My husband at the time this took place was Bill, a man 21 years my senior, an overcomer of disability, and a wonderful husband and companion. I lost Bill in 1996 to Multiple Myeloma.
Bill decided one day after slipping on ice and landing flat on his back that it was time to make our move to a warmer climate. Yes, he was hurt, but not seriously. He picked me up at work on a Friday and told me that he’d given a thirty day notice to our landlord!
We sold all our goods except for a small TV, two lawn chairs, and our clothing. August 1, 1990, we began the drive to Florida in Bill’s tattered old Black Ford cargo van, pulling a small u-haul behind. We camped at a state park outside of Gainesville. I dressed for job hunting each day in the public restroom, beginning at 6:30 a.m., while most campers were still asleep. I showered with the spiders, one in particular that spun her web inside the shower stall.
Before leaving our apartment in Monroe, Michigan, I’d sent letters with a resume of my experience and qualifications as a legal secretary to all the law firms in Ocala, Florida, the small town Bill picked. When we arrived, we soon found that half the law firms to which I’d written letters had closed their offices in Ocala, and the ones that were still open were not hiring.
By the end of the first week, the sense of adventure that had filled us with enthusiasm and hope was tarnished by nightmarish thoughts of homelessness. My thoughts, I should clarify. Bill was a happy camper. He cheered me by reminding me that we could live in Ocala National Forest if I couldn’t find a job. This didn’t cheer me. NO.
We went to the library in Ocala. I looked up the addresses of several large law firms in the City of Orlando, Florida, and sent them handwritten letters enclosing my resume. The letters said I’d be there mid-week for interviews and that I’d call to make appointments when I arrived.
My daughter Julie was suffering much difficulty back in Toledo, Ohio. A year earlier she’d begun a relationship with a troubled young man, became pregnant, and gave birth to her first child, a beautiful baby girl. Life for Julie and her guy had worsened. They were without a place to live. My heart ached for my daughter, and I kept in touch with Julie by pay phone. Each time I’d call she’d say she was coming to Florida, too, because she didn’t know what else to do. Each time I’d tell her that I wanted her to come, but we were living in a tent, and she should wait. Wait. I stressed that she should WAIT.
We arrived in Orlando and found a campground. I made the phone calls and scheduled interviews. I attended one interview with a human resources manager and scheduled a second with the lawyer for whom I would be working if I were hired. My prospects looked good, but the job wasn’t a sure thing yet. Bill and I counted our finances and realized that we would no longer have enough money to rent an apartment if we spent any more money on the campground. We found an apartment and rented it. I was hired the next day. The day after would be my first day at my new job with a prestigious law firm in Orlando.
With all the courage I could muster, I phoned Julie. Her guy still had no job, no car, no driver’s license, and a criminal record. I didn’t know all of this then, but half of it was scary enough. And they had sold everything to buy bus tickets to Orlando. I said she shouldn’t come yet. Her answer was that she had no choice and if I didn’t pick her up, she’d understand. I said I’d be there.
I told Bill what was about to happen. I’m sure if he’d ever had any regrets about marrying me, they were floating in his mind at that moment. His happy-go-lucky attitude grew dark. We’d only been married a few months, and we’d not had any arguments. Bill was quiet for some time after I explained our dilemma. Finally, he asked me what I was going to do about it. I told him I was going to pray.
Bill wasn’t tired. He sat on the lawn chair in the living room as though going to bed might encourage the next day to pounce on him. I went into the bedroom by myself and lay on the twin-sized mattress Bill had brought in from van. I prayed, wept, wept, prayed, prayed, wept, and finally stopped crying long enough to think. I asked myself how I would be acting if I really believed God was going to take care of the situation. I tried to imagine how I would react if knew for sure the situation would turn out well. I realized that I wouldn’t be weeping. I’d be feeling grateful, and I’d be praising the LORD for such a great miracle. I started saying words like: thank you, l love you, Jesus, you are so wonderful! My heart stopped thumping and began beating with a normal rhythm. I went to sleep.
Early in the morning, Bill and I picked up Julie, my sweet granddaughter, and Julie’s guy at the bus station, and we brought them home. Julie had lost weight, and she was heavy hearted. I realized how much I loved her and missed her and my precious grandchild. A wonderful benefit of this occasion ensued: I would spend many years living in Florida near my family. My son came to Florida a few years later.
Bill took me to work for my very first day on my new job, and miraculously, I didn’t give any thought to Julie, her guy, the baby, or Bill.
Bill went into action as soon as he dropped me off at work. He found a newspaper, and he and Julie’s guy went through the paper and made calls. By the end of the day they found one place for him to apply for a job, and he applied.
TA DA! … ACCOLADES FOR JESUS! … MUSIC PLEASE …
He was hired on the spot! Yes, hired, that day! Even though he had no car, no driver’s license, and no money for turning on utilities! He was hired as a painter and maintenance man at an apartment complex. His job did not require him to own a car or possess a driver’s license, because he was issued a golf cart on which to travel around the complex. All his tools were provided. An apartment was part of his pay, and his employer turned on the utilities for them. They spent one night in our apartment. They had furniture in their apartment before we had furniture in ours. God answers prayer!