Sunday Morning Coffee: God Speaks

I wrote this a a short story yesterday, in response to a daily writing prompt. It’s based on a real situation, omitting, of course, names and other identifying factors. I hope you’ll enjoy it–a little change of pace from my typical Sunday posts.

Writing Prompts: Religion and Spirituality

(God speaks directly to you – what does He say?)

I believe that God spoke to people like Moses, Abraham, and others in the Bible. He even spoke to Saul on the Damascus Road. I believe He spoke to the prophets. But today, we have the complete, total, inspired Word of God–the Bible. So, if I did hear God speak to me, audibly, unmistakably, I’d think I was hallucinating. I believe that He has already given the answers we seek through His Word. I also believe that sometimes we need a little help to find those answers, which is one reason I became a counselor in a Christian counseling office. So that’s the direction I’m going to take for this story.

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One of the things I enjoyed about being a counselor for 18 years was that there was never one day just like another. There were surprises, Sometimes they weren’t happy surprises, like the time I asked a client, twice, to please clean up his truly foul language. Finally, after a particularly disgusting string of curses, I asked him to either stop cursing or leave. He was furious. Stormed out the door and slammed it hard behind him, shaking the pictures hanging on my wall.

His poor wife, who had to tolerate his mouth and his temper ALL the time, wept quietly. I let her get hold of herself, and when she looked up, she said, “What do I do? He didn’t want to come here today, and when he saw it was a Christian office he almost refused to come in with me. He’s always angry, and I’m at my wits’ end. What do I do?”

In this type of situation, I always start talking to the Lord right from the beginning, because honestly? I don’t really know what to say! I thought of the verse that says, “With a furious man thou shalt not go” (Prov. 22:24) but she was already so wounded, it just didn’t feel right. “God, please give me wisdom, words that are helpful,” was in my mind.

“Has he ever been so angry that he has become physically violent toward you?”

She stared at me as if she’d seen a ghost. “How–how could you know that?” And she was sobbing now, completely broken.

“Have you ever called the police for help?”

She gave me a broken laugh. “Are you serious? He’s a cop! They protect each other. It would only be worse!”

“Has he hurt you enough that you needed a doctor? Hospital? The ER?”

“Yes, but–“

“No, please just listen now. This cannot go on, because he will only escalate. I know, every time he hurts you he says how sorry he is and he’ll never do it again. But he will, and you both know he will. I can’t make you look for help, but you have to know that there are safe houses, Protection from Abuse orders, legal steps you can take to protect yourself. I can help you find a place–“

“I don’t have a car. He won’t let me. There’s no way—“

“Yes, there is. Surely you have a friend, a relative, a neighbor you can call when he’s at work?”

“Well–yes, I guess so, but I’d feel so guilty! It’s like sneaking behind his back!”

“Okay, look. You have two–or three– choices. Stay and put up with his temper until he puts you back in the hospital, and tell whatever doctor who is caring for you. Tell the truth. Say you need help. You can do that, or stay until he kills you. Or, you can let me help you make a plan that will work. The choice is yours.”

And in the back of my mind, the words “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) whispered. So I waited, allowing her the time to really think about what we had said.

And that is how God speaks to me. Sometimes He uses verses I didn’t even know I had memorized, but a lifetime of Bible memory certainly has yielded a rich harvest to help guide me when I don’t know where to go or what to say. His words are always wiser than mine.

The Package

Writing Prompts: Mystery and Thriller

(A stranger sits down next to you on a train and gets up, leaving a package behind. Do you investigate the package?)

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The man had been reserved, but polite. They exchanged the usual inanities about the weather (hot) and the economy (lousy). Once they had observed the courtesies, they lapsed into silence.

Is Amtrak Business Class Worth the Upgrade on the Pacific Surfliner Train?  | La Jolla Mom

He left the train three stops later, and it wasn’t until they had started moving again that Mimi noticed the package under his seat. Curious as always, she bent to pull it out. As she did, the big feet of the conductor paused at her seat. “Help you with something, Miss?”

“Uh, no, I’m–I dropped something. I have it. Thanks!”

Now, why had she done that? Should have given it to the conductor and been done with it, but no, Curiousity always won out. Mimi loved a good mystery.

She turned the small but heavy box around, then flipped it over to look at the back. She took a quick breath when she saw the message printed in red:

“If you open this, it will become your problem!”

She dropped it as if it were a snake! It landed back on the floor, and Mimi pushed it back under the seat with her foot. She glanced around, The train was nearly empty, and she was sure no one had seen her.

Her curiosity nagged at her while she waited through three more stops. Finally, she could walk away from that terrible package and forget about it!

Mimi gathered her purse and her briefcase, adjusted her scarf, and was on her feet before the train had come to a full stop. She usually enjoyed this ride through the countryside, especially in the fall, but not this time. Her nerves were all wide awake.

She stepped off the train into a solid wall. A pair of hands grabbed her arms to steady her. A very handsome young man, whose chest had been that wall, was watching her carefully. He said, “I’m so sorry. I was hurrying and not watching.” He lowered his voice, pulling her close, and spoke into her ear. “Did you pick it up? Do you have it?”

“WHAT? Wha–why–who–who ARE you?”

“You don’t need to know. Do you have the package?

“No! What pack–” The man shook her lightly, once, pulling her away from the train as people began to board.

“Let me go! You have no right!”

“Look, lady, just give me the package and we’ll pretend we never met,” he said, in a pleasant tone. His eyes, however, were not pleasant. And he was still holding her arms.

“I can’t! I-I–put it back under the seat! I was afraid!” Mimi blurted, embarrassed and more terrified by the minute.

“You didn’t! We were sure you wouldn’t be able to resist opening it. We thought–well, we guessed wrong. Okay, look, you’re coming with me. We need to get that package!” And he dropped one of her arms, but held firmly to the other, dragging her along as he fast-walked back to the train.

Just as the door was closing, and the conductor waved them away, he saw two men watching them. He shoved Mimi in front of him and turned them both around, looking for cover. He dragged Mimi into a crowd of people coming off another train and followed the pack toward the depot. By this time, Mimi was panting, trying not to cry, both angry and terrified.

“I’m Mark,” he whispered in her ear. “You can trust me. Just go along, and I’ll get you to safety as soon as I can.”

“But–“

“No buts! Now move!” He dodged into the small depot, quickly crossing to the exit. He glanced out the nearest window, spotted their tail, and turned instead to the restrooms.


“Noooo! I’m not going in there!” cried Mimi. But she couldn’t resist his shove.

“If you want to get out of here with a whole skin, you’re going to have to trust me. Those guys believe you have the package, or that you gave it to me. We have to hurry. Do exactly as I say, no questions. I’ll explain when we can find a safe hiding place.”

She had no choice, really. She did what he said, amazed at his ingenuity. She thought maybe they’d pull it off and get out of there safely.

Or not.

Vegas to Fruita

Writing Prompt: Travel and Adventure 

Write about your favorite vacation.

I had to consider this, because there have been some really good ones. I decided, however to focus on a trip that Terry and took, just the two of us, some 11-12 years ago. We hadn’t visited my mom in Fruita, CO for a very long time. Fruita is a small town not too far from where I was born, in Grand Junction. My family moved away from there, to Minnesota, when I was only two, so I don’t really have any memories of living there. Still, it always felt like coming home.

We decided to fly to Las Vegas and then rent a car to drive to Colorado. Several reasons for doing this, one of them being the low cost, way back then, of flying to Vegas. I’d never been there, and i don’t think Terry had, either.

Neither of us is a gambler, so I have to admit to being a bit surprised when the flight attendant announced that she would pass a hat, for anyone who wanted to play. I forget what the challenge was, but whoever won it won all the money in the hat. People went nuts. There was shouting, stamping, whistling–the level of excitement was amazing. I’m pretty sure whoever won the money was planning to use it in the casinos!

Driving through Las Vegas made me feel as if we were in a TV movie! All the buildings you’ve heard about, the lights, the flashing signs–it was fun to see, but I truly wouldn’t want to live there. We found a nice motel on the eastern edge of town, enjoyed a meal, slept well. The next day, we loaded up our car with emergency supplies–lots of water, extra gas, pre-packaged food, and so on.

First stop, not far away, was Hoover Dam. I’ll always call it that. Seems there was an effort to change its name a while back. It’s amazing, a magnificent structure that changed the course of a mighty river. Pictures can’t do it justice. You have to be there to get the immensity of it.

I’ve lost the order of things over the years, so I’m going to hopscotch now. The highlight, for me was the Grand Canyon. As I said, you can’t do it justice with pictures. You can’t understand how vast it is until you’re gazing at it in person. We decided on a helicopter tour, and I’m so glad we did! Our pilot was a Viet Nam vet, totally composed and in control, which did a lot to allay my fear of heights with nothing between me and disaster but a thick glass window!

We were his only passengers. As we took off, and the trees below began to look like toys, he said, “Get ready. Big drop coming up!” WHAM! He wasn’t kidding! I know I gasped as we flew over the rim and the ground below us just dropped away to a vast emptiness. Once we were settled in, though, I was amazed over and over again with the beauty, the variety, the rock formations, the tiny silver ribbon of the river running through the canyon. Our pilot asked if we’d like a little adventure. Sure we would! He said he wasn’t supposed to do it, but he began taking us lower, into the canyon, dodging in and out of the slopes to show us some things close up. It was wonderful. I wanted it to never stop.

Well. We went on, across miles of nothing. We stopped at the Painted Desert. We saw petrified wood. We visited the meteor crater in Arizona. We did all the touristy things we could find, figuring we’d probably never do it again.

Arizona Meteor Crater

After a delightful visit with family and friends, we journeyed back to Vegas on a different route, enjoying some of the most beautiful national parks–Bryce Canyon, where Terry got to see a bristlecone pine; Zion, The Arches–and picked up our flight back to green, lush Pennsylvania.

I enjoyed seeing the vastness of the West, the desert scenery that is so unimaginably different from where we live. Again, the vastness of it is beyond anything I’d ever imagined. It’s one thing to see pictures; another thing entirely to see it.

We fell in love with a town called Cortez in Colorado. It was near Mesa Verde (green flat-topped mountain) and had lots of trees, rolling hills, a river. We decided, if we ever moved to Colorado, we could live in a place like that.
It was a wonderful trip that went without a hitch. It’s a treasured memory.

Why I Believe

Writing Prompt: Religion and Spirituality

What makes you believe in God?)

Ah! Something I can sink my teeth into, and speak from personal belief and conviction. Not everyone will agree, and that’s okay. It is not my intention to offend, or proselytize, or be judgmental. I’m simply answering the question from my own life experience and love of the Bible.

In Psalm 19:1, David sang, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handywork.”

I love October. It is a month of great beauty. The skies can be an intense blue, filled with huge billowy clouds through which the sun shines down on trees lush from summer, grass that is still green, and late-blooming flowers whose color is not dimmed by humidity. The mosquitos are gone. There are still a few slow, meandering bees now and then, but soon they, too will rest in their hives for the next few months.

October Glory Maple Tree on the Tree Guide at arborday.org

Some may see all this beauty as an accident of nature, an explosion of some unknown origin. But I see symmetry, order, planning and matchless design all around me. I take great comfort and satisfaction in knowing that God arranged it all for our pleasure, as well as for the more practical purpose of planting, reaping, and resting from our labors. Summer, winter, springtime, harvest. It’s all His design, and all I have to do is look around me to know He exists.

I remember, in my high school physics class, my teacher telling us that just when we think we’ve discovered the smallest particle–at that time, the atom–someone comes along and sees even smaller particles. And sure enough, neutrons and protons and I don’t remember what all else have been discovered since then. Now, we’re speaking in terms of nano-this and thats. I suspect there is far more still to be discovered as we refine our tools of investigation.

I’ve lived long enough to be very aware of the depredations of age upon the human body. If I hold my arm under direct light, I can see crepe where the skin used to be smooth and firm. I haven’t invested in all sorts of products to de-crepe my skin :). I’m 74, and life happens. If I were 34, I may be more concerned.

What’s truly amazing is that most of my body’s systems are still working quite well. My heart is healthy. Blood pressure? No problem. Breathing? Well, I don’t have the same amount of wind that I did years ago, and I don’t do solos or even trios or other groups. I miss that, but I had a lot of wonderful experiences making music. Good memories.

Brain function? As far as I can tell, my brain is still healthy. Sure, I have moments in which I can’t remember why I went into a certain room, or what I was looking for. All of us who have reached our senior years make jokes about such things. However, I still love to learn. I’m still curious, inquisitive; and I want to understand the “why” of things.

My body is not an accident of evolution. It is designed by a master Creator. With all our knowledge, we have just scraped the surface of all that the body can teach us. I’m especially fascinated by the brain, and if I were young and starting all over again (thank God I’m not!) I would be very drawn to the study of the brain, and especially as it relates to behavior and learning processes. Only an omnipotent, omniscient Creator could have designed the miraculous body, and also the environment in which it would thrive. Perfect distance from the sun. Perfect amount of oxygen for breath. Perfect balance of water on the earth to keep us healthy. None of that is just an accidental result of a Big Bang. It was done purposefully to give us health and life.

If you don’t agree, and you doubt the existence of God, would you do something? Would you find your pulse in your neck, and just sit quietly and feel it, feel the regularity of it, and realize that it has been that way since before you were born? It is proof that your heart is beating; that your blood is circulating as it should. That’s not an accident of evolution. The body did not, in some foggy distant past, decide to regulate its heartbeat. God did that, from the very beginning, because He knew what would be necessary to keep us alive.

Or maybe just study the human eye. It’s an amazing thing, something I’ve come to appreciate so much more now that I’ve lost a field of vision due, apparently, to a tiny little stroke that caused a momentary occlusion in the optic nerve. For less than an instant, blood flow was blocked. It’s very exciting, though, as I’ve begun to realize that maybe a little of that vision has returned. I’m not sure, and I don’t want to get too excited, but I think there’s been a change. The ability of the body to heal itself is amazing!

All right, I’ve gone on too long. Again, it has not been my purpose to offend anyone. This is my answer to this prompt. Honestly, I could go on for a very long time!

I do want you to understand that you are free to state your own opinion, but I will not engage in any debate with you publicly. You can contact me by messenger, if you really need to. And please be civil. If you curse or use profane, vulgar language, I will not post your comment. If you don’t like what I’ve written, then I kindly suggest you go read something else 🙂

Writing Prompts: Sci-Fi

Prompt: You wake up one morning to find out that you get to move to any planet of your choosing.

Space Traveler

“Attention Earthling! This is RoboMaster! Here is the message:

“You have been chosen to move to a planet of your choosing. You have 24 hours in which you must decide on your new home. All travel and living arrangements will be made for you by The Leaders. The only choice you have in this matter is which planet you will inhabit. You may not choose Earth. You may not change your mind. Ever. Any resistance is futile. This is for your own health and safety, and the health and safety of the over-crowded planet Earth.”

The voice switched off. The mechanical, impersonal message that had filtered through his speakers left Jack feeling hopeless and helpless. There was no hint that he would have company in leaving Earth. There were no instructions as to which other planets were habitable.

Sighing, Jack sat down at his computer, commanded it to wake up, and gave it the directive to find habitable planets. The computer replied, “Working. Please wait.”

Masses of code flashed on the screen, too fast for anyone but another computer to read. Jack waited, enjoying the coffee he’d ordered his personal robot to fetch him. Finally, his computer said, “Here is the information you requested. Are there further commands?”

“Not yet, but please stand by,” answered Jack. He sighed. It was a lonely business, living in the age of robots, computers, and cubes. He glanced around his own cube, amazed at the ingenuity of the design. There was everything a man needed–except for human companionship. He had not been given the order to marry, so he lived alone, hoping always that such an order would come soon.

Thinking hard, Jack said, “Computer. Please find other planets inhabited by Earth people; also, that have un-mated women eligible for marriage.”

“Working,” replied the computer. “Please stand by.”

Again, code flashed and scrolled. When it stopped, there was a list of planets with links Jack could use for researching each one. “Are there any further commands?” asked the computer.

“Please stand by,” responded Jack. He wondered what it would be like to have a conversation with a human being. “Computer, please find a planet on which people are free to speak with other people, face-to-face.”

“Working,” replied the computer. Again, screen after screen of flashing code. When the code stopped, the computer said, “Human-to-human conversation is denied. It is not a freedom or a right. Are there any further commands?”

Jack sighed, deeply disappointed but not surprised. The Leaders were not inclined to conversation. They just gave orders. Disobedience was rapidly and absolutely punished by death. Jack’s closest relationship was with his computer. He had tried to name it once, but discovered that naming one’s computer was considered a sign of weakness. Not allowed.

Jack wondered, as he often did, what this life was all about. He had no memories before his cube. He assumed he must have had a mother, but had no memory of that, either. He had work, which he faithfully performed every day. His “free” time was dictated by The Leaders, who gave him a regimen of physical activity and approved hobbies. Non-compliance was punishable by death. There was no crime on earth, because no one was free to leave the cube to which he was assigned. There were eyes everywhere. Every exit from his cube was watched. He was allowed to open his doors or windows for an allotted period of time every day, but he could not step outside the door without his robot to guard him. All cubes shared walls with other cubes, but there was no contact allowed between the inhabitants of the cubes. Every night, his viewing screen showed the fate of anyone who had been caught stepping past the approved boundaries. It wasn’t a pleasant sight.

Jack began researching the habitable-for-humans planets, and after narrowing his search to three, he looked at each of them in more detail. He finally decided on Blue Earth II, in the Second Solar System, as his destination. Immediately upon making his choice, RoboMaster came back through the speaker in his cube.

“You have made a sensible choice. The Leaders approve, and have given the order for you to take only one change of clothing with you. All other essentials will be provided. Note: The Leaders have seen you are interested in having a mate. They are considering your desire, and you will be informed of their choice in due time. You are to be ready for transport at precisely 8 a.m. tomorrow. Do not be late. You will be picked up and taken to the travel station.”

Jack didn’t have any particular response to this huge change in his life, other than a mild interest in who might be chosen for him as his mate. A tightly governed life held very few surprises. One seldom needed to think or make any decisions.

He expected it would be more of the same on Blue Earth II. Sighing, he chose his one change of clothing, inspected his cube to make sure nothing was out of order, and got busy with his assigned work.

Life was certainly safe, unless one tried to step out of the will of the The Leaders.