I was born the first time in Bowling Green, KY May 1, 1944. My dad was in the Air Force, so we moved around some. The first place that I remember living is Bermuda where we lived for about 18 months. I have very few memories of my time there because I was so young. I do remember the beautiful blue water and palm trees, some experiences with tree frogs, centipedes and lizards being in the house and waking up with mashed bugs in bed with me (there were no screens on the windows or doors in those days). I also remember having to drink rainwater that was caught in big tanks as it rolled off of the plaster roofs. I also remember having to drink Pet Evaporated Milk because the U.S. government would not sanction the cows on the island. Yuk!
I remember going through two hurricanes while we lived there. That was really scary. The palm trees literally leaned over in the wind and touched the ground. During one the 3” thick plaster ceiling in my bedroom fell on my bed. Praise the Lord, my mother had taken me downstairs to the neighbor’s for the night or I could have been killed.
The one thing that stands out the most in my mind is that I nearly drowned there. I remember what I saw in that experience; it has never left me. My dad tried to talk me out of it, but even though I was very young, I know what I saw and experienced. I remember being for the most part on my back, with the most beautiful, huge gold fish I have ever seen swimming around me. I was moving through the deep water very fast, and I remember breathing under water. I thought to myself, “Daddy said that I cannot breathe under water, but I’m doing it and it doesn’t even hurt!” As I was moving through the water I remember looking up and seeing the surface with a very bright light, like the sun. I also remember hearing the most beautiful music I ever heard before or since, and it kept getting louder and louder as I moved toward the surface and the light.
Then suddenly I was being jerked up out of the water by my dad who had been a lifeguard and he was expelling water out of my lungs (Boy did that hurt!). When I told my dad the above story he insisted that I was on my stomach (as most downing victims are) in only 1 foot of water. I never could convince him of what I saw as being real. What I know now is that I was, in fact, drowning and that I was seeing the lights and hearing the music of heaven, but it was not my time to go. The Lord had work for me here yet!
From Bermuda we moved to Mobile, Alabama. From there we moved to Dover, Delaware. I lived in Dover and later Milford, Delaware until moving to Chattanooga in August of 1974, and other than about 2 years since that time when I lived in Hardinsburg, KY; I have lived in Chattanooga which became my hometown, until I moved to Palmetto, GA in 2006 with my new husband.
I was raised in an alcoholic home (my dad was an alcoholic) which at times became verbally abusive. I was afraid to bring friends home because I never knew when he would be drunk and mean. I was physically beaten with his fists on 3 occasions as a young teenager for such things as forgetting to put the pickles on the table.
His father began sexually molesting me when I was around 9 or10 years old, and this continued for about 3 years. Fortunately, we did not live near them so I only had to go through that about once a year when we either went to visit them or they came to visit us for about a week. As with most sexually abused children I did not tell anyone because I did not want to get into trouble. I thought it was my fault.
My mom tried to take me to church any time that I wanted to go, however, she did not go herself unless I was in a program, because she felt bad going by herself since my dad would not go. The churches that I went to were
Either base chapels or other modernist churches and I can truthfully say that I never heard the gospel in any of them. They were social clubs for the most part. My mom was a Methodist so I was naturally drawn to that denomination. I do not know if she was ever saved or not because she died before I became a Christian.
I loved to go to church and went wherever I was attending at the time every time that the doors opened. I can remember once when I was about 14 having a problem that really upset me. I went to the church and found an open door and I sneaked into the sanctuary that day. I really felt guilty about it, I thought that I was doing something that I shouldn’t be doing and was actually afraid that I would get caught, and have to explain why I was in the church other than service times. I went to the altar, bowed down, and poured my heart out to God asking for His help. Now remember this was a church that did not have altar calls, so I had never been exposed to doing anything like this before. It just came naturally. Also, by the time I married I had read my Bible through 3 – 4 times searching for the truth. I had also read a couple of books about the Bible during that time.
I married when I was 17 years old. We were planning to get married later on, but I became pregnant and that kind of put things in motion a little faster. I was married August 26, 1961.
My mom died in November of 1961 of cancer. She was 41 years old. We tried to live with my alcoholic father to prevent him from having to move on base after mom died, but this turned out to be a big mistake and we had to move out in the middle of the night when I was about 8 months pregnant.
After I married I joined my husband’s church which was a Presbyterian Church. I also taught a 2-3 year old Sunday school class there.
My baby was born with a deformed ear and also turned out to have hydrocephalus (water on the brain), and so we began a lot of trips to specialists and hospitals for various treatments and surgeries. He was a very special child and I learned a lot from him. He was always happy no matter how bad he felt. This situation really caused me to grow up in a hurry.
During that time I worked for about 3 months at a hosiery mill in Milford (to make some money to buy clothes) where I met a lady that talked about being “saved” although she never said what it meant and I was too proud to ask her. (By the way I am still in contact with her and write to her frequently.)
One day my Dr. told me that my little boy was not going to get much better and that he would not live long. He also told me that he felt that I needed to have another baby before anything happened to him. What neither he nor I knew at that time was that I was already pregnant. This time with twins! My twin girls were born when I was 19 years old. My son was then about 20 months old. It’s a good thing that I was a stay at home mom, because I did not have time to do anything else for several months, even housework. My sister-in-law came over and helped me with the housework and laundry.
In November 1964 during a regular check-up of his condition they discovered a 3” blood clot on his brain which required immediate surgery. So, I had to put my son in the hospital 60 miles away from our home. The same day that my son was hospitalized my husband came home from the hospital after having been in a serious Drag Racing accident where his doctor said that he would never walk again. We never told my husband that and the good news in this was that he did in fact walk again and that without any therapy, much to the amazement of his doctor. He had been so sure that he would never walk again that he did not even put walking casts (both of his feet were affected) on him, but 3 weeks later my husband walked into the clinic on his own with the help of crutches. His Dr. scratching his head, ordered walking casts for him.
My son was in the hospital for 3 months and had 2 major brain operations before we got the word that his kidneys had failed and to get there as quick as we could. By the time we arrived he had taken his very first steps and walked into the arms of Jesus! I experienced the sweetest peace, because even though I was lost, I knew where he was and that he was well and happy at last. The girls were 15 months old when my son died in March of 1965, just one month before his 3rd birthday. I was able to deal with his death as a blessing because I knew he was in heaven and much better off. His health and physical size was to the point that my doctor said that I needed to put him in a home for handicapped children.
As a mother, I was having major problems in accepting this. I felt really guilty in not being able to take care of him myself, but the doctor explained that he and my girls were reaching an age that I would end up neglecting him or them if I continued to try to care for him at home. So, we had to make a decision. We had just made arrangements to go and see the home he would be in, when he was hospitalized for the last time. Somehow, even though I was lost I knew that I could give him up in death to the Lord a lot easier than putting him in a home with strangers to take care of him, even though I could have brought him home one weekend a month had he lived.
My second son was born in 1967. He was a normal healthy baby!
The Presbyterian Church hired a new preacher that I found out later (after becoming a Christian), who was a converted Jew. He started doing 3-minute “Dial-a-Sermons” on the telephone from the book of Revelation. I started calling out of curiosity at first. I would call up and listen to the same sermonette over and over scared to death. The church sent him packing as they did not like what he was preaching, but it had done its work in my heart.
New Year’s Eve we went out, as was our practice on New Year’s Eve to a dance at the local armory. During that event I remember suddenly becoming very scared. I thought, “What would Jesus think if He should come back tonight and find me in a place like this? That was the last time we went to a dance.
On January 25, 1969 we went out to look at a house that we were interested in buying. The reason they were selling their house was because they were going to Tennessee Temple Schools to prepare for the ministry.
Since we were religious but lost we prayed on the way that if we were not to buy the house that something would be wrong with it. As it turned out it was a beautiful home, but “ultra modern” in design, and our furniture, etc. was “early attic”. Before we left we were standing in the foyer talking to the couple that owned the home and they asked us if we knew for certain when we died that we would go to heaven. We gave the pat answer that we hoped we would. So they asked if they could show us how we would know for sure. We said yes, and at 5:00 p.m. that day we accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.
As I said earlier we were attending the Presbyterian Church and where we were attending and I was teaching Sunday school. After we were saved we started going on Sunday nights (the Presbyterian Church did not have Sunday night services) to the Baptist Church that the couple that led us to the Lord was attending.
It did not take long for us to realize that we needed to join the Baptist church. Since then the Lord has used me in many areas of service with ladies, the deaf ministry, choirs, singing specials, teaching in Christian Schools, etc.