I don’t remember a moment in my life when I did not have Jesus Christ in my heart as Savior.  I could sing on pitch at an early age.  I remember as a child of seven or eight singing freely to the Lord in the three languages I thought He spoke: Latin, Greek and Hebrew. I would make up songs of love to Him.  Because of my singing ability I was performing solos, quoting scripture and reciting Christian poetry on Sundays and at fellowship dinners.  I performed in other churches as well.  Both my parents urged me to serve in the church.

  My father was raised in the Disciples of Christ denomination and knew the scriptures well. If he couldn’t find a church from that particular denomination whenever we traveled, my father would find a Protestant church in which to worship. We were always in church on Sundays.

   When I was 15, the Lord specifically called me into ministry at church camp three months before my father died.  Upon returning from camp, I told my parents that I had been called to be a missionary. Neither responded positively.  Ministry as a vocation for a woman was out of the question.  I could serve God with my singing voice, serve as a teacher of children in Sunday School and volunteer to help when needed.  Under no circumstances was I to consider ministry as a possible life’s vocation. There was no money in it.  I was to go to college to be a teacher or librarian or nurse or secretary, get married and have children.  That was it, no argument and final.

   Three months later my childhood was over.  In 24 hours I became an adult, planned a funeral, took over the finances and legal arrangements, held and supported my mother so she could function. Then came the very hard years and the call to ministry receded from my conscious mind.

My father met my mother in Budapest, Hungry before World War II broke out.  In the 1930's he left his parents’ farm in Bon Aqua, Tennessee and  began to work for the Chrysler Corporation in Europe.  When the United States entered the war, my father became a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. army. I was born an American citizen in Beirut, Lebanon in 1941.  After his discharge, my father brought my mother and me to the United States.  With so many returning servicemen, it was difficult for him to find work.  We moved many times and before I was 15 I had visited, for one week to three months at a time, 34 states. Then in 1955, we moved to Detroit, Michigan and I enrolled in Cody High School.  My father opened a gas station. One year later, he suddenly died of a heart attack. He left no will; the gas station was leased; he owed money; his estate was frozen for two years as it went through probate. Since my father’s name was on all our legal documents, neither my mother nor I could touch any of his assets. My mother could not sell her jewelry or any furnishings without first paying my father’s creditors or by consent of the court. Immediately, I went to work full time in order to supplement my monthly dependent’s benefits from Social Security. On my 18th birthday those benefits stopped. My mother had never worked outside the home. The suddenness of my father’s death overwhelmed her. She had a nervous breakdown from grief and fear. 

Michigan winters can be bitter. But it seemed in those years after my father died, they were particularly so.  Near the end of some winter months, there was not enough money for furnace oil to heat our tiny one-bedroom apartment. We had a small gas stove and when the temperature fell below zero my mother would put the surface burners and oven on high to heat the kitchen. To keep warm, we would bring in the bedding and sleep on the kitchen floor. We ate a lot of Campbell’s mushroom soup and macaroni casseroles. Often toward end of the month, we would run out of soup. Through a school co-op program I was able to work full time after school and on weekends.  I had a number of jobs — insurance clerk, receptionist, dental assistant, file clerk, card punch operator for various companies.  In the 1950s it was not proper for a woman to wear slacks in an office.  On the job, only dresses or skirts were allowed with stockings and dress shoes. With no money for stockings, I would mark the back of my legs with a black eyebrow pencil to imitate a seam. (If anyone noticed, nothing was ever said.) That was okay when it was warm, but walking with bare legs through ice and snow to save money for food (sometimes out of money to take a bus), no boots, carrying one change of dress-work shoes, was a cold misery. Those were hard years for both of us. It was my mother’s dream and mine to never again be cold or tired or hungry. Back then I promised myself someday I would have all the things I needed and wanted. 

   In 1959 our lives began to get better. My mother began selling clothes in a women’s department store. And I was the commencement speaker at my high school graduation.    My father’s estate was settled, creditors paid, and my mother had a little money to support herself.  I could leave home. In 1961 I moved to a small upper flat in Northwest Detroit.  I continued working two jobs — an office manager in one company and a part-time secretary in another. With no dependent and extra money, I decided to enroll in degree night classes at Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan. It was there I met Mack, fell in love, and three years later we were married. 

From the first year of our marriage, my ambitious husband was on the “fast-track,” having received a system of executive promotions in a multi-billion dollar nationwide corporation. We had moved numerous times, each home larger than the last. In 1976, a company transfer had moved us to West Beverly Hills, Michigan. Even the name of the community, West Beverly Hills, indicated its economic-social prominence. During those first 12 years of marriage, Mack left early in the morning and worked late at the office. In addition, he enjoyed teaching night school and was often out of town at conferences. He was also in the Army Reserve which required one weekend duty a month and summer training.  During the week, when he was home, he spent the evenings on the phone making calls and taking reports from those who worked for him. Also, five years before our move, I discovered I was unable to have children. I think deep down Mack was pleased. He was free to pursue his goals of becoming a vice-president without the demands of fatherhood. 

   I was a model executive wife and hostess living in a 4,000 square foot house with a Springer Spaniel mix (Winnie) for companionship. We had a one lane bowling alley in our basement. A cleaning lady and gardener came once a week to take care of our large property. My closet was full of designer clothes and five fur coats. When I walked into it, the lights came on automatically so I could view my reflection in the mirrored walls. Our master bathroom had a combination Swedish shower and sauna.  While many of our neighbors spent the winter months in Florida or wherever it was warm, our social life consisted of season tickets to various theaters and symphonies. On Sundays we attended a main-line denominational church. Through those years I hosted numerous small dinner parties and large “open” houses for 60 or more guests. I was busy. Any observer would say I had everything. I, too, wanted to believe I did. So why was I often depressed and lonely? 

On a sunny, chilly Wednesday in March of 1976, a couple of long blocks from my house, there was a designer fashion show at the country club. I could have walked there, but since I was dressed up in my French designer Chanel suit, jewelry and mink coat, I thought it best to drive. The car would protect what I was wearing.  Besides, nobody who was anybody would walk through the club entrance gate and up the long driveway if she had a car. At the time that was my mentality. 

   It was a lovely luncheon - lobster salad, I remember. The table conversation was enjoyable and the spring-summer fashions were beautiful.  I considered buying several outfits and had made up my mind to visit the store later on in the week.  It was a good afternoon I thought, as I slid into my car seat and put my key in the ignition. But before I could turn the key, it was as if a trap door opened under me. And I dropped into a dark, black hole. The sides of this pit fell in on me like an impenetrable cloud of dirt.  Sobbing, trembling, not able to comprehend the overwhelming black depression which had just enveloped me, I sat with my head pressed against the steering wheel. I don’t remember driving home. I do remember walking into an empty house and being struck full force by desperate loneliness. There was no one there. I knew in this black fog, I wasn’t there either, though I did know I was in my house. I was in the pit of death - that much I knew.  I just didn’t know why.

   The following weeks passed by in a blur - end of March, April, May.  Mack came and went. I hardly noticed. I didn’t care.  One day dissolved into the next.  I lost track of time.  I don’t remember bathing much.  Some days I slept 24 hours. Other days, I couldn’t sleep and wandered around the house in my bathrobe. I don’t remember eating much, but I must have. Mack brought in whatever food we ate.  And he took care of Winnie.  I didn’t want to see anyone.  If the phone rang I wouldn’t answer it. Vaguely, I remember making excuses to a few friends. A couple of times I remember talking to my mother on the phone.  I remember saying to them, “I have the flu. I have PMS. I’m busy. I don’t feel good. I need time alone. I need to rest. Mack can take care of me…” I said whatever came into my foggy mind. If Mack asked me what was wrong, I don’t remember his doing so, nor my reply.

   On the first Sunday in June, we were in our family room. Mack was reading the Sunday paper. The TV was droning on. I wasn’t listening to it.  Suddenly, I heard a man’s voice declare, “I want to pray for you.”  I looked at the screen. He pointed his finger directly to me as he spoke those words. I don’t remember the specifics of his prayer, but immediately after he had finished, the dark fog lifted.  My mind was clear again. But I was numb.  I didn’t feel anything: not joy, not sorrow, not guilt - nothing.

   Strongly, from deep within, the thought came - I must fast.  I told Mack, “I’m going to be fasting. Don’t bring any food into the house. You’re going to need to eat somewhere else. Maybe you can have a large lunch or stop somewhere on the way home.” 

   And for the first time in more than two months, it occurred to me he might be worried. “Don’t be concerned about me,” I said. “I’m going to be all right without eating for awhile. I don’t know how long this fast is going to take, but I just wanted to let you know.” 

   Mack agreed. “That’s fine. Don’t worry about me.”

   I took a shower, changed from my bathrobe into clean clothes, and with a clear mind watched TV the rest of the evening. Later that night, I realized Mack had moved  from our bedroom into the guest room.

   I slept that Sunday night for the first time in two days all the way through. But when Monday morning came, the numbness was still there. However, I awoke alert, got dressed and took a walk. The neighborhood was quiet. I saw no one. I felt suspended; time seemed to have stopped. Later that evening Mack slipped into the house without my knowing exactly when. I heard him in the guest room taking a shower. He said, “good night” and shut his door.

   Tuesday was a repeat of Monday. Wednesday morning after I got up, I still couldn’t feel anything.  Although I wasn’t in the pit of darkness, nor was my mind cloudy anymore, nothing was going on inside me.  I didn’t understand what was happening - why I couldn’t feel, couldn’t emotionally respond to anything. I sat on the family room sofa and thought how nice it would be to go to sleep and never wake up.  I could dissolve 30 or more aspirins in half a bottle of wine - drink the first half bottle to feel a good buzz, then drink the aspirin filled second half to go to sleep permanently. I looked at our wall clock. It was 1 p.m. Suddenly I felt exhausted. Fixing the wine and aspirin was more than I could do at the moment.

   Without warning, wracking pain exploded inside of me. Pictures of my past life flashed through my mind with intense emotion. Every miserable, terrible event that had ever happened to me rose so powerfully, I began to shout and scream at God. I spewed every bitter, miserable event in my life on God. My complaint list was long. I told him about the problems in the relationship with my mother, with my father, his death, their abuse, the years of moving and new schools, the insecurity, the cold and hunger, my never home husband, not having children, not having true friends, real family. Ranting, raving, I dumped, I erupted, alternately sobbing and screaming at God, blaming him for the life I had lived and now had.

   Finally emptied out, I laid face down on the family room floor with my hands bracing my head. Quietly, calmly, I said, “Lord, I have believed in you my whole life. I’ve called upon your name many times. I’ve sung songs to you. I’ve worked for you. I’ve done everything for you that I knew how to do.  I don’t know what to do with my life, how to live. I don’t understand why I was born. I know I can’t live this way anymore, Lord. I don’t want to be on this earth if this is what living is going to be like. Because you see, if you’re not real, it doesn’t matter if I die. I can find something to take and just go to sleep. Because if you’re not real, it doesn’t matter anyway. It really doesn’t matter. I can just go to sleep and there’s nothing after. I don’t want to suffer anymore; I don’t want to hurt anymore; I don’t want to be lonely and empty anymore. I want my life to change. Now, if you are real, my life is yours. That means every part. That means I am totally and completely yours. Nothing held back. No more my agenda, no more my life, no more my thinking, my programs. If you want to teach me anything differently, please get rid of all the old religious stuff I’ve ever had, because I’ve had a lot of stuff. I give myself to you to change me and everything in my life. I’m giving you all rights to myself. That means you can do anything you want with me. You can cause me to suffer. You can even kill me. I won’t protest. But if you’re really, really real, then my life is yours because it’s not worth anything to me anymore. My life is worthless. I have everything, and I have nothing, I am nothing.  If you want me, I’m yours. If you’re not there, then it doesn’t matter for there’s nothing after death.”

   I knew I had said everything.

An electrical force field of power nailed me to the floor. Love overwhelming, love all powerful, love beyond any words to express, enveloped and flooded my whole being. I was plugged into a stream of a 1,000 volts of love. I couldn’t lift my head. My body trembled; my eyelids quivered. I don’t know how long I was on the floor before I was able to have some measure of control over myself. Instantly, I knew Jesus was standing at my head. Very slowly, I stretched out my hands. My fingers touched the tops of His feet and moved upward to His ankles.  His right hole wound was deeper, rounder and higher than His left - its soft ridges thicker. His left wound was smaller, not as pronounced.  The large iron nail had penetrated between His leg and ankle bone at different angles. The ripping of His flesh as He had pushed upward against the nail had made each wound unique.

   Within me a soft voice spoke. Inside my being, I knew it was Him. “Daughter of Zion, I have put my seal upon you. It is not a seal of miserable slavery. It is a mark of my love, my seal of possession. You belong to me. You are not to move an inch in any direction without my permission. I will lead, you will follow. Whatever the circumstance, whatever I give you to do, whoever I bring into your life is by my will and you will continually thank me.  I have much work for you to do. Your life will be spent discovering all that I have for you to do. Now, I have a job for you. There is a lady raking leaves in her backyard kitty-corner from you, not directly behind you. Her name is Mrs. Stroshein. Get up, go, tell her about what has just happened to you.”