By Del Starr, a pseudonym, all rights reserved, posted Oct. 7, 2015

Love Will Turn You Around

Dianne looked at her new husband, Peter. How could she be so lucky? He was a kind man and a hard worker. She had never known anyone quite like him. In many ways he reminded her of her Grandfather George, who had passed away in 1975. He was more serious than George had been; he didn’t seem to have much of a sense of humor, but Dianne felt that was small in comparison to the really good points about him. She had not wanted to remarry but now that she had, she was happy.

Peter, Dianne, and Chad awakened early on the morning that they were to leave for Montana. There was a sense of excitement. This was an answer to Chad’s prayer of being able to live in the Flathead Valley of Montana. Where Dianne had known they could not live, God had known they could. Dianne once more sent up a prayer of Thanksgiving to her heavenly Father.

As they had talked of their impending marriage, Dianne had told Peter that she believed that there was only one way that their marriage would survive and that was if they had a three-way relationship with Jesus Christ being the center of their home.

Peter agreed. He was a godly man. He had, at one time, been a minister in California. Though he felt it was his calling, personal events had made it impossible for him to continue in the ministry. He had taken a job pulling chain in a lumber mill and had worked his way up from there to being the manager of the mill. When he had enough managerial experience, he had taken a job with a larger corporation. When that corporation had financial difficulties and appeared to be floundering, Peter had been offered a position as manager for another large corporation and he accepted.

He had managed mills in California, Idaho, Montana, and West Virginia, and now he was back in Montana. Dianne was impressed. Not often did one work his way from the lowliest of positions in a lumber mill to become its manager. She expressed her pride in Peter and his reply was that it was not his own doings that had accomplished this but rather, the blessings of God.

Dianne said, “But Peter, you must realize that it is a result of your working hard and applying yourself.”

“No,” Peter replied, “there are many who work hard and apply themselves. It is totally the blessings of God.”

She loved him even more for giving all the glory to God.

The long road behind them, Peter, Dianne, and Chad reached their destination. Dianne had never seen Peter’s home and she was apprehensive. Turning into a quarter-mile-long driveway, she viewed the home at the end. It seemed huge to her. When she first entered, she was awed by the cedar walls and the appearance of a gallery of paintings. This was her new home. She preferred something a bit more light and airy but this had been Peter’s choice and she would be comfortable.

Her happiness was only increased as people from the mill mentioned to her that Peter was more alive than he had been before his marriage. “You have had a positive impact on him,” she was told. She basked in the warmth.

There was so much with which Dianne must become acquainted. There were the people in the mill, the people in town, the new stores, the new climate, not to mention that Peter had a 17-year-old son with whom Dianne would now have to learn to interact.

“Peter,” Dianne began.

“Yes dear?”

“It is important to me that we attend church.”

“I know that, honey, do you have a preference?”

“Yes, I do.”

“And that would be?”

“Peter, I believe that the seventh day is the Sabbath. I must attend the Seventh-day Adventist church. I looked in the phone book and there is one just 11 miles from here. It’s okay if you want to attend church on Sunday. I will go with you but it is important to me that I worship God on the seventh-day Sabbath.”

“Dianne,” Peter stated, “We will take one day to meet together to worship God. If you feel that it is that important to worship on Saturday, we will do it together. We won’t attend church on both days.”

Dianne’s heart thrilled. It was not often that one found someone who was so agreeable to worship on the seventh-day Sabbath without argument. As time went on, she learned that he was very knowledgeable about the doctrines of the Adventist church. She knew that it would only be a matter of time before he would join the church and she too, at that time, would take her stand once again and join him in membership. She anticipated, with great joy, once more becoming a member of the family of God. She was finally in a position where she could be what she had always longed to be. That first Sabbath when they entered church together, Dianne was proud to be at Peter’s side.

The greeter at the door shook their hands. “Welcome to church and happy Sabbath,” she proclaimed. “And your name is?”

Peter told her his last name.

The greeter’s mouth dropped open. “Peter?” she asked.

“Yes,” he replied.

“Oh my, it is so good to have you here.”

With that statement, the greeter called to a deacon to escort Peter and Dianne to seats in the chapel. They were treated like royalty in the little church. Dianne knew that it was Peter’s due. He employed many of the church members or their spouses. Nothing was too good for Peter and his wife.

They were invited to members’ homes for dinner after church services. They were invited to the potlucks and all functions of the church. Yes, Dianne knew that she was home. She was becoming, once more, a part of the family of God. She only prayed that Grace would not, as her custom had been, contact the local pastor to tell him of Dianne’s former life.

Dianne settled into the routine. She lovingly cleaned the majestic home and when Peter drove into the driveway in the evenings, she ran to his arms. Her relationship with his son was not what she had hoped it would be, but she understood. She had taken his place as number one in his father’s life and he resented it. On one occasion he had said to her, “I was important until you got here.” Dianne had cringed but knew from her own experience that it would not be many years until he would find someone who would be number one in his own life and at that point, he would have left Peter to live alone. She knew that Peter also deserved love and companionship. She hoped that the relationship would improve but it did not until after the boy had moved from the home and headed to California for college. Only then were he and Dianne able to establish a rapport.

Peter’s next oldest child was already in California attending college. She was studying for her Master’s Degree in Rehabilitative Counseling. She and Dianne hit it off from the start and they loved and appreciated each other. Peter had three older children also. They did not appreciate Dianne and were not hesitant to let her know. Dianne was saddened by some of the names they applied to her but Peter didn’t seem to take issue nor did he side with his children. They also lived in California so Dianne was secure in her little world.

Each week Peter and Dianne attended Sabbath School and church. Dianne longed to become part of the music team as she had once been in church. She was never asked to participate.

Dianne’s daughter, Tina, was still in Portland. She had had a relationship with a young man who had left her pregnant. The baby would be born in January and Peter and Dianne talked about being able to provide Tina with some security. As they talked with Tina, she agreed that she would come to Montana to live with them after the baby was born. So, when tiny Jimmy was only three days old, Peter and Dianne packed both him and his mother into the car and took them home with them to Montana.

Dianne was delighted to have one of her daughters with her, and Jimmy was so precious. Tina began to attend church along with Peter and Dianne. This too, was important to Dianne, and she encouraged Tina to walk with God and keep His Sabbath holy.

Only one thing seemed to be missing: a father for little Jimmy. Dianne was fearful for Tina, for the church they attended was very small and there were not many eligible men available. There was really only one: a deacon, son of an elder. He was a bit older than Tina but the difference was really negligible and so Dianne encouraged Tina to let the young man know that she was interested.

In the ensuing months, Dianne found it comical as the young man noticed Tina. He seemed to stumble over two left feet whenever she was in his presence. He would bump into the pews while taking up the offering or trip over his own feet as he ushered the congregation out the doors after the services. Dianne knew that his heart had been smitten and she knew also that this young man of God would provide the perfect father for little Jimmy.

Jimmy was only about a year old when Tina and Mark were married. Tina’s entire family attended the wedding and all were impressed by the warmth and seeming softness of this new addition to their family.

Mark’s car was decorated in the traditional fashion. It was filled with balloons and everyone anticipated the moment that the newlyweds would leave the reception and attempt a “getaway” in their car.

Suddenly everyone noticed that neither the bride nor the groom was in the reception hall. Hurriedly, the family members scattered to determine what was happening and where Tina and Mark might be. About that time they heard the sounds of a small airplane lifting off the ground. Mark was a pilot and owned his own small plane, which he kept at his family’s home, just above the school auditorium where the reception of their marriage was held. With a devilish dip of the wings, Tina and Mark flew off to begin their life together.

After the honeymoon, they moved into a small mobile home that his parents had next door to their own home. Tina seemed to be comfortable and Dianne was utterly delighted. Tina had become a baptized member of the church and Mark was a young deacon, which meant that it would not be long, now that he was married, before he would become an elder.

Now Dianne not only attended church for the blessings she would receive but also so that she could see Tina and little Jimmy.

Mark was a firm believer in the doctrines of the Adventist church. He and Peter did not agree on some of the fundamentals but at first that was okay. They accepted each other and the two couples would often do things together. Peter had a motorcycle and Mark purchased a small one. On warm sunny days the two couples would travel together on their bikes. Dianne thought that things could not get much better. The only thing that could improve their situation would be that Peter would join the church.

It was Sabbath once more and after church Peter and Mark were discussing some of the doctrines. One of those was the state of the dead. It was upon this point that the two men had their most serious disagreement.

“Peter,” Mark said, “Tina and I will come to your place this afternoon and discuss this.”

“Mark,” Peter replied, “I’ve had a long week and I don’t think this would be the time to do that. Why don’t we wait until I’ve had some rest?”

With that conversation, Peter believed that Mark and Tina would go their own way that afternoon but it was not to be so.

Soon after Peter and Dianne returned to their home, Mark and Tina appeared. Peter was astounded that Mark would so definitely go against his wishes but, with a sigh, he invited them to come into the house. The women retreated to the kitchen while the men sat in the living room talking. The conversation once more turned to the state of the dead and Dianne listened as each volleyed their points. Dianne had studied this point out with Peter and had come to the conclusion that it was possible that she had been wrong in her beliefs. She was not yet totally convinced. She was willing and eager to listen to both sides of the dispute.

Point upon point was made by both combatant. Dianne would venture out of the kitchen now and then and add her own thoughts to the conversation.

However, when she presented Jesus’ words found in John 11:26: “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” Mark took offense, whirled upon her, and said, “You just shut up!”

Dianne was stunned. She had never seen this side of her son-in-law.

Peter was infuriated and told Mark in no uncertain terms that he would never speak to his wife like that again and especially not in her own home. Dianne had every right in the world to express her own opinion and he would not allow her to be abused in that manner.

Dianne’s heart swelled with joy as she heard her husband’s words. He was protecting her. She had not had this experience since she was a child and George would protect her. She was disappointed though, in Mark’s actions.

Peter and Mark continued to discuss. Dianne continued to add her thoughts.

Mark turned in his Bible to the back pages. These were not words from the Bible that he was reading. Both Dianne and Peter knew this but they had no idea how he was reading those words from the Bible. They could see that they were printed words, not handwritten.

(Sometime later, Peter found a Bible in a thrift shop which had those words in it and as Dianne had suggested to him after the conversation with Mark, they were the words of Ellen G. White.)

The discussion grew more intense. Mark seemed to get very animated and defensive and finally, balling up his fists, he stood up from the couch and said to Peter, “Do you want to take it outside?”

Dianne couldn’t believe her ears. Was this the Christian attitude she was longing to portray? Was this the way that she would be defending her beliefs? If she became a member of that church would she become twice the son of hell that Mark was? Many thoughts rambled through her mind as she watched the drama play itself out.

Peter, true to his nature, calmed Mark, and he sat down again. Dinner was being set on the table and the two men were called to eat. It was to Dianne’s relief that the conversation turned to other things.

Dianne at this point, however, began to question what it was that she saw in the Seventh-day Adventist church. Her experience had been that there was not much of the love of God portrayed in its members. She had, in her lifetime, been removed from the church roles because she was unable to attend church, she had been shunned because of her divorces both from Alex and from Gary, she had been chastised for something she didn’t do, she had been denied help when she was injured, because there was someone in her home who was not approved of by the members of her church, she had again been shunned because of her relationship with Ted and because she didn’t have much money, and now she again was in torment, this time, because she and Peter had a variance of view with a member of the church.

When Dianne had first begun attending the little church in Montana, she had shared her concern about these issues with the head elder who had told her, “This was true for a long time within the Seventh-day Adventist church, I’m sorry to say, but things have changed. We are not the same church that we used to be and you will not experience that in our church.”

After this incident with Mark, Dianne could only think, “Yeah, right!”

Her heart just about broke the first time that Tina approached her and let her know that Mark was not only “that way” with Peter and Dianne but was “that way” also, with Tina. More than once Mark had let Tina know that as a woman, her thoughts were not valid.

He had even struck her in anger.

Dianne’s daughter was being abused…by an Adventist man.