God Loves Stupid Too

She sighed and headed back to her car. Only one shark tooth in all that surf. Sure she unexpectantly got lots of conchs and olive shells she planned to paint and start hiding around town to encourage people as they slowly worked on getting their lives back together after the hurricane, but her goal every time she went to the beach was to find shark teeth. Usually she found at least three but today? One. She’d have stayed longer but the fading light of the sunset made identifying small black objects in moving water impossible.

“Well, that’s just as disappointing as this whole weekend has been,” she thought as she approached her car and began digging in her bag of shells for the smaller waterproof bag that kept her key and phone safe from splashing waves. Nothing she had done that weekend had had the result she wanted and this shortage of teeth fit right in. At least this time she wouldn’t lose the tooth like she did the last time she had gone to the beach. That time she had found six teeth, slipped them in her zippered pocket as always for safekeeping, then discovered later that the pocket had had a hole. After triple seaming that pocket, she knew the tooth in her pocket may be lonely but it wouldn’t be going anywhere.

She pulled out the key and slid it into the key hole on her car’s door. Or tried to. It wouldn’t fit. Must be upside down. She pulled it out, flipped it and tried again. Still didn’t go in. “Wait,” she thought slowly, a disturbing thought beginning to enter her weary mind. “My car key has matching sides so it doesn’t matter which way I insert it.” She looked closer at the key. Her house key! If her house key was here, then her car key would still be in the car! She must have taken the wrong one when she removed her car key from her key ring, not wanting to take the chance that the electronic key would get wet.

She stared at the key again. Now what was she going to do? The park was closing, her husband was at work about 30 minutes away. She had no spare keys hiding under her car. But, she did have her phone. And her adult son was at home. She quickly dug it out and called her son. No answer. She left a voice mail to call her back. Then she called her husband.

“I’ll try to get off work and be there as soon as I can.”

“OK,” she told him. “I’m going to walk to the front entrance where the gate is because you’re going to need the gate code to get in. Or I can just give it to you now… nooooo. The season pass with the gate code is in the car. I’ll have to walk to the front gate. Maybe there will be a ranger or someone who can give it to me.”

She hung up, put on her sandals, which just happened to be in the bag because she had uncharacteristically forgotten to leave them in the car when she had arrived hours earlier, and began walking. Fog was mixing with the growing darkness, making it even harder to see. With no street lights, she decided she might need to walk the mile to the front gate a little faster to get there before it got completely dark. Surely there would be lights at the ranger station there.

As she walked, she remembered the time she had seen an alligator on that same part of the road and wondered if there still alligators living in the swampy areas that bordered both sides of the road. She hadn’t seen one in years, but that didn’t mean there weren’t any.

Suddenly a loud grunting sound came from the swamp on her left. What was that? Gator? Her husband had once told her that gators made grunting noises. Do gators chase people? Maybe, if they were hungry enough. And maybe their food source had been impacted by the hurricane last fall as most everything else had been. Her eyes big, her chest tightening, she picked up her pace.

Another grunting sound. Then another. It seemed to be keeping up with her as she walked. Was it following her? When she heard it the next time, it seemed a bit softer, further away. Good, maybe it had given up.

Just as she began to relax, a very loud grunt came from her left making her jump. She just knew it was almost on her! Or was that a different gator? How many gators were there?

She walked even faster, wanting to get to the comparative safety of the entrance booth and hoping the grunting things didn’t see her change in speed as a challenge. The grunts kept coming and she began listening for a splash to alert her that one had left the water to come after her. No, she thought. There wouldn’t be a splash. She had seen enough TV movies to know how silent they could be when stalking. And how fast. She also knew that turning around to look always ended in disaster in those movies, but she couldn’t help it. She had to turn around. She had to know if something was crawling up behind her.

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A quick look brought relief. Nothing. But it was short lived as another grunt sounded nearby. Hurrying again, she thought God was here. God could protect her. But would He? He didn’t always intervene in natural events. And it was her fault she had locked her keys in the car. “God?” she prayed. “Will You keep me safe?” She felt no reassurance, heard no words of comfort. She wished, not for the first time, that she had more faith. She shouldn’t be worried. She should know God was in control and looking out for her. But knowing what she SHOULD be thinking didn’t help her feel better.

As she walked in the growing foggy dark, she racked her brain trying to think of someone else she could call. Someone closer. Someone who might know the gate code so her husband could get in when he got there. She DID NOT want to have to walk all the way back down that road to get her car. Then she remembered Connie! She lived just a few miles away and she camped there frequently so she must have the gate code. But a phone call and a text got no result. Giving up, she hurried on.

It was getting so dark now that she could barely see the road. The grunts seemed to have stopped and she thought they may have given up and gone after easier prey. But she didn’t slow her pace. She needed to get to the light at the entrance just in case a new gator got interested. The gate was a hundred yards from the swamp and she doubted a gator would go that far out of the water.

As she hurried, thoughts of falling entered her mind. What if she tripped over a crack or small branch or something? She could sprain her ankle and not be able to walk. Don’t hungry predators go after the injured? As if to answer her, another loud grunt filled the air. This one was so loud, and seemed so close, she forgot about being careful and began the fastest power walking she could. She knew her knees couldn’t handle running anymore. Neither could her lungs. She’d be out of breath within minutes! No, power walking was the best she could do.

Finally she saw the entrance light. As she left the swamp behind her and entered the light, she began relaxing. She had made it. At least she had made it this far. She still had to figure out how to get the bar blocking the entrance to rise so her husband’s car could get in when he got there. Waving at the infrared sensor didn’t work. She could partially lift it manually. That would have to do, she thought. Maybe when he got there she could force it just high enough to let his small car get through and hope she didn’t break it.

She walked around to the front of the entrance booth and was even more relieved to find two rangers still there. The park had been closed since dusk so they should have been long gone. She quickly went to the side window and knocked. Would they answer her or ignore her since it was after hours?

The second time she knocked got their attention. They told her they were just closing up but when she told them what had happened they were kind enough to take the time to write down the gate code for her. Good. She wouldn’t have to chance breaking the automatic gate bar. She also mentioned the grunts she had heard and asked if they were gators.

“No, probably not,” they answered. “They were probably deer.”

“Deer?” she questioned. “Deer make noises?”

“Yes. Just a minute,” the lady ranger at the window said as she opened her phone and tapped a few times. “Here, listen to this.”

A video of some deer came up along with a high pitched noise. “That’s a baby deer,” the ranger told her.

A slightly deeper sound came from the phone. It sounded a lot like what she had always thought were birds calls. “Nope, that’s an adult female deer.”

Then she heard the grunting. The same grunting that had chased her for almost a mile. “That’s an adult male looking for a mate.”

“Really? I had no idea deer even made sounds,” she told the ranger, feeling a little relieved that she hadn’t actually be stalked by gators. But not much, since deer can be dangerous too and deer were all around her at this park, even here at the gate.

She watched the rangers lock the booth door and drive away. She was alone. But at least she was in the light. She sat down and watched as mosquitoes began landing on her. She hoped none of them carried any of the diseases the city had warned everyone about earlier that morning. She wished she knew someone who was nearby besides Connie, who had not returned her call. She would feel better if she had company, and even better if she could wait in a car and not get eaten by mosquitoes. Then she remembered a small group of her friends who stayed busy delivering donations throughout the county. Maybe one of them was nearby. She texted them and got immediate responses. They couldn’t come but would find someone who could. Texting helped her not feel so alone and she was grateful they were so readily available but where was her husband? Was he able to get off work? Was he on his way?

And then he was there! She wasted no time punching in the code to lift the gate, getting in the car, and, settling back in the seat, finally breathing a sigh of relief. As they drove the mile back to her car, she told him about the noises and how spooky everything was. He was just as surprised to learn deer made such loud sounds and reassured her that he had prayed for her all his way there because he knew how spooky it would be for her.

Later, from the safety of her home, she contemplated her experience. She had prayed that God would keep her safe. And she had been safe. But would she have been safe even if she had not prayed? Probably. So where was God? He did not keep her from locking her key in her car. He had not flooded her with peace. He had not spoken reassuring words to her.

But He did…

… arrange for her sandals to be in her bag so she didn’t have to walk the mile barefooted.

… keep the rangers there long enough to give her the gate code

… prompt one ranger to take the time to share a video explaining the grunts

… show her the loyal support of her friends as they texted online

… gave her husband a job where family came first so he could easily get off to come rescue her

… keep her bladder quiet so she had no need to use a bathroom while she waited

“So,” she thought gratefully. “God was there all along.”

And then another thought hit her. “Oh no! How could I be so stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!”

When she had pulled her car key from her key ring that afternoon, she had taken her house key with her on the beach, locking her car key in the car. But it never dawned on her until just this moment that attached to her house key was the electronic key for her car! She had had a key to her car all along!

She didn’t know whether to cry, scream, or laugh! That was probably one of the stupidest things she had ever done. But God still loved her and was there for her anyway.

What would her husband say when she told him? Would he be upset having to take off work? For the needless trip? Maybe it’d be best not to tell him. No. She knew she had to tell him.

“Um, you know how I locked the car key in my car and took my house key with me down to the beach?” she began.

“Yes,” he answered.

“So… attached to that house key was my electronic key…”

“So you had a key all the time?” he asked, eyebrows raised.

“Yes,” she admitted, waiting for his reaction.

And then he laughed. “That’s funny!” he said.

“But I feel so stupid.”

“It was just a mistake. I bet God is laughing too!” he said.

Tears filled her eyes as she received his warm supportive words. “He’s not mad. He doesn’t think I’m stupid. Maybe God doesn’t think I’m stupid either. Maybe He let it happen because of everything He knew He could teach me through it.”

“Yes, My daughter. You don’t always have to feel Me or hear Me to know I am with you. It’s a fact, not a feeling. I let you go through this because you needed to be reminded. Walking through the foggy darkness, thinking something is out to get you, is a lot like how you feel navigating insurance and contractors. No matter how stupid you feel about some of the things you decide, I work all things for your good. I could have just told you, and I’ve tried, but an experience like this shows you in a much more powerful, unforgettable way. And remember, just as you had the key all along, you have Me whether you realize it at the time or not.”

And she could feel His delighted laughter rising in her heart, filling her anew with His amazing love.

You Call That Help? (from a dream – totally symbolic)

Was it a cavity? Did she need to have a tooth pulled? Braces? She didn’t know. She just knew there was something wrong with her teeth. They didn’t hurt, but she could feel something was off.

She had tried everything she could. Brushing, flossing, rinsing – nothing seemed to help. So she decided to take the next step and scheduled an appointment with Dr. Worldlee. Dr. W was considered the best around for his expertise and patient care. Surely he would be able to fix the problem.

The next week she was nervously sitting in the chair, white napkin clipped around her neck, waiting for Dr. W to arrive. A glance around the room revealed an assortment of posters advertising treatments for different tooth problems. She had had to bring her baby when the babysitter cancelled at the last minute and could hear him through the open doorway, babbling with the receptionist.

“Good morning!” Dr. W said cheerfully as he walked through that doorway. “How are you today?”

“I’ll be a lot better,” she smiled. “as soon as this is over.”

“Relax. It’s going to be OK. You’re in good hands,” he said as he glanced at the x-ray on the computer monitor. “Hmmm….”

“Hmmm?” she asked, her eyes getting big. Hmmm’s are never good.

“Oh, not to worry. It seems your x-ray shows something is off, but not in enough detail enough to show me what it is. But I know what will give me that information.” He opened a cabinet door and pulled out a dark jar. The label was too small for her to read so she watched carefully as he opened it. He reached inside and wiggled his hand a little. When he pulled his hand back out, there were several brown bug-looking things crawling on it. He plucked one off, then shook the rest of them back into the jar, replace the cover, and returned the jar to the cabinet. With the bug still grasped with his fingers, he approached her.

“Open up,” he said. “This will give me more information.”0226190724 (2)

Clamping her mouth shut, she shook her head. She had heard of this “treatment”. After swallowing it, that little bug would burrow itself inside her in order to provide more information which would be displayed on the dentist’s computer. But she had also heard that that wasn’t the only information the bug provided, and that once a bug was inside a person, it frequently led to more complications which sometimes became life threatening.

“Don’t worry, it doesn’t bite,” he reassured her. “You probably won’t even feel it.”

She shook her head again. “No, thanks.”

“You really need to,” he said, a bit more seriously. “Everyone does, sooner or later.”

“Not me.”

She tried to get out of the chair, but the dentist pushed her back down as he motioned to someone outside the room. She knew he was recruiting help. One way or another, by cajoling or by force, she knew he was going to get that bug in her mouth if she stayed in that chair. But how could she escape?

“Wait!” she cried out, keeping her teeth clenched together. “I’ll do it. “But.. But…” She tried desperately to come up with a logical reason to leave the room. “But I need to go get some water first.” She motioned to the water fountain behind a large lady making her way towards them.

“You don’t need water. This will just glide down your throat.”

“Yes I do. I have a very strong gag reflex. I have to have water to swallow anything or else I will just throw it back up. It will just take a minute.”

“I’ll get you some water from this sink.”

“No! I mean no, I need the water to be cold. Like the fountain water in the waiting room.”

He looked suspiciously at her but agreed to let her get up. She walked to the fountain, pulled out a cup, and began filling it. As she did, she glanced at the front desk to check on her baby and gasped. He wasn’t there! Where was he? What did they do with him? Then she heard his cry. It was coming from the little room she had just exited. She threw the cup down and ran back into the little room in time to see the dentist attempting to put something in her son’s mouth. She knocked it from his hand, grabbed her son from the receptionist’s arms, and ran from the room. She made it all the way to the front door sighing with relief as she reached out to push the door open. But before it opened, the large lady grabbed her and began pulling her back towards the little room.

“It’s OK,” Dr. W said as he walked up. “We can do it here.”

She shook her head, keeping her mouth tightly closed, knowing if she didn’t, he would take advantage of any opening he saw. She looked around for help from the other people in the room, but they were pretty much ignoring her. Those that watched seemed more interested in watching the drama than in helping her.

All of a sudden, her baby let out a scream. Startled, she turned her head just in time to see the large lady’s hand move away from the baby’s arm and the dentist slip a bug in his mouth. She quickly stuck her finger in the baby’s mouth, pried the bug out, slung it to the floor, and stomped on it. Picking up her foot, she saw the bug still moving so she picked up a nearby statue – a really heavy one – and smashed it down on the bug. Then she raced for the door, got it open, and escaped into the fresh air outside.

The last thing she heard before the door closed behind her was, “That won’t hurt it. You can’t get rid of it that way.”

She ran to her car and tried to unlock the door but the baby was struggling to get down and she dropped the keys.

“I’m sorry. Let me help.”

She jumped. It was Dr W! He had followed her outside. She tried to back away but he apologized again. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. I was just trying to help. Here, let me hold your son so you can get the keys and unlock the door.”

He wasn’t holding anything and sounded so sincere that she agreed and handed her baby to him. She bent down to retrieve her keys, inserted one into the lock, and turned it. As she heard the click of the door unlocking, she turned back to the dentist and her son just in time to see Dr. W hold a syringe full of a brownish liquid above the baby’s eyes. As quickly as she could, she knocked the syringe from his hands, but not before he was able to hit the plunger. The baby wailed as the brownish liquid filled his eyes.

She grabbed him from the dentist and ran back inside to the water fountain and began filling and emptying cups of water into the baby’s eyes. After a few minutes, the baby calmed and she stopped splashing to look at it. His eyes were red and swollen.

She walked back outside where the dentist was still standing near her car. She yelled, “Now I’m going to sue you! Just wait until you hear from my Lawyer!”

He answered softly, “I don’t understand your resistance. I was just trying to help.”

“Yeah, right,” she said angrily. “You call that help? Your kind of help just makes everything worse. I’m going to the One who can really help. A real Healer.”

After securing her son in his car seat, she got into the driver’s seat and turned on the car engine. She had to get to the Doctor as soon as possible. No telling what damage had been done to her son’s eyes. But she knew if she got there soon enough, the Doctor would know how to heal it.

This Doctor knew how to heal anything. And no need to make an appointment. He was always available.

She smiled. Yes, the Doctor would know what to do. If only she had gone to Him first. So much distress could have been avoided. Well, next time, she vowed, she would.

 

Ultimately Everyone Has to Clean Up Their Own Backyards

She hadn’t looked into her backyard for years now. She knew her dogs had been using it and so expected it to be somewhat nasty but it probably wasn’t all that bad. After all, it’s a big yard and most of her dogs were quite little.

One day she glanced that way and just knew it was time to clean it up. She called together the other four people who she provided for and talked them into helping her. It helped that she offered them ice cream and Pepsi. They ate their ice cream, drank their Pepsi, picked up the tools they would need, and disappeared through the back door. All but one that is. One found things that needed to be done in the house that kept her too busy to make it outside. She was disappointed but let it go. The other three were surely hard at work.

She gathered her supplies – plastic bags that she’d use to protect her hands, garbage bags to put the poop in, trowel to pick up the stuff up with, and her basket with her ice cream and Pepsi to nourish her when she got tired – and joined the three in the backyard. As they saw her, they each began making excuses and leaving until she was alone. Alone to handle the piles of poop that lay scattered throughout the yard. There was a lot more than she expected but she knew what she had to do and got started.

She walked across the yard about ten yards and found a huge area filled with many varying sizes of poop. This is where I’ll start, she decided. She had barely begun when 013119043228229someone called for her attention. A well dressed lady and her daughter were standing on the nearby patio. She tried to answer their questions but they couldn’t understand. They began walking across the yard heading to a small shed in the corner where they would shop for homemade items. She worried about them stepping in one of the messes but again had trouble getting some sign of understanding from them. She didn’t want to be seen scooping up the piles of poop so she considered going inside. She would just continue to ignore the mess. But no, she really couldn’t. Not when her yard was open to people coming to look at the handmade stuff. She had to clean it up.

She thought about the four people who she had thought would surely help her, especially since she took care of their needs. But they evidently didn’t buy into the reciprocal nature of giving.  She looked back at the poop surrounding her and an amazingly calm resolve filled her. She would clean it up no matter who saw her or whether anyone else helped her because she knew ultimately everyone had to clean up their own backyards.

“Need some help?” whispered a Voice she knew so well. She closed her eyes and hugged that Voice as she whispered back, “Yes, please.”

She got back to work and was surprised at how fast the cleaning went with Him to keep her company. And she discovered that as she worked on some piles, other piles seemed to disappear on their own.

“Thanks,” she whispered.

“Glad to help,” He whispered back.

As they continued to work together in comfortable companionship, she thought, “Well, maybe we don’t have to clean up our backyards completely by ourselves. I may not be able to count on other people helping me when I need it. But I should have remembered there is One I can always count on.”

 

(Based on a dream, December 14, 2018)

Malformed Pieces

“Uh oh,” she said as she picked up the next tiny plastic piece. “This one won’t fit.” She dropped it into a growing pile of malformed pieces and picked up another one. “Perfect!”

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Usually the repetitive task of fitting the tiny pieces into their places on the sticky grid gave her mind a chance to relax as it daydreamed about problems and goals. But this time as she placed the well shaped piece carefully on the grid, a thought interrupted her wandering mind.

“When you don’t let God trim off your rough edges, you won’t be able to fit into His design as well. Not only won’t you fit within your boundaries, you will bother those around you.”

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She stopped to consider that. “It’s true we all have baggage we bring into our relationship with God, things from the past we hang on to even though we no longer need them just like this tiny piece still has a piece of its manufacturing process attached to it. And I know I fight each time He wants me to let go of something. Maybe there’s a bigger picture to Him wanting to trim me. Maybe sometimes it’s not so much about me as it is about His bigger picture,” she thought, freshly determined to be more cooperative the next time He starts trimming.

She got back to work, still musing on the importance of being trimmed. Then another thought entered. What about all those other pieces in that pile of malformed pieces. There’s more than one reason a piece can’t fit correctly on the grid.

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She picked up the black piece. Totally misshapen.

“Like when we refuse to let God do anything in us. We are still saved – still a piece – but pretty much useless in the design.” She thought about what she had been like when she entered her relationship with God, and she was very glad she wasn’t anything like that anymore. Transformed was a very real fact in her life, unlike that poor piece.

And the tan one?

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“Hmmm,” she thought about the two pieces clinging to each other for a few minutes. “My relationship with Jesus is a very personal one. When I walk with Him, I have to do it alone. It’s just me and Him. He wants me to cling to Him, not anything else. He can surround me with others just like each of these pieces are surrounded by other pieces, but I cannot insist on having someone in the same place I’m in. It just doesn’t work.”

She put the malformed pieces back into their pile and picked up the next perfect tiny plastic piece. As she placed into the design, she breathed a prayer.

“God, form me to fit the spot You have chosen for me. Help me to let go of what holds me back so that I can become part of Your big, amazing design.”

And her heart swelled with peace and contentment, knowing God heard her prayer.

 

(Disclaimer:  I am not promoting this brand of diamond painting. Actually, there’s another brand that I find superior to this one, but this was the only brand that had this specific design and so I went with it.)

The Unicorn on the Ceiling Fan

She sat back in the recliner thoroughly enjoying the chance to relax in the silence of her daughter’s almost empty house.

She thought about her life the past month – the devastation to her whole town by the strong almost category 5 hurricane, the maze of insurance claims she and her husband were having to navigate, the abundance of contractors wanting them to sign away their benefits, the multitude of needs being posted each day by desperate people, the crowds and long lines at the few stores that had managed to reopen, the mountains of debris along every street, the power lines still laying on the ground in areas where linemen have not yet had a chance to work, the horrendous traffic as residents and volunteers and contractors try to get from place to another, and her growing need to be in more than one place at a time. She wanted to be at home helping her husband deal with all the decisions that had to be made and working towards restoring their home. But just as much she wanted to be here with her daughter with her new baby while her son-in-law was working out of town.

As she thought, her eyes wandered around the room, taking in the drawn shades providing privacy, the assortment of baby furniture, the black and tan dog energetically chewing on a rawhide bone, the small porcelain unicorn sitting on the ceiling fan, the beautiful new teal area rug, the…

WAIT!  Was that what she thought it was?

She looked back at the ceiling fan.

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Sure enough, there was a small unicorn sitting right up there just above the revolving blades.

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She stared up at it. What was it doing up there? Who would have put it up there? It’s so out of place it was hard to believe that it was actually there. It should be on a shelf, or on a dresser, or even on a window sill. Certainly NOT on a ceiling fan!

And then she thought how much that little unicorn was like answered prayers. We think we know where the answers should be, but many times we will find them in completely startling and unexpected places, often surprising us with God’s sense of humor.

She chuckled to herself as she thought about how amazing her God continued to be. No matter what struggles and decisions she was facing, no matter how bad things looked around her, He always managed to find a way to make her smile. And frequently in the most unlikely places – just like that unicorn on the ceiling fan!

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Restoration

 

I don’t think I want to do this. It’s too much work.

Yes, it is a lot of work.

What if I don’t do it? What if I just let things stay as they are?

You won’t be happy.

But I can live with it.

Sure. You could if you insisted.

I mean, what’s wrong with living with some damage? It’s easy enough to cover it up.

The problem will still be there.

But if I can’t see it, I can easily ignore it and get on with my life. I don’t have to spend a great amount of time and effort on fixing what I don’t see.

What about the damage you do see?

It’s not THAT bad.

Really?

OK, so it does look bad. But I can learn to ignore that too. After all, no one expects everything to be perfect.

It’s not about perfection. Restoring what’s been damaged makes your life so much nicer and more comfortable. And getting to the root of the damage prevents further damage from occurring.

But there’s so much stuff that has to be moved. IMG_20181102_091158658

Yes, there is a lot of stuff that has to be removed.

And it’s soooo much work! And inconvenient and uncomfortable.

Yes, it is. But it will be worth it.

I guess you’re right.

I always am.

So, who do I get to do the restoration?

Me.

You?

Yes.

How can you fix all those things?

I have my ways.

Are you miraculously going to fix everything? Even the roof and siding?

Roof and siding?

Yeah, that’s were the most visible damage is.

That’s not the kind of damage I was talking about.

You’re not talking about the damage to the inside of my house?

Nope.

What kind of damage are you talking about then?

The damage to the inside of your heart.

Oh.

Silence

I don’t think I want to do this. It’s too much work…

When Walking Gets Hard

Walking used to be easy. In fact, it was so easy, she pretty much bounced with each step. She loved to  listen to the birds and watch the  squirrels scurry about as she walked.

But after a long time, she noticed it was getting harder and harder to walk. She no longer had a bounce in her step. Each step took deliberate effort. It felt like she was walking into a strong wind. But there wasn’t any wind. Or like she was wading through deep water. But there was no flood.  So what was slowing her down, making her work so hard to keep her forward momentum? She had no idea. All she knew was that she had to keep moving if she wanted to make it back home.

Much more time passed, and she was still struggling. In fact, it was now so hard to move it took all her concentration. She had no interest in the birds or squirrels. Each step took every ounce of determination she had as she slowly forced it forward. She held her arms up in front of her as she bent forwards, hoping that by shifting her center of balance, she could get gravity to help move her forwards. But even her arms took effort to keep them in front of her.

Bent almost double now, sweat pouring from her body, she wondered if she should just quit. It would be so easy to stop moving. Staying in the same place wouldn’t be so bad, would it? It was nice here. She thought of her home. It was nicer than where she was, but was it really worth the effort? What if the effort cost her more than she had? What if she died trying to get home? What good would her home do her then? Maybe staying in this place was best after all.

She had just about stopped moving when she heard a whisper coming from deep within her. No, not quite a whisper. Just the hint of a voice, really. So quiet she almost missed it. “Keep going,” was all it said. But with the voice came a strong sense of longing to finish this walk and get home – a feeling that someone was watching and cheering her on. Not understanding but willing to trust it, she started moving again.

It took tremendous strength and even more willpower to take the next few steps. She was so tired, she could think of nothing except shuffling her feet forward one inch at a IMG_20181009_074336724time. But after a time, she realized she was getting stronger. She could see muscles in her arms and legs where previously there was only flab. And her feet were beginning to move a little easier. Instead of an inch, she was able to go several inches with each step. Then a whole foot at a time. It was like as she got stronger, whatever had a hold on her began to break off piece by piece. Soon she was able to straighten up and walk with her hands swinging by her sides again. Moving quickly now, she was delighted to see her home come into view.

As she turned into the driveway, she noticed she was once again bouncing with each step. Squirrels scampered around the nearby trees that lined the long driveway. And she heard a bird singing somewhere over her head.

Sighing with pleasure, she was so glad she had not given up. Yes, all that effort WAS worth it! She was home!

Bella – Epilogue 

Bella spent many days visiting the lake. No matter how often or what time she arrived, she would find God there. And no matter how many questions she asked, He always answered them patiently. Some answers were clear and easy to understand, others were a bit vaguer.

“Why did You tell me You were Pastor Toby when I first met You?”

“If I had told you I was God, what would you have done?”

She thought a moment, then laughed. “I’d have run as fast and as far as I could to get away from You.”

“That’s why. I meet people where they are. I reveal only what they are ready to hear.”

“What is this place? This church that seems bigger on the inside than it appears from the outside?”

“Kind of like spiritual life. From the outside, life with Me often seems small and contained when actually it’s very much the opposite.”

Bella nodded with understanding.

“And why does Your back yard look so different to me than it did to that lady who saw a forest?”

“Because each of you have a totally unique relationship with Me. What you see and experience is based on who you are and how I made you.”

“OK, I can get that. What I can’t understand is how this place can be two things at once. Or more likely thousands of things at once.”

“I’m not bound by your laws of physics. I’m beyond any law.”

“But… thousands??”

“I’m big,” He said with a shrug. “Thousands is nothing to Me.”

“So if You’re that big, how can You take notice of something as small as me?”

“Because of all the things I’ve created, I love you the most.”

Bella smiled. Amazing, she thought, that this God could love her this much. Little did she know how much her God really did love her. That would be revealed to her at another time, when she was ready. For now, she was content to sit His presence, soaking up His love, and learning all she could each day.

IMG_20181005_154104240

The End

 

Bella stories:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really Part 1 Part 2

Bella part 6   9  10  11 12  13   14  15   16

17

Bella – part 18 Meltdown

Bella allowed the music to strengthen her as she reached for the garden door. Taking a deep breath, she slowly let it out trying to calm herself. She had to be clear headed when she found Pastor Toby. It wouldn’t do her any good if she was too scared to say what she wanted, what she needed to say. She took another deep breath, held it, and opened the door.

At first all she saw was the flowers and plants he tended. A mixture of disappointment and relief surged through her. Maybe he wasn’t here after all. But then she saw something move at the end of the row and heard a very quiet chuckle. Pastor Toby! Had he seen her? As if he had heard her thoughts, he called out, “Hi, Bella! So glad you’re here. Come look what I found today.”

Bella walked up to him and looked where he pointed. Next to a tiny, empty chrysalis was IMG_20181005_154120386a brand new butterfly. Wings still drying, the beautiful turquoise and black insect rested on a leaf. Bella stared at the tiny creature, tears filling her eyes as her heart seemed to grow too big to contain. What was going on? She had seen plenty of butterflies before, but none had affected her as this one was doing. If she wasn’t careful, she was going to lose herself in the flood of feelings rising in her.

She tore her eyes from the butterfly and looked at Pastor Toby. “I need to ask you something,” she said.

“I know,” he said, smiling at her. “Let’s do this.”

Now that the moment was here, she didn’t know exactly how to start. Should she be blunt or lead into it more slowly? Not being one to beat around the bush, she asked, “Are you human?”

“Nope,” he answered looking at her with a hint of joyful expectation.

She found looking into his eyes to be as emotional as looking at the butterfly. Tears beginning to stream down her face, she tried to turn away. She did NOT want to cry. She didn’t like to cry and avoided it at all costs. So why was she crying now? It didn’t make any sense. Was he doing something to her? She could hear the music from inside the house getting louder and seemingly to swirl around her. There was something in that music. Something that seemed to reach deep inside her. That’s it! Maybe he was brainwashing her through the music! But the harder she tried to turn away, the more the tears came. She had to do something – anything – to break this.. this… mind control.

“Um… can we go to the lake?” she asked him. “We can talk on the way.” That would get her away from the music, as well as give her a reason to not make eye contact and a chance to regain her composure.

“Sure, whatever makes you feel more comfortable.” He turned and gestured towards the lake, inviting her to take the first step.

Released from his gaze, she started walking quickly towards the lake, hurrying to get out of reach of the music. She noticed he matched her pace, staying right by her side.

“So, you’re not human?” she asked as they walked.

“No, I’m not.”

“Are you here to capture this planet?”

“If by capture you mean take control, yes. I do plan to take control one day.”

Surprised to not only get direct answers for a change, but to be told right out that he planned on taking control, she was speechless. But only for a minute.

“Why?” she burst out. “Why take our planet when you have your own?”

“This is my planet. I’ll just be taking back control of it.”

“Your planet? You used to have control? When did you lose it? How?”

“It’s a long story. I’ll tell you someday. But I think you have a more important question to ask me, don’t you.”

She had to admit he was right. As curious as she was about the control issue, it was a distraction from what she really wanted to know.

“What are you going to do to us? To me?”

“Nothing you don’t want done. But I want to heal you of so many injuries you’ve suffered in your life. I want to make your life better. And I want you to live with me forever.”

“But what if I don’t want to live with you forever?”

“I will never force you. It’s totally our choice.”

“And what if I told you I was going to warn everyone about you? What if I talked to reporters about your plans?”

“That would be awesome!”

Taken aback, totally not expecting that answer, she stopped and looked at him. “You don’t care if I tell the whole world about you?”

“No. In fact, I wish you would. I wish all my children would.”

“Aren’t you afraid of military attacking you and forcing you to leave?”

“No, they can’t do any more than what I allow them. And I’m not going anywhere. I have many people yet to save here.”

“But you’re just one alien. Wait, is Jude… of course he is. So there are only two of you aliens. Against a whole army. And you don’t feel threatened?”

“Nope.”

Bella continued walking, trying to make sense of all this. None of her scenarios had even come close to this. Why wasn’t he threatened? Did he think he was more powerful than an entire army? Evidently he did. What kind of alien could be this powerful? A whole ship load of them might feel invincible, but just one or two?

And why did she still feel the song swirling throughout her inner being? She couldn’t really hear it with her ears anymore, but it was like her very soul was reaching out and soaking it in. Her heart felt open and raw, seeking his touch, his presence. And she felt a sense of longing growing in her – longing to be with him no matter where he went. To be with him forever. Just the thought of losing him should the military kill him created a pain so deep she couldn’t bear it. Tears began streaming down her face again as she turned to him.

“What kind of alien are you?”

“Alien?” He laughed. “I never said I was an alien.”

“But you said…”

“I said I wasn’t human.”

“Then… who are you?”

“I’m God.”

“God? Like God-in-the-bible God?”

“I am.”

Just two simple words, but it was enough. All the confusion fled her mind as if a bright light was turned on. For a moment she saw clearly who she stood before. This was the almighty, all powerful God! The Creator of the heavens and the earth! This was GOD!

She fell face down before Him, sobbing and feeling so insignificant and dirty. She was nothing compared to Him.

“Oh, God, I am so sorry. Please forgive me for all my evil thoughts against you.”

“You’re forgiven,” He immediately responded with a voice so gentle and loving that she dared to look up. Then it hit her. This was also the One who had made her – and loved her – and only wanted her love in return. As she looked into His eyes, she felt His love for her totally engulf her. Her heart swelled until she thought it would burst. And she knew beyond a doubt, that there was nowhere she’d rather be than here in His presence. Forever.

“I love You,” she told Him. “I want to be with You forever. I never want to be separated from You even for a moment.”

“That’s totally possible,” He answered. “All you have to do is invite me inside your heart. My Spirit will come and set up dwelling there. And we will never ever be apart again.”

“Yes! Yes! Please come into my heart!”

“Done!” He face lit up with joy so brightly He seemed to glow! Yet she had no trouble seeing His hand reach down to raise her up. Standing next to Him, tears drying on her cheeks, she couldn’t resist hugging Him. As her arms wrapped around Him, His joy enveloped her until she felt like she would burst if she didn’t start dancing or something. So she did! She danced all the way to the pier with Him dancing right beside her. Breathless, she sat down and turned to Him.

“I have some questions…” she began.

And He laughed.

 

 

 

Bella stories:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really Part 1 Part 2

Bella part 6   9  10  11 12  13   14  15   16    17

Bella – part 17 Today is the Day

Bella woke with a start. She had a strong sense that there was something dangerous she needed to do. Something important. What was it?

And then she remembered.

Today was the day she would confront Pastor Toby. Was she ready?

Heart thumping loudly in her chest, she got up and went into the bathroom. Staring at her reflection in the mirror, she wondered if she was brave enough to go through with it. Or was it being stupid? Maybe she should just forget about it and accept it like everyone else seemed to have done.

No! She had already been through this and the decision had been made. She would go confront him today no matter how bad it might turn out. She thought about the possibilities as she got dressed.

  1. He was an alien and would feel threatened by her knowledge and she would end up imprisoned somewhere in that weird church.
  2. He was an alien but would deny it and she would be dismissed as having a great imagination.
  3. He wasn’t an alien and would laugh at Andy’s joke on her and she’d end up a fool.
  4. He wasn’t an alien and he’d seriously question her sanity and she’d end up in a mental hospital.

She didn’t like any of those scenarios so she created one more, one she hoped would happen: He was an alien and her threat to take what she knew to the media would be enough to make him pack up his church and leave the planet. Without the secrecy, there was no point in him being here to observe anymore. And she might actually come out of this a hero.

Bolstered by the thought of saving the world, she took one last glance in the mirror, saluted herself, then left her apartment.

She was surprised to see how empty the sidewalks were. Being early morning, she’d have assumed at least there would be many people heading to work. “I wonder where everyone is,” she mumbled. It felt weird to have the sidewalk all to herself and she hurried the few blocks to the church.

As she walked, a tiny voice inside her whispered, “What about his love for you?”  She had forgotten about that. She let herself remember how accepting he was, how loved she felt in his presence. And how much she longed to spend more time with him. Then another thought filled her mind. She only felt that way because he used some kind of alien technology on people to brainwash them feel that way. It wasn’t real. Shaking her head, she pushed aside all thoughts except the one about confronting him.

When she got there, she found the church door open, as if waiting for her arrival. She squared her shoulders and marched through the entrance, across the foyer, and up to Pastor Toby’s door.

Again, she found the door already open. “What’s going on here?” she wondered, eyes IMG_20181005_154132429darting around. Was everyone hiding? Did they know what she was about to do and wanted to watch the show? Not seeing anyone, she cautiously entered the living room.

Now what, she thought. Do I wait for him or Jude to arrive, or do I go looking for him?

As she stood there, just inside the door, she heard singing. It was a different song, but the same singer. No doubt about that.

Not knowing what to do, she listened to the soul-stirring music coming from somewhere down the hall. Although she couldn’t understand the lyrics, she felt drawn by the melody, like it was calling her and making her feel safe. And courageous. Like it was encouraging her to do what she had come to do.

Taking a deep breath, she crossed the room and entered the hallway. Where should she look first? The kitchen?  Isn’t that where Pastor Toby spends a lot of his time? And it was breakfast time so where else would he be? The garden, maybe? Since the kitchen was on the way to the garden, she decided to try it first.

But when she got to the kitchen, it was empty. Not even food cooking on the stove. Maybe he’s not up yet, she thought. Maybe I should just go.

But the soft sound of a song from that sweet unseen singer drifted into her mind, and she was filled with the sense that something exciting was about to happen if only she kept looking.

 

Bella stories:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really Part 1 Part 2

Bella part 6   9  10  11 12  13   14  15   16