I had fried chicken and all the fixings ready and on the table. This was going to be one dinner I would never forget. Not because of my fabulous home cooking—it was takeout—but because of what was going to transpire in a few short moments. My husband and I invited the pastor and his wife to our home this evening. But this was not a social call; it was all business for me. I needed the Pastor’s advice on an issue I had been struggling with for a long time. I was living with a secret. I had kept this secret hidden for years, mostly out of fear of what other people would think of me. Fear is a horrible companion and I was ready to cut ties with it. What I had experienced could fill a book, and I was contemplating writing one. It was time to bring my story to light, even though my life would never be the same once I told it.
The Pastor and his wife arrived right on time and we exchanged polite chitchat while we made our way into the kitchen. As we took our seats around the table, my hands were shaking. I had played this scene over in my mind a thousand times, and now it was actually happening. How was this gracious couple going to react? I had no idea. They were a conservative, middle-aged pair who had dedicated their lives to serving the Lord. I had known them for years and this evening just might change how our relationship continued. I was taking a risk divulging my story with this Baptist preacher, he could easily oust me from his church for what I was about to tell him. It was one of the fears that kept me quiet for so long. I loved my church family and I really didn’t want to be asked to leave, but what I had to share was worth the risk.
Pastor said grace. Lord help me. Was I ready for this? Now was not the time to second guess myself, but once I opened my mouth, there would be no turning back. I wanted to crawl under the table and hide, but knew my story needed to be told. I knew it could help and would hopefully enlighten others, even though I could be judged for telling it. Some people might even think I was crazy, and, at that moment, I wasn’t so sure myself.
As the food was passed around the table, I took a deep breath and glanced over at my husband, Bob. He gave me a reassuring smile, then his “it’s now or never” look. Okay. Here we go. I waited for a lull in the conversation, and then cleared my throat. “Pastor, the reason we asked you over tonight is because I’m thinking of writing a book and I need your opinion on whether I should do it or not.” Did I really hear myself just say that? I just started the conversation that was about to change my life. Lord have mercy on me. I nervously continued, “What I’m about to tell you I’ve only told a few people. It’s something I’ve kept quiet for over fifteen years and I think it’s time I shared it.”
That got their attention. I glanced around to see all eyes were on me. I took another deep breath.
“I guess I should start at the beginning. When I was seventeen years old…” and I was off and running. I was so anxious; I could hardly look at them. It was hard to get the words out. Thank goodness for Pastor’s wife, she was supportive and encouraged me to continue. And I did. For over forty-five minutes, I poured my heart out as they quietly listened and ate their dinner. Mine grew cold.
Through tears, confessions and even laughter, I disclosed everything. I didn’t leave any details out. My mind was reeling and I was emotionally exhausted. I felt like I had just stepped off a rollercoaster, a little woozy, but glad I took the ride. Now, my testimony was finished—maybe I was too. At that point, it didn’t matter because I had finally let the bird out of the cage. This was the first time I told someone outside my inner circle my entire story and it was liberating.
But the nagging reality was that I now had to deal with the consequences of revealing my secret. I was hoping for the best, but also expecting the worst. I just took the biggest risk of my life and I didn’t know if I crashed and burned or not. What was Pastor thinking? This was a man I had respected for over ten years. I knew I could trust his decision to be honest and biblically based, but I also knew he wouldn’t pull any punches. Did he think I was unstable or did he find my story valid? Was my experience worth sharing or was he going to throw me out of his church? I sincerely felt voicing my story was something God wanted me to do and I truly needed the Pastor’s theological opinion. The crucial moment of this meeting was finally here, and the anticipation was killing me.
I hesitantly looked over at the Pastor; he was hard to read. I had just given this faithful man of God a lot to process and he was mulling it over. I couldn’t wait any longer. I needed to know what he thought about this whole thing and I needed to know now. My stomach was churning as I found the courage to ask him the most important question of the evening. Looking him directly in the eye, I bit the bullet and with sweaty palms asked, “Well, what do you think?”
He paused for a moment, and then shifted in his chair. It felt like an eternity. I thought I was going to pass out from the suspense. Please, please, please tell me something good. I watched and waited, a mere few seconds that seemed to take forever.
Gradually, a smile came over his face.
“Write the book,” he said. “I don’t think you have a choice.”
Every story has a beginning, some start with an event or an experience. Mine started with a dream. Funny thing about dreams, they can take you on an unexpected journey and change your world in ways you never imagined. I was seventeen and it was 1978.
I was living with my parents on a farm about forty miles north of Detroit. As a typical teenager, I was busy with school and friends. I went to high school in a small, country town where everybody knew everybody. The whole town would turn out for Friday night football games and we had an ice cream stand where everyone seemed to congregate during the summer. There also was a mom and pop diner on Main Street where I ate more than my fair share of chili cheese fries. The fall season in our community included Harvest Week where students could take time off from studies to help in the fields. Many of the kids, like me, had farm chores at home before their day started at school.
My family raised Arabian horses and even though it was a lot of work, it was fun having a barn full of horses at home. Spring time was foaling season, my favorite time of the year. Staying up ‘til all hours of the night waiting for the mares to give birth and helping with the process was an amazing experience. That first nicker between a mare and her foal is a priceless event to witness; I never got tired of it. As the herd grew, we had about ten mares in our barn. We also had a stallion which we owned with another investor. We stabled him at the partner’s ranch which was fine with me—stallions are a handful.
I was also involved with showing German Shepherds. I enjoyed training dogs to show, especially the puppies. My folks agreed to build a kennel for me if I would take care of the day to day expenses of raising them. To keep it manageable, I only had a few dogs, and worked Saturdays at my parent’s photography studio to pay for dog food, vet bills, and show expenses. I didn’t mind the financial obligation; I loved my dogs.
Having horses and dogs was a wonderful learning opportunity. These were living creatures that were totally dependent on you for all their needs. I acquired the hands-on skills necessary for their care, such as grooming, giving vaccinations, treating injuries, and even assisting the veterinarians with medical procedures. I also experienced all sorts of emotional highs and lows, from the joy of births to the heartbreak of deaths and everything in between. It taught me responsibility and that time with our animals is short.
Needless to say, my days were pretty full with school, friends, homework, barn chores and dog training. Looking back, I wonder how I fit it all in. When evening rolled around, I had no trouble sleeping at night—until the dreams started. I wasn’t tormented with nightmares or night terrors, my affliction was different. My dreams came true. Literally.
I remember the first time it happened. I had had a dream about a woman whom we bought a horse from. Occasionally she would stop by to visit the horse, as she had raised him from a foal and was still emotionally attached. My parents understood their special bond and allowed her visits; they just asked her to call before she came. In my dream, she arrived unannounced, all smiles as she got out of her car wearing a purple sweater with blue jeans and tennis shoes. She waved hello to me and I returned the gesture. That’s all there was to the dream, just a short glimpse of the scene.
When I awoke the next morning, I recalled the dream but didn’t think anything of it. You can imagine my surprise when, later that day, I watched her unexpectedly drive up to the stable and get out of her car wearing the exact outfit as in my dream! How was that possible?! It was crazy! And a little spooky.
The premonition dreams occurred regularly. I would have one every other week or so. They usually were just fleeting glances of a scene or a conversation, but they always played out the following day, precisely as I had dreamed them. Déjà vu moments with a twist. It was surreal. I wasn’t able to change the outcome of the dreams; it was like being a puppet on a string with someone else calling the shots. I was reliving dreams everywhere I went: school, home, a friend’s house, restaurants; no place was safe from the experiences.
I didn’t understand how this phenomenon was happening to me. I talked to my parents about it, they didn’t understand either. I think they were hoping it was a phase I would outgrow. They definitely thought it was “unusual”. No kidding. Try living with it! When I went to bed at night, I never knew if I was going to have “one of those” dreams. If I did dream of familiar people or places, I would spend the next day wondering if I was going to relive it. It was not an enjoyable super power.
The dreams continued for months and were starting to give me anxiety. I didn’t talk about them with my friends at school, I knew how kids could be and I didn’t want to be made fun of or labeled as a freak. I was smart enough to know this was something I was better off keeping to myself. The dreams were completely out of my control and I didn’t know what to do. I needed help, but where would I begin to look for it - a doctor? I didn’t think “How to Cure ESP Dreams” was a course they taught at medical school. I had nowhere to turn. I was tired of being a player in a game I didn’t ask to participate in; I just wanted the dreams to stop. Then one day, they miraculously did.
I had called a friend that had recently moved to another state. She was one of the few people I could trust with my “special gift”. During our conversation, I shared with her the dream I had the night before. This dream was different. It didn’t contain any familiar faces, but the dream haunted me all day and I couldn’t shake it. I just needed to vent.
The dream began on a country road lined with big oak trees on a bright, sunny day. The road continued over an old stone bridge with a classic babbling brook running underneath. It was a very charming scene except for the horrific disaster unfolding right in the middle of it. A school bus, filled with children, had flipped over on its side. Grade school kids were strewn about on the grassy ditches, some badly injured. It was total chaos. Kids screaming, first responders arriving—a real nightmare. The dream frightened me so bad I woke up from it. I heard my friend gasp on the other end of the phone.
“I saw your dream!” she said. “I was driving home today and I saw that accident! It was horrible! There were people everywhere. Traffic was all backed up and the police finally routed us around it. It was a mess.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. After I hung up the phone, I collapsed in a chair and sobbed. Why did I dream of that accident? I couldn’t prevent it. What was the purpose of having to witness it? If these bizarre dreams were becoming tragic predictions I couldn’t do anything about, I definitely wanted out.
I was frustrated, angry and scared. I was on a runaway train and didn’t know how to get off.
Through my tears, I desperately cried out to God, “If this is a gift, I don’t want it! I didn’t ask for it and I don’t understand it! I can’t take it anymore! Please make this stop!”
When my tears finally subsided, I felt a calmness wash over me. After being so upset, I didn’t understand how I could feel such peace. I believe God answered my prayer that day because I never had “one of those” dreams again.
It was a wonderful relief. Life was slowly returning back to normal. As each day went by, I realized I could put the dreams behind me. It took a few months, but the anxiety left and I felt like I could breathe again. By this time, I had graduated high school and was now working full time with my parents at the photography studio while showing my dogs on the weekends.
Traveling with show dogs was an education in itself. I learned to be independent and how to handle myself in a competitive atmosphere. Anytime you have a group of people bound together by competition, you see the good and the bad in humanity. The dog show world was no exception; there was cheating and animal abuse, but also dedication to better the breed by good, upright people. I saw both sides and it gave me an insight to human nature and what some competitors were capable of. I didn’t believe in cheating to win, if I couldn’t come by it honestly, I didn’t need it. I would never have compromised my animals with drugs or abusive training techniques for a blue ribbon and I had a hard time understanding how others could. I learned many lessons early by being involved with dog showing which helped me later on in life.
So, now my schedule was pretty full of working forty hours a week and spending more time on the road with my dogs. But I no longer had to contend with the dreams. I was finally free of them. Unfortunately, my reprieve didn’t last long because, before I knew it, I had another nocturnal invader to deal with. And I didn’t see this one coming either.
It was an uneventful day of work and my usual routine of dog training and chores. That evening, I went to bed around the same time as I usually did. At two o’ clock in the morning, I woke up from a sound sleep for no apparent reason. When I opened my eyes, I caught a glimpse of something at the foot of my bed. I turned to get a better look at what caught my attention, and found an old man dressed in a worn-out flannel shirt and overalls staring back at me. I didn’t recognize the man and he appeared transparent and chalky white. You got it—a real, live ghost. He didn’t move or speak; he just stood there and watched me with a sad, despondent look on his face.
You would think my first reaction would be to scream bloody murder and run for my life, but I didn’t. Odd as it was, I felt sorry for him. I sensed he meant no harm and didn’t feel threatened in any way. His presence unexpectedly had a calming effect, so I just nonchalantly rolled over and went back to sleep.
However, I can tell you the conversation at the breakfast table the next morning was a little lively. I wasn’t rattled during the experience, but when I had time to reflect on what had actually happened, I had a change of heart. Seeing an apparition wasn’t something I wanted as a regular occurrence—once was enough for me. But how do you stop a ghost from reappearing if it decides it wants to? It was something I didn’t have control over and if there was such a thing as ghost repellant spray, I would have bought a case of it. For weeks, I slept with a nightlight on.
So here I am, a young woman having paranormal experiences I can’t explain, first the dreams, then the ghost. To say I was curious about the supernatural would be an understatement. I just wanted to understand what in the world was going on and why it happened to me. Who wouldn’t? I didn’t know of anyone else who had experienced dreams like mine, I knew it wasn’t normal. And as for the ghost, I think everyone knows someone who’s got a ghost story; but when it happens to you, it’s a different story altogether. Even though the sighting only lasted a few, brief moments, it had a huge impact on me. So, with an inquisitive mind and a library card, I set out on a journey of spiritual enlightenment. I was on a mission to find the truth. I just had no idea what a wild ride it would be.