During this time I have written 2,034 articles from A to Z. From time to time, I have written little short stories; and today on this special day for me – I wanted to publish this one.
I wrote this article about 40 years ago when I was taking a creative writing in college. It was an assignment and it had to include the words “sheet music” and the misspelled word for girls - gurls!”
Recently, after my husband passed away, I found this old composition – yellow with age – among some of his things. You will see how pertinent that will become.
The above photo of me was taken at just about this same time that I wrote the article; and oddly enough, I am sitting at a table with a cup in my hand. And you will also see the significance of this in the story.
This is absolutely a true story. I have not changed any of it here. The only thing I added was a title. I never knew this day was coming.
And ironically, I am preparing, after all these years, to publish my first book.
When I found this recently, the similarities of this story caused my hair to stand on end when I read it. I have not changed anything about this story; and still have the original paper.
For many years, I have written articles for newspapers, magazines, and now for Examiner. It has always been my dream to have a book published. I am on the verge. There is a connection here.
Now that I have told you this much, you will be able to see how stunned I was reading this; and how much it means to me. And I wanted to share it with my many thousands of viewers and supporters.
Thank you for your encouragement and support – you are the reason I have been successful in sharing these many articles that were written to help families and children. Every penny ever earned, while working for Examiner, has gone to a recognized charity that helps families and children.
When I re-read this old assignment, I realized how this fictional story became my life’s own story. You have to remember that this story was written years before any of these things happened to me.
The assignment was not titled. I named it today
After all these years, I realize the prophecy in this for me; and now understand that I am Virginia.
“Yes Virginia, there is a God!”
Oblivious to her surroundings, Virginia sat at the breakfast table.
Lingering there far too long, she was wishing the world and everyone in it would go away. She was tired. Tired of well meaning friends, her parents, and yes, even her children.
Hopelessness had crept in upon her like a heavy wave. It was like a powerful force pushing her downward.
Her usually bright and cheerful kitchen was a mess. The sink, and all the counter space, was covered with dirty dishes.
A feeling of heaviness in her extremities made even the most menial task seem daunting. The coffee she had been drinking was cold and sickening. She didn't like coffee anyway. She was hoping to get a lift from the caffeine.
She didn't want to do anything in the house and she didn't want anyone else to either.
The children had offered to help; but she had only snapped at them and said, "Leave it alone, I'll get it later!"
Instead of getting the lift she wanted, the caffeine had stimulated her thinking; and not her body.
The thoughts came tumbling one over the other; all jammed together. Each thought pushing for first place in her mind.
The phone rang. It was Mrs. Sims from church.
"No, I don't feel like company today; but thank you for calling. Sure, I'll let you know if there's anything. No, I don't want to talk about it. Goodbye, Mrs. Sims," she said as she pushed the phone button.
Instead of replacing the receiver, she left it dangling by its cord.
Friends were well meaning; but she just wanted to be left alone.
She ran her fingers through her uncombed hair, surveyed the dirty kitchen and said, "The dishes can just wait."
She poured herself another cup of coffee and listened as the phone beeped out its distress signal. "I'm off the hook.... I'm....off...the....hook, I’m… off… the… hook.”
She turned and spoke to the phone saying, "Good...for....you, Good....for....you, Good for you… Now maybe you will leave me alone.”
Virginia knew there were so many things she needed to be doing, but they could just wait like everything else had waited for the past few weeks.
A few weeks - what a lifetime.
Three weeks ago, she and Jason had sat at this table laughing and joking like there would be no tomorrow. Now Jason had no tomorrows and neither did she! She had only yesterdays.
"Why hadn't Jason taken better care of himself?
"It's just a little cold," he said. "Be better in a few days."
Well, it wasn't better in a few days; nor in a few weeks.
Each time she urged him to see a doctor; he sloughed it off with one excuse or the other.
“No time, maybe next week; or I'm feeling better today,”
She wondered if Jason knew all along just how ill he was. Maybe he knew all along; but just didn't want to admit it. Or, did he hope by ignoring the symptoms, the whole thing would just go way?
He knew one of the danger signs was coughing up blood.
"Oh, Jason! Jason, I love you. I need you. Can you hear me, Jason? Do you know how awful it is without you?”
Virginia never thought there would be a time when she and Jason would not be together. Why, they had always been together. They had grown up together in the same neighborhood, gone to the same church, and been high-school sweethearts. Jason had teased her on their nineteenth anniversary, "Now, I've had you longer than your Mom and Dad did,” he chided.
For eighteen years, Al and Agatha Stillwell had given her just about everything a girl could want. Her Dad was a successful writer for the Christian Digest. He had been able to support Virginia and her Mom in a better-than-average lifestyle.
Her Dad used to laugh and say how expensive his "women" were.
One day, he good naturedly told Virginia, “Your mother would bankrupt King Solomon; if he had to support her habit."
He always referred to her Mother's love of piano sheet music as her "habit."
He had actually caught her slipping into the grocery budget for money to buy a piece of music.
When confronted with her "fallen ways," she replied, "My soul needs to be fed just as much as my body."
Virginia smiled as she thought of this when she was a teenager; seeing how she and her Dad were more interested in feeding their stomachs than their ears. Anyway, Virginia liked, "You Ain't Nothing But A Hound Dog," not “How Great Thou Art."
Her mother said, "Some women liked soap operas, women's magazines or paperback novels; but I just happen to enjoy "reading" sheet music.
Agatha did more than just "read" sheet music. Her ability to play the piano had long been recognized by those who knew her as a gift from God.
Jason had loved her. He didn't always agree with her - but he loved her. Agatha had played for his memorial service. He would have agreed with that.
Virginia knew how hard it was for her mother to play at Jason's funeral; but she had not yet been able to tell her how much it meant to her. She had been unable to feel any emotion - to express how she felt.
She had not even cried for Jason.
She heard her Dad tell the children, "It was such a shock. Right now she's in a kind of daze. When she accepts Jason's death, when she faces reality, and when she cries, you'll have your Mom back. Just bear with her, love her and be a comfort to her."
Virginia ached for her grown children in her heart. Their father had died. She should be comforting them.
She dropped her head into her hands - elbows propped up on the table and prayed, "Dear God, I want to be sorry for the way I have acted, but I just can't - not now. I know a Christian shouldn't act and feel the way I do. Oh, Father, help me. I am so helpless."
Just then she thought of her cool behavior towards poor Old Pastor Stovall. She had treated him badly. It wasn't his fault. Jason died.
"WELL, it wasn't mine either," she said out loud as she pushed her chair angrily away from the table.
Her feet had gone to sleep from sitting cross-legged at the table for so long. She wiggled her toes in an effort to start the flow of blood back into her feet.
"Why shouldn't my feet feel dead - the rest of me does," she muttered.
The chiming of the doorbell startled her as she started for the sink with her dirty coffee cup.
Out of habit, she looked into the mirror that was hanging on the wall next to the door. She didn't like what she saw. She patted down her unkempt hair and made a rubbing motion on her face. Yesterday's make-up had not been removed and her mascara was smeared underneath her eyes.
Virginia had always taken great pride in herself. Her appearance, she felt, was a testimony, but today she just didn't care.
She wrapped her old chenille robe around her legs, where the bottom buttons were missing, and approached the door. She hoped to get rid of her caller as soon as possible.
After cracking the door and looking through the chain lock, she felt relieved to see the Postman standing there. She closed the door, unlatched the chain, and re-opened the door.
"Good Morning, Mrs. Tressler, how are you today - beautiful weather we're having - not gonna be as hot today as yesterday - the weatherman said, but I' m not so sure," he rattled on.
Virginia half-heartedly answered his questions; almost methodically.-
"Good morning, Mr. Nelson. I'm fine. How are you? I didn't realize it was so hot, but I guess if anybody knows, it would be you," she said flatly.
He handed her a pen and a small card for her signature and said, "Got a couple of pieces of registered mail for you.”
“Well actually one is for you and the other is....or.....was for...anyway it's for the late Mr. Tressler." Stammering around and trying to cover his awkward blunder, he continued. "They are both from the same place - one of them publishing houses,” he explained.
"You still trying to get your book published?" He pried.
She handed the signed cards back to him in exchange for the two envelopes, and simply stated, "No, I'm not." The tone of her voice told him she didn't want to discuss the weather, her book, or anything else with him.
He stuffed the cards into his mail sack and walked back out toward the driveway shaking his head. "Since Mr. Tressler died, Mrs. Tressler just ain't herself,” he thought out loud.
He remembered when they first moved into the neighborhood. He often felt like the Postman in the comic strip, "Dagwood and Blondie." He often tripped over skateboards, bikes, puppies or one of the three Tressler youngsters.
Mrs. Tressler was always glad to see him. He knew she was anxious to see if she had a letter from some publisher or the other; but he pretended she was glad to see him. She was always cheerful, talkative, and full of good humor.
She always made a joke about the many rejections she received. One day she said, “They don’t know it; but they have probably just passed up a best-seller.” Another time she laughed and said she was sure they had not even read it; because it was a masterpiece.
As the rejection letters continued to come, Mr. Nelson began to sense the rejection she felt.
Finally there were no more letters from publishers. Mrs. Tressler had stopped sending out her books.
Headed back to the kitchen, Virginia didn't seem to care about the envelopes at first. She tossed them carelessly on the table and among the dirty dishes. She passed them off as unimportant; probably a gimmick or a silly contest.
She remembered how excited she used to get over letters from publishers. Each time Mr. Nelson came with a registered letter, she would say to herself, "This could be the one."
Later, discouraged, Virginia wondered why she had even bothered to write.
Jason encouraged her writing after their marriage, just as her parents had before the wedding.
Grandmother Stillwell, full of pride for her granddaughter, exclaimed, "Ginnie will be a writer someday, just like her Dad."
Virginia was glad, "Nanny," as she called her, had not lived to witness her failures.
Virginia cleared the table of the dirty dishes only to realize there was no place to put them.
As she began to unload the dishwasher, her thoughts drifted back to a time when she was about five years old. She had gotten a toy cash register for Christmas and pretended it was a "typewriter."
She would scribble on a piece of paper, stand it up behind the keys of the toy cash register and pretend she was typing, "Just like Daddy."
It was about this time that she wrote her, "first real story." At the top of the paper, she had she had written in red crayon, "gurls." She had asked her Mother how to spell "girls" but since she pronounced it "gurls" that's the way her Mother spelled it.
Her Mom and Dad had peeped around the door several times and watched her "write." She would "type" a little while and then crumple up the paper - throw in on the floor. She would lean back in her chair - get up - and walk around - sit back down and "type" again.
Since the toy cash register could not make marks on her paper, she took care of this with her red crayon. Then she ran into the living room to read her story. She "read" it differently each time; since she made it up as she went along.
Her first "novel" was a little more complicated. Her Dad had purchased a new electric typewriter for his work and passed the old worn out manual to Virginia. With her mother’s help, she learned to type fairly well by the time she was ten.
Her novel consisted of about twenty typewritten pages. She had carefully placed them in a folder with brass tabs. Her book was titled, "Girls Can Do Things, Too!"
Her manuscript read like a shopping list:
1. She listed everything, in her opinion, which girls could do as well as boys - like climbing a tree, riding bikes, and running fast.
2. She listed everything girls are not like. They are not afraid of bugs, worms or boys. In fact she stated "Boys make girls sick - not afraid."
3. Then she made her list of things girls could do better than boys like sing, dance, and be pretty.
Of course, her "novel" was never published, but she still remembered how good it felt to put her thoughts down on paper.
Her love for writing grew as she did.
When she married Jason at eighteen, just out of high school, her parents were disappointed that she chose marriage so soon; in place of college.
They need not have worried, Jason encouraged Virginia to attend night classes at Brown University. It was hard to finish, but she finally graduated with a degree in English. She remembered how embarrassed she had been to walk forward to receive her diploma. She was eight months pregnant with her second child.
Even though she juggled night classes, a part-time job and a two- year old, she wrote for several small magazines. Her articles were published without pay - but at least they were published.
The sixties were turbulent years and just about everybody was rebelling against something. Virginia wrote an article on Women's Rights and submitted it to "Women's Worth,” a magazine dealing primarily with articles of interest to women.
The day she received her check in the mail, she promptly sat down and wrote another article. It, too, was accepted and published.
“Women's Rights” were a hot item for a while. Not only did she enjoy the money she received for her articles, but she enjoyed telling her readers how she felt about certain issues.
The Women's Lib issue began to be less important as America's involvement in Viet Nam became more of an issue and the rejection slips began returning almost as fast as she sent her articles out.
Virginia later regretted that any of her articles had been published. She once attended a rally where women were burning their bras; and the men their draft cards. She had no part in that; and with the cost of bras, she could not afford to.
She and Jason had joined Pastor Stovall's church almost ten years before. It was like no other church they had attended. Since they were encouraged to read the scriptures for themselves, her understanding of the mission of Christ became expansive.
She learned from Galatians 3:28 that in Christ there is no male, no female, no Greek, and no Jew. In light of the work Christ completed on the cross, God saw all men and women equal. He had created them for different purposes, but all His children were of equal value.
Virginia tried to make amends for all her negative articles by writing a novel. During the last ten years, she had written ten novels novels. Each rejected.
After Virginia had written her eleventh novel (and had been rejected by all publishers), she stopped writing.
She knew the rejection spiel by heart, even if the words varied somewhat, they still said the same thing - REJECTED!
"Thank you for your interest in our publishing company. Your submission was given adequate consideration and we feel that it has merit. However, it does not fit into our immediate plans for publication."
The “Equal Rights Amendment” was of great interest. However, publishers didn't seem so anxious to print her articles like they had been ten years before.
In those days, she did not know the facts about the issues she had written about. After becoming a Christian, she felt she had been misled; and she had misled others.
Her thoughts coming back to reality, she stared at the envelopes for a long time and remembered how she felt being rejected. She felt it was her that they had rejected her; and not just her work.
REJECTED! That's how she felt now. REJECTED. God had rejected her and had taken away her husband.
She visualized the rejection slip God could have sent.
"Thank you for your interest in my kingdom. Your faithfulness has not gone unnoticed and feel that you have potential. However, it is impossible to grant your request regarding your husband's illness at this time."
Suddenly, she felt silly for trying to guess what God would have written in a rejection notice. She also felt ashamed - even guilty.
She closed her eyes and tried to pray, "Oh, Father God, forgive me for thinking you could reject me. Thank you for showing me that you never could. Your precious Son promised in Your Word, "I'll never leave you - nor I'll never forsake you."
“Thank you, Jesus. Now I know you have always been here, it was I who pulled away.” Amen
Virginia began to realize just how good God had been to her. No one ever had a better husband than Jason. She had three beautiful, healthy children - a nice home and a comfortable lifestyle.
Jason had provided in his death for their welfare just as he had in his lifetime. His insurance would take care of them for a long time. At least, she would have time to decide what to do. She wouldn't have to sell the house and move away.
At this point, Virginia began to realize she was not the only woman to lose a husband. She knew she was not alone. She had family and friends, her children, and most of all she had the promises in God's Word.
Jason loved her. Jesus loved her. Jason loved their children. Jesus loved their children. If Jason, being an earthly father, knew how to love and give good gifts, how much more our Heavenly Father knows how to provide.
She reached over and picked up the envelopes she had so carelessly thrown on the table. Wiping off the crumbs, she opened the first. Her eyes grew wide with interest as she read the cover letter.
Dear Mr. Jason Tressler:
Thank you for your recent submission to our magazine. As you may know we are always looking for new talent; and we’re pleased to accept your poem, "My Beloved."
If the enclosed check and contract are to your liking, please sign and return to our office as soon as possible. Please find enclosed a copy of your poem along with the Art Department's idea for a border.
Joseph T. Littleton, President
With trembling fingers and a racing heart, Virginia began to read the enclosure. As she read the words of her husband's farewell poem, warm tears began to fill up her eyes. Several times she stopped to get her breath as she pressed the paper to her heart so that the tightness in her throat would ease.
She wiped the blinding tears from her lashes and they spilled down her cheeks. She continued to read until she came to the end.
Jason had known of his impending death. He has prepared for it.
Her eyes fell again on the top of the page.
"To My Beloved Virginia by Jason Tressler.”
The hours passed and the room grew dark as Virginia realized the sun had disappeared. She read and re-read the words that Jason had written to her. As the shadows in the room closed in, she could no longer see the words printed on the paper, but that didn't matter for now they were printed on her heart. And they would never be printed anywhere else.
She reached over and flipped on the light switch. It was as if it lit up more than just the room.
She felt an inner strength. Her body began to come alive again. For the first time since Jason's death, she began to think of someone other than herself. She began to think about the children and their future. She was thankful they would be able to stay in college. Jason wanted this; and prepared for it.
Their future here on earth would be without Jason's physical being but their future would be filled with the heritage he had left them.
He had taught them love and they would be comforted. He taught them discipline and they would be teachable. He taught them courage and they would be children of faith.
Virginia began to realize the disorder of her kitchen and began clearing away the mess before she remembered the second letter. She ripped it open and read aloud:
My Dear Mrs. Tressler:
We recently received material submitted to this office by Mr. Jason Tressler. In cross-referencing our files, we came upon another Tressler at a different address. We have a manuscript for a novel written by V. Tressler. Would you happen to be its author?
About ten years ago, we received this manuscript and were very interested in publishing it. However, our correspondence was returned stamped, “REJECTED - NOT AT THIS ADDRESS."
Since we had no way of contacting the author, we had been unable to go ahead with publication.
We still think the novel has great potential and with a little work could be brought up to date. If you are the author and are still interested in publishing this manuscript, please contact this office at the above address.
The novel, "How Great Thou Art - Oh Woman," is such a dramatic story of a woman's search for greatness in the eyes of the world. It tells of her change from a radical feminist advocate to a Spirit-Filled wife and mother. She discovers that true greatness lies not with mortal man; but, in being the woman God had created her to be.
If this story-line sounds familiar to you and you are our missing author, we hope you will not reject the generous offer we plan to make. This is a timely piece of work and we feel that our readers will identify with this woman's struggle.
Let us hear from you soon.
Joseph T. Littleton, President
How deep are His ways? How unsearchable are His ways?
Virginia realized she had just received more than an "acceptance slip," but that God had held her manuscript in safekeeping all these years until just the right time for it to be published. But, he had done far more. He allowed it to be a gift from Jason and she knew she had been forgiven; and stamped “APPROVED." ~~~~
Thank you, Ted Walston, for being all of the above and for fostering my love of writing and as I approach the publishing of my first book, you are among those I dedicate it to. Rest in peace, my love. Thank you for providing for us when you were alive so that we are taken care of in your death. You are not gone – just gone before. In all things, “Love Remains!” Thank you God for allowing me to find this long ago story that allowed me to go back over my own life and see that You were always there. I am Virginia.