Driving through northern Florida late one night in the fall of 1988, Michelle and Megan were fast asleep in the back seat of the car. As we drove into a small town, Michelle woke up and asked, “Where are we?” I replied, “Starke”. She said, “No, where are we?” I again replied, “Starke”. She then sat up and yelled, “I know it’s dark! I said where are we?!” Harold and I cracked up laughing!! 😂😂
In retrospect, it was a kind of a prophetic moment for our family. We had just moved to Tampa from Indianapolis a few months earlier. Little did we know at this point in time, that over the span of the next five years we would be making three more big moves.
Tampa, actually Brandon, a small suburb east of Tampa, is where we lived in an apartment at first and then a house with a lease/option to buy. It was there where I grew in my relationship with God, which inspired a previous blog, Another Gospel.
Some of my favorite memories here were times with my mom. She was able to come stay with us for a couple of extended visits, and even though she was in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s then, we didn’t let that keep us from enjoying time together. We went to church, visited Florida relatives, went swimming and to the park. I loved having her with us and I think she really enjoyed it too.
Harold worked as a car salesman at a car dealership in Brandon and I found a temporary part-time job in Tampa through a Temp Agency. Finances were tight and I didn’t like my job, but at least it was a job. With Harold’s job being primarily based on commission and my job being part-time, our income was hit and miss. Sometimes we were fine, other times, not-so-much. During the not-so-much times, we were so short on money that I pawned my wedding rings two times just to have grocery money. Before moving to Tampa I had never even went into a pawn shop but by the second transaction I figured out it wasn’t the smartest way to manage money.
One Saturday afternoon I popped some popcorn, stuffed it in my purse, and headed for the $1 Theatre with the girls. It had all the makings for a great day, all except on this particular day my brakes quit working. I nearly ran into another car and almost ran off the road. Somehow I managed to pull in to a shopping plaza and park the car without hitting anybody. We got out of the car and sat on a park bench outside one of the stores. Harold was at work and this was before cell phones. I sat there contemplating what to do, near tears, and decided just to pray. Within a few minutes an auto repair van pulled up and parked right in front of us. I jumped up and asked him if he could look at my brakes. I told him I didn’t have much money and that I’d been sitting there praying about what to do. He smiled and offered to take a look at the brakes. He came back and told me that the emergency brake was on and that was what caused them to get hot and not work. He said it would be safe to drive once they were fully cooled down. I offered to give him the few dollars that I had on me but he refused any money. I was relieved and simply amazed how God answered my prayer in such a tangible way.
By April of 1989 I got hired by Delta Air Lines and was so excited! It too was a temporary part-time position but getting hired by Delta was an answer to prayer. In Indianapolis I’d worked for a small airline and was hoping to get on with a major airline in Tampa. I really was just so happy about getting hired by Delta, that I chose not to worry about the fact that I’d have to work nights, that it was a temporary position and only part-time.
I worked in the reservations office right outside of the Tampa airport in a triangle shaped building called The Paragon. One night my car broke down on I-4E coming home after work around 1:30 a.m. in the morning. A not-so-nice grumpy policeman stopped and then reluctantly drove me to the nearest gas station where he just dropped me off, and this was the kind of gas station with bars on the windows. I called Harold repeatedly on a pay phone but he was doing what most people were doing at 1:30 a.m., sleeping. I kept calling and calling until he finally woke up. He had to put the girls in the car and come get me and try to fix my car in the wee hours of the morning, and then he had to turnaround and get to work on time. Good times….Not.
While our finances and our car problems were a concern, our major on-going concern was for Megan, our youngest daughter (at the time). She was having some problems as a result of being born with Spina Bifada. She had an initial neurosurgery shortly after birth in Indianapolis and was doing well. In Tampa she began having a few problems which resulted in several doctor and hospital visits, and two neurosurgeries at All Children’s Hospital in St Petersburg. The second surgery was mainly to correct a problem from the first surgery here. We stayed at a nearby Ronald McDonald House at no charge during these times which was much needed and appreciated. The hospital was only about an hour away but the traffic was awful so we really appreciated being able to stay right there near the hospital. I worked nights and Harold worked days and we managed it as best we could. It was a very trying time in our lives. I prayed a lot. Prayer helped me to focus on God instead of all of our problems. It was here I learned an important distinction about prayer. Prayer is simply the means of communication with God. The power of prayer is not found in the prayer; it is found in God. It was God who helped us get through these days.
By the spring of 1990, things were going good but I was hearing some rumblings around the office that some of the temporary agents may be let go at anytime. Back when I first started working there, I was told not to hold my breath waiting for a permanent position in Tampa. They told me that the last temporary agent that got converted to a permanent full-time agent there was seven years before. I kept checking the job board for a permanent position to come up, but just like they warned me, it wasn’t happening. I was starting to worry about losing my job and our much needed medical insurance. I decided I needed give it to God and to trust in whatever He had planned for us.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Philippians 4:6
Then one day I saw on the job board that a permanent full-time position opened up ….. but it was in Los Angeles! I thought, how in the world could we actually live in Los Angeles?! I prayed about it, talked it over with Harold, put in for the position, and got it!
So in June of 1990, it was Los Angeles or bust! We put the bulk of our furniture in storage, packed up our personal belongings to be shipped via Delta cargo, and drove to LA, with two young kids and one car in tow. For our young family of four, it was quite a challenging move. By the grace of God we got there safely, settled in an apartment, and began the next chapter in our lives: the perfect subject of my next blog. 🖊
The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. Psalm 121:7-8