From Ohio, God brought me out of my old life (a wilderness without Jesus) and round about my transient life He brought me to Bible college.
The Whitcombe’s Go To Church
Sunday morning arrived at Mid-Central with quite a substantial frost; fluffy white flakes blanketed everything; ice and snow glistened in the trees. Jessi, peering out her bedroom window still in her Veggie Tales printed pajamas, awed the sight. She imagined now all the fun she would have with her friends – Timothy, and other neighbor kids: making angels in the snow, ice-skating, catching snowflakes on their tongues, uh, even snowball fights (all in fun of course).
The storm had ended during the night, snowplows worked busily through the remaining dark hours, clearing the streets for the Sunday morning travelers. The Whitcombe's – D.L., Sarah, and their little Jessi – were among those travelers. Their hearty breakfast finished, they then set out on their short drive to church, all bundled up, head to toe.
Just Another Shopping Day
The town square's clock strikes high noon. ("Ah, rise and shine you sleepy heads," that evil one exclaims, waking those of the other world to those ideals that clash with those of the real world. "Those church services have concluded," he continued. "You can get up now.")
Those of that other world now stir from their sleep, at last rising from beneath their cozy comforters of temporal warmth to a bright new, yet cold day.
Where once the city streets, dressed in holiday style, were practically void of traffic, except for those of the real world going to church a few hours earlier, they again bustle with vehicles. City sidewalks and malls, too, now busy themselves with shoppers seemingly unaware of the real purpose of the season (to the glee of the evil one), rushing frantically, hunting for that priceless gift for that once-a-year friend.
Children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile; the sound of bells rings out the feeling of Christmas (to the dismay of the evil one. He screams, scowling at all those nativities sprouting up everywhere, presenting that baby on a bed of straw, and mother and father, cattle, sheep, and shepherds, "What's all this, and all that caroling and ding-a-linging going on; it's just another shopping day.")
Streetlights even stoplights, blinking their bright red and green, as shoppers rush about with their treasures. Hear the snow crunch, see the kids bunch; this is Santa's big scene. Above it, all those bells are still heard, ringing out "it's Christmastime in the city" (to the continuing despairing scream of the evil one).
"Mother," a child tugs at his parent's coattail, "Look, there's Santa Claus again. He seems to be everywhere. Can I visit him here as well? I wonder if he remembers what I told him I want for Christmas at that other mall?"
"Of course he remembers," his mother said. "He's Santa Clause; he knows everything, and he never forgets. You don't want to get in that long line again, do you?" his mother sighs, pleading with her son not to do so.
"But can I see him again, ple-e-e-a-s-e," the child also pleading, all the harder.
The parent, at last, gives in to her son's demand and waits another long while as her child stands for a second time to greet that camouflaged man, white-bearded, wearing a red suit.
Lunch at Grammy’s House
The church service that Sunday morning having concluded, Pastor Jacobs and his family join Grammy O'Brien at her house for lunch. Timothy also welcomed his best friend, Jessi, with her parents, Sarah and D.L.
The welcoming greetings completed, and Pastor Jacobs, having spoken the blessing, all commenced to dine. While dining, the usual small talk around the table was the focused attention – friendly greetings, etc. Jessi, sitting next to Timothy, recalling from the previous day the question Grammy urged him to ask the pastor, nudges him reminding him.
"I will," he whispered, his head lowered toward her.
"Maggie," Pastor Jacobs said, "We sure do thank you for your hospitality this Sunday." The pastor's wife and son and daughter nodded in agreement, as well as D.L. and Sarah Whitcombe. "As usual, you sure have outdone yourself with such a delicious table setting," he went on. "It looks like a pre-Christmas dinner to me – ham, mash potatoes, gravy, and yams, cranberries," the pastor proclaimed, eyeing each item on the table.
"And ice cream and pecan pie for dessert," Timothy added, gleaming.
"Umm," Jessi remarked. "Pecan pie. My favorite."
"I think everything is your favorite, Sweetie," Jessi's dad chuckled.
"But especially pecan pie," Jessi declared most assuredly.
Pastor Jacobs, then, turned toward Jessi, "Jessi, how are you feeling today?" he asked.
"I'm just fine," Jessi responded, sensing the stares upon her. But desiring that the conversation not now centered on her illness, that kidney disease which plagued her since birth, she turned to Timothy. Smiling, she asked a question of her own, "Timothy, after dinner, can we listen to your new Odyssey CD?"
"Sure," Timothy said, "Even though we've heard that one already, many times."
"I know," she said, " But I never get tired of listening to Odyssey."
"Yeah, me too," Timothy agreed.
Smiles blossomed around the table at the children's discussion. "She does indeed seem to be ‘just fine,'" said Sarah Whitcombe, her smiling eyes fixed on her daughter. "And we praise God (Elohim) ever so much for His loving care for her, and trusting that He will soon provide a kidney donor."
"My little bundle of joy," D.L. remarked, his eyes too on his daughter. "Now look at her, already eight years old, how time flies. Those years of her infancy are such memorable ones."
"And may you ever keep them in your memory, D.L.," Pastor Jacobs commented.
The conversation continuing around the table, precious memories also rambled through D.L.'s mind.
Tears of delight rolled down D.L.'s cheeks, as he eyed his new baby girl lying upon that ottoman, his little Jessi there beside little Timothy. Lovingly casting a wink toward his wife, Sarah returning it just as affectionately, they both sensed the same joy. How blessed D.L. and Sarah were now with the care of their "little bundle of joy."
Grammy O'Brien relaxed in her wingback chair, joyful with the visit of the Whitcombes in her home during this most blessed of the holiday seasons. She reaches for that worn Bible ever-present on the nearby side table and begins reading the Christmas story from its pages, mainly meant for those babies lying on the ottoman before her. Proved an extraordinary event that would continue for several years, instilling in those little ones the essence of real life.
D.L. observes how those babies seem to suddenly still themselves, their goo-gooing ceasing, as they listen to Grammy relating the Bible adventure to them. Simultaneous smiles creep over the babies' faces, heightening baby Jessi's dimples.
D.L.'s memory recalls yet another time in his little Jessi’s life, she at two years of age – little Timothy also. D.L. and his wife enjoy caring for those toddlers in the nursery during the church worship service.
What great fun, those children laughing, giggling, being bounced in that basket, empty of toys. Spinning and bouncing around on the floor and D.L.'s knees perhaps mirrored that of a rough boat ride, particularly for Timothy and Jessi, reminding them of Grammy's Bible reading times.
Then again, D.L. recalls his little girl's plea, she at 5-years of age. "Don't let me fall, Daddy, please," Jessi cried, climbing onto her two-wheeler for the first time without the training wheels, that warm spring day in Mid-Central.
"I won't let you fall, Honey," D.L. assured. "I'm right here. I won't let anything happen to you."
She then took off.
Arms folded across his chest, D.L. proudly watched his little girl spin away, adorned in her pink playsuit, blonde ponytail flying beneath her helmet. She would never be alone on that sidewalk, often accompanying her parents on her bike during their evening constitutional, always under her parents' watchful eye.
But then, just after Jessi's sixth birthday, D.L. recalls, a tear rolling down his cheek, her illness since birth heightened. D.L. and Sarah pained to see their little girl in that hospital bed those several weeks, held captive by that I.V. tube in her arm and oxygen tube gripping to her little nose. They remained at their daughter's bedside during that dark time in their life, the church, praying for her as well.
"Oh, God," D.L. cried, kneeling at the hospital bed where his daughter lay. "I know you give, and take away, according to Your will, and I have given her back to you. But, please, I wish to care for her a little while longer."
Sarah joined her husband; prayerful tears streamed down her face. There, they both remained through the night.
(That evil one aspiring a hateful glare, then gleaming that this child's death is near.)
The Joyous Occasion
"Yes, memorable times indeed, Pastor, and bittersweet," responded D.L. "Yet joyous now dining here, Grammy, at your table this Sunday afternoon with friends – and our family in Christ. Thank you."
"Your welcome," Grammy signaled with a nod.
"How grateful Sarah and I have always been since that tragic time in our little girl's young life – that our great God, Elohim, has brought us all through it together," D.L. concluded.
(Yet, that evil one aspiring a hateful glare uttered his plans, and those of his general, smirking, "Ha, ha, ha, you've seen nothing yet.")
Go to Chapter Four
© 2017 Charles O Newcombe