Gotta Love Logic

“What’s this?” The security officer pulled out the two-inch square, ziplock baggie from my fanny pouch he was examining. He held it between his gloved finger and thumb as if it was the tail of a rat.

“It’s aspirin.” For years I’ve traveled the world with a palm full of aspirin in that little plastic bag and never had a spit of trouble at security check points. But, I’m stopped from entering the Thomas Jefferson Memorial where my family is going to watch the Fourth of July fireworks.

The officer poured the pills onto the table. “They aren’t stamped with the word aspirin on them.” He squinted at me as his brows dipped to a vee above the bridge of his nose. “Let me see your driver’s license.”

“The pills are generic. I get them at my Publix supermarket in Florida,” I said, digging out my license.

He handed my ID to another officer. “Run her.”

I gave both of them my death stare. By now, my husband and daughter had cleared security and were waiting for me on the other side of the fence. I looked behind me at the fifty or more people standing in line. Every set of eyes glared at me.

“She’s clean. No warrants.” The second man gave my license back to me.

“We’re confiscating these pills.”

“Fine, but can I have my plastic bag?”

My husband scolded me. “Come on, Con. Let them keep the stupid thing. Don’t make a scene.”

His last sentence was the equivalent of asking me not to breathe. I stomped away from the security check point and fumed for about ten minutes, but settled down and enjoyed the rest of the evening. The fireworks were fantastic.

When I returned home to Florida, there was a message from the DC police on my answering machine. They had analyzed my pills and concluded the aspirin were indeed aspirin and requested I leave the pills in the original bottle the next time I visited their city.

So, the moral of this story…sneak your drugs into the capital of our great United States disguised in an aspirin bottle!

Connie Taxdal

If you like this story, please click the “Follow” button on the sidebar. Thanks.

Advertisements

Life’s Decisions

“You can’t do this to me so close to our wedding day.” Rebekah Wellington stared at her fiancé, Mark Thompson. They were on their way to her apartment after spending the afternoon at the Memorial Day picnic sponsored by their church.

“Not just a missionary, you want to be a foreign missionary?” Her voice squeaked. “As in thousands of miles away from friends and family? You know how close knit my family is. Even the extended members of grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins live within an eighty-mile radius of Stillwater.”

“Yes, Becca, and I love every single person in your large clan.” With one hand on the steering wheel, Mark covered her clinched fists lying on her lap with the other and glanced her way. “Except maybe those wascally twins of Wobert and Wachel’s.” He grinned at his Elmer Fudd impersonation and the dimples in his cheeks deepened.

Those same dimples had caught her attention when they both attended the Southern Baptist’s Falls Creek summer camp between their junior and senior year in high school. They started dating and by Christmas of their second year of college, they were engaged.

Usually, she laughed at his antics and jokes and the argument would be finished, but this evening’s disagreement was too important for her to shrug off. She jerked her hands out of his clasp. “We’re getting married in two months! Now, all of a sudden, you spring this―this feeling that The Lord is calling you to be a missionary.”

“It’s not sudden. It started as a nagging thought about a year ago, but I shoved it to the back of―”

“What?” You’ve felt like this for a whole year and you didn’t tell me?” Rebekah put her elbows on her knees and held her head between her hands. “Oh Mark, being a foreign missionary isn’t like being the Youth Minister at our church.” She raised her head and looked at him. “We’re supposed to be partners and yet, you didn’t ask my opinion. I thought we shared the same goals.”

“We do share the same goals. A Christian home, children, following God’s footsteps and His will in our lives. I’ve prayed about this decision. I’ve talked to Pastor Bill. The International Missions Board sent a packet explaining the six-week indoctrination procedures held in Georgia. You know, applications, physical exams and shots, benefit package, salaries, moving expenses, the whole ball of wax.”

“You’ve already contacted them?”

He nodded. “I wanted to have all the information before I talked to you. I brought the packet with me. We can go over it tonight.”

“How can you be so sure this is God’s will?”

“It is. My heart and soul tells me it’s right.”

“What if God is leading me in another direction? You know I start as a special education teacher in the fall.” Hadn’t The Lord opened the door to her dream job? Her throat constricted. Ever since her little brother had been diagnosed with a learning disability, she felt an urge to help him and others who had difficulty processing information.

“And what about my work as a Sunday school teacher? The curriculum I wrote and developed for Special Ed kids is so successful other churches are requesting it.” She squeezed her eyes, but couldn’t control the tears from seeping from the corners and rolling down her cheeks. Mark should realize she had work to be done here, not across the ocean in some third world country.

“Well, to be honest, you’re the delicious icing the Mission Board wants and I’m just the plain vanilla cake.” Mark laughed. “Of course, they’re happy that I’m an ordained minister, but when I mentioned your Special Ed degree, how you’ve helped your brother obtain a high school diploma, and the church programs you’ve instigated, they were thrilled.”

“You did all of this behind my back because you knew how I’d react.” Resentment heated the blood in her veins. “You can shred everything in that packet. I’m not going anywhere. Can’t you be satisfied with doing the Lord’s work in your hometown?”

Mark turned into one of her apartment building’s guest parking spaces and cut the engine. He leaned forward, draping his arms over the steering wheel, his gaze on the celery-green structure with its brightly painted orange doors. “No. I’ve given my life to God, and being a foreign missionary is what He wants me to be.”

Stunned into silence, Rebekah’s heartbeat thundered in her ears. She was afraid to ask him to choose between God and her—frightened of hearing his answer. She sniffed back her tears. “I want to be alone. I need to think.” She got out of the car and ran up the exterior stairs to her second floor apartment.

***

Mark pulled the car to a stop in the driveway of his home and gathered the bag of groceries he’d just purchased. He’d planned on eating dinner with Becca and then talking about starting their lives in a new country, laughing over the promise of new experiences, looking forward to new adventures, but she’d recoiled at the idea of leaving the states.

She didn’t even want to talk about the possibility, much less look at the information he’d received. She was angry. Her spine from tailbone to headbone had turned rigid. Angry enough to break their engagement? But why would the Lord direct him into international ministry if He didn’t instill the same impossible-to-ignore feelings in Becca?

As he approached his front door, muted rings came from inside. He fumbled with his keys. Was she phoning him to call off the wedding? He loved her and didn’t want to live life without her.

Something jabbed him in the back.

“Open the door and go in.”

Mark looked over his shoulder at the gruff voice. Moonlight glinted off a gun. “I’ll give you all the money in my wallet. Just take it and leave. Don’t do anything rash that will ruin your life. No one will know what happened.” He shifted the bag of food as the phone stopped ringing.

The cold barrel of the gun branded the back of his neck. “I said, get in the house.”

The man followed him through the doorway and into the living room. Mark’s nerves twitched. He silently prayed for guidance…for words that would make the man leave without bloodshed after he got what he wanted.

He jumped when his cell phone rang and turned to the man. “It’s probably my girlfriend calling to see if I made it home. She’ll keep calling unless I―”

“Answer it. Make it short and don’t say anything that would make me shoot you.”

Mark touched the screen to talk. “Hi, honey.”

“As much as I like being someone’s honey, it’s Pastor Bill.”

“Yes, I’m home safe and sound.”

“Uh, that’s good. Listen, I wanted to go over a few things with you since you’re giving the sermon Sunday.”

“You know I hate dinners at your parents.” Mark glanced at the man slicing his finger across his throat. “We’ll talk about it tomorrow. I’m beat after walking the shopping malls we went to today.”

“Are you in trouble, Mark?”

“Yeah, love you too,” he said and disconnected the call.

***

God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for our food.

That’s all Rebekah could muster for a prayer as she stirred the black cherry yogurt around in the little plastic container. If God were good, Mark and she would be eating the homemade lasagna she whipped up yesterday and she wouldn’t be alone now.

If God were great, He’d help Mark understand her objections to a life-changing decision. What if he insisted on living in different parts of the world? Would she stay in Oklahoma and end their relationship?

When the phone rang, her breath quickened. Maybe Mark was calling to say she meant more to him than anything else. That he would drop his stupid idea.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Rebekah, it’s Pastor Bill. Is Mark there? Are you two all right?”

“No, he’s not here and I’m fine, thank you.”

“Are you sure? I called his home number and then his cell and had the strangest conversation with him.”

As the preacher explained, her stomach tightened in to a fist. What would make Mark act so crazy? A skitter of fear ran through her body. “I’m calling the police. Mark said he was at home, right?” She pace the floor. If anything happened to him, her life would be over. She stopped in mid-step and realized no matter where they lived or what they did, she wanted to be by his side.

“Yes. Talk to the police, but you stay put, Rebekah. If there’s some kind of trouble, Mark wouldn’t want you to get hurt.”

She hung up and dialed 911. After giving the operator the information, she grabbed her keys and ran to the car. No way she was going to sit around and wait for news.

When she arrived, Mark’s house was dark but the front door was open. She took a couple of deep breaths and then slid out of the car. Her knees shook as she crept up the walk. She heard a moan, and ignoring the danger, hurried into the house and flipped on the light.

Mark lay on the floor. Blood poured from a gash on his head. She snatched a dishtowel from the kitchen, rushed over to him, and pressed it against the wound.

He winced as she applied pressure. “Some guy held me at gunpoint and robbed me. When I didn’t have enough money to satisfy him, he hit me with the barrel.” He tried to lift his head. “Get out. He might still be in the house.”

“No. The door was open when I got here. He’s gone.”

“I thought he was going to kill me.” Mark gazed into her eyes. “I love you. I don’t want to lose you. God put us together to do his work, but if you whole-heartedly don’t want to go into the mission field, we’ll pray for another option.”

Rebekah smiled. “I don’t care where God sends us as long as we’re together. I love you too.”

 

Connie Taxdal

Sandblasted

“Someday they’ll find our bleached bones,” Tim said.

My younger sister, Debbie, who was ten at the time, started bawling.

Mom pulled Deb onto her lap from the back seat. “Timothy, don’t say things like that,” Mom scolded my older brother, and then turned to Dad. “David just pay attention to the road and keep driving.”

“I can’t see a thing,” Dad shouted above the roaring wind.

We were on Route 66 in the middle of the Mojave Desert when a fierce sandstorm suddenly swooped over us. The Mojave is known for its summer heat and high winds, often above 50 miles per hour, that occur frequently along the western end.

West End Rt 66 West end of Route 66.

Every summer, Dad packed the station wagon with luggage, coolers, and games for a three-week tour of the United States, and off we’d go. Since he was a minister, our destinations always coincided with the cities hosting the Southern Baptist Convention. Invariably, a number of mishaps occurred on each trip.

It was 1962. Our course was set from Oklahoma, west to California, north to the World’s Fair in Seattle, back east through Yellowstone National Park and the Black Foot Hills of North Dakota, and then southward to home. The “Grand Tour” Mom called it. Daddy call it several other things by the time the trip was finished. I called it one big square and thousands of miles cooped up with Debbie, “Mommy’s Little Angel” and my obnoxious fourteen year old brother.

Dad stopped the car in the middle of the road, but kept the motor running. We hadn’t seen another vehicle in either direction for over an hour so I guess he figured it was safer to stop than to run off the road into a gully. The car rocked as it was buffeted by the wind.

For once in twelve years, I agreed with Tim that we might end this trip as a pile of dry, brittle bones. I put my hands over my ears and thrust my head between my knees. Stories of pioneers dying in the desert swirled in my mind as furiously as the sand whipped across the land.

“I’m too young to die,” I chanted to the floorboard. Tears threatened to spill from my eyes, but I sniffed them back. I didn’t want to be a cry baby like Deb who still cowered on Mom’s lap. If big brother wasn’t scared, then I wasn’t either.

I stole a peek at Tim. His face looked chalky-white and a sheen of sweat dampened his forehead. His lips formed a tight, thin line. Ha. He was as frightened as I. That made me feel better. I sneered at him just for good measure. He stuck his tongue out at me and then turned away.

The sandstorm barreled past as quickly as it had appeared. Dad got out of the car to check the extent of damage. The paint was pitted down to bare metal in spots and the windshield looked frosted like it had been sandblasted. Imagine that!

The last vision in my mind that day was of Dad driving to the nearest town with his head sticking out the window and muttering that at least we were lucky the windshield hadn’t been blown to pieces.

The experience was typical of our family vacations.

Connie Taxdal

Do you have a memorable family vacation to share? Please comment below.

Detroit River

Tim had a choke hold on my wrist and a smirk on his face. “You’re in big trouble.”

My family was on another summer vacation. Dad was a minister and our trips revolved around whatever city hosted the Southern Baptist Convention. This particular year the location was Detroit, Michigan.

The first evening of the conference turned into a disaster. At fifteen years of age, I wasn’t interested in sitting on a hard, folding chair, listening to a boring speaker. Debbie, my younger sister, sat quietly and dutifully between Mom and Dad. My older brother, Tim, read a book, and I squirmed. I tugged Dad’s suit coat sleeve, and when he bent his head, told him I had to use the bathroom. He nodded and I was out of there.

Exploring the building, I wound up on the roof’s observation deck among a group of kids who seemed as bored as I. It didn’t take long for my budding sex glands to pick out the cutest teenage boy and strike up a conversation–and steal a few kisses in the dim shadows.

Just as things got interesting, my brother jerked me out of Jason’s arms. “We’ve been looking all over for you. Mom is about ready to call the police thinking you were kidnapped.”

“I wish. Then I wouldn’t have to put up with you,” I said as I struggled to wrench from his grasp.

He dragged me across the rooftop to the door as I waved goodbye to Jason. When we met the rest of the family, Mom gave me the riot act. Dad pursed his lips and shook his head as he led the way to the car.

We left the Convention Center and headed to our hotel on the Canadian side of the Detroit river.  Riding through the city streets, my brain whirled to think of something to ease the tension that was as thick as the Niagara Falls mist. I had to get my parents’ minds off of my “terrible, inconsiderate” deed.

“Which way does the river run?” I blurted from the back seat of the car as we started over the bridge.

Ambassador_bridge_evening The Ambassador Bridge from the Canadian side of the Detroit River.

Dad pointed West and Mom pointed East, their fingertips almost collided. “That way,” they declared confidently at the same time.

Our car rocked with laughter. Ah, the world was back on its axle, at least until…

Connie Taxdal

Do you think family vacations are important in this day and age? Please leave your comment below.

Related articles