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.

Chapter One

The front tires vibrated on the wash board roads sending the truck sliding across the gravel into the oncoming lane. Sam’s heart raced as his three quarter ton pickup headed towards the ditch. Instinctively he let off the gas, his hands white knuckled with a death grip on the steering wheel. He considered how differently that could have turned out had he not taken the back roads through the desert on his way home. Having left the engineering firm early that Friday for the Christmas Holiday, he felt relief flood over him as he regained control. This was supposed to be a less stressful drive home but between the wash boarded roads and the ominous storm that was brewing he resigned to feel a different kind of stress than that of the holiday traffic. Thunder rumbled in the distance and the winds picked up blowing tumbleweeds across the sagebrush covered desert and over the road. The weather forecast called for a heavy snow storm that would arrive by late evening. Everyone had left the office early allowing him to also. He could use the extra time to move the animals into the barn and secure things at the farm, and maybe even spend an evening in front of the fire with Robin and their two kids.

Skies Are Not Cloudy All Day

Skies Are Not Cloudy All Day

Suddenly from out of nowhere a huge black cat with deep yellow eyes ran across the road ahead of Sam’s pickup causing his heart rate to climb, he slammed on the brakes in time to see five more cats following the black one, like a raiding party returning from a conquest. Sam wasn’t superstitious but a shiver ran down his back as the number six popped into his mind. Ten miles from any farm, in the middle of the desert with a violent storm looming on the horizon, was that a warning of some kind? Six. Satan’s number, how Sam had always hated that number, someday 666; the number of the man who was predicted to rule the earth, the mark of the beast. It would be the mark that would be given to every person in order for them to buy or sell anything.

He had first heard about 666 when he was a kid. His mom raised him to go to church every Sunday at the Holy Mother of Apostles Church. Reverend O’ Riley was the reverend, he was a curious one. He remember every time he saw that man it seemed that he had his hands together like he might have been constantly in the middle of prayer. He was always so pious and talked so quiet, so holy. Sam knew differently.

Sam’s dad had been one of those guys who had a girlfriend in every town. His mom finally got fed up with the rumors and divorced him. That was when Reverend O’ Riley started showing up. In those days divorce was a sin and looked down upon, the Revered stopped to sentence his mom with ‘penance’. “You’ll pay for the sin of divorce because God hates divorce” he would say with disdain. Sam was dismissed outside to play, but he could hear them arguing inside and his mom screaming “No, stop it!” Sam hated Reverend O’ Riley. He saw his mom’s pain after those visits. Late at night he would hear her cry and he saw her hunched over on her knees praying, pleading, in tears. A week would go by and mom would return to normal but then Reverend O’ Riley returned to break their peace.

The reverend was nice to his patrons, church would end and he would piously wait at the door shaking hands with everyone as they left, but Sam saw the other side of the man. He was angry and brutal behind closed doors, before, and often during services. What Sam hated the most about their church was being forced to kneel to confess his sins to Reverend O’ Riley, just to be in right standing with God. Sam wondered what made Reverend O’ Riley more holy than anyone else. Who did the reverend confess his sins to? He was deceptive, seemly holy in public but a vicious, ruthless and an angry old man behind the curtain. Holy Mother of Apostles Church caused Sam great anger and bitterness. He wondered if the head of the church was the same as O’ Riley.

The previous year, Sam watched the election of the Most Holy Bishop hand over the robe of the highest position in the Holy Mother of Apostles Church. It had been a most unusual transfer of holy power, not seen in hundreds of years. By Holy Mother of Apostles statutes, the Most High Bishop was replaced only in the event of death or excused from his position by a severe sickness. This time the previous leader had stepped down voluntarily and the church had agreed to allow the resignation, voting unanimously the transference of holy power.

Sam’s wife, Robin, picked up on the blatant contradiction of scripture during the election process, and it had infuriated her. For one man to claim to be the elected power by the church to stand between man and God for the forgiveness of sins was direct blasphemy against the one true God. When it was aired worldwide, across all of the networks on TV she was livid.

She discerned that the number thirteen conspicuously intertwined throughout the entire orchestrated event. The Most Holy Bishop of France had been elected on March 13, 2013 at 7:06 pm, which coincidentally had added to thirteen. He was 76 years old which again added to 13. She even noticed the exact times when announcements were made also coincided with the number 13. The first announcement was made at 2:13 p.m. and another at 8:13 p.m. Robin explained to Sam and the kids the prophetic vision from a bishop named Malachi in Scotland revealing every Most Holy Bishop all the way up to the last one, which would be the false prophet spoken of in Revelation. Sam had to admit that there were a lot of coincidences that lined up. And then there was the comet Pan passing over the earth at the same time as the election.

For days she had been infatuated by the election process and the coincidences surrounding it. The event had caused Robin to study scriptures intensely. Sam had never seen her so passionate about something like this before. Whatever it was, something had ignited her anger over the election. Sam had learned to trust her intuition. She turned a corner that day, passion emerged and she began diving into her bible, and encouraging him to join her. Several times he had come into the house to find her kneeling in their bedroom, praying. He never interrupted her but watched and decided to pocket the information for the time being, he was careful not to question the change. Sam was glad that he and his mom had left Holy Mother of Apostles when he began high school. He wondered if O’ Riley was still alive after their last confrontation.