Wednesday, June 22, 2016

You Never Change :: Part Two

A few days after the funeral, Jesse arrived home from work. Walking into the kitchen where Emily was making homemade pizza, he sat down at the table. Emily’s gaze met Jesse’s as he leaned on the table with folded hands. She immediately sensed something was amiss.
“Jesse,” she swallowed. “What’s the matter?”
Jesse’s eyes dropped and he studied his fingernails nervously.
Quickly rinsing her hands of the cheese and drying them, she sat down across from him. “Now, tell me, dear. What happened?”
“Oh, Emily,” he began. “I hate having to tell you this. But,” He clinked the salt and pepper shakers together, not sure how to continue. Looking up into her cerulean blue eyes, he went on. “The company I’m employed with has asked me to relocate from where we are now in Virginia to North Carolina.”
Emily gasped, looking at her husband incredulously. 
Jesse nodded. “That means we either have to move and sell this place, or stay here. But that also means I lose my job.”
It took a moment for what Jesse had told her to actually hit her.
Her heart picked up a faster rhythm and her forehead puckered. Emily questioned in a concerned whisper, “What are we going to do?”
“I don’t know yet.” Jesse replied, squeezing her hand. “What do you think we should do, honey?”
His wife shook her head. “Well, Jesse, I don’t know either. All this change...” Emily propped her chin in her free hand, giving a half sigh.
The two conversed for the next few minutes about their dilemma.  When baby Ian’s cries came from the bedroom, announcing his nap was over, Jesse and Emily stood up. Jesse went to Ian and brought him out to the highchair for a snack of Cheerios.
Jesse was unusually quiet that evening. He had a lot on his mind. After supper and play time, Rosie and Ian were laid down for the night. Jesse and Emily sat together in the living room, enjoying the quiet, books, and their mugs of hot chamomile tea. They also talked about the decision that was facing them: discussing the pros and cons of the two options they had.
After a bit, Emily laid aside the book she was reading, I Dare You, and leaned forward in her tan easy chair. “I think I’m heading to bed. Are you coming?” She asked as she stood up.
“In a little,” Jesse responded, looking up at his wife. “Were you enjoying your book?” He inquired, scratching his nose.
“Oh yes!” Emily answered enthusiastically as she undid her braid and shook out her hair. “Even though I just started it not too long ago, it’s already made me think about how I am living my life, and what lies are out there the devil wants me to believe. I can’t wait to read the rest!”
Jesse nodded with a tired smile on his face. “That’s great! Maybe if you like it that much I’ll read it someday.”
“Are you okay, Jesse?” Emily knew the climax and activities of the past several days were wearing Jesse’s nervous system out. “You need your rest. Please come to bed soon.”
He agreed, telling Emily, “I will, honey. I just…want to do some thinking…” Jesse’s voice trailed off.
Resting her palms on the arm of the recliner, Emily stooped and gave her husband a goodnight kiss.
“Love you, Ems!” Jesse called out gently as she opened the bedroom door, not wanting to wake little Ian sleeping in the room.
Emily looked back over her shoulder and winked, throwing a kiss. He waved back with a faint smile on his face.
The door closed, and Jesse leaned back. He tried to focus on his book again, but the thoughts running through his mind made it basically impossible. Finally, he laid it aside and bent forward in his chair. He squeezed his green eyes shut and ran his fingers through his slightly curly brown hair.
How— I mean, why…why is all this happening? All these changes...I don’t understand. And it hurts. It seems to be just one thing after another!
Jesse propped his elbows on his knees and rested his chin on his folded hands. He took a deep breath.
First it was Mama…so unexpectedly. I still can’t believe it. His eyes grew wet, but he hurriedly wiped them with the back of his hand.
And also there are all the changes in this world. It’s down to Hillary and Trump in the elections, and…and all the issues with abortion and gay marriage…it’s changing so fast and our country is drifting further from God all the time.
Jesse slowly rocked back and forth. Pausing, he noticed a piece of lint on his pant leg and flicked it onto the floor. His thoughts went on.
Then…then it is my job. I don’t know what we’re going to do about this! Are we going to move, or lose our income? Lord, please show me what to do, and please give me peace in these changes!
He felt a prompting to pick up his Bible. Grasping the worn leather cover, he let the pages fall open and quietly flipped through.
Lord, give me a verse. Give me something from You to guide me.
He skimmed the pages and kept praying. Lord, something! I feel so lost in all these changes!
And there it was.
The other verses surrounding this one seemed to fade to the background, as Jesse fixed his eyes on the special words.
For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
     ~Malachi 3:6
His eyes welled up with tears again. Although this time, they were not tears of sorrow, but of rejoicing. Jesse read the verse over and over. Gladness filled his heart.
I am the Lord, I change not... He doesn’t change! Yes, Jesus, You never change! You are true to Your Word and promise to never leave me! How could I have forgotten that?!
Jesse clasped the Bible to his chest and bowed his head in thankfulness.
 Heavenly Father…thank You for that reminder. Thank You that You never change…You never lie. You are always the same yesterday, today, and forever! Thank You that I can trust in You, because You are faithful. You are the Solid Rock I can stand on…ALL other ground is sinking sand! I know my life is completely crazy right now, and I have some pretty major decisions to make in the midst of my grief. But You are so kind, so faithful to meet me in this storm. I’m so grateful that you NEVER change, and I can count on You, even when all around me is failing. Because You are my Solid Rock, I will not be consumed. I love You, Jesus…
Quietly, Jesse laid his Bible on the coffee table. He stretched, yawned, and stood up. The troubled spirit that had haunted him minutes before had all vanished—he was resting in the confidence of his Savior. Jesse went in the bathroom and picked up his orange toothbrush. He moved the bristles back and forth, back and forth, making toothpaste foam that came and decorated his lips. He was still thinking.
He never changes. Wow. That doesn’t mean the world around me will not change, but it does mean I have a foundation to stand firm on. Of course, yeah, I’m still worried about my job and everything, but I can know my God doesn’t change and He is on my side!
Jesse rinsed his mouth out and dried his face on the towel. He studied his face in the mirror for a moment, and suddenly flashed a silly grin at himself.
“Thank You, Jesus.” He whispered to himself. “Thank You that You never change.”

-The End-
By Rachel C. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

You Never Change :: Part 1

Nothing seemed to be going right. At that moment, Jesse thought that his whole life was upside down.
 My life is a tornado! I just don’t understand. Nothing will ever be the same!
Jesse sat in the bleak hospital family room with one main question on his heart.
His green eyes were bloodshot and their usual sparkle was nowhere to be seen. He stared at the ugly blue vase on the table before him, trying to piece the jumble of the past few days together.
Heaving a sigh, Jesse slowly leaned over and buried his face in his hands. Emily, his wife, wiped a tear from her cheek. She put her arm around him and comfortingly stroked her husband’s shoulder. Emily felt a deep weight in her heart as well. She whispered something in Jesse’s ear, and he reached over and grasped her hand tightly. The two sat thus for several minutes.
The sound of stiff fabric rustling together and footsteps caused Jesse and Emily to glance up. It was the doctor entering the room.
Jesse straightened up quickly and stood, studying the doctor’s face. “Doctor, do you have any news?”
Doctor Wallace examined the two in front of him, taking in their current state of emotions. Jesse, with his sagging shoulders and tousled hair…and Emily, with tearful eyes full of concern and questions.
“Please be honest with us, Doctor Wallace.” Emily hoarsely whispered.
“Well,” the doctor began, swallowing hard. “Your mother came through the surgery fine, and is resting now…But—“ Doctor Wallace paused, not sure how to go on. Placing a hand on Jesse’s shoulder, he continued. “But I’m afraid the infection was there long enough to spread throughout her body, and it’s...causing her system to begin shutting down. I tried everything.” His voice broke as he consoled the couple. “I’m so very sorry.”
Jesse could feel the lump in his throat growing larger and his eyes were stinging. He managed to choke out, “How long does she have?”
“I am afraid Michelle has 48 hours or less.”
The last cord broke within Jesse’s heart and tears ran down his flushed cheeks. “My mother…my mama…” He cried, sinking into his seat.
Emily wept hot tears and hugged her sorrowing husband.
The doctor pitifully watched them a moment before turning and exiting the room, letting them have their much needed privacy.
That really is the least favorite part of my job. Doctor Wallace thought to himself as he walked down the tiled floor, back to his patient. I just hate being the one to break the news of a dying loved one.
“It’s just not fair.” Jesse moaned. “She was fine a few days ago! Still the same sweet mama we love and—“ The words caught in his throat and he wiped his wet cheeks before continuing. “And then she had that fall, and wasn’t doing well, and after going to the hospital we found out her gallbladder had ruptured and now this sudden surgery and—.” The distressed words tumbled out of his mouth. “Now…now she’s going. She’s leaving us. Why? Why does this change have to happen to us? Mama…”
Emily reached out and pulled several tissues from the box on the table next to them. She handed some to Jesse, and blew her own nose. “Honey, I love you. And it’s going to be alright.” She made an attempt to speak. “Keep praying about it. God loves you, too.”
Jesse sniffled and planted a kiss on her damp cheek. Standing, he hurried from the room to go to his dying mother’s bedside in the ICU.
Emily sat limply in her chair for a moment, staring at the floor in deep thought. Lord, give us Your strength. A sigh escaped her lips. Keep shining Your love on us. Emily reached into her pocket for her iPhone, and punched in her password. 1:34 am. I didn’t realize it was so late. She proceeded to group text Jesse’s two brothers and his sister, who were traveling as quickly as possible to get to their mother and the hospital. Jesus, help them to get here in time.
Over the course of the next several hours, the siblings arrived, and the foursome stood together by the bedside of their dear parent. Many tears were shed and prayers offered. Even though Mama was in a state of unconsciousness, they spoke loving words to her, held her hand, and tried to make her comfortable.
Then, the call came.
Fifty-two hours after the doctor broke the heartbreaking news; Michelle passed onto glory…and was joyfully greeted by her Savior.
A private family burial was what she had wanted. Michelle…Mama…was laid to rest beside her husband who had gone before. She was lovingly cherished and remembered at her memorial service. Many caring friends brought flowers, meals, and comforting hugs and words to Jesse, Emily and their family.
And then…normal life resumed; or rather, the “new normal”.  Jesse found it extremely difficult coming home in the evenings from work, to find his mother’s room vacant. She will never be there again…I can never speak to her ever again! His heart yearned for her to return. It wasn’t easy to repeatedly answer the question of “Where’s Gramma?” that his three year old daughter, Rosie, asked; while he himself coped with the change.

The changes weren’t over yet.

*stay tuned for part two! =)*