When the pastor from her mother’s church called to say he would be dropping by, Connie went into a panic. “Why me? I haven’t seen him since, shessh, I haven’t ever met this one. Why is he coming here?”
She nervously began picking up newspapers and ashtrays. Cool it, he doesn’t know anything about me, I can stop him at the door. “Besides, he isn’t coming right now.”
Connie flopped down into her large leather easy chair and picked up a remote. Seconds later a familiar soap opera lit the screen. She closed her eyes. “Ah, in a couple of hours, he will be here; not right now. That was mom’s favorite line – ‘right now.’ Right now, it’s time to go to church.” Usually followed by ‘let’s go’..
Connie laughed. “I always said ‘ah, mom.” She leaned back and the footrest extended from the chair. She mimicked her own voice, “like I ain’t gonna, when I got out of jail the judge said I was under home confinement, he didn’t say nothin’ about church.” Her eyes got heavier.
“Connie please,” her mother’s voice echoed in her brain.
“I’ll go, I promise I will. Soon as they take this monitor off of me.”
Her mother stood at the kitchen door. “All I have to do is phone the sheriff, and they will let me take you.”
“Naw, I ain’t wear’n this thing to church.”
“So, wear a long dress.”
Her mother threw up her hands. “Okay, I’m done going through this argument every Sunday. You promise you will attend once you are released?”
“Yeah, perfect attendance.”
Weeks crawled by with Connie doing little more than sitting in front of the television. One afternoon aunt called. Connie's mother had died. I didn’t even know she was sick. There was nothing she could do, her foolishness and the ankle bracelet had her tied to the house. Her uncle handled all of the funeral arrangements. Connie had to ride to the funeral in the Sheriff’s car and have a deputy with her the whole day.
Six weeks later the monitor was removed and Connie was free to move around the community with only periodic visits to her probation officer. Going to church was not on her agenda.
Now, as she sat alone in her tiny cottage, she was living basically the same life as before her release.
A knock on the door brought her out of her stupor. Connie moved quickly to turn off the television and turn on a couple of lights. Too late to dust, and this place is a mess.
A young man and an older woman were standing on Connie’s porch. Connie peeked out the side window on the door, and then released the chain and opened the door.
The young man stuck out his hand. “Hello Miss Smith, I am Josh Lyons. I called you earlier. I’m the associate pastor at Faith Assembly.”
Connie shook his hand and nodded.
“And this is Ruth Nelson, one of our members. You and your late mother were on our rolls, but I hadn’t met you yet.”
“Yeah, I haven’t been around much.” Connie ducked her head. I wonder how much he knows?.
Ruth smiled at Connie. “Dear, could we chat with you a couple of minutes?”
“Sure, come on in.” She held open the door for her two guests. “Excuse the mess, I’ve been busy.”
Ruth put her hand on Connie’s back. “It's okay dear, your mother was so loyal to the church while you were away and we just wanted to drop by.”
Connie could feel her cheeks burn. “You know I got into some trouble with the law? And, I kinda embarrassed my family. They said I was bad news.”
“Doesn’t much matter.” Josh took a couple of steps into the house. “Especially if you would be interested in some new beginnings.”
“A fresh start.” Josh’s eyes met Connie’s.
“Connie felt a tingling go up her spine. “But, I was….”
Ruth put her arm a little farther around Connie’s waist. “Jesus doesn’t care.”
Josh picked up her hands. “The old life is gone. If you desire, Jesus has a new life for you, ready to go.”
Connie could feel tears in her eyes. “Like church tomorrow?”
Her guests chuckled.
Josh squeezed Connie's fingers. “How about now? How about some good news for a change?”
Connie felt her heart burning and joy overcoming her. “Yeah.”
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