Paul was content with his job. The boys were in Jr. Hi/Sr. Hi doing well. I was in my final year at seminary. We were pleased with where we lived, our church, our friends. We were not seeking to move, nor to leave the company Paul was with. However, a head hunter would not leave him alone, so he finally agreed to go check out an engineering position for a company in St. Louis, with the following stipulation: he wanted to take the whole family with him on the interview trip (an unusual request).
While he was at the company interviewing, I took the boys out driving. We ended up down in the Fenton area, just outside the I-270 loop, southwest of the city. We found the high school in that area, and stopped in to see what we could find out about the school. It was brand new, and the first graduating class would be in three years, the same year our oldest son would graduate. The three of us were impressed with the school and the location.
We were being "wined and dined" by the interviewing company. They put us up in a luxurious downtown hotel in a suite, more like an apartment. There was a revolving restaurant at the top of the tall hotel, located right next to the Arch. We ate fancy that night. We talked about our day, and it seemed everything about the day, for all of us, was positive. This looked serious, the fact that we might be making a major change in our lives. So I took it before the Lord in prayer. My first request was that all four of us would agree to the move. With the sons doing well in school and enjoying their friends, we didn't want to disrupt their lives unless they were willing to make the move. Secondly, I wanted to know for sure this was God's will for us...that He was opening the door. He led me to the scripture in Revelations 3:8:
He answered my very prayer, very clearly.
We went back to Tennessee to make our plans to move. We moved Paul into an apartment during Christmas break, and the boys and I went back to finish our schooling during the spring semester. As mentioned in my last blog, as soon as school was out and I graduated from seminary, we made our move to the big metropolis of St. Louis, Missouri. We found a rental house in the Fenton area where we would live until our house in TN sold. By October the house had sold, and we bought a home that fit our family well...not too far from the school. We visited three Nazarene churches in the area and ended up settling down at Webster Groves Church of the Nazarene, about eight miles from where we lived. We all quickly became involved in the church, making friends, and finding areas of service. During our years there, Paul was the minister of music, I taught various classes, and our sons were active in the youth group.
Four years went by quickly and the boys were both graduated from high school and in the college of their choice. To help fill the empty nest, we got a little Pekingese puppy...the runt of the litter. He was totally black except for white paws, a white tip on his tail, and a white throat. Paul appropriately named him Tuxedo. What a delight he was to us!! We had moved from outside the loop into the Sunset Hills area of St. Louis, closer to church, after our second son graduated. We had a large fenced in backyard, and Tuxedo loved to chase the squirrels...but never wanted to catch one. It was funny to watch him. One time he and a squirrel got entangled and rolled over...I'm not sure who was the most scared. Both ran their separate ways!!
Out of all the houses we have lived in, that home in Sunset Hills was our most unique place. It was an older ranch with a full finished walk-out basement. We did a lot of work in the yard to clean it up and make it a more picturesque setting. We also did some renovations to the kitchen and one bathroom. We made the house our own, and enjoyed our time living there.
We were in that house when our second son married, and our first granddaughter was born. She got to make several trips to visit and/or stay with Grandpa and Grandma. Those were precious times in which Tuxedo also became her wagon riding buddy. If I could turn back the clock of time, I would go back to that house and choose to stay there. However, I was always restless for the next change. Our second son and his wife and baby decided to move to southwest Missouri to be near her parents, and we ended up moving again...this time across the river to Highland, Illinois.
But I have skipped over the St. Louis years too quickly. Let me go back and share some of the things that happened in my life during that time. I mentioned that I taught classes at church. I taught a couple of adult Sunday School classes. I also taught a women's Bible study, and started a Greek class...but that didn't really make a go of it. Also during these years I worked bookkeeping jobs, since I couldn't seem to get my feet in the college setting. I did work at two churches as part time bookkeeper, and I worked at two seminaries.
One interruption that caused me to change jobs was that my dear mother was dying in Florida. I chose to quit two of my part-time jobs (one seminary and one church) and go spend the last five weeks of her life caring for her. I absolutely do not regret that choice. It was a privilege God gave me to have those weeks with Mom and Dad. Mom was dying of cancer, and it was a very difficult time for her. She did not want to die in the hospital and we wanted to care for her at home. Hospice didn't come in until her final day. We just didn't realize she was that close to death until all of a sudden she was gone. God gave me grace to live through those days...He was my comfort. We went back to Michigan for the funeral. It was after that we sold our house and moved into Sunset Hills. With the boys both being gone, we didn't need as large a house, and I needed a change to refocus.
The year our granddaughter was born, I had the opportunity to volunteer for the Billy Graham Crusade. Dr. Graham was going to be holding a crusade in St. Louis, and as was their practice, they came into the city about a year in advance to lay the groundwork for the crusade. They use multiple volunteers in various aspects. I was able to work in their mailing room and accounting office. What a treat to meet so many people, other Christians from all different backgrounds, coming together for the sake of Christ. It was a very interesting and rewarding experience to see what all goes on behind the scenes in preparing for a Crusade and during the Crusade itself.
When my volunteer work was wrapping up, I took a real estate class to get my realtor license, something I had thought I would use, since I loved looking at houses. I finished the course and passed the licensing exams. But by then I realized that even though I loved looking at houses, I didn't really care for all the paperwork that went with selling houses. I asked God if He had anywhere else I could serve. That's when I got the call from a large Presbyterian church, and I joined their staff as bookkeeper. It was a wonderful place to work, and I enjoyed my duties and my co-workers.
During that time I discovered I had two large cysts which resulted in me having a radical hysterectomy. I couldn't go back to work for eight weeks. I was so restless at home, but very thankful for Tuxedo keeping me company. Paul and I ended up making a trip down to North Carolina, taking Tux with us, just to pass some time for me. We had thought that perhaps one day we would like to retire in the Asheville area of North Carolina, so we went to check out that area. As we left Asheville, we drove south and found a smaller town, Hendersonville. There was a nice Nazarene church in that town, and we liked the lay of the land. More of a plateau setting than Asheville had been. We wanted to be near the Smokey Mountains, but not up in them. That was the first of many trips to that area, and here we are today still hoping to relocate to Hendersonville some day...in God's time.
Sometimes it is hard to remember events of our lives when we go back to recap them. We lived in St. Louis from 1994 to 2001. They were good years. We were proud of our sons, both graduating with honors, and choosing good colleges, one in Missouri and one in Ohio. They met their wives at college. One married after his freshman year, and one married after he graduated from college. We had our first granddaughter. Lots of good things happened during those years in St. Louis. Next move: Highland, Illinois...next blog.