The Fern Grove Cottages. A bed & breakfast Tommy and I checked out to purchase.

The Fern Grove Cottages.
A bed & breakfast Tommy and I looked at to purchase in 2002.

That is the question Joyce Meyer asked her viewing audience. As I sat and watched her recorded broadcast, (my husband and I record her show and watch it as often as possible) I was struck by just how important the statement was. It’s so easy as Christians to wait on God. We want to hear a trumpet blast from the clouds that tells us it’s time to move forward, trust our instincts, and do what we think God would want us to do. We become paralyzed by fear. “What if I get it wrong? What if I’m not really hearing from God?”

I’ve found myself in that predicament more times than I can count. Thankfully God blessed me with a courageous personality. I have what I consider to be, a God-given gift of boldness that allows me to step out and find out. I love the way He has helped me to accomplish things that would make no sense if I stood back and studied them too long.

I know there will be Christians out there that will throw rocks at me for making this statement but God preordained that I would buy Johnny’s Bar & Grill. I walked away from a financially solvent job with a company where I had been employed for nine years. Grant it things were getting shaky at Granny Goose Foods, but if they folded I could kick back and enjoy unemployment for a little while. I’d paid into the fund for almost twenty years at that point without receiving any benefits from it.

When the opportunity to buy Johnny’s presented itself I wasn’t exactly living the Christian life. I did however love God. I’m sure I prayed that He would help me fulfill my dream of owning my own place. I was seventeen when I got my first cocktailing job and was managing a bar by the time I was nineteen. I felt I was destined to it. I love working with people and I’m a great organizer.

After almost twenty years and witnessing a lot of miracles I believe it is His will that I am where I am. However, there was a time when I thought I’d gotten it wrong, or that maybe it was time for a change. I’d rededicated my life to Christ. My husband and I were back together after a torturous three month separation. I’d come to the realization that I played a part in the acceleration of my husband’s disease. I knew he was an alcoholic and I bought a bar. Before you throw me under the bus let me tell you the rest of my story.

I was under the false impression that since God had saved my marriage and I was trying hard to walk in His ways, He was going to get Tommy to stop drinking right away. How wrong I was. It was almost four years before Tommy got sober. During that waiting period I decided that there was no way that Tommy would find sobriety while we owned a bar. I needed to buy a bed and breakfast. I was sure it was God’s new plan for our lives. I read all the material I could get my hands on on the subject and I gave Tommy the job of searching the internet for prospective B&B’s.

I was so immersed in my new plan that when I prayed, I more or less told God that I knew it was what He wanted me to do. I didn’t pray, reflect, and wait. I went full steam ahead with my plan and Tommy and I hit the road checking out numerous Bed and Breakfasts. We finally found what I thought was the perfect place right on the Russian River. It had six small cottages and a wonderful house next to it for us to live in. I was going to be able to cook great meals for my hungry travelers and tell them how much I loved Jesus. Tommy would of course happily take care of all of the maintenance. He would be away from the bar and he would quit drinking. I was happy as a lark.

We put in an offer on the place at full asking price with a contingency that we would sell our house in Hollister and the bar. The sellers were not crazy enough to tie up the sale of their place while waiting for us to sell our home and our business. They turned down our offer. I was devastated. I thought for sure that since I was doing what I thought God wanted me to do, He would line everything up and make it possible, just the way he did with the bar.

Here’s the rub. I got it wrong. It wasn’t what God had planned for me. Was it a bad or ungodly plan? No, it just wasn’t His plan. Hindsight for me is twenty-twenty but God knew how it would play out. Tommy would have continued to drink. He didn’t want to change a darn light bulb at the bar. The responsibility of a six room B&B certainly would have overwhelmed him. When alcoholics are under pressure they drink more. The whole thing would have been a disaster. I would have been relegated to handling everything myself as I was doing at Johnny’s but without the support of all the wonderful people behind me at the bar. I can only imagine how lonely and lost I would have been. God knew, and if I had listened more closely I may have heard Him telling me.

After the deal fell through I started praying a little more fervently and listening more. I came to understand that I had gotten it wrong. It was hard to take at first because I was so sure that I was doing what God wanted me to do. How could I be so wrong? “Why did you let me go through all of this,” I asked God on many an occasion.

What I gleaned from the experience is that God will let you wander off of the path He has planned for you because there are so many lessons to learn along the way. Tommy and I had some wonderful times going out on our search. We enjoyed each other’s company, as we hadn’t in years. We had a common goal that brought us closer together and reminded me of why I loved and married Tommy in the first place. I needed that to help me to weather the storm that was ahead.

Tommy tried very hard to stop drinking. Anyone who has lived with an alcoholic will tell you, once they fall off that wagon and hit the booze again, they are far worse off than before they quit. The disease accelerates. I was in for a rough three years. But I got through it. I had grown up a bit spiritually and knew that God was in control. When I truly gave Tommy over to Him, God took care of the rest. I came to a place where I could stay peaceful no matter how out of control my husband was. I had the peace that surpasses understanding.

A couple enjoying the peaceful Fern Grove getaway.

A couple enjoying the peaceful Fern Grove getaway.

Then God worked his miracle. Tommy is coming up on his ninth birthday of sobriety. I have a new plan now and I’m putting it in God’s hands also. I want to make a living as a writer. I want to have the time to invest in collecting more stories and sharing the ones that I long to write. I have trouble believing that I can do that and run a bar but it’s not for me to decide.

I’m not living in fear; I’m doing something in faith. I suggest that you do the same. Pray about your dream and follow it. Don’t wait for a voice from the sky to confirm that you got it right. Use your God given wisdom and follow your heart. If it is in the right place and you get it wrong, it’s okay. God will honor your efforts and get you back on the right track.

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