When I was a little girl we had a black and white TV. One of my favorite shows was the Ed Sullivan show. He would have different talents on his show. I remember one I use to watch and even the reruns, was of a man who had long sticks and he would put these sticks on different parts of his body, his knee, feet, head, hands and he would somehow put plates on top of these sticks that were balance on him and he would spin the plates. He would keep spinning them for awhile and then gather them up one by one. In Arkansas I was still trying to keep the plates spinning but soon each one would fall to the ground and break into pieces I could not put back together again. Kinda like Humpty Dumpty. All the kings horses and all the kings men couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again. But the King Himself could and would.
Arkansas was hard from the beginning. Not just hard for each one in my family but for the staff. There were things that transpired there with the previous coach I never got into. I just knew there were some wounded people left behind. The Athletic Director was Frank Broyles. He took an active role in the sports there especially football and basketball. There were the new coaches and wives who came. Some wives, one in particular, did not want to be there. I loved all these women. I do even now, but I could not get them to unite as coaches wives and I tried. So I quit trying. I had relationships with them each individually but quit trying to fix the situation. It was not fixable. I only went to the games I had to. Even that was an effort.
The team was below, low. They were not in class and had many discipline problems. Danny had to get all this straight before he could even begin to coach them. Attendance to the games were low. Danny went on a speaking tour all around the state. This was no different than what he had done regularly at Clemson. He met every one who came to the meetings and shook hands asking for their support for this team, their team.
I remember when I got there and Danny and Coach Broyles were in a meeting. I went for a walk and this fear washed over me. In my fear I was loosing the things of the gospel I had received. I talked to John Hall and said can I teach Sonship here? He said I don't know Deborah you haven't had it all. I called, by his suggestion, World Harvest Missions and ask. I said, if I am mentored by one of your mentors over the phone can I teach it here. They agreed. Joanne Stahl, my dear friend now and mentor began an unbelievable task of walking me through the Valley of Shadow of Death with me. I could not have survived without her. I was not ever completely honest with Joanne about my struggles within me but she did all she could trusting God with the rest. I began to teach women from other churches, BSF leader one of my closest friends, Jan Shaddox, Denise Sagan, Pastor Paul Sagans wife who loved me so well and others. I went to pastors and shared the study. I was giving it out profusely because I was so desperate for it. I shared on television and spoke to churches. I remember sharing at our church, First Baptist Springdale, to hundreds, maybe thousands I don't know. No one knew, not even me, I was getting sick then. Pastor Ronnie covered for me. He presented the gospel as beautiful and clearly as I have heard it preached. Many responded. He was just like that. He talked about our adoption and us being a child of the King and all His glory.
We joined that great church, First Baptist of Springdale with Pastor Ronnie Floyd and his wife Jeana. They became our wisdom from God, support, friends and teacher. Pastor Ronnie began a bible study with the coaches. Elizabeth and Lee attended their christian school. Lee only a year. Lee and Elizabeth were baptized there. I worked with my friend Martha Langley who writes with me on Whispers of God with the college group under our friend Steve Moore who also was so very supportive to us all. Elizabeth was good friends with his daughter. I went to a bible study at church, me, Martha and the secretary of the church and others I did not know as well. I told them I had been studying, I spent many hours, and I wondered if they would join me in the prayer that we would join in the sufferings of Christ, that we might know him and the power of His resurrection. They agreed and we prayed. Our suffering was to begin and lives were going to fall apart.
I began to have physical problems. I had surgery and could not take hormones. I was thrown in the middle of menopause. Because of his personal issues my doctor refused to see me. I had two surgeries on the inside of my ear near my brain where a tumor would form as a result of a hole in my eardrum. I guess I had had all my life. There were great blessings for us in Arkansas despite the pain and one of the most wonderful things was Gods gift to our family, the birth of our grandson Jordan. Ashleigh had moved to Arkansas and began dating Alan. Soon Jennifer and Jordan would be there with us. Elizabeth and Ashleigh bought that child everything possible. We all adored him. I remember one night in Elizabeths bedroom we all dedicated Jordan to the Lord. Although he was later dedicated at church on Mothers Day. We promised to raise him to love the Lord, to protect him and teach him about God. As wonderful as this was my children began to feel the effects of where I was headed. Lee was suffering in school. I had to have him tutored daily and summers. Our friends Wayne and Judy Bryant about raised him, having him with them and coaching and getting him to soccer and baseball games. Lee also was a great little athlete. Each child was struggling in their own way. I was still struggling with my heart toward Danny. Danny's heart was becoming broken. He took me on a trip to Phenix, Arizona. He apologized to me and the kids for not being there for us and anyway he had hurt us. That we were going to be a family and one that loved the Lord. But with my walls of protection and my self sufficiency going all I had left now was my fears and they had over taken me. I tried but I could not respond. The players, coaches all noticed the remarkable change in Danny. He was different and God was still at work I knew, but what about me?
With the suffering of my family I came out of denial that I was this wonderful, Godly Christian wife and mother. I began to isolate myself. I did not know what to do with my failure. I turned inward. Things were falling apart. Danny's father died and Danny's contract was not renewed. I remember a coaches wife coming over and I was sitting in the floor in a fetal possession. No one really knew what was going on with me. Danny and I didn't know. We went to our pastor with my paranoia and things that were happening, driving to Missouri in the middle of the night, getting in his truck and just leaving. I would roll the window down, the country music up and ride and ride and ride. Pastor Ronnie told Danny to get me to the best doctor in the country and have me check out mentally and physically. Danny did. We went to Charleston. We sat there and I manipulated that doctor so much he thought I was more healthy than Danny. I went to work for Jim Beckman our friend and plastic surgeon. He knew I was trying to get out. I taught a bible study to the staff before work. It helped for awhile. I met some friends at my friend Ann's lake house in South Carolina, Ann B, Ann H. and Jerdone. Ann H. mom was not even doing well and she decided she could come for a couple of days for me. I thought if I can just get away and be honest with my friends and they pray with me I will be ok. It was a nightmare for them. I was reckless and out of my mind. They would stop at a red light and I would just jump out of the car and run. Danny drove all night to get to me from Arkansas. He called the police, they couldn't find me. I was running away from everyone and successful at doing it. Finally I stopped. I convinced the police Danny was bothering me and they told him to leave me alone. I got his credit card and checked into a fancy hotel. He didn't sleep that night plus having driven all the way from home in Arkansas.
By now he was taking care of the children. He did not know, but by now I was hearing voices and seeing illusions. My paranoia and fear grew. I had isolated from everyone I knew. We were laying in the bed one morning and I said, when I look at you I see someone else's head. He said, Deborah come with me. We have got to get some help. Will you come? I said yes. We went to see the doctor and I was admitted to the mental hospital. I was in the room with others playing the piano and we would all sing Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that He saved a wretch like me. A pastor I didn't even know came and saw me. He told me I had given him his sermon for that next Sunday morning. I knew the words of the gospel but I didn't hear the music.
Mother and Daddy came and helped Danny pack up. He had sold the house. As soon as the kids were out of school we would return to South Carolina. Writing this and thinking back I cannot begin to imagine the hell I have put my husband and children through, my friends. It is all I can do to hold back the tears. But as Danny told me the other day when I was telling him my kids had not had a mother for 17 years. That Lee was only 10 when I got sick. He said Deborah, we can not go back but we can go forward. But as the story continues it only gets worse before the gospel of faith takes hold of my heart and soul. Until you see how messed up you are, apart from Jesus, and Gods love for you in sending His Son for you, you cannot love another person unselfishly. No matter how hard you try. I know I tried. I was beginning to see my sin, which was Gods kindness to me. But I was far from understanding the Fathers love.
Tomorrow I hope to conclude our move back home. I would find my way home too, in my Fathers house. He would be waiting on me. Run to me, embrace me
and shower me with kisses before I could ever say, I'm sorry.