WHEN GOD SPEAKS TO MY HEART
by Rosalie Willis Storment
My sheep that are My own hear and are listening to My voice; And I know them, and they follow me.
JOHN 10:27 AMP
After receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Newbury Park, California, it seemed that every time I turned around God would say, “Ask what you will, and you’ll receive it.” One day God spoke through a book I was reading: “Ask what you will, and you’ll receive it.” I didn’t know it was possible to hear God’s voice and didn’t realize I was hearing His voice, yet I listened and responded.
In 1972 my husband, Dale, an FBI agent, had been transferred to Los Angeles, California, from Roswell, New Mexico. He disliked the smog and congestion in L.A. and was more accustomed to the mountains of Idaho where he and I were raised. Responding to the Lord’s prompting to ask and receive, I prayed, “I ask You to transfer us from Los Angeles to the state of Your choice, to the town of Your choice, to the house of Your choice, and sell our home.”
Shortly after I prayed the FBI approached Dale, who had been with the agency for two years, and said, “Where do you want to go?” Normally agents must have ten years of service to receive that kind of favor or to be asked where they want to go.
Dale requested Idaho, but learned that the way to Idaho was through Butte, Montana. Suddenly we were being transferred to Butte and had one month to sell our home. I told my friends, “God said He’ll sell my house.”
One neighbor came to my door and said, “Get a grip, it doesn’t work this way!”
“No!” I said. “God said!” Nobody looked at our house except for a few couples with huge families, which wouldn’t work in our three-bedroom home. The day the movers arrived, nobody had even considered buying our home. After the movers packed up and left, a car pulled in our driveway. “There’s my buyers!” I said.
Although the real estate agent normally wanted me to disappear so she could show my home to potential buyers, this time she asked me to show my home. This was a gift, as I loved my home! When I finished the tour, the agent pulled me aside. “They really seem interested,” she said. “Where will you be?”
“We’ll be at Howard Johnson’s to spend the night,” I said. “Then we’re headed for Butte, Montana, early tomorrow morning.” When we pulled into Howard Johnson’s, the telephone call was waiting. We drove to the real estate office, signed papers at 10:00 P.M., and left for Butte the next morning.
That began my adventure of hearing God’s voice. God had said, and God had done! When we arrived in Butte, the FBI put us in a motel for a month. Six months later they sent us to Glasgow, Montana. I had told Dale that I’d go anywhere with him on the face of the earth except Alaska. Glasgow was colder than Alaska – 49 degrees below zero the day we arrived!
We moved onto the Glasgow Air Force base, seventeen miles from town. Soon after I said, “God, I know You have a purpose for me here. So let’s begin!”
The next day when Dale walked into the bank, Marge Forum, a real estate loan officer, said, “I’d really like to meet your wife.” Marge invited me to a lunch and told me of her desire to open a Christian bookstore. To me, nothing could have been more exciting.
Marge and I began working on this dream. The vice president of a bank in town said he had seven thousand bushels of wheat. “If you can sell it, you can have the money for the bookstore,” he said. Wheat was then selling at $2.19 a bushel and profit meant anything over $3.00 a bushel . From that point on the price of wheat steadily climbed and sold at a price sufficient to provide the necessary capital to open the bookstore. Over seventy-five Christian friends came forward to help in any way they could-each one playing an important part in the formation of the store.
One day a greeting card company representative came in as we were ordering things and asked, “What are you going to use for fixtures?”
“God has provided everything else, He’ll provide this too.” we said. He drove over two thousand miles into Colorado to pick up fixtures for us and brought them back. God provided everything! The Good News Bookstore opened November 12, 1973.
When the vice president who had given us money to start the bookstore brought Bertha and Allen Phaup in one day, the Lord said, “This is important. Pay attention.” Allen was the new deputy commander on the Glasgow Air Force Base. He and Bertha had moved there from Honolulu and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit under Dennis Bennet in the Episcopal Church in Honolulu. As we talked about different merchants in town, they would say, “Oh yes, the Lord said we’re supposed to meet them,” The Lord said this and the Lord said that.
I had a personal relationship with the Lord, but I didn’t know Him like that. The next night when I invited Allan and Bertha over for dinner, they told me how they had learned to hear His voice and how they documented everything He said in journals. For the next two weeks, whenever I wanted to know something from God, I’d call Allan and say, “Would you ask the Lord about this?” More than delighted, Allan would call me back and tell me the Lord’s answer.
Two weeks later God told Allan, “She’s potty trained; tell Rosalie to come to Me herself.” That beagn my adventure of keeping journals, which I have done for thirty-two years. After learning to hear God’s voice, the first thing I asked Him was, “When will we get transferred form Glasgow, Montana?” His caravan would move at His time and His bidding, He said, and my mind and heart was to be on His word and His work.
When Allan and Bertha planned a trip out of town, I asked to borrow their journals. While they were gone I wrote down every word from their journals that spoke to my heart. When they returned the Lord directed me to do the same with my journals. He led me to put Allan and Bertha’s journals first, and mine second, and to title it Glory to God.
God directed me to take the manuscript for Glory to God to a man on the Air Force Base at 10:00 A.M. on a particular day. He said that the man who had a printing shop, would be happy to do the printing for me free of charge. Although I thought I would print three copies, one for me, and one for a friend, and one for the Phaups, God said, “Make one hundred copies.”
The man said he’d be happy to do it for me and wouldn’t charge me anything, just as God said. He even included beautiful yellow covers without my asking. Then the Lord revealed each person who was to receive one of the copies. I gave the copies as directed, knowing they were either burned or thrown away. I said, “Lord, Why?” He said He wanted them to have the opportunity whether they took it or not.
Time passed and more journals were written by all of us. The Lord told me to do Volume 2 of Glory to God, this time putting my journals first and Allan and Bertha’s second.
The time came when again I asked God, “When are You going to transfer us?” Learning that Dale’s boss would retire on February 28, we knew our transfer would come soon as well. The Lord said our transfer would happen within the first Fortnight of February. God expanded my vocabulary, I didn’t know what a “fortnight” was!
One day Dale said, “You know, the first fortnight ends on Friday the 13th. He did’t want the transfer to come on Friday the 13th.
While I was in the shower on the morning of Thursday, February 12, 1976, the Lord kept saying, “Rejoice, rejoice, it’s a wonderful day!”
I thought, Can it be?
That night Dale came home and didn’t say a word until after dinner.
“Did I tell you we got transferred to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, today?” The government hadn’t formulated the new budget, so nobody in the FBI was getting transferred, yet Dale was being transferred.
God led me to do a third volume of journals of Allan and Bertha’s journals interspersed with mine, print one hundred copies of all three volumes, and take them to my new home in Coeur d’Alene. There He would show me where all one hundred sets were to go.
The Lord said, “Have you not been in the battlefield of the wilderness for forty months, and have I not led you every step of the way?” I counted the months we had lived in Glasgow; exactly forty months. From the Wilderness of Glasgow, God sent us to the land of milk and honey; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Before we moved, I asked Him if I could own my own Christian bookstore, and He said I would.
After moving to Coeur d’Alene, I started job hunting because our daughter, Shanette, was about to start college and I needed to work to help pay for her education. My first job interview was with a real estate office. Because my family had been in real estate and I had been their secretary part of the time, the man said, “you’re the perfect one for the job. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
When he called the next day, However, he said, ” You were the perfect one. I don’t know why I hired this other person!”
After my next interview at a bank, the banker said, “The job is yours.”
“I need this job,” I said. “But I can’t take it, and I don’t know why!” I went to my prayer group and asked them to pray.
When I returned home, I received a phone call from one in my prayer group. “I want you to call the manager at Beneficial Finance, ” she said. I called, interviewed, and landed the job.
The Lord had told me that when I opened the Christian bookstore, it must be on Sherman Avenue, with all windows to the street. Beneficial finance was on Sherman with all windows to the street, but I didn’t make the connection.
On January 28, 1980, God said, “Look forward to March 15, it’s an important day.” On March 15 a neighbor I didn’t know well called. “I heard you’re thinking about opening a Christian bookstore,” she said. “Would you come over and talk to me about it?”
When I met with her and shared my testimony for over two hours, she said she wanted to give me $10,000, with no interest for ten years, so I could open the Christian bookstore. I now had about half of the money needed for the store. The Lord directed me to go on a 140 day bread and sugar fast. I was a sugarholic! He said the ship of His provision had set sail, and it would find safe harbor by September 1. On September 1, 1980, the last day of the sugar and bread fast, gifts of $10,000 and $5,000 arrived. Now I had $25,000.
One year earlier, on February 12, 1979, God had awakened me and said, “your only have two years left until the ministry I have for you begins.” Right then I started ordering and collection the things I would need for the bookstore and stored them in my basement.
One day my boss from Beneficial Finance told me his rent was being doubled. Suddenly it clicked! I had looked on Sherman Avenue for a bookstore location but had found nothing available. Now I realized why the other jobs didn’t work out and why I had to work at a job I wouldn’t normally enjoy. Calling People about getting their money in, working on a huge computer I had to figure out every day, and being unable to talk to people like I love to do was like death – body, soul and spirit.
Dale would say, “You could quit.”
“No!” I’d say. “God placed me here! I don’t know why, but I have to stay until He releases me.” When I realized this was the site for the bookstore, I asked my boss if he would help me get the lease on the building. He agreed.
The following February 12, 1981, exactly two years from the day the Lord said my ministry would begin in two years and exactly five years from the day we had been transferred to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, I flew to Boise and negotiated the building lease with the bank manager in a top floor conference room of a high rise building. Instead of doubling the rent, it increased only $25 a month. I flew back to Coeur d’Alene and gave my two-week notice to Beneficial Finance.
When the lease for this location on Sherman Avenue was firm, I was anxious to tell Jean Rainbolt, a dear friend I had known since 1976. After I shared the news Jean said, “Rosalie, I’ve had two special desires in life. One is to be a church secretary, which I am, and the other is to work in a Christian Bookstore. I’d like to work with you, and I want no pay.”
We gained access to the building on April 1. After our husbands built the bookshelves, painted, and put the whole store together, The Sonshine Bookstore opened on May 1, 1981. Jean and I worked side by side and showed up even if we were sick because we didn’t want to let each other down and wanted to play store together. Jean and I prayed together in the office every day. God’s people visited our haven of peace, coming back into the office to be refreshed before returning to work.
After The Sonshine Bookstore had been open about two years, God said, “It’s coming! It’s coming! I’m going to open doors, and you’re going to love it.”
I said, “What’s coming?”
One day while Shanette was home from college, Jean and I attended a Women’s Aglow meeting while Shanette looked after the store. At the end of the meeting the pastor told us to break into twos to pray for one another, “It’s coming! It’s coming!” and you want to know what’s coming.”
“Yes!” I said. So Jean prayed.
The next day Dale said, “Where would you like to go?” As an FBI agent he knew it was time for us to move on.
“There’s no place better than Coeur d’Alene, Idaho,” I said.
“How about Honolulu, Hawaii?” he suggested.
Shanette and I said, “Count us in!” Although his boss didn’t like the idea, God said the transfer would come on the 28th of August and gave me the selling price for the bookstore. The next day I told Jean the news. Jean and her husband, Dick, had been planning to buy a motor home, but the night before the Lord told her, “No.”
She thought, How am I going to tell Dick?
The next morning Dick said to Jean, “I don’t think we’re supposed to buy this motor home.”
When Jean came to work the next day I said, “We’re moving to Honolulu. Would you like to buy the bookstore?” The Lord told me the price the store would sell for, the day it was to sell, and the day our transfer would come, and it all happened exactly as He said, to the last detail. Dick and Jean Rainbolt owned the store from September 1, 1983, until May 1 1992.
We moved to Honolulu in December of 1983. The Great Commission, an organization in Hawaii much like the Full Gospel Businessmen, met down the road from where I lived. I attended a Sunday meeting where a chaplain from the Waikiki Beach Chaplaincy was speaking.
After the meeting I told the chaplain that I had just sold a Christian bookstore in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He said, “The Chaplaincy was just given money to open a Christian bookstore in Waikiki. Would you open it and manage it?”
Because God had told me I had come to Hawaii to sing, I said, “I’m going to have to pray about that. I thought I came here to sing.”
After praying, the Lord directed me to manage the bookstore but to keep a loose hold on it and to let go when He told me to let go. I handled the ordering and setting up for The Good News Bookstore. Working six days a week, then five, then four, then two, then one day a week.
I said, “Lord, how can I manage a store when I’m only here one day a week?”
“It’s time to let go.” the Lord said. “They don’t need you anymore.” It was a wonderful year.
The Waikiki Chaplaincy, who acted as an agent for musicians, scheduled me to sing throughout the island, just like God said I would, during the two years we lived in Hawaii. From Honolulu we were transferred to Missoula, Montana, for seven years and then relocated to Post Falls, Idaho, near Coeur d’Alene.
Back in Coeur d’Alene, when Dick and Jean Rainbolt retired they closed the Sonshine bookstore, and the building owners rented it as a used bookstore. Twelve years later the used bookstore closed, and I heard that a new business had opened.
In July 2005 I had lunch with my friends, Tex Gaynos and Faye Higbee, at a new restaurant next door to the Sonshine Bookstore’s original location. I bubbled with excitement during lunch. “This is where the Sonshine Bookstore used to be!” I said. I could hardly wait to finish eating so we could visit the new shop.
Walking over the threshold, I was delighted to find a beautiful gift store called Possibilities, taken from Matthew 19:26, “All things are possible with God,” I made a beeline for the office, anxious to discover the wonderful things awaiting me. I found a wine tasting room, and Lee Kausen sitting with his wife Jill, joint owners, at a high table working on their laptop computer.
After introducing myself, I asked, “Did you know there used to be a Christian bookstore here?”
“No!” they said.
“Yes!” I said. We both laughed for joy. Lee shared the miracle of God moving his family to Coeur d’Alene to open Possibilities, and I shared the miracle story of the Sonshine Bookstore. “I’m going home with Tex and Faye,” I told them. “I’ll come back with pictures of what it used to look like here as Beneficial Finance and as the Sonshine Bookstore.“
When I returned, Lee and I perused the pictures and talked animatedly until about 6:00 that night. I headed home full of excitement, knowing God had “re-dug the well” that He had dug twenty-five years before.
I gave Lee a copy of my book A Walk With Jesus, written from the first seven years of my journals, which documented how God taught me to trust Him and His love. I also gave him When God Speaks to My Heart, published by White Stone Books and distributed through Harrison House Publishers. Lee loved them so much that they now sit on the wine tasting room table where customers can taste wine and read both books. Also tucked on shelves and in gift baskets throughout the store. They remind us of God’s divinely orchestrated plans for the Sonshine Bookstore and the Possibilities that followed.
Featured photo – the Sonshine Bookstore was in this block in downtown Coeur d’Alene