God Became Vulnerable by Love

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Two days had passed, two long days, since Lazarus’s servant stumbled to Jesus’ feet and panted, “Laz…a…rus… is very… sick… Rabi. P…please come… so that you might… heal him…. We fear… he won’t make… it much longer.”

I searched Jesus’ face, wondering what he would do. Lazarus and his sisters were like family to him. He loved them differently than he loved us disciples. It was more than a comradery. He loved them with a tenderness, much like an older brother toward his baby sister, only with much more intensity. I studied his face, but it remained calm and confident.

“Go home,” he instructed the servant. “His sickness does not lead to death, but to the glory of God.”

And that was it. The servant ran back home believing Lazarus was going to be just fine, and we went back to… well, what we always do… walk around talking to people, camping out under the stars, controlling the crowds as Jesus told stories.

But the last two days have been different. Every word he’s spoken has been tinted with a hint of sadness. When the crowds are gone, he’s quiet. I asked Peter this morning if he had noticed something was off.

“Ah, John,” he quipped, “It’s Jesus. He’s always a bit… well, different.”

When Peter brushed me off, I asked my brother James. I only got a shrug out of him and a quick, “hadn’t noticed.”

Maybe it’s because Jesus and I have a closeness that the others don’t share, or maybe it’s because I’m simply more emotionally sensitive. I don’t know, but apparently I’m the only one who had noticed anything different. That is, until Jesus suddenly announced, “Let’s go to Judea again.”

You would have thought Jesus was suggesting suicide. Everyone immediately began to protest. You could hardly hear one above the other. Finally. Peter boomed above the others. “Are you crazy?! The Jews are wanting to stone you to death, and you want to just waltz into the middle of them?”

Jesus held up his hand and calmly asked, “Are there not twelve hours in a day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

None of us were sure what in the world Jesus was talking about. Peter looked at me and raised one eyebrow as if to say, “I told you he was different.” I sighed and stayed close to Jesus. Something wasn’t right, and I wanted to figure it out.

When Jesus saw that we were confused, he said, “Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I will go to wake him up.” He said “asleep”, but his face said so much more.

I put my hand on his arm and probed him further. “Lord, if he’s sleeping, that’s a good thing. He will recover quickly.”

He sighed, and simply stated, “Lazarus has died.” Several gasps circulated through the lot of us as he continued, “I’m glad, for your sake, that I wasn’t there, so that you may believe. But, come on. Let’s go.”

Thomas began to gather up his few belongings then. “Let’s go, boys! We shall die with him.”

And so here we are… nearing Bethany. And apparently we’re not the only ones. “Hey!” I called to a Jewish man passing me. “What’s going on? Why are so many Jews coming into Bethany?”

“Haven’t you heard? Lazarus died. They buried him four days ago. We’re going to comfort his sisters.”

Is it my imagination or did Jesus just wince at those words?

“Jesus! Jesus!” Martha ran toward us. She stopped a couple feet in front of Jesus, breathing heavily from her jog. “If you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died!” she accused. Jesus took her hand and looked compassionately into her eyes, and her tone softened. “But even now, I know that whatever you ask of God, He will give you.”

“Your brother will rise again,” Jesus answered.

Martha sighed in frustration. “I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

Jesus took her other hand into his and explained, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

Martha nodded slowly. “Yes, Lord. I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Jesus gave her a soft, sad smile. “Now, go get Mary. I wish to speak to her.”

We sat down beside the road and waited, and within a few minutes, we could see Mary walking toward the large boulder where Jesus sat. She practically stumbled to his feet, sobbing, “Jesus! Oh, Jesus! If you had been here…. If you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” Her tears fell like rain as her body shook with sobs.

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Jesus placed his hand on her head and swallowed hard. The mourners who had been with the sisters were beginning to gather around as well, weeping for their lost friend and for the loss of Mary and Martha. Jesus cleared his throat and blinked hard. “Where have you laid him?” he managed to ask before he too began to weep.

He pulled Mary’s head into his lap and leaned his forehead onto her head. His body shook forcefully. I have never seen a grown man cry so hard. I couldn’t keep it in any longer. I stood beside him, wrapped my arm around his shoulder, and cried.

The other disciples shifted awkwardly as the crowd began to whisper amongst themselves. “Look how much he loved Lazarus!” But some in the crowd accused him. “He opened the eyes of the blind! Couldn’t he have kept this man from dying?!”

Jesus lifted his head when he heard these words. With tears still streaming down his face, he gently lifted Mary to her feet, and stood himself up. Taking her hand, he led the crowd to Lazarus’s tomb.

“Take away the stone.”

Martha turned her head quickly toward Jesus in disbelief. “Lord, he’s been in there for four days. By this time, he’s really going to stink.”

“Oh Martha,” he answered. “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”

Several of the other disciples lined up next to the stone, but I stayed by Jesus’ side. He was hurting, and I wasn’t about to leave him when he needed me most. They pushed against the stone and it slowly began to roll from the opening of the cave.

Jesus looked up toward heaven and confidently said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” Then turning his face toward the tomb, he boomed, “Lazarus, come out!”

I nearly fell over backwards. Emerging from the tomb was Lazarus himself, still bound in burial cloths. Jesus nudged me. “Unbind him, and let him go.”

I hesitated, still trying to wrap my mind around what just happened. Jesus nudged me again, and I stepped forward. A huge grin spread across my face, and I ran to Lazarus. One by one, I unwound the cloths as his sisters and friends began to crowd around him.

After removing the last strip of cloth, I squeezed my way out of the crowd and found my way to Jesus’ side. “God feels. God cries. God understands. God is love.” I whisper these words, half to Jesus, half to myself. He smiles.

“God is love.” These words will stick with me for life. There is nothing so strong on earth as love. Nothing so exuberating… so edifying… so beautiful… and yet so painful as love. God came down from His throne to this humble earth. He allowed Himself to love… to feel it’s beauty and it’s pain. Why? So that we can believe. I will never forget this day… the day that God Himself sobbed uncontrollably because He loved.

 

What Hurts the Most

PeterJenAs we entered the sanctuary of the church for Peter’s funeral, I scanned the faces of the crowd. I saw a few familiar friends, but a lot of them I did not know, and it struck me just how many people’s lives my brother touched.

We will all miss him. We will all have to comes to terms with the fact that he is not here. And that will mean different things for all of us. For some, it’s just a passing thought every now and then. For others, it’s a daily remembrance that will fade as time goes on. But for those closest to him, it’s a complete change in life.

Today, on my good friend Ginger’s blog, I share about what hurts the most for me…

“Alexa is fine, but… Peter didn’t make it.” My heart stopped, but my brain searched for a way to make sense of it. Silence wasn’t an option. Words spewed from my mouth, too fast to catch them. “How’s Alexa?” Immediately, I gave myself a mental smack on the head. Duh. He already said she was fine. Maybe, just maybe, I was hoping he’d say they were both ok. I don’t know.

He repeated that she was still in the hospital, but she was fine. All I could say was “ok”. And then it was over. The hardest phone call ever….

The words still echo through my head everyday like the taunting rhythm of an oncoming train… “Peter didn’t make it.”

I’m not sure when that train will overtake me and flatten me to the ground. One of these days, it’s going to be real. I’m going to realize that his funeral was not just a family gathering that he wasn’t able to make it to. One of these days I will notice that he never shows up for family events.

But for now, this is what I see…. [Read more]

If I had known…

Imissyou1It’s been two weeks and two days since I lost my brother, but the words still echo through my head everyday like the taunting rhythm of an oncoming train… “Peter didn’t make it. He’s dead.”

He’s gone. Forever. He’s not coming back. He won’t be at Dad’s next summer to set off fireworks. He won’t hop on FB to post crazy political pictures and sarcastic comments. He’s gone.

Oh Peter, if I had known…

I would have called you.

I would have texted you.

I would have told you that I love you.

I would have walked the 1/4 mile down the drive to your camper last summer and sat beside you, drinking a Mike’s, laughing, treasuring each minute, instead of waiting for you to come up to the house.

I would have told you how much I respected the way you were your own person, never letting anyone else control you.

I would have told you how happy I was that you chose such a wonderful woman for your wife.

I would have told you just what a great daddy you were to your little girl.

I would have listened to you ramble on about politics and electronics.

If I had known….

I’d give anything to have one more day with you. To have that chance to tell you how much I love you and how proud I am of you… a chance to say, “good-bye”.

When You’re Broken, and You Know It

brokenBroken. It’s a word that’s been running circles in my head for several days now.

Broken. It’s more than just admitting my childhood/early adulthood has adversely affected me. It’s more than just realizing I have issues, just like every other person in the world has issues.

It’s a personal admittance. I’m broken.

Sometimes I even whisper the words out loud… just to let the truth sink in. There are parts of my subconscious that are in dire need of repair before it completely takes over my entire being in a fit of selfish, angry rage.

And  you know what? It makes me feel weak and vulnerable. And I just want to go back to pretending I’m completely whole and happy, where even those who are closest to me have no idea what’s going on inside.

But I can’t. I’ve seen what happens when brokenness isn’t fixed. I’ve been on the receiving end of brokenness tearing out of someone’s soul and attacking my own. I don’t want that miserable life, and I certainly don’t want to spread that sloppy mess on my family and friends.

They need me. They need a whole-as-can-be me.

I need fixing, and I can’t do it alone. I need help. Because I’m broken, and I know it.

When Rotten Lettuce Condemns

lettuceWe had only twenty minutes before we had to be out the door and on our way to church. I rushed through the kitchen on the way to the laundry room to desperately dig through the baskets looking for clean underwear for my four year old. As I passed the end of the kitchen counter, I stopped in my tracks.

Is that…? Ew. It is. Right there on the edge of the counter, eight inches above the trash can sat my lidded glass bowl which once had a hand full of lettuce past its prime. It had been removed from the fridge and set there, waiting to be dumped into the trash. Life continued and I kept thinking I’d dump it right before the trash gets taken out or the next time I load the dishwasher.

I don’t know how a bowl of lettuce can go ignored for that long, but it did. My incredible glass bowl now held a blackish, slimy liquid, a perfect illustration of decomposition and the life cycle of the fruit fly.

Gross, I know. But what’s even grosser is what happened the moment I noticed it.

“Are you kidding?” my brain yelled at me. “Can you not even manage to clean your own dishes? Look at this house! Just look at it! You’re a complete failure. You can never keep it clean. You suck at parenting too. I mean, if you were a good parent, then your children would always pick up after themselves. You would be working alongside them, teaching them how to clean the kitchen and mop the floor and clean the bathroom. You would all merrily sing like Snow White and the seven dwarfs as you sweep those little puffs of dust out the backdoor. And speaking of your kids… what makes you think you can teach them at home? You fail everyday at that. I mean really, think about all those holes in your teaching. And now you’re going out the door to church where you will smile to every well meaning greeter and lie through your teeth that you’re “doing good”. You can’t even manage to make friends. You’re incredibly awkward and just plain weird. Besides, how can you be a true friend and invite them over when you have rotting lettuce on your kitchen counter?”

Yeah, it was that bad. I fought back tears on the way to church, pouted through Sunday school (being sure to hide it with my smile), and guilted my way through the church service. Why can’t I just get it right? Why am I such a failure in life? I condemned myself over and over and over again. I just want to be successful in something. I just need one thing… just one thing that I attempt to actually succeed… to be at least half way perfect.

I tried to pray about it this evening as I scrubbed the dishes and counters. But I didn’t even know how to pray or what to say. Do I ask Him to provide help? Do I ask Him to teach me to “man up”? Do I ask Him to show me what to cut out of my life, so I have time to do the most important things? (But there are no extras to cut out.) I just didn’t know.

But the Spirit did. He always does. He knew what my heart really needed. Romans 8 began to slowly pour over me and the tears trickled down.

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“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

“And we know that in all things (even bowls of rotten lettuce) God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one.”

And then the glorious part… What can separate us from His love? Bowls of rotting lettuce? Never. Dirty kitchen floors? Never. Failed attempts at producing a substantial income from home? Never. Imperfect parenting? Never. Half written novels? Never. In fact…

I am more than a conqueror in all these things through Him who loves me.

Did you catch that? I don’t have to be perfect to be loved. Who condemns me? No one.

In all my imperfectness, I am loved.

That last sentence should be repeated out loud in an awed whisper.

In all my imperfectness, I am loved.

 

Taking Care of Myself

Ginger, over at Just One of the Boys, has a series going. It’s called A Happier, Healthier You. I thought I’d jump in on Week #7.

Through this long journey I’m on, I’m realizing that taking care of myself goes hand in hand with embracing the “self” that I am. I can find who I am, but if I do nothing to nourish and care for that “self” then I lose my “self” as fast as I find it. (Yeah, that sentence confuses me too.)

Here’s what I’ve done to care for the treasure that I am.

1) I’ve learned to redefine and redirect my passions. A dream does not always need to be pursued actively. Sometimes, it’s ok to keep it a dream a little longer. Sometimes stage of life holds precedence. I’ve realized that my dream to help women become confident in themselves can be achieved now in this stage, but my dream of being a full fledged author…. it’s better left on the shelf for a little longer. Those two do not have to go hand in hand.

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2) I’ve learned to say “no” to the pressure to be famous. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me, but in the blogging world, I feel an intense pressure to become a household name. I could not blog for myself. I blogged with the entire goal to become famous and rich. I would beat myself up for not blogging consistently or not having the number of readers that other bloggers had.

I’ve had to say “no”. I still want to blog. I still want to write. It’s part of who I am. But making a household name of myself is not who I am. I am a much happier woman having taken that pressure off myself.

3) I went clothes shopping the other day. I took a friend along to help me. I suck at style. But I learned so much from her. I feel I could confidently shop for myself now. Yay! I also bought some cute shoes. Now to find some black or gray dress pants that are plus size in the gut/butt, but not plus size in the legs. Hmmmmm.

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4) I’ve started taking care of my hands and nails. They are, after all, the extension of my body that I use to impact others’ lives. I want them to be a reflection of who I am… a proclamation of my confidence in who God created me to be.

My hands are pretty dry in these long Indiana winters, so I’ve been using this Dead Sea lotion on my hands and Jamberry’s cuticle oil on my cuticles and the skin around the edges of my nails. My dry patches are nearly healed and no more hang nails. YAY!

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I’ve also discovered Jamberry’s nail wraps…. LOVE!!! They give me a chance to show off my personality and they last a very long time. I never liked painting my finger nails because the polish would always look awful in a couple days. I love that these wraps look great until I decide to change them.

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5) I have begun to realize that I do have something to contribute to this world, the Christian community, our church, our family, and our finances. And that, in fact, I am happier and healthier when I am contributing. I have begun to serve as nursery coordinator at our church. This gives me a responsibility and “forces” me to interact with people there.

I also began to sell the Jamberry wraps I fell in love with, in order to contribute to our family’s finances. I love that I made back my investment and began to profit in 5 weeks time. I love that the flexibility of my job allows me to contribute financially and still homeschool and spend time with my family. I love that this job will enable me to help fund remodel projects, pay off debts, and build up our “new house” fund!!! I’m so excited that I finally found a way to contribute. And best of all, my job is FUN and I get to help other women find confidence too. Two dreams in one. Nice.

 

My goals for this week:

1) Drink 46 oz. of water every day.

2) Begin a treadmill routine.

3) Read two chapters from Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine.

My Broken Hallelujah

lineGod, I’m not even sure where to begin. Do I start at the beginning, in the middle, in the right here and now, or with my hopes for the future?

I have nothing… nothing to hold up for myself to say, “THIS…. This is my good. This is the part of me that got it all right… that knows where it’s going… that knows what to fervently embrace and run with.” Instead, I’m here… wandering in the fog of confusion, surrounded by millions of voices yelling at me, forcefully luring me to come to them and follow their path.

But I’ve tried so many paths. At impressionable ages, I was led down twisting trails, told what to believe and what to strive for. I left these pathways for one of my own. I wasn’t going to let someone else choose my way. I would find it on my way.

Sometimes I was sure I was getting somewhere good, but most times it was just way too foggy to even see where I was going.

You see, I’m broken… so very broken. I’m broken in my mind, in my heart, and in my soul.

I was taught that you wanted me to follow long lists of rules to be holy. I was taught that a position of authority was a free pass to blissful manipulation. I was taught you needed me to meekly submit to this type of authority before you would truly be pleased. Until then, I was rebellious and deserved to be stoned.

I came to see you as a manipulative God, ruling your subjects from your royal throne, laying down law after law and withholding love unless they were followed. I strove everyday to be able to hear you say, “This is my daughter. She is holy because she holds my standards high in her heart.”

Then came the slow realization that these standards I strove for were not even your own. They were standards set forth by a man, claiming to be your favorite minister. They were standards enforced by the authority positions over me. And I could never, absolutely never, uphold these standards perfectly.

Then I did it! I broke away from these chains wrapped around my ankles. I was free… free from the chains of legalism. And you began your work of healing. You showed me that you love me, no matter what.

But as these fallacies and half truths have slowly been picked out of my mind and heart, they’ve left holes… holes that need to be filled with truth. And I don’t know where to get this truth, God. How can I ever trust another teacher? How can I read your word and hear just you and not the words of others?

I need you to take my broken pieces. Sweep them up, every sliver, and piece me back together in the image of Christ.

Sort through the twisted wires of thought patterns in my mind. Untangle them and connect them correctly.

Fill in these holes with you and your truth.

I come to you broken, Father. I love you. I trust you. I know that you are sovereign and full of grace.

Here’s my broken hallelujah.
Your Daughter

We’re Not In Kansas Anymore, Toto!

snowSo much to write about. So much going on in my mind. I don’t even know where to start. Perhaps with small talk… you know, like the WEATHER!

Can I just say, “I HATE WINTER!!!”? And that, folks, is an understatement. This winter is straight from Antarctica.

When our temperatures are an even keel with Barrow, Alaska and even dipping lower than theirs, there’s something wrong. So wrong. (I live in Fort Wayne, IN)

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I now understand why the suicide stats are so high in Alaska. This much cold, this much snow, this much wind, this much staying inside with cooped up kids. It leads to some serious mental degradation.

Can I move back to Kansas now? At least there, they get above 30 every so often.

In other news, I started this year off with a resolve to love my body with the same grace God pours out on it. I will treat it with respect and nurture it as a prize for the King of Glory.

For the month of January, that meant following the Whole 30 diet… well, mostly following it. I fudged a little on the dairy issue, since I couldn’t seem to keep up a good level of healthy fats. I just drank 8 oz. each morning.

But this was a big issue for me… my normal diet has a solid foundation of dairy and grains with protein and fruits and veggies as garnishes. So my goal for this diet was to break that habit flip my diet triangle upside down… mostly protein, fruits, and veggies with dairy and grains as garnishes. And sugary treats as just that… A treat. Not a norm.

I have a few days left, but I am 100% sure that I am going to hit that “lost 10 lbs.” mark. I’m so excited. I didn’t count calories or measure servings… just ate what was “approved”.

I don’t know what February’s focus will be. I should find some sort of plan before it starts though, or I’ll end up with Dr. Pepper washing down my cereal breakfast, sandwich lunch, and pizza dinner all over again.

Another goal I had for this year was to find a source of income that was immediate and easy and fun. I had many ideas, but all them involved a lot of up front time or money.

So when a friend told me about an opportunity to become a Jamberry consultant, I hopped on it like a cat pouncing on a grasshopper. It was easy to fit the start up into the budget. There’s no creating a product. And let me tell you, it’s the most fun I’ve had in a loooooong time. I’m pretty sure I’m part of the most awesome team ever.

We’re back at homeschooling again after a two week holiday break. We have fun days and struggle days. I’m glad though that we’re not forced to take the same number of snow days as the public schools. We’ll be finishing up the last Friday of May, and the neighborhood kids will still be going to school long into June.

Well, that’s what’s up here. Now that I’ve got you all caught up, I’ve got to get back to writing for the love of writing. It’s been a long break, and I’m ready to hit it more often.

When a Blogger Gets Vulnerable About Blogging

forgivenI kinda feel like an idiot admitting this out loud.

I don’t know if I can do this blogging thing. I began this blog with a nice, steady line of five dead blogs behind me. I tend to pour myself into a project and then wane off. I guess it’s just what I do. Start and never finish.

But I guess I feel like this blog is different. It’s not just any old blog filled with randomness that occasionally hits the mom blog world in a buzz for a few days (or years as the busy bag craze did). This is me. This is my passion. It’s what I’ve done (unknowingly) all my life.

Think deep. Write. Reach out to those who need some deepness. Hide from the crowd, but single out one person whom I can inspire.

I want to be this, live this, on a large scale. I want to impact a scattered community across the world.

I want to be what I write. I want to write what I am. And I want what I write to inspire women everywhere to love who they are.

Then why would I slack off? Why would both quantity and quality go downhill so fast on a project I embrace with my whole heart?

The same reason I have yet to reach my health goals. The same reason I reach for frozen pizza at times. The same reason I drive a dented, starting to rust minivan. The same reason I just now looked at my clock and sighed.

The reality of the moment screams louder than dreams and ambitions.

Kids wake up too early. Breakfast needs served. Morning chores need done. School needs taught. Preschoolers have melt downs. Morning snack time is demanded by little hungry bellies who woke up too soon and ate breakfast too early. More school needs taught.

Lunch needs served. Someone spills their water all over the schoolbooks. More school needs taught. Kids need non-school attention. The dishes need done. The laundry needs rotated. There’s ants crawling under the dining room table. Close friends and family need to be called, texted, chatted with. Kids fight.

Dinner needs cooked. Husband works late. Dinner needs served. Dinner needs cleaned up. Kids need prepped for bed. Bills need paid. There’s not enough money to go around. Brain free relaxation with the husband is beyond needed. Sleep calls your name.

Where does passion and life ambition fit in there?

(Yes, I know. We could talk about finding passion in the calling to motherhood. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.)

We’re trying to get our finances in order right now… you know, the good ol’ student loans, groceries, fuel, everyday needs, mortgage stuff. It’s quite apparent that, without a raise in income, it’s just not going to work.

Christmas this year will be significantly less materially than the past ones (not a bad thing, by any means). But that means most gifts will be homemade. T.I.M.E

I’ve been searching for ways to bring in an income. That’s another thing on the plate. Gotta research. Gotta do the actual work. Gotta market. T.I.M.E.

Well why not just make money blogging? The top, number one reason is: I never want the goal of this blog to be for financial gain. If it happens, that’s fine. But that’s not its purpose. But also, making money off blogging (especially with this type of blog) takes many months, sometimes years. That’s not soon enough.

So if I’ve got the everyday realities of existence and motherhood… plus Christmas gifts to make… plus income to create… how does my piddly little “impact the world” dream even begin to matter? In the right now, it doesn’t even fit.

There are so many women out there who run tremendous blogs and shout “you can too!” There are a bagzillion ebooks on the steps to successful blogging with promises of great success. But I’m here to say…

In the daily realities of life, blogging is just a computer sitting on a desk. In the daily realities of life, dreams are just lofty thoughts in the sky.

And this… this is why I wonder if I should even be blogging.

 

*photo credit (recycling a photo from a previous post because there’s no time for a new one)

A Metaphoric Nancy Drew, Pt. 2

Metaphoric Nancy Drew pt 2

*This is part two of the series, A Metaphoric Nancy Drew. You can read part one here.

 

“Nessa Brach?”

“Yes, this is Nessa,” she had answered, wondering who the caller was.

“Don’t trust him, Nessa,” the voice warned. “He’s not good. He’s pure evil. Get away from him as soon as you can.”

“Who? Who’s evil?”

“The Leader. Dr Landon.” By now, the voice was panicked. “Stay away from him.”

She heard a rustle and then silence. The caller had hung up.

Nessa sat on her bed staring at the wall for what seemed like an hour. “Well, that was weirder than snow in July,” she thought.

She pulled her laptop onto her legs. Maybe she could look up the number the call came from. Then she could find out who called.

211-123-4567. Andrew McCoy.

But the caller had definitely been a girl… maybe around twenty. McCoy. McCoy. Why did that sound familiar?

A door slammed downstairs, and she could hear the clip, clip of her mom’s high heels across the kitchen tile. Mom would know. Nessa slid off her bed and scurried down the stairs.

“Hi, Mom. Here. Let me help you with the groceries.”

Her mom looked at her in surprise. “Thank you.”

Nessa smiled as she slid the loaf of bread into the bread drawer. “Mom. Who’s Andrew McCoy?”

“He used to work for Dr. Landon. Why?”

Nessa opened the refrigerator and slid the jug of milk onto the top shelf. “No reason,” she lied.

“You know,” her mom continued. “His daughter Skylar was Dr. Landon’s secretary a couple years ago. I guess she started ‘loosing it’ and accused Dr. Landon of some nasty things, so Mr. McCoy resigned to take care of his mentally sick daughter. I don’t think anyone has heard of them since.”

Nessa thoughtfully poured herself a glass of Coke. “Mom, why did Dr. Landon take an interest in me? I didn’t  even know the Institute existed until I came here from Dad’s a year and a half ago. I wore clothes Dr. Landon would never approve of and listened to music that he deems evil. Why did he ask me to be his secretary when Aubrey left six months ago? Why me? And why did Aubrey leave anyway?”

Her mom stopped unloading groceries from the last bag and looked Nessa in the eye. “I don’t think all that matters, Dear. What matters is that the Good Leader saw great potential in you. He changed you for the better. You were so depressed and rebellious before you met him. He saved your life, Dear. That’s all that matters.”

There it was again… the “you owe the Good Leader your life” line. Nessa raised her glass slightly. “Thanks, Mom. I’m going upstairs to study.”

She was glad her mom didn’t ask her what she was studying. She had plenty of research to do, but it wasn’t for any of her college classes. She had to find out more about Skylar McCoy. This research project just might be more interesting than a jar full of fireflies to a six year old boy.

 

Read more from this series:

A Metaphoric Nancy Drew, Part One

 

*photo credit