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

Toshiro Returns to Tokyo

Z8VeQHoI_oToshiro was back in Tokyo.  He returned two weeks ago.  It was hard being away from Kampala.  All he could think about was Ife and how much he missed being with her.  All along he knew that what he had been doing was wrong but he couldn’t help himself.  He wanted Ife so much.  She filled him with a desire that was so potent and raw that it scared him.

He could tell from the way she responded when they made love that she wanted him too.  And that realization was what he used to rationalize his actions.  But his conscience continued to trouble him.

And he felt badly about Asuka.  They had been going steady for some time now and still he hadn’t broached the subject of marriage with her.  His family expected him to pop the question soon and he imagined that her family might expect the same thing.  He knew that Asuka was in love with him but he realized that he didn’t feel the same way and that was before he met Ife.

Speaking of Asuka, he was supposed to meet her for a coffee at the cafe where they usually went.  It was within walking distance from his apartment.  No doubt she was already there waiting for him.  She was always very punctual.

They hadn’t seen each other for months and when he was in Tokyo, he made sure that they spent time together.  This year, however, it was different for him.  He didn’t look forward to coming home anymore.  For him, Kampala was home.  It was where Ife was.  He closed his eyes briefly.  Oh, Ife, I wish I could be with you right now.  Was she thinking about him?  Did she miss him?  She’s probably glad to be rid of you for a while because of what you’re doing to her, an accusing voice retorted and he flinched.

woman-leaning-on-table-holding-cup-2467464

As soon as he walked into the cafe, he spotted Asuka.  He went over to her and she stood up, her expression one of delight.  She was obviously very happy to see him.  She put her arms around his neck and kissed him on the lips.  Then, she sat down.  “I ordered you Hot Tea.”  She put it in front of him.

“You’re welcome,” she said.  “You must be happy to be able to speak Japanese again.  How are things in Kampala?”He attempted a smile.  “Thank you.”

“The usual,” he said.  “Well, while I was there, journalists were protesting alleged abuse by the police.  They saw what was happening as an attack on press freedom in Uganda.   Then, there’s growing concern among some Ugandans about Chinese funding because of the debts they see other countries struggling with.  And then there’s the charcoal trade which is decimating forests.”

“Last week Tuesday was World Toilet Day so I was reading up about it online and came across an article which said that there’s a toilet crisis in Kampala.  It said that there aren’t public toilets for about 1,200 people, I think and that mud tinged with feces washes into homes during heavy rains.  How disgusting!”  She made a face and shuddered.  “How could people live like that and why isn’t the government doing something about it?”

“Yes, the sanitation crisis is growing worse.  It’s not only happening in Kampala but in South Africa, India and other places.”

“We’re so lucky, Toshiro.  We have access to clean toilets at home and in public.  I think that sometimes we take these things for granted.  I wanted to help so I sent a donation to one of the charities which is helping to provide clean toilets for the people in Africa.  Using public toilets isn’t safe for the women.  They could catch diseases or even get raped.  Can you imagine that?  And children aren’t safe either.  I read about four children who drown in pit toilets.  I still get choked up just thinking about them, especially, the three year old. ”

“Let’s not talk about this anymore because it’s upsetting you.”  He couldn’t bear to hear it anymore.  It made him think of Ife and how she could have lost her job if it had been discovered that she had used the toilet in his suite that day when he caught her.  He wondered if she was one of those people who didn’t have toilets in their homes.

“You’re right.  Let’s talk about something else.  The hotel where you stay, is it nice?”

“Yes, it is.  It’s a 5 star hotel.”

“What do you do when you’re not on business?”

“I go sightseeing or I stay in my room and catch up on the News.”  That wasn’t true.  He hardly went sightseeing and in the evenings, he was in his suite with Ife.

“Maybe one of these days, I will visit you there.   I read that it’s a relatively safe place for tourists.  Besides, I won’t be alone.  You will be there to protect me.”  She reached over and squeezed his hand.  “It’s so good to see you.  I always miss you so much every time you go away and I count the days when you’ll be back.  When do you go again?”

“I don’t know.  Maybe next month.”

“But not during Christmas and New Year’s I hope.”

“I don’t know.”

“Why do you go there so often?”

“Business.”  That wasn’t true anymore.  Ife was his reason for going to Kampala now.

“Well, I hope you plan to spend Christmas here.”

He didn’t answer.  Instead, he sipped his tea.  I wonder what Christmas is like in Kampala. 

“My parents are wondering what your intentions are.”

He stared at her blankly.  “What do you mean?”

“Well…we’ve been dating for five years now and they are wondering if we are going to settle down anytime soon.  We’re both in our thirties now.”

Toshiro sighed.  “Asuka, I have something to tell you.”

She looked wary now.  And she set the cup of coffee down on the table.  “What is it?” she asked.

“I haven’t been completely honest with you.  You asked why I go to Kampala so often and I told that it had to do with business.  Well, it doesn’t–not entirely.  This year I have been involved with a woman I met there.”

Asuka stared at him.  “What do you mean by involved?”

Toshiro could feel his face getting warm.  “I’m in a relationship with her.”

“But you’re in a relationship with me.”

“I know–”

“Does she know about me?”

“No.”

“Are you sleeping with her?”

“Yes.”

Asuka’s face was pale now.  Hurt and pain etched her features.  “Are you in love with her?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t believe this.  I have kept myself pure for you because I believed that we were going to get married.”

“You told me that you couldn’t sleep with me because you’re a Christian.”

“Is that why you’re sleeping with her?”

No.”

“Well, I guess this is it for us.”  She got up and pulled on her coat and scarf.   Grabbing her handbag, she muttered, “Goodbye, Toshiro” before she turned and walked away.

He sat there for a long time, feeling terrible.  The last thing he wanted to do was to hurt Asuka.  If he hadn’t met and fallen in love with Ife, he would have married her.  In time, he would have grown to love her the way she loved him.

He finished his tea which had gotten lukewarm and then got up and left the cafe.  He didn’t go straight home.  Instead, he walked for a while, thinking.  He had to sort out what he was going to do about Ife.  He hadn’t banked on falling in love with her.  Initially, it had been an extremely strong sexual attraction which he thought that he would get over after a while.

He knew what he ought to do but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it.  This whole thing had turned into a great mess.  He needed to talk to someone.  Miko.  He called her immediately on his cell.  Her voice mail came on.  He left a message asking her to call him.

She returned his call a couple of hours later.  He asked her if he could stop by her place the following day because he really needed to talk to her.

Next up is Toshiro’s Exploitation.

Source:  AP News

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

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;

Faith in Action

If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,  and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead – James 2:15-17

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Five weeks ago, I was in a bad way.  I got laid off and had trouble finding another job.  I was getting worried that I would not be able to pay my rent anymore and get evicted.  I was all alone here in Canada.  My family were all back in Jamaica.  Life was extremely hard there so asking them for money was out of the question.  My Employment Insurance (EI) was running out.  I wasn’t a member of any church so I couldn’t ask a pastor or a minister or a priest to help me.

Time was running out.  I didn’t have any food in the apartment and I was hungry.  I didn’t have any more money.  My EI payments had ended.  I still couldn’t find a job and it didn’t help when I got a bad cold and was laid up in bed for several days.  I looked terrible because I had lost a considerable amount of weight because all I had at my disposal was a half-empty carton of Orange Juice.

Finally, I swallowed my pride and went to my neighbor whom I knew was a Christian.  I always saw her reading a Daily Word or she was always talking to somebody about God.  So, if anyone could help me, it would be her.

I left my apartment and went across the hall.  After taking a deep breath, I knocked on the door.  Hopefully, she was at home.  She was.  She opened the door and looked at me.  “I would invite you in but I have company.”

“It’s all right,” I said.  “I hate to do this but I don’t have any choice.  Could you lend me some money?”

“What do you need it for?”

“I don’t have any food in my apartment.”

“How much do you need?”

“Twenty would be enough.”

“I’m afraid I only have a $100.”

“Oh.  Okay.” Crushed, I said, “Thanks anyway.  Sorry to have troubled you.  Have a good evening.”  I was about to turn away when she caught me by the arm.

“Go and pray to God to help you.  He will.”

I didn’t answer.  I turned and crossed the carpet and let myself into my apartment.  I leaned against the door, feeling very discouraged.  I couldn’t believe that my Christian neighbor didn’t help me.  Couldn’t she have asked her guests for change for the $100 or didn’t she have any food she could have given me?  No, she sent me away empty-handed and with words that couldn’t satisfy my hunger.

I remembered that I had a large bag of potato chips.  I went and took it down from the cupboard and put some in plastic lid.  I sat at the window and munched on them.  I did this again the following day and the next until the bag was finished.  Despair settled in again and then there was a knock on my door.  I opened it and recognized the woman whom I sometimes saw the Christian woman talking to.  She had a shopping cart full of groceries.  “May I come in?” she asked, smiling.

I nodded and held the door open for her to come in.

“I’m afraid I bought too many groceries.  My son moved out last week so I’m all alone.   I bought two of everything.  Do you mind helping me go through these bags?”

“Sure.”  My heart was racing.  This couldn’t be happening.  It felt so surreal.  Was this God helping me?  We went through the bags and when we were done, her groceries were in the bags and in the cart while mine were on the countertop in my kitchen waiting to be packed away.  I thanked her profusely as I held the door open for her.  “Are you a Christian?” I asked her.

She shook her head.  “No, but when I was trying to figure out what to do with the extra groceries, you came to my mind.  I just couldn’t shake the feeling that you needed them.”

I watched her hurry down the hallway to the elevator.  She lived two floors below me.  When I closed my door and went into the kitchen, I put away the groceries, thanking God for His help.  It had to be Him.  Who else could it be?  And what irony.  The person who should have helped me but didn’t was a Christian and the person who wasn’t a Christian did.  That evening I cooked myself a decent meal and enjoyed it in front of the TV.

After that unexpected blessing, I started to go to the church in my neighborhood–not the same one my neighbor went to, though.  The people were warm and welcoming.  I started to go to their prayer meetings.  I asked my prayer partner to pray that I find a job soon or I would be evicted.  A week later, she asked me for my resume.  I gave it to her.  Another week passed by and then I was called in for an interview.  It seems like her sister-in-law was in need of a secretary.  I got the job.  I thanked God and I thanked my prayer partner.

I don’t have any bitterness toward my neighbor.  I am pleasant to her whenever we see each other.  I told her that she was right about God helping me.  And I know that if she ever came to me for help, I would do whatever I can to help her.  Sometimes, I sit in front of the window and have a bowl of potato chips just to remind me of the desperate times and that God will bring us through them–sometimes in ways we don’t expect.

Faith is not just words but actions too.  When a person needs your help, help them.  It’s possible that God sent them to you.   

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