The Swing

“I was so close,” she thought with disappointment as gravity pulled her away. “Why can’t I just stay here where things are so much clearer? Why am I always pulled away?”

Helplessly she watched the sky grow further away, then disappear as the angle of her IMG_20180719_144815604body changed. Her vision now was filled with overshadowing trees, prickly bushes, weed-invested grass, and dirt crawling with bugs – the everyday mixture of good and bad she was very familiar with. Although she could no longer feel as if she was part of the glorious sky, she could still get a glimpse of it if she looked up. But the land around her was interesting in its own way and thoughts of it slowly crowded out the sky from her mind.

She didn’t get to stay there very long. She was pulled back up, this time backwards where all she could see was the ground receding from her. The dark, flat view that filled her eyes replaced the memory of the wide open blue sky and began to make her question if that blue sky even existed. “Did I just imagine it?” she wondered. “I can’t see blue sky anywhere around here. It must have been just wishful thinking.” However, in spite of the sad feeling that accompanied that thought, she was surprised how the distance provided her a new perspective on what she thought she knew so well. Like how little those bugs really were, and how the weeds seem to disappear into the greenness of the grass.

Just when she accepted her new vision, it changed.

“Arhh!” she screamed as she fell facedown towards the ground. “Not again!” Visions of smashing into the ground filled her mind with anxiety. As the ground loomed larger and larger in her sight, she just knew this time there was no way she was going to come out of this unhurt. With hands clenching on tight, she closed her eyes and began to pray.

But when the impact didn’t happen, she took a peek through one eye and saw she was not going down anymore. She was moving sideways and missing every obstacle. “Whew”, she said to herself. “I don’t know how, but I made it again.” Relief flooded her and she drew in deep breath and relaxed as her familiar world surrounded her yet again. Then in her peripheral vision, she got a glimpse of blueness above her and something in her spirit stirred. Looking up she was reminded of the things she had seen before and a longing rose up in her. How could she make her way back up there? And if she did, could she get high enough to stay there? She strived to push herself upwards but that didn’t help, and neither did wildly kicking her feet. Eventually she gave up.

Before long, though, she noticed everything began to seem brighter and she got increasingly frequent glimpses of the blueness above her. Her angle continued to change until all she could see was the bright blue sky and awesome white clouds. And once again everything seemed so peaceful and clear to her and she wanted to stay there forever.

But of course she couldn’t, and gravity pulled her back down again and she started the cycle all over.

“Wow, that was amazing!” she said as the ride stopped and she got off.

“Swinging like this has its ups and downs,” she thought. “Just like my Christian life. Sometimes I get so close to God and seem to understand everything so much clearer, but then that feeling fades away as days go by and I find my vision limited to what I can see down here.”

Then she had another thought. “There is one big difference. This swing may always come back down, but one day, I’m going to make it up into that spiritual sky and never come down!”

Before GPS, There Was GPS

It happened more than once. More than twice. It happened so often that they knew it had to be a God-thing.

In their early years together, back before the babies came and even before GPS, they liked to travel. They would pack their tiny car, make sure they had maps for every state they would be driving through, and set off with a bag of snacks and a cooler of soft drinks.

He would drive since he was more secure about driving in heavy traffic. And she would navigate as she was better at reading maps. Stopping only for ice and gas, they would get to their destination city without incident. But once there, they frequently found that their maps would not match the streets they found themselves on.

 

“Turn right at Union Street,” she would say, eyes glued to the map. “The hotel should be pretty close.”

“There is no Union Street. All these streets have numbers.”

“Numbers?”

“The one we just passed was Sixth Street. The next one will probably be Seventh Street.”

“What street are we one?”

“Oak Tree Blvd.”

“That’s impossible,” she responded, studying the map. “Oak Tree is way over there. It doesn’t even come close to Sixth Street.”

“Well, I’m telling you what I see on the signs. I’m not making it up.”

“Then the map is lying. Maybe there’s another way.”

After studying the map a bit longer, she said, “Yes, we can take 22nd Street to get to Maple Street, then get on Pine Tree Road, which will take us to Union Street.”

“Which way do I turn on 22nd?”

“Turn, um… right.”

“OK, here comes 22nd.”

After making the turn, he said, “Which way now?”

“You’ll need to turn left at Maple Street.”

“How far is it?”

“Only a few blocks.”

They both look at street signs until they spot it. “Yes! Turn left!”

After making that turn, he asked, “What was the next street? Pineapple?”

“No, Pine Tree. It should be just ahead.”

But after a dozen blocks go by, it’s obvious they missed it. Or it didn’t exist. Or the map lied again.

“Turn around, maybe we just missed it.”

But going back didn’t help. “There is no Pine Tree around here. Maybe you read the map wrong and it’s further up.”

She glared at him. “I know how to read a map. But you can keep driving if you want to.”

He kept driving. Another dozen blocks, it was obvious they weren’t going to find it.”

“OK, turn left up there. The map shows the streets are pretty much laid out in blocks. Since we took a right off Oak Tree, then a left, another left should take us back to Oak Tree.”

He turned at the next intersection.

“I said left! Not right!”

“Oh, I’ll just make a U-turn up there at the next light.”

As he began his U-turn, she yelled out, “Stop! Don’t make a U-turn! That’s Union Street!”

Managing to avoid getting hit by other cars, he got the car pointed in the right direction and began to drive slowly down Union Street.

Still studying the map, she tried to figure out how they got to Union Street. “How did we get here?” she wondered aloud. “Union Street doesn’t even come close to Maple!”

“I don’t know, but there’s our hotel.” He sighed with relief.

Perplexed, she said, “God must have done it. He must have picked up our car and IMG_20180714_223659842plopped us right where we need to be. There’s no other way we could have gotten here according to the map.”

The first time that happened, they both laughed at the idea. But after many other trips, with similar experiences, they began to believe that God really did have mercy on them when they got themselves totally lost. Did He actually pick up their car and move it? Or did He move the roads? They didn’t know. And they didn’t care. They were just amazed each time He did it.

They may not have had GPS to help them back then, but they did have GPS – God’s Personal Service – which was more than enough.

Counting On

Chewing on a brownie, she read the title of next short story in her book. It was an odd little book with the oddest stories. But each had a fascination of its own, so she would read one every chance she had, usually during her morning breaks at work. This one was called Counting On. Counting on what, she wondered as she turned the page.

The little girl loved to count. She had to count. She needed to count. But counting on things didn’t always work out for her. Actually, they rarely worked out for her.

Like when she tried counting on her crayons. She would line them up as she counted them. IMG_20180714_101429188One, two, three… until she ran out of crayons. No matter how big the box, she always ran out of crayons. That was bad enough, but the worst part was trying to keep the crayons from rolling around. It seemed most surfaces had some kind of slant to them, no matter how slight, that caused the crayons to roll at the slightest movement. She could sometimes lay them out on the carpet, but then someone usually came along and stepped on them, smashing them down into the ground.

So she tried other things. But nothing seemed to work. Not her beads – they were worse than the crayons. Not her dolls – there weren’t enough of them. Not her cereal – bugs eventually found them.

Finally she thought she had it! Silverware! They didn’t roll and there were plenty of the forks, knives, and spoons in the drawer! So she dumped them all out on the table and began counting them. It worked like a dream… until people began taking them.

“Hey, where did all the spoons go?”

“I need a fork.”

“Excuse me, mind if I take a knife to butter my bread?”

She got frustrated as silverware was taken from her and then returned to the wrong place, if they were returned at all. It got so bad she lost track of what she had counted and what she hadn’t. Didn’t anyone care enough, respect her enough to care where they took and returned the silverware? The hurt and frustration she felt each time finally took its toll and, crying, she gave up.

But her need to count on something remained so she looked for something else to count. Something that didn’t roll or attract bugs. And something that no one would take from her.

Then one day, while out shopping with her mom, she found the perfect thing – a bag of colored glass jewels! Not only did their flat bottoms keep them from rolling, they came in pretty colors. And not being edible, bugs would leave them alone as would everyone else since they were her own property.

For days she happily counted on her jewels, lining them up and enjoying the colors as she counted. She kept them in a velvet bag on top of her dresser when she wasn’t counting them. Whenever she felt the need to count, she would run to her room, grab the bag, dump them out on her bed, and count on them until her need was met.

But one day they weren’t there. She searched frantically as her need grew, until finally she found them behind the dresser. How did they get there? Did someone touch them when she wasn’t around? Relieved that she found them, she didn’t think anymore about their misplacement. That is, until it happened again. And then a third time. After searching, she would end up finding them in odd places. How was that happening? Was someone messing with them – and her? Or was she doing it herself? Was she having memory lapses? In any case, she knew she could no longer trust being able to count on the jewels. She had to find something else.

And then she found IT!

IT was perfect! IT didn’t roll. IT didn’t attract bugs. IT was her own personal property that no one could take, even if they wanted to. And IT was always with her, even when she wasn’t thinking about IT.

IT was her fingers! She could count on them every time she had the need. And when she ran out of fingers, she would just start back on her first finger while counting higher and higher. She found she could count forever with them, if she wanted. She had finally found the perfect thing to count on that would never disappoint!

Closing the book, she thought about what she had just read. Definitely odd, but it reminded her of something. Didn’t everyone have a need to count on something sometimes? Counting on the weather to be nice for a beach day? Counting on a friend to help with a task? Counting on her dog to provide entertainment when she was bored? And didn’t most things turn out to be unreliable at times? Rain instead of sunshine? Friend cancelling at the last minute? Dog too sleepy to play with?

But, she thought, we also have an IT. An amazing IT.  IT’s called Jesus! He’s always with us, no one can take Him from us, and we can count on Him forever!

She set the book down and, wiggling her fingers with a smile, got back to work.

The Lunch Invitation

Nancy looked at the lunch invitation with delight. Meals at her friends’ house were always an adventure. They liked to experiment with their recipes, often finding creative ways to tweak the ingredients to make the dishes unique and unforgettable. This meal, scheduled for the following week, should be no exception.

Each day she tried to imagine what they would be serving.  Probably nothing as ordinary as spaghetti or grilled cheese, unless they added some fun ingredients, of course. Maybe something with lobster, she thought, mentally licking her lips.

Finally the day came and she drove to her friends’ house with great anticipation

“Come on in! I’m so glad you’re here!” Susan exclaimed as she held the door open for Nancy.

“Thank you for the invite,” Nancy replied. “I love your cooking!”

They walked down the hall towards the kitchen. “Bob is finishing the salad right now. We kind of burned the main dish so we added some extra ingredients to make the salad larger. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Not at all. Salad actually sounds good.” Nancy knew whatever they served would be amazing.

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The large salad in the center of the kitchen table did look amazing. So full of greens with lots of colorful veggies, eggs, and cheeses mixed in.

Bob held the salad fork and motioned to the salad. “We weren’t expecting to have to make such a big salad and didn’t have enough greens so I added some lettuce leaves from our backyard garden. It’s the first time we’ve ever grown lettuce and I’m so excited that they were ready to use today.”

Nancy glanced out the window to the back yard, then stared with horror. A dog was peeing on the bed of lettuce. Was this the same bed that Bob got his lettuce for the salad? It had to be.

“Umm…” she began. “Your dog is… umm… peeing on your lettuce.”

“Oh, that’s OK,” Bob said. “He does that all the time. It doesn’t hurt the lettuce.”

Nancy looked at the salad. Was some of that peed on lettuce part of this salad?

Susan saw her look and said, “Don’t worry. I’m sure Bob rinsed the lettuce before adding it to the salad.”

“Of course,” Bob agreed. “I always do.”

Nancy thought of the quick rinse she usually did to her own vegetables. Surely he did better than that.

“Besides,” Susan went on, “even if he happened to use a lettuce leaf that had gotten peed on, it’s such a little part of this salad that you won’t even notice.”

Somehow, Nancy had lost her appetite and began wondering what excuse she could make to get out of there without eating.

Later, much later, she thought… is this like us and sin? We think we do so many wonderful things that a little sin here or there doesn’t really matter. But is that how God sees sin? That it’s OK to accept small sins as long as we basically try to do the right things? Would that be like Susan and Bob accepting that salad since it was basically all good ingredients? A little contamination wouldn’t be noticed?

No, God was pure holiness. There was no darkness in Him at all. So all sin, no matter how small, must be as despicable to Him as the possible yellow lettuce had been to her.

Wow! That sure puts sin in a whole new light.

The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth

Their loud cries disturbed her peaceful soak in the pool. Opening her eyes, she watched as two young girls, maybe around seven years old, fought over a doll and a plastic cup of small toy ice cream cones.

“Give it to me!”IMG_20180711_165015740

“No!”

“I need the cup!”

“No, it’s my turn!”

“Give me the baby!”

“Ask for it!”

“Give it to me!”

“No, ask for it!”

“Give it!”

The exchange went back and forth but wasn’t getting anywhere as one girl held the toys out of reach of the second girl. Neither girl paid any attention to their grandmother’s voice warning them to stop fighting. A third girl, younger by a few years, quietly watched from a distance.

Finally frustration won over and the girl without the toys began flailing at the girl with the toys.

“Girls! Come out of the pool. We don’t act like that.” The voice of their grandmother finally penetrated their battle. “And leave the toys there.” The girls reluctantly left the toys floating in the pool as they climbed out and went to sit next to their grandmother.

The third girl, the patient one who had watched from a distance, glanced up at the other two girls, then at the floating toys. She swam over to them, quietly gathered them up, and swam back to her own grandmother.

“Nana,” she asked her grandmother. “Do you want to play kitchen? I have ice cream!”

Closing her eyes, she smiled. It reminded her of what she had read in the Bible. “The meek with inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) Ps 37:11 had put it another way: “The meek with inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.”  This might not be what God had in mind when He said those words, but it sure worked out that way for this little but wise girl as she played with her new toys in the now peaceful pool.

Fitting the Pieces Together

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She studied the pieces on the table in front of her. So far she had matched several blues together, surely part of the sky. And the greens were probably the grass. She wasn’t sure about the yellows or reds yet, but they could wait.

She picked up another blue piece and compared its shape to the ones she’d already matched. It didn’t quite fit with them, but if she used a little force, she could get it to fit. If it was blue, it had to be part of the sky, right?

“That’s what you do with your life, too,” came a still small voice inside her. “You try to fit the pieces of your life together to figure out the big picture.”

She thought about that.

“You’re right,” she agreed. “I do tend to try to make things that happen in my life fit together to form a picture. Is that wrong?”

“No, not as long as you do it for fun. Just keep in mind that you may not be fitting them in the right places. Like that blue piece in your hand.”

“This sky piece?”

“If you think that’s what it is, fine. You can work with it as if it were. But what if it’s a water piece, like part of a lake?”

“Hmm… I think I get it. I can have fun trying to fit it where I think it goes, but be open to the possibility that I might be wrong.”

“Right. If you get stubborn thinking your way is the only way, you’ll miss the big picture. And if you try to force pieces together that don’t belong together, you’ll get something totally different than the amazing picture I’m making with your life.”

She took another look at the blue piece in her hand, then at the puzzle pieces on the table. Maybe she should put it to the side and wait to see where it really fit.

After all, she wanted to see the completed picture how it was meant to be seen. Right?

Bella, part 9 –Aliens? Really?

Bella spent the night restlessly. Dream after dream filled with aliens reaching out to her kept her from the deep sleep she so desperately sought. Each time she would wake up trembling, half expecting to find herself being watched by something not quite human. Finally she gave up trying to sleep and got up in time to watch the sun rise.

Holding a cup of coffee, she stood at her east facing window and watched the sky change colors. From dark to ever increasing light, the sky spoke to her in a way she had not experienced before. She didn’t know why, but for some reason it filled her with excitement, like it knew something she didn’t. Something good.

As the disturbing remnants of her dreams faded, replaced with feelings of expectant hope, she walked back to the kitchen to make herself something to eat. Passing by her computer, she noticed the notebook on the desk. Should she go back to it, do more research, try to find out more about this supposedly pastor? Or should she toss it in the trash and forget the whole thing? No, she couldn’t forget it. She had seen and heard too much to just let it go. But she did want to know the truth of it. Were they aliens, as far-fetched as that sounded now, or were they just a couple of eccentric men? Maybe she’d do a little more research after breakfast. Actually, maybe, she should go to a church service that morning and talk to the people there. They would know more, wouldn’t they?

After cleaning up her breakfast dishes she sat at her computer to check on the church’s service times. There were three that morning, and one that evening. She decided on the earliest service since she was already up. Besides, the sooner she went, the less time there was for her to get nervous. She hadn’t been to a church since the few times she had gone with friends when she was little. She was pretty sure the adult service would be nothing like the kids’ services she had attended all those years ago. What would this service be like? How would the people react to her? Would she know what to do and when to do it so she’d fit in – or would it be obvious to everyone that she didn’t belong? Would she be put on the spot having to introduce herself or something? Would there be wild or crazy behavior? She had heard about some pretty weird churches.

She showered, then stood in front of her closet. What should she wear? Do people still dress up for church? They did when she was little, but that was a long time ago. She decided to wear the same thing she had worn the first time she had gone to see Pastor Toby and hope he didn’t recognize it. She didn’t want him to think she didn’t own anything else.

It was still too early to walk to the church so she sat down at her computer and tried a new search – this time about aliens and force fields. She felt foolish now. Aliens? Really? That was just crazy. What had she been thinking? There had to be a better explanation to the missing rain than an alien spaceship.

An hour later, she didn’t know whether to feel disappointed or relieved. She hadn’t found anything she hadn’t already heard before. She shut down the computer and got ready to leave for church. Maybe she’d discover something over there.

The short walk got her to the church well before the service started. And it was a good IMG_20180707_143126043thing. She hadn’t realized how many people attended this church. It was packed! People stood in groups talking, at tables looking at the literature, at the counter near the kitchen getting coffee, and sitting on chairs that were arranged around the room. Many more people were walking in every direction. The ones with children seemed to all head for the door in the middle – the one that opened into a hallway with more doors along each side. Classrooms? The largest group of people streamed towards Pastor Toby’s living room door, which was being held open by a smiling man who greeted each person as they passed. No way could that many people fit in the living room. Were they all heading for the garden? She entered the stream and let it guide her, fully expecting to end up in the garden. But she was wrong.

When she entered the room, the first thing she noticed was that it was crowded just like she expected. Extra chairs had been put out and everyone in the room was either sitting in a chair or leaning against various pieces of furniture, door frames, or the wall. But what she didn’t expect was that no matter how many other people came into the room, it never got more crowded.

The second thing she noticed was that regardless of the number of people in th room, her chair – the chair she had chosen to sit when she had been there before – was empty. She watched as a steady line of people passed it on their way to find a place of their own. Why didn’t anyone sit in it? Didn’t they see i? Was there a sign on it that she couldn’t see? Was there something about this chair that no one was telling her?

“Please, sit down,” she heard a gentle voice behind her say. She turned and saw Jude motioning to the chair. “My dad is almost ready to start.”

“Why hasn’t anybody sat here yet?” she asked as she sat down.

“Because that’s your chair, your place. No one can take your place. They don’t need to since they each have their own places.” He pulled up a chair and sat down beside her. “You don’t know how glad I am that you came. I know it wasn’t easy.”

Bella looked at him warily. He didn’t look like an alien. She couldn’t detect any signs of shape shifting or anything that seemed to be off. He looked as human as she was. Maybe she was completely wrong about this. Maybe there’s a simple explanation about the rain. She really hadn’t stayed to ask questions. But she could ask now.

Just as she opened her mouth to ask, Pastor Toby entered the room with a loud greeting. Every eye went to him, including hers. She couldn’t have looked away if she wanted to. His presence filled the room like warm sunshine, a brightness that filled her with longing for more even as she drank it in. All questions fled her mind. She didn’t care if he was alien or not. All she knew was that at this moment, there was no other place on earth she’d rather be.

 

Links to previous parts of this story:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 1

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 2

Bella, part 1- Heart VS Brain

Bella, part 2 – Distractions

Bella, part 3 – Overcoming Detours

Bella, part 4 – Questions

Bella, part 5 – Yellow and Blue Theory

Bella, part 6 – A Little Rain Won’t Hurt

Bella, part 7 – Singing, Water, and Other Surprises

Bella, part 8 – It Can’t Be!

Bella, part 8 – It Can’t Be!

No way! Bella couldn’t believe it. She had come outside to prove to Pastor Toby how wrong he was about the weather, but she was the one who was proven wrong,  Not only was it not raining, the sky was a beautiful deep blue and the sun was shining warmly.

She looked back and forth between Pastor Toby and the garden. Had it stopped raining while she had waited in the living room?

“Just a minute,” she told the pastor. She went back inside, through the living room, out the door, across the foyer, and opened the church doors. Rain poured down, just as it had when she arrived earlier. The sidewalk and street were still flooded. Evidently the rain had not stopped even for a few minutes.

IMG_20180703_004939041 (2)

She closed the doors, confused. How could it be raining outside the front of the church but not the back? She made her way back through the foyer and house to where Pastor Toby, along with Jude, waited for her by the back door.

“OK,” she told them. “Is this a trick? It’s raining cats and dogs out front. Why isn’t it raining back here?”

“It never rains here,” Toby answered, shrugging.

“But how can that be? It’s like there’s some kind of magic dome over your backyard.”

“No, no magic here. Just life as it should be.”

“So what keeps the rain away?”  Wait. Could it be a force field? The only force fields she ever heard about were in the sci fi movies she watched. But her world hadn’t developed force fields this big yet, right? So then, if it really was a force field, it must be…

“Are you aliens?” she blurted out as she slowly backed away.

Jude broke into a deep laugh. “Well, it’s not how I would describe myself.”

Bella stared at him. It all made sense now! She was actually inside a space ship with holographic walls – like the holodeck on Star Trek – which explained why it looked much bigger on the inside than the outside. And these two beings – aliens – were data gathering or something. That’s why they were so interested in her. They were just doing their jobs.

All this also explained the fear she felt each time she was there. Her intuition was warning her that this was not real. Not normal. And most likely dangerous if these aliens decided to abduct her for additional research or something.

“I’ve got to go,” she said, still backing up. “Um, I just remembered something I had to do.”

“Wait,” Jude said. “It’s not what you’re thinking.”

What I’m thinking? Is he telepathic also? Bella turned and ran. She knew what happened to people who stayed around to talk with aliens. And she wasn’t going to let that happen to her.

 

Links to previous parts of this story:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 1

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 2

Bella, part 1- Heart VS Brain

Bella, part 2 – Distractions

Bella, part 3 – Overcoming Detours

Bella, part 4 – Questions

Bella, part 5 – Yellow and Blue Theory

Bella, part 6 – A Little Rain Won’t Hurt

Bella, part 7 – Singing, Water, and Other Surprises

Bella, part 7 –  Singing, Water, and Other Surprises

The tune was so sweet, yet seemed so powerful, like it was a living thing making its way deep inside her heart. What were the words? They  surely couldn’t be as powerful as that melody, could they?

She closed her eyes to better concentrate as she tried to make out the words in the song. She was listening so intently that she didn’t notice Jude return with her water. She jumped when he called her name.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” he said as he handed her the glass of water.

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“No, no. It’s not your fault. I’m sorry I wasn’t paying attention.”

“Oh, I thought you had dozed off or something,” he laughed. “What were you thinking about?”

“About that music.”

“Ah, yes, it’s pretty awesome. It seems to drift right down deep into your soul, doesn’t it?”

They both listened for a few minutes as the singing continued. Finally Bella asked, “Who is that?”

“A good friend. One I hope you’ll get to meet someday.”

“Why not today?”

“My dad and I have other plans for you right now. As soon as he gets here, he’ll tell you.”

Uh, oh. Plans for me? That sounds ominous, she thought. She looked at her water to mask her nervousness. Why does being there scare her so much? Especially since all she wants when she’s not there is to be there. Why does this have to be so strange? Maybe she should just leave before the pastor got in the room. She took a sip of the water as she thought of a graceful way to leave.

“Wow!” she gasped. “This is the best water I’ve ever tasted!”

“Thank you,” Jude answered. “Somehow I knew you’d like it.”

“What kind is it? Where can I get some more?”

“It’s from our well. So I guess that means the only place you can get it is here.” He smiled at her. “And there’s plenty so you can have as much as you want as often as you want it.”

She took another sip, She couldn’t believe how good she felt after drinking it. But then the doubts flooded in. Was it just a fluke? Maybe she had just been extra thirsty or something. Or maybe it was her nerves playing tricks on her. In any case, a second glass should show her that it was just ordinary water. She drained the glass, then holding it out to him, asked, “Can I have some more right now?”

“Sure thing!” Jude took the glass and left just as the pastor walked in.

“Hi Bella! Good to see you again!” Toby walked across the room towards Bella. “How are you doing?”

“I’m fine, thank you. How are you today?”

“Oh, I’m doing wonderfully well! Ready to take a walk? I know you had some questions the last time you were here that we never got to. We could go to the lake and talk about them if you want.”

Bella frowned up at him, puzzled. Walk? In the rain? She hadn’t brought any dry clothes with her. Surely he was kidding.

Ignoring her frown, he reached down to take her hand. “Let me help you up. Jude is going to meet us in the garden.”

Bella allowed him to pull her up and then followed him to the hallway. This had to be a joke. Jude would pop out of the kitchen and shout, “Got you!” any moment now.  And if, for some reason, this wasn’t a joke, and Pastor Toby really did want to take a walk in the rain, she would just refuse. She didn’t want to get wet, and the rain would end up being a distraction from the questions she wanted to ask.  They’d be able to focus better in the living room.

By the time they reached the back door, Jude had not popped out to surprise her. She stopped and said, “I don’t want to go outside. It’s raining and I don’t really want to get wet. Can’t we go back to the living room?”

“You won’t get wet,” he said as he opened the door and motioned her to go first.

“But it’s raining outside. And I know your garden doesn’t have a roof. I’ve been there, remember?”

“Trust me, you won’t get wet.”

She stared at him for a long moment, then, to prove him wrong, she stepped outside.

 

Links to previous parts of this story:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 1

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 2

Bella, part 1- Heart VS Brain

Bella, part 2 – Distractions

Bella, part 3 – Overcoming Detours

Bella, part 4 – Questions

Bella, part 5 – Yellow and Blue Theory

Bella, part 6 – A Little Rain Won’t Hurt

Like a Fading Tan

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She hadn’t noticed it as it faded little by little, but one day she realized her legs weren’t the glowing tan they had been just a few weeks ago. They even looked a bit yellowish. Yck. When did that happen?

True, her circumstances had changed the last few weeks, keeping her mostly inside instead of enjoying the outside as much as she usually did. But now circumstances were changing again and her thoughts returned to what she had once had – a beautiful, burn-free tan from her shorts hem to her toes. And she knew the only way to get it back was to get out in the sun again. Since she was no longer near the beach that she had frequently enjoyed, she had to consider her options.  Sit out back in a fenceless yard, open to the observation of the construction workers and neighbors around her or travel an hour to find a beach. Neither option was ideal. But then she discovered a wide walking path close enough that she could use. Now all she had to do was overcome her inertial and actually get outside and start walking. And hope the weather cooperated.

As she thought about it, she thought how much her relationship with God was like her tan. As long as she stayed in the Son, her relationship was deep and glowing. But as she got busy with other things, little by little she would lose that vibrancy without noticing until one day it would dawn on her that her relationship was not like it was. And then she would have to work to overcome her spiritual inertial as well as outside obstacles to get back into the Son.

Which left her wondering… why did she keep leaving in the first place?