Jenny quickly slid into the coffee shop booth. She smiled coyly at the handsome man across from her.
“Does Sara know you’re here?” Jenny whispered, glancing furtively around the room.
Brian grinned and leaned in closer. “No,” he whispered back, “she took the kids to a movie. Why are we whispering?”
Jenny chuckled and cleared her throat. “Jake is leading the Men’s Bible Study tonight. The girls are at Youth Group, and I asked Connie to take my place leading Prayer Group. I’m glad you could meet on such short notice. Here are the flyers I mentioned. Which one do you think would be best – from a man’s point of view?”
Brian leafed through the colored pages, stopping at one for an Alaskan cruise. “This one looks good. It includes a side trip for salmon fishing. But it’s your vacation, too. What do you want?”
“It doesn’t matter to me. I like fish. Just having the time together will be wonderful.”
Brian’s gaze shifted over Jenny’s head. “Here comes trouble.” He warned.
Before Jenny could react, a cloud of expensive perfume enveloped them. The intruder gushed a greeting, “Brian, what a surprise….Oh, Jenny, I thought you were Sara. You look just like your sister from the back.”
Jenny sighed. “Hello, Candi. What brings you here today?”
“I stopped in for a Latte. Is that your new car right outside, Brian?” He nodded.
“I just dropped in on Tiffany to see the new baby. She’s darling. But I’m worried about Tiff. She looks so haggard. I hate to say this, but I’ve never seen her house so messy. Do you think it’s depression, Jenny?”
“No, she’s a mother of two preschoolers and a new baby. I think it’s sleep deprivation.”
“I’ll pray for her.” Candi said, frowning with concern.
“That’s good.” Jenny agreed. “Offering to babysit or help around the house would be nice, too.”
Candi didn’t respond. Her attention was on the scene in front of her: A man and a woman-- each married to someone else--hunched conspiratorially over travel brochures in a small Café. Her eyebrows raised with unspoken assumptions.
“Goodness, look at the time!” Candi exclaimed, checking her diamond watch. “I’m late for the Women’s Retreat meeting. Catch you later.” Blowing kisses in the direction of the table, Candi departed – fragrance wafting behind her. She was dialing a cell phone before she got to the door.
“Sweet….” Brian drawled sarcastically.
“The only thing sweet about that woman is her name and that overpowering scent. You can always tell where Candi has been. She leaves a trail of mayhem like she leaves a trail of perfume. I swear…if she wrecks this anniversary trip for me and Jake like she did the surprise birthday party I planned for Sara, I’ll….I’ll…!”
“You need to confront her, Jenny.”
“I did! I talked to her privately after Sara’s party. She had stirred up so many hard feelings about who was invited and who wasn’t. It just created more problems. She played the victim and I ended up the bad guy with everyone angry at me. It’s like being held hostage by Candi’s mouth. Well, anyway, I know Jake really enjoys fishing with you. So if you think he’d like the Alaskan cruise, I’ll book that one? You’d better tell Sara about this when you get home before she gets a call from Candi.”
After church on Sunday, Jenny stopped by the Prayer Ministry table to pick up a list of recent prayer requests. She quickly scanned the page, her eyes halted at two new anonymous entries: New mother – severe post-partum depression. Couple in Ministry – marital problems. Jenny’s heart sank. “That woman works fast! Lord, I need help with this.” She silently prayed.
Jake slowly approached his preoccupied wife. “Something strange just happened.” He began. “Pastor Mike asked if we’d attend the marriage covenant seminar. He really pressed the issue. Got any thoughts on that, Jen?” Jake eyed his wife suspiciously.
Before she could answer, there as a touch on her elbow. “I missed you at the prayer meeting.” Pastor Mike’s wife, Mary, said with concern. “Would you like a cup of coffee?”
Jenny took a deep breath. God works fast, too. Looking at Jake, she said, “Why don’t you take the girls home? Sara can bring me home and I’ll explain everything then.”
Turning back to Mary, Jenny asked, “Could you help me with something? There needs to be an intervention, but probably not the one you may be thinking about.”
**Matthew 18:15-17 NIV
"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
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