A second taster from Chapter One

To all those who are interested in a Christian novel that speaks about everyday trials and triumphs and wants to know how God is mixed into them then please read and enjoy this second sample of my book. 

Afternoon Prayer

   One o’clock and with the morning over I head back home. I love the walk back as I listen to the sound of nature talking to the world around it. Trees rustling, birds singing, a dog barking in the distance, clouds moving gently in the sky over head, shadowing the sun one moment then allowing it to erupt into a glorious spray of light the next. I realize how hungry I am having not eaten any breakfast. A growl rises in my stomach competing with a wood pecker close by. Then I slip on something not very nice. A present left by an animal whose owner hasn't cleaned it up. Great! A sudden call back down to earth and it smells. I cuss under my breath and then try to clean it off on the grassy area that surrounds the estate I am walking through. Most of the muck is scraped away but I realize that the rest will have to be sorted out when I get home.

   Oh Lord, why are some people thoughtless and too busy to clean up after their animals?

   It doesn't take long to get home and I find a parcel awaiting me behind the flower pot. This I pick up and put under the arm that is holding my bag and attempt to unlock my front door. It appears to be open. I kick off my poo shoe and leave it outside, stride indoors and promptly fall over a bag, hit my head on the vacuum cleaner that has been left out in the hallway, and activate the ‘on’ switch. As I vent my anger in various colours of blue the noise of the vacuum drowns out the contents of my mouth and a head pops around the corner. It yells at me and asks if I am alright.  In my head I respond, ‘do I look alright?’ and heave myself up off the floor. The parcel is bent and my head hurts. There is an indentation of the on button protruding from a bump left on my forehead.

   Oh Lord of today, thank you for the challenges you have sent me so far. Do you think you could rewire my husband’s brain to remember not to leave his bag in the middle of the floor? Oh and forgive my swearing but I was in a lot of pain. I am sorry.

   I look at my husband in a quizzical way. ‘What are you doing home?’ I ask.

   He responds by saying that he has taken a half day off to spend some time with me. I feel very dizzy and lean up against the wall my hand on my forehead. I ask for a wet towel which Bob attempts to get. He asks should he use a clean or dirty one! Preferably clean I say as I don’t want to get germs mixed in if there is a cut. He stands in the middle of the kitchen and asks for a clue as to where they might be. I am beginning to feel that it would be easier if I just found one, but my legs are feeling funny, my head starting to throb and I need to sit down.

   Oh Lord, sometimes I do not see what is in front of me. I look in the wrong direction and stand unsure of what to do, awaiting instructions from another source. Help me Lord to lean on YOU.

   The world is beginning to go round in circles and I feel sick. Bob tries to lift me up as he thinks that I need to go to the Accident and Emergency Clinic on the other side of town. He realizes that perhaps I am a little too heavy for him so he rings up the hospital instead.  They advise him on concussion and what best to do. I figure the best place for me is bed, so I crawl up the stairs and get under the duvet. Bob appears asking where the towels are and I point to the airing cupboard just outside our bedroom. He comes in a few moments later with a dripping towel. I suggest that it might be better if it is a little less wet. Bob returns and places the cool cloth onto my head and I begin to relax. Bang goes our afternoon together doing something without the kids.

   Oh Lord, how glorious it is to rest in your presence even though this moment was not planned. You know how painful a head injury is, having worn a crown of thorns. My pain is nothing compared to yours, thank you for bearing Your pain for me.

   Bob is still concerned about the bump on my head and after I have had a sleep he encourages me to go to the hospital. I manage to get down stairs and into the car, still holding my towel which has been rewetted. It doesn't take long to get to the A & E department and with it being a small cottage hospital we don’t have too long to wait for a nurse to assess me. She just confirms what the person had told Bob earlier on in the afternoon about concussion and gives me two tablets for the headache. However, she emphasizes that I ought to rest and take it easy the rest of the day. Chance would be a fine thing. Reassured Bob thanks the nurse and we leave the hospital. Back in the car Bob comments that at least we have got out for a little bit!

   Oh Lord, you said that when we are old we would be taken to places that we would rather not go, well the hospital was one of them for me. Bless Bob for his concern for me, but perhaps next time you could arrange a trip to, oh gosh where is that place again with lots of water?

   My memory is troubling me, I am feeling really tired again and I want to burst in to tears. It must be the concussion. Sitting next to me Bob is getting frustrated because someone has parked right across the back of our car, leaving us stuck in the hospital car park. He gets out and walks around the car to see if there is any way he can manoeuvre around it, but there is simply no way he can do so. He looks around trying to conjure up the driver of the car, but no one is around. The front windscreen has a disability label on it, which annoys Bob as the parking space for the disabled drivers is across the way unoccupied. Bob sighs and decides to go for a walk to see if he can find someone to help sort the situation out.

   Oh Lord, my head is throbbing, I feel confused and unwell, please fix this situation for me soon. I would like nothing better than to be at home in bed. Thank you for hearing my prayer.

   Bob returns fairly quickly with a gentleman who is apologizing profusely about having parked in such an awkward manner for us. His mother has been rushed to hospital and he was so worried about her that he wasn't thinking straight when he parked. He gets into his car and reverses slowly, turns left narrowly missing the end car and then moves forward. His battery decides to die at precisely this moment. He raises his hands to heaven and bangs them on the steering wheel.

   ‘She’s died, I know she has’. The gentleman gets out of the car and murmurs.

   Bob thinks he means the car, so he suggests that he help push it into the spot for the disabled. The man walks off leaving Bob to finish the job of parking it, which he does by pushing and steering at the same time. He has to jump in quickly to grab the hand brake in order to stop the car in its tracks. This done Bob takes out the car keys, shuts and locks the door then follows where the gentleman has gone. He returns a little later with the news that the mother has indeed died. He had also kindly given the man our phone number in case he needs a lift later as his car is incapacitated.

   Oh Lord, am I ready for a shocking moment? How will I receive it when it comes? Will there be a friendly person to help me through it? Please Father, when this happens to me grant me the ability to cope and the sense to call on YOU.

   As Bob turns into our drive way, Lily Pink is waiting for us at the front door. She doesn't have a key as I am usually at home when she arrives in the afternoon. She looks quizzically at me wondering what is going on. I show her my forehead with the bump on it and she commiserates with me, taking my hand and leading me carefully inside the house as she walks backwards. She falls over the same bag I did but misses the hoover. I tell her that that is what I did. She picks herself up and throws her dads bag to one side and tells him off for leaving it in the middle of the floor. I look at Bob and he mouths ‘sorry’. Lily Pink then piles her school bag on top of her father’s.  She leads me upstairs and tells me to get changed and to go to bed. I am then told not to worry as she will take care of things for me.

   Oh Lord, thank you for the kind nature that you have bestowed upon my youngest child. I am not sure if I can settle without worrying, as leaving everything to a 10 year old is a big commitment of trust. Help me with this choice Father.

   Everything appears to be quiet downstairs, and I gently drift off in a shallow sleep. It feels like only a moment ago that I closed my eyes when the front door opens and there is a lot of banging and crashing. I can hear Johnny’s voice stressing over where the school bags should be put, Gabby asking who left their coat on the hall floor, and whose shoe is discarded on the stair and Henry yelling in an annoyed way over who had had the last Snickers bar. There is stomping up the stairs, a ‘hi mum, heard you hit your head or something, it’s alright you don’t have to get up, we will be fine’ through the door and then music, loud music, in fact not just loud music but deafening music. The bass sound of the music is competing with the thudding of my headache. Lily Pink opens my door and lets in the full force of the pulsating noise. I look at her in agony and she closes the door. The music stops just like that and voices are raised.

   ‘You can’t just pull out the plug you little monster.’

   ‘But mum has a headache.’

   Henry loves his music, and Lily Pink was fortunate not to be hung, drawn and quartered for messing with his sound system. There is a sigh.

   ‘Okay, I’ll put my earphones on’, Henry states.

   The door closes and Lily Pink puts her head around my door. ‘I told you I would take care of things!’

   Oh Lord, if only things were as easy as that normally. How good it would be to be able to just switch things off that I don’t like about myself. My jealousy, my impatience, my anger all gone at a flip of a switch. But You know that each of these impurities is a chance for growth, for my growth. Help me Father, to grasp these opportunities when they arise.

   A raised voice echoes through the house.

   ‘Oh I don’t believe it, you silly animal. I know you are hungry, just hang on a moment I can’t do everything.’

   I am not sure if Bob is talking to the cat or to one of the children. Gabby joins the conversation trying to be heard as things clatter on the kitchen floor. She doesn't like chips, doesn't want pie, won’t eat fish, is fed up of mince and why can’t she just go and get something from the Chinese? She storms off in a rage and heads for her bedroom. She tries to slam the door but Bob has put a stopper on the top of it to prevent such a happening. This makes Gabby even more cross. I hear something about ‘hate house, people in it and jerks.’

   Oh Lord, thank God we are not jerks in Your eyes. We may be a mystery to one another but comprehending our nature is a life long journey. I am so grateful that you are the Map I can refer to when my view is hindered by my emotions.

   I expect Bob is on the computer letting Johnny and Lily Pink deal with the tea having fed the cat. The smoke alarm goes of.

   A little smile appears and says, ‘don’t worry mum, it is only Johnny burning the beef burgers, we won’t waste anything as he will scrape off the burnt bits!’

   The alarm shuts off after someone starts waving a towel at it; how do I figure this from my bedroom? Well, the light is already broken so another swipe to it does little damage, which means some form of floppy material is used to quieten the smoke alarm and has also hit the hall light shade, making it swing and hit the ceiling after the alarm has been silenced. It must be Lily Pink as she is short and needs a longer thing to sweep through the air to dispel the invisible smoke. So I was right about Johnny and L P doing the tea.

   Oh Lord, you never waste anything, knowing that everything is part of the bigger picture. With You all things can be used to a greater benefit and even when I ruin the plan You are able to turn it around for Your honour and glory. Praise God.

   No sooner has the alarm stopped than a new chapter starts, and it sounds like someone is in trouble downstairs. A little head pops round my door again.

   ‘Johnny has burnt himself mum’ Lily Pink yells.

   I tell her that I will be down in a moment. She argues and says that I must stay in bed, but I know Johnny, he will be panicking and in pain unable to help himself with his injury. I slowly arise, I feel unsteady but an internal power takes over and I move knowing that I need to get downstairs. The kitchen is full of smoke.

   ‘Don’t open the door’ Bob calls out. Silly really as I can’t get in unless I open the door. Naturally the alarm is triggered. Johnny is holding his hand and trying to be brave, hopping around in a limited space where the cooker door is flat open as the grill is an internal one. I have always hated that style, thinking it a fatal flaw offering a trip trap. Not good, someone else could get hurt. Bob has taken over the cooking. I have no choice but to try and cram Johnny and myself over the sink to run cold water over his left hand. His wails are understandable as it hurts.

   Oh Lord, calmer of commotions, bring peace to this storm in my kitchen. Heal my son’s hand and let there be no scar from the burn he has suffered. Thank you that he wanted to help me, please now help him.

   Henry appears at the kitchen door.

   ‘Don’t open the door’ shouts Bob.

   ‘What’s for tea’ his son asks.

   Bob glares at him and he shuts the door. Henry does what is the most sensible thing so far; he finds a stepping stool and takes out the battery of the fire alarm. The piercing wail has stopped and Henry re-enters the kitchen. We all chorus ‘thank you’, and Bob reminds his son to put the battery back in later. Now there are five of us in the room. Bob shoos Lily Pink and Henry into the dining room and asks them to lay the table. Of course that means that they have to come back into the kitchen to get the knives, forks, and glasses. There is a lot of movement and side stepping. Bob dishes up, the burgers in a bap with chips and a salad.  Meanwhile I continue to keep Johnny’s hand under the tap until I am satisfied that it has had enough cold water on it. I tell him that if it starts to throb to run it under the cold tap, emphasizing the cold as he might use the hot one instead.

   Oh Lord, how grateful I am that You are not battery operated. What would I do if I called on You and you were disconnected or being recharged and out of commission? It is so comforting that You are always close.

   Food usually takes Johnny’s mind of most things, and I am heartened to see him woofing down his tea. Gabby had joined us and eaten her fill. She takes off again as quickly as possible because she is waiting for a reply from a friend on her mobile phone. I try my best to eat the generous portion Bob has given me but my stomach doesn't seem to be in much of a mood for what is on my plate. It doesn't take a lot of coaxing from the family for me to return to my bed. Suddenly Bob is left on his own with all the washing up. It is amazing how four children can become invisible so quickly.

   Oh Lord, how often do I do things so quickly that I don’t appreciate the effort others have taken to create something. Sometimes I forget even to say thank you and rush off to my chosen activity forgetting that a simple thank you can be so uplifting to the person receiving it. Help me be mindful of this Father.

   I hear Bob calling all four of our children; he is not going to let them get away with not helping with the washing up.

  Oh Lord, how often do I try and get away with not doing a chore? Help me not to forget that You are in the chores as well as in the important tasks of life.

And as I lay in bed God speaks to me:

My dear Vicki, just as I created everything on this earth for a purpose, I have given you this family for a reason. Step back with me and look at the fruits of your efforts this afternoon. Although you fell under your cross, you stood up. That takes courage, my daughter, you are very courageous.