"Sometimes He comes in the clouds.  Sometimes His face cannot be found.
Sometimes the sky is dark and gray but some things can only be known.
And sometimes our faith can only grow
when we can't see
so, sometimes, He comes in the clouds."
from the song "Sometimes He Comes in the Clouds" by Steven Curtis Chapman

Hi all,

This one just came to me on a whim.  I love it when that happens!

But before we get to the story, I'd just like to remind everyone that our annual CABB in honor of Charles Rocket's birthday is quickly approaching.  If you'd like to contribute a memory or something else, please email me before August 15th to let me know of your intent.  I won't actually need the content, however, until August 21st.  Thanks!  Please let me know if you have any questions about this.

Have a great weekend!

God bless,

And now, time for another "Moment with Andrew" story...
Andrew and the T-Shirt of Many Names

Rose woke with a start after hearing a window-shaking clap of thunder followed by a scream.  A moment later there was the haunting sound of Dyeland's emergency siren.  She scrambled out of bed and headed to the door.  When she opened it, JenniAnn was standing there with her hand poised to knock.
"Oh good, you're up," she greeted nervously.  "Umm, so, a tree branch just came through my window so I think it's time to head to the basement."  Another boom of thunder sounded and JenniAnn nearly screamed again.
"Definitely!" Rose concurred.  Feeling anxious, she followed JenniAnn and the dog at her heels down the stairs to the main entry.  They took another stairwell down to the basement.  Wearied from having been awoken at 2:00 AM after having only gone to sleep at 1:00 following a night of making plans for Andrew's birthday, Rose plopped onto a couch.
"I thought maybe we'd keep going, ya know, through the tunnel," JenniAnn explained, standing near a book case and still visibly shaken.
Rose smiled.  Of course, they weren't stopping!  If one was stuck in Willowveil castle during a tornado or otherwise severe weather, simply sitting in the basement was not an option.  Not when one had a tunnel that ran below the yard, under City Hall, through the earth below Andrew's lawn and then, finally, into Andrew's basement.  Despite the worrisome situation, Rose laughed.  "Sure!  Lead on!" she consented, suddenly feeling a little less sleepy.
Relieved, JenniAnn smiled and pushed a button which caused the bookcase to revolve and reveal the tunnel.  She ushered Fawn and Rose through then slipped in herself, closing the "door" behind her.  "I know it's kinda babyish but I hate storms.  I often missed the worst of them back in Nebraska cause I'd spend the summers Below with Vincent and company.  So when they happen here... I dunno.  I just feel better being at Andrew's and not alone.  Well, not alone with Fawn who's no great fan of them herself."
"I wouldn't call that babyish.  Storms can be scary... especially when they break your window!  Besides, I'd call that using a bad situation to gain some quality time with someone I think we'd all like to spend as much time with as we can," the younger woman assured.  "But should we call?  Do you have your cell phone?  Would it even work down here?"
JenniAnn shrugged.  "Who knows.  But so long as he's not actually sleeping through the storm... and I can't imagine that... he'll be ready."
Rose couldn't resist smiling at the image of Andrew leaping up from his bed, leading Lulu into their own basement, and then waiting patiently for the knock at his basement door.  "So what do you do once you get over there?"
"Typical sleepover stuff.  Braid each other's hair, try new and exciting makeup tips, and discuss, like, how uncool our parents are."  JenniAnn laughed.  It was obvious just the prospect of seeing Andrew did wonders for her phobia of severe storms and made her a bit giddy.
Rose giggled then rolled her eyes and shook her head.  "Now, what do you *really* do?"
"Watch movies, sometimes.  Talk.  Try to keep the dogs from trying to dig a hole into the carpet to hide."
"Love the lovely..." they both began in unison only to be interrupted by a third voice.
The two girls erupted with laughter as they saw Andrew standing in his doorway, smiling with a bit of a blush.
"Welcome to the bunker," he greeted as he ushered them and Fawn inside.  The latter immediately ran to Lulu and the two curled up on a recliner.  "Follow Fawn's lead and make yourselves at home.  Help yourselves to snacks and drinks."  He indicated a table he'd set up with myriad offerings.
"Thanks, as always.  I was just telling Rose about how good you are about letting Fawn and me crash here," JenniAnn explained.
"It's never a problem.  I'm glad to have you both over.  The extra people and non-person keeps Lulu calm, too.  So do you know if there's any damage over at Willowveil?  This is a nasty one."
"A tree came through JenniAnn's window but otherwise I didn't notice anything.  I wonder if I could get through to my aunt?"  Rose frowned, it suddenly hit her that her aunt was alone.
Andrew set a hand on her shoulder.  "Tess is with her.  They're in the basement, too.  They tried to call but I think the phones are out so, uh, Tess told me."
"Nifty," Rose smiled, glad to know that inclement weather definitely couldn't disrupt angelic communication.
There was another rumble of thunder and though the basement walls dulled the sound the fact that it was heard at all comforted no one.
Andrew noticed JenniAnn and Rose exchanging nervous glances.  "How about we say a prayer?"
The two women nodded eagerly and the three joined hands.
"Dear Father, please protect everyone during this storm and all the storms in life," Andrew began.  "Help them to reach safety if they haven't already.  Give us peace, please.  And help us to work together, in friendship and love, to fix whatever damage may be done by this storm.  Please, too, enable us to recognize the beauty in this world and all the worlds you created even when we find them a little scary."  He looked to the other two to check if they wanted to add on.
"And thank you, God, for friends to wait out the storm with," JenniAnn added, casting a quick smile at Andrew and Rose.
"Exactly.  Thank you.  And for the peace that comes in talking to You," Rose finished.
"Amen," they all said in unison.
"I really do feel more peaceful," JenniAnn agreed. 
"Good.  So now what's this about your window?  No glass hit you, did it?" Andrew questioned.  He took a good look at his friend, checking. 
JenniAnn hadn't considered that possibility and pulled her hair back, giving it a good shake.  It was then the woman noticed behavior she would never have thought to see in sweet, lovely, innocent-to-the-max, uber-respectful Andrew.  It was the sort of behavior that generally elicited a response such as "My eyes are up here, jerk!"  Instead, she just cleared her throat and gave the angel an alarmed look.
Andrew grew bright red and his hand flew through his hair.
Rose was quite alarmed herself and about to ask Andrew if he was feeling okay.  Maybe a tree had come through his window, too, and hit him on the head rendering him temporarily insane.
He mumbled something.  It sounded like his own name.
And then the reason for his furtive glances at JenniAnn hit Rose.  A person could hardly expect someone not to glance at their chest when the person's name was emblazoned across their shirt in bright colors!  "Your shirt!" she exclaimed and then began to laugh hysterically.
"Aww, crud," JenniAnn muttered.  In her panic and eagerness to get to Andrew's, she had completely forgotten what she'd chosen as her pajamas.  So there she was in Andrew's basement, wearing a T-shirt that all but screamed her adulation.
Rose burst out into hysterical laughter.  "The cat is out of the bag.  I think it's time to fess up, JenniAnn."
"I'm sorry if I gawked but, umm, why is my name on your shirt?" Andrew questioned.
JenniAnn was twisting her ring around her finger at an alarming rate and pacing.  "Well, umm... see..."  She paused to think of an explanation but then her gaze alighted on Rose.  "She's wearing one, too!"
"Smooth," Rose remarked but smiled sheepishly.  She was wearing a light sweater due to Willowveil's occasional draftiness but there was no denying she had a shirt identical to JenniAnn's beneath it.
Lulu yawned, showing she was completely uninterested in the apparent drama unfolding.  Fawn was already back to sleep.  Andrew, however, was still keen on getting some explanation.
"So, uh, what exactly does it say?"
"'His name is dot, dot, dot Andrew,'" JenniAnn answered, her voice barely audible.
"So you're wearing that shirt in case at, I dunno, 2 AM you forget my name?" Andrew pressed, eye brows arched.
"Well... not *that* name..."  Rose began to explain. 
"But that's the name that's on the shirt so..." Andrew prodded.
JenniAnn cleared her throat.  "Well, yeah, one of them..."
"I really was trying not to stare  so maybe I didn't see everything but I'm pretty sure mine was the only name on the shirt.  Listen, it's not that I'm offended.  A guy just doesn't expect to find his friends sleeping in shirts with his name printed across them, I guess.  I'd just like to understand... why?" the exasperated angel questioned.
"Well, you're just so comforting and so... I guess wearing this just reminds us of that so it becomes comforting in a way.  When you're not around.  And you are right.  Your actual name is the only one on the front of the shirt but..." Rose couldn't help but giggle as she tapped her back.
Her laughter was contagious and despite his embarrassment, Andrew laughed. 
His laughter, in turn, brightened JenniAnn's mood considerably.  She smiled at him and squeezed his hand.  "Listen, I'm sorry if we embarrassed you and if these shirts are a little... extreme.  But we thought it was a cute idea and we didn't necessarily plan on you finding out about them.  And I'm sorry we didn't consider that possibility."
"It's okay.  I guess it is kind of sweet in a crazy sort of way."  Andrew chuckled and hugged them both.  "Now... what's the story with some other names?  Other guys you've taken a liking to maybe?  Is Mr. Darcy on there?"
"No other guys are represented.  Just the one: you.  And your many, many names," Rose finally confessed.
"I have many names?"  Andrew raised an eye brow again.  Sure, he could think of a few nicknames but...
"Twenty eight to be exact.  And JenniAnn has the graphic saved so she can adjust if we need to add more names."
Andrew looked from Rose to JenniAnn, amused but shaking his head.  "Well, I'm glad to know I'm not locked in at twenty eight."
JenniAnn burst out laughing.  "Hardly.  We wouldn't want to limit our creative naming abilities."
"No, that would be a real shame," Andrew teased.  "So... is there a way I could see these names without seeming creepy?"
"I don't think either of us mind your looking at the backs of our shirts but..."  JenniAnn looked to Rose.  "Who ever's shirt he looks at won't be able to see his reactions," she pointed out.
Rose considered this.  "That would be a shame..."  She grinned at Andrew.  "Hey, do you still have those extra t-shirts we tie-dyed on the 4th of July around?"
"Yes!  They're  still hanging up right in the laundry room.  Great idea!" 
Being nearer the door to the laundry room than Rose, JenniAnn stepped inside to change and returned a few moments later with the shirt that had caused all the fuss.  She laid it across the pool table and the three gathered around.
Andrew was taken aback by all the names, each in a different font and color.
"Wow," he murmured.  "It's... wow."
"It took us a while.  There are several 'drafts.'  And much discussion to ensure we got each name," Rose recalled with a smile.
"And we had a lot of fun remembering them," JenniAnn added.
Andrew traced the line at the top.  "'But we call him...'" he read.  "'Love'?"
"Well, it's kinda a reference to Kate saying you looked like love but also... true for us."  JenniAnn blushed. 
"There are actually a few we got from your assignments.  'Dew' from the little boy you watched over."
"Dylan."  Andrew smiled at the memory of the little boy's lisped name for him.
"'Dr. Friend' also from your assignment with Kate.  Plus it's just cute.  And 'Ginger Man' for Billie Holiday," JenniAnn interjected.  "And we're going to add 'Sweet Boy' for Raquel next time.  We promised her."
Andrew coughed.  "Raquel knows about this shirt?"
"She *may* have this design on a coffee mug..." Rose answered coyly.
The angel shook his head but laughed.  "Great...  Well, I see a few Tess ones.  'Mr. Halo', 'Angel Boy', 'Halo Boy'.  And, of course, 'Angel of Death' is obvious."
"As we feel 'Andrew the Adorable' to be, too."  Rose ran her finger over the greenish yellow name and grinned.
Andrew blushed.  "Thanks for that.  So...  'Andrewkins' is obviously Yva's input.  'Jack o' Lantern of Death' is a reminder of Princess Audrey.  'Dear Old Brick' and 'Skin Horse' are vintage Laja."
"'Loveliest' is current Laja," "Laja" herself pointed out, recalling how many letters she had written beginning with "Dearest and loveliest of all Andrews..." 
"So is 'Dearest' a future addition?" Andrew asked, seeming to have read her mind.
JenniAnn blushed.  "No... it's right there."  She pointed to a bluish gray name that had escaped the angel's notice.  "But we should have paper ready in case we do notice any missing ones."
"One step ahead of you."  Rose looked up from the piece of scrap paper she'd grabbed and was jotting notes on.
"'Crush of Crushes'?" Andrew cast a curious look at the light pink epithet.
"For those that have ever had crushes on you it tends to be more than a usual crush so... 'Crush of Crushes'," JenniAnn explained.
"Uh huh...  'Lovely Angel.'  Seems to me I just heard that one..." Andrew smirked.
"Well, heard it and said it if you recall," Rose corrected.  "It's a favorite."
"Obviously.  So who all was in on this shirt?"
"All us girls.  We sent emails around," Rose answered as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
Andrew looked Heavenward with an expression that seemed to say "Really, Father?"
"'Green Eyes' cause they are gorgeous."  JenniAnn paused in her examination of her shirt to admire the referenced eyes. 
"Yes, they're the window to..." Rose underlined another green name, " 'The Loveliness' that is you... 'Lovely One.' "
"Love seems to be at the root of a lot of these," Andrew mused.
"Hardly surprising."  JenniAnn sighed.
"Why 'Poor Love'?" the proclaimed Lovely One asked.
Rose and JenniAnn glanced at each other. 
"Well..." JenniAnn began but then found herself without a good answer.
Rose found the task difficult but pressed on.  "I guess sometimes we just feel a little bad for you since you sometimes experience so much and might not get the support you need."
"I see.  Well, I'll tell you that right now unsupported is definitely not something I feel," Andrew assured them.  "Learning this from the two of you and knowing many of the others took part... it's been a little surreal... a little odd... but touching."
"Good.  So... any other questions?" Rose checked.
"Umm, yeah, tons of them."
JenniAnn laughed.  "So, ask away."
"'Firstborn'?"  Andrew looked curiously at the girls.
"Uh oh... that's another kinda sad one."  Rose frowned.
"Yeah.  Sometimes it just seems like... especially when it's you and Monica and Tess but even with us at times... you take on this strong, older brother role.  So responsible, so strong, so comforting..."  JenniAnn sighed yet again.  "And we just worry that you sometimes also take on the firstborn role of holding things in to keep the peace and all."
"A shirt that doubles as a psychological profile?"  Andrew smiled sheepishly.  "You know me well.  But I hope you don't worry too much about me.  Sure, I sometimes struggle with my emotions but... I have a lot of fun and see a lot of great things, too.  Feel a lot of great things."
"Oh, we know!  That's why we also have... 'Rakish One!' "  Rose giggled as she circled a bold, orange name.  "To remind us of your sometimes devilish sense of humor."
"And I see 'Amish Boy' right beside it.  Gee, I wonder who contributed that?"  Andrew grinned at Rose.  "It's long outlasted my beard."
"A permanent testimony to its existence and your cuteness with it," Rose joked though with real admiration. 
Andrew hugged her then looked back to the shirt.  " 'My Immortal' is a song, isn't it?  Didn't you put it on a mixed CD for me?"  Andrew looked to JenniAnn.
"Yeah... but it works as a nickname, too, doesn't it?  I mean maybe a lil possessive but you are my... our immortal friend so..."
Andrew hugged her then, too.  "I am." 
"I'm glad of it.  Both the friend and the immortal part." 
"Always to both," Andrew assured.  "Now... hey, isn't 'Mr. Cellophane' a song, too?  From a musical.  'Chicago' right?  Why would you pick that?"
Dread crept onto JenniAnn's and Rose's faces.  How do you tell a person you love that you think one of his friends sometimes ignores him and continuously fails to see him as he really is? 
"You can keep that one secret if you want," Andrew offered, sensing their unease and not wanting to pressure them or push his way into a confidence. 
"Okay," Rose accepted with relief.  "But maybe you should get some explanation.  I guess by putting it there it's a sort of ironic reminder to ourselves.  To always take into account how you might feel about something.  To never lose sight of you and just look through you like, well, cellophane."
"Rose, Laja," Andrew began, "knowing all of you as I do, I think it's a very, very unnecessary reminder.  But it is a pretty cool font so I think it's okay to leave it."  He gave them both a reassuring smile before turning back to the shirt.  "Well, here's another one I don't really understand: 'Swan Boat.'  You feel I'm like a swan boat?  Like one of those mechanical two-person boats they put in love canals?" 
JenniAnn and Rose nearly went into hysterics as Andrew glided around the room, his neck stretched as long as he could manage in an attempt to look swan boat-like.
"Well not literally, of course!"  Rose choked out among her gasps of laughter at the absurd image.
"So I'm a symbolic swan boat?"
"It was JenniAnn's idea!"
"Gee, thanks."
"Payback for ratting me out with my shirt," Rose pointed out.
JenniAnn smiled and shook her head.  "Fair enough.  Well... see...  I saw this story on the news about this female swan.  She'd fallen for a swan boat.  And her keepers tried to fix her up with a male swan.  But she still loved her boat.  And, really, who could blame her?  He was a nice looking swan boat and bigger and lovelier than the swans that were actually her species.  And he had really nice eyes and a good soul... and she could always adopt swan babies.  And even if not... she loved him and like heck she was going to let anyone drive her away."
Andrew blushed.  It was obvious JenniAnn's monologue had ceased being about the swans about halfway through.  He wasn't sure what to say so simply rested a hand on her shoulder.
Rose, too, made the realization.  "No one here is ever going to drive you or any of us away," she assured.  "If they try then we'll... we'll... we'll hide here!  Where it's safe.  And there are... pretzels and ginger ale and tea and cupcakes and a veggie tray and... exactly how long did you spend preparing for our showing up?"  She looked to Andrew.
Andrew welcomed the amusing distraction.  "I started after that first bolt of lightning.  I was a Boy Scout leader a few times so, you know, be prepared."
"Ah, so that's what Boy Scouts learn!  I always thought it was survival skills but turns out it's about how to be prepared for emotionally distraught females?  How quaint," JenniAnn teased, feeling lighter herself.
"I believe it's called the 'Assisting Damsels in Distress' badge.  It features yours truly on a steed, holding a cup of chai tea out to a maiden."  With a smile Andrew poured a cup of chai from a thermos and handed it to JenniAnn then handed Rose a ginger ale.
Rose paused before taking a sip, worried her laughter might cause her to choke.  "The Boy Scouts would so never really allow that to be a badge.  Besides, then us girls couldn't get it and I think I'd want to have something that featured you on a steed."
Andrew laughed.  It occurred to him then that he couldn't recall ever laughing so much during what was potentially a tornado.  "You're right.  It's not a real badge.  I think it's a little too un-PC."
"Probly.  But you'd earn it anyway," JenniAnn insisted.  She took a sip from her chai then looked back to the shirt.  "Is that all then?"
"Hmmm..."  Rose looked for a moment.  "Nope.  One left."
"Let me see if I can find it."  Andrew examined the shirt until his finger landed on a decorative green name.
"Darling Boy," Rose read.
"I can't say I really remember hearing that one."
"Oh, that's because it most often gets sighed and so can be barely audible," Rose responded.
Andrew raised an eyebrow, looking first to her then JenniAnn.
"Ya know, like 'So Andrew stopped in the Tunnels today and he was giving one of the lil ones a piggy back ride and it was so sweet.'"  JenniAnn sighed and gave her dreamiest look.  "Darling Boy..."
Rose laughed.  "Yeah, like that.  Exactly.  Or even simply.  'I miss Andrew and hope he comes back very soon... the Darling Boy.'"
Andrew was speechless.  He knew the ladies of Dyeland talked about him and the other angels with considerable frequency.  But he hadn't quite guessed that their exchanges were at times so affectionate.  He stared back at the shirt.  It was a multi-colored testament to their creativity and love for him.  The nicknames printed on it pointed to memories of their shared past, people who had passed through their lives, and people who were bound and determined to stick around for the long haul.  Andrew trusted, too, that what Rose had said was true.  Somewhere on JenniAnn's hard drive was this graphic and its creators were just waiting for a reason to alter it and add to it.  It was fluid, changing as their bonds did.  The collage of names mimicked the reality of their friendship with all it had survived and all that compromised it: the goofy, the sweet, the stark, the desperate, the beautiful, the regal, the homespun, dedication, support, gratitude, compassion, delight, playfulness, and more.  And threaded through it all was love.
"Andrew?  You okay?" Rose asked after a few moments.
Andrew nodded, at last looking up at them with a fond and appreciative smile.  "Yeah.  Yeah, I'm fine.  It's just... I'm really glad I got to see this."
"Ya know, even though we never intended for ya to see it... I'm glad, too," JenniAnn agreed.
Rose nodded in assent.  "So are you surprised?"
Andrew considered the question.  "Maybe not surprised.  Okay, a little surprised.  I mean I'm not Superman.  I never expected to be on someone's pajamas."  He chuckled then grew more serious.  "I am touched.  A lot.  So thanks.  And I'll pass that along to everyone else who took part in this."  He waved his hand over the shirt.
Rose and JenniAnn each hugged their multi-named friend, pleased that he wasn't upset by their exuberant display of affection.  After grabbing some snacks, the two women, two dogs, and the angel of death watched a movie.  The storm continued to rage above them but they did their best to ignore it, knowing God and their love for each other would get them through whatever the morning brought.
The following day nearly everyone in Dyeland gathered at the Cafe for a late breakfast.  The storm had been fierce but thankfully had not developed into a tornado.  Almost every city and island had some minor damage and so their inhabitants had gathered to write up one lengthy community-wide to-do list.  Once that was completed, they moved from place to place together.  Windows were repaired, porches swept off, statues tipped right side up, gazebo shingles replaced, and fallen branches cleared.
The group was tending to some turkey pens on Tourkia that had seen better days when Tess called for a lunch break.  They spread out blankets and shared a picnic lunch after she offered grace.
"So I hear there was some excitement in your basement during the storm, Andrew," Adam remarked to his fellow angel of death, loud enough for the entire group to hear.
Rose and JenniAnn giggled.
Andrew blushed but began to tell the group about his discovery of the top secret T-shirt brimming with nicknames for him.
Adam laughed heartily as Andrew spoke, imagining his modest friend's reaction to being told the meaning behind 28 different nicknames that had been attached to him.  He knew better than to tease him too much, though.  A rather devilish glint he'd caught in Yva's eyes while she and JenniAnn chatted privately told him that a shirt covered with "Luscious," "The One, the Only, the Original," "Tevye," "Cutie Pie," and more may come into being in the none too distant future.  But first he had one little addition he wanted made to Andrew's shirt. 
"JenniAnn?" he called once everyone had finish "awwing" over Andrew's acceptance of the T-shirt and the love implied by it.
"Yes, Luscious?"
"I'd like to add one more nickname to Andrew's shirt for the next... edition."  He beamed at Andrew who looked slightly worried.
"Sure thing.  Rose, you still got the paper?" 
Rose nodded and pulled the scrap from her pocket, pen poised.  "I do!  Go on, Adam."
"I'd like to have 'buddy' added.  Because even though I can't argue with Andrew being adorable, lovely, or darling," he cast Andrew a teasing look, "to me that's what he's always been: my buddy."
"Hear, hear!" Henry agreed clapping.
Andrew smiled warmly at two of his oldest friends.
Everyone else joined in on the clapping as Rose scribbled the addition onto her paper. 
"Thanks, Adam.  And everyone," Andrew started.  "But I've been thinking and, you know, it was really great to have proof... in a T-shirt... of how much people here care.  And I think everyone should have that.  So I was thinking after we've finished cleaning up we should all go grab a T-shirt and some permanent markers and then, I don't know, write notes to each other on them.  Like everyone writes something to Yva on hers, something they appreciate about Lady Beth on hers, etc.  What do you think?"
Like Adam's before, this suggestion was met by thunderous applause and excitement. 
That night, with all the post-storm work behind them, the Dyelanders created custom T-shirts for each other.
As everyone moved from shirt to shirt spreading goodwill and encouragement, Andrew, JenniAnn, and Rose realized how wonderfully their prayer the night before had been answered.  God had kept them all safe and enabled them to do what repair was needed together.  Through out the day they had admired the beauty of His creation both in Dyeland's environment and in each other.  While neither of them were particularly looking forward to the next severe storm, they realized that beauty, love, and the answer to a prayer can be found even amid thunder and rain.

The End


JABB 280

(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this page are from "Touched by an Angel" and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions. They are not being used to seek profit.)