Chapter 7

Scott pushed himself through the crowd of church goers and placed himself in the back corner of wooden pews in hopes of not being seen by her.

Seats began to fill and he spotted her walking past him, closer towards the front rows. The older woman she walked in with, greeted the people sitting around her, smiling and making small talk. He didn’t know her name, but he had eaten at her bakery a handful of times before. Both times she smiled at him warmly, like a mother to a son.

The worship team stepped onto the low stage and began welcoming the congregation to the service. Throughout worship, Scott kept his eyes on Schuyler, he watched as she swayed back in forth to the music and bow her head at seemingly appropriate times. When the music was finished, the congregation sat in their seats and proceeded with the service. The pastor began his message and Scott grabbed a leather worn bible in the wooden compartment in front of him and pretended to follow along as to not become too focused on the girl. When it was over, he made a mad dash to the exit and towards his truck. He quickly unlocked the door and slid into the seats just as saw people coming out to chat. Schuyler and the older lady appeared smiling with a group of ladies, one he had recognized from the doctors office in town. They laughed and chatted for a few minutes before departing to their vehicles. Schuyler and the woman were walking towards him. Frantic, he put the key in the ignition and turned, but it didn’t start. He looked up to see the women standing two cars over. The older woman had spotted him with a concerned look and began to walk over. He could see Schuyler’s eyes follow the woman but thankfully didn’t stop on him.

“Sugar, do you need some help?” the lady said. He noted the kindness in her eyes that she gave everyone when they entered the bakery.

“Just trying to get my truck to start ma’am.” He turned the key again and could hear it start to turn and then die. He mustered a smile to her and she smiled back in a funny way before turning behind her.

“I can call a tow truck and wait with you. My daughter and I are only heading to lunch with some friends, but they’ll understand.”

Scott’s head jerked up at the word ‘daughter’ but tried to make up for his sudden motion by looking around the empty parking lot.

“That’s not necessary, Ms-”

“Carey, my name is Carey. Yours?”

“Scott.” He turned the key one last time, praying inwardly for it to start this time, it did, and he sighed with relief giving Carey a big grin.

“Well, Praise Jesus!” Carey exclaimed smiling back at him.

“Yeah, Praise him.” he revved up the engine a bit before putting it in reverse and gave her a polite nod before pulling out of his spot. He could see Carey looking at him from his rear view, like a mother watching her kid drive away. He didn’t bother to look at Schuyler standing at the car, he just kept going.

At the stop light before getting on the street to his house, he checked his phone and saw that none of his phone calls had been returned from Thomas and it worried him. This girl had been here for several weeks and no one seemed to care to look for her. Thankfully, he hadn’t heard any word about her in town so maybe she had kept her mouth shut.

He pulled up into the driveway of his small one level home and turned off the ignition. He sat in the seat, no rush to get out and began thinking that maybe he should go by and talk to him in person. He looked at his phone for the time and mentally noted that it would probably be busy at the house with customers, so he probably won’t be able to talk to him long. But it was worth a shot. He started the ignition of his truck without any issues, thankfully and smoothly pulled put of the driveway and began the drive to Nashville.

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Chapter 5

The gynocologist smiled warmly as Schuyler settled herself down on the table. She pulled up her shirt showing off her stomach and watched as she put cold gel on it.

“Is this your first child?” the doctor asked, grabbing a device and taking her spot at the chair besides the examining table.

“Yes, ma’am”.

“Oh please, just call me Charlotte.” She smiled at her before fidgeting with the screen. Schuyler smiled back before glancing at the door.

“Did you want the father to come in and see the baby?”

Schuyler gave her a bewildered look and forgot that Charlotte had spotted Cohen walking into the office as she was walking out with another patient.

“Oh, he’s just a friend. Not the father.” she responded bitting her bottom lip.

“Oh, of course. Well, he is welcome in here if you’d like me to go get him for you. You know, support?” Charlotte’s hazel eyes met with Schuyler and they exchanged a silent conversation before Schuyler nodded approval to go retrieve Cohen. A few seconds later, he was standing by her side when the baby appeared on the screen.

Charlotte spoke, but Schuyler wasn’t paying a bit of attention while her eyes were glued to the screen. Her heart swelled ten times bigger than she expected and a weird experince of love overtook her.

Soon enough Charlotte left Schuyler to get situated as she retrieved ultra sound pictures. Cohen handed her napkins to wipe the goo off her stomach.

“So, that was pretty cool,” Cohen spoke breaking the silence. Schuyler lifted her head and noticed how impressed he seemed to be.

“Yeah,” she said voice catching in her throat. She tried clearing it, but the feeling came back, this time followed with hot heavy tears. Trying to not let her face show, she turned her back to Cohen and wiped her eyes quickly.

“Here you go!” Charlotte entered in a sing songy voice holding the picture in her hand. Schuyler tried paying attention as she gave her some last minute details and instructions while she escorted them out of the office and at the desk to schedule her next appointment.

The sun shined beautifully as they walked out the building, Cohen quickly walked over to his car and opended the door for her. With a raised brow, she sat in the passenger’s seat and waited for him to get in.

Schuyler looked out the window as they drove through the historic downtown area, passing Carey’s bakery and the little shops surrounding it. She began to dream of raising the child growing inside her, in this small town with seemingly sweet people that could one day be her friends. She glanced over at Cohen and for the first time felt grateful for his presence. He chose to be there with her, even with the known tension between them, and didn’t even argue about it.

Cohen stopped to let some kids cross the street from the town park, a red pick up paused beside them as well. When Schuyler looked over into the truck, a familiar face looked back at her, quickening the beats of her heart.

The Beater stared back at her and she felt his hands on her again though there was too much distance between them. He tilted his head forward and looked above dark sunglasses, revealing those piercing eyes. Before Schuyler could make a move or sound, Cohen moved forward, making his way back to Carey’s home. Mouth agape, she looked ahead with thoughts racing in her head. They reached the driveway of the house, but Schuyler didn’t dare make a move to get out. She felt her mouth getting dry and palms becoming sweaty with fear at the very thought of her last moments with the man in the truck.

“You good?” Cohen asked breaking the silence as he parked his car. He pulled off his seat belt and made a move to get out but Schuyler stopped him, “I can let myself out, thank you. And no, I’m not fine. But can you stay with me until Carey gets home.” A puzzled look appeared across his face but he nodded before opening his door.

As they entered the house, Schuyler made her way into the half bathroom, let the toilet lid down and sat, head in her hands. Those familiar eyes came to her mind and she began to cry. It was the first time in a while that she really let herself release all the pain and hurt and confusion she had been bottling up inside. She tried to cover her mouth to silence the sobs so that Cohen couldn’t hear her but they seemed to continue getting louder. She could feel tears and snot running down her face but she didn’t even care. Feeling herself become hot from the sobbing, she stood up and took a step towards the sink to splash cold water on her face before taking her seet on the toilet again. Her heavy sobs slowed down, chest hurting and an occasional hiccup escaped her lips. She knew at some point she had to get out of the bathroom but being alone felt better than having to face Cohen wherever he was in the house.

A door slammed and Schuyler wondered if he had decided to leave her in the house alone after all. She grabbed some tissues and pulled herself together as best as she could. Her chocolate skin was red and blotchy but she could care less. Wiping the last of her tears she gave herself one last look in the mirror before walking out and into the living room where Carey and Cohen sat whispering quietly. They hushed when they noticed her presence and gave her concerned looks.

Schuyler sheepishly smiled at them, “Hey Carey,”

“Oh sugar!” Carey said raising from the couch to embrace her. In her shoulders Schuyler released her tears and stayed there for what seemed like forever. When she had finally calmed down, she wiped her face with a paper towel that Cohen retrieved for her. She thanked him before sitting between them on the couch.

“I need to tell you guys something,” Schuyler said between heavy sobs. Fidling with her tissue, she told her story leaving Cohen and Carey sitting in stunned silence until she was finished. “So now,” she said “I can’t keep this kid. I have nothing to offer it and even if I did, I wouldn’t know how to. I’ve never had to take care of kids before and I’m too afraid to try. And I’d be putting it in danger living out here if he’s here.”

Cohen cleared his throat, “Maybe we can go to the police, give him a discription of the man that has been coming to you all these years and find him.” At his very words, Schuyler noticed his fists clinching.

“The guy who owned me, if he gets word of where I am, he’d come after me to cover himself. I’ve seen what he does to women that go against him…” Her voice trailed off as she she remmebered the time that she watched his friend carry a bleeding girl out after not bring him the type of business he wanted and she shuttered.

“First of all, sweet pea,” Carey interjected, “no one owns you. You aren’t a piece of meat for sale or something you can easily pick up off a shelf. You are a human being and should be treated with respect and love. So we won’t speak of such ownership. You are hear, with us and you belong here. You are free. And as for this child of yours, I can help you raise them. You stay long enough, there may be some other ladies at church that would love to help. We can be your family and your friends. And you can stay here as long as you want. Don’t stress about feelin’ like you have to leave or not be a burden to me. You aren’t causing me any set backs. And even if you were, you still belong here.” That motherly look appeared on her face and Schuyler could’nt help but smile at her as she pushed back her curly hair and nodded.

You belong here

The voice echoed in her very being as Schuyler let the words sink in.

“I belong here,” she declared in a whispered tone.

Chapter 4

**If you are new to my blog, I started writing a book and posting it on here. This story started 3 years ago and hasn’t been worked on much since due to certain issues. But the Lord is good and has given me the words to write again. Thank you for your patience for those that have followed along. God bless and happy reading**

There was nothing but everything special about him that was earthly attractive. His facial features were plain but held a sense of kindness and warmth that drew her in. His eyes and hands carefully focused on the piece of wood before him, sculpting with his hands, eyes full of vision for the piece he was diligently creating. Schuyler watched him with awe and wonder as the wood came to life and in mere seconds, the chair came to be, her name engraved on the back with such beautiful intricacy.

She watched as the man fashioned together a table long enough for the kind of feasts you see in movies. Moments later the table was draped in white cloth topped with wild flowers and tea lights. Gold and silver plates held food fit for royalty and at the end of the table the mysterious man sat, clothes changed from simple linen to a king-like robe and a crown on his head. He looked at her and smiled, extended his hand as if to invite her to the seat he crafted for her. Suddenly, Schuyler could feel herself feel unfit for such a feast and she stepped away from the table and walked away. A voice cried out from behind her but she couldn’t bare to look back and see the hurt that dressed the kind mans face at her departure. Darkness seemed to over take her vision, a sudden death like grip held her throat…

Schuyler awoke startled and became erect from her sleeping position. Eyeing the clock, she knew it was morning but the sun had not yet broken through. The smell of bacon and coffee filled her nose telling her that Carey was up and getting ready to open up shop. She dared not to leave the comforting darkness of the room and stayed in the bed, eyes looking out the window. Her mind went back to the dream, the man’s kind face greeting her and she felt her heart skip. The feeling of warmth covered her like a blanket straight from the dryer and she closed her eyes for a brief moment.

A soft knock forced Schuyler’s eyes open and the door opened. Carey stood in the door way, the hallway lamp showing her motherly figure.

“I didn’t wake you did I?” She whispered softly in the darkness.

Schuyler shook her head as if Carey could see her response, “No. I just woke from a dream. Do you need me?”

“Well, I just wanted to let you know that I made an appointment for you at my doctor’s office for later on this afternoon. Just so we can get you looked at and make sure that you are in good health for the baby. And of course make sure the baby is doing fine and all. Can you meet me at 3 o’clock?” Carey’s country twang had notes of excitement, making Schuyler’s heart hurt with the thought that her decision may kill the joy rising in her sweet friend.

“Yeah, sure.” Schuyler responded,  “Thank you for being so helpful, Carey.”

“It’s my pleasure, hun.” And she quietly closed the door. Schuyler looked back out the window, this time spotting a streak of orange and pink like behind distant trees.

Trust me

The voice spoke to the fear and worry that had risen in her chest and it died at the gentle command.

“What other choice do I have?” She spoke back into the darkness.


The bakery was busy with customers when Schuyler walked in to meet Carey. She could see her frazzled face from the front door as she delivered baked goodies to tables or packing them in simple paper bags. She made eye contact with Schuyler from the register and gave a quick smile before assisting another customer. Looking around the room, she spotted an empty chair in the back of the bakery and waited.

“Hey,” spoke a male voice beside her. There stood Cohen with his boyish ruffled hair and sharp green eyes. Schuyler wondered how many women this one man could charm his way with looking like that but congratulated herself for not being one of them. Cohen had been sweet to bring her chocolate covered fruit in her time of need, but she wasn’t swooning for him. He’d stayed with her at Carey’s for a good hour or so, not bothering her in their comfortable silence and then he left before Carey came home from the shop. She surprisingly enjoyed his company. But not enough to be buddies with him. If it weren’t for Carey’s generosity and her apparent love for Cohen, she probably would not feel compelled to respond back.

“Hi,” she said with a half grin. Her response seemed to have been an invitation for him to pull up an empty chair and sit across from her. Obviously there was no escaping him now.

“Feeling any better?” His seemed to look at her with genuine concern, or maybe it was the way the sunlight danced in his eyes.

“For the most part, yes,” she pushed back a curl before resting her chin in one hand and playing with the napkin holder between them. “On lunch break?”

“No, Carey said she needed a favor from me. So I left my office to help her out.” He watched people enter and exit the door which let in the crisp fall air. “What about you?”

“Doctor’s appointment,” she mumbled.

“Have you decided one what you are going to do with it?”

“Not really. I guess I’ll take it day by day,” she said shrugging the thought away.

Carey made her way to their table, flustered, “Hey, you two. “She said resting her palms on the table as if standing to catch her breath ‘It has been an absolute madhouse today. I may need to hire an extra hand or two.”

“Yeah that’s not a bad idea,” Cohen looked at the last of the customers walking out, paper bags in hand. “I’m sure I can’t place an ad in the paper for you before the week is out.”

Carey rested her hand on Cohen’s shoulder and gave him a motherly look, “You are my hero, that would be wonderful.” She turned her attention to Schuyler, “How are you feeling today?”

“Pretty good. I made sure to eat what you made this morning. Thank you again for that.”

“My pleasure, hun. But I have to tell you, I don’t think I’ll be able to leave this place if it keeps getting busy like this. So I called Cohen to help me out by taking you to your appointment.” Her last sentence forced both Schuyler and Cohen to look at each in utter shock and back at her.

“Are you sure, Ms. Carey? I mean I can wait for another time to go-”

“No sugar, you need to go so we can figure what the next move will be for you. I promise, I’ll be there for the next appointment, but right now, I can’t leave and Cohen will be more than happy to take.” She said, patting Cohen on the shoulder. Cohen glanced at her from across the table and can see the mix of emotions in his eyes. Schuyler could see there was no getting out of this. Sighing in defeat and stood from the table.

“Let’s go then.”

 

 

10 Years

It was a normal work day. I was on my lunch break when I opened my Facebook app to see a group invite. Normally, I ignore them, but this was different. It was a group for planning my 10 year class reunion. I almost squealed with excitement. I got excited see all the familiar names and faces of people I spent 4 or more years of my life with, people who I walked the stage with celebrating the end of another season.

As classmates proclaimed their excitement for the reunion, I did what any responsible 27-year-old would do at a time like this…. I shamelessly Facebook stalked as far as their privacy settings would allow. Pictures of college graduations, engagement and baby announcements, job promotions and world travels filled my screen; their lives played like highlight reels and I became increasingly jealous as I looked on every page. This continued for the whole weekend, taking up all of my free time. My heart and mind became convinced that I spent these years poorly and that there was nothing that I could bring to show my life has had some value when reunion day arrived. I have no college degree, nor a corporate America job that could magically make people love and admire me when they ask what happened after graduation. I’m not married or even have a boyfriend and I’m childless.

During one of my lunch breaks this past weekend, I expressed my feelings of failure to a close friend from ALC. My eyes filled with tears and my heart cried bitterly to God for my wasted years (bloopers) and even briefly  believed that he was upset with me as well. I replayed the year my parents divorced and how I spent so much time being emotionally effected by it. I replayed the night I prayed for deliverance from an addiction, experiencing the freedom that came afterwards by just simply walking away from it daily, only to crawl back and lock myself up to it months later. I replayed the rejection of young men my heart longed for and how I had looked at myself feeling like I wasn’t enough to experience love. I replayed the two semesters of college that I attended and flunked because of my inability of caring or even believing that I was smart enough to pass any of my classes. I stepped away from success and became comfortable working thankless jobs that were unable to see my worth and I laid in bed with the dreams of being something better only to wake up with not reaching for them the next day.

My phones ringtone pulled me out of my cloud of shame, my friend had responded back:

“Even though it’s not where you want to be or the “ideal” life for your age, doesn’t mean you’re failing. You are just waiting on God, that’s all that matters.”

I read her response over and over again letting it marinate for hours. I sought the Lord on my day off, and though my heart wanted those words to ring true throughout my entire being,  it wasn’t doing it as quickly as I would like. But slowly, I had to raise my hand and heart in surrender to the truth that was being whispered to me in my idle moments.

My parents may have divorced but God brought me to a place where I no longer feared a beautiful marriage for myself in the future. I may have been disgusted with my appearance but He showed me how beautiful each curl of my hair was and there was nothing wrong with my glorious thunder thighs. I may have struggled with pornography but He displayed purity and placed it in my heart to long for that. I may have not graduated from college but my work places became my classrooms of learning and growth, even when I hated them sometimes. I shied away from pain, rejection and insecurity but He continuously pushed me to not hold my heart so close but rather keep it out no matter how many times it was beaten and bruised.

I traveled to China and smuggled Bibles and ate with other parts of the Church. I learned to fly a plane, went on hikes with some amazing people, gained skills and a passion for serving others, got two tattoos and a piercing despite my distaste for needles, sat under amazing leaders, gained a natural gift of writing and speaking. I boldly speak about my struggles, opening the door for women to be transparent about theirs and finally, but certainly not the least important, I got back with Jesus. My success may not look like much to everyone else but I spent these years preparing myself for the things that could possibly wreck the glorious kingdom plans God has for me. Falling victim to comparison may have brought me to a low point but My God reminded me that all these years were not wasted. I’m healing, I’m becoming whole, I’m being prepared for the best that has yet to come.

I am the double-edged sword sporting a flowing dress because I am a weapon that is embracing her beauty, I only spent these years being sharpened and shined. I am not the plastic weapon wearing rag dresses that I always believed. My blade-smith took special care in making me the person that I am today. What tried to keep me dull,ordinary and rusty like others around me has long been defeated, I need only to remind myself daily of what has been won.

I am for certain that when I walk into the room next year and surround myself with my past peers, their accomplishments will not push me into a shadow of regret, but rather on the bleachers cheering them on. Because during this week, I have learned the hard way that comparison is a weapon to destroy the truth that was already engraved in me, but so am I to the lies that tried to destroy me.

Open Season

Open:

  • parrēsia: boldness, confidence
  • having the interior immediately accessible
  • without covering, especially a protective covering ; unprotected;exposed

As the year comes to a  bittersweet close and you mentally jot down your resolutions, goals, dreams that you want to fulfill (and that you actually fulfill them), my prayer for you this upcoming year is:

That you let your arms shoot up in sweet surrender of trying to take control of everything out of fear.

That you bring forth boldness in the new things.

That you are void of what has held you back for way too long.

That in your openness, you encounter authenticity with God and others and that you find your identity in new relationships and your time with the Savior.

That your confidence in the God who knows your future, outweighs your “what-if” moments.

And finally…

That you wake up immediately  accessible to transparency, vulnerability and God given authority.

Happy New Year, my friend and welcome to your Open Season.

Permission to Desire

de·sire
dəˈzī(ə)r/

a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.

It’s in the strangest places that God nudges you to look up words to show you what you are lacking. Or maybe just what you choose to not acknowledge.

I’m probably the only one that has been feeling like society has set the standard for women. That we should be independent, strong and without the need (or desire) of a man. Or that we should be wives, bare foot and pregnant making 3 meals a day for our families, cleaning up the house, clothes perfectly intact with a smile on our face. But we can’t be both.

There is no such thing as having both.

In my eyes, the first standard punched the latter in the face and I never dared myself to desire it. Yes, I may talk about it every once in a while, but in my alone time, I never gave myself the green light to truly desire it.

To hope

to dream

to pray on it.

Inadequacies, flawed men and broken hearts kept me from wanting what most girls desired. Love. Marriage. A baby carriage.

So I dreamed to take on the world, without a man and without a child. Because I believed in the lie that it wasn’t for me, it was for her, her and her.

Because independent women didn’t need anyone and should be so goal oriented that they don’t have time to want anything else than setting the world of fire.

It was in the hotel room of Orlando, Florida that God showed me different.

In my pursuit to desire God and know his heart is where I find the very desires he has for me. Being in close relationship with the King means to share the same vision.

Desires from God are good, pure, and purposeful. And he showed me that the desires that I was beginning to experience were from the good soils of his heart. Kingdom minded. Fulfilling. Perfectly Okay.

I had to give myself permission to D E S I R E

To hear wedding bells and slay giants

To be barefoot and pregnant and help bare thirsty, dry bones to the King of fulfilling waters

To immerse my heart in one of a child and in Christ-centered agendas.

Because it’s all perfectly okay.

I’m learning now that the heart of God is calling for women to grow in the identity that he desires for them.

To be beautiful, resilient world changers, world thinkers, loving wives and nurturing mothers. That the delicate, bold and beautiful design of a woman is something to embrace, enjoy and cultivate. Not ignore or suppress.

Why? Because it comes from Him and it’s perfectly okay.