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It was the longest dirt road—ushering a dusty Subaru and my anxious self through tall pines and cleared plots of mountainous earth, where rustic houses and trailers from a previous century sat… covered in umber grit… surrounded by trucks and cars, and fencing posts and wire, piles and piles of junk, barking dogs and clucking chickens…

Why am I doing this?

Because I have to try.

But what if my suspicions are true?

But by tell-tale signs given earlier this week, everything within me shouted, Another waste of time!

I’d been praying all week, off and on during the daytime, and continually in the middle of the night, in between sleep and dreams and restless wonderings. God had brought me into her life, and her into mine. And it was His peace that filled my heart… His nudging that moved me forward that morning.

Where the dirt road meets the highway, a row of mailboxes has perched for eons of time. Sort of sequential addresses on rusted paint, and a few names—except for the only name I cared about that particular moment.

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Never would have known this was the dirt road that would take me to her home, to her biological kin, to their plot of pine-studded mountain property in the middle of nowhere—except for a divine appointment months ago…

Hey, Debbie, do you know a lady named *Kay? He asked me after the church service one night.

(*Name changed for privacy.)

Yes. But—you know her, too? Highly unlikely, I first thought; but then I remembered how small and tightly-knit the community is. Everybody’s related to or went to school with somebody around here.

He continued…

His relative lives off the same dirt road. A previous night Kay broke into the relative’s house looking for alcohol. When he was called over, they decided not to press charges, and drove her home—to the house at the end of a long dirt road.

But on the way he told her of heaven and hell, and her need to trust Jesus. Stoned out of her mind, she knew the truth of his words from the women who ministered at the jail, week after week… where lately she spent more of her lifetime inside than out…

No, I don’t want to go to hell, she told him, but I can’t do that now. I’m not ready…

I listened wide-eyed as he spoke.

Her life is a mess—she needs the Lord. I offered to bring her to church, but she refused.

I nodded in agreement, and then replied,

Yes, I know. And yes, she would… But I keep praying.

Slowly I kept the car pointed in the direction my scribbled notes told me to go, directions given by his wife’s voice on the other end of a phone call only ten minutes prior. She knew where Kay lived. And God knew that a day would come when I would need to know where Kay lived.

Less than two miles… but with ruts and holes, a narrow, railing-less wooden bridge, and rounded tops of boulders to veer over and around, the two miles seemed like twenty.

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Watching for landmarks, my thoughts rambled through frequent conversations I’d had with her during the past year… such a different woman lately from who she was when she and I first met.

Kay’s cell-mate left for prison earlier last year, and that’s when she showed up to Sunday evening services at the jail. I once asked her, Why then and not sooner?

She said, the other woman had been uplifting; but with her gone, Kay wanted something positive in her life, to help her feel good. She started coming to church (what the inmates call Sunday evening services), and liked it enough to keep coming. Not only on Sundays, but to the Tuesday Bible studies, also.

That summer she was released. She had made plans to change, and told me so. But in less than a week Kay was back behind bars. A life of addictions isn’t conquered in a day.

A couple months later she gave her life to the Lord. And I saw a change. A new purpose and attitude began shaping her thinking. Plans were again made for a new start in life when she’d be released later that year.

But of course, who she appears to be on Sunday nights may not be who she is on an average day in the cell block… or on the outside.

I’d hear snippets of rumors… I still prayed, still encouraged all the ladies to be more Christ-like, and still helped her make plans. And I hoped against hope that this time would be different.

Around the pond and up the driveway on the left, my scribbles said.

Up the dirt road my thoughts and I went… till I realized I could be trespassing. My foot lifted slightly off the gas pedal and the car slowed. There had been plenty of No Trespassing signs along the way, reminding me to stay on the lawful side of those signs.

What if someone comes out with a rifle? It’s happened before, and around here it could happen again… to me… and no one in my family knows where I am… 

But I redirected the dismal thoughts to past events, the very things that led me on this venture toward the unknown… Not having seen any signs at the start of her driveway or since making the turn, I pressed the gas again, and moved forward—looking for the house at the end of the road.

To be continued…

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