“You are who you are, no matter where God takes you.” - Randy, The Banker
There is an old Chicago Style Italian restaurant near our home called, Geppetto’s. It opened August 26, 1974. My husband Roger’s youngest brother, David, started working there making pizza as a teenager thirty-four years ago. He bought the place from the original owner, in 2006.
Roger and I have frequented the restaurant since we moved to the neighborhood twenty six years ago. Good food, friendly service and the opportunity to see David made each visit a treat.
As Roger headed out for the frozen tundra of Eastern Oregon on a Chukar bird hunting trip, I made it my mission to pray for a miracle. I asked God to reach out and touch Roger’s heart; to give him the inspiration he needed to get happy, to find the joy he so deserves and seemed to have lost over the past couple of years. I trusted God for a miracle. I promised I would do anything to help. I prayed off and on throughout the days and nights. I even brought one of his shirts to a Healing Mass, believing, miracles do happen! In my creative mind, God had the power to find Roger in the snow and to speak directly to him, in words only he could understand, even, perhaps, through the soft warblings of a Chukar bird.
The mighty hunter returned home several days later, tired and empty handed. It was not the reunion my expectant heart anticipated. I waited until he had showered and shaved before I told him about my prayers for a miracle. When the time felt right we spoke.
“I prayed for you while you were gone. “ I said. “I have to know, while you were away, Did God speak to you? Did you hear anything?”
Roger answered simply, “No.”
Genuinely surprised I threw back a barrage of questions;
“No?” What do you mean, No? You heard nothing… not even a word? Not even a single thought came to mind, an idea or inspiration?” His response remained the same, only this time he added, “I’m sorry… but no.”
I wondered aloud, “How could I have prayed so hard and received nothing?”
Though wisdom and experience have taught me not to doubt, I was still disappointed. I assured myself that God hears every prayer, and answers them.
“Well, Roger,” I said “I guess I’ll just have to wait, this time.”
As Roger and I sat across from each other, at a table, in the bar, we held hands. Roger got that dreamy, slightly mischievious look on his face, the same look he gets when he daydreams about winning the lottery and what he might do with all that money.
Pretty much out of nowhere Roger asked, “What would you think if we took out our retirement and offered to buy this place from Dave?”
I paused for just a moment and thought to myself, “Holy (expletive).” What if this is the miracle? I promised God I would do anything and this might be it!”
Roger and I agreed to take this possibility one step at a time. One step at a time quickly turned into a one hundred yard dash and on June 1, 2017 we became the new owners of Geppetto’s Italian Restaurant. Located at: 616 Lancaster Dr. NE in Salem, Oregon, Geppetto’s has been serving up Chicago Style Pizza & Pasta dishes since 1974. We are open seven days a week. Monday through Friday 11:00am-10:00pm, Saturday and Sunday 4:00pm-10:00pm. Dine In. Take Out. Or call for Delivery!
I recall the first meeting we had with our banker, Randy, who knows my music ministry very well. He told us he never recommends people go into the restaurant business, especially people he cares about.
“But, Randy said, “I think you guys are going to be really good at this.”
From that point on Roger and Randy began to talk about “the numbers.” I kinda checked out of the conversation for a bit. Suddenly, I spoke. As though I was talking to myself but accidentally said it out loud.”
“What is this going to do to me?”
As both Randy and Roger turned to look at me, Randy reached out and put his hand on my arm. His wise words and kind voice spoke to my heart; “Julie, just because you do this, doesn’t change your ministry. You are who you are no matter where God takes you.”
Randy was right. Opportunities to minister abound in the restaurant business. Discernment is paramount. Rest assured, I continue to be who God called me to be, using the gifts I’ve been given. I will go as God calls.
Please pray for me as I pray for you. Come and see us if you can. At Geppetto's we are maintaining tradition through one of Salem's longest held and best kept secrets.
With Love and Blessings,
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.