Brenda locked up the bakery and left for the night. It was late and she was tired. She had been there since 5:30 this morning. The bakery had closed at 6:00 this evening, but then Brenda had to prepare for tomorrow. Donuts and cinnamon rolls had been set out to rise for morning baking. They were her best sellers for early morning customers. Since she made them from scratch, they were almost 100% profit. She had hired a new girl, Sharon, to help in the bakery. But Sharon did not know how to open or close the bakery and until she learned, Brenda would have some long days.
Sharon was a talented cake decorator and for that Brenda was grateful. With the wedding season quickly approaching, Brenda was going to need the help. She was beginning to understand that she was not able to work the hours that she did when she was younger.
Brenda's Best Baking or BBB was her life now. Her husband and only son had been killed in a car accident eight years ago. For one year, Brenda rarely left her house. Grief absolutely consumed her. She questioned God on a daily basis. "Why God? Why did you take my entire family?" she would ask. There never seemed to be an answer. Finally one Sunday morning during a sermon, God showed her that she would see her family again someday. He also reminded her that they were His family too.
The next morning she and her friend met for coffee and pastries at the local bakery.
Brenda began telling Linda what the Lord had revealed to her. Linda agreed completely. "Why don't you begin a business?"
"What business? I don't know how to do anything. I was a stay at home mom. Remember?"
"I know. But it would be good for you to get out of the house and I think it would boost your confidence to succeed in something?"
"Oh, so you are suggesting that I begin a business in one of the worst economic downturns we have experienced? Some friend you are." Brenda laughed.
"Well if the economy is already bad, you have nothing to lose."
Brenda took another bite. "This is one of the worst croissants I have ever had."
"You make better croissants than this. You might want to think about beginning a bakery."
"Do you really think that is a good idea?"
"Well it would be better than this one, that's for sure."
So Brenda had started Brenda's Best Baking in a small shop in the heart of downtown. The shop had taken one month of nonstop work to bring it up to code. Brenda knew the one thing more important than a beautiful shop, was location. The shop wasn't pretty, but it was close to some large office buildings. The employees of those office buildings had helped the bakery to become one of the most successful new businesses in town.
Tonight as Brenda drove home, she could barely keep her eyes open because of her fatigue. That bed is going to feel great. She thought as she turned into the driveway. With a quick shower and preparing the coffee pot for morning, she was ready for bed. She set the alarm and climbed in bed allowing it to envelope her body. Just as she was beginning to relax, there was a knock at the front door. Who can that be? It is way too late for company.
Brenda walked quietly to the front door and looked through the peep hole. The teenage boy from across the street stood on her front porch looking anxious. She opened the door, leaving the chain attached.
"What are you doing here so late?" She asked with as much authority as she could muster.
"I was in town and saw that your bakery is on fire. The fire department is already there. I called it in on my cell phone."
Brenda suddenly went numb. She couldn't see Tommy on the front porch anymore. She couldn't see anything. She wasn't even sure she was breathing. It felt like the night the police told her that her family had died. Now the bakery. She was losing everything--again.
"I have to go. I have to go." She said in a high pitched voice just short of being classified hysteria.
"You can't drive like this. I'll drive you." Tommy offered.
The closer to town Tommy and Brenda got, the brighter the sky became.
By the time Tommy turned onto Fannin Street, Brenda could see fire trucks, police cars and ambulances. The entire scene looked like chaos. One police officer was attempting to gain control of the crowd by asking everyone to step back, but few people were listening. The stench of the burning wood was sickening.
Brenda jumped out of the car as soon as it stopped. She was still in a mental fog and without thinking of her safety began running toward the burning shop.
A quick footed police officer intercepted her before she reached the building. Brenda was escorted back to a safe distance before she was able to explain that she owned the shop. "You have to let me in." She begged the officer.
"Ma'am, it isn't safe. The entire building is engulfed in flames."
"Maybe I can save something."
"No ma'am. Everything is lost. Right now the firefighters are trying to contain the fire so it doesn't spread to other buildings. It will just have to burn itself out. I'm sorry for your loss."
Brenda fell to the ground consumed with sadness, grief, and despair. The officer knelt beside her and comforted her as much as possible. "Ma'am, do you have a strong faith in God?"
"So do I. I can't tell you why God has allowed this, but I can tell you that He is still in control. He will take care of you. Is there someone I can call for you?"
"No, there is no one. No one. Absolutely no one." Brenda's sobs came so fiercely that she doubled over to the ground. How can I go on now? God, why? I just got my life put back together only to lose it again. Someone tapped her on the shoulder. It took a minute for her to gain enough control to look up. When she did, she saw her friend Linda standing over her with tears in her eyes. Brenda quickly stood and they embraced for both comfort and support.
"Why, Linda? Why did God let this happen? I thought He gave me this bakery. Why did He take it away?" Brenda cried.
"He did give it to you. And he will give you something better when the time is right. You have to trust Him. He is in control."
"That is the same thing the police officer said. I hope you are right."
"Why don't you come home with me for the night and we will figure this out in the morning?" Linda suggested.
"That's a good idea, ma'am." The police officer said from behind Brenda. They had forgotten all about him. "There is nothing you can do here. Go home and get some rest."
Linda led Brenda to her car and drove home. "Would you like some coffee?" Linda asked as they entered the house.
"No. I just want to get some rest." Brenda went to the guest room where she had stayed several times before. After dressing in the gown Linda loaned, she laid on the bed. I probably won't get any sleep, but I wanted some time to myself. Lord, I really need some guidance and blessings now. Amen.
Almost before she finished her thought, Brenda was asleep. She woke at 4:00 a.m. out of habit. She was out of bed before she remembered that her bakery was lying in ashes. The pain in her heart and soul was excruciating. Falling to her knees she cried out to God. "Lord, I can't take any more. I need You now. You have taken my family and now You have taken my business. With it I lost my pride and joy. I've lost everything except my soul. You have that safe in Your hands. I can rest assured that if You take me out of this world, I'll still be safe with You." Immediately her agony eased. "I know You have a plan for my life. Thank You, Lord, for new beginnings."