A Christmas Tribute to my Wife, Patty, and Jesus on my 75th Christmas
Patty was my high school sweetheart and we married when she was 17 and I, 19. Before we married, I had given her my track and field medals to wear on her charm bracelet. She was heartbroken that she had lost one of my medals, but God showed up and showed His love for her one day. She was sitting on her low porch looking down at the sidewalk when her mother, carrying clothes from the clothesline across the wet lawn, walked directly in front of her. To her amazing blessing and surprise, my medal dropped off her mother’s foot – right between her feet. Patty knew it was God, but when she told me and others, we weren’t impressed. Like Jesus’ mother, Mary, Patty knew and always pondered it in her heart.
Several years of blessings and trials followed as we married, had children, and renewed our faith – in that order. She never forgot her private little miracle.
Then, ten years into our marriage on April 21, 1973, I came home from a regional Fellowship of Christian Athletes weekend different and blessed. I had seriously prayed a prayer of consecration the night before and, on the way home, experienced a visitation of Jesus in my pickup cab. I felt Jesus’ love, His tingling presence starting on my head and moving down my body, and heard words out loud. At first, Patty was leery. Then as she watched me three days excitedly reading the Bible, sharing my experience and the reality of Jesus with others, and exuding constant joy, Patty began to pray, “Lord, I don’t know what you did to Charlie, but do it to me, too.”
The following Saturday, my brother Lee and wife, Kathy, came to visit as I had told them I wanted to share something. That evening after I had told of my experience, Kathy said, “I feel like we should pray.” (We had never prayed before as a foursome.) While we were praying, Patty broke into joy as she then felt the same love and tingling that I had felt.
Suddenly, Patty was on the grand adventure with me. We had no idea of the Biblical aspect of our experience. It was just that the Bible was more understandable and desirable than ever, Jesus was more real, and joy overflowed. Then Patty’s best neighborhood friend heard Patty’s story and gave us a book that started our understanding: Now That You’ve Been Baptized with the Holy Spirit by Donald Gee.
Gee’s book explained to Patty and me that Jesus is the baptizer with the Holy Spirit and that four typical effects of the gift were that the Bible would come alive, there would be a new desire to witness, joy would abound, and we would speak in tongues. Check, check, check, question mark. We had never really heard of tongues, but our response was, “Well, three out of four ain’t bad.”
Soon, Patty watched me take a new teaching/coaching position to Lyons, Kansas, and head there in the summer to manage a weight program for the athletes. She, then usually by herself, herded three kids and managed the sale of our Shawnee Mission house. Then, when the house was sold and our Lyons home was three weeks from being available, Patty maintained our home in our no-bathroom pickup camper. (Talk about a gracious trooper! That was about the eleventh home so far and less than half of what were yet to come.)
Early in the new school year, the head of the lunchroom noticed my expression of faith and invited us to join a Thursday night prayer fellowship. What we soon learned was that most of them had a similar experience to ours. What was known as the charismatic revival was spreading around the world and these people knew about it. Most of them had experienced the part that we had only heard about, the speaking in tongues.
From Gee’s book and from our new friends, Patty learned that when one prays in tongues, it is the regenerated spirit that is praying, When one prays in the native language, it is the soul that is praying. One Wednesday night after Patty and been studying and praying about the new way to pray, someone in the group asked Patty whether she would like to prayed for to speak in tongues. Patty jumped at the chance and sat on a chair in the middle of the room as several laid hands on her and prayed in English and in tongues for her desire to be experienced. In short order, she was joyously praying in a language we had never heard. Joyously? Yes, so much so that she didn’t want to stop. Joy kept overflowing, and at home that night I overheard her whispering in tongues.
Patty’s story after that is not a happily ever after story – – and yet, it is. She experienced a demon in our home impersonating a human which was the start of her being involved in some deliverance ministry. When I stopped teaching and coaching and started an evangelistic ministry, she experienced being out of food for her family of five to the point of sighing to the Lord, “Lord, at least it would be nice to have some peanut butter.” That night a dear sister in Christ came to our door with a package of groceries that she said the Lord had directed her to bring. In the sacks were two really large jars of, you guessed it, peanut butter.
During those Lyons years, Patty was involved in much ministry and fellowship. She joined me on several Lay Witness Missions where I heard her share her testimony with groups large and small. One of my favorite memories was of her speaking before a filled gymnasium in Lindsborg, Kansas. She spoke beautifully controlled without apparent nervousness, without uhs and ahs, without stuttering, more than good enough to get an A in my Speech class; but as I stood behind her, I saw the hem of her slacks constantly shaking. It still stands out to me as a beautiful and inspired performance.
Then after my brief seminary experience during which Patty worked for an evangelic ministry in Tulsa, we returned to our Americus, Kansas, farming neighborhood where I farmed for seven years. After our third year on the farm, Patty suddenly had a serious health problem as she was diagnosed as having a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis. She became totally bedridden and all her family had to learn to fend for themselves. What made this puzzling was that she had prayed for others to be healed and had herself experienced gifts, yet, now, when we prayed and others came to pray for us, nothing improved. We even joined a church group going to Texas where Norvel Hayes was conducting meetings and where healing had been occuring, yet she did not experience improvement.
During all of Patty’s seeking to be healed, she started to lose lung capacity. In fact, she lost a third of her lung capacity – later calculated at 13 percent loss. It was then that I demanded further care and we went to Wichita where Patty was then diagnosed has having Systemic Lupus Erythematous. To control the damage to her lungs and to stop further damage to her organs, Patty was put on a really high dosage of Prednisone. It was like a miracle drug; her great pain diminished in hours, but there was an amazing side effect – she ballooned up in weight to the point where neighbors she had known all her life no longer recognized her. The arthritic-like symptoms remained and her hands had gotten a bit deformed to the point that keyboarding is not easy even today.
The overriding effect of the Lupus was that occasionally a vital organ would be attacked, and she would again have to be hospitalized and go on a high dosage of Prednisone after also being on a constant lower dose. The worst overriding effect was the constant and extreme fatigue that she felt. Some days were a bit easier than others but all were terrible.
What was truly amazing about Patty was that through it all, through all the disappointment, she kept a sweet and graceful attitude. She kept her hope and faith and she kept her praying with both her soul and her spirit. Her steadfastness, strength, and constant joy hidden beneath remained obvious to me. Most anyone that knows her, knows that few in the world are sweeter than Patty.
When my seven farming years ended and I was told that I could enter pastoral ministry, I was a bit bitter about Patty’s suffering. I had felt that I would not re-enter ministry as long as Patty suffered so, and Patty knew my feelings. She came to me one day and asked me to reconsider my attitude; I did and then entered a season of pastoral ministry.
Much water passed under many bridges until 2013 when Patty joined me to a weekly healing school held at Charis Bible College in Woodland Park, Colorado, after she had suffered 34 years. She started suffering when she was 34, and now 34 years later, the miracle happened. Before the healing school began, a woman approached us at a refreshment stand. This woman, at times, was on the healing team that prayed for others each week, but this was not her week. When she learned that Patty had Lupus, she asked whether Patty would like her to pray. She then placed her hand on Patty and prayed a simple healing command in the name of Jesus. Something then happened in Patty’s heart and she knew she’d been healed. Sure enough, over following days, she noticed constant relief of symptoms. I yet marvel and praise God that instead of sleeping 12-14 hours a day, she’s usually closer to eight. Where she had no energy for the most mundane of chores, she seems to be much like a young lady again. She had to forgo hosting Christmas for many years, now she’s been working for weeks to host this year. The organizing, the shopping, the gifting, the cooking she’s been doing truly amaze and bless me, causing me to praise God.
As I have already mentioned, Patty has continued in her experience of having been saved and baptized with water and then being baptized by Jesus with the Holy Spirit. In joy, she has continued with her reading of Scripture and in her praying with her soul and also with her spirit. It would be difficult for someone to talk about some part of Scripture and catch Patty not recognizing something about it.
When you see my sweet, faithful Patty, you will know her agape love flows toward you, the agape love Jesus built into her that is always looking toward your blessing. She will always be hoping that you join her in the pleasure of knowing Jesus as your Savior and as your baptizer with the Holy Spirit. Can you see how the Ephesians 4:10 Spirit of Jesus has been following Patty all the days of her life? May you be so blessed as well.
Merry Christmas 2017