This story line is expected to be 10 parts long. As we left the story last time, Sarah's surgeon was telling me that her problem wasn't the gallstones...
Okay, so her problem wasn’t gallstones, what WAS her problem? They sent her gall bladder off to the lab for analysis, and sent me in to see my wife in recovery. They told me, “She won’t remember that you came to see her while she is coming out of anesthesia, so you can say what you like to her, and she will never know.” Let me tell you, that is a trap of Satan...
Not only did she remember me coming in, she also remembered every word I spoke! Fortunately, I only spoke words of encouragement and a prayer.
Within a few minutes, results came back from the lab; it was indeed her gall bladder, only it wasn’t stones. Her gall bladder was genetically malformed, and was destined to go bad; it was only a question of when. We thanked God for delivering her from this problem and set our sites on moving forward.
Sarah’s recovery time was painful but quick, and within no time, she was back at work. I was having trouble finding a job. There was no work in West Texas in the winter of 1996. So I sat down and had a brain storm... I would write books and sell them. How hard could it be? Therefore, I sat down at my computer and began hammering out story lines, articles, and sermons. I put the finishing touches on such great stories as Hudson Hanner and the Cross of the Crusades, and Justice, and I got halfway through The Attack, before I realized that this plan was not working. I sent all of my manuscripts for publishing and waited by the phone for publishers to call, begging to publish my works. I started working on a book of poetry, and even a musical. Next, I started on a children’s story, but the calls never came and more bill collectors called, threatening to turn us over to collection. Before long, February, in fact, desperation had overwhelmed us and we started searching else where for employment. That is how we came to be in New Mexico.
Have you ever heard of Cloudcroft? It is the most beautiful and charming village in the whole southwest. Nestled on a ridge of the Sacramento Mountains, overlooking the Tularosa Basin, and White Sands National Park, it’s one of the most amazing places in the world. Tall pines are snuggled among the aspens in an area rich with culture and history. Cool mountain breezes keep the temperature well within comfortable levels, as soft rain showers gently remind us of a promise of Heaven.
Despite its charm and beauty, there is only one problem: it’s nearly impossible to find work in Cloudcroft! Oh, it’s feasible, but living in the mountains isn’t easy. To live within the tourist industry you have to fit into one of four slots: shop keeping, real estate, government service, or construction. The only other choice is to drive down the mountain and work in the desert, where jobs are readily available.
Well, one day when Sarah came home from work at the hospital (she was an RN), she and I discussed our financial crisis. We could starve to death on the ranch in West Texas, or we could move to Cloudcroft and starve. The biggest advantage to the latter was that it was so much more of a pleasant place to die than West Texas. Unless, of course, you are the main character in a western novel, but that didn’t apply to either of us. Therefore, one weekend in February, we loaded up and drove to Cloudcroft to see about finding a job.
The first place we stopped was a real estate office to check on rental house availability. I really felt foolish when our Realtor asked me where I worked. I couldn’t tell her that I was an aspiring author, as there was lack of credibility in that profession. I told her I was now searching for employment. She told me of a great opportunity within her office to be a real estate salesman, and that I could have a job—I only needed a license. I took the job offer and went back to Texas with a goal. Heck, if I really could make fifty to sixty thousand a year selling houses, then we would be in pretty good shape financially, and even be able to pay off all our bad debts.
For the next two weeks, we prayed hard and felt the Lord tugging at our hearts to move to New Mexico, so move we did! In April of 1997, we settled into a new house and I began studying to become a salesman. After passing the state exams, on my second try, which were designed for unusually intelligent people, I went to work ready to make my first big sell. By July, I was still waiting for my first big sell. While Sarah had a great job in a doctor’s office down in the desert, we were still not making a living. In fact, things where even worse for us financially than they had been at home.
By the time September rolled around, I had two sells behind me, and a long, cold winter ahead of me. In a tourist town, you make a living during the summer months, and hoard up for the slow season, which started around the end of September. Daily, bill collectors were calling us, but they could take nothing from us, as we had nothing. A good friend of mine tried to get me to declare bankruptcy, but there seemed to be no honor in that for me, or at least not a solution that I could exercise without great conviction. My friend, Gary, also told me that if I could hold on just a few more months then things would improve. “In fact,” he would say, “I am going to open my own business, and you can work for me. We will make a great team and a lot better living than we are now…”
Somehow, despite all the problems, Sarah and I had never been happier. We were flat broke, and hadn’t any reason to smile, but God had His hand on us. He gave us the grace we needed to make it. Then He made a provision that I couldn’t say no too, no matter how hard I tried….