Genesis 5020

Stories for His Glory

God is so Good…or is He? October 11, 2019

Filed under: Melissa's devotions/articles,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 4:45 pm
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So many times I have stood in stage as I lead worship and told the congregation that God is good. No matter where you are God is still good. I said this from a place of comfort in my life. Nothing was going on to challenge that…until October 3rd.

My daughter plays volleyball, she has since 5th grade. We have watched her grow from the shortest girl on the team who was easily overlooked to the MVP her sophomore year. From athlete of the week her junior year to securing a position at the collegiate level. Her senior year was supposed to be her year to shine, to build her stats, be captain, maybe even be MVP again.

It all started before the school year. Twins moved to our small town, twins who had already been recruited to a D1 school, twins who are over six feet tall. My daughter is barely 5’7″. She was unsure what that meant for her since one of the girls played her position and the girls kind of changed the dynamic of the team.

She did get voted captain and we were so happy for her. But she sat more then normal this year, no one (not even other parents) understood why.

Then on October 3rd we went to a volleyball game that we were sure would be an easy win. The first set our girls dominated. They started the 2nd set and were winning again. My daughter got set, she went up to spike it, came down and went all they way to the floor.

Initially I thought she hurt her ankle, she had done that the previous year but then I realized it was her knee. My momma heart wanted to run on the court but I let the trainer and coach do their job, hoping she would stand up soon and be fine, but finally the coach motioned us over.

This is still hard to write, it still hurts to relive.

I took her hand, but she wasn’t really crying, so I took that as a good sign. The trainer thought she might have just popped her knee cap out. She recommended a place for us to go the next day.

I laid hands on her knee that night and prayed for a miracle. I was so sure God wouldn’t let it be anything too bad, that He might even heal her instantly or at least by the next morning.

My husband took her to the doctors and the texts started rolling in: “It doesn’t look good.” “Could be anywhere from six weeks to nine months for recovery.” “MRI at one ‘o clock.”

I wanted to just break down and cry. No, I prayed, this shouldn’t be happening.  But I had a room full of a students and had to sub on my conference hour, I couldn’t cry, there was no time

Did I mention homecoming was October 5th?

We got the call around three o’clock that she tore her ACL and meniscus. She would need surgery and possibly take 6-9 months for recovery.

Her high school volleyball season was over.

Musical is questionable.

Her senior year.

I was mad.

I was mad at God.

If He can bring the dead to life, open the eyes of the blind, make the lame walk, why couldn’t he heal my child? A child he “supposedly” loves more than I do? Yes, I was questioning this.

I was finally able to break down and then it was hard to shut it off. I never cried in front of my daughter, I didn’t want her to know how sad I was, or that I was questioning God’s goodness. But I most definitely was…I was questioning everything I knew to be true.

How could He care for her more than me when He allowed this to happened, if I had the power to stop it I would have. I don’t believe He caused it but He didn’t stop it either, He could have stopped it, but he didn’t. Why?


I asked that question over and over.

I’m better.

I do believe God is good. But on Sunday it was hard to stand on stage and sing those words. How ironic (or not) that I chose that song on Monday, before any of this happened, but God knew it would happen and He knew I would struggle with it. My heart was broken.

My daughter though…she is one strong woman. Her spirits have been pretty good, she has her moments, but she still went to homecoming. The other night during the volleyball game she was an encourager to her teammates. Without this moment I don’t think I would have realized how strong she is.

I keep remembering what this blog is named after: Genesis 5020.

I know the enemy caused this, not God. The enemy wants to harm her but God will use this for good. I don’t know what that is right now. And it’s still hard to believe that good can come from this set back, but if I don’t have God, I have nothing.

Another irony (or not) my son asked me recently what my greatest fear was and without thought I said something bad happening to my kids. I also read recently your greatest fear reveals where you trust God the least…hmmm.

On a long walk Sunday afternoon I surrendered my daughter to Jesus. It wasn’t easy, it was through tears and heartache. But I need to remember He REALLY does love her more than I do and want the best for her.

So is God good?

Yes, He is.

I will continue to say that until I believe it again.

The good news is her recovery is projected for 5-6 months, the college coach still loves her and wants her, she will probably be able to do the musical. All is not lost and I realize it could be so much worse, I know families who have endured far more, my child can still walk and will play volleyball again, she isn’t dead or dying.

She will be fine and who knows, maybe someday she will share her Genesis 5020 on this blog 🙂

Here is the song I had to sing this Sunday, maybe you need to hear it. Click here.


Lessons from the Robins: When You Don’t Leave the Nest August 16, 2019

Filed under: Melissa's devotions/articles,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 4:58 pm
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luke-brugger-ZWZdoy2hoNE-unsplashA few weeks ago I wrote about the robins leaving the nest. This week a I have less pleasant story.

A couple of weeks after the the baby’s left it was very windy and at some point a dead baby robin landed on our deck.

Yeah. Not very pleasant to see or smell, it had been dead for awhile and I am guessing the wind knocked it out of the tree.

What happened?

I obviously don’t know but here is a reality: There are dead believers in our churches and when the winds of life blow they are going to get knocked down. Maybe you know someone like this, or maybe you have been there?

It was so sad. All the other baby’s had left and were living their lives, probably flying freely, but for whatever reason this baby never left the nest and ended up dying.

We can’t be dead believers, otherwise the wind will knock us down. We have to keep our faith alive and part of that is living beyond the church walls. Being with Jesus beyond the church walls.

God created the birds to fly and He created us to fly with him, to live with Him. So let’s live as He created us to live, let’s not become dead in our faith but alive in Christ.



Lessons from the Robins: Leaving the Nest July 19, 2019

Filed under: Melissa's devotions/articles,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 4:46 pm

Photo by Luke Brugger on Unsplash

Baby robins start out in the nest waiting with anticipation for mama to come and feed them. But the day comes when they have to leave.

The robins at our campsite left a couple of weeks ago and I happen to be outside when it happened. One by one they would fly/fall out of the nest and hop around and begin exploring.

This reminds me of church and then the rest of the week.

I love going to church and worshiping with other believers and being fed by my pastor, but we can’t stay in that environment where pretty much everyone thinks like us. The service ends and we have to leave and go out into the world were it’s not as safe. Where someone who doesn’t think like us might not like us.

I do have a lesson on what happens when you don’t leave the nest but that will be a later post for now let’s focus on us leaving.

As much as we love the safety of being in church and around like minded people we have to go out into the real world. Honestly, what should happen is our faith becomes so big we can’t fit it into a Sunday and we have to share, we feel compelled to share our faith.

Those birds are growing and they can’t all fit into the nest, the have to leave and go out into the world.

The same is true with us. The good news for us is that we can return and go back to church each Sunday and to get refreshed. The robins don’t get to the that. Once they are out they are done.

I encourage you to take those moments in church to get refreshed, get feed, but may your faith become so big that you have no choice but to share it with the world around you during the week.


Lessons from the Robins: Anticipation July 5, 2019

Filed under: Melissa's devotions/articles,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 4:53 pm
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Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash


As a lot of you know I camp (or glamp-glamour camping) all summer. This year we had two robins nests in the tree next to our camper. While I was doing my Jesus time yesterday God opened my mind to some lessons we can learn from the baby robins that can apply to our relationship with Him.


Honestly, this doesn’t happen to me much anymore, which is why I don’t usually write on Fridays, but alas, the next few weeks will be filled with Lessons from the Robins (might be hit and miss as I do have some reviews scheduled for Fridays).

This weeks lesson is anticipation.

You can always tell when the mama or daddy (I think they take turns feeding the babies since I have seen two birds switch duties) has come to feed the babies. They begin chirping very loudly.

But even before mama or daddy come they are waiting and they are ready when they land, they wait with anticipation and then make a loud noise when they are in the presence of their caretaker.

The same should be true for us. Even when we don’t “see” God or “feel” God we know He is there and we should know at any moment we can be in His presence. When His presence falls on us how can we be silent?

Maybe that is why people don’t get into worship because they don’t believe He is really there. But if we really believe God is there and we are in His presence, as we should be anticipating, how can we be silent?

We should wake up everyday anticipating an encounter with God, we should walk into church anticipating an encounter with God, we should go to work anticipating an encounter with God. You get the point?

The good news is the day isn’t over. Start anticipating an encounter with God. It might be something small or it might be something big. Open your eyes and heart (like the little birds open their mouths to be fed) and see what God is doing around you or in you.




God Loves the World January 4, 2019

Filed under: Melissa's devotions/articles,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 3:17 pm
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Sometimes I don’t like the world, if I’m being honest. I get so frustrated with all the things that are wrong. I’ve especially been struggling this year with keeping a positive attitude and loving people.

Just being real here.

One day as I stood in my classroom waiting for my students to come I overheard student’s using Jesus’ name over and over. Not the first time. This seems to be more of a “thing” now. I have even heard middle schoolers do it. Let’s just say they aren’t praying or praising Him.

My heart breaks because these kids don’t know the power of Jesus name, what it really means. To them it’s a substitute for a swear word. I was even in Christian book store and my daughter told me later that a costumer got frustrated with an employee and whispered “Jesus” under her breath. Again, it didn’t sound like a prayer or a praise.

Anyway, back to my classroom (where I have also had a student tell me she is now transgender and I need to start calling her by her male name, yet she wears a skirt and full on make-up two weeks later…hmmm). I stood there wondering what is wrong with the world and these kids and Jesus whispered in my heart the most basic of all verses, John 3:16.  “I love the world. I love them.”

We brush over that verse, don’t we, I do? It was the first verse I ever memorized, probably like most of you, and now it seems cliché. Yet, it’s anything but.

God SO loved the word. God loved the world and He still does. He loves those kids that throw around his Son’s name, He loves them even though they don’t know Him. He loves the girl who is confused about her gender.

The question then becomes will I love them? Will you love them? Will we look at them with different eyes?

Instead of being judgmental and disgusted we need to see them the way our Father sees them. We need to remember we were once there too.

God loves the world. I see the world as the people, not the things we/they do, but the souls. He loves their souls and wants to save them. The crazy part is He uses us to do that, to reveal His Son.

How are we doing?


Not so good. I will even isolate myself so I don’t have to deal with people. This isn’t what Jesus would do. Yes, He withdrew to be with His Father, but He didn’t hide and I can find myself doing that. Ugh.

My prayer:

God so loved the world that included a broken little girl named Melissa. This caused Melissa to so love the world that she laid aside her own desires and thoughts and simply love the world too.

Feel free to replace my name with yours and see if that stirs something up in you.

Make 2019 the year we remember how much God loves the world and may we lean into that love and learn to love the world better.




Shrug Therapy December 28, 2018

Filed under: Melissa's devotions/articles,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 1:54 pm
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Photo by Adrien Tutin on Unsplash

I have been listening to Joyce Meyer podcasts lately because she always talks about the struggle with the mind. This is where I struggle the most. I replay conversations in my head. I play what I will say when I have chance or what I should have said. Anyone else with me?

Then my gut begins to burn. I feel anxious. I can even start shaking. This is not good for your health.

Yesterday, as I was struggling with an issue and I was letting it steal my joy, Joyce said to practice shrug therapy. Seriously, in the middle of my stress she said this, I believe God timed that just right (He is a right on time God after all).

This is my new year’s goal.

What she’s saying is when things don’t go right, or how we want, or someone offends us, instead of getting all worked up, because deep down we know it won’t change a thing, we shrug it off, maybe even say, “Oh well,” or “It is what it is.”

I am not good at this but I want to be. Even this morning I was still stewing in my thoughts about this current situation that is eating away at me. But me thinking about it over and over will not change it, it will only change me and not in a good way. I will be moody and insecure.

I need to shrug it off. Oh well.

The other thing I did this morning was pray for the person who is causing me this strife. It’s hard to feel angry when God reveals the brokenness in someone else. This person doesn’t know their identity in Christ and is trying desperately to fight for it and I happen to be the one getting in the way. Maybe God ordained that because He knew I would eventually prayer for her. Wow. That is a whole new perspective and changes so much.

Anyone else interested in practicing some “shrug therapy” with me in 2019?

I also want to leave you with a verse that will by my verse for 2019. It’s ironic that God brought this verse to me several months ago and then today as I read the last page in Jesus Calling for Christmas it was the last verse in the book. I think God is trying to tell me something. Have a blessed and Happy New Year.

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 NKJV


Did you get the last chapters? December 21, 2018

Filed under: Melissa's writing,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 12:07 pm
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I’m not sure what happened last week but the last chapters didn’t get sent in the email. I updated it so it is on the blog but wasn’t sure if you anyone clicked on the title to go there. If not click here and you can read the last three chapters.

I hope you all have a blessed and Merry Christmas. May you celebrate the day with a fresh and new perspective and gain a deeper understanding of what Jesus did for us.


Try this again–Right On Time Christmas: The Last Chapters December 14, 2018

Filed under: Melissa's writing,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 7:45 pm
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aaron-burden-178369-unsplashApparently, this post was empty the first time I posted it, so we will try it again.

Here are the final three chapters of Right On Time Christmas. I was going to post two this week and the last one next week but I think that last chapter will have more impact if you read them all together. 

I hope you have enjoyed Stephen and Caylee’s story and can see God’s persistent love of us through their story. I hope you can also see that His timing is perfect, even if it doesn’t line up with ours. 

Chapter 9

Three days had passed. Stephen sat on the sofa and looked at the television but not really watching it. He  resisted the urge to call Caylee and talk to her. He did need time to process everything. But after three days of no contact his heart screamed the same thing. She was the one. Always had been.

“Sarah comes in two days.” Mom’s voice interrupted his thoughts, or maybe she was reading them. She was really good at knowing what he was thinking.

“I know.” Stephen didn’t tell Mom what was going on. He couldn’t give her hope, but somehow she seemed to know.

“Should you tell her not to?” Mom sat beside him.

“Why?” How much did she know?

“You’re in love with Caylee.”

“Yeah.” A smile spread across his face. He was in love with her.

“Maybe it’s time to tell her. And when I say her, I mean both of them.” Mom patted his leg.

“You’re right.” Stephen jumped up for the sofa. “I have to see Caylee first. I’ll call Sarah later tonight.”

Mom stood and placed her hands on Stephen’s arms.  “I always knew this would happen you know. You two belong together.”

“I hate when you’re right. Usually. But not this time.” Stephen drew her into a hug then headed for his car.


Three days. Caylee threw herself down on the couch. Maybe Stephen had decided not take a chance on her? Who could blame him after all the times she hurt him. But she wouldn’t this time. This time was the real thing. She loved him.

She let loose a laugh. She loved Stephen Meyer. She never dreamed she would feel that way. After all the guys she went through, Stephen had always been there, why did it take so long for her to see the truth?

A knock sounded at the door and her heart leapt. Could it be Stephen? She stood, straightened her shirt, glanced in the mirror, not so hot. Oh well.

She reached for the door with a smile and opened. Her heart dropped to her feet. Why was he here? Now?

“Hey sweetie, I was hoping we could talk.”

Josh? Here, on her doorstep, looking way too handsome and put together, his brown puppy dog eyes reminding her why she fell for him in the first place.

“Can I come in?” He stepped forward and that yanked her out of her thoughts.

“Uh, sure.” No, he can’t come in. Wonder if Stephen showed up? But she moved out of the way. When Josh passed her he grabbed her arm and kissed her forehead.

Wait, he broke up with her, why was he acting like he was back in her life?

“Let’s sit in the living room.” Her words sounded choked even to her.

He sat beside her on the couch, which felt way too close.

“What are you doing here?” She finally asked when he slipped off his coat.

“I miss you. I miss us.” He reached for her hands. “I made a huge mistake.”

What? Josh admitting he was wrong? But he wasn’t this time.

Being with Stephen was like being with no other man she had ever dated. It was easy, yet exciting. He knew her so well, better than she knew herself.

She studied Josh and couldn’t think of their break up as a mistake.

“I don’t think it was a mistake. As a matter of fact I think you broke up with me right on time.” Caylee smiled, confidence filled her heart.

“Right on time?” Josh pulled his hand away. “What are you talking about?”

“It’s hard to explain but the timing was perfect. That’s what God does. He is always right on time, not my time.” As she spoke hope flooded her. She had never been more sure about something as she was right now.

“Are you okay?” Josh drew his eyebrows together.

“Never better.” Caylee nodded. “I appreciate your apology and I do forgive you but I’m okay. We aren’t for each other. You’ll find someone else who will make you extremely happy.” Just like she did.

“Okay.” Josh stood and grabbed his coat. Caylee followed him to the door. “I’m glad your doing well then. I guess I was getting lonely since Christmas is only a few days away.”

Caylee leaned around him and opened the door. “I get that. But you can’t make something happen that isn’t meant to be. I wish you all the best Josh, you are a great guy.”

Josh stepped out on the porch and Caylee followed.

“I hope you have a Merry Christmas.” Josh drew her in for a hug. No sparks, no regrets. Yes, she was in love with someone else.

She pulled away and smiled, still hugging him. “You too. Be safe driving back to Columbus.”

“Thanks.” He kissed her forehead again, but this time she sensed no hidden agenda. Just parting friends.

He turned and headed toward his car. That’s when Caylee saw Stephen sitting in his car on the street.


He couldn’t believe it. Caylee in another guys arms, again. She hadn’t changed at all.

Memories of senior prom flooded his mind.

He hadn’t seen Caylee for about a half hour. He thought maybe she had gone out to the parking lot to get some air. He went out but didn’t see her. Then he noticed a car with movement. He walked over to it, why he will never know, and saw her. Locked in an embrace with Jeff Thomas. It was more than an embrace though, it was down right passion. He should have walked away but he was glued to the cement. And then her eyes opened and her gaze collided with his.

That’s when he walked away. She soon followed, her gorgeous hair that he thought she had done for him was a mess, her lips red from kissing Jeff.

She pulled him aside in the banquet hall. “We’re just friends.”

“It didn’t look like you were friends.” Fire burned in his veins, his face flaming from the anger that raged inside of him.

“Not Jeff and me, you and me. We’re friends. I didn’t think you would care if I was with someone else.” Her words slammed into Stephen’s heart and couldn’t breath for a second. How thoughtless could she be? Couldn’t she see how much he cared for her, all these years? He waited for her, he never dated anyone, waiting for her to see him. She never did. It was clear she never would.

Now, sitting on her street, watching some guy walk away from holding her and her smiling up at him that same fire lit inside of him. But this time he was done. What a fool he had been thinking she had changed. That she could actually love him. What a stupid fool.

The guy drove away and Caylee stood on the porch and waved like nothing was wrong. Stephen pulled himself out of the car and strode towards her, his mission simple and clear. End this for good.

“You won’t believe who that was. Josh, my ex.” Her words rushed out but he didn’t care.

“Save it.” Stephen stopped short of the porch and looked up at her.

“What?” Her eyebrows drew together.

“Save it. I just came to say I am going to marry Sarah.” Stephen forced the words out and his heart ached with every syllable.

“Oh.” Her eyes glistened. Was she seriously going to cry?

“It looks like we both found what we were looking for. I’ll have Sarah and you can have Josh. You and I can be what we have always been, friends.” Stephen’s words dripped with bitterness.

“But I don’t want –”

“Have a Merry Christmas Caylee. See ya.” Stephen turned and headed for his car. It was the right thing of course. So why did it feel like he just made the worst mistake in his life?

Chapter 10


“Oh, sweetie it’s so good to see you.” Mom wrapped Caylee in a hug. She forced a smile, no need to bring them down with her.

“You too.” Caylee swallowed back the tears that wanted to continue flowing. She cried all night. No way could there be any tears left, yet there seemed to be.

“You look tired.” Dad took his turn hugging and kissing the top of her head.

“Yeah,” was all she could muster.

“Can you believe Christmas is only two days away?” Mom bustled around the house. “Oh, the tree looks wonderful. Thanks for getting it up. One less thing for me to do.” Mom threw a smile over her shoulder and disappeared in her room.

Caylee’s head was spinning. She wanted to crawl back into bed but that wouldn’t happen for several hours.

Mom came back out of her room and Dad went in, probably to take a nap

“So, what’s been going on with you?” Mom took Caylee’s hands and lead her to the couch.

“Not much.” Other then getting her heart broken by the one man I actually loved.

“I heard you’ve been spending time with Stephen.” Mom get right to the point.


“Mrs. Meyer told me. We are both so happy.” Mom squeezed her hand.

“Well don’t be. Nothing is happening anymore. He is asking his girlfriend to marry him. Probably in the next couple of days.” Oh, those words were like acid over her throat.

“What? Why?”

“I’m not really sure. I think he saw something that made him believe I was getting back together with Josh. I am definitely not. I love Stephen.” That was the first time she admitted that to anyone.

“Well, then tell him.” Mom’s eyes softened and pleaded with her. She was always a Stephen fan but tried not to push.

“I tried and he wouldn’t listen. The more I thought about it the more I thought I don’t want someone who doesn’t trust me.” Acid again. He had every reason not to trust her.

“Hmmm. You know I try to keep my nose out of things but maybe you should try talking to him again before it’s too late. I know he has always loved you.”

“I guess I could try calling. But how horrible will I be if Sarah is in town and I call  now and take him away from her?” She would feel like a fool if she was in Sarah’s shoes.

“How horrible would it be for Stephen to marry a girl he didn’t really love over a misunderstanding?” Mom spoke truth.

“You’re right, I need to try.” Hope stirred in Caylee’s heart again. She leaned over and hugged Mom. “I’m so glad you’re home.”

“Me too.” Mom brushed the hair from Caylee’s face and smiled.

Caylee rushed to her room and grabbed her cell. She sat on the edge of her bed and looked down at the phone. She could do this. She had to try.  

She dialed Stephen’s number but it went right to voicemail. He must have it silenced. She could try the landline that his parent still had. After two rings Josie picked up.


“Hey, Josie, is Stephen around?” Her voice shook. Why was she nervous.

Silence for what seemed like a long time.

“He’s with Sarah.”

Silence again.


“Yeah.” Josie almost sounded mad. “What happened? He wouldn’t talk to anyone. Just says it was never going to work between the two of you.”

Caylee drew in a breath and threw herself back on the bed. “He saw something and he interpreted it incorrectly. He saw my ex hugging me. I was giving him the boot because of Stephen, I love him. We actually left on good terms but doing so made it look like we left on really good terms, if you get my meaning.”

“That sucks.” Josie was always so bubbly, to hear her now you would think someone died. “It’s too late. He probably has already asked Sarah to marry him, that was the plan.”

If it was at all possible for person’s heart to fall to their stomach then Caylee’s did and she had no desire to pick it back up.

“I see.” Her words were only a whisper.

“I’m sorry.” Josie sounded as sad as Caylee felt.

“Me too.” Caylee thought she knew what heartache felt like but until that moment she didn’t. This is what it really felt like. Everything in her body wanted to curl up and hide and never come out. “Don’t tell him I called. This should be a happy day for him.”

“Okay,” was Josie’s soft reply.

Caylee hang up and stared up at the ceiling all strength and desire left her body. Stephen was gone for good this time.  She curled up into a ball and cried into her pillow.


“Mom.” Josie rushed into the living room. Melinda looked up from her ipad. “She loves him and he’s going to marry Sarah.”

“What?” Melinda sat up and tried to make sense of the words rushing from her daughter’s mouth.

“Caylee, she called here wanting to talk to Stephen. She loves him. He saw her with her ex but Caylee said it was over. Stephen misunderstood and now he is going to marry someone he doesn’t love.” Josie stamped her foot. “What are we going to do? He might have already asked Sarah to marry him.”

“Pray. We can pray.” Melinda smiled and peace flowed through her.

“Oh Mom, that’s your answer for everything.” Josie walked away.

“Because that is the answer for everything.” Melinda leaned forward and bowed her head. “Okay, Father. You got this. Your timing is perfect, I have always believed it. For some reason these kids need to go through what that are going through and it will make them stronger. So build their faith. Make them sensitive to your voice. May they remember as we approach this Christmas season that you entered this world right on time and you can bring Stephen and Caylee together right on time. Everything happens in your timing and we are trusting you right now that things will work out just as you have planned. It’s in Jesus’ Name, I pray, amen.”

Once again peace washed over Melinda. Nothing more she could do. Nothing more she needed to do. God would work this out, He was a right on time God.


Stephen had initially planned on proposing at the restaurant but  something told him to wait. So he did. Now darkness had fallen over Holly and the Christmas lights danced over the town.

Tomorrow was Christmas Eve. The town buzzed with excitement. But now all was quiet

as they neared the bridge where he enjoyed watching the Christmas parade.

He grabbed Sarah’s hand when his favorite spot came into view. The spot he brought Caylee too. The night he kissed her. He tried to feel guilty about that but he didn’t and that wasn’t okay.

Sarah kept up a constant stream of conversation that only required him to answer with grunts and nods. Thankfully. He had trouble focusing.

“You’re so quiet.” Sarah finally noticed.

“Sorry, just thinking.” Stephen stopped on the other side of the bridge, where it was quiet and the traffic not as loud. This was it. This was the perfect place to ask her.

“About good things I hope.” Sarah flashed a smile. She was very pretty and very nice. He was lucky to be asking a girl like her to marry him.

“Why don’t you sit here.” Stephen had her sit on large rock that was placed next the river. She must have been freezing in her dress in heals but she didn’t complain. “We’ve been dating for awhile now,” he began and dug in his pocket for the ring. He wrapped his fingers around it.

“Um-hm.” Sarah noticed emphatically.

“So . . .” Stephen had no idea what else to say. He pulled the ring out and looked down at it. His heart sank as realization flooded his. It was the perfect cut and setting but not for Sarah. It was perfect for Caylee. He couldn’t put this on Sarah’s hand, it was all wrong. It wasn’t her ring.

He looked up and confusion clouded Sarah’s pretty face.

“Stephen, what’s going on?”

He wrapped his hand around the ring again, even if Caylee never wore the ring Sarah couldn’t wear it either. It wouldn’t be fair to her.

“I’m sorry. I can’t do this. I thought I could be but . . .” How could he break this woman’s heart the day before Christmas Eve. As soon as Caylee crashed back into his life he should have called things off. It was clear from the first moment he laid eyes on Caylee he loved her.

“But you can’t?” Sarah stood and her eyes glistened, little puffs of frost came out of her mouth as she breathed faster.

“I’m a jerk, I know it. I don’t think I’m the one for you.” Stephen didn’t know who he was the one for but he couldn’t force this.

“Oh.” Her response was short. “Well, don’t I look like a fool.”

“No, I’m the fool. You’re a great girl but I can’t be the man you need me to be.” Stephen reached for her hand but she stepped away.

“I think I should go home then.” Sarah turned and walked away. Stephen followed and a stony silence went with them.

Chapter 11

Christmas Eve.

Normally Caylee had a rush of excitement while she got ready for church. But the only thing she felt this year was a weight pressing in on her chest and an ache in her heart that seemed to get worse with each breath.

She would have to see Stephen and his fiance. She deserved this, even if it was a misunderstanding, she had hurt Stephen so many times over the years, now she knew what he felt like. It was terrible.

“You all set?” Mom popped her head in the room.

“I think so.” She tried to fake happy, but she was never very good at that and her tone reflected that.

“Oh, sweety.” Mom walked up and gave her a hug. Caylee swallowed back the sob that wanted to rip from her throat. “I’m so sorry.”

“I’m fine. Or I will be.” Caylee pushed away and grabbed her coat from the bed. “Let’s go.”

Mom shook her head. “It’s okay to hurt.”

“Not tonight. Tonight is about celebrating Jesus and that’s what I want to focus on.” Caylee planted a kiss on Mom’s cheek and walked out. If she kept her eyes on Jesus maybe she wouldn’t see Stephen and Sarah.

Caylee, Mom and Dad squeezed into an already crowded pew. The atmosphere buzzed with Christmas excitement. The lights were dimmed and candles peppered the stage. Caylee took a calming breath, closed her eyes and sent up a quick prayer, Father, let me stay focused on You tonight.

As crowded as the church was it would be easy not to see the Meyer family as long as she didn’t look around.

Service started and before long they were lighting candles and singing Silent Night. Caylee’s favorite part of the service. Tears filled her eyes, overcome with the gift of Jesus Christ and how good He was, no matter what was happening around her He stayed the same.

She glanced to her right and there he was. His back straight and tall, his brown hair brushed the collar of his white shirt. His profile took her breath. She looked beside him but only saw Mrs. Meyer and Josie next to him. Where was Sarah?

The pastor wrapped up with a prayer and service was over. Stephen seemed to sense Caylee’s gaze on him and turned just as the lights came up. Their gazes collided and the deep ache returned to Caylee’s chest. She couldn’t do this. She had to get out of there.

“I’ll meet you in the car.” Caylee turned to her parents and fled the building.


Stephen wanted to go to her, tell her he wasn’t engaged but that didn’t change anything. She was still with Josh.

“Stephen, have you talked to her?” Josie pulled on his sleeve.

“What?” Stephen turned to Josie.

“Have you talked to Caylee? Or did Mom talk to you?”

“I’ve hardly been home, and when I was Mom was here at church getting things ready for tonight.” Stephen’s shoulders tensed. The look in Josie’s eyes communicated that he missed something important.

“I can’t believe you don’t know. Caylee isn’t back together with her ex-boyfriend. What you saw was her saying good-bye to him. He wanted to get back together but she said no. She loves you.” Josie words rushed out of her mouth and over his soul like a healing balm.

This couldn’t be true. He knew what he saw. Yet, hope stirred in his heart. If it was true then they could finally be together. He turned back to where Calyee stood. She was gone and so were her parents.

“I have to go.” Stephen had to find her and talk to her.

It didn’t take long to get to her house. Lights were on. He jogged to the door and knocked.

“Stephen, what a pleasant surprise. Come in.” Mr. Thomas stepped back.

“Sorry to bother you on Christmas Eve but is Caylee home?” Stephen glanced around the house. No sign of her.

Mr. Thomas’s smile fell. “She took off as soon as we got home from church.”

“Did she say where she was going?” His throat tightened and he choked on his words.

“I’m sorry son, she didn’t.”

“Okay, thank you.” Stephen had to find her. But where?



Caylee sat on the big rock next to the bridge and looked over the town. Christmas lights shined through the darkness. Oh, Father, thank you for sending your Son to shine in the darkness.

Even after her prayer her heart didn’t feel any lighter. Over time it would get easier, she believed that, but tonight it hurt. After all of this time she finally realized she loved Stephen and now he was gone.

She hugged her arms around herself to fend off the cold. She should head home and not ruin Christmas Eve for her parents.


Her heart lurched at the sound of the voice and she fought the tears that wanted to fill her eyes.

She turned and there he stood, his breath white puffs of air coming from his mouth, hands shoved in this pocket. She longed to jump up and run to him but she didn’t. She wouldn’t make herself vulnerable again.

“Shouldn’t you be with Sarah celebrating?” She couldn’t keep the bitterness from sneaking into her words.

“Sarah went home last night.” Stephen took a step toward her.

A small flake of hope danced in her chest. “Oh.”

“Yeah.” He took another step toward her. “I couldn’t ask her to marry me.”

Caylee searched his face, what was he saying? “Do you know Josh and I aren’t back together?”

“I do now.” He closed the distance and squatted down in front of her. “I’m sorry I didn’t give you a chance to explain. I assumed the worse.”

“You had every reason to. I’ve never given you a reason to believe in me.” A sob tore from her throat with the truth of those words. She hurt him over and over and didn’t deserve the kindness that poured from his eyes into her heart.

“God has given me a reason to believe in you.” Stephen took her hand and removed her glove, the warmth from his hand spread up her arm and through her body.

Tears poured from her eyes, overwhelmed by the moment. “I’m sorry for all the times I hurt you. For all the times I never saw you.”

He reached up and wiped the tears from her cheeks. “I love you Caylee. I have for as long as I can remember.”

She covered his hand with her own. “I love you, probably longer than I ever realized.”

Stephen went to his knees and drew Caylee to him. His lips captured her’s and any thought of winter melted away in the sweetness of the moment.

He pulled back and removed a box from his pocket.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t wear a ring that you bought for someone else.” Caylee didn’t want to sound ungrateful but it seemed wrong.

Stephen laughed. “The thing is this ring isn’t for anyone but you. When I told the jeweler about the girl I wanted to marry I described you. It’s always been you.”

Caylee covered her mouth as giggles bubbled out. “Are you serious?”

“Very much so.” Stephen pulled a beautiful, sparkling ring out of the box. “This belongs to you. Will you marry me?”

“Yes, Stephen Meyer, I will marry you.” Caylee nodded.

Stephan slipped the ring on her finger.

“It’s perfect,”she breathed. Like it was meant for her.

“Yes, it is.” Stephan smiled. He stood and pulled her to her feet.

“I’m sorry it took me so long to see you and realize how amazing you are.” Caylee wrapped her arms around his neck. She fit perfectly in his arms.

“I don’t know. I think you figured it out right on time.” He pulled her to him and kissed her again.

Yes, this was a right on time Christmas because she served a right on time God.



Right On Time Christmas Chapters 7 and 8 December 7, 2018

Filed under: Melissa's writing,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 3:15 pm
Tags: ,

Photo by Mourad Saadi on Unsplash

Here is your next installment of Right On Time Christmas. If you don’t like romantic, kiss-y stuff you might want to skip these chapters 🙂

Chapter 7

Christmas shopping, so not what Stephen wanted to be doing right now. But it needed to be done and he needed to do it when Josie wouldn’t be home to insist on going with him.The mall gave him a headache, the blasting Christmas carols,  the lights, the people.

Yeah, the people.

Stephen tried to move out of the way when another person bumped into him without an apology. It was supposed to be the season of peace but making his way through the stores was anything but peaceful.

He finally got to the perfume counter that Mom loved. Every year she always asked for the same thing. But it made her happy. He slid down the counter looking for the exact one when he ran into someone. Now he was the rude person. Except he would apologize.

“I am so sorry…” His words died in his lips when he looked up into the most beautiful blue eyes he ever saw. “Caylee.”

“I was wondering who was being so pushy. Should have known it was you.” Caylee laughed. What a great laugh.

He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her since the Wassail festival. Who was he kidding. He hadn’t stopped thinking about her since she landed in his yard a week and a half ago. Had it only been that long? It felt like forever since that happened. Since he almost kissed her.

“Sorry. Looking for perfume for my mom.” Stephen finally found the ability to speak again.

“Me too. I think they wear the same kind.” Caylee pointed down at pink bottle.

“Yep. That’s what I need too.”

A sales clerk came and checked both of them out.

“Well, it was good to see you.” Her gaze seemed to search his face. He didn’t want her to go, maybe she didn’t want to go either.

“Hey, if you don’t have any place else to be maybe you could help me.” Stephen thought fast. “I have to get something for Josie and she is so picky I usually get her a gift card to American Eagle but it would be way more fun to watch her open an actual gift, could you help me find something for her?”

Something flickered in Caylee’s eyes. Did she not want to spend more time with him?

“Sure, I have some time.” Caylee flashed her perfect smile and made his heart kick up a notch.

They spent the next half hour laughing and joking over different outfits for Josie, imitating her response to some of the crazy stuff they picked out. They finally settled on a pair of skinny jeans and and top that Caylee thought would go well together. Stephen really didn’t care. All he cared about was the great time he was having with Caylee.

“Starbucks?” Stephen wasn’t ready to say good-bye.

“You like Starbucks?” Caylee raised her eyebrows.

“I don’t get the fancy-shmancy stuff. Regular coffee for me. But you look like the type who might like a latte of something like that. Plus, after all your help it’s the least I can do.” Stephen hoped he didn’t sound as desperate as he felt. When had his feelings changed from trying to stay away from this girl who broke his heart over and over to wanting to spend all the time he could with her?

“I’d love a latte.”

They made their way to the crowded food court and found Starbucks. Stephen ordered a Venti Cafe Verona and Caylee ordered a Tall Peppermint Mocha. Miraculously they found a small table among the crowd. They sat in silence for a few minutes sipping their hot drinks.

“So, tell me about this girlfriend of yours.” Caylee looked at him over her steaming cup.

Really? She wanted to talk about Sarah?

What was wrong with him? He was going to marry her, of course he should want to talk about her.

“Well, her name is Sarah. We met at school, we’ve been dating for about two years. She’s great.” Wow, that sounded rehearsed and unfeeling.

“I’m really happy for you. I meant what I said the other night. You deserve to be happy. I hope she will make you happy.” Caylee looked down at her cup. Did she mean that or did she think that was what she was supposed to say?

“Are you seeing anyone?” He really didn’t want to know the answer to that but he figured he should ask.

“I was.” She took a deep breath. “We broke up the day I landed in your yard. It wasn’t what I was expecting.”

So she got her heart broken. About time. No, that wasn’t right. She didn’t deserve to be hurt, no one did.

“I’m sorry to hear that.  I’m sure God has someone out there for you.” How Christian of him. He wanted to be that someone for so long but it couldn’t be. As much as he did like her now and missed her he couldn’t risk his heart again. She had trampled on it one too many times. The damage was done.

Chapter 8

“Yes, mom. I’m doing fine.” Caylee reassured Mom for the tenth time in the a ten minute phone conversation.

“We are leaving Florida on  Tuesday and should be back in Michigan by Thursday evening. We are so excited to see you.” Mom had to be smiling, it came through her words.

“I’m excited to see you too.”

“Are you going to the parade of lights tonight?”

Ah, yes. Another tradition in Holly. The Saturday after the Wassail Festival was the parade of lights. This time the town would be lit up with vehicles decked out with Christmas lights.

“Probably not.” Caylee had no desire to go alone and even though the thought of calling Josie, a.k.a. Stephen, crossed her mind she couldn’t do it to herself or him.

“You should give Stephen a call. I’m sure he’d be glad to take you.” Mom, she was always a Stephen fan. Truth was, Caylee was a Stephen fan, but Stephen was no longer a Caylee fan.

“I don’t want to bother him. You know he is asking his girlfriend to marry him.” Caylee needed to make that clear.

“Yes, his mother mentioned that. But she didn’t seem too convinced it would work out.” Was there something Mom wasn’t telling her. Did Mrs. Meyer say something to give Mom hope. To give Caylee hope?

No, Caylee would not hope in that.

A knock sounded at the front door. “I gotta go Mom, I’ll see you Thursday. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

Caylee peeked out the window before she opened the door. Her heart jumped in a way it had no right to jump. Excitement flooded through her like a new string of Christmas lights.

He came.

She pulled open the door. “What are you doing here?”

“I came to get you out of the house, again.” Stephen gave her a smile that made her believe he cared.

“No Josie this time?” Caylee leaned against the door.

“Nope. She’s already there. But she did mention that you would probably be moping around tonight.”

“She’s was right. Give me five minutes. Come on in.” Caylee stepped back and let Stephen in.

“I haven’t been in here since I picked you up for our senior prom.” Stephen’s face paled immediately.

Yeah, the night she ruined their friendship. But they were making amends. She wished she had known then what she knew now. They didn’t come any better than Stephen Meyer.

Guilt flooded Caylee and she was at a loss for words. What could she say? An apology too late, did it still count?

“Go get ready. The parade starts in twenty minutes.” Stephen must not want to talk about it either. Good.

Caylee made fast work of changing into something more presentable for public viewing. Soon they were parked and made their way to the mass of people.

“Follow me. I have a secret place where I  like to watch.” Stephen reached for her hand and electricity seemed to shoot up her arm. Her hand fit perfectly inside of his, as if they were always supposed to be together. How silly. If that were true they would have been together a long time ago.

But wonder if that wasn’t their time, wonder if now was the right time?


Stephen pulled Caylee to his favorite spot to watch the parade. He discovered it when he was a kid, no else had managed to find it in all these years.

He tried to focus on the activity around him but that proved to be an issue. All he could think about was the warmth of her hand. Why weren’t they wearing gloves? At the moment he didn’t even care. He was holding Caylee’s hand and taking her to his secret place.

They ducked under a small bridge and came around to the other side. And the crowd was gone. The parade would pass over this bridge but for some reason no one ever bothered to cross over to this side of it. Often times the river was too high from the rain and snow, but not this year.

“What do you think?” Stephen looked down into Caylee’s eyes, his heart lurched and ached. He loved her. . . still. What was he going to do?

“It’s perfect.” She gave him a smiled that stole his breath and it took every ounce of control to keep from pulling her close.

He could stop holding her hand now, but he had no desire and since she didn’t pull away he kept holding on.

Soon decorated tractors and trucks drove by. Trailers pulling carolers singing festive music. It wasn’t a lengthy parade, unfortunately, and before long it was time to leave. He still didn’t let go of her hand.

His girlfriend was coming to town in four days and he just admitted he was in love with someone else, someone who didn’t love him. Granted, he only admitted it to himself, so it didn’t count. Right? He would get over this once Sarah was around.  

He opened the car door for her and finally let her go. That’s what he needed to do in his heart too, let her go. But wonder if . . . no, he bought an engagement ring for Sarah.

“So you think you’ll stick around Holly?” Stephen asked as they made their way back to her house.

“I hope so. I just need to find a job.” Caylee shrugged and stared out the window.

“You okay?” Had Stephen crossed the line holding her hand so long?

“Fine.” She drew in a deep breath and looked over at him. “I missed this stuff.”

“Me too. Holly is small but it is charming. Like you.” He couldn’t help joking with her.

“Looks who’s talking. I was bigger than you through most of high school.” Caylee shoved his arm.

“Don’t remind me.” Stephen hated that it took him so long to put on weight and actually start looking like a man. “I’ll walk you up.” He said once they pulled in her driveway.

Stephen climbed out knowing full well that walking her to the door was extremely dangerous. He would say goodnight and be on his way.

“Thanks for dragging me out again. I needed that.” Caylee stepped onto the porch, her gaze cast to her feet.  

“You’re not okay. What’s wrong?” Not thinking Stephen lifted her her chin and searched her face for a sign for what was going on. “Did I do something?”

“No.” Caylee shook her head and tried to look down again but he held tight. “When I said I missed this stuff I meant our friendship. I missed you.”

Did she still think of him as a friend because every desire in him was not friendly. “I missed  you too.” His words came out choked.

They stood there and stared at each other, Stephen fought the urge to kiss her. He was tired of always doing the right thing. He always did and looked what it got him. Nothing. Not the woman he loved.

Slowly, he lowered his lips to hers, giving her time to back away if she wanted. She didn’t. He still held her chin and softly, tentatively, placed his lips on hers and pulled away a centimeter, savoring the feel of her lips. Soft and smooth.  Lips he had dreamed of kissing for as long as he could remember.

He could see the frost from the their breath mingling, becoming one. He leaned in again, still tentative, searching for her consent. He started to pull away again but this time her hands wrapped around his neck and that was all the encouragement he needed. His hands found her waist and brought her closer to him. He hungered for her in a way he never hungered for any other woman. The woman he thought about for years was in his arms and kissing him back.

He could sense the kiss becoming more than he could handle, more than what was right, he needed to stop, hold back, even though he didn’t want to.

“Wow.” He breathed but kept holding her.

She rested her head in her his chest, her breathing heavy. “What was amazing.”

“Yeah.” Stephen smiled. Amazing indeed.

She looked up at him. “So, now what?”

He had no idea.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have encouraged you to kiss me. It was wrong, you have a girlfriend.” Caylee stepped out of this arms and he immediately felt the emptiness.

“Um, I’m pretty sure I kissed you.” Stephen raked his fingers through his hair. “I guess I need to break up with Sarah.”

Caylee’s eyes widened. “No.”

“Wait, what? Why not?” After that kiss she didn’t want to be with him?

“Think about it first. This was impulsive. You bought an engagement ring for this girl. You can’t decide after one kiss you should break up with her. I just got out of a relationship. I think we both need to think so we don’t ruin anything.” Caylee looked so serious. But she was right. Maybe this was a curiosity thing and his feelings would go away after a couple of days.

“Okay, you’re right.” But his heart wouldn’t be changing, it never had. He had settled for Sarah, never believing this moment with Caylee would transpire. He didn’t want to push her, not this time because this time was the right time.


Right On Time Christmas Chapters Three and Four November 16, 2018

Filed under: Melissa's writing,Uncategorized — Melissa Finnegan @ 12:03 pm
Tags: , ,

Photo by on Unsplash

Chapter five and six won’t come for a couple of weeks due to Thanksgiving next week, I have a review scheduled for Friday.

Chapter Three

“Yeah, I’m looking forward to you coming here, too.” Stephen moved the phone to his other ear.

“I can’t wait to spend Christmas with your parents. They are always so kind.” Sarah gushed. Was her voice always this annoying? No, he was just tired. He loved Sarah.

“They can’t wait to see you either.” Stephen lied. When he told his parents Sarah  would be coming to spend Christmas with them they didn’t seem overjoyed. Mom had expressed that she didn’t feel like she was the one God had for him. He knew who she thought but it obviously wasn’t God’s plan.

A scraping sound came through the window. He walked over to the front window and pulled the curtain to the side. Caylee stood at her car and scraped her windows.

“Listen, I gotta go. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Oh, okay. I love you.” Sarah sing-songed through the line.

“Love you too.” But for the first time Stephen wondered if he really meant it. Seeing Caylee was messing with his heart even though she didn’t do anything to mess with it, being around her was enough to throw him into chaos.

He threw on his snow gear and headed outside. It was only twenty degrees out. This was not normal Michigan weather this early in the season. Typically this type of weather waited until after Christmas. But you never knew what to expect in Michigan.

He stepped outside and the cold wrapped around him and chilled him. He trudged toward Caylee, she didn’t even looked up, completely concentrating on her windows.   

“What you are doing?” Stephan yelled over his scarf.

“Scraping my windows.” Caylee glanced up, her cheeks a bright red, her eyes sparkled blue.

“Duh. I can see that.” He stepped up beside her, snow up to their knees and still coming down. “Why are you scraping your windows? You know you can’t leave yet.”

“I don’t know. I felt like I should do something to get my car ready to go home. I hope I can be out of your hair by tomorrow.”

He would love to have her in his hair, her fingers dance their way across his scalp. What would it feel like to be that close to her?

“I wouldn’t count on it. Besides, I’d be more concerned about the car starting then the ice on the windows.” Stephen looked down at her and she gazed up at him, her lips wet and red. He wanted to kiss her. He’s wanted to kiss her since he was in sixth grade, if he was honest. He thought there were times when she wanted the same thing but he couldn’t have been more wrong.


“Unfortunately, yeah. With the temperatures being so low and your car being buried you’ll be lucky if it will start even when you can get out.”

“Great.” Her shoulders slumped, she must really want to get away from him.

“Sorry. What’s your rush anyway?” Stephen bent down and grabbed a handful of snow. “We could recreate that snowball fight we had when I kicked your butt.”

“If I remember correctly, which I do, I kicked your butt.” Caylee’s gaze landed on the ball of snow in Stephen’s hand. Something sparked in her eye and she bent to get her own.

“How does one decide who wins?” Stephan packed the ball tighter and took few steps back, gearing up. This could be fun.

“Who ever cries for mercy first and it was you.” Caylee unleashed her snowball without warning and landed it right in his face.

Stephen wiped the wetness away. “That wasn’t fair. Now you have declared war.”  He drew back and let his snowball fly. She was quick though and turned, only getting hit in the back. She ran around the other side of the car and ducked.

Fine, he would take cover too. He hid behind the trunk and the snowballs started flying along with the laughs.His gut hurt and tears froze on the rims of his eyes from laughing so hard. When was the last time he laughed like this?

After a few minutes of stillness Stephen decided to sneak around the car and nail her. Her laughter sent flutters in his stomach. Her giggles had always sounded like music to him, although he never told her that and never would.

The snow made his approach quiet..

“Hey, what’s going on?” Her voice rose over the car.

He didn’t answer but snuck around the corner of the car and he found her squatting down with her back to him. Perfect.

“Hey.” He called. She turned and he sent his snowball sailing and landed squarely on her forehead.

“You jerk.” She came after him, tripped and they both fell. For one beautifully awkward moment she laid on him, face to face. So close he could have leaned up and  kissed those gorgeous red lips. But that would be wrong. She made her feelings for him crystal clear years ago.

Although the way her heart pounded against his own he wondered . . . probably from the snowball fight.

Silence filled the space between them and they both seemed speechless, their breath coming out in puffs and mingling.

She was so beautiful, after all this time, she still messed with him by being her. He couldn’t take it. He started tickling her and pushed her off.

“Still ticklish I see.” They both laid on their backs, side by side, heads turned toward the other.

“Unfortunately. And you always knew right where to get me.”

No, the truth was, she always knew where to get him, in the heart. They held each other’s gazes. He needed to break this spell.

“You know it is supposed to warm-up to about fifty tomorrow. Everything should melt so hopefully your car will start and you can go home.” Stephen put up the wall between them again.

Somethings shifted in her eyes. Disappointment?

“Great.” She turned her head to look up at the sky.

“Yep. But it’s cold now so we should head back in.” Stephen stood and offered his hand to her. Even with gloves separating them and the freezing temps the heat that radiated between them was real. He pulled her up and she bumped into his chest.

“Sorry.” She mumbled and looked down. A piece of wet hair stuck to her cheek.

“No problem.” He took off his glove and reached out to move the hair from her cheek and in the process his thumb gently rubbed her cool skin. If possible her cheeks became even more red. She looked at him, her eyes sparkled and searched his face. What was she looking for? Forgiveness? Acceptance? Love?

It would only take a second to pull her close and kiss her but he couldn’t . He wouldn’t put his heart out there for her to trample on again. And with that one thought anger burned in him for all she had done to him.

“You’re freezing. Let’s get back in and get some coffee and those cookies you made earlier.” He forced a smile and swallowed down all the words he wanted to say. How could he desire someone that made him so angry?

“Sounds good.” She gave a shaky smile and stepped away from him.

Give her time and she would continue stepping away from him, that’s what she always did.



Melinda dropped the curtain and stepped away from the window. She rushed up the stairs and fell to her knees beside her bed. How many times had she found herself in this position, praying for her kids, for their salvation and futures? And here she was again, but this time with clarity.

“Father, I know you see all things. I trust and believe that. I believe that you are a right on time God, nothing happens by accident. I don’t believe Caylee’s accident was really that, I believe you brought her here for a reason. Please open Stephen’s heart to forgive Caylee for all the times she hurt him. Open Caylee’s heart to see how much Stephen has always cared for her and still does, even though he won’t admit it. This is the time, I can feel it, Lord. You brought Caylee into our yard for such a time at this, right on time this Christmas.”

Melinda leaned back on her heels and sighed. Relief flooded her heart and peace surrounded her. She would keep on praying for those two because she has always believed they belonged together and she still did. Now, if only they would see it before it was too late.

Chapter Four

“We’re going to church, want to go?” Mrs. Meyer smiled up from her morning coffee when Caylee entered the kitchen.

“Oh no, I just got up.” Caylee hadn’t been to church since last Christmas when she went with her parents. When did going to church become a holiday thing? Probably when she started dating guys that didn’t care about church.

“It doesn’t start for an hour and half. You have time.” Mrs. Meyer tone left no room for argument.

“Are the roads clear? I could just go home.” If her car started.

“They’re getting cleared, it’s much warmer today so the snow is melting. But we would love to have you go to church with us before you rush home to that empty house.” Mr. Meyer took his eyes of the paper.

Yeah, but would Stephen be okay with it? She really needed to get away from him. Being around him messed with her head.

“Go on, go find something from Josie’s closet. She’s meeting us at church, she will be so excited to you. You were like the older sister she always wanted.” Mrs. Meyer raised an eyebrow.

“Okay.” Caylee turned and ran upstairs. She found a pair of khakis and a navy blue sweater and got ready for church.

When she made it back down stairs Stephen was at the table eating breakfast by himself.

“Morning.” He set his mug down and studied her. Yesterday she thought he might try to kiss her. In all the years they had known each other he never made a move. She always wondered if he ever really found her attractive. Which was fine if he didn’t since she was always dating someone else. Mostly. Unless there was a dance coming and then for some reason she never had a date dance and always defaulted to Stephen. That probably wasn’t the best idea, it must have given him false hope that she actually like him. She could never think of him as more than a friend in high school. But now that they were older . . . she could definitely think of him as more than a friend.

“I guess I’m going to church with you guys.” Caylee poured a cup of coffee and grabbed a blueberry muffin.

“That’s what mom said.” Stephen took a bite of his muffin. “I started your car. You should be good to go later today.”

“Thanks.” Caylee swallowed. He was in a hurry to get rid of her. He definitely didn’t want to be more than friends now. She couldn’t really blame him. Maybe he was dating somone.

They ate in silence until Mr. and Mrs. Meyer announced it was time to go. Like kids they got in the back of their Edge and road to the church Caylee had grown up attending in the center of town.

Caylee entered the church and memories rushed over her. All the hope that once stirred in her. Her unfaltering faith in God, in His goodness, His plans for her. When did she stop trusting in that?


Not that she went crazy, but she was always looking for affirmation from others and stopped getting it from God. She wanted attention from other people and that took her eyes of the cross. Wow. How come she never saw that before?

“Caylee, I can’t believe it’s you.”

Caylee turned and was swallowed in Josies arms.

“Hey sweetie.” Caylee hugged her back. She had grown up so much, into a beautiful young woman. Sweetie wasn’t the right word to use but she would always be like a little sister.

“Nice outfit.” Josie winked. “You make that sweater look way better than I do.”

“Thanks. But I doubt that, you are a beautiful young woman.” Caylee touched the girl’s light brown hair.

“Looks who’s talking.” Josie wove her arm around Caylee’s.

“Stop hanging on her.” Stephen stepped up beside them.

“Oh, you’re just jealous.” Josie laughed.

Stephen quickly walked away. Was there truth to that? Hmmm, interesting.

“You know he’s never gotten over you.” Josie whispered in her ear. “But now he’s dating this chick named Sarah. She’s even coming here for Christmas. But with you here, who knows.” She gave a Caylee a grin.

Stephen was dating someone. Heaviness pressed down on her chest. Of course he was. He was a great guy, handsome, had a future with a good job. He loved Jesus. He deserved someone.

“I have no intentions of breaking up your brother and his girlfriend.” She forced the words out of her mouth. Why did it feel like he had betrayed her? The way he teased yesterday, touched her face, took her hand. Did she see a depth of caring beyond friendship? Maybe it was her imagination.

“Well, maybe I’ll help you do it.” Josie pulled her into the sanctuary and pushed Caylee into the pew first so she was sitting next to Stephen. This girl was a ball of energy.

The message started with Joy to the World. She loved Christmas music. Then they  moved into some contemporary songs. Some of them she knew others were new to her but each one spoke to her heart, to a hidden place she had covered up and hadn’t looked at in a long time.

The pastor spoke about hope. The hope of Jesus coming to earth and we all know how the story ends. But the people didn’t know, they had to trust.

What did Caylee hope in these days? The next boyfriend? That he would be the one to love her no matter what? Tears filled her eyes as the truth sunk in. She had taken her eyes off of Jesus for so long so forgot what it meant to hope in something that mattered. She desperately needed to get back to real hope and today was the first step.

She sniffed and out of the corner of her eye she saw Stephen turn towards her. Great, he didn’t need to know how far from God she had gotten.

The pastor wrapped up the message and they ended with a couple of more songs that spoke of surrendering to Jesus. Yes, that’s what she needed. As she lifted her voice she lifted her hands and gave herself to Jesus again. She would keep on doing that until she stopped taking her self back from him.