…stories and poetry to touch, teach, & turn the heart toward truth.

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Story of Hope, Chapter 4

Monica could tell something wasn’t right as soon as her hand made contact with the door knob. She was walking home from returning some books to the library–reading had quickly become her new favorite pass time–when she found her front door unlocked. With two women living in the house by themselves, the front door was never unlocked. Something wasn’t right.

She opened the door quietly and peeked her head in to see if Nina’s cloak and hat were hanging in their place by the entryway. They were not. Monica began to feel a tightness in her chest. The door hadn’t been forced open, so maybe Nina had somehow forgotten to lock the door on her way out. It wasn’t likely, Monica knew, but she was doing her best to avoid panicking.

Straightening her shoulders, she moved noiselessly into the front room and inched cautiously toward the hallway leading into the kitchen at the back of the house. She had yet to hear any sounds to indicate the presence of an intruder, but she realized the silence could just mean someone was hiding in wait for her. That made her heart quicken even more, and her hands began to tremble.

As her eyes made their way slowly around the corner into the small kitchen, she noticed something that made her heart sink. The back door was wide open. It wasn’t her imagination anymore. Something really was wrong!

Feeling fairly sure that the intruder wasn’t in the kitchen, she rushed to the kitchen window and peeked into the backyard. The door to the small workshop was standing open as well. That brought her to a halt.

Could it be? It wasn’t time! Surely not.

A mixture of anxiety and dread started to churn in her stomach, as she stood at the window and tried to decide what to do. Finally, deciding to go on the offensive, she rushed to the backdoor and locked it shut in one sweeping motion. She then doubled back to the front door and did the same with it.

Feeling a bit safer, she walked with renewed composure back to the kitchen window and waited to see who came out of the workshop. She looked through the window, and the door was shut! She blinked and looked again, then heard the handle of the backdoor being wriggled back and forth.

The door had a small window in it, and she could now see the silhouette of the intruder through the ivory curtain that hung over it. Monica’s heart was pounding again, and she grabbed the biggest knife in her kitchen. She crept over to the window and jerked the curtain aside holding the knife out in front of her face.

She screamed, “Get out of here, you…”

In the place of a stranger’s face, which she was expecting to see, she found a pair of bright, very surprised blue eyes and a familiar red beard. She could feel the blush of embarrassment on her cheeks almost before she realized who her mysterious intruder was.

“Olly! What are you doing home?!”

Monica’s husband looked back at her through the square window pane and his surprise slowly turned into a roaring laugh.

“Mind putting your weapon down and lettin’ a man into his own house?” He asked light-heartedly. He always managed to make everything better with his warm, contagious laugh.

Monica threw the knife aside and swung the door open wide. She stepped back to let Olly through, but he covered the space between them while she was still mid-step and completely enveloped her in his arms. She was taken aback, but found herself returning his embrace with complete abandon. She hadn’t been hugged like this in so long! In fact, she hadn’t had any human contact since the last time she…

The hug ended abruptly as Monica stiffened into an upright position, and pushed hastily away from Olly. She saw the confused pain of rejection cross his eyes, but pretended that all was normal, as she smoothed her hair back into place and put on a polite, plastic smile.

“How are you home already? We weren’t expecting you for another month.”

She was not ready. She hadn’t finished preparing her emotions for this. She hadn’t even begun clearing things up with Nina. How was she going to handle this? What would she say? Would Nina come in and reveal the truth before she had a chance to sort things out in her own mind?

She felt his eyes on her, but looked out the kitchen window into the backyard. “What were you doing in the workshop? Are you already planning to leave again?” Despite herself, she could only hope as much.

Monica knew she was being unduly harsh with her aloofness, but at the moment it was her only guard against coming completely undone right there on the spot.  She managed to bring her eyes up to meet Olly’s, but knew instantly it had been a bad idea. She wanted to cry desperately, but she remained quiet and turned to face the kitchen.

“Can I get you something to eat? You must be hungry…” She reached for the bread drawer.

His reply came slow and steady. “Monica, I came home to stay.”

Her hand stopped, and she turned slowly to look at him. “What?”

“I’m home to stay. I’m done. I won’t be leaving you and Nina anymore. I’m…retired.”


She felt sick, and her voice started to rise. “Retired? Have you gone mad! How do you expect to retire when we’re broke? Are you dumb? We’re broke! Why would you quit your job when we don’t have any money? What really happened? Did you get fired?”

She was ranting now. “You can tell me, Olly. I can handle it. God knows I can pretty much take whatever you throw at me these days. Just say the word, and I’ll be fine, but don’t you dare lie to me one more time, Oliver Swarth! That is one thing I cannot handle! I can take being left alone like a widow for years. I can take raising a child with just enough money to keep us from freezing in the wintertime. I can even handle knowing that you travel all over the world throwing away what money you could have brought home on who knows what or WHOM. But what I cannot take is one more lie!”

Now the tears came and they somehow felt comforting. She buried her face in her palms and wept openly, alone.

Until she felt strong arms pull her close. She tried to push away, but Olly wasn’t letting go, and part of her didn’t want him to.

“Monica, I want you to listen to me,” his voice was tight with emotion. “You are right. I haven’t been completely honest with you over the years, and I am so sorry that I have hurt you as a result. I have been an idiot.”

Where is he going with this? she thought to herself.

“I wish you would have told me how tight things have been for the two of you. You always seemed to be doing well enough when I was home and you never told me you were struggling.”

She pulled away, slowly this time, and looked up a him. “You were never here long enough to listen! Besides, it’s not like you’ve ever had a lot of money to spare. I guess I just knew that if that’s how much you gave me, that’s how much there was. You never asked if we needed more, Olly.”

He nodded–just nodded. All of the bitterness she’d build against him was slowly beginning to rise to the surface. Was he really this blind to himself? Did he really not understand what he’d done to her–to them? Calling himself an idiot was an understatement!

“It wasn’t supposed to happen like this,” he finally said, shaking his head.

“What wasn’t supposed to happen like this?”

“Mon, we’re not broke.”


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Story of Hope, Chapter 3 – part 2

Jamin hadn’t known what to expect when he’d sat down on the bench by the fireplace and looked at his hands. His mind flew back to the night those hands had clenched onto his father’s soiled shirt collar, shoving him toward the doorway of their old shack. He’d remembered the look in his father’s eyes when Jamin shoved him so hard that the man went stumbling backward into the street, landing hard on his back. With the impact, the shock that had been there was replaced by a flash of anger, and Jamin knew that if he didn’t follow through he would regret it.

In a moment of pure adrenaline, Jamin had rushed at the prostrate figure and started kicking him with wild fury. His fists had pounded into his father’s face until blood came rushing from his nose and mouth. By the time Jamin had regained anything resembling composure, his father was clawing at the street trying to escape Jamin’s assailing rage. The last words Jamin had spoken to his father as the drunken fool hobbled into the darkness was that he would kill him if he ever returned.

The guilt and bitterness came flooding back to Jamin as he’d sat safely in their safe, new home and tried to imagine how God could forgive him for what he’d done. Almost as severe as Jamin’s spite for his father was his guilt over what he’d done in return. What son could assault his father so mercilessly and not feel this way? Jamin had realized for the first time that he was afraid that his father would never forgive him either. Even if Jamin could forgive his father, how would he ever be able to overcome the guilt of what he’d done to the man who had given him life? Somehow, even amid the brokenness of his childhood, Jamin had always known that he and his father were supposed to be friends. Other boys that Jamin had known as a child looked up to their fathers as heroes. Jamin had threatened to kill his.

He couldn’t go on like this.

Too many years of warring emotions and conflicting allegiances had brought Jamin to a breaking point. He knew now that what his mother had told him was true. He needed someone much stronger than himself to help him deal with life, or he would be trapped in a prison of hopelessness until the day he died.

Quietly in that little farm house, Jamin had prayed for the first time since he was a young child. He’d asked God to forgive him, because he believed He could. Jamin had asked God to give him the strength to forgive his father and for his father to one day forgive him. After he’d prayed, the silence of the room had returned and he felt a chill of relief rush through him. He’d looked up to see his mother standing at the door with tears pouring down from her eyes, over her cheeks, and curving around the happiest smile he’d ever seen.

For the first time in years, Jamin had felt hope. It was hope that brought him day by day thereafter to a morning in early fall, when a girl in the city market turned his world upside down all over again.


The morning was young when Nina sneaked out of the house with basket in hand, and made her way to the Saturday morning market. She loved to feel the freshness of a fall morning as the sleeping city roared to life. She loved the brightness of the fresh fruits and vegetables that lined the streets of the marketplace. She loved to listen to the banter of patrons heckling with the vendors for an acceptable price. She loved to find the most perfect piece of fruit in the whole market and munch on its juicy freshness as she bartered and shopped for the week’s goods just the way her mother…

Why did she have to keep thinking of that woman? The bitter hurt she continuously tried to swallow down kept swelling back up her throat and, once more, tears tried to fight their way to the surface, clouding her vision. She wiped them quickly and looked around for something to distract her.

Her eyes found their target, and the world seemed to stop.

She’d sought a distraction, but found an obsession. The morning sunlight caught in his rusty brown hair and glistened in his shining brown eyes. He was perfect.

Her feet moved before her mind was full engaged, and before she knew it she was approaching the produce stand behind which he was waiting. His face turned toward her, their eyes connected, and she looked into a world of mystery and wonder. Because she was speechless–and he seemed to be the same–she smiled the most winning smile she could muster and walked away, dazed. What just happened?


An Excellent Wife

I need to ask you to forgive me…

…for letting myself go and not even trying

…for making up so many lies in my head about not being beautiful enough for you

…for  just knowing and telling myself that I was not good enough for you

…and telling myself that our marriage would fail and you would not be faithful to me.


Will you PLEASE forgive me?

I want to vow again before God and you that I will stay faithful to you and never give up on our marriage.

If I say I want it, then I must put all I have into it, and try all the time–not just when it is easy.

As God is my witness (Who is always there), I will make our love my first priority, after my walk with the Lord.

I am trusting Him to teach me how to love you.

Please help me to stay on track as I work on making myself  healthier for the Lord to use…mind, body, & soul.

I love you.