Sunset on the Rhinestone Cowboy
Glen wrote a book back in 1994 titled Rhinestone Cowboy, but a lot has happened since then, such as the challenges we faced when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
The journey with Alzheimer’s was bittersweet, with lots of joyful, wonderful things that came out of it, but also a lot of attacks, both spiritual and financial. I felt as though I needed to set the record straight [in my book] on a lot of issues.
I also wanted to remember the good times, because [in the season] when you’re losing somebody you love to this terrible disease, remembering the good times just makes you think of everything you have lost. I wanted to turn that around. We should enjoy memories and use them to keep our loved ones close in our hearts. I wanted to recapture that. As I began writing the book, so many of those great memories started flooding back, and it was really comforting. The book is called Gentle on My Mind, and I think [writing] it was gentle on my mind. It brought everything full circle and made my memories [of life with Glen] comforting and good again.
Getting Right with God
Our relationship together was a roller coaster because when I met Glen, he was addicted to cocaine, and he was an alcoholic and coming out of bad relationships and divorces. He was suffering and wanting to connect with God. He was searching for God. I had been praying for God to send me a godly man. I, too, needed to become focused on the Lord. At the time I don’t think I was. God worked to bring us together, and together we rededicated ourselves to God. We went through immersion together, and we started letting God transform our lives. It was hard at first. Fighting those addictions was not easy. Old habits are not easy to escape.
Our move to Phoenix helped a lot by changing our group of friends. We joined a Bible-teaching church, and Glen’s golf buddies, people like Alice Cooper, were believers. They gave him the support he needed to change his life and become the best father and husband. He became all I could have ever asked or prayed for. So, we were very blessed.
That’s why it was heartbreaking to have something like Alzheimer’s come in and just take all that away from us. But even in that journey, Glen was filled with such a sweetness, such a godly spirit of love and joy and tenderness and innocence. It was a really beautiful thing to behold because although he might have lost his memory, he never lost his awareness of God. In the late stages of Alzheimer’s, he got to the point called “aphasia,” where he could no longer understand language or use it. But he would just all of a sudden raise his hands and say, “Thank you, heavenly Father, thank you, thank you, thank you.” Then he would look at me and say, “We are so blessed!” I knew he was walking with the Lord, even though he was not walking so much with all of us here on earth any longer. I felt as if he was hanging somewhere between this earthly reality and a spiritual reality.
I became aware of First Fruits of Zion when someone gave me one of their magazines. In those days they were more like pamphlets. I couldn’t get enough. I thought, “I’ve been in church almost all my life!” but now I was learning things I never had before. I’m a good student, and I’ve always sought a deeper understanding of the Scriptures, but this was like fireworks going off, exploding revelations—especially learning about the festivals and how they’re all about redemption and freedom and joy and deliverance.
Then in 1996 we traveled to Israel with our children and that’s when we met Boaz Michael, who became our instructor and friend. I heard that First Fruits of Zion was doing seminars, so I invited them to come to Phoenix. I said, “Why don’t you do one here, and we’ll host it?” I rented a convention space at a hotel and advertised the event in the newspaper. I didn’t know what to expect or how many people would show up. I thought Messianic Judaism was such a new thing that no one would be interested. I was planning on maybe fourteen people showing up, but three hundred came! It was crazy.
I asked for the addresses of anyone who would be interested in learning more. I sent out invitations to those on this list and rented the Care Cultural Center in Scottsdale. Pretty soon we had weekly Shabbat meetings at the cultural center with 100 to 175 people every week. We had a band, and Glen played guitar, our son Cal was on drums, and I played the flute. It was a real family thing.
It was a teaching foundation, not a congregation. We started bringing in teachers from around the world to share the Jewish roots of the Christian faith with whoever would want to come. Toward the end people really wanted to become a congregation. We didn’t feel that was the mission. We eventually dissolved it, but about four different congregations sprang out of it.
Glen loved it; he felt that putting Christianity back into its original context made everything fit together and easier to understand. He encouraged me to study the Bible and so I took seminary courses in Messianic Judaism. We were proud to consider ourselves similar to the God-fearing Gentile Christians described in the New Testament, those first non-Jewish followers of Jesus who contributed to the community and supported the Jewish people.
Our whole family just embraced it. Our kids were in a Christian school there in Scottsdale, and it was strange for people to see our family suddenly doing festivals different from the norm. We had to develop a lot of wisdom and grace to share with people who might be wary and think that we were in a cult or something. I’m very thankful for the teachings of First Fruits of Zion. I continue to study Torah Club, and I’m very excited about how it’s moving forward.
First Fruits of Zion