Partners In Crime

Written originally for Friday Fictioneers and posted on

“I hid it in the old mill,” his note read. “Found a crack upstairs near that huge cog. No ‘eyes’ to watch me.”

She searched desperately, sensing her time running out. Rotten luck that the old lady recognized him in the lineup, but at least he’d managed to stash her wallet before they arrested him for assault.

Examining the floor and walls for a crevice big enough to hide a wallet, yet small enough to conceal one, she jumped when she heard footsteps coming up the stairs.

One of the curators appeared. “Lost your way, miss? We locked up fifteen minutes ago. Sorry, I thought everyone was out.”


The next morning Wanda was standing at the museum doors five minutes before the place opened. As soon as the curator unlocked them she stepped inside, ready with her story.

“I … I must have dropped my cell phone here yesterday. I was walking around up by that big wheel and… and I took it out to check the time.” Wanda took a deep breath, hoping her nervousness wouldn’t give her away.

“I was sure I… had just…put it back in its special pocket and…and I…it must have slid out somehow. I didn’t have it when I got home. I’d like to…to just run up and look around. I’m sure it’s…

Wanda froze as her cell phone, from its usually pocket in her purse, started playing the tune to “Somebody’s Fool.” She turned a bright pink, silently berating herself. Why didn’t I think this might happen?

The curator looked at her in surprise. “It appears…”

“Oh, no. Not really,” she gasped. “I…like…uh… I borrowed my friend’s phone. Like, just in case I needed to call…uh… In case I didn’t find my wallet and…you know…needed stop credit cards…”

“I’m sorry. I’m not getting this. Did you lose your wallet, too?”

The temperature in the room shot up ten degrees. Maybe twenty. She gave herself a good mental slap, took another deep breath, and tried to save face. “Oh, dear. Now I’m getting mixed up. No, It was my phone, not my wallet. I’ll just be a minute looking for it.”

The curator eyed her a moment, looking as stern as the ancient mill owners whose portraits hung on the wall. Maybe he wondered if it was safe to allow her around those huge gears alone. Finally he nodded. “Go ahead. If you were standing on the landing maybe the sweeper found it last night. I’ll check in the office.”

“Oh, thank you so much.” Wanda turned and wasted no time getting up the stairs. Frantically she scanned the walls and the big wheel.

Thank goodness this part doesn’t have any security cameras, she thought. Not like the main lobby. I guess that’s why Nick stashed it here. A minute later she spotted something dark in a crack.

She was reaching for it when the curator appeared at the top of the stairs. “I had a thought, miss.” “If you use your friend’s phone and dial your own number your phone will ring and you’ll find it in a jiff.”

Wanda gritted her teeth. Isn’t it wonderful how helpful people could be when you wanted them to just beat it and leave you alone? But the museum curator stood there waiting for her to try out his bright idea, so what could she do? On an impulse, she dialed Nick’s number, knowing he was in jail and couldn’t answer.

“Hi. Sorry Nick isn’t home right now.” The voice definitely belonged to some young female. “I’ll be seeing him shortly. Can I take a message?”

“Hello? Who is this?” Nick’s going to hear about this chick answering his phone, Wanda thought. And what does she mean about seeing him shortly? Is she going to visit him in jail?

“My name’s Emmy. I’m Nick’s…um…friend. Can I ask who’s calling?”

“This is Wanda.”


“Nick’s girlfriend, Wanda.” She clenched her fists. Nick is definitely going to answer some questions when I see him again.

Aware that the curator was frowning at her, she whispered, “Sorry. I pushed the wrong redial. On my friend’s phone,” she added. He didn’t look impressed.

Emmy seemed to be in shock. “Nick’s…uh…girlfriend?”

“Nick’s fiancée.” Wanda almost shouted it into the phone. “He has mentioned me, surely.”

The curator rolled his eyes and headed down the stairs.

“No!” Wanda caught the sizzle in Emmy’s voice. “He never told me about you at all. Honest. The cheating rat!”

“You got that right.” Wanda jabbed the OFF button and stuffed the phone in her pocket. Just wait til I get my hands on you, Nick. You’re toast!

Quickly Wanda grabbed for the wallet. Nick had told her the old lady had just cashed her pension check, so likely there’d be a couple hundred dollars in her purse. She kind of felt sorry for the woman, a senior and all, but she needed the money herself. Badly. Her rent was due tomorrow. She sighed. What a life!

Once outside, she found a bench in a secluded spot and opened the wallet. “Two five dollar bills. That’s all! All this mess for two measly fives,” she squawked. She fumed for a moment, then pondered her options.

I’ve had it, she decided. I really was a fool to get mixed up with all this. Nick is history. She grabbed her cell phone and pushed a button.

The voice at the other end said a hesitant “Hello?”

“Hi, Mom. I’ve just learned a really important lesson in life.”

“Oh? And that is…?”

“Crime doesn’t pay. And being with Nick really doesn’t pay. I’m through with Nick and his wild schemes.”

“Oh, I’m so glad to hear you say that. We’ve been praying you’d come to your senses and see him for what he is.”

“Mom… Do you think you and Dad could…would…let me move back home for a few months. Just until I get my life straightened around?”

“Oh, Wanda. Yes. We’ll gladly help you. Just come anytime you’re ready.”

Thanks so much, Mom. See you in a bit.”

Wanda hung up and searched through the stolen wallet for ID. She had one important stop to make before she headed home.

Restoring Grandpa’s Clock

Colleen frowned at her brother Tom, then sighed. “I still think you should just ask her for it instead of trying to steal it. I can’t see how you can help but get caught. Is that clock really worth so much to you that you’d stoop to theft?”

“It’s the principle of the thing, Sis. Auntie just claimed all Grandpa & Grandma’s stuff and took it home with her, just because she lives close. And she’s going to hoard it until the day she dies. All the stuff they wanted to give us will be passed on to her children.

“You can’t really call this theft exactly; it’s more like restoring our inheritance. I know Grandpa wanted to give me that clock; he told me several times. One time when I went there he was chiseling my name on the back, so everyone would know. And I’m sure Auntie’s not blind. So she’s just keeping it. Period.”

Coleen shook her head sadly, remembering the Lone Star quilt Grandma promised her that she wasn’t going to get, either. But she wasn’t going to go steal it. “And when she sees it’s missing? If I’m there right at that time, how can I help but be implicated?”

“She won’t even know it’s gone. You know how cluttered Auntie’s house is. You could lose a Saint Bernard in there.”

Tim ran his hand through his hair and outlined his plan again. “I’ll be driving the company truck. You know the old lane to the pasture, not far from Auntie’s place. There’s a that clump of chokecherry bushes; I’ll park behind those and take the path through the woods. When you see my truck sitting there, you just go ring her doorbell and chat her up. Ask her about her garden. You’ll be with her the whole time, so she’ll know you didn’t take it.

“If she sees my truck and guesses I was around, I’ll say I was tending to an emergency nearby. She has no right to have that clock. It’s mine and I want it.”

The next afternoon Colleen drove out to Auntie’s house at the designated time but her nerves felt like a swarm of grasshoppers and she felt a tension headache coming on. She saw the Apex Roofing truck as she passed; it was well-hidden from the road.

Slowly she turned into Auntie’s driveway, but she made up her mind as she came to a stop that she’d ask Auntie for Grandpa’s clock on Tom’s behalf, even if doing so would implicate her in its disappearance. She couldn’t bear to see her brother become a thief over such a trifle, though it was an heirloom.

She walked up to Auntie’s door, dread in every step, a prayer in every breath. She shouldn’t be doing this. How did she ever get roped into it? But she had to protect her rash brother somehow. Surely God could work something out for them.

She rang the bell and Auntie came to the door right away. “Colleen!  How nice you came. I was just about to have a drink.”

“I… I was driving by and thought I’d stop for a minute,” Colleen began. “I know we haven’t been together since Grandpa’s funeral and I was thinking it’s high time.” The word “time” reminded her of the clock and she winced.

“Well, I’m so glad you’ve come!” Auntie gushed. “Come join me for an iced tea. Yes, when the folks died I was so overwhelmed with it all, all the arrangements, being executrix… Then I had to have the house cleaned out within two weeks.

“You did?”

“Yes, it was sold privately, you know, and the new folks wanted possession right away, so I just gathered up all Mom & Dad”s stuff and brought it here. I’ve finally gotten up courage to sort through it. I was so happy when I found a list your Grandma made; she’d rolled it up in an old slip in her undies drawer.” Auntie rolled her eyes. “Easy place to find it, right? It’s a list of things they wanted each of the grandchildren to have, and I see you should be getting that Lone Star quilt she made years back. Now I can give it to you.”

“And the clock Grandpa carved…?”

“O, that has your brother’s name on it. Dad said several times that it would be Tim’s someday, so I’m planning to give it to him next time I see him.”

“Wow, Auntie, That’s super. You know, he came along with me today, sort of, but he wanted to…was going to…wander through the woods a bit. But I’ll give him a shout. He’ll be so happy to know he’s getting Grandpa’s clock. Maybe you could pour us both a glass of iced tea while I go find him.”

Colleen hurried outside and headed down the path to the woods. But before she called Tom’s name, she looked up to heaven and waved. “Thank you, God!”


Seagulls walk on days like this, I thought as the wind hustled me down the city sidewalk. I kept my mouth shut against the blender of dust, last year’s leaves, bird poo and bug bits swirling around me.

A piece of paper — no, an envelope — twirled past me, tick-ticking as bounced off the concrete. I glanced over my shoulder to see if anyone was pursuing it, but it appeared to be unaccompanied on its outing.

At one point it flopped on the sidewalk, exhausted, but when I caught up to it the wind sent it sailing again, sweeping it over the traffic and into the next block. It didn’t have to wait for the WALK light like I did.

A queue had formed at the bus stop; there I noticed the envelope had landed again. A teen boy stepped on it obliviously, working his thumbs on his cell phone. I heard the beep, beep of an electronic game. He looked up only long enough to board the bus and flash his pass.

I snatched up the envelope before anyone else could step on it, then looked around to see if anyone was running after it. Nada. I boarded, waved my bus pass at the driver and found a seat.

As the bus pulled away I examined the envelope. No stamp, so it wasn’t mailed. The insignia at the top left said “Delorme & Pederson, Attorneys at Law.” Hmm…

Across the front, written in a neat script, was the name Mrs. Amy Allen. That’s it.

I sighed a prayer. Lord, how can I get this back to Amy Allen? Would she be listed in the phone book directory? Who Was Mr. Amy Allen? Why couldn’t it be Mrs. Kathy Klompenhaus or Mrs. Gloria Ganucci?

Oh, well. Best return it to the lawyers — impressively stamped by a teen’s sneaker — and let them deal with it.

At home I set the envelope on the counter to drop off in the morning and set about making supper. Kelly would be home in half an hour and needed a quick meal before his meeting this evening. And I’d promised myself a shower to wash off all this street dust.

I don’t spend much time on Kijiji; occasionally I skim through the Hobbies & Crafts column to see if someone’s selling scrapbooking supplies á la cheap. Alone this evening, I felt an urge to go online and see if there’d be any interesting offers.

I scrolled through the first page of ads and was on the second when an ad piqued my interest. For sale: six rubber stamps. Hmm… I clicked on the ad and read it through, then my jaw dropped as I read: Contact Amy Allen, 304-3622.

It can’t be the same one. I grabbed the phone and punched in the number.


My words tumbled out. “Hi. I saw your ad for rubber stamps and I’m interested. But I also need to know…are you that Amy… I mean…did you lose a letter in the wind today?”

“A letter? You found my letter?” She sounded shocked.

“I found one, sent from Delorme & Pederson, addressed to Amy Allen.”

“Oh, thank goodness! I was hoping and praying it would turn up somehow,” she exclaimed. “I picked it up at my lawyer’s office today, but it blew out of my hand and I had no idea how I’d ever find it again! I’m being called as witness in a lawsuit.”

“I didn’t know how I’d locate you, either, until I saw your ad on Kijij. Are you home this evening? I’ll bring the letter over.”

“Thank you so much,” she said. “I’ll put on some coffee, if you’d like.”

“That would be great. Do you do a lot of scrapbooking?”

“Not so much lately. And you can have these stamps if you want them. They can be my payment for a SPECIAL DELIVERY letter.”


Written for today’s Writing 101 prompt: Finding A Letter.
The goal was to be brief; one of you editors will have to help me with this. I haven’t mastered brief yet.

Want to Change Your Life?

Someone involved in handing out Christian literature received permission from the owner to put a tract rack in a small store. A few moments later he looked back and saw one of the employees pull out one of the tracts and start reading it.

He spun around and blurted out, “Don’t read that! Unless you want to change your life.”

The employee, stunned for a moment, answered, “Doesn’t everyone want to change their life?”

Do you want to change your life?

Looking at the history of our world, the goal of change has always been improvement. It may not pan out, but that’s almost always our aim. What improvements do you wish you could see in your life?

When Jesus walked by the pool of Bethesda (John 5:2-9) he saw a man lying there and he basically asked this fellow the same question: “Wilt thou be made whole?” Do you want to change your life or are you happy just lying here watching the world go by and visiting with your cronies? Jesus’ concept of change involved this cripple getting up and walking away from this place, disposing of that grubby old bedroll and rejoining the human race. Getting a job; working every day; making payments on a home.

He could have made shekels rain down from Heaven on the poor unfortunate, but Jesus’ help didn’t involve a cash handout.

If Jesus Christ walked by your house today and you glimpsed him as he was passing, would you run out and talk to him, knowing he’s in the business of miracles? What miracle would you ask for? To win the Lottery? A happy home? A physical healing?

If he sat down with you and talked about changing your life, what would you say about the things you feel need to change? What would He say? Do you already know some things He’d point out? What if He held out to you a package that contained enough power to make this change? Would you take it?

What answer would you and I give today if Jesus asked us, “Wilt thou be made whole?” I’ve been pondering that question for myself. How would I define “change”? In what ways would I qualify or limit the word “whole”? How willing am I for change that would involve giving up certain things?

One day I was talking with a neighbor who was very grieved about her smoking habit. She had already lamented to me at an earlier time, “ This thing has got my life. I’m never free.”

Well, this day I suggested, “I believe God can work a miracle for you and take away your desire to smoke; I know He’s done this for others. Would you be happy if He did? Shall you and I kneel down right now and ask Him to do that for you?”

For whatever reason, she declined my offer.

Just a Little Word

Author Unknown

Just a little word of kindness,
  just a little word of love,
just a little smile of tenderness,
  all are blessings from above.

Just a little thought of comfort,
  just a token that you care,
just a little gesture of sympathy,
  may be answer to a prayer.

Just a little smile of happiness,
  just a little song of peace,
just a word of praise at eventide,
  will give the soul release.

For the little bit of kindness
  and the little bit of care,
the little bit of tenderness,
  are the essence of a prayer.

Deadlines Frazzle; Germs Razzle

Nice to have an hour or so of blogging time again!  The past ten days have been quite hectic for me with several deadlines to meet and a gastro-enteritis bug flattening me right off.

A week ago Sunday I cooked at the Villa (senior’s residence) and –as is our custom here – I invited company from the congregation for Sunday dinner: several couples, plus my daughter and grandchildren.  We were a large group: twelve adults and 13 children.  Evidently during the course of the day someone passed around some insidious little germ; I found out about it Monday afternoon when it smacked me and some others as well.

Monday, Feb 11: in the morning I felt fine, which was great because I was dealing with two deadlines and a court case I hoped to make it to.  The His Imprint E-news should have gone out that day, but I set that project aside to get some sewing done for my Size 6 grand-daughter; they were leaving for Haiti last Saturday and I wanted to make her a few little dresses for the trip.

I’d sewed several seams and was pressing them Monday afternoon when I started feeling funny, like queasy.  Within an hour I felt blaah and ended up over the toilet bowl quite a few times until about 2am.  Bob decided to keep his distance and sleep on the couch, but by night he was sick, too.  Life wasn’t great for the next couple of days and I didn’t keep up very well with household stuff or e-mails.  Grandson N was here Tuesday — he had the flu, too — while Michelle had to take the youngest one to the doctor to get antibiotics for ear infection.

I missed my friend’s court case.  It was scheduled for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; since I missed the beginning I was hoping to put in a short appearance the last day.  But the Judge put a quick end to it Tuesday, not giving much regard to all her arguments and evidence that the SPCA didn’t have grounds for a search warrant.  So she lost and was majorly bitter about it – for the past two years she’s lived with a seething fury toward the SPCA for ransacking her place and taking her animals (she was rescuing cats and had about 80 in her tiny house at that point.)  Sad to say, this anger has been causing her health & emotional issues — understandably — and my heart aches for her.

I find that a lot of folks never seem to give God the time of day, as it were; they carry on with a vague hope that He sees things just like they do and approves of solutions they are implementing.  But when their solutions hit a brick wall they’re quick to say God let them down.  My friend certainly had reason to feel disappointed – blown to bits even – by the outcome, but can we say “God abandoned me” if we haven’t actually made efforts to know His will and walk with Him at some point?

Seems like if we feel God has abandoned us, the best place to start is to find out where He is, then – and where He wants me to be.  “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord” but we’d rather execute it for ourselves and see those wretches suffer for what they did – “sue the pants off ‘em” if nothing else.

I did manage to get granddaughter A’s dresses pretty much done and she wore one Saturday when they left.  Son-in-law Ken went on ahead a week before and has been working on an irrigation dam project over there, mostly running a back hoe.  Right now they’re spending time at the Confidence Health Centre with good friends Keith & Candace; they plan to come home all together next week.

On Saturday evening I put together the Writers Group E-news.  This should come out every two months; me being secretary, it’s my job.  I e-mailed that Sunday evening. This week I’ve been doing the snail mail to advertise the upcoming His Imprint Writers Conference April 12-13; sent off 57 letters containing posters to evangelical churches in this area, from whence come most of our conference attenders.  This afternoon I e-mailed the info to all the churches I have e-mail addresses for.

Having that behind me I can turn to my next deadline, which is to submit some entries to the Utmost Christian Writers poetry contest.  I have a couple that I think might meet approval and the deadline is Feb 28th.  If you like religious poetry you might want to check out their website; they have a number of poems in their archives.

As I said before, I’ve signed an agreement with Friesen Press to publish my poetry and short fiction stories in a book.  Their marketing agent is to contact me the first week in April, I’m told, and arrange submission of my manuscript.  Which means I must have the manuscript ready, right?  (Tremble, tremble!)

I started compiling poems over a month ago and now have over 100; that’s apt to be far too many for one book so I’ll need to do some culling.  This is not going to be easy!  Plus finish – edit – polish the stories and set it all up in proper book form.  My birthday is two days before Good Friday this year so I’m making it my goal (or birthday gift to myself) to have it ready for that day.

I’ve been reading a book lately titled Create Your Writer Platform.  Author Chuck Sambuchino maintains that all writers will need one, especially non-fiction writers.  His suggestions: check out the various social sites; offer to write newspaper columns; get into public speaking; submit to writing contests; write magazine articles, etc.  Whatever works best for you, pursue it and get yourself known, especially in your field (for non-fiction.)

I was reading last night that having a blog following of 5,000 will impress an editor that your book could sell.  Ten thousand would really wow them.  A writers “home run.”☺  Hmm… I’m like the batter who hits the ball three feet in front of her and hopes to make it to first base on enthusiasm.  Sometimes it works, too.

The Bible says, “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.”  I think I’ll put my faith in that thought.  I’m very thankful for those of you who read and LIKE my posts, but I’m not willing to spend my whole life chasing here and there after followers.  (See Psalm 1:1)  Neither do I want to view others strictly in terms of what they can do to elevate my name.

Those of you others who are putting together your books, how – or to whom – do you plan to market them?

Deep freeze outside yesterday, with a bitter wind and sharp cold last night: the early morning temp dipped below -20C.  Thankfully this current wave of cold is supposed to pass by tomorrow.  We are seeing a steady improvement in the temp and are happy for the longer daylight hours.  Spring is on its way!

Due to my other irons in the fire my posts may be sporadic during the next several weeks, but I welcome your prayers on my behalf, for wisdom and no cold feet until I get my latest project accomplished.

A Lesson On Forgiveness

In addition to battling a debilitating disease, blogger Bill also has to fight the same evils and temptations the rest of us do.  And he’s been winning!  I was inspired, encouraged, challenged – shamed even – as I read about his victory.

I hope this will encourage you, too, so with his permission I’m posting the link:

A Chance to Reconsider

“Come on, Maggie MacGuire, I’ll walk along with you awhile and carry that.  It’s a pretty hefty load for a granny like yourself to haul around.”  Donald picked up the sack she’d rested against a sign post.

“I’d be right thankful if ye’d do that, lad.  Aye, it’s a heavy load for an old woman like me, but it’s the way I must earn my daily bread.”

“And you’ve been doing this for years.  Seems I remember you coming around peddling kitchen things when I was still a bairn.”  Donald hoisted a sack of kitchen utensils onto each shoulder and started off.

Feeling their weight, he resolved to accompany Maggie for as long a time as he could spare.  It wasn’t much of a load for a stout fellow like himself, but little Maggie MacGuire must grow weary toting these sacks up and down among these hills day after day.

“Been sixteen years now that Tom left me, God rest his soul, and I’ve been wanderin’ these roads ever since.  With him gone on, peddlin’s the only thing what keeps me from starving.  Folks are good, though; they buy a knife or somethin’ whenever they can.”

Then her tone turned sharp.  “But don’t ye be takin’ me for no duckling now.  I’m a tough old bird.”  And she stepped along right lively to prove it.

Donald looked down at her and smiled.  Not an ounce of self-pity in those old bones.  “So who keeps you supplied with all the tools you sell?”

“Most of it comes through a merchant in Glasgow; the butcher knives are made by a local smithy not far from me home.  He does a great job.”

As they marched along, Maggie entertained Donald with stories of her childhood on a windswept highland croft and her married life with Tom.  Before long they came to a crossroads and she stopped to consider the roads.

“Now which way will you be taking, Mrs. MacGuire?”

“Good question.  I’ll have to ask the Lord.”  Maggie opened her satchel and took out a long straw.  This she tossed in the air, as high as she could.  “I’ve been lettin’ Him make these tough decisions for me.  He always knows what’s best.”

The straw landed pointing to the road west.  “And so that’s the way I’ll be goin’, if you want to hand here me bag, Donald lad.”

“The harvest is in and I’ve the time this morning; let me walk with you a little longer, maybe up to the next crossing.  It’s a bonny day to be out and about.”

“Aye.  I’m so thankful for days like this.  Beats trampin’ through the mud gettin’ soaked to the skin.  Hush now, old woman!  I’ll not be complainin’; just thankin’ the Lord I’ve the strength to do it.”

After awhile they came to another crossroads.  Maggie eyed the one road, rough and rutted, that led up a steep hill.  Then she studied the other, a smoother path down to the valley.

“I’ll be interested to see which way the Lord will send you this time, Mrs. MacGuire.”  Donald did his best to look baffled, but his eyes twinkled as he watched her.  Would this “tough old bird” ever give in to creature comfort and take the easy way?

Again Maggie took the straw from her satchel and tossed it in the air.  The light breeze tossed it onto the upward road.  She took a good long look at the road again, then picked up the straw and threw it high in the air.  Again it landed on the upward road.

Once more she picked it up and, turning slightly, she tossed it heavenward.  The breeze gave an odd little puff right then and the straw landed on the downward road.

“Now, Maggie MacGuire, you have me puzzled.  How come you had to do that three times?”

“Well…”  Maggie paused a moment, then answered on a perky note.  “I was just givin’ the Lord a chance to reconsider.”

She reached for the sacks “I know ye’ll have to be off home, Donald; there’s work for us all.  So I’ll be takin’ me bags now.  Thank ye much for yer help.”

“Well, you be taking care of yourself and bide a wee in the shade from time to time.  Tis a heavy load you’re hefting.”  He handed over the sacks.

She shouldered them and headed down toward the valley.  Donald watched her a few minutes, then chuckled as he started for home.  He didn’t blame Maggie a bit for taking the easy road and he had to appreciate her quick thinking.

“And how many times aren’t we folks like that, Lord?” he asked, turning his gaze toward the blue sky above.  “Hearing Your answer, but giving You a chance to reconsider.”

The Snake, the Frog — And Me to Spoil the Lunch

I was reading an interesting storybook, so it took awhile for the little scream to catch my attention.  But it persisted, shrill enough, insistent enough, that I finally heard it.

Slowly I came back to this land, this day, this parking lot, this lumber yard where I was sitting in the car waiting for my husband to buy some paint for our house.

I lifted my head and listened.  If it was a bird, it was a tiny one.  If it was a cricket, it was a loud one.  A small child?  Too shrill.  It sounded like an animal caught in a trap, but not here in the parking lot, surely!  Most likely a bird–and obviously in great distress.

I looked around, but the noise seemed to be coming from behind the car.  I considered going back to my story and leaving the creature to solve its own problem, but it was such a piteous little scream.  Surely I should at least get out and look.

I walked behind the car and looked around.  At the edge of the gravelled area I saw something moving.  A green frog was jumping up and down, but instead of going ahead, it was going backwards!  And as it leaped up and fell back down, it made these little screaming sounds.

Curious, I walked closer and soon saw the cause of the frog’s distress.  Mostly hidden in the grass at the edge of the parking lot was a garter snake with its mouth clamped firmly on one of the frog’s back legs.

They both had a problem.  The snake wanted to swallow the frog, but if it opened its mouth wide enough, the frog would make a quick escape.  Most of the frog was free, but ‘most’ meant nothing at this point.  That one captured leg would bring his death and he knew it!

The snake was dragging it slowly back into the deeper grass.  His aim was to drag the frog down into his hole, where he could kill it or fasten it so that it could not escape being swallowed.  And the frog was screaming its terror for all the world to hear!

Then I came along.

Now, I know that nature is not always sweet.  Snakes have to eat.  But my heart was touched by the anguish of that little frog.  I walked over to the scene of the crime, leaned over the snake and looked him in the eye.  That’s all it took.

Snakes seem to have no fear.  Instead of crawling away to hide, they rear up and prepare to do battle with an enemy, of whatever size.  First they hiss a warning.  And as this snake opened its mouth to hiss at me, the frog was set free.  He quickly seized his opportunity and left for safer ground.

The Bible compares Satan to a serpent.  Crafty, stealthy, wanting to destroy.  He is not innocent in going about his business like real snakes, but like a real snake he is out to capture and to kill.  If he can clamp his jaw on a young person’s leg or arm–or even a little finger–he can slowly draw them back farther and farther into the shadows, deeper and deeper into sin,  where he can do a complete job of destroying them.

In one sense the frog was smarter than most people.  When Satan gets his claws into us, we often content ourselves with the idea that we are almost free.  He tells us, “Come along.  We’ll have a great time!” We don’t sense that we are slowly being dragged backwards.

If ever he hands you that old “just this once” line, remember this little frog.  Once the devil has his fangs clamped around even the smallest part of you, he will start dragging you down!

The good news is: if ever you find yourself caught by sins that are dragging you down, away from the path of light, remember that there is Someone who “can be touched by the feeling of our infirmities.”  Don’t spend hours struggling to free yourself.  When we cry out to Jesus and He shows Himself on our behalf, the devil has to let go!

Psalm 120:1 In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me.

Our Father the ATM?

One morning as I knelt down to pray, my mind was occupied with all my shortcomings.  The cup was definitely half empty; I felt so needy, so deficient in the virtues a Christian wife and mother should possess.

“Dear Heavenly Father,” I began, “please grant me more patience and more wisdom in dealing with situations that come up.  Help me to understand Your will, Lord, and grant me the grace to do what I know is right.  Bless me with a ‘meek and quiet spirit’ as I relate to my family.  Help me to be more cheerful and encouraging.”

And the Holy Spirit said, “Gimme, gimme, gimme.”

That shocked me out of my ‘poor and needy’ mood.  I realized that, yes, that’s exactly what I was  saying.  I was calling God my Father, but instead of talking to Him sensibly, as a child would talk to a parent, I was treating Him like a spiritual-virtues ATM.

How would I feel if my child would come to me and say, “Mom, give me my dinner… and buy me some new clothes… and do my laundry… and clean up my room, and…”

These are all very legitimate needs, but wouldn’t I long for some more meaningful conversations with them?  Don’t I enjoy hearing about their day and listening to their ideas, hopes, goals?   Wouldn’t I also appreciate hearing a “Thanks, Mom, for everything you do” now and then?

Is my Heavenly Father any different?

Since then I’ve tried to keep in mind as I pray that He is my Father, not my ATM.