Boondock Ramblings

A little bit about a lot of things

We started homeschool last week and so far it’s going fairly well. The whining from both has been limited, thankfully. We decided to ease into lessons by only working on three subjects a day during the first week for the oldest. I’m adding another subject this week and possibly a fifth by the third week.

So far The Boy is doing Bible, English, and History every day. He does Math Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and Science Tuesday and Thursday. We also plan to add some grammar lessons later in the year (see my rant on Sunday about grammar if you want to know what I think about grammar *wink*. Seriously, though, I think it is important but last year we had an extensive course so this year it will be less extensive.)

We plan to add economics to The Boys homeschooling experience this year, even though the course was written for high school students. I tend to think my child is pretty smart and want to rush ahead into educational territory that might be beyond him in some ways. On the other end of the spectrum, I sometimes pull back and decide not to teach him something because I think he’s not ready but he’s clearly ready and beyond that lesson, because his comprehension is so advanced for a kid his age. My mom says I underestimate him at times and I think she’s right, but then I worry, “But what if I overestimate him and he ends up feeling overwhelmed and inadequate because the subject matter was beyond his capabilities at this development stage of his life and he doesn’t say anything because he thinks I’ll be upset???”

I don’t overthink too much. I don’t. Do I? Maybe I do. I don’t know. I’ll think about it some more and get back to you.

For the youngest, I had to ease into the sit-down work by taking breaks and allowing her to go outside when she asked to (she loves going outside since we moved to a more rural setting) and turning it into a math lesson. I suggested she go outside and collect 20 autumn colored leaves and then we would count them together when she got back.

We need to develop a unit on trees this month I think. She loves collecting leaves. I need to figure out how to collect the leaves in a book. Surely there must be DIY information somewhere about how to do this? If someone reading this knows how to do it, let me know in the comments?

Last week I was reminded Little Miss loves numbers and is a whiz at them. Whose child is she? Oh. Right. My husband’s. Because she certainly didn’t get her love of numbers from me. Numbers make my stomach do weird things and then my head goes all funny and I have to reach for a book (with words) to steady myself. The Boy is good at math but hates it. Little Miss seems to love the counting, but she is only 5 (almost 6) so what does she know?

As for curriculum for The Boy this year, we are using Apologia Exploring Creation with General Science (second edition) for science; From Adam to Us by Notgrass for History/English/Writing/Vocabulary/Bible; American Literature by Apologia (which is also being used as history and writing on some days); CTC Math online for Math; and Exploring Economics by Notgrass for economics. From Adam To Us includes several fiction books to read throughout the year, which count for literature/language arts/English. We also plan to add Wordly Wise in soon for grammar and vocabulary.

(FYI: If anyone is interested in the American Literature book, the hardcover student textbook and the student notebook, where the student answers questions, is currently 76 percent off on Christianbook.com.)

So how about all of you parents out there? Are you homeschooling this year? Virtual school through your district? Or are your kids back in the physical classroom? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to know what curriculum you are using if you are homeschooling.

This is my weekly Randomly Thinking post where I share some random thoughts from my week. I will warn you that there is one political thought this week but it is about the way people support their candidate, not a reflection of how I feel about any particular candidate or issue.

  • We need more shows like The Dick VanDyke Show these days. Funny, but not crude; entertaining but not violent or garish; and characters who are completely loveable and endearing instead of characters who make us wince.
  • Do Anjou pears ever get soft?
  • During the day I love that our house has a lot of windows with wispy white, partially see-through curtains. It lets in a lot of beautiful natural light, which I have always wanted, especially for photographs of the children. The time of day I do not love all these windows and their see-through curtains is nighttime. I don’t know that I really think that people will be looking in our windows, but I do worry about what creatures are out there looking in our windows — like bear creatures, which we still have not seen as of yet. A friend did see the bear crossing the road down from our house one day, however.

  • My husband told me the latest Robert Galbraith book will be out soon. I said, “Well, it will be if the mob doesn’t destroy her and force her publisher to drop her.” “Her?” You may ask. Robert Galbraith is the pen name of J.K. Rowlings for her mystery series. “Shamefully” she has recently dared to suggest a woman is a woman and a man is a man based on their biology (or if they’ve had sex change hormones, etc.) not on how they feel. She explains her position better herself on her website but that’s the gist of it. I don’t agree with a lot of what J.K. has kicked out there over the years. We couldn’t be further way politically and morally on many issues, but she has the right to say what she wants and I enjoy her writing, even though I have never read … gasp! Harry Potter. I read the first in the Cormoran Strike series (The Cuckoos Calling) and it was very dense (wordy) but extremely entertaining and well written. It wasn’t my usual book (lots of hard language and some sexual discussions) but it was well done. I haven’t yet cracked into the second book because I’ve needed time to recover from the length of the first.

  • When you are the one always making contact in a friendship and then you finally stop and never hear from that person again — it’s probably a good sign the friendship is dead. I backed off being the one to keep in contact a couple of years ago and there is a list of about eight people who have never attempted to even ask how I am. That’s fine. Fewer people I have to try to keep track of now!

  • I’ve discovered I have a pet-peeve. So the idea of social media is to be social with other people, right? Of course. Then why is it so hard for people to respond to other people on Instagram. Instagram for authors is supposed to be a way to network as well as promote but so often I see authors who do not respond to people who leave comments on their posts by simply hitting “like.” Hitting “like” on a comment doesn’t tell me a thing about you and I certainly don’t feel like we are interacting in any way. If someone comments on my posts, I do the best I can to respond to them in one way or another. I’ve unfollowed a few people over the years because they had no interest in actually being social on social media. I don’t unfollow them immediately, of course, but if they repeatedly ignore me then I just figure I’m bugging them.

  • My dad and I were standing outside my house today and we heard a tree fall in the valley below us. It sounded like cracks of gunfire, which is not unusual around here where we have hunters or gun enthusiasts. My dad said the ash trees are going to be an issue on windy days because Pennsylvania’s ash trees are all dead. Our hills this summer were full of brown trees spread across the usual green because the ash boar has been slowly killing the ash species for the last few years and this year it finally claimed them.
  • I’m finally catching up on the Corner Gas animated series. I feel so Canadian.

  • I love that the Catholic Church in our town (yes, the town is so small we have only one Catholic Church. We also have a Methodist and Baptist.) rings it’s bell every day at 9 a.m., noon, 6 p.m., and 9 p.m. If I hear it while I’m cooking supper I know that I am running late. If I hear it at 9 and I’m still upstairs in bed, I know I’ve overslept. When I hear it at noon, I often marvel at how fast the day is going by.
  • You know you live in a rural area when you’re standing in your parents’ garden and count 12 ATVs drive by on their dirt road. They were Labor Day weekend visitors from “down south” (either southern PA or New Jersey.) I didn’t take a photo but I wish I had.

The political signs in our area are getting creative:

I don’t have one against Trump because I haven’t seen one locally yet, but if I do, I will be sure to share it so I’m politically neutral here on the blog. Our area is a highly-Republican area but there are a few democrats. Unfortunately, their signs are just the boring traditional Biden signs for now. I’m sure they will get more creative in their political advertising in the next couple of months. Two weeks from now we will be in a very liberal area of New York State so I’m sure we will see some fun slams against The Donald. I don’t discriminate in creative political advertising. If it’s a good slam I giggle at it no matter who I support.

So how about you? Any random thoughts this week? Share them in the comments or in your one post and leave the link here.

Sunday Bookends is my week in review, so to speak. It’s where I share what I’ve been up to, what I’ve been reading, what I’ve been watching, what I’ve been listening to, and what I’ve been writing. Feel free to share a link or comment about your week in the comments

What I’ve Been Reading

I finished the Longmire book and I probably won’t read another one of those for a while, not because it wasn’t good, but because it was heavy. Heavy and dense and somewhat, no, a lot depressing. The writing is outstanding. Very detailed, very well done and I fell for the characters hard, but I fell too hard because it hurt too much to see Sheriff Longmire hurt. I won’t say I’ll never read one again but I am going to take a long break from those books, to cleanse my pallet, so to speak.

For lighter fare, I picked up The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenback by Bethany Turner again, forgetting I’d never finished it. I got distracted from it when I was reading a book to review for Christy Distler. I also have a Becky Wade book in the Kindle I need to read and a book by Chris Martin that has intrigued me. And for comfort reading, I have downloaded another “The Cat Who  . . .” book. 

I finished A Long Time Comin’ by Robin W. Pearson a bit ago, but forgot to put the review here on the blog so this past week I shared that here and on my Instagram.

What’s Been Occurring

WordPress is driving me nuts with this block thing. I have been using it for a while now but it doesn’t work well in the mobile version on my phone, which I usually only use when I want to fix an error in a post. When I got to make the change the app freezes and often kicks me out or I’ll type a sentence and it won’t show up in the block for several seconds or even minutes so it looks like I didn’t type anything. Now, on the laptop version the entire screen is filled with my post instead of a small part like it was before which is distracting for me because I feel like I’m typing on a never-ending page. I just wish they would stop making changes and leave things the way they were. It’s extremely annoying and making me consider jumping to another platform. The one reason I don’t is that I have met more people on WordPress through the reader than I have on any other platform. I’m not willing to give up that community feel, which is the main reason I blog in the first place.

As I’m writing this post I am trying to italicize, bold, or link, and the pop-up thing that is supposed to do that isn’t showing up when I highlight. I also can’t use Grammarly with the new blocks and that means I have a lot more typos and missing commas (more about my comma problems below). You know what, WordPress, sometimes it is better just to keep things the way they are. For now, they are letting us switch to the old editor but I believe I read that is going to be fazed out soon.

We started homeschooling this week by easing into it. My son and I are both getting used to his new curriculum, which includes a Literature curriculum that could double as his history curriculum and his history curriculum, which could be used for writing and English and Bible all at the same time. We didn’t start Science yet and he’s only reviewing Math at this point. We will be doing some grammar this year but I prefer he learn grammar while he works on his writing instead of lessons on nominative nouns, whatever that is. Honestly, I don’t remember ever getting this detailed with grammar when I was in school and definitely not in eighth grade so we will save that for ninth and tenth. I guess I don’t get the whole idea of teaching all these terms for different parts of speech. When I write I don’t sit and ask myself if I used the right possessive noun (which I had never heard of before now) or prepositional phrase. I just write.

One thing I really need to work on is commas so I can see the purpose of learning where to put a comma. Other than that, I feel like some aspects of grammar are taught in school so students can show college professors they know it but in the real world, it really isn’t going to matter that much. Right now some grammar Nazi is ripping apart every word I’ve written and thinking, “Yeah, well, you definitely need some grammar lessons so I hope your kid gets some.”

Grammar Nazis drive me nuts because they focus so much on grammar, spelling, and punctuation they completely dismiss a person’s intent and who a person really is. I know a person like this and she judges people based on their grammar. Good at grammar? You’re worth her time. Awful at it? You are beneath her. It’s a shame because she’s missing out on some really awesome people with that snobby attitude.

What do you mean I overthink? No, I don’t. Do I?

What I’m Watching

We started watching Kobra Kai (the Karate Kid spin-off show that was first on YouTube and now on Netflix) as a family since I had watched it when I first came out, but apparently, I blocked out part of it because we stumbled into some really inappropriate material for even the almost 14-year old. We are going to decide if we will watch the rest of it together or not. Probably not. My husband and I will watch it alone because it is well done but *prude alert* some of the sex references really aren’t necessary in my
opinion. 

Prude-Woman-221x300

I watched the movie Finding Your Feet by myself because no one in my family would have liked this movie about an older, high-society British woman who finds out her husband has been having an affair and moves in with her poorer, less refined sister while she tries to get her feet back under her. The less-refined sister (Bif) reminded me of my former neighbor, but in a good way because she was a lot more fun than her uptight sister (Sandra). In Sandra’s defense, she was thrown for quite a loop when her husband of 40 some years was caught in a 5-year affair with her best friend.  My
favorite quote from the movie: “You know, it’s one thing to be afraid of dying, Sandra, but it’s another thing to be afraid of living.” Good advice for many of us these days, I’d say. 

What I’m Writing

On the blog this week I shared:

Random Thoughts

Faithfully Thinking: Press Into Him

Extra Fiction Thursday: Quarantined Chapters 6 and 7

Fiction Friday: The Farmer’s Daughter, Chapter 23 Part 1

Special Fiction Saturday: The Farmer’s Daughter Chapter 23 Part II

 

Photos of the Week

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I shared part one of this chapter yesterday on the blog. I apologize ahead of time for the cliff hanger.

____

Freshly showered and her hair piled back on her head ready to clean the cows’ stalls, Molly walked to the barn with trepidation. She had no idea how to act in front of Alex after their encounter a couple of hours earlier. She needed to find a way to get him alone and find out what he’d been up to.

What am I going to ask him? Hey, were you about to kiss me in there or am I just having some sort of out of body experience?

She looked inside the barn for Alex, but didn’t see him.

“Molly, hey.”

Molly inwardly groaned.

Jason.

The brother with the worst timing ever. Similar to the mother with the worst time ever.

She could tell by her brother’s tone she was being given some kind of additional chore.

“Dad needs you and Alex to help us pick up some extra feed at Henderson’s.”

“Where are Tyler and Blake?”

“They’re down at the lower barn moving the cows back inside. So, you and Alex are up. Come on. Dad’s waiting in the truck and here comes Alex.”

Molly looked up to see Alex walking toward a truck she didn’t recognize.

Jason opened the front passenger side door of the large white pick-up. “Shotgun!”

Molly scowled. “What are you, 12?”

Her brother turned and stuck his tongue out at her as he hopped in the front seat. Alex shot her a lopsided grin and opened the back door of the extended cab of the truck. “Looks like it’s you and me in the back, my lady.

Molly quickly pulled her eyes from his, warmth rushing through her.

“Whose truck is this?” she asked, not moving.

Her dad leaned his head out of the driver-side window. “Jason Porter’s. He loaned it to me while my truck is being worked on at Bert’s. Can we end the 20- question and answer session now and just hop in so we can get this feed picked up and get back before milking?”

Alex propped an arm on the inside of the door and motioned inside with his other hand. “Shall we?”

Molly kept her eyes on him as she climbed into the cab and slid in. When he walked around to the other side and slid in next to her she quickly moved her gaze toward the front of the truck, her heart racing, wishing she could have talked to him before they’d left. She could feel him looking at her and when she glanced at him she saw his foot propped on the bottom of the door, his knee up and his arm casually laying across it while he watched her with a small smile.

She needed to distract herself.

She asked her dad how much feed he had bought, if it was new for the cows, and about some of the neighbors. Anything to take her mind off the way Alex was watching her. After the 20-minute drive to Henderson’s Hardware, listening to her dad talk about farming, they found their delivery and loaded it into the bed of the truck.

With almost all of it loaded, Jason started loading the last seven large bags himself, carrying two bags at a time, one on each shoulder. “I’ll put these extras in the back of cab.”

Robert walked back to the front door of the store to pay the invoice as Molly dragged her hand across her forehead, wiping at perspiration from the heavy lifting.

She glanced at Alex, leaning against the back of the truck, his hat pulled low on his head, his arms folded across his chest, the pose similar to how he’d been standing in the laundry room.     

“You okay?” he asked.

“I’m fine.”

“You’re something else you know that?”

“What do you mean?”

“You work as hard as any man I’ve ever met.”

Molly smirked. “Well, that wasn’t sexist at all.”

He swallowed a laugh and then stepped toward her, lowering his voice. “Hey, we need to talk about earlier. Can we —”

“Invoice paid. Let’s head on out, guys.”

Molly tipped her head to look at the ground and followed her dad. Oh my gosh. My whole family has horrible timing.

Walking to the passenger side of the truck and opening the door she glared at the feed bags piled in the backseat of the cab. She looked at the front of the truck and noticed there were only bucket seats, nowhere else to fit another person.

“Um, Jase? Where are Alex and I supposed to sit?”

Jason rubbed his hand across his unshaven chin and jawline. “Oh. Yeah. I guess I forgot we had to fit two people back there too.” He shoved the feed bags as far as they would go against the truck door. “It will be a tight fit, but I think you two can manage.”

Molly had barely gotten her heart under control from the ride to the store. Now it was racing again at the thought of having to sit even closer to Alex for the 20-minute ride home.

Her breath caught at the wink he gave her as he leaned on the open door. “Come on, Mol. I think we can manage. You first.”

Once Alex was inside, the door closed behind him, Molly couldn’t think of anything beyond the feeling of his side pressed into hers  — she closed her eyes and drew in a breath slowly — the warm, solid, utterly masculine side of his body.

She shifted slightly so she was facing the front of the truck. No matter how much she shifted, though, his thigh was still pressed tightly against hers.

Alex’s hand shot up behind her to catch a bag of seed that slid toward her when her dad pulled out of the parking lot. He held it in place on top of the other bags and stretched his other hand in front of her to steady the bottom of the pile. Now she was not only pressed up against him but trapped between his arms, possibly for the duration of the drive.

He looked down at her with the cocky grin she’d once thought was obnoxious but had somehow become endearing to her recently. “That was close. You could have been crushed by that bag of feed.” His eyes sparkled with amusement. “And sorry. I’m probably smelling pretty bad right now.”

Smelling bad? Uh, no. He was smelling amazing despite the warm day and the fact they’d just been lifting heavy seed bags into the truck for the last half hour.

Molly shook her head, looking up at him, his face now inches from hers as he leaned against her to hold the bags in place.  “You aren’t.” Her voice faded to a whisper. “At all.”

He kept his eyes on her for several seconds, one hand holding the top of the feed in place, the other the bottom and when he moved his thumb it grazed her side through her shirt. She drew her breath in sharply and held it. He dipped his head until his mouth was close to her ear, out of sight of Jason and her dad.

She closed her eyes at the feel of his breath warm against her skin.

“We need to talk about earlier.”

She nodded.

“Can we meet somewhere later?”

She nodded again.

“Is it bad I want to finish what I started earlier and kiss you right now?”

Molly glanced at the front seat out of the corner of her eye, grateful that the country music station was blaring so loudly from the speakers.

She shook her head slowly, gasping softly when she felt his mouth on her earlobe and his hand lightly touch her side.

“Sorry,” he whispered. “I couldn’t resist. Your ear was right there. Waiting to be kissed.”

Fifteen more minutes. Just fifteen more minutes and I can get out of this truck, clear my head, and make sense of all this.

Jason turned down the radio. “You two okay back there? Enough room?”

Alex lifted his head from where he’d lowered it to kiss her ear, his eyes on hers as a playful smile tilted his mouth upwards. “Yep. Little bit cramped but we’re doing just fine.”

Jason turned part way to look back at them. “Are you two whispering about something?”

Molly smothered a smile behind her hand. She knew she couldn’t answer without laughing and was grateful when Alex answered for them.

“Yes, actually. I was just telling Molly about how much you snore at night and she was just telling me she knows all about it. She was completely sleep deprived as a child thanks to your freight train impersonation.”

Jason scoffed. “Whatever. You should tell her what a pig you are to live with.  Which reminds me, it’s your turn to wash the dishes and don’t wait a week like last time.”

“As long as you didn’t eat those disgusting tuna fish sandwiches again and leave the bowl in the sink.”

Molly looked toward the front of the truck, at the back of Jason’s head after he turned toward the front again. “You know, Jason, you wouldn’t have to put up with Alex as a roommate if you would just propose to Ellie already.”

Jason groaned to cover the nervous butterflies in his stomach. He and Ellie had agreed to tell their families about their engagement in a couple of weeks at the annual firemen’s fundraiser, which was the only barn dance in the area. Alex had agreed he wouldn’t tell anyone until the official announcement.

“Seriously?! What is with everyone lately?”

“We just want to see you happy, buddy.” Alex winked. “And I just want to sleep without hearing your snoring. Let Ellie deal with it.”

Jason turned to look at him. “You know I’m kicking you out when I get married, right?”

“Did you hear that, Dad?” Molly laughed. “There is hope, yet. He just said when he gets married.”

Robert playfully punched his son in the arm. “Hallelujah!”

Jason shook his head, laughing at what the good-natured ribbing.

Molly looked at Alex again, lowering her voice. “Jason’s right, though. He’ll probably move Ellie in with him. Where will you go then?”

He shrugged a shoulder. “Haven’t thought that far ahead. Never do. Planning makes my head hurt.”

He leaned his head close to hers again, his lips grazing her ear as he spoke. “Wherever it is, though, it won’t be far away from you.”

The truck swerved abruptly, and Molly fell against Alex, her hand falling on his knee to steady herself.

“Whoa!” Robert called from the front. “That was a huge deer! Everyone okay?”

Alex smiled at Molly, who realized her hand was still on his knee. “All good back here.”

Molly pulled her hand away quickly and propped it on her own knee, her cheeks flushed bright pink. She focused her gaze out the windshield, but she could see Alex watching her with a Cheshire Cat grin out of the corner of her eye.

Her heart beat faster with every mile that passed. Alex kept quiet for the rest of the ride, but his smile had faded and his hand slipped off the lower part of the seed bag pile more than once to graze her side. She was trying to control her emotions, but her thoughts were jumbled. There was also an insane urge pulsating through her to push him up against the inside of the truck door and press her mouth to his, ending this insane cat and mouse game he’d started. She was definite a move like that wouldn’t go over very well with her dad and brother, though.

Robert parked the truck next to the barn, near the back door. “Okay, kids, let’s get these unloaded and then everyone can head in for some lunch.”

Fifteen minutes later, when the feed was unloaded and stacked in the barn, Molly headed toward her truck.

“I’m going to sit up on the hill and read a book while I eat lunch,” she called over her shoulder. “See you guys later.”

“And I’ve got to run to town for some errands,” Alex called over his shoulder, walking toward his own truck. “Be back in a bit.”

Robert waved toward them on his way to the house, Jason falling in step next to him “Sounds good.” He patted Jason on the shoulder. “I guess it’s just you and me eating Mom’s friend chicken for lunch.”

Jason pumped his fist in the air. “Yes! More for me!”  

. “Just save some for your poor, starving father, big boy.”

For those who have been following this story each week, this is THE chapter. THE chapter were Alex finally confesses his feelings. Will his confession thrill Molly? Won’t it. Will there be a kiss? Won’t there? Hmmmm…. you’ll have to read on and see. This week I’m adding a little bit I decided to tack on the end of Chapter 22, along with the first part of Chapter 23. I cut the chapter in two for the blog because it is a bit long. I’ll share the second half on Saturday. I think readers who have been rooting for Alex to make a move will like this chapter and excuse it’s length. You may not, however, excuse the cliff hanger of either part.

This, of course, is an installment of a novella in progress. It may have typos, plot holes, missing words, etc. It has yet to be edited and some weeks I haven’t even gone through to rewrite it (but usually it’s been edited a couple of times before I post it here). To catch up with the rest of the story click HERE.




Sit . Ups. Are. From. The. Devil.

Alex grunted with each sit up, glaring at the wall each time he brought his head toward his knees.

How was it possible his aggravation and adrenaline still hadn’t faded after working all day in the barn in the heat? The sun had already set, and his mind was still racing, remembering Molly and Ben sitting together on the front porch, laughing, smiling. What were they smiling about anyhow? What was so funny? Why did Ben keep showing up? What, did he think he could just take advantage of Molly again? Hurt her again?

One hundred. One hundred one. One hundred . . .

Jason exercised to keep in shape.

Alex was exercising to exhaust himself so he couldn’t think anymore. He let his arms fall to his side as he laid on the floor, breathing hard. He heard the cows from the neighbors farm greeting each other in the barn, then silence, except the crickets and the peepers along the stream behind the house.

This is ridiculous, Alex. You either need to give up on Molly or tell her how you feel. You’ve never had an issue going after what you want.

His issue with Molly was that she was different. Molly was special, important, and more than a conquest. She knew more about him than almost anyone else, besides Jason. He felt cheesy saying it, but unlike other woman he wasn’t only attracted to her outside beauty. He was attracted to her inside as well. He rolled his eyes. What in the world was happening to him? He had become so soft since moving here with the Tanners. Or maybe this is who he actually was and that hard, cynical, flippant Alex was the fake one who covered himself up to keep from getting hurt.

He covered his face with his hands, growling softly. Then

“Aarrrgh!”

He had never over analyzed his life as much as he had in the last few months and he was over it. Standing up he yanked his shirt off and tossed it toward a pile of dirty laundry and flopped on his back on his bed, finally exhausted, barely able to keep his eyes open.

Time’s up, Alex. No more thinking. Tell Molly how you feel and if she doesn’t feel the same way you can finally move on with your life.

He moaned softly, staring at the ceiling. His life really had hit a strange patch. Now he was giving himself pep talks in the third person. Rolling onto his side he looked out the bedroom window, toward the Tanner’s farm a mile away. He closed his eyes as sleep overtook him, images of Molly laughing with Ben pushing their way into his dreams.

Chapter 23

Molly lifted the laundry basket, carrying it into the hallway outside her bedroom. She was determined not to let her mom wash her laundry anymore. She’d wash it while her mom was out grocery shopping so her mom couldn’t say, “Let me get that. We can just throw it in with your dad’s laundry.”

Good grief, I’m 26 years old. I can wash my own laundry.

Molly’s thoughts had been consumed with Liz all day. Liz had seemed more alert when she visited her that morning in the hospital, but still exhausted, and still determined not to tell her parents what had happened. When they had called Liz’s cell, she had told them she’d been busy at work, that she had spent the night with Molly, and that her cell service had been spotty. Molly cringed to hear her friend lying to her parents.

Liz had even asked Molly not to tell her own family. Not yet anyhow. Molly had always been close to her parents, her mom especially, so not being able so share Liz’s situation with them was definitely difficult. In some ways she felt like she was deceiving her parents by not sharing with them what was going on, but she also wanted to respect Liz’s wishes.

When her mom had asked her this morning where she had gone the night before she told her she had gone to see Liz, avoiding questions about why or where by quickly announcing she needed to get to the barn to check on one of the pregnant cows.

Molly struggled to carry the basket down the stairs, bumping it against the wall and railing, wincing as she pinched her fingers in a crack in handle. She really needed to buy herself a new laundry basket. She could barely see over the pile of clothes and mentally scolded herself for waiting so long to wash it.

A few seconds later a scream ripped out of her at the sight of a man walking through doorway between the kitchen and the living room. She dropped the clothes basket, reaching for the bannister as she almost lost her balance.

Alex stumbled back against the wall next to the doorway, almost dropping the glass of water in his hand.

“Holy — what are you screaming for?!” he shouted.

“What are you doing here?!” Molly shouted back. “No one was in here when I went upstairs!”

Alex tipped his head back and laughed loudly, the glass of water in one hand and a granola bar in the other.

“Sorry. I came in to grab a glass of water. I didn’t even know you were up there.” He wiped tears of laughter from his eyes with the back of his hand. “That was entertaining though. Thanks.”

Molly’s heart pounded fast in her ears, adrenaline still rushing through her as she laughed and bent down to pick up the clothing that had fallen out of the basket. “Shut up. It’s not like I expected to find a man in my living room.”

Alex grinned. “Is there another room you expected to find a man in?”

Molly rolled her eyes and tossed the clothes back into the basket.

“Ha. Ha. Very funny.”

“Do you want me to help you with that?”

Alex walked toward her, but she raised her hand.

“This is my dirty laundry. No. Just no. That’s gross.”

She walked past him into the kitchen toward the laundry room and he turned slightly to watch her. She was wearing a pair of light blue capris and a loose-fitting gray Needtobreathe tshirt. Her reddish-brown curls were hanging lose down her back, slightly damp. He closed his eyes briefly and smelled coconuts and mango. It must have been her shampoo. Seeing her in her natural element, relaxed, laid back and without her work clothes did something to his insides he wouldn’t have been able to explain if someone had asked him to.

He hadn’t planned on talking to her about his feelings now, but since the opportunity had presented itself — and in an entertaining way at that — he knew he had to take the chance. They were alone, Robert wouldn’t be looking for him yet, and Jason was up in the upper field starting haying.  Annie had pulled pull out of the driveway an hour ago, probably on her way to pick up groceries at the little supermarket in town.

Setting the water and granola bar down on the kitchen counter he followed her, leaning against the laundry room door frame.

“So, we haven’t talked much since that day at the overlook,” he started.

Molly loaded her clothes into the washer, her back to him. Warmth rushed from her chest to her cheeks. She hated thinking of that day, how she’d declared she’d always be fat, pointing out her weight in front of Alex. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t noticed, but still, there was no need for her to draw attention to it.

She poured laundry detergent into the washer, unable to look at him. “Yeah. Sorry about that. I guess I had some kind of breakdown or something. I really appreciate you talking me off the ledge, though.”

He tipped his head, studying the curls that fell across her back, the way they shimmered in the sunlight seeping in through the small window above the washer and dryer. He lovedt when those curls were out of the ponytail she usually kept them in, which wasn’t often.

“You’re too hard on yourself, Molly.”

She pushed start on the washer, her heartrate increasing at the tone of his voice. It was different than when they were simply joking around in the barn. It was more serious today; more sincere, like the day at the overlook.

Molly turned to see what expression was complimenting the voice. Her breath caught at the way he was looking at her, the intensity in his eyes.

He dropped his gaze, shoving his hands in his front jean pockets as he looked at the floor. He focused on a dent in the blue and white linoleum that made up the laundry room floor and kicked at it with the tip of his boot.

“So, hey, I was thinking . . . maybe we could hang out some time.”

A smile pulled at her mouth. What was this change of conversation direction about?

“Hang out?”

“Yeah. Like,” he shrugged one shoulder, looked briefly at the ceiling then back at her. “go out sometime.”

Molly’s eyebrows furrowed. Was he trying to boost her self-esteem by inviting her to go out with him and Jason and their friends? She wasn’t sure she would enjoy hanging out with sweaty men at some sports bar in the middle of nowhere.

“Um . . . I’m not sure I’d fit in with you and Jason and your friends.”

Alex laughed softly. “I wasn’t talking about with Jason or our friends.” He brought his gaze back to hers, rubbing his hand across the back of his neck. “I was talking about just you and me.”

Molly swallowed hard. Her head felt light and her hands had gone numb.

Or had they? Were they still there? She wasn’t sure so she slid them into the back pockets of her jeans to see if she could still feel the denim against her skin. She could, but only barely.

Was he trying to make fun of her? She wasn’t sure she could handle it if he was.

He folded his arms across this chest, and crossed one leg over the other casually. She fought hard to keep her eyes from wandering across his masculine forearms and biceps, the edges of the short sleeves of his plaid, blue checkered button-up shirt pulled tight across his upper arms.

“Okay. Listen, Alex, I appreciate you trying to make me feel better about myself by offering to take me out but —”

“I’m not trying to make you feel better about yourself. I really want to take you out. Like,” he cleared his throat. “on a date.”

Molly laughed nervously. “Let’s be serious here. I’m not exactly your type.”

“What do you mean you’re not my type?”

The question startled her. “Well. . . Uh… because all the women you’ve dated since you’ve been here have been cute, skinny blondes and, I mean, look at me.”

She gestured at her wide hips and full chest.

His eyes traveled the length of her and back to her face. “Yeah? I’m looking.”

Her face flushed at the grin tilting his mouth upward and the way his gaze slid over her. She struggled with how to respond.

“Well, I’m. . .  I’m . .  you know what I am.”

He tipped his head slightly, his eyebrows furrowed.

“No. I don’t know what you are, Molly.”

She scoffed. “I’m fat, Alex.” She slapped the side of her thigh with her hand and laughed. “F-A-T. Fat.”

He bit his lower lip, amused by her thigh slapping. He unfolded his arms, hooking his thumbs in his belt loops. His eyes were moving over her again and heat rushed through her.

“You’re not fat, Molly.”

“Alex, I’m fat. It’s okay. I know I am. It’s not that I’m proud of it, but it’s just the way it is right now. I – I’ve been working on it so maybe someday I won’t be as —”

Alex shook his head and tightened his jaw, his smile fading into a more serious expression. “Fine, if you want to say you’re fat go ahead, but you’re not fat to me and you can’t tell me who I’m interested in.”

He pushed himself off the door frame and moved toward Molly. “I know who I’m interested in.”

He knew it was now or never to show her what she meant to him and he was tired of not taking risks.

Molly’s muscles tensed as she stepped back and stumbled against the washer. What was Alex doing? He wasn’t stopping and the expression on his face was serious and determined. His eyes were on her mouth and she felt a rush of butterflies move from her stomach throughout the rest of her body. He was so close now she could see those familiar flecks of green in his deep blue eyes.

“Alex.” Her voice faded to a whisper as she tried to make sense of his movements, of his hand cupping her cheek now. “What are you doing?”

Alex knew what he was doing but he was terrified. His eyes focused on her mouth and he closed the gap between them more, moving his body even closer to hers. He knew kissing her was the only way to really show her how he felt.

“Molly. . .” His voice was deeper and huskier than she’d ever heard it before.

He swallowed hard and said her name again. How good it felt to say her name, let it slide off his tongue so easily, each syllable like a sweet melody.

Molly had been telling herself for more than a year that she’d think about how she felt about Alex later, but later was here.

Right here.

Right now.

Alex was standing less than two inches from her now and the heat coming off of him was intoxicating. She closed her eyes briefly, trying to calm herself. She opened them again as she felt his hand against her cheek. The palm of his thumb traced her mouth, first her upper lip, then her lower. She watched as his gaze followed the path his thumb was making. He drew in a slow breath and let it out again just as slow. Her heart pounded loud in her ears, a soft repeated thud that was increasing its rhythm second by second.

Was this really happening? Was Alex Stone about to kiss her and make it absolutely clear that he wanted to be more than friends?

The crunch of gravel under car tires startled her and she could tell by the look on Alex’s face it had startled him too. It took a moment for Molly to connect her brain to her mouth.

“M-my mom.”

Alex stepped back from her quickly and glanced at the back door.

 The car door slammed, and he began to wish Annie Tanner wasn’t such an efficient grocery shopper. 

“I’ll find you later,” he whispered before he closed the door behind him. “We need to talk.”

She nodded slowly, stunned, and unsure what to think about what had almost happened.

She was still looking at the door, dumfounded, when her mom opened the front door carrying three bags of groceries.

“Hey, sweetie. What are you doing? Your laundry? Oh, you didn’t have to do that. I could have done that later today when I wash your dad’s.” Annie placed the bags on the kitchen counter and sat her purse next to them. “I found that yogurt you like. And that cereal your dad likes.” Annie paused by the counter and looked at her daughter who was now standing in the kitchen by the table, dazed.

“Are you okay honey?”

Molly looked at her mother, doing her best not to look as panicked as she felt. “Yeah. Why?”

Annie’s eyebrows furrowed in concern. “You look flushed.”

Molly shrugged. “I guess I just got overheated doing the laundry.”

“Maybe you need a cool shower.”

“You know what? I think you might be right. I’m going to head up and do that now.”

Molly rushed toward the stairs before her mom could ask her anymore questions.

Annie stared after her daughter, one hand on her hip, her eyebrows once again furrowed. “Well, I meant after you helped me with the groceries.”

I’ve been neglectful on posting the review to this book, which I finished sometime in early August. I honestly thought I had already posted the review. That’s how “with it” I am these days. Ha! Plus, I’m not really a “book reviewer” but have reviewed a couple of books here lately. *Special note: This book review is unsolicited. I was not given anything for it. I discovered Robin by accident on Instagram and sort of fell in love with her, but not in a weird way. In a “she gets me” kind of way. When I downloaded her book that feeling grew even more. I couldn’t put it down. Well, I did “put it down” because I had to sleep that night, but it was hard to stop reading it once I started.

Anyhow, on to A Long Time Comin‘ by Robin W. Pearson. First, the book description:

To hear Beatrice Agnew tell it, she entered the world with her mouth tightly shut. Just because she finds out she’s dying doesn’t mean she can’t keep it that way. If any of her children have questions about their daddy and the choices she made after he abandoned them, they’d best take it up with Jesus. There’s no room in Granny B’s house for regrets or hand-holding. Or so she thinks.

Her granddaughter, Evelyn Lester, shows up on Beatrice’s doorstep anyway, burdened with her own secret baggage. Determined to help her Granny B mend fences with her far-flung brood, Evelyn turns her grandmother’s heart and home inside out. Evelyn’s meddling uncovers a tucked-away box of old letters, forcing the two women to wrestle with their past and present pain as they confront the truth Beatrice has worked a lifetime to hide.

Now for my review (don’t you like how I’m telling you what’s next, like you can’t figure it out.):


This book ripped my heart out and shoved it back in, battered, bruised but better off than when it first left me. I could relate to Evelyn so much it was scary. I could even, in small ways, relate to Granny B.

The way Robin wove this story, pulling me in as I read, so I felt like I truly knew this family, walked their roads with them, was genius and other worldly.

Ruthena reminded me of people I know and when I read her chapter I had to stop and put the book down and leave it for a day. My heart needed time to recover.

At the end of the book I had to do the same. Good grief – what an emotional roller coaster ride that forced me to look at situations in my own life that I’ve been looking away from and have wanted to run away from.

It forced me to consider grace for those who I don’t believe deserve it, to wish for healing for a family shattered much like Granny B’s family was. In our case that healing can’t come earthside because many of them are gone, but I pray there was some healing I’m unaware of before they passed away.

I’m sure the fact the book took place in my own Mom’s home state of North Carolina helped make it more appealing to me, but where the story takes place doesn’t matter in the long run.

It was who it took place with and who it changes when they read it – because it changed me. Thank you, Robin. I can’t wait for your future books, but this time I’ll know to have the tissues ready.
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If you would like more information on Robin and her books, you can check our her site and her blog. Her next book ‘Til I Want No More is due February 21, 2021 and is already available for preorder.

*Warning: This week’s chapter deals with the topic of miscarriage.

Normal disclaimer: The fiction I share here is not usually the final draft. It also isn’t normally the first draft. Either way, it is edited and rewritten before the final “publication” as an ebook on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

If you’d like to catch up on the story you can do so HERE.

I welcome feedback, suggestions and corrections.


Chapter 6

The bundle in Maddie’s arms, swaddled in a blue and white hospital blanket, had been so tiny, motionless. Liam wanted to run out of the room and never look back, but he knew he couldn’t. That was his baby in there, in  his wife’s arms; his baby who hadn’t lived. His legs felt like lead weights as he stepped across the room, nodding at the nurse who looked at him with concern and compassion, tears in her eyes.

The nurse’s hand on his shoulder was warm as he moved to stand next to the bed, looking down at Maddie. Eyes still on the small, lifeless face peeking out from the blanket, Liam sat next to his wife, sliding his arm around her as she cried. Maddie’s hair was soft against his face as he buried it there to try to hold the tears in.

“I thought it would be different this time,” she said through the tears. “I thought this time we’d make it.”

The three other miscarriages had been early in the pregnancies and one of them had been what the doctor’s called a blighted ovum – an empty sac, or a baby that never grew enough to be picked up by the ultrasound.

Liam kissed the top of Maddie’s head and closed his eyes. “I know, Maddie. I know. Me too.”

And he had thought they’d be bringing a baby home. The nursery had been ready, the baby clothes purchased, the crib set up. When the doctor told them that the placenta had ruptured and the baby wasn’t going to survive Liam’s ears had started ringing. When he learned Maddie might be lost too, colorful lights mixed with blackness faded across his vision.

A deep breath and a head shake had kept him from hitting the ground, but the doctor still took three long steps toward him and grabbed his arm to steady him.

“Please, Mr. Grant. Sit. We’re going to do everything we can to save your wife.”

In the midst of grief was joy that Maddie had survived; that even if he couldn’t carry a baby home with him, he still had Maddie. Sitting in the dimly lit den in the back of the house, he chewed at the nail on his thumb as he remembered that horrible day and the days that followed.

There was no denying those first few months had been beyond difficult. Maddie was stoic most days, angry others. Then there were the days she spent sobbing almost uncontrollably behind the closed bedroom door, unable to get out of bed and face life, or even face him. He comforted Maddie as best as he could, tried to be gentle, tried to understand her grief and most of all he tried not to burden her with his own grief.

He had to be strong for her. She wasn’t capable of helping him heal when she couldn’t heal herself; he knew that. He also knew he should have relied more on God to heal them both, but he was angry at God; furious that God had not only let him down, but most of all that he had let Maddie down.

All Maddie had ever wanted was to be a mother. Blow after crushing blow eviscerated that dream.

Liam blamed God.

He had been raised to believe God wanted his people to prosper not suffer, that he loved them. If that was true, then why had this so-called compassionate God let Maddie suffer so much and so often?

After the loss of the baby, who he and Maddie named Abrielle, Liam buried himself in work at the public relations firm he’d been employed by during that time. When he wasn’t working, he did his best to make Maddie happy — making her dinners, making sure she had quiet time, and not pressuring her to go back to work at the small magazine she’d been working at.

She was never happy, though. She didn’t want to take the medicine the therapist had suggested. She didn’t want to talk about it. She didn’t answer phone calls from her parents or come out of her room for visits by Cassie or her friends. She didn’t want him to hold her and tell her it was going to be okay.

 Many days it seemed like it was him she wasn’t happy with. He finally  gave up trying to make her happy. Maybe he should haven’t have given up. Maybe if he hadn’t, she wouldn’t have wanted the divorce.

He stood from the loveseat in the den and paused at the window, looking out at the side yard, barely lit by the half moon. He rubbed his chin, biting the inside of his lip.

“I want a divorce.”

Those had been her exact words and she’d said it without even flinching, other than a small muscle jumping in her right eye, right above the small scar she’d gotten when she fell off her bike at 8-years old. Liam had used to kiss that scar, then her cheek, on his way to her mouth.

He hadn’t really wanted a divorce, but he had known in that moment it was what Maddie wanted.

She felt he’d never been there for her, that he had abandoned her.

If she felt that way, there was no changing her mind, no matter how many times he reminded her of how often he had been there.

He shook his head and drank the last of his soda down.

Maybe after the divorce, they would find the healing and peace neither of them could find when they were together.

***

Maddie poured herself a glass of milk and squeezed in a large helping of chocolate syrup. She knew it wasn’t right, but during stressful times she reached for comfort food and that comfort food was usually full of fat and sugar.

Walking to the back deck she flopped in a lawn chair and guzzled the milk, looking out at an empty backyard, a backyard she had once thought would house a swing set, a tiny kiddie pool, and a sandbox.

She could still remember the conversation she’d had with Cassie after the loss of Abrielle.

“What is wrong with my body? Women’s bodies are supposed to grow babies! It’s natural! That’s what all the books say! I guess I’m just not natural.”

Cassie — beautiful, sweet and fertile Cassie, pregnant with baby number three — shook her head and reached out to take her hand.

“Maddie, that isn’t true. There isn’t anything wrong with you. If there is a medical reason you can’t carry a baby to term the doctors will find it. Having a medical reason for the miscarriages doesn’t mean you’re not a real woman.”

Maddie had known Cassie was right, but she still struggled with toxic thoughts, thoughts that told her that her body had failed her, but more importantly, Liam. She’d seen Liam with his nieces and nephews. She knew he’d be a wonderful father and she’d wanted to make him that father. It had never happened, though, and no matter how many times someone told her it wasn’t her fault, she knew it was.

She leaned back in the lawn chair and closed her eyes against hot tears.

It was her fault Liam wasn’t a dad.

It was her fault their marriage had fallen apart.

What had happened to her? When had she become so miserable? When had she become someone that even she wouldn’t want to be around? No wonder Liam had jumped at the opportunity to divorce her.

He needed someone who had as much passion for life as he did, who wasn’t miserable and depressed and cold.

“God,” she whispered, her eyes still closed. “How did I get here, at this miserable, lonely place? Why did you abandon me here?”

A tear slipped down her cheek and she brushed it away quickly with the back of her hand, choking out a small laugh. Maybe you’re asking why I abandoned you, huh? She shook her head. I don’t know anymore, Lord.  I don’t know where I’ve been or even who I am.

She pulled her knees up to her chest, bowing her head against them, letting the tears flow.

Father, help me let Liam go, so he can be happy again.

Chapter 7

Tiny fingers and toes, pudgy arms and pudgy legs. Cassie kissed Tyler’s newborn nose, tears streaming down her face part from exhaustion but also joy.

“I can’t believe he’s here,” Matt whispered near her ear and when she turned her head, she saw that her husband’s face was streaked with tears too.

There were days it felt like Tyler had been born yesterday, not the 13-years it actually was. Thirteen years. So much had happened during that time. Two more pregnancies and two more children, her retirement from social work, Matt’s campaign. . . . How had it all gone by so fast?

There were times Cassie thought she should have done more with her life by now, but there were other times she was happy with where she was. She’d decided to send the children to a small, private Christian school the year before last when Matt’s national profile had increased. She began volunteering there regularly, helping the children at the school sign out library books or teaching them art. Best of all, she was able to see her own children throughout the day, keep an ey on them and make sure they weren’t approached by anyone from Matt’s political world. So far, the media had left the children alone, even when they hadn’t left her alone.

The story on the opinion page of the Post last year had questioned her involvement with the school. If Senator Matt Grant’s children attended a Christian school where his wife also volunteered, could he be trusted to treat all of his constituents fairly? What about the Muslim children? Or the Buddhists? Or even the Jewish?

“How will Grant’s faith influence his oath of office to represent all of his constituents?” the columnist asked.

“It won’t,” Matt told a reporter who posed the same question at a press conference a few days later. “My faith is what inspires me to care about all of my constituents. I believe God created them and called for me to love them as he has loved me and them.” He told her later he had smiled easily, winking at the reporter good-naturedly, even though inside he had felt unsettled by the question. “And you, Jim. He has called for me to love even you.”

The critics continued to squawk, though, and after that Cassie decided to no longer read or listen to the news. She tried instead to focus all her attention on her children and family. She had buried herself in volunteering, in reading, in her Bible study, in anything to try to drown the critical voices of the world out.

She was beginning to realize now, though, that she’d also drowned out Matt and her marriage, subconsciously pushing aside anything she thought might threaten her family’s safety. Pouring herself a glass of milk she leaned back against the counter and winced. Did she really think being close to Matt was a risk to their safety? If anything, being closer to him should have been a comfort in a sea of chaos.

If she had been feeling like she had been in a sea of chaos, alone on a storm-tossed ship in the middle it, then how had Matt been feeling? He’d been the one at the brunt of it, the one taking the hits and, in almost every way, the one shielding the rest of the family from the blows.

Walking into the living room, sipping the milk, she watched Matt in the backyard with the children, tossing a rubber ball between each of them. He tipped his head back and laughed when it bounced off Gracie’s forehead and she tumbled backwards, giggling. Tyler picked it up and tossed it to Lauren, who quickly dropped it, giggling too much to hold on to it.

 Lauren bent to pick it up and Matt lunged for it at the same time, snatching it from her then gently bouncing it off her forehead, sending her into another fit of giggles. Cassie couldn’t hear what they all were saying, but she knew the children were finding whatever Matt was saying funny by their laughter and wide grins.

Cassie hadn’t seen Matt this relaxed and joyful in at least two years, probably longer. She watched him as he tossed the ball, his muscles still well defined and toned after all these years, visible underneath the t-shirt pulling against his stomach as he lifted his arms to catch the ball, stop it from sailing over the fence into the neighbor’s pool.

An ache filled her chest, moved up her throat, threatened to spill tears down her face. She bit her lip, trying to hold back the emotion but it didn’t work. Tears pooled in her eyes, streaked her cheeks and she let them roll, knowing they were as full of joy as they were sadness. She was so grateful for this time with her family, with Matt, but she was also sad that she hadn’t tried to have more of it in the last couple of years.

Matt deserved so much more from her. More of her attention, more of her comfort; simply more of her. She needed to stop holding back and lower her walls. She needed to be sure she was supporting him in every facet of life.

Running for re-election may not have been something she wanted, but it was something he wanted. He was running because he felt it was not right for the people who had voted for him, but his family.

“Lord, help me to be what Matt needs me to be for him,” she whispered, wiping another tear away. “Help us to both lay down what we want for what you want. For what you need us to do in this time.”

***

On the tenth night of quarantine, still with no sign of illness, Liam headed to bed early, shutting off his phone and laptop around 10 p.m. He slid under the covers, emotionally and physically drained. He was glad, though, that he hadn’t yet experienced any coughing, muscle aches, or sore throat. His mind was racing, filled with thoughts of work, thoughts of what this virus might mean to his parents, his older aunt and uncles, and anyone else whose health might be more vulnerable.

 His thoughts were also filled with Maddie.

She was sitting in the room down the hall, but she might as well have been thousands of miles away with all the interaction they’d had this past week.

Matt was right.

Liam still loved Maddie.

Sadly, it was growing more obvious that Maddie didn’t feel the same way about him. The anger she had for him radiated off her each time they passed each other in the house. He didn’t even try talking to her. She’d spoke her piece. Her mind was made up about their marriage.

To her it was over, and he needed to accept that.

Sleep had finally begun to slip over him when he heard a soft knock on his door. He rolled over and closed his eyes tighter, ignoring it. Ignoring her. Another knock. He pulled the blanket up around his shoulders.

The door squeaked open and then footsteps, soft across the floor.

What did she want? He was too tired for another fight.

“Liam?”

Maddie’s voice was barely audible. He ignored her again.

She spoke a little louder. “Liam?”

Silence.

She sighed in the darkness and he felt, rather than saw, her turn back toward the open doorway.

He rolled his eyes. “What?”

Silence fell over the room and he heard a breath drawn in sharply and slowly let out again.

“Will you hold me?”

He rolled over, squinting in the darkness, trying to make out her face to decide if she was serious or not.

“What?”

“Just hold me. Nothing else.”

Was this some kind of trick to lull him into a false-sense of security? He squinted again, trying to see if she was holding a weapon of some kind.

“Please?”

She seemed serious.

Very.

He heard a vulnerability in her tone he hadn’t heard in a long time.

“Um . . . yeah. Okay.”

She lifted the sheet and comforter, sliding next to him, her body warm, her feet cold. Her feet had always been cold, and she’d always slid them up his legs to warm them, making him squirm but laugh at the same time. There was a time he’d asked if she needed the rest of her body warmed up too and there was a time she’d say ‘yes’ and he’d snuggled close and nibbled at her earlobes.

He wasn’t going to ask if she needed warming up this time.

Surprise opened his eyes wide as she laid her head on his shoulder, a hand on his chest over his heart and closed her eyes.

They laid in the dark listening to each other breathe until she whispered: “I tried to stay away from the news but it’s like watching a train wreck. I can’t seem to look away.”

His voice as soft. “I know.”

“People are scared.”

“Yeah.”

“They’re convinced they’re all going to die.”

“They’re not. Fear does crazy things to your mind.”

Silence settled over them again.

She laughed softly again. “Yeah. Like that time you had that spider on your arm when we were driving to my parents and you almost drove us into a river.”

Liam snorted a laugh. “Well, spiders are scary, what can I say? All those legs. . .” He shuddered. “It’s just creepy.”

Silence stretched between them again.

“Liam?”

He stared into the darkness, at the light of the streetlight bleeding in under the blinds. “Yeah?”

“If this kills one of us —”

“Maddie, this isn’t going to kill either one of us. I already told you we don’t even know if my test is positive. And most of the cases are mild, especially in our age group. We’re not in the highest risk age group. Okay?”

“But if it does . . . ” Maddie took a deep breath and spoke fast as she exhaled. “I want you to know . . . I’ve always loved you. Even when I didn’t like you.”

Liam laughed softly.

“Thanks. I guess.”

“And, Liam?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m sorry you thought you had to fix me. Only God can fix me.”

Crickets chirped outside. A dog barked somewhere down the street. Liam closed his eyes and let out the breath he’d been holding.

 “Yeah. I know.”

He laid his hand over hers, the one laying on his chest.

“Maddie?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m sorry you thought I didn’t care. I did care. I’ve always cared.”

He had been trying not to be aware of her body warm against his, of the smell of her shampoo, of how soft the skin on her arm as he trailed his fingertips down it, of how her closeness made his heart rate increase.

But he was aware of it.

All of it.

Much more than he wanted to be.

He slid his other arm under her and she slumped into him as he moved his hand slowly up her arm, resting it just below her shoulder. He squeezed it gently then lightly touched his lips against the top of her head, her closeness suddenly intoxicating. “I love you, Maddie. Despite it all. I love you.”

He listened to her breathe and for a moment he thought she had fallen asleep.

 “I’m so tired. . .” she whispered against his neck, her breath warm. He could tell she was fading fast.

“Sleep. We can talk more in the morning.” He looked at the ceiling, barely visible in the darkness from the orange glow of the streetlight outside. “It’s not like we’re going anywhere.”

She slept but he couldn’t. Not now with her tucked against him soft and warm, kicking his thoughts into high gear. He hadn’t expected her to come to him for comfort. He hadn’t expected it, but he welcomed it and loved having her so close, even if that closeness was only physically.

 Had she meant what she said? That she still loved him?

Maybe it had been the stress and worry talking. The exhaustion even.

The only thing he was sure of was that those words had sparked a warm, comforting fire in the center of his chest. He closed his eyes, savoring the feel of her hand over his heart, trying to switch his brain off, knowing he’d meant it when he’d told her he still loved her.

I’ve been dealing with depression recently. I go through these spurts from time to time. When I go through them I feel completely unqualified to be sharing about the need to draw closer to God, since I know I’m doing such a poor job of it myself. Maybe, though, I need to be honest when I’m failing at this trusting God stuff, or feel like I’m failing. After all, I know I’m not alone.

One reason for my social media break is that I often run to forums about my health or depression issues to attempt to find solutions instead of running to God. As I have struggled this week with wrong thoughts, I have really been feeling like God has been telling me to press into him.
I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I’d guess he means I need to trust him and not my circumstances.


I feel him asking me to trust him and not people on the internet or my own means.


I heard a clip of a sermon yesterday by Pastor Steven Furtick who suggested that when we are telling God “Hey, I’m trying,” he is telling us “I don’t need you to try. I need you to trust.”

But there have also been other outcomes, that weren’t my choice, that has strengthened me and taught me and taken me down life-giving paths I never would have chosen on my own. I need to remember those when my days are dark, my heart is heavy, and my mind is jumbled with worries and stress.


This week when I have awoken in the night with a weird symptom and that pounding, suffocating, and overwhelming fear that hits me, I am trying to press into God’s goodness, his desire to prosper me, not harm me, to draw me through the bad moments when I want to be lifted out of them.
So I often I base how well my day is going to go on if I think I had a good nights sleep. God is bigger than a bad night of sleep. I need to trust that I can have a good day whether I’ve had a good night of sleep or not because ultimate rest comes in ultimate trust that God’s got this, no matter what “this” is for each day.

More encouraging or thoughtful words under the theme “Faithfully Thinking”:

The Blessing

Didn’t I Tell You to Let Me Handle It?

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

This Isn’t What I Pictured

Reminding Myself of My Word of the Year

More encouraging words from other bloggers:

Every Breath Counts by Bettie G

Welcome to Random Thoughts for the Week, where I share . . . well, random thoughts or events from throughout the week. Feel free to share your own random thoughts in the comments!


  • I was so proud of the header I shared on my first Random Thoughts last week because I put the clip art together in my own design. My bubble was burst when I showed my son yesterday and he said “That brain is backwards. The brain stem is coming out of the mouth. How did you not notice that?”
AAAAARRRRRGH!

Public school is looking like a better option more and more lately (that being said, homeschool sessions start Wednesday here). Also, I redesigned my header, obviously, and now the brain stem isn’t coming out of the head’s mouth.

  • From my son: “We’re all born dumb, stupid and frail. In other words, we’re born a politician.”

  • Here are a couple phrases or words I will be glad to never hear or read again my entire life: social distancing, quarantine, face masks, or Fauci.
  • I was watching a movie on Netflix with Blythe Danner and Sam Elliott. No spoilers, but they kissed and my children walked in at that moment and screamed “Old people are kissing!!!!” while pointing at the screen. Next weekend at Sunday dinner I’m asking my parents to kiss so they will be traumatized even more.
  • I’ve always had a crush on Lou Diamond Phillips. I don’t know if this is a random thought or a confession.
  • Our kitten only likes to lay on my chest when I’m wearing a bra because the bra makes my chest more like a shelf. That’s all I’m going to say about being a woman and getting old.
  • My son, while playing Amish Paradise by Weird Al Yankovic asked “Whatever happened to all the Amish around here?” He had a good point. I haven’t seen any Amish in our area in years and we used to. We at least saw some Menonnites. Readers, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to research what happened to all the Amish in northern Pennsylvania. Let me know and I’ll include it in my random thoughts next week. (This is just a joke. I really can look that up myself.)
  • I won’t be surprised if all this COVID craziness reveals a few things for people, including the fact that colleges are over priced and many students can get the same education online for much less. Also that we need to focus more on skilled labor training.

  • I spent part of my Sunday Googling the phrase: “How did my cat get so fat?” How did I get to this point in my life?
  • I’ve been jokingly calling our cat Fatty and Fatso but stopped this week when she gave me one of those “I Will Kill You In Your Sleep” expressions. I had a feeling she was thinking: “I don’t call you fatty, lady, and I could, so back off.”

  • My mom recently told me that my dad told my grandfather, her dad: “I want to ask permission to marry her but if you say ‘no’ we are going to get married anyhow.” If you knew my dad and my grandfather you would know why this is a pretty surprising statement by my dad. To explain a little: picture one of those stereotypical stern Southern fathers in any movie or book and that was my grandfather. Picture the fairly polite, quiet, shy Pennsylvania farm boy and you have my dad. I guess he really wanted to marry my mom.
  • — Looking through and old journal app again I found another winner from my daughter.

Me to Little Miss : “I don’t want to cook dinner … I’m tired.”

Little Miss: “Well, then what are we supposed to eat? Air? Um… no… there is just oxygen in the air.”

That’s about the time I decided I needed to stop letting her watch any educational shows. She was almost five when she said this. Jesus, please help me prepare now for her teenage years.


So, how about you? What are your random thoughts for this week? Let me know in the comments.