House of Magdalena 33

Paul was walking along the docks looking for Angel, hoping to not find her and there she was.  Coming out of the Bank.  Dressed in gray and wool, looking nothing like he exfile0001267163890pected.   Three years.  Michael had said she had to come back on her own.  So why was Paul doing this.  He went back to his room and thought long and hard about what he would say to Miriam.  She was dead.  She was shipwrecked and dead.  Gone, Gone.

The House of Magdalena was what the sign said.  He walked right in and to his surprise it was not a house of ill repute but a classroom of young women all dressed like Angel the day before.  He could just leave now and go back and see the wife of his dreams.  He’d been gone for several weeks now and he missed her loving touch and warmth.  But there would be no warmth if he came home alone.

“I’m looking for someone.  Angel.  Her name is Angel.”  “Paul”  somehow she looked like Angel but more soft, serene.  Looking well.  Beautiful as ever.

“Miriam is going to have a baby.”  He watched hoping that would hurt Angel.

It was delight on her face.  So happy for her and Michael.  Michael what?  Paul couldn’t breath.  He didn’t realize she had left the valley three years ago for the same reason he tried to leave.  She wanted Michael and Miriam to get together and have children.

How ashamed did he feel.  Now he is starting to see why Miriam was always saying to him, “you don’t understand”.  “Angel is doing what she thinks is best for Michael.

“Miriam is my wife. Angel, Michael is still waiting for you to come home.”  The horrible guilt weighed heavy on Paul, seeing now how much she loved Michael and had really been doing what she thought was the best for him.  She was sacrificing her happiness for him to have a child.

“I was wrong about you the whole time.”  They talked for hours.  Each understanding now how wrong they both had been.  Paul called her Amanda.

“Miriam sent me to find you, Amanda.  You have to come home with me.”

She told him everything, from being 8 years old being sold to Duke for his pleasure to Duke making sure she could never have children.  Paul reminded her that Michael chose her.  He knew what he was getting and he still chose her.  For better or worse.  Michael would honor his vow to her until death.

Angel explained what the House of Magdalena was to her and how she felt she could not leave it.   He told her to think about it and he would be leaving by noon the next day.

She stayed up most of the night talking with her dear friend Susanna explaining that she could handle the job and that she was going home.

 

 

Paul’s Turn To Do Something Worthy 32

Now Paul and Miriam married with a baby on the way Paul can see how unhappy Miriam is without her friend, Amanda.  It’s been three years now since she left the valley. Miriam demanded Paul go look for her.  Paul still not caring for Angel at all argues over and over but finally gives in and goes to Sacramento to check the bordellos where he figures she is.

Next on to San Francisco.  Not really eager to find her.  What would he say.  He hated her.  He didn’t want her to come home.  But if he ever wanted peace from Miriam he would have to try to find her.

“Come to me, beloved.  Stand and come to me.”

Oh, if only Michael could walk down that church isle with her as she accepted Christ.  All because of him had she been able to come full circle and more.  Trusting her life now to the one true God.  Michael’s God.

After 6 month living with the Axles’  she finally knew what she wanted to do with her life.  Running in to Torie, one of the Duchesses’ girls, she knew right then and there that she wanted to help women like Torie, like herself escape that life of misery.

With Jonathans’ friends financially supporting her by buying a house by the docks her and Susanna moved in and started teaching and guiding and helping those fallen doves to find a new way of supporting themselves.

The house was filled with young girls wanting to learn and Susanna and Angel were great team.  Jonathan had not wanted this kind of life for his daughter but God had his plans and they were filled with joy helping women this way.  Getting them jobs and some even rose to become prominent members of the town.  Married with children and respected.  All the things Angel could have only dreamed of for herself.

God was working in Susanna life as much or more as He was in Angels.  ***

 

 

Rock of Ages 31

“Why do you torture yourself, Paul.”  Michael puts his hand on Paul’s arm.

That’s it.  He can’t stand it.  He wants Michael to take Miriam as his wife for recompense for what he did to Michael’s wife on the way to Pair-a-Dice.  If he stays here that will never happen.  He has to go to the mountain and pan for gold and forget all about Miriam.  He will sell his land and go.

“Go ahead.  Run away to your mountains and your gold panning.” Miriam stormed off.

How could he explain that this was for her own good.  Michael will soon forget Angel and then turn to Miriam and they will be happy together.

“Paul, Mama! Not Michael.” Miriam said with alarm.  Didn’t she know?

Everyone, even Angel, had thought Miriam was in love with Michael, not Paul.   If Paul loved Miriam too, then why was this happening?  Why would he leave?

“I think he might be going for the same reasons Amanda left Michael.  They think I love Michael”

Miriam remembered how bold and strong Angel was so she followed her heart and went to Paul’s home and refused to leave.  She was going to move in with him.  She will lay at his feet like Ruth of the Bible to Boaz.  He will come to know her intentions soon.  ***

Angel is repulsed when she hears a young girl cry from the next room.  Duke’s newest little Angel.  Duke decides Angel will be the Madam of the house but not until she is taught a lesson by offering her up to the world on a stage in front of the whole bar room full of men hungry for pleasure.

Oh, God if you are there, kill me!  Any way you want to do it.  Only do it.  Help me!

As terror rose in her throat, standing on that stage, Duke introducing her to those awful men she hear a voice:

Sarah, Beloved.  Be Still, for I am here. 

Wrock-of-ages-hymnhat do you want from me, Oh, God, tell me.

My will.

As she stood froze on that stage God told her to Sing.  Sing, beloved.

She heard Michael’s voice now from the past.

“Louder, Tirzah.  Sing as though you believe it.”  But she was afraid.

Did she believe the words of that song from the well that day her, Michael and Miriam sang them?

All eyes were on her, “Oh, God, make me believe.”  Someone began singing for her, picking up the words where she had left off.  As suddenly the words forgotten appeared to her.  The man helping her sing started towards the stage.  Turning towards the men he asked them why weren’t they home with their family.  He saw shame on their faces.  Many knew him.  He was the town banker.

Duke raged and started to slap Angel and the dark man came up behind him and said he would kill Duke if he touched her.  Duke left the stage and was never seen again.

“Would you like to leave, miss?”  Asked the man.

Jonathan Axle helped Angel, Cherry and the little girl next door out of that place forever and took them home to find new homes and a new life for them.  He and his wife and daughter shared the love of Christ with Angel and the girls.  Soon Angel was singing that same song in Church, Rock of Ages!

Angel realized that Duke had been afraid of God that night because God was ever present sending Jonathan Axle to rescue her and the two other girls.  God was very real now to Angel.

Duke vs God 30

“You have grown into a beautiful woman, under all that soot.”

said Duke back at his home while he starred at Angel as she was getting ready for her bath back in the old house.  She had to leave Virgil behind fearful of what Duke would do to him if she refused to come back with him.  She remembered Rab and Johnny.

“Michael, oh, Michael!”  He had fought for her in Pair-a-Dice but he wouldn’t be here to fight for her his time.

Michael woke up in a cold sweat.  Angel had called to him.  He had seen her in his dream, a fire and a dark figure walking through the fire to her.  He couldn’t shake this feeling.  He prayed.  Then he prayed again fervently.  He was full of fear for his wife.

Where was she?  How was she surviving?  Was she hungry? Did she have shelter?  How was she making her way alone?  Why didn’t she come back to him?

He trusted God to protect and guide him.  Why couldn’t he trust that the Lord would o the same for her?  Because he knew she didn’t believe.

That’s how we feel I think when our loved ones aren’t believers yet.  We trust God for our lives but what about those out there gambling with their lives?

“Michael, show me what to do.”  Angel couldn’t think.  She knew Duke would be back and knew he was very angry with her.  What would he do to her?

“Trust in the Lord.”  She could see him sitting before a fire, the Bible in his lap.  Trust in the Lord.”  he said again.

It had been three years since she escaped Duke’s grasp on her when she ran away with Johnny.  Duke took care of Johnny but she had gotten away.  Now here she sat, bathed and dressed in fine silk, eating and drinking milk once again in Duke’s grasp.

“Oh, Michael, I’m weak.  I’m so weak! I was right to leave you.  Look at me!  Stuffing myself on Duke’s food.  I’m selling my soul for a steak and a slice of chocolate cake when I swore I’d starve before I went back to my old ways.  I don’t know how to be good!  I could only manage it when I was with you.”

“What happened to my fine moral strength I possessed while I was with you, Michael?  It’s gone again.  I’m right back to being Angel.  All the space of a few short hours and one tray of supper.”

She closed her eyes.  God, if you are there, strike me dead.  Kill me so I won’t give in completely.  I haven’t the strength to fight this devil.  I haven’t any strength at all.

“By the way, Angel.  If your Michael comes for you, I will kill him the same way I killed Johnny.”  and “I’m going to make you watch this time.”

The nightmares, came one right after another, Johnny, the smell of ship, the docks and garbage, her mother.    Michael and Miriam in the field.  Michael turning away from Miriam and running towards Angel.

“No, Michael, go back! Don’t come near me.”  She knew if he touched her, the foulness covering her would cover him as well.  He came ahead.

“Oh, God let me die. Let me die for him.”    NO! came the soft voice.  Michael ran to her.  A small flame burned where his hear was.  NO, beloved!  Michael’s mouth wasn’t moving.  Then the flames grew larger and brighter, spreading until his entire body was radiant with it.  The light separated from Michael and came the last few feet towards her.  It was a man, glorious and magnificent, light streaming from him in all directions.

“Who are you?  Angel cried out……Who are you?”

Yahweh, El Shaddai, Jehovah-mekoddishken, El Elyon, El Olam, Elohim….

The man touched her and she felt warmth and love all throughout her body.  Fear dissolving away.  She looked down at herself and found she was clean and clothed in white.

“Am I dead?”

That you might live.   I am the way Sarah.  Follow me.

As she awoke she hear Dukes seductive words in the next room and a child crying.

 

 

 

 

You became hers…Dukes that is: 29

Michael didn’t even hear John ride up as he chopped wood like a crazy man.  John asked him why he didn’t swallow his pride and just go get her.  Michael assured him it wasn’t pride.

“Good sense.”  he told John.  John said “well then it was like Paul had said? “

John explained Miriam blames herself for Amanda leaving but Michael assured him it was that.  She even tried to get Paul to after her and bring her back.

“Paul never liked Angel”    What Michael, she Angel again to you?  Shame on you.

Mara, Amanda, Tirzah…Jesus, Jesus, Angel.  She had never trusted him enough to even tell him her real name.  Had he been thinking of her as Angel all along.  Was that why she left him again?

Oh, God, was that why you wanted me to let her go? ”  Why this way, why did you tell me to love her if you were only going to take he away from me?”

He raged at God and grieved for his wife.  He stopped reading his Bible.  He stopped praying.  He turned inside himself seeking answers.    He found non.  He dreaded dark, confusing dreams with forces that were closing in on him.

The still, quiet voice didn’t speak to him anymore, not for weeks and months.  God was silent and hidden, his purpose a mystery.  Life became such a barren wasteland that Michael could bear it anymore, he cried out.

“Why have you forsake me?”

“Beloved, I am always with you, even to the end of time.”  the answer came slowly, with the changing of the seasons.  9e1b7d85427094fde6db49ca50928b79

You shall have no other gods before me.

When have I worshiped any other god but you?”  In the calm that followed his angry torrent of words, Michael heard and finally understood.

YOU became hers.

Can you ever remember a time you worshiped someone.  Worshiped the ground they walked on?  Oh, I am sorry to say I have several times.  Like Michael I see it now.  Praise God, my eyes and mind and heart have now under stood how wrong that is.

Yet I wonder what else I might worship that is getting in my way of loving God completely?  How about you, friend?

San Francisco and every thing Angel had worked for over the past 6 months was burning.   There had been so little warning.  depression settled over Angel like a cold, wet blanket.  Now what was she going to do?

“Hello, Angel.  Its been a long, long time.”

Duke stood before her, his mouth curved in a deadly smile.

San Francisco Mrs. Hosea 29

n-w-from-kearny-market-st-in-19001The smell of the sea and garbage reminded her of the dock shack of her childhood.  It seemed a hundred years ago.  As she filled the void in her stomach she wondered about the one in her heart.

“I did the right thing leaving Michael.  I know I did.”

“Oh Mama, you were right about pain from love, it can make you want to die.”

That still small voice was back again,  over and over saying, “Live.  Keep going.  don’t give up.”

Yet walking for hours through this busy city she couldn’t help but feel like all she could do was to go back to what she knew.    Every time she passed a brothel, she knew she could walk in the door and have food and shelter.  She could have physical comfort.  All she had to do was sell her body again and betray Michael.

“He’ll never know, Angel.” The dark voice said.

What am I going to do?  God, I don’t know what to do!  “Go into that café and rest.” said the small quiet voice.

“Well, that does it Lord.  I am officially out of business”  said the café owner out loud as the cook walked out the door.

“Mister, you need a new cook,” Angel said with a dry smile. pushing her full plate away.

Angel was trying to take in the fact that she had work and a place to stay and that it had fallen right in her lap like a ripe plum from heaven.  How had it come about?

Virgil Harper there his head back and his hands into the air.  “Lord Jesus, I love you!”  I love you!  I love you!” as he jumped for joy with Mrs. Hosea as his new cook.

 

I would do anything for you, even leave. 28

 

On Christmas night she decided what she would do, but it was unbearable to even think of leaving him, of living without him.  She wanted to stay and forget the look in his eyes when he held Benjamin Michael.  She wanted to cling to him and bask in the happiness he gave her.

He had sacrificed pride to love her.  How could she discard his love.  If she stayed, Michael would remain faithful until he died, and that would be the end to him.  She couldn’t let that be.

When she heard John say how the town had grown and that Michael was going to go to town soon, she made her plans to go.  First one last night with Michael had to be special.  She asked him to take her up the hill to the top of the ridge and look at the stars.

Michael knew there was a strange uneasiness in the pit of his stomach.  something was wrong.tn_dancing_final

“I’ll do anything for you Michael” she said after repeating what she had heard him read in the bible once. “you shall have no other gods before me”.  She looked at him.  “None but you Michael Hosea.”

As she danced for him he knew.  “Amanda, why are you doing this?”   “God, why are you doing this to me again?  Do you give only to take away?”

Let her go, beloved.  Give her to me…. Michael, beloved.  Would you have her hang on her cross forever?”  “Lord if I let her go will I ever get her back?”  No answer came.

“What are you doing here?”  Angel was shocked when Miriam came through the door, explaining Michael had stopped by on his way to town to say that today was a good day to visit Amanda.

Angel told Miriam her plans, Miriam heartbroken pleaded with Angel but to no good.  Angel told Miriam she knew that she loved Michael and she wanted them to be together. oldphotosoffrontierlifeinthewestfrom1800s39

“You said you loved him, Miriam,  Then love him.  And give him the children I can’t.”

When Paul and Michael returned home, Miriam was waiting at Paul’s home to tell Michael Amanda had left on the Stagecoach.  But Michael said he wasn’t going to look for her this time.  Miriam sobbing Michael consoled her.  Paul felt a strong jealousy arise in him.

Wasn’t this what he wanted?  Michael and Miriam together and Angel gone?    So why was it he had never felt so alone in his life?   He could look on them holding each other even if this had been his plan.  It hurt too much.  He turned his horse away and left them alone.

A New Small Voice 27

The old voices seldom came anymore, but now there was this new one, quiet and still, making no sense at all.  From dearth come life?  Impossible.  She clenched two handfuls of corn kernel just like the ones her and Michael plants month ago and wondered what did that small voice mean?  You have to die to be reborn.

“Amanda! It’s mama’s time.”

A boy,  Angel helped to deliver, to hold and know never would be in her future.

Paul came to the Altman’s Christmas gathering and Angel’s stomach sank at the sight of him, pondering what barbs he would aim at her this time.  She had never had a real Christmas and this family wanted to include her.  He wasn’t going to take her joy away.

Paul handed Miriam a present and she sent her own barb his way, “Thank you, Uncle Paul.”  and kissed his cheek.  A muscle jerked in his jaw as she turned away.

“Oh, Amanda, it’s beautiful” Miriam said she would wear the hand made dried-flower garland Angel had made.  In fact she “would wear it on her wedding day”  with that Paul got up and went out side.

Michael read the Christmas Story. Angel wondered about God, what kind of father would give his own son to be born for the single purpose of being nailed to a cross?

The dark voice came unexpectedly:  You know what kind of father, AngelYou had one just like him.   She shivered and looked away from Michael.

She saw John standing in the shadows beside Elizabeth.  All fathers weren’t like Alex Stafford.  Some were like John Altman.  She knew Michael would be that kind of father. Strong, loving, forgiving if it came to that.  He would welcome the son back who had left and come home again like another story Michael read her once.

Michael asked if they had given the baby a name yet?  John said,

“we have, Benjamin Michael, after you.”

Angel was admiring the roses that bloomed early and thought back on that night.  Miriam had handed the baby to Michael then put her hand on his shoulder and peered over him.

Angel thought to herself:  ”  Michael should have children.  He wants children.”

Outside that night Paul saw the scene and thought to him self the very same thing.

 

Paul, Paul, Paul 26

Paul’s face was still and his gaze flickered coldly to Angel when Michael went out the door.  Paul asks Angel if she had planned this little time together while Michael hitched up the horses?

“No! but I think he hopes we will work out our differences”

As Paul sat silent as Angel offered him breakfast.  He refused but said,

“I thought you’d be gone again by now” with hope in his voice.

Angel offered him coffee and could see clearly that would be his wish as he continued to look down on her.  He’s not going to ever see her without remembering what he did.  She was determined to be nice to Paul for Michaels sake.  She didn’t want to hurt him anymore.

Later at the Altman’s Miriam asked questions about Angels trip to the West coast on the ship.  Asked about her work when she go to San Francisco.  Questions, questions.  I know how Angel felt.  How much do you tell?  Will she be able to handle the truth about the obscene things Angel had to do as an 8 year old child in Dukes home?

“Is that what it was like?”  Miriam’s face was ashen.  “Worse”  Angel said.

Miriam changed the subject to Paul, Paul did this, Paul did that.  She was very much admiring Paul, in every way.  But Paul never gave her so much as a smile.

Elizabeth was very large with baby by Thanksgiving time.  Miriam had all but given up hope that Paul and her might ever be together.  He avoided her like the virgin she was and he wanted no part of that.  He wanted Miriam for Michael whenever Angel would run again.  He could have loved Miriam but his penance for what he did to Michael was to stay clear of Miriam and push Michael to her.

Angel looked down at her onancykelsey_bestwn flat stomach and tears came quickly.  Miriam saw her looking at Elizabeth with longing eyes and agreed how it would be like to be with child.

“It’s a woman’s reason for being, isn’t it? Our divine privilege:  to bring new life in the world and nurture it.  Sometimes I think I can hardly wait.”

In that moment they both were without hope, a virgin girl with no man for a husband and a barren women.

One Year does not Erase 10 25

Angel refused to defend herself against Paul.  What was the point?  She was polite. She was silent. She stood firm even when she wanted to run away and hide in a dark place where she could curl into a tight ball.

“I am not a harlot anymore.  I’m Not!”

Michael made her life meaningful.  He saw God in everything.  A quiet voice in her head said over and over,

Come forth, beloved.

Angel only saw Michael and worshiped him.  When he would read the bible every night, she was lost in his voice.  He made even the nonsense sound like poetry.

Talk of babies came up again.  How could it not?  Elizabeth was starting to show and little Ruthie asked Angel when was she going to have a baby?  Angel didn’t want to share with anyone that in her past that choice had been taken away from her by Duke’s Doctor.

Midwife?  Elizabeth started Angel with her asking for Angel to be her midwife.  Michael agreed it was a great idea and would be good for Angel.

After Michael’s reading in the bible one night Angel asked him about the young bride in the story.  Wondering why would a bride play the harlot for her husband?   Michael explained it was joyful for her husband to be aroused by her dancing. It pleased him.

“And your God says it’s all right to entice a man?”

Michael know that John Altman stared at her in the beginning.  And Paul.  Sometimes Michael wondered what when through Paul’s mind when he saw her?  Did it flash back to what happened between them on the way back to Pair-a-Dice?  He had to push those disturbing thought away, or they would torment him.

She knew Michael saw other men look at her, he say’s it doesn’t bother him.  They can see that she is a woman in love.  His love for her had purpose in his life.

Michael depended on the earth, the rains, the warmth of the sun.  And his God.

Especially his God.

“I would be dead by now rotting in a unmarked, shallow grave by now if Michael hadn’t come back for me.  I am so glad he did.  I’ll never do anything to make him sorry….. Oh, God, I swear”

The more Michael read the stories of the bible the words found their way into the deepest part of her, somewhere inside, a place shed been unable to close off and then one night as she lay next to Michael she heard a still quiet voice….

“I AM”

How many time have you swore the same thing as Angel?  Oh, it grieves me to say I have many times and then done just the opposite.  But like Angel I am so thankful someone came back to get me.  That someone is my God and Savior.  Has he been there for you even when you didn’t deserve it?

Do you know the great….I AM?