It was a cold dark October night in Central Oregon. I was only fourteen at the time when my 16 year old friend Janet, who was really more of an acquaintance, invited me to run away to Ontario California with her. Janet had a boyfriend down there that we could stay with. It sounded like a great idea because I couldn't handle getting in trouble at home one more time.
With only $14 between us, we had every intention of hopping a train to get us started on our journey to California, but that darn train was going way to fast! Defeated by plan A, Janet came up with plan B. So we walked to Jake's, the local truck stop, to hitch a ride from one of the truckers.
We had to be sneaky at this point because I had been missing since school was out 3-4 hours earlier. Hiding behind unsuspecting semi-trucks we waited for a driver to return to his cab. "Here comes someone", Janet noticed and approached the the dark haired, middle aged, scruffy truck driver, and asked for a ride. Sure he said, hop on in...so we did...
We were able to get across the border before the truck driver had to go a different direction than we were headed. As morning had come upon us he pulled into a California truck stop and let us out. There we were able to find another ride heading towards our destination.
All in all, we only had to actually stand out on the highway with our thumbs in the air one time. Ironically we were picked up by a State Trooper. He believed our silly story that we were on our way home but ran out of money for a bus. He was happy to give us a ride. I think my anxiety level had peaked at this point! The rest of the way was smooth sailing as the truck drivers were very kind in taking us where we wanted to go. I know God's Angels were watching over us because "praise the Lord", we didn't get raped and or murdered!
It was less than 24 hours later, and almost a 1000 miles from home, starving and exhausted, we reached Ontario California. It felt more like Spring than Fall that sunny afternoon. It was like night and day compared to Bend's climate.
It turned out that Janet's boyfriend had a brother, he was good looking and single, yay me! His name was Steve. He didn't think much of me at first because I was tattered and worn from the journey. However, once I got some much needed sleep, a shower, and a change of clothes Steve "noticed" me.
I told him I was almost 16 and he believed me! If I would've told him my real age, he would likely have sent me packing! By the way, he was 23 at the time.
They had a small little house with a small front yard. Inside it was kind of dark, as they kept the blinds closed to keep out the heat. There were only 2 bedrooms and 1 bath so Steve invited me to sleep with him the second night Janet and I were there. It wasn't long before Steve proposed, not knowing that I was really only 14 years old. Of coarse I said YES! Finally, someone loves me, so I thought...
One week went by, then two... Janet found a job working at a laundromat. I stayed home alone during the days while Steve and his brother were also at work. It would be too risky for me to apply for employment. I had no desire to go back home! The days were long and lonely, I watched soap opera's to pass the time while waiting for everybody to get off work.
One afternoon my fiance's brother came home before Steve and Janet. He brought friends and drugs with him. He called it "Sherman", "Sherm" for short. I'd never heard of it before, although I had tried alcohol, speed, pot, even acid once, and I smoked cigarettes.
"Here try this", my soon to be brother-in-law said as he passed me the bong, with this foreign to me drug in it. "Take a small hit", he told me. I took a big hit as if it were pot. Big mistake that was! Before I knew it I was being carried to my bed where I lay completely paralyzed from head to toe. I couldn't even open my mouth to speak. For hours I lay there staring at the ceiling unable to move a muscle. If it weren't for the Angels of God helping me, I'm sure I would have died that day so many miles away from home.
By the Grace of God, I did fully recover a couple of days later. He is such a good God! And then another week went by and then it was all over. My fiance and his brother got in a big fight that ended in gun fire. Steve's brother was so mad that he told the police his brother was harboring a runaway. They came and took me away that day. I spent the night in a juvenile detention facility, and to my horror, they put me on a flight back to Oregon the next morning. I didn't want to go...
I told the man sitting next to me on the airplane what my story was and he told me, "you will look back at this and laugh one day." I never saw it as funny, but I do see the mighty Hand of God on my life even then when I was just a lost little teenager.
I will thank Him forever for His incredible Grace and Mercy!!! All things are possible with God. I was one of 2 teenage girls hitchhiking hundreds of miles away kept safe by Him even while the devil was trying to kill me!!
It's 30 years later and that wild child has long since grown up. Today I'm extremely rich in blessings, as I have 3 adult children. My oldest son and daughter- in- law are due to have a baby boy in June, our first grandchild! My oldest daughter is a college graduate and getting married in August. My youngest daughter is a 3rd year college student and she's going on her 3rd missions trip, it will be her 2nd time to Haiti this May! I have a wonderful husband who is also following the Lord and takes great care of our family! God is SO GREAT in our lives!!
Thank You Precious Lord for being so GOOD!!!
Do you have a time in your history that you can see God's helping hand when you didn't realize it was there at the time?