get it yourself!”  Lynn walked back into her room and slammed the door. A week before Thanksgiving Day, Lynn went to Pennsylvania to spend the holiday with her children. Andy could drink himself into a coma and she didn’t care one way or the other.

            Lynn stayed until the until the 1st of December, she didn’t want to leave. “Mom,” Kelly said, “You know you can come here anytime you want to.” “I know honey,” Lynn said, “And I thank you for the invitation but even with all of his drinking and mental abuse, I guess I’m just not ready yet to take that final step.”

            “Mom you need to do what is best for you, Papa wouldn’t want you living like this?” A sudden angry wind, like the stirrings of a tornado, blew into my world and the emotions I had been covering up since I had found out about papa’s betrayal blew open.

            “Then papa should have divorced his Mexican wife before we got married! But no, he didn’t and because of Her. I can’t file for damages or collect anything on his behalf.

            “I took care of him, she didn’t, I loved him, and she didn’t! “Nobody seem to care about where he was or how he had been during the last 15 years since he let Mexico. Now he’s dead and there is money to beget. Suddenly everybody cares!” Kelly hugged me.

            “Mom, don’t,” she said, “I know you’re angry, but don’t like that papa loved you, isn’t that what is important?” “Yeah right, Kelly, sometimes I think papa was the biggest player of all times?” I loved him and probably always will, but I’m done with love. There is no such thing.” “Mom, you don’t mean that, you’re just angry.”

            “Darn right!” Lynn yelled, “I am more than angry and I’ve been holding it all in for months now. I’m angry with myself. I should have listened to Rodriguez.  He told me to, ‘Leave it alone.’ But do you think I’d listen? No, not me.  Stupid me has to prove a point, stupid me, has to fight a battle that is not even mine to fight.” In disgust, Lynn threw her hands in the air.

            “You know what makes me even more angry that finding out that Papa was still married?” Is knowing that Julie will benefit from all my hard work. Nobody wanted to help Kelly, nobody knew how to do anything, and I got the balling roll.  And not only that, but at papa’s funeral, remember how she turned on me and supported his kids? I am glad she wanted to there for papa’s kids, but why did she have to turn on me in the process? No honey, I hope you and Martin make this. Thing called love,’ work for you, but I’m over it all ready.”

            “Mom, I am so sorry you lost papa. I know you loved him very much. I hate to see you bitter like this. It’s not like you. But mom, you have to understand, most of the older guys are married in Mexico.”

            “Kelly, he lied to me!” Lynn said, “He told me, ‘no more wife.’” Lynn cried in her daughter’s arms.  “Mom, he didn’t mean to lie to you. When these guys come into this country, they come to work and send money back home to support their families. Maybe, papa had been over here for so long that he didn’t think about his old life. He wanted a life with you mom, I know he loved you.”

            “I know he loved me, Kelly. But don’t you see, by him still being married, it’s make me feel that our life together was a lie!” Lynn wiped at the tears rolling down her face. “That is what tears at my heart, when I think that love we shared was a lie.” “No it wasn’t mom, his love for you wasn’t a lie. I don’t know why papa didn’t tell you. “But I know his love for you was real.” “Whatever,” Lynn said, “It doesn’t make any difference now, does it? He’s gone and my life stinks. And the sad part is, that I’m stuck. No matter how bad his drinking gets, I have to deal with it.”

            “No you don’t mom. If it gets too bad just come up here and stay with us. We’ve been thinking about moving to Martinsburg.” Kelly said, “Martin’s friends told him there are more construction jobs down there and wages are higher. But, I hate to leave Susie up here alone.”

            “Don’t worry Kelly,” Susan said, “If you move, one day I will probably follow. Without Lucas,” she said, “I’m getting tired of his mess, he’s a dictator, and as soon as I can get it together, me and my kids are out of here.”

            “You girls have more courage then I do,” Lynn said, “You’re making better choices then I’ve made in my life.”

            “Mom,” Susan said, “Wherever we are, be it Martinsburg, or Chambersburg, don’t ever feel like you have to stay in this relationship with Andres. You can come and stay with us.” Lynn hugged her girls. “I know girls, but I walked into this mess and I have two choices, make the best of it, Or find a way out. Life goes on and one way or another, I have to deal with it. Right now, I’m just making the best of it.”

            Lynn didn’t want to but she hugged them all good-by, “Shawn, you be good and don’t give your sister any trouble. I guess one day you’re mother might get it together. “When I do, I will find a apartment, then maybe you will want to come home again.”

            “I love you mom,” Shawn said, “But don’t count on me coming back to Virginia. I can’t stand Andres and I know he doesn’t like me. If you ever get away from him and find an apartment, I’ll think about coming back.”

            “I know you don’t like him Shawn and you can’t get along with him. I don’t think it isn’t that he doesn’t like you, he doesn’t understand your emotional disability and he doesn’t know how to deal with it.”

            “You are making excuses for him mom,” Shawn said, “He doesn’t have to deal with my disability. I don’t care if he likes me or not. I’m your son, not his.” Crying, Lynn hugged him. “I am really sorry about the choices I’ve had to make.” “Don’t cry mom, it’s okay,” Shawn said, “I still love you.”

 

CHAPTER 2

 The Journey


            Christmas of 1991 passed with Lynn still living with Andy. Christmas Day was no different then the year before. With Lynn fixing dinner and Andres drinking and spouting off at the mouth.

            Again, they had another snow, Lynn couldn’t drive in, but as soon as the roads were cleared of ice and snow, she packed up the presents she had for her girls and Shawn and the grandkids, and headed for Chambersburg.

            On December 30th Lynn turned 46, she spent her birthday in Chambersburg with her family. The day after New Year’s she headed back to Virginia. The year of 1992, brought with many more changes in her life.

            Winters of ice and snow gave way to spring, as they had done the year before, Andy plowed the garden and Lynn kept busy planting then harvesting the crops. Whenever possible, Lynn would escape into her world of writing.

            She had a series of children’s manuscripts piling up on her desk. The first series was titled, ‘Randy,’ a basic introduction of her main character; She had created four series to the character. In each series, Randy was two years older and his adventures grew more dangerous, requiring more skill to defeat the obstacles of man and nature he would face.

            The second series, Lynn titled;  ‘Randy and The Haunted House.’ In this series, Randy is fourteen, and stubborn and strong willed, which leads him into trouble.

            The third series, Lynn titled; ‘Randy and The Kidnapers.’ Randy is now sixteen. In this series, Lynn brings back two characters from the first book. Randy’s father has been kidnapped by a biker gang and against his stepmother’s orders, Randy sets out to find his father.

            The fourth and final series, Lynn titled; ‘A Season For Randy.’ Her character is now eighteen and sets out to find the mother who left him when he was a toddler. This series leads Randy from Virginia to California. So far, his adventures are still just scattered thoughts written down on notes. Lynn has yet to put them together.

            Every now and then, necessity would force Lynn out of the fantasy world she had created. Bringing her back into the world of reality. A world Lynn had chosen not to deal with, a world she had chosen to escape.

            The beginning of August 1992, Lynn received a letter from her brother informing her that her mother had been placed in a nursing home. Lynn called and was able to talk with her mother. Lynn promised her mother that she would find a way to visit her in Montana. She talked to Andy about making the trip to Montana.

            “Mother really wants to see me,” Lynn pleaded, “I need to see her while I still can, before it’s too late.” As usual Andy was drinking. “Okay,” he said, “I will take my vacation is September, and we will drive out there.”

            No, it wasn’t okay. Lynn wanted Andy to buy her a plane ticket. Lynn had the feeling that September might be too late. Somehow, without knowing it, Lynn had predicted what would come to pass. Lynn’s mother died on August 29th1992. The saddest part was that Lynn had not been informed until two weeks after the funeral! Dallas had sent word asking the police in Fairfax, Virginia to locate his sister. Lynn was furious. After talking with her mother, Lynn had left her name, address and phone number with the nursing home. And nobody had bothered with passing her phone number on to her brother!

            The police claimed, ‘they could not find her.’ “Yeah right,” Lynn cried to Andy, “If there would have been a warrant for my arrest, they would have found me! Bunch of, ‘damn liars!” She cussed. Lynn didn’t make it a habit of using fowl language, but she found very descriptive adjectives that day to sum up her feelings for the police Department of Fairfax County.

            Lynn and her son, Charles, made another trip to Chambersburg, to inform the other half of the family of their grandmother’s death. It was not a time of happy reunion. They packed them all up in Lynn’s van and drove to the gravesite in Silver Spring, Maryland.

            While Charles drove, Lynn cried, bawled her heart out. Just to think that Dallas and his wife had been there, buried her mother, while she missed it, from start to finish. She missed the church service in Montana and the gravesite service in Maryland. Her brother and his wife had come alone with no support from his sister.

            Like she had done when Javier had died, Lynn cried in her sister’s arms. Carol was not her biological sister, but after her divorce with Charlie, and later when Lynn and her children had moved in with Charlie and Carol, the two of them had become the best of friends.

            To other people it seemed strange that Lynn and Carol would become friends. The ex-wife becoming friends with the new wife, but Lynn and Carol had loved the same man. When people would ask her about it, Lynn would just shrug and her answer to their questions would be the same.

            “If it hadn’t been Carol, it would have been someone else,” Lynn would reply and walk away.  In time, after Lynn was past the anger and rage, Carol became the sister Lynn never had.  The bond was there, during times of tragedy and emotional crisis, they were there for each other. Carol’s children became her children and Lynn’s children became Carol’s children. They were one big family, not always happy with each other, but always there with love and support.

            And this time was no different, like Lynn had been there for Carol and Donna, when little Andy, Carol’s small grandson, Donna’s little boy, had died, Carol was there for Lynn.

            “What make it so terrible, “ Lynn cried, “Is that I miss it all, the funeral and the service at the gravesite. I didn’t even know that my own mother had died!” Lynn cried.

            “I know sis,” Carol cried with her, “I know, just cry and let it all out.” “Me and mother were never close and I guess that is what I will always miss the most. Is not having had the chance to have that mother and daughter relationship.”

            “At least you have that relationship with your children Lynn and that’s one thing to be thankful for.” Carol said. Mom died on August 29, 1992; Lynn lived in the big city of Fairfax, Virginia, and yet amongst thousands of people, Lynn felt alone.  There was nowhere she could go for comfort.

            On September 28, a Spanish lady selling Avon came to her door in Chantilly. Lynn wasn’t interested in buying Avon; she was still trying to get over her mother’s death. The Spanish lady saw her tears and set down to talk with her. She was very sweet and very kind. There was something about this lady, an inner glow and happiness, and a feeling of peace that just seemed to reach out and touch Lynn.

            “My church is having a prayer meeting in Arlington tomorrow,” she said, “Why don’t you come? I will stop by and pick you up, or you could meet me in Centerville?”

            “I don’t know,” Lynn, replied, “I’m not much for church. It’s been so long the roof would probably cave in if I went.” Lynn joked. “Don’t you believe in God?” she asked. “Of course, I used to pray,” Lynn said, “But for some reason God never heard my prayers, and if He did hear them, He chose not to answer.” Lynn was being honest; she stopped praying after Javier died.

            Lynn had prayed so hard that day in the emergency room, that God would save Javier’s life. But heaven had been silent. And Javier had died. That was God’s answer. Lynn had given up, she stopped praying.

            “Meet me anyway,” she said, “In Centerville at the shopping center off route 28. I’ll be there at 10:00 a.m. Please come?”

            “I guess,” Lynn, said, “I don’t have anything else to.” “God will bless you,” she said, “If you come.” “I doubt that,” Lynn replied,” But I’ll come.”

            But when the next day rolled around, Lynn was making up excuses as to why she didn’t want to go. She had too much to do; she would never get it all done in time to shower and head to Centerville.

            But at the last minute, she jumped in the car and headed to Centerville. After all, she didn’t have anything else to do anyway with her boring day. At least she would be getting out of the house.

            It was a Catholic prayer meeting, most of the ladies were also Spanish, but they spoke very good English. The meeting was held by a nun, but not an ordinary nun, they called her a, ‘prophetess.’ Lynn wondered what she had let herself get involved with. But she sat quietly and listened.

            This, ‘prophetess,’ prayed for the country, and the church, then she prayed for members of the group.” God is calling someone here today,” she said, and as she said those words, Lynn felt a presence come over her; at first she didn’t understand it, then as the nun kept praying, Lynn heard the voice of God.

            “Are you ready to come to me now Lynn?” His spirit asked. At the sound of His voice, Lynn was on her knees, tears ran down her face, she cried before God, confessing her sins and asking God’s forgiveness. Lynn had always been honest and that honesty served her well now as she knelt on her knees, crying her heart out to the only one who could forgive her and cleanse her. On September 29, 1992, one month to the day after her mother’s death, the date forever etched in her memory; in a room full of strangers, the holy God of heaven called Lynn out of the world and into His kingdom;

            When God had asked, ‘if she was ready to come to him now,’ Lynn didn’t wait to respond; “Yes Lord!” Was her response as she fell on her knees crying out the pain in her heart, unashamed before strangers, Lynn confessed her sins and asking for forgiveness.

            The most precious words she heard Him say which are also etched in her memory Were; “By your faith my daughter you have been saved.” A second half of the message followed; “Leave the boyfriend, he is oil and you are water. Oil and water do not mix.”

            A weight had been lifted from her shoulders, the anger, the resentment and the shame of the life she had been leading was gone; God had taken it, and replaced it with His forgiveness and His love;

            Lynn had come to that meeting a skeptic, she had come depressed, alone with anger and resentment filling her heart, her mind and her soul; she had come sick and broken.

            But when Lynn left that Catholic prayer meeting, she was a different person; God had taken the brokenness and had made her whole. Her mind was different, her heart and her soul had been cleansed and healed.

            All the way home Lynn sang, ‘The Old Rugged Cross.’ She blessed the young Spanish lady who had invited her. Her thoughts were now on God and his kingdom. “You find a church now,” the Spanish lady said, crying with her, “You find a church and stay strong in the Lord.”

            Lynn cried in her arms and thanked her over and over. On the ride home, she shared with Lynn some of her story.

            “My husband use to come home from work and drink,” she said, “Me and my children would go into our closet and pray. One night, he threw open the closet door and yelled at us.

            “Why you in here?” he yelled. “We are praying,” she said, “We are praying that one day you will stop drinking and come to church with us.” Tears ran down her face.

            “And one Sunday morning, he did,” she said, “And he never drank again.” Lynn was impressed; her faith had made it happen. And right then Lynn felt that if she could have that same faith, maybe, Andres too, would stop drinking and come to church with her.

            Then the Lord brought to her remembrance the second half of His message; ‘Leave the boyfriend, he is oil and you are water. Oil and water do not mix.’ But Lynn was a new Christian in Christ, she had faith, but God had not yet given her wisdom. Lynn felt like her heart was about to explode, “But, Lord, I can bring him to you!” She was bursting at the seams, happy, joyful, excited; “Yes Lord, I can bring him to you!” Lynn cried.

            But Lynn didn’t have the wisdom to think that, ‘maybe, that wasn’t her job.’ Lynn didn’t understand the second half of God’s message and she didn’t wait on God, she didn’t wait on His wisdom to understand the second half of the message, she plowed ahead. Lynn knew that she could no longer share Andy’s bed without the benefit of marriage; she would have to leave or marry him, God had left her with the choice.

            Instead of leaving Andres, as the Lord had instructed, on February 27, 1993, she married him. Lynn didn’t understand that by doing so, she was going against God’s will, going against His plan for her life. She did not understand that she would be, ‘unevenly yoked.’

            Lynn found a church, Oakton Baptist Church. The spirit led her to where God wanted her to be. Every time Lynn went grocery shopping, she would look to the right side of the road, there sat this little stone church with its white steeple. Lynn could feel the draw of the spirit, and she knew this was where God wanted her to worship him.

            Lynn had never felt a part of anything before, but the Sunday morning that she walked into that little church, she felt like she belonged there. The people were warm, outgoing and friendly. Lynn was home.

            Pastor Lewis Holmes and his wife Barbara, and co-pastor Bill Gamble and his wife Mary, welcomed her with open arms. When the invitation was given, Lynn walked up front, she wanted to be baptized. Again the spirit of the Lord spoke to her.

            “Follow me,” He said, “And I will give you the desires of your heart.” Lynn broke down, as tears flowed down her face, Lynn cried out to God. She cried over her children.

            “Lord, they were just four precious little children and I didn’t protect them!” “Its my fault Lord, you gave them to me to love and protect and I was too involved in myself and because of all my bad decisions, I dragged them through the fires of hell, of poverty and abuse. Lord forgive me!”

            “Lynn you can’t give them back their childhoods,” God said, “When water is spilled from the glass you can not scoop it up and put it back in the glass. But you can give them a future.”

            “Lord, you said that if I follow you, you would fulfill the desires of my heart. Lord, my desires are not for material wealth, but my desires are for my the salvation of my children!”

            On September 29, 1992, Lynn had been saved and on December 9, 1992, Lynn was baptized. On the day of her salvation Lynn had moved out of Andy’s bed and with strength from God, she stayed out of his room until the day they became husband and wife. Lynn now belonged to God and his church and even when Andy would laugh and mock her, Lynn would retreat to her room, pray and study God’s word; and that gave her the strength she needed. OBC, as the church had been nicknamed, short for, Oakton Baptist became Lynn’s second home. She was there every Wednesday, every Sunday morning and every Sunday night.

            Lynn’s daughter Susan had left Pennsylvania and was living in Leesburg. Kelly was living in the small trailer behind the house she shared with Andres. Lynn was now teaching Sunday school and she loved it.

            Every Sunday morning Lynn would make the trip to Leesburg to pick up her daughter and two grandchildren. On the very first day Lynn was taught her first Sunday school class, during the afternoon service, Susan walked the isle, giving her life to Jesus. When their mother was baptized, the grandchildren were baptized with her!

            As Lynn prayed over them she cried, knowing that God was keeping his promise, what awesome God she served!

            One service during the middle of winter was especially near and dear to her heart. Shawn had come down for a visit, the roads were bad, with ice and snow and she couldn’t get him back to Pennsylvania. He went to church with her and his sister’s.

            When the invitation came, Lynn heard the voice of the Lord, “Take their hands,” He said. “Oh Lord, Lynn cried,” I’m not worthy! “I didn’t ask you to be worthy,” The Lord said. Being obedient to the spirit, Lynn took the hands of her children.

            Her daughter Kelly on one side of her, and her son Shawn on the other side. It was like a jolt electricity going down her arms flowing through Lynn into her children. Kelly and Shawn burst into tears, Lynn stood beside them at the alter, praying with them the prayer of salvation.

            Yes, God is awesome. Lynn was following Jesus, and God was fulfilling His promise to fulfill the desires of her heart. Three of her children were now in the kingdom; there was one child left and Andres.

            Lynn was growing and learning in Christ. Learning in knowledge and growing in faith. At home, Lynn would try and set the example, but nothing changed. After their marriage, Andres promised he would try and, ‘slow down,’ he would be fine for a month or two and it would start all over.

            Lynn would retreat to her room, to read her Bible and pray. On Sunday’s and Wednesday’s, church was her outlet. Through Bible study Lynn was learning the meaning of being,’ unevenly yoked.’ Lord, she cried, why didn’t I know this before?’

            Dissatisfied with her marriage, Lynn cried out to God, Lord, provide me with a place to live and I’ll go.’

            In the fall of 1993, God provide housing in Leesburg, it was the same low-income Housing project where her daughter Susan and grandchildren lived. Lynn and Shawn moved in.

 

CHAPTER 3

Deception


            Lynn loved being closer to her daughter Susan, while Susan worked, Lynn would see that her grandchildren, Michelle and Juan, got on the school bus and she would be there when they came home in the afternoon.

            But that was the only thing she liked about Leesburg. Lynn felt that she did not fit into the neighborhood. Shawn and Lynn moved in May of 1993.  Lynn did not make any friends, she didn’t look for any. Shortly after the move in May, Charles came home. It was only a two bedroom, Charles slept on the sofa in the living room.

            She had been there two months when Andy came one weekend, pleading for her to take a vacation with him to Texas. He missed her and wanted her back.

            “I love you Andy,” she said, “But I can’t live with the drinking. I have my church and I am happy. We live in different worlds, your world is the bottle, and my world is church and family.”

            “I will stop drinking I promise and I will go to church with you. If you just come back to me.” Andy said. “You and me were married in the church, we shouldn’t be apart. “Spend the weekend with me, please, I will stay sober and Sunday I will go to church with you.”

            Lynn packed a few things and spent the weekend with him in Chantilly. She wanted so badly for Andy to stop drinking, and Lynn had been praying for it. Perhaps this was an answer to her prayers.

            Andy kept his promise, he stayed sober and when Sunday morning rolled around, he went to church with her. When pastor Holmes, gave the invitation, Andy walked up the isle. Lynn stood by his side as he confessed his needs before God. “I don’t want the alcohol anymore,” he said, “I want God to take it and to forgive me. And I want my wife back.”

            Lynn had married this man, she felt she was obligated to stay with him, especially now, after he had given his heart to God. She gave Shawn and Charles the apartment and moved back in with him. In August Lynn took the vacation to Texas. Andy had not been drunk since that Sunday when he had walked the isle. It appeared that he was keeping his promise to stop drinking.

            He searched the countryside in Texas, until he found property and a house in Bedias, Texas. It was set on three acres of ground; the house had three bedrooms and two bathrooms. It was, ‘an unfinished shell,’ on a block foundation.  They would have to finish the inside. The price was $15,000. It was $600.00 down and $250.00 a month. Lynn tried to talk him out of it. But Andy was too excited, “I want this house,” he said, “We can come down her and live. I can truck farm, watermelons will grow good in this sandy soil.”

            “When you retire,” Lynn said, “But there are no jobs here. Andy you just can’t quit your job and move down here with nothing.” “Honey, I can find a job anywhere. Texas is my home. I want this house.” There was no stopping him, as he signed his name on the dotted line, Lynn wrote out a check for the down payment. They spent the rest of his vacation in the house.

            They got to know some of the neighbors. Lucy and Hernando owned the property next to them. Lucy and Lynn hit it off from the beginning. They were Spanish and Andres and Hernando became the best of friends.

            “You’re going to be moving here?” Lucy asked, “When?” “When he retires,” Lynn laughed. “No, next year,” Andy said. Lynn didn’t know what to say. She had expected him to wait until he retired. Lynn didn’t want to move. She didn’t want to leave her children and grandchildren. And she didn’t want to leave the church where she was learning and growing in her Christian walk.

            “Andy,” she said when they were alone, “I thought we were going to keep it for a vacation house? We can come down every summer and you can work on the place.” “No,” Andy said, “I don’t like Virginia anymore. I am coming down next spring. You are my wife, you are coming with me. Honey, we can be happy here, I promise.” He started making plans, telling her what he wanted to do with the land and the house.

            “I want to truck farm,” he said, “Grow watermelons and cantaloupes, and peppers and green beans, cucumbers and tomatoes. Then, while I work, you can take the produce into town and sell it.”

            “But what about my family Andy? I don’t want to move this far away from them.” “Honey, they are not little babies anymore. They can live without you now.” he grabbed her hand, “Come on, I want to show you how I plan to finish the house.”

            As they walked through each room, Andy told her his plans about remodeling every room. “I will build a big closet in this room,” he said, “This has a big bath so it will be our master bedroom. I want to panel all the walls.” “This other room in the front will be your den,” he said, “I’ll put paneling here too, and bookshelves for all your books. And you can write all your books in here.” he hugged her and kissed her, “honey, this will be our house, yours and mine. I will screen in the front porch and we can sit out there without the bugs and misquotes. This the third bedroom I will use for storage until I can build a storage shed”

            “I want to rebuild the kitchen cabinets and I will put down new floors. I love this house. We can make a circle driveway in the yard and you can put your flowers around it. I want to put shutters on the windows and build a fence on the front and the side.”

            Lynn was happy that he was excited with his dreams and plans. But Lynn could not share in his excitement. She could not share his dreams and his plans. Lynn did not want to move to Texas. But he was her husband and she would follow him and make this home, her home too. And she would use her social security check to make the payments.

            In April of 1994, after Andy used Lynn as a deduction on his income tax, Lynn lost her social security. In June of 1994, Andres had an accident in the garage while he was repairing the tractor. He almost lost his thumb; his boss did not want him going to the hospital. Lynn took him anyway and claimed workmen’s compensation. His employer was very angry and fired him.

            In July, Lynn hugged her children and cried with them. Shawn helped them pack the truck. Lynn cried and hugged him. “Shawn, come with us,” she cried, “I can’t leave you so far away.” “I love you mom, but I don’t want to move to Texas. I’ll be okay,” he said, “Don’t cry, I’m not a baby anymore.” Lynn had cried with the other children and her grandchildren the day before and today, she cried with Shawn. They drove him back to Leesburg, and Lynn cried all the way back to Chantilly.

            The Sunday before she had hugged her pastor and his wife and other members of the church that she had grown so close too. That night during evening services, the church had presented her with a certificate of achievement. Lynn cried.

            “Stay strong in the Lord,” her pastor said, “And let His spirit guide your steps. Don’t cry honey,” he said hugging her, “I got a feeling that you will be back.”

            The next day, they packed the dogs in the truck and the cat in her car and headed to their new home in Texas. In a way, the house was a blessing, after Andres was fired, his boss had given them thirty days to vacate his property. If they hadn’t had the house in Texas, they would have been on the street or in a shelter.

            Andres drove the rental truck and pulled his truck behind it, Lynn followed in her car. It took them four days; they would drive during the day and pull over at rest areas to walk the dogs and eat. Her little dog Princess, did not take well to the drive, she was sick, throwing up in her cage. Andy had to make frequent stops to let her out and clean out the cage. The other two dogs, ‘Bud,’ and ’22 short,’ nicknamed for a bullet, and the cat, did okay, but not princess, the poor thing was very sick.  Lynn wasn’t a vet, but she guessed it was motion sickness.

            Whenever they stopped, Lynn would walk Princess and the other two dogs, her offspring, while Andres fussed and cussed, as he cleaned out her cage. Lynn even prayed over her little dog, that God would keep her alive.

            In order to save money, they slept mostly in rest areas; Andy would sleep in the front seat of his truck, while Lynn slept in the backseat of her car. Andy was used to this, but Lynn was not. The muscles in her legs would cramp and knot up, causing a lot of pain. Because she was driving, Lynn could not take any medicine and she would have to wait until their next stop before she could walk out the painful cramps.

            “Andy, we have to get a motel room tonight,” Lynn told him, “I have to stretch out these legs. I can’t take this pain anymore.’ “My back too,” he said, “A lot of pain in my back. Tonight we will sleep in a motel room.” Lynn remembered the dogs and she had to laugh. “If they will let us bring the animals,” she laughed. “Anyway,” he said, “Tomorrow we will be home. One night in the motel won’t hurt our money that much. We will sneak the dogs and my cat into the room,” he laughed. They drove through Louisiana and into Arkansas; they were twenty miles from the Texas panhandle when they stopped for the night. Lynn and Andy were both tired and hungry, they ate at a truck stop and found a motel room. They walked the dogs and took them into the room. If the management noticed the dogs, they didn’t say anything.

            “I want to get an early start in the morning,” Andy said, “I want to sleep in our house tomorrow night.” Lynn kissed him goodnight and climbed into bed. The sun was shining and the dogs were barking when she awoke the next morning. Andy was up and dressed.

            “Hey, sleepy head, we are late getting started,” he laughed, “I already walked the dogs and paid the motel bill. Come one we got to get on the road.” Lynn forced herself out of the comfortable bed. Andy laughed at her.

            “They got coffee and donuts downstairs,” he said, “Fill up a bag and let’s hit the road. Tomorrow you can sleep until noon.” “Don’t tempt me,” Lynn replied, “I just might do that.”

            They drove all day and half the night. Andy refused to stop until they were, home. Tired, hungry and exhausted, they pulled up in the yard of their new home early the next morning. They let the dogs and the cat out to run.

            Andy fussed as he tried his key in the lock, “Somebody changed the lock,” he fussed. “We have to go to the office and get the key!” They tied up the dogs and drove to the office where they had another wait just to get the keys to their house. They waited almost two hours.

            “The key to my door won’t work!” he yelled at the girl in charge. “Somebody changed the locks on the door!”

            “I’m so sorry,” she said, “But we change the locks to keep the houses from being broken into. They should have told you and given you keys.” “You have the new keys?’ “I have keys,” she said, “please don’t yell at me, it’s not my fault.” “Andy,” Lynn pleaded, “calm down.” “I will calm down when I have the keys to my house.” “Andy I’m tired and hungry too, but it’s not this girl’s fault. You can’t yell at her for it.” “I’m sorry,” Andy said, as the girl handed him our new keys. “Me and my wife drove all day and all night. We are tired and hungry.”

            “I understand,” she said, “It’s okay, I would be mad too. You know you have to go into Bedias, to get your electric hooked up and turned on, don’t you?” she asked. “The plumbing is hooked up to the well and septic. But you don’t have any electric.” “Tomorrow,” Andy said, “I don’t need electric today.”

            Lynn and Andy moved the furniture and boxes into the house, while Andy set up the bed; Lynn unpacked the kitchen stuff first. They were hungry but there was no refrigerator and no stove and no electric. Their money was getting low, they would have to cash another check to hook up the electric, find a refrigerator, and buy a stove and food. Lynn didn’t know how they would manage until Andy found work, but no matter how bleak it looked, she knew that God would provide. They ate sandwiches again that night and collapsed into bed.

            “Tomorrow we have to return the truck.” Andy said, “And get the electric hooked up, find a refrigerator and a stove. How much money do we have left?” “We have $1,500,” Lynn said, “If we are careful we can make it last.” She kissed him goodnight. “Anyway, God will provide.” ‘Next week I will look for work. Don’t worry honey, I will find something.” “I’m not worried, God will provide.” “The first thing we have to do in the morning is return the truck or we will get charged for another day.”

            Lynn was so tired, she needed more refills on her medicine, but she didn’t want to tell Andy. She didn’t want to add to his stress. Lynn would do without as long as she could. ‘Lord,’ Lynn prayed, ‘Take away the pain and heal this diabetes. Lord, I know that you will provide. Thank you Lord, for getting us here safe and sound.’

            The next morning they made the long drive into Houston, it took them four hours and four more hours to find Sears and Budget Rental. It was almost dark when they returned the truck. They would have to do without electric one more day. One the way home they stopped and ate. The weekend was coming up and Lynn wanted to find a church. She wanted to worship God this Sunday.

            It cost them $200.00 to have the electric hooked up. “Why so much?’ Andres fussed. ”You get it back in six months if you stay current on your bill,” the representative told them. “This isn’t right,” Andres said. The representative ignored his complaint. “We can hook it Friday,” he said, “We will be out there early in the morning.”

            They made the appointment and drove into Navasota to look for a refrigerator and a stove. It cost them another $200.00. “You sure they work?” “They work,” the Spanish guy said, “I wouldn’t sell you something that didn’t work.” They talked a little more in Spanish. He helped Andy load the appliances in the back of the truck.

            “Do we have enough left to eat?” Andy laughed on the way home. “We can eat,” Lynn said, “But if we keep having to buy things we won’t have enough left to fill the refrigerator.”

            On the way home, Lynn noticed a big church, she would be able to worship on Sunday. “You want to come to church with me Sunday?” “I don’t know honey,” he said, “I got a lot to do.”

            Lucy and her family arrived at their farm on Saturday. Lynn invited her over to look at the house. “Its still a mess,” Lynn said, “I have not had much time to unpack.” “Don’t worry about it,” Lucy laughed, “You should see my house in Baytown. “With two kids, a full time job and Hernando, I never have time to keep up with everything.” Lynn was embarrassed that she didn’t have anything to offer her to eat or drink. “Andy hasn’t found a job yet,” she said, “Funds around here are getting low.” “Why don’t you go into Navasota on Monday and apply for food stamps,” Lucy asked. “Don’t be ashamed, when we first moved to Baytown, Hernando didn’t have work and we got them for a little while. At least you can eat.’ “Yes, but you have children. We don’t have children, Lucy.” Lynn said. “Here in Texas, that doesn’t matter,” she said, “It goes on your income and right now, you don’t have any.”

            “And the cheapest place to buy your food is, Wal-Mart, in Huntsville, Just drive east on route 30, they have all the big prisons there, you can’t miss it,” she said. “We killed a calf last weekend and tonight we’re having a cook out, you and Andy are invited.” “Thanks Lucy,” “Hey, it’s my chance to give you a big Texas welcome.”

            Lynn liked their new neighbors; the only downfall was that like Andres, Hernando too, was a drinker. She was very proud of Andy; he had not drank for almost two months. Grimes County, Texas was a, ‘dry county.’ To buy alcohol, he would have to travel to Navasota or Huntsville.

            On Sunday morning, Lynn got dressed and went to church. Again she extended the invitation to Andy to join her. “Maybe next week,” he said, “I got too much work here.”

            Lynn went to church by herself. She enjoyed the service. It was a big church, but three older ladies invited her to their Sunday school class. Lynn was younger than the other’s in the class. But everyone welcomed her and they were friendly and outgoing, inviting her back next week.  

            But Lynn need not have worried about Andres finding the alcohol, instead of working, he had been with Hernando, drinking. He tried to hide it from her, but Lynn could smell it on his breath.

            “Hernando had a small bottle,” he said, “We finished it off.” Lynn had not asked him about it. She knew he had been drinking, but she hadn’t said a word. When Lynn did not answer, he said, “You mad?” “Why should I be mad? If you want to drink, that’s your business.” “Good, thank you honey,” he said, “I won’t drink no more,” he promised. Lynn didn’t want to talk about it. She changed the subject.

            “I was talking to Lucy yesterday,” she said, “She thought it would be a good idea if we went into Navasota tomorrow and applied for food stamps. At least we wouldn’t have to spend the rest of our cash on food. The house payment is due in a few weeks. Paying that is going to make a dent in the cash we have left. What do you think?”

            “If they will give them to us,” he said, “Lucy has kids, we don’t.” “Lucy said, it didn’t matter here in Texas. It depends on your income.” Andy shrugged. “I don’t like being on the public dole,” he said,  “I never took anything from the government, I always worked for what I needed. But if you think they will give them to us, it would be good to eat regular meals again and fill up the refrigerator.” “Right now we can’t let our pride keep us from getting the help if we can get it,” Lynn said. “I didn’t want to tell you, but I need refills on my medicine.” “Why didn’t you tell me?” He was angry that she hadn’t told him. “I didn’t want to stress you out with it. I don’t know how much it will cost and I didn’t want to spend money we didn’t have on medicine.” “You are my wife, you can’t die because we don’t have money for your medicine. Honey, you get your prescriptions refilled tomorrow. I don’t care how much it cost.”

            The next morning Lynn and Andy drove into Navasota. Like Andy, Lynn hated asking for help, but they needed it. They were down to their last bit of cash. If it had been up to Lynn, she would have given their last bit of cash as a tithe offering to her new church, Bedias Baptist asking God to bless the offering, knowing that God would have opened the windows of heaven and poured out His blessing; but that decision wasn’t Lynn’s to make.

            But knowing her heart, God blessed her with the help she needed. Because she was no longer receiving social security, the county could not help her with medicine, but since Andy had not yet found employment, they were eligible for food stamps. At least now, they would be able to eat regular meals. Thank you Lord for meeting my needs.

            Lynn missed her children terribly, as always since becoming a child of God; Lynn found peace and comfort in God and her new church. She became involved with a Sunday school class of older ladies; they were warm and friendly and accepting; inviting her into their hearts and into their homes.

            The church was trying to build children Sunday school class, but it lacked children for programs and activities. As Lynn started to meet new people, some who would become friends, Lynn rounded up as many children as she could and brought them to church. Lucy was Catholic she thought it would be good for her girls to attend, but Hernando refused to let them. He must have said something to Andy about it.

            “You can’t take them,” he said, “Hernando said, no. They are Catholic, like me, leave it alone, okay?” He wasn’t asking her, but rather telling her. Lynn didn’t see what the problem was in taking children to church, and she told him so.

            “What kind of influences do they have out there in the world?” She said. Andy had been drinking again. “They not your kids, okay? Leave it alone okay?” Lynn dropped the subject, he wanted to argue. Lynn refused to let him get started, but she did speak her mind.

            “No, they are not my kids. I miss my kids and I wish to God, I had listened and never came down here. If you want to argue, you can argue with the cows; I am not listening. I miss my kids, my grandkids and my church, and I want to go home!” Lynn took her little dog Princess and went for a long walk down the country road. As Lynn walked, she cried out to God; ‘Forgive me Lord, for not listening to you. Forgive me for being stubborn and wanting my will instead of your will for my life. Lord, I’m back in the same mess that you took me out of. But you know that Lord; that’s why you found a way for me to escape. Forgive me Lord. What do I do now, Father? Different state, same mess.”

            Life with Andy continued without interruption, different state, but the same mess. Only difference was that now she was alone without the support of her children. As Lynn became more depressed and lonely, Andy went about his merry plans with fixing up the house and planting his garden.

            In the beginning, because it was to be her house too, Lynn had shared in those dreams. The planted the garden, watermelons, cantaloupes, green beans, tomatoes and other crops. But summer continued, watermelons and cantaloupes were the only crops that grew in the Texas sand. And the hot summer heat was unbearable. They celebrated their first Christmas in the house.

            Andy had found work, but it didn’t pay much, not even enough to cover the note on the house, they started to get behind. To his credit, Andres found a new job, laying pipe for a gas company. It was thirty miles away, but it paid good money. By this time though, they were far behind on the house payments that it would be hard for them to get caught up. After everything they had done to the property and to the house, it would all be for nothing.

            About this time, Shawn decided he missed his mother; Susan put him on the bus to Texas. He was coming at a bad time, but Lynn was happy and excited. Andy wasn’t happy or excited, but he accepted the fact that Shawn was on his way.

            They met his bus in Huntsville. “You’re just in time Shawn,” Andy said, “To help with the crops.” Shawn groaned, but he didn’t say anything. To Lynn’s surprise, they got along better then they had in Virginia. Andres had not changed, but Shawn had, he had grown up and matured.

            Andres tired to teach him to drive, of course Andres had been drinking. Shawn backed up the truck, hitting the gas instead of the brakes, he smacked into the electric pole. “Okay Shawn, no more lessons for you,” Andy said. Lynn taught him to drive the riding mower. While she worked the garden, Shawn would cut the grass. He was good at it and enjoyed it until the day he ran over the anthill.

            Lynn had gone inside to get them something to drink, when she heard Shawn screaming. When she ran outside Shawn was screaming, ‘Get’em off me!” As Lynn got to him, she could see what had happened, he had ran over an anthill, red ants were crawling over him biting and stinging.

            Lynn grabbed the hose and stripped him down to his shorts, spraying him with the hose, at the same time, trying to keep the ants away from her. Shawn kept swatting and disrobing, backing up away from the anthill. “That’s it!” he screamed, “I’m not mowing this stupid grass ever again! That was the end of the mowing experience for Shawn. Lynn felt so sorry for him and she worried that he could get an infection. Shawn never mowed the grass again, but he did help Lynn with the garden.

            One afternoon, while Andy was working, Lynn drove into Huntsville for groceries. On the way out of the wal-mart parking lot, some people were giving away Puppies; Shawn saw the sign and begged her to stop.

            “Mom look at the puppies, stop please they are so cute.” They had three dogs and a cat. The last thing she needed was another dog, another mouth to fee. But she stopped. “Shawn we can’t afford to feed another animal” But Lynn stopped. Shawn picked out a little black lab. “Mom please,” he begged. “I will buy the food and take care of it. I want something to love. A puppy I can love and play with.” He cuddled the little puppy to his chest. “He’s so cute. Can I have him please?”

            “We have to move to an apartment,” the lady said, “We just want them to have good homes. I have a 5lb. bag of dog food that goes with them.” Lynn started to say, ‘no,’ but Shawn wanted him; looking at Shawn holding the black wiggle puppy and the puppy licking his face, it was love at first sight for the both of them. She knew Andy would be mad but Shawn hadn’t asked for much in his life and Lynn couldn’t refuse him.

            She went back into the store and bought a tie out chain and a dog collar. Shawn was in the backseat, with the puppy curled up asleep on his lap. She hoped Andy wouldn’t be too mad when he saw the dog.

            “Okay Shawn, this is your dog, you need to take care of it and by the food.” Andy told him, he wasn’t mad. “You’re not mad because I let him have it?” Lynn asked. “No,” he said, “I’m not mad, “ Andy, said, “As long as Shawn buys the food and take care of it. He’s going to grow into a big dog,” he said, “I will build him a dog house and Shawn can help me build it.”

            Shawn named him, ‘Blackie,’ and the for the next two months Shawn did take responsibility of his dog. But one afternoon as Shawn was getting ready to take a walk with a friend he had been hanging with, Lynn reminded him to make sure his dog had food and water, he took food and water out to his dog, Lynn heard him screaming.

            She ran out the back door, the little dog was lying under his box, he was dead. Shawn cried and screamed, “What happen to him!” Lynn unhooked the tie out chain from his collar, he had an open wound on his neck. “Maybe a wild animal got to him during the night,” she said, ‘he wasn’t strong enough to fight it off,” she said. Shawn held the limp body close to him and cried. “Everything I love either leave me or dies,” he cried. Lynn cried with him. “I’m so sorry honey,” she cried, “I’m so sorry.”

            One hot July morning, as Lynn turned on the washer, instead of pumping water, it was pumping sand. They had not been in the house for one year and the well had dried up. When Lynn went to the office to report it and tell them that she needed a new well, Mr. Hall refused to make it right.

            “You are too far behind on payments,” he said, “ I won’t drill you another well.” “Mr. Hall, you said we could pay you every month until we got caught up and we have been doing that. And now, you’re not going to drill another well? How are we going to stay out there without water?”

            “Well,” he said, “Looks like you’re going to have to move anyway,” he said, “Unless you can come up with $2, 000 in back payments. If you do that, I will put in another well. If not, you need to be out by September.”

            “You promised us time to get caught up, now you’ve changed your mind. But I know why, it’s because I made a complaint to the county and made you put in a new septic, isn’t it?” The old man shrugged and looked away.

            “It may have been better if you hadn’t made that complaint,” he said, “But You did.” Lynn became very angry, but she controlled her temper.

            “I came to you three times,” she said, “And told you about the septic and you refused to do anything about it. It will be one year in September and that septic tank had been overflowing and spilling out into the yard since we bought the house and you refused to replace it. I know that other people in your houses dump their sewerage in the little streams behind their property and that seeps into the ground water and the well water, I was not going to live like that. When you would not replace the septic tank, you left me no choice but to report it.”

            “And being so far behind in your payments you leave me no choice but to take back the property” “Mr. Hall,” Lynn said, “This little set up you’ve got going here is nothing more than a scheme and a con game.” “Talk to my lawyers,” he said. Lynn left his office while she still had control of her temper.

            When she told Andy, he went into a rage. “He can’t do that! he yelled, “I will kill that old man!” “Andy, as much as you want to kill him, that won’t solve the problem and it won’t get you your money back.” “All this time and money I’ve spent has been for nothing. I want to cry honey,” he said. Im losing my house.” Lynn cried with him. They had both did so much work in the house and in the garden.

            They hadn’t had any luck with the garden, the hot Texas sun and the drought had killed the tomatoes and green beans, but the watermelons and cantaloupes had thrived and grew in the sandy soil. The three of them, Andy, Lynn and Shawn, had spent the weekend loading the watermelons and cantaloupes in the truck to sell in town. But that didn’t pan out. Everybody in Bedias was selling watermelons and cantaloupes; they had to almost give them away to get rid of them.

            Lynn didn’t understand why it had not worked out and why they couldn’t keep the house. She begged God for answers, but God was silent. In September they moved into Baytown. Shawn did not move with them. He took his check for August and bought a bus ticket for Virginia. Andres drove him into Huntsville. Lynn hugged him good-by. “Don’t cry mom, I just want to go back to Virginia. I’ll be okay.” Lynn cried all the way home. 

            Lucy found them a one-bedroom house in Baytown. Andres and Lynn met with the landlord and paid the first month’s rent and deposit. She was very nice. “Do you have any animals?” she asked. “Yes, we have three dogs and a cat.” “I’m sorry, but you can’t have that many dogs. I can let you have a small dog and the cat is okay.” “Is okay,” Andy said, “We will give away my two big dogs. Is okay my wife has a little house dog and I can bring my cat?” “Yes, the little house dog and the cat are okay.” On the way back to Bedias, Lynn cried. “Andy we’ve lost so much and now you have to give your two dogs away.” “Is okay honey. My friend wants my big boy and twenty-two short.”

            Hernando and Lucy loaned them the cattle trailer to haul their stuff in. But before they could use it, Lynn had to clean out; what a mess! Andy carried the water from Lucy’s house and Lynn scrubbed away the cow dung.

            Hernando helped Andy load the big items, while Lynn, Lucy and her girls helped with the boxes and small things. Andy took the bathroom cabinets and kitchen cabinets down from the walls and sold them to Hernando.

            “Now, I get a little bit of my money,” he said. Lynn pulled out the small trees she had planted, she would take the small flowering bushes with her and give the little pecan trees, the walnut trees and pine trees to Lucy and Andy’s friend. She would get the rest of her flowers that weekend when they returned the cattle trailer to Hernando.

            But the following Saturday when they returned to the property, her flowers were gone and someone had broken into the house and had stolen all the plumbing from both bathroom and the kitchen Andres just shook his head.

            “I’m glad we got our stuff out,” he said, “ maybe your old lady down the road took it,” he said. “Maybe she did,” Lynn, said, “she was in need of plumbing. I just hope Mr. Hall doesn’t blame it on us.” “The hell with him,” Andy said, “I’m going to drive the cattle trailer over to Hernando, are you coming?” Lynn had to laugh. “Where else can I go,” she said, “our house is empty.” “It’s not our house anymore.” he closed the door and never looked back.

            After returning the trailer, Andy drank with Hernando. Lynn didn’t say anything to him; it was his way of dealing with losing the house. Lynn felt like getting drunk too, but she had given it up a long time ago and wasn’t about to pick it up again. They spent the night at Lucy’s little ranch. Andres passed out under the stars; Lynn laid a blanket over him. Lucy had a little travel trailer; she made up the bed for Lynn.
 

CHAPTER 4

Baytown


            After losing the house Lynn wanted desperately to come home; but it was not to be, God would not permit it.  They had been living in Baytown for two months when Andres lost his job, if that wasn’t bad enough, he became very sick. The diagnosis was not good he had contacted tuberculosis. Lynn was also tested but she did not have it.

            They borrowed money from Lucy and Hernando to buy his medicine. While he had been sick his unemployment ran out and the bills were piling up. Lynn wanted to ask God what was next? But she didn’t dare. All she could do was pray and keep trusting God to meet their needs.

            Andres searched everyday for another job but there was nothing. “Okay Lord, I give it to you.” It was awesome how God worked it out; after Lynn turned it over to the Lord, Andres found work.

            During the trials Lynn had learned some valuable lessons about faith and about trusting God to meet their needs. Andres had been out drinking one Saturday night and playing cards. Someone took his wallet, with all his money in it. There was no money to buy food and the Sunday was Easter. Lynn opened the refrigerator it was empty; Lynn got on her knees and cried before God.

            “Lord, there is nothing here but I know you will provide. She went off to church to praise God. During Easter morning services Pastor Mary Frazier called Lynn up front to the alter. ‘I have something for you,’ she said, she handed Lynn an envelope; ‘You never told me or anybody else about your need,’ she said, ‘but God knew and he met it this morning, you take this and buy food for Easter dinner.’ hugging her, Lynn cried. Lynn hadn’t told anyone, but God; and once again God had met her need.

            In May Shawn returned to live with her and Andres moved out. He had found a job remodeling apartments. “I can’t live here with your crazy boy,” he said. “I got me one apartment with my job.”

            “Honey, if you to go, then go. I won’t stop you.” “Who’s going to pay the rent and buy food?” “If Shawn is living here he will have to pay the rent, won’t he?” “Maybe I shouldn’t have come back here,” Shawn said. “No Shawn you stay with your mother and help her.”

            Shawn stayed but the apartment was only a one-bedroom; if Shawn would be paying rent it was only fair that he have a separate bedroom. Lynn found them a two-bedroom close to where Andres lived; they moved in July.

            While living in Baytown, they moved three times; from one apartment to another. Lynn just wasn’t satisfied anywhere; she wanted to go home. But God made her wait until July of 1996. Before allowing her to return back to Virginia. He closed all the doors in Texas. In July of 1996, Lynn had one big yard sale; they packed the rest of their stuff in a u-haul trailer; Lynn said good-by to her church, paid her tithe and left Texas. Indeed it is true, God works in mysterious ways his miracles to perform When Lynn had lived in Leesburg in the low income housing complex, that God had provided, it wasn’t good enough for her; she had wanted something better. The lord let her what she had wanted, the house in Texas. But because it had not been God’s will for her life she had lost it; and the Lord had made her wait three years to come home; and she had come full circle; from Leesburg to Texas, from Texas back to Leesburg, to the very same place she had started from.

            When Lynn could no longer stand Andy’s drinking and had cried out to God for A place she could afford; God had provided it. But after a few months of living in the low-income apartments, Lynn had become dissatisfied, unhappy and she now realized, she had been over taken by pride.

            What God had provided was not, ‘good enough,’ for her; ‘she,’ deserve better. She was a child of God and she wanted ‘something better.’ She was better than the ‘people,’ that lived here, or so Lynn thought at the time. Since her salvation in 1992, Lynn had prayed for everything, for her children to Andy’s drinking problem.

            But there was one thing Lynn had left out of her prayers; she had never prayed for wisdom. She had prayed for God to guide her and he had, but Lynn had not been receptive to the voice of his spirit. It had taken Lynn a long time to realize and understand what she had done, three years to be exact.

            But now as Lynn returned back to the place where she had started from, she was beginning to understand that this was where she was supposed to have been all along; God’s will for her life had not been Texas that had been Lynn’s will. No, God’s will for her life had been Virginia. But not having the wisdom to understand this, without meaning to, Lynn had become filled with pride and had rebelled.

            “Lord, help me now to understand your will and your plan for my life.”  Now that Lynn was beginning to understand, she didn’t want to repeat mistakes of the past. She wanted to do things God’s way this time around.

            Andres found a room in Leesburg, Lynn and Shawn moved in with her daughter and grandchildren. Lynn had returned in an old car they had bought in Texas. She had given up the new car Andres had bought for her when Andres had been out of work and could not afford the payments. Lynn had not wanted to give the car back to the company; She had wanted to keep it. But she had heard the voice of the spirit telling her to call the company and tell them where the car was. ‘It has served its purpose,’ the spirit had said, And Lynn knew she had to give the car back.

            The old car had brought her back to Virginia; it had passed Texas inspection but would not pass Virginia’s strict inspection standards. She would need another car. In her heart Lynn knew that God would provide. “Lord, I don’t know where it’s going to come from, but you do.” Lynn prayed. Lynn had returned to Oakton Baptist Church and to the gift God had given her, teaching the children and taking care of the nursery. One Sunday after church, Pastor Holmes had asked her, ‘if she needed a car,’ the church had two cars that had been donated to them. Talk about an answer to prayers! Lynn got down in the pew and thanked God. “How did you know pastor, how did you know?”

            Pastor Holmes smiled, “God knew,” he said, “And he laid it on my heart.” God had answered her prayer. When she and Shawn could no longer live at the housing complex and she would be in need of shelter, one of the members was moving into a house and he had a trailer he no longer needed. It was Lynn’s if she could find a way to have it moved and a lot to move it on to.

            Lynn and Andy found a trailer court on the outskirts of Manassas. Shawn was to live there too; he helped Andy tear down the side porches so that the trailer could be moved. All was going well, until Shawn was helping Andy dig the holes for the support blocks. They had been working for days; they were exhausted, tired and hungry. They started to arguer and Shawn threw a big fit and walked off. Someone in the park called the police. The next day Lynn was told that because of the fight, Shawn would not be able to live there. Andy had paid to have the trailer moved; Shawn had paid the deposit on the lot.

            Andy gave Shawn back the deposit. “I won’t live here with, ‘him.” Shawn said. “I’m going back to Leesburg with Susie.” “But Shawn we couldn’t stay there, remember? Your sister would have been evicted.” “Then I will go to a shelter if I have to, but I can’t live here either.” He was right, the park management had made it clear, either Andy stayed and Shawn left, or Shawn stayed and Andres left. Shawn made the decision to leave.

            Lynn stayed with Andres for another four years, until his drinking started to drag her down. Lynn sank into a deep depression. Many a Sunday morning Lynn had to will her out of bed; she had to force herself to shower. The depression became so severe that she wanted to stay in bed, she didn’t want to shower and she didn’t want to go to church. Lynn knew that she could not continue to let the depression drag her down.

            While she battled the depression, God brought a scripture verse into her memory; Matthew 10:14;  “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake the dust off of your feet.” And Lynn felt that this message was for her. Andy’s drinking was affecting her walk with God and Lynn needed to, ‘shake the dust off her feet,’ and get out.

            A few nights later as once again, Andy’s drinking had turned him into the mean and nasty stranger Lynn hated, the message was confirmed; Andy had made some real nasty remarks about her children, crying, Lynn retreated to her bedroom and was crying out to God, praying and reading her Bible, when shouting and cussing, Andy burst into her room; Angry, Lynn ordered him out of her room, rather, it was not Lynn who called him out, but the spirit dwelling within her soul. Lynn looked up from her Bible, “Get behind me Satan!” she said. When she spoke the words, without a word, Andres turned and left the room! In her walk with God, Lynn had never experienced that kind of power. God had opened her eyes; by calling out the being that dwelled within Andres! God had showed her who that being was. Lynn knew she had to leave the relationship, the sooner the better.

            In August of 2000, one month after she had experienced that awesome power of the Holy Ghost, her son Charles came to her with a proposition. “Joyce and I have separated,” he said, “I have a big three-bedroom, two bath mobile home in Richmond, leave all this mother,” he said, “You can have your own bedroom and your own bathroom.”

            Lynn didn’t have to think about it, she knew this was God saying, ‘go, shake the dust off your feet.’ “Thank you Lord, thank you.” Lynn packed her personal belongings and headed down the road to Richmond with her son.

            Lynn’s only regret was that she could not take her little dog, princess with her. Charles had an old dog he had taken after his mother-in-law had died. But God provided for that too. Her friend in the park was moving to a new home and she would take princess and let her live out her life on their new farm. Lynn cried halfway to Richmond; crying over her dog.

            Lynn cried over being so far away from her children and grandchildren, she cried over her dog; but she did not cry over the relationship. When she had first begun her walk with the Lord, Lynn had promised, “Lord, wherever you lead, I will follow.” But sometimes, not having the wisdom she needed, Lynn had not always kept that promise.

            But now she was beginning to understand what it meant to follow the Lord and respond to the direction of his spirit. Lynn didn’t know what God’s plan for her life was; But she knew it was not Andres.

            Lynn made a new commitment to walk with God and to let him be the potter and her the clay, molding her and shaping her into the person God wanted her to be; and to walk with him day by day.

            When Lynn laid her head down on the pillow that first night in her new home, she felt all the pressures and stress of the last four years drain away. She said a prayer of thanksgiving. “Thank you Lord, thank you for removing the evil from my life, thank you for my salvation, thank you for one more day.”

            Charles had been attending the same church him and Joyce had been attending when they were together; one Sunday morning Lynn went with him to services. They continued to attend for seven months.  In order to keep his job Charles had to start working on Sundays.

            One Sunday during services the pastor the pastor made a remark that Lynn took to heart. Lynn felt that he was judging her salvation and no man had a right to do that. Lynn had a bad habit that she had been trying to give up; smoking.

            “If you are a Christian,” he yelled from the pulpit, “And you’re still smoking, you’d better check your salvation. Because if you’re still smoking, you can’t be saved.” That was the last straw as far as Lynn was concerned; she went home that day and never returned. God had been dealing with her about the smoking, like he had dealt with her about a lot of things in the past. But Lynn felt that this pastor had no love in his heart; He would yell and scream from the pulpit, Lynn was not a child, she did not want to be yelled and screamed at. When Lynn had been saved back in 1992, she had not given her heart and her life to Satan! She had given her heart and life to God, and Lynn knew that she was saved, cigarette habit and all, she was a daughter of the living God.

            On that day, September 29, 1992, the Lord had not said to her, ‘I will save you when you quit smoking.’ No, Jesus had accepted her into his kingdom, as she was, good habits and the not so good habits.

            The remark about not being saved if you had a cigarette habit was not the only reason that Lynn stopped going, there had been other little remarks too, that had not set well with Lynn. Remarks on how much people should give; some members like Lynn lived on very small and very fixed incomes and according to this pastor, offerings and tithes were expected, even if you didn’t have it to give.

            Lynn had been going to a Bible study group in the mobile home park where she lived. Lynn had been out of church for two months when it finally got the best of her. One Tuesday afternoon during Bible study and prayer, Lynn broke down in tears and shared her story with the rest of the group.

            “Don’t let this pastor keep you from church,” they all said; and before Bible study was over, Lynn had ten invitations for three different churches. Bon Air Baptist Church, became Lynn’s new church home. And Lynn stayed until God moved her in July of 2003. For some unknown reason, God closed all the doors in Richmond, Virginia.

            Lynn had been visiting her children in Manassas; she wasn’t due to leave until the following Monday morning. She had talked to Charles on Saturday; everything was fine, he had said, “See you when you get home mother.” But as Lynn hung up the phone, she felt that something was wrong.

            She was awakened Sunday morning by the urging of the spirit, ‘go home.’ Lynn didn’t question the message, she packed her travel bag and headed home. From Richmond to Manassas, was a three-hour drive for Lynn. But on this Sunday morning Lynn made the trip in two-hours.

            She turned off the car, took the keys out of ignition and hurried up the steps to the mobile home. The first thing she noticed is that their dog Sampson wasn’t there to greet her when she opened the door. Charles was asleep on the sofa. Lynn shook him awake.

            “What’s wrong? And don’t tell me, nothing,’ she said, “Something is wrong I can feel it.” He had been crying, his eyes were red and puffy. “I lost my job,” he said, “And Joyce is behind on the mobile home payments.” “How long do we have, son?” “Two weeks.” He buried his head on her shoulder and cried like a baby. “Mother, I don’t know what to do, it’s gone, all of its gone.” “Don’t cry, God will provide son, God will provide.,” her statement was meant to cheer him up; instead it did just the opposite.
 

CHAPTER 5

God Closed The Door


            “What’s he going to do mother!” Charles yelled, “Throw money down from heaven!” He was upset and angry and blaming God. “He can control it all!” he continued, “But he hasn’t!” “Charles stop! Blaming God isn’t the answer. We have to keep our faith and keep trusting in him, not blaming him when trials come our way.” Charles looked at her mockingly, his angry words thick, and sarcastic. “Okay, see how much faith you have when we in the --- --- shelter!” Lynn hated it when he cussed; and nothing hurt her more than hearing her own child use God’s holy name in vain. Lynn couldn’t take it, she yelled at him.

            “I know how angry you are, and I don’t care if this is your house, but you will not take God’s name in vain in my presence. You will not!” “It is my house and I will say what I want to say, whenever I want to say it!” “Then you say it son,” she said, “But I do not have to listen it to it, do I?” Lynn grabbed her keys and went out to the car. “Oh Lord, forgive him,” she cried.

            Lynn hauled her stuff from the car and set it down on the front porch, leaving it there, she sat down in the swing and cried and prayed. “Honey, what’s wrong? Is there anything I can do?” She knew the sound of that sweet voice, that southern drawl. Dear Mrs. Jenkins her elderly neighbor had sat down beside her. During the three years she had lived in the park, Lynn had become close with this dear woman of God and had grown to love her. She buried her head on Mrs. Francis shoulder and cried.

            “Oh Miss Francis, it’s all falling apart.” She took out a hanky and gave it to Lynn. “Don’t cry, tell me what’s wrong? Chuck told me he lost his job and he told me he took Sampson to a farm somewhere. I know something else is wrong, what is it?” Lynn stared into the kind and soft blue eyes and proceeded to tell her the rest of the story.

            When Lynn had needed an angel on earth to comfort her, God had sent Miss Francis.” Oh, Miss Francis, I am going to miss you. I can’t even tell you how much.” “Well, I will always be here if you need me. You can come right next-door and talk to me anytime,” she said.

            “But I won’t be here Miss Francis. Joyce is behind on the mobile home payments. Now that Chuck has lost his job, there is no way for us to make up the payments. We have two weeks before they reposes the mobile home.” The sadness in her soft blue eyes touched Lynn’s heart. Lynn would miss this sweet woman of God.

            Lynn would miss her church too, and her Bible study class and the great friends she had made there. She had two very special friends besides Miss Francis; Carolyn and Mary Ann.

            Lynn kept praying that God would turn things around. For the next three days Charles searched for work, but found nothing. When Charles couldn’t find work and they couldn’t find housing, Lynn knew that God had closed all the doors in Richmond. Lynn remembered her promise, “Where ever you lead me Lord, I will follow.” Within the weeks that were to follow, remembering that promise would become a very important part of Lynn’s faith. Trusting in God and in his promises, and Lynn’s faith in Him; Faith, the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen; Hebrews, 11; 1. God’s word and faith in his word, was what had held Lynn together since she first believed in 1992; and it would continue to hold her together.

            The following weekend they made a trip to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, to visit Shawn and Carol. Shawn was out doing his own thing and was nowhere to be found. Carol told them about an apartment up the street that had been for rent a few weeks back. Charles wanted to check it out.

            “No, I hate Chambersburg,” Lynn fussed, “Javier died here in 1989, remember? I won’t live here, this town is nothing but a bad memory for me.” Lynn was adamant. “No Charles I won’t do it.” Despite her objections, Charles wanted to see the apartment. “You just have to see it, don’t you!” Lynn fumed. Ignoring her objections, Charles held open the door to Carol’s apartment. “With or without you mother,” he said. Lynn grumbled, but she followed him and Carol out the door.

            The building wasn’t too bad on the outside, but inside the apartment was a mess. Lynn followed him from one dirty, unpainted room to the next. She had seen enough. “Mother, it can be cleaned and fixed up,” he said, as he walked from one room to the next making a plan for each room. In his mind’s eye, Charles saw each room, painted and with wallpaper and borders; he saw the old wood bare floors all waxed and gleaming; he described what the living would look like with his antique furniture placed against the walls.

            Lynn, on the other hand, saw nothing but grime, dirt, grease, trash and hard work A tough job that she was not ready or willing to tackle. “Anyway, its only a one-bedroom and one bath.” “Okay mother,” he snapped, “We will rent a card board box in Richmond. Will that make you happy?” Lynn felt convicted of her attitude, she had to change it; now. “Okay, call the landlord, if God opens the door, we will make it work.”

            God had closed all the doors in Richmond, where Lynn wanted to be, and he opened all the doors in Chambersburg, where she didn’t want to be; reminding Lynn, that ‘Where ever he would lead her, that she would follow.’ The following week it all came together.

            Charles sold his coin collection, his antique buffet, the antique bedroom furniture, that Lynn had used in her bedroom. They had a big yard sale and sold what they could not take with them. The following day, Carolyn and Mary Ann came to visit. God had laid it on their hearts that we were in trouble; and Lynn had not said a word to anyone about their financial trouble. But Carolyn and Mary Ann knew. Carolyn came first, bearing a gift from her and her husband; Lynn was overwhelmed and burst into tears.

            The money Charles had made from the yard sale and the gift from Carolyn and Mary Ann, was enough to cover the deposit and first month’s rent on the apartment; Lynn had her answer. Chambersburg was where God wanted her to be. It is awesome how God will close all the doors to the places where we want to be; and open all the doors to the places we don’t want to be. But as Lynn is often reminded, God is an awesome God.

            Lynn has been in Chambersburg for one year and she will stay until the Lord decides that its time to leave. Her walk with the Lord has taught Lynn many things; the trials in her life have served to bring her closer to God.

            Lynn has a new church home, a closer walk with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Often the people we love will let us down and break our hearts, but God will lift us up and mend our broken hearts.

            During the course of writing this manuscript and the two others, ‘Love, The Third Time Around,’ and, ‘Poems For Tomorrows Generation,’ it was very easy to become discouraged and give up.

            When my computer froze and I had no way to send what I had been typing, I cried out to God; “Why did you give me this gift Lord, when I don’t I have the resources To us it?”

            In the mist of my crying jag, it started with the computer and went into everything else I was feeling; from my children to the loneliness I felt by being separated and not having a Godly mate to share the rest of my days with to whatever else I was feeling that day; Suddenly I felt those heavenly arms around my shoulders, God’s way of holding me and comforting me while I sobbed out the pain in my heart.

            The point is that God is always there. As king David states through out the book of Psalm; ‘God is our protector, our strength, our comforter and provider.’ What an awesome God I worship.

 

The End

 

 

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