This is a slow book about the problems of real people in real places although it is fiction. It’s about life. We laugh, we cry, we love. My wish was to get into the grit of problems we are subject too. It picks up in pace as it moves along and we follow Joe as he tries to untangle his life in its unexpected twists and turns and as he tries to follow God. Expect neither prudishness, perfection nor degradation for Joe is just a man with a family, Joe is us.
*Kicking Against the Goads*
A short story
Joe Blankenship awoke that cold November morning before dawn as usual and shivered. He hurried into the living room and opened the door on the Earth stove and shoved some small kindling in and shoved a log of firewood on top of it.
He pulled on his socks and shoes against the cold floor and headed for the coffee pot. Nobody would drink Joe’s coffee because he made it so strong it would melt the proverbial horseshoe.
He puttered around the house a few minutes until the coffee was made. Unlike his wife the minute he woke up he was awake and ready to do something. His wife was a sleepyhead who would not awake for another two hours.
He and his wife had been married a long time. He had married her when she was at the bottom of the ninth on seventeen just about to head for first base on eighteen and he was still in-service.
They had nothing in common and never had accept kids, dogs and a deep enduring love for each other that had overcome the hardship of the years.
Joe grabbed the pot and poured himself a cup of coffee. He slopped some milk in it out of the refrigerator and walked over and sat down in the overstuffed chair by the fire which had began to put off heat from the wood stove.
The crackle of the fire foretelling the waking of the family and as usual his mind began to work at two or three subjects at once and he felt the depression roll over him like a black cloud.
This day Joe dreaded to see daylight. He dreaded this day period because today Joe was leaving their home alone.
No matter how bad it had ever previously gotten Joe and Jena had always found their hands seeking out the others hand and against the world they stood.
He sat and sipped at his coffee and let the hot liquid wash through his body as he reflected on the days that had brought him to this morning.
They had bought this house with its three acres two years ago and had such ideals.
It seemed such a gift from the Lord and two years ago he had agreed to work for his buddy.
They had done well together in his buddies remodeling business. He and Ralph had gotten along good. They were both Christians and both had Children to feed and they both worked hard, but the work had slowly gone down.
Ralph had hired crew that he shouldn’t have hired and allowed the business to grow too quickly.
Joe had tried to talk to him about it, but it did no good. So instead of Joe and Ralph working together as they had started now Ralph had taken to running around in the pickup instead of swinging a hammer or wielding a paint brush.
Ralph hadn’t called him in a month and when Joe had called him Ralph promised work, but never came through.
Monday a week ago Joe had driven to town for something or other. As he drove down the street he saw Ralph’s familiar Dodge pickup at a local bank and then he saw the crew on scaffolding working on the exterior of the bank and Joe was stunned.
He could tell right away that they had been there at least two days working on that Bank Building.
Joe parked a little way away and watched the worthless crew at work. He and Ralph had done good and made good money because they worked well as a team and were efficient at what they did.
But then Ralph had taken on more contracts and promised starts quicker than they could get to them.
To get them finished on time and Ralph had hired his brother and a friend from church and a high school kid and they were every one inexperienced, slower than molasses and no drive to work much.
Joe liked all these associates, but liking them did not make them fit for the jobs they were doing.
Joe knew why they were working and he wasn’t. It was because he was the highest paid one on the crew, but it still stung Joe clear to his soul.
He felt betrayed, not only by his buddy, but one whom he considered a close brother in the Lord.
Joe drove slowly home the twenty miles on the road that snaked its way through the mountains thinking all the way about what he had witnessed.
As Joe sat there and stirred his coffee and thought of the years leading up to that morning. He remembered how he and his wife would do well for awhile and then it all just slowly went to hell in a hand basket.
Joe and his wife Jena both had ‘Gotten saved’ about fifteen years before and they both loved the Lord and had been in his presence. They both knew the hand of God had overshadowed their lives, but Joe could not understand all this.
He had to make a living and that was all there was too it, but nothing ever turned out no matter what he did. It all ended in nowhere land.
He prayed constantly, but his prayers weren’t answered. When it would get bad God would cause things to happen just enough to feed them.
It was always just enough and no more.
God would bless Joe up and down with the presence of the blessed Holy Spirit and his presence was always with Joe.
Joe’s brother in Las Vegas had called him a few months before asking him to come down to Vegas and work for him, but Joe didn’t want to go and leave Oregon and their home. He had told his brother he would think about it and left it at that.
But when he saw that work crew out there working when he should have been working with them he knew he had to do something.
When he had gotten home he had called his brother and agreed to come down.
Joe worked on his second cup of coffee that morning. He always knew that God knew his every thought so he was just honest about them. He knew God heard them and knew if God had anything to say he would say it.
Joe sat there and worried in his coffee-cup. He had traded his work truck to some guy two days before for a customized Dodge van title for title and he was going to take the dog, their big yellow Labrador “Boomer” and the trailer and head out.
His wife was going to stay there with the kids and try to sell the house, the rest of the furniture and the horse and drive on down when he got a house in Vegas.
Joe hated like the dickens to give up this house and three acres that sat atop a beautiful mountain. Joe could sit in his upstairs office and see forever, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Baker and Mt. Hood. The ground was rich and would grow anything and they had a good garden that year.
The kids loved the place, the dog which hated cats and the horse that would break through three strands of barbed wire just to graze over on his neighbors pasture.
That horse was one worthless nag but the kids loved him so Joe had kept him. He chased him all over creation and back because at least once a week the deputy sheriff that drove that part of the county would drive up to the house in the patrol car and tell Joe where the horse was presently staying eating somebody else’s hay.
Joe grew more depressed as he sat there knowing what had to be done. He didn’t like it, but not liking it didn’t make it better or worse either one.
Joe didn’t understand God at all, but he never told him. He knew God and he wasn’t about to go cursing him nor complaining to him. He knew eternity waited for him and as the old songs goes “We’ll understand it better by and by.”
Joe had faith in God that he would supply the need somehow because he always did. At times Joe had thoughts that God deliberately kept him crushed under his heel. A big foot right on top of his neck holding him to the ground. Joe also knew the source of those thoughts and he could almost see the leering face of Satan. He knew Satan hated him for his undying faith. He knew that as well as he knew his own face.
Joe heard Jena head for the bathroom, heard the commode flush and she walked into the living room frizzy headed and sleepy eyed and plopped down in her chair.
“Are you going to go this morning?” She asked as she looked over at him. She knew already knew the answer.
“Yeah, the trailers hooked up. Less’en you got any other idea!” He added sharply.
“I should be in Vegas day after tomorrow. You need to start breakfast.” He said gently and she got up tiredly and headed for the kitchen.
Joe could sometimes be sarcastic but he didn’t mean anything by it. He just liked to avoid foolish questions when the answers were obvious at least to him and he could be sarcastic the most when he was worried.
Joe smelled bacon and Jena came back into the living room and this time she eased down on Joe’s lap and rested her head on his chest.
Joe inhaled the sweet smell of her hair and Joe felt panic start at the thought of leaving her alone.
Nothing ever broke until he left the house, but as soon as he even went hunting everything on the place fell apart and he would feel guilty when he got back.
Jena couldn’t fix a broken fingernail much less anything around the house. Joe wrapped his arms around her and held her close.
“I Love you Joe.”
“I know.” Said Joe and he choked up a little, but he didn’t let her see it.
After a few minutes she got up and went back to the kitchen to finish breakfast. They ate in silence, the kids were stirring around and it was almost time for Joe to go if he was going.
Joe walked through the kitchen to the back door and yelled “Boomer, com’ere boy!” And the large lab trotted out from the insulated pump house where he liked to sleep and Joe snapped a leash on his choke chain and led him around the house to the van.
He opened the door and boomer jumped in.
The horse came around to the fence thinking he might get a little early feed and Joe walked over and rubbed his muzzle then walked back to the van.
Jena and the kids were standing there, the kids looking a little bewildered and frightened, Joe knew they didn’t understand why he was going although he had explained it to them.
Jena grabbed him and kissed him long and hard, with tears streaming down her face.
Joe reached down and hugged the twin girls, tousled the hair of the two boys and turned and crawled into the van. He just cranked it up and put it in reverse.
“I’ll call you.” He said and drove down the short gravel road to the highway, made a left and headed for Portland.
In an hour he was through Portland and on the I-84 and driving up the gorge. In two hours he passed ‘The bridge of The Gods’ which spanned the Columbia River at the narrows.
Boomer stuck his head between the seats as if to say “Are we there yet?” Joe gave him a scratch behind the ears and boomer went back and lay down.
The van had been converted and had a short sleeper in the back and was covered with thick carpet on the floor and walls and even the ceiling. It was cozy and Joe felt he had gotten the best of the deal. A guy he didn’t even know had come to the house two days ago and asked him if he would trade his truck for the van. The van ran perfect and Joe figured it was a God thing again.
Joe had seen too many miracles God had caused in their behalf to know that it was no coincidence. There was even a CB radio overhead.
If Joe had been in his pick-up he would have had no place to sleep and he couldn’t afford motel rooms.
Joe took the mike down and turned it on to channel 19 which was the trucker channel for that part of the country. He gave a call and voice came back right away.
It was a trucker headed for Portland and Joe thanked him explaining that he was just testing the radio and where he was headed.
“Good luck buddy.” Came the squawky voice of the trucker. “There’s ice past The Dalles.” And he signed off.
As Joe got past The Dalles Oregon he began to see the sheet of ice on the road with more on the bridges.
He had gotten about twenty miles north of The Dalles and just cross a long bridge when a pickup pulling a fifth wheel trailer began to jack knife on the ice.
Joe knew that if he slammed on the breaks he would do the same. The pickup and fifth wheel now was across the entire road giving Joe nowhere to go.
Joe yelled “Daaaaang” as he felt his wheels begin to skid on the ice. The van felt like it was speeding up instead of slowing down. His van headed for the pickup which was now almost facing him head on.
The van kept sliding but it slowly skidded to within about two feet from the front of the pickup. Joe checked his mirror and hunched up waiting for the cars behind to plow into him but they had managed to stop and Joe just sat there his legs quivering.
The man in the pickup gradually turned the truck and head east again after sea sawing it a few times.
Joe said “Thank you Lord!”
Boomer came sticking his big head between the seats to see if he was being called for dinner.
He soon saw he wasn’t going to get any so he pulled his head back and turning around a few times lay back down for his favorite pass time which was sleeping.
By last light Joe came to the foot of Cabbage Mountain and he had no more started up then he hit heavy snow.
He stopped at a turnout to put on the chains and discovered the chains did not fit.
“Nothing to do but go on.” Joe said as he jumped back into the truck, his hands freezing cold.
He came to the top of Cabbage and was in the high country and there was snow all over but the trucks kept the snow beat into ruts.
He drove four more hours and a call came over the CB so he grabbed the mike and a voice came on
“Hey buddy in the blue van! Where you headed?”
“Vegas” said Joe into the mike.
The trucker said “Buddy, trucks are spinning out all over the place up ahead of you and the road is closed past the next town.”
“Thank you for alerting me.” Joe replied.
Sure thing buddy” said the trucker “No use set’in on the side of the road all night. They won’t open the road till morning. Take the next exit and you will find a motel.”
Joe said a prayer of thanks for the radio and the truckers.
He saw the exit for the town and headed off the highway. He wound his way down into a small town and saw a motel sign and pulled in.
The room rate wasn’t too bad but Joe hadn’t figured on staying in motels.
He unlocked the door and went in. The room was warm so he shucked his clothes and jumped in the shower and after a few minutes of the hot water he rolled back the covers on the bed and laid there.
Joe was worried and up tight about the whole trip now and Joe worried about the family too. He thought they may be getting snow and they had nothing but the broken down old car which was an old clunker Chevy that had seen better days a hundred thou ago.
Joe laid there and depression rolled in on him. He considered the last week’s leading up to this and now this.
Nothing had gone right the minute he past The Dalles. The ice slowed him down and here he lay with the road closed.
He thought about whether he should just turn around and head back in the morning, but he knew he wouldn’t as he was just not a man to reverse his decision once he made one.
He lay there and worried another hour before he dropped off to sleep.
He awoke about seven and got a cup of coffee across the street then let boomer do his business in the parking lot and pulled back on to the highway.
The snowplows had cleared the road during the night and the wind did the rest. He felt the van rock in the wind gust as he made the long circuitous route to catch the I-15 where the 15 would drop back out of the Utah Mountains to Vegas.
Flying snow and passing trucks with trailers obscured his vision in places and he was uptight all morning and his shoulders were aching with the tension and fatigue.
About midday boomer started farting. “Giiaaa!” Joe exclaimed as he franticly rolled down the window, the cold air hitting him with a blast of icy breath.
When Joe thought it was safe he rolled the window back up and Boomer lit off another one and the stench hit him full force and back down came the window and now the van was a chunk of ice.
Boomer stuck his head between the seats as if to say “Whuts up?”
Joe looked at the big yellow dog and started laughing. It relieved the worry and tension as Joe busted a gut laughing and boomer kept up with his farting about every five minutes.
Joe prayed for the Lord to watch over the family and himself also for he knew they all depended on him getting to where he was going and sending for them.
They depended on him and he was responsible and when he thought about it the worry began again.
Joe knew he was making bad time, but there was nothing he could do.
He was hungry and saw a restaurant so he pulled off the road and into the parking lot.
There was nothing but woods and hills all around so Joe let boomer out for a run.
Boomer lit out for the woods and Joe yelled at him but boomer paid no attention. Boomer usually came when he was called, but this time he disappeared in the woods.
Joe worried and after he worried so long it always put him a fowl mood.
“ If he ain’t back by the time I eat, he is a left dog!” Grumped Joe and he headed for the restaurant.
Joe was about forty-five minutes eating and when he came back to the van still angry at the dog there was boomer sitting and looking at him.
Joe slid the door back and boomer jumped in wagging his tail. Joe could have sworn that dog read his mind and knew he better be back at the van when Joe got there.
“You best get in there!” Joe said loudly and slammed the door shut.
Joe felt a little better with some hot food and a thermos full of coffee so he turned the radio on and listened to some music. The snow driven by the wind was still a problem and in places he couldn’t see ten feet ahead.
Joe began to feel uneasy again and his shoulders tightened with the strain of driving in the blinding snow
He had a sense of dread and Joe began to wonder if he was alone and God didn’t give a hoot about him or his family.
“Hell nothing ever goes right anyway!” He muttered to the road, he felt a tinge of guilt because he hardly ever used unseemly and unnecessary language and that made him feel worse.
Joe did not notice the van picking up speed. The van was making seventy in dangerous conditions, but Joes mind was elsewhere.
A squall of snow blanked out the road as Joe passed over a bridge just before the road rounded a bend. When it cleared there was a car stopped dead in front of him.
Joe yanked the wheel and the van skidded off the road and climbing an embank it glanced of a rock and turned over on the passenger side.
Everything went round and round as Joe heard the sickening screech of metal on rock.
Joe awoke still strapped in by the seat belt. Joe reached for the seat belt buckle and he screamed with pain as he unsnapped it and fell across the passenger seat.
He lay trying to breathe with the sharp pain in his side. When Joe moved a sharp pain shot all the way down his left side.
Eventually a head appeared in the driver side window which had been broken out. He looked down at Joe and said something, but Joe was too wracked with pain to make out what the guy said.
In a few minutes he heard a siren off in the distance and soon it came whooping up and stopped on the side of the road.
The driver’s side door opened with a yawn and hands reached in to pull him out. Joe screamed again as the pain tore through his side.
He heard boomer whimper from the back and Joe grabbed the guys arm and said through clenched teeth “Dog”.
The man said “Ok buddy, take it easy.” And they pulled him through and laid him gently on a gurney then rolled him into the ambulance and closed the door.
Joe could see the outline of the ambulance attendant talking to a cop in the strobe of the flashing lights.
The ambulance attendant turned and Joe heard the driver door slam and the engine start. The other attendant came in from the cab and began preparing his arm for an I.V.
The ambulance was warm, but Joe grimaced with the pain in his side at every little bump.
At the Hospital the doctor pronounced two broken ribs and one had punctured his lung. He had various cuts and bruises, but none of those were too serious. A nurse came in a gave him an injection and he drifted off to sleep.
The next day Joe called Jena and told her what happened and to stay there till he called. They talked awhile and hung up and Joe drifted off to sleep again.
Later that day about three o’clock a man came into his room and he asked Joe if he could sit down and Joe nodded at the chair by his bed.
The man looked like a mechanic in his blue pants and shirt with the name tag saying ‘Earl’ sown above the pocket he looked to be in his late sixties or early seventies.
Earl said he was the one that towed Joes van into town.
Joe told him the title was in the glovebox because he didn’t have the money to pay him for the tow or to fix the van either.
The man just nodded and sat there. The man ask him where he was headed and Joe told him and the man nodded his head.
Earl sat there and nodded his head again and Joe was getting the idea that nodding his head was Earls favorite pass time.
“How long do you figure you will be laid up here?”
“The doctor said a couple of days.” Joe explained about the lung puncture and Earl nodded his head slowly as if all the previous nodding had slowed him down a mite.
The man reached into his shirt pocket and handed him a card that said ‘Earl’s garage and body shop’ ‘We do good work’.
Earl sat there and nodded a couple more times and then said “I got to go back to work, but when you get free could you come see me at the shop?”
“Sure” Joe replied, he thought the man would probably give him his belongings from the wrecked van then send her to the wrecking yard for his tow money.
A little later a cop walked in and stood at the foot of Joes bed and announced he was the officer who attended the accident and he ask Joe what happened. He wrote on a notepad as Joe related to the whole accident.
The cop said “Thank you.” And closed his notepad and turned to go. He turned back and asked if a man by the name of Earl had come by.
Joe said he had and the cop waved his notebook at Joe and said “See ya.”
Joe figured they might rig a ticket on him this being a one-red light town and all, but Joe was too heartsick to care.
The next two days moved slowly but Joe felt more strength as the day wore on. The doctor came in on Friday evening and asked Joe how he felt. Joe flinched as the doctor poked at his side.
“You gonna release me?”
The doctor looked at him closely “I would like you to stay here until Monday.”
Joe said a little loudly “Doc, I don’t have the money to pay the hospital bill I already rang up! I need to get moving.”
The doctor just looked at him and said “You don’t worry about that. Now you just lay here till Monday. Will you promise me Joe?”
“I will.” Joe said looking into the doctors kind eyes.
“My bedside manner must be improving.” The doctor said and laughed.
Joe nodded his head; he was bewildered at all this.
He stayed in the Hospital until Monday morning and he felt good accept some soreness in his chest and legs, but he had been walking.
About seven the nurse came in smiling with a big plate of eggs, bacon and coffee. It hurt to swallow but Joe finished it all.
The doctor came in at nine and felt his ribs and said he could be discharged from the hospital.
The charge nurse came and wheeled him to the front desk and handed him some papers to sign then wheeled him to the door.
A taxi was sitting there with ‘Dan’s taxi service’ written on the door in block letters and when he saw Joe and the nurse he came around and opened the passenger door.
Joe said “I didn’t call a taxi.” The man nodded his head.
“Goodbye Joe. I’ve enjoyed having you as a patient.” She said as she turned to go.
“Earl told me to bring you down to the shop.” The taxi driver announced.
Joe crawled into the front seat and the driver left with a lurch and drove swiftly down the towns one storefront lined street called ‘Main Street’ “What else?” Joe muttered.
The taxi pulled up in front of a large old metal and brick building with the words ‘Garage’ over one door and the words ‘Body Shop’ over the other door. There was a sign that said ‘Office’ over a smaller door in a room that looked like it had been tacked on after the fact.
Joe thanked the driver as he pulled away and walked into the office to find Earl sitting there writing on a form with the same looking blue uniform he wore when he first saw him.
He looked up as Joe entered and stood up and reached across the desk to shake Joe’s hand.
“Thank you for coming down. Glad to see you are on your feet again.”
“We have your dog. He’s tied out in the shop and the boys have taken up with him and have been feeding him.”
Joe looked at him in surprise “Was he hurt badly?” He asked.
“Naw! He limped a little for awhile, but he’s just fine now.”
“Your van is in the shop in the back. We fixed it up for you. All the boys worked on it.”
“Mister, I don’t have the money to pay you. I’m sorry.” And he looked away.
“I know. You told me. Come on out and we’ll get her started and out the door.”
Joe followed Earl out into the big garage building and as soon as Boomer saw him he lunged at the rope to get at him.
Tears welled up in Joe’s eyes as he walked over to the big dog. Boomer jumped up on him licking the tears off Joes face. Joe ruffled his fur and scratched him behind the ears and hugged the dog.
Joe saw a mechanic walk back to a nice-looking cream colored van and start the engine and drive it forward and out of the shop.
Earl handed him his keys and motioned at the van with a hand.
Joe just stared at the van with its faultless paint job and new wheels and tires shining in the morning sun.
“But that’s not my van!” Joe said.
Earl hung his head and said “Well, the boys took the liberty to fix it up for you… that is your van. And the boys don’t want no pay now you hear?” Earl said.
Joe walked over and stared at the van and he didn’t know what to say.
The van was almost unrecognizable from the outside and even the dash had been painted and there wasn’t a dent or a scratch on it. Joe looked at the new chrome wheels and tires.
“But who paid for all this?”
Earl just looked away and “Never you mind about that.” “Your trailer is in back and if you will pull around we’ll hook her up for you.”
Joe was bewildered, but he got in the van and started it up and the engine sounded much better than the van he had wrecked.
He pulled it around to the back of the building and there was the trailer. They had disassembled and rewelded and painted it also.
Two mechanics came through the back door and grabbed the tongue of the trailer.
Joe heard the tongue snap into place and with a rattle of the safety chains the mechanics motioned Joe forward and walked back into the shop.
Joe pulled the van around to the front of the shop again and a mechanic stood holding Boomer by a leash.
Sliding the door open the mechanic gave Boomer a hug and boomer jumped in and he closed the door then turned around and headed back into the shop.
Earl walked up to the side window and stuck his hand through the window “Good luck son.”
“Sir, I don’t understand all this.” Jim said shaking Earl’s hand.
Earl looked at him a few seconds as if he was trying to make up his mind about something and said “Son, that was my family in that car, if you hadn’t swerved they might have all been dead.”
“That cop that came to see you was my son, and his daughter was in that car and the Hospital kept you there so we could get the time it took to fix it up.”
“Now the boys wanted to do this for you so you just take this van and head on out to where you were going.” And he turned around and walked back into his office.
Joe sat there amazed as he stared at the retreating figure.
Joe cranked the van and started toward the highway and he could hardly see because tears flooded his eyes.
Joe was still batting at the tears as he pulled back on to the main road.
The powerful van surged forward like it couldn’t wait to go.
Joe pulled the van over to the side of the road and unclipped the inside hood of the van and looked in and there sat a new motor with everything new down to the wiring harness.
Joe just sat there and stared at it then he got out of the van and looked again at the faultless paint. The tears had started again and as he leaned against the van and wept for the first time in years as he felt the sweet presence of the Lord.
He finally was able to start the van again which came to life with a roar and he headed toward Vegas.
He dropped out of the Utah Mountains and felt the weather change as he dropped down into the beautiful canyons that lined the side of the Road. About sunset he saw a sign ‘Las Vegas 20 miles’.
Boomer stuck his head between the seats then and Joe ruffled his fir and said “We’re about there boy.” And Boomer seemed satisfied with the explanation and went back and lay down.
Boomer had gotten over his farting fit before the accident. “Musta been something he et.” Joe thought as he drove the remaining miles.
A while later Joe found his brother’s house. He had never been there and it was a house his brother had contracted to build to his liking.
His brother was on his third wife and had a successful car business, but he knew his brother was heading for disaster if he didn’t change. He just could not leave the women alone.
Dianna Lozano awoke on Thursday morning and took a shower before dressing for work and walked into her bedroom and knelt down beside the bed to pray as was her habit. She didn’t know why she knelt at her bedside, but she just felt comfortable there.
Dianna was thirty-eight years old and divorced eight years ago and lived alone.
Dianna was a woman of medium build and Italian decent.
She had short black hair and dark brown eyes and the beginning of a roman nose, but she was still pretty.
She sometimes had the temper of her Italian parents and she was a straight forward and direct person of serious demeanor.
Her husband had decided he wanted a Corvette and a blonde on each arm more than he wanted her. So he bought one and blew around Vegas making waves.
She got a divorce and moved out of the house on walnut Road to the little town of Henderson Nevada a short drive from Vegas proper.
Her husband had finally run out of welcome with the Las Vegas PD and had moved to L.A. to find greener pastures or greener women whichever came first.
She had kept the house as part of the divorce settlement and it was free and clear, but it was hard to keep good renters in it.
They mostly tore the place up and she ended redoing it when they moved out. The house was just one disaster after another.
Dianna had a soft heart and she would believe the stories told her by the prospective tenants and they would move in and party until they tore the place apart and moved or refuse to pay their rent.
The place was empty now because she had not had a chance to rent it out although she had redone it after the last disaster.
She worked at the Sunrise Hospital as a registered nurse where she worked on the heart floor and she like it.
She sometimes worked in ICU when called on but it was too tense for her liking.
It was quiet in Henderson and many of the nurses lived there.
Her son was an Air force pilot who loved his job. He was stationed at Nellis AFB and lived on Mt. Solo road with his wife and one child.
As Dianna began to go through her prayer list she prayed for her son’s safety that day. Dianna had gotten to where she just took one day at a time.
She was afraid for her son to fly the jets, but she knew he was a good pilot and loved his job.
He had gotten special permission to take her up in the co-pilots seat of an F-4 phantom and she had puked all over herself as her son pulled g’s over the Nevada sky laughing hysterically. She wanted to be mad at him for the joke but couldn’t.
The heartbreak of sudden divorce had taught her much. Before the divorce her that life just stretched out before them with the road paved to good fortune and retirement in a well-kept neighborhood. Now she knew how uncertain life could be and she relished every day.
As Dianna ticked off her remembrance list she prayed for the nurse’s aid that had cancer and could no longer work who was also divorced.
She prayed for her friends and family in L.A., and Dianna’s prayer list had gotten longer and longer.
She turned to the side and stretched her legs out after a while as they had begun to cramp up on her lately, but she loved the time she spent with the Lord.
Before the divorce she hardly ever prayed, but now she didn’t feel right if she didn’t spend time there in her bedroom alone praying earnestly for the needs of those she knew and loved and cared for.
As she finished she began to praise the Lord for his goodness and kindness and suddenly she heard that still small voice penetrate her being “Call Jena.” It was not exactly a voice it was more like an impression that imposed itself on her mind, but she knew it was the Holy Spirit.
Dianna thought of her old classmate whom she had not talked to in fifteen years or so.
They used to keep in touch, but they just grew apart with the years of separation.
The last she had heard of Jena she had married and moved north to Oregon or Washington or somewhere up in there, but she wasn’t sure where now.
“I wonder how I would get hold of her?” Dianna thought. She sat there and pondered that for a few minutes and then remembered the internet.
She jumped up and rushed excitedly into her tiny office and turned on her computer.
The screen lit up and Dianne got on ‘AnyWho’ and up popped a screen waiting.
Dianne sat and tried to remember the guy’s last name that Jena married. Finally she remembered it as Blankenship, Oregon, so she typed that in the box for last names and towns but nothing came up then she looked down and discovered she had spelled wrong.
She corrected it and hit the enter button again and in a second up popped long a list of names.
She scanned through the long list and finally found “Blankenship, Joe and Jena, Deer Island, Oregon.
She knew that had to be it so she jotted down the number on a piece of paper. “Thank you Lord.” She breathed and dialed the number. The phone rang three times and a tired voice answered.
“Hello, is this Jena Blankenship?” Dianna said into the phone.
“Yes it is” came the answer.
“Jena this is Dianna Lozano in Las Vegas.”
Oh Dianna! It has been so long! How are you?”
“Ok. How are you?”
“I’m fine.” But Dianna heard the hesitation in Jena’s voice.
“Jena. I want to get right to the point of why I called you.”
“As I prayed this morning the Holy Spirit prompted me to call you.”
Dianna heard some broken words on the other end and she knew that Jena was crying and she waited as Jena said in a squeaky and broken voice “I’m still here.” “Sorry.” Jena said.
She and Jena had always shared openly with each other since the time they were in grade school and on through high school as inseparable friends.
Dianna just sat silently waiting for Jena. She reached up and brushed the tears out of her own eyes and finally Jena came back on the phone and explained to Dianna all that had went on the last month.
As she explained all this now Dianna was crying because she knew the Holy Spirit had truly directed her and she also felt the burden of her friend.
Finally they both got control of the tears and the emotions, they talked a long while about the old days and Dianna told her about her divorce and Dianna ask Jena for the brother’s number where Joe was going. Jena gave it and with a promise from each other that they would call they hung up.
Dianna remembered with fondness how she and Jena had stuck together from grade school all the way through high school.
Dianna sat a long while and thought about what Jena had said. She suddenly remembered and looked at her watch. “Oh my!!” she said and rushed to the door and drove hurriedly to work already fifteen minutes late.
Dianna had a busy day at Sunrise which was not all that unusual so she didn’t have much chance to think about anything else.
When the day was done she walked tiredly to her car and went home.
Jena Blankenship was a petit woman with black hair, dancing hazel eyes and a pretty face. Her nose turned up a little and she had the beginning of crow’s feet around her eyes, a streak of grey in her hair, but she was still a beautiful woman even after birthing four children.
She adored the children and Joe and she felt like she was not complete unless they were all there with her. Her family and her home were her life.
After Joe had left and the kids were playing out back Jena walked back into the now empty house.
She already missed Joe. She began missing him the minute he drove away and she knew she was in for a long run by herself.
She knew that Joe tried hard, but it seemed like it had gotten worse financially since the day they had “Got saved”.
They gave to the church and she had even gave a tithe, but it never worked out more than a while and now she was going to lose her home again.
They didn’t have much equity in the place and she knew that they would probably foreclose on it before they could sell it. Not many people were in the market for a house twenty miles up a crooked mountain road.
She even missed boomer even though the neighbor down the road had accused him of killing two of her cats.
The neighbor had about a half-dozen and she wouldn’t put it past boomer if he could catch one of them as he hated cats and loved to chase them.
She remembered the other day when he had chased one of the cats through a crack in some boards and he couldn’t stop before he ploughed into the boards.
Jena Smiled at the thought of the dog. He loved the kids and the kids played with him constantly and of course they had wanted to bring him in to sleep with them, but Joe had said”No, the dog is too big for the house.” Joe said it in his voice of finality so Boomer didn’t get to come into the house.
Jena could tell when the school bus was bringing the kids from school because Boomer would just get up from where he slept in the backyard and amble up the short road to the school bus-stop and wait.
The kids would get off the bus and here they would all come with Boomer running ahead as if to say “Hey Mom I found them!”
Jenna felt that God was not being fair and the longer she thought about it the more her faith fell and she looked up and cried aloud “God, do you even care?” But the silence of the house answered her lonely heart back.
Jena dried her eyes and walked into the kitchen to fix lunch for the kids. She had kept them out of school so they could see Joe off.
She opened the window called the kids through the kitchen window and closed it again. She knew they heard.
Two days later while alone Jena had gotten the call that Joe had been in an accident.
Joe assured her he was fine, but she knew he would say that even if he was at deaths door.
“Oh God, what is going to happen to us?” She cried.
She had hung up the phone and lain across the empty bed and wept until there were no more tears.
Joe drove up to his brother’s house, honked the horn and got out of the van as his brother came out to meet him.
His brother asked where he got the ‘Bitchin van’ as they shook hands.
Joe explained what happened and his brother nodded and said “Wow!” And then his sister-in-law Miranda walked out and hugged him tightly.
He always had liked his brother’s third wife who had a homely face, blonde hair and a kind heart.
“Come on in Joe! We have dinner ready.” She said and Joe followed them into the house.
She had prepared steak and onions with mushrooms and that woman could cook steak and onions to make a man’s mouth water and his gut to come up to see if his throat was cut.
After-dinner they moved into the living room and his brother lit a cigar.
Joe suspected that his brother smoked cigars in an attempt to be one of the Vegas wheeler-dealers.
Joe knew his brother had a false sense of maturity and he also knew the macho was a cover for his inner feelings.
Joe felt that his younger brother had been that way so long he had lost his own sense of true identity.
They talked about old times for a while and suddenly his brother snapped his fingers and said “Some woman called here and said she lives over in Henderson and wanted you to call her.”
“I don’t know anybody here.” Joe said.
“Well, I don’t know who she is, all I know is she left a number and wanted you to call when you got here so I am just giving you the message.”
He reached over on the table by the phone and handed Joe a number.
Joe stuffed the number in his shirt pocket and forgot about it. He told his brother he had to get some sleep so his sister-in-law led him down the hall and showed him a bedroom.
Joe shucked his cloths and was asleep about as soon as his head hit the pillow.
He slept until the next morning and woke up about nine. He had a shower and walked out the front door and the bright Nevada sun almost blinded him.
He had a slight headache but he felt rested.
Miranda came to the door to tell him the dog was in the backyard and that she had fed him.
Joe walked through the house and through the sliding glass door and when boomer saw him he got up and yawned and ambled over to Joe.
Joe looked him over, but boomer seemed happy and well “we made it boy.” said Joe as he scratched boomer behind the ear.
“You go to farting boy and they are liable to run us both off.” Said Joe, he turned to Miranda and told her about boomers farting fit.
Miranda laughed and squatted down and hugged boomer and said to the dog “I love you old dog. You are a good doggy even if you do fart.”
Boomer gladly obliged her by licking her face profusely.
Boomer had a way of getting to those whom he thought might feed him so Joe could see how he had set out to win her heart.
Miranda was a sucker for every dog and stray cat she came across anyway so she and Boomer had quickly become friends.
“Danged dog gets more attention than I do!” Joe said. They both laughed.
They walked back into the house together and sat down in the living room.
“Your brother said to come on down to the lot when you felt like it.” She said.
“I believe I will head on down there.” Said Joe and Miranda explained how to get there.
Joe left about 12:30 and drove down to find the lot which was located off the Las Vegas strip close to Circus Circus casino off on a side street.
When Joe walked in his brother was sitting behind a desk with his feet propped up on it.
“What work do you have for me too do?” He asked.
His brother waved at the lot “Sell cars.” “The prices are on the stickers on the windshield.” And he told him how to read the codes.
“I have never sold cars before.”
“You’ll learn quickly and if you need to ask about anything just ask. You just shove’em in here and I will do the closing. The lot boy will start them up every morning and keep them clean and if I am not here you can do the paper work after you learn.”
So now Joe Blankenship was a used car sales agent.
“Just hang around and watch the rest of the day then we’ll pick up Miranda and go have dinner at one of the casino’s. You can eat in some restaurants here cheaper than you can cook it.”
This sure is a strange town thought Joe and sat down. Joe remembered the phone number in his pocket and pulled it out and looked at it thinking he might call it later.
The next morning he did call the number. The woman told him that she was an old friend of Jena’s and ask him if he would be willing to drive out to Henderson on Sunday. She explained that she went to church on Sunday morning, but that she would be home around one P.M.
Joe agreed to go and she told him how to get there and hung up.
Joe sold a car that day and made a commission of two hundred dollars so he felt like maybe he might make it as a car salesperson.
Dianna Lozano got up Saturday morning and showered. She then went into her bedroom to pray.
While she said her prayers the Holy Spirit spoke to her again “Ask Joe to church, then you are to give him the house.” This time the Holy Spirit spoke more plainly that he ever had spoken to her. The most times it was just prompting and impressions.
This time is was like he was speaking to her through her own thought patterns. She was familiar enough with the Holy Spirit to know it was him speaking to her.
She prayed “Lord am I reading you right?” He said nothing, but she knew what it was he said.
She knew that it was up to her to obey this or not obey. She thought about her relationship with God and how he had been with her, comforting her through the rough time of the divorce.
The shock had been almost unbearable when her husband had just up and told her he wanted a divorce.
“I want a divorce.” He had told her one morning at breakfast, just like that, but she had known that something was wrong. Her intuition had told her that, but his words just out of the blue had devastated her.
She had found out later that he was two-timing her big-time and she had gone into days on end of dark depression.
She would pray and get some relief and comfort, but the depression waited on her at every waking moment until finally she had fallen on her knees and cried out to God. She had committed her life completely to him that day.
Now he was asking her to do something big and to take a step that took real faith.
She said “Yes Lord.” And when she said it she felt a powerful blessing flow though her body and she felt a sense of peace like she had never felt before.
She called Joe that evening and asked him if he would meet her early Sunday morning instead and attend church with her.
Joe hesitated, and then said “Sure I would like to attend a church service.”
Joe felt he needed a church service because he felt his faith was at low ebb.
Dianna rested most of the day. She glanced at the backyard through the sliding glass door at the weeds that had grown in it and decided to go out and pull weeds. She worked steadily until the yard and flower beds were clean of weeds.
Then she walked back into the kitchen to fix a simple dinner of tuna sandwiches. She felt good from having done the weeding. The weeds irritated her.
The next Morning about nine o’clock the doorbell rang and she said “Oh, that must be Joe.” She had almost forgotten he was coming.
She opened the door to a clean shaven rather tall man with craggy features. He had warm yet piercing brown eyes and auburn hair.
“You must be Joe.” Said Dianna, Joe nodded his head.
“Won’t you come in? It’s still early and we can get acquainted before church.”
“Sure” Joe said and he stepped in and looked around.
Dianna motioned him to take a seat and Joe sat down. He had on clean jeans and tennis shoes. His shoes looked as if they had seen better days, but they were clean.
He looked to weigh about one eighty and his hair was graying at the temples. He had a serious look about him.
They made small talk a while and Dianna asked about Jena. Joe’s eyes clouded with worry.
The worry was plain on Joes face and she could tell he was used to worrying. Joe didn’t say much but he had a sad look about him.
At 10:15 Dianna announced that they should leave and she invited Joe to follow her car with his van.
When they went inside the church several came up and shook their hands and Dianna introduced Joe and explained to each one and when she got through Diana had explained Joe about fifteen times.
They finally took a seat in one of the middle pews next to the isle.
The service went at its usual pace then the Pastor preached a sermon out of revelation about losing ones first love. Joe listened to the pastor intently as he preached and Dianna could tell that Joe was taking the sermon seriously.
As the Pastor ended the sermon he invited those who wished to come forward and pray or kneel where they were and pray.
“Would you like to go up Joe?” Dianna said gently. Joe looked at her and nodded his head.
“Would you go up with me?” He asked.
“Yes, I’ll go.” Said Dianna and they walked to the front of the church and knelt using the platform steps for an alter.
Joe bowed his head and he just sat there for some time. Soon his shoulders began to shake. Joe was weeping and Dianna sensed a load of love and frustration as Joe Blankenship poured his heart out to his God.
Dianna put her hand on Joes shoulder and prayed for him, Jena and the family that God would use her to bless these people that were so in need of a little peace and contentment.
Dianna knew in her heart that God was answering prayers that day. They knelt at the alter for about forty five minutes and when they looked around the sanctuary was empty and every one had gone accept the Pastor who he was in his office.
Joe looked at peace and Dianna could tell it was a peace that was a long-time in coming.
On their way to the parking lot Dianna ask Joe to come home with her for lunch, and that she had something she wanted to talk to him about.
Joe agreed and she got in her car and drove home with Joe following in his van.
They had a light lunch of soup and sandwiches and then retired to the living room.
Dianna looked at Joe and said. “Joe, I don’t want you to take offense, but I have a house besides this one and God has instructed me to give it to you.”
Joe looked up at her sharply.
“I can’t take that Dianna.” Joe stated flatly.
She said “Are you going to let pride deprive you of a house and me of the blessing God would have me have Joe?”
“Well, if you do, be sure to tell that to God the next time you pray.” She said.
Joe look frustrated “But a house Dianna?” “Surly you don’t mean that!” “Perhaps you misunderstood?” He said.
“But I do” Said I Dianna “and no, I did not misunderstand. Look Joe, this is not a matter of feeling sorry for you, I know God will take care of you and it’s not some ploy to control you. There will never be anything said by me about it in future to you or anyone else.”
She told Joe about her life and about the divorce and her present relationship with and her love of following God.
When she finished Joe sat there thinking a while then said “I see.” then he said “Dianna, I will not let you control me or have any kind of hold on me.”
“Deal!” she smiled and stuck out her hand and Joe reached out and took her hand hesitantly and he didn’t know what to say. Joe Blankenship left Dianna Lozano’s house in a daze that Sunday afternoon.
Dianna called Jena later that afternoon and told her what she had done and told her to hurry down so they could renew their friendship and Jena Blankenship got off the phone shocked and in a daze that Sunday afternoon.
Dianna Lozano sat down that Sunday afternoon feeling more blessed than she had at any time in her life ever.
Joe pulled up to the beautiful house on walnut road the next Friday and just sat and looked at it. The deed was in the glovebox, and the Blankenship’s had a home of their own!
He put boomer in the fenced backyard and started unloading the trailer which had some of their furniture, dishes and stuff enough for them to get by on. Joe had had no trouble selling cars because all the people that came to him liked him.
That night he knelt in the living room to pray and he let his mind run over the happenings, the van, the house and Joe Blankenship would never again doubt his God.
About noon the two days later Jena pulled up in the old Chevy and got out and ran into Joe’s arms and kissed him feverishly.
The Kids ran up and hugged him then went exploring. They found Boomer in the back yard and started running around on the grass with Boomer chasing them. The children laughed delightedly and Boomer ran around and round the yard barking and wagging his tail ferociously. The children were home with their beloved Boomer.
Joe and Jena stood together just staring at the house, a home of their own, a family again.
They both could not believe it and they stood amazed.
Jena stood on her tiptoes and kissed Joe again and said “I love you Joe Blankenship.
Joe said “I love you Jena Blankenship.
I hope you enjoyed this story, if you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ on a personal basis; I invite you to ask him into your heart and God will speak to your heart in his own way and in his own time. According to Acts 16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
If you will believe on him he will do as he said, read your Bible for it contains the words of life. Perhaps find yourself a good Bible based church to attend with others of faith.
You will not find perfection; you will only find others who have been saved by his wonderful grace.
If you are a Christian and have already believed on him then have faith in God. It is safe to put your trust in him no matter your status in this life. I cannot promise the miracles as portrayed in this fictional story. I can only pass on to you his promise that he would never leave us nor forsake us.
He will never abandon you for any reason for his promises are sure.
If, over time your faith has waned, I encourage you to seek his face today and allow your faith to be renewed.
It is my prayer that God will use this book to touch your heart in some manner.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW
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