ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: DELLA DENISE, Part 2
February 20, 2015
Last week I began a reprise of a story that I shared some ten years ago not long after these Coffee Breaks first began being published. We left off with a cliffhanger, and I'll pick up the rest of that story in a minute.
When I began this story last week, I noted how Della was born into an Okie family transplanted to Washington State. Her family had lived in Granite, Oklahoma for a couple of generations after leaving Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia. Her ancestors were named among the original Mayflower settlers and were among the signers of the Mayflower Compact.
What I didn't mention either was the rather illustrious political history of her forebears, or the fact that John C. Calhoun -- Vice-President of the United States under Andrew Jackson -- was in her family lineage, along with U.S. Senator David Rice Atchison (for whom Atchison, KS was named) who was President Pro Tempore of the Senate and served as President of the United States for one day in between the Polk and Taylor Administrations.
As the story goes, James Polk's term of office expired on Saturday, March 3, 1849. Zachary Taylor was due to be sworn in on Sunday, the 4th, but refused to take the oath of office on Sunday because of his religious convictions. David Rice Atchison was next in line as President Pro Tempore of the Senate and served as President of the U.S. for that one day until Taylor could be sworn in. There were other political notables in Della's family history, but these two were worth noting. Those strong leadership genes in her forebears are clearly evident today.
Now, let me finish where I left off last week after noting that some three and a half years after we were married, the four children from Della's first marriage were abducted from our front yard in Anchorage and spirited out of the state. It didn't take any great spiritual wisdom to figure out that it was the children's biological father who had kidnapped them, but it took weeks to actually be able to confirm it. It was perhaps three months before we found out where the children were being hidden, but each time we located them, they were moved to another location, and this process continued for several months in an effort to keep them hidden.
Because custody issues were muddied in the divorce, I went to a prominent attorney friend. He told me to expect the process of recovery to take as much as two-to-three years and not less than $30,000 in up-front legal fees. That was out of the question. Della flew to Washington state where the children were being hidden while I busied myself in Alaska law books and statutes. Once the children's location was verified and we had witnesses to the abuse they were suffering, Della went to court to argue for a permanent custody status. The judge hearing the case happened to be the presiding judge of the Yakima Superior Court and he recommended to Della that she not move the case back to Alaska and give him the opportunity to hear the entire case.
With knees shaking as she stood before the judge, Della nevertheless was anointed by Holy Spirit and laid out the case clearly and succinctly. The judge was visibly affected by her statement and rose to his feet behind the bench. He pointed his finger at her ex-husband and demanded an answer. He stammered and stuttered and tried to avoid the question. His attorney stepped in and tried to quiet things but the judge ordered him to provide immediate access to the children and granted immediate custody of Shelley, the oldest daughter, after hearing that he had no idea where she was.
I'll shorten this part of a very
long story by saying that I flew to Washington and buried myself in Washington
family law. I provided the legal arguments from Washington and Federal law, and
depositions for a fistful of witnesses whom Della had been able to locate. When
the case went to court, the judge had a three-inch thick file of arguments and
depositions to go along with Della's arguments, and six months from the time we
began the process, we had full custody. The legal battle, along with Holy
Spirit's anointing over Della and the ways in which we saw the intervention of
the Lord, produced a boldness in Della and a confidence in God that has never
Let me backtrack a bit in my narrative. Some three months after Della and I had been married, I suffered a massive heart attack in the shower and dropped dead. The only answer I could come up with was that the same stresses that led to the departure of my first wife and subsequent divorce also contributed to my death.
Della and I had just moved into a new home in North Pole, Alaska. We hadn’t even had the chance to get a telephone turned on, and our nearest neighbors were almost a half-mile from us. There was no chance to call for a doctor or an ambulance. Della simply reacted with instant anger at being robbed of the love of her life and new husband. She dragged my body out of the shower, out of the bathroom, and into our bedroom where she heaved and shoved my body onto the bed.
You’ll appreciate the miracle of that feat when you realize that I stood 6’2” and weighed (at the time) around 250 pounds compared to Della’s diminutive 5’ and 104-pound frame.
She proceeded to begin commanding life back into my body and yelling to God that she wasn’t going to put up with losing me. Between shouting at Satan and commanding death to depart and ordering me to come back to life, “in the Name of Jesus,” an incredible sense of faith sprang up in her being in what God had done in putting us together, and a certain knowledge that my life here was far from over.
It was no instant event, however. After about fifteen minutes, I suddenly came to with Della straddling my body, her arms upraised, and shouting, “In the Name of Jesus, you will come back!” Her eyes were closed, and it was a bit of a shock for her when I reached up and grabbed a fist that seemed certain to come down on my chest.
We look back now and laugh at that day, but it was serious business at the time. Della demanded that I get a physical checkup. I had seen a family doctor about a year prior after receiving healing from tuberculosis, so I went to see that same doctor for a complete physical.
The doctor was extremely thorough with his tests once Della told him what had happened. He walked out of his lab with two sets of X-rays in hand, shaking his head. “This is miraculous,” he said. “Here are the X-rays I took a year ago showing the scar tissue left over on your lungs from the tuberculosis; and here are the new X-rays I just took. There is no trace of scar tissue!”
His tests showed that my blood pressure was normal, an EKG was perfect, blood work came out with perfect balance. "Regner, your health is that of someone 20 years your junior. Congratulations, my friend. You are in wonderful shape!”
For the most part, it’s been that way ever since. Folks have commented throughout the years on the fact that I seem to have boundless energy and act like someone who’s a lot younger. I am! <smile> The Lord raised me from the dead and restored my health so that my “youth was renewed as the eagle’s.” In the past year and a half, another doctor has nearly repeated verbatim what that doctor said. I'm approaching my 73rd birthday and keep a schedule most 40-year-olds would struggle with.
This event repeated perhaps ten years later with a friend of ours, Marcia Treend, when we were in Atlin, British Columbia visiting and sharing with some folks. Through the years Della had become a tower of strength to many folks. One of our minister friends in Spokane, Washington – Dale Peterson – would get really tickled at Della when she would light up and begin to wax eloquent on some spiritual issue.
Dale would grab a chair or make like he was getting a box and say to Della, “Preach it, Sister Della! Here’s your soapbox. Let’s go put this in the park and you can preach to folks.” Everyone would bust out laughing.
Della has always felt that she was not qualified to be a preacher because she didn’t have the educational background of her peers, but we have encouraged her many times that the anointing of the Holy Spirit takes over for the lack of education. And so He does! Whenever the Holy Spirit anoints Della to speak on some spiritual issue, she is as eloquent and forceful – perhaps more so – than any degreed preacher you’ve ever heard.
In any case, we were in Atlin helping some friends, Kitty and Rene Loyd, fix up a building on skids into a pretty rough guest house. Rene, Earle Treend (Marcia’s husband) and I were laying linoleum while Della, Kitty and Marcia were sharing together at the Loyds’ log home.
Outside the log house was a sidewalk of sorts, constructed on timbers and logs with 2 X 4’s, 2 X 8’s, and 2 X 10’s for planks. The sidewalk had been constructed to provide a walkway across an area where the spring melt caused a lot of water to flow, creating really muddy conditions.
The ladies decided to walk down to the building where we were working and check on our labors. As they were walking, Marcia stepped on a 2 X 10 plank that had come loose. The combination of where she walked and the weight of her body leveraged the plank, and it flew up, striking her on her temple.
It was a pretty good blow, and it stunned her. She lost her balance, of course, and began to fall. The weight of her falling body hit it just right, and again it flew up, striking her in virtually the same place. This time, she dropped like a rock. Della was there to catch her and cushion her fall.
As Della cradled Marcia in her arms, her eyes rolled back in her head and she expired. The color drained from her face. Della heard the same death rattle from her throat she had heard from me when I collapsed nearly ten years earlier. Kitty was in shock at seeing her friend killed like that, but Della had presence of mind to say to her, “Kitty, go get some pillows so we can lay her head down.”
Kitty turned to leave and headed for the house. In that moment, Della saw the Spirit of Death visibly coming for Marcia. When I say, visibly, that's exactly what I mean. She saw the Spirit of Death as a dark entity approaching as though it were a person.
In that moment she felt the Spirit
of the Lord literally merge into her being. Instantly, she shouted, “No, you
will not!” The Spirit of Death continued to approach. An anger and vehemence
rose up in Della. She felt as though the Holy Spirit had poured Himself into her
being. Again, she pointed at the Spirit of Death and shouted, “I said, NO! YOU
Then she looked down at Marcia and simply spoke her name – loudly, of course, “MARCIA !!”
Marcia’s eyes opened, color flooded her face and she looked up at Della. “What happened? Where am I? Please don’t leave me.”
The sound of Della's voice speaking so loudly brought us out of the building where we had been working. We were perhaps a hundred and fifty feet away, and when we saw the sight of Della helping Marcia to her feet and Kitty waving her arms, we ran to help. Marcia was escorted back into the house where she laid down on the sofa.
I grabbed my guitar (I rarely travel without it) and began to worship the Lord. The rest joined with me, and we worshiped for perhaps 45 minutes. Marcia got to her feet, shook herself and said, “Wow! I feel great!” Later that same afternoon, we all went hiking up into the mountains. Except for some bruising on her face and the side of her head that disappeared within a couple of days, you would never have known that anything untoward had happened.
I wish I could take the time to tell you of Della’s songwriting, her scripture songs, her singing, her playing the keyboards, her preaching, her authority in God, her strong stance with all of our children -- including my four from my first marriage who are as much Della's as mine -- and how they’ve come to admire and depend on her. It would fill many books.
Della was careful with the four
children from my first marriage (including two who were adopted), all of whom
were a bit older than her four, not to try and come between them and their
mother, and to ensure that they honored her. In fact, in now failing health,
they have been diligent about caring for her and seeing to her needs.
Oops! I almost forgot one thing: the bottle. Psalm 56:8 says, "Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?"
There has long been a tradition at Jewish weddings in which they take a glass after they have drunk together and smashed the glass. It comes from an ancient tradition of smashing a bottle at a wedding. The bottle represented the tears of the bride in the years before her wedding -- tears shed from suffering, tears shed from awaiting the coming of her Beloved.
When she and I were married, the Lord spoke to Della and reminded her of the bottle. He said to her, "I have thrown away all your tears. They are gone forever." For a wedding gift, Della made me a diamond and gold nugget tie tac. It is shaped as a tear, and it is a constant reminder of the promise of the Lord. I made an identical pendant for Della to wear on a necklace.
In the Song of Solomon, Chapter 1,
Verse 5, there is a unique Hebrew metaphor that most people miss entirely, and
I've yet to find it shared in any translation. The verse begins, "I am black..."
That statement has nothing whatever to do with the color of the Shulamite's skin. It is rooted in the understanding that God has created a counterpart -- an "other self" so to speak -- for each person, one who fulfils and completes them in the same way that Eve fulfilled and completed Adam. The statement, "I am black," comes from the weariness from the search for that one who will complete -- and the statement applies to both men and women. We see Jeremiah using the same statement on God's behalf as He speaks of the search for His people. (See Jeremiah 8:21)
For coming up on 32 years, Della Denise Capener has been my wife. She is my counterpart, my other self. I tell her constantly that she is the best gift the Lord has ever given me. She completes me. She makes me a whole person. And she is the Gift of God to more folks than I can count. There isn’t a day that passes that I don’t thank the Lord for her.
I remind those of you in need of healing of our Healing Prayer Call on Mondays at 7:00 PM Eastern. Once again, the number to call for prayer is (805) 399-1000. Then enter the access code: 124763#. Also want to let you know that our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:45AM Pacific. That conference number is (559) 726-1300, and the access code is 308640#.
Blessings on you!
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