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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“About that music.”

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

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

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

“Why not today?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Trust me, you won’t get wet.”

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

 

Links to previous parts of this story:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 1

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 2

Bella, part 1- Heart VS Brain

Bella, part 2 – Distractions

Bella, part 3 – Overcoming Detours

Bella, part 4 – Questions

Bella, part 5 – Yellow and Blue Theory

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

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

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.

What If Statues Came Alive?

“Really?” She raised her eyebrows at him with disbelief. “You mean, for real?”

“Yeah, for real. Want to?” He smiled at her playfully.

“It’s storming outside!”

“No, it’s just raining now. The lightning is gone. It’ll be safe.”

“But it’s…” she looked at her watch, “two in the morning!”

“So?”

She didn’t answer.

“You afraid of the rain?”

“No. I love the rain.”

“So, let’s go!”

” But what if there’s someone else out there? Someone who might hurt us or rob us or something?”

“No one is going to be out there. It’s raining!”

“We’re going to be out there.”

“Yeah, but we’re crazy.”

Reluctantly she agreed. This was probably going to be one of the stupider ideas he’s had. Walking  down a street, in the middle of the night, in the rain?

But as they walked, hand in hand, hair and clothes plastered to their bodies, she had to admit it was fun. Way more fun than saying good bye to him and driving that long drive home.

Laughing with delight in the experience, they made their way to the end of the road, where they came to his church.

“Hey, let’s go inside,” he suggested.

“Won’t it be locked?”

“Nope. They never lock the door.”

“What if someone sees us? We’re a mess!”

“Who’s going to be there in the middle of the night? Besides us, that is.” He laughed again.

So she agree and they went inside.

“We should leave,” she said, looking at the floor. “We’re getting the floor all wet.”

“Don’t worry. It’ll evaporate.”

They walked down the center aisle and looked around at the stained glass and the large statues all around them.

“Just imagine if these statues came alive,” he said.

“That would be spooky.”

“But what if they did? What would they say?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know.” She wasn’t so sure she liked this game.

As they turned around to head back out, a large statue of Jesus caught their eyes.

“I have an idea,” he said. “Let’s imagine that statue of Jesus coming alive and coming down the aisle to stand right in front of us. And let’s listen to what He would say.”

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“He’d probably say we’re being stupid for being here instead of at home, considering tomorrow is a work day, and…”

He cut her off. “Let’s just see, OK? Close your eyes and listen.”

She sighed, but did as he asked.

Within seconds, an image filled her mind. An image of Jesus standing in front of her, looking at her with so much love all she could do was gaze at Him. Then He put His arms around her encouragingly, and walked her out of the church saying, “Let’s do it together.”

“Well, anything?” he interrupted her imaginings.

She shared what she had seen, and he smiled. “That’s pretty much what I got too.. Jesus loving me and holding me in His arms.”

As they left the church,  awed at His response to their silly game., she was filled with thankfulness to the amazing God who loved her and promised to do life with her.  Even in the rain.