Psalm 144.7

The day a category 5 Super Typhoon was threatening to hit landfall directly on Dededo, Guam where my daughter lived, I was preparing for my third night as a new hire night shift grocery store stocker. It was 10 pm and I was just getting ready to clock in to work on my cell phone. I was in the truck in the parking lot of the big chain store with my employee vest on and name tag. I did one last search on my phone.

I Googled “Guam news” and sorted it by latest date media posts. In the parking lot in the dark, I could see the Vermont mountains in the distance and everything was calm and peaceful here. But in the videos of Guam, I could see palm trees being whipped around in the wind and forced over to almost bending halfway from the pressure. There were a few videos of some crashing waves on the shoreline and one video of some items falling off a building from the wind. The news outlets were saying that the Super Typhoon would be the worst storm in 20 years to hit the tiny island of 150,000 people in the Pacific. They were comparing it to a storm called Typhoon Karen that in the 1960s had devastated the island and destroyed many, many buildings. Fortunately, they said that the buildings had been reconstructed over the years using concrete and would be able to weather this storm better but that there were still major concerns with potential storm surges from the ocean, landslides, flash flooding, and the winds would be expected to be above 140 miles per hour. All residents were advised to stay inside during the storm and shelter in place.

My daughter was living in a one story home in northern Guam in Dededo close to the military base. Her father was former military and lived there and she had come to live there for two years with him, his wife, and their newborn son. The last messages I got from my ex-husband were that the storm was coming soon and that they might lose power and not be able to communicate with us for a while. I texted my daughter and ex-husband back to be safe and that we would be thinking of them and praying for them.

I clocked in to work and crossed the dark parking lot to enter the store. A truck had come that night which meant there were more pallets in my area than usual. I had 7 pallets piled high to unload by 6 am when the store opened for customers and I needed to make sure my area was cleared of all cardboard and pallets after stocking the shelves.

I was tired.

I was transitioning from day to night shift. In addition, my daughter was facing a Super Typhoon in the Pacific. My husband had a medical emergency earlier that week that nearly sent us to the ER. And to top it all off, that night, I had started my period.

It was gonna be a rough night.

From 10 pm to 12 midnight, our department worked fast unloading 27 bins of product onto the shelves. At midnight, I stepped outside for my 15 minute break and headed for the truck. I started up the heat in the truck and dug in my employee vest pocket for my cell phone in the dark. I grabbed a water bottle and drank it while I typed in another Google search and a Facebook search and an YouTube search. I was looking for anything about Guam and the latest videos and stories or news articles I could find.

It didn’t look good. It did not look good at all. I was beginning to get scared.

The winds were picking up. There were a few articles sporadically here and there but they pretty much said the same things that the storm was intense and highly dangerous. The people of Guam were right in its path and there could be flooding, landslides, loss of power and water, and potential mass destruction to the island if the category 5 storm went right over the top of the tiny island.

I checked the storm radar and you could see the storm all in red and yellow with the eye in the center and it was massive. It was still a few hours away from hitting the island.

From midnight to 2 am when I would take lunch for an hour, the work pace at the store was pretty fast. We had to clear at least 2 pallets or maybe even 3 hopefully before 2 am. We were stocking vitamins and shampoos and all sorts of pill bottles. We were ripping open lots of cardboard and putting things on shelves or top stock or sending it back to the spare pallet for overstock to be binned in the back warehouse by 6 am.

As a new hire, my feet were sore. My legs were sore. My lower back was sore and my fingers hurt from pulling apart boxes. I had to get conditioned to the work and was just sore all over by the third day. But I didn’t grumble much or speak of it and just tried to keep a fast pace to prove my worth.

At 2 am, I was out in the truck again for an hour lunch. I dug in my lunchbag and grabbed a soda and popped it open and a twinkie. I then checked online again.

More videos, not alot, just a few that people had taken from hotels in Guam behind windows where you could see the wind was crazy hard on the trees and some trees were breaking. There were a few other videos of things flying off roofs or things breaking off buildings. There was intense heavy rain and the winds were up to 100 mph.

They said the eye of the storm was almost upon them.

It was then that I started to pray. There wasn’t much else I could do as a mother stuck on the other side of the world worried about my kid in the storm on the tiny island. There were a few YouTube videos where I could see comments where folks said that there was some inland flooding too and that some water had gotten into barracks and such and first floors of homes. I knew my kid was in a one story home.

From 3 am to about 7 am that morning, while I was busy busting open boxes and going from aisle to aisle putting items neatly on shelves, in my head I was saying prayers and asking God to put a hedge of protection around the island like he did Job. I prayed and prayed and prayed a lot. There was nothing else I could do. Their power was out now and the storm was upon them in those hours and all I could do was pray.

All I kept saying in my head was protect Guam, God. Please protect Guam. Put a hedge of protection around the island.

By 7 am, I had done my best at work as a new hire. I still had 1/2 pallet that was undone. I tried hard but couldn’t get it all done. We cleaned up our boxes and mess and pallets and made everything look presentable for the customers and clocked out that morning.

By 7:05 am I was crossing the parking lot at daybreak with my cell phone in hand looking up Guam. When I got in the truck, pretty exhausted, I looked up more news about Guam and what I saw was pretty amazing. I started driving home in the pickup truck and started crying on my way home, worried about my kid overseas and the storm and feeling like there was nothing I could do to help her. And I kept praying to God and asking for his help over and over again with tears streaming down my face and ruining all my makeup.

My husband was up when I got home and he too was watching The Weather Channel for news of Guam. Despite being tired, we stayed in the living room for hours watching anything we could on the news about the tiny island and Super Typhoon Mawar.

Turns out, sometime in the night while I was stocking shelves, sometime after 2 am my time, the storm had started to turn. It turned just north of the island and the eye of the storm passed just north of the island by 15 miles. It missed the island barely and went between Guam and the Marianas.

On top of that, just before it hit the island, the storm miraculously downgraded from a category 5 to a category 4 and no one knew why. The storm was still intense though and videos were coming in here and there of the whipping winds breaking the trees, the lightning in the dark in the storm, of the massive rain pelting the island and more. The power and water were out in Guam and the last text I had gotten from my ex-husband was at 3 am to say that the power was intermittent and that they were alright. After that, there was nothing more from them.

Around 9 am or maybe 10 am, I had screen shot this photo of the path of the storm, Super Typhoon Mawar. I don’t know what website I had found it on. I must have searched at least 200 or more during the night. But here it is.

As you can see from the picture, the path of the storm Mawar had veered hours before just to the right of the island rather than going directly over it. It had also downgraded in intensity before going past the island. No one could explain why.

I looked at the numbers in this screen shot. I looked specifically at the numbers that were associated with the exact position of the storm. Position 13.8 N and 144.7 E. And that’s when my jaw fell open a bit.

The number 13 is usually associated with a bad omen or death or the devil according to the Bible or to Tarot. In Book of Revelations, 13 corresponds to the “beast of the sea.” But the number often associated with Jesus Christ in the Bible is 8. In Matthew 8 specifically Jesus calms the storm. In Book of Revelations, 144 is a special number corresponding to the number of the saved or chosen ones. Meanwhile the number often associated with the Holy Spirit in the Bible is 7. Furthermore, I typed in 144 and 7 in my Google search and put Bible with it.

For the past month or two, I had been doing a Billy Graham Words of Wisdom Psalm and Proverbs reading plan and writing about it online daily. Each day I would read 5 Psalms and 1 Proverb and write thoughts on it and I would ask the Holy Spirit to guide me on what to say.

When I typed in 144 and 7 and Bible in Google, this is the verse that popped up immediately, I screen shot it at that moment.

Tears started to well up in my eyes and I began to cry. Just hours before, a flash flood warning had been issued specifically for Dededo and there was concern about storm surge. My daughter was with her baby brother, father, and mother in a one story home in Dededo.

I honestly don’t think this was just coincidence. I think it was the Holy Spirit’s way of letting me know my daughter was going to be okay…..that she would have nothing to fear from the winds and rains and the potential flash flooding and storm surge that had been expected for the island.

I finally got exhausted and went to sleep and slept for a good 6 hours. We couldn’t get any communication from Guam. The power was down. Later on, I finally heard from my daughter one small text:

They are ok. The whole family is ok.

There is a lot of damage to trees on Guam and some buildings that need repair but the island is ok and I am grateful for that. My ex-husband took his family to his office where they have a generator for power and electricity. In a while, utilities and water will be back up and running for the island.

It was a close call. I don’t know what caused the storm to turn or the intensity to downgrade but I thank God for it.

God is good, all the time.


Girl 1 and Girl 2

I wrote another short story. This one came to me as I was working at the factory. I thought it over in my head for a few hours and then came home to write it out. It is a fictional story of two little girls and how their lives change as they grow up and face challenges. I really like the ending as each one comes to terms with their past and learns to heal and love. I wish I could turn it into a script but I am still new to writing and need to learn how. Here is the story. I’d love to hear your feedback. Thanks.

Girl 1 and Girl 2

J. Speer

“Young girls are like wild horses running freely in the wind, full of spirit and vitality. 

Never let anyone break that spirit.”  – Anonymous

It is the first day of Kindergarten.  Girl 1 walks hand in hand with her mother to the little Catholic school.  You can tell her mother and her are close.  Her mother is a stay-at-home mom who always watches Girl 1. 

Girl 2 is walking hand in hand with her mother to the little Catholic school.  Her mother is in a rush so they hurry to get inside so her mom can get to work.  Girl 2 has always gone to daycare and as a result is quite sociable. 

You can tell that Mom 1 has more money than Mom 2 by the cars they drive, the way they dress, and Mom 2 is much more hurried. 

Girl 1 and Girl 2 are left at the Kindergarten that day.  Mom 1 hugs Girl 1 tightly and sheds some tears as she leaves.  Girl 2’s hair is tousled by her mom as her mom rushes out into the hallway.  “See ya later, kiddo,” she says. 

Girl 1 is very sad and alone and starts to cry.  She wants her mother.  She ends up hiding under a table for some time.  She won’t play with the other kids.  Girl 2 is playing with the other kids.  She is playing with toy horses and she stops to look at Girl 1 hiding under the table and crying.  She looks down at the horses in her hands and gets up to walk over to the table.  She looks under the table at Girl 1.  They look at each other.  Girl 2 offers Girl 1 her horsey to play with.  Girl 1 stops crying and eventually follows Girl 2 out to play with the other kids.  Girl 2 is protective of Girl 1.  They become best friends. 

Years go by. 

As little children, they go to the church and sing “Jesus loves me.”  They become fast friends and do everything together.  They read books together.  Girl 1 loves books.  Girl 2 still loves horses.   

More years go by. 

They stand side by side inseparable.  They have first communion in pretty white dresses.  Girl 1 is doted on and has a lovely expensive dress with a celebration afterwards.  Girl 2 wears a hand-me-down and gets a card with no money. 

Years go by.

Girl 1 lives in a peaceful loving home with a family and two loving parents. 

Girl 2 lives in a rental.  The situation at home is not that great at times.  Her Dad drinks a lot and is angry.  Her parents fight.  Her mother and father work low income jobs.  Girl 2’s mother leaves her father.  Her mom gets a divorce and Girl 2 stays with the dad who makes more money than the mom.  One night her father gets drunk and abuses her.  She is ashamed and keeps this a secret. 

Girl 1 boards the bus to go to school.  She usually sits with Girl 2 and a few other friends.  She notices one day that Girl 2 is getting moody and changing.  Girl 2 suddenly lashes out at Girl 1.  She bullies Girl 1 unexpectedly and Girl 1 doesn’t know how to react.  Girl 2 keeps bullying Girl 1 for a week or two on the school bus before school.  She makes fun of Girl 1 to the others.  Girl 1 is ashamed and keeps this a secret. 

Girl 2 drives Girl 1 away because she doesn’t want her to know what is happening at home.  No one protects Girl 2 at home.  Girl 1 and Girl 2 who were best friends before, break up their relationship.  Girl 1 throws a slumber party and does not invite Girl 2 because of her meanness.  Girl 2 gets very upset.  Girl 1 enjoys the party but inside she wishes Girl 2 could be there and they could be friends again.  Eventually, the two girls grow apart and stop talking to each other. 

Years go by.  As each year progresses, we see Girl 1 blossoming and flourishing more and more into a beautiful young woman.  In Junior high, she still loves to read. 

We also see Girl 2 struggling with terrible hardships at home.  She gets into bad company, getting involved with drugs and such, struggling with apathy towards grades, dying her hair dark and she wears dark clothes.  One day, in junior high, she tears down the horse posters in her room.  She hates horses now. 

Years go by.

On homecoming night, Girl 2 stands with her friends on the sidelines near the metal stands.  They make fun of Girl 1 as she is crowned Homecoming Queen.  Girl 1 seems to have the perfect life and Girl 2 hates her guts at that moment.  Girl 1 is oblivious and naïve to these feelings.  Girl 1 is with her other friends now and celebrating. 

Fast forward. 

Girl 1 gets scholarships to go to a 4-year college.  She earns high marks on a degree and marries successfully.  The marriage is a big family event.  She has a few babies and becomes a stay-at-home mom with a successful hardworking husband. 

Girl 2 finishes high school.  She gathers up a few belongings in her clunker of a car, and drives out to California.  She crashes with a few friends of friends, gets into heavier drug stuff, but she also has a talent for writing so she begins to pen stories and scripts and submits them to studios. 

One of her stories is about a supervillain girl clique in high school and their mean girl homecoming queen.  It is in fact, a vivid mockery or satirical narrative and depiction of Girl 1.  This story becomes an international hit and she pens a TV series about it.  She makes some hit movies about the evil homecoming queen. 

Girl 2 is flourishing and blossoming now.  She becomes rich and successful.  She marries another woman.  Girl 2 does cocaine and takes sleeping pills.   She has a blissful life in the fast lane.  She and her wife have 2 children and they travel to Europe and the Caribbean on family vacations.  She seems happy now.  But she still has bad dreams at night about her childhood and she must take sleeping pills.    

One day while at home with her babies, Girl 1 reads a newspaper article and sees a picture of Girl 2.  She’s happy for Girl 2’s success.  She decides to watch the TV series while babysitting her children.  As she watches, she realizes that the homecoming queen character is based off her.  She becomes intensely horrified by the false depiction and narrative.  She is in a state of shock. 

She leaves the babies that night with her husband and goes to a movie theater alone and watches the popular high school movie in the dark.  She listens to the laughter and mean things that people in the theater and the community say about the character from the show.  She reads many news articles online about what people think of the character that portrays her.  She reads all sorts of hurtful stuff and online forum messages calling the girl all sorts of mean and horrible names.  She begins to feel very sad.  She goes into a deep depression and has trouble focusing on her babies.  They label her with postpartum.

As Girl 1 struggles more and more with mental illness, things start to fall apart for Girl 1.  As the years go by, we see Girl 1’s life unravels into divorce, and suicide attempts, and mental hospital stays, and meth use.  She has abusive boyfriends who mistreat her.  She loses her reputation, jobs, friends, and family.  She ends up living in a rundown trailer park working a deadbeat job and addicted to meth. 

Things go much better for Girl 2 who rides the wave of success and awards and accolades.    

One day, Girl 1 is beaten severely at the trailer park.  She is pushed into a bookcase of her old books and her Virgin Mary statue falls and breaks on the floor beside her crumpled-up body.  Her dealer says she owes him some money.  She tells him she knows where to get money.  She wipes blood from her nose and lip.  She sees the broken statue of Mary beside the old copy of the Count of Monte Cristo.  No one protects her anymore.   

That night Girl 1 watches a documentary about the life of Girl 2 and she researches Girl 2 online.  She stays up into the late hours reading everything she can about Girl 2.  She now hates Girl 2 with a passion.

She steals a gun from her neighbor and drives her beat up car to California.  In the car, the copy of the The Count of Monte Cristo is tossed in the passenger seat.  On the way, she stays at rundown cheap motels.  At one, Girl 1 looks at herself in the mirror.  She proceeds to cut her hair short herself with scissors and dyes it black.  When she reaches L.A., she learns where Girl 2 lives. 

She lives on the streets for a while as she studies Girl 2.  Girl 2 doesn’t recognize her. 

One night as it is raining hard, she sits outside the gates of Girl 2’s house.  She has a blanket and a hoodie pulled up.  She looks like a homeless person.  She waits with the loaded gun under the blanket and the copy of The Count of Monte Cristo in her pocket.  It is raining hard.

Girl 2 arrives home in the rain and sees the slumped over figure of the homeless stranger.  She stops, gets out of her car in the rain, and walks towards the stranger.  When she gets close, she reaches in her wallet for some bills and offers a hand to the stranger.  She waits in the rain for the stranger to accept.  It is raining hard now and difficult to see. 

Girl 1 sees Girl 2 offer her hand.  She stares coldly for a moment and there’s a flashback moment to the first time the two girls met.  Girl 1 remembers that moment hiding under the table and seeing Girl 2 offer her hand.  This throws Girl 1 off a bit.  She is not quite sure in that moment what to do.      

But she doesn’t accept the money or the hand.  Instead she clicks the safety off her gun.  Even in the rain, Girl 2 can hear the sound.  She watches the stranger.  The stranger watches her.  The stranger stands up.  The blanket drops exposing the gun and she lowers her hood.  It takes a while but Girl 2 finally realizes who Girl 1 is. 

Girl 1 says, “Remember me?” 

Girl 2 says, “I knew you would come.” 

Girl 1 says, “Why…why did you do it?”

Girl 2 says nothing at first.  Then says, “It was my father.”  There is a long pause.

Girl 2 continues, “He abused me.  You were my friend.  You should have known.” 

Girl 1 says, “Na, na…. you pushed me away.  How could I know?” 

Girl 2 says, “You should have asked.  You were my friend.  You weren’t there for me.  Not like I was for you.”

 Girl 1 says, “I didn’t know.  How could I know?  And so, you ruined my life.” 

Girl 2 says, “You were supposed to protect me like I protected you.  You abandoned me.” 

Girl 1 replies, “And what about you?  I lost everything.  Do you have any idea at all what it is like to be villainized and profited on for the entire world to mock and hate?  You slandered me.  You destroyed me…for years.  What you did is unforgiveable.”  Girl 1 lifts the gun but can’t pull the trigger.  Moments pass in the heavy rain. 

Girl 1 says, “I have PTSD now.” 

Girl 2 says, “Do you think you’re the only one broken?” 

Girl 1 tries again to shoot.  She can’t do it.  She lowers the gun, brushes past Girl 2 in the rain and walks away as Girl 2 watches her go. 

Girl 1 heads down the streets.  She throws the gun in a gutter and continues walking in the heavy rain.  She puts her hood up and walks and walks and walks in the rain while she cries.

Girl 2 goes inside her house and stares out the windows for a while.  Her wife welcomes her home.  Her kids are playing in another room.  She takes the sleeping pills off her bedside stand and washes all of them down the sink.

Girl 1 is lost in the rains.  She sees a minority church across the street somewhere in L.A.  She’s soaked in the rains coming down.  It’s getting dark and she sees the Virgin Mary statue out front.  She crosses the street and looks at it. 

She turns to go up the steps into the church.  The worn-out copy of The Count of Monte Cristo falls out of her pocket but she doesn’t notice.  She goes up the steps and opens the door to step inside.

It is warm inside and she stands huddled in her dark hoodie in the back of the church.  There are votive candles lit and pews ahead and a crucifix.  A Latin minister is instructing a small group in Bible study.  They turn to watch her cautiously.  The way she is acting is strange.  She hovers in the entrance with her face concealed by the hoodie.  Due to the church shootings and such across the nation and in the news, the minister and his bible study group eye her with concern. 

The minister hesitates and then he invites the stranger in to be with them.  She hesitates too, considers going back outside, and then turns to enter the church.  She keeps her hood up and her eyes downcast because she has been crying.  The others note her appearance.  She looks a bit unstable.    

The minister continues cautiously.  They are talking about the moment when Joseph reunites with his brothers in Egypt.  She sits down in a pew some distance from one of the listeners, a black man who watches her at first with caution.  She lowers her hoodie and makes brief eye contact with him.  He can see she’s been crying.  He smiles sadly and compassionately at her and hands her a bible.  She looks down at the cover with tears welled up in her eyes. 

The minister asks the others why Joseph forgives his brothers after all that happened, all the suffering.  He says it is because he sees a bigger picture, a Providence to being thrown in the pit with snakes and scorpions, sold into slavery, placed in prison for years, manipulated, mistreated, and falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife.  Joseph knows too that what was meant for his harm would eventually turn to good.  And Joseph knows that unforgiveness is like poison to the soul.  It will hurt him so Joseph must learn to let go.  The minister goes on to talk about learning to forgive others even when you never get the apology.  He explains that leaving resent and anger pent up inside of you is toxic and it is important to release it.    

The floodgates of her emotions finally open up.  Girl 1 cries and cries and cries in front of the minister and the others.  The man beside her in the pew sits closer and he very slowly reaches out to place his hand on her shoulder. 

They ask her if she’s been saved and, there in the church, she accepts Jesus as her personal savior as the minister and the man in the pew and the others help her that night. 

Fast forward to a few days later. 

Girl 2 calls her agent and says she’ll no longer write episodes for the popular TV series.  She starts meditation and goes to a counselor to discuss her past.  In the counselor’s office, she finally talks about her father and she cries and cries and cries.  She finally lets go of the anger and resentment.    

Later that day, she sits at home with her laptop with her family and she begins writing a new TV series about girls at a horse ranch.  She bases it off her own 2 young girls.  The TV series becomes successful yet not as successful as the high school drama.  But still, it makes her happy to write this story instead. 

Fast forward some more to the future. 

Girl 1 is in a car with the man from the pew earlier.  They are looking at an old abandoned lighthouse on an island off the coast of North Carolina.  There are green dunes all around. 

There are children in the back seat.  Girl 1 looks healthy again and much happier.  They tell the older children to wait in the car.  She takes the baby girl in the back seat out of her car seat and holds her.  She plays with the beautiful baby girl for a little bit and kisses the baby’s forehead.      

Her husband, the man from the pew, also gets out of the car.  She holds the baby on her hip as she and the man walk together over to the building. 

“It will need some work,” she says.  Earlier, she had picked this island online because of the wild horses roaming nearby.  She watches them off in the distance amid the green dunes.  The horses are beautiful.  The whole scenery is breathtaking.      

He says, “It’ll be a good spot for us to start the ministry.”  They walk to the lighthouse together holding hands. 

Fast forward a few years. 

The lighthouse is remodeled and there is a church beside it with a large church gathering out front.  It is a church picnic.  There are many people laughing at picnic tables with friends.  They are sharing a potluck meal together and BBQing and having fun.  Children are running back and forth, playing.  The wild horses can be seen in the distance.  There is a big wooden cross in front of the lighthouse. 

Girl 1 is with her husband, the minister, when she notices her daughter Mara playing with her friend Karissa on a blanket in the green grass.  They are fighting over toy horses.  She walks over to them.  The cross and lighthouse are in the background. 

The two little girls are fighting with each other.  She squats down beside them. 

“Mara, what’s the problem?  Why are you fighting?”

Mara says, “She took my horse.  That’s my horse.”  The two little girls begin to tug back and forth on the toy horse. 

“Karissa, is Mara your best friend?”  Girl 1 asks.

“Yes,” says Karissa and the little girl stops tugging.

“Mara, is Karissa your best friend?” Girl 1 asks again.

Mara nods and also stops tugging.    

“Mara, what do we do with best friends?”

“We protect them,” says Mara.

“Mara, what are the most important commandments?”

“Love,” says Mara.  She hands the horse over to Karissa. 

“Take turns, you two.”  She hugs them both and they go back to playing.  She stands up and looks at the wild horses.  The horses are running free spirited and beautiful in the distance before the setting sun.  She looks at the church, at the lighthouse, and the church sign named Providence.  And she smiles.