Bella, part 10 – What Forest?

An hour later, Bella joined the other people heading to the lobby. The service had been way different than anything she could have imagined and she was still filled with that golden goodness that had filled the air as Pastor Toby talked. Funny, she couldn’t recall anything that he had said but it didn’t matter. Just being there was what counted.

“Can I help you?” asked an older woman. “You look kind of lost.”

“Are the services always like this?” Bella asked her.

“Well, yes and no. Each service is different in many ways but they are all filled with Pastor Toby’s special touch. He’s pretty wonderful, isn’t he?” The lady smiled at Bella. “Hi, my name is Amanda. Is this your first time here?”

“Bella. Nice to meet you.” Bella answered politely. “Yes, this is my first service.”

“Welcome! I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them. And if I can’t, I can find someone who can.”

“Actually, I do have questions.”

“Let’s get some coffee and we can sit over there at that table.”

“Sounds good,” Bella smiled. Coffee did sound good but getting some answers sounded even better.

After getting their coffee and settling down, Amanda said, “OK, what do you want to IMG_20180730_170130302know?”

“How long have you been coming here?”

“Oh, hmmm, let me think.” Amanda took a sip of her coffee. “I guess it’s been about ten years now.”

“So you know Pastor Toby pretty well, then?”

“Sure. He’s friendly and totally approachable. Why?”

“He just seems to be too good. And a bit mysterious.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, for one, he seems to love me even though he doesn’t’ know me. And he’s very interested in whatever I say.”

“Yes, he does love everyone. I don’t know why. It’s like he can’t help it. And he is a great listener.”

“So he’s not just pretending?”

“Nope. That’s one thing he never does. He never pretends. He’s always honest with us.”

“What about his son, Jude?”

“He’s just like his father. He’s also a great problem solver. Talking with him always seems to help when I have a problem, or even just a decision I have to make. His insight is amazing.”

“Have you been in their backyard?”

“Sure.”

“Don’t you think it’s kind of strange?”

“No, why should I?”

“Because it’s so big. Way bigger than it looks from the outside.”

“That’s part of the magic of this place…”

Bella cut in quickly. “So there IS magic here?”

Amanda laughed. “No, not magic like magic tricks and trickery. I mean magic as in out of the ordinary, beyond words. Like if I said I had a magical time with my family on our last vacation.”

“Oh. OK. I get it. So how is the backyard so big? All those wild flowers. And a lake! How is that even possible?”

“They do have a lot of flowers in their greenhouse, but no lake. At least I haven’t seen one. But maybe it’s on the other side of the forest, where I haven’t been yet.”

“Forest?”

“Yes, it’s pretty amazing. I’m glad Pastor Toby didn’t cut down the trees when this church was built. His little forest is my favorite place to come when I’m feeling down.”

“Forest?” Bella asked again. “But there’s no forest back there. There’s only the garden, a large field of flowers, and a lake.”

“You must be mistaken. I’ve never seen anything but the forest.”

Bella stared at her. Were they talking about the same back yard? Just how big was this place? Then she thought about a holodeck again. And again it began to make sense. Different programs for different people. She could buy that, if only she could buy the whole alien thing.

“Amanda,” Bella began slowly. “Have you ever noticed anything… strange… about Pastor Toby or Jude?”

 

Bella stories:

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

Bella part 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

The Swing

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

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

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

Just when she accepted her new vision, it changed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Counting On

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

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

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

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

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

“Hey, where did all the spoons go?”

“I need a fork.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then she found IT!

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

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

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

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

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

The Lunch Invitation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_20180711_173248056

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bella, part 9 –Aliens? Really?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Links to previous parts of this story:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 1

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 2

Bella, part 1- Heart VS Brain

Bella, part 2 – Distractions

Bella, part 3 – Overcoming Detours

Bella, part 4 – Questions

Bella, part 5 – Yellow and Blue Theory

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

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

Bella, part 8 – It Can’t Be!

Bella, part 8 – It Can’t Be!

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

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

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

IMG_20180703_004939041 (2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Links to previous parts of this story:

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 1

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, part 2

Bella, part 1- Heart VS Brain

Bella, part 2 – Distractions

Bella, part 3 – Overcoming Detours

Bella, part 4 – Questions

Bella, part 5 – Yellow and Blue Theory

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

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

Comfort Zone

She liked her space. It might be little but it was comfortable. And as long as she stayed within the borders, she was safe.img_20180604_222230603-e1528169750779.jpg

“You can stay there if you want,” God said to her. “But if you do, you will miss so many amazing experiences with Me.”

“What do you mean?” she asked, confused. “You’re here with me. What else do I need?”

“Yes,” He reassured her. “I am there with you. Always. But I am not just there. There is so much more to life in Me than what you find in your little space. If you are brave enough to step outside the border, you will experience Me in ways you can’t even imagine. You will see me do things that no one else can do, some of them even through you. You will walk with me in places you never thought possible. Your life will be full of excitement, possibilities, victories, and satisfactions that is not possible in your comfortable spa.

“But isn’t there danger out there? Can’t I get lost or hurt or scared out there?”

“Yes, there is always a risk. But I will be with you so you need not fear. All you need to do is decide if a deeper life with Me is worth the risk.”

She thought about that. Sure, she’d be fine in her small comfortable safe place. And God even said it was OK for her to stay there. But what would she be missing out on? Did she love Him enough – trust Him enough – to dare going beyond her self-imposed boundary?

 

Do you?

Bella, part 5 – Yellow and Blue Theory

Bella woke up the next morning with one thought on her mind. She WAS going to get some answers. She didn’t know how. And she didn’t know when. But she would get them.

All through work that day, thoughts of Pastor Toby danced through her mind. Who exactly was he? And why did he love her even though he didn’t know her? Or did he? Maybe he did know her from somewhere. If so, she couldn’t figure out where.

After work, knowing it was too late in the day to visit the church, she got back online to do more research.

“Who is Pastor Toby?” she typed. She knew from the earlier research she had done that there would be many opinions, so she was prepared with a notebook and pen to take notes. Maybe she would see a pattern or theme that would give her a better picture of who he was.

As she scrolled through the search results, clicking on one site after another, she made a list.

An hour later, she stopped to stretch. Looking at her list, she shook her head. This is crazy, she thought. There’s no rhyme or reason for what people think about him. She decided to take a break and headed to the kitchen to make dinner.

When she had finished eating, she found herself wishing she had some of Pastor Toby’s peach cobbler for desert. She wondered if he would consider selling her one if she asked the next time she went over there. One of many questions I’ll ask, she thought, as she headed back to her computer.

She decided she was too tired to keep searching. Besides, it really wasn’t helping much. Instead, she picked up her notebook and pen and went into her bedroom. She put on her PJ’s, brushed her teeth, and climbed into bed. Leaning back against the headboard, she studied the list she had made. There had to be some way to make sense of it.

As she read through the list, she noticed that some of the items contradicted what she already knew about him, while others matched her own observations. She decided to group them into three groups.

True

Not True

Unknown

True: teaches about God, church leader, mysterious, loves everyone (at least she knew he loved her), kind, brings life to things  around him (like his backyard), unique, lived at the church forever (that’s what Jude had said), likes to feed the hungry (fed her that amazing peach cobbler), likes to talk

Not True: stays to himself, won’t let others near him, only interested in his son (he sure was interested in her)

Unknown: can make people see what’s not there, commands strict obedience, out of touch with life around him,  sacrifices to help others, selfish, hoards the money given to the church,  secretive, built the church and yard with his own hands, supernatural, can do things no one else can do, nice on the outside but dangerous on the inside, reclusive, gets involved in everything whether it’s his business or not

She put her pen and notebook on the side table. That’s enough for now, she thought sleepily. I’ll look at it again tomorrow.

The next day, she couldn’t wait to get home after work. She stopped only long enough to pick up some fast food. All throughout that day, a thought had slowly formed in her mind that she wanted to check out, and she didn’t want anything to get in the way.

She dropped her keys and purse on the entrance table, set the fast food on the kitchen table, then went to get her notebook and some highlighters from her bedroom. Settling IMG_20180601_222435544down at the table, she chewed on  her burger as she read through her lists and highlighted everything positive with her yellow highlighter. Then she highlighted all the negative things with her blue highlighter.

She had been right! Everything she knew about Pastor Toby was yellow. While everything she knew was not true about him was blue.  The ‘Unknown’ list was a mixture of blue and yellow.

OK, she thought. If everything I’ve seen and heard and experienced with him is positive, then maybe all the positive ‘Unknowns’ are also true. And if all the ‘Not True’s about him were negative, then maybe the negative ‘Unknowns’ are lies too. Maybe they were written by people who didn’t really know him.

With this realization came mixed emotions. On one hand she was excited and eager to spend more time with him, to get to know him better. Some of those positive unknowns were pretty amazing. But on the other hand, she was afraid to test out her theory. What if she was wrong? What if he was only showing her the positive until he won her over, then she’d find out how dangerous he was when she could no longer get away.

The rest of the week dragged by slowly as she struggled with those two opposing thoughts, each clamoring for her attention and juggling to gain top billing. Finally Friday night arrived. As she got ready for bed, she thought, “Tomorrow is the day. For good or for bad, I’m going back. This time, not only will I get some answers, but I’m going to look specifically for anything negative.  If I find it, I’ll know that some of those other negative ‘Unknowns’ are probably true. Then I’ll know I can’t trust him and I’ll leave. No matter how good that peach cobbler is.”

 

 

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

 

Squeezing God Out

She was busy. Amazingly, she was even busier now than she had been before she retired.  And she was tired.

Something has to go, she finally thought. But what? Everything she did served a purpose and much of it actually helped other people.

She decided to make a list. Only, being as creative as she was, she did so through a drawing. She began by writing God in the center because, she thought, He is the center of my life. Then she wrote out all the things that kept her busy around God. As she drew, more things came to mind and she added those until they all began squeezing together and ended up squeezing God right out of the center.

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“Is that what I’m doing in my life?” she asked herself. “All the things I’m involved in is squeezing God right out of my life? No wonder I’m so tired. I’m trying to do all this in my own power. It’s time to prioritize! And get rid of things, though good, are not what God has called me to do!”

So she began eliminating one thing at a time. It wasn’t easy, nor is she finished. But God is back where He belongs. And that’s what counts.

Waiting On God

It seems like she was always waiting on God. Waiting for promises to be kept. Waiting for healing and restoration. Waiting for direction.

As many times over the years as she’d had to wait, she should have been good at it by now. And as many times over the years the waiting had been rewarded, she should have been at peace with it by now.

But still she struggled when faced with another wait. Like the one today.

She was thinking about it as she drove into her driveway. Wishing she didn’t have to wait, and feeling frustrated that she did.

Then she saw her dogs in the front window. They were sitting up on the sofa, looking out the window and waiting on her return. They were not frustrated. They were not angry. They were not depressed. They were just sitting and waiting, confident that she would return.

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That’s how I going to wait, she thought. I will be like a dog in the window, watching expectantly no matter how long it takes!