Storied Past – 14

“Where are u? I need 2 talk,” the text read.

“Jeremy! It’s Ramona,” Becky said out loud. “She must be around here somewhere because she wants to meet up with me.”

“That is good news! I wonder where she has been hiding,” Jeremy responded excitedly.

“Yeah, Becky, where’s she been, I wonder where?” Marcy joined in a little louder.

Just then a voice from the next bed chimed in too. “Yeah, if that’s my Ramona, ask her where she’s been. She’s been darting off for days lately. I hope she’s ok.”

Becky moved around to the other side of the curtain so she could address Mr. Beckett again.

“I don’t know yet. I’m responding to her now by text. I hope she’s ok, too. I was afraid she’d left town or something.”

“Oh, God have mercy,” Beckett sighed. “I don’t know why she would do that. Don’t know why she would just take off without saying anything. We don’t have much family so where would she go. Everything she needs is right here in Maple Valley. That’s what sin does! It will take you farther than you will want to go.”

“She must have thought her options had run out here.” Becky didn’t want to get into a religious argument with Mr. Beckett but she did want to present another possibility. Maybe it would give him something to think about.

“Or maybe she is running from something,” she ventured.

“Well she can’t run from her predicament, that’s for sure. The best thing for her to do is get back to church and serve God.”

Just then he winced with pain. His monitor started ticking faster. Becky darted out of the room immediately to find a duty nurse. Jeremy expressed concern and tried to comfort him. Marcy started praying.

Ramona heard the tone on the phone’s message app.

“I’m visiting someone at the hospital but I want to meet you right away. I need to be at work in 45. Want to come there?”

“K” she responded. “See u.”

An intern hurried into the room. “Excuse me,” he barked, “it looks like he needs to rest. Too much excitement. Maybe you should come back later.”

“No worries. Come on, Marcy, we need to let Mr. Beckett rest awhile.”

They both quickly exited.

Becky usually covered the 2-8 pm shift since she was a fairly new hire at Holy Grounds. Foot traffic was lighter in the afternoon and attracted mostly die hard coffee and tea drinkers. She pulled her uniform apron over her head and clocked in. A few minutes later Ramona strode in carrying a valise and flowered overnight bag. Setting them down near a table in the back she approached the counter nearest Becky.

“Hey,” she nodded to Becky.

“Hey yourself,” Becky said. “Are you ok.”

“I think so. You won’t believe what happened though.” Between espresso pulls and tea steeping, Ramona related the events since storming out of the apartment.

“And that’s why I had to get back here,” she finished. “What do you think it means?”

“Wow, that is quite a story. And I think you are right to pay attention. Sometimes weird things happen to shake up our world so we will change direction.”

“Right?” Ramona observed with the faddish rhetorical question. “But I don’t know what to do, really. I thought I needed to . . . to be done with my situation and move on with my life and then, then just when I take steps to do it, it’s like I get stopped by an angel. How crazy is that?”

“Ramona, I’m here for you. I will try to help as much as I can. If you want to keep the baby it would be hard, for sure, but it needs to be a decision you make and feel you can live with.”

She hesitated for a moment but felt she had to say the next part.

“I know you know this, but remember, it is another real person, a life with a future and a destiny who deserves a chance. I hope you will give that person a chance to live that future.”

“Thanks, Becky. I am; I have been thinking about that part. I need to go, to see my dad.” She dashed out before Becky could tell her anything else.

Mr. Beckett was resting more comfortably now. Reflecting on the past hour or so, he thought about his conversation with Becky.

“I guess I shouldn’t have been so harsh with her,” he reasoned. “After all, she probably doesn’t know as much about salvation and God’s ways as I do, or as much as Ramona.”

“Speaking of Ramona, I wonder if she will come see me. Maybe I should dial it back a little and at least try to be happy to see her. Sure miss her mom.”

Arriving at the hospital, Ramona inquired where her father’s room was and as she got onto the elevator a dread of facing him started to form. How would she explain her actions? Should she say anything about her bus trip? About Edith?

As she arrived at the third floor she decided that maybe avoiding trying to explain everything would be best. Mainly she wanted to see how he was doing and would try to stick to that topic.

Entering room 314 Ramona put on a cheerful face.

“Hi Dad! Are you feeling better?”

“Hey, pumpkin. You did come. I was hoping you might.”

“Yeah, dad, I’ve been . . . occupied, but I really should have come sooner. I’m sorry. Are they treating you alright?”

“Yep, except they keep waking me up every two hours to give me shots. Won’t let a guy get any rest. And that new friend of yours came in a couple of hours ago and, well, I . . . ”

“Who came in? You mean Becky? Did she come to see you?”

“Well no, she came to see the guy in the other bed. She didn’t know I was here. That guy was in an accident with a pickup. I think the pickup won.”

“Ouch!” Ramona said. “Who is he?”

“Don’t know. She didn’t know either at first but then I heard her say she recognized him from work.”

Ramona stood up and peered around the curtain. A scream shot out from her mouth and she just as quickly slapped her hand up to stop it. It was too late. The young man’s eyes opened just enough to see where the noise had come from and then they opened all the way with a terrified look.

Of Gardening

Do you have a green thumb? Good! I need some help with my tomatoes. I have constant trouble with weeds and I don’t even water them. I don’t know where they come from; I only know there must be weed seeds down under that I can’t see.

Our heart garden has similar character-istics. In our future, and our past, lie seeds of fear, anxiety and worry. We water and nurture them by agreeing with their proposition and affirming what they represent. Only faith and trust can frustrate their germination into an unwanted patch of thistles and briars.

These seeds of potential grief are in each of us. They are planted there by generations past of whom many existed but never really lived. Let me back up a bit.

Many of our fathers and mothers lived very difficult lives. Every day was a struggle to survive. Not all had this experience but very few in my social circle have always had lots of money. However, even those with means had challenges of character; we all have challenges of character. This is what the fruit of these seeds attack; our character. So really, I am not referring to an individual’s ability to buy happiness but the ability to live happy, fulfilled and faith-full lives, irrespective of the stuff.

How do these seeds present when they mature into full bloom? Many ways.

Because of fear and anxiety many of us never live into our God-inspired dreams. We fret, worry and live below and apart from the blessings, calling and provision for which we have been created.

Sometimes we may not be ready to step into our ultimate calling because we have not dealt with character issues in our own lives. We miss the life of Shalom because we cannot trust His Ways fully. (Remember, more than simply peace, Shalom means an environment that is welcoming of the Kingdom of God; a state of being.) So, we are afraid to believe in the process, or even fail to participate in the process of forming our character.

Have you ever faced a temptation and failed? Yeah, so have I. Ever have a “moment” where you recognized that you failed the same thing last time? Yup!

“Get to the point, doc!”

Well, what do you think is happening in these moments? God is trying to get us to pass the test of character so we can move on and into our calling. For me, I need to learn to avoid situations that weaken my resolve and dedication to my calling. These can bring doubt about my call, chase away Holy Spirit and blunt my effectiveness in prayer or ministry.

Another way we allow these seeds of unbelief to invade our garden is fear of provision. Other words, we don’t trust that God is in control and will supply all our needs. I’ve seen extreme examples that manifest in things like hoarding. This type of fear and worry attacks and destroys character.

The heart of man cannot hoard. His brain or his hand may gather into its box and hoard, but the moment the thing has passed into the box, the heart has lost it and is hungry again. If a man would have, it is the Giver he must have;…Therefore all that He makes must be free to come and go through the heart of His child; he can enjoy it only as it passes, can enjoy only its life, its soul, its vision, its meaning, not itself. – George McDonald

I need to trust His provision and that He will supply all my needs, even though I can’t see it. When I do trust, my character is purified because I refuse to let fear and anxiety grow into weeds that control me.

Another thing that these evil seeds feed is immediate gratification. Because we don’t trust God for our future we want to grasp and clutch everything we can for fear of missing out. There is a difference between living in the moment and living for the moment. The first may affirm a life lived in faith, the latter borders on Hedonism. Let me explain.

One of the most difficult things to be done in our culture is to enjoy each moment as it comes; to be present with life. Driving, working, doing laundry, helping with a child’s homework; all can be experienced and enjoyed more fully when we devote our attention to the task or event at hand. In my mind this is living in the moment.

Living for the moment may mean we mortgage the future for present consumption. The system of credit in our world has been devastating and been the cause of ruin to the character of many. Yes, it has enabled us to have and enjoy things we otherwise would not. It has also been the source of conflict in marriages, families and on a larger scale, national financial instability. Fear of missing out on something, anxiety and worry when the payments cannot be met . . . see those seeds sprouting?

There are many other fears and anxieties. The fear of loss of control, reputation, beauty, health, status, wealth; there is even the loss of eternal salvation from not being good enough.

Someone once told me, “Worry is grief by faith.” It also prevents us from entering into that place of greatest joy; God’s best.

It is faith that takes us through uncertainty by simply enabling us to live and accept God’s purpose and plan. Yes, it is the building of character through that exercise of faith that brings us into our destiny. Can we live in the dark existence of unknowing without allowing fear and worry to grow? Can we live in faith alone? Living with a faith that takes us into and through our existence of tension, turmoil and conflict develops within us the ability to accept our living so.

Now where did I put that Roundup?

Call for the Question

Dream with me a little. When you stand back and contemplate your life do you ever wonder if you have, or will make, a difference. An elementary and obvious query for folks who ponder about more than just the mundane “sleep . . . wake up . . . go to work . . . eat . . . back home . . . watch football . . . go to bed . . . (repeat)” kind of existence.

Most of our daily activity is arranged around patterns of repetition. We do and are what we have always done and been and don’t usually think about enlarging our life borders beyond these predictable boundaries and patterns. Only when some event or new relationship calls us awake and apart are we faced with a shaking of our self-centered homeostasis.

We long for significance. Significance is about identity and impact. So we hope that somehow when we pass on from this life we won’t be forgotten; that we will have made a difference; that we will have contributed to something much larger than we are. That we have made a difference in our social circles, a difference in our families, our faith communities, our legacies.

Why do we long to recast our lives in this way? Why are we aroused, or at least pause to muse, whether this life we relish (or tolerate) will have any import? Is there some inner insatiability that yearns for fulfillment? Why can’t the average human simply follow the mind-numbing script of day to day rhythms of “normal” life?

Lots of questions there. Personally, I am not satisfied with settling for the repetition of a pointless existence that generates no influence or impact on my fellow travelers. Are you? Did you ever wonder why you are here or if there is a purpose and significance to these few years you’ve been allotted on planet Earth.

I am increasingly convinced that not only is there an important reason for my presence here at this time but I am sure I have been called and outfitted for this time. No intent here to exhibit any ego issues, I just believe there is not only purpose, but call, gifts and power to accomplish my purpose.

How do I know? As I reminisce about the journey my family and I have been on, I see the hand of God in every event, every decision, every move, every relationship and every trial. Details are not necessary here but clearly we have been “set up” by God for the next season in our purpose-full life.

Each of us who have chosen to be a Jesus follower (and I might add all who have not yet intentionally chosen) have dormant within us the gifts, call and power to live out that purpose. To release these “enablements,” our part is to resolve to open our minds, hearts and spirits to allow that empty space of unfulfilled destiny to be inhabited by the dream God intends us to live out.

Ok, Dr. Gary; what does that look like and how can that happen, you rightfully question. Well, it does look different for each of us but maybe there are some common indicators and divine events that call us to this most excellent life.

Let me pose some questions. (I know; too many questions and not enough answers! I believe the best way of self-discovery is self dis-cover-y. Other words, you know the events in your own life and can dis- or un- cover how God has been at work.) So, let’s begin.

Is there a history of God-consciousness and/or God-faithfulness in your past and present? Has your spirit been quickened by God-activity in such a way as to cause a craving for more God-connection to be present and witness what God is doing, to join Him there? Is there an awareness of destiny for that which you feel is beyond anything you could have orchestrated or have lived out?

Do you believe you have gifts you yearn to share with others in Kingdom efforts that have not yet been fully employed? Have you wanted to be a tool of influence in culture but you have not found a place of expression? Is there a fire within you, a pent up energy that bubbles and bulges and heart-burns to be released?

Are there strange, crazy events and opportunities that present themselves that defy logic and “rational” behavior? When you step through open doors do you look in the rear view and wonder how those steps could possibly fit within the paradigm of known God activity?

Conversely, is there a lack of confidence in the prompting and timing of unction (Holy Spirit empowering) that seems to bring timidity and a consequent quenching of that fire? Or, is there some guilt or sin that screams out its presence when you might be encouraged to step out and be bold, bringing shameful silence instead of confident Kingdom life or warfare? Do you wonder if you even know how to hear God? Did you miss His voice of direction?

If I am sure of anything, it is this. Contrary to much of the theology I was taught in my impressionable years, God has not given up on this human experiment. In fact, He holds all the cards of power and will not allow it to fail. I said; He will not fail! There will not be only 12 or 13 people in the Kingdom to come. If so, why would He promise to pour out His spirit on all flesh just to annihilate almost everybody in some lake of fire? (Sorry, another question.)

In keeping with that thought, we should ask a further question. How might something like that Spirit pouring/drenching be accomplished? Well, God is going to have to get a bunch of people turned around and start living into their destiny. How will that happen? By awakening those who are called by His name and empowering them with confident, spirit infused lives of excellence coupled with opportunities for influencing culture and government toward repentance.

Ok, that was a mouthful, but I believe an astonishing change is in the cards that God holds and has started to reveal all over this land. When those who are called by His name pull their collective heads out of the sands of traditional theological assumptions and walk in purity, truth and confidence, an amazing, life-giving, life-validating move of God will break out in the land.

Cultural and religious strongholds of idolatry will be smashed. Wickedness in governing structures that are covenantally connected with spiritual powers of darkness will be broken. Bondages of mind and spirit, wealth and heritage will be released as families become free to serve God and others.

A pipe dream? Don’t think so. This kind of spiritual earthquake could unleash the Third Great Awakening, setting the table to usher in His Kingdom.

The last question I have for us is this. Do we want to live into our God-created significance? Are you; am I ready to take the next step into our intended destinies? That step is our choice. Let us join Him.

Your Kingdom Come!

Storied Past – 10

The seat was empty! Ramona looked around. There was no way Edith could have slipped out. Ramona was on the aisle seat! Now she was really confused! What could have happened to her? She knew it was crazy but she even looked under the seats.

Then she noticed that the bag was still there. She grabbed it and stood up. Edging her way up the aisle to the rear she looked at every seat for Edith. Arriving at the onboard restroom she checked there, too. It was unoccupied. Puzzled, she returned to her seat.

Well, that was surely weird; almost creepy, that she had been sitting by someone who suddenly disappeared. What on earth was going on? She settled back into her seat not sure what to think now. Well, there must be an easy explanation, but what? One moment she was talking to this nice, sweet, grandmotherly lady and the next she had disappeared!

She drew a deep breath and exhaled slowly. Now really! Did all that just happen? No, she probably imagined it all. Surely it was brought on by the turmoil of the last several hours. At least she could chalk it up to a stressful day! Your mind can play tricks on you sometimes. She was just starting to believe this self-talk when a disturbing fact dawned on her. The bag!

She was still holding the bag Edith was carrying. Oh, God! It wasn’t her imagination, as she had tried to convince herself. The flowered bag was still in her hands. She slowly raised it up to look at it. It wasn’t very heavy for an overnight bag. She set it on the seat and laid her head back. Wasn’t this bizarre?

What did it all mean? And the way Edith had looked at her when she last spoke; her eyes seemed to penetrate into her very soul. How did she know how Ramona felt when she was little; that she loved Jesus so much? It was a bit spooky. Or, or maybe, just maybe . . . no, no that was too trippy.

She fell asleep. Grandma Beckett was holding her on her lap, shushing her while putting a Band-Aid on her scraped knee. Grandma kept saying, “It’s gonna be alright, just alright sweetheart,” her sobbing comforted by the elder woman’s gentle voice and she felt, no, she knew, that everything would be alright. Tomorrow always would be better than today.

 

Mr. Beckett woke up slowly. He laid there not wanting to open his eyes. His concentration was a bit groggy as he tried to recall the day’s events. His daughter had stopped by; he remembered that. How did their conversation go? He really hoped she would get back to church but then he started to grasp the content and reality of what he had said to her. That part about how hard it was to keep her obedient to God with rules. Had that been the right approach? Well, he just wanted the best for her and to make sure she was ready for heaven.

There definitely was a rift that had developed in their relationship these last several months since Sarah passed. He really missed Sarah. Her absence left such a hole in his purpose and enjoyment of life. He knew she was in a better place and was waiting for him there; in heaven. Pastor Marlowe had counseled him to be sure he was ready so he could see Sarah again. That had driven him to a renewed enthusiasm for the Bible and being faithful to its precepts more than ever! He continued to seek God and consecrate his life and behavior so that he would be more Christ-like and holy.

Now with Ramona pulling away and the added pain of her having a baby out of wedlock seemed to tear the hole even larger. What had gone wrong? He had tried to be more careful to direct her and instruct her in the ways of God. Whenever Pastor would bring something from the Word, he made sure Ramona followed the teaching. After all, he was responsible and his reputation as a Christian father was at stake.

 

Becky and Jeremy stood in the middle of the bus station. This late in the evening it was quiet. There was a faint smell of stale popcorn lingering in the air that stole your attention when by day the busy activity would have. As there was hardly anyone there it was easy to see that Ramona wasn’t either. Jeremy strode over to the ticket counter. The only window open revealed an older gentleman sitting on a worn metal stool dressed in a gray uniform with a nametag, Robert G., proudly prominent on his right pocket.

“Sir, may I ask if you have seen someone?” Jeremy proposed.

“Ask away,” the man answered.

“Well, I am wondering if a girl, about twenty, or so, just bought a ticket from you?”

“Maybe,” he said. “What did she look like?”

Jeremy described as best he could Ramona’s physical features. By now Becky had joined the conversation and added more detail.

“I just sold a ticket to someone like that about forty-five minutes ago. ‘First bus out,’ she wanted, so that’s what I gave her.”

“Where was it headed?” Jeremy inquired.

“Rancho Cucamonga,” he said. “Won’t get there till late tomorrow some time though.”

“Where is that?” Becky asked.

“Southern California, just east of Los Angeles area,” the man in gray answered with an obvious pride in his geographic knowledge.

“Oh no,” Becky and Jeremy answered together. “Thank you, sir.”

“Yup,” Mr. Robert G. said. “No problem!”

As they walked toward the exit, the seeming finality of Ramona’s decision settled in to Becky. It looked like she was going through with it and there was nothing Becky or Jeremy could really do right now. Becky stopped.

“Jeremy, it looks like it’s a done deal for Ramona but I still think there is hope. God can arrange her circumstances to help her make the right choice about this baby.”

“Yes, I believe that, too. I don’t want her to choose to end the baby’s life but even if she does, there is still hope for her to find a way to trust God for her future. He is such a loving and forgiving God, isn’t He?”

 

Ramona woke with a start. The bus lurched over the driveway apron and into the parking lot of a small town. The flickering sign over the station revealed it wasn’t her stop. Brownsdale, it announced, Home of Elkhorn Tractor.

She got up to go inside to the restroom, as this was a 20 minute stop, and took Edith’s bag with her. Well, whoever that was that sat with her for an hour and a half! As she waited her turn she became curious about the bag. It couldn’t have had much in there: maybe some clothes and toiletries. She guessed she may as well open the bag. There could be something to identify the owner.

Pulling the zipper she reached inside. There was something soft and a small box. She pulled out the softness: a smallish blue blanket, like a baby blanket. Well, maybe there was something that made sense about that! The woman obviously had mental issues. She opened the box. It contained a baby pacifier.

Ramona was suddenly taken aback as her mind connected some dots. This woman, Edith, was no mental case! Somehow, she knew that Ramona was pregnant. It had to be that. And, Edith had to be an angel of some sort. That was the only rational answer to her disappearance and the strange events the last few hours!

Ramona forgot she needed the restroom. Dashing out to the bus she begged the driver to retrieve her suitcase. She had to get back to Maple Valley!

Storied Past – 7

Ramona sank down into the stout hospital chair next to his bed. She hadn’t figured her father struggled with anything. He was always so settled and determined when it came to his faith. He seemed to act with unquestioned commitment as he dutifully followed the Pastor’s directives. If he, the one who was so careful to do the right thing, the one who always backed the Pastor fully, the one who was always there at church even if he was sick, if HE had questions . . . well, how could she ever make it?

That brought back a memory that made her shudder. In her mind she could hear a ditty that two of her friends sang years ago. Pastor Marlowe loved it! He had them sing it several times in front of everyone. One verse went like this:

“If we all backed our pastor, our pastor, our pastor
If we all backed our pastor, how happy we’d be.
When your friends are my friends and our friends are God’s friends
If we all backed our pastor, how happy we’d be.”

Well, she wasn’t happy! Maybe other people in the church thought it was because she wasn’t “backing the Pastor.” But, her dad was. Why didn’t he act happy then?

“You’ve been awfully quiet. What are you thinking about?” She snapped back to the reality of the sterile hospital room.

“Nothing, Dad. Um, did Mom always go along with Pastor Marlowe’s preaching? I mean, did she agree with all the rules and stuff?”

“Well, we had, shall I say, spirited conversations about different things. Sometimes when he had a Bible teaching about something, she would disagree. I always thought Pastor meant well and was truly concerned about making sure we were ready for Heaven.”

Ramona was puzzled. She had the impression that her mother was pretty supportive. She never talked bad about him anyway. Well, there WAS that time that Sister Jacobs had all the girls line up on their knees to check how short their dresses were. Her mom was not happy about that but what could she do?

The duty nurse slipped into the room. “I think we should let your father rest for a while now. Pretty big ordeal he’s been through today!”

“Sure.” Ramona said. “I’ll see you later, Dad.” He didn’t respond. He had drifted off to sleep.

Ramona was deep in thought as she exited the hospital. The distinct medical smells from inside were supplanted by the organic wetness of nature outside. The crispness of this spring evening was such a contrast and seemed to portend a feeling she couldn’t quite identify; something peculiar. Was it simply the known promise of the approaching warmth of summer? Was it the impending unknown experience this life growing inside her would bring?

A baby would change her life trajectory, of course. Many times in the last few weeks this thought had both frightened her and brought anxiety. She struggled to picture a daily routine which included feeding, smelly diapers, tiptoeing at nap time, the inevitable noise of a crying child, the virtual death of her social life. She didn’t want her future completely hijacked by a baby!

As she walked the fifteen or so blocks back to Becky’s, a possible solution she once rejected out of hand took form on the shadowy horizon of her consciousness. She needed to find a doctor though.

She had to figure it out; needed to think this thing through. It made sense because she just wasn’t ready; besides people did it all the time. How could she get a job with a baby? It would be too hard!

She tried not to think it might be a solution she could regret later but she was already filled with guilt and regret. With a baby she would still have that, plus the added burden of being responsible for a child. At least with an abortion she would only have guilt and regret.

Becky pulled a couple of shots of espresso to add to the Americano she was making. She had been thinking about Ramona all afternoon.

“Lord, how can I help her see you?” she breathed. “I know that her church experience has been hurtful and right now her faith is especially vulnerable. Let me just be a friend to her and listen.”

“Paul, your Americano is ready. Paul?

A good looking guy stepped up to claim the drink. “Thanks! Hey, what time do you get off work?” he asked.

“In a few minutes,” she returned, “but I have plans. Thanks anyway.”

“Well maybe some other time?” he offered.

“Probably not. My boyfriend wouldn’t like it.”

“Oooooo. Ok then. Have a nice life.”

He turned and walked out, to Becky’s relief. She clocked out and went to get her coat. Leaving the small shop she headed to her apartment.

Ramona was standing at the back kitchen window when Becky walked in. She hung her coat on the hall tree and walked across the small room to the overstuffed chair. She waited to see if Ramona would acknowledge her presence.

Seconds seeming like minutes passed and finally Becky ventured, “Ramona, you Ok?”

“Does God forgive all kinds of sins, forever?” Ramona asked, almost monotone.

“Yes, yes, of course Ramona. He has already forgiven all of your sins and mine. You know this; that Jesus died once for all of us and for all time. Sin has been paid for completely and entirely. You are forgiven.”

“Well, I don’t feel forgiven.” She shot back. “I feel dirty, I feel rejected, I feel embarrassed, I feel wronged, I feel like I’ve disappointed God, my family, church and I’ve gone too far, made too many mistakes and used up all of God’s patience.” She was gathering steam now. “That’s why I’m pregnant! God is punishing me because I went too far this time. I didn’t listen to him or the Pastor and now I have to pay for it.”

Ramona turned to face Becky. There were tears running down her face from reddened eyes. Becky was moved deeply as she sensed the pain Ramona was trying to express. But the next statement from Ramona shook her.

“I am going to fix part of the problem.” Her voice was strong and resolute now. “I can’t let a baby ruin the rest of my life. I need all my energy to get back on track. So since God forgives sins forever, I’m about to commit one more.”

“Ramona, how can I help?” Becky hoped this would slow down the girl’s speedy journey into more trouble.

“Well, for starters, you can take your “God stuff” and stuff it where the sun don’t shine! I’m tired of everybody’s sanctimonious attitude like they know what I should be doing. I know what I want and it isn’t a baby!”

She strode out the front door slamming it with a finality that chilled Becky to her bones.

“Ramona, Wait! Don’t do it. I can help.”