” A Chance Friendship ” Joanne’s story

GiGi’s turned out to be such a great outlet for me. I love to talk and now I had no pressure of a ” Boss” (except for Gino of course..lol) I could talk with every customer, and really get to know who they were and are. So, on a sunny day a young woman entered the store, she had a big smile as I greeted her. I knew she was not from the area I always remember a face. We got to talking and she told me she was in between appointments at her job as a pharmaceutical sales rep, she was getting married in August and just wanted to see if she could find some odds and ends for the big day. She was talkative just like me, and told me all about her wedding  as well as a lot of other things. There was a spark; an instant connection between us. We talked and hugged and she promised she would come and visit again when she was in the area.

    A couple of months later she stopped in again, she was now a married woman and was excited to show me her wedding pictures. We talked at length, and she talked to me about her hopes and aspirations for the future. She wanted to be a mother, she wanted to move closer to her family, and possibly buy or build a home. She was anxious about how that might work out, or if it would at all. I told her about all the things I had been through in the last couple of years and how we came to even have the store, and that it was a painful time, but that it was meant to be. I told her everything happens for a reason and in it’s perfect time. I told her about my prayer place, when I can shut out the world and really focus on praying and that prayer had been a huge comfort to me. We hugged as she got ready to leave, and I promised her that I would say a prayer for her. She smiled and thanked me.

 I prayed for her and waited for her to stop in again. She came back to visit just before Christmas and was beaming from ear to ear. She was indeed pregnant, had got a new job near her family and found a house not far from her parents. She was so happy, and was laughing with her marvelous infectious laugh. I was overjoyed for her!

 As, we started to talk about how it all came together for her, she stopped and said ” Did you pray for me?” I said of course I did, as we both laughed. She said “Thank you so much, I felt so at ease after I left that day, I sware it was your words, Marty.” I was flattered that she felt that way, but I insisted that it didn’t have anything to do with me, it was just the right time for her. I had no idea at this point that this young woman standing in front of me, that I had only known for 6 months and lived 3 hours away was divinely placed in my life and I in hers. We both had BIG CHANGE on the horizon.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good acceptable and perfect.

Yet, another season had come and gone and right around the dawn of Spring 2011, Joanne came in looking very pregnant, I was so happy to see her, and rushed over to her to put my hand on her belly. That day my sister in law Gina had stopped in on her day off to chat with me and was present when Joanne arrived. We made small talk, but Joanne did not seem herself that day. I immediately sensed something was wrong. She then asked me if we could talk in private, since my sister in law was at the store and had filled in on occasion, I asked her if she could man the register and help any incoming customers. She agreed and Joanne and I headed to the back room and shut the door. I said ” Joanne, what’s going on?”  She said that it had been a rough couple of months, her grandmother had passed away, I gave her my condolences, but she wasn’t finished, she went on to tell me that she had a secret that she had kept from her family since she was 11 years old and that now was the time to reveal this secret. She went on to describe a scene from a Summer picnic with her family, it was hot that day, and she was tired from being in the heat. She came inside the house and layed down on the couch to take a nap. She awoke to her Uncle rubbing her private part very aggressively from the outside of her shorts. She jumped up and he promptly stopped. She ran upstairs to her bedroom and was sobbing, she was scared and at 11 years old had a hard time processing that her Uncle would do this to her. Until this point of her telling me the story, she had only told her sister and her now husband.

A lot of things had lead Joanne to this decision she explained to me. The death of her grandmother. Her Uncle never really got his life together and was still in and out of his Mother’s house which burdened Joanne’s grandmother. Joanne did not want to hurt her grandmother any further with this upsetting information. Joanne, had recently found out that she would be having a baby girl. Joanne’s mother would be the caretaker of the baby while Joanne and her husband worked, and now that Grandma had passed away, Joanne’s Uncle was now leaning on her mom to be his crutch. In her mind there was NO WAY she would let that man near her child.

As, I was hearing all of this I was in utter disbelief. The information was shocking and so sad for Joanne to be going through, but even more over her words to me ” Marty, I couldn’t think of anyone better to give me advice.” I came here for your guidance and for your prayers.

What had I done, for her to have this much confidence in ME? ” A Lady at a Gift Shop ” 3 hours away from where she lives, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it what had I done to make her trust me so deeply.

I consoled her, shared my own experience of molestation that occurred when I was 9 years old, and just gave her the best sound advice I could muster up. She left the store after a lot of crying, hugging, and promises of prayer. She was going to do it, she was going to not be in this hell she had been in all these years by keeping in this horrible secret. She was going to do this for her baby! I went home that night and told Gino what happened, he was shocked too that she had come to GiGi’s to get my advice, prayer, and comfort. He said ” Marty, what do you say to people?” I was like I don’t know, I was asking myself that same question. That night I went to prayer, a sincere, pure prayer, and said “God, obviously there is something that people are drawn to, in me. I don’t know exactly what it is, but if I can help people in anyway with your guidance I am willing. I had NO IDEA what I was asking for in that short, sincere prayer. I would soon find out, and my life would never be the same.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart,
   but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21


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