Friday, June 28, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (107)

(a novel continued)

‘At least you aren’t telling me about the kind of death I’m going to die.’
‘If I did would you still follow me?’
‘Of course, I’ve been dead. It’s a great place to be. Besides I love you.’
‘Feed my sheep.’
Minnie thought about what that could mean. ‘Which sheep, Lord?’
‘My sheep.’
‘So, I feed your sheep your Word. That is the follow through? 
'Follow me.'
'In golf I keep swinging in the same direction for lift-off,' Minnie hesitated as she reached for a parallel.'The direction you had me going was to pray that the churches would be able to work together and that everyone in this whole town would come to love you and serve you. I am so sorry Lord, I stopped praying for that. When my club hit the ball, I simply stopped swinging. Dear Lord, forgive me.’
‘I have forgiven you. Follow me.’
Minnie prayed. She prayed with John and Mary. She prayed with the discipleship group. They prayed that the Lord would show them how to win Haven for Him. They prayed that all the churches would work together. Then one night Minnie had a dream. 

In the dream the discipleship group was praying at Pebble Beach. More and more people gathered as they prayed. Along the outside edge of the beach preachers from every denomination stood like talking flowers in a lush garden. People flocked around each flower fascinated by the beauty. More and more people gathered. 

Nan had a similar dream. In her dream people filled the beach and spilled over into the water where they began baptising each other.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (106)

(a novel continued)

Minnie thought about the things, the Lord had given her to do. He had led her into a relationship with that lovely couple from the Pentecostal Church. What were their names again? He had given her Nan’s discipleship group. What had they done lately? They’d finished the course, had the vigils and hadn’t met since. He’d given her the vigils. He’d given her that powerful 'thanksgiving for healing' meeting at her church where people had given their hearts to Jesus.
‘Follow through.’ she heard again.
But how, she wondered. ‘Lord, I admit, I don’t know how to follow through.’
‘Ask, knock, seek.’
That’s it of course. In golf the follow through was simple. You just keep swinging the club in the same direction, even though you’ve already made contact with the ball. She’d definitely made contact with the ball and had simply stopped swinging.
Minnie fell on her knees. ‘I’m so sorry Lord. Please forgive me.”
‘You are forgiven. Feed my sheep.’
Minnie got up from her knees and grabbed the Message Bible which happened to be on the shelf beside her. She read the passage in John where Jesus tells Peter to feed my sheep.
After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
He then asked a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”
Jesus said, “Shepherd my sheep.”
Then he said it a third time. “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I’m telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then he commanded, “Follow me.”

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (105)

(a novel continued)

As they walked up to the door, a policewoman stepped out of her car. “Are you Mr. and Mrs. Beeky?”
“We are,” John said.
“I have a missing person’s report here.”
“Who's missing?” John  asked. 
"You are, according to this report. Normally we wouldn’t be concerned. You’ve only been missing for a few hours, but the person who reported the incident insisted that this was a very serious matter.” 
The policewoman wanted to see proof of identity. .She expressed relieve that they were who they said they were and retreated to her police car where, no doubt she radioed to call off the search.
Once in the house, Mary wondered out loud, “Do you think they went out to the compound? I can imagine what Brandon would do with that.”
“What would he do?” Minnie asked.
“Probably not tell them anything and insist they get a search warrant. He loved to make things difficult and then brag about it later.”
“So what do you think about working at Louie’s,” John asked.
Well, I guess it doesn’t make sense after what the waitress said. I’m glad we found out now. By the way, thanks for dinner Dad. That was awesome.”
“Awesome is one of those words that should only be used for God,” Minnie said.
“Well, you know what I mean. I didn’t think you were so rigid, Mom.”
“I’m not, it’s just that if we take the words that sort of describe God and use them to describe lesser things, there is nothing left to describe Him. It’s difficult enough to find words describe Him. It's just something I've been thinking about lately.”

The next several months passed very quickly, Christmas came and went as did Bill and Treasa’s wedding and pretty soon John was full into another planting season. Minnie was restless. It was almost a year and a half since her visit to heaven. What had she done since then? The town didn’t seem any closer to revival, or whatever you wanted to call it. What was she expecting? ‘Lord, I want to see you working in signs and wonders. I want everyone in town to be giving you praise for the amazing God you are. Lord, I want every man, woman and child to accept, you Jesus, as their personal Saviour. I want everyone to recognize you as Lord. I want to see all the churches working together as one. I want to see the churches overflowing with members, every one of them recognizing who you are.’
‘Now, you are talking,’ the Lord said inside Minnie’s spirit.
‘What should I be doing?’ asked Minnie.
‘Follow through.’
‘Like in golf?’


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (104)

(a novel continued)

“You followed me around when I was cleaning house. You for some reason especially wanted to help clean the toilet.”
“I loved watching the blue stuff swirl away,” Mary remembered.
“You didn’t seem to like the toilet when it was time for toilet training, though,” Minnie said.
“I was scared I might fall in.”
“You had a point there. You were just a little tyke,” John said.
“What is your favourite childhood memory?” Minnie asked.
Mary thought for a long while. “I liked when we all went out to the woods to pick the Christmas tree. Do you guys still do that?”
“No,” Minnie said, “It's not the same without little kids.”
“I just take one home from the nursery,” John said.
“We could do it this year,” Minnie said. “for old time’s sake. Maybe we could even convince George and Bill to join us. No, I guess that won't work. I wonder how Bill's wedding plans are coming?”
“Oh yesterday Treasa asked me to be a bridesmaid,” Mary said. “She phoned.”
“That’s wonderful,” Minnie said. 
“We’re supposed to go shopping right after Christmas.”
When the meal was over, John remembered to tip generously and the three headed for home. They noticed a police car parked in front of 33 Main Street. “I wonder what that’s about.” said John.

When they reached home, there was also a police car in their lane. “Now, I really wonder what that’s about.” Minnie said. Then she remembered what she had told Nan. “Oh puff. I hope they are not looking for us.”

Monday, June 24, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (103)

(a novel continued)

Justin focused on Mary. “Today, I just want us to  become acquainted and then you can decide if you would like to continue with the counseling. No charge for today. And, your parents are welcome to join for this session.” He emphasized, 'this session.'
“Do you want us there?” John asked.
Mary shrugged. “I guess so.”
Minnie and John looked at each other. John nodded. Minnie agreed.
Justin took them to a smallish room with a round table surrounded by five padded boardroom chairs. He motioned them to be seated. “Now, tell me what you expect from a counselor?”
Mary told him a bit about life on the compound and her need to free herself of Brandon’s voice. “I’m not there anymore, but it colours everything I do. I’m always thinking, ‘What would Brandon say about this?’ Every time. Even though I don’t give a piece of crap what he thinks—excuse the language.”
Justin wrote something on his pad of paper. “Anything else?”
“No, that’s about it. Well, maybe one more thing, I’m a little paranoid about possibly meeting him somewhere. Like today, I thought you might be him.”
Justin wrote another short note on his pad.
“Anything else?” He looked at the three of them.
Minnie and John stayed quiet.
Mary looked Justin in the face. “Do you think you can help me? How long would it take and how much does it cost? I don’t have a whole lot to spare. Everything I earned at the compound in the last five years was all on paper. I never really saw any of it.”
“We can work something out,” John said.
Justin stood up. I’ll take you out to see Marilyn, she has the rates.”
John and Marilyn worked out a satisfactory payment plan and the three of them were on their way.
"Thanks dad." Mary said. "I'll pay you back when I can."
"Actually, I could use some help down at the greenhouses. You could pay it off that way."
"I'd like that."
They decided to walk over to Louie’s for dinner. They didn’t have a reservation, but it was midweek and the place probably wouldn’t be too crowded.
They were right. The place wasn’t the least bit crowded. They had the dining room to themselves.
When Minnie asked the waitress how she liked her job, she said she loved it during the tourist season, but this was her last week. She would be doing something else at least until the following spring. “I need the tips,” she admitted. “No customers, no tips.”
The family ordered the house wine, an appetizer to share, the house special for three followed by pecan pie. They sat and talked mostly about Mary’s childhood. “You were such a happy kid,” Minnie said.

“Yes, and always wanting to help out,” John added. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (102)

(a novel continued)

Minnie brought the card inside and set it on the table. It said, ‘Salem. Professional Counseling, J. A. Stanfield, 333 Main Street West.’ There was a phone number.
When Mary came home later that evening, she examined the card. “I guess it’s worth a phone call, anyway.” Mary called the number the next morning before work and actually made an appointment for later that day.
“Do you want me to come along?” Minnie asked.
“Would you?” Mary said. “I mean what’s to say this isn’t a hoax of some kind? Who’s to say Brandon doesn’t have something to do with this?”
“Maybe Dad should come too,” Minnie said.
“I would feel better if he did,” Mary said. “Maybe this appointment wasn’t such a good idea. What if it is something Brandon cooked up.”
“I don’t think it is honey, but the three of us could go just in case. And, we won’t leave you alone. I’ll even tell Nan where we're going so she can call the police if we’re not home by a certain time.”
That afternoon John came home from work early and the three of them went to the downtown address on the card. Since they only lived a few blocks from downtown, they walked—Mary between her parents. “If I was shorter we could do the swingy thing.” Mary said.
“We could try,” John said.
“Maybe you two could swing me,” Minnie said, “I’m the shortest.”
At 333 Main Street West, they found a large brick house recently converted into offices. 
"I wondered what they were doing with this place," John said. 
According to the board in the entrance area, Salem offices were on the second floor. They took the stairs up. A smart-looking receptionist greeted them there. Mary let out a noticeable sigh of relief. While they sat on chairs in the reception area, she filled out the required forms.

Several minutes later the counselor came out to see them. He shook Mary’s hand. “Hello Mary, I am Justin. I hope to be your counselor. And these must be your parents?” John and Minnie stood to shake Justin’s hand. 

Minnie Goes to Heaven (101)

(a novel continued)

“Anybody can hear Him. You just have to listen.” Minnie said.
“I know, I know. You told me this before. The thing is I still hear Brandon’s voice a lot. I think I’m ready to see a counselor.”
“But how do you find a good counselor?” John asked.
“God knows,” Minnie said.
“Then He’ll have to tell us,” Mary said.
“Let’s ask him right now, Minnie said.
Mary surprised her mother by immediately praying, “Dear God, show us a good counselor.”
“Amen,” John said.
“Are you hearing anything?” Minnie asked.
“‘I am,’” Mary said.
"What are you hearing?"
"'I am,' that's what I'm hearing."
“Are you sure that wasn’t me saying, ‘amen’?” John said.
“You said ‘amen’?” Mary smiled. 
“Well God, the Holy Spirit is the best counselor of all,” Minnie said.
“But, Mary could use some human help as well, don’t you think?” John said.
“Then God, show us who that could be,” Minnie prayed.
Three days later they had the answer. A man knocked on the door. “Is this yours?” he said as he handed Minnie a business card. 
“I don't think so,” Minnie said. “What’s it for?”
“Some kind of counseling.”

Minnie studied the card. When she looked up the man was gone. She peered up and down the street and couldn’t see him anywhere. Hershal?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (100)

(a novel continued)

The third lesson involved pitching and chipping. This part of the game came with its own set of do’s and don’ts. “Don’t do a full swing. Adjust your shot to the distance.” They practiced hitting a ball on slopes, both up and down. “Stand so you are hitting the ball according to the plane of the slope.”  
The fourth lesson took them onto the green. Minnie thought this lesson would be easy. After all she knew how to play mini-golf. The pro told them they could pick a comfortable stance. “Whatever works for you.” He also told them to practice, practice and practice. “Go out onto the putting area before each game to adjust for the conditions of the day.”  He showed them how to swing the putter so that the back swing was equal to the follow through.
By the end of four lessons, John and Minnie thought they were ready to play, but once they were out on the course without the instructor they were completely lost. What did he say about this? We should have taken notes. Which foot was closer to the ball? Okay, on the slope how do you stand? They whacked their way through. 
“I wouldn’t exactly call that relaxing,” Minnie said.
“More practice would help,” John said. “He did say to forget about the score for the first while." 
They missed shots, saw a few deer and wild turkeys, they lost balls and found balls, laughed and enjoyed each other’s company. By the end of the summer their game had improved enough to make them think they might want a scorecard.
“So, how are you liking the golf?” Mary asked one Monday morning at breakfast just before they headed out.
“Not bad,” John said.
“Pretty good,” Minnie admitted. “How are you liking the waitressing?”
“Not bad,” said Mary, “but I think I could earn more if I work at a classier place.  I'm thinking of applying at The Mill.”
“Aren’t they only open for the dinner hour?” Minnie said.
“I know. Maybe I could work it in with my other job.”
“All work and no play, makes Mary a dull girl,” John said.
Mary looked hurt.
“I’m not saying you are a dull girl Mary. We think the world of you.”
“Maybe you could do something with your painting, or photography.” Minnie said.
“Like what?”
“I don’t know. It was just an idea. Have you asked God about The Mill?”

“Not really, I don’t hear Him the way you do.”

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (99)

(a novel continued)

Minnie held up her unlit candle. “People, we are here because the light is being snuffed out, lives are being snuffed out. And, we are letting this happen. We are letting this happen because it’s convenient. It’s a quick fix for an immediate problem. We are all at fault. We must ask God to forgive us for our lack of respect for the life He gives us. 
"Let’s pray.”
As one by one the crowd bowed their heads, Minnie prayed, "Lord, forgive us." Her trembling voice projecting out over the people. Many fell to their knees. Some wept.
When Minnie said 'Amen' the crowd was quiet.  “Let's stop killing our young," she said. “Tell your neighbours, tell the people you meet, tell the politicians, tell everyone. We must stop the slaughter.”
The television station and the local paper covered the whole event. For several weeks there were editorials and letters to the editor on the subject of life and death and the value of a human life. Then it got old.
‘So, what was that for? What did we accomplish?’ Minnie asked God.
‘You did what I asked, that’s all I ask.’

Mary started looking at schooling. She was too late to apply for anything for the fall. So, she took up a waitressing job at the A and W. She wasn’t earning enough to live on her own so she worked out a boarding arrangement with her parents.

One day later in the summer when John wasn’t quite so busy, he came home with matching golf bags. “They were on sale, and I signed us up for golf lessons. We meet with the pro Monday mornings for four weeks. In a month we’ll be experts.”
Minnie and John had only ever played mini-golf. They didn’t know very much about the game which the pro saw as an advantage: they wouldn’t have to unlearn bad habits. He showed them how to hold a golf club. 
The grip is important. “Let your thumb and finger make a V toward your shoulder." 
The stance is important. “Back straight, bottom out as if you are going to sit.” 
Position in relation to the ball is important. “You stand with your feet a shoulder-width apart on the tee. Let the face of the club meet the ball on the downward swing. The club is designed to give the ball the lift it needs.”

During their second lesson they learned how to get the ball from their second shot out to the green. “The grip is the same, the stance is the same, how you stand in relation to the ball is a little different...the ball is in the middle of your stance for this part of the game. You still want to hit the ball on the downward swing.” 
The pro showed them how to hit the ball straight down the fairway. He told them about hitting the ball with the sweet spot on the club. 
Over and over again he emphasized the importance of the follow through. He took a golf ball and threw it naturally with a follow through. The ball went sailing out across the driving range. Then he threw it and stopped his hand as soon as he let go of the ball. The ball fell to the ground several feet in front of him. The pro threw the ball fast. He threw it slow. He threw it with a follow through. He threw it without. “Follow through is everything," he said.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (98)

(a novel continued)

The following Tuesday Nan’s group gathered at the hospital. Twelve women each carrying a candlelarge, small, pink, blue, purple, white and red, no two candles exactly the same. They spread several beach blankets on the ground outside the neo-natal wing and lit the candles. A blustery wind drafting between buildings threatened the flames, so they cupped their hands over their candles, turned backs to the wind, and huddled in prayer. 
At the end of the hour they blew out their candles and left, forgoing the usual chatter. The women did this for three weeks. The first week people would walk by pretending not to notice them. The second week Nan brought a sandwich board. She wrote, “We protect the flame with our bodies.” 
The third week a reporter from the local newspaper came by. He waited to the end of the hour then asked, “Who are you? What are you doing? Why? What do you hope to accomplish?”
“We’re not sure what we'll accomplish.” Nan said. “Awareness, possibly. A lot of people haven't let themselves think what it means to snuff out the life of a helpless human being.”
The reporter looked up from his notepad, "Okay?"
Nan sighed. “Just because the baby is inside the mother doesn’t make it any less a person. A helpless person. Abortion is the ultimate act of bullying.”
The reporter scribbled a few more notes. “Can anyone come to this vigil of yours? ”
“Sure, anyone can come,” Minnie said. “Tell them to bring a candle and possibly a blanket?”
The story appeared on the front page of the local paper the next day under the headline, "Babies Being Bullied?" 
The next week, at least a hundred people showed up. So did a TV crew. Then the week following about 800 people came out. They brought candles and signs and blankets.
A hospital administrator told them to move away from the entrance. “There are people trying to use this hospital.”
“If you would stop killing babies you wouldn’t have this problem,” someone shouted.
“Save the babies, save the babies,” the crowd began to chant.
‘Help, Lord, what do I do now?’ Minnie prayed.
‘Stand on the rock behind you and hold up your candle.’

Minnie climbed up onto a slopping rock and held up her candle. The flame blew out. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Upgrading my Writing Skills

I'll be at Write! Canada for the next few days. Goal: come back a better writer. Minnie Goes to Heaven will be back on Monday.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (97)

(a novel continued)
“What makes us able to decide someone should diejust because that person happens to be little and helpless and needs our body for a few months?” Sue said.
Finally Minnie said, “Let’s pray. We’ll ask the Lord what we should be doing. Sometimes I think there is more sympathy on this earth for baby seals.”
They bowed their heads. Hannah surprised everyone, including herself, by praying, “Lord forgive us for murder.” She began to cry. Nanprickly Nanput her arm around her.
Sue prayed, “Lord tell us what we should do?”
They waited quietly for what seemed like an hour.
“Amen,” Minnie said. 
“So, what are you sensing?” 
“We should have a vigil, a silent vigil,” Sue said.
“At the hospital,” Brenda said.
“Every Tuesday for a month,” Melissa said.
“With candles,” Amy contributed.
“All in favour?” 

The decision was unanimous. The very next Tuesday they would meet at the hospital for a silent vigil.

When Minnie came home, Mary and John were in the front room watching a documentary on cults. Minnie commented on Mary’s ability to watch without getting unduly upset. 
“There are worse cults than at the compound,” Mary said. “At least Brandon wasn’t into group sex.”
John turned the TV off.
“You didn’t have to do that,” Minnie said.
“It was about over,” Mary said. “How was your evening?
Minnie told them about the planned vigils.
“What good will a vigil do?” Mary asked.
“I don’t know really,” Minnie said. “All I know it is what God is directing us to do and when He’s in charge the impossible happens.”
“It certainly does,” John said, “Look at what he did with the mold thing. The very next day after the prayer meeting....”
“Speaking of resolving issues,” Mary said, “I’ve been seriously thinking about what to do with my life.”
“And?” Minnie asked.
“And, I think I should go back to school. I would like to be a teacher. I love kids. I think I could teach.”
“You would be a great teacher,” John said.
“I agree,” said Minnie. “Remember when you arranged all your dolls on the couch and you would teach them the alphabet?”
“They never did learn it,” Mary said.
“It wasn’t for your lack of trying. “You were at them every day for months on end.” 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (96)

(a novel continued)

At the end of the fast, Minnie still didn’t know what to do. She had prayed about the abortion issue for three days. ‘What now Lord?’
‘Wait on me.’
So she waited. Two days later she heard, ‘Take it to the discipleship group.’
The discipleship group met faithfully every Tuesday. They hadn’t even missed the week Minnie and Mary went to the resort. That week the women prayed specifically for Mary. They were overjoyed when they heard Mary had opened up. 
The women were all growing in their faith. Some had even adopted a church.
The first Tuesday, after the three-day fast, Minnie brought up the abortion issue. “What should we do?” Minnie asked.
“What can we do?” Nan said.
“Some of us have had abortions,” Hannah said. “Some of us have children who have had abortions.” She looked around as she said it. “We didn’t know it was wrong—at least I didn’t. What do you do when you are not ready to have a baby and the doctor tells you an abortion is your best option?”
“I had an abortion when I was a teenager,” Melissa said. I had a steady boyfriend but we certainly weren't ready to get married—we were 16 and in grade 11 for Pete's sake. I was so depressed afterwards. My boyfriend and I broke up and I was down for months. If I had known what it would be like, maybe I would have had the baby and gave him up for adoption. At least then something good would have come out of it.”
“I was depressed too,” Hannah said. “The doctor told me it was a post-partum thing. He gave me some pills to cheer me up.” She smiled a big fake smile.
“So you girls are saying that if you knew what it would be like, you would choose not to have an abortion?”
“Well, I don’t know if that is completely true,” Hannah offered. “I mean sometimes having a baby is so totally inconvenient."
"How about all the time," Nan said.
"And, a baby isn’t just a baby," Hannah continued. "A baby grows up to be a teenager and there is so much to think about when you are responsible for bringing up a child. You think about how that extra person you are responsible for becomes part of your life—sort of takes overand it’s so easy to say I’m not ready for the responsibility. Let’s just end this here. Being depressed for a few months doesn’t compare with being responsible for someone for the next twenty years.”

“But that little life starts way before it’s born.” Amie said. “When I felt my baby move inside me, I knew that wasn’t part of me. That was a little person inside me. That person has a life to live. There are things that maybe only that person with those genes can do.”
"Some of those things could be bad," Hannah said.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (95)

(a novel continued)

The very next day the Department of Agriculture sent out a bulletin announcing a simple and effective remedy. A scientist at a research facility in Ottawa had spent the last number of years on a project involving mold. He discovered that a soapy solution mixed with mouse droppings applied as fertilizer would stop mold completely. The project was in its final phase of testing and as part of the government's disaster relief they approved the region of Haven as an experimental area 
John ordered a batch of the formula and spread it throughout his greenhouses. His crop could be back on track by late June. Most farmers in the area applied the formula, reseeded, and prayed there wouldn’t be an early frost in the fall. Of course this wouldn't work for the apple crop. 

The churches called another prayer meeting. This time they called it, The Lord is our Help in Times of Trouble. Almost as many people came. This time the arena was filled with prayers of thanksgiving and songs of praise. 

Minnie worried that the unborn babies issue would die. ‘Don’t worry, pray’ snapped her out of her old habit. So Minnie prayed. In fact she prayed and fasted. For three days she only drank water. 
Mary took over cooking duties. 
“Where did you learn to cook like this?” John asked his daughter.
“At the compound.” 
John detected some bitterness. “Mary,” he said simply, “I believe you can be free of all that junk. Have you forgiven Brandon?”
“You might want to. When you don’t forgive, you become trapped in the unforgiveness. It is like putting yourself in jail. Forgiveness is the key to freedom.”
“What if I don’t feel like forgiving him?”
“I’d say make the choice to do it and ask God to help you.”
Mary looked into her father’s sincerely sympathetic eyes. “Okay, what have I got to lose?”
“Nothing except unforgiveness,” John said.
“Here goes. I forgive Brandon for lying to me, for stealing from me, for deceiving me and for being a big jerk. Help me Lord not to hold anything against him any more. In Jesus name, Amen.” 
Mary opened her eyes. “That about covers it, wouldn’t you say?”
“Yes, that about covers it.” John hugged his daughter. I love you, Mary. I’m so glad you are back with us.”

Friday, June 7, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (94)

(a novel continued)

That’s when the prayer meetings began. There wasn’t a church in the area that didn’t call their own prayer meeting. 
Then the ministers of the churches in Haven met together. They decided to rent the arena and hold a county-wide prayer meeting. They called it, If my people humble themselves and pray, I will heal their land. As Pastor Peters pointed out, "Big problems call for big names." 
"A big God will do," Pastor Rex from the Pentecostal church said.
The meeting filled the arena to capacity. Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Methodists, Seventh Day Adventists, Pentecostal and Christian Reformed, all gathered and prayed. No one skated over the issue. They remembered how the Lord had helped them when they as churches had been about to lose their charitable status.
They asked for forgiveness for mistreating the land, for being self-sufficient, for ignoring the Lord. The acknowledged the Lord as the Creator, the Maker of the Universe, and God over all. They praised His name and they humbly asked Him for help.
Of course Minnie and John went to the meeting.. Right in the middle of all the praying, Minnie heard the Lord quietly speak into her spirit. ‘I want you to pray for the children.’
‘But Lord, these are all arranged prayers, arranged by the pastors. Not just anybody can get up and pray about something. And what do I pray for the children?’
‘Pray for the unborn children.’
Minnie knew she had to do this. ‘Lord, help me. Show me the opportunity.’ She quietly made her way up to the microphone which the ministers had been using.
The Catholic priest, who had just prayed, made room for her. Minnie stood before the arena of people. She asked God to give her the words. She prayed them out as she heard them in her spirit.
“Dear Lord, I pray and ask forgiveness for killing our little children. Please Lord, forgive us for murdering so many children before they see the light of day. Forgive us for being so selfish.” Minnie choked up. Then she cried. Tears streamed down her face as she walked away from the microphone. All over the arena people fell to their knees. The conviction in each heart grew. “Forgive us Lord, Forgive us,” rang through the building.
Minnie knelt beside John. She heard the Lord say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (93)

(a novel continued)

“Here’s a note on the kitchen counter,” Mary said. “It says ‘Bit of a crisis, am working late. Love you, John.’”
“Doesn’t sound good,” Minnie said.
They unpacked their things and Minnie started the laundry. An hour later John trudged in. He kissed Minnie, “Welcome home,” and threw himself into the nearest chair. “What a day.”
He smelled like smoke and appeared completely exhausted. Minnie waited for him to explain. 
“There’s a mold spreading through greenhouse number one. We had to rip everything up and burn the plants before it spreads. Farmers are really worried. This mold is springing up across the county. If it gets into the outdoor crops...who knows what will happen.”
“What about the other three greenhouses?”
“So far, so good, but we don’t know what’s causing this. If we did we could put in new soil and replant the greenhouse. That would cut our losses. But that might be pointless if we don’t know what’s causing this thing.”
The next day John discovered mold in a second greenhouse and by the end of the week he had lost his entire spring planting.
Market gardeners and nurseries in the area were all dealing with the same problem. Inspectors from the Ministry of Agriculture investigated and weren't coming up with solutions. They examined the strain of mold and found it to be a mutation of a rather harmless strain they had encountered in years past. This new mold attached itself to just about any form of flora, turning it black within hours.

Worse came to worse and that spring just about every crop in the region was affected. Corn, wheat, barley, even the apple trees turned black. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (92)

(a novel continued)

Minnie thought carefully. She heard Jesus say, ‘Let her tell you.’
“Why do you think He did, Mary?”
“Well, maybe I wasn’t ready just then to come out and stay out. I certainly am now.”
“That makes total sense.”
“Mom, it’s getting hot. Let’s go for a swim.” 

During the next several days Mary told her mother snippets about life on the compound and Minnie told Mary bits and pieces of her heavenly visit.
“So, now I’m just obeying what I’m hearing Jesus say in my spirit,” Minnie said. “God said He wants me to work with Him to bring revival to Haven. He gave me a picture of all the churches working together.”
“So how is that going to happen?” Mary said.
“The beauty of working with God is that I really don’t have to know how He is going to do it. I just obey Him and He does everything else.”
“Wow, Mom, I would like to have that kind of relationship with Him.”
“You can Mary. You don’t have to go to heaven to hear Jesus in your spirit. Just start listening.”
“How do I know it's Him talking?”
“You learn to distinguish His voice. The enemy tries to make you think he is God. The enemy usually makes you feel guilty and condemns you. You have to draw close to Jesus.”
“I keep hearing Brandon’s voice.”
“That’s why Dad and I think counseling would help—sort of a debriefing.”
Mary agreed to think about it. “It’s just that how do I pick a good counsellor?”
“We’ll pray that God sends one.”

By the end of the holiday, Minnie and Mary felt refreshed and ready to tackle life. 

When his girls returned home, John was not to be found. “It’s ten p.m. He doesn't usually work this late,” Minnie said.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (91)

(a novel continued)

“What made you start thinking again?”
“Probably your prayers—I can’t attribute it to anything else. One day I was in the house, in the baby’s room. It was about time for the little one to wake up, but she was sleeping so soundly I didn’t want to wake her. I was sitting by the crib, just waiting when I heard Brandon on the phone in another room. I don’t know who he was talking to, but he was saying some really crazy stuff. I think he had ordered something and the order got messed up. Well, he made up this big lie about why he needed the thing right away and he said he was the head of this big company and he even gave himself another name. If I didn’t know his voice so well, I would have thought it wasn’t Brandon talking.
“Hearing him blatantly lie, so convincingly, got me thinking. What was stopping him from lying to us?
“That’s when I began letting myself think again. I even questioned him to his face on some stuff. At Christmas I really intended to leave for good. 
Then when I was home, I started having second thoughts. What if what Brandon said was really true? He always seemed to have plausible answers. Like when I challenged him on the phone call, he laid in to me about eavesdropping and then he got real soft and said, by the way, that name he used on the phone was the name of a company he ran and and he still owned but was mostly dormant. 
What if God really was talking to him and telling him that the world was full of hypocrites and the only way to heaven was to listen to Brandon's superior knowledge? I really believed that for so long. 
I was still struggling with this question over Christmas before we went to pick up my stuff. So I asked God for a sign. I asked that if Brandon alone came out to meet us personally, then I would know I was wrong to leave and had to go back. 
 When that happened, I was so disappointed. 
“Then when I was back there, I kept seeing the hypocrisy. Brandon always accused people on the outside of hypocrisy, but he was the biggest hypocrite of all time. My eyes were so opened to it. It was like I had been blind before. I started talking about it with some of the others. Of course I got reported. And, shunned. Life was pretty miserable by the time I called dad to come get me.
“Can I ask you something Mom?”

“Why do you think God let Brandon come out to meet us?”

Monday, June 3, 2013

Minnie Goes to Heaven (90)

(a novel continued)

Minnie sat up in her lounge chair. “Mary, I have so many questions about your life in that place, I don’t know how to ask them. Why don’t you just tell me everything you feel like telling me? I’ll just listen, and I promise you I am listening. Not a day went bywell maybe a fewbut not very many days went by that I didn’t wonder how you were doing or what you were doing. I used to worry so much about you. I was almost sick with worry. After I had the accident, I stopped worrying. I stopped worrying and started praying.”
“Maybe that’s why things changed.” Mary said. “Just before Christmas I started noticing things. Things started bothering me that I had never had a second thought about before.”
Mary related how there were two standards of behaviour. “Everyone was expected to follow the rules, rigidly. On the other hand there were no rules for Brandon. He could do anything he pleased and that would be perfectly fine. If Brandon asked you to do something, which was normally against the rules, the rule was to obey Brandon. He made us believe he heard directly from Godall the time. He was unquestionable.
“When I was first there, I adored Brandon. He seemed so loving and caring. He made us believe that he would do anything for us.”
“Who is, ‘us’?" Minnie asked.
“Everyone on the compound—there were about 20 of us singles and a few families with little kids. Brandon acted like nothing happened without his design. He made it sound like God depended on him to make sure all was well in the world. He knew everything about everything and God did things just because Brandon proclaimed it. 

“He could make you feel like such an ass if you messed up. Then you would be shunned by everyone for a while. If you totally behaved yourself for a while, he would give the signal and suddenly there would be a party to celebrate your return to the fold. Right about then you would vow never to do anything to deserve a shunning ever again. I actually stopped thinking for myself. If Brandon said it was good, it was good. If he said it was bad, it was bad. I stopped trying to figure it out for myself.”