Chapter Twenty One:
“Star we got him!” The news on the other end was unbelievable. I almost did not believe what I was hearing. He had been captured, after all these years of Hell, after he shot and paralyzed Hope they had finally caught him.
I was to stunned to speak, to stunned to say a word. After all these years, after all these prayers, he was caught. I took a moment to silently give the Lord my praise.
“What is it Star?” Hope asked. “Is everything okay?”
“Yes it is. I am just in shock, but it’s a good thing. He has been caught Hope, he has really been caught.”
“Praise the Lord, I am so glad this day has finally come.” Mom and Dad were both practically dancing. This was an answer to prayer, it was vindication for all he had done, and it had come to the Lord.
“He’s in prison now, and it’s over. He pled guilty, you will not have to face him in a trial.”
I could not believe what I was hearing, this man, this monster was finally going to pay for his crimes. He had pled guilty, had the Lord in some way worked on his heart? I had no idea, but I knew that I had a reason to praise the Lord. I knew that despite everything I had been through, my life had turned out beautifully.
“If what happened to me allowed him to catch them in anyway, if it helped them find him then it was worth it.” Hope said, and I knew she was speaking honestly she was speaking from the heart.
“I am glad this is over Hope. I am glad that we can get on with our lives, without fearing the monsters in the dark.
“Star I am glad this is over too, I have only been dealing with the scars from this monster for a few months, and they are mostly superficial, your Stars run much deeper.”
“But by the Grace of God those scars were healed.”
Dad sat down on the couch next to me, and began talking, telling me things he had never before told me.
“Star I know I have not told you how we came to name you Star, when we were praying for you, when we were praying to the Lord for another child, the Lord gave us a sign, a shooting Star in the night sky, a promise I knew, because it wasn’t twenty four hours after your Mom and I were on ours knees praying, that we got the call. We were going to get our little girl. The truth was no one really knew your name, but to us you would always be Star, because you were God’s promise to us.”
“Honestly I don’t remember my name before I came to America, but I am glad you named me Star, because I did not need the old name, in my new life. I am so blessed that God answered your prayer, he answered a prayer I did not even know how to pray too. I was given parents who loved and adored me, a sister who cared. I know that if God had not intervened I would not have made it.”
“But for the Grace of God Star. God’s grace is amazing.”
“Yes it is.”
“Star you are our miracle, and you are our chosen daughter, Hope was given to us by the Lord, and she was chosen to, and you are both special to us, we love you both equally.”
“I know Mom, you have never made me feel different, and you have never made me feel as if you loved one of us more than the other.”
“Me either.” Hope said. “I prayed just as hard for a sister, and though I admit at first it was hard, because you had built that wall around yourself and were determined not to let anyone penetrate it, the Lord gave us all the persistence we needed to get through. He showed us that we had to keep reaching to you, and I am so glad he did Star, because I would have missed out on a wonderful sister had I not listened to the Lord.”
I was touched by what my family was sharing with me. Blessed to be a part of this family, after years of abuse I had been given a home, and a second chance at a good life, a life that I had since I had become a Baxter for close to seven years now, but it felt like a life time since the adoption became finalized, since I truly became part of the family. Bits and pieces of the hell I had went through as a child were fading, and I believed that was God’s doing, he wanted something better for me than those dark memories and I was given that. I knew I was blessed, and I knew that the good Lord had got me this far.
Lord I am blessed and amazed by the ways you work in our lives. You have answered my prayers in ways I could not even begin to imagine. I feel safe for the first time in months, and I have had the courage to tell my testimony, and I believe you are going to continue to work on my life, and on Hope’s life. You have blessed us greatly, and despite what we have been through in the past few months, with Hope being shot, and being told she would never walk again, you have all given us a sense of peace. You know what your will for her is, just as you do for me and I am just blessed to be part of it. I thank you Lord for giving me the testimony you have, for allowing me to get as far as you have, I know I am blessed.
“God is still in the miracle working business.” I said to no one in particular, I was just overjoyed with the way the Lord was working, overjoyed because I felt safe again, truly safe again.
“That he does little sister.” Hope said.
“I am sorry it took what happened to you, to bring him to justice.”
“Star I am not. Yes I grieve what I have lost, but the truth is so much more has been gained. God is using even this, and if it is the Lord’s will I will walk again on earth, if not I will be given a new body in Heaven. I will walk there so please don’t feel that way. Star none of this was your fault, and I am glad something good came out of it.”
“Hope you have such a positive way of looking at things, and I am glad, thank you for forgiving me for putting you in danger.”
“Star you were not the one who put me in danger, but you helped me through the worst of it, you stood by my side through it all.”
“You did the same for me when I was just coming to the Lord, after I lost my leg.”
Thank you Lord that Star does not blame me for what happened, I can’t help but blame myself from time to time though. I know I am not the one who put the bullet in her spine, but it was my biological Father who did it, still I know it is not your will for me to go around feeling guilty, so please help me to let go of that, and get back to the business of praising you.
I could not believe how much better I felt the burdened lifted off my shoulders after I got that call. I mean the good Lord had just allowed a miracle to happen, he had allowed them to catch the man we once believed was uncatchable. He had hurt Hope of course, but he had not killed her or my parents like he had threatened, and I knew he was capable of that, completely capable and I was thankful that he had answered my prayer in keeping us safe.
We were all breathing easier now, feeling freer than we had in a long time. The nerves I was feeling about the upcoming trip to speak in Washington did not make me as nervous. Hope and I could feel safe going, Hope had agreed to go with me once again, and despite the fact that she was in a chair she did great at travelling. Hope did not allow herself to fall into self-pity the truth was Hope did not really see a reason to pity herself so we should not pity her either, and I was glad that my sister had that outlook. Hope was someone people could look up to, and I did look up to my big sister, just as she said she looked up to me.
“I feel like a thousand pound weight has been lifted off my chest, it feels so good not to worry, to be free of that burden.” I told Hope.
“I know it is an amazing feeling isn’t it? I am so glad the Lord led the agents to him, to make sure he was put away, so glad things went the way they did.”
“I know it could have been so much worse, I was almost afraid to believe it, when they said they actually caught him, but I know after prayer this was the Lord’s will. He deserves to pay for the things he has done.”
“Yes he does Star, and he will have plenty of time to think about the evil things he has done, thankfully though he is safe behind bars.”
“Amen to that Hope.”
God’s grace, God’s protection was a beautiful thing, something I celebrated. I knew the good Lord was full of mercy and grace, he offered forgiveness to us, all we had to do was accept. When I was a little girl living through the hell I had lived through I did not understand that, but now I did. I understood more of God’s grace, though I would never fully comprehend it, and I lived in his forgiveness. I had been given a new life when I gave my heart to Jesus, and I was blessed because of it. I was beyond blessed, and I knew that.
“Star do you know that through all of this, the words and promises of Isaiah 40 has helped me through all of this.” Hope said.
“I have read it, but I don’t think I really took the time to take it to heart.” I admitted. So I opened the Bible sitting on my desk, and began reading understanding now why it had touched Hope so deeply.
Comfort for God’s People
1 Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.
3 A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the LORD[a];
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.[b]
4 Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
6 A voice says, “Cry out.”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
“All people are like grass,
and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
7 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.”
9 You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,[c]
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
10 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
or weighed the mountains on the scales
and the hills in a balance?
13 Who can fathom the Spirit[d] of the LORD,
or instruct the LORD as his counselor?
14 Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him,
and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge,
or showed him the path of understanding?
15 Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
they are regarded as dust on the scales;
he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
16 Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires,
nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.
17 Before him all the nations are as nothing;
they are regarded by him as worthless
and less than nothing.
18 With whom, then, will you compare God?
To what image will you liken him?
19 As for an idol, a metalworker casts it,
and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and fashions silver chains for it.
20 A person too poor to present such an offering
selects wood that will not rot;
they look for a skilled worker
to set up an idol that will not topple.
21 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
23 He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
24 No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
25 “To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
I closed the Bible but took the time to reflect on the words, especially Isaiah 40:31 and realized why it had touched Hope so deeply, it had shown her that one day if she leaned on the Lord things would get better. He had never promised that life would be perfect, that we wouldn’t have our struggles, but he promised that he would help us through those struggles and I knew that in itself was a reason enough to count ourselves as blessed.
“Powerful word isn’t it?” Hope asked.
“Yes it is. I had never really taken the time to think about it I guess, but I certainly need to do that now. I am glad you pointed that out to me.”
“Star I am glad to help you in any way I can, and I know you are doing the same for me.”
“Thank you Hope.”
“You are more than welcome little sister.”
I could not believe how much things had changed in the past twenty four hours, and changed for the positive. Since I got the call, we were all in the mood to celebrate, to give the Lord his due praise!! Not that we didn’t know to praise the Lord before, but now we were truly praising and feeling safe. It had been a while since we had felt safe, since we didn’t feel like jumping out of our skin, every time the phone rang.
The phone rang again, the agents again, calling to tell me that they had caught my aunt and uncle. They really were my aunt and uncle I would find out, and they really had my daughter, but they were going to prison and Ferensheteh was going to need a place to go. I was going to finally have a chance to raise my own daughter. I felt like I was dreaming once again, but it was real.
“Are you sure you and Dad are okay with this?” I asked Mom and Dad when I broached the subject, and Hope too. “It affected all of them.”
“Star she is your daughter, the way she came into this world may have been due to cruelty, but she is here, and we want you to get the chance to get to know her and you the chance to get to know her.”
“Thank you.” I said. I wanted to say so much more, I wanted to put my gratitude into deeper words than that, but the truth is words would not even begin to cover my gratitude.
“I will do what I can to help you.” Hope said. “I don’t know anything about raising children of course, but I learned to love her in the short time she was here, she reminded me so much of you when you first came to us.”
‘Thank you Hope, the truth is I don’t know anything about raising children, and I do not know what she has endured at the hands of my uncle, or if our biological Father has gotten to her, but I do know that I feel the Lord has given me this chance for a reason.”
“Amen to that Star. I agree with you there, we are all going to help you. I hope you know that.” Hope said. “I may not be able to teach your daughter to ride a bike, but I can teach my niece other things, and I can love her.”
“Hope I don’t think I will be teaching her to ride a bike either, not just because of my leg, but because I never learned to ride a bike.”
“Yes Hope, really my life started out very differently and I lacked a lot of things, but in the scheme of things riding a bike is not all that important.”
“Amen to that Star.”
Lord I cannot believe the things you are doing in my life, thank you for a second chance with my daughter. I feared that she was dead, and now she is coming back to me. You are such an amazing Lord. I know that I was so young when I had her, barely ten, but she is a gift Lord. Despite the violence that caused her conception she is still a gift Lord, and I want to do everything I can to help her know your Love Lord. I know she is confused by all that has happened, the truth was I was to, but Lord you are not the author of confusion are you? I am so glad of that, and so glad of this chance to get to know my daughter.
“I’m actually looking forward to having a niece here with us.”
“I am looking forward to getting to know my daughter. It still sounds so strange saying that, but it’s true, and it’s real. They are bringing her here this afternoon.”
“Star what about Washington?”
“I don’t know, right now all I can think about is my daughter.”
“That’s totally understandable, but you are going to have to think about this too, we are supposed to leave tomorrow.”
“I guess I will ask Mom and Dad to go with us, they can help watch Ferensheteh stay at the hotel with her or something. I don’t know Hope, I really had not thought about that.”
“I am sure God will make a way, he allowed this all to happen for a reason.”
“Amen to that Hope.”
Lord whatever you want me to do show me, and I will do what you want me to do. I think I can tell my story, and still raise Ferensheteh, but if it comes to much for me let me know. I plan on homeschooling her, so her missing school isn’t really going to be the issue, but the truth is Lord I know so little about my little girl, and I am going to need to get to know her.
Be still and know that I am God.
“Star I didn’t mean to worry you.”
“You didn’t Hope. I am just wondering what it’s going to be like, to have my own daughter, to not being afraid of losing her. I have only known her for a short time, for the first nine years of her life I wasn’t around.”
“Star you know that wasn’t your fault.”
“I know, and I know the Lord brought her to me for a reason. I don’t know, I guess I just feel scared.”
“Do you remember how scared you were when you first came to us?”
“Of course, I was afraid of everyone, of everything. I was so afraid I didn’t tell anyone about the infection, I lost my leg. How could I forget something like that?”
“Star by that I meant, do you remember how the Lord moved you from that place of Fear?”
“I know you are right Hope, you usually are about things like that, and I really do need to give it to the Lord, but right now I think I am going to need your support, and help through this.”
“Star how could I do anything less? Look how many hours you logged in by my bedside after I was shot, I would say your Mother instinct is intact.” Hope said smiling. It felt good to hear my sister joking around with me, easing the tension some.
“I know you are here for me Hope, and I appreciate that, we are going to get through this together, as a family.”
“Yes we are Star, and this isn’t a reason to grieve, it is a reason to celebrate.”
“Amen to that big sister.”
Ferensheteh came later that afternoon, my daughter. She looked scared, but I was going to show her she was safe. We were all going to show her she was safe. She spoke some English, and I remembered some Dari, and in time she would become more proficient in English, and perhaps I would have to brush up on Dari, but none of that mattered at the moment, my daughter was home and being settled in.
‘She really does look like you.” Hope said, after Ferensheteh was settled into bed for the night. She had fallen asleep exhausted. We would have to get up early in the morning to catch our flight, I had done my best to explain to my daughter why we were making this trip, but she really seemed indifferent. Truth was I didn’t know if she understood all that I had said. I just prayed taking this trip wouldn’t scare her, or somehow push her deeper into her shell. Still I needed to share my testimony. I had already said I would be there and I could not back out now. Thankfully Mom and Dad had agreed to go, and said they would take Ferensheteh shopping she desperately needed new things.
“Yeah I guess she does. I do not have any pictures of myself at her age, to compare to, but I do think she looks like me.”
“Star you are both beautiful, and one day I believe she is going to live for the Lord too,”
“Hope I claim that in Jesus name.”
Sleep that night was all but pointless. I was just going to have to pray for the Lord to give me the words and the strength I needed when I went to that church in Washington to share my testimony. I was going to have to ask the Lord for his help through this, but I knew the Lord would get me through this, just as he had got me through everything else.
I cannot believe how good you are to me Lord, I really do appreciate everything you have done, but I need your help once again Lord. I am going to need the strength, the energy and the courage to say what I need to say. I feel nervous about speaking in front of strangers, but Lord they are not strangers to you are they Lord? I appreciate you hearing my prayers. You have been good to me Lord, and I know I am unworthy yet you still love me.
I was exhausted by the time we got on the plane, so I fell asleep for the short flight, but I needed it, and I felt refreshed afterwards. Hope was talking with Ferensheteh who sat between her and I. I was thankful that we had all found a seat together, at such a close notice, the fact that two others had cancelled their flights, had spoken to God’s timing, and I was thankful for that.
It warmed my heart to see my daughter and my sister interact. I thought I saw a flash of a smile on Ferenesheteh’s face for a brief second, and that did my own heart good. My little girl deserved to smile she deserved to be happy, and I knew the good Lord had blessed me. I was going to get through this, and as we landed I knew that the Lord was going to give me the strength I needed to get through anything that I faced. He had pulled me out of Hell, and I could never thank him enough for that.
Ferensheteh watched as her aunt was helped into her chair by an attendant. I saw Hope smile at her, as if to say everything was okay, and I was thankful for Hope insuring her, even without speaking. Hope was good at that, she could ensure others that she was okay, that things were okay without a word being spoken.
“I am sorry you were hurt.” Ferensheteh managed. Her English was better than I had imagined it was, and so communication wasn’t going to be the problem I thought it was.
“It’s okay Ferensheteh. I am fine.”
“Are you in pain?” My daughter asked.
“No sweetie, I am not. I am in this chair, because I do not feel pain from the waist, down. It’s kind of like when your legs go to sleep, that weird kind of feeling you get? Have you ever had that happen?”
“Yes” Ferensheteh managed.
“Only my legs do not wake up.”
“I am sorry that your legs are asleep and will not wake up.” Ferenesheteh said, looking as if she was having trouble wrapping her mind about this concept.
My daughter may not be opening up to me, but at least she was opening up to someone.
Finally after we got to the hotel, Dad rented a car at the airport, Ferensheteh spoke up once again.
“Are you my Mother?” She asked.
“Yes I am.”
“I am sorry for the things that happened.” She said. “I knew about you, I always wanted to meet you. I knew that others spoke lies about you, because late at night I could hear the truth. I know our Father was a monster, that he did evil in the name of Allah.”
Ferenesheteh was only nine, how could she know so much? She was wise beyond her years.
“Were you hurt Ferensheteh?”
“No, not in the ways you were.” She managed. “I guess in that way I was lucky, and I had things provided for me, I had nice things, but I did not know love. The people they did not know how to truly love me.”
“Well Ferensheteh, we love you.”
“But we only truly just met.”
“It does not matter, you are my daughter, and I love you, that is all that matters. You do not have to love me yet, but I pray someday you will.”
“I do love you, I prayed to Allah, and to Jesus to bring me to you. I know now that praying to Jesus is what I should do, when I met some missionaries, I gave my heart to Jesus, but I did not tell them, they pretended to be Christians, but they were Islam, the followed Father’s Jihadist ways. I know not all Muslims are like Father, but they were. I could not tell them, that in my heart I talked to Jesus every day.”