Chapter Twenty One

Linda was laying in her new bedroom listening to new sounds of people stirring early in the morning. It was peaceful and homey but she was still a little apprehensive staying with Sam and Robin after their initial meeting. She liked Robin a lot. She was a good mom; very protective and forgiving. She neither justified nor condemned what her son had said but did apologize for his outburst. Linda had learned to read people well. It was the nature of her business and a skill that sometimes determined her survival on the street. The argument that she had inadvertently witnessed reminded her of one that she had been a part of when she was younger. She could relate to what Ben was going through. She had left like that too but now Linda was able to see the residual effects she had bestowed upon the family she walked away from. The pain and anguish that Robin tried so hard to suppress in order for Linda to feel welcome and the anger and frustration that Sam didn’t hide very well. Her new friend Erica was such a strong and powerful supporter of hers. Linda had wanted to leave this family but through Erica’s strong insistence and friendship she had agreed to give it a try for a week.

Linda walked into the kitchen and both Sam and Robin laughed. Her brown hair was standing straight out in multiple directions, she had borrowed a sweatshirt of Erica’s that was at least once size too large for her as were her pajama bottoms.

“Good morning Linda!” Sam said, “How did you sleep?” Robin asked her if she wanted some coffee and she nodded. “I slept so good!” Linda said, smiling sleepily. She sat in a chair at the table pulling her knees up to her chest with her feet on the seat of the chair. “It has been such a long time since I have slept in a real bed all night!” Linda had washed off all of her makeup the night before and there was one bruise by her temple that was yellow and healing up. Her eyes were still a little hollow but there was a sparkle in them that Robin keyed in on. It was her soul coming back alive! Robin put a large cup of coffee in front of her with some cream in a small container if she wanted to add it. Marty came over to Linda and put his head on her hip. Linda really liked Marty and gently stroked the side of his cheek. Marty loved her attention and accidently snored out loud in bliss.

“It sure looks like you did,” Sam said. Linda could tell that Sam was not sure of her being there and could sense his awkwardness. “You two girls have a great day” he said, walking over towards Robin. She handed him his lunch box and gave him a kiss. Marty broke away from Linda and followed Sam to the door. Sam turned and spoke to the dog saying, “You keep an eye on the place while I am gone Marty” and patted him on the head.

Robin leaned up against the granite countertop on the island and asked Linda, “What do you want to do today?”

“I don’t know. I would like to read my bible for a little bit,” she answered.

“Well you are welcome to join me in my daily routine if you’d like and we can do it together.” Robin offered.

“What is your daily routine?” Linda asked.

“I always start off the day in prayer. I have found when I skip prayer in the morning it makes for a rough day! After I pray, I read the bible. I have been doing this thing where you read the bible in a year. You can join me where I am at. After that I think we need to go shopping and get you some clothes!”

“Oh that sounds fun! My mom and I used to go shoppi…ng when I was younger.” Linda stuttered realizing what she was saying. She had not allowed herself to embrace those old memories. Robin moved on acting like she never noticed.

“This afternoon there are going to be some guest speakers at the church sharing their testimony of the Broken Lives program. I thought maybe we could stop by, listen to them and find out about the meeting times if you’re interested.

“Oh that would be good. I am a little nervous about it but Erica told me that the program had really helped you and Sam when you were younger”.

“Yes, it was very helpful for me. My life was a mess and they helped me get on track. I met a lady there who became my mentor and showed me how to embrace my relationship with the Lord. It was like she introduced me to the Lord. I want to help you like that if you will let me Linda”.

“Thank you Robin. Your family has been great. I cannot tell you how much it means to me. If Erica had not stopped me that night I am not sure if I would be alive today”.

There were about twenty people at the Broken Lives meeting. The first man that got up to give his testimony shared how he and his wife were Christians and their relationship was very solid. Pressures from the demands and deadlines on the job eventually took their toll first on their church obligations which eventually broke down their communication. He was climbing the ladder rapidly at a law firm. It started off with a long lunch with cocktails and evolved into working late several times a week. His secretary seemed to understand him and the struggles of climbing the corporate ladder and he allowed it to go too far one night at work and then everything fell apart. His wife sensed that all of this work was having negative impact on their relationship and decided to surprise him with dinner. She walked in and… After his divorce, he started drinking and could not stop. Eventually they fired him and he ended up on the street at the mission.

He came to Broken Lives by way of a visiting pastor who invited him to a meeting at a Bridal Ridge Community Church in California. The church had a unique program that really worked to change how you looked at yourself and revealed to you how God had a plan for your life. It was a cutting edge program similar to AA developed by Pastor Rob Landon changing the way we approached God.

After attending for a  year , he met a lady through the program and they married and began a new life together. They were both councilors now, proud to be coming alongside Pastor Rob Landen and the Broken Lives program.

Robin looked over at Linda. She was completely engulfed in his story, tears rolling down her cheeks. Robin got a tissue out of her purse and gave Linda one.

Hearing Rob Landon’s name perked Robins interest. She listened closely to what the speaker was saying.

He finished off with, “My wife and I owe everything to Pastor Rob Landon and his Broken Lives program. Without them I certainly would still be on the street”. Something about their testimony bothered her but she couldn’t put her finger on it.

The next two speakers had similar stories. One lady had especially touched Robin’s heart when she shared her testimony about one of her children who ran away from home . That hit too close to home with her. Each of the speakers dedicated their success to Broken Lives and Pastor Rob Landon.

When Linda and Robin were driving home, Linda commented on the success of the program.  Still something wasn’t right, but she could not put her finger on why this had left such a bad taste in her mouth. Linda commented on what the last speaker had said, “You can go anywhere in the country, to any church where the Broken Lives program is offered and same curriculum will be there.” Robin had missed it because she had still been reeling from the second lady’s testimony. What Heidi’s said when they were at coffee came back to her mind:

“the material Pastor Rob Landon wrote for “the program” was in nearly every church in the country and that Broken Lives program had been significantly if not entirely responsible for the transformation of up to eighty percent of the broken homes and restoring families. It is making a significant impact on the churches and communities across the nation if not the world.”

Robin then remembered looking up on the web, Pastor Rob Landon coming alongside the Most Holy Bishop, embracing the Mother of Apostles Church and announcing that all faiths worship the same God.

Robin was sick to her stomach. The deception was much deeper than she ever realized.

Chapter Nine

Ben came dancing in the kitchen and put his arm around his mom who was layering lasagna noodles in a large glass pan.

“What are you so happy about?”

“Susan is home! Mom, it has been such a long vacation.” He said dramatically.

“I know it has been honey. Why don’t you ask her and her mom over to dinner tonight? We are going to have lasagna and I made too many noodles so we will have more than enough to eat.”

Ben went across the granite island where she was working and sat down texting Susan on his phone. Within seconds a beep came in with a response.

“What time mom?” Ben asked.

“How about 6:30, your dad won’t be here until 6 or so.”

Robin texted Sam and asked him to pick up some garlic spread for the French bread and let him know that they would be having Susan and her mom Heidi for dinner.

Sam and Robin had met Heidi when they had all gone to Broken Lives Fellowship group. She had a nasty breakup with her ex-husband had a difficult time trusting anyone since. She had dated often earlier but it was too hard to find a Christian man that truly walked the walk. She had come to the point where she was tired of compromising and stopped dating.

Before Sam and Robin had married, Robin and Heidi were very close. They had since drifted apart but still remained friends. Heidi was now attending another church in town so they didn’t see each other as much. It would be fun to catch up with her.

Lasagne_0894_1When they arrived Heidi was very impressed with the lasagna cooling on the granite counter top. Erica was putting the final touches to the table setting on the long farm table. She had changed the Christmas centerpiece with some fresh flowers that she had picked up from the store earlier. Sam, Ben and Susan were out doing the chores so the girls sat and visited.

Heidi was very excited about her trip to Oregon. She had an opportunity to attend a revival concert that Meadow Song was playing in at a friend’s Community Church in northern California. Meadow Song was one of the most popular Christian groups in the country. They traveled globally to bring Christian music to the world. Heidi expressed how exciting it was to see so many Christians at the revival reaching out to the Muslim community and the Mother of the Apostles Church. To see them all come together praising God was very emotional. Heidi commented about the stirring message that the pastor of the large Christian Church gave. He had called everyone together to embrace each other’s differences and pray to God together. She was especially touched by the depth of love that the most holy appointed Bishop from Mother of Apostles gave to him afterwards by kissing his feet. What humility. They had offered an alter call at the end and hundreds of people came forward to be saved. It was one of Heidi’s most moving experiences ever.

What Heidi was saying stirred Robin’s spirit and she asked Heidi,

“Do you think that they were all praising the same God?”

“Of course they were!” Heidi said.

“Hmmm. Well that just doesn’t make sense to me; I am not sure how that can be possible. Muslims consider Jesus to be a prophet, not God and the Mother of Apostles pray to Mary to intercede to Jesus and the Bishop is given the power to forgive of sins through penance usually by how much they give financially and the charity given. That is works and implys that Jesus dying on the cross was in vain. That makes me curious about this.” Robin wondered out loud.

“Well I am pretty sure they were praising the same God. I mean I assume they were… “ Heidi said. “But I sure see what you mean when you say it like that.”

“ And the Bishop was kissing the pastor’s feet?… That is just not right.” Robin said. “That just gives me a wrong feeling inside.”

“Well he did say before he did that how he wanted to wash that pastors feet but because they didn’t have any water on stage he was going to offer him humility by kissing his feet instead.” Heidi said.

Marty came in barking excited to see everyone in the kitchen. That was his favorite place and with all of the people there it ensured him some scraps afterwards. Sam, Ben and Susan all hung up their coats and removed their muddy boots in the mudroom and joined the girls in the kitchen. Sam and Ben relished Robin’s lasagna and even though the first serving was enough they had to have another helping. It was only right.

After supper they were so full that they both needed to go outside and check on the cows to walk off some of the lasagna. After clearing the table Susan and Erica both joined them. The night was clear and cold and the skies were filled with stars. There was no moon and the Milkey Way lit up sky like a highway from one end of the horizon to the other. Marty stared out into the darkness beyond the where barn light reached growling a warning when a coyote howled answered by another. The scent of worn leather hit their noses walking through the barn past the tack room. Erica’s gelding nickered upon hearing her voice and she stopped to rub his nose. One of the cows was still eating on the remainder of the hay left in the feeder while the other two drank noisily out of the water trough.

Sam and the kids all leaned up against the rail fence looking out into the back pasture. Ben and Susan were whispering and giggling, happy to be back in each other’s company.

Night sky_140908_0072_1“Back to school” Erica said

“Yup” Sam replied. Both of them stared at the incredible display of stars across the sky. Marty stood on his back legs between the two of them with his front legs on the second rail nudging Erica’s arm.

“It sure was a good Christmas with you here honey” Sam said to Erica.

“I know Daddy” she said and leaned her head against his shoulder. He put his arm around her and kissed the top of her head. She felt safe and he felt like his little girl was leaving forever.

Heidi helped Robin clear the rest of the table and put the dishes in the dishwasher. Heidi shared with Robin about the rest of their trip to Oregon and how her mom was dealing with life now that her dad had passed away. Robin listened but was still processing what Heidi had said earlier. When they had finished tidying up everything they both sat down at the kitchen table drinking coffee. Heidi looked at Robin seriously and asked her.

“You seemed concerned about that revival thing I was telling you about. Are you seeing something there that I don’t see?”

“I don’t know for sure but I think it might be something we need to look into Heidi. Things are changing rapidly in the world right now and something inside of me is telling me to pay.”

“I have been noticing that too Robin.”

“How is your church? Do you like it?” Robin asked.

“Well, I am searching for a new church right now.” Heidi said “It is so hard to find one anymore that teaches the truth. I really like when the message on Sunday makes you think all week. Sometimes a convicting message is a very good thing. It is like pastors are compromising, preaching a watered down message. “

“It is funny you say that Heidi. I was thinking the same thing after church last Sunday. It is like Pastor Mike is too concerned about offending anyone like if he offends someone with the message it will adversely affect the incoming tithes or attendance!”

Everyone came in through the mudroom laughing. Marty ran in and greeted Robin and Heidi. They both stood up and Heidi gave Robin a hug and said “We need to do this more often.” Robin agreed and walked Heidi to the door. Sam, Robin and Erica stood at the back door watching Heidi and Susan load up into the red Dodge Ram. Ben was over at the driver’s side of the truck saying good bye to Susan. Suddenly Robin ran over to the passenger side of the truck motioning Heidi to roll down the window. “Let’s get together one of these Saturday’s for coffee.” Heidi grabbed Robins hand and agreed over the rattling of the diesel motor.