As one of ten children, I grew up in a very large Roman Catholic, church-going family. We lived in Drexel Hill in St. Andrew’s Parish. (I mention that detail for all my Delco people who might be reading this.) I was number six in the birth order. I had four older sisters, one older brother, one younger brother, and three younger sisters.
I was a true 1970s hippie and lived a lifestyle that was compatible with that term. I left home at 17, partying and traveling around the country, at times traveling by hitchhiking. I was literally risking my life searching for something that was meaningful. I can specifically remember on one occasion hitchhiking at midnight in the New Jersey Pine Barrens and being offered a ride by an older man in a big car. I needed a ride to Ocean City where I was staying at the time. He initially told me that he was not going in that direction, but the next thing I knew, we were pulling up to the place where I was staying. He said to me, “Jeanne, I never want you to hitchhike again. What you are doing is very dangerous.” I wish I could say that that was the only time I behaved recklessly, but it was not.
In 1979, I moved to San Francisco to share an apartment with my sister. I quickly found a job and thought that I might have found a place where I could begin to have a fulfilling life. But I was living a life which was really no life at all. I was lonely, and I felt no sense of purpose. I began to think about the many conversations that I had with my mother, who had previously shared the gospel with me and told me about her personal relationship with Jesus. More importantly, I remembered the profound change in her life that I observed as she walked out her salvation. I thought about the unexplainable peace that she had, in spite of all the turmoil that surrounded her life, as she faced separation with my father and experienced heartbreak caused by various trials that many of her children were facing.
One evening after work, alone in my apartment in San Francisco, I thought about my life, the things that my mother had shared with me, and the Lord. I knew I would never have peace or purpose until I had Jesus. I began to cry out to the Lord and asked him to save me. I surrendered my life to him and felt a beautiful sense of peace wash over me. At that very moment I knew I was no longer on my own but belonged to him. I had hope for my future.
Miraculously, in the two weeks following my salvation, God set a series of events in motion to bring me back to Pennsylvania. There, I joined a local church and set upon a radically different path. I am forever grateful for all he has done for me and that he has set his love upon me.