Chapter Twenty Three:
My daughter, I was looking at my daughter. It was so hard to wrap my head around that, she was mine, finally I was going to get the chance to raise her. I would need my parents help of course, and my sisters, but I was thankful for being given a second chance.
We served a Lord of second chances, and I was grateful for that. The fact that we were all here doing as well as we were spoke to God’s grace.
“I am so blessed that I have your love and support.” I told Hope, as we sat in the hotel room. I had already spoken, my sister by my side. I knew I could not have done it without her.
“It’s God’s Grace Star. He gets us through everything.”
“Amen to that Hope.”
“I just feel like I am living a dream, a good dream that I don’t want to wake up from.”
“Star this is reality, and despite everything that has happened, we are blessed.”
Hope was so strong, despite everything she had been through, she knew the importance of leaning on the Lord. She had helped me see that too, and I knew that the Lord knew what he was doing when he had put me in this family. I was proud to be a Baxter, and my daughter would be as well.
I watched her sleeping on the bed, she had asked if she could sleep in the bed with her Aunt and I had agreed. I was just thankful to have her in the same room with me, but she felt the need to take care of her aunt, to help her in any way possible. In that way she reminded me of myself.
Feresheteh Jewel Baxter. Feresheteh was her name when she came to us, Jewel because she was my Jewel, and now she had my last name. I had a daughter a beautiful daughter, despite the violent way she had come into this world she was a gift, a gift from the Lord above.
“You have every reason to be proud Star, you have a beautiful daughter.”
“Yes I do.” I agreed.
“I don’t know if I will ever have that chance, to have children.” Hope said. I could see that was bothering her. I knew how much she loved children how she had dreamed of wanting a family.
“Hope we have seen greater miracles happen, if it’s the Lord’s will, you will be blessed with children.”
“Thank you Star, I pray you are right.”
“As you always tell me Faith in the Lord will help you through this.”
“I know Star, and you are right. I don’t know sometimes what happens is just still so fresh.”
“Of course it is Hope, you are still getting used to this, your life was changed and you are grieving, that’s normal, but you aren’t letting it drag you down, that is the Lord’s work there.”
“Star I still struggle with this sometimes, I still wonder if I will have the strength to forgive, I know that you endured so much more than I did, but I do not know if I have the strength to forgive.”
“Hope I have discovered it takes more strength not to forgive, than it does to forgive.”
“I know you are right Star, but I don’t know why I am feeling this way right now.”
“Hope you are hurting, that is why. You can only hold things in for so long, believe me I have learned that lesson the hard way.”
“I guess Star, I just wish this was easier.”
“You once told me God does not promise easy in life, but he does promise us the strength to get through our battles.”
As Hope drifted off to sleep and I found that I could not sleep, I opened my Bible and began reading Matthew 22
The Parable of the Wedding Banquet
1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
4 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
5 “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6 The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7 The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9 So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ 10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.
13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Paying the Imperial Tax to Caesar
15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”
18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”
21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
Marriage at the Resurrection
23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”
29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’[b]? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”
33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.
The Greatest Commandment
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Whose Son Is the Messiah?
41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”
“The son of David,” they replied.
43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,
44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I put your enemies
under your feet.”’[e]
45 If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” 46 No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.
After spending time in the word I drifted into a deep comfortable sleep. I had not slept so well in a long time, and I knew that was the Lord. I woke up the following morning feeling better than I had felt in a long time. My daughter and my sister were already awake, sitting on the bed, watching some cartoon that Ferensheteh seemed enthralled with.
“Thank you Star, for talking to me last night.”
“Are you okay Hope?”
“Yeah, I am okay. I guess I just still have a lot to get used to.”
“Hope you are going to make it.”
“I know I am Star, if you can get through all you went through, I can get through this.”
“But for the Grace of God, there go I.”
I watched Hope interacting with my daughter, and prayed that she would be given the chance to have the children she dreamed of having someday. I knew that there were some people with Spinal Cord Injuries that could have children, and I prayed my sister would be one, or better yet the Lord would heal her all together. No matter what happened though I was going to continue to be there for Hope just as she had been there for me.
“Mommy I love you.” Ferensheteh said, jumping on the bed with me, running into my arms. She was nine, but at that moment she was my baby.
“I love you too.” I told my daughter.
“I am glad Jesus helped the FBI get the bad guys, so we could be a family together.” Ferensheteh said, in almost perfect English.
“Me too sweetie.”
“I am sorry that you had to get hurt Aunt Hope.”
“It’s not your fault sweetie. And something good came out of all of this, you got to come and be with your family.”
Looking at my daughter I realized I was only slightly older than her when I got pregnant. A nine year old getting pregnant was unthinkable, but it happened. I had been raped, and I had given birth to a healthy little girl. I knew that the odds of having a child who did not make it, or one who had a lot of issues when one was raped and impregnated so young were high, but God had something planned for Ferensheteh, the little girl who had come out of unbelievable circumstances, who had come out of rape, but despite that she was healthy, and she was a gift from God.
“Ferensheteh we are so glad you are here with us, I am glad that I am finally given the chance to know my daughter.”
“I am glad to be here too Mother. I feel love for the first time, real love, not just people trying to buy me things, trying to make me believe things I do not believe.”
“Did they hurt you?” I asked, knowing I had asked the question before, but I needed to know. I needed to know that they didn’t lay a hand on my little girl.
“No they did not hit me, or beat me, but they did not show me love either. Oh they pretended too around others, but I knew they did not love me.”
“I am glad to have a niece like you Ferensheteh. I have always wanted a niece, and now I have one.”
I watched my daughters face light up, as she realized that we indeed did want her and love her, and despite what had happened to Hope something good had come out of all of this, two wonderful things, the man who had hurt Hope and who had hurt me was in prison and my daughter was with us where she belonged.
Lord I am only nineteen and I have a nine year old daughter, so I am going to need your help with raising her, but I know that I am blessed. I know that your hand was in this, that you were going to help me through this, and I am singing your praises. I am so blessed by you Lord, so blessed by this wonderful family you have given me I will continue to count my blessings.
“I am glad you’re my Mother.” Ferensheteh said, hugging me.
“Sweetie I am glad you’re my daughter, we are going to get to know each other very well, and get to do Mother and Daughter things together.”
“Can we go see Disney Land someday?”
“If you want to sweetie, you bet.”