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Friday, September 7, 2018

the freshman class

Lafayette College, Easton, PennsylvaniaSonoma slapped the cover of the book shut and stared out the window. The campus of the little Christian college was pretty in the autumn. Sugar maples and oaks scattered colorful leaves like a child shaking glitter from a bottle. The afternoon sun cast a tawny glow over the stone buildings. A few students were walking over to the dining hall—probably going to the Coffee Nook where everyone gathered for snacks and conversation. She ought to head that way herself. 
     Her college experience thus far had been like riding Dippity Street back home in Centerville—a succession of highs and lows. She had welcomed them all since God put her here in the first place. But, she had to admit, collateral reading was not on her list of favorite things.
     The door flung open. It was her roommate, Beverly. She was grinning. “Come on, Roomie. I just saw him.”
     Sonoma didn’t have to ask who. She rolled her eyes. “Let up, Bev.” 
     Beverly didn’t listen. She shoved back a strand of brown hair that had escaped her thick braid. “You’ve read enough. Let’s go.” 
     Sonoma grabbed her book bag and her brown hoodie on the way out. The weather was getting chillier every day. The Coffee Nook was crowded with students — talking, eating, studying, and laughing. Sonoma had discovered that Bible college was certainly not a dull place to be; she was enjoying the friendships she had already found here.  
     He was sitting with his back to them. Weston Lane. A name that belonged with ranches and big skies. He owned a truck, played the guitar, was an Eagle Scout, had 2 little sisters — was there anything else? Oh, yes, he didn’t have a girlfriend.
     “Let’s amble over there.” Bev nudged her.
     “Are you sure about this?” Sonoma looked at her sideways.
     “Hey, he’s your brother. Let’s just join the group.” 
     Sonoma shook her head and pulled her roommate along with her. Wes was a good sport, but he didn’t usually appreciate her match-making skills. She told him that all good preachers need a wife and he had better be looking before he graduated. But he just chucked her under the chin and said he had plenty of time. 
     He looked up as they approached. “Hi, sis. You girls done with the books for today?” 
     “Taking a break, I guess. I have some research to do in the library.” 
     Beverly was kicking her in the shin. “Bev here was wanting to see if you had notes for that Psychology class she missed.” 
     Wes reached into his backpack and extracted a notebook. “It should be in here. Have a seat, Bev, and I’ll find them for you.” 
     Behind his back, Bev gave an impish grin and waved her head in the direction of the door. Guess that meant it was time for Sonoma to exit. 
     “Ok, then, I’m going to get this research done. See you guys later.” 
     The library was welcoming — neat shelves of books, attractive study areas and warm track lighting. Sonoma found her favorite spot empty, sank into the leather chair and immediately lost herself in the research book. It was only when she saw a pair of brown hiking boots in front of her that she realized there was a backpack already nestled against the chair. She looked up. 
     “American Lit, right? Bev said you had a paper to write.” Sonoma knew she must look confused. 
     He stuck out his hand. “Bale Smithton. Bev’s my sister.”
     “Wait . . .you came to my church this summer with a singing group . . .” 
     “Wes told me you’d remember. Want to go down to the study area? I had this class last year. Maybe I can point you to the right books.” 
     She smiled. “That would be nice.”
     Call it a sibling conspiracy; call it providence; call it the amazing plans of God. As Sonoma picked up her books, she suddenly knew Daddy’s parting words were true. Following God’s will for your life was more exciting than a drive down Dippity Street. And the trip was just beginning. Maybe her roommate's brother would be part of it. You just never could tell. 
— VQ

Friday, June 29, 2018

starburst in july

Fireworks, Sky, Party, New Year'S EveIt really burned. As many times as Callie had attended fireworks events on the 4th of July, she had never had a spark fall on her until now. It had been an unusually beautiful burst of color. She had been absorbed in watching it until the last glimmer faded, echoing in the “ooh” of her teenage sister Cara sitting beside her. Then all of her attention turned to the searing pain on her arm, and she uttered a very undignified    "Ouch!”  And Cara jumped up, shaking the quilt as Callie grabbed her arm.  A  grandmotherly type woman was now steering them toward the first aid area. 

Matt leaned back in his folding chair, flexing his arms behind him. No excitement tonight. For all their spectacular explosions of light, fireworks displays were generally quiet affairs for the EMT squad. Nothing exciting ever happened. Not that he wanted anyone to get hurt. A quiet evening was good. With all the classes he was taking, it gave his mind a chance to rest and drink in the fragrant summer air.
     “Hey, Matt, someone’s coming.” His partner gave him a heads up, and a grin. According to their unspoken agreement, it was his turn.
     The girl was burned. He reached for the bandages and meds that were standard procedure. Because of the uneven light in their area, he didn’t get a good look at her face at first. “Doesn’t look too bad, Miss. I think we can get it fixed up right here.” He looked up to give her a reassuring smile. And forgot what he was going to say. 
     “Hi, Matt.”
     “Callie?”  Memories flooded him. A little girl with blond braids licking a Popsicle, a pretty teenager smiling at him over a plate of chicken wings, a lovely face in the moonlight, crying as he said . . . “I didn’t know you were back.”  
     “I’m home on summer break.  I’ve been away at Bible college.”
     He wrapped her arm expertly.  Callie had always known he would make an excellent doctor. Healing was in his hands. And ministry was in his heart.
     “Oh.  I guess I didn’t know that either.”  Matt gave her a shy smile.
     “I wanted to tell you, but every time I started to, it seemed presumptuous.  Like ‘I have my life in order now, can we pick up where we left off?’ So I never did.  My parents kept me posted about you though.  I knew you were still in school and working as an EMT. But I had no idea you would be here tonight.”
     “You know I wouldn’t see it that way, Cal. Breaking our relationship was the most difficult thing I ever had to do. And finding out that you belong to Christ now makes this a very happy day.” Matt didn’t let go of her arm.
     “But Matt, it’s been so long. I don’t want you to feel obligated. I know God has called you to medical missions. I won’t hold you back.”
     Matt stood and pulled her with him away from the crowd at the first aid tent. “Callie, you never did tell me what you’re studying at college?”
     She looked at him, eyes serious.  “Missions.”
     Matt didn’t say anything, just put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close. “You knew it all along, didn’t you, you adorable rascal. You knew as soon as you told me what God led you into that I would ask you to marry me, just as I wanted to years ago, but couldn’t because we didn’t share the same faith in God.  You’re just trying to get away from me, aren’t you?” His eyes twinkled with mischief and something else that made her heart pound louder than the boom of the fireworks.
     “You know better than that, Matthew Ralston.  I just wanted it to be God that put us back together.  But I never dreamed He would do it this way.”
     “His ways are perfect; His timing is right. I still love you, Callie.” 
     And the sky exploded in a burst of color that showered like confetti around them.           -- VQ 

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