Spiritual Non-Fiction posted December 27, 2012


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My personal testimony of Salvation

He Found Me

by Gladness

I scrabbled in the ashtray looking for a joint. Grandma was really bugging me. We were driving back from the doctor’s office, and she would not shut up.

“I told you I didn’t have to take that *# stuff! And I’m not eating any %*# vegetables either!” Toothless, gray and squat, Grandma raged on.

I enjoyed annoying her as I lighted the doobie.
“It’s my body and I’ll *#$% eat what I want!” she cursed and ranted as I began to toke.

Maybe the smoke in the car would help calm her down, too.  I took one long drag after another, holding in the smoke as long as I could. Soon my little car was full of smoke and her complaints quieted with it.

“Ah,” I could actually smile at her now, “You think Rhonda will bring the baby over this weekend?” The change of subject worked and we talked about her newest great-grandchild the rest of the way home.

I parked in the driveway, pulled her walker out of the backseat, unfolded it for her and opened her door.  Together we wrestled her bulk out of the car. She banged her way into the house and over to her favorite chair, flipped on some loud disco music, and sat down with a grunt.

Soon, the kids arrived home from school. My kindergartener arrived first “Oh, come here, Chantel and give Grandma a kiss.” She held her arms out, wiggling her fingers for her to come to her in her big black recliner. Squeezing her close and making her books fall on the floor, she cooed, “That’s my girl. You have a good day, honey?” My five year old nodded and giggled as she squirmed out of her embrace. Grandma picked up her books and said, “Here ya go, sweetie.”

Chantel put the books on the kitchen table and skipped over to me asking, “Can I have some cookies, Mom?”
“How about an apple?

Before long, Danielle slammed in through the front door, slid to a stop, dropping her second grade reader and yelling, “Can Antoinette come over to play?”

“Pick that book up!” Grandma commanded as she scowled at her.

Danielle picked it up and bounded over to me, “Can she, can she, can she?”

I gave her a look and answered, “Homework first.”

Groaning back to the door, she stuck her head out and waved as she shouted, “When I’m done with my homework. See you later!” Slam.

“Doesn’t that girl have a home?” grumbled Grandma as Danielle put her school work on the table.

I prepared Grandma’s afternoon shot and gave it to her. Her diabetes was really taking a toll. Her eyesight was going along with her hearing. At times she couldn’t taste much either. Her fingers and toes would sometimes go numb, and I hoped she would not end up like one of the unfortunate people I met while waiting at the doctor’s office.  Some had a foot or leg that had been amputated.

She had lived with us just over a year. This enabled me to work and gave Terry and me a built-in babysitter while we rehearsed for plays in the evenings. Today, I had taken time off from work for her doctor’s appointment and was enjoying a little extra time with the kids before making dinner. The house was its usual mess, but I ignored it, and Grandma, and helped the girls with their homework as I wondered if Grandma would take her new medicine without making a scene.

Terry came in from work, pecked me on the cheek and asked, “What’s for dinner?”

“I made a casserole,” I smiled, knowing he would like it.

“Does it have any vegetables in it?” Grandma demanded as she sat at the table.

Not wanting to lie, I didn’t answer, knowing she would refuse to eat it if I said yes.

“Ah ha!” she crowed and laughed, “I knew it!”

I groaned inwardly as I placed it on the table. Next to her plate were the three little black caplets and a glass of water. “The doctor says you can have these instead of the Metamucil.”

“I told you I didn’t have to take that stuff!”

She was getting on my nerves, again.

We made it through dinner, she took her new medicine without further comment and I breathed a sigh of relief.

It was a different story a few weeks later as we gathered in the hospital outside her room. The doctor told us that she would need constant care for about a month as she recovered from a mild heart attack. We went home in shock, wondering what to do. Then a phone call changed our lives.


Aunt Ruth called offering to come and stay with Grandma till she was better. I thought it was wonderful. I wouldn’t have to quit my job or ask for a month off.  We really could not afford either of those options. But, though Terry was glad for the help, he looked nervous. After the call, he rushed around the house hiding marijuana paraphernalia.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“My aunt is a missionary!” he almost screamed. “We’re going to have a ‘Holy Roller’ missionary living with us for a month!” he said as he franticly tore through the house.

Puzzled, I shrugged and wondered why this was a big deal.

Aunt Ruth arrived in just a couple of days. She was as tiny and sweet as her mother was big and gruff. Her large blue eyes and shy smile put me at ease and charmed our children. She was like Mary Poppins without the umbrella. Grandma was home and Aunt Ruthie shared her room. She faithfully took care of her mother while we worked. She went to church without fail four or five times a week. A lady in a white car picked her up and brought her home every Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night and Friday night. They had some ladies thing on Tuesday mornings as well.

I was raised Catholic, and after I got to junior high my family dropped the weekly mass and went only once a year on Christmas Eve. When I married, my husband firmly announced he would never go to the Catholic Church, so I looked for one we could agree upon.

We had been attending the Science of Mind Church for about two years, but Terry stayed firm in his statement, “We are not going to join this church.” Our children balked every time I dragged them to their “Sunday School” class. I wished they had liked it.

Grandma had come with us only one time proclaiming, “That’s not a Church! I didn’t see one Bible!” She never came again.

However, the church had celebrity connections and could be helpful in Terry’s desire to act. The people were friendly and hugging was widespread and enjoyed by all with everyone.

But, I continued looking. I had my questions and SOM did not satisfy them. I had yet to find anyone who could. The Jehovah’s Witnesses passed over my questions in favor of their rehearsed monologue. The Mormons gave me a “Bible” study that had one verse out of the Bible and the rest out of the book of Mormon. I visited their church one time and they were ready to schedule my baptism. I was shocked, and Terry gave me an out by telling me, “You are not getting baptized in that church!” Once I told the “elders” this they never came back. So, I was still looking.

I watched Aunt Ruth and told myself, if that lady ever misses picking her up, I’ll take her and see what her church is like. She never missed.

Then, Terry surprised me by saying, “We ought to be nice and go to church with her at least one time while she is here.” So, the last Sunday before she returned to the New Mexico Navajo reservation, we went.

I was so excited. I had never heard of her type of church before and couldn’t even remember the name of it. I knew it started with a “P” and what street it was on. I found a Presbyterian church on that street and asked if that was her church.
Surprised, she shook her head, “No, not Presbyterian, Pentecostal,” she smiled.

“Oh,” I nodded as we drove on down the street. We came to a Masonic Temple and parked. I never would have found this place. There was no sign outside to announce the Service or the Church. We went inside and were greeted by a gray-haired young man who was introduced as Pastor Lawrence. His wife had her hair in an interesting style. It dropped down her neck and back up to the top of her head where it was wound into a bun. She greeted us warmly as did the remaining handful of people who were there.

Soon, the service started. The pastor’s wife went to the piano, two other women sat next to the piano with accordions, another man played a guitar and the pastor played the bass. There was even a boy who played the drums. The music burst upon us like life itself, and I liked it. I didn’t know any of the songs, like Terry did, but I clapped my hands and tried to keep up. The six of us made up about half of the congregation and as the others raised their hands and sang, Terry would jab me in the side and snicker. I didn’t see anything funny about it.
After a few songs the children were excused to Sunday School and they went out a side door. The pastor preached and it seemed like every word was directed right at me.

When he had finished, Grandma announced, “Now, there’s a preacher!”

When the girls came bouncing out of Sunday School pleading to come again, I decided I needed to find out more about this place.
  
I didn’t know if I would get another chance, so I had to ask before we left. Sidling up to the pastor’s wife I asked, “Do you guys offer any Bible studies or anything?”

She lit up like a sunrise, “Yes, we sure do. Would you like one?”

“I think so. Tell me about it.”

She did. And we set up an evening when grandma and I would go to their home for our first Bible study.

Terry was not interested. He let me know, “You can go if you want to, but don’t expect me to go! That place is too old-fashioned!”

I tried going to the Science of Mind with Terry and also the Pentecostal Church with Grandma and the girls, but I soon dropped the The SOM service.  The last SOM function I went to was a fashion show. They needed men, so they asked Terry to help them. I went because he was in it and was convinced I never wanted to go there again.

About that time the Pentecostal Church began having revival services with an evangelist named Bro. Bow. I invited Terry every day until he snapped, “I told you, that’s not for me! Now quit asking!”

I quit bugging him, but still went every night. When I got home I was rapturous about the service, telling him how wonderful it was and how I wished he had been there. He would always ask, “Did you get the Holy Ghost?”

I would answer, “Not yet.”

Then on the last night of the revival, Terry began getting ready. I was afraid to ask, but finally forced myself, “Where you going?” I ventured.

Looking offended as he put on his suit coat, he answered,
“To Church, where do you think?”

Breathing a sigh of relief I happily finished getting ready.

We prayed before service started and the tears came easily. As I got up to get some tissues before the service began, Sister Annette was passing by, took one look at me and breathed in awe, “Oh, you’re going to get it.”
  
I wondered what it would be like to get the Holy Ghost. Would I pass out? Would I remember what happened? Then I thought of something I had heard, “God is a gentleman.” This took my little fears away and I was ready.

Throughout the service I was eager to go to the altar and pray. As soon as the altar call was made, I went. I didn’t know if Terry would go, but that didn’t stop me. Soon there were women around praying with me. As I lifted my hands, I saw Terry next to me. He also had his hands raised. The next thing I knew, I was speaking in tongues. I felt more awake than ever. I had not passed out, but was actually more aware of everything around me. By now Terry and I were both standing and we clasped our hands together, still above our heads, and continued worshiping God.  This was so indescribable. We were being “born again”.  Jesus’ love flooded my soul and I wanted to hug everyone. Terry and I hugged tightly, then we began to move around the room, greeting our new brothers and sisters in the Lord. I went from person to person, hugging them and crying with tears of joy. The men scattered when they saw me coming. I didn’t yet know that in this church you only hug those of the same sex. I remember kneeling next to the elderly Sis. Beamen, placing my head in her lap and letting the joyful tears flow.  When things calmed down a bit, The pastor had us testify, then we were invited to their house for sandwiches. While there, we set the date of our baptism for the following Sunday at a nearby church.

When we got home, we cleaned out all the weed and flushed it down the toilet. We searched through the house and got rid of all related smoking items; bongs, super charger, papers, everything. We gave away all our Rock and Roll albums and dumped the wine down the sink. No one had told us to do these things, we just knew they were part of an old dead lifestyle that we were leaving behind and wanted no part of anymore.

That night I asked Terry what made him decide to come to church. I was surprised when he told me of a dream he had had. In it we were lost in a big city and he was trying to lead us out. Now and then we would come across someone who would tell us, “This is the way, follow me.” But it would lead us to a cliff or a dead end, never out of the city. Then we came to an old fashioned building. We went inside and to a large window. This opened out to a long hanging bridge suspended across a lush landscape. That was the end of the dream. To him the old building represented the old fashioned church that he thought he didn’t want, but it was the only way to get where we needed to go. He also said he felt like I would not get the Holy Ghost if he didn’t come. Next came an even bigger surprise. He had received the Holy Ghost once before, when he was thirteen.

No wonder he knew all the songs.


 All week, I was anxious for Sunday to arrive. Then, on Saturday night, Terry and I were out somewhere in the car and opened the ashtray. There was a perfectly rolled joint staring up at us. We looked at each other. Terry picked it up. “We’re getting baptized tomorrow,” he smiled, “this is our last one. What do you say? Shall we have one last smoke?” I should have slapped it out of his hand, but I didn’t. He lit it, took a drag and passed it to me. I took a short drag and began to cough.
“Yuck! Throw that away!” Thankfully, it tasted like burning rubber. Terry threw it out the window and that was the end of that. 
 

On Sunday we made the half hour drive to a sister church in San Jose. They had a beautiful baptisry with a rock front and a river mural on the wall behind.  We sang “Amazing Grace” beforehand, and “I’ve Already Been to the Water” afterward. Then the whole congregation lined up to welcome us into the family of God. They shook our hands, and hugged our necks appropriately and we began the greatest adventure of our lives.


Non-Fiction Writing Contest contest entry

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This is the true story of How Jesus brought us into His marvelous light. That was thirty-two years ago, and He gets sweeter every day.
terms:
speaking in tongues is speaking a language you never learned by the power of God's Spirit.
The Holy Ghost is God's Spirit, Jesus Christ
Baptism is by full immersion in the Name of Jesus

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