Hello everyone! I hope you are having a blessed Memorial Day. As we pause to remember those who have died to keep us free, please take a moment to pray for their families. They are still living the nightmare of waking up everyday without their loved one. Their brothers and sisters in arms wake up everyday without a text or call from their buddy. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
The parade came, and we had the truck all gussied up, with red, white, blue, and Army green. Hud drove with his BDUs on, and I sat on the back, waving at those who gathered to honor all our fallen soldiers. We got saluted by more people than I could count.
I got a hug from a Vietnam veteran. Another from a WWII Vet. A handshake from a Confederate reenactor. A salute from a Marine who looked suspiciously like Salem Springfield, but I couldn’t be sure.
We went to the football field for the ceremony, the laying of the wreaths and the gun salute and the singing of the National Anthem done by a member of every military branch, a Capella.
Then came the moment for the music. Becca stepped onto the platform, violin in hand, a mic before her to sing at intervals…while I played her backup…on Stanley’s violin. Becca had written the song, and we had practiced like crazy all Saturday evening and between church on Sunday.
And it was perfect. It was called, Do You Remember, Because I Can’t Forget. Soul-Stirring. And heart-wrenching. I cried all the way through it. But I cried even harder when she said, “Normally a dedication is given before a song is sung. But I’m going to do it now because it’s right. This song is dedicated to two Rangers, SPL Randy Bonner , and SPL Stanley Schnyder. Randy is on deployment right now, and Stanley gave it all taking Baghdad. They are both, one on earth and one in heaven, in the palm of our Savior’s Hand. No matter what, they are remembered. For us, as Christians, whether in deployment or in death, there is no Goodbye, only See You Later. And as both of our brothers have taught us, Goodbye isn’t in the Christian Family’s dictionary. If it’s in yours, please see me afterward, and I’ll gladly show you how you can become part of the Family and get rid of your goodbye. God Bless you for being here and God Bless America.”
I could never be that bold. I was almost afraid Becca would get in trouble for witnessing at a public event like that, but no one said a word to her about it, other than to ask her how to get rid of their goodbye. She led five people to Christ that day. I got three.
That evening, we stayed around and helped clean the stadium, the town volunteers insisting Military and Gold Stars shouldn’t have to, but we insisted on helping. After all, the fallen belong to us too.
As we were finishing, I picked up Stanley’s violin and started to leave, but suddenly, tears rushed to my eyes. I couldn’t see Becca and not wanting to cry in front of a dozen Soldiers, Marines, and strangers. So I ducked into the nearest private place…the bleachers.
By myself in the shadows, I allowed myself to miss Stanley, hugging his violin to my chest and sobbing, trying to shove away the memories of the day I got the news.
After a few moments, I heard Becca and Salem calling for me, and I wiped my face, my moment over, but it was time for it to be over. There was a time for mourning and a time for laughter. And Stanley would want me to choose the latter. Smiling, I called out to my friends, and we walked together to the vehicles.
That Friday started horribly. Becca came flying into the house, dictionary in her arms and tears pouring down her face. I grabbed her and shook her. “Becca! What’s wrong?”
“Something’s happening! I was on the phone with Randy, and then somebody yelled, and he said, ‘I love you!’ and the line cut! Something wrong, Chrissy!”
She burst into tears and clung to me, and we both ended up in the kitchen floor, bawling like toddlers and not caring, praying without ceasing that God would please shield Randy.
I stayed with her all day. We eventually went over to their base house and hunkered down, waiting for the call with eager trepidation. Salem drove up from Cherry Point, two hours away, to be with his family, and we all sat in the living room, waiting and praying.
Jason shattered the silence with a straightforward question. “If God…” he cleared his throat. “If God chooses to…take Randy away…will we still love Him?”
Silence hung in the room. Becca shuddered and rested her head against my shoulder, tears seeping into my shirt. Salem ran his hands through his non-existent hair, and Mrs. Springfield closed her eyes. Mr. Springfield paused in his pacing.
I glared at the DVD case propped on the bookshelf.
All heads turned towards Becca. “Because it’s not the end. God promised we will be together again. I won’t understand why. But I’ll still love Him.”
Salem nodded, his eyes red-rimmed, but as of yet, he was a genuine, stone-faced Marine. Mrs. Springfield sighed. “Yes, I’ll still love Him.”
“As hard as that would be…yes,” Mr. Springfield said.
The phone rang, but no one moved to answer it, staring at it in horror.
So I answered it.
“…Oh! Uh, hello, Miss Christina. Good to hear from you. Is Becca there?”
I squealed and nearly dropped the phone, and I know I’d left his ears ringing. “Becca! Take it! It’s him!”
Becca jumped to her feet, snatching the cordless from me. And with a voice as controlled as if she hadn’t been crying all day, she said, “Randy, don’t you ever scare me like that again! What’s the big idea?!”
I laughed so hard and hugged Mrs. Springfield and Mr. Springfield so hard. We thanked God and cried while Salem called their other son, Timothy, at the Air Force Academy and let him know Randy was all right. It was a beautiful evening.
And we ended it with that movie.
Before I left, Becca grabbed my hand and said, “Thank God, I didn’t have to say that final See You Later. Not yet.”
I hugged her tight as she cried with relief. “Not yet. It’s not time yet. But aren’t you so glad Goodbye isn’t in the dictionary?”
She nodded and wiped her eyes. “I’m gonna read that page all night…and all the letters. I’m just so grateful.”
“Me too, Becca.” I winked. “See You Later!”
Salem insisted I come with them to pick Randy up since I had been with them for the whole deployment. I agreed, then realized that he had motives, and I might have elbowed him in the ribs.
Randy ran up to his family, hugging his mom so tight he picked her up. She kissed his cheek; her baby was safe and sound. Becca wedged her way past her brothers to get to him next, and that’s when I saw a couple tears shining in his eyes.
He greeted his brothers, and then he looked at me. He thanked me for being there for Becca. Before I could speak, another Ranger walked up and slapped him on the shoulder. “Later, Boots.”
He grinned, “Later, Pickles.”
I stared at him. Tears rushed to my eyes. “Boots,” I whispered. Randy turned and looked at me. I’d have to show him that letter. He needed to see it.
Two Years Later…
Uncle Abel came to my wedding. And he was smiling. Becca was my maid of honor, and Mr. Springfield was Randy’s best man. Salem said he should have been the best man since he fell in love with me as a sister before Randy said anything. But Randy insisted he had fallen for me at first sight.
All I care about is that my soldier made it home. He’s deploying in about three months, but we’re okay. We have each other for now. And we will never say goodbye. Because they are not in the dictionary…neither are good cheer or Good Conduct Medal because Randy covered them up to get his See You Later Note in there…
“HEY, LIEBLING, YOU TOLD ME, IT’S NOT HERE. WHY ARE YOU LOOKING? WE ONLY HAVE ‘SEE YOU LATERS.’ BECAUSE NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, WITH GOD AS MY WITNESS, I WILL SEE YOU LATER, HERE OR THERE. ALL MY LOVE, MY DARLING. RANGERS LEAD THE WAY…AND SO DO LITTLE SISTERS…”
 Note to readers. This is a short story that is part of a WIP. Randy, Becca and a brother named Tim are adopted by the Springfields, but allowed to keep their birth name. That’s why she says Bonner and not Springfield.
So what did you think? Do you like the idea of no Goodbye's for Christians? Did this end the way you thought it would? Who was your favorite Character? Let me know in the comments below!
God Bless America and Never Forget the Fallen and their families.
Hello! Long time no see! I'm sorry about the delay in posts, but this past month has been crazy busy with church and school finals! (My husband is a teacher and I helped with the pre-edits on student papers!) My health is finally improving (vitamin deficiencies can through you for a loop!), so hopefully, I'm back on track now!
I'm excited to bring you episode two of GID! (If you are new, read part one here!) Today, we're picking up where we left off, so let's jump back in!
The following morning the bell rang, and Becca entered, her wallet tucked under her arm, and a book clutched in her hands. She made a bee-line for the counter.
“Hey…can we talk?”
I nodded, knowing this was gonna be hard. “I have an hour left. But if it can’t wait—”
“It can. Cause I don’t want to rush.”
“Okay, here, take this to the corner booth and wait for me,” I said, sliding a lemonade across the counter. She took it and retreated, opening the book and settling in.
At last, the hour was up, and I came to her booth. “I know a better place for us to talk, come on.”
Moments later, we were sitting at the pier out back. “This is where he brought me last night…”
I winced. “Okay, so I blew that one…”
“No, this is fine.” Becca took a deep breath. “Randy told me you were the one who told him how to tell me.”
“It’s…what my brother did for me…before he left.”
She held the dictionary out towards me. “I don’t know what your brother did, but I wanted you to see what mine did.”
I smiled, touched that she wanted to share something so special with a stranger. I flipped to the page where “Goodbye” should have been. And I pressed my hand to my mouth to keep from audibly crying.
In neat capital letters—such an Army thing—he had written and glued over the entry:
“I TOLD YOU, IT’S NOT HERE. WHY ARE YOU LOOKING? WE ONLY HAVE ‘SEE YOU LATERS.’ BECAUSE NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, WITH GOD AS MY WITNESS, I WILL SEE YOU LATER, HERE OR THERE. ALL MY LOVE, SIS. RANGERS LEAD THE WAY.”
“This,” I said, “is true big brother love.”
“He never would have thought to do it if not for you. I…thank you for giving him the idea. I will cherish this for the rest of my life.”
I hugged her, and she cried on my shoulder. I’m not a heavy make-up kind of girl, but what little mascara I had on was running all over the place.
When we pulled back, I gripped her shoulders. “When can you come back? I’ll show you what my brother did for me.”
“You don’t have to share it. I know it must be special to you.”
“I…want to. Really. Please?”
“I’ll be here Friday.”
“Meet me here at 3:00, okay?”
“I’ll be here.”
She met me there on the pier on Friday, and I handed her a to-go cup of lemonade. I pulled out the book that I had kept beside my Bible ever since I had gotten it. I gave it to her and waited.
She turned to that page. Like her brother, mine had covered the entry.
“GOODBYES AREN'T FOR US. WE DON’T NEED THEM. BECAUSE NOTHING WILL EVER TAKE AWAY OUR HOME IN ETERNITY. CHRISSY, GOODBYE ISNT IN THE DICTIONARY OF THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY. ALL MY LOVE UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN, SEE YOU LATER.”
Big brother love.
Randy deployed the three weeks later. I was there with his family at Becca’s request. I gave them space, letting them say their ‘see you laters.’ He shook my hand before he headed for the plane. “See you later, Miss Christina.”
“See you later, Ranger.”
Becca came to see me every week. We’d drink Lemonade and talk about our brothers, and I was able to heal a little on the inside, sharing about how amazing Stanley was. And I learned what happened to her other brother, the one they almost lost. He had been a prisoner of war at the beginning of the war in Iraq. Celebrated his eighteenth birthday sick from an infected Camel bite. And Randy had been able to bring him home.
She brought letters that Randy had written home, sharing portions and allowing me to lose myself in the Army life I missed so much, all the acronyms and little jokes that are only funny to Army people. I brought some of Stanley’s letters, and we both laughed too hard at the pranks he played with his two buddies, Boots and Pickles. He never did tell me their real names, and I never got to meet them. They came to the funeral, but we were all too much of a wreck to talk. I can’t even remember what they looked like.
We cried over the honesty of our brothers. Both shared that at times, they were scared and didn’t really want to admit it to any of the guys. But then they apologized for telling us. Neither of us had minded.
Stanley wrote home, a few weeks before he died, “I’ve always respected Boots, but today, he made me respect him more. Risked his life to bring back Jerkface, the guy I told you about that pesters the snot out of everyone, especially Boots. Jerkface got hurt up really bad, and Boots nearly got himself killed going after him. J got EVACed, and Boots is going tomorrow. I’m sitting with him, watching him sleep, and…he just looks like a kid… I can easily see him as the kind that would call for his mom, then feel bad for wishing her there to see him like this. But I wish she was here. He’s too protective of us to realize it, but he needs somebody looking after him too. Big puppy if you ask me. Hey, if you ever decide soldiers aren’t that bad…😉 seriously, though, he’s a great guy.”
I rolled my eyes. “He was always trying to find me a husband. He so wanted me to marry one of his guys.”
Becca smiled and squeezed my hand. “Obviously, that’s up to God, but Boots doesn’t sound like a bad guy…I mean, he’s the one who asked if the others would like to do Bible study together, right?”
“Yes, that’s him. Who knows. I hope God does give him a good one. He sounds like he needs a protective wife.”
“Well, God will get her for him.”
We finished our lemonade and chatted a little longer, then I hurried back to work. I was trying to concentrate, but all I could think about was Memorial Day coming up. Me and my younger brother Hudson were supposed to go to the parade this year and drive Stanley’s truck…that was gonna be hard.
Uncle Abel smiled as I refilled the lemonade tank. “We’ll be closing up a little early this evening. So, we’ll see you bright and early Monday?”
I turned to him in surprise. Why it shocked me that he would have the café open on a holiday, I don’t know…but to expect me to be there? To miss Stanley’s parade? “I…I can’t come.”
He frowned. “We have inventory. Everyone will have to be here for us to finish on time.”
“Then let me do my part this evening. Please, I have to have Monday off!”
Uncle Abel frowned. “Is this about that parade?”
I swallowed back a look of defiance. “Yes. I’m going for Stanley.”
I could have kept it together. I could have breathed through it.
But he rolled his eyes and frowned.
Hello All! Hope you are having a lovely weekend, preparing to worship the Lord with fellow believers tomorrow! Today I am sharing a short story (as requested/promised)! Since there is a side plot involving the Mennonite, I want to go ahead and state that this story is NOT intended to look down on the Mennonite people. It is meant to show the tension between those who believe in pacifism and those who do not. I will go ahead and state that I do not believe in pacifism and I do have scripture to back that up (if you have questions about it, feel free to contact us!), but I respect each persons' choice to believe how they want on this matter ;)
This is a longer story, so I will be releasing it in parts! (Also note, this is a part of a WIP, so it is subject to change.) I wrote this story last year as a part of a writing challenge several of my writing buddies were doing! It was so fun!
So, without further ado, let's hope into the story.
Charlotte tugged at my sleeve and said, her voice trembling, “Christina, please take this customer. It’s…a soldier, and I’m scared.”
It killed me. My uncle's family were Mennonite, and as such, they didn’t understand the Biblical and moral reasons to maintain a military to defend their right to pacifism. But I’m not Mennonite, and I’m not gonna turn my back on a soldier.
I hurried out, my denim skirt swishing as I rounded the counter. “Hello! Welcome to Schnyders! What can I get you, sir?”
At first, He didn’t realize I was talking to him, and I laughed. “Sorry, I forgot you don’t ‘sir’ Specialists.”
A smile split his face, and he said, “I’d like a Ruben, side of sauerkraut and a cup of coffee, black, decaf, please.”
“Coming right up! And,” I held out my hand. “Thank you for your service, sir. My brother was Army. Lost him in Baghdad.”
His eyes clouded, but the look disappeared in a blink. “Thank you for standing by him. And thank you for your support, ma’am. I…I almost lost a brother in Iraq too.”
“He’s all right?”
“Thank God. Let me get your coffee.”
I didn’t even know what had happened to his brother, but I wanted to cry anyway. I wiped my eyes and straightened the bow in my hair, and faced him with a smile. He smiled back and took the coffee, turning his attention to a letter in his hand.
Moments later, I interrupted his reading with his food. “Okay, I have to ask. Do you speak German?”
He looked up at me. “I do. Why?”
“I noticed your accent when you ordered. I grew up speaking it, so I notice it when an ‘outsider’ speaks it around here.”
His eyes laughed. “I was born in Germany. My family moved here when I was eight. Thanks for not getting creeped out by how I talk.”
“Oh, yes, I get that too. Too bad, though. It’s a lovely language.”
I refilled his coffee and turned away.
“Could I ask for your advice?”
“Okay, so I have a younger sister. And I… well, I’m deploying in about a month. I’ve had two, and both times, I’ve had close calls, and I know this is gonna tear her up. How would you suggest I tell her?”
I let out my breath in a rush. More than likely, he was heading to Iraq. It was horrible over there right now. “I…” how would I have wanted Stanley to tell me if we could redo it? No, I wouldn’t change it. “Find a restaurant where you two can talk, with food that she likes. And order dessert.”
He laughed. “So our family isn’t the only one that doesn’t normally do that.”
I smiled. “Then take her somewhere special, and break it to her gently. And tell her…”
I swallowed. “Goodbye isn’t in the Dictionary.”
I expected him to ask what I meant and I wished I hadn’t said it, because I didn’t want to explain. But he didn’t. He got this look in his eyes… and nodded slowly. “And get her one to prove it?”
I nodded. Lucky guess.
I figured I’d never see him again. But I was surprised when three evenings later, he opened the door and entered. He wasn’t in uniform, but he had an Iraq War T-shirt and jeans. His sister was about nineteen, older than I had expected.
I greeted them and took their orders. She talked softly, but loud enough for me to hear, about how beautiful the place was and how good the food was. “How did you find this place? It's so quaint!”
I smiled and quit eavesdropping. I looked over the evening’s dessert menu and made a guess at what they might want. I got right to work on it. This needed to be extra special for them.
As they were finishing, I walked up. “I hope you don’t mind…I made this for y’all, my treat.”
The girl looked up at me, and her eyes brimmed. He thanked me and accepted the two fried Apple pies with frosting, spelling out “Army Strong” on each one with stars. “Oh, wait! This is my sister, Becca. Becca, this is…I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name.”
“Christina. It’s nice to meet y’all.”
“And this is Randy,” Becca laughed. “He never remembers to introduce himself. I tell him it’s because he’s SF now.”
“Airborne?” I asked eagerly.
“Airborne Ranger Infantry,” Becca said, clearly proud of her brother. I couldn’t help smiling, or the tear that ran down my cheek. “Oh, dear,” she whispered. “He told me about…your brother. Oh!” She jumped to her feet and hugged me. And I hugged her, a stranger. How had I not seen his wings the other day? Or maybe I had but didn’t want to.
How long we stood there, I don’t know. Finally, I dried up and let them enjoy their dessert. Randy laid something on the table and paid their bill. Then they left.
I cleaned up the table, my heart aching for Becca, and the news he was about to give her. I found tucked under his cup a wad of dollar bills, $10 in all, and a note. “Thanks for caring. Lead the Way.”
And I sat at the table and cried.
Interested? Want to see more of the story? What is your favorite part so far? Any ideas about what will happen next? Recognize any of these people? Let me know what you think in the comments below!
Have a blessed day and God Bless America!
IT'S CHRISTMAS EVE, PEOPLE!!!! Tomorrow is Christmas! And as a present for you, come back tomorrow for two special surprises! For now, let's get to the conclusion of Expected End!
Part Seven: Returning the Favor
“…James, darling, please won’t you answer mother?”
James moaned and rolled onto his side, barely hearing the muffled words addressing him. His face drew up and his whole body shook as a holler exploded from his lips.
“Oh, darling, it’s going to be all right! The doctor’s coming. I’m sorry, you’ll feel much better soon, I promise.”
James bit down on his lips to keep from screaming again, but it didn’t fully keep his cries silent. A gentle hand rubbed his face, then wrapped him in a tight hug. James felt constricted and tried to push the person away.
“Here’s the doctor now. Just a bit longer, darling…”
Something lukewarm splashed into his mouth, nearly choking him, but after a few moments, the pain subsided and he’s breathing regulated to it’s normal tempo. He heard a snap, but felt nothing but the doctor wrapping something stiff around his leg. He dropped his head against the pillow and with a dull moan, he slipped into a medicated sleep.
“…Darling, can you hear me? Won’t you talk to me now?”
He slowly opened his eyes. It was his beloved mother, cradling his head in her arms. “Oh, you are alive! The doctor said you would die. You’re so sick and that wagon broke your leg, oh!” She kissed his dirty cheek and hugged him tightly. He could feel her tears as she pressed her face against his. Tears of anguish at what had almost happened and joy and relief at what had happened.
James could hardly believe what was happening himself. He was in his own home, in his own bed. His mother was hovering over him, providing long denied comforts for her beloved son. Among those were a warm, wet cloth passing over his face, cleaning away the dirt and grim, just as she had done when he was just a child. She pulled another blanket over his shivering frame and continued a running commentary on how the doctor had made an improper diagnosis. It wasn’t until she left him to get some nourishing chicken and veggie soup that he noticed the two soldiers sitting nearby.
“Andrew,” he whispered. “Gabriel.” He tried to sit up.
The two came to his side and told him to lie quietly, to save his strength. Gabe’s arm was in a sling and Andy had a blood- stained bandage wrapped about his head. “You had us in a tight spot, Jamie,” Andy remarked. “Took us ten whole minutes to scare off your redcoat captors. Are you all right?”
The young man shrugged. “Been better, been worse. Thank you—”
“No, James,” Gabe cut in, kneeling beside him and gripping arm with his good hand. “Thank you. That night you were caught, twenty-seven prisoners were able to escape because of your work. And your papers were dropped in the snow. You must have dropped them in the scuffle. One of the men were able to get them and bring them back to camp. We got the ammunition you detailed about. Thank you for risking it all. Thank you for not giving in to the tyrants. Thank you for your sacrifice.”
James looked at his two friends as his mother returned. She took his hand and squeezed it tightly. James was overwhelmed with gratitude to his friends and his Savior for his rescue. He turned his face away for a moment. His mother gently rubbed the moisture off his cheeks as the tears trickled down. “I’m too old for this,” he said with a laugh.
He faced his friends once more, only to find that they too were wiping their eyes. The three were like brothers and the fact that they were all safe, out of British hands was a relief. James didn’t know of their sleepless nights spent searching for ways to get on board the Hawk without the Redcoats’ knowledge; of the bribes they had used to gain information about him; or the times they had tried to negotiate his release. He didn’t know how close they had come to getting caught by the Brits trying to free him, or of the tortured thoughts they’d had about his being killed or otherwise dead. That is a story for another time.
The important thing now was that James was safe, on the road to recovery… and no longer condemned to die.
Mrs. Tanner helped James with his supper. By the time he had finished his food, he was exhausted. Mrs. Tanner stayed by his side until he fell asleep. She turned to Andy and Gabe. “How’s the other patient?”
Gabe shrugged. “If the towns people had their way, he’d be dead right this minute. As it is, he’s still not doing that well. Doctor Ames said the bullet went very deep. He still hasn’t woken up yet.”
Mrs. Tanner filled a bowl with warm water and picked up a cloth. “Will you boys sit with James? I’m going to see to the lad. What was his name again?”
“Cpl. Howard Percy, that’s what the other soldiers said anyway,” Gabe replied.
Mrs. Tanner nodded and left the room. James mumbled, stirring, “Percy… help Percy…”
Andy bent over him. “What?”
“He’s asleep again. I guess hearing us talk leaked into his sleep.”
The next morning, Mrs. Tanner took a seat next to James and opened her Bible. “Let’s read some of the Word together, shall we?”
James smiled. He had missed this.
When the reading was over, Mrs. Tanner insisted that if James felt up to it, he should tell her everything. And when Mrs. Tanner said everything, she meant everything. Slowly at first, James told her his story, beginning with his volunteering for the mission on impulse. Then the words tumbled out one after another, telling her everything that he could remember, omitting only the very worst parts.
Mrs. Tanner bent forward, listening to her son’s saga with rapt attention.
“I was coming very close to dying when a fellow named Percy… Percy! Didn’t you say something last night about Percy?”
“Well, yes, but—”
“It was a fellow named Percy that saved my life! He helped me when I was about to die in the hold of the ship! Mother, what were you saying about Percy?”
“Dear, I seriously doubt it’s the same fellow. Remember, you said you were in New York when this happened. We’re all the way down in Virginia.”
“But it could be! Our ship was boarded many times! And I didn’t get a good look at all of our guards. It could be him! Mother, is he here?”
“Calm yourself, darling! Yes, I have a redcoat here in my care, a young one named Howard Percy. He was shot, and the colonel had him brought here until further notice. But—”
“Please, mother, let me see him!”
“Mother, he… he prayed with me. He was the only man who prayed with me when I needed it the most.”
Mrs. Tanner looked at her son, and gently rubbed his shoulder, seeing the tears gather in his eyes and feeling the tears welling in her own. “I’ll see what we can arrange. For now, you need to rest yourself. I’ll do what I can for him and talk with the doctor when he comes.”
“Please, mama, don’t let him die! Please!”
“That’s not up to me, darling, that is up to our Heavenly Father. Why don’t we talk to Him about it?”
Later that evening, Cpl. Percy was carried into the same room as James, so they would only need to light one fire to keep the boys warm. James took one look at his face and knew at once that it was his prayer warrior.
Day after day, the Tanners carried for and prayed over Percy. When at last he awoke and had eaten some of Mrs. Tanner’s delicious soup, he turned to James. “Looks like we’re destined to bump into one another. Thank you for praying.”
James smiled at him. “Thank you for praying with me when I needed it most. You really helped me to rest in the Lord.”
Percy’s smile widened. “We might not be on the same side, but we serve the same God I see.”
James nodded. “Praise the Lord for a Savior who doesn’t care about the color of your coat.”
Did you like the ending? What did you think of the story? Are you excited for Christmas? Don't forget to hop over to Stories by Firefly for more Christmas fun!
Merry Christmas Eve!
Merry Christmas! Wow, day 9 already! Only three days until Christmas! Who's excited?? I'm thrilled to bring you part 6 of Expected End today! Without further ado, let's hope into today's story!
Part 6: Condemned to Die
The next morning, the condemned were marched down the plank onto dry ground for the first time in what seemed like forever. James found he couldn’t walk as a combination of his leg injury and being used to a rocking ship. Two fellow prisoners were chained to him and were forced to help their dizzy companion along.
Snow fell thick and fast around them as they slogged through the drifts and mud. If they had shoes, they were ragged. Those who didn’t grimly resigned themselves to dealing with frostbite in their final day. James shivered, trying to hop on his good foot, but he finally gave up; he was more of a hindrance than a help.
After five hours of forced marching and sheer misery, the twenty men were loaded onto a wagon bound for the town of Lynchburg… two towns over from James’ home. Half of him hoped perhaps he would see someone, anyone, familiar, the other half hoped no one he knew would witness his present appearance or execution. He had been a miserably impulsive soldier and not very helpful at all. But he had been eager and willing… and now he was preparing to die. He had nothing to show for his service or his life for that matter. He didn’t want them to see him like that. He didn’t want to die like that!
Around 6:45 that night, the wagon rolled into Lynchburg. The guards shouted and the men were unloaded from the wagon. They were marched to a jail house which to be honest was a big improvement from their previous confinements. The jailer watched as the men were marched into his building. James glanced at him as he limped past and read his expression clearly. He looked as if he wanted to express sympathy, but he wisely kept his mouth shut. He couldn’t say anything in front of the redcoats.
“Make sure their chains are secure and that your doors are locked. No visitors, not even the clergy are allowed. We are not taking any chances on losing these prisoners”
The jailer nodded and urged the Redcoats to hurry to the hotel before they were locked out. As soon as the brawly lot had taken their leave, the jailer hurried over to a door which led to a side room. Moments later, he emerged carrying large basket. Setting it outside the first cell, the jailer fumbled with his keys and inserted the key into the lock, swinging the door open.
“Here,” he said, briskly, “I was able to get word to my wife before you arrived, and she sent food. I’m so terribly sorry about this turn of events. Don’t lose heart yet. God is still in control. Here, take this roll, and there’s roast chicken too.”
He went from cell to cell, handing out food and then hurried away to fetch fresh water. That in itself was a luxury. Grateful, the prisoners blessed their food and tore into their bounty. James tried his best to eat, but due to his recent illness, his appetite was nearly gone.
“Come on, James, chicken will help you get stronger,” his companions urged him.
“Stronger?” he said with a humorless laugh. “Yep, I’ll get plenty strong with less than 24 hours to live.”
“Well aren’t you mister optimistic tonight.”
“I’m just stating a fact. God’s done with us. We need to accept that and not be disappointed that we are going to meet Him. It almost seems rude to pretend it’s not true.”
The soldiers looked at each other, unsure what to say. The jailer smiled. “With God, my young friend, all things, even the impossible, are made possible. Never give up hope.”
James arched an eyebrow and shook his head. He was tired of sitting up and stretched out on the floor, his breathing wheezy.
“Can’t you believe in the impossible, lad?” the Jailer asked, coming to sit beside him. Gently, he raised James head to help him take a sip of water. “Isn’t Christmas the time for impossible miracles? It started with one, the virgin birth of the Christ Child. If God can do that, can’t He do something as simple as rescuing the captive from the jaws of death? He did it for Peter you know.”
James furrowed his brow, wracking his brain for the account the man spoke of, but he was too exhausted to remember it. “You’ll have to refresh my memory, sir.”
“Well, lie quiet and listen up,” the man instructed, popping a small piece of chicken into the boy’s mouth. James relented and chewed on the savory meat. Maybe he was hungry after all…
“Peter was arrested and condemned to die in the prisons of the Roman government. There was no escape. There were over a dozen guards watching over his cell and Peter was chained between two of them! It was impossible for his friends to break in, much less rescue Peter. But God sent an angel to deliver him. His chains fell off and the door and gate opened for him, all without the guards seeing a thing!
“Peter went straight to the home of some fellow believers and after quite a mix up, he was let in. If God could do that then, don’t you believe He could do that now, this very night if he chose? Or do you believe God has lost his power?” the jailer challenged.
James finished the last bite of his chicken, considering the man’s words. “I know He is able. I just don’t believe He will this time.”
“Ye have not because ye ask not,” the jailer quipped. “You may be right, but never give up praying for a miracle. God may choose to celebrate His Son’s birthday by answering yes to your prayers.”
James looked up at the man as he stood to leave.
Be still and know that I am God… For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
The following evening, the twenty prisoners bid a silent farewell to their jailer friend and were marched out to the town square. James was held up between two men as they were marched to the execution grounds. They were lined up in front of forty Redcoats with shiny muskets. James saw a group of townspeople gathered nearby. Some were calling out words of encouragement to the poor Patriot victims; other wept for their loved ones in the line of condemnation. A preacher lifted up his voice in prayer for the brave, unrepentant heroes about to die.
He turned towards the voice just as a wild war whoop sounded from behind the troopers. James’ companions threw him and themselves to the ground as bullets flew and shouting continued. Dogs barked, and the church bells pealed through the cold winter air. James heard a snap and pain shot through his right leg as something rolled over it. His face contorted with the pain. What was happening?
Have you figured out what happened? Well, if not, you'll have to wait until Christmas Eve to hear the conclusion! Tomorrow I am sharing 5 things I want to do this Christmas! Click here for more Christmas fun and I'll see you tomorrow!
Christian. American. Southern. Author.
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