Friday Fiction: Second Thoughts

>> Friday, November 28

For more great fiction, head to Rick's Pod Tales and Ponderings



Today's Friday Fiction offering is an elongated version of my FaithWriters.com challenge entry for the "Truth or Dare" topic. This is what I WANTED it to be, before hacking 350 words from it to meet the word count limit. Enjoy!


SECOND THOUGHTS

I don’t know how to tell this, or even where to start really. I guess I should start with Tessa, seeing as how it this is mostly her fault.

She’s so much different. Most girls are all about their make up and their hair and dressing like a hottie, but Tessa – she is what she is and she’s happy with that. She’s the only girl I know who is happy looking like herself, that being the girl next door. And I mean girl. She could probly pass for 10 even though she’ll be 14 on her birthday come December. Besides her cute little nose that turns up at the end, she’s got gorgeous eyes – big and brown and shiny. Hair just as brown and shiny all the way down her back.

Anyway, back to the story. I wasn’t real happy about the plan but I didn’t want to be a wimp. It’s a guy thing, ya know? See, I never was one to back down from a dare, so I went along with it, and Tessa, she followed me like always. She must watch outta her window for me to walk past cuz she came out her front door right when I crossed her driveway.

She looked up at me all expectant like and asked me, “Where ya going? What’s going on tonight?”

I had tear myself away from those eyes of hers, and I told her, “Nothing you need know about. Whyn’t you stay home tonight?” I stuck my hands in the pockets of my jeans and shuffled around a bit.

Just like her, she said, “Pah. I’m going.”

I rolled my eyes, shrugged, and started walking again. Tessa was glued to my side like my shadow. One thing about Tessa, she don’t babble on like most girls. She’s all right to talk to if she’s all I got. Mostly she likes to talk about Jesus and Bible stuff. I don’t mind – Jesus was a pretty cool dude and she knows a lot about him. I wasn’t sure I bought it all, but her eyes get even shinier when she’s talking bout him so I’d been wondering lately if it might all be true. She didn’t even pester me bout where we were headin that night, just told me how Jesus dying made her feel.

When we crossed Main and hung a left on Turner, and we saw Charlie and Rick hanging out in front of First Pres, she asked me, “We going to church?”

Her eyes lit up the night, and that’s when I had my first second thought about this plan and specially bout letting her tag along. I told her, “Sorta, but not really. Just come on if you’re coming.”

“They know you been going here?” She sounded shocked, and I reckon she had reason. That’s when I had my second second thought.

“Nah, I haven’t told no one. An you don’t need to neither,” I said.

Charlie held out his fist as we came up and I gave it a bump. He flicked his eyes at Tessa and asked me, “What’s SHE doin here?”

“Chill, Dude. She’s cool.” I told him, and asked, ‘You check it out?”

He grinned at Rick then at me. “Yah, Dude. Wide open.”

“Then let’s doooo it.” Rick started baying like a banshee and we had to hush him up and hustle around back before anyone saw us.

Sure nuff, the back door to the kitchen was unlocked and we all snuck in. Tessa I had to grab by the hand and tug on, but she came too. We started with the big blackboard in the fellowship hall, erasing the announcements. Charlie grabbed a piece of chalk and wrote in big letters, “Jesus…” He only got the first two letters of the next word down when Tessa grabbed my hand and drug me away.

“Come on, I want to do something.”

Well that got Charlie snickering and Rick hootin and a hollerin. “Go on you two – and have fuu-uun.” I turned my head to give them a look, and seeing those words so big…well I gotta say I wanted to throw up. My third second thought. I was happy to go on with Tessa.

She didn’t let go of my hand, or say a word, just drug me all the way to the sanctuary, then right up to the altar and dropped to her knees. She looked up at me with those big shiny eyes, cept now they were shiny with tears. “Pray with me?”

I figured, what the hay, I wasn’t too much into the dare anymore anyway. She still had hold of my hand, and I got on my knees beside her. I wasn’t sure what to do next so I just bowed my head and thought I’d wait till she was done, then we could go. I didn’t know she was planning on praying out loud.

I don’t remember much of what she said, but it was how she said it. I’ll tell ya, I never heard no one pray like that before. It was like she was really talking to someone. She said “Father” like God was really her daddy. She’d even stop ever once in a while like she was waiting for Him to answer. I started getting more comfortable, and that was weird to me.

Then she told Him she wanted to pray for Charlie and Rick and me, and I remember this part. She asked Him to open our hearts to His truth. And it hit me like a hammer. All those things we talked about, bout Jesus, and Him dying and why, and how He was really alive and He was really God. I felt like my heart was ripped open and real tears ran down my face. Before I knew it, I was praying. Me! And it wasn’t weird at all; matter of fact if felt real right.

That’s when the cops busted in and hauled us off. I’m thankful to the preacher for getting out of bed to come get us. My folks wouldn’t have believed my story, but he did. Course, Tessa was there to back me up. Us two tried to get Charlie and Rick to see the truth while we waited at the station for the preacher, but they just laughed. And for once I didn’t care, neither.

So, anyway, I guess that’s my testimony. That’s why I’m standing here in front of ya’ll in this big bathtub in a white nightgown today. Jesus is my Lord now.

Besides, Tessa dared me.

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Set Free: If / Then

>> Wednesday, November 26

I know, it's been ages since I've posted a blog. I can't say I've been too busy, or I have I had nothing to write about, because neither of those are true. If I could figure myself out, I'd be a much wiser woman. If you figure me out, feel free to clue me in.

Anyway, I've fallen in love with an app on FaceBook - "Word of God". I just "unlocked" a few more "Words" and in looking at them just now, I was stabbed in the spirit by this one:


How many times have I read this verse? I couldn't tell you. But I can tell you I only just saw the truth of the words.

I know that context is extremely important when it comes to studying the Bible, but sometimes, pulling a verse out and reading it alone causes me to REALLY see it. Really read it. Really absorb it.

"IF you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

THEN you will know the truth and the truth will set you free."


Ah, the classic "if/then" logic formula. The effect is dependent upon the cause. The result is dependent on an action.

I know God's love isn't conditional upon my actions. God IS love; he can no more NOT love me than I can NOT be a woman. It is who He is. I know His Grace isn't conditional upon my actions. That is His gift to all who believe and trust in Jesus Christ, His only Son. He willingly was tortured and executed in my place, to pay my debt.

However, my growth in Him IS conditional upon my actions. ONLY IF I hold to His teaching will I will become His disciple (learning, growing, knowing Him); ONLY THEN I will know the truth. And THEN I will be set free - free from guilt, free from worry, free to rest in Him.

Father, thank you for your Word, and for the places and people and circumstances you use to make the Truth of your Word evident to me. Thank you for being there for me every day, no matter if I am listening to You or ignoring you. I pray that I will become your devoted disciple, not swayed or blown to and fro by the winds of this world, but remain steadfast in walking on the path you set before me. Thank you for being my Light in this dark world.

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Friday Fiction: Welcome Home

>> Friday, November 14

Today is Friday, and that means it's time for FRIDAY FICTION!




LauraLee is hosting Friday Fiction this week on her awesome blog LauraLee's Lifesong. Stop by to read more fiction, or to join the fun.




The story I'm sharing today is a fictionalized-but-mostly-true account of how my husband and found the church home we adore. I wrote "Welcome Home" for the FaithWriters.com "Worship" challenge. I hope you enjoy!




WELCOME HOME


Hannah fought the onslaught of merry parishioners leaving the early service and took the bulletin offered by the smiling volunteer. Despite the fact that the same tall, grey-haired man had been standing at the entrance to the worship center every Sunday for the past eight years, he had never said more than “good morning’ to her. This Sunday was no different, but Hannah was still delighted to be there.

She liked sitting up front; this early the rows were was sparsely populated. As people chose seats around her, Hannah smiled and greeted each one. They answered her graciously, then turned back to their friends and conversations. She watched the slide show deliver greetings and church news, and read the announcements of upcoming events and mission trips in the bulletin twice as she hummed along with the praise music playing on the loud speakers. Hannah looked around hopefully, but no one seemed to notice her. She was surrounded by laughter and friendly conversations. She worshiped alone in a crowd of hundreds.

Soon, the music minister stepped to the pulpit and welcomed everyone. Hannah loved to sing, and joyfully lifted her praises with rest of the congregation. I’m here for God. I don’t care if no one knows me, she told herself. Half of it was a lie; she desperately wanted to belong.

During the communion service, Hannah poured her heart out to her Abba Father, confessing her selfishness and His greatness, and committing herself to be His servant.

The preacher’s message, as always, lifted and fed her, and when the invitation to join the church was given at the end of the service, she longed to approach the altar. Why do I continue to sit here, glued to my chair, week after week? She waited for an answer, but none came.

As the congregants filed out, she stopped to shake the preacher’s hand as always. Sometimes his forehead wrinkled as he tried to place her, but most times, like today, he just spoke a hasty word of kindness and looked to the next person. “Bill! Good to see you this morning. How is Josh doing in boot camp?”

Hannah moved on, wishing he knew her name and her life, too.

The following Sunday, a crash of thunder woke Hannah. A blank screen stared at her from the clock radio, She found her cell phone on the nightstand and squinted at it. 10:30! She’d be so late! She rolled out of bed and dashed through the shower. An up-do and a dab of mascara would suffice.

The clock in her car read 10:58 as she passed the old brick church on the town square. Her church was still fifteen minutes away. On impulse, she pulled into the parking lot.

A “Visitor” spot was waiting for her in front, and she hastened to the worship center. A grinning usher opened the door.

“Welcome to Grace Church. I’m Jim.”

“Good morning, I’m Hannah. Sorry to cut it so short.”

“No worries, Hannah. We’re glad you’re here. Let’s find you a seat, ok?” Jim walked her to a pew toward the middle, and spoke to the man sitting at the end. A murmur was passed down the row, and a space was made for her. Her apologies were met with forgiveness as she scrambled over feet and settled in.

Before Hannah had a chance to fully absorb the soaring bead-board ceilings and the sun-lit stained glass, the familiar routine of church began. The welcome from the pulpit was hearty and heartfelt. Visitors were asked to stay seated “so we can find you”, while members stood in honor of their guests.

Everyone in proximity of Hannah reached for her hand and asked her name. She received three invitations to Sunday School and two for Wednesday dinner. Jim the usher handed her a card to fill out “so we can stay in touch with you.”

When she stood to join them in singing praises to God, tears glistened in her eyes.

The pastor’s message and his invitation spoke directly to her, and when the final hymn began, she found herself stepping into the aisle. Her feet and her heart carried her to the altar where the radiant pastor met her with outstretched arms.

“I want to join this church,” was out of her mouth before she knew she was going to speak.

“We’re honored to have you join our family. Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?” the pastor asked.

“Yes,” she croaked through her tears. “I’ve known Him and loved Him for a long time, but I found Him here today.”

“Welcome home, sister. Let’s pray.”


© 10/11/07 Catrina Bradley

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Friday Fiction: Unquenched

>> Thursday, November 6


Friday Fiction is being hosted this week
by my friend and fellow FaithWriter, Julie Arduini
at her
blog The Surrendered Scribe. Come cCheck it out!


"Unquenched" is something of a mystery to me...it's a mystery that it was highly commended in my level, and was an Editors Choice, in the FaithWriters Writing Challenge. I wrote "Unquenched" July 30, 2008, for the topic "Concentration". I almost didn't enter it, but sent it off to my buddy to have a look. She convinced me I should enter, and much to my shock & awe, it was well received.
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Unquenched

I sure could use a drink of water. So thirsty. Mustn’t forget to ask. Water. Remember. I want a drink of water. I’ll ask him for one when he comes in. A nice cold drink of water. A tall drink of water. That’s what they used to call me. Back then…when George was … was so HANDsome. He was taller than all of the other boys, AND he was taller than I was. I loved looking up into his warm brown eyes. I was considered tall for a girl. A tall drink of water they called me. Mmm. Water. Sure am thirsty. I’ll ask for a glass of water. He’ll be back soon. I need to remember water. WATter! WATter. Oh, dear. That’s making me seasick. Like that time George and I took a day cruise to nowhere. That’s how it was billed. A Day Cruise to Nowhere. You sailed off into international waters, you dropped anchor there out for a couple of hours, then you were brought back to the dock. For those couple of hours, you could gamble. George let me play Blackjack. He gave me $50; I lasted six hands. I DID get a free drink, though. Probably what made me seasick. I sure could use a drink right now. Water would be great. When he comes, I need to remember to ask him for some. Ok, remember water. Water. Concentrate, Ruby. Don’t forget. Water. Icy cold, like it was just pumped from the well. Like from the pump at our kitchen sink. That was before water came out of a tap at the turn of a knob. What an advancement for mankind was running water! And indoor plumbing? A Godsend. I sure don’t miss those middle of the night trips to the necessary. Especially in winter. My feet and hands would be frozen when I came inside. And then I had to wash up in cold water from the pump at the sink. That cold water sure felt good in the summer, though. Oh, but that was good drinking water. I could use a drink of that water right now. I’m a mite thirsty. When he comes, I need to ask him for a drink. I’ll need to ask for ice cubes though if I want it as cold as the water from the pump in the kitchen. Of course that was a lot of years ago, back when George and I first married. My but George was handsome. So tall, too! The other girls were so jealous. Oh, look, here’s my sweetheart now.

“Miss Ruby, how you doin? You comfortable? “

“George!”

“Miss Ruby, it’s Nathan, just comin round to check on you again.”

“George, there was something I wanted to ask you. Something about the pump at the kitchen sink. I can’t quite seem to recall just what it was.”

“Your water pitcher’s dry, Miss Ruby. Lemme fill it up for you.”

“Thank you, sweetheart. You always know what I need, and take care of it before I even realize I need it myself. You’re the best husband, George.”

“Nah, Miss Ruby, I’m just the nurse’s aid. Nathan, remember?” Nathan scooped ice into the water pitcher from the cooler on his cart, then ran water in from the tap in the small bathroom.

“George, do you remember pumping water by hand? I don’t know why, but I just thought of that old pump in our kitchen. I haven’t thought about that in years. Oh, thank you George! How did you know I was thirsty?”

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