Fear Buster

Remember Ghost Busters? “I ain’t afraid of no ghost!”

Well, I am. If a ghost appeared to me, I would most definitely be afraid. And that’s not the only thing I’m afraid of.

I’m afraid of being criticized.

I’m afraid of small talk.

I’m afraid of extensive dental work.

I’m afraid of hearing God wrong.

I’m afraid of my house never getting fixed.

I’m afraid of running out of money.

I’m afraid of taking chances.

I’m afraid of making wrong decisions.

I’m afraid of growing really old.

I’m afraid of making phone calls.

I’m afraid of alligators.

I’m afraid of disappointing God.

I’m afraid of confrontation.

I’m afraid of letting go of my fears.

I could go on – the list is endless.

But God’s list for overcoming fear is short. Very short. There’s only two things on His list.

Fear is not of God.

Perfect love casts out fear.

 

I didn’t used to understand that, because I didn’t understand love. Or God. But I’m learning.

He taught me how to use His list as a Fear Buster whenever a fear appeared.

This is how it works:

(name your fear) I’m afraid of making wrong decisions.

(remind yourself) Fear is not of God.

(personalize applicable scriptures) Romans 8:28  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good. Psalm 48:14 That this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever. God promises to guide me and to make all things work in my favor. I do not have to worry about which decision I make. Even if I make the wrong one, God will take care of me. He loves me, and is bigger than any mistake I make. He has promised to make everything, even my mistakes, work out in my favor.

(replace the fear with His love) Perfect love casts out fear.

Good-bye fear! I am no longer afraid because I’m trusting God’s Word, and not what I can see, reason, or imagine.

 

Now THAT’S the real, and amazing, Ghost Buster FEAR BUSTER!

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Bear Attack (short story based on a dream I had)

“There’s a bear coming!”

I barely looked up from my sketch pad to the man that was careening towards us.

“Yeah, right,” I muttered. “Like there’re any bears around here.”

“A bear?” came high squeaky voice.

“Shh.” I shook my head at the small girl next to me. “It’s okay. Which color should we paint the flowers?”

The man was almost on us. “Run! Hide!”

“Aw, quit trying to scare us. We know there are no bears anywhere around here.”

“It’s a bear, I tell you!”

“I doubt it. Maybe you saw a bush. It is a bit windy today.” I studied my drawing.

“Believe what you want. I know what I saw.” He reached out and grabbed me.

“Ow, let go! You’re going to pull my arm right off!”

“Better your arm than your head if you’re still here when the bear gets here. And think of your little girl!”

The man’s eyes were wide open with eyebrows almost reaching his hairline, and his face was as white as the pages in my sketch pad.  Um… even if he didn’t see a bear, he definitely saw something. But grabbing me?

“Let go!”

“Suit yourself! Hide or don’t hide. Your choice,” he called over his shoulder as he ran towards the trees on the opposite side of the clearing from where he entered.

I looked around the campsite. A few tents scattered here and there, hiking gear set out on picnic tables, and a gazebo. If I wanted to hide from a bear, where would I go? I couldn’t just run into the woods after that man. My daughter wouldn’t be able to keep up, and I couldn’t carry her very far. The trees wouldn’t be any better. Even if I could get my daughter up one, bears can climb, too. The tents offered no protection should the bear follow its nose instead of its eyes. The only thing left was the gazebo – a wooden structure with three steps leading up…wait!

“Come on! I know where we can hide!”

I grabbed my daughter and ran to the gazebo. Yes, just what I hoped for!

“Quick, in there.” I pushed my daughter into the opening of the crawl space under the gazebo. Trying to hurry her, I backed in so I could watch for whatever the man had seen. And then I saw it.

Not only was it a bear, it was a very large grizzly bear. It was carrying a rifle and coming straight towards me. Dang, that bear moved fast! I grabbed a long branch that was lying nearby and held it out as if it were a spear. It wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing.

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As I waited, I had time for two thoughts. Would the gazebo have really offered safety? Couldn’t the bear just reach right through the holes in the boards? And where did it get the rifle? Maybe from a ranger?

Just as the bear reached me, it slowly toppled until it lay still on the ground. Dead.

What? How?

Then the pieces came together – that bear must have taken the rifle from the ranger it attacked, but not before the ranger got a few rounds into the bear. The bear was so big; it took a while for the rest of the body to know it was dead.

Isn’t that just like our problems? We see disaster coming. Fear rises up in us and we run or hide without realizing that our Father has already shot the beast. Even if that beast continues towards us, it will topple over before it reaches us. We are safe.

Bella – part 15 Surrounded

Bella looked around fearfully as she fled home. Her mind was racing as fast as her legs. If Pastor Toby was an alien… wait. Forget the if. Pastor Toby IS an alien, she corrected herself. So does that mean there are other aliens here too? And what about Pastor Toby’s enemy?

As she ran, she looked at the other people on the sidewalks.

She saw a couple walking past, holding each other’s hands and talking quietly together.

They’re aliens. They’re talking about you. The thought almost made her stop. Why would they be talking about her? Probably because she escaped from Andy. He must have contacted his leader, and now everyone is going to be looking for her. She began to run faster.IMG_20180926_031313388

She passed a man reading a newspaper at a bus stop.

He’s an alien too. He’s just pretending to read that paper. He’s actually watching you. She couldn’t resist turning her head to see if he really was watching her. Nope, he hadn’t moved. He hadn’t even shifted his head. Where were these thoughts coming from?

She ran by a man who was looking at his watch. Was his watch really a communicator. Was he reporting on her location?

She saw a lady pushing a stroller. Were there baby aliens too?

She looked at a girl walking a small dog and whistling. Whoa! Bella had a new thought. Was the DOG an alien? What if aliens not only took on human form, but also the forms of animals? Maybe even insects?

Was she surrounded by aliens? She felt eyes watching her from every direction.

Bella tucked her head down and hurried faster. She had to get off the street. She had to get to the safety of her apartment where there was no one but her. She couldn’t trust anyone or anything anymore.

Finally she made it to her apartment, closed and locked the door, ran to her bed, climbed in, and pulled the covers over her head. If she lay real still, maybe they wouldn’t find her. Trembling and breathing hard, she tried to listen for any sounds of pursuit. Now that she knew they existed, were they going to come for her? Surely they wouldn’t just let her go free. What if she revealed their secret? What if she talked to a newspaper or TV reporter? Then a depressing thought slowly filled her mind. They didn’t need to pursue her. She was not a threat. Who would believe her? If she tried to tell anyone of their existence, they would just think she was crazy. She would probably end up in a mental institution. At the very least she would be laughed at and ridiculed.

Bella lay in her bed, no longer fearing an invasion, but too distraught to get up. How could she go back to everyday life? It was like she had been going through life with her eyes closed, and now they were opened to a whole other reality. No matter where she went – work, shopping, the gym – she would be wondering how many of the people around her were aliens.

 

Bella stories:

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

Bella part 6   9  10  11 12  13   14

The Crab

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw something move. Which was strange because everything around her was moving. The water. The seaweed. The small broken shells. So why did this movement catch her attention?

Standing in the ankle deep water, she looked up from her search and saw a large dead fish moving towards her. So, that’s why, she thought. It was moving in a different direction than everything else. Instead of moving towards the beach, this fish was moving parallel to the beach.  But how was that possible? The rotting tissue covering the fish made it very obvious that it was dead. Then she saw the small crab pulling it through the water.

Wow, she thought in amazement. That fish must be ten times the size of that crab! And even though moving things through water is easier than on land, moving something that big is still a feat.

Then the crab saw her.

It let go of the fish and made a bee line towards her. She didn’t know crabs could move that fast! She wasn’t normally scared of crabs, and usually just ignored the ones on the beach. But this one seemed intent on reaching her. The thought of it grabbing her on to her toes was enough to send her flying out of the water and well past the breaking waves.

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Once she was safe, she turned around to watch it as it watched her. Satisfied that she was no longer a threat, the crab left. And when she was satisfied the crab was gone, she returned to the water and her search.

But she couldn’t stop thinking about what had just happened.

Why had she run from that crab? She was much bigger than it was. She was much stronger than it was. She was much smarter than it was. Yet, she had had no other thought in her mind at that time than to get away from it.

And from the crab’s perspective, it hadn’t cared how big, strong, or smart she was. It didn’t want her there and took action to make her leave.

That’s kinda backwards, she thought. The crab should have been intimidated by her size and changed directions to avoid her. Or, at least if it was dumb enough to chase her, she should have just used her net to catch the crab before it got to her. Either way, she should not have been moved.

Just like the giants in my life, she thought. Problems come towards me and I run away. But I have Jesus inside me. He’s much bigger than any problem. He’s much stronger than any problem. He’s much smarter than any problem. I don’t need to run. Maybe I just need to remember to use the net of His Word to catch any problems that try to scare me.

As she prepared to leave the beach, she had a completely different thought. What if she was the crab?

Even though that crab should have been intimidated by her size, it wasn’t. It knew what it was and was ready to use all it had to defend what was his. If she knew who she was and was ready to use everything Jesus provides, could she be as brave as that crab? Could she go on the offensive towards threats in her life?

Not yet, she realized as she looked honestly at herself. But one day, as God continues His work in me, I will!

Dear Fearful (Someone Who Loves You series)

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Dear Fearful,

Do you feel abandoned? Are you afraid to look only to find yourself alone and helpless? Fear not, little one. I will never abandon you. You have only to call and I will be right there to take care of whatever need you have. Open your eyes and you’ll see me smiling down at you ready to pick you up in my arms and hold you close. Rest easy, my child, I am always with you.

Always,

Someone who loves you

 

Deuteronomy 31:8   The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

 

Do you hear God speaking to you in these letters? If so, it’s no coincidence.  As I write to my new granddaughter, I can hear God speaking to me. And my prayer is that you can also hear Him speaking to you for He loves us even more than I love my granddaughter.

Life in a Swimming Pool

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The pool was filling up. Maybe she should leave now, before it got too crowded.  But not really wanting to leave the cool water, she decided to watch the people around her instead. Everyone was enjoying the water in different ways.

“Marco.” The voice caught her attention and she looked to her left and saw a young girl standing in water up to her chin, eyes closed, calling out, “Marco” every few seconds. Each time she called, several other children moving around her called back, “Polo.”  As she heard their responses, she would turn in their direction and, without opening her eyes, reach out to try to tag one of them. But she never moved from where she was. It reminded her of something she had read in Proverbs. “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.” That’s so much like us, she thought. There is wisdom all around us, and if we call out, we can hear it. But we won’t ever find it if we just stay put in one place and make half-hearted attempts to touch it.

Laughter caught her attention. She turned to look and saw some mothers and daughters playing keep away. They were laughing as they tossed a water ball back and forth, no one having very good aim, and teams changing places in the middle frequently.

“Keep away,” she muttered. “I hate that game. Either the players on the ends are too good at tossing the ball high over the middle person’s head, or no one really cares about the game and end up half-heartedly tossing the ball. There’s no good challenge either way.”

So why are they laughing?

She had to think about that for awhile. Maybe the kids are laughing because they’re so little and don’t really know anything about the game. They just enjoy being in the water and throwing a ball around. And maybe the moms are laughing because their daughters are laughing. Is that how God sees us? He takes delight in watching us enjoy His creation?

She watched another group play a game she wasn’t familiar with. Evidently, one person is a shark and calls out “Swim”, then tries to catch the other people (minnows) as they swim from one side of the pool to the other. Most of the time, the minnows would just start swimming as fast as they could hoping to out swim the shark but the shark was able to catch whichever minnow it was after. However there was one minnow who stood out. She would watch the shark intently , wait for the shark to go after a minnow, then move quietly in a different direction, staying as far away from the shark as she could. If the shark happened to see her, she would sink into the water, causing the shark to have more difficulty seeing her. Underwater, she could swim faster and when she emerged, she’d be ten feet away. Time and time again she got away from the shark using this strategy.

Now, that’s a whole like us and temptation, she thought. Most of the time when temptation arises, we either fall easy prey to it, or we try to use out own power to avoid it. It might work now and then, but eventually that shark is going to get us. We should be more like that wise girl. Stay as far away as we can, and, when that doesn’t work, dive deep into Jesus, allowing Him to cover us as we make our escape.

A loud cry from the other side of the pool brought her attention to a man holding a very little girl, trying to talk her into letting him toss her up and catching her. She cried each time he mentioned it. The mom called from the side to quit talking about it and just do it. So he did and the little girl laughed. He repeated it several times, delighting in her laughter. Then he tried to talk her into going underwater with him so he could toss her higher. She refused and began crying again.

So much like us and God, she thought. It’s probably why He won’t tell us all His plans for us. We’d be as terrified as that little girl and refuse every invitation He gives us. Yet, He knows how much we would enjoy it once we got past the fear.

She was intrigued watching a young girl chatting with her friend, totally ignoring a younger girl who kept hitting her with a water ball. How could she do that? She knew if anyone kept hitting her with something, she’d get irritated and angry. But then she thought, isn’t that what Satan does? Constantly hitting us with something to mess with our peace and cause us to get irritated and angry? “God,” she prayed silently, “help me be able to ignore the arrows Satan throws at me as well as this little girl is ignoring the ball being slammed on her.”

There was a man floating in the midst of all this, eyes closed, ignoring everything around him as he relaxed.

Now that’s the right idea, she thought. To be able to rest on Jesus and ignore all the problems around us would be amazing!

She was dismayed to see another group of people enter the pool. OK, now it was just getting too crowded. Regretfully she climbed out of the pool and prepared to go home. As she did, she had one final thought: “This is like how one day I will climb out of the swimming pool of life and head to my heavenly home!” She smiled.  “Only I’ll do so with way more excitement than I feel right now!”

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.

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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

The Storm That Never Was

She watched the storm approach from the east. Dark clouds rushing towards her, getting darker by the minute. She could hear the thunder in the distance.

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“This is going to be a bad one,” she said to herself. “Better get inside and prepare.”

She was used to storms coming and going, but most weren’t this dark, or with thunder this loud. This storm was going to be intense, maybe even have dangerous winds and lightning. And if enough rain fell, the streets might even flood keeping her stranded at her house until the water level went down.

She ran around her house unplugging anything that didn’t need to be plugged in. She made sure she had good batteries in her flashlights. And she turned up the radio to mask the sound of the thunder for her dog who was terrified of storms.

Then she waited.

The dark clouds continued to move westward until they were above her. She turned on the lights in her house as the clouds caused everything to be darker than it should have been at that mid afternoon hour. She made her dog comfortable at her feet.

And she waited.

Hearing a few raindrops, she looked out the window. Yes, the rain was just beginning, although it was mostly just sprinkling.  She began imagining the rain falling harder until it fell in sheets, drenching everything, and flooding the yard. She imagined the wind blowing hard enough to knock over her old rotting fence. She should have taken care of that months ago. Now it was too late. Now her dog is probably going to get out of the yard before she could get it repaired. Or worse, something could get in and attack them. She had heard that there were coyotes in the neighborhood. She even imagined a tornado hiding in the storm clouds and coming down just as it got to her house, destroying everything and endangering her life.

Nervous now, she looked at her dog buried under at blanket at her feet and wished she could join him. How nice it would be to hide from this storm. To pretend it wasn’t coming. But that wasn’t possible. Even if she could hide, she’d know it was happening and not being able to see what was going on would be worse than not seeing.

So she looked out the window again and was surprised that the sprinkling had stopped. And where was the wind? There had been no wind. Yet, she reminded her herself. Surely it was still coming.

And she continued to wait.

After a while, she noticed the thunder was not as loud as it had been and that the sky was lightening. What happened to the storm? She walked outside and looked up at the sky. The dark clouds were now on the west side of her and receding into the distance. Light was breaking through the remaining clouds.

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She looked at her car. Just some drops of water. Not even enough to wash off the pollen.

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No drenching rain. No flood. No wind damage. The storm had looked way worse than it actually was. She hadn’t needed to fear after all.

She remembered Ps 23:4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.”

Well, she thought. This wasn’t a dark valley, but it did get pretty dark.  I think it’s safe to paraphrase this.  “Even though I wait as the darkest storm approaches, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.”

Then she had another amazing thought: Just like the storms in my life, many look worse as they approach than they actually turn out to be.  But not matter how scary they look, I need not fear for God is with me.

I Don’t Think I Will Do This Again

On her way out of town, she stopped for a breakfast sandwich at a popular fast food restaurant. There weren’t many cars ahead of her which was good because she was kind of in a hurry. Not a big hurry, but enough so that she couldn’t afford any long delays.

She gave her order and drove up. Two cars in front of her, three cars behind her. As she looked at the car right behind her, a thought flashed through her head. “You could pay for their order. It would be a surprise and a blessing for them.”

She had heard of people doing this but she had never done it before, nor had she ever been on the receiving end. I should do it, she thought.

But she soon had second thoughts as she wondered what the process would be. Would the cashier know what she wanted to do? Would she or he know how to do it? What would the people in the car behind her think? Would everyone think she was a fool? It seemed like such a dumb idea.

The line moved up and she began getting nervous. Her turn to pay would be next and she still hadn’t decided what to do. Fear began to rise in her as she wondered if she would even be able to vocalize what she wanted to do. All her life people seemed to have trouble understanding her and many times it was because she had trouble finding the right words to use. She never could figure out why something that came so easy for other people came so hard for her. Maybe she should just forget it.

Yet the thought had come to her. And that thought had never come to her before. What if it was God? She couldn’t just dismiss it. She had to obey it just in case.

The car ahead of her pulled ahead and she pulled up to the cashier’s window.

“$5.28,” the cashier said.

As she handed her debit card to the cashier, she blurted out, “I want to pay for the order of the car behind me, too.”

The cashier looked at the computer and said, “It’ll be $14.27. Still want to do it?”

Nodding, she thought how a year ago she would have choked on the amount. But the healing God had been doing in her throughout the last year, including her emotional attachment to her money, was evident as the amount today didn’t even cause her to raise her eyebrow.  What did raise her eyebrow was the cashier’s request to someone out of sight for a key. Then she walked a few feet away from the register and waited. After what felt like ten minutes but was probably closer to thirty seconds, the cashier came back to the window and explained that she needed a manager to enter a key in order to use the same card twice. A man walked over, presumably the manager, punched something into the machine, then walked away.

She looked behind her. This was delaying everyone. Now there were more than five cars IMG_20180522_215334342_HDRback there. If she had known this would cause a delay for the other people in line, she would never have done it. Feeling very self-conscience, she took her card as the cashier finally handed it to her and drove forward. Picking up her meal, she took one more glance behind her. By now the people in that car would know their meal had been paid for.  What were they thinking?

It doesn’t really matter, she told herself. I did what I thought God wanted me to do. That’s all that I need to be concerned about. But I don’t think I’m going to do this again.

That night, when she returned home, she told her husband of her experience as she opened the mail. He laughed and said he’d done it a few times, and even had been the recipient a time or two. Looking inside the envelope, she was surprised to see a check made out in her name from a medical office. The note said it was reimbursement for a payment she had made months before that insurance had later also paid. She couldn’t remember even making that payment. What surprised her even more was the amount on the check – $142, which was ten times what she had paid that morning for the other car’s order. She had heard of the tenfold law – ‘give and it will be given back to you tenfold’ – but also knew it was not found in the Bible. There was a thirtyfold, sixtyfold, even a hundredfold, but not tenfold. She puzzled over the amount until it dawned on her. God was making sure she connected the check to the meal she had paid for that morning. He knew the struggle she had gone through and yet had chosen to obey in spite of her doubts. This check was His way of saying, “Well, done!” Amazing!

Bella, part 1 –  Heart VS Brain

Bella paced in her small apartment. She wanted to go, but then, maybe she didn’t. What if that had been a onetime thing? What if they weren’t happy to see her again? Worse, what if it had all been her imagination?

She remembered the kindness in their eyes. Kindness and love. No one had ever looked at her that way before.  And her heart was crying out for another encounter with that love.

After leaving the church, she had gone straight home. She hadn’t wanted to talk to anyone until she had had time to process her experience. What was that place? Who were those men? How could such a thing even happen?

Not finding the answers inside herself, she began searching on line and reading everything she could find on churches that are bigger on the inside. She was amazed at how many references there were to that.  And how many opinions there were about it – from awe such as she had felt to passionate condemnation, and everything in between.

How was she ever going to find out the truth?

“I’m just going to have to go back,” she thought as she paced.

You don’t want to do that.

She stopped as a new thought entered her mind. The thought itself wasn’t too bad, it was the fear that accompanied it that made her pause. Maybe I don’t want to go back there. Maybe they won’t be the same. Maybe they won’t even let me in the door. After all, I had trespassed that day. They might be angry at me, now that they’ve had time to think about it.

And they’ll force you to talk about Disneyworld.

Fear continued to build in her as she thought of Pastor Toby’s question about Disneyworld. What if he tried to get her to talk about it again? What if he wouldn’t let her go until she did?

Shaking now she decided not to go back. Ever. Not knowing what would happen, she couldn’t take the chance that things wouldn’t turn out so good a second time.

That’s a smart decision. You are so wise.

Feeling self satisfaction creep in, replacing the fear, she tried to ignore the cry in her heart. Her heart had led her wrong at times. It was her brain, her intelligence, that she needed to rely on. And her brain was telling her the wise thing to do was to forget about the church.

But way down deep inside, she could hear another voice.  One calling to her heart as if responding to its cry.  “Come back,” was all it said. But it was enough.

Undecided, she stood in the middle of the room.  What should she do? Should she chance returning to the church? Or take the safe road and stay home?

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(Bella’s first visit to the church is found in I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, Part 1 and I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, Part 2 )