Breaking the News
Upon entering that restaurant, adorned by those famous rainbow arches, Jessi was all smiles. Thomas-John, too, apparently delighted to be able to please her so immensely. As always, every time she visits this restaurant, she has to take in afresh the setting, this one being very distinctive from others in the Dougall restaurant chain.
This Dougall's in particular even boasted a slightly higher level dining area in the center, uniquely designed for candlelight evening dining. Linen tablecloths imprinted with rainbows covering each table and matching curtains hanging in the windows, made for a romantic atmosphere.
Thomas-John, requesting a table in that center area dining, with Jessi, followed the hostess up the two steps to their table. Being settled, soon a waitress arrived to take their order, Jessi ordering chicken nuggets, a favorite gourmet salad and a glass of lemon water. Likewise, Thomas-John ordered the salad and water, but added a cheeseburger; oh, how he loved Dougall's cheeseburgers.
After ordering, Jessi then remembered, "So-o, what's the news you have for me?" she asked with a bright smile and twinkling eye.
Without hesitation, Thomas-John answered, "I've been accepted to Faith Bible College."
"You have!" Jessi exclaimed. "That's just what we've been praying about, isn't it. I'm so happy for you, except," she paused. Then continuing, "when you do go away, it'll then put a great distance between us." After a brief pause again, she then added, "And I'm the first one you've told?"
"Yeah." Then, after some further thought, Thomas-John continued, "Well, no. My parents were the first ones to know, at least my mother. She had brought the mail in from the mailbox, and noticing the sender of that letter addressed to me, being from the school, she was obviously curious. But being a ‘mom,' she could figure it out. Moms seem to know everything somehow. We somehow can't seem to hide anything from them."
"It's that ‘woman's intuition,'" Jessi said, her smile brightened, enhancing her dimples, "with which we women have been so abundantly blessed. And you know," she then went on, "I just may be joining you there soon, perhaps in another year. If God so wills."
"I'm hoping and praying that it will be His will, too, eliminating that distance between us,” Thomas-John said. “I do enjoy being with you."
"And I with you," Jessi replied with that bright dimpled smile. "Thanks for this marvelous evening."
From above, there was Timothy watching, pleased that Jessi and Thomas-John had finally discovered one another. And so, from his present position above he could now watch their love blossom, he being in the presence of the Almighty Three-in-One Creator.
An Afterward Unwelcome Scene
Their meal had arrived, Thomas-John then offered a prayer of thanksgiving to the Father both for the food and for this evening with Jessi, their first date. He also suggested a prayer for others in the restaurant, for the workers and all those who had entered and yet to enter this restaurant, that they would, as Thomas-John and Jessi had, come to the same realization of that real life found only in their Lord Jesus.
"Amen," Jessi said in agreement with Thomas-John.
They then commenced their splendid candlelight meal together, Thomas-John's blue eyes shimmering all the more in that flickering flame. Likewise, by that same flame, Jessi's blue eyes shined, enhanced by her bright dimpled smile and her blonde hair flowing gently down, resting on her shoulders, framing her pretty face.
They enjoyed each other's company immensely so. The time flew by so quickly in such a "romantic atmosphere," as Jessi later expressed it in her journal before retiring for the night. As she also had written in her diary, recollecting that Thomas-John was the same age as Timothy, her best childhood friend, having been born the same year and day. Thus, just a few weeks difference in age, that evening of their first date marked a fresh beginning for their friendship.
Finished, after about an hour or so, Thomas-John and Jessi exited the restaurant hand in hand.
"Hey look," Jessi suddenly exclaimed, pointing toward her car. "Who are those men standing there by my car? What are they doing there?"
That unwelcome scene livened Thomas-John and Jessi's pace toward the car. Arriving, Thomas-John asked, "Who are you guys? What are you doing there by our car?"
"It's not what we're doing, it's what we want," one said holding a gun, somewhat concealed. "We want this car of yours."
"What do you want the car for?" Thomas-John asked.
"We're stealing it, kid. Hand over the keys and nobody will get hurt."
"Give them to him, Thomas-John," Jessi spoke, a little frightened.
"Smart girl. Better do as she says, kid."
About to do so, being forced at gunpoint, when Thomas-John then noticed the other man eyeing Jessi.
"Hey, Mack, let's take her with us," the man suggested. She'll be good company, and good for our pleasure."
"You keep your hands off her," Thomas-John demanded, shoving him away as he stepped in between him and Jessi, protecting her. "Leave her alone."
"Hey," the guy said, moving in to claim his desired territory. His partner immediately stepped in to stop the apparent brewing fight, himself slugging Thomas-John with the barrel of his pistol, then landing a fist into Thomas-John's stomach, sending him to his knees.
"Thomas-John!" Jessi cried, falling beside him. On his back, Jessi bracing his head in her hands took the car keys from him. Flinging them at the thieves, she cried, "Here, take them, and leave us alone."
Getting what they were after, the two men jumped into the car and spun off.
The incident didn't go unnoticed by others leaving the restaurant, some already headed toward the scene.
"Are you okay, Jessi?" Thomas-John squeaked out through his pain.
"Am I okay?" Jessi cried, tears streaming down her face. "You're still so caring in your hurt condition."
"Just a little pain in the pit of my stomach. Ah, my face doesn't feel so too good either," he said, feeling the blood run down his cheeks.
"They're gone, are they, with your car? I'm sorry."
"Sorry for what? Those guys are the sorry ones. I'd rather lose my car than lose you."
"We've called 9-1-1, Ma'am," said one arriving from the restaurant at the scene. "Help is on the way."
A Message of Non-Hatred
On Sunday morning Jessi was seen in church with Thomas-John right beside her, bandaged jaw and all. Pastor Jacobs, Jr., continued his message series this morning from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.
His text this Sunday was those familiar words of Jesus, "'You have heard it said, 'love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you....'"
Turning to one another, Jessi and Thomas-John reflected on that the "exciting" first date they had enjoyed the past Friday evening, such a romantic night that ended so horrendously.
A frown, then a smile toward one another, they then turned to the front to catch the pastor's message and that of God's word especially for them. Jessi sensed Thomas-John, with his smiling eyes, was also ruminating some other yet pleasant thoughts.
A Childhood Remembrance
"Strike three!" yelled the umpire as the fastball zoomed right over the plate. Thump went the ball punching into the catcher's mitt. Then, with the usual arm motion, the umpire signaled, "You're out!" It was the second out for the Panthers in the bottom of the sixth. They had one runner on base, at second. A solid base hit would probably score him. Then the Panthers would win, this the final game of the season.
The next batter up was T.J. Melleson, the most consistent hitter on the team. This final game would also be the last game of his Little League career, as the age rules go. He steps up to the plate, taking the usual warm-up swings, then the first pitch.
"Strike one!" yells the umpire.
T.J. steps out of the batter's box to read the signs from his third base coach. Stepping back in and into his stance to meet the second pitch.
Whack! A long foul ball soared into the left-field stands. Strike two.
The fans rise, applauding, cheering him on.
The next three pitches are balls; the count is full – three balls, two strikes. Two outs. One man was on second. The next pitch should tell the story. He fouled it off, as he did the next two pitches.
The cheering fans got louder, yelling, "T.J., T.J., T.J...."
The pitcher looked on, getting the catcher's signs, then the wind-up, and the pitch.
Whack! He sends it, straightaway center.
"It's gone!" yells his dad.
T.J.'s teammates run out on the field, greeting him at the plate. What a way to end his career, as if scripted.
But, as his parents taught him, T.J. Melleson realized that all credit for his success in his baseball career or anything he does should go to his Lord – the Almighty Three-in-One Creator. Did God have a professional career in baseball plan for T.J.? T.J. loved baseball; evident by how he played it.
His dad purchased Major League season tickets every year so the family could attend all their team's home games, which they did, practically every game; they missed very few. And they certainly couldn't stay home from a game when the team's archrival was in town!
"But, this is only a temporal pleasure," his dad taught him and his four older brothers and younger sister. "Our real purpose for being, as citizens of God's Kingdom, is representing His Son on planet Earth." That's what T.J.'s dad learned from his dad, and his dad learned from his dad – from generation to generation.
A few years later, just before T.J. entered high school, the Melleson family moved to Mid-central, Mr. Melleson accepting a new position that necessitated relocation.
Beginning a new life in a new town, and finishing high school, T.J. also asked to be called "Thomas-John," his full name, and so it stuck. His parents entered him in high school at Faith Academy, where he began to recognize Jessica Lynne Whitcombe.
What God had in store for him now would be a real adventure indeed, even more so then what he experienced as a child. When as a child he so talked, reasoned, and thought. Now grown up, his childish ways are becoming a thing of the past in realizing that God has now a better plan for his future. As he has heard proclaimed as recorded in the Bible, God's Word for all of humankind: "…For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Or begin again at Premier Episode: Preface and Prologue
© 2018 Charles O Newcombe
Tanya Trask on May 20, 2018:
I wanted to say I found myself in a position of not so great company and it was my own fault for turning the wrong way in my trying to not deal with the pain of losing loved ones and through physical pain. I used hate as my go too and knew better as I did so, now I’ve found myself on the receiving end of that hate. I did find my way back to God and learning everyday to love no matter what. I am now trying to put the same message out to use love instead of hate as God says and pray I do t get eaten alive however should I, I know as long as I trust and follow God my reward will be great. I love this message and thank you for this story. It’s just one more reason I love God he knows what we need and when we need it and this was needed!