TITLE: perfect plans ch. 3
By Libby East
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“Leslie, is there anything I can say to change your mind about staying?” Marcy had been trying to convince the girls to move in with them. They had been staying there since the night their parents died. Now, the funeral was over and Leslie and Joanna were packed and ready to go home. Marcy was in the kitchen preparing a picnic basket with enough food for the girls to eat for a week. Leslie had just finished loading her car and had come to tell Marcy thank you for everything she’d done. “You know we have plenty of room.” Marcy handed the basket to Leslie.
“I know.” Leslie was thoughtful. It would probably be easier just to stay and let Marcy and David be the parents of both of them. But sill it would be better for Jo if they returned to some sense of normalcy. “I really appreciate everything you’ve done.” she choked back tears. “I think it’s best if we try to get back to normal.”
“I understand.” Marcy, hugged the brunette girl and reminded her to call if she needed anything. The women went to the living room to find Alissa and Joanna saying goodbye.
“You ready Jo?” Leslie slipped her arm around her sister.
Joanna nodded as tears slid down her cheeks. She was ready to be in her own room with her own bed but every time she thought about home she pictured her parents there. It was hard to imagine being there without them.
In the next moments the girls said their goodbyes again and slid into their car. Once they were on the road Leslie checked on her sister. “You okay Jo?”
“I guess.” the younger girl replied. “It still feels like a bad dream. Like when we get home they’ll be there.”
“I know.” Leslie understood exactly how her sister felt. She felt the same way. “It’s hard to imagine how life will be without them.”
The tow were quiet for the next couple of minutes and them Leslie thought of some things she needed to tell her young charge. “Okay, Jo, there are some things you need to know.”
“Okay.” Jo answered but she didn’t know if she was ready for this or not.
“First you need to know that you can talk to me about anything. I’ll never be able to or even try to take mom’s place but anything that she would do for you I’ll try to do. Do you understand?” They were at a red light and Leslie looked at Jo’s face.
“Yeah.” Jo’s face was tear stained but complacent.
Leslie continued. “I don’t know what the future will be like for us but we will always have each other and God is in control.”
Joanna rolled her eyes. If God was in control then He could have saved her parents. Obviously either God is not in control or He was mean. What kind of God would take a nine year old’s parents? Jo was angry at God.
“Jo?” Leslie broke into the girl’s thoughts. “Are you with me?”
“Yeah.” Jo knew that her sister would just disagree so she opted not to mention her thoughts about God. The car became quiet for the remainder of the ride.
Leslie noticed the red light blinking on the answering machine. Remembering the last time she played the messages on the machine and thinking that she didn’t really want to talk to anyone anyway she started to ignore it. However, something compelled her to play it.
“Leslie, hi it’s Tom I had a good time at lunch the other day and wondered if you might want to have dinner and maybe catch a movie with me this weekend.” Leslie closed her eyes and tried to remember what tit had been like to e with Tom and know that he interested in her but all she could think about was that while she was with him her parents were dying. She hit the delete button before writing down the phone number he rattled off.
Joanna had disappeared quietly to her room without Leslie noticing. She lay on her bed eyes closed and felt the emptiness of the house. She tried to remember what her parents would have been doing at the moment if they were still here. Mom would be working on dinner and Dad would be winding up his day at the office. She could almost hear mom quiet noises while she cooked.
“I miss her so much.” she spoke to the empty room. She squeezed her eyes shut and tears trickled down her face.
I AM WITH YOU
She heard God’s voice but it was of no comfort. “You were with my parents too and they died You took them and I don’t wnat anything to do with you ” She was yelling now and Leslie came running into her sister’s room. Joanna was now sitting straight up and crying so hard she was shaking. Leslie knelt on the bed beside her and held on tight. They stayed like that for several minutes and then Leslie whispered in her sister’s ear.
“We’re gonna get through this.” she squeezed the younger girl tight and then released her.
Tom sat and stared at the phone. It had been three days since he left the message on Leslie’s machine and the weekend was quickly approaching. Still there had been no word from her.
“God did I read the signs wrong and she wasn’t interested?” He prayed, no he knew he read her right. “Was she playing me?” But she didn’t seem like the type. “God I know I’m supposed to be trusting you for my future. But I’m struggling. I like her and I want to get to know her. Is this from you? What should I do?”
PRAY FOR HER
He realized that he’d been very selfish. Maybe she was going through something
and that’s why she hasn’t called. “God whatever it is I pray that she would know your presence and if it’s your will, bring us together.”
Resolving to call her again he picked up the phone and dialed.
Leslie checked the called ID. She was Tom’s name and thought about answering the phone. It would be nice to pretend everything was normal again. Obviously he hadn’t heard about her parents but then she shuddered. If she had been with her parents they ma have been on a different road and not been killed. No she couldn’t talk to Tom. She walked away and didn’t hear that he didn’t leave a message.
Chris and Jeremy were Tom’s roommates and closest friends. He was thankful for their Christian encouragement through all of life’s difficulties. He knew that not hearing from Leslie hardly qualified as a life difficulty but his heart was strangely heavy where she was concerned. The three men sat in their living room and Chris asked Tom to share what was on his heart.
“I can’t explain it.” he began. “I guess I should just assume she’s not interested and move on. But for some reason, I can’t.”
The other men nodded with understanding. “Have you prayed about it?” Jeremy asked.
“I have. I’’ll put Leslie isn God’s hands and then take her back again.” He swallowed. “I feel like God has her on my heart fo a reason. Otherwise, I would be able to move on.”
“Maybe she’s just not interested and you’re obsessed.” Chris joked.
“That’s the thing. I know interest when I see it and she was definitely interested.”
Jeremy agreed with him. “So you thing something’s going on with her and that’s why she won’t return your calls?”
“Yes, and I keep trying to tell myself that I’m crazy and I need to forget her but then I think God tells me to pray for her so I do and then I worry about her.”
The guys sat silently for a few minutes and then Tom said “If I could just get her to talk to me maybe I could help with whatever it is.”
“Maybe you should ask God to prepare her heart for you.” Jeremy remembered what he’d been reading in his Bible lately. “I’ve been reading in the book of Nehemiah. He felt that he needed to go rebuild the wall in his home country but he needed the king’s permission. He asked God to go before him to the king so that he would find favor with him and would gain the required permission. And that’s exactly what happened.”
“Yeah so maybe if you ask God to go before you she might call you back.” Chris concluded.
“Wow, I didn’t think of that.” Tom felt a small sense of relief at having a new perspective. The three men bowed in prayer for Tom’s peace and for Leslie. When they were done they went out for pizza.
Leslie was in her room unpacking from her stay with the Jones’. Her stomach growled and she realized it had been a very long time since she’d eaten. Joanna too for that matter. She started toward the kitchen to warm some of the food Marcy had sent but she just couldn’t stand the thought of working in the kitchen–her mother’s favorite room. Besides, she needed to get out and experience some place different. She was sure Jo did too. She walked up the stairs to her sister’s room.
Jo was unpacking too. “Hey, I feel like getting out for a while. You in the mood for pizza?” Leslie’s upbeat tone irked Jo but she nodded a grabbed her coat.
The trio of guys were very quiet as they ate. Tom’s mind was on God and his plan for Leslie and Chris and Jeremy were concerned for their friend. Jeremy was the first to notice the girls as they entered.
“Hey Tom. I think this is your lucky day.” Tom followed Jeremy’s gaze and just about choked on the food he was chewing. The three of them watched as Leslie placed an order and then the girls sat in a booth by the door. Their faces were somber.
“Well, I guess this is it.” Tom said as he stood to walk over. The others watched him prayerfully.
Leslie saw Tom approaching in time to head to the bathroom before he reached their table. Joanna sat confused as her sister left unannounced and when Tom approached she was obviously nervous.
“Hi, I’m Tom.” the man stood at the end of the table and looked down at the young girl. “I’m a friend of Leslie’s.” Joanna just stared at him with wide eyes. Until she finally saw her sister coming out of the bathroom.
Leslie was surprised that he was standing beside Joanna. She waw the alarm on her sister’s face and hurried over.
“Hey ” Tom was barely able to curb his enthusiasm.
“Hi.” Leslie was less than excited.
“Is this your little sister?”
“Yes, Joanna.” Leslie answered as she sat down. Her heart was fluttering but she tried to ignore it.
“May I join you?” Tom asked as he motioned to the space at the end of the booth beside Leslie.
Leslie wanted to scream “NO ” but she couldn’t make her self do it. “Ok” she finally said and scooted over to give him room.
“I tried to call you.” Tom told her.
“I know.” she replied and checked to see if her sister’s face revealed any of the feelings she was sure were hidden inside. Joanna’s face was blank so she couldn’t tell what was going through her head.
“You didn’t return my calls.” Tom was desperately seeking answers that Leslie was not ready to give.
“I know,” she said.
Just then the pizza that she’d ordered arrived and Tom turned to see that his friends were finished eating and waited on him.
“Well, I’ll let you enjoy your dinner.” and with that he was gone.
“Who was that?” Joanna asked.
“Someone I know from church.” Leslie responded with her eyes still glued on the handsome young man that now sat across the room.
“Does he know?” Jo was obviously curious about the man that had been sitting at their table.
“I don’t know.” Leslie thought for a minute. “Probably not.”
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