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

Climbing the Mountain like a Turtle

She opened the front door and stepped outside. The bright sun caused her to squint as she closed the door behind her. It was hot – too hot to be outside. Good thing she was heading to her car instead of starting her dreaded daily walk around the neighborhood. She had only taken a step or two when something small caught her eye. A box turtle? What was a box turtle doing on her front patio? And this one appeared to be a baby! She stopped to watch it as she contemplated whether she needed to rescue it or not. Where would be a good place to relocate it? As she watched, it began to move quickly towards a nearby bush.

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The turtle, tired of the hot, rough sidewalk, hurried towards some shade she had glimpsed from across the patio.

I’m like this turtle, she thought. Sometimes my life is as uncomfortable as this hot, rough sidewalk, and all I want to do is cross over it to get to somewhere more comfortable.

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What’s this? She wasn’t expecting such a high barrier of large rocks. They hadn’t looked this big from the other side of the patio. Would she really have to climb these rocks?

Yep, she thought. Always something to block me from what I want. And it’s usually just as daunting as these rocks appear to this turtle.

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If she wanted to reach the shade, yes, she would have to climb these rocks. Resigned, she began climbing.

She thought of the mountains in her life. If she wanted a better marriage, if she wanted a healthier weight, if she wanted a cleaner house, if she wanted a closer relationship with her God, she would have to climb mountains to get to them. Mountains as high and hard and difficult as what the turtle was facing. Did she have the same determination as the turtle to start climbing?

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At first it was kind of easy. “This is not so bad,” she thought. But before long, she felt her balance shifting.

Isn’t that the truth, she thought. Mountains are always so deceiving. They start off easy, but soon, too soon, they have a way of throwing you off balance. Mountains are never that easy.

 

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Oh no! The weight of her shell was pulling her backwards. She was going to fall! In an attempt to stop the backwards momentum, she stretched out all she had, including her neck.

She thought of rock climbers. They never got off balance. Did they? Why not? So what made this turtle get off balance? It was the weight of what it carried on its back. That’s it! It’s the weight of my baggage that makes climbing mountains so hard, she thought excitedly. If I got rid of the baggage – stuff I drag with me from my past, stuff I refuse to let go of because I think I need it – I wouldn’t be losing my balance all the time. And whatever I left behind, God could replace. Right? But… she thought about the turtle shell. The turtle couldn’t just leave its shell behind, could it? The shell was too much a part of it. Just like there were some things she was incapable of leaving behind herself. She watched closely to see how the turtle was going to handle this problem, sensing it would also be an answer for her.

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It worked! She was no longer falling backwards, but she was also not moving forwards. She stretched out her neck even more, giving it everything she had.

Ahh, she thought. The turtle, although it couldn’t take off its shell, did have something with which to counter the balance problem. Its neck! It stuck out its neck! It let itself be vulnerable in order to try to save itself. Isn’t that what Jesus wants us to do – become vulnerable? To open our hearts to Him? To stick out necks, so to speak, in faith, towards others? To love others even when they don’t love us back? To give to those who ask even if it hurts?  But, she wondered, was it going to work?

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Yea! Her shell slowly righted itself and she was back on her feet. Should she go back? This climb was dangerous. She couldn’t have fallen off and landed on her back, not able to move. Besides, all she could see was the rock wall she was climbing. She couldn’t see over the top of those rocks. Was there really shade up there? Or had she just imagined it?

Relief and amazement flooded through her. The turtle was OK. It didn’t fall. It was safe. Or was it? Why wasn’t it moving? Did it change its mind? That’s what she usually did when the way got hard. Insecurities, questions, doubts, and fears all seemed to stop her from getting to the top each time. And each time she was stopped, she returned to the bottom where it was easier. Would the turtle do the same?

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She decided to trust her vision. The possible shade was worth the work and danger of this climb. Deciding to keep her neck out for balance, she began climbing once again.

Nope, the turtle didn’t give up. It knew what it had seen and it wanted it more than it wanted the ease of the sidewalk. That’s what I need to do, she thought. God gives me visions of what’s up there. I need to trust Him and just keep climbing no matter how hard it gets.

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Finally she could see her goal ahead of her. Yes! The shade was real! Excited now, she began to move a little faster.

She was surprised at the envy she felt as the turtle entered the shade. There was shade available in her own life. Promises God had given her. All she had to do was climb the mountain to get there. So why was she envious of a turtle? Maybe because that turtle was more committed than she was?  Maybe because that turtle had more faith than she did? Or maybe because the turtle wanted it more than she did? She knew this turtle had given her a lot to think about.

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She had done it! Here was the promised shade, where she could rest and maybe even catch something to eat. Was the climb worth it? Oh yeah!

Goodbye, little turtle, she thought as she walked away. Thank you for teaching me something I needed to learn today. Maybe someday I’ll make it to the top of one of my mountains just like you did.

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

Bella woke earlier than normal the next morning, excited to find out more about that church and the two men who lived in it. But before she could get out of bed, a loud crash of thunder shook her room.

“Where did that come from?” she asked, startled. Had she been sleeping through this storm? Is that what woke her so early?

She usually loved thunderstorms, but this one only brought disappointment with it.  How was she supposed to walk to the church now? A little rain wouldn’t hurt, but lightning? No way could she walk outside with lightning flashing around her. She’d be walking in puddles holding her own personal lightning rod! Maybe this storm wouldn’t last long and she could still go later today. She picked up her cell phone from the small table by her bed and touched the weather icon. As she waited for the web page to come up, she imagined what it might be like to go to the church on a rainy day. They wouldn’t be able to go into the back yard so there would be no sitting on the pier soaking in the beauty. They’d have to stay inside. She frowned. Having to maintain a conversation in an ordinary environment might be awkward. Would they just sit and look at each other? She found carrying a conversation hard, even with all her questions, and Jude hadn’t been exactly the chatterbox the last time she was there. If Pastor Toby was there, it might be OK, though. He seemed comfortable with carrying any conversation.

She looked down at her phone. The weather forecast said the thunderstorm should be gone by mid-day but rain would hang around until the following day. Great. She wouldn’t be able to enjoy the garden or lake, and she’d have to chance an awkward afternoon. Or she could put off the visit for another week.

Shaking her head, she got up to get dressed. She HAD to go today. She didn’t think she IMG_20180608_110929626could make it through the following week if she didn’t.  Her mind was so full of questions that she could barely think of anything else. And her heart was tugging for her to return as soon as possible.  It was almost like she could feel their love for her filling her and drawing her to them. She would get ready now, and leave as soon as the storm was gone.

While waiting for the storm to move on, she kept herself busy doing the chores she tended to put off for when she had more time. Well, she had time now so she swept and mopped the floor, washed the baseboards in the bathroom and hallway, dusted – this time moving objects instead of just dusting around them, sorted and put away a couple piles of clean laundry, and cleaned the microwave.  By then, it was lunch time so she ate lunch while checking on the updated weather map. All the yellow and red of intense activity was gone. There was still a blanket of green covering her area, but that was just rain.  Without lightning, rain was safe enough. It was time to go!

She got her large umbrella and headed for the church. The rain was not hard, and there was no wind, so the walk was actually pleasant. The best part was the empty sidewalk. No one else was crazy enough to be out walking in the rain. Or dodging the splashes made by passing cars, she thought, as she jumped just out of reach of another splash.

When she got to the church, she shook out her umbrella and stood it just inside the door to drain. Then she walked across the foyer straight to Pastor Toby’s living room door. The door opened just as she was about to knock on it.

“Bella!” Jude said, his face breaking into a smile so big it lit up his whole face. “I’m so glad you came! Come on in!”

He held the door open as she came in. She looked around tentatively, not sure where to go.

“Have a seat,” Jude said. “I’ll go get dad.”

Bella looked around and chose the big green comfy armchair that was near the door. That way, if things got too awkward, or she felt the need to escape, she’d be right there by the door. She still didn’t know how much she could trust this man or his father.

While she waited, she looked around the room. The wall behind her held several paintings of a garden and a lake. To her left was  a reading nook with several bookshelves filled with an amazing assortment of books, including one extremely large book that almost filled a shelf all by itself, and an armchair with a small table and lamp. The wall on her right had an incredible fire place and several chairs facing it.  Across the room, next to the door that led to the rest of the house, was a desk with a computer. And in the center of the room was a large couch and matching love seat with a coffee table between them.  Everything in the room spoke of comfort and there was such a feeling of peace that she found herself relaxing.

After a few minutes, Jude returned.

“Dad will be right here. He’s finishing something in the kitchen. Do you want anything? Something to eat or drink?”

“No thanks, I just had lunch.” Then she added as she realized she was thirsty, “but some water would be nice.”

“Water coming right up!” Jude left again, turning left in the hall, towards the kitchen.  Bella sighed. At this rate, she wouldn’t have to worry about who carried the conversation. She almost got up to follow him into the kitchen but a sound stopped her. Singing. Someone was singing and it wasn’t coming from the kitchen. It was coming from the other side of the hallway, where she imagined the bedrooms would be. And it didn’t sound like either Pastor Toby or Jude. Was someone else here?

 

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 3 – Overcoming Detours

As she slept, she dreamed.

She was in her car trying to get somewhere. But there was road construction everywhere and she kept running into detours. No matter how long she drove, she never got any closer to her destination. Frustrated she had decided to ignore the next detour sign but woke up before she could do so.

The first thing she noticed were the shadows in her room. Oh no, she thought. How long did I sleep? She picked up her phone to check the time.  It was almost dinner time! Well, I guess the decision has been made for me. There’s no way I can go now.  It’s too late.  Not wanting to interrupt his dinner, she decided to visit Pastor Toby another day. But then she heard that tiny voice whisper “come” again to her heart.

Responding, she took a deep breath and summoned every bit of strength she had, and headed to the front door.

Where are you going?

She was going to go to the church. She needed to know the truth. And she wanted to be loved for a few more minutes, even if it was only by a stranger. She need to be with Pastor Toby and his son.

But what if they turn you away? No one likes visitors when they’re eating.

If they turn her away, she wouldn’t be any worse off than she was right now. And if they didn’t turn her away, she would finally know the truth.

Determined not to be side tracked again, she walked the few blocks to the church. At this hour, there weren’t as many people on the street. I guess they’re all eating dinner somewhere, she thought. She remembered the last time she walked down this sidewalk. She was still limping a little from her fall, but the redness in her leg gone.

 

Actually, she was surprised to realize, her leg had healed while she had been with the pastor.  Strange that she hadn’t noticed that until now.

She got to the church without incident this time and entered through the unlocked doors.IMG_20180514_142540261 She crossed the foyer and went straight to the doorway leading to the pastor’s living quarters and knocked on the door.

Before her hand could drop away from it, the door opened. Pastor Toby smiled warmly at her.

“Welcome back! We’ve been waiting for you!”

He opened the door wide and motioned for her to enter.  “I need to finish some preparations in the kitchen but you can walk on back to the garden. You’ll find my son there. I’ll join you as soon as I can.”

Nodding, she walked across the room and out the back door. Jude saw her as soon as she stepped outside and opened his arms wide to her.

“You’re here!” he exclaimed. “I’m so glad! I really enjoyed our last visit and was hoping you’d be back.”

“You did? I was afraid you were only being nice last time.”

“It’s more than that. You are valuable and special. We take great delight in you.”

She looked uncertainly at him. “Valuable? I’m nobody. Why would you take delight in someone like me?”

“Someday you’ll understand. Right now, let’s just take a walk. I know you’ve been studying hard and am tired. Let me refresh you.”

Smiling, she said, “Can we go to the lake? I have some more questions to ask.”

 

 

 

related links

Bella, part 1 – Heart VS Brain

Bella, part 2 – Distractions

(Bella’s first trip to the church can be found in I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 1 and I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 2)

Bella, part 2 – Distractions

Bella headed to her computer. Maybe I just need to learn a little more before deciding whether to go back to that church or not, she thought. She opened up the search bar. Instead of typing in ‘church that is bigger on the inside’, she typed in ‘Pastor Toby’.

“Whoa!” she said out loud. She would never have guessed there was so much information on that man.

She began scrolling down, stopping every now and then to check out a blog, website, book reference, or sermon that caught her attention. Just like for the church, opinions varied widely.

After a few hours, she gave up trying to find the truth on the internet. She would have to go to the church and find out for herself. She got up, stretched, then headed for her bedroom to change her clothes. Maybe if she dressed well enough, she would have a better chance of being accepted by Pastor Toby.

Maybe you should eat before you go.

As she passed the kitchen on her way to the front door, she was struck by how hungry she was.  What time was it? She checked the wall clock. Almost noon.  Ah… that’s why. It was lunchtime! She decided to eat something before leaving.

She fixed herself a sandwich and a glass of sweet tea and sat down in front of her computer to eat.  I’ll do another search while I eat, she thought. This time on the pastor’s son.

Why don’t you play Spider Solitaire?

She paused.  A search could take a long time. It wouldn’t take long to eat her sandwich. She should do something that could be finished in a few minutes. She clicked on the Spider Solitaire icon.

Sometime later, her empty plate set to the side and forgotten, she stared at the game in frustration. This should have been a simple game to win. Why was it taking so long? Maybe she should give up. Maybe she finally ran into a game that couldn’t be won.

That will end your winning streak. You’re up to 89 games. Do you want to have to start over?

No! She was determined to win it before shutting down her computer. This game was NOT going to break her winning streak!

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When she finally got to see the fireworks shooting off as she won the game, she sat back in satisfaction. It had been hard, but so worth it! 90 games! Picking up her plate and glass, she headed back to the kitchen. What was it she going to do before she had lunch? Oh, yeah, go to the church. She glanced at the stove clock. There’s still plenty of time. As she headed to the front door again, she wondered what Pastor Toby was doing. Was he outside in his garden? That’s where she’d be if she owned that church.

He might be getting ready for his next sermon and won’t be happy to be interrupted.

Maybe he was busy. Maybe she should call first. But she didn’t have the number. Should she go and take the chance that he wasn’t busy? Of course he’d be busy. He was a pastor. Aren’t they always busy? There was probably someone already there needing his counsel.

She hesitated at the door, not sure what to do.

Why don’t you take a nap and see how you feel when you wake up?

She yawned as she debated whether to go or not. This is too tiring, she thought. I need a nap. She turned and headed to her bedroom. “I’ll decide when I wake up.”

 

related links

Bella, part 1 – Heart VS Brain

(Bella’s first trip to the church can be found in I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 1 and I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 2)