Read Miracles in Disguise (The Trampled Rose Series) Online

Authors: Michelle Lynn Brown

Tags: #Fiction, #Christian Romance

Miracles in Disguise (The Trampled Rose Series) (6 page)

BOOK: Miracles in Disguise (The Trampled Rose Series)
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A little hand popped up from the sea of children, and Nathan said, “Yes, Jennifer?”

“And God does that because he hears mama always saying she doesn’t have time to be running around town all the time?” she replied, pride filling her voice. Everyone laughed and turned toward a blond woman who was burying her face in her hands, while the man next to her put his arm around her, his shoulders rocking with laughter.

“Okay, so we can see that sometimes miracles come in strange and unexpected packages. Sometimes bad things will happen to us, but God can turn those things around. Look at Joseph, a whole lot of bad things happened to him, didn’t they?”

“Yeah,” Jeremy said, “His brothers were mean, but God made everything okay for Joseph anyway.”

“In the end, but he had to go through some pretty tough things first,” Nathan continued with a smile, “Our Scripture today is Romans 8:28.”

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Nathan walked up to a little boy, probably no more than six, sitting so perfectly erect and still near the front of the group. “So now we know that all of those bad things in our lives have a purpose, right Kevin?” The little boy nodded his head, and Nathan continued. “We just have to believe that God is bigger than the junk happening to us.”

Picking up the boy, Nathan said, “We need to believe beyond our circumstances, and sometimes even beyond our emotions.” At the boy’s puzzled look, he continued, “Sometimes a person can say something to you that won’t make you feel too good about yourself, right?” When the boy nodded his head, Nathan continued, "Sometimes that feeling will stick with you right here,” he said as he pointed to the boy’s heart. “And you might start to believe what they said. But we need to ignore that yucky feeling going on inside of us, and instead remember who we are in Christ. We need to remember how much God loves us, and cares about us, in the big stuff and the little stuff. He cared enough to make sure we can go to Heaven, and he cares enough to make sure Jeremy can go fishing.” Putting the child down, he said, "So this week I want you to keep your eyes open for hidden miracles – one of God’s many ways of showing you He loves you. And don’t forget to thank God for everything He brings your way.”

As the children began filing out the side door of the sanctuary, Nathan took his seat back at the piano.

This morning while she walked to church, Kristina had been thinking about all the bad things that happened to her, and now it was as if God had spoken directly to her grumbling. She silently laughed; of course, Nathan had planned that sermon ahead of time.

Kristina’s attention was again snapped back to the front of the church as Nathan’s strong, deep voice rang out over the sweet music coming from the piano. Kristina was rooted to her seat as he began speaking directly to her heart. His song was an echo of the sermon he preached to the children, speaking of looking beyond the circumstances to knowing that God was there in the times of joy as well as in the midst of trouble. She was astonished to find tears rolling down her cheeks as he sang the end of the song.

And even though I don’t always see an answer to my prayer

I know that You are guiding me; I know that You are there.

For You will be my guide, through each and every thing

I may stumble - I may fall- but You will give me wings

As the song closed and the congregation stood, Kristina blindly opened her Bible and stared at the words blurred by her tears. She was moved by the song, moved by the passion in his voice, but most of all, she was moved because she wanted that kind of trust.

The pastor continued on the same line of thought as Nathan, speaking of trusting in God, not our circumstances. She wanted to scream at them.
You don’t know what I’ve been through!
Every man I have ever trusted with my heart has hurt me.

Tell me how you are going to turn that into good?
She demanded of God.

Looking around, she self-consciously dried her tears. But the words continued to tumble through her thoughts through the rest of the service. She was still mulling things over as she walked out of the church. She was so wrapped up in her thoughts, she didn’t hear her name being called. She jumped when Nathan touched her back and said, "Kristina, I was calling you.” He smiled down at her and continued, “I wanted to apologize for the other day. I know we got off to a rocky start. But I want us to be more than just colleagues; I'd like us to be friends too.”

Kristina arched a delicate brow as she questioned, “A colleague, but aren’t you just a carpenter?” Realizing how that sounded, she corrected herself, “I mean, I thought you built houses. The day you found me stranded, you were talking about building a house.”

“A couple of us guys help build houses for some of the less fortunate families. I’m
just
a music teacher by profession.”

Kristina blushed, embarrassed that she had been so rude. “You sounded great, it was such a shock to see you singing and preaching . . . I mean,” she stumbled, “it wasn’t a shock. It was . . .”

Nathan put an arm around her shoulder and immediately she stiffened. “It was unbelievable how a man who repeatedly made you feel uncomfortable and unwelcome could minister to a group of kids.” His face sobered a bit, and his eyes took on a distant look as he mumbled, “I agree.” His shoulders slumped a bit. “I suggest we start over."

She smiled up at him, and said, “Agreed, and I’ll see you tomorrow at school.”

“Not so fast,” he said, catching her by the elbow as she started to walk away. “Aren’t you staying for the dinner?”

“Oh, I forgot.”

“Besides, I want you to meet my family.”

The shocks for today were not through as he led her to the pastor and his wife and introduced them as his parents. While she spoke with them, Mike and his family came over. She was introduced to Leanne, Mike’s wife, and their two children, Rick and Karen. The little two-year-old boy came up to her and began a series of rapid-fire sentences where every fourth or fifth word was distinguishable. Mike placed his hand on his son’s head and whispered, “We have no idea, so don’t ask what he said."

Everyone laughed, except Leanne, who just smiled sadly. Kristina wondered about her reaction, and it touched a spot in her heart.

In the fellowship hall, Nathan’s father blessed the food. “Let’s get you to the front of the line," Nathan whispered in her ear. Before she could protest, he ushered her through the line of tables piled with food.

“You’re just escorting her so you can grab the best food,” May said from behind the tables, as she and the other ladies were laying out more food.

“Guilty,” he confessed, “But if you all stopped making such wonderful food, I wouldn’t be so bent on coming up with excuses to cut in line.”

“What you need is a wife to feed you so you can stop hanging out in my diner every night.” April said, winking at Kristina.

Kristina was sure her face was as scarlet as the red velvet cake that was put on her plate. She made a beeline for an empty table, but found Nathan sitting across from her a few moments later. But they weren’t alone for long, and Kristina relaxed as kids and youth clamored to sit with Nathan. He was at ease with them all.

When a girl of about six explained the intricacies of being a princess, Nathan asked. “Well, doesn't it get tiring waving all day to your subjects?”

“Yes, but that is our job,” she said in a grave voice.

Two middle-school boys interrupted to fire off a few questions about a video game, which he also handled with ease.

“Hey, Mr. M!” A young teenage girl said as she slid into the princess’ vacated spot.

“Hey, Barb. This is Ms. Talbot.”

“Yeah, the new English teacher!” Barbara picked the roll off his plate, and before he could protest, “Oh whatever, the ladies are going to pack up all the leftovers for you. They feel so sorry for you.”

“Hey, respect your elders!” He lightly admonished with a chuckle.

“No disrespect, just stating the facts.” She flashed him a smile, and then turned to Kristina.

“So, I heard you used to teach honors English at some fancy school. Does that mean we are going to read some really cool stuff this year?”

“Well, I guess that depends on what your definition of really cool is.”

“My cousin in Texas gets to read Chaucer in her senior English class.”

“Well then, you’re in luck!”

“Cool-beans!” She was off without so much as a goodbye.

“Barbara is really smart, and really determined to succeed. But most kids aren’t going to share her abilities or her affection of Chaucer.” Nathan warned.

She lifted her chin a little under her steely gaze, “Most kids don’t. Nevertheless, I think you will be surprised at what they are capable of. I believe in holding the standards up high, and having them reach for it, rather than believing they are not able to read and understand a piece of literature.”

“These kids are farmers, football players, wannabe rodeo stars, and kids with dreams no bigger than your hand.” He lightly tapped her hand, and she wanted to pull it under the table. Her relaxed manner vanished with his simple touch. "We have a high drop-out rate in this state, especially in rural towns like Hamilton. The ones who are at risk for dropping out don’t see much sense in studying the basics, let alone reading The Canterbury Tales.”

“With all due respect, Nathan, I have been teaching for over five years now at one of the best schools in the nation. Our scores were the third highest out of all private schools in the nation last year. I was in charge of the entire English Honors Department and several of my students are on their way to earning their PhD’s.” She arched a delicate eyebrow at him, daring him to challenge her.

“I have no doubt in your ability to handle a group of big city, rich kids, with their eyes firmly focused on college. But just know that many of the kids here are not interested in college.”

Lifting her chin in defiance, she said, “Well, we will just have to see, won’t we.”

“I didn’t mean to question your abilities, Kristina.” He reached for her hand, but she quickly pulled it out of the way.

“First of all, Mr. McKinley, you know nothing about me or my abilities. You are welcome to your opinions, but I’ll be happy to prove you otherwise.” She gathered up her trash, got up from the table, and began to walk away. She stopped, whether it was because she didn’t want him to think he got the best of her, or because she didn’t want anyone to manipulate her emotions, she didn’t know. But she was determined to make things different. She turned back to him, her hair spilling over one shoulder and smiled sweetly at him. “See you tomorrow.”

 

Chapter Seven

 

The next morning, Nathan walked down the hallway, two cups of steaming coffee in his hands. He stopped in the doorway to Kristina’s classroom and smiled at the picture before him. She had just arrived, setting her books down. A soft smile played about her lips as she sat behind the desk and tested out her chair. Leaning back, she propped her feet up on the desk, but quickly put them down when she almost fell backward. Instead, she began arranging her books and supplies. As she worked, she hummed the song he’d performed yesterday in church. She would interject a word or two every so often, and then returned to humming, all the while rocking in the swivel chair and organizing her things.

“I thought you might enjoy a cup a coffee,” he interrupted. At the sound of his voice, she jumped and rocked back in the chair, almost losing her balance and sending paper clips raining in the air. She caught herself on the edge of the desk just before she fell, but not before she knocked her books on the floor. Heat rushed to her face, and she quickly bent to pick up her things.

“Here, let me help,” he said as he set the cups down on her desk and scooped up the paper clips for her. She tried to hide her face behind the veil of her hair.

“I’m sorry, I thought I was alone,” she said, placing the last of the books on her desk.

Why does she get so skittish when she realizes she’s
not
alone?

“I just wanted to welcome you with a cup of coffee.”

“Thank you, that was kind.” Her smile was wary.

“Well, you might not think me so kind after I tell you that Principle Shirley will be evaluating you this morning.” His eyes flicked to her hair, and he picked a paper clip from the edge of one of her curls. “You forgot one.”

She took it from him, but said nothing as he continued. “It is Mr. Shirley’s policy, not mine. I just wanted to warn you so you could prepare.”

“Sounds wonderful!” She lifted her chin the tiniest bit in defiance. “You’ll find that I don’t shy away from scrutiny or observation. In fact, I welcome them, for how else will my skills be sharpened if not through examination and criticism?”

Nathan chided himself for enjoying her discomfort. He hadn’t come with the desire to get her rankled, but seeing her ruffled feathers, he couldn’t help but think she was a strange and beautiful little bird.

“John Keats once said, ‘every fresh experience points out some form of error, which we shall afterwards carefully avoid.’ I'm sure I’ll gain plenty of knowledge and guidance from Mr. Shirley.”

BOOK: Miracles in Disguise (The Trampled Rose Series)
9.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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