To Be Able To Curl Up and Sleep Like a Dog

Perfect, she thought as she looked at the bear leg she had just finished making. She dropped it into the tub and picked up the next leg, already stitched and ready to stuff.

She had spent the previous day at her sewing machine stitching a seemingly unending pile of bear parts while her embroidery machine was kept busy stitching out names, dates, and short poems. By the time she had finished it was dark and she was stiff. At least that’s done, she had thought as she stretched her back muscles and headed to the kitchen for a quick dinner. She had imagined how good it would feel to climb into bed and go to sleep in the quiet, empty house.

But that didn’t happen. No matter how hard she tried, her mind wouldn’t stop thinking of all the things she still needed to do and her body couldn’t get comfortable. Finally, hours before dawn, she gave up and got out of bed. She carried the tub of bear parts and embroidered fabric to the comfortable rocking chair, turned on Netflix to continue her binge watching of Cheers, and began the tedious process of stuffing the bear parts, hemming the seams by hand, and clipping the embroidery threads.

Now it was getting close to noon and she was only half way through the bear parts. Sighing, she began stuffing the leg she was holding and let her gaze wander over to the dog laying so comfortably curled up on the nearby couch.

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And she began to feel envious. Why couldn’t she just curl up and sleep like that? Why was sleep so hard for her and so easy for this dog?

Maybe it’s because the dog isn’t worried about the future.

But I’m not worried, she thought. I just have so much to do and not so much time to do it in.

As she continued to stuff and stitch throughout the afternoon, she thought that if she could finish stuffing all the bear parts before dinner, she might have time to attach the arms and legs to the bears before bed. It will make for a late night, but maybe that would make it easier to sleep. Then tomorrow morning she’d get up early and begin working on the pillows. I’ve got to get them done by tomorrow night or I may not have time to work on them again for days, she thought.

See?

See what? She shook her head as she finished stuffing the last bear leg as the sun went down. She wasn’t worried. She was just trying to get it all planned. So much to do. And not just her sewing. She also had laundry, cleaning, and writing. How would she ever get it all done in the next two days?

See?

That question again. Why? She WASN’T worried. If she didn’t plan it out, she’d end up not finishing them in time. So her mind had to stay busy working out the details. That’s not worrying. Was it?

What was the dog doing earlier today?

She was curled up and relaxing.

Looked cozy, didn’t it?

Yes, I would love to just curl up and sleep like she does.

Why don’t you?

Because I have so much to do! And besides, it wouldn’t do me any good. I can’t sleep even when I try.

Why not?

Because my mind keeps thinking of all the things I have to do and my body won’t relax.

Sooo… you spend all day thinking of what you have to do, and you spend all night thinking of what you have to do?

Um… I guess so.

What would happen if you didn’t think so much?

I wouldn’t get done.

Really?

Um…

What are you getting done while you toss and turn all night?

Nothing?

That’s right. Nothing is getting done. So what if you just let Me handle all those thoughts at night? Then you could curl up and sleep just like the dog. And get the rest you need.

You?

Don’t you trust Me? Don’t you think I could do a good job planning your day? 

Yeah, but…

You trust Me with your life. You trust Me to keep you safe and to provide for you. Can you trust Me in this area also?

She thought about the dog again as she ate dinner. Should she let go of the plans she so tightly gripped and allow God to handle them for her? It really would be nice to be able to curl up and sleep so easily and comfortably. But how would it work – God making the plans?

I’ll tell you what to do and when to do it. All you need to do is relax and listen for My voice throughout the day. I’ll keep you on track to meet every deadline. Will you trust Me?

As she attached the arms and legs to the bears later that night, she thought about all the times she had put her trust in Him over the years. He had never let her down. In fact, things frequently turned out a lot better whenever she did give them to Him.

As she got ready for bed, she made her decision. Yes, Lord. I will trust You, I give you all the things I need to do and ask You to plan out my day tomorrow.

Wow, she thought. It’s amazing! It’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders! Now all I want to do is curl up and go to sleep!

And she did.

 

Isaiah 30:21

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

 

1 Peter 5:7 

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 

Faith is Believing God. Period.

She absently picked at a scab on her leg as she held one of her old journals and read a conversation about faith she had had with Jesus years ago.

“Jesus, this is still not too clear in my head,” her younger self had written.

What wasn’t too clear? As she was about to turn back a page or two in the journal, she stopped just in time. Her finger was covered in blood! Great, she thought as she put down her journal and picked up a nearby napkin to place over the blood oozing out from the freshly opened wound where she had removed the scab. Holding the napkin in place with one hand, she picked up the journal with the other hand and continued searching for what had not been clear.

Her younger self had been writing about faith and had referenced Hebrews 11:1-6.

She knew that Heb 11:1 started with, “Now faith is…” but couldn’t remember exactly what came next. Something about things not seen.  Feeling that it was important to know the rest, she picked up her phone and opened the Bible app. Suddenly, out of the blue, her nose began dripping.

“What now,” she thought as she removed the napkin from her leg and tore off a clean portion. She shifted uncomfortably on the couch as she blew her nose. Trying to see without her contacts, which she had not yet put in that morning, resulted in an awkward position as she had to hold both the journal and her phone close to her face. And her dog had decided to camp out on her legs restricting even more movement. She tossed the napkin into the small trash can she kept by the couch. Dabbing at her leg with the rest of the napkin revealed that the bleeding had stopped. Good. She threw the rest of the napkin into the trash can and picked up her phone, but before she could start reading, she noticed a growing pain in her left hip and on the left side of her neck. “Oh no,” she thought as she put the phone back down. “It’s like something doesn’t want me to read this.” She pushed the dog off her legs and completely re-positioned herself.

Once comfortable, she picked up the journal and reached for her phone. Again her nose began dripping. “Where is this coming from?” she wondered, exasperation creeping into her thoughts. “I don’t have a cold, no allergies, and I haven’t been crying. So what’s the deal?”

After blowing her nose again, she reached for a notebook and a pen to record Heb 11:1 – but somehow she managed to grab the wrong side of the pen and got ink on her hand. Staring at it in unbelief, she thought, “OK, this is getting crazy.” Determined now to read what she was being distracted from, she picked up her phone, found Heb 11, and began reading.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

She read the following verses about the creation of the world, Abel and Cain, and Enoch. Then she got to verse 6: “and without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

Was that what her younger self was confused about? Why? It seemed straightforward enough. She put her phone down and picked up the old journal.

“Jesus, this is still not too clear in my head. Please explain it more clearly.”

“Faith is knowing My Father knows best and that He’s in control. And that He can and will do what He says. Faith is not questioning but accepting…”

She thought about how God had been teaching her about believing Him for over a year. Really deep down with no reservations believing Him no matter how things look to her. It was easy to believe Him when everything was going well. But did she still believe Him when things looked as bad as they did now weeks after the category 4 hurricane had ripped through her town? Did she still believe He even existed when everywhere she looked she saw devastation and hurting people and needs that far exceeded her income?

Yes, she did believe. And she chose, moment by moment, to keep believing each time fear, worry, stress, or complaints tried to rise up in her. Although God understood these things, He was not pleased with them because they were evidence of a lack of faith. If she gave in to fear and worry, she would be saying that she didn’t really REALLY believe God was taking care of her. Maybe even that she had no confidence in His ability or desire to take care of her. And if she began to complain, she would be saying she wasn’t happy with His care and didn’t want to accept what He had chosen to allow in her life – like He wasn’t really in charge of everything after all. Instead, as she chose to believe God loved her, was in control of everything, and was taking care of her, she found peace replacing all those stressful emotions. Bottom line? Faith means believing God. And acting like it.

So THAT’s why all the distractions. Someone didn’t want her faith affirmed with a message that was as much for her today as it had been for her all those years ago. Today, when so much of her life seemed to be controlled by someone and something else, she knew He loved her enough to use an old journal to confirm to her that He IS in control and that He IS taking care of her like He had promised. Not only taking care of her basic needs, but also surprising her from time to time with amazing rewards – just because He said He would. Knowing this, she knew she no longer had to focus on her own needs but was free to seek ways to help other people with their needs.

Now that’s faith in action.

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Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

 

(NOTE: I did draw a picture to go with this blog, but weird stuff continues to happen that prevents me from getting it from my phone camera to here. Like how I’ve been able to transfer pictures from my phone to my computer using hot spot but can no longer do so as of yesterday when internet was restored on my computer. And yet when I try to use internet, it tells me there’s no connection. And how my phone can get on Facebook just fine, but tells me I have no internet access when I try to get on WordPress so I can’t add the drawing directly from my phone to my blog. But one day, hopefully soon, I WILL get this figured out and be able to add my own drawing!)

God, Why Don’t You Answer?

“There’s a disturbance down south,” they said.

No problem. There’re always disturbances in the tropics, she thought as she went about her normal, everyday activities.

“The disturbance is now a depression,” they said.

That’s fine, she thought. Depressions are nothing. And besides, it’ll probably go towards Texas like so many others. Not likely to come here to Panama City.

“The depression is now a storm named Michael, and will probably hit Northwest Florida as a possible category 1 hurricane. Not too likely, but it might happen,” they said.

Okaaaay, not really a threat, but something to watch, she thought as she took her daily walk around her neighborhood.

“The storm is intensifying. It will hit Northwest Florida as a category 1 hurricane in a few days. Start preparing now,” they said.

Hmmm, she thought. I guess I should pick up loose objects outside to keep them from blowing away. But still no big deal. We’ll probably only get a little bit of wind and some rain, like all those other hurricanes that have come this way.

“Michael is now category 1 with signs of strengthening. Everyone in Northwest Florida should be preparing now. Watch for updates and start making plans in case you need to evacuate,” they said.

Evacuate? No, not for a cat 1 storm. But what if it gets to cat 2 before it gets here? “Lord, should we leave?” she prayed but got no answer.

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“Michael is now category 2. Its pressure is dropping signifying that it might possibly strengthen to a category 3 before making landfall somewhere between Pensacola and Apalachicola.  Storm surge will be 4-6 feet. Find out your zone now and listen for mandatory evacuation orders,” they said.

This is getting serious, she thought. Maybe we should leave. “Lord,” she prayed again, “what should we do?” She thought she heard, “leave”, but she wasn’t sure so she asked God to tell her husband the same thing. Her husband, watching the latest update, said, “We’re going to stay. Our house is built to hurricane code. We’ll be fine.” OK, she thought. It wasn’t God.

“Michael is now category 3. There’s nothing out there to slow its growth. Storm surge is now forecasted to be 6-8 feet. Zones A, B, and C are under mandatory evacuation notice. Do not delay. This storm is dangerous. Get out now,” they said.

She quickly looked up her zone. Zone D, but so close to C that part of her backyard was actually in Zone C. Should they leave? Could their house flood? “No, it didn’t flood during the last cat 3 storm, it won’t flood now We’re fine,” her husband said. “God, should we leave?” she prayed again. Again she heard, “Leave” but this time a sense of panic accompanied it. That’s not God, she thought. God doesn’t panic. Besides, if that was really God, why wasn’t her husband getting the same message?

“Michael is approaching category 4. If you can evacuate, you should leave now. The storm surge can kill you. The winds will make catastrophic damage and might kill you,” they said.

“Are you leaving?” her daughter texted from two states away.

“No, we’re staying,” she texted back.

“ARE YOU CRAZY???”

“We’ll be fine. We’ll stay in the under-the-stairs closet when it gets bad. Our house is well built.”

“I’ll be a nervous wreck all day,” her daughter texted back. “Be safe!”

“Are you leaving?” her siblings wanted to know.

“No, we’re staying. We’re not in a flood zone and besides, who would take us in with our 3 small not-housebroken dogs, a larger senior dog who can’t get around well, a grown son with stitches in his leg and his large dog who eats smaller dogs.”

“We’ll take you in,” her brother immediately texted back.

She went to talk to her husband. “Should we leave?” They prayed together, but neither got an answer. Why isn’t God answering us? She couldn’t understand. “God why don’t You answer when we really need to hear from you?”

“We’ll stay,” her husband said. “We’ll be OK.”

She felt at peace about that decision. Peace is of God, she thought, so maybe that’s His answer. She was more relieved than apprehensive because she really didn’t want to leave. Also, once they left town, it might be days if not weeks before the roads were cleared and opened for them to be able to return.

She went to bed and fell asleep quickly but was jarred awake around 1 AM with the shrill alert sound on her phone. She got up and checked the forecast.

“It’s a strong category 4 and will probably be a 4 when it makes landfall. But there is a small chance it can increase to a 5 by landfall,” they said.

Ok, she thought. We might weather a 3 or even a weak 4. But a strong 4/5?? But we decided God said it was OK to stay. Did we get that wrong? Or was that just us because we want to stay?

“I’m leaving,” her son told them as he packed his electronics and dog. “Let me know what you decide.”

Her son leaving? He never panics! And he was so sure just a few hours earlier that staying home would be safer than being on the road with all those other evacuees. Should we go, she and her husband wondered. They prayed again together. Still no answer.

“God, I wish I could just hear your answer clearly. Only You know what will happen to our house.”

In spite of the peace they felt about staying, they decided to leave. They scurried around packing the most important things, not knowing if anything would be left when they returned. As she looked around her house, overwhelmed with the decision of what to take and what would be OK to lose, she ended up taking very little.

Tears streaming down her face, not wanting to leave, she drove north on the now empty road. Beside her were her smallest dog, some blankets and pillows, and her computer. Behind her was her husband with the other two small dogs and the larger senior dog, along with tubs and boxes of important papers, clothing, dog supplies, medicines, and other essential items. Before long the senior dog had a seizure, due to stress, they thought, and she was tempted to turn around. But she didn’t and several hours later they arrived at her brother’s house.

Several hours after that, Hurricane Michael slammed into her home town, with winds just two miles an hour under a Category 5 hurricane.

The following day, she read every Facebook post, watched every hurricane update, trying to get some news on the condition of her neighborhood, especially her home. Was it still standing? So many houses were not. The stress of not knowing was worse than finding out her house was gone, she thought. “God, is our house still standing?” she asked. Again, no answer. Why isn’t He talking to me, she wondered.

The day after that, someone posted a photo of the flood in her neighborhood. As she studied the photo, she stopped. What was that in the background?  She looked closer. It was her house! And it was still standing! Relief flooded her, replacing the stress that had just minutes before filled her. This photo was a gift from God, reminding her that God was always listening even when she couldn’t hear any answers.

Three days after the hurricane hit, she was able to return home. Her house was not only standing, but there was no severe damage and no flooding. If she had stayed, she’d have been fine. So maybe that peace was God’s answer all along, only we didn’t recognize it, she thought. Maybe by not answering, He was allowing us to make the choice, knowing we’d be safe no matter which choice we made.

Dear Goofy Face, (from Someone Who Loves You series)

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Dear  Goofy Face,

Your goofy smile makes me wonder what you are thinking. Relief from the digestive distress you so frequently have to deal with? Warmth from the comfy clothing that covers your little hands? Satisfaction from getting your way as you are held again in a soft yet firm embrace? Oh, I know what people say. Those smiles are just gas passing through your system. But somehow I like to think there’s more to them than that. That you are finding that life can be good, too. It’s not all pain and stress and confinements as you wait to grow stronger. There are moments where you can just relax and enjoy where you are – safe in my arms.

Always,

Someone who loves you

 

Song of Songs 2:6    His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me.

1 Peter 5:10   And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

 

These letters have double meaning. On the surface they are letters I’m writing to my granddaughter. But they are also letters God is writing to you. Reread them, replacing the greeting with your own name, and the closure with God’s name – and get to know the great love God has for you!

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!”

Dear Sleepyhead,

Dear Sleepyhead,

You are so cute I can’t take my eyes from you as you sleep here in my arms. Hours go by as minutes – and still I don’t have my fill of you. I wonder what you are dreaming about, and if you feel the incredible love I have for you. Do you hear me as I whisper to you? Can you feel the strength of my arms keeping you safe as you sleep? Somewhere inside you, I think you do. For when you grow restless in your sleep, all it takes is a few pats to settle you back into the deep, restful sleep you need. And knowing you trust me to watch over you fills my heart to overflowing. I treasure each and every moment I get to spend with you.

Always,

Someone who loves you

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.

These letters have double meaning. On the surface they are letters I’m writing to my new granddaughter. But deeper down I hear God telling us the same things.  As you reread them, replace the greeting with your own name, and the closure with God’s name – and get to know the great love God has for you!

Run Over By Life

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“Wow,” she thought as she bent down to pick up the shiny penny. “This penny is so damaged. I wonder how many times it has been driven over.”

She looked at the scratches that covered it and thought how much she felt like that penny sometimes. So many times life seems to run over her – her plans, her finances, her relationships, her health – leaving her feeling a little more rough and scratched each time.

“But, just as valuable as before,” whispered a small voice in her heart. “Nothing life does to you can diminish the value you have in My eyes.”

A gentle feeling of peace filled her as she put the penny in her pocket. Her Savior loved her. And that’s all that mattered.

Three Day Quote Challenge, Day 2

Here is my second quote:

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It seems there’s drama everywhere I look. Lots of emotional people expressing their opinions and disagreements. And it’s soooo easy to be drawn into it. However, as Christians, I believe we should be influencing others, not being influenced. After all, Christ lives in us and we should be allowing His peace as well as light to shine through us. If we get pulled into other people’s storms, our light is diminished just as storm clouds diminish the light from the sun. And our peace is destroyed just as the winds destroy the peace of calm sunny days.  We have the peace of Jesus in us  but only by staying out of the storms will be able to share it with those who come seeking refuge.

In the same vein, I also like the visual from the following quote. Repeating it usually helps me stay out of other people’s drama:

Not my circus. Not my monkeys.  (or zoo or jungle).

I’ve heard it from several places and I don’t know who to give credit to for it. If you know, kindly tell me so I can add it to this blog.

Thank you again Sue Love at Run With It for nominating me for this Three Day Quote Challenge.

Now I would like to nominate God’s Warrior at Taking Up My Cross for the 3 Day Quote Challenge because he has a wide range of interests and is completely bible based. I can’t wait to see which quotes he decides to share!

Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

For 3 days, provide a quote each day and why you like or chose that quote.

Nominate one or more bloggers each of the three days for the Challenge and then send them a comment letting them know they have been nominated.

(When you receive a nomination, if you’re too busy, you can do it later if need be.)

Bella, part 4 – Questions

They sat on the pier like they had done the last time. At first they were silent, drinking in the beauty that surrounded them.  The reflection of the sun danced on the blue water of the lake. Birds sang to each other, and a cool soft breeze wafted past them from time to time.

Eventually she became aware of the silence between them. She wondered if he was waiting for her to speak first. Maybe he was getting bored, but sneaking a glimpse of him out of the corner of her eye, she saw that he was looking around and seemed to be enjoying the peace as much as she was. She also saw something else in his face. Something like…  satisfaction? As if he was responsible for the beauty himself? No, that couldn’t be right. She must be seeing things. Nobody could create a place like this. Discover it? Yes. Nurture and care for it? Yes. But create it? No. A sly thought sneaked its way into her mind: maybe he thinks he’s God.

As if reading her thoughts, he said quietly, “God’s creation is amazing, wouldn’t you say?’

She sighed with relief. At least he’s not claiming to be God. That would be weird. Maybe even dangerous. She’d heard too many stories of the evil done by men with a god-complex. And she had no intention of becoming a victim of a cult – enslaved and intimidated into obedience.

“Something wrong?” he asked, looking at her with a twinkle in his eyes.

“Um, no. Why do you ask?”

“You sighed.”

“Oh, that.” She didn’t want to reveal her stupid suspicion so she tried to change the subject. “I love it here,” she said. “It’s heaven!”

“No, but close,” he chuckled. “Did you say you had some questions?”

“Yes, I do. Lots of them, actually.”

He laughed. “Most people do when they discover this place.”

“What exactly is this place?”

“Well, for me, it’s home. This is where my father and I live.”

“But, it doesn’t make sense. How can this place be here? We’re in a city. There’s not enough room in anyone’s yard to have all of this in it.”

“That’s true for houses and apartment buildings that were built after the city got big. But this place.” he motioned around him with his arm, “was here before the city grew. You could say the city grew around us.”

“That makes sense. But what still doesn’t make sense is how your home is so much bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside.”

“It’s kind of like an illusion. You know, tricks that fool the eyes. Illusions show that you can’t always believe your eyes.”

She nodded. She still didn’t understand the physics involved but she wanted more time to think about it before asking further questions.

“So, if this house, this land, was here before the city grew, then you must have grown up here.”

“It seems I’ve always been here, that’s true.

“And was your dad born here too?”

“No, he wasn’t.”

“When did he get here, then?’

“He’s been here so long, you could say he’s been here forever!” he laughed.

This is getting me nowhere, she thought. She changed the subject.

“Your dad is a pastor. That means he must know a lot about God. And you, being his son, must know a lot about God, too. Right?

“You could say that.”

“Does God really exist or is He just something someone dreamed up to comfort people?”

“Oh, God’s real, all right. No doubt about that.” IMG_20180520_222010004

“Well, if God is real, why do so many people act like He’s not?”

“Many people don’t know that He exists.”

“I mean, people who go to church. People who say they are Christians. Why do they act like God is not real?”

 

“That’s a good questions, I…”

“How’s it going out here?” called a voice as footsteps vibrated on the pier.

Jude and Bella both turned to see Pastor Toby waving as he walked towards them.

“Wonderful,” she answered.

“We’ve been enjoying the peace of this place,” Jude said. “And Bella has some pretty deep questions.”

“Awesome! I love answering questions. But first we have a date with a fresh hot-out-of-the-oven peach cobbler! And if you know anything about peach cobbler, it’s best eaten warm!”

“Mmm… sounds delicious!” Jude said as he stood up. He held out his hand to help Bella stand. “My mouth is already watering!”

Bella tried to hide her disappointment. As good as the cobbler sounded, she would have preferred to hear Jude’s answer to her question. But she didn’t want to hurt Pastor Toby’s feelings, so she smiled and headed back to the church with them. Maybe after eating some of the cobbler, they could get back to her question. She hadn’t realized until she asked it how much she needed to have her question answered. All she knew was that the growing pressure of not knowing was driving her nuts.

 

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

 

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really Part 2

She turned around slowly and two men with warm smiles on their faces. The older man was tall, average weight, and thinning gray hair. The other man was younger with dark hair and eyes.

“Umm..” she started to stammer not having any idea how to explain her presence.

“Can we help you?” asked the younger man.

Shaking her head, she looked past them to the door. Seeing her look, the older man chuckled.  “No need to worry, We won’t hurt you.” He walked over to her with his hand outstretched. “Hi. I’m the Pastor here. You can call me Toby. This here is my son, Jude. We’re actually glad you’re here.”

“Um… sorry for intruding. I just needed a place to hide.”

“You won’t find a safer place. Would you like to take a walk with us? We were just heading out to the lake.”

Lake? Here, in the city? Confused, she followed them down the hallway. They passed  several closed doors before Toby opened the one at the end of the hall.

“No way!” she thought as she saw what was on the other side of that door.

It opened into a large garden full of colorful blooming flowers, luscious green grass, and mighty fruit-bearing trees of every kind. A dirt path wound its way through the garden exiting at the far end. And in the distance, she could see the blue glint of water. Where in the world was she?

Toby and Jude chatted as they walked, trying to draw her in by asking her questions. They asked about her job and family as well as her concerns, cares, and dreams. Not wanting to reveal the sadness inside her – being a preacher and preacher’s son, they would be sure to try to “fix” her – she covered her feelings by answering flippantly. They didn’t seem to notice her tone, and were intensely interested in everything she said and even seem to care about everything that concerned her.

They arrived at the lake and climbed out onto a pier that jutted out over the water. IMG_20180504_145142154Sitting down, they were all quiet as they drank in the peaceful beauty of the place. Bella began relaxing as the peace soaked into her wounded soul. She had never experience as much love and acceptance from anyone as she was feeling from Toby and Jude.

After a long while, Toby turned to Bella and said, “Why don’t you tell me all about it. Just start at the beginning.”

Still covering her feelings, she continued to be flippant. “What beginning? When I was born beginning?”

Toby looked at Bella for a long minute, then said quietly, “Start at Disneyworld.”

Bella paled. Trembling, she asked, “How did you know about Disneyworld?”

“It’s my job, my gift.”

“My sisters were molested in Disneyworld. I might have been too because I was there. I can’t remember. All I know is something isn’t right inside me.”

She tried to listen to Toby as he began talking but her feelings were overwhelming her and she couldn’t hear anything but fear and doubt and condemnation. Eventually Toby’s words began to get through to her as he spoke louder and louder. When they were loud enough to drown out all her thoughts, she caught his eye and said, “OK, I can hear you. You’re preaching!”

He smiled and said, “Yes, I tend to do that.”

“I think we should leave now,” she said, wanting to avoid any more discussion.

“Sure, if you want to.” They stood up.

“I’m glad I chose to hide in your church,” she said as they walked back towards the church. “This is a good place.”

“I’m glad you accepted my invitation,” he answered. “You’re welcome to stay as long as you like.”

“Thanks, but I’m fine. I need to go.” As much as she loved being there, she was also uncomfortable. If he knew about Disneyworld, how much more did he know?

“As you will. But just know that you’re welcome back anytime. We’ll always be  here.”

They escorted her through the house and back into the foyer. Reluctantly she waved goodbye and went out the front door. She didn’t know why she was drawn to this place that both refreshed and terrified her. But she knew one day she’d be back.  And when she did, she knew Toby and Jude would be waiting for her with open arms.

 

This story, based on a dream I had years ago, is designed as an allegory. Here are a few analogies you can find in it.

The sidewalk was crowded with people – most going about their business, some feeling lost, and a few trying to connect with other people. Life is crowded with people also. Most are going about their business, not really paying attention to those around them. Some people feel lost in this world. And a few people try to connect with others to share God’s love.

Bella was surrounded by people and ended up getting hurt but chose to be in denial about how serious it was. We live in a world surrounded by people and will eventually get hurt. Many of us also tend to live in denial of the pain we have rather than allow someone else close enough to help us. At least I know I do.

The church was bigger on the inside than it looked on the outside, and contained a beautiful garden and lake. The spiritual world, heaven, is much bigger and more beautiful than it appears to those on the outside.

Bella found refuge in the home of Toby and Jude. We find refuge in God the Father and Jesus the Son.

Toby and Jude were intensely interested in everything Bella said, and cared about all her concerns.  God is intensely interested in us and cares about everything we care about.

Toby knew about the pain Bella felt deep in her soul, regardless of how flippant she tried to sound. God knows the pain deep inside us no matter what we do to try to cover it.

Even though Toby and Jude wanted Bella to stay, she was free to come and go as she pleased. We have the same freedom in God. He desires us to stay with Him all the time, but won’t force us.

 

Now your turn. Does this story relate to your life in any way? What are some other analogies you can see?