Aunt Lindsey

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Copyright Anurag Bakhshi

“Why do we always have to pass by Aunt Lindsey’s house?” Madeline asked her friend, Avril as they walked home from school.

“It’s the scarecrow.  I’ve never seen a female one before.”

“My aunt is weird.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Well, look at the way she dresses–like she’s back in the sixties or seventies.  What about that outfit she wore to my birthday party last week?  I was so embarrassed.”

Everyone thought she looked cool.  The vintage style suits her.  And she had several admirers.”

Madeline’s mouth tightened.  “Yes, including David.”

“You need to get over him.”

“Why?”

“He’s much older and he’s not interested.”

“He would have been if it hadn’t been for her.  She always ruins things for me.”  She ran up the steps to her house, slamming the door.

Before heading home, Avril stopped by Aunt Lindsey’s house.

“How’s Maddie?” she asked.

“She’s fine.”

“Still upset about David?”

“Yes.”

“She hates me.”

“No, she doesn’t.”

“She will if she ever finds out the truth.”

“What truth?”

“That I’m her mother.”

 

174 Words

This was written as part of Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding.  For more details visit Here.  To read more of the stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

 

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Spotted

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Photo Credit: James Pyle

He watched them. The boy was preoccupied. The little girl was hidden from view by the large boxes. If he were to walk up now and take her, no one would see. He’d left the engine in his pick-up running just in case he had to make a quick getaway.

Perspiration broke out on his forehead and his heart was pounding. They had promised him that he wouldn’t hurt another child—that he had responded well to the therapy but here he was watching his next victim.

He reached into his pocket for the lollipop and other goodies to lure her. Getting down on his haunches, he called out to her in a low voice. “Hey, little girl.”

She turned, smiling when she saw him. He showed her the candy and her face lit up. She moved closer.

Then he heard the siren. Too late, he thought as he was hoisted to his feet and handcuffed.

The child’s mother ran out and grabbed her. “What’s happening?” she asked the officer. “Who’s that man?”

“A sex offender, ma’am. Someone saw him hanging around, got suspicious and called us.”

“Thank God!” She hugged her daughter tightly as the squad car drove away.

200 Words

Written as part of Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details visit Here.  To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Source:  Lifescience

No Regrets

He stood there, staring at the ruins
of a place he never called home. Its
scarred walls were once filled with such
pain. He could still remember his mother
cowering in the corner, her hands raised to
ward off the blows, whimpering like a
petrified child. He remembered the insults
and abusive words that were hurled at her.
He vowed that it would be the last time
he watched his mother suffer abuse at the
hands of this miserable excuse for a man.

One night, after he returned home from
hanging out with his friends, he found
his mother in the kitchen, clearing the
table. His step-father was upstairs in
their room. Fresh bruises were on
her arms. Incensed, he ran out,
ignoring her protests…

The room stank of alcohol and sweat.
He almost gagged as he went over
to the bed where the bulky figure
lay. He was sleeping, a lit
in his hand. He was about to take it
and out it but he froze. Instead,
he backed away and quietly
left the room. It took some
persuading but he got his mother
to leave.

Ten years later, he stood there
among the ruins with no regrets.

Word Count:  199

I wrote this in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge–my first.  It is hosted by Susan and the photo is courtesy of C.E Ayr.  If you’re interested in reading other stories for this photo prompt, click here.

First and Only Love

Colleen lay down in the grass, savoring the smell of the flowers and loving the warmth of the sun on her face.  It was in this very spot, fifteen years ago and on the day she turned eighteen where Jarrett and she made love, something she had dreamed of but never imagined would ever happen.

Since they were children, Colleen had a crush on Jarrett but he didn’t pay her any attention because she was a tomboy, always playing rough and tumble games with his brother, Arthur. She used to climb trees, run wild about the place and wrestle with the other boys.  Jarrett had never seen her wear a dress and most of the time her clothes were skewed.  Her hair fell in unruly curls about her face and she liked to be bare feet.  She was not like the other girls at all.

Colleen remembered how jealous she was of a particular girl whom Jarrett liked and who was always hanging around him.  Brittany was a pretty girl with long, red curly hair and light green eyes and freckles.  One day Colleen saw her kiss Jarrett on the cheek and she lost it.  In a flash, she was pulling Brittany’s hair and the girl was struggling, screaming.  Jarrett and Arthur had to pull Colleen off her.  While Arthur took Colleen away, Jarrett comforted the shaken Brittany.

When she went home, she got a spanking she would never forget and was grounded on top of that.  She was not allowed to go over to the manor for a month.  A whole month of not seeing Jarrett was worse than the spanking she got or even worse than having to apologize to Brittany.  During that time, she moped about the house, thinking about him, missing him like crazy and wondering if he missed her too.  Probably not, she decided, her heart sinking at the thought.  He was probably too busy with Brittany.  Renewed dislike and jealousy rose to the surface and she ran up to her room, slamming the door shut.

Finally, the day came when she was allowed to go and play with Arthur.  When she got to the manor, she came across Jarrett in the garden.  He was sitting on a bench, reading a novel.  She went over to him.  “Hello Jarrett,” she said, thinking how handsome he looked in the white polo shirt and brown pants, his hair neat as usual.  She wanted to bend down and kiss him on the cheek but thought better of it.

He glanced up from the book.  His eyes ran over her in the blue tee shirt and jeans.  “Hello,” he replied politely.  He was never rude to her, just indifferent.

“Did you miss me?” she asked.  She had to know although she suspected that he didn’t.

“Well, it was a lot quieter when you weren’t here,” he replied and she stared at him, crestfallen.

Just then Arthur joined them and he at least, was delighted to see her and hugged her before taking her hand and pulling her toward the moors where they spent all afternoon.  The sun was setting when they returned to the manor.  Mrs. Baldwin invited her to stay for dinner and then gave her a ride home.

At dinner, she noticed at the corner of her eye that Jarrett was watching her but every time she looked directly at him, he turned away.  That continued even after they became teenagers.   The furtive glances and him avoiding being alone with her went on until she had had enough.  On the afternoon of her birthday after they finished having a celebratory lunch, she slipped out when she saw Jarrett heading in the direction of the moors.  Arthur was preoccupied with her friend, Lucy and everyone else was mingling and having a great time.  They didn’t notice when she left.

It was a beautiful, sunny summer day.  She took off her sandals and ran through the field.  Jarrett stood gazing out at the moors with his back to her when she caught up to him.  He started when she moved around so that she was standing in front of him.  A guarded expression came over his face.

“What are you doing out here?” he asked.  “Why aren’t you up at the house, celebrating with the others?”

“I wanted to be alone with you.”

“Why?” he asked, looking wary.

“You haven’t kissed me yet for my birthday,” she told him.  “Now is a good time.  We’re all alone.  No one can see us.”

Jarrett stiffened when she moved closer to him.  “This isn’t a good idea,” he muttered.

“Why not?” she asked, her eyes meeting his in a steady gaze.  Her heart was pounding and her breath had quickened.  She could hear his heavy breathing and saw the expression on his face.  He wanted her.  “What are you afraid of, Jarrett?”

“I’m not afraid of anything,” he denied.  A muscle was throbbing along his jaw line and he was breathing heavily.  As if to prove her wrong, he bent his head and brushed his lips against her cheek, making her tremble.  When he raised his head, his eyes were dark and smoldering.

It took a few minutes for her to catch her breath and then, she murmured, “That’s not the kiss I had in mind,” before she reached up and pulled his head down to hers and fastened her lips to his.  She felt his response and her fingers gripped his hair as they exchanged wild kisses.  His arms went around her waist, holding her tightly against him.

Then, he drew back to remove his polo shirt, groaning when she buried her face in his chest.  Grasping her hair at the nape of her neck, he pulled her head back, making her gasp and his mouth closed hungrily on hers, plundering it.  Her knees buckled and she suddenly found herself lying in the grass with him over her.  He dragged off her clothes and soon, they were making love in the field with the sun above them and the breeze caressing them.

Afterwards, they lay there for a long while.  Then, he raised his head and looked down at her.  “Happy birthday, Colleen,” he said with a smile.

“It is now,” she said, touching his face.  “I love you, Jarrett.”

“I love you too,” he confessed.  “I’ve loved you for a very long time but was too scared to tell you.  If you hadn’t made a move on me a few moments ago, I would still be avoiding you and my feelings.”

“Well, I’m glad that I took the bull by the horns and here we are.”

“I have a confession to make.  Remember the time when you asked me if I missed you?”

She nodded.  “Yes and you said, ‘Well, it was a lot quieter when you weren’t here’.  I was hurt to the core.”

“Well, I what I really wanted to say was that I missed you very much and the place was quiet and boring with you not around.  I was happy to see you although I didn’t show it.”

“I thought you didn’t miss me and I thought that it was because of Brittany.”

“Brittany?  I was never interested in her.  I liked her but just as a friend.  After that incident with you, she never came back to the house.  I didn’t miss her at all but I missed you.”

“I missed you so much, Jarrett and when I saw you I wanted to kiss you on the cheek.”

“Oh, yes?  Well, how about giving me that kiss now?”  He raised his head to gaze down at her.

She reached up and pulled his head down to hers but when she made to kiss him on the cheek, he turned his head so that their lips met.

The sense that someone or something was blocking out the sunlight jolted Colleen back to the present and her eyes flew open.  She smiled when she found herself looking up into Jarrett’s face.  “Aren’t you hot in that sweater?” she asked.  “It’s gotten so warm that I had to take off my jacket.”

He knelt down on the grass beside her.  “What were you daydreaming about?” he asked, his eyes twinkling as they met hers.  “You had a big smile on your face.”

She sat up.  “I was thinking about the first time you and I made love right here in this spot.  It made my birthday a very special and memorable one.”

He pulled his sweater up over his head and laid it on the grass beside him.  After smoothing his hair down, he pulled her against him and buried his face in her hair.  “When I first saw you, a high-spirited tomboy with curly hair, big, expressive eyes and a wild streak, I never once imagined that I would end up falling madly in love with you but here we are, fifteen years later, happily married with two rambunctious boys.”

Colleen smiled.  “Yes, it’s funny how life turns out.  Everyone expected you to marry a more refined woman but instead of me, an upstart and a thorn in your mother’s side.”

“You’re no thorn in my mother’s side,” he said.  “She adores you and she knew long before I did that you were the girl for me.”

“Yes.  Your mother is a very wise woman.”

He gently turned her so that she was looking up at him, her eyes wide as they met his.  “She was right.  You’re the perfect woman for me, Colleen,” he murmured before lowering his head.

As they kissed, she couldn’t help thinking how blessed she was to spend the rest of her life with Jarrett whom she had loved all her life.  While most people know that their first love will not be their only love, I know that for me, he is both.

 

 

Sources:  Her Way; Quote Fancy; Board of Wisdom

Rough to Romantic

Brie leaned her head against the back of the sofa.

The soft cushions were soothing against her tired

body.  It had been a long and very exhausting day.

Jasmine was especially cranky today because she was

teething.

 

Nothing she did seemed to work.  Desperate, Brie

had searched the Internet for teething tips and

tried them.  There was some respite but as soon

as Jasmine woke up, the fretful crying  began again.

Holding the wailing child in her arms, she called her

husband, Gabe and begged him to take home Infant’s

Advil.

 

It seemed to take forever for relief for both mother and

child to come but soon, the sound of the key turning in

the lock was music to her ears.  She went into the foyer

and as soon as Gabe stepped through the door, she

asked, “Where’s the Advil?”

 

He glanced down at the crying child and putting down

the briefcase, he took her in his arms, trying to soothe

her.  “It’s in the right pocket of my jacket.”

 

Eagerly, she reached into his pocket and took out the

life-saver, her fingers, gripping the package tightly.

“Thank you, Honey,” she said. “It will help with the

fever.”

 

Gabe’s eyes shot up to her face, alarmed.  “She has

fever?”  He felt her little face and it felt a bit warm.

 

“It’s nothing to worry about,” Brie assured him.  “They

said that sometimes a low grain fever can develop

with teething.  The Advil will relieve it and the pain.

I’ve been rubbing her gums with my finger and trying

other ways to relieve the pain.”

 

Gabe’s features relaxed.  “Okay, I’ll hold her while you

give her the Advil.”

 

After Brie gave Jasmine the Advil, she took her from Gabe

and went over to the sofa.  She sat down and gently rocked

her.  While Gabe removed his jacket and shoes.  He went

into the living-room and leaning over, he kissed Brie

on the shoulder.

 

“Once the baby is asleep, we can have dinner,” she said.

 

“All right,” he said.  “I’ll be in the study.”  He turned and

left.

 

Alone with Jasmine who was looking up at her with

big hazel eyes,  a tired smile tugged at her lips.  What

a beautiful baby she was.  It had been a text-book

pregnancy.  No morning sickness and a short labor.

 

She remembered how Gabe had held her hand as

she went into labor, encouraging her to do the

breathing exercises she had learned in the

Prenatal classes and the expression on his face

when he held Jasmine for the first time.  The love

she saw there had brought tears to her eyes.

 

He had reached over and kissed her, his own eyes

moist.  “Brie, you are my first love and Jasmine is

my second,” he murmured huskily when he drew

back to look at her.  “I called her Jasmine because

she’s a gift from God.”

 

“Yes, you are a gift from God,” Brie whispered now

as she watch those big, beautiful and innocent eyes

close, the long lashes brushing against the chubby

cheeks.  She until she was sure that Jasmine was

asleep before she slowly got up from the sofa and

tiptoed upstairs to the nursery.

 

After putting Jasmine down, she left the

door to the nursery slightly ajar and was

on her way down to the kitchen when she

noticed that the light in the master bedroom

was on.

 

Curious, she went inside and was surprised

to find Gabe standing in the bathroom stark

naked.  Immediately, she felt her body respond

and she went in and closed the door behind her.

His eyes darkened when he saw the look on her

face but, he said, “Let’s take a hot shower first.”

 

Nodding, she got undressed and stepped into the

stall.  He joined her and closed the door behind him.

The hot water beat down on them and it felt really,

really good.  She stood there under its force until

Gabe turned off the faucet.

 

She closed her eyes as she felt his hands lathering

the soap all over her body.  It was erotic and relaxing

at the same time.  Then, it was her turn to slather the

soap on him.  When she was done, he turned on the

faucet and they washed off.

 

They stepped out on to the mat and dried off. Taking her

by the hand, he led her into the bedroom and instructed

her to lie on her stomach which she did while he rubbed oil

on her.  She closed her eyes and relaxed. His fingers massaged

the oil into her skin. When she turned over, he joined her on

the bed and they made love.

 

Two hours later, they were sitting cross-legged on the rug in

the basement, having dinner and watching a classic movie.

The baby monitor was on the coffee table—just in case.

 

She turned to look at him.  “Thank you for turning a rough

day into a romantic night,” she said, leaning over to kiss him.

“I love you.”

 

“I love you too.”  They kissed and then she reached for her

glass of non-alcoholic wine.

 

Sources:  Mayo Clinic; Infant’s Advil

Christ’s Suffering

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man – Hebrews 2:9

Today is a very emotional day for me.  The waterworks began this morning soon after I got up.  I mentioned the suffering of Jesus to my husband and he said, “He suffered all the way to the cross and even while He was suffering He thought only about you and me.”  As I made up the bed, his words hit home and the tears flowed as the enormity of the suffering Jesus endured for our salvation dawned on me.

Yes, Jesus suffered that day.  He was beaten.  He was spat on. He was mocked.  He heard the religious leaders and some in the crowd call for Him to be crucified although Pilate wanted to release Him because he saw no reason for Him to be put to death.  He was treated like a common criminal.  He hung on the cross between two thieves and heard the people mock Him.  He witnessed His mother weeping uncontrollably at the foot of the cross and He felt forsaken by His Father.  That morning He was denied three times by Peter.  The night before He was betrayed by Judas and abandoned by the other disciples after they had all sworn that they would never leave Him.

He suffered indignity as He hung on the cross.  The Bible said, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree (Galatians 3:13).  Yet, He remained on the cross, even though passers-by called for Him to come down from the cross if He were the Son of God and the religious leaders told Him to do the same thing so that they would believe in Him (Matthew 27:39-43, Jesus remained where He was for our sake.  He wanted to accomplish what He said to Nicodemus, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:14, 15). 

Staying on that cross brought salvation into the world and eternal life to all who believe.  There was no other way for us to be saved except for Jesus to die on the cross.  He didn’t go through all that suffering just to abandon us to our fate.  A lot was at stake and hedged on Him.  He was sent into the world to save us and in spite of the agony He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane when He asked the Father if it were possible to take the cup away, He determined, nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).  He was obedient to the Father even unto death.

Even as He hung on the cross, in excruciating pain, Jesus didn’t think about Himself.  He looked down on the people who were mocking Him and prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).  He promised one of the thieves on the cross who asked Him to remember him when He came into His kingdom, ““Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise.” He promised this repentant sinner that one day he will enter the kingdom. 

He looked upon His mother as she stood next to the disciple John and He said to her, “Woman, behold your son!” and to John, He said, “Behold your mother!” He was placing Mary into John’s care.  He was looking out for her.  And it said that from that hour, John disciple took her to his own home.  Even in His suffering, Jesus was more concerned for the well being of others.

What can we learn from all of this?  No matter what we are going through, we must continue to remain faithful and obedient to God and to minister to others.  Jesus suffered but the story doesn’t end there.  He died on the cross, was buried but as He promised, on the third day He rose from the dead.  He ascended to His Father after spending time with his disciples and is now sitting at the right hand of God.  And one day, He will return to take us with Him.  As we go through trials, suffering, pain and difficulties, let us look “for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).

Good Luck or God

I have heard of Talisman before but couldn’t remember what it was until I searched its meaning on the Internet.  It is an object which people believe holds magical properties that bring good luck to the possessor, or that protect the possessor from evil or harm.  It can be wore around the neck or wrist.

Jewish amulets were made up of texts, using either letters or graphic symbols which were inscribed various types of materials such as plant matter or precious stones. The amulet was used to ease childbirth, facilitate recovery from illness and improve one’s livelihood.  It was also used to protect a mother and her newborn child from the dangers of Lilith, a female demon who was believed to pursue and kill mother and infant.   An example of the text found on a amulet used for this purpose is:

I command you, holy and pure angels Sanoi, Sansanoi, Semanglaf, Semanglon, to keep all spirits and demons and all evil misfortunes and all Liline and all Liltine away from this newly delivered mother and from this newborn babe; and from the day on which this amulet, on which are inscribed your names, will be placed in this house in which is to be found the newborn, from this day forward remove Lilith and all her followers and all her servants from this newborn and from this house to the farthest reaches. Let her and all the demons with her flee, that she and her followers may never be able to harm this child for ever and ever. 

And the amulet for childbirth would sometimes simply say, “Adam, Eve; Lilith out.”

Amulet to protect a woman and her newborn son, with invocations of Adam and Eve, Lilith, and several angels; Podolia or Ukraine, late nineteenth or early twentieth century. (The Russian Museum of Ethnography, St. Petersburg, Russia)

The belief that amulets have hidden powers was widespread among both Jews and non-Jews in Eastern Europe and across all levels of society.  However, there were some Jews who opposed the use of amulets and prominent among them was Maimonides who wrote vehemently against them. The maskilim in Eastern Europe openly mocked the use of amulets and considered them to be profane and harmful.  The fact of the Jews believing in amulets may be a result of the apostasy of the Israelites when they adopted many of the beliefs and practices of the pagan nations around them such as worshipping foreign gods and child sacrifice.

Talismans were not only worn by the common people but by kings as well.  Charlemagne, the former king of the Franks wore one.

 

This is the Talisman of Charlemagne which is said to have been found on his body when his tomb was opened

Charlemagne’s wife had sorcerers from the Court of Haroun el Raschid, Emperor of the East, make his talisman for him.   It had two large cabochon sapphires, one was oval and the other was square.  They were set into a remnant of the wood from the Holy Cross (the Cross of Jesus) and a small piece of the Virgin’s hair. It was to make their love constant.  One would assume that it worked since he never stopped loving her. This was the talisman which was buried with him at Aix-la-Chapelle, in 814 and re-discovered when the tomb was opened by Otto III in 1000.  The talisman was  preserved in the treasury of the Cathedral until it was given, by the canons, to Empress Josephine in 1804, to wear at her coronation.

Wearing a talisman created by sorcerers seems at odds with the Charlemagne who “submitted to no one but God”.

I was surprised to learn that there are Christian Talismans.  Ancient Coptic Talismans like this one came from the Oromo people of Ethiopia and were traditionally worn to protect the wearer from evil spirits and bring good luck.  They contain scrolls usually made of vellum and were inscribed with prayers and stories from Coptic Christian bibles or manuscripts by priests, religious scribes or unordained clerics known as ‘dabtaras’ and then sewn inside their leather pouch.  The writing on the scroll was done with special black and red ink and written in Ge’ez, a currently unspoken language used for religious purposes.  These Coptic talismans, like the Coptic crosses, were made a long time ago and it is  hard to determine their age.  Some were made as early as the late 19th century but these talismans have been made, worn and worshipped for over 1600 years.

Coptic Christian amulet/talisman from the Oromo people of Ethiopia

Should Christians be wearing talismans?  There are two types which are used as symbols of the Christian faith–the Cross and the fish.  The first symbolizes Jesus and what He did for mankind and the second symbolizes those His followers who are to be “fishers of men”.

The cross
The cross of Christianity was a symbol of the faith. It was previously considered a pagan symbol, with several early church fathers objecting to its use. The cross represents Christ’s victory over death and sin, since it is believed that through His death he conquered death itself.

Fish
The fish’s first known use as a Christian religious symbol was sometime within the first three centuries AD.  Christians began using the Greek word for “fish” as an acronym for “Jesus Christ God’s Son, Savior”. Followers of Christianity were called Pisciculi; the root of this Latin word is “fish”. 

When I did a search on the Fish symbol, I discovered that there are three–the one of the fish only, the one with Jesus’ name in the middle and the one of the cross in the middle.

Christians wear crucifixes or have them hanging in their homes or  dangling from the rear view mirror of their automobiles.   I have seen stickers of the fish symbol on the back of some cars.  Should Christians be part of what has become popular today?  Well, many don’t think they should.  And they use the following Bible verses to defend their stance:

“They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans” (Isaiah 2:6, NIV). 

“In that day, the Lord will take away the beauty of their anklets, headbands, crescent ornaments, dangling earrings, bracelets, veils, headdresses, ankle chains, sashes, perfume boxes [and] amulets” (Isaiah 3:18-20, NAS).

“Moreover, Josiah removed the mediums and the spirits and the teraphim and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might confirm the words of the law which were written in the book” (2 Kings 23:24, NAS).  The teraphim was the name used for idols or images reverenced by the ancient Hebrews and kindred peoples, apparently as household gods.

There is the argument that instead of putting on talismans for protection for evil and demonic powers, put on the whole armor of God “that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).

“There are concerns that people allow objects such as crosses, crucifixes, figurines, rosaries, bumper stickers, etc., to take the place of the true change that should take place in our hearts. The things we wear, carry, or put on our cars are not what make us Christians. God is not concerned with what we wear as long as we do not dress in a way that would cause anyone to stumble in his or her walk with God (Romans 14:20) and we are not absorbed with our looks or our possessions.

On the other hand, “Many Christians wear crosses as a proud expression of their love, respect, and service to Christ, along with a remembrance of what He did for us.”

Choosing to wear Christian Talismans or not, is up to the individual.  I personally don’t wear religious jewelry or jewelry of any kind but that was me following my own conscience and what I believed was what God wanted for me.  If people feel safer on their person, in their vehicles or in their homes, then, they have to do what their consciences dictate, as long as these things never take the place of God Himself who is our one, true Source of protection against the evil one.

Sources:  Wikipedia; Yivo Encyclopedia; Above Top SecretEtsy; Bible Info; Got Questions; Unusual Historicals;