"Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection,
not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time."
~~ Martin Luther

Hi all,

I hope you had a blessed Passover and Easter Sunday! 

Here at JABB, we have our own (far less exalted but still exciting) celebration on April 26th.  It's the anniversary of Andrew's promotion to angel of death!  So I wrote a short story kinda about that.  More cheap therapy for me.  ;-)

Since I know the stories aren't everyone's cup of tea, I've also written a Tax Day-themed list.  Yes, I know Tax Day was over a week ago but it didn't quite rate doing a special issue so you're getting that now.


God bless,

So... Dyeland doesn't actually have a taxation system.  They're a barter economy.  For example: Andrew mows Rose's lawn, Rose bakes him cookies.  (Or vice versa... no need to stick with traditional gender roles!)  Andrew fixes JenniAnn's drippy sink, she reorganizes his closet.  (That probly should NOT be vice versa.)  And so on.  But if Dyeland *did* have a tax code, I think Andrew would need some of his own questions and rules... 

In and Outs of the Dyeland Tax Code... If You're Andrew

1.  The number of dependents you are able to claim should equal the number of Dyeland citizens.  Cause, trust us, they all depend on you.  (But if you start to feel overwhelmed, you must tell them or prepare to face the Angsting Without Talking to Anyone Special Tax which will be used to fund your nearest and dearests' psychiatric bills.)

2.  You may not, however, count any umbrellas as dependents even if they do double as your dance partners.

3.  Any flannel shirt related expenses incurred while in Dyeland can be deducted as charitable donations since they will be "borrowed" by your mortal, female friends.

4.  All handkerchief purchases and related laundering expenses may also be deducted since your friends likely used most of those, too...

5.  An Education Tax Credit will be issued if you offer photographic proof of all education-related assignments.  Bonus Education Tax Credit will be issued upon receipt of audio or video proof of any recitation of poetry or other forms of literature in class.

6.  Please indicate any hair styles you intend to have during the coming fiscal year:
o  Short
o  Long enough for a ponytail
o  Shaggy
o  Really short
o  Other- Please specify ______________.

Facial hair:
Crazy long ZZ Top beard

Tax payer will understand that the answers to these questions afford no additional tax credit or liability but are merely asked to enable government to deal with any fall-out from follicular changes.

7.  Please list the number of hours you have acted as any of the following with Dyelanders pro bono:
______ Shrink
______ Handyman
______ Plumber
       ______ Lawnman
  ______ General voice of reason and/or affection
   ______ Tutor
       ______ Dance partner

If you filled in any of the above (and we know you did), you are entitled to a credit of 5 bazillion hugs to be paid out in increments over the course of eternity.

8.  How many tassels are on your shoes?  You owe big time for each tassel.  Blech.  But we love you, anyway!

9.  How many songs with sucky/inappropriate lyrics did you make your friends listen to?  You owe 10 hugs for each song.  And a dance to a *nice* song.

10.  How old are you?  What!?!  It was worth a try!

Now onto Promotion Day...

So here's the deal... in recent Dyeland stories, I've found myself really into "flash forwards" which offer a glimpse of the potential Dyeland of the future.  I still really like that idea but it's become somewhat painful now as Andrew will eventually age* well past his forties.  Nonetheless, I feel like I need to keep going down that path because the messages of unconditional love, compassion, and sacrifice that this particular story line was meant to illustrate seem even more important now that John's in Heaven.  So here I'm trying to ease myself back into considering the future by offering a glimpse into it but not really, at this time, getting into what Andrew will look like when it arrives. 

I feel like I might have written this even were John still with us.  But I also think some of the lines here seem very... meta.  So just a warning there. 

*For those of you who are new: Back in late 2009/early 2010, Andrew decided to age along with his human friends for myriad reasons... like one would assume Kelly aged some in "As It Is In Heaven" or Claire in "Jacob's Ladder."  However, this process isn't set to begin for a while yet.  But they all know this change will eventually happen.

So here goes...

Promotion Day

Moon glow, starlight, and several lawn torches illuminated Andrew's yard; making visible brightly colored tents circled around a campfire.  It was April 26th, Promotion Day, and due to the pleading of the Tunnel kids and the beautiful weather, Andrew's celebratory barbecue had morphed into a camp-out.  Shadow puppets in many of the tents revealed some of the children had already settled in for the night, though clearly not yet asleep.  But a handful of the little ones and many of the adults remained near the fire, listening intently to the angel of death as he completed the story that most already knew but never tired of hearing.

"And then I escorted President Lincoln Home," Andrew finished proudly. 

"Wow..."  Asher stared at the angel in awe.  "What did you talk about?"

"I just told him how impressed I was with the things he'd said and done and how honored I was to escort him Home.  That God loves him, of course," the angel responded.  He noticed then that Rose was grinning at him and tilting her head to her left shoulder repeatedly.  Looking to his left arm, Andrew saw that Shelby was no longer leaning against him simply out of affection.  She had fallen asleep.  He smiled tenderly at the six-year-old before looking back at the other children.  "Now I think it's time everyone think about going to bed," he suggested in a hushed tone.  "It's almost 11:00."

"But back home we sometimes stay up til midnight," Evan protested.

"Sometimes even later," Jessie added. 

Asher nodded vigorously.  "Sometimes until the morning!"

At that, Adam groaned and rose from a wooden bench, stretching his arms.  "Well, whatever you kids decide to do, I'm going to my tent.  There's nothing quite like falling asleep in a tent... beneath the stars... curling up in your sleeping bag... hearing the soft wind... owls."  He sighed dramatically.

The kids eyed each other, tempted by Adam's vision and silently agreeing to give up their bid for a later bedtime. 

Adam grinned slyly at the adults as the children gathered their blankets, shouted good nights, and raced off to their tents.

"Smooth move, Adam," Yva applauded with a wide smile.

"Every word of it true.  And I am headed that way.  I have a tentative at 4:56.  Need to get some shut eye first."  He looked down at Andrew who was gently picking Shelby up.  "Buddy, congratulations.  I for one have been very proud to count you among our ranks for 146 years."

Andrew smiled up at his longtime friend.  "Thanks, Adam.  You know, I've had some good role models," he added meaningfully.  When he stood, Adam hugged him, careful not to disturb the sleeping child.

The others followed suit, quietly bidding their friend good night until only Andrew, JenniAnn, their two dogs, and the girl were left.

"So... where should I carry Shelby?" Andrew asked, looking to JenniAnn for guidance.

"She and Millie staked out their tent after dinner," she whispered.  "The sky blue one.  I'll go with you and get her sleeping bag set up."

Once inside the tent, JenniAnn checked on the slumbering Millie, straightened the battery powered lamp the girls needed as a night light, and unrolled Shelby's sleeping bag.  She smiled when Fawn curled up at Millie's feet.  Lulu waited near Shelby's spot as Andrew crept in and gently set the child down.  The basset hound immediately cuddled up beside the girl and received an affectionate rub behind the ears from "her boy." 

Andrew was tucking the sleeping bag and an extra blanket around the little girl when she roused.

"Sing the song, please, Andrew," Shelby whispered groggily, gripping his hand. 

Andrew looked to JenniAnn, afraid of waking Millie. 

"Go ahead.  As a rule these kids are heavy sleepers and used to noise at night," she encouraged, not wanting to miss the chance herself to hear the angel sing.

Quietly, Andrew began to sing the lullaby which had become his signature song with the littles ones.  "'Tender shepherd, tender shepherd, let me help you count your sheep.'"

Cursing herself for being such a sap, JenniAnn swiped at a tear that was rolling down her cheek.  She continued to stare at the precious scene before her, wishing she could freeze time.

"One say your prayers and two close your eyes and three safe and happily fall asleep,'" Andrew finished.  He smiled at the little girl and kissed her hand.  "Good night, Shelby.  If you need me, I'm going to be watching the fire.  Just follow the light and you'll find me, okay?"

Shelby nodded drowsily.  "'Kay.  Night, night, Andrew.  Night, night, Psyche," she murmured, burrowing into her blankets and closing her eyes tightly.

"G'night, Shelby," JenniAnn whispered before kissing her charges' foreheads and exiting the tent.

The angel of death smiled again and silently prayed that the two girls have a peaceful night before following his friend outside.  "Walk with me," he requested, holding out his hand.

Without hesitation, JenniAnn went with Andrew back to the fire.  She took a seat on the ground, resting her back against one of the benches.  She smiled when he settled beside her.

"Something wrong, Laja?" he asked with concern, leaning down to search her face.

JenniAnn laughed.  "I'm fine.  Just a totally ridiculous, crazed sap who thinks 'Tender Shepherd' is totally worth crying over."

"Hey now, that sap has been my friend for over eleven years.  Don't talk about her like that," Andrew protested, hugging her.

"All right then.  I won't.  She's a smart girl with impeccable taste in men." 

Andrew blushed.

The woman squeezed his hand before gazing up at the stars.  "Tonight's so beautiful."



"You're being elusive.  All night you've just seemed kinda... I don't know... pensive.  And, well, weepy."

JenniAnn smirked.  "Knew I shoulda stuck with those acting classes in high school..."

Andrew drew in a deep breath, sensing she was going to keep laughing his concerns off.  But he knew she needed to talk about whatever was troubling her.  And he knew how to make her... 

The angel of death cleared his throat.  He turned to face the bench and began tapping rhythmically on it, softly so as not to wake anyone sleeping nearby.

JenniAnn craned her neck and looked curiously at the man whose rakish grin was evident even in the dim light.  "Uh oh..."  She braced herself.

"'Heathcliff!  It's me.  I'm Cathy!  I've come home now,'" Andrew sang very poorly, setting aside his usual talent.  He was pleased to discover he sounded even worse in hushed form.  "'Let me in your winnnndoowwww!"

JenniAnn began to laugh.  "All right, all right.  Do you not find it rather ironic that the song you've latched onto to keep me from going off the deep end is about two of the most demented people in all of English literature?"

The angel grinned.  "Cautionary tale.  And it works, doesn't it?"  He looked intently at her.  "Well, doesn't it?"

The woman sighed.  "As always."

The bravado fell away from Andrew.  He turned back to face JenniAnn and looked at her with all the concern and love he felt.

"I dunno..." she began.  "I mean I'm super psyched that it's such a special day for you.  I love that Promotion Day gives us yet another reason to celebrate the awesomeness that is you.  And fondly imagine your huge sideburns."  JenniAnn's face lit up when she realized Andrew's was red and it had little to do with the nearby flames.  But when he looked at her with that gaze that always assured her nothing she said could drive him away, she sobered.  "I just... I got to thinking... what if you got promoted again?  I mean you're such a wonderful angel of death and if we all," she gestured to the tents, "see that then surely God does.  And how... I mean how would we know if He intended to give you another role?  Maybe... maybe one that would... would..."

Andrew tilted his head nearer to her, straining to hear as her voice got quieter.

"I mean some angels don't leave... well, they don't leave Heaven much," JenniAnn finally choked out.  "Like Ronald.  He didn't for a long time.  And while I don't see the Father sending you to Records, it's still possible that... that..."

"Laja..."  Andrew embraced her again, not letting go as quickly as before.

"I would be happy for you.  I really would.  You'd deserve that.  But for us..."  She broke down and began to cry.

The angel rested his chin on her hair and stared out at the stars.  It was difficult to assure someone you'd never leave them when they knew all too well that sometimes people go away without wanting or choosing it.  But Andrew accepted the task.  He knew he would spend their whole lives trying to convince them if necessary.  He prayed for guidance then pulled away so JenniAnn could see his face and know his sincerity.

"Laja, I won't lie to you," the angel of death began.  "That can and does happen.  But I don't... I just can't imagine the Father doing that with me.  Besides, I think you already threatened to sue me for reckless abandonment of a human if I left.  And you were going to go after me for... what did you call it?  Angelimony?"  He lowered his voice and drew back just enough to give his friend a conspiratorial look.  "We don't really like that sort of publicity.  Neither does He."

Despite her tears, JenniAnn began to laugh.

Seizing the moment, Andrew continued his bid to console her.  "I have never heard of the Father awarding promotions that His angels didn't want.  And, Laja, I wouldn't want that.  Not now.  Not for a long time."


"Really.  Sure, it might be cool to, you know, be in charge of throwing the bowling balls when the Father wants it to thunder..."

JenniAnn gasped.  "I... I thought that was just something we tell kids so they don't worry during storms!"

Andrew chuckled.  "It is.  But I couldn't think of a better, truer example because I've never... never... thought about what I might do if I wasn't coming to Earth and here any more.  So just... don't you think about it, either.  Okay?"

The woman had begun to smile at his accented "nev-uhs."  "Okay.  I would... I really would be happy for you, though," she vowed, peering up at Andrew.  "So long as you were."

"I know, Laja.  But let's just focus on being happy *now.*  Right here.  And... I think with company."  Andrew's face lit up with a smile when he turned around to see a handful of their friends creeping back to the fire.

"Hey, you guys.  I thought you must still be up.  We heard talking," Rose explained. 

JenniAnn's eyes grew wide and her cheeks crimson.

"Nothing anyone could understand," Lady Beth quickly clarified. 

"And I decided a little time spent under the stars with friends was worth some lost sleep.  Is it all right if we rejoin you?" Adam checked.

"Of course!" Andrew accepted as JenniAnn nodded eagerly. 

Soon a little circle composed of Andrew, JenniAnn, Rose, Lady Beth, C.J., Yva, and Adam formed.  In hushed tones, mindful of the children, they reminisced and made plans for the summer to come.

A lone figure stood near Andrew's willow tree a few yards off, unseen by the friends laughing and talking by the fire.  Had He allowed them to see Him, each would have immediately recognized their Creator and Father.  But in that moment it was enough that they feel His presence as they always did: in the beauty of creation, in the love of each other, and in their own hearts... hearts He had willed and loved into existence.  God knew the burdens and worries they carried.  He knew the future that JenniAnn had fretted over only moments before.  His loving gaze settled on the blonde angel of death as He thought of that day to come.

Yes, there would be another promotion.  Already He could see the angel making his way, alone, through the Fields of Gold he loved so well.  Then Andrew would look up and find the valley brimming with people.  For a moment, his eye brows would arch... as if he didn't quite believe what he saw.  Then he would see Him.  All cares, worries, and griefs would fall away from the angel of death.  He would run, smiling, towards the crowd.  God knew the words He would speak to His beloved child.  The Creator laughed as He saw the joy that would be writ across Andrew's face and his friends'.  Never again would any of them fret over being parted from their beloved Andrew.

In the present, the little group remained near the fire.  Andrew was fired up and pitching his latest construction scheme... a greenhouse with which to teach the children about botany and agriculture.  Adam readily agreed for the sheer challenge and fun of it.  The girls assented for one major reason of their own: tool belt usage.  

The Ancient of Days continued to look on as the angels blushed and the women laughed good-naturedly.  He smiled at His creation.  His still, small voice assured them that, no matter what came, all would be well and He was pleased by the bonds of friendship and love that had grown among them.  They were the bonds that would carry over into Eternity where they would dwell forever with all those they loved and with Him who loved them so.

The End

(The song "Wuthering Heights," the lyrics of which Andrew sings, was composed by Kate Bush.  The story goes that on the night Adam created "Spin the Bottle-Dyeland Style" [in which you have to sing a randomly chosen duet with whomever the bottle points to], Andrew and JenniAnn wound up with "Wuthering Heights."  They completely butchered it since she can't sing and he can't hit the off-the-wall high notes... understandably.  So now whenever she gets darkly broody, he sings it to make her laugh and ease the tension.  Plus, I just like the song and book.)


JABB 327

(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.)