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TRUST JESUS TODAY

TRY THE TEST





TITLE: ANOTHER DAY DAWNING
By Tina Cole
05/20/06
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ANOTHER DAY DAWNING


AS SOON AS TARA MONROE OPENED HER SOMBER GREEN EYES TO THE MORNING SUNLIGHT, SHE WAS STRUCK BY THE SENSE OF A GREAT BURDEN THAT THREATENED TO SUFFOCATE HER. SHE KNEW THAT THE DAY WAS TO BRING NOTHING BUT GRIEF TO HERSELF AND HER TWO CHILDREN. ANGUISH PIERCED HER HEART AS SHE TURNED HER ATTENTION TOWARDS EIGHT YEAR OLD KELLY AND TEN YEAR OLD LITTLE RANDY WHO WERE LYING BESIDE HER, SOUND ASLEEP.

TARA SLOWLY RAISED HERSELF UP FROM THE LARGE BED IN HER PARENT'S GUEST BEDROOM AND GAZED UPON THE SPACIOUS SURROUNDINGS. IN TIMES PAST SHE HAD LOVED TO VISIT HER PARENT'S HOME BECAUSE SHE FELT LIKE SHE WAS IN THE MIDST OF A PEACEFUL SANCTUARY. BUT TODAY SHE FOUND NO KIND OF PEACE OR SANCTUARY HERE.

OPENING THE FRENCH DOORS TO THE VERANDA, TARA WALKED OUTSIDE TO VIEW THE FLOWER GARDEN BELOW. RADIANT COLORS OF RED, YELLOW, WHITE, AND LAVENDER NESTLED IN GREEN FOLIAGE WERE DISPLAYED ON A GENTLE SLOPE. TARA WONDERED BEWILDEREDLY HOW THE WORLD COULD BE SO WARM AND FULL OF LIFE WHEN SHE FELT SO NUMB INSIDE. SHE CHILDISHLY WISHED THAT THE HOT TEXAS SUN WOULD SOMEHOW BURN OUT THE SORROW OF HER SOUL. WITH A LOW MURMUR SHE SPOKE "GOD, I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY THIS HAD TO HAPPEN. RANDY'S GONE AND I CAN'T BELIEVE I'LL NEVER SEE HIM AGAIN! I CAN'T GO ON BY MYSELF--PLEASE, HELP ME FIND THE WAY!"

AFTER A SMALL BREAKFAST IN THE ELABORATE DINING ROOM TARA TOOK THE CHILDREN TO HER FATHER'S DEN WHERE THEY WAITED ON HER PARENTS TO FINISH PREPARATIONS TO LEAVE FOR THE CHURCH. KELLY'S CHUBBY FACE BORE A SAD, FORLORN LOOK AS SHE CRAWLED UP BESIDE HER MOTHER ON THE SOFA. TARA WRAPPED HER LONG SLIM ARMS AROUND HER SMALL DAUGHTER AND THOUGHT TO HERSELF "I HAVE TO BE STRONG FOR THEM BUT HOW LONG CAN I GO ON PRETENDING?"

RANDY JR.'S DEEP BLUE EYES FILLED WITH TEARS AS HE LAY HIS CURLY DARK HEAD UPON HIS GRANDFATHER'S DESK AND TRIED UNSUCCESSFULLY TO STIFLE HIS SOBS. TARA DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO COMFORT HER YOUNG SON. HE HAD ALWAYS BEEN A RESERVED CHILD WHO WAS DIFFICULT FOR HER TO UNDERSTAND. AS SHE PAINFULLY LISTENED TO THE LOW SOBBING CRY OF HER SON, TARA BITTER SWEETLY OBSERVED HOW MUCH LITTLE RANDY RESEMBLED HER LATE HUSBAND.

RANDALL DAVID MONROE HAD MARRIED TARA LEE ANN FARRELL, A SLENDER AND LONG HAIRED BLONDE OF FRENCH DESCENT, WHILE SHE WAS IN HER LAST YEAR OF COLLEGE. TARA'S FATHER, WHO ONLY EQUATED WORTH WITH MONEY, WAS VERY DISPLEASED WITH THE MARRIAGE. RANDY WAS A CONSTRUCTION WORKER LIKE MOST OF THE MEN IN HIS FAMILY. AND THOUGH HE REALIZED THE DISDAIN THAT HIS FATHER-IN-LAW FELT TOWARD HIM, HE NEVER ALLOWED IT TO AFFECT HIM IN A NEGATIVE WAY.

AS TARA AND HER FAMILY DROVE UP TO THE CHURCH IN A LIMOUSINE, FAMILY AND FRIENDS FROM NEAR AND FAR WERE FILLING THE CHURCH BUILDING. AFTER BEING SEATED FOR ABOUT FIVE MINUTES, SHE FINALLY FORCED HERSELF TO RAISE HER HEAD AND GLANCE OVER THE IMMENSE CROWD THAT HAD GATHERED TO PAY THEIR LAST RESPECTS TO THE MAN SHE HAD LOVED FOR THIRTEEN YEARS. RANDY'S MOTHER AND FATHER TURNED AROUND IN THEIR PEW AND GAVE HER AND THE CHILDREN A COMFORTING SMILE. THE GRIEF APPARENT ON THEIR FACES, YET AN EVIDENCE OF PEACE IN THEIR EYES.

BROTHER JACOBS, A SHORT SLIM, ELDERLY MAN WITH A SWARTHY COMPLEXION, EMERGED FROM BEHIND THE PULPIT. HE HAD BEEN THE MONROE FAMILY'S PASTOR EVER SINCE THEY HAD MOVED FROM OKLAHOMA TO DALLAS ALMOST TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO. THERE WERE FEW MEN THAT HER HUSBAND HAD RESPECTED AND ADMIRED AS MUCH AS HE DID TOM JACOBS.

ABOUT TWO WEEKS AFTER THE FUNERAL, WHILE STILL AT HER PARENT'S HOUSE, TARA WAS STARTLED AWAKE BY THE FRIGHTENED SCREAMING OF HER YOUNG DAUGHTER WHO HAD BEEN SLEEPING IN AN ADJOINING BEDROOM. KELLY CAME RACING INTO HER MOTHER'S AWAITING ARMS. "KELLY HONEY WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU! WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU!" THE TERRIFIED GIRL TRIED TO ANSWER HER MOTHER BETWEEN SOBBING AND GASPING FOR BREATH. ... I SAW A BIG TRUCK CHASING YOU AND IT...IT WAS ABOUT TO HIT YOU!" SHE HALTED FOR A MOMENT, WIPING HER TEAR FILLED EYES AND CATCHING HER BREATH. THEN CONTINUED," I TRIED TO STOP IT MOMA.. BUT...THEN I WOKE UP!"

TARA LOVINGLY EMBRACED THE CHILD AND BEGAN STROKING HER LONG HONEY COLORED HAIR. "LISTEN TO ME KELLY, BABY" SHE SAID, INTENTLY LOOKING INTO THE GIRL'S BIG, PERPLEXED GREEN EYES, "IT WAS JUST A DREAM. A BAD DREAM. THERE WAS NOTHING REAL ABOUT IT. EVERYTHING IS OKAY AND I'M HERE AND I'M NOT GOING TO LEAVE YOU." SHE THEN ROCKED HER SMALL, TREMBLING CHILD BACK TO SLEEP.

THE FOLLOWING SUNDAY MORNING KELLY, RANDY JR., AND TARA MONROE DRESSED TO GO TO CHURCH FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE FUNERAL. AFTER GREETINGS AND CONDOLENCES FROM CHURCH MEMBERS THEY FOUND A PLACE TO SIT DOWN BESIDE DONAVAN AND ANNA, RANDY'S PARENTS. THE LARGE MODERN STYLE, BRICK CHURCH WAS NEARLY FILLED TO CAPACITY WHEN PASTOR JACOBS WALKED TO THE PULPIT CARRYING HIS WORN LEATHER BIBLE.

PASTOR JACOBS WAS HALF WAY THROUGH HIS SERMON ON THE SAMARITAN WOMAN AT THE WELL WHEN TARA VAGUELY SENSED A DISQUIETNESS IN HER HEART. WHILE SHE LONGED FOR THE SERVICE TO END A CALL FOR PRAYER REQUESTS WAS ANNOUNCED. AN ELDERLY SPANISH WOMAN STOOD UP AND ASKED FOR PRAYER FOR CARLOS RAMIREZ. AS SOON AS TARA HEARD THE MAN'S NAME SHE ABRUPTLY ROSE TO HER FEET AND PRODDED HER CONFUSED CHILDREN UP FROM THE PEW, DOWN THE AISLE AND OUT THE CHURCH DOORS.

AS SHE PULLED INTO THE DRIVEWAY OF HER TWO STORY BRICK HOME LONG FORGOTTEN MEMORIES STIRRED HER EMOTIONS. SHE SLOWLY SCANNED THEIR LARGE FRONT YARD ABUNDANTLY ADORNED WITH A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT TREES.

UNDER THE HUGE FLOURISHING OAK TREE, BECKONING HER TO COME TO THE TIRE SWING, RANDY STOOD IN THE EXACT SPOT HE HAD JUST A FEW SHORT MONTHS AGO. SHE TURNED AND HE WAS UNDER THE PECAN TREE LAUGHING, AS HE PICKED UP PECANS AND THREW THEM INTO A SMALL BAG IN YOUNG KELLY'S CHUBBY HANDS. BEFORE SHE REALIZED IT, TARA FOUND HERSELF OVER BY THE SOUTHERN MAGNOLIA PICKING A LARGE WHITE BLOOM OFF OF THE GROUND, IMMERSED IN A BITTERSWEET MEMORY OF HOW HER HUSBAND WOULD OFTEN BRING HER THE FRAGRANT FLOWER AFTER RETURNING HOME EACH EVENING.

ALL THROUGH THE FOLLOWING WEEK, AS TARA WORKED AT HER TEACHING JOB AT GLADSTONE ELEMENTARY SHE FOUGHT FEELINGS OF DEEP DEPRESSION. SHE LOVED HER WORK AS A THIRD GRADE TEACHER, BUT EVER SINCE RANDY'S DEATH AN EMPTINESS HAD CONTINUED TO VEX HER SOUL AND DISTRACT HER MIND. THE FACULTY AT THE SCHOOL HAD ALREADY NOTICED THE CHANGE IN HER AND AS A RESULT, THE PRINCIPAL HAD OFFERED HER A LEAVE OF ABSENCE. AFTER GETTING OVER HER DISCONCERTION, TARA DECIDED IT WOULD BE IN EVERYONE'S BEST INTEREST IF SHE TOOK A SHORT BREAK.

"HELLO DIANA" TARA ANSWERED THE FRONT DOOR WITH FEIGNED CHEERFULNESS. DIANE MONROE WHO WAS HER HUSBAND'S BROTHER'S WIFE, HAD BEEN HER CLOSEST FRIEND FOR THE PAST FIVE YEARS.
ARE YOU READY TO GO SHOPPING TILL WE DROP?" DIANE ASKED WITH A SCRUTINIZING LOOK. "READY AS EVER!" TARA RESPONDED WITH FORCED ENTHUSIASM AS SHE PICKED UP HER SMALL PURSE AND FOLLOWED HER FRIEND OUT THE DOOR.

AS THEY WERE DRIVING BACK FROM DOWNTOWN, DIANE TURNED TO TARA AND ASKED "HAS KELLY HAD ANYMORE NIGHTMARES?" TARA PAUSED FOR A MOMENT AND THEN SPOKE SOLEMNLY, "SHE HAD ONE MORE JUST ABOUT A WEEK AGO AND I HAD A HORRIBLE DREAM ABOUT THAT MAN JUST LAST NIGHT." "TELL ME ABOUT IT." HER FRIEND SAID INTENTLY. TARA SPOKE WITH BITTERNESS IN HER TONE AS SHE GAVE AN ABBREVIATED VERSION OF HER DREAM TO DIANE. "I DREAMT THAT I WAS BEATING HIS FACE WITH MY FISTS AS THE BLOOD POURED DOWN HIS SHIRT."

SUNDAY AFTERNOON THE PHONE RANG AND LITTLE RANDY RAN TO ANSWER IT. "MOMA! GRAND ANNA WANTS TO KNOW IF WE CAN COME OVER FOR SUPPER. PLEASE MOMA! LETS GO." KELLY WHO HAD RACED DOWN THE STAIRS, REPEATED THE PLEA, "OH ALL RIGHT. TELL YOUR GRANDMA WE'LL COME." TARA REPLIED YIELDINGLY.

AFTER LITTLE RANDY HAD EATEN A PIECE OB PECAN PIE HE WAS READY TO GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY WITH HIS SISTER AND DIANE'S TWO BOYS. DONOVAN AND HIS YOUNGER SON GARY WENT OUTSIDE TO THE SCREENED PORCH, CARRYING THEIR GUITARS.
THEY'RE GETTING READY TO PRACTICE THE SONG BROTHER JACOBS WANTS THEM TO SING AT CHURCH." ANNA MONROE SURMISED AFTER SHE SAW THE TWO MEN DEPART. WITHIN A FEW MINUTES A MELODIOUS HYMN COULD BE HEARD AS THEY SANG "SOMETIMES IT SEEMS I'LL NEVER SEE ANOTHER DAY DAWNING." WHICH TARA RECOGNIZED FROM THE SONG "JOY IN THE MORNING."

WHEN SHE WAS CLEARING THE TABLE AND DIANE AND TARA WERE PREPARING TO CLEAN THE DISHES, ANNA INQUIRED AS TO WHY TARA HAD NOT BEEN TO CHURCH IN A FEW WEEKS. "WELL I GUESS ANNA, I'VE JUST BEEN SO CAUGHT UP IN SCHOOL WORK AND FALL HOUSE CLEANING." "IS THAT ALL?" HER MOTHER IN LAW QUESTIONED CAREFULLY AS DIANE LISTENED. WHILE TRYING TO CONCEAL THE ENTIRE REASON, TARA SAID, "TO TELL THE TRUTH, IT HAS REALLY BEEN HARD TO ATTEND THE SAME CHURCH I WENT TO WITH RANDY FOR MOST OF OUR MARRIAGE. IT'S JUST NOT THE SAME." SHE SAID AS SHE WIPED AWAY TEARS THAT HAD BEGUN TO FALL FROM HER EYES. ANNA IMMEDIATELY EMBRACED HER DAUGHTER IN LAW AND SPOKE WITH CERTAINTY "GOD IS OUR STRENGTH CHILD, WE CAN'T DO IT ALONE."

LYING IN BED THAT NIGHT, TARA FELT UNEASY WITH THE REALIZATION THAT SHE HAD NOT BEEN COMPLETELY TRUTHFUL WITH RANDY'S MOM. DIANE, SHE KNEW, WAS WELL AWARE OF WHY TARA HADN'T RETURNED TO CHURCH. HER FRIEND HAD MILDLY REPROVED HER WITH A MINDFUL LOOK AFTER HER HUSBAND GARY HAD ASKED TARA IF SHE'D BE AT CHURCH THAT EVENING. IT WAS VERY PECULIAR TO TARA THAT NO ONE IN RANDY'S FAMILY SEEMED TO BE DISTURBED, IN THE LEAST, THAT CARLOS RAMIREZ'S GRANDMOTHER HAD THE NERVE TO ASK THE ENTIRE CHURCH TO PRAY FOR THE DRUNKARD WHO HAD KILLED HER HUSBAND.

THE PHONE RANG THE NEXT AFTERNOON JUST AS TARA WAS PICKING UP HER KEYS AND HEADING OUT THE DOOR TO DO SOME MUCH NEEDED GROCERY SHOPPING. "TARA, I WAS HOPING YOU WERE AT HOME." TARA RECOGNIZED THE VIBRANT VOICE OF BROTHER JACOBS. HE CONTINUED, "I JUST HEARD THAT YOU HAD TAKEN A LEAVE OF ABSENCE FROM TEACHING AND I WAS CALLING TO SEE IF THERE WAS ANYTHING KAYLA AND I CAN DO FOR YOU. WOULD YOU LIKE US TO COME AND VISIT?" AFTER A SHORT SILENCE SHE SPOKE BLUNTLY, "NO THANK YOU. I'M JUST FINE. I MAY BE A LITTLE WORN DOWN BUT SOME EXTRA REST WILL HELP. I'M GLAD YOU CALLED THOUGH. TELL KAYLA HELLO FOR ME."


ON FRIDAY MORNING, TARA WOKE FEELING LIKE SHE HAD BEEN LABORING HARD IN HER SLEEP. SUDDENLY SHE REMEMBERED WHAT SHE HAD DREAMT AND REALIZED WHY SHE FELT SO WEARY. SHE HAD BEEN CHASING CARLOS RAMIREZ FIRST ON FOOT, THEN IN A BLACK TRUCK. WHEN SHE FINALLY CAUGHT UP TO HIM, HIS FACE WOULD CHANGE INTO THE IMAGE OF RANDY. "GOD WHY CAN'T I HAVE PEACE OF MIND? HE IS THE ENEMY AND I CAN'T BE FREE OF HIM!" SHE CRIED, BURROWING HER FACE INTO THE PILLOW.

TARA, OCCUPIED IN ARRANGING HER FILING CABINET, HEARD A LOUD KNOCK AT THE FRONT DOOR. DIANE WAS STANDING ON THE PORCH WITH A TROUBLED LOOK ON HER FACE. HER GENERALLY COIFFURED DARK HAIR WAS TIED BACK IN A PONYTAIL. "DIANE! I SURE WASN'T EXPECTING YOU. WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE THIS EARLY IN THE DAY?" TARA ASKED BEWILDEREDLY. "I HAVE SOMETHING TO TELL YOU THAT I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD HEAR FROM ME FIRST." DIANE REPLIED SOMBERLY. AS SHE GUIDED TARA TO THE LARGE SOFA IN THE LIVING ROOM WHERE BOTH WOMEN SAT DOWN. TARA BIT INTO HER LOWER LIP, UNABLE TO SPEAK, FEARING WHAT WOULD COME OUT OF HER FRIEND'S MOUTH.

HE WAS DEAD! CARLOS RAMIREZ DURING THE NIGHT HAD TAKEN HIS OWN LIFE! THE GUARD HAD FOUND HIM WITH THE SHEET WRAPPED AROUND HIS NECK. THE SHOCK WAS TOO MUCH FOR TARA AND SHE BECAME LIGHTHEADED. DIANE POSITIONED A CUSHION ON THE SOFA AND TOLD HER TO LIE DOWN. AFTER ABOUT A HALF HOUR OF REPOSE DIANE TOLD HER FRIEND TO CALL IF SHE NEEDED HER AND THEN SHE GINGERLY CLOSED THE DOOR BEHIND HER. TARA WAS LEFT ALONE TO ACQUIESCE TO THE GUILT WHICH HAD EMERGED TO TAKE CENTER PLACE IN HER EMOTIONS. SHE FELT AS THOUGH HE HAD DIED AT HER VERY OWN HANDS.

WHILE THE CHILDREN WERE AT SCHOOL SHE SPENT MUCH OF HER TIME IN HER BEDROOM WRESTLING WITH THE GREAT WEIGHT IN HER CONSCIENCE. THE HEAVY BURDEN OF HATRED AND REVENGE THAT HAD CAUSED HER TO BE SEPARATED FROM THE BLESSINGS OF GOD'S LOVE AND MERCY WAS NOW EXPOSED. GOD HAD SHOWN HIS OMNIPOTENT LIGHT INTO THE DARKNESS OF HER SOUL AND SHE KNEW WHAT SHE HAD BECOME. MORNING, NOON, AND NIGHT SHE PRAYED TO FIND THE RELEASE HER HEART DESPERATELY CRAVED.

A FEW WEEKS LATER, ON SUNDAY MORNING TARA WOKE HER CHILDREN UP EARLY TO MAKE SURE THEY WOULD BE READY FOR SUNDAY SCHOOL. "MOMA WE HAVEN'T BEEN TO CHURCH IN A LONG, LONG, TIME. WHY ARE WE GOING TODAY?" ASKED LITTLE RANDY INQUISITIVELY. "IT'S TIME HONEY...IT'S JUST TIME." SHE SAID DETERMINEDLY. "AND I ALSO THINK IT IS TIME FOR YOU, KELLY, AND ME TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER TALKING ABOUT THE GOOD AND HAPPY MEMORIES WE HAVE OF DADDY."

AS SOON AS SHE SAW MRS. RAMIREZ ASCENDING THE CHURCH STEPS, TARA QUICKENED HER PACE TO MEET UP WITH THE ELDERLY WOMAN ON THE CHURCH PORCH. SHE SPOKE TO HER WITH LOVING SYMPATHY AND THEN CONFESSED THE UNFORGIVENESS THAT HAD ONCE FILLED HER HEART. THEY WARMLY EMBRACED BEFORE PARTING FROM EACH OTHER.

IN THE AFTERNOON, TARA SAT UNDER THE BIG OAK IN THEIR YARD WHILE KELLY AND LITTLE RANDY PLAYED WITH THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD FRIENDS. SHE PICKED UP HER JOURNAL AND HER PEN AND BEGAN TO WRITE: DEAR RANDY, I HAVEN'T WRITTEN A WORD IN HERE SINCE YOU LEFT, BUT NOW I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY. I LOVE YOU AND ALWAYS WILL. WHEN YOU WENT AWAY I THOUGHT YOU HAD TAKEN MY JOY, MY PEACE, MY LOVE, ALONG WITH YOU. NOW I KNOW THAT WASN'T TRUE BECAUSE I FOUND JOY, PEACE, AND LOVE IN THE ONE WHO HAS IT TO GIVE, JESUS. MY HEART HAD BECOME FILLED WITH BITTERNESS. THANK GOD I HAVE LEARNED TO FORGIVE AND BE FORGIVEN. YOUR JOURNEY IS FINISHED. MINE, IT SEEMS, HAS JUST BEGUN. UNTIL THEN...
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