The Preacher’s Son

63bd04344f09d5e8bd3b06820c0af8c2The first time I saw her, I knew that I was in very serious trouble.  We met at my sister’s wedding.  She’s my brother-in-law Jack’s secretary.  She went with a male co-worker and I went with Rachel, a woman I have been dating for a while.  Both our families have this expectation that we are next in line to get married.  I’m not sure why they think that.  Granted, Rachel is a terrific person, very beautiful and I enjoy her company but there was something missing.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

It wasn’t until I met Leila that I realized what was missing for me in my relationship with Rachel–sexual desire.  I never felt it for her but the moment I laid eyes on Leila, I wanted her.  After we met, I could hardly take my eyes off her and the first opportunity I got, I asked her to have dinner with me even though I was still dating Rachel.  Leila accepted.  I took her to a restaurant which had gotten rave reviews and we had a great time.  I asked her out after that and we started dating.  Things were going well.  I made sure that I never went to her place or she came to mine because I was afraid of what would happen.  It was hard being with her and not want to touch her. When I was with Rachel I thought about her and wondered if she was thinking about me.  For a long while, I was dating both women unbeknown to them.  Not the sort of thing you would expect from a preacher’s son, is it?

At nights when I was alone, I thought about Leila and what it would be like to make love to her.  Then, I recalled the scriptures in the Bible which spoke against pre-marital sex.  What was I going to do?  I wanted Leila but I couldn’t have her because of my religious convictions.  Should I break up with her and marry Rachel?  How could I marry Rachel when I didn’t love her?  I ended up breaking up with her much to our families’ chagrin.  It didn’t matter when I tried to explain to them that she would be better off with a man who would love her in return.  They made me feel like I had committed the unpardonable sin.  I knew that I had done the right and honorable thing.  If only I knew what to do about Leila.

Leila knew that I was a Christian but she didn’t know that my father was a preacher.  I wasn’t sure that I wanted to tell her that.  Would she treat me differently?  I thought of talking to my father about my relationship with her but I knew that he wouldn’t approve.  I can just hear him say, “You need to end your relationship with this woman because you aren’t like her.  She doesn’t believe in the things you do.  The two of you don’t belong together.  It’s like light and darkness which cannot be together.”

Last night when Leila and I were together, she said to me, “I’ve dated Christian men in the past but I never once thought that I would be attracted to one who’s younger and white until I met you.  You’re different.  I think about you constantly and I can’t help wondering what it would be like to sleep with you.”

I stiffened although my body was reacting to the idea of sleeping with her.  “Leila, I don’t think we should be talking about this…”

“I know that you’re a Christian and you don’t want to have sex before you get married, but there isn’t any harm in us kissing, is there?”  Before I could answer, she was kissing me.  Her hands were pressing down on my thighs as she leaned over.  We were in my car, parked outside of her building.  We had been to a Mozart concert.  The windows were rolled up and it was dark where we were so no one could see us.  I lost my head and kissed her back.

For several minutes, we exchanged passionate kisses and I was tempted–really, really tempted to go up to her flat with her but I had to be strong even if it killed me.  I groaned against her lips before I pulled away.  “I’m sorry, I can’t do this.”

She sat back in the seat.  “I’m the one who should be sorry,” she said.  “I shouldn’t have kissed you.”

“Leila, maybe we should stop seeing each other for a while,” I said.

“If that’s what you really want.”

“Leila…”

“Goodbye, Leif.” She got out of the car before I could say anything else and ran up the steps leading to the front entrance of her building.  I watched her go, my heart breaking.

Prodigal

The next several weeks were torture for me.  I thought about her every minute and missed her so very much.  I wanted to call her and tell her that I had made a mistake.  I wanted to drive over to her place and take her in my arms.  I was a wreck.  I couldn’t eat or sleep or think straight.  I went to church but I found no joy in it.  I went through the motions and I felt guilty.  I asked God to forgive me for allowing my feelings for Leila to replace my adoration for Him.

I decided to go away on a mission trip to Peru just to get my mind off my own problems and to focus on helping others and sharing the Gospel with them.  Unfortunately, being miles away in a foreign country and on another continent didn’t dampen my feelings for Leila.  I still wanted her.  I still ached for her.

It was harder at nights when I was alone.  During those times, I wished that she was lying next to me.  One night, I opened my Bible to 1 Corinthians 7 and the words, But if they cannot control their bodies, then they should marry. It is better to marry than to burn with lust” jumped out at me and I asked myself, Why don’t I marry Leila?  It made perfect sense to me.  I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life without her.  But then, at the more I thought about it the more I realized that it would be wrong to marry her just to satisfy my lust.  How could I be so selfish?  No, the best thing for me to do was to move on.

That was easier said than done.  I tried to move on with my life–forget about Leila by busying myself at work and church but nothing worked.  And now, several weeks since my return from Peru,  I’m standing in her flat, hands in pockets, facing her.

“So, how was your trip to Peru?” she asked.

“It was rewarding.”

“I see.”

“I miss you.  I think about you all the time.”

“I miss you too.”

“Leila, during these past several weeks, I have realized something really important.”

“What’s that?”

“I can’t live without you.  I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”

“What are you saying, Leif?”

“I’m saying that I want to marry you, Leila.”

“You’re a preacher’s son, Leif.  I wouldn’t be a suitable wife for you.”

I stared at her.  “You know that my father’s a preacher?”

“Yes.”

“How long have you known?”

“Since we met.  Jack told me.”

“And it didn’t bother you?”

“No.  Why should it?”

“I was worried that it might, especially after you told me that church wasn’t for you.”

“I used to go to church you know but after a while I hated going because the single and married women didn’t like me.  The married women thought that I was after their husbands and the single women resented me because most of the single men were interested in me.  The guy I ended up dating dumped me after he became a deacon.  He said that I wouldn’t be suitable as his wife because I wasn’t a virgin.  I was good enough to sleep with but not to marry.  I left the church right after that.  I wasn’t right for him and I wouldn’t be right for you for the same reason.  How would it look a preacher’s son getting hitched to a sinner like me–a wanton woman–a woman of ill repute–a pariah?”

“You’re none of those things.  You’re a very beautiful and desirable woman.  It isn’t your fault that men want you.  And being a preacher’s son didn’t prevent me from going to wild parties and hanging out with the wrong crowd.  I’m not a virgin.  I had several girlfriends but what got me back on the right track was a pregnancy scare.  It turned out that my girlfriend’s period was late.  We were both relieved that she wasn’t pregnant. I cleaned up my act them.  I stopped partying, hanging out with the wrong people and decided that I would wait until I’m married to have sex again.  I became a born again Christian and you can do the same.  Nothing is impossible with God.”

“I still believe in Him even though I don’t go to church anymore.”

“I want you to know that He loves you, Leila.  He never stopped.  All He wants is to have a relationship with you if you will give your heart and your life to Him.  It isn’t too late to do so.”

“You sound like a preacher’s son,” she said, smiling.  Her eyes were moist as they met mine.  “Maybe that’s your calling–to follow in your father’s footsteps.”

“No, my calling is to remind people that God loves them like I’m doing right now.  And I believe that it was He who brought us together.”

“Do you really believe that?”

“Yes!  And I’m so thankful to Him because I love you, Leila.”  It was true.  I realized it last night.  I was in love with her.  I wasn’t marrying her to satisfy my lust.

“I love you too.  I didn’t want to fall in love with you because of our differences but I couldn’t help myself.”

“Sometimes the differences between two people can enrich their relationship because each person brings something to the other.”

“I’m not like you when it comes to spiritual things but I have a lot to offer you.”

“I know you do and that’s why I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”  I reached for her and pulled her into my arms.  “So, how do you feel about marrying a preacher’s son?” I asked.

She put her arms around my neck.  “I feel blessed and humbled,” she said simply.

I smiled and kissed her.  I too felt blessed and thankful because she was the woman I was meant to be with.

Source:  Lang-8

Sven and Nadira

WillH007-600x750“So, you’re serious about this?” Stijn asked his younger brother, Sven while they were standing on Stijn’s balcony which overlooked the Hudson River.

“Yes, I am.  I’m madly in love with Nadira and I’m going to ask her to marry me.”

“But what about Femke?”

“I don’t love her, Stijn.”

“Does she know that?”

Of course, she does.  Long before I met Nadira, Femke suspected that I didn’t feel the same way about her.  And when I broke up with her, she was very upset but not surprised.”

“What about Mom and Dad?  You know that they’re going to have a major problem with this.”

“Stijn, as much as I love our parents, I’m not going to let them interfere in my life.  I’ve made up my mind and there’s nothing they nor you or anyone else can do to change it.”

Stijn patted him on the back.  “I envy you,” he said.  “You were always very strong-minded.  You always went after what you wanted and never let anything or anyone stop you.  If marrying Nadira is truly what you want, then go for it.  I wish you the best.”

Sven smiled.  “Thank you.  I hope that you will come to the wedding.  It would mean a lot to me.”

Stijn looked him in the eyes.  “If it means that much to you, I will be there.”

Sven hugged him.  “I’d better go.”

Stijn followed him into the foyer.  “Take care, little brother,” he said as he opened the front door.

“You too.”

Stijn watched him walk away before he closed the door.  Sven had guts.  He admired him for that.  He was thankful, though, that, unlike Sven, he had fallen in love with a Dutch woman.

Nadira was lying on the floor, staring up at the ceiling, daydreaming about Sven thumb_98525_420_630_0_0_portraitwhen the doorbell rang.  Scrambling to her feet, she went to answer the door.  She smiled broadly when she saw who it was and eagerly unlocked the door.  “Hello,” she said as she put her arms around his neck.

Sven held her against him, his eyes intent on her upturned face.   “Hello,” he murmured before he lowered his head and kissed her.

They kissed for several minutes before she drew back.  “We’d better go inside.”

He released her and removed his leather jacket as she locked the door.  “I have something very important to ask you,” he informed her.

“What is it?”

He responded by getting down on one knee and taking her hand.  “Will you marry me?”

Nadira smiled through the tears.  “Yes,” was her choked reply.

After he slipped the ring on her finger, he got to his feet and cupping her face between his hands, he kissed every inch of her face before kissing her on the lips.  “I love you,” he murmured.

She put her arms around his waist and pressed against him.  “I love you too.”

As they exchanged kisses, he felt as if his heart would burst from the love he had for her.  How could his family begrudge him of something that felt so right and so beautiful?  And he knew without any shred of doubt that it was God who had brought them together.

If God is in it, go for it.

All Thorne Up

front-view-serious-female-office-worker_74855-2225I just got off the phone.  I sat there staring at it for several minutes.  I had just made a dinner reservation for two on New Year’s Eve.  Who was he taking this year, I wondered.  Was it Gabriela, the Italian supermodel, or Rosaline, the district attorney or Madeline, the CEO of GENTEC?  What did I expect?  That this year would be different?  Did I seriously think that I would be the one he would take to dinner on New Year’s Eve?  I shook my head at my foolish notions and got up from my desk.  I picked up the folders with the typed letters and forms he asked for.

I walked slowly, head down to his office.  Although the door was slightly ajar, I still knocked and when I got permission to enter, I pushed it open and went in.  He was sitting at the end of his desk.  I walked straight over to him, head held high, the folders clutched tightly in front of me.  “I called the restaurant and made the reservations,” I informed him in a brisk, professional manner.

“Thank you, Tia.”

I inclined my head, reached around and placed the folders on top of his desk.  “Do you need anything else?” I asked when I was standing in front of him.

“Not right now.”

“Fine.  I’m taking my lunch break now.”

His eyebrows arched and he straightened away from the desk, towering over me which was very unnerving to say the least.  “What’s the matter, Tia?” he asked, staring at me which made me uneasy, of course.  Did he have any idea of how crazy I am about him?  Would he care if he did?  I sincerely doubt it because I’m not his type.  He’s used to being with beautiful and glamorous women.  I’m just his run in the mill secretary of five years.

“Nothing’s the matter,” I lied.  “I’ll be back in about an hour.”

He looked unconvinced.  “Something’s wrong,” he insisted.  “And I’d like to know what it is.”

“I’m meeting a friend for lunch.  I don’t want to be late.” The lies were coming a little too easy now.  I needed to get out of there in a hurry.  I was about to turn and scurry away when he caught me by the arm.  The grip tightened when I tried to free myself.  My eyes were wary when I met his.  “Please, I have to go.”

“Not until you tell me what’s wrong.”

“There’s nothing to tell,” I informed him tightly.

“You were in fine spirits this morning.  What happened between then and now?”

Nothing!”

He released my arm then and lifted his up as if he were surrendering.  “All right, all right, no need to bite my head off.  Go and have lunch with your friend.”

“Thank you!” I turned and hurried out of his office.  I pulled the door closed behind me and hurried over to my desk.  I grabbed my handbag and left.  I couldn’t wait to get out of there and cool my head.  Emotions were churning inside me.  I was furious with him for making me lie and for making me jealous.  When he was holding my arm, my heart was pounding like crazy and my stomach was flip-flopping.  I was afraid that my feelings would give me away.  The last thing I want him to know is that I’m in love with him.  If for some reason he were to ever find that out, I would resign immediately.  I couldn’t stand to be around him and have him feel sorry for me because he didn’t feel the same way about me.

I went to a nearby cafe and had lunch.  I didn’t have much of an appetite, though.  My mind was on Thorne.  No one knew how I felt about him except my best friend, Sheryl.  She encouraged me to tell him but I flatly refused.  I didn’t want to make a complete fool of myself.  She met him when I invited her to an office barbecue on summer and she had the crazy notion that he was attracted to me.  I didn’t believe her.  And the fact that he was there with a stunning brunette convinced me that I was right.

I wished that I could go straight home after leaving the cafe but, of course, I couldn’t.  I had a job to do.  The time seem to go very quickly and I was soon on my way back to the office.  As soon as I got back to my desk, my extension rang.  It was Thorne.  “Good, you’re back. I need to see you.”

“I’ll be right in,” I replied.  I sighed heavily after I hung up.  I really didn’t want to face him right now.  I was thankful that I had freshened up before coming to my desk.  I got up and went to his office.  The door was open this time.

1dc7a9a6b1d3877e0c6007ecb9769238He was standing beside the window.  “Close the door,” he said.

I did and then I walked over to him.  We stood facing each other and not saying a word for several minutes.  “You said you needed to see me,” I reminded him.

“Did you get to your lunch on time?”

“Yes.”

“Did you enjoy it?”

“Yes.”  Why all the questions?  Is that why he called me in here?

“Whom did you have lunch with?”

Oh oh.  “Does it matter?” I asked, stalling.  I really didn’t want to lie anymore but if he pressed me, I would have to come up with a name.  I had a few male friends.  I could easily get one of them to pretend to be my boyfriend if I needed to.  At the back of my mind, I was thinking that I needed to ask God to forgive me for my dishonesty.

“Yes, it does.”

“Why?”

“Please just answer my question, Tia.  Was it a man you had lunch with?”

“What if it were?” I asked and I saw his expression darken.  He looked upset but why would he be?

“Are you dating again?”

“Is this why you asked me to come and see you?”

Yes!

“I haven’t dated anyone since I broke up with Leon.”  That was the truth.  I broke up with Leon shortly after I started working for Thorne.

“So, you’re not dating the guy you had lunch with?”

“I didn’t have lunch with anyone, Thorne.  I went to the cafe at the corner of the street and ate alone.”

“Why did you have me believe that you were meeting someone?” he demanded.

“I–I don’t know,” I replied, getting flustered now.  “I was about to have my lunch break and you detained me, remember, so I had to come up with some excuse to leave.”

“And the best you came up with was that you were meeting someone for lunch?”

“Yes.  I hate lying but you didn’t give me any choice.”  That, of course, wasn’t true.  There’s always a choice.  As a self-professed Christian, I should not have resorted to lying just to get out of a sticky situation.

“All right.  So, you lied about meeting someone for lunch.  What about telling me now why you were acting so strangely?”

“If you must know, I was upset about having to book a dinner reservation for you another year.  I’ve been doing it for five years now and I’m sick of it.  The next time you want to make romantic plans, make them yourself.  Leave me out of it.  Now, unless you have something work related for me to do, I’m going back to my desk.”

“Not so fast,” he said, catching me by arm again.  “So, you’re saying that the reason you were upset is that you had to make a dinner reservation for me.”

“Yes.”

“Whom did you think the reservations were for?”

“You and one of the three women you’ve been juggling this year–the supermodel, the district attorney and the CEO.”

His lips twitched.  “I haven’t been juggling any of them.  They are very good friends of mine.”

My chin lifted a fraction and my eyes flashed at him.  “Is that what you call them now–good friends?”

“Yes, that’s all they are to me.  And for your information, all three of them are happily in love with three great guys.  I’ll be a guest to all three weddings.”

“So, if the reservations weren’t for you and one of them, then who are you taking to dinner?”

“I thought you would never ask.  I’m taking you to dinner.”

I gawked at him.  “Me?” I exclaimed.  “You’re taking me to dinner?”

He nodded.  “Yes.  We can celebrate our five years together as well as ringing in the New Year.”

My heart sank.  So, that was it.  He was just taking his secretary out for dinner to celebrate our anniversary.  “Thank you.  It’s nice that my boss wants to take me out for dinner.”

He grabbed me by the shoulders, startling me.  “This isn’t a boss taking out his secretary to celebrate but a man taking out a woman whom he has been extremely attracted to for five years.”

I stared at him, stunned.  “You’re attracted to me?” The whole idea seemed incredible but then I remembered that Sheryl had said he was.  How on earth could she have guessed?

“Yes.  I’ve wanted to take you out for a very long time but I wasn’t sure about how you would feel about dating me.”

“I never would have thought that you would be interested in me.  I’m not your type.”

“And what is my type?”

“Beautiful brunettes like the supermodel, the district attorney and the CEO.”

“I admit I had a thing for brunettes until I met you.  I have a weakness for you.  When I thought that you were dating again, I was jealous.”

“And when I booked the reservation for two, I was jealous.”

His eyes twinkled.  “So, that’s why you were acting so strange.”  He released my shoulders and put his arms around my waist, pulling me against him.  “You know you’re very sexy when you’re jealous…”

I smiled and wrapped my arms around his neck.  “Flattery will get you nowhere, Mister…”

Nothing else was said as we stood there kissing.  It felt surreal.  I was kissing Thorne after five years of wanting to be more than his secretary.  I couldn’t wait to tell Sheryl that she was right.

On New Year’s Eve, I was decked out in my new black cocktail dress and he was dressed in a black dinner suit which made him look elegant and sexy.  Dinner was at a swanky French restaurant and then we went to the Barbican Hall where we danced the night away to the sounds of The Johann Strauss Orchestra as it performed the music of the Strauss.  I had never been to a Viennese ball before.  It was such a classy and romantic way to usher in 2020.

As soon as we finished yelling, “Happy New Year!” Thorne pulled me into his arms and kissed me.  My head was spinning and I felt giddy but it wasn’t because of the champagne.  I put my arms around his neck and clung to him as we exchanged passionate kisses.  I’m not sure if people were staring at us.  I didn’t care.  I was deliriously happy.  2019 had ended with a very high note and now 2020 was here with a bang.

Source:  London List

Alexi Goes to Ajax

Alexi stood outside the building where Ajax lived.  She had texted him on Monday to tell him that she would be stopping by to see him on Sunday.  He replied that he would be at home and to drop by any time.   Her heart was pounding like crazy and she needed a few minutes to compose herself.

A week had passed since she had bumped into him and it had bothered her to no end that he had been about to say something really important to her when they were interrupted.  What was Ajax going to say?  He didn’t look too pleased to see her with Gerrard.  The expression on his face was glacial and his greeting chilly.

When they were alone, he confronted her saying, “I thought you two were just friends.”  And after she assured them that they were, his response was, “I hope so.”  Taken aback, she immediately asked him, “Why?”  She was anxious to know why it was so important to him that Gerrard and she were just friends?  She didn’t get her answer because Gerrard rejoined them at that precise moment.  And his question, “Am I interrupting something?” irritated her.  Soon after that, Ajax mumbled something about an errand, excused himself and walked briskly away.

Alexi watched him go, frustrated.  “Gerrard, why couldn’t you have stayed on the phone a little longer?” she demanded, turning to face him.  “Ajax was about to tell me something very important.”

“I’m sorry,” Gerrard apologized.  “I could tell that I was interrupting something.  Ajax didn’t look too pleased to see me.  I think he would have liked it better if you were alone.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Come on, Alexi, don’t tell me you don’t know that Ajax has a thing for you.”

Alexi’s eyes widened.  “He does?”

“Yes!  You must be the only one in the group who doesn’t know that.”

She told him what transpired between Ajax and her while he was on the phone.  “What do you think he was going to tell me?”

Gerrard shrugged.  “I don’t know.  Maybe he was going to confess that he’s into you.”

Alexi sighed.  “I wish I knew what he was going to tell me.”

“Why don’t you go and find out?”

Alexi’s heart skipped a beat.  “You mean I should go and ask him?”

“How else are you going to know?”

The thought of being alone with Ajax made her extremely nervous but she had to know if Gerrard was right.  She hoped with all her heart that he was because she was crazy about Ajax and had been since they met three years ago at a mutual friend’s engagement party.  “All right,” she said.  “I’ll go and see him.”

“Good for you.   He’s a great guy.  If God is in this, it will work out.”

She smiled and kissed him on the cheek before they parted ways.  That night she prayed about what she was going to do and asked God to give her the courage to do it.  She told Him that if it was His will for Ajax and her to be together, then, His will be done.  And now, here she was, in front of his building, trying to summon up all the courage she had to face him.  After saying a quick prayer and taking a deep breath, she went down the stairs to where his apartment was and rang the bell.

Her heart lurched when he opened the door.  He looked amazing in the black tee shirt with the sleeves pushed up to his elbows and pale blue jeans.  Their eyes met and held for a long time before he said, “Hi.”  His expression wasn’t glacial this time.

“Hi.”

“Come in.”

She stepped into the foyer and removed her shoes.   “I hope you don’t mind me stopping by,” she said after he closed the door.

3J7A6866“Why would I?” he asked as he took her coat and hung it in the closet.  “Do you have a date?”  His eyes traveled over her and when they returned to her face, his expression was tense.

She shook her head at once.  “No, don’t have a date.”

“I saw the dress and thought…”

“Ajax, if I were going on a date, would it bother you?”

“Yes, it would, Alexi.”

“Why?”

“Isn’t it obvious?”

“Not to me.”

He turned so that he was facing her.  “I’m crazy about you.  I have been since the first day we met.”

She moved closer.  “What were you going to tell me last week Sunday when we bumped into each other?”

He moved closer.  “You mean before I was interrupted?”

She nodded as she took another step.  “Yes.”

“I was going to tell you what I just told you–that I’m crazy about you and that I wanted to be in a relationship with you.”

They were standing very close to each other now.  “I was hoping that that was what you were going to say,” she said, smiling up at him as he put his arms around her waist and pulled her against him.  She reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck.

He smiled and lowered his head.  They kissed for several minutes, savoring the moment and then, he raised his head.  “I think we should get out of here before we get ourselves into trouble.”

“You’re right.”

“Let’s go for a walk.  It looks like a beautiful afternoon and then afterwards, we have dinner at the Sacred Chow.”

“Sounds good to me.”

“All right.  I’ll just go and change.”  He reluctantly released her and left the living-room.  She wandered over to the window and looked out.  Soho was such a great neighborhood.  She loved it.

Half hour later, they were sitting in the Sacred Chow enjoying each other’s company and the Lemongrass Red Curry served over Asian noodles.   By the time the Christmas holidays rolled around, they were officially a couple, much to no one’s surprise.  Gerrard was right.  All of their friends knew that Ajax carried a torch for Alexi and they were thrilled that they were finally dating.  They knew that it was only a matter of time before there would be wedding bells.   “Just don’t wait another three years before you tie the knot,” Gerrard told him and they all laughed as they gathered in Grace’s home for Christmas dinner.  It was she who had introduced Ajax and Alexi three years ago at her engagement party.

They didn’t have to wait for three years.  On New Year’s Eve, Ajax and Alexi announced their engagement.   After the ball dropped in Times Square and everyone was singing, Auld Lang Syne, Ajax and Alexi prayed and thanked God for bringing them together.   God’s will had been done in their lives and now, they had a new and promising future to look forward to.

If whatever you ask God for is His will too, it will be done. 

The Christmas Sweater

il_1588xN.1617920774_tfc8.jpgMarva stood there at the cash register, wishing she could take off the sweater.  She had gotten some dirty looks.  One man grumbled, “Another feminist.” Another asked her, “Are you saying that Santa should be a woman?”  “Are you pushing that gender equality stuff?” Parents glared at her.  One mother shook her head and hustled her kids to another cashier.  Others didn’t seem bothered about it at all while others thought it was silly.  “Everyone knows that Santa is based on St. Nicholas.  If you want to wear such a sweater, go for it.  I don’t see what the big deal is.”

“It’s a bit silly, if you ask me,” a woman standing in the other line remarked.  “Everyone knows that Santa is a white bearded man in a red suit and there’s Mrs. Claus.” Another woman said, “She’s just trying to get attention.  Just ignore her.”

All day she was subjected to unkind remarks and unsavory looks although there were a few smiles and  chuckles.  She couldn’t wait for her shift to be over.  And when it was, she rushed to get her coat and put it on.  Her supervisor, Anne looked apologetically at her.  “I’m sorry you had to go through that,” she said.  “If you weren’t married, I would have let you wear one of the other sweaters.”

“You mean nobody else wanted to wear it.”

“That too.  Well, at least we know now that the sweater’s not popular with most shoppers which means that the sales, if any, will be very low.  I will have to get in touch with the account manager and let her know that the product isn’t selling and to discontinue it.  Thanks again for helping with the promotion.”

“I think I made some enemies.”

“Don’t worry.  Tomorrow, our busiest day before Christmas will be featured on the local news at noon and Wendy will let them know that this was a promotion of our latest Christmas wear and she will talk about them at length.  Everyone will see that you were wearing it not by personal but for professional reasons.  You did well today.  Go home and rest up for tomorrow which will be like a zoo.  And you wear what you want–as long as it’s red or green–to get people into the Christmas spirit.”

Marva smiled.  “I can do with a nice warm bath,” she said.  “I’ll see you tomorrow, bright and early.  Have a good evening.”  She turned and walked away.  As she was heading towards the doors leading into the shopping mall, a young woman intercepted her.

“I just wanted to say, it’s your sweater, it’s your thoughts…so, it’s your business.  Ignore the haters.”

Marva smiled.  “Thank you.”  She didn’t bother to say that it wasn’t her sweater and those weren’t her thoughts.  And her reason for wearing it was strictly business.  “Have a Merry Christmas.”  She popped into Moore’s to get a couple of shirts for Adrien and then headed to their luxury condo facing the CN Tower and within walking distance from the waterfront.  He should be home by now.

_MG_9919-Recovered.jpgWhen she let herself into the spacious unit, a tantalizingly delicious smell wafted into the foyer and she quickly removed her boots and coat.  She scurried to the bedroom to hide the bag with his shirts in her side of the closet and then, hurried into the kitchen. Adrien was standing in front of the stove and turned when he heard her.  He froze when he saw her sweater.  He placed his hands on top of his head.  “You wore that to work?”

She nodded.  “Yes.  It was part of a promotional event.  You have no idea how badly I wanted to take it off.  I got nasty looks and people made all sorts of remarks.”

“I’m not surprised.  People love Santa.  They act as if he’s real.  Sometimes, it seems like Christmas is more about him than about Jesus.”  He went over to her and kissed her on the lips before hugging her.  “By the sounds of it, you had a really rough day.”

“Yes, I did.”

“Why don’t you go and get undressed while I draw you a warm bath.  By the time you’re done, dinner will be ready.”

She smiled and rumpled his hair.  “You read my mind,” she said.  “Thank you, Baby.”

“Anything for you.”  He released her and taking her by the hand, he led her to the master bedroom and while she got undressed, he got the bath ready for her.  It felt so good being submerged in the warm, sudsy water and so relaxing too.  She rested her head against the side of the tub and closed her eyes.

Twenty minutes, dressed in red silk pajamas, she emerged from the bedroom and went into the dining-room where a candlelit dinner awaited her.  Adrien held the chair for her to sit down.  He leaned over and kissed her on the nape of her neck before he went to the head of the table and sat down.  “Did you enjoy your bath?” he asked as he unfolded his napkin.

Marva nodded.  “Yes, I did.  Thank you.  Dinner looks and smells amazing.”

He smiled then they bowed their heads as he said a prayer.  “Bon appetit.”

She eagerly tucked into the Sole Meunière with perfectly golden roast potatoes and salad.  He was a much better cook than she which was why he did most of the cooking.  “This is delicious,” she said.  “You should have been a chef.”  He was a

“I love cooking, yes but I love my job as a Construction Manager even more.  Besides, you are a fantastic cook too.  It’s one of the reasons why I married you.”

She laughed.  “What are the other reasons?”

“You’re beautiful, sexy and I’m crazy about you.”

“I like those reasons.”

“When we met five years ago, I didn’t think you would be interested in me.”

“Why because you’re Jewish and I’m Christian?”

“Yes.  And I’m not Jamaican.”

“I’m a couple of years older than you but none of these things matter when two people love each other.  I admit that when you took me to meet your family, I was very nervous because I wasn’t sure if they would approve of you marrying a black Christian woman but they welcomed me and treated me like I was a part of the family.”

“My family knows what it’s like to be discriminated against and that’s why they make it a policy to love Jews and non-Jews alike.”

“That’s how it should be.  In both religions, we are taught to love our neighbor as ourselves.”

“Yes.  My parents arrived in Toronto yesterday.  They will be staying with Anouk and Michel.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing them and celebrating Hanukkah with them.”

“And I look forward to celebrating Christmas with you, especially the part where we get to kiss under the mistletoe.”

Marva laughed.  “Is that why you hang one in every room?”

He smiled.  “Yes.  Would you like dessert?”

“Sure.  What’s the dessert this time?”

“Your favorite.”

Ten minutes later, they were lounging in the living room having Rugelach while watching a couple of their favorite Christmas movie classics.  It was after mid-night when they finally decided to turn in.  When they were snuggled under the covers, he turned on his side to face her.  “I hope our evening together made up for your rotten day at work.”

Marva was lying on her back.  She turned her head towards him as she placed her hand on his thigh.  “It did, Honey.  Thank you.”

He smiled.  “I’m happy to hear that and you’re welcome.”

“I learned a very valuable lesson wearing that Christmas sweater.  People judged me unfairly because of what I was wearing.  They made all sorts of assumptions about me.  It was no different from how I’m treated because of my color and my accent.  I had a choice not to wear the sweater but I wore it because my manager asked me to.  It reminds me of the times when God asked me to do something I didn’t want to do or wanted to get out of like Moses did when He asked him to go to Pharaoh and ask him to let His people go.  During those times, I had to lay aside my feelings and doubts and misgivings and just trust God.  Wearing that sweater has given me an idea for my own line of clothing.  You know I’ve always wanted to get into designing my own clothes but was too afraid to go for it.  Now, I think that I will do it.”

Adrien leaned over and kissed her on the mouth.  “I think that’s a fantastic idea.”

“You do?”

“Yes.  I’ve seen your sketches, remember?  Maybe now’s the time for you to do this.”

“Maybe.  It would be nice to start my own business.”

“Speaking of business, how about you and I getting down to our own business right now…”

Marva giggled as he disappeared under the covers.

Sources:  Trade Schools; Bon Appetit;

Simple Eyes

Your eye is the lamp of your body – Luke 11:34, NIV

African girl with light eyesWe met in Rafiki’s training village in Rwanda.  There are ten villages and each one provides living and educational facilities through Bible Study, Education, Teacher Training, Orphan Care, and Widows.    Rafiki means “friend” in Swahili.  The organization befriends orphans and widows in distress.

The first thing I noticed about Benitha were her beautiful and unusual eyes.  She was a pretty girl but her eyes were her most outstanding feature.  They reminded me of what Jesus said in Luke 11:34-36.  Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness.  See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

In the King James version, the good eye is described as “single.”  What exactly does that mean?  The Greek word used for “single” is “haplous”  Jesus is the only One who used it.  It means “simple, whole, sound”.  When your eye is “haplous” it means that your vision isn’t complicated or confused.  It means you have sound and perfect vision.  In order for your whole life (body) to be full of light, your vision cannot be clouded by the things of the world, false teaching or thoughts.  Your vision is focused, stayed on Christ and as long as you behold Him and remain in Him, your eyes will be healthy and your body full of light.

As followers of Christ, we must have singleness of mind, heart and purpose.  There can’t be any darkness, duplicity, selfishness in us.  Like a lamp, our light must shine where it can be seen by others so that they are led to Christ.

As a servant of Christ’s, I have to daily make sure that my eye is good and full of light.  I love to share the Gospel and God had called me to be a part of a Christian organization which trains Africans to transform Africa for Christ.  I’m thankful to Him for this calling because I met beautiful with her unusual eyes.  She was fifteen at the time and one of my students.  I had to bear those two things in mind when interacting with her.  She was shy but she soon warmed up to me and her hunger and thirst to know God and to follow Jesus was phenomenal.  After she graduated from our education program, she enrolled in the University of Rwanda.thumbnail (3)

She lived on the university’s campus but we kept in touch via telephone and email.  She was happy and enjoying her courses.  I missed her and hoped that she missed me too.   We saw each other during the spring break, summer and at Christmas.  Other members of the Rakiki and I attended her graduation ceremony.  She graduated with honors.  We were all very proud of her.

Now, she’s back at the village and is one of the teachers.  We are spending a lot of time together and now that she’s a young woman in her twenties, I can court her.  We visit museums, parks, sightseeing, day trips, eat at inexpensive restaurants and go hiking.  We have so much fun together.

We pray and study the Bible together.  I loved being with her.  I felt like a lovesick schoolboy whenever we held hands.  We haven’t kissed as yet.  I’m afraid that I might not be able to help myself.  Besides, it would be more meaningful if our first kiss was after we exchanged our wedding vows.  You guessed it, I’m going to ask her to marry me.  I’m going to pop the question today after our boat ride on Lake Kivu.  I have been practicing how to say, “Will you marry me” in Swahili.  Just two words, Je! Utanioa.  Let’s hope that I don’t get so nervous that I forget or say them incorrectly.

I say a quick prayer, check my breast pocket to make sure the little black box is there and then I head off to meet Benitha whose name means “blessed, full of blessings (divine)”I’m the one who is blessed.  The love and light of Christ shines in and through those simple eyes.

Sources:  Bumchecks; Definitions; Christian University of Rwanda; Tripadvisor Canada; The Culture Trip; The Crazy Tourist; Tripadvisor; Name Doctor

The Visitor

327d50c8aed2c9fbb1c46606cee51177It was Sunday and the church was quickly filling up.  He stood there, smiling and watched as Zendaya walked in and found a seat in the third pew.

“Father O’Reilly,” a voice said behind him and he turned around.  A tall, slender and attractive young woman was smiling at him.  “Don’t you recognize me?  It’s Aileen McCarthy.”

A big smile broke out on his face.  “Oh, yes, now I remember who you are.  The last time I saw you you were this high.  How are you?  How is your family?  What are you doing here in Cape Town?”

“I’m fine, thank you.  I recently moved to Dublin because of a new and exciting job opportunity and I love it.  Dad, Mom, Sinead and Liam are all doing very well.  They all send their regards.”

“The service is about to start.  Afterwards, we will go to my office and catch up some more, all right?”

She nodded.  “Yes, Father O’Reilly.”

They parted company.  He went up on the podium while she found a seat.

Zendaya had watched them talking and was filled with jealousy.  They seemed to know each other.  Who was she?  What was she doing here?  After the service, she wanted to go over to her and introduce herself but she left the sanctuary through a side door and went for a walk instead.  When she returned a half-hour later, she went to his office to see him but the door was closed.  She raised her hand to knock when she heard a woman’s laugh.  She froze.  He wasn’t alone.  She was in there with him.  Bristling, she turned and strode away.  She went straight up to her room and slammed the door shut.

“I hope you don’t mind having sandwiches and coffee for lunch.”

“Not at all, Father.”

“Good.  I thought it would be a good idea for us to have lunch while we chatted.”

“I guess it’s safe for me to tell you that I had a major crush on you and that’s why I used to come to church every Sunday.”

He laughed.  “Whatever works, I guess.  So, is there a young man in your life?”

She leaned forward in the chair.  “As a matter of fact, there is.  Do you remember Rory O’Connor?”

“You mean the last High King of Ireland?”

young-professional-corporate-headshot-of-a-business-woman-She laughed.  “I see you haven’t lost your sense of humour, Father.”

He chuckled.  “I believe good, clean humour benefits the soul.  Yes, I remember Rory and as I recall, he was a fine lad.”

“We started dating from university and last week he asked me to marry him.  I said yes.  I was hoping that you would marry us.  The wedding is next year May.”

“Congratulations.  I will make sure that I clear my calendar.”

“Thank you, Father.”

They chatted for another hour and a half and then it was time for her to leave.  He walked with her to the back entrance of the church where the parking lot was.  They shook hands warmly.  “It was really good seeing you, young lady.  And I hope that the next time you’re in Capetown, you will stop by the church again to see me.”

She smiled.  “I will,” she promised.  “And I hope to see you in May.”

“You will hear from me regarding that.  Please give my regards to your parents, your siblings and Rory.  Goodbye, Aileen.”

“Goodbye, Father O’Reilly.”

He watched as she walked to her car and drove away before he went back inside the church and locked the door.  He went to the rectory to change into his regular black cassock before leaving for his usual rounds of visiting the shut in members of the church and the sick.  By the time he returned to the parish, it was time for supper.

Zendaya was in her room, trying to read a book of Devotions which Sister Roberts had lent her but she couldn’t concentrate.  She kept thinking about Father O’Reilly and the young woman.  She wondered how long they were together in his office.  She knew that he wasn’t there right now.  Every Sunday afternoon until evening, he would be out making his rounds, visiting church members at their homes or in the nursing homes.  She would have to wait until later that night to see him.

The way she reacted when she saw him with the pretty stranger made her realize that her feelings for him were more than just physical attraction.  She had never been jealous in her life–not even over Anesu, not that he ever gave her reason to be but she knew that if she were to see him talking and looking very cozy with another woman, it wouldn’t make her react the same way.  She couldn’t remember a word of Father O’Reilly’s sermon.  And when she went up to receive her communion, she avoided looking at him.  And when she saw him give it to the young woman and the smiles they exchanged, she seethed with jealousy.

Frustrated, she closed the book and got up from the chair.  She walked over to the window and looked out at the courtyard below.  The sun was still high in the sky.  She wondered if he and the young woman would see each other again.  She tried not to think about them but it was impossible.  She paced the room.  She thought of going into town for a while but where would she go?  Stellenbosch!  She always wanted to go there and now was as good a time as any.  She called for a taxi, said goodbye to Sister Hughes and left. It wasn’t until she was on her way that she realized that she hadn’t told Sister Hughes where she was going.

It took her 45 minutes to get there.  She walked around like a tourist, drinking in the natural beauty and oak-lined avenues and the Cape Dutch architecture.  She had lunch at the De Warenmarkt before visiting the Village Museum.  By the time she left Stellenbosch, it was nine-thirty.  It felt good to be somewhere she had never been before.  By the time she got back to the parish, it was after ten and dinner was past.  Fortunately, she had grabbed something to eat and had it on the drive over.  

She had just entered her room and was about to change when Father O’Reilly walked in.  He closed the door quietly behind him before he went over to her.  He looked very serious.  “I saw the taxi driving away as I came up the path.  That means you just got back.”

614full-kai-newmanShe leaned against the wall, her heart pounding as her eyes met his in a steady gaze.  “Yes.”

He glanced at his watch.  “It’s after ten.  According to Sister Hughes, you went out since 2 this afternoon.  So, you were gone for almost eight hours.”

“Yes.”

“Where did you go?”

“Didn’t Sister Hughes tell you?”

“She told me that you went out but she didn’t know where because you didn’t tell her.  Where did you go, Zendaya?”

“If you must know, I went to Stellenbosch.”

“Why?”

Her chin lifted just a fraction.  “I wanted to get away from the parish for a while.”

“Why go there?  Why not go for a walk around here?”

“I’m tired of going for walks around here.  Besides, I’ve always wanted to visit Stellenbosch.”

“Were you there alone?” he demanded.  “Or were you there with him?”

“What does it matter if I was there alone or with Anesu?” She moved away from the wall and was about to walk past him.

His expression darkened and he caught her by the shoulders.  Jealousy and anger flashed in his eyes.  “It matters to me,” he muttered between clenched teeth.

She tried to pull away from him but he was too strong.  “I was there ALONE.  And for your information I haven’t seen Anesu since I came to Cape Town.” She struggled against him again and this time he released her.

“I’m sorry,” he said.  “I acted the way I did just now because I was jealous.”

She walked over to the window and stood looking out with her back to him for several minutes.  Then, turning around she said to him, “This morning before Mass, I saw you talking to a young woman I’ve never seen before.  Who was she?”

“That was Aileen.  She’s visiting from Ireland.”

“How well do you know her?”

“I’ve known her since she was a little girl.”

“Well, she’s not a little girl anymore, is she?  I came by your office to see you but she was in there with you.”

“Yes, we were catching up because we haven’t seen each other for years.”

“She’s very pretty.”

“Yes, she is.”

“So, are you planning to see her again?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I will be seeing her in May.”

“Are you attracted to her?”

He went over to her, his eyes searching her face.  “Is this why you’re acting like this?” he asked.  “You think I’m attracted to Aileen?”

Zendaya didn’t answer and she lowered her eyes so that he wouldn’t see what was in them.

“Zendaya, there’s nothing between Aileen and me.  She’s just a girl I knew from my village.   She’s here in Cape Town on holiday and came by the parish to see me, that’s all.”

“You said that you’re going to see her in May.”

“Yes, because that’s when she’s getting married.  She wants me to officiate.”

“She’s engaged?” She raised her eyes to look at him then.

“Yes and to a very nice young man.”

“Oh.”

He cupped her face between his hands, his eyes darkening on her upturned face.  “Zendaya, you have no reason to be jealous of her or anyone else,” he told her huskily.  “I don’t want anyone but you.”  He lowered his head and kissed her fiercely, groaning when she responded.

They exchanged wild kisses for several minutes and then separated long enough to remove their clothes.  Then, they were back in each other’s arms, kissing feverishly until he scooped her up and carried her over to the bed.

 

Next is, Zendaya Leaves.

Sources:  Come to Capetown; Love Capetown; Tripadvisor