A Rekindled Flame – Dr. Ted Part II

IMG_0957Ted sat across from Ellen in the darkened restaurant.  Her face was illuminated by a candle placed in the middle of the table.  The soft light was flattering:  gently erasing the years.  Ted was courting his wife.  When Ted’s job offer had come through, Ellen had decided against finalizing the divorce.  They had been seeing each other for about six months.

After Ted had read the scriptures that Lolita had given him, he felt a urging from deep inside him.  If there was hope for him at all, it was found only in Christ.  There, in his darkened office, he had bowed his head and prayed, “God, if you are there, please come to me, forgive me, and become a part of my life, every thought, every action.  Please come and take charge of it all.  I can not do this.  Only you can straighten out this mess.”

On his way out of the building, he had stopped to leave his identification badge on the receptionist’s desk.  There lying on the desk was a letter addressed to him.  He had opened and read it.  The letter was written by a colleague who lived in Seattle.  He was inviting Ted to come and work for him on a research project in Ted’s field.  He would be one of about ten researchers.  His name would not headline the project so it would not detract from the credibility of the research.  Ted would be taking orders from Dr. Bill Hosworth.  He would no longer be in charge.

The benefits from this offer were many.  He would be able to continue in the work that he loved.  His forty hour week (down from sixty hours) would allow him time to recoup from his ordeal, and the position would pay the rent and buy the food.  Was this God’s answer to his predicament?  He felt an urging in his heart to accept the position. The letter was more than a week old, but when Ted called, he found Bill was still happy to have him join the team.  Wow!  Was the God of the ancient scriptures really helping him already?

Now as Ted sat across from Ellen, he was filled with gratitude for all that God had already done.  Ted had fit in well with the others in the research team and really looked forward to going to work every day.  His passion was research, not the administrative duties that had occupied his time before.  Dr. Bill took care of all of that and decided the general direction of the project.

Ted had found a small apartment close to the university where he worked every day.  He had been seeing Ellen, his estranged wife, occasionally…as often as she would permit it.  Their relationship was growing once again.  Ted was able to spend week-ends with his children now that his time was not filled with the responsibilities of his job.

Best of all he and Ellen had started going to church together.  Ted was a part of a men’s group where he was eagerly learning about this God of the ancient scriptures who operated very much in the here and now.  Ellen was spiritually hungry too and had recently invited Christ into her life at a women’s retreat.  Their relationship now had God at the center and that was changing everything.

Ted placed his hand on Ellen’s as she set her glass down and looked deeply into her eyes.  “I think God wants to restore our marriage,” he said slowly.

Ellen smiled.  Her eyes sparkled with tears of happiness in the candlelight.  In their previous relationship, Ted had always been gone:  absorbed by his research 24/7 with little time for her or their children.  She had wanted something more, much more from marriage.  Seated across from her now was a different Ted…a Ted whose life had been changed by Jesus Christ…a Ted who had his priorities in order.  She truly loved this Ted.  “Yes, she said.  Jesus is the restorer of the breech.  He makes all things new. ”  She took his hand and squeezed it.

This story is fiction.  Any resemblance that the characters may have to any people living or dead is  coincidental.

Dr. Ted Loses it All!

IMG_0944(Based on the story of David in I Samuel Chapter 30)

Ted* sat at his desk, his head in his hands.  Around his chair were stacks of sealed cardboard boxes.  He pulled out the top desk drawer and dumped it into a box, sealed it with taped, scribbled the words “Top Desk Drawer” on the box, then gave it a kick toward the other boxes.  He looked at the stuff on top of his desk:  a photo of his smiling family, two awards for the research work he had done, his desk lamp, and his computer monitor.  He packed the monitor in its original container.  Then he positioned his trash can at the end of his desk and, using his arm, swept the awards and photos into the trash.  There was a loud crash followed by the tinkling sound of fracturing glass.

Just at that moment, the lady from the custodial service entered the room.  She surveyed the boxes and the trash basket.  “Here, Dr. Ted.  You read this.”  She spoke nervously in broken English.

Ted looked at the lady in dismay.  Surely she didn’t really expect him to read scriptures from the Bible.  Obviously she was not an educated person.  She didn’t know that those scriptures were written thousands of years ago, and were in the same category as Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes and Aesop’s Fables.  “Uh, no thanks!”  Ted murmured as he looked into the trash basket at the broken photo of his family–broken just like his marriage.

Lolita dropped her broom and moved closer to Ted so that she could get direct eye  contact.  This time she spoke more emphatically.  “Last night God show Lolita what Dr. Ted wants to do.  God show Lolita Dr. Ted wants drive car off interstate bridge into river.  Lolita no want Dr. Ted die in river.  Lolita spend time finding words in English Bible.  Words help Dr. Ted so you no drive off bridge and die in River.  You read!!  K?”

Surprised, Ted dropped the box he was holding.  How could this simple woman possibly know that he was planning suicide?  Sure, she probably had heard the office gossip.  She probably knew that he had been fired–fired because some jerk (a trusted colleague) had quoted his preliminary research results as facts, and then had drawn an erroneous conclusion to support his own political agenda.  Research had been Ted’s “god.”  His whole being had been wrapped up in his projects.  Now all of that was gone.  Ted had lost his job, his career (who would hire a discredited researcher?) his family (his wife had taken their children to her mother’s home in Seattle and was suing for a divorce), and his home.  They had sold the house and only yesterday had closed the deal.  Ted was officially homeless.  “From riches to rags,” Ted thought ruefully.

But that did not answer the question of how the custodian had known about the exact method of his suicide plans.  He looked deep into her eyes where he saw compassion–compassion unlike that of his best friend, Bob, who avoided eye contact and every other kind of contact with Ted saying that he had a reputation to protect.  This woman really cared about him.

As Ted hesitated, Lolita  continued in her broken English:  “Long time ago Lolita hurt when no friends come.  As she spoke tears formed in her eyes.)  Lolita cry, then Lolita find Jesus.  Now Jesus here.  (She proudly patted her chest.) and now Lolita smile.  Jesus is good friend.  Jesus tell Lolita Dr. Ted plans to drive off bridge and die in river!”

Ted looked at the woman as though he was seeing her for the first time.  She was short and obviously over-weight.  Her graying black hair was pulled back in a bun that was not flattering to her plain, brown face.  There was certainly nothing about her appearance to recommend her.  No wonder she had no friends.  It was her eyes that drew him.  There was a light there, an intensity and compassion that he had not seen before, and this give the defeated man hope.  Maybe there was a God after all.  If there was, this woman certainly knew Him.

Stay tuned for more about Dr. Ted.

*All characters are fictional characters..

Lost and Found

by Pat Lockridge

Scan0085It was Celebration on Main Street in Longmont, an end-of-summer occasion composed of various street acts, bounce houses, jugglers and bands.  My husband and I had taken our five-year-old grandson, Shawn, to enjoy the fun.  The night was nearly over when we stopped to watch some street dancers.  Shawn asked if he could get closer to the act.  Some children were sitting on the street a few rows ahead of us.  I gave my permission for him to join them.  Meanwhile, John and I stayed on the back row, but I kept a close eye on what I thought were Shawn’s brown hair and blue jacket.

When the act ended, the crowd began to disperse.  I went to rejoin Shawn, but the boy whose head I had been watching was not Shawn!  Where was Shawn?  I looked through all the children, calling his name, “Shawn, Shawn!”  No answer.

By now the crowd was gone and the acts were packing up for the night.  There was no one in the street.  Only a few families were still in the area.  There was no five-year-old boy walking alone.  By this time I was frantic.  What should I do?  Where should I go?  I prayed to God and asked John to pray too.  Shawn was not in the area, but if we left the area, he might come back and not be able to find us.  If we didn’t leave the area, we couldn’t search for him.  I felt God’s prompting to call Shawn’s mom, Heather, who was still at our house.  I hated to do this, to admit that we had lost him, but reluctantly I punched in our home number.

I was explaining the whole mess to Heather on the house phone, when her cell phone rang.  She left us on the land line to answer her cell.  It was someone that Heather didn’t know, but the lady on Heather’s cell, Angela Martinez, had found Shawn.  Heather talked to Angela, and relayed the information to us.  Angela asked directions to find us in the rapidly-dispersing crowd.  She would be approaching us on the west side of Main Street coming from the north.It was about ten minutes before we saw them, a little boy and two middle-aged ladies walking hurriedly in our direction.  One woman still had her cell phone to her ear.

“I see them,” I reported to Heather who was still listening on both phones.

Tears of relief flowed down my face as we were reunited with Shawn.  After the hugs, we wanted answers.  Why had Shawn left the street performance?  How had he been found?  How had the ladies been able to reach Heather?

Here is the story:  Shawn had been bored by the performance so he got up and decided to surprise us by getting back to the car first.  The two ladies, Angela and her friend, had seen Shawn walking all alone on a dimly-lit side-street.  Angela, (Was she really an angel?) it turned out, worked for Social Services, and was especially aware that five-year-old boys were not to be out alone at night.  She stopped him and asked where his parents were.  Shawn didn’t know, and he didn’t know where our car was parked, but one thing he did know:  his mother’s cell phone number!  Yay!  Angela punched in the number, Heather answered, and the rest is history.

It still amazes me that the Lord told me to call Heather on our house phone just a minute before Angela called Heather’s cell number.  Once again God had gotten me out of a jam!

“The son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  Luke 19:10  NIV

I desperately sought to find my Grandson.  How much more does our God seek to find those of His creation that are still lost and without Him!

Bald Mountain – Part II

IMG_0879The Long Way Home!  An Adventure in Real Life!

We had spent the morning climbing Bald Mountain near Breckenridge, Colorado.  Our relaxing lunch had just been cut short by a rumble of thunder.  Looking around we saw a dark cloud behind and below us.  Did it threaten to come our way?  We didn’t have to wait long to find out. The next rumble was louder, and the one after that was louder still.

We knew about the danger of lightning to the highest objects on the mountain top.  We needed to get down fast.  We packed up the lunch, threw on our rain gear and started down the far side of the mountain.  We choose that route because it was a grassy slope, and we could get off the ridge quickly.

Jumping and sliding we quickly got well below the ridge line, but now what?  It was starting to sprinkle, and we were two to three hours away from my jeep.  After our arduous climb of the morning, we were not keen on climbing back up to the jeep so we decided to go along the side of the mountain until we came to the jeep.  Bad idea!  The going was easy at first but quickly the slope steepened.  Remember those thousand foot drops we saw in the morning hike?  We were now on the side of one of those–somewhere between the top of the ridge and the bottom!

I decided to go ahead (another bad idea) and see if I could tell whether we could get to the jeep without climbing back up to the ridge line.  It was raining in earnest now and the thunder was deafening.  I scrambled ahead, then looked back for the girls.  I couldn’t see them!  I called and called!  I couldn’t hear them.  I continued ahead on treacherous loose rock made slippery by the driving rain.

In a few minutes I found myself lying on the side of ridge using my hands to locate rocks that would support my weight.   Every movement I made sent more talus sliding to the bottom.  In a seemingly impossible situation, I called out to God.  He answered immediately, and I was able to find rocks that would support my weight as I climbed laboriously back up the ridge.

Finally, I reached the top where I could just barely see my jeep:  a white speck in a field of grey.  Had we really left it so far behind?  I sat down in a sheltered spot and called and called for my friends.  There was no  sound but the sound of the continuous rain.  The bottoms of my jeans beneath my rain poncho, my socks, and shoes were soaked.   I tried to ring out some of the excess water.  I prayed, called, and waited.  A cold gust of wind made me realize that if I was going to help my friends, I needed to get off this mountain, and get help so that they could be found before darkness brought freezing temperatures.

On my way once again, I continued to pray with every step.  If the hike along the bumpy ridge had been difficult when it was dry, it was even more so now.  The rock slipped and slid beneath my wet boots. The only good thing was that there was no more thunder or lightning, but rain continued relentlessly.  Periodically, I looked behind me for my friends, but there was no sign of them anywhere.   I was wet, cold, tired, miserable, and very worried about my friends, but God prompted me to sing praises to Him!  What a concept!  Praisin’ in the rain!

As I approached my jeep now only a quarter of a mile below me, I saw a man in shorts–unusual considering the cold, wet weather.  It wasn’t the smartest thing to run up to a strange man and admit that I was alone on the mountain, but he was the only human I had seen in hours.  I approached him eagerly.  Had he seen my friends?  As I unfolded my story to him, he pointed up the mountain behind me.  There was Barbara just coming into view at the ridge top.  She waved wildly.  There was no sign of Caroline.

About forty-five minutes later, Barbara and I were in my jeep slowly making our way down the slick, muddy road back to Breckenridge.  Barbara had not seen Caroline in hours.  She had no idea where to find her.  We were not certain what our next step should be.  We decided that since night-fall was only about three hours away we would call the Summit County sheriff as soon as we reached a telephone.  “Those condos under construction that we saw on our way up:  They should have a phone.”

We stopped at the condos, ran in and asked for a phone.  I explained our predicament to the receptionist at the sheriff’s office.  She took Caroline’s name and information, and pledged to have a search party on the mountain as soon as possible.  Barbara and I were just leaving when we were called back to the phone.  It was the sheriff.  Caroline had just walked into his office in downtown Breckenridge!  She was safe!  She had arrived just in time for us to be reached with her good news she before we left the condo to resume our search for her!!!!

A little while later we picked up Caroline and heard her story.  Knowing that she did not have the strength to climb back up a ridge that was frightening and unsafe especially in a thunderstorm, she slid down the side of the steep ridge on her fanny. Then she had found a small stream that she followed downhill.  Eventually, the stream led to a jeep road.  Walking along the jeep road in the pouring rain, she was picked up by a man and his wife out driving in their jeep.  They brought her back to the sheriff’s office with perfect timing!

Taking inventory on the way home, we found that there were no lightning strikes, severe falls, lost companions, sprained ankles, or even bruised knees among us.  That was amazing considering the slippery, loose rock, our wet boots, our lack of experience, poor judgment etc.  Our Father had taken good care of us!

For He [God] will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.  Psalm 91: 11 NIV

Bald Mountain

Bald Mountain Ridge Line

A Real Life Adventure – Part I

He [God] makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He causes me to stand on the heights.  Psalm 18:33 NIV

My neighbor, Barbara, her friend, Caroline, and I were traveling in my jeep to Breckenridge, Colorado.  Our goal:  climb to the top of Bald Mountain. Barbara and I lived on a mountain above the town of Silverthorne in Summit County.  We were experienced hikers (or so we thought) and loved outdoor challenges.  This would be Caroline’s first experience with mountain climbing.  It could have been her last!

Turning off the highway in Breckenridge just as the sky was getting light, we took a dirt street that turned into a grass-filled lane as we drove past condominiums still under construction.  The next half hour was full of challenges as I coaxed my jeep over road that was becoming increasingly rocky.  At more than one point, I had to get out and look under the jeep to make certain that we would not high-center going over a protruding rock.  My husband would not be happy if we damaged the underside of his new, white jeep. We encountered streams flowing down the road, washouts, etc. as we continued to climb.  Finally, as the sun was just rising over the mountain, we reached the literal end of the road:  a microwave tower.  We had been travelling on the road used by the tower maintenance crews.

We grabbed our day packs that contained our lunches, water, plastic rain ponchos and jackets we would need if the weather turned cool or rainy.  We laced our hiking boots over our thick socks.  We were ready for our day.

The sky was blue and free of clouds as we climbed the thousand-foot slope to the ridge.  We were glad to have our jackets as the air was crisp at this altitude even in June.  When we reached the ridge line, we stopped for a few minutes to admire the view which was spectacular from this vantage point.

The ridge line stretched out before us like the plates on the back of a stegosaurus.  It was pointed and only as wide as a bike path in some places.  The drop-off on each side was at least a thousand feet.  The mountain-top still lay at in the distance along the ridge line.Up and down we went, up and down, up and down.  Occasionally one of us would step too close to the edge and start a cascade of  rocks down the steep talus slope.  The thrill of the adventure, and the hope of reaching the top kept us moving.

At ten-thirty we reached our goal, but the ridge line continued ahead into a grassy knob that promised a spectacular overlook into South Park.  We forged ahead.

At one point a single-engine aircraft flew low overhead.  We jumped, shouted, and waved.  The pilot saw us and dipped his wing!  We felt like we were flying, too.

At about eleven-thirty, we found the perfect spot for our picnic:  beautiful views and a large grassy surface to spread out our lunch.  We ate, then stretched out resting with our hands supporting our heads.  The up and down terrain and the thin air found at over 13,000 feet had already taken its toll on us.  And the return trip still awaited us!

Then, out of the blue, we heard a soft rumble of thunder.

(to be concluded next time.)