Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Fourteen

**

“What does it feel like out there?” I asked as I put on my coat. We were about to leave for Bible study and lately it had been feeling like it was below zero.

“It feels like -12o but it’s really only 4o,” Momma said looking at her phone.

“Oh I don’t mind the cold,” Jaci said. “I am from Maine.”

“Well I’m from Miami,” I said. “And its 72o there.” Jaci laughed and smiled.

“Who’s ready for church?” Mr. Steve asked. He had on three scarfs and four coats.

“You look funny, Father,” Jaci said putting on her third coat.

“I am sweating but I know that will stop when I step outside,” Mr. Steve said. Momma nodded her head feverishly.

“It is COLD out there!” Darcy shouted running into the house. He had gone to get the mail.

“Close the door all the way!” Momma cried as she put a second pair of mittens on Megan’s hands. Darcy shut the door.

Ms. Donna hurried downstairs and put up her closed sign.

“Will it snow again, Mommy?” Megan asked as we walked outside in the freezing out.

“They say we may see some flurries,” Momma said. Megan smiled.

“Me cold,” Megan said as we reached the car.

“Oh, this car is freezing!” I cried sitting on the seat. Darcy laughed. I gave him a sharp glance.

“Hopefully the car will warm up. It’s a twenty-five minute drive to church,” Mr. Steve said. I blew on my hands.

“Natalie Zoey Baldwin! What in the world is wrong with you!” Momma shouted looking at me.

“What did I do?” I asked.

“You walked out of the house with two coats on! Its 4o outside! You could get sick and not to mention the fact that you have no mittens on!” Momma shouted.

“Oh brother,” I mumbled under my breath. I heard the faint sound of gunshots.

“Stop the car!” Jaci screamed. Mr. Steve stopped the car.

“What?” He asked.

“Go up to Aunt Jane’s front yard!” Jaci screamed. Mr. Steve drove up a little. The gunshots got louder.

“Timothy-Caleb!” Jaci screamed rolling down the window. Timmy was shooting at Aunt Jane’s chickens.

“Jaci, I, um,” Timmy stammered.

“Timothy, why are shooting chickens in 4 degree weather?” Jaci asked. I heard Mr. Steve give a faint chuckle.

“Well Aunt Jane doesn’t like me shooting at her chickens and she’s gone to church,” Timmy stammered.

“And why do you think she doesn’t like you shooting at her chickens?” Jaci asked. Timmy sighed.

“Cause it confuses them and sometimes I kill them,” Timmy said.

“Sometimes? Last year you killed Aunt Jane’s prize egg laying chicken. Darlene laid two eggs a day,” Darcy snorted.

“Timothy-Caleb it feels like it’s below zero! Is it really worth risking hypothermia just to shoot some chickens?” Jaci asked.

“No, but I was bored!” Timmy shouted.

“I have a solution for that,” Jaci said with a twinkle in her eyes. “How would you like to go to Bible study with me?”

**

Light flurries were accumulating outside by the time we got to church. Timmy didn’t say anything the entire ride. Jaci smiled the entire ride.

Jaci came with Darcy, Timmy, Regina, Nelson, and me to Youth Group. Jaci was eighteen so technically she was too old for Youth Group. I had a feeling she wanted Timmy to feel welcome. And I’m ashamed to say it but the rest of us probably wouldn’t have made Timmy feel too welcome.

I could tell that Timmy felt out of place at Youth Group. Most of the tweens/teens from town were in Youth Group and most of them shunned Timmy. They didn’t really acknowledge that he was there.

I felt sorry for him but I didn’t go over there and talk to Timmy. As we sat down for class I felt a little like a hypocrite. The Bible tells us to love our enemies. Timmy wasn’t my enemy. He was the brother of my almost enemy but still. Why hadn’t I gone over there and talked to him?

“Some of you may not know this,” The Youth Group leader Ms. Erin said. “But I sit in this chair and watch you children. I watch who you talk to. I listen to what you talk about. I’ve known most of you since you were young. I watched you today and I was ashamed of you.”

Gasps and whispers flew through the room like a wildfire. I felt ashamed of myself at that moment. Why hadn’t I done what was right and went over there and talked to Timmy?

“You did what was popular and not what was right. Today we have a guest. And just because his last name is Stewart you chose to ignore him. Instead of welcoming him with open arms you didn’t even welcome him at all. You left the job of the church to one person and I know for a fact that Ms. Jaci Matthews doesn’t care about what’s popular,” Ms. Erin said.

I saw some girls roll their eyes.

“I was going to talk about the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead but I feel like I need to address the seriousness of this further,” Ms. Erin said. “But before I do.”

Ms. Erin stood up and opened the storage closet. She took out a blue bag that said Welcome!.

“Here you go Timothy Stewart,” Ms. Erin said handing the bag to Timmy. “It’s a welcome bag.”

“Thanks,” Timmy said taking the bag. Jaci smiled and gave his arm a squeeze.

“I’ve lived in Berkshire County my whole life. Berkshire County is rather large but just about everybody has heard of the Stewart clan,” Ms. Erin said. “The Stewart’s are most notably known for Stewart & Stewart law firm which is in Pittsfield. That law firm is the most feared law firm in Massachusetts. Stewart & Stewart is known for being deceitful. It’s known for getting what they want no matter how they get it. A person could lose their life for all they care. And it’s a known fact that Timothy’s great-grandfather and great-uncle helped build that law firm and it’s a known fact that his grandfather has kept the firm going since his great-grandfather’s death,” Ms. Erin said. “Everyone’s heard the story about how Timothy’s father was speeding and crashed. That crash killed Timothy’s mother. It’s a known fact that Timothy’s father lied about that crash and that Timothy’s father is sitting in jail right now for murder. Surely with all this family history Timothy is a corrupt young man. I’ve sure you heard about when Timothy shot Ms. Jane’s prized chicken. It was front news headline and I’ll never forget that headline. It said, ‘We all knew it was coming. Timothy-Caleb Stewart was arrested.’”

Ms. Erin looked at Timmy. Timmy looked like he wanted to run from the room. I think the only thing that kept him there was Jaci. Jaci was gently stroking his arm now. She looked at him with compassion not with hate. She smiled at him even thou there was nothing to smile about. There was just something in her face that screamed compassion and love.

She wasn’t looking down at Timmy even thou she was hearing awful things about his family. I could tell that she didn’t think any less of Timmy. She smiled at me. The smile had the look of forgiveness to it. I felt this relief wash over me. She didn’t judge me. She didn’t dislike me because I did what was popular.

“Ever since I read that article I’ve prayed that someone would show Jesus to the Stewarts. The Stewarts have been known to be wild, deceitful, and corrupt. The majority of Stewart men and women have been either arrested or put in jail. The Stewarts are all over Berkshire County. You can’t escape them but no one has ever shown love to them as far as I know,” Ms. Erin said. “What is in a name? I just happen to know what Stewart means. It means steward or house guard. The Stewarts are proud people. They don’t go to church because they know the people will look down on them. They try to protect themselves from hurt. They try to guard themselves. But the other part of the meaning is the word steward.For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain,but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. A steward in today’s world is a person who manages something and to be a good steward you have to care about your job. When you’re a steward on a ship, airplane, or some other travel provision you have to care about the customers wants and needs. You have to have a heart to help people to be a good steward. I believe that there are good Stewarts out there. They’re just living in the shadow of their last name.”

“Let’s look at scripture,” Ms. Erin said. “I know that some of you sitting in this room may have been hurt by the Stewart family or someone you know was hurt by a Stewart. It may have been something they said. It may have been the way the law firm treated someone you know. Matthew 5:44 says But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. And 45 goes on to say so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. The rest of the chapter goes like this, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

“As most of you know this is Jesus talking. He is the only perfect person out there so this is easier said than done! We slip up sometimes but 1 John 1:9 says, ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ Goes on to say that, “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.’,” Ms. Erin said. “Just because Timothy is a Stewart you didn’t talk to him. Is that what Christ wants us to do? Is Timothy a lost cause just because he’s done some bad things? Is he a lost cause because his family history tells him that he comes from a long line of evil people? No! The Bible says, ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.’”

Ms. Erin looked at Timmy. You could tell by the way he looked he was hanging on to every word she said. She was standing up for him. She was defending him. He looked grateful. Jaci smiled at him with her incredible smile.

“Timothy Stewart, would you like to be a new creation in Christ? For God so loved you, that he gave his only Son, that if you believe in him you should not perish but have eternal life. And eternal life is easy to get. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. The Bible says for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. It says in Romans 10:11 ‘For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”,” Ms. Erin said.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Jaci recited. Timmy looked at her.

“Psalms 139 1-18. O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.  And Psalm 68:5 Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation,” Jaci said.

I felt like clapping.

“I want to be a new creation. I’m so sick and tired of feeling like not a person in the world cares about me. I’m tired of being fatherless. I want someone to be with me always no matter what. I want to stop feeling lonely,” Timmy said. He was near tears.

Jaci smiled at him and picked up a Bible.

“I have a solution for that,” Jaci said with a smiling and tears in her eyes. “Salvation.”

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