By Del Starr, a pseudonym, all rights reserved. Posted Sept. 17, 2015.

Oh Matchless Love

Dianne had reached the point where she had determined that she would never again marry. She did not seek for a divorce from Joe. Why should she? Life was just fine, as far as she was concerned. Joe had his life (with another woman), and Dianne had hers.

It had taken a bit of doing to get him to leave her alone. He would call her company, or go to the little restaurant where she often stopped on the way to or from her jobs and chat with the patrons about her. At one point one of the waitresses told Dianne that Joe had been in and talking about her once more.

Dianne heaved a sigh and said, “Nothing is better than Joe.”

The waitress stopped and turned back to look at Dianne. “What?” she almost yelled, “We all know what Joe is. Why do you say that?”

With a small grin Dianne said, “You didn’t hear me. I said NOTHING is better than Joe.”

The waitress chuckled and walked away.

The days and weeks passed by. Dianne always looked forward to coming home to her children. Sometimes she would be on the road for two weeks at a time. This might have bothered her earlier in her life but the only children she had at home now were able to care for themselves, and the state of Oregon had cast them out on their own long ago. The closeness was gone between them but Dianne loved them and when she was able to spend time with them they had good times together.

There were many emotional problems now in the family because of the situation with which they had dealt. The girls, Janelle, Tina, and Kira, seemed to flounder in a world not created by their own actions. Dianne was thankful now that Brad had gone to Grace’s. He had attended Auburn Adventist Academy and was now a member of the remnant church. He had built a relationship with the parents of his “roomie” at academy, and his vacations had been spent mainly at their home. They later were to become Brian’s relatives when he married their niece. Yes, Brian was safe. Best of all, he lived at home and kept things more stable for the girls.

Janetta had had a stormy marriage. Things had not gone well for the young couple and they were separated. Her husband’s parents had returned to Andrews University where once more her father-in-law was acting as a professor; however, only for a time. There was some controversy in the church as to what the young ministers were being taught at Andrews. There was also a conflict between the professor and the school that had nothing to do with what was being taught. Finally, he determined that it was in his best interests to move back to California with his family.

Many years later, it was suggested to Dianne by her local pastor that she read a book that had been formulated by a General Conference committee. Tucked away in the center of that book was a message about the controversial teachings at Andrews University. The teaching was denied as applicable to the church or the curriculum of the school. There was also, however, a disclaimer stating that there had been a controversial tape which had, along with the professor (Janetta’s father-in-law), disappeared.

Dianne was stunned by this and called the now-retired professor. He stated in no uncertain terms that he had neither “disappeared” nor had he ever, at any time, had possession of any such tape. Dianne knew him well enough to know that he spoke truth. At that point she began to question what the masses were being told. This was, though, many years after the events we now portray.

Dianne did not now attend church. She felt that she was “high profile” in the area. Because of her association with the school through driving school bus, many were familiar with her and were aware of the events of her life.        She believed in her heart that Jesus had come to die for sinners, but her own sins were too great to ignore. She seemed to be spinning out of control and she knew that God cannot look upon sin. She hated hypocrisy and believed that other (non-Adventist) churches were apostate. Should she venture into another church, she would still be lost, for she felt that one cannot once have the truth of Adventism and then attend another church. God would consider such a one to have fallen off the narrow path leading upwards to righteousness. She believed that Ellen G. White had said that once fallen from that narrow path, there would be no way that one could ever climb back up.

And so Dianne avoided any and all religiosity. She continued to read books by White, such as The Great Controversy, Desire of Ages, and the Testimonies series. Her prayer was always, as it had been for so long, “God, I know that there’s no chance for me but please hear my prayer for others. You know that they love you and their only problem is that they make mistakes. Please understand that, God. I know that I am only wicked. Anytime that I want to do good, I only do bad, but please, God, hear my prayer.”

She also attempted to direct her children to be righteous. She shared with them the knowledge that she had as to what God demanded from a Christian and emphasized that unless they discontinued doing some of the things they were doing and got right with God, attending the Seventh-day Adventist church and observing the seventh day Sabbath, they would be lost and be consumed in hell fire when Jesus returned.

She was concerned about living in metropolitan Portland, which she was sure was not in the best interests of her children. She began to seek a place, preferably in the country, where there could be better influences for them. Due to the nature of her job, she was looking along the 1-5 corridor from Seattle, Washington to Yreka, California. Several places looked promising but she could not yet decide.

It was early September, 1990. One of the other drivers with whom Dianne worked needed to stay in the Portland area, as his father was dying. The driver had been scheduled to work in Hungry Horse and Columbia Falls, Montana and now Dianne was asked to exchange her work the following two weeks in Portland for his in Montana.

She was excited. She couldn’t remember having been in Montana, though later she remembered that she had briefly passed through with her mother, Grace, when she had been much younger, but she did not remember that now.

Chad had finally been released to Dianne and he accompanied her on her travels, so he went with her. As with most early teenagers, he was not interested in the scenery as they traveled, so he slept. Dianne was alone in her thoughts. They passed through eastern Oregon, turned north through Washington, and then headed east again toward Montana, traveling through Idaho. When they finally reached Montana, Dianne wakened Chad to see the border sign, but he promptly fell asleep again.

In Missoula they stopped for lunch and fuel. Then they headed northward on Highway 93 toward Hungry Horse.

About 60 miles up the road Dianne rounded a corner and gasped! There was a “pullout” and Dianne exited the highway. “Chad! Chad!” she cried, “Wake up! You HAVE to see this!”

Spread out in the valley below, nestled among the towering Alp-like mountains, was a huge lake of the purest blue. Fluffy white clouds hovered in sapphire blue skies. Dotted around the edge of the lake were a few homes. Pasture abounded with gentle cows either grazing or placidly chewing their cuds. In all her travels, Dianne had never seen any place so beautiful. The closest she had come was Wallowa Lake in northeastern Oregon but that could not compare to the sheer vastness of Flathead Lake, which she now viewed.

Chad too, was suitably impressed, and actually stayed awake as they traveled through the little town on the edge of the lake and then continued to follow the lake’s shore northward. Islands and evergreen trees made a perfect picture.

Dianne was to be working at the Hungry Horse dam for three days, so they settled in a small motel in Hungry Horse for the duration.

The dam was impressive, set against the mountains with a rushing stream flowing from it deep into the valley below. The two fell in love with the Rocky Mountains.

Chad accompanied Dianne to work at the dam. Tourist season was virtually over and daily the workers would come to Dianne’s workplace and take Chad to view the dam. He went where others were not allowed to go, deep into the bowels of the dam, where he could see the structure and view the enormous turbines. He loved the people. Chad did not sleep during the days now. He was enjoying himself too much.

The job completed, there was still a small job to be done at Columbia Falls. It would only take an hour or so the next morning and then Dianne and Chad would head back to Portland. That night was spent in Columbia Falls.

Late in the evening they began to hear strange noises. Chad opened the door and saw fireworks of every description. It was festival days in Columbia Falls. He was thrilled.

The next morning, with the small job completed, they reversed their travels and headed back south along the shores of Flathead Lake. As they pulled up the hill from which they had first viewed the lake, Chad said, “Mom, this is where I want to live.”

Dianne was saddened to have to tell him that it would be impossible to move to this area. She, too, loved the views and had enjoyed the time but she would not be able to take her job with her this far away. There was not sufficient work for them in Montana and it was obvious that jobs were not plentiful in the tiny towns through which they had passed.

“No,” she thought, “there is no way.”

A few weeks later, she was once more approached to head for Montana. Again she would be in the Flathead Valley, this time in Pablo, a tiny little town just before the hill where they had first observed the lake. She looked forward to being able to spend a bit more time there.

Chad was in school now with Brad in charge, so Dianne traveled alone. She decided to leave early and go by way of Seattle. It was a bit farther but she would not stay in a motel; she would be able to visit with Brian and his new wife.

After a good visit, Dianne bade them farewell and began her journey.

By the time she reached Ellensburg, she was exhausted and pulled into the truck stop. She decided that she would only sleep for a short while and continue, so she just curled up in the diesel pickup and, throwing a blanket over her shoulders, she went to sleep. It was chilly and she kept the motor running for warmth.

It was daylight when she awakened. She had slept much longer than she had anticipated but she had the entire day to get to Montana so she was not concerned. She folded her blanket and hit the road.

She came to George Washington, a small town just up the road from Ellensburg, whose name had always charmed her. It seemed that every time she had worked in the vicinity, there would be a problem, and this time was to be no exception. At the sign that read, “3 miles to George Washington,” Dianne was startled to see smoke coming from the engine compartment.  She pulled over to the side of the road and pulled the hood latch. Reaching behind the seat, she felt for the fire extinguisher she always carried. It was not there! Someone had evidently borrowed it and had not returned it to the truck.

Looking through the crack now open between the hood and the body of the truck, she could see flames. She grabbed the CB mic and called for help from any trucker who might pass by.

A truck stopped on the opposite side of the freeway and the driver rushed across with his fire extinguisher. They lifted the hood and the driver sprayed the fire. Dianne’s alternator had caught fire and now the inside of the engine compartment was a blackened mess. She could proceed no further. She had to call her company with the bad news and have the truck and trailer towed into Moses Lake. There she checked into a motel.

Dianne realized that the fire could have started while she slept in the truck stop parking lot at Ellensburg. God had had His hand over her.