PERFECT PEACE

MY FAVORITE FLOWERS ARE HOT PINK & PURPLE PETUNIAS TOGETHER

MY FAVORITE FLOWERS ARE HOT PINK & PURPLE PETUNIAS TOGETHER

PERFECT PEACE

          As I dug another hole in the sandy dirt, the stifling sun and muggy air reminded me of the shade on the front porch. Planting the rest of my flowers would have to wait. I went through the kitchen back door, poured a tall glass of lemonade and I found sanctuary on the front porch steps.

          Christy Love joined me with a happy meow just as the two o'clock down pour started. As I gulped my drink I remembered how people warned us about the Florida weather but Sandy and I only thought about the Atlantic Ocean and the beach being ten minutes away.

 

BLACK CAT BY PETER LIU HOTOGRAPHY CREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR.COM

BLACK CAT BY PETER LIU HOTOGRAPHY CREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR.COM

 

          After the short rain, Christy Love ran out in the front yard and flitted around in a patch of wild catnip. Half-drunk, she chased the poor salamanders and yellow butterflies off our property. She was like an orphan who had come home!  Her entertaining antics told me she was the happiest cat living on dusty, Carmel Road.

           I understood her feelings, completely, because I felt the exact same way, about our little abode in the palmetto wood!

           After cooling off, I returned to my gardening, enjoying the few degrees lower in temperature. As the steam dissipated, Christy Love shadowed my every step, meowing whatever was heavy on her mind. I would give anything to know what she was saying.

          She laid down in front of me in the damp dirt and watched as I planted the rest of the purple & hot pink petunias. I was so into the planting I didn't realize she was waiting to catch my eye. She gave up and meowed so loud I finally looked up. I kid you not she had her head tipped sideways like she was waiting for me to answer or apologize.

           So, I answered. 

          “Christy Love, are you wondering if we are going to stay in this peaceful place, forever? Yes, we hope to live here forever, my love!”

         “Meooow…..meeeeeooooow!” she said.

          “So, you’re saying you are a happy cat, now? You don't miss all the tomcats over on Shallers Road?”

          “Meeeeooooow!” She blurted and jumped away to emphasize her disdain. She returned a few minutes later rubbing her silky head along my forearm as if to forgive me.

           Of course, she didn’t talk when Sandy was around. Oh, nooo!

           She rolled onto her back and looked up at me through those emerald, green eyes that could melt my heart faster than a popsickle in the hot, Florida sun. I know this sounds crazy, but Christy and I began our “happy tete-a-teets,” after we moved to our new house. She and I became tighter than the wire on a new fishing pole, reeling in a big, Atlantic, swordfish.

           Just between you and me, I believe my little black beauty is waiting for me in Heaven just like she waited for me, here on earth when we came home from camp.  

          It didn’t bother us that our house had been ordered from the pages of a Sears & Roebuck catalogue back in the 1930s. Before the house was moved out of the city, the second floor bedroom was removed permanently to avoid knocking down telephone wires as they pulled it down the highway on a trailer to the outskirts of St. Augustine.

           The charming living room had a bookcase on each side of the small fireplace and two unique matching windows above. The amenities of the small kitchen, the cheerful breakfast nook, the dinning room, the three bedrooms and one bath were just perfect!

           We were in perfect peace on earth in our new home.

           While the deaf and blind students were home for the summer, Sandy prepared sermons and Sunday School lessons for a 9 month school year. I made Bible teaching materials to use in Bible centers for the younger deaf students. We also worked at two or three deaf camps that first summer.

VIRGINIA STATE PARK BY CABIN 2 HM   CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR.COM

VIRGINIA STATE PARK BY CABIN 2 HM   CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR.COM

           One night at a deaf camp before I went to sleep I prayed for the Lord to use me as a counselor at camp for His glory!" I had just gone to sleep in the girl’s cabin, when a woman, I didn't know, woke me.  

          “Aaaa, what's going on?” I said.

          “I hate waking you but I'm in desperate need for help,” she said. “I have a young woman counselor who needs a devil prayed off of her. Are you a strong Christian?

           Half-asleep I said, “Yes, I think so, but I don’t know anything about praying off demons.”

           “That’s okay, because I do. All I need is for you to help me hold her if she tries to take off. She understands why I need you and she's okay with it if you are.”

           "I'm okay with it," I said.

           After she left, I felt leery going alone with a stranger to cast out demons? While dressing, I felt a blanket of calmness come over me which helped a lot.

          I met the two women in front of the mess hall, but I couldn't tell if the young, troubled woman was deaf or hearing. All three of us walked quietly, out into an open field, under a full moon. Fear kept trying to wrap its icy fingers around my mind, but the hands of Jesus shoved them off. In the middle of the open field we stopped walking and looked up into the sky.

 

NIGHT SKY STARS BY JIM SURKAMP CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR.COM

NIGHT SKY STARS BY JIM SURKAMP CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR.COM

          The stars sparkled like a trillion diamonds and the night air was pleasantly cool.

          The older woman suggested we all hold hands and kneel down on the ground together. The younger woman knelt down with a blank stare on her face.

         The older woman looked at me and said, “Hold her upper, right arm with both your hands, and I’ll hold her other arm.”

          “Okay,” I said as I placed my hands gently around her upper arm. Was I ready for an exorcism under a full moon in the middle of an open field with two strangers? Unbelievably, I felt peace all around me.

          The older woman said, “I’m going to find out what the name of this demon is, so it may take a little while so please be patient and quiet.”

           I nodded my head not believing what I was doing, but it was too late to back out!

           The older woman began to pray,

“Lord Jesus, we come before you to help this poor, young woman who is tormented by a devil. You said we would do the same works as you and even greater after you went to be with Your Father in Heaven. This woman is a new Christian and she has asked forgiveness for her sins and for being involved in witch craft."

         Witch craft? Holy, moly!!

         The older woman continued to pray,

"Lord Jesus, I know a devil cannot come inside a Christian, but he can harass and speak lies in our ears. This woman doesn’t know how to get rid of this harassing devil, Lord, but you can do it through me. I ask that you protect this young woman; protect Kathy; and protect me with the covering of your precious blood. Kathy and I are Christians, so this demon cannot come into us when he comes OFF this young woman."

"Are you okay for me to continue, Kathy?”she asked.

           Everything she said made sense so I said, “I’m okay.”

          “Good! Thanks, Kathy for being so strong and willing to help. I know this must be a great challenge for you but don't be afraid because greater is Jesus who is in you than any demon. Now, I must find out this demon’s name, so pray for me, silently, while I ask this woman some questions,” she said.

          I tried to pray but the inside of my head was empty, except for two words . . . JESUS HELP!

         “In the name of Jesus, tell me your name, demon,” the older woman said in a normal voice.

          Silence.

         The older woman began asking questions:

"Are you a spirit of Jealousy?" "NO!" it said.

"Are you a spirit of Lying?" "NO!" it said (it lied).

"Are you a spirit of Familiarity?" "NO!"it said.

"Are you a spirit of Perverseness?" "NO!" it said.

"Are you a spirit of Heaviness?" "NO!" it said.

"Are you a spirit of Whoredom?" "NO!" it said.

"Are you a spirit of Infirmity?" "NO!" it said.

"Are you a spirit of Deaf & Dumbness?" "NO!"it said.

"Are you a spirit of Fear?" "NO!" it said.

"Are you a spirit of Pride?" "NO!" it said.

"Are you a spirit of Bondage?" "NO!" it said.

 "Are you a spirit of Antichrist?" "NO!” it said.

         Finally, the woman asked firmly, “In the Name of Jesus Christ, whose mighty Name you will bow down to on that day, I demand you, demon, to tell me your name!”

          The young woman whispered something but we didn't understand her.

          “Say it again,” the older woman said.

          The younger woman became harder for us to hold down as she was being provoked by the demon. Finally, the demon said through the woman, “FOLLY!  My name is FOLLY!!!”

         “By the blood and the authority of Jesus Christ, who lives in me through the Holy Spirit, I demand you demon of folly and lying to come OFF this woman, now, in the name of Jesus Christ the Son of God!”

          The young woman fell back on the ground.

          After a half-minute, the older woman pulled the younger woman up off the ground. “You’re free!”

          The younger woman said, “Yes, I am! Thank you, thank you! It's finally gone!”

          We lifted her to her feet and we joined in a group hug under the smiling stars. My mind barely could grasp what had just happened. I don’t know what I expected but it wasn't too bad. (I can say that now!)

         Evidently, God trusted me to be able to handle the situation with His help, of course. He covered me with His feathers (Angel) of perfect peace the full time. Had I said “no” to help the older woman I would have missed out on an opportunity to stand strong with Jesus in the face of everyday evil.

        

          In this case, Folly means to be easily fooled by using clever lies and deception. (The demon lied when he said NO to being a demon of lying.) The demon used a lie to fool the young woman into believing that Jesus had not saved her because she had been involved in witch craft. The older woman explained to her that Jesus' powerful blood can and does cover any sin including witchcraft, as long as she truly believes in Jesus, admits she is a sinner, repents or turns away from sin, and lets Jesus takes care of the rest!

STAY TRUE IN THE VALLEY

Mountain by lonel POP   Creative Commons   Flickr.com

Mountain by lonel POP   Creative Commons   Flickr.com

STAY TRUE IN THE VALLEY

            Not everybody’s glad the new missionary couple’s in town?

After a few weeks of living in Florida, my “well-being” got stuck at low tide every time I was around a local couple. They were obviously jealous we got the job and they didn’t. Sandy didn’t let it bother him as he dove into preparing Bible lessons for twelve different grades with the help of an older deaf woman. The church let him use an old house across the street from the church as his office and for Sunday School classes, nine months of the year.

Our relationship was great with the wonderful Florida Baptists!

We really liked our Florida state missionary to the deaf & blind, Don Otwell! During the summers we would work with him and his lovely wife at several deaf camps in southern Florida.  At the Florida Baptist Convention in Jacksonville, Florida, Don introduced us to a handsome, deaf man, Carter Bearden, who was known as the Billy Graham among the deaf. He graciously encouraged us with our task of winning over many deaf students to the LORD Jesus!

The Baptist ministry ran smoothly on the deaf & blind campus.

 During the week, the seasoned Lutheran minister and sweet Catholic nun at the state school were more than happy to share the a-frame chapel with Sandy and his large crowd of Baptist students. It was a happy melting pot for three, happy religions who loved hearing about Jesus.

 God’s perfect number is SEVEN!

The deaf children were a hoot. They were bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and full of fun! Somebody warned us it would take seven years before the deaf kids would trust us or any hearing person. I doubt the deaf students knew about that seven-year rule. If we were going to make slow progress in winning over the deaf kids, it didn’t matter because we planned to be there for seven times seven. Sandy and I were missionaries to the deaf & blind for only seven years, much to our disappointment. Unfortunately, after Pastor Britton retired, a new pastor came in and judged all the ministers on staff as unworthy to serve under him starting with Sandy.   

             Was racism still lurking in the far corner of the old church?

Sunday morning was our busiest day of the week. Our faithful bus driver, who wasn’t a Christian yet, volunteered to bus in the 150 deaf & blind students to the church every Sunday. After Sunday School in the Foy house, the intermediate through high school students walked across the street to the church. It was fun to see their faces light up as the service began and their black and white hands sang quietly with our hands as we signed the old and beautiful congregational hymns.

            God always has a miracle when you least expect it!

            While working part time at a jewelry store, I found a house for sale in the newspaper. We had already looked at a couple of houses but they were not what we wanted. This house was one of those piece by piece Sears order houses that had been built in town years ago. Someone had removed the second floor so it could be moved down the highway to the outskirts of town and refurbished. The down payment on the house made me cry . . . $2,000. We didn’t have $200!

            Later, that night I showed Sandy the newspaper of the little house in the woods. He read it carefully then gave me a sad look. We were both tired of apartment living and the rowdy neighbors. We needed a quiet place to call our own . . . somewhere, under the protective wings of God.

            The telephone rang and broke the silence.

            “Hello,” I said.

            “Hi, it’s me, your dad!”  

            “Oh, hi Dad. How are you doing?”

            “What’s wrong, honey?”

            “What do you mean what’s wrong? There’s nothing wrong.”

            “You sound sad, like something’s wrong.”

            I couldn’t talk because the tears were coming. Sandy had no idea what to do so he reached for the phone. I shook my head no.

            “I’m okay!” I said trying to sound better. “I’m fine!”

            “You don’t sound okay. Anyway, just to let you know, the Lord told me a few minutes ago to call you . . .  so tell me what’s going on?”

            “Oh, we’ve been looking at houses and we found one. . . but the down payment is too high.”

            “How much?”

            I cleared my throat and said, “Two thousand dollars!”

            There was a muffled sound of voices at the other end as my father covered the mouth piece of the phone.

            “Wait a minute, sweetheart, I’m talking to your mother, okay?”

            It was a minute or two before he got back on the phone. “Your mother and I agree to send you the money,” my dad said.

            “What?” I said, “you and Mom don’t have that kind of money!”

            “Yes, we do!”

            “How do you have that much money?”

            “Well, it’s like this. I got two thousand dollars behind in my tithe so I’ve been saving it up to give to the church, but tonight God told me to call you. Now, I know why. God wants us to give you, HIS missionaries, our tithe money.”

            I tried to thank my father but I was bawling and hunting for the tissue box. Sandy took the phone and found out why I was crying. He thanked my dad over and over, so I took the phone back.

            “Daddy, thank you so much! We will never forget this!”

            “You’re welcome! We’re just glad to be able to help you two! God is using us to bless His missionaries!”

            Within a week we got a check in the mail for two thousand dollars and we made the down payment on our first house.

The clouds of jealousy and racism and judgment were put away for a season. Thank you, Jesus, for blessing us with a miracle in the storm!

*******

 

How is your testing ground coming? Are you passing the tests in the valley and not just on the mountain tops? We are living in end times where man thinks evil is good & good is evil.  All true Christians go through everyday ups and downs forreasons:  to build our faith, to help God & others, to improve our attitude, to experience joy, to appreciate grace, to love more, and to earn rewards! Jesus is with us through the Holy Spirit who lives inside us. Let Him help you in every situation.

RIGHT TIME & PLACE

RIGHT TIME & PLACE

 

Black Watch by Taiyo FUII Creative Commons   Flickr.com

Black Watch by Taiyo FUII Creative Commons   Flickr.com

          Like Sandy and me, Lee Smith and his lovely wife, Lucille were fairly new members at Ancient City Baptist Church. They had bought a small jewelry store in downtownSt. Augustine, Florida. They invited us for dinner one night and we were excited to get to know them.

          Ever since arriving in St. Augustine we had become aware that not everyone at the church was jumping for joy at our presence. We didn't know why so we were eager to make some new friends. The Smiths were the second couple that had reached out to us in past few months. It would be hard for them to compete with our first meal, the best fried catfish and hush puppies this side of the Mason Dixon Line!

The evening went better than we expected. They took us out to eat at a special seafood place called The Santa Maria Restaurant which was way out in the middle of the Matanza Bay. We threw our few left overs out the window to the fish below! The grey haired couple made us feel very special and they were interested in the deaf and blind ministry. Their kids were grown and gone and we were 900 miles away from our families, so we quickly became good friends.

 

SANTA MARIA RESTAURANT BY PAUL ADONIS HUNTERCREATIVECOMMONSFLICKR.COM

SANTA MARIA RESTAURANT BY PAUL ADONIS HUNTERCREATIVECOMMONSFLICKR.COM

          “Kathy, I noticed you don't wear a watch,” Lee said while we ate dessert back at their home. “Do you not like wearing a watch?”

           “I had a good, wind up watch for over ten years but it stopped working a while back," I said. I didn't tell him I couldn't afford to buy one.

           “Oh, I see,” Lee said. “I guess you know I own a small jewelry store and I fix used watches. I have a couple of lady’s watches all ready fixed if you want to look at them. I wouldn’t charge you anything.”

          “Sure!” I said, feeling blessed to know a generous watchsmith. “I’d love to see them!” Lee's thoughtfulness touched a tender spot beneath my pride. I turned away to wipe the dampness from my eyes hoping he didn’t notice. When we first moved to Florida a church couple down the street gave us their old sweeper. I was thrilled until I tried to use it and understood why it was out in their garage sale. I had a good feeling that I wouldn't be disappointed with Lee's watch!

           During our short drive home that night I realized that my heart was bursting with so much warmth and love. The dinner was so delicious but the conversation was personal with this couple's caring words just when I needed some encouragement. The Lord had sent Sandy and me two guardian angels disguised as human beings.

          God knew what lay ahead... and that we would need this couple's support.

           A few days later I picked out my first, battery watch. It had a black face with gold slits for numbers and a thin, black band. I loved it! After I put the watch on my wrist and thanked Mr. Smith, he asked me if I would like to work part-time at his jewelry store two or three days a week! I couldn't imagine myself selling jewelry but money signs went off in my head. Sandy spoke up and said it was up to me if I wanted to work.

          I loved working at Voss Jewelry store! Lee’s full-time employee, Helen, was so nice and she showed me all the ropes. I learned how to change watch batteries, engrave jewelry, decorate the window, and change watch bands. The extra money helped us out so much that I spent more than my lunch time next door at the lady’s apparel shop. Plus, I learned about yellow gold vs. white gold, diamonds vs. diamonique, and gemstones. I even got my ears pieced!

ST.GEORGE ST., ST. AUGUSTINE BY JON DAWSON CREATIVE COMMONS    FLICKR

ST.GEORGE ST., ST. AUGUSTINE BY JON DAWSON CREATIVE COMMONS    FLICKR

           Sandy’s parents flew out from New Mexico to visit us for a week. Sandy enjoyed showing them around the enchanted city while I worked at the Voss Jewelers. They liked visiting the fort, the deaf school, the church, eating at Osteen's Shrimp place, Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum, and especially St. George Street with the homemade fudge, sugar cookies and the unique shops.

          While Sandy and his mother waited, his father tried on suits in a store on St. George Street. Dr. Storrie learned from his late Scottish mother how to use his time wisely by sharing the gospel with strangers. By the time the suit was packaged the elderly employee had asked the Lord Jesus to forgive his sin and had invited Jesus Christ into his heart!

CASTILLO (FORT) de SAN MARCO PHOTO BY G.CHRIS CLARK CREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR

CASTILLO (FORT) de SAN MARCO PHOTO BY G.CHRIS CLARK CREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR

          Our new neighbor, Virginia, had gone from a life of riches and world travels to a tiny apartment next door and no car. The stories of her past, glory days were interesting but mostly unbelievable. Dr. Storrie was more interested in the elderly lady’s lost soul so within an hour he was leading her away from the path to Hell to the path of Heaven! Virginia was so drunk in the Holy Spirit she floated back and forth from her apartment to ours for days. She had had three husbands and now she had found her fourth and last husband of her soul.

          “I don’t mean to bother you but I have to share this with you,” Virginia said. “One, two, three! God the Father! God the Son! God the Holy Spirit! Three in One!”

          I bobbed my head up and down and said, “That’s right, Virginia! Three means Trinity!”

          A half hour later, here she’d come again. Outside the screen door she stood, holding up three fingers one at a time and only mouthing the word: Trinity.

THREE FINGERS BY TIA_INSPIRATIVA  CREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR.COM

THREE FINGERS BY TIA_INSPIRATIVA  CREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR.COM

          After Sandy’s folks flew back to New Mexico, Virginia became worse. She would knock on our door and hold up a finger for every word she said. We told her she needed help and could we call the paramedics to come take her to the hospital. She said, “Please tell them NO SIRENS!” They honored her wishes and came quietly down Schallers Road. After being in the hospital for a while, Virginia was released to a nice nursing home. She called me to meet her for lunch one day a year later; she was bright and alert again just like she was before she got sick. Within a year she died and went t be with her LORD!

           I thought God had brought us to Florida to only help the deaf and the blind, but He had other people in mind, too. God wanted us here so Sandy's daddy would come visit and win two people in their eighties to the Lord before they died. It felt good to be obedient to the Lord and be in the right place at the right time!

 

          We have all been in the right place at the right time to help somebody. Do you remember yours? God loves using our hands, our feet and our heart to help others. God puts people in our path to help us, and he puts you in other people’s path to help them. God is all about weaving His Son together with people at the right time and place for a blessing or a miracle or best of all, for a salvation!

          Jesus summarized the 10 Commandments into 2 Commandments:

Mark 12: 30-31

{30] And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
[31] And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. 

Share when somebody was there for you at the right time? Or, when you were there at the right time for someone.       

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA

BRIDGE OF LIONS BY DOUG KERR  CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR

BRIDGE OF LIONS BY DOUG KERR  CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR

St. Augustine, Florida

          Christy Love was driving Sandy and me crazy! She was pacing the apartment in heat and crying loud and deep! There was no way to distract her. Our neighbors would soon complain to our apartment manager and we could lose our apartment. I told Sandy I was putting her outside. If she didn’t come back then that would be that! We couldn’t put up with her being this way.

          I looked out the window and she already had three male cats pursuing her; I couldn't watch. By evening she was waiting at the back door of the apartment, ready to come in. A can of cat tuna was gone within seconds before she curled up on the sofa. The next morning she was howling again so I took her outside as I went to work. At the end of the day she was back. That went on all week when she finally settled down and became our cat again.

          In nine weeks Christy Love delivered five kittens; three gray ones, one yellow, and one white. The last kitten was still born so Christy Love shoved her off in a corner of the box. I learned from a book to gently sling the still born kitten, upside down and back and forth, so any mucus could fly out. When Christy Love heard the kitten mew she grabbed it out of my hand and started licking it.

BLACK CAT by GABRIEL HESS   CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR

BLACK CAT by GABRIEL HESS   CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR

          Both Sandy and I graduated from N.O.B.T.S together in May of 1975 with his divinity and my religious education degrees. That same week we learned about a missionary outreach opportunity at a deaf school in Florida. We made the phone call and we were invited to come to St. Augustine, Florida for a visit and interview.

FLORIDA SCHOOL for the DEAF & BLINDby riNuxCREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR

FLORIDA SCHOOL for the DEAF & BLINDby riNuxCREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR

          The following weekend we were at the Florida State School for the Deaf and Blind where Stevie Wonder went to school and graduated. The huge, manicured campus was beautiful and quite impressive. The deaf and the blind students lived there for nine months out of the year. I felt sorry for the little first graders being so far away from their parents, but they seemed happy among their like friends. We also visited the local Ancient City Baptist Church & staff where we would bring the deaf and blind students, first grade through twelfth grade, to Sunday School and church.

          The deacons of the church were nice but not very friendly. First, they questioned Sandy then me. One question they asked me was whether I would work outside the ministry and the question startled me. Were they expecting me to not work, or to work? It would depend on how far a $10,000 salary lasted ($5,000 from the church and $5,000 from the Florida Baptist Convention). I was too afraid to ask what they meant, so I said probably not since Sandy would need my assistance with the 180 deaf and blind Baptist students. (Evidently, my contribution to the ministry would be for free like most minister's wives.)

          After passing the Florida Baptist Convention’s intensive interview and battery of tests, we returned to New Orleans wondering what to do. We prayed for God's will for us. The year salary offered to us seemed like a lot compared to what we were living on at the time but it also was the same salary a teacher made in nine months. After a week of talking and praying we made our decision to accept the call to become home missionaries and let the Lord provide. We couldn’t believe we would be roughing it in the quaint and lovely city of St. Augustine!

ST.AUGUSTIN ROAD SIGNS A1A & HWY1 BY JON DAWSONCREATIVE COMMONS FLICKR

ST.AUGUSTIN ROAD SIGNS A1A & HWY1 BY JON DAWSONCREATIVE COMMONS FLICKR

          I drove the long 700 miles behind Sandy who drove aU-Haul to Florida. The kittens were bigger now and two of them kept climbing out of the box and I kept putting them back in. Rabbi, the white kitten with a grey cap, slid over the hump and under my feet so I grabbed him before he got under the brake pedal! A couple of times I almost hit the back of the U-Haul truck!

ST. AUGUSTINE LIGHTHOUSE by Allen Forrest   CREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR

ST. AUGUSTINE LIGHTHOUSE by Allen Forrest   CREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR

          The small town of St. Augustine seemed prettier this time for some reason. The Lion's Bridge, the lighthouse, the Matanza Bay,  the palm trees and flowers everywhere were up lifting! We had paid the first month’s rent on an apartment we picked out on the second visit, but when we arrived the bigger apartment next door was empty. We called the landlord and she let us see it. The three bedrooms and the turquoise stove that matched our kitchen table sold us! Sandy put the kittens in the back bedroom and made a kitty amusement park with boxes and wood planks he found.

          Christy Love took off out the front door and down the steps toward the little woods, loaded with palmetto plants.  We unloaded the small truck and returned it to a U-Haul place. We had supper at a Pizza Hut and headed back to the apartment to crash for the night. Christy Love was anxiously waiting for us on the porch when we drove up.

          We dearly loved Carson and Tiny Britton who pastored the Ancient City Baptist Church. Physically, they reminded me of Burl Ives and Mammy Yoakum from the movie, Little Abner. I never knew my grandpas so this wise and loving Carson filled their place. With her quick wit and brute honesty, Tiny wasn't your usual run of the mill pastor's wife. She helped me see it was okay to be myself!  After being away from home for seven years, we couldn’t get enough of this couple's company.

          One time, Carson made a profound statement that haunted me occassionally. He said, “Don’t be surprised when Tiny and I retire in a year or two, that a new pastor will clean out the present staff for new one!”

          Brother Britton’s prophetic words sat like an unwelcome guest on the back porch of my mind!

ANCIENT CITY BAPTIST CHURCH by BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY CREATIVE COMMONS FLICKR

ANCIENT CITY BAPTIST CHURCH by BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY CREATIVE COMMONS FLICKR

          The bus dropped off 70 deaf students at the church on the first Sunday! They were so quiet even with their flying hands and occasional giggles. (I never knew the deaf giggled exactly like the hearing.) My eyes couldn't keep up with what they were saying! I got tickled at this cute, little deaf boy and girl who were twins. I asked the sister, with glasses, what was her name? Before she could finger spell her name, her brother, Jack, jerked her around, raised her blond hair and pulled out the tag on the back of her dress with the name, Jenny, in black, permanent marker.

          The church let us use an old, two story house called the Foy House for Sunday School classes. It was across the quiet street from the church. The older students climbed the beautiful steps to the upstairs where a hearing couple who knew sign language would teach them the Bible lesson. The younger children stayed downstairs with Sandy, his deaf lady secretary, and me, working in several Bible learning centers that changed every fifteen minutes.

          After Sunday School, the younger children were bused back to the deaf school. The older children walked quietly over to the main church for an interpreted sermon for the deaf by Sandy and me. The few blind students sat with the regular congregation. 

          Everything went smoothly on the first day and each Sunday following went well! We loved our new work!

          As I took the children back to the dormitory on the school campus one evening from a devotional time, a little deaf boy patted me on the arm and pointed to the sunset. He smiled the biggest smile and signed the word, GOD, over and over! I smiled and said yes and signed, "God loves you"! This was a sweet inclination that we were finally getting through to the deaf.

          By the end of the first school year, in 1976, we were attached to the children and we hated to see them go home. They seemed to love learning about Jesus and we loved teaching them through the week and not just on Sunday. They were polite and obedient almost all the time. We were told it would take a while for the deaf children to accept us into their deaf world, since we were hearing. We would need to be patient and earn their love, trust and acceptance. We used signed language and tangible things like pictures to help the deaf students know how Jesus loves and watches over them like this one of a shepherd who loves and watches over his sheep.      

TIMELINE PHOTO FROM FACEBOOK

TIMELINE PHOTO FROM FACEBOOK

          We taught the children that GOD loves all people whether you're deaf, blind or hearing. He allows blessings on the just and the unjust. God loves each person He has made and He sends people to show them the way to Him. Jesus is patient to let you learn how to trust and love Him. He will not force you to accept Him, but he lets you decide for yourself what you think about His Son coming to Earth to live and die for them. 

          Have you made that important decision, yet, to accept and follow Jesus? Now, would be the perfect time for you to get it settled. Read this prayer and if you believe it in your heart repeat it aloud the second time and Jesus will come into your heart and save you forever! The Christian life is sometimes not easy and you will fail but now that you will have the Holy Spirit in you He will help you everyday with all those daily problems.

         Dear Jesus,

         I believe you are the sinless, Son of God who suffered, gave all your blood and died on the cross 2,000 years ago for my sin. I believe you arose alive from the grave on the third day! Please, forgive my sin, come into my heart, and save me! Lead me in all I do, think, and say. Help me read the Bible and find a Bible believing church.  Thank you! Amen.

 

CHRISTY LOVE

TRUFFLE BY PETER LIU PHOTOGRAPHY   CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR.COM

TRUFFLE BY PETER LIU PHOTOGRAPHY   CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR.COM

CHRISTY LOVE

         It was Wednesday and the scrawny, little kitten was still hanging around the day care center where I worked. Someone said the cat lady down the street, whoever that was, had dumped off another bunch of kittens. I pictured an old, white haired woman with a house full of cats. I liked cats but only one or two at a time. I heard someone say she needed to be reported to the humane society!

           This little female kitten was the only one left and I wondered what had happened to the other kittens. I forced myself to ignore her, since she looked really sick and would probably die during the cold weekend. Anyway, our apartment building rules didn’t allow pets. As I walked around the play yard interacting with my bundled-up four-year-olds at play, the little black dot with two black triangles on top, was watching me.

          By six thirty, Friday evening, when all the children were picked up and gone, I looked out my classroom window hoping the cat was gone. The fuzzy creature was still on the ramp. I buttoned my coat, grabbed my purse, and left the building before I changed my mind. Sandy was taking me to Bud’s Broiler tonight and I was drooling for a burger and fries!  All of a sudden, half way home, I turned around right in the middle of the long driveway to our apartment and went back to the center. Something seemed to be pushing me along and it wasn’t the wind. The front door of the daycare was still unlocked.

          Like a coughed-up hair-ball, the wisp of a kitten snuggled weakly into the warmth of the arm of my winter coat. I used my gloved hand to shelter her as the wind whipped up.  Every few steps, I checked to make sure she was still there and I hadn't dropped her; I could barely feel her emaciated body. I climbed the stairs to the second floor to our apartment and for the first time I wondered what Sandy would say about me bringing home a cat.

          Sandy was in the shower so I had some time to think about what I would say. But first, I warmed a saucer under the hot, tap water, then poured a tiny amount of milk in it for the cat. While she ate, I found a small box and spread a soft, hand towel inside for her bed. Miss kitty licked up all the milk and she was grooming her face with her tongue and paw. My heart liquefied into jello! I was definitely a cat woman. She looked up at me with her opaque eyes and mewed, as if to say, thank you. I picked her up to cuddle and she gave me a little purr.

          Oh, Sandy! Pleeeeease, please let me keep her!

          When I heard Sandy come out the bathroom door I put the cat down in the box and pushed it gently under the kitchen table.

          “Hi, in there! It’s Friday,” I said. “Do you still want to go to Bud’s Broiler?”

          “Yeah, if you do,” Sandy said as he dressed. Our apartment was only two rooms with a full bath and sliding doors that hid a small kitchen. Sandy used metal shelves affixed with paneling as a divider to separate the kitchen from the living room.

          “How was work today?” I asked him as I cleaned the saucer.

           “Okay, I guess! I got really dirty again! I hope I don’tsmell like gasoline! I scrubbed a long time to get it off.”

          “That’s okay! I don’t mind the smell of gasoline if it’s not too strong.” Sandy filled the gas tanks of privately owned jets at the old New Orleans airport.

          What am I going to say to Sandy about the kitten, LORD?

          When I finished and turned around, Sandy was standing in the doorway of our bedroom looking so handsome in his casual, dress clothes instead of those ugly work clothes. Then, I realized the cat was out of the bag, or the box! At least he was grinning and not frowning!

          “What is that?” he said as he pointed behind me.

          “What is what?” I said stalling for time.“Oh, you mean this little kitty?”

          “Lucy, you have some ‘splaining to do!”

          “Ricky, I can ‘splain everything!”

          I swooped up the little fuzz ball and Sandy came over still smiling which was a very good thing. I lifted the cat to him and he took her.

          “She’s a scrawny little thing,” he said as he scratched her itty, bitty head, “where'd you find her?”

           "I didn't find her! She found me!" I said.

           " 'splain, Lucy," Sandy said.

          “Some cat woman dropped a bunch of kittens off at the daycare this past Monday and she’s the only one left. It was so cold I didn’t want her to freeze or starve to death this weekend.”

          “You know the rules about pets here,” he reminded me.

          “I know, I know! I’ll just keep her until I can find a home for her, okay?”

          “Okay then, let’s go eat, I’m starving!”

 

          Of course nobody wanted the kitten because I never mentioned her to anyone. We named her Christy Love after the woman who starred on the TV policeman series back in the 70s called Get Christy Love. Sandy loved the kitty as much as I did, and she loved him, too.

           On our way out of New Orleans, three days before Christmas, we made a short stop at Mrs. Feux's house, a deaf lady, to give her something. Because it was warm and muggy that day, we lowered one window a couple of inches for Christy Love who was about two months old.

          When we returned to the car about thirty minutes later we couldn’t find Christy Love anywhere in the car! How did she get out of the car through the crack of the window? Sandy and I wandered around the neighborhood for almost an hour, calling her name. The thought of not finding Christy Love was making it hard for me to breathe. I couldn't comprehend another another day without her!

          Lord, help us to find Christy Love.

          After an hour Sandy held me and said we had to go on without her. We had a 900 mile drive to Hamilton, Ohio. He told Mrs. Feux to keep an eye out for Christy Love. She was very sweet and sad for us and promised she would look out for her. That satisfied me some but not much. I missed her so much already and I was worried how she would survive on her own.

          Lord, watch over Christy Love wherever she is. Let somebody find her and love her as much as we do!

           I didn't said a word for a long time and neither did Sandy. As I looked out my window, I watched the Florida greenery change into Georgia’s red clay. God seemed to say don't let your loss of Christy Love mess up your Christmas!

          LORD, You let Christy Love find me, and now she’s gone! I barely had her… how can I go on without her? I miss her so much already! Please watch over her and let the nice deaf woman find her or a nice family. LORD, Help me have a Merry Christmas because of Jesus becoming a baby and a man to die and save me from my sin.

          Four hours passed.

          “Kaaathieeee,” Sandy's weird voice shocked me.

          “What’s wrong Sandy?” I said as my heart leaped to my throat.

          The way he was slumped over to the right of the steering wheel I thought he was having a heart attack! I panicked! It was too dark to see his face. “Sandy! Are you okay? Pull over! Pull the car over!” I cried. The car was swerving back and forth!

           Help us Jesus! Please, Help us!

          Sandy raised his right hand up and said, “Look! Look what I have in my hand!”

          I couldn’t see that well in the dark car so I flipped on the light and I couldn't believe my eyes.

          “It’s Christy Love,” he said. “I felt something move against my foot!

          “Christy Love? Is she alive?” I asked because she wasn’t moving. Gently, I took her from his hand and cradled her in my arms like a baby. She laid back and stretched her arms way over her head with a big yawn. “She was asleep under your seat this whole time?” Her green eyes sparkled in the moonlight for a split second. I put her across my shoulder.

          “You’re here! You were in the car the whole time! You little stinker!” I cried as I nuzzled her face with mine.

          “Thank you sweet Jesus!”

           It was going to be an extra wonderful Christmas!

* * *

           We are all used to having disappointments in our life. It comes with the territory of living in a cursed world full of sin. Things don't always end up positive, the way it did when Sandy found Christy Love under his seat. A little later, in my memoirs, you will read something else that happens to Christy Love that challenges my faith.

          God and His angels are always watching to see how we handle our disappointments. They are not for judging us but they are joyous with our growing faith and helpful during doubt or danger. Without problems we cannot grow; without Jesus as our personal Savior and knowing His Word we have no armor to fight satan. Our armor is the Word of God that builds our faith and makes satan flee when we speak it aloud.

          Do we always remember pray? No. Do we pray about something but still worry about it without faith? Yes, Do we give satan ammunition to attack us when we voice our doubts?Yes. Or, do we keep our doubts to our self and search for scripture to build our faith and quote to make satan flee? Yes.

          What grades (not judgments) are you getting on your tests in daily life? Are your doubts pushing down your faith? The Word of God is mighty medicine for every situation. The Bible says:

          Romans 10:17

  1. [17] So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

 

 

       

I THINK WE'RE ALONE NOW

JUSTIN 20110901_42_ UNTITLED SHOOT.JPGCREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR

JUSTIN 20110901_42_ UNTITLED SHOOT.JPGCREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR

I THINK WE’RE ALONE NOW ~ 1973

 During the Christmas break it was hard being away from Sandy. We were together almost everyday since the Planets of the Apes. When he never called me in Ohio I got worried. Yet, at the same time I was glad he didn’t call because my dad would have asked him his intentions. I told my mom I was dating Sandy Storrie from New Mexico.

 Many years later Mom told me that back them she thought I was dating a girl named Sandy from Mexico!

 When I finally got back to New Orleans, Sandy and I picked up where we left off. I was so happy! One of the things I loved about Sandy was his gift of gab on any topic. He let me talk and he actually listened to me. We were engaged by March of 1973 and the first place we shopped for rings we found exactly what we liked. I was so impressed Sandy had saved enough money to buy our rings. He had snagged a part-time job ministering to deaf adults at the First Baptist Church of New Orleans.

ALL MY GIRL FRIENDS WANTED TO LOOK AT MY RING

ALL MY GIRL FRIENDS WANTED TO LOOK AT MY RING

 I couldn’t stop looking at my beautiful diamond ring!

THANK YOU MAMAW FOR MY WEDDING DRESS

THANK YOU MAMAW FOR MY WEDDING DRESS

  My grandmother, Bertha Mae Kilpatrick Wilcox, sent me $50.00 to buy a wedding dress. I found everything I needed at a little fabric shop! My parents sent money for our flowers, a cake, and Sandy’s suit. Every flower shop I called was booked up for June 18th. One man gave me the number of a discount flower shop. The nice Chinese lady assured me she would send over two nice bouquets for my price, yes, yes!

Why did I have a funny feeling about that?

JimWilcox    Tommie Storrie     Sandy Storrie   Kathy Storrie   Dr.Bryce Storrie   Marie Wilcox

JimWilcox    Tommie Storrie     Sandy Storrie   Kathy Storrie   Dr.Bryce Storrie   Marie Wilcox

 Sandy’s parents, Dr. and Mrs. Bryce Longmuir Storrie, flew into New Orleans from New Mexico the day before the wedding. They made their hotel reservations before they came to the seminary campus. My maid of honor, Carolyn Burton, flew in from Somerset, Kentucky, and she would stay in the girl’s dormitory with me. In the morning Sandy would his parents to the church to let his mom, Tommie, decorate the wedding hall and table. I was a little nervous meeting Sandy’s distinguished parents for the first time, but they were very nice.

TOMMIE STORRIE decorated for us.   

TOMMIE STORRIE decorated for us.   

 I wondered if they thought I was good enough for their son.

 When a humongous, Winnebago camper pulled into the parking lot with seven special people I love, I became excited! They were my mom, Marie, my dad, Jim, my brother, Tim, my two sisters, Tammy and Kim Wilcox; also on board were my pastor, Bob Skirvin, and his beautiful wife, Mary! I was so tickled they would come 900 miles to perform our wedding. A few days before they came, they had a ghost wedding shower without me, and we got so many nice gifts from my friends at North Fairfield Baptist Church! We got to hear about all their fun on the long trip down to New Orleans from Hamilton, Ohio.

 They still laugh and talk about that trip today!

 Mary Skirvin directed our wedding rehearsal that afternoon and she made it so easy with lots of fun and laughter! Almost everybody followed her directions except for a few goofy people like Sandy Storrie. His mom and dad were watching and not claiming him. Later, they treated everybody to a lovely rehearsal dinner at the Ponderosa Steak House (our choice) where I had my first steak!

 I kept telling Sandy I was poor! 

 The next day, on Saturday June 18th, was our wedding day, and I would not see Sandy until I walked down the isle around 2:15 PM! I was so nervous about something going wrong that I couldn’t eat! I was, also, having paranoid thoughts again!

Best Man Randy                           Groom Sandy                                       Rev. Bob

Best Man Randy                           Groom Sandy                                       Rev. Bob

 What if Sandy parents hate me and they talk Sandy into leaving me at the altar?

 I tried to focus on the sunny day as Tim drove us down town to the church at one o’clock. Tammy and Kim were snickering at my big rollers in my hair. Kim asked me if I was going to walk down the isle with them still in my hair. I told her no because my bridal color was lavender not pink! I also told them if I didn’t keep my hair in the rollers until the last minute, I would look like Phyllis Diller with an Afro!

  If it wasn’t for my little sissy, Kim, loaning me her three-inch high, wedge sandals, I may have tripped walking down the isle in my extra long wedding gown! The shoes just fit! Now, with everyone in their places, the song was sung, and now it was time for me to enter! The Wedding March started and I grabbed hold of my dad’s left arm and squeezed so hard he said, “Kathy, just remember, Jesus is right here with you! Take a big breath and don’t be afraid!”

  I needed that little reminder!

BEST MAN LARRY SCARBOROUGH &  THOMAS (SANDY) STORRIE     REV. ROBERT SKIRVINTHEY ARE COUNTING THE MINUTES LEFT BEFORE SANDY BITES THE DUST !!!!!!!!!!

BEST MAN LARRY SCARBOROUGH &  THOMAS (SANDY) STORRIE     REV. ROBERT SKIRVINTHEY ARE COUNTING THE MINUTES LEFT BEFORE SANDY BITES THE DUST !!!!!!!!!!

DAD HELPED ME DOWN THE ISLE   BREATHE KATHY BREATHE   THERE'S LITTLE DAVID

DAD HELPED ME DOWN THE ISLE   BREATHE KATHY BREATHE   THERE'S LITTLE DAVID

 As Dad and I walked down the isle of the small chapel, cute little David from my Sunday School class, smiled and waved. Mrs. Feux, a dear deaf lady friend, smiled and signed beautiful! My heart melted. We found our spot and waited for Bob to say, who gives this woman to this man? and Dad said in a deep voice, her mother and I do! Dad handed me over to Sandy. Everybody, plus the fly on Bob’s hair, held their breath as we waited for my stout dad to not trip over my long, head veil as he made his way to join my mother.

 Thank God, He didn’t trip!

 Rev. Bob Skirvin smiled and began speaking calmly about the importance of salvation, the sanctity of marriage, the support of the Trinity, and our great future ahead. It gave me a chance to take a deep breath and relax. As he kept talking I shifted my eyes off him to the flowers on the left behind him. I felt my heart suck the air out of both my lungs! I’ve heard of brides crying at their wedding but I doubt it was because a cheap florist delivered old flowers!

 To this day I hate gladiolas!

 I forced myself to focus on Bob’s thin lips speaking pleasant words that I should be listening to, but I couldn’t help myself…I had to look to the right! Sure enough, every stalk of the pastel gladiolas was slightly trimmed in permanent brown.  I must have gasped because Sandy looked over at me from the corner of his eyes. I nodded one time toward the flowers. Sandy looked back at Bob, first, not wanting to miss the cue to repeat after him.  Sandy sneaked a quick look at the bouquet then looked back at Bob.

 I made it through the ceremony without messing up my vowels, so I’m pretty sure we got married.

 Pastor J.D. Grey’ nice office was the photography room! It had nice furniture and mirrors. We had hired a ministerial student who did photography as a hobby to take our pictures. We got some really nice photos no thanks to Sandy who was distracted and driving me crazy trying to kiss and embarrass me.

MARIE WILCOX                                    KATHY WILCOX STORRIE                      1973

MARIE WILCOX                                    KATHY WILCOX STORRIE                      1973

 By the time we finished the pictures and shook everybody’s hand it was time to leave. We didn’t get to eat any cake nor drink any punch because it was all gone. Sandy told me his Mom saved the top of the four tier cake for us. I thought we would eat it after we got back from our honeymoon, but Sandy said we were supposed to eat it a year later for good luck?

Yuck! Not me!

WE GOT ONE BITE OF OUR CAKE

WE GOT ONE BITE OF OUR CAKE

 

Carolyn Franklin~Debbie Wilson~Susan Childress~Rachel Stevens~Linda Jones~Helen DeBoe

Carolyn Franklin~Debbie Wilson~Susan Childress~Rachel Stevens~Linda Jones~Helen DeBoe

My wonderful seminary girlfriends, Carolyn, Rachel, Linda, Helen, and Susan helped serve the refreshments and cleaned up! My maid of honor, Carolyn Burton rode with my family in the camper and they dropped her off in Somerset, Kentucky. Sandy’s parents got a taxi back to the airport. We didn’t get to spend much time with my folks, Sandy’s parents, or Carolyn.

KATHY STORRIE & CAROLYN BURTON MY FRIEND & MAID OF HONOR WHO IS IN HEAVEN

KATHY STORRIE & CAROLYN BURTON MY FRIEND & MAID OF HONOR WHO IS IN HEAVEN

SHAKING HANDS WITH THE GUESTS & LOOKING AT MY RING

SHAKING HANDS WITH THE GUESTS & LOOKING AT MY RING

 

Everything went well, but too fast in too little time!

I was feeling so emotional, two things kept me from crying; Sandy’s hand around mine and our secret get-a-way plan! Our friends had threatened to follow us to our honeymoon motel, so earlier Sandy hid his car five blocks away and rode the streetcar back to the church! We laughed as we ran out the church while they bombarded us with rice then I threw my bouquet! With surprise, they watched walk away (for the streetcar). When we started boarding, they knew why they couldn’t find our car to write on the windows, wrap it in toilet paper, and tie empty tin cans on the back bumper!

SAYING A PRAYER FOR OUR FUTURE LIFE TOGETHER FOREVER

SAYING A PRAYER FOR OUR FUTURE LIFE TOGETHER FOREVER

HERE COMES RICE ON MY KNOTY HAIRSANDY LOOKS SO COOL LIKE A MODEL (32 WAIST)!

HERE COMES RICE ON MY KNOTY HAIRSANDY LOOKS SO COOL LIKE A MODEL (32 WAIST)!

OUR SECRET GET-AWAY ON A STREETCAR     CAROLYN IS TELLING EVERYONE TO FOLLOW US. THE DEAF LADY IN BLUE IS FOLLOWING US & SHE DOESN'T KNOW IT!

OUR SECRET GET-AWAY ON A STREETCAR     CAROLYN IS TELLING EVERYONE TO FOLLOW US. THE DEAF LADY IN BLUE IS FOLLOWING US & SHE DOESN'T KNOW IT!

 Ha, ha! Our little secret get-a-way worked!!

 We waved through the windows, laughing, and slapping our knees as the streetcar moved on. A minute later we saw two car loads of our people following us, waving and laughing!! When the streetcar stopped for a passenger to get on we exited the rear! Our friends were stuck in traffic up ahead so we ducked behind a truck and dashed down a side street. We thought we saw one of the cars so we hid behind some bushes. Dogs started barking like crazy so we ran across a corner lot and down the street where Sandy thought he parked the car. Nope! We finally found the car! Hurray!

 Thirty-five minutes later we were finally out of the down-town traffic and on way to Pascagoula, Mississippi! One more exit would connect us with the main interstate out of New Orleans and we would be home free! Immediately on our right as we were merging into the main interstate we looked over and saw two familiar cars; we heard loud horns with waving hands!

 Oh, no! We could not believe our bad luck of running into them!

 Sandy sped up to get ahead but it didn’t work. They were already behind us, tailgating. I had never seen Sandy mad before but he was showing signs of mild irritation. That’s when I got tickled and started laughing. He got tickled. They followed us about four or five miles before they turned off at an exit. WHEW!!

 I THINK WE’RE  ALONE NOW!

WE THINK WE'RE ALONE NOW !!

WE THINK WE'RE ALONE NOW !!

MYSTERY PASSENGER

MYSTERY PASSENGER

CESSNA 150 BY GEOFF COLLINS JVJ   CREATIVE COMMONS    FLICKR

      “Anybody want to go up in my plane tonight?” Lesley asked with his usual, cheeky grin. “I’m a trained pilot and I have almost 200 hours under my belt.

     Everybody said, “Not me,” as they continued watching TV in the Carey Hall living room.

     That is everybody but me!

     “I’ll go!” I said, “I love flying! Especially the take off!”

     “Great, Kathy! Get your jacket and we’ll go before it gets dark,” Les said.

     What had I gotten myself into?

     The feel of the aluminum plane around my soft flesh added to my apprehension. I wanted to change my mind, but I didn’t want to interrupt Les as he did the pre-flight check before take-off. (At this point of my story I can't remember who the mystery person was that decided to go with us and took the seat up front with Les? Maybe you seminary friends can remember who it was.)

      By the time the 150 Cessna was taxing down the runway and lifting into the air it was already dark and ice cold. “Kathy, get ready for your favorite part!” Lesley yelled back. Somehow, the taking off part in this tiny plane lost its thrill.

     Dear God, I don’t want to die tonight!

     “I’ll be taking us about 9,000 feet before I level the plane off,” he yelled over the noise of the single engine. “We won’t fly far. I just want to let you see the city at night from the air. It’s so cool up here!” Lesley chattered on as usual, non-stop trying to distract us from any fear we had, but he was too late. The more he explained how safe we were in a Cessna, the more nervous I became.

     I forced myself to relax and enjoy the noisy ride and not think about how high off the ground we were . All I could see was the pitch blackness of night pressing in all around me. As the plane make a hard left turn, a big puddle of tiny, lights twinkled like stars down below.

    Whoopi! Okay, I’m done! Let’s head back to the airport now!

    Suddenly, the plane became bumpy! Les said it was just air pockets and nothing to worry about. When he circled the airplane around for a second look at the city from another angle, the plane became bumpy again and dropped several feet where I swallowed my chewing gum. Les leveled out the plane then checked out the control panel, assuring us that everything was alright.

     “With all these bumps we might  be having a little problem so, just to be safe, we’ll head back to the airport!”

      Heavenly words to my ears, but will we make it back in time? 

     I breathed out a long sigh of relief, when we landed safely on the tarp. On the way back to the seminary I couldn't hear Lesley’s chattering over the ringing in my ears from the plane's engine noise. I think we were a little spooked about our flight, including Les.

     Wes walked me to the dorm and we both went inside. The TV was blaring so we checked inside the living room to see who was in there. Nobody!  “I’m going to watch the News before I head back to the dorm!” Les said, “do you want to join me, Kathy?”

     “No, thanks, I’m very tired and I’m going to head upstairs. Thanks, anyway.”

     “Sorry, about the ruff ride up there. I don't know what happened.”

     “Oh, that’s okay! God was watching over us.”

     “Yeah, that’s true.”

     “G-night!”

      “Night!”

      

 Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 

     God's has good thoughts of peace toward us everyday. He wants us to be alive to fulfill His plan for us on Earth for His glory. I believe God helped Les to shallow his pride and quickly obey Him to go back to the airport. Maybe, we weren't in any trouble at all that night. Maybe God wanted to teach Les to obey Him and for us to trust Him when in possible danger.

 

     The following Monday afternoon, I was back at work in the library. Sandy Storrie came in just like clock work and joined me at my table. Usually, while I re-filed misplaced index cards, he read or we talked. He smiled as he sat down and opened his theology book. He read about twenty minutes, then snapped the book shut.

     “You wanna go to a movie with me tomorrow?” he said.

     “Depends,” I said trying not to look surprised.

     “Depends on what?”

     “The movie.”

     “What about The Godfather?”

     “I’ve already seen it and I hated it!”

     “What about the Conquest of the Planet of the Apes?”

     “Fine, I guess." I said, not wanting to appear anxious.

     “Pick you up at 1:30, then?”

     “Sure.”

     Sandy stood up, pushed his chair in and said he see me tomorrow and left.

 

 

    “Wow, when you said you would pick me up! I thought we were going on the bus! Is this your car?” I asked.

     “Yep! My dad flew in yesterday and bought it for me,” he said with a grin that melted my heart.

     After he opened my door and slid inside, I said, “It has that brand new smell!”

     “That’s because it is brand new!” Sandy said.

     I wasn’t looking forward to seeing a talking ape movie, but I was looking forward to my first date, and maybe my only date, with Sandy Storrie. I still couldn’t believe he had asked me out. I made sure to act casual like an old friend so he wouldn’t feel like I was chasing him. He was the type of guy that had to make the first move, when and if he decided to make one. If things don't work out with Sandy like all the others, I’ll know I’m supposed to be single!

CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES BY TONY HOFFARTH CREATIVE COMMONS FLICKR

CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES BY TONY HOFFARTH CREATIVE COMMONS FLICKR

     The movie was long and boring, until Sandy reached over in the middle of it and took my hand. The feel of his hand around mine caused something to swirl in the pit of my stomach. When he jumped, I knew he felt it, too. When the movie ended and we were in the car, Sandy suggested we go somewhere to take a walk before we grabbed a bite to eat at Bud’s Broiler.

RUNNING VIEWS MISSISSIPPI RIVER BY MATT KOWALCZYK CREATIVE COMMONS FLICKR

RUNNING VIEWS MISSISSIPPI RIVER BY MATT KOWALCZYK CREATIVE COMMONS FLICKR

     He parked his blue Datsun and we walked on the boardwalk along the Mississippi River. The fall breeze blowing off the water was cold so we turned back. As we got closer to the car, I didn’t want to let go of Sandy’s hand, but when we stopped in the small parking area, he pulled me toward him. I looked up into his blue eyes, knowing what he was going to do. He didn’t kiss me once, but twice. And, then he kissed me again when he dropped me off at the dorm.

 

      That night I asked God if He still wanted me to stay single since Sandy had asked me out, held my hand, and kissed me three times! I never heard anything from God that night.

  * * *  

     After I finished writing MYSTERY PASSENGER I read it to my hubby, Sandy, so he could okay me sharing it with my readers and correct or suggest anything I had missed. Of course, the pilot’s real name is not Lesley. Sandy said my story sounded good and it needed no corrections as far as he could tell.      

      When I woke up today, I finally remembered who was sitting in front of the airplane with Lesley. Who do you think it was? Put your answer in the comment section below. Why do you think I forgot who it was?  

    

       

 

 

    

WAIT on the LORD

WAIT ON THE LORD

WAIT FOR THE LORD BY CHARLOTTE TAICREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR

WAIT FOR THE LORD BY CHARLOTTE TAICREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR

 It had been almost five months since Sandy Storrie had been coming to the library to sit and talk with me almost every day during the week. I didn’t know why he was showing this big interest in me, because he never asked me out. Even on a last minute group date of ten people or more he usually ignored me. When a group of us rode home on the bus from First Baptist Church of New Orleans he kept to himself unless we were singing. One time it was just him and me singing: What a Day That Will Be and The King is Coming!

 At the end of the first year of seminary, I planned to get a job in New Orleans. Before I did, my friends, Beverly and Rachel, invited me to go with them to interview for a summer mission program at a church in Monroe, Louisiana. When we arrived we were surprised to see Randy S. and Sandy Storrie there from the seminary. Sandy smiled at me but never said anything, but friendly Randy spoke.

 We three girls fell in love with the father-like pastor who oozed with love for Jesus and had an eagerness to reach the youth in his community for Christ. How could I resist hearing his rich heavenly voice every Sunday, and an opportunity to serve the Lord? But, would I be of any worth, if Sandy Storrie was around? I heard he only came to keep Randy company on the trip. I cross my fingers and hoped to die, I'll stick a needle in my eye if I'm not telling the truth that I don't want Sandy to end up in Monroe with us this summer. My silly child-like chant didn’t do any good; Sandy decided to come join us.

 After we girls got settled in to our apartment near Monroe Baptist Church, I went downstairs to meet the newly weds who were teaching the Young Adult Sunday School and reaching out to new young adults in the community. The wife was delightful and easy to talk to and she picked up on my uneasiness and she asked me what was wrong.

 She said she had the same problem when nothing was working out with her finding the right man to marry. She said if Sandy is the one for you and he’s not ready, I needed to back off and give him space.  She said, sometimes you have to secretly chase the guy until he catches you! God wants you to let go of worrying and let Him run your love life even if it means being single for the rest of your life! She told God she was sorry for focusing so much on finding the right guy and letting it become her god.

 Sheepishly, I asked her how she became a newly wed. She chuckled and said it wasn't easy. But, as soon as she gave God her love life and left any future husband up to Him, her husband, eventually, appeared when she wasn't looking. She said the same thing will probably happen to me but don’t worry about it or try to make it happen…just let go and let God!

 That night as I lay my head on my tear soaked pillow, I let go of Sandy. Whether he was or wasn’t the one for me I had to let him and marriage go and be willing to stay single if that’s what God wanted for me. Those were the hardest words for me to pray!  Afterwards, I felt at peace and I slept like a baby.

 The six of us were knee deep in Vacation Bible Schools and Youth Outreach and we didn’t notice that the summer was flying by. I was surprised that I hardly noticed when Sandy was around. I chuckled inside as I realized my new growing confidence was putting a puzzled look on the face of Mr. Blonde Haired Sandy with Blue Eyes. If I was supposed to be single, I was learning how to enjoy it!

At the end of the summer back at seminary a strange phenomenon came on. Different guys started asking me out and I couldn’t understand what was going on! What was God doing? Was he testing me? Should I turn them down? Since, I wasn’t really interested in the guys, I accepted just to have something to do.

 Dennis seemed like a harmless, nice guy when he appeared out of nowhere one day on campus and asked me out. I said I would have to think about it because I wasn’t dating since I told God I would stay single if that was His will. Dennis looked at me with a cute grin and said, " I'm not asking you to marry me...yet, so I’ll just call you Friday for your answer on our date, if that's okay."

I accepted the Saturday date when Dennis called and I apologized for my over informative response. He just laughed. When we were driving out of the seminary he started telling me some personal stuff...that he had been a successful pastor of his own church for five years; he owned his house and car; and all he needed now was to find a wife! He chuckled about the last part, so I pretended to hug the door and I said, "You better not be taking me to the Chapel of Love!"

When The God Father movie was finally over I woke up to the long credits going by on the screen. The bloody sight of the race horse's head in the bed was still making me sick. I couldn’t wait to get back to the dorm and throw up in the toilet.

I had kept my distance so Dennis wouldn’t feel obligated to hold my hand or put his arm around me. Not that he wanted to because he seemed perfectly happy to be by himself. He was polite enough, slim and trim, and he dressed nicely, but his balding head and bad breath were screaming, "he's trying to rob the cradle!"When I turned down our going to The Café DuMonde after the movie, Dennis seemed tired and relieved.

When he pulled up in front of my dorm, I thanked him for the evening and I insisted he didn’t have to walk me to the door. Before he got out on his side, I jumped out of the car, waved goodnight and practically ran in to the dorm. I was so afraid he was going to ask me out again and I didn’t know how to turn him down. My guilty heart pounded hard in my throat as I leaned against the door that had closed behind me. I let out a very, long sigh of relief. I blinked my eyes and realized they had stopped watering, but my clothes smelled like a smoke stack.

 I sat next to cutie pie, Larry, in the Young Adult Ministry class the first semester of my second year at seminary. I got to know this mysterious, handsome guy a little better. He was a fun-flirt at the girl’s dorm and he seemed a little interested in me. I didn’t take him serious though, because I had a feeling he was gay. I didn't know a thing about homosexuals. All I knew was they wore green... or didn't wear green, on Thursdays in high school. Oh, well!

When he asked me out one day after class, I tried to hide my surprise. Maybe, he was trying to test his true sexuality and he thought I could help him? It was more like he was trying to intimidate me for fun! He said he wanted to show me around New Orleans, so I accepted.

STREET CAR NEW ORLEANSBY FAUNGG'S PHOTOS CREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR

STREET CAR NEW ORLEANSBY FAUNGG'S PHOTOS CREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR

 Larry didn’t own a car so we took the bus first and later ended up in a street car. He showed me much of New Orleans I had already seen and some I had not seen. He was surprised I had already been down on Bourbon Street several times and had been to lots of other places he pointed out. Maybe, he thought seminary girls sat in their dorm room all weekend.

  Evidently, he didn’t know that we girls and guys would jump into two or three cars at a moment's notice and head for a late night snack at Bud’s Broiler or the Dirty Donut Shop! Larry's disappointment that I had already seen almost everything made me feel like I had to still act excited. As if he was annoyed with my act, he pulled on the street car rope to alert the conductor he wanted to get off. He grabbed my hand and we exited into a lower, middle class residential area.

 He dragged me along Canal Street as if in a hurry, mumbling something about introducing me to somebody who was not really expecting us. When we stopped in front of a small, A-frame house, near the sidewalk, I said, “Who isn't expecting us?”

 “They're good friends,” Larry said, “don't worry, they won’t mind us dropping in unexpected! We won’t stay long! I want to show you off, anyway!”he said with a persnickety grin.

 The surprised look on my face from Larry's sweet compliment matched the surprised look on the guy’s face that opened the door. He said he wasn’t expecting us! (or he wasn't expecting Larry with a girl if you know what I mean?)With a forced smile he motioned for us to come in. We followed him in and stopped short of the kitchen counter where he was preparing dinner. I looked around at the small house that was one big room with an open, bedroom in the loft.

“We were in the neighborhood and I decided to drop by,” Larry said, so sue me! Something smells delicious!”

“Home made lasagna!” the cook said.

 “Brody, this is Kathy!” Larry finally introduced me. “ Kathy, this is Brody and up in the loft is his boyfriend, Clark.”

 I nodded at Brody and waved at Clark who was grinning like a Cheshire cat at my deer-in-the-headlight face. You could cut the air with the knife Brody was using to cut up the salad makings. Nobody invited us to sit down, let alone eat.

 We stayed less than five minutes because the "chit-chat" ran low and the food for two was getting cold. The unfriendly situation added fire to Larry’s already, bad mood as we left and rode the bus back to campus in silence.

"I guess your two friends didn’t approve of me being with you. You know what we should have done, Larry?"

"No! What?"

"We should have asked to stay to eat, then made out on the sofa. Larry laughed about my suggestion all the way home and I told him I didn't think it was that funny.

 Richard had a muscular, stocky build and he was very handsome. I could tell he knew what he wanted in life and he wouldn’t stop until he got it. I didn’t think that included me, so I went out with him to see what he was all about. He told me we were going to a local university where we had permission to witness to the students on campus.

 Richard handed me a stack of small, four-square gospel tracts before he disappeared. For two hours the Lord helped me hand out tracts and witness to strangers who were very nice and receptive. The B.S.U. back in college had prepared me to know how to do this.  I approached people who were sitting alone reading or studying. A few of them listened to the gospel and accepted Jesus Christ into their hearts or they took the tract to read later.

CHRISTIAN EVANGELISM BY CHRIS YARZAB  CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR

CHRISTIAN EVANGELISM BY CHRIS YARZAB  CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR

 Richard returned and said it was time to go back. He seemed pleased with me but still acted business-like and very focused on his agenda. He never asked me out on a real date but I think he used the witnessing adventure to see how I fared as a potential pastor’s wife. A month later he verbalized his intentions toward me after we came back from witnessing one Saturday.

 “Kathy, I like you very much but you need to know something. I should have told you this sooner but I needed more time to know my true feelings. Even though I do have a special feeling for you, I cannot ask you out on a real date. The reason being is that I believe I am still in love with a girl back home. We wanted to use this separation time to see if we still had the same feelings. I had no idea I would meet someone like you here and I don’t want to lead you on any further in case you are starting to have feelings for me. I know now my feelings are still strong for her but she may not want me back but I have to go home and find out. I wanted you to know and I didn’t want to hurt you,” Richard said.

 All I could say to him was thank you for being honest and that she was a lucky girl and that if it didn’t work out, he knew where to find me if he needed help giving out gospel tracts.

 He never came back but that was okay by me because my feelings for Sandy Storrie were much stronger than any feelings I had for Richard. If God decided to let me get married I still voted for Sandy for now. Meanwhile, I would enjoy being single and wait on the Lord!

 Psalm 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Anything worth having, I have had to wait for, my whole life! The good stuff is hardly ever dumped in my lap! I have to wait, pray, sweat, wait, bleed, wait, cry, and pray some more before I get the big one. But, when it comes it is always so precious and worth all the pain and struggle.

 "Wait on the Lord" is my motto in life and it is the only way for me.

LAMENTATIONS 3:35 BY SAPPHIRE DREAM PHOTOGRAPHS CREATIVE COMMONS FLICKR

LAMENTATIONS 3:35 BY SAPPHIRE DREAM PHOTOGRAPHS CREATIVE COMMONS FLICKR

Mardi Gras Ball 1972

MARDI GRAS BY BILL ROGERS CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR.COM

MARDI GRAS BY BILL ROGERS CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR.COM

Mardi Gras Ball 1972

After a long day, I was tired and anxious to get back to the dormitory and rest a few minutes before dinner. It was Caroline’s turn to cook and her meals were always the best. I looked ahead and saw Billy Bennet leaning against one of the white columns in front of the dorm. He looked handsome in his light blue jacket and his dark, wavy hair. As I ascended the steps he gave me his handsome smile with his perfect, white teeth.

 “Hi, Kathy! I was wondering if you would like to go to the Mardi Gras Ball with me this Saturday night?” Billy asked.

 “Sure, what time?” I asked, picking up on his nervousness. He was a regular at the girl’s dorm where he read the newspaper, flirted casually with the girls and told corny jokes. Nobody could get passed his awkward demeanor.

 “It starts at eight, so I’ll pick you up at seven if that’s alright,” he said as started down the steps sideways. “I’ll be wearing a tuxedo!” he called back.

 

HAPPY MARDI GRASBY LYSSA ERICKSON   CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR.COM

HAPPY MARDI GRASBY LYSSA ERICKSON   CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR.COM

I borrowed a full length, turquoise evening gown just my size. I was really nervous as I walked down the long hall toward the lobby where I saw Billy waiting for me. When he turned around he took my breath away; I guess I took his breath away, too, because his face lit up.

 “You look absolutely stunning and that color becomes you!” he said grinning from side-burn to side-burn.

 I said, “So do you, I mean you look very handsome in your tux!”

He chuckled. “Thank you! I have this flower to pin on you if it’s okay.”

“A flower for me? Sure, but I don’t have one for you!” I said.

“That’s okay,” he smiled.

 After he finished pinning on the purple orchid, he offered me his arm and we walked out the door to a snazzy little sports car. I could tell Billy was in his element when he opened the door and tucked me safely inside the car. I watched him from the corner of my eye as he walked confidently around the back of the car. I felt so protected and… mollycoddled for the first time in my life!

 

NEW ORLEANS, LA. BY ROGER SMITH   CREATIVE COMMONS    FLICKR.COM

NEW ORLEANS, LA. BY ROGER SMITH   CREATIVE COMMONS    FLICKR.COM

The smooth drive in his open convertible allowed me to see how New Orleans sparkled at night! The cool, night air helped calm my nerves enough so I could steal occasional peeks at my handsome date; his eyes never left the busy, weekend traffic. But, at a red light, he looked over at me and smiled the sweetest smile. I felt like we had just stepped out of a Harlequin romance novel. The romantic night was turning into a date that I had never allowed myself to dream.

 Billy pulled the car along side the Opera House, behind a limousine, and put the car in park. The car motor wasn’t the only thing still running. The valet copied the car license and put Billy’s name on a tag before he attached it to the car key. Billy hopped out of the car and swung around the front to help me get out. I pulled up the bottom of my gown with my left hand before I grabbed hold of Billy’s arm with my right hand. I felt like Aubrey Hepburn and Billy was Gregory Peck! This had to be how the movie stars lived all the time.

I wondered if God was calling me to marry a rich, caring preacher like Billy? I didn't feel adequate for a calling like that. But, if so, I guess I wouldn't have to worry any more about finding a job, learning how to cook, or set a fancy table; I would probably have a maid & butler!

HAPPY MARDI GRAS BYANDY CASTRO   CREATIVE COMMONS    FLICKR.COM

HAPPY MARDI GRAS BYANDY CASTRO   CREATIVE COMMONS    FLICKR.COM

Inside of the half empty theater it echoed with soft, cheerful voices as we walked in the main entrance. The inside of the dark, musty, opera house had definitely seen better days. We stood there half wondering what lay ahead behind the closed curtain. Billy touched my arm and asked me where I wanted to sit. I looked around and when I looked up in the balcony, he nodded and said, “Let’s go!”

 We were the only ones sitting in the dark balcony. Billy acted like he wanted to loosen up but he didn’t know how. It was hard for me to relax when Billy was as tight as balloon ready to pop! I wished I knew how to help him unwind, Lord. Neither one of us were a good conversationalist. I wanted to help him untie the emotional rope that was suppressing something from his past.

 It was fun watching the handsomely dressed couples as they came in and filled the empty seats below! I didn’t say anything to Billy, but I was wondering where the ballroom dance was going to be afterwards. I imagined a spacious room, with blue satin walls and gold moldings. I could almost smell the the aroma of Louisiana magnolias. Beneath the crystal chandeliers, I envisioned dancing couples, while others stood around fancy tables and drank spiked punch. Then, I remembered I couldn’t ballroom dance nor drink spiked punch!

TOUR EIFFEL TOWER 3 BY nioki32    CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR.COM

TOUR EIFFEL TOWER 3 BY nioki32    CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR.COM

 When the opera music started, the lights dimmed and the purple curtains trimmed in gold and green, opened. The stage setting was an outside French cafe with the lighted Eiffel Tower in the distance. An elegant couple, arm in arm, exited the cafe singing in French. For the next hour and a half I watched and listened with amazement as a mirage of people exchanged foreign words in song. I was amazed at how I could understand some of it with my heart. Following each of the three Acts, Billy and I clapped and shouted, “Bravo, bravo!” We couldn’t stop laughing at how ridiculous we sounded.

 

CAFE DU MONDEBY KIRBYFEST   CREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR.COM

CAFE DU MONDEBY KIRBYFEST   CREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR.COM

After he put the top up on the car, we decided to skip the Mardi Gras Ball and go to a very popular site called Café Du Monde. The small café is located across the Street from Jackson Square and it serves strong, chicory coffee with powdered sugar beignets (pronounced ben yeahs). We felt over-dressed so we ordered our food then took it to a little table outside under the Louisiana full moon.

CAFE DU MONDE BEGNIETS & CHICORY COFFEEBY HOWARD LIFSHITZ CREATIVE COMMONS     FLICKR.COM

CAFE DU MONDE BEGNIETS & CHICORY COFFEEBY HOWARD LIFSHITZ CREATIVE COMMONS     FLICKR.COM

 My light wrap was no match for the cool air pouring in off the Mississippi River. Billy noticed me shivering so he quickly removed his jacket and slid it around my shoulders. All the other things he had done for me that evening were so sweet but this simple act of chivalry caught me off guard. I couldn’t remember anybody ever giving me their coat.

 The divine smell of his after shave around my shoulders made me feel woozy and a bit amorous. When he sat back down across from me I couldn’t help but notice how his white shirt didn’t hide any of his chiseled muscles. Embarrassed, when he caught me staring, I laughed and pointed at imaginary, powdery sugar on his face. I laughed more when he tried to rub nothing off his face.

JACKSON SQUAREBY AMIR NEJAD   CREATIVE COMMONS    FLICKR.COM

JACKSON SQUAREBY AMIR NEJAD   CREATIVE COMMONS    FLICKR.COM

Finally, he gave up and came over to the chair next to me with his napkin in his hand. He watched me finish my messy beignet as I starred across the street at the silhouette of Jackson on his mighty steed. When I looked over at Billy, he was looking down at my lips with a glazed look in his eyes. For a brief moment, I thought he was going to lean in and kiss the powdered sugar from my lips, but, unfortunately, he used his napkin instead.

 Riding back home I wanted to pry him open with a million can openers. I knew absolutely nothing about his past, present or future! All I knew was he was a drop-dead gorgeous, he was a devout Christian who went to church every Sunday, he had excellent manners, he was kind, he worked out, he had money, and he was hiding something.

 I kept quiet in the car all the way back to the campus, hating the silence between us. Before, I knew it, we were driving through the seminary gates and Billy was parking across the street from my dorm in the parking lot. I hoped we would sit and talk a bit, after he cut the motor in the middle of Hank Williams' latest song, “Jambalaya”! Instead, Billy jumped out of the car, ran around the front and opened my door. He took my right hand as I gathered my dress and stepped out. We crossed the street and walked up the few steps to my dorm. He stopped between two white columns where we turned toward each other.  I was stunned by his handsome face glowing in the moon light. I could hardly breathe, wondering, if he was going to kiss me goodnight. If so, I was more than ready.

 Still holding my hand he leaned down and kissed me … on the cheek. “I had a great time tonight,” he said with a husky voice.

 “Me, too!” I said. “Thanks for a wonderful evening.”

 “Goodnight, and sleep well … my dear, sweet, Kathy!”

 “Goodnight! You, too,” I said as I walked away and opened the door to go in. When I looked back, Billy was already across the street and getting into his car. I watched him back up and drive away. I closed the door and leaned against it, wondering what or if anything was happening.

 Time would tell.

 For the next two weeks, I never saw Billy. He didn’t come by the girl’s dorm to flirt and joke with the girls, nor with me. I asked somebody about him and they weren’t real sure about something they had heard about Billy. I told them about our date and how attentive he was, but also how he was so quiet and distant. This person finally told me what they knew about Billy. They said Billy was still hurting and trying to get over his ... divorce.

I was in shock!

 The same reason he never asked me out again was why he was so quiet in the car. He was still hurting and he couldn’t talk about it. And, he wasn’t ready for a new relationship.

 I was glad I wasn’t nosy that night by asking him personal questions. I may have opened a can of worms. Later, I learned how a couple can be drawn to each other over a catastrophe like a divorce or a break up...and someone always gets hurt.

That night I knew God had kept my mind blank so I wouldn't ask Billy any questions. Thank you, God for coming to my rescue one more time. I prayed for Billy and asked Jesus to help him to find somebody when he was ready or maybe get back with his wife. I won’t know what happened to him until I see him in Heaven.

 But, I did realize that sweet, handsome, rich Billy was not the Man God had planned for me.

Now, I would have to learn how to cook and how to set a table!

THE TALE OF TWO WOMEN

The Tale of Two Women

STEEPLE @ N.O.B.T.S.  BYROBERT TERRELL   CREATIVE COMMONS     FLICKR

STEEPLE @ N.O.B.T.S.  BYROBERT TERRELL   CREATIVE COMMONS     FLICKR

 While a student prayed for the hungry children of the world I had one eye open on the professor who was adjusting the straps on her over-the-shoulder-bolder- holder. It was a bit embarrassing so I shut my eyes before she looked up and caught me. I was mesmerized how she could take that chance when she had a room full of mostly men who hopefully had their eyes shut. Had she reached that age where she was too old to worry about what she did in public? She had to be at least fifty! I peeked through my eyelashes and she was corralling the last boob into its proper place.

 

I finally figured out the reason the first year student was deliberately carrying on a live prayer marathon. Evidently, he wanted to avoid the much hated pop quiz! I wasn't shocked that a ministerial student would pull off such a self-centered stunt, since I had been exposed to a few shenanigans at a Christian college. It might have been a dare or a prank but I had a feeling this young man had not read the homework assignment and he wasn't ready for the daily pop quiz.

I had tried to read the long assignment, but I couldn't focus as usual nor could I comprehend what little I was reading. Back in elementary school my reading comprehension wasn't bad enough to qualify me for special reading class. I truly envied the kids that got to go to special reading.

The longer the student prayed, the redder Dr. Falls' face turned. I hoped he would keep praying because I wasn't ready for the quiz either. I hated her tricky questions like, how many animals slept under the missionary’s house, or how many people died from malaria, or how many elephants stampeded an African village. She had a romance going on with numbers.

 

After fifteen or so minutes, the professor blurted out, “Amen! Amen! Thank you young man, sit down, please! You are not the only student I've had to stop praying! (The class laughed.) And, I’m sure you won’t be the last! Remind me to not ask him to pray! (more laughter) Now class, number your paper one to ten for our pop quiz!” I think I got five right or six right.

 

 I remember when Dr. Helen Falls told us on the first day of class that she aspired to become a foreign missionary from the time she was four years old. But, when she finished seminary and applied, she was rejected by the foreign mission board for health reasons. She accepted her fate and decided to use her Masters degree in foreign missions to teach at a seminary. After all, she told us, teaching missions and inspiring students to spread the gospel on foreign fields was the next best thing to being a real, live missionary!"

 

I often thought about the plight of Miss Falls the foreign missions teacher and Miss Davidson the librarian from my last memoir. Miss Davidson had the opportunity to marry the love of her life and become a foreign missionary but turned both down because she feared she was inadequate. Miss Falls, however, wanted to be a foreign missionary so badly, but she was turned down due to health problems.

Did they both miss their true calling? Does God only have one calling on our life? Did both women settle for less without a fight? Did God hold it against Miss Davidson for refusing to be a missionary? Was He disappointed when Dr. Falls didn’t try harder to be a missionary?

 

 These two extraordinary women accepted their lot in life and they seemed perfectly content. There was a bit of sadness for them at the beginning when their dreams did not come true, but they didn’t let it get them down. Nor, did it stop them from succeeding in doing something else.

 

Dr. Falls showed me how to accept disappointments graciously and smile regardless of the lemons. She made delicious lemonade and she inspired me to pay attention to the details in life. Miss Davidson reached out to me at the perfect time I needed somebody to care and she inspired me to let Christ love people through me, one person at a time.  

 

 

 

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear!

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear!

11920505_08d0b6d7f7_z.jpg

OLD CARD CATALOG BY STEVE   CREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR

I sat in the dimly lit office where I had been summoned. I waited in the gallows of Miss Davidson's torture chamber as she busied herself with the several stacks of old books on a long table. My guilty conscience kept tightening the noose around my neck with every preaching tick of the giant grandfather clock over in the dark corner. I reminded myself to breathe, but when I sucked in the stale air of the tiny room I felt sick. Why did God want me here at seminary in the first place?  

At least the Dewey Decimal System is Universal by Megan Byrd  Creative Commons Flickr

At least the Dewey Decimal System is Universal by Megan Byrd  Creative Commons Flickr

“Excuse my back, Miss Wilcox, but I had to get those books in order before my secretary comes in here to get them,” Miss Davidson said as she rubbed her hands to get rid of the dust. She gave me eye contact for the first time since I had entered her lair.

 “That’s okay,” I said

 “Thank you for coming so promptly, I’m sure you are wondering why I asked to see you.”

I didn't answer. I knew when I felt the least bit intimidated by a superior I could make a simple "yes" sound rude. (Ask my father.) I hoped she would hurry up and fire me. This woman was a light weight, not much taller than five-foot two. She was barely over a hundred pounds, wet.  Even the perfect cut of her short, salt and pepper curly hair gave her a certain pizzazz for a woman her years.

“I like to get to know my new library workers,” she said. “Tell me all about yourself. Your work can wait. Where are you from? Where did you go for your undergraduate? What was your major? Why are you here at seminary?”

In other words she wants to find if I'm here to find a man! Or, she's jealous that a man is interested in me! How do I get into these situations when people think the worst of me? I tell some of the bad things so she'll know I'm human and I don't lie.

“Well, I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1948. At eight years old, I stole five coke bottles from a laundry mat. My dad found out and made me write 700 sentences: 'I will never steal coke bottles from the laundry mat again for candy money!'"

That confession made the woman's eye brows raise as high as a clown's, so I settled back in the chair to dig deeper.

"After a long life of sin, I became a Christian at eleven years old at the Deer Park Baptist Church! In Camp Fire Girls I sold so many cookies I got my picture in the newspaper with the mayor. My parents rededicated their lives to Christ. I prayed for a new house so I could have a yard to play in instead of an alley plus I didn't want to live in an apartment with a million roaches. Only by a miracle we got one in Hamilton, Ohio where they live now.

Our pet mouse bit my finger and brought the blood so I ran out of the apartment to find my mother. I slammed the apartment door so hard it broke the glass window into a million pieces; I blamed my little brother for doing it. but my mother knew better."

I thought I was talking too much, so I stopped. Miss Davidson waved for me to continue.

"My father who almost died five times, worked as a janitor at Ford Motor Company and worked his way up to being an inspector. His pay was so low I qualified for a grant and semester loans at Cumberland College in Williamsburg, Kentucky where I worked in the library mending old books. I was active in the Baptist Student Union where I gave my life to the Lord for special service.

Mom and Dad had more children, two girls, and their sweetness caused me to love children and I babysit for the whole neighborhood and made enough money to buy contact lenses. How I ever made it into National Honor Society in high school and Who's Who in college is still a mystery, because my grades were only average. I got my B.S. degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Art. I was supposed to teach the fifth grade again in Somerset, Ky. but while I was making the bed, God told me it was time for me to go to seminary!"

 “My, my, what an interesting story!I hope you write a book some day! Now, back to why I called you to my office. Please, don’t think you are in trouble because you are not! Believe me, Miss Wilcox, I am not too old to know when I see love blooming! I was in love once! Having to organize misplaced Dewey Decimal cards can drive a person crazy! But, having a nice looking distraction can't be a bad thing! After all, God made women cable to do several things at the same time,” she said with a twinkle in her eye.

OBSOLETEBY RUSS ALLISON LOAR   CREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR

OBSOLETEBY RUSS ALLISON LOAR   CREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR

 I was beginning to like Miss Davidson's line of reasoning.

 The levy broke and Miss Davidson flooded the room with her life story! Her beautiful love story made me smile first then weep. Being from an affluent family, Miss Davidson had a spectacular life and many names in her datebook. One Sunday, a young, handsome man at her church caught her eye. After few months of courting the couple became engaged with the permission of her parents. But, when she discovered the young man had dedicated his life to the foreign missions, she got cold feet, returned his engagement ring and said goodbye.

GOODBYE 2009 BY PATRICK EMERSON  CREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR

GOODBYE 2009 BY PATRICK EMERSON  CREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR

 “I called you in here today to encourage you, Kathy, to never throw true love away like I did. My true love went off to the mission field without me. I became an librarian spinster not just because I loved books, but because I was so afraid I would be unhappy on the foreign mission field. Instead, I ended up being unhappy here in the states. 

 “I am so sorry, Miss Davidson that your true love didn't wait for you to change your mind before he left on the mission field. Isn't true love patient and kind and willing to wait?

"Well, he didn't wait. He said he had a calling on his life andhad to be about His Father's business! It hurt me badly to let him go, but I was spoiled rotten from a life of luxury. I couldn't live in a hut on a dirt floor! knew my crying would distract him and ruin his work for God. I loved him so much I had to let him go. I figured somebody else would come along but nobody held a candle to him!” She grabbed two more tissues and gave me one.

 “Well, it was truly his loss, I’m sure.” I said.

 “It was both our loss. He did marry a girl he met here in the states before he left, but I heard he was not happy with their marriage. When she died prematurely, he wrote me that he still loved me and would I marry him. I didn’t answer him because I was afraid I would say, yes." Tears streamed down Miss Davidson's face.

"There is no fear in love; Perfect love casts out fear because fear hath torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18.

I let my fear ruin his life without me and my life without him. If I had it to do over, I would go with him! But, now all I can hope for is that his great success was because I wasn't there to hold him back. And, to encourage young women like you to not let fear hold you back if it is true love ."

I didn’t know what to say to this woman who was in her seventies and was still suffering from a broken heart. “Is he still alive?” I asked, hoping I wasn’t putting salt in the wound.

 “No, he died a few years ago after four decades on the mission field. He was buried over seas beside his last wife. He had four children who moved to the states, long before he died.”

 “Have you gone to see his children?”

 “Oh,I wouldn’t impose on them. As far as I know, they never knew about me and it’s just as well. Now, enough talk about me! Your young man is waiting out there in the main library! If he is the one God has for you, don’t let fear ruin your love! If you feel inadequate about his particular ministry, be sure to tell him and talk about it. God can balance and use two totally different people for the same work. I never gave God a chance to perfect my love and cast out my fear.

THOMAS ALEXANDER (SANDY) STORRIE1966 TUCUMCARI, NEW MEXICO

THOMAS ALEXANDER (SANDY) STORRIE1966 TUCUMCARI, NEW MEXICO

What is his your friend's name, where is he from, and what ministry is he getting?”

 “His name is Sandy Storrie and he’s from Tucumcari, New Mexico. He’s preparing for the deaf ministry. We’re just good friends getting to know each other for now.” I lied because I was feeling more than friendship.

By the time I got back, Sandy was gone, and it was time for me to go back to the dorm. I had a lot of thinking and praying to do. I felt sorry for Miss Davidson with no husband and no children; only cold books and a few friends to keep her company.

I knew God wanted me at the seminary for some reason but I didn’t know what it was, yet. I had a peaceful feeling that my purpose would fall into place in due time. If Sandy is the one for me I will be patient, not push anything, and wait to see what happens.

God's perfect love will cast out fear while true love waits.

TRUE LOVE WAITS BY TATIANA P.  CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR

TRUE LOVE WAITS BY TATIANA P.  CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR

Driving Miss Cobb to Neverland

Driving Miss Cobb to Neverland!

 

HANDS ON WHEEL BY PRESS RELEASE FINDER   CREATIVE COMMONS    FLICKR

HANDS ON WHEEL BY PRESS RELEASE FINDER   CREATIVE COMMONS    FLICKR

 
After crossing the Ohio River into Kentucky I soon picked up Mary Lou Cobb at the Florence Mall off I-75. I still wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into by going to seminary. I dreaded the long 840 mile drive to the sin city of New Orleans, Louisiana. Mary Lou kept me awake by telling me how she met and fell in love with her fiance and stories about seminary life in Neverland.

Within an hour after crossing the Louisiana state line, I could feel my natural curly hair coiling so tight it was starting togive me a headache. Mary Lou's hair swirled like orange, cotton candy on a stick. To keep myself from laughing at her hair I focused on the creepy, greenish-gray moss hanging from so many of the trees. If we had a flat tire and the car veered off the highway to the right we would go right into the black lagoon where we would be eaten alive by a congregation of algae covered alligators!

 

TREESBY RALPH DAILY   CREATIVE COMMONS    FLICKR

TREESBY RALPH DAILY   CREATIVE COMMONS    FLICKR

ALLIGATORSby Extra Zebra   Creative Commons    Flickr

ALLIGATORSby Extra Zebra   Creative Commons    Flickr

After hearing about Neverland for 12 hours there were no surprises left when I drove through the big Elvis like gates of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. I felt like I was driving into sanctuary with dirt and sin washed away! Pretty soon on the right hand side was the girl’s dormitory, Carey Hall, with bright, white colonial, chastity columns. Only a few steps up to the first floor where I entered into a wide, cool hallway. On the left was a kitchen for three and straight ahead opened up into a formal living room the size of a roller rink. A more comfortable TV room caught my eye as I walked down the left hall to find the stairs.

 After bringing up the last of my things, I flopped down exhausted on one of the twin beds in my room. I had not asked for a single room because I would be charged more. Instead, I would take a chance on hopefully not getting a roommate. I drifted off to sleep.

 In a couple of hours a knock on my door woke me up. A pretty girl named Linda said she was my roommate! I hated to tell her I didn't want a roommate, but I did anyway as nicely as possible, because I was desperate to be alone. With her arms loaded she looked at me funny, so I said, “Nothing against you, Linda, but I was hoping for some privacy after twenty-two years!”

Good hearted Linda burst out laughing at my explanation. I felt a little better. She said,“That’s okay, I’ll just go back to room and board and ask for a room with somebody who wants a roommate. Can I leave my stuff here by your door?”

 "Sure," I said feeling like I wanted to crawl under the levy! I had been caught trying to sneak a private room without paying, plus, I had inconvenienced a nice, fellow Christian. I didn't deserve her kindness when she told me not worry about it. She later assured me she had found a roommate and everything was fine.

Linda didn’t know it, but she became my hero that day. She showed me how a real Christian lady handles adversity when she's been hoodwinked. Even now as I write this memoir I’m tearing up remembering her forgiveness.

Even though I didn't deserve it, I enjoyed my private room more than I can express. (Yes, I was rightly charged the extra fee for a private room.) God had shown me His great mercy and grace through one of His seasoned Christians from Florida. I also discovered I could study better without a human distraction. It was like a haven of rest for me when I could pray out aloud to the Lord whenever I wanted. My biggest prayer request was sounding like a broken record, “Why am I here at seminary, Lord?”

 Much to my delight, the first floor of Carey Hall was filled with testosterone every weekend! I felt shy around so many genuine ministers, but when the girls and guys sang the familiar hymns around the piano I relaxed. My friend, Mary Lou, was definitely right about the high ratio of men to women, but I wasn’t complaining.

 Back in my room one night, Mary Lou asked me what I thought about all the cute guys coming to Carey Hall. I just smiled and said I hadn't really noticed! She laughed and wagged her head. She asked, “What do you think about that tall guy from New Mexico, Sandy Storrie?”

 She caught me off guard so I hesitated before I said, “Oh, he’s tall alright and cute, but he’s not my type! I'm only attracted to dark haired guys, remember?

Many of the women at the seminary were working on a Masters in Religious Education (M.R.E.). I couldn’t figure out what Baptist church was going to hire me as a woman to teach and lead religious education. I could not see myself breaking down the old Baptist tradition of no woman teaching men!

New Orleans Baptist Theological SeminarySTEEPLE by Robert Terrell  Creative Commons

New Orleans Baptist Theological SeminarySTEEPLE by Robert Terrell  Creative Commons

 Most of my religious training at N.O.B.T.S. was quite exciting and liberating. The professors opened class with prayer and they were approachable. I was beginning to feel my call and purpose coming together under the teaching of Dr. Mildred Souther’s Childhood Education classes. She helped me understand the different needs and expectations of child from birth and up. It would be handy to know all these things whether in the church setting or when raising my own children I thought.

I spent hours reading and collecting information on the spiritual, mental, physical and emotional needs of children. I wished I had known them while I was babysitting back in Ohio. I lovingly put together a one of its kind, thick, accordion book with pictures of children at every age with their corresponding characteristics and specific needs. I let Dr. Souther borrow it to show as an example to her classes.

COURTYARD AT N.O.B.T.Seminaryby DWAYNE EWERS   CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR

COURTYARD AT N.O.B.T.Seminaryby DWAYNE EWERS   CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR

 Believe it or not, the seminary classes were free but I still needed spending money for food, gas, and toiletries. I applied for the library job on campus and I got it. I would be alphabetizing all the misplaced Dewey Decimal index cards, A thru Z. I had to sit out in the open library near the index card file cabinet where I could work; and check out all the available, male ministerial students.

 One, late afternoon, while working at the library, I was summoned by the Librarian, Miss Davidson. I had avoided the elderly, jilted spinster for six months hoping she would stay secluded in her office. Someone must have told her I was talking daily with a handsome visitor while I worked. It wasn't my fault he came in everyday and sat across from me! But now, I was going to walk the plank and suffer the consequences because of my poor judgment.

Nervously, I bit my lower lip as I gently slid the index card drawer back into its home. Chills of fear rippled up and down my spine making my feet stick to the plank like glue with each agonizing step toward Miss Davidson’s dungeon. I knocked on the door while my legs wobbled like two strands of licorice.

 “Come in!” I heard Miss Davidson say.

 My sweaty hand could barely turn the brass knob.“You wanted to see me, Miss Davidson?”

 “Yes, please come in, Miss Wilcox, and sit down,” she said while peeking over the top of her half glasses and pointing to the leather chair with a gnarled finger.

 “Yes, ma’mam,” I said as I grabbed hold of the arms of the sturdy chair and plopped down like a sheep before the slaughter. I sucked in a deep breath through my nose to clear my cobwebs, but it was too late . . . my brain had left the building.

To be continued.

IS THAT YOU, LORD?

IS THAT YOU, LORD?

 

I finished teaching and promoting my wonderful students at Burnside Elementary to fifth grade. The school would let me know by July if they needed me to teach the coming year. My pastor asked me to organize his personal library and lead the summer youth activities. Having worked in the college library 3 ½ years I knew how to use the dewy decimal system. His wife was thrilled I would be typing the weekly, Sunday church bulletin, giving her a much needed break.

 

Only seven youth showed up for the first youth meeting. I noticed a pair of love birds who would need supervision. The teens seemed stand-offish at first. The fun things I suggested made the seven youth crinkle their noses; their fun suggestions were unrealistic and too expensive. It seemed nobody wanted to compromise so I made the first activity decision. At our first outing only four youth showed up at the church and one adult. The four youth filled the one adult’s car so I planned to follow them but the teens insisted I could take the day off. I was more than stunned.  

MORNING LIGHT BY MISLAV MAROHNIC CREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR

 

With my roommate gone, I had planned to sleep in one Saturday morning. Without warning, the July sun burst down through the bedroom sky light and woke me. I covered my eyes and flipped over on my side only to be jarred awake from a door slamming downstairs. Someone yelled a few obscenities and the auto repair shop door slammed again. It was no use so I got up and got dressed. When I finished making the bed I slumped down on the edge of the bed with a sigh and closed my eyes. As plain as the curly hair on my head I heard a voice say, "Kathy, it’s time to go to seminary!"

 

 My eyes flew open to see if Jesus was there. I couldn’t see Him but I definitely felt His presence. I finally whispered, “Is that you, Lord?” No response. The seven celestial words pulsated like a neon light inside my head. “If this is you, Lord, you’ve got to give me some kind of a confirmation.”

 

Just a few days later the phone rang. I answered it before the second ring. “Hello!”

 

“Hi, Kathy! Guess who this is!”

 

“Mary Lou, is that you?” I relished her giggle. (I don't have a picture of her but the image below reminds me of her.)

ODINE by Roberta R.  CREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR

 

“Yes, who else would I be?” she said giggling again.

 

“I can’t believe it! How is seminary going?” I asked.

 

“Seminary’s great! I’m dating someone and we’re talking about marriage.”

 

“Wow! You’ll have to tell me all about him.”

 

“I will tell you all about Jim Beasley when I come through Somerset this Friday on a mission!”

 

“This Friday?” I asked. “What kind of mission?”

 

“A mission to talk you in to coming to seminary,” she said.

 

I was flabbergasted! Was this my confirmation from the Lord? I didn’t dare tell Mary Lou about the message … not yet. Had God spoken to her, too?

 

 When Mary Lou arrived in Somerset, Ky.,  I let her talk non-stop about glorious seminary life and how the ratio of guys to girls was nine to one. Before Mary Lou lost her voice I told her about the message from the Lord.

 

“You mean you let me babble on and on like an idiot for three days and you already had a voice from the Lord?”

 

I sheepishly smiled, “Sorry, I needed a solid confirmation plus I’m still not sure.”

 

“You’re not sure? What more do you need to hear?” Mary Lou said, exasperated. “Abraham obeyed God the first day! The mother of our Lord said to Gabriel let it be as you have said.”

 

I could almost see the steam rising from my friend’s strawberry crop of curls. “I’m sorry, Mary Lou! I just want to be sure I’m going to seminary for the right reason and not to snag a husband. Besides, Burnside Elementary wants me back to teach fourth grade.”

 

“Okay, then. Go ahead and ignore God and me. Let the devil talk you in to staying in this small, do nothing town. You said yourself, Lee and the church youth dumped you.”

 

“Ouch! That hurts!”I said.

 

 “It’s their lost and your gain! It proves God has bigger plans for you, but not here!” Mary Lou said. “Keep in mind, young lady, in case you have forgotten, you surrendered your life to full time Christian service in Hopkinsville, Ky.”

 

She was right, again. God was bringing me full circle and I doubted it out of fear. “I’m afraid to go to New Orleans, Mary Lou!”

 

“I know! I know! But, I’ll be right there with you showing you the ropes!”

 

“Alright, I’ll go!” I said as a boulder of relief fell off my shoulders. “I’ll have to say goodbye to a lot of good people and a very good job offer.”

 

“I know it will be hard but you’re giving up security to go into unknown territory for the Lord like a real missionary!

 

“Now, when you put it that way!” I said feeling more relieved.

 

“See there! You’re going to have the time of your life obeying God at seminary! Pick me up in two weeks on your way to seminary and I’ll navigate us down there!”

 

My memoir to be continued in two weeks! Submit your email address here and I'll send a newsletter to remind you.

 

Has Truth ever slapped you in the face and you doubted it so much you totally missed a blessing? Or, did you almost miss it like I did and you were glad you trusted the Lord? Please leave a comment.

Sweet Caroline

SWEET CAROLINE BY SHARON MOLLERUS  CREATIVE COMMONSFLICKR

SWEET CAROLINE   1971

YOU DON'T BRING ME FLOWERS BY PCUTLER CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR

 

In Caroline’s baby blue Chevrolet it took less than ten minutes to cruise around the city of Somerset, Kentucky. She and I met at Cumberland College and became good friends. When I graduated she had invited me to share her tiny apartment in her home town. She taught biology at Pulaski High and I taught 4th grade at Burnside Elementary. 

 

Over and over we listened to Neil Diamond's 1969 eight track album: SWEET CAROLINE which was Caroline's favorite for the obvious reason. (I was more of an Elvis Presley fan myself.) Some of the lyrics in the songs like: reaching out, touching me, touching you made this city girl blush in the dark car. YOU DON'T BRING ME FLOWERS made us both cry. We were both waiting and earning for Mr. Right to come along and sweep us off our feet.

 

Since our apartment didn’t have a living room nor a TV, we usually drove over to her cousins’ house on the weekends. They made me feel so welcome and accepted me as part of their family. They usually played ROOK  but I never played nor let on that the card game was my specialty. The reason I didn't play was I couldn’t concentrate with Lee (Caroline’s cousin) flirting with me every five minutes. She didn't play cards. Her uncle's new, hired hand was on her mind most the time.

ROOK CARDS BOXBY KATHY STORRIE

 

 No guy had paid this much attention to me in a very long time! The silly banter between Lee and me drove the rest of the family crazy so they sent us to the living room. Lee turned the TV on to Saturday Night Live then sat down on the end of the couch opposite me. Before I knew it he was stretched out on his back with his head in my lap! I was shocked he did that and worried he would laugh at my double chin and the hairs inside my nose! 

 

One night, Lee and I ran an errand for his mother before we got a milkshake. A half hour later as we drove up to his house I loudly slurped the last of my drink. Lee cut the ignition, looked over at me, and said, “If you do that one more time, young lady, I’m going to kiss you!”

 

Wow, if I wanted a kiss all I had to do was slurp again? I looked into his eyes and realized he wasn’t kidding, but . . . I didn't want to slurp for a kiss like a seal barks for a fish. I couldn't figure out why I had this stand-off effect on guys: they seemed interested but not enough to commit. I was seeing a pattern.

On the hour and a half drive to Lancaster, Kentucky, I couldn’t believe I was going to a professional wrestling match with Lee. Whoopee! Was this his idea of a first date? I didn’t complain, though, because I was glad to have some alone time with him. Maybe, I would see a another side of him I didn't know. 

I was repulsed by the sight and sounds of half, naked, hairy men in head locks not to mention the thick stench of body odor mixed with stale cigar smoke. Did Lee take me here as a test of my endurance or was he letting me know what my future with him would be like.The long silence on the ride home spoke two volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica.

 

Two weeks later, Lee had the audacity to ask me to go out . . . with his best friend!! I had only met the guy briefly. I was furious with Lee. I said, “Why do you want me to go out with your best friend? Is this how you dump a girl when the wrestling match doesn't work?”

 

“No! Not at all! You were a real sport to go to the wrestling match with me. But, my friend is a much nicer guy than me and he deserves a pretty Christian lady like you! I don’t. Believe me! You don’t know some things about me, Kathy!"

 

I ran out of the house so he wouldn't see me cry. I drove home as the tears fell. Caroline wasn't home so I threw myself across the bed and sobbed. Finally, I calmed down and I realized something. Lee's rejection had only hurt my pride more than my feelings. Then, I remembered the Bible verse Jeremiah 29:11: Please know the thoughts that I think toward you, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

 

I sighed a great sigh of relief because my dumb brain had caught up with my smart, saved spirit! God is looking out for me to have a peaceful relationship with my future husband and not an unhappy one. There's enough evil to handle in this everyday life without adding more trouble by marrying the wrong person! God is so merciful and kind.

 

As plain as the freckles on my face, I knew God had just ended my relationship with Lee and it was okay. God was not only honoring His own word in Jeremiah but He was also honoring my daily prayer . . .  for Him to intervene early and not let me fall in love with the wrong man and marry him!

 

My ego did hurt for a little while but I was glad God had shut the door to a bigger hurt! I knew He had someone special out there for me if I stayed patient, kept praying and trusting Him.

THE END

 

 

BITTER SWEET 1971

BITTER  SWEET  1971

BITTER SWEETBYKARA+  ALEUME

BITTER SWEETBYKARA+  ALEUME

 

“Kathy, look at all these resumes I’m sending out this weekend,” said Suzanne as she fanned a thick stack of envelopes. “These days you can’t depend on finding a job back home. You have to do your homework and find other city schools’ addresses in order to find one teaching position! Teachers are a dime a dozen, you know!”

 

 I guess I looked at her dumbfounded because I couldn’t believe she had the extra time and money to do all that. With my schedule, I hardly had time to read and get my assignments in, let alone create a resume and find school addresses and extra cash to buy stamps. I smiled and congratulated her on her great accomplishment.

 

Later, my friend Carolyn gave me two addresses of schools looking for an elementary education teacher. It didn’t take long to write my short resume. On that warm fall evening my hands shook as I stood in front of the mailbox. I said a quick prayer as I squeezed the two letters to my chest:

 

 LORD, you know I trust You to put me where you want me to teach. And, just between You and me, I know prayer trumps a hundred resumes.

 

Would you believe within a week I got an acceptance to teach fourth grade at Burnside Elementary outside of Somerset, Kentucky? They wanted me to come the last week in January to relieve the regular teacher for the rest of the school year. Meanwhile, my three roommates wagged their heads in unbelief at my good fortune.  I didn’t say it, but I knew it wasn’t luck or good fortune!

 

I still had to do my student teaching block for the next three months before I went to Kentucky to teach fourth grade. I kept wondering why I had to wait four years before I did my actual practice teaching. I knew I loved being around children but what if I’m only a good babysitter and I end up being a lousy teacher?

 

At the beginning of my student teaching in a local school I was assigned to observe a boy named Delbert who was in fifth grade for the second time. The unkempt boy needed plenty of attention and help the teacher told me. While I observed and helped him I made a list of his strengths to better praise him and his weaknesses so I could help him. So he wouldn’t suspect, I helped other children as well. I was nicely surprised when he always accepted my correction with such a good, natured smile. My unprofessional guess was he was suffering from home neglect.

 

A month into my student teaching I still wasn't doing any student teaching. The teacher kept doing all the teaching while my jobs were reading the morning Bible story, checking attendance, collecting the lunch money, and only teaching Delbert. Either the teacher didn’t understand the student teaching block requirements or she was bound and determined that Delbert would pass fifth grade.

 

My disappointment in not practice teaching the whole class grew into silent anger. If I complained the teacher might think I was ungrateful and dismiss me and cost me my degree.  I decided to accept the situation as it was because Delbert was worth it.

 

 After the New Year I left my home in Ohio and drove the lonely, cold trip to Somerset, Kentucky. The next chapter of my life stood frigid like the hood ornament on my Pontiac; so close but out of reach! I was finally catching on that God was never in a hurry to answer most prayers! However, in a hopeful corner of my mind I was eager to see what God had up His sleeve behind door number two in Somerset.

 

 Carolyn’s apartment was so tiny we spent most of our time over at her Aunt’s and Uncle’s big houses. I loved her cousins and they accepted me right away. I was especially fond of Carolyn’s cute cousin, Lee, who was a jokester and a flirt but I didn’t mind because he was younger so I didn’t take him seriously.

 

 The day Carolyn returned to her teaching job at Pulaski High School, I sneaked over to Burnside Elementary School. It was freezing cold as my car sloshed through the wet snow. I slid into the school parking lot and parked near the front door. I smeared Chapstick over my dry lips. On purpose, I hadn’t call ahead to let them know I was coming. I figured they would discourage me from coming but, they didn’t know… I only had three weeks to learn how to teach.

 

 The smell of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches reminded me I had not eaten. I ignored my growling stomach and quickly found the school office. I introduced myself and told the secretary I was there early to observe Mrs. Morrow’s class before she took her leave of absence at the end of January. The friendly principal welcomed and escorted me down to her room. Before I knew it I was meeting a pretty, middle-aged lady who put me at ease right away. Mrs. Morrow seemed appreciative I had come early to observe her class.

 

 I was in seventh heaven as I watched this fantastic teacher teach her adorning students. I learned how to teach each subject and how to keep the distracted pupils focused! After a week she let me start teaching a new subject each day until I was teaching all day. Soon, she felt comfortable enough to leave a week early to take care of her sick husband.

 

I, Miss Wilcox, would be on my own teaching 24 fifth graders until the end of May. God had answered my prayer by letting me learn how to teach from the best teacher. I must have proved myself because she trusted me to take over her class!

 

I loved teaching and I loved the kids! After lunch and recess I would read a chapter book, or tell a joke, or sing Elvis songs like Old Shep or Love Me Tender. One Friday afternoon I had six fun centers set up around the room to review what we had learned that past week. Without notice, a woman from the school board knocked on my door and said she wanted to observe me teaching. I smiled and said that would be fine.

 

The noisy classroom made the woman frown but when I flipped the lights she was impressed how quickly the children got quiet. Had I known she was coming I would have had our usual structured class but this was FUN FRIDAY! All the classroom giggles and wiggles made her leave early.

 

I didn’t know blonde headed Randy was one of my favorite students until he challenged me one day by talking back to me for the fourth time. I told him to get the wooden paddle and wait for me in the hall. I gave the class an assignment then went to get the teacher next door as a witness.

 

Randy’s body language of fear almost cut my anger short until I saw his fake smile. I took the paddle from Randy and gave a short sermon on why talking back is wrong. I promised myself years ago I would never lecture a student or my own child like I had been lectured growing up.

 

  “Yes, ma am, I won’t do it again”, Randy said with a quiver in his voice. My stomach trembled as I raised the paddle and gave the boy three hard whacks on the behind. He took it like a soldier and walked back into the classroom without a word. When I came in the classroom, Randy rose half-way off his seat, rubbing his behind. He announced to the class, “You all better obey our good teacher, Miss Wilcox, because I didn’t and my butt is still burning!” I was glad I never had to paddle another student. Randy’s parents were supportive that I had disciplined him for talking back. They said he was behaving much better at home because of it.

 

Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  A yoke and a burden are heavy but with Christ in us they can feel easier and lighter!  It means during the bitter, hard times we can lean on Jesus for strength until the sweet time comes again. During my recent knee surgery recovery I noticed this pattern. One day was bitter with pain. The next day sweet with longer sleep. Another day was dark and lonely; but, the next day someone called and cheered me! 

What kind of bitter sweet have you noticed in your life? Share in the comments below. It may help somebody. Thanks.

Kathy M Storrie/author/writer

 

Pray Without Ceasing

Pray Without Ceasing - 1971

Photo by JPEG

Photo by JPEG

 

You could have stirred the humidity inside the old gymnasium with a spoon.The ceiling fans were moving but not helping. The college colors, red and white, speckled the wooden floor as the class of 1970 marched to their assigned, metal seats. I would have been graduating that day if I had not changed my major from Art to Elementary Education at the beginning of my junior year.

 

Some of my graduating friends were getting married this summer. Others would be going on vacations before they found or reported to their new jobs. I had to stay behind and go to summer school. As I shifted my weight on the hard bleacher, jealousy clouded my mind .

 

Forgive me, Lord, for being jealous and help me be happy for my friends. Be sure and protect each gradhate and help them find a great job!

 

It was easy to spot him as he came in the gym door. Tommy looked straight ahead as he walked passed me to his assigned seat. I was surprised but proud he was graduating. Rumor had it he was going to (wet) Jellico, TN every weekend. I hoped his step-parents were there that day to support him. I almost got to meet them once while I was in Somerset, Kentucky on a gospel team. They had left the church earlier to preach a revival somewhere. I loved being in their quaint, little church where Tommy had grown up, gotten saved, and had surrendered his life to preach. He was definitely a dynamic preacher!

 

 Jesus. . . help Tommy to smile again by coming back to You!

 

 I had gotten a “D" in Elementary Health so I had to take if over. I hoped I didn’t have to take it again under Miss Baird, a former Army Sergeant. She wore the same 1920’s black dress and slicked her crew cut back with bacon grease. We had to memorize and orally regurgitate the the outdated health answers for a daily grade. I had a rebellious attitude about her teaching methods. Her mean look at us made me forgot everything I had read and tried to memorize.

 

Lord, forgive me and help me with my bad attitude toward Miss Baird.

 

I was so thankful I had a different teacher for my summer health class and we didn’t have to memorize anything. I was glad he believed in personal hygiene. He liked having open discussions and letting us ask personal health questions that would make our parents blush. I read the assignments and passed his easy, multiple choice tests.

 

 LORD, help me to do well in my worst subject!

 

Four years I had put off taking Speech class! The fear of speaking in front of my peers paralyzed me. In high school I took an “F” before I would give a speech. Now, speech was a requirement for my major. After all, a teacher must prove they can speak before a class! I dreaded giving a speech worse than getting my period. As the dreaded day of my speech class approached, I prayed like a nun using a rosary with a thousand beads; and I’m a Baptist!

 

Lord, pleeeeeeze help me not to shake like a leaf and pass out in speech class.

PHOTO BY JPEG

 

 When my name was picked first, my stomach complained. I had taken TUMS earlier but they didn’t help. Under my breath I said a Bible verse: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Somehow, I walked to the front of the class and faced my peers. Like a deer in headlights I stared over the dozen heads, at the back wall.

 

I closed my eyes and sucked in a deep breath and wished I could disappear. Instead, a calmness from another world filled me with supernatural strength. I announced the title of my speech and I couldn’t believe my confidence. Was that my voice? My words flowed like honey. Jesus reminded me to give my audience eye contact and when I did most of the students nodded with approval. Their positive connection encouraged me. I was on the roll and I wanted to say a lot more but I ran out of index cards.

 

My wide-eyed teacher was speechless for a few seconds before he erupted with embarrassing bravos. After that he asked me a weird question, Miss Wilcox, have you been doing professional speaking somewhere?”

 

My mind went blank. I thought he was patronizing me. Seeing my puzzled face he quickly assured me he wasn’t joking. He explained, “What I meant is have you spoken in front of groups before? Maybe, on the radio?”

 

 “Well… I have been going on weekend gospel teams to churches for four years doing skits, singing solos, and giving my personal testimony in front of people.” I said. "I’ve been praying hard to over come my fear of speaking in front of my peers. I asked God to help me speak well and not shake or mess up like I usually did in junior high school.”

 

“Your fear seems to be gone now! Evidently, that prayer thing works for you, young lady! You didn’t shake or mess up once! You seem to have a gift! Your eye contact was exceptional and your voice reflection perfect. I’m glad to give you an “A” today!”

 

 The class clapped softly as I walked back to my seat. I could hardly believe how well the speech went! My insides felt liberated like the dust floating in the sun ray beaming through the window. God used my weakness to lean on him for strength! He proved to me that when I ask for help He can deliver because,  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

 

Lord, thank you for helping me give my speech today without shaking or going blank. Please open my atheist teacher’s spiritual eyes to his need for Jesus Christ in his life!

PHOTO BY JPEG

PHOTO BY JPEG

TRUST IN THE LORD

TRUST IN THE LORD

Poster TRUST IN THE LORDby Kathy M Storrie

TRUST IN THE LORD

Mary Lou Cobb kept answering all the weekly Bible devotion questions my first year living in Johnson Hall. I made an unconscious effort to avoid the Bible scholar with red hair. For the past five years I hadn't read my Bible much because I had a hard time understanding it. My reading comprehension was low whatever I read. But, God would have the last laugh when Mary Lou and I kept running into each other at the Baptist Student Union. Even though we were poles apart we eventually became best friends. She was loads of fun and the personal shrink I needed!

Thank you mydear friend, Mary Lou, for helping me find the funny side of life!

 One time the Professor of Marriage and Family asked the whole class the question, “Ladies, how old were you when you started thinking about marriage?” Mary Lou answered out loud and clear: “I was eight!” She was serious and not trying to be funny. The whole class laughed at her comical truth.

 Every night as roommates, when I was almost asleep, Mary Lou would ask, “Did we lock the door, Kathy?”

Sleepily I’d say, “I don’t know!”

“Well, isn’t it your turn to check?” she giggled.

“I’ll get up.” I said.

 Two other close friends of mine were Micci Jo Crouch and Michael Champion. We were the only three that showed up at the campus BSU house one Saturday morning. Micci’s loud laugh hurt my ears and Mike’s obsession with watching her wiggle her hips while she painted the kitchen wall was embarrassing. They soon started dating and they were the perfect couple. 

Micci and I became close and she adopted me as her sister because she said we looked alike! We both had short, dark hair and we sometimes wore our matching shirt dresses for fun. It must have been true because one day her boyfriend, Mike, tried to kiss me on the cheekin the cafeteria cloakroom! After he laughed and apologized I realized he thought I was Micci. When Micci arrived she fussed at him for upsetting her shy friend.

One spring Sunday, instead of going to my church,  I visited Mike and Micci’s church just outside Cumberland College campus. Before the pastor preached he asked the audience to go tell someone how much they mean to you." Before I knew it, Micci was hugging me. She said, “Kathy, it was because of you I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior here in this church! Thank you so much for being a strong, Christian influence on my life!”

 What did she say? I was totally flabbergasted! I wondered what in the world I had done! I felt guilty that I hadn’t witnessed to Micci because I thought she was already a Christian! I learned two things: don’t assume people are saved because they are nice people; and, God can use your life to speak as loud as a sermon.

Soon after breaking up with boyfriend, Tommy King, I met Donald Disney who asked me to the Sweetheart Banquet. How could I say no to those baby blue eyes and his Elvis Presley grin that melted my broken heart. When he picked me up and we walked over to the cafeteria he was so nervous. I could tell he liked me and I liked him. I thought our date went well but Don never called me. One day after work, as I left the library through a side door, I saw him going up the steps to the library. The nearness of him made me swoon! I hoped he would look my way but he didn't. I wanted to follow him inside but girls don't chase a guys.

 Walking across the romantic viaduct didn't help my amorous mood. By the time I got back to the dorm I had to do something! In my room I had a perfect view of the front of the library. The leafless trees made it easy to spot Mr. Disney's six-foot-four frame when he finally came out of the library in his signature, baby, blue jacket.

Would I be wrong to help cupid a little?

 Somehow, I timed it just right. As Don entered the far side of the cafeteria I disappeared into the dining hall. I slowly got in the right line, trembling with excitement. I hoped Don would see me and join me in my line. I looked back and he saw me. His radiant smile boosted my morale. I smiled and waved. Donald followed his guy friends to the opposite line. My heart fluttered like a injured bird but I wouldn't give up.

I took my tray of food to a private table and I waited. for him before I ate. I couldn't believe it when he joined his friends over me. Twenty minutes later, he and his friends took their trays to the window. Hope revived me. Surely, he will come over and talk a bit. I drank my water-logged iced tea and watched him walk with a lone friend across the empty room. He never looked my way.

 All the signals were there to not hope for this guy... but I wasn’t paying attention.

 A month or so passed and I got a phone call from Don. He wanted to see me he said and he apologized for not calling me sooner. I had already dismissed him from my mind and I had homework to do. I couldn't believe I told him okay. In ten minutes he was knocking on the honor trailer door. I tried to hide my excitement as I opened door. A tiny bit of forgiveness dribbled over me when he half grinned and pushed his cold hands deeper into his jeans.

We walked to his shiny, blue and white, ’55 Chevy. He opened the driver's side and I scooted across the spotless vinyl seat, middle way not wanting to appear unfriendly. I felt a little like Annette Funicello from the Mickey Mouse Club. Donald got in the car and stared out the windshield in disturbing silence. He reminded me of Gomer Pyle in trouble again. That is when my mouth took off like a wild horse with a hair up his butt! I whipped that horse around the bend for an hour. Whether he wanted it or not, Don got to hear all about my stalker friend who wanted to kill herself because I didn't let her in the trailer to talk (for hours). For some reason, I didn't want Donald to talk. I wanted hisundivided attention and his sympathy so he would feel sorry for me and not dump me tonight.

My story fizzled out and there we sat shivering in the cold car. I wondered why we hadn't gone somewhere for hot chocolate. Reliving the story exhausted and depressed me. All of a sudden, Don started giggling. He said he was laughing about his roommate who had a date last night and the girl attacked him with a passionate kiss. His friend said he would never ask her out again because she didn't wait for his lead! Don laughed several times about it and I don't know why. He said it was late so he walked me home. I stepped up on the first step and looked up at him but he never leaned down to kiss me. So, I said goodnight and went in.

 Why did Donald want to see me tonight? I guess I'll never know.

 Much later, I saw Don in the cafeteria and I told him our BSU Choir would be performing a concert in his hometown during spring break . He said he would come. Much to my surprise and pleasure he came to the performance. Afterwards, he asked me to go with him to see how beautiful Norris Dam was at night. It was pitch black where we were but the dam was all lit up. Don held my hand as I stepped up on the short, stone wall to see the famous dam. The April breeze was chilly and I began to shiver so Don took off his jacket and put it around my shoulders. He gently turned me around to face him and when he leaned forward to kiss me I nervously turned away.

 It was an awkward moment and I cringed inside! I kept thinking if he had taken me to a warm place, I wouldn't have been shaking from the cold. I would have let him kiss me and things might have been different. Much to my disappointment then, but not now, God did not allow Donald to kiss me that night because he was not my future husband.

 Carolyn Burton Compton, my really good friend, was easy to like from the beginning. Her selflessness and humility shone because she loved Jesus so much it hurt. She wanted to help me have a chance with Donald so she got my permission to meet with him daily while I worked everyday at the library. She told me about their conversations. Evidently, Don was having feelings for me but he couldn't act on them nor talk to me about them for some reason.

 God had intervened in my life, again; this time He used chilly temperatures, my nervous fear, my runny mouth, and my crowded schedule to keep me from getting out of His will. Thank you Lord for intervening and helping me to trust in You when some of my people choices were only for a season.

THE STALKER

THE STALKER

BIG SCARY STALKER  BY VALERIE   CREATIVE COMMONS  FLICKR.

BIG SCARY STALKER  BY VALERIE   CREATIVE COMMONS  FLICKR.

 

I broke up with Tommy King when he told me he had followed a girl home on his plane ride back from being a summer missionary. I was in shock and hurt. For a diversion, I volunteered to teach weekly devotions in my dormitory.

“Nice meeting you,” I said to a new girl as I gathered my Bible and materials to go back to my room. “What’s your name?” I asked as she followed me out the door like a lost puppy.

“Oh, yeah! Nice to meet you, too! That was a very good devotional you gave tonight. You are a good teacher!” she said almost mechanically as she widened her cornflower blue eyes. “My name is Jane or Janie," she said.

“Thanks for the compliment! Where are you from, Janie?” I asked as we walked down the hall.

“Up state New York,” she said.

“How did you end up way down here in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky?” I asked.

“It’s a -- long story. I’ll have to share it -- another time,” she blurted as if her words tasted bad.

 Her body stiffened and her countenance changed to a morbid sadness as we parted our ways.

"See you around!" I said.

"Yeah, see ya, okie dokie," she said as if in a daze.

Over the next few weeks, Janie became my Siamese twin. Not only did some girl hijack Tommy out of my life, Janie was sucking away what was left of it!

Janie hinted she couldn’t go home for Christmas because nobody would be there this year. I felt sorry for her so I called and asked my parents if I could bring her home. On the way home in the car Dad and Janie got into a big argument! Dad wasn't used to being corrected by anyone. He was ready to turn the car around and take Janie back to the college but my mother gave him a certain look.

 Out of the corner of my eye I saw Janie's familiar, euphoric grin: she had enjoyed upsetting my father and she was still gloating over it. I barely tapped her on the arm and whispered, "If my dad isn't happy, nobody's happy." Thank God, our trip home became quiet. It finally hit me just how much Janie was damaged!

 As a peace offering, Janie bought my folks an expensive, electric, percolator for Christmas. Due to my dad's grave yard, work shift at Ford's, he slept all day and better avoided the many demons of Janie. One more episode happened while coming home from church. Janie wanted the last word of the argument and so did my dad. When my meek mother had had enough, she turned around in the front seat of the car and gave Janie such a look it made the crazy girl zip her runny mouth shut.

 By the time I got back at college, I was ready to do what my Dad had suggested. The problem was I didn't know how to disconnect a control freak who demanded my undivided attention every night at six o'clock! My caring roommate, Judy, was worried sick that Janie was an escaped serial killer from a New York prison. I was more worried about my sanity and my poor grades.

My prayers were answered when the Dean of Women, Miss Mac, invited me to stay at her apartment a few days. I asked her how she knew about my situation and she said she couldn't reveal her source. (I love my roomy.)

 It was pure heaven to get away for a few days!

Miss Mac, my angel, offered a secluded place for me to stay for the rest of the school year! It was in one of the honor student trailers across campus. She drove me over to Archer Hall so I could sneak in the back door to pack my stuff. Judy said Janie was bugging her to death to tell her where I had gone.

One Friday night at the trailer while I was alone there was a loud knock on the door. I peeked out the corner of the window and saw Janie with her back to the door and her hands on her hips; she was very upset! I was sure she didn't see me so I slid down behind the door hoping she would think nobody was home.  

 She banged on the door again.“I KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE, KATHY! YOU’VE GOT TO LET ME IN TO TALK OR I'LL GO CRAZY . . . PLEASE!!!JUST FOR A FEW MINUTES, P-L-E-A-S-E, KATH!”

 SILENCE

 Janie continued her fist pounding on the door. The glasses and dishes rattled in the cupboard like the Jack Hammer inside my stomach.

 “IF YOU DON’T OPEN THIS DOOR I AM GOING TO GO KILL MYSELF TONIGHT! 

"Go ahead!" I said in my head. I felt terrible for feeling that way.

"THIS TIME YOU WILL BE SORRY!” she screamed. “IT WILL BE ALL YOUR FAULT WHEN THEY FIND ME FLOATING IN THE RIVER!"

As she walked along the side of the trailer she pounded the aluminum siding yelling, “I’M GOING TO GO KILL MYSELF RIGHT NOW!”

Her running, footsteps trailed off into the cold, black night.

I felt more relief than guilt.

After that night she never bothered me again! Not, because she killed herself but because she found a new friend.

 I was glad I did not let Janie inside the trailer that night.

I was glad she didn't kill herself.

I was glad her obsession with controlling me was finally over.

Evidently, I wasn't helping her anyway. She needed her demons cast out by a seasoned Christian and she needed professional ears to help her tormented mind.

I was thankful to the Lord for using Miss Mac to save me.

 

<><  <><  <><

 

 In Nazareth, most of Jesus’ home town people rejected him. Even though He was the Son of God He would not force his neighbors, friends and family to believe in Him. When they tried to kill Him he left the city and He shook the dust from his sandals which meant He would never come back. Jesus knew when to break away from those who would try to destroy Him.

This Bible story gave me great comfort back then in not feeling bad because I couldn't help Janie. I learned recently she died last year in 2014 at 66 years old. I hope she got the help she needed. I know she was saved so she is now home with Jesus with no more torment.

LOVES ME, LOVES ME NOT

 LOVES ME! LOVES ME NOT!

 

LOVES ME, LOVES ME NOT BY KATE TER HAAR  CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR

LOVES ME, LOVES ME NOT BY KATE TER HAAR  CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR

 

After I refused to wear Tommy’s ring, he never came by to say goodbye.All summer he hardly crossed my mind. I was too busy having fun being a summer missionary. Our coordinator, John Witte, was kind and patient with us four, silly, college girls. The way he treated his wife and his children set the bar high for our future husband expectations. His name worthy, “witty” sense of humor cracked us up in the car!

 

Making VBS posters and helping coordinate the teaching material with a craft was a blast! Knocking on doors and inviting kids to Vacation Bible School was a bit scary in certain neighborhoods. One little boy wanted to know if he could bring his pet turtle to VBS.

 

When I got back at college my roommate, Judy Holland, was always making cool bulletin boards for her future classroom as a teacher. I loved kids, too, so I wondered if it was too late for me to change my Art major to Elementary Education. I made an appointment with the education department and I prayed for God’s intervention.

 

When I entered the professor’s simple office, the room felt, strangely, familiar. She pointed to the chair in front of her desk before I sat down. As she retrieved the papers I looked all around the room. The file cabinet, the paintings, the bookcase, and the neat desk I had seen all before . . .  somewhere.

 

What was this I wondered? Was this déjàvu? Was God letting me see a snip of my life He had seen long before the foundation of the world? Was this my confirmation?

 

 I think the professor was talking, but I couldn’t focus on her words, at first. I was enjoying the unearthly feeling in the room and I didn’t want it leave. Somehow, I forced myself to listen to her and I heard what I needed to hear. It was not too late to change my major but I would have to go to school a semester longer.  

 

Later, that evening, Judy and I were cutting out capital letter patterns from cardboard when the loud speaker blasted:  “Kathy, you have a caller!”

 

“A caller?” I said as I looked over at my roommate. Her surprised face mirrored mine. I ran my pick through my hair and blotted my oily face with a tissue! I ran to the bathroom with my toothpaste and tooth brush.

 

 “Do I look okay?” I asked Judy as I threw my toiletries in a drawer.

“You look pretty,” she said. “Who do you think it is?”

“I don’ know,” I said.

My heart pounded wildly as I walked fast down the long hall to the lobby. Slowly, I pushed open the door and there was Tommy looking out the front doors.

 

My feet moved like I was in a sloth marathon. Do I act glad to see him or be casual?  

 

“Hi! Did you call for me?” I asked.

 

He turned around with a big smile. “Hi there, beautiful, I was beginning to think you weren’t coming! It would serve me right if you didn't!”

 

The clock showed 9:20 PM.

“I wasn’t expecting you . . . or anybody else this late.”

“Sorry, I came over late. Do you want to sit and talk or takea walk?”

“I didn’t bring a sweater,” I said.

 

 We sat on a loveseat and got reacquainted. Tommy seemed impressed with my missionary endeavor but the déjàvu story spooked him. Forty minutes together felt like ten minutes before he had to leave. We headed toward the door and my dry mouth was worried he would kiss me. Sure enough he pulled me close and I molded into his arms like silly putty. His long, goodnight kiss was very nice!

 

He loves me!

 

Every evening in the parlor I wanted to talk and Tommy wanted to flirt or tickle! I wanted to hear about his dreams but he wanted to make-out! I wanted to go on simple walks but he disappeared on the weekends. The few things he did share with me made me realize he needed a professional listener. He said he didn’t think he’d live pass forty. I almost said it would take forty years for me to learn anything about him.

 

He loves me not!

 

At the end of our junior year he told me he was going to be a summer missionary out west. I was thrilled when he asked for my address and phone number. All summer I got lots of funny-romantic cards from him but he never wrote what he was doing. Toward the end of summer he surprised me when he wrote something about marriage and keeping me barefoot and pregnant.

 

He loves me!

 

The last day of my summer, waitress job, Tommy came into Hyde’s Restaurant where I worked.  He never told me he was coming so it was a nice surprise. He said he called my house to see what time I got off work because he wanted to pick me up to go meet his sister. All this time I didn’t know he had a sister living in my home town. He seemed exhausted and he didn't like my short hair cut.

 

He loves me, not.

 

A few days later when I got back to Cumberland College I was anxious to see Tommy and hear about his summer. I hoped he was rested up because he seemed on edge. I reread his cards again because they assured me we were falling in love.

 

He loves me?

 

When I saw Tommy’s grim reaper face in the lobby, I knew something was terribly wrong. Without speaking, he took my hand and we stepped outside into the cool, autumn breeze. We sat on a low, cement wall in silence while I waited for him to tell me what was on his mind.

 

I don’t know any of the details to this day about what happened to him but this is the little bit he told me that day. Evidently, when he got on the plane to fly home from his summer missionary job, he met a girl on the plane and he ended up going home with her.

 

He loves me, not!

FIRST KISS

FIRST KISS

LIPS BY LEO REYNOLDS   CREATIVE COMMONS   FLICKR

 

 My First Semester 1967 - 1968 classes were: English Literature, Elementary French I, Introduction to Sociology, Lettering & Layout & Graphic Art

My Second Semester classes were: English Literature, History of Civilization, Elementary French II, Physical Education, Class PIANO, School Art & Figure Drawing

 

 The sophomore dorm was secluded on the other side of the campus near some old Victorian houses that gave the neighborhood a classy feel. We girls dearly loved our elderly dorm mother, Miss Cates. If I had a dime for each time she told us she loved us we would be rich. Thank the Lord my job changed from the lunch room to the library. Each day from 2:30 to 5:30, I mended very old book binders with colorful, duct tape that matched the old cover. Then I used a hot pen to replace the title, the author’s name and the Dewey decimal number. It took a while for me to learn how to not burn my fingers.

 

On Monday, the first day of school, I climbed the steps to my new assigned seat in the Levelle Chapel balcony. By habit, I nonchalantly looked around the big room for any new, cute boys but, I didn’t see any. . . until I saw him. He was in dress pants that matched his coal, black hair and a rolled up white, long, sleeve shirt. Not once did he take his eyes off the speaker to acknowledge me.

 

My friend, Ruth, from Tennessee was in love with a great, Christian guy who was coming home soon from the military to marry her. She wanted me to be in love, too! I told her about seeing Tommy in chapel and how he completely ignored me. Every since he had gone on that gospel team to preach in my home church last year, I had started having feelings for him. Ruth told me since she worked in the cafeteria with him she could say something but I told her not to say anything.

 

My failing History of Civilization and Elementary French II was driving a stake in to my already lonesome heart. All I could think about was a certain pair of soft lips coming down on mine. At this rate, I was going to be thirty years old before I ever got kissed! If God was saying no to a relationship with Mr. King I had to accept it and stop feeling sorry for myself.

 

 April was bursting with sunshine, singing birds and flowers that spring of 1968. Compared to last year this year had been a boring year. I had finally accepted that Tommy was not the guy for me. The warm temperature had almost melted our eight-foot tall, snowman across the street from our dorm. Two more weeks and I would be on my way home to get ready for my trip to Cleveland, Ohio. I had signed up to be a summer missionary under the Southern Baptist Convention and I was so excited!

 “Kathy, someone wants to see you downstairs,” Ruth said out of breath from climbing the stairs.

 “Who is it?” I asked.

 “Come see for yourself,” she grinned.

 I looked in the mirror to check my hair before I rushed down the three flights of stairs. There he was smiling in the doorway with his hands planted on his slim hips, looking quite handsome!

 “Hi,” Tommy said, “would you like to go for a walk?”

 I was speechless. After I bobbled my head like one of those stupid bobble heads made for a car's back window, he opened the screen door for me. We began our walk while the birds insisted it was the close of another spring day. The sun sunk behind the budding trees and Tommy slipped his hand around mine as we crossed the street. He noticed I was shivering so he slipped his jacket around me as we climbed the steps. When we stopped in front of the Ole Gray Brick building, Tommy pulled me gently toward him and tipped my chin upward. Before I knew it, I was having my first kiss!

 

When we pulled away for air I was so nervous all I could do was say, “Boo!” He chuckled and said, “Boo!” Petals from white and pink dog wood trees cascaded around us adding to the romantic mix as we crossed the viaduct. Dozens of questions danced in my head: Why are you here Tommy King? Why did you ignore me for eight months? School is almost over so what took you so long? Did Ruth talk you into saving the old maid? Are going to dump me after my obvious, clumsy kiss?

 

The second night when he came over he popped a weird question after we kissed several times on the viaduct. He pulled out his high school class ring and he asked me to go steady. I was flabbergasted at how fast he was moving. I told him I liked him but I didn’t know him well enough to go steady. I told him I wanted to go slow and he said okay.

 

Do you struggle with finding God’s will in your life when you thought the answer was a no? How do you know when something is a “yes”or a “no” or a wait?