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"on wings of eagles"


Chapter 1
on wings of eagles

By flylikeaneagle

CHAPTER ONE - MAXI'S ASSIGNMENT


LOGLINE -

New at journalism, publisher Jenna Jackson assigns Maxi McGee to an undercover writing assignment exposing Denver's gentrification growth pains and street people's stories for her Colorado Lifestyle Magazine. Jenna tells Maxi to connect with Pastor Sam, the piano man, and chef Linda's The Father's House ministry to meet people. Bumping into Phoenix, a hungry and homeless veteran, she finds a way she can be a voice for hope.

QUESTION -

How can Maxi be a voice of hope for the homeless? What is Maxi and Phoenix searching for that will connect, heal their hearts, and forever bond their lives together despite the social differences, that can tear them apart?



CHAPTER ONE, SCENE ONE - MAXI'S ASSIGNMENT

Maxi McGee stared at the vivid colors of the sunset from her penthouse windows. Bright hues of reds, oranges, and blues burst through the clouds like watercolors covering the Denver horizon. She shot several photos of the sunset for her personal collection with her Canon digital camera.

Maxi's cell phone vibrated. Jenna texted her a message.

"You can be a voice for the Denver homeless by writing your personal memoir for my summer issue of Colorado Lifestyle Magazine."

"But how, Jenna?" Maxi texted back staring at the tree wrapped Italian lights on the popular 16th street shopping and the downtown Denver restaurant center.

Jenna replied, "look for Sam the piano man and Linda. I interviewed chef Linda at her LoDo restaurant. She volunteers for Sam on weekends. Be a voice of hope for the people and write your memoir. Share your journal notes and photos with me. I'll help you organize your story."


"Where do I meet these people?" Maxi looked at the people in colorful clothes walking past her condo.

"You will hear the music Pastor Sam plays on an outdoor painted piano. Listen to people and ask questions. Everyone has a story to share. Denver is going through a major gentrification phase. Five Points, LoDo, RiNo, and SunValley are being updated. The locals who have lived in the areas for generations are wearing tees with the 'My Barrio' is not for sale. The developers are buying up properties and flipping them. The outsiders cause the prices to rise."

"When do I start?" Maxi sat on her black leather love seat in her living room by the floor to ceiling stone fireplace.

She placed her Native American thunderbird pillow in her lap. Veronica, her mother, decorated her penthouse.

"You start later tonight. Your swimming stories got great reviews when you won state of Colorado competition. I believe you can show your readers hope in this growth pain."


Maxi breathed in the lavender scents that filled the air. She grabbed her journal, a pack of new pens, and put them inside her black canvas backpack.


"Thanks, Jenna, for the connections. I'm not good at meeting strangers." Maxi twirled her dark brown hair with her left hand.

Maxi walked into her bedroom. She smiled at her bedroom photography canvas of herself and her swim team. They won State and the Southwest competitions last year. She looked at her family photo on her nightstand, then blew her parents a kiss. They always had so much fun skiing in Aspen, camping in Boulder, and sightseeing in Colorado. She wiped her tears running down her face. It's hard being an adult with a new career, she thought. She prayed out loud for safety using Psalm 91.

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence."

Maxi took a deep breath. She looked at her clothes, organized and hung white to dark in her closet. She chose several worn leggings, tees, and her mothers hand me down purple cardigan sweater and stuffed them inside her backpack. Maxi meditated on scripture to calm her nerves. She walked over to her desk by the window.

"He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler."

Maxi stretched her arms outward like eagles flying and stretched her back muscles.

She sat down at her desk and opened her laptop. Maxi read an article about street people in Denver. It stated that the city didn't have enough shelters for the street people, so many lived in tents year-round. Denver set up the Dreammakers committee to provide solutions. One goal was to help people during the city's gentrification process with community centers.


Maxi typed and sent her parents an email.

" Hi, Mom and Dad,

Jenna Jackson assigned me to write a personal memoir for her

Colorado Lifestyle magazine's summer issue.

I'll keep in touch with you.

Love and blessings, Maxi."



Maxi spoke out loud, "Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place-- the Most High, who is my refuge-- no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. "


Maxi held her study Bible with dog-eared corners. "Jesus, you know the plans for me as you lead me to the ones that need your hope." Maxi prayed, "Father, thank you for sending your angels to protect me as I meet Sam and the hurting street people."

Denver's nightlights sparkled outside her windows. Maxi added ones, tens and twenties inside her fanny pack. She flung her backpack over her denim jacket. Texting Jenna. "I'm headed for the streets." She locked her door, then took the elevator down to the street level. Maxi took a deep breath and stepped outside.



Chapter One - Maxi's assignment

Scene Two - Denver streetlife

Jenna's words floated around Maxi's head as she walked, "use your photojournalist skills." Maxi saw crowds of people eating together outdoors. Lights sparkled on the wrapped trees, freshly planted pansies, and geraniums filled the air with cedar mulch.

"Listen and ask questions. Everyone has a story to share." Maxi pondered Jenna's text. She followed the sounds of laughter and people singing in the distance to a piano man. "Be a voice, be a voice..." Maxi read Jenna's text.

Maxi stopped by a streetlight and took photos of the people surrounding the piano man as he played and sang. She heard the laughter and music fill the 16th Street of Downtown Denver. People called out song titles as a piano man played the songs. Maxi guessed he was in his thirties, wore a chambray long sleeve shirt with the sleeves rolled up, faded blue jeans, and chocolate brown sandals. His dark wavy hair, brown eyes, and a charming smile caught Maxi's attention. She leaned on a streetlight. The piano man's hands moved along the keyboards of the old stand up, black and aqua painted piano. He surprised everyone by playing the keys with his right foot.

Someone called out, "Annie's Song, Sam."

Without missing a beat, Sam played quickly on the black and white keys and sang, His audience sang with Sam and clapped their hands.

"You fill up my senses, like a night in a forest

Like the mountains in springtime, like a walk in the rain

Like a storm in the desert, like a sleepy blue ocean

You fill up my senses, come fill me again."


Maxi texted notes on her cell phone. She listened to the crowd cheering and clapping.

Sam continued playing John Denver's song on the piano --

"Come let me love you, let me give my life to you

Let me drown in your laughter, let me die in your arms..."


Maxi breathed in. "When will I find my love, Jesus?"

Maxi saw people circle around Sam. She watched Sam's hands as he banged on the black and white keys.

Sam smiled with zeal as he looked at the crowd and played without sheet music. His hands were at home on the old grand piano. Pastor Sam shocked everyone as he lifted up his right foot and stomped the piano without missing a beat. Laughter and cheers filled the atmosphere. People call out more songs for Sam to play. Maxi shot photos with her cell phone.

The piano man stood up with an enormous smile. "Thank you for joining us. I'm Pastor Sam and I'm honored to play for you every Saturday night right here on this old painted piano. If you feel led, please donate money to my music ministry." he said. "You'll see the tables of free food, Bibles, and a flyer for a place to stay at our Father's House. Come and see, it's all free. Our ministry outreach is to provide food, jobs, and shelter. Everyone is welcome to join us just as you are. We are all family here."

"Please play the song I danced in the morning," a teenager shouted out. "My Mom sang this song to me growing up."

Sam sat down to play and closed his eyes. His Heavenly music flowed. The people clapped their hands and sang along.

" I come to the garden alone,

While the dew is still on the roses,

And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,

The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,

And He tells me I am His own...."


Maxi wrote notes on her cell phone for her magazine assignment. She knew that her best stories started as the action unfolded. Maxi leaned on a street light pole as she texted a note to Jenna.

Colorado Life Magazine Nightlife notes

by Maxi McGee

"I searched for someone to help as I walked the streets of Denver. Pastor Sam's music drew me into his circle as he led people to sing along. His ministry reached out to the community with free food. He discovered a way to stir hope and make a difference for the people. Sam connected the crowd with his enormous smile and warmth. People called out their favorite songs. He knew all the tunes without sheet music. The crowds clapped their hands to his piano music and sang along. Sam told us that he arrived every Saturday evening and entertained the crowds. People threw coins and bills into his hat. The community supported Pastor Sam with his street ministry. Everyone enjoyed Sam and his old-time, gospel, and jazz tunes bonding as a family."

Maxi sent her message to Jenna, "I'll send you more notes soon."



Sam sang to a John Denver song, "Eagles and Horses." Maxi sang along.

" I had a vision of eagles and horses

High on a ridge in a race with the wind

Going higher and higher, faster and faster

On eagles and horses I'm flying again

Eagles inhabit the heavenly heights

They know neither limit nor bound

They're the guardian angels of darkness and light

They see all and hear every sound."


The late April air grew colder. A gentle breeze blew on Maxi's face. She walked closer to Sam and the crowd.

People dressed in blue sweatshirts and blue jeans passed out water bottles. Maxi reached out and received one with a label, "The Father's House." She opened the bottle and drank some cool water.

Maxi sang along and walked toward a blond hair lady handing out sandwiches. Maxi slammed into a muscular man's chest with her face.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't see you." Maxi glanced into the eyes of a man in his mid-twenties. He had dark brown braided hair and warm brown eyes. He wore a gray sweatshirt. and ripped blue jeans.

"Are you okay?" Maxi touched his right hand. "I was singing the eagle song."

Sam and the people sang along in the background.

"My spirit will never be broken or caught

For the soul is a free-flying thing

Like an eagle that needs neither comfort nor thought. To rise up on glorious wings..."

Maxi sang out loud, "On eagles and horses I'm flying again, flying again, I'm flying again."

"Just F -- watch it, ok?" He got closer to the large trays of sandwiches, bags of chips, fruit, cookies, and water bottles on tables covered with blue linens. People gathered around the table.

"Hey, I didn't mean to smash into you. Do you live around here?" Maxi followed the stranger to the food table.

He took two sandwiches and devoured them quickly. "Thank you." He looked at the blond-haired lady standing behind the food. "I don't have any money." He reached for bottled water. "Can I have another sandwich? My stomach is on empty." He grabbed a sandwich and an apple.

"Help yourself, our food is free. I'm Linda." Her voice sounded sweet.

"I'm Phoenix. Do you know where I could stay, uh, maybe a few days?" He talked while chewing with his mouth open.

"Nice to meet you, Phoenix. We have plenty of rooms for you and your friend at The Father's House. It's an old mansion at the historical Five Points. There's a bronze statue of a guy in the building's front yard. We just added the landscape last week."

"I'm Maxi. We just met tonight. We bumped into each other. We both needed some food, Linda. I was singing the eagle song and collided into his chest."

"I was on my way to your food table," Phoenix smiled.

Maxi looked at Linda's pink crystal cross necklace and colorful stone bracelets.

"Do you like Sam's music?" Linda clapped her hands as Sam sang and played music on the piano. "He's a skilled piano man and pastor. His mission is outside the steeple to reach the hearts of people for Jesus."

"That's an interesting idea." Maxi grabbed another chicken sandwich. "Food and fellowship is always a good mission outreach. What do you think, Phoenix?"

"Your food is tasty. Thank you for the sandwiches." Phoenix licked his lips. "How much are the rooms Linda?"

"Phoenix, our food and rooms are free." Linda said, "The Denver Dreammakers help fund our expenses. We train and provide labor for community events. It's a noble mission to help people get on their feet. Here's our address."

She handed Maxi and Phoenix a flyer.

Phoenix put his flyer in his jean back pocket. Maxi held her flyer.

"Maxi, what are you waiting for?" Phoenix asked Maxi, his new street buddy.

"The bus on the corner will take you directly to The Father's House." Linda stated, "Tell the driver where you're going. They know our house well."

"Thank you for your delicious chicken sandwiches with grapes," Maxi replied. She grabbed a chocolate chip pecan cookie. "I like these cookies."

Linda smiled. "I baked these cookies today for this event. Glad you like my recipe. I used coconut oil instead of butter, it's healthier."

"Well, I'm taking one for the ride. Will we see you there?" Maxi asked. She grabbed another cookie and a bottle of water.

Phoenix took a bottle of water and an apple. "Thanks for your food. This hits the spot."

"Pastor Sam and I will join you soon," Linda said. "Remember the bus on the corner will take you to The Father's House. We have plenty of space for you both to stay as long as you desire. We are here to help you." Linda handed out flyers to more people.

"Let's go, Phoenix." Maxi looked at Phoenix as he put two cookies inside a napkin.

"For the road," he laughed staring at Maxi.

"What are you waiting for Phoenix?"

Phoenix smiled back at Maxi. "I'll race you."

Author Notes During this Covid19 scare, I've been taking classes from writers helping writers.
This story is from my NaNoWriMo which I'm rewriting and editing. I appreciate
your comments.

John and I are going to Colorado to see our daughters, Monica
and Annie. We have been praying for the four states to be open.
We will be hiking, researching, and sightseeing.

Stay safe and be on Psalm 91 praying ground.
flylikeaneagle - nancy


Chapter 2
Metro ride to The Father's House

By flylikeaneagle

ON WINGS OF EAGLES STORYLINE


CHAPTER TWO - SCENE ONE - DENVER METRO BUS RIDE
Phoenix outran and waited for Maxi at the Denver Metro Ride bus stop. The silver and blue bus screeched to a stop. "The Father's House, please," Maxi said as they entered.

Maxi covered her nose as she caught the aromatic smells of sweaty feet, body odor, and stale perfumes. She followed Phoenix to the back seats. The bus held several people casually dressed. She spotted a dark-haired man petting his black Labrador sitting nearby. Cool dry air came through the half-opened windows. Maxi sat on the worn bench seat next to Phoenix.

"How did you outrun me?" Maxi looked at Phoenix's brown eyes and took a bite of the chocolate chip pecan cookie. "These cookies are delicious."

"I loved running with my friends back home," replied Phoenix.

"We must run together," Maxi said. "I need to get back in shape. I used to swim laps with my friends."

Phoenix breathed in deeply as the bus moved onward.

Maxi took a bite of her chocolate chip pecan Linda baked. "These cookies are delicious."

Phoenix looked outside the bus windows at the gold dome on the Denver state capital. "Yes, the food hit the spot. I was famished."

"It was nice to receive free food. I was hungry too." The scenery changed from tall concrete and glass buildings to construction sites. "Oh look at the bright aqua and red colors on that artwork of the jazz musician on the brick wall. She shot a quick photo on her cellphone.

People gathered outside the Mexican restaurant in a waiting line. "We must eat there sometime, Phoenix." Food odors, laughter, and jazz music filled the air.

"I don't have the money." Phoenix glanced at a wire fenced-in space with cardboard boxes laying on the ground. It was a closed homeless center. Several of his friends lived there before the city moved the group. He was fortunate enough to get into a shelter. Voices in his head reminded Phoenix that he was now homeless and jobless.

"Homeless," he muttered. His head bobbed up and downward and his eyes closed as the bus wheels went round the corner.

The bus driver called out, "We are at the Blair-Calwell Library in Five Points. Please stand up if you want out. Our next stop is the Roxy Theatre." He looked into his mirror.

Maxi noted people dressed in sporty clothes on weekends. She looked at the Five Points map on her cell phone. Next, they passed the African American fire stations and the Voters Club. LeRoy Smith was a popular disc jockey, nightclub owner, and promoter of music. "This was a jazzy place," she said out loud.

The man with the dog spoke louder. "Five Points was the pride of early Denver with their culture, heritage, and jazz music. Everyone helped each other. It didn't matter what your race was, Black, Jewish, Mexican, or whatever, you were family. All cultures are important in our communities."

"This is my first time here." Maxi looked at Phoenix. He had fallen asleep with his mouth open. "We are going to The Father's House."

"They are righteous people that you can trust. Pastor Sam helped me when I was overcoming a few problems. Yep, great fella."

Maxi detected him smiling at her. His dark brown eyes looked friendly. He petted his dog. "Liberty, we are almost home."

"How long have you had Liberty?" Maxi observed the Lab lick his owner's hand.

"Two years," the man said. "My Father rescued him. He was wandering around the alley looking for food. He's my therapy dog and best friend."

"Liberty, pleasant name. So you both got rescued." Maxi smiled.

"Yes, the Lord rescued us. I lean on his promise, 'Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom and liberty'," he replied.

"Our next stop is the famous 1912 Rossonian Hotel on Welton Street. Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and other jazz bands jammed there. Does anyone want to stop?" The bus driver glanced at his mirror for people standing. "Ok, The Father's House is coming up, then we will head to the Five Points Plaza."

Maxi stood up, "The Father's House, please." She touched Phoenix on the shoulder. "Phoenix, wake up, Phoenix."

Maxi spotted colorful row houses with purple lilacs in bloom. She noted that the neighborhood mixed in older businesses with recent construction. She saw another famous landmark, the Rossonian Hotel, a triangular red brick building, as they passed by.

"The Father's House," the bus driver shouted as his brakes screeched, "The Father's House."

Liberty and his owner led the way. Phoenix yawned as he followed Maxi outside.


CHAPTER TWO - SCENE TWO - THE FATHER'S HOUSE

Maxi stopped in front of an enormous bronze statue of a man holding a child. She felt a cool April breeze blow on her face. Colorful spring petunias in enormous clay pots lined the steps. Maxi smelt the sweet fragrance of the lilac bushes. Phoenix held open the sky blue, the eight-foot wooden door for Maxi. "Thank you."

They walked inside the Father's House white, wooden shiplap, and wallpaper entry room. Maxi spotted an enormous walnut wood dining table set up with place settings, candles, and fresh tulips in a vase. Soft praise organ music played in the house. The smell of coffee lured Phoenix behind the dining room to the kitchen. Warm cookies, bars, fruit bowls, milk, and juice sat next to the coffee pots.


Maxi glanced at the kitchen clock, 10:10 pm. This must be a sign, she thought. Maxi walked over and pulled up a wooden chair next to Phoenix. He sat shuffling a deck of cards. The rectangular tables had red, plaid cotton tablecloths covering them in the large farmhouse style kitchen. Coffee cups, spoons, and napkins were in the center of each table.

"Want to play a few cards, Hearts, Poker, Spoons? Maybe we can get more people to play."

"Phoenix, your nap gave you some energy. I'll join you. Why did you need a room?"

He looked at Maxi with his half-smile and laughed. "I needed to get away from my stress. I lost my construction job. When I asked my boss to pay me, he kept telling me, 'tomorrow'. My landlord grew tired of waiting for rent money and evicted me."

"Sam and Linda seem friendly enough. Phoenix, let's wait and see what they can do for us."
Several people followed behind Linda and Sam as they entered the casual dining room.

"It's good to see you 'all," Sam spoke up. "You are welcome in this place. Our food is free and we have bedrooms for the ladies upstairs and for the guys downstairs. Mingle, play cards, and eat. We are all family here."

"Thank you, Pastor Sam." Linda smiled. "Food, fellowship, and fun is the key to becoming a family. Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, let this food and our friends be blessed forever. Let's eat."

"Phoenix, let's get in line." Maxi waited. The fresh bakery filled the air. "Look they have lemon bars and brownies. Yummy."

"Looks tasty." Phoenix took several bars and a glass of milk. "I'm glad we found this place."


"Me too." Maxi took a bowl of chopped fruit and a lemon bar. She walked over to a rectangular table next to Phoenix. She smiled at him.

Pastor Sam walked over to their table. " We have bedrooms for the guys in the basement. The ladies' bedrooms are on the second floor. We offer free books, clothes, and bath supplies for you to take. Our sponsors donated them. We work on special projects for them. It's like a buddy system."

Linda walked over to their table. "I'm glad that you are here. How do you like the desserts?" She sat down next to Maxi and drank some herbal tea.

"Your food is delicious. We love it." Maxi dug into her fruit bowl.

Pastor Sam grinned, "We have praise and worship service at nine in the morning. Then come back here for brunch. Linda and the church ladies are serving. Be warned, they love to tell stories."

"I look forward to meeting them," Maxi drank her green tea with lemon slices. She looked over at Phoenix.

"Good night, thanks again...for everything." Phoenix shook Sam's hand. "I love your food, Linda. I hadn't eaten for a while. You made my tummy happy."

"Good night, Phoenix. This is your home, too." Pastor Sam looked at Linda.

"Father led you to the right place, Sam." She squeezed his hand. "God sent your hundredth sheep here. Good night, sweet dreams."

"Good night, Linda," Pastor Sam smiled. "To God be the Glory!"

Author Notes I am taking a college writing course online with Coursera. The professor encourages us to write a chapter per week. On wings of eagles is fiction with Colorado historical details tossed in. John and I enjoy visiting our daughters in Denver. They help me with my research. We enjoy hiking and eating vegan food. John still has to have his meat fix.

Maxine, Maxi McGee, is named after our cat, Max. Jenna Jackson assigns Maxi to write a memoir for her Colorado Lifestyle Magazine's summer issue.

Phoenix is a homeless army vet who didn't get paid for his labor and gets kicked out of his community shelter because he couldn't pay his rental fees.

Pastor Sam, the piano man, is from Southern Minnesota who is recruited to flip an
old mansion at Five Points by his contractor friend, Terry.

Linda is a professional chef who works in LoDo in Denver and helps out at The Father's House. She teaches Bible studies and cooking.


Chapter 3
The 100th sheep

By flylikeaneagle

Worship music filled the air as people sang.

My soul longs for you

My soul longs for you

Nothing else will do

Nothing else will do

I believe you will come like the rain

You'll come like the rain

So let it rain

--

Piano chords, drums, and guitars filled the air. The praise choir harmonized at The Father's House.

Phoenix walked into the worship center and stood in a corner looking down at his feet.

"Hi Phoenix," said Maxi. "Glad you joined us."

"Yeah, I slept in. Guess I needed to sleep. Beds are better than cold concrete."

"Linda has a terrific brunch for after worship. Stick around, Phoenix. We can sit together."

"I could use a hot coffee," Phoenix said as he yawned. "What did she make?"

"Homemade cinnamon rolls, egg bake, and grilled chicken from what I saw." Maxi smiled.

"Thank you all for joining us." Pastor Sam stopped playing his black grand piano and stood up in front of the people. "My sheep hear my voice." He looked around and noted the unknown faces. "Welcome everyone to The Father's House. May the Holy Spirit lead my words to touch the hearts of each one of you."

The formal living room was quiet. People sat on the antique sofas and chairs, waiting.

"God had his eye on a 100th sheep. He left the 99 sheep to go after a rebel, a college drop-out, a party boy, a carouser," Pastor Sam said. "He smoked, drank hard liquor, was a brawler, and was well known by the local police authorities. By his own admission, he was the classic example of the prodigal son."

The people looked at Pastor Sam. He continued his sermon. "Today the sheep stands to succeed the most respected, admired, and perhaps famous American of the Twentieth Century - Billy Graham. His name is Franklin Graham. Today, Franklin Graham not only has a tremendous benevolent ministry called ''The Samaritan's Purse,'' but is now preaching the gospel just like his father to thousands and thousands of people all over the world. He will tell you he is where he is today because he had a father who left the lights on."

Pastor Sam asked, "Who can hear this tale and not get caught up in the story of the Prodigal's foolishness. He is the stereotypical rebellious adolescent who doesn't know how much he doesn't know. He reaps what he sows and learns a valuable lesson in the process. His is the classic story of the great turnaround. If only all the prodigal children could get so smart so quickly!"

"Please open your Bibles to Luke 15:11-32 and read out loud with me."

Pastor Sam continued, "Father, give me the share of the property that falls to me.' So he divided the estate between them. A few days later, the younger son gathered together everything [that he had] and traveled to a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and immoral living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to do without and be in need. So he went and forced himself on one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs."

"Who among us may be the prodigal son?" Pastor Sam looked around. "What about the father whose heart was broken?" He looked at his i-pad. "I'm a parent. How many of you are parents who can empathize when our kids run away, suffer or are lost in the world?" He breathed in deeply. "Knowing your child has to learn his own lessons can be hard. Parents may get angry, controlling, or emotional since they are hurting. We have to trust in God to teach and guide our children when we can't. This father waited, watched and ran when he saw his son walking from afar. We can appreciate the relief of the waiting father when the wandering child comes home. "

"Please read with me again from the Holy Word." Pastor Sam held his Amplified Bible in his hand.

Maxi gave Phoenix a Bible turned to Luke 15. He sat down next to her on a chair by the window. The rain was letting up. Sunshine streamed through the windows.

"No one was giving anything to him. But when he [finally] came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have more than enough food, while I am dying here of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; [just] treat me like one of your hired men."' So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Quickly bring out the best robe [for the guest of honor] and put it on him; and give him a ring for his hand, and sandals for his feet. And bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let us [invite everyone and] feast and celebrate;for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and has been found.' So they began to celebrate."

Pastor Sam looked around. "The prodigal son returns. Dad forgives him. Everybody lives happily ever after." He paused and touched his i-pad." Last year over a million children left home. Some were abused, alone, and homeless. At The Father's House, our mission is to reach outside the steeple to touch the hearts of people for Jesus."

Eyes followed Pastor Sam as he walked closer to the people of all nationalities, income levels, and skills. "Everyone is welcome here, always. We are connected with The Denver Dreammakers to provide for you with clothes, counseling, food, job skills, and a room at no cost to you. We pay it forward as mentors to the newcomers without cost or judgment. Like the Father in Luke, he ran to his son, gave him a ring, sandals for his feet, a robe to wear and a celebration." Pastor Sam looked at the people.

Maxi observed Phoenix as he listened to Pastor's Sam's sermon in the back of the living room. He was wiping tears from his eyes with his sleeve.

Phoenix stood up suddenly, slammed his Bible onto the floor, and bolted out of The Father's House. Down the steps, he ran on the sidewalk for a couple of blocks. The light was green for him to cross. He slipped on a water puddle as he stepped onto the crosswalk. Phoenix fell forward onto a lady's BMW. She ran a red light while texting and hit him in the chest. Phoenix saw bright lights as he flew backward and landed onto his back in pain.

People gathered around Phoenix. Someone called 911 for help. Sirens filled the air. Blue and red lights flashed. People wrapped a neck brace on Phoenix. They placed him on a stiff board and then lifted him inside the EMT vehicle. Hands placed an oxygen mask on his mouth. They rushed him to the nearest hospital.

Author Notes Pastor Sam shares stories about the 100th sheep and The Prodigal Son to the people on Sunday morning.


Chapter 4
Where is the 100th sheep?

By flylikeaneagle

LOGLINE - Jenna Jackson assigns Maxi McGee to an undercover writing assignment to cover stories about people in Denver during the gentrification growth pains and becomes a voice of hope.


Pastor Sam and Linda parked their van in the Denver Health Hospital lot on the fourth floor. They walked and prayed for Phoenix as they headed out of the parking lot to the hospital lobby.

"Who are you looking for?" The blond-haired receptionist asked. "Yes, Phoenix, he's on floor two, room 222."

"Thank you," Linda said. She walked with Pastor Sam.

"The police said they rushed him here. He had our Father's House brochure inside his jean pocket."

They rode the elevator up. Linda looked at the brightly colored watercolors pictures of light houses hung on the gray walls.

Linda and Sam couldn't believe their eyes when they opened the hospital door. Phoenix wore a neck and a chest brace. White cotton thermo blankets covered him. Linda inhaled peppermint in the air when she walked in.

"Hi, Phoenix," Sam spoke as he came closer. "How did you get here?"

"Someone hit me." Phoenix voice was weak. "Then, light!"

"You saw a light?" Linda asked.

"Bright light and hands." Phoenix closed his eyes.

"The police told us that the driver was texting and ran a red light. She hit you as you crossed the crosswalk, " Pastor Sam said.

"I didn't see her."

"The police informed us you lived at the YMCA community shelter. When we went to the YMCA, they handed us your clothes saying they said you were late in your rent and needed your room."

"Thanks, no money. I'm homeless."

"Phoenix, The Father's House has plenty of rooms. Our home is your home."

"Thanks, no job... no mo--nneyy." Phoenix swallowed hard. "None!"

Pastor Sam touched his hand. Linda walked around the room silently praying.

"Don't worry about money! We have community sponsors with our Denver Dreamers group. We'll get the word out for fundraising to cover your hospital bills. We take care of our veterans."

"Thanks, Sam." Phoenix drawled with a dry sounding voice.

"Here's icy water for you," Linda handed him a cup. "Sip, this. I speak life in Jesus' name." She held his hand so the straw would reach his mouth. "I'm sure that the lady who hit Phoenix has auto insurance, Sam. We'll have to get her information from the police."

Phoenix looked at Sam and Linda. He made out a slight smile.

Dr. Robert walked in. He wore a blue cotton shirt and navy jeans under his white lab coat. "Phoenix, I'm glad you are awake now. I informed your new friends that you are here."

"Yes, my friends."

"Phoenix, we'll schedule more tests. We hope the x-rays will reveal that your bones are strong and not broken." Dr. Kline said, "We put you inside these braces to stabilize your ribs." He checked Phoenix's heartbeat. "Your pulse is good. We'll have you in physical therapy in no time, Phoenix."

Phoenix looked at Dr. Robert. "Feel like a turtle."

"Dr. Robert, I offered The Father's House as his new home," Pastor Sam replied.

"Great. I've heard of The Father's House. I'll stop over some time. We need to take care of our vets. I'll sign Phoenix out to your care when he's well." Dr. Robert smiled and shook Sam's warm hand. "At our hospital, all lives count. We are here for you, Phoenix."

"Than-nk you." Phoenix yawned and closed his eyes.

Dr. Robert looked at Linda. "Did you need lunch? The hospital food is tasty. They have some chefs from Downtown Denver that help with the menus. Their strawberry-mango cheesecakes are amazing!"

"Would the cheesecake come from LoDo?" Sam looked at Linda. "I know a talented pastry chef from there." Linda smiled back at Sam knowing she was that pastry chef.

"Could you join us, Dr. Robert?" Linda glanced at the guys. "Seems like Phoenix is recovering well in your hands." She looked over at Phoenix who was sound asleep.

Author Notes Maxi McGee becomes involved in Pastor Sam's The Father's House Ministry. Phoenix and Maxi listened to his sermon on the 100th sheep. Phoenix panics and runs outside. He gets hit by a lady running a red light. The EMT'S rush Phoenix to the nearest hospital. The police find a Father's House brochure in his pocket and notify Pastor Sam. This is my NaNoWriMo.


Chapter 5
May Day

By flylikeaneagle

Maxi walked towards Kauffee Korner, a little German bakery, known for their homemade specialties of cinnamon rolls, homemade breads, fruit tarts, Kaiser rolls, soft pretzels, and streusel. The sign on their door said, "We cater to your "sweet tooth."

She was told that Veronica Schatz started her bakery with her great grandparent's European recipes. Andreas and Margaretha traveled from the east to Colorado during the 1850's, gold mining rush. Photos on the wall showed her family as they stood by the gold miners with their European meals and pastries. People stood in lines to dine together, play checkers and chess games, and buy European products from her deli. Maxi passed by her famous loaves of bread, cheeses, coffees, jams, meats, sausages, sauerkraut, soups, and teas.

A red-haired waitress seated Maxi at a corner table overlooking Denver's 13th Street. Maxi ordered her favorite treat, a hot cinnamon apple, cranberry, and pecan cinnamon roll with a large mocha iced latte. She made a note to herself to order a take out from Veronica's new vegan entrees, a stagecoach mango, beets, quinoa, and mixed salad greens for lunch. She opened her iPad and typed, "Words, words, and more words." Maxi pondered as she started her article, "Street Life for Jenna Jackson's Colorado LifeStyle Magazine."

Maxi spotted a call from her editor. "Hello, Jenna."

"How's your memoir going, Maxi? Can you send me your notes?"

Maxi looked at her iPad with half a page started.

"I've got ideas. I'm trying to get an angle with some people I met recently at The Father's House."

"Wonderful, Maxi!" Oh, say...did you get my May basket? I sent it to you second-day delivery. I made some notes in a journal for you to pursue your personal memoir. I included a Memoir Moments workbook that I wrote to help you with your words for the July spread of Colorado Lifestyle. We'll send some photographers to highlight the people that you meet. You'll notice that I want you to write down who you meet and how you can affect their life for the better. Add in their personal pain to victory stories so you can inspire our readers as a voice of hope."

"I'll go back to my condo today and look for your gift. Thank you, that's such a sweet tradition to give a May basket. I'm so honored, Jenna." Maxi finished her mocha iced latte. The waitress stopped by to give her a second one.

"My Mom and I loved to give these May baskets to our favorite people," Jenna said. "You will love the treats from different chefs that I'm covering for the June food spread of Colorado Lifestyle. Seems like the whole foods, vegan and vegetarian foods are becoming popular with the young working groups. July will be your spread of inspiration with your personal memoir and photos. In August, we will highlight the fitness trends popular in the cities and nature parks. I'm working with Joshua Eagle for a magazine spread of music celebration for September. So much to do, Max. Together, we can inspire our Colorado readers with hands-on reality. Be a voice of hope, Maxi. Gotta go. Enjoy that May basket."

"Thanks Jenna, I will." Maxi motioned to the waitress to come over.

Her waitress stood next to Maxi. She wore a pink shirt with Kauffee Korner logo, a short apron, and black jeans. "Do you want anything else, some dessert, or your check?"

"Yes, but could you add a vegan mango, beets, and quinoa mixed salad with the raspberry salad dressing on the side and an extra hot cinnamon apple pecan cinnamon roll to go, please?"

"Of course, I'll put in your order now. Should be just a few minutes, Maxi."

"How do you know my name?" Maxi looked at her waitress. She put her computer into the center of her backpack.

"I read your freelance articles in Colorado Lifestyle. I loved the personal touch you used in your swimming competitions with your teammates. I felt like I swam the laps with you."

"Thank's so much, that means a lot to me. What do you do besides waitress?"

"I'm a single Mom with a young boy with autism. Brandon is in a unique daycare and has made great progress with his letters and numbers." She showed several photos of her son from her cell phone. "He makes me smile. His daycare is going to be at the Denver Science Museum this afternoon. Maybe, you could write a story about how amazing the children are. They'll make you smile and laugh, too."

"Thanks, Tammy." She spotted her nametag on her tee. Maxi wrote down some notes on her cell phone, "Science Museum today. I could write an awareness article about these fun-loving children." She thought to herself, "I'll have to present this idea to Jenna. Children have interesting lives, too."

"I'm sure you're an amazing Mom." Maxi texted Jenna about the idea.

Tammy left to put in her order zig-zagging through the crowded restaurant. People's voices filled the air.

Maxi paid the bill and gave her a $50 tip. She wrote a note. "Keep smiling. You're a terrific Mom. Blessings will flow by your love, Maxi. P.S. I'll see you at the Science Museum."

A few minutes later, Maxi left the Kauffee Korner with her to-go bag. She headed back to her Penthouse condo passing by people on 15th Street. "Make a difference in someone's life...hmmm."

Maxi looked around at the architecture of the Denver landscape. "Where do the people get their money?"She thought to herself. She looked at the concrete, brick, and glass-faced tall business and residential condos. Luxury hotels, brick and mortar clothing shops, and people sitting next to their tents. Denver was a city with birth pains during this gentrification birth pains. Tourists visited and moved into the neighborhood. Now, the prices soared and the locals got pushed out of their homes.

Maxi thought out loud, "I'm so glad my parents bought my condo for me. I miss them." Lilac shrubs. pansies and tulips bloomed in concrete pots. The pansies seemed to smile at Maxi. She noticed the colorful tulips opened up to the sunlight. "This is going to be a wonderful journey. I just have that feeling my dreams will come true." She spoke out loud as she entered her building on Lawrence Avenue.

Maxi stopped at the front desk for her newspaper and mail. "Did I receive a May basket?"

Charles glanced at Maxi and gave her an enormous smile. "You're the only one that did. Is this from a secret friend?" He handed her the wicker basket with gift-wrapped boxes and bags inside.

"Thanks, Charles. This is from my boss, Jenna Jackson. She reviews restaurants and chefs for Colorado Lifestyle. I'll let you know what's inside of these gifts." Maxi gathered up mail, newspaper, and gift basket smiling back at Charles. She noticed his salt and pepper hair had a fresh haircut. His face was suntanned with smile wrinkles around his eyes. He wore a black, corduroy shirt and black slacks.

"How long have you worked here Charles?"

"Going on twenty-five years, Maxi." When he smiled Max could see a happy teenager inside his face.

"Charles, I'll be gone for a while, covering stories. I appreciate you so much." Maxi pulled out a twenty and a five and handed it to him. "Now, you go buy your family a May basket, too."

"Thank you, Maxi, that's so kind of you." Charles grinned ear to ear.

"Enjoy your precious family. Have a great day." Maxi pushed the button inside the elevator to the 24th floor.

Maxi set her May basket on her dining table. It was filled with gifts. One box Jenna bought her held cookies from LoDo, downtown Denver. The note inside stated, "These pecan oatmeal cookies are gluten-free, made with coconut oil and extra love by Pastry Chef Linda."
Maxi noticed another box was packed with his favorite lemon lavender, white chocolate, and sweet potato chocolate cookies from the historical Five Points, Fancy Nancy's bakeshop.

Picking up the Layered in Cake envelope, Maxi read that coupon stated it was redeemable for decorating classes for two. "Sweet, I'll need a friend to take this class with me." Maxi placed the envelope on her black walnut desk near the kitchen. "Jenna definitely wants me to meet some friends."

Maxi placed her to go salad on a white plate. Looking inside her matte black and stainless steel fridge, she found some calamari black olives. She unwrapped a large purple package from her May basket. Inside was a journal with an eagle flying over the Colorado Rocky Mountains. She noticed words on the pages. Some pages had affirmations, others poetry and scriptures. On the inside page, she read a personal note from Jenna.

Dear Maxi,

"I encourage you to spread your wings like this eagle. Find some new friends that you can inspire with your inner light, Maxi, as a voice of hope. Use your reporting skills and you will find the where, when, what, who and how. We will print your memoir in our July issue along with photographs of the places you go to. Enjoy your journal on your journey to become a light for people on the streets in Denver. Enjoy the desserts. They were personally made with love by Chef Linda in LoDo and Fancy Nancy in Five Points. They are my featured chefs in the May issue of Colorado LifeStyle. Happy, blessed May Day to you, Maxi."

Jenna Jackson

Maxi took a bite of the sweet potato, dark chocolate cookie. "Yes, I can taste the love." She made up a pot of fresh coffee to go with her cookies and her Kauffee Korner salad.

Flipping through the journal, her eyes caught on a poem.

Maxi sat down with her computer.

Jenna:

"Thank you for the tasty pastries filled with love. I love your thoughtful journals. What an amazing gift and tradition of the May baskets. I'm going to go to the Denver Science Museum since it is Children's Celebration day today. Then, I'll check on Phoenix. He was hit on a crosswalk by a lady who ran a red light while texting. Pastor Sam and Linda called me this morning. Hopefully, he'll be released soon. Send prayers please."

Maxi.

Jenna sent her note. She flipped through the pages of her journal. Her eyes caught on a poem.

NEW BEGINNINGS BY FLYLIKEANEAGLE

dream big...

new beginnings

ignite joy in our hearts

bursting in chain reactions to

spread hope


Maxi shot a photo with her cell phone. "This is a great goal for me. I can dream big!"

Maxi noticed that she got a call from Terry. She listened to her voicemail.

"Moni and Annie invited us to The Garden of the God's Fitness Festival starting this Thursday and runs through Saturday night. I'll swing by and pick you up Thursday at about 9 am at The Father's House. Pack hiking shoes and comfy exercise clothes for the day and warmer clothes and a fleece jacket. We'll camp out with Moni and Annie and watch the shooting stars. Call me, Maxi."

She walked to her closet and packed a backpack with comfy, casual clothes, and hiking shoes. Maxi threw in her journal and memoir notes book from Jenna. "Wow! I'm going on an adventure! This is on the top of my dream big projects." Maxi called Terry and left a message on his voicemail. "I'm all in, Maxi."

"Lord, you are a lamp to my footstep and a light to my path. Thank you for your divine connections."

Maxi walked to her black and white kitchen and grabbed some cookies. She carefully packed them in a small box inside of her backpack. She put the rest of her May basket treats and her cinnamon roll in her freezer. She spoke out loud. "Now, I'm ready to see the Denver Science Museum and meet up with Tammy and her son, Brandon. I hope Jenna will like this story about children and laughter. I pray that Phoenix gets well soon. I'm sure Phoenix will love these May basket pastries, too."

Maxi looked around at her penthouse condo. She felt so blessed to have this condo and not be a homeless person like people she saw living in tents on the streets. She loved how her Mom helped decorate with brightly colored Native American artwork, pillows, and throws. She smiled at the family photo above the stone fireplace. She grabbed her keys and locked her door.


Author Notes Jenna Jackson assigns Maxi McGee to write a personal memoir on the people she meets during the gentrification building growth in Denver. She connects with Pastor Sam, Chef Linda, and Phoenix. During a Sunday sermon, Phoenix runs out of The Father's House and gets hit by a woman texting and running a red light. Pastor Sam and Linda visit Phoenix at The Denver Health Hospital. This fiction story is from my NaNoWriMo.

History Note: Veronica Schatz is my grandmother. She taught her daughters, including my Mom, Agnes Schatz, to bake homemade bread. My Mom taught me and I taught my daughters, Monica and Annie, and their friends. Our family is from Germany and they settled in North Dakota when the land was available to homestead. The Schatz family were community-minded, farmed, and had huge gardens.
.


Chapter 6
night visitor

By flylikeaneagle

Chaplain Raphael strolled on the Denver Health Hospital tile floor, mediating, "arise to new life. Shine and be radiant with the light of the Lord. Your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you! Darkness shall cover the earth, and dense darkness on people. The Lord shall arise upon you, and we shall see His glory on you."

Having his head down, without looking at the number on the door, he walked into room 223, and noticed a lady sleeping.

"Blessings miss." Raphael said, "I must be in the wrong room."

Looking at the doors, he spotted Phoenix's name on room 222 and walked inside. The full moon's light streamed through the window, casting a soft light in the sandy brown hospital room.

Chaplain Raphael stood next to Phoenix, watching him breathe. "Phoenix, don't be afraid. The demons of darkness can't hurt you anymore. Jesus has redeemed you, Phoenix, and calls you by name. Phoenix, you are mine."

He dug inside his pant pocket and pulled out a small bottle of oil. The lettering on the anointing oil bottle said, "Joy." Chaplain Raphael poured some oil on Phoenix's forehead and made the sign of the cross. Smells of citrus, cedar, and peppermint filled the atmosphere.

"The Lord is telling me that your father regrets how he never told you how proud he was of you with your amazing talents. Your mother reminded him that you liked running and led a team in the army. Your family is always with you and cheering you on with the saints and angels."

Chaplain Raphael placed his hand on Phoenix's shoulder. "You are young. Follow your heart's desires. Father God is watching you and has incredible plans for you, more than your heart knows." He watched Phoenix softly snoring, fast asleep. The clock on the wall by the bulletin board ticked by loudly.

"I'm Chaplain Raphael. The doctor told me you had army tags on your neck. I was in the army in Korea days... lost some mighty best friends." He bit his lips. "I'll see them in Heaven someday."

"Phoenix, you can nod, move a finger or touch my hand. I'll do the talking. My wife says that I'm good at chattering. I like to dance to polkas and waltzes. I love my wife's homemade cinnamon rolls, and homemade chicken soup!"

"Phoenix, you may feel broken. You, son, are blessed, highly favored, and walking in victory. When you trained in the army, you got orders from your superiors. Well, as your Chaplain, I'm giving you a new order, choose life." Raphael placed his hands over Phoenix's heart. "Choose life," He said. "Speak life in Jesus' Name."

Phoenix laid still on the hospital bed with his eyes closed. "Life... Jesus."

"Jesus came to give you real and eternal life, more and better life than you can dream of. Life overflowing with joy, blessings, and God's grace, Phoenix, I'll stop by again." Chaplain Raphael smiled at Phoenix. "I put a Bible and "The Lord Heals," book I wrote on your night stand for you to read and meditate on. The world wants to break us, cause sorrow, and take our energy. We can meditate on his Holy Words. The Son of Righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. This is one of my favorite scriptures from Malachi 4:2."

Chaplain Raphael looked at the watercolor picture of spring flowers on the wall. The morning sunlight filtered inside. "Hosanna, Hosanna, Jesus died and rose again for you and me, precious Phoenix. He came to give us life."

Phoenix reached out his hand to his voice. "Life."

"Yes, life is the way," Chaplain Raphael said. "Remember, you are in God's hands. Jesus loves you as his son."

Phoenix opened his eyes and smiled, "Thank you."

"Jesus, you are looking at your beloved son, an army vet, and a warrior for your Kingdom. God, you already transformed this prodigal into your son. Use his mess for your message to help other prodigal sons find their way home to you," Chaplain Raphael prayed. "Give Phoenix dreams, desires, and destiny. Even thou he walked through the dark shadows of life without a candle lighting his way. You, Father God, are his light guiding his footsteps. You alone give him life, plans, and a purpose. I draw a bloodline of Jesus' precious blood around Phoenix and speak life in Jesus' Name. Phoenix, Jesus bought you by his blood, which was shed on a wooden cross at Calvary. He died, was buried, and rose to Heaven." Raphael continued, "Jesus is always with you, Phoenix." Raphael held his hand. The room filled up with the golden glory light of God's presence.

Chaplain Raphael prayed out loud as he walked down the hallways of the hospital. "Surely goodness, mercy, and overflowing joy of Jesus will follow us wherever we go. People will desire to know the love of Jesus. We have the Good News and Kingdom's freedom here on Earth. Let's spread this Good News by loving and touching others, Hallelujah!"

Author Notes Jesus will never leave or forsake us. Sometimes, God will send someone to be the voice of God's Kingdom. I hope that you all know you are loved, and that my chapters will touch your heart.

Personal note: I dedicate this chapter to my Father, Raphael, who was a chaplain and cook for the veterans. He loved to do color guard, cook spaghetti, and grill steaks. Dad fixed bikes for the youth and helped people. God's blessings to you all. nancy


Chapter 7
kissing camels

By flylikeaneagle

"Maxi, are you ready to have fun at the Garden of the Gods?" Terry called on his cellphone, "I'll pick you up at in thirty minutes."

"Sounds wonderful," said Maxi. "Linda packed our food." Maxi added some ice teas in the large cooler. She noticed rotisserie chicken with cucumber, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches were packed on one side with a note for Terry and Maxi. Vegan chickpea, cucumber and tomato sandwiches had a note on a bag for Moni and Annie. Veggies, hummus dip, and apples sealed in a gigantic plastic bag with another note for Moni and Annie. Fudge graham, marshmallow bars and white chocolate pecan cookies packed in a large brown paper LoDo bag.

Maxi left Linda a text on her cellphone, "Thank you, precious Linda for the wonderful food. I hope to see you at the Gardens tonight."

Terry walked inside The Father's House and spotted Maxi drinking some mint green tea. "Good morning, Maxi. I have sleeping bags and tents for camping overnight. Linda reminded me she had to cover the lunch shift at the LoDo restaurant. She'll join us later today and sleep in your tent."

"Maxi looked at Terry's navy tee with the sleeves cut off. His muscular arms easily picked up the cooler. He was tall, fit and nice eye candy from years of life coaching clients. She followed him with the dessert LoDo bag to his sport camper. Loading the van, they set off to Garden of the Gods Fitness Fair.

"We have 90 miles to go," said Terri. Moni and Annie are teaching a Yoga - Pilates class mid morning. We'll join the fitness teachers for lunch. You and I can walk around the trails. Believe me, it's a good workout. We'll have a dinner and campfire tonight. You'll sleep well tonight under the stars, Maxi."

"I'm excited," said Maxi. "Can you play some John Denver for the trip?"

"Got you covered. My favorite is his "Eagles and Horses. Can you sing with me?"

I had a vision of eagles and horses
High on a ridge in a race with the wind
Going higher and higher and faster and faster
On eagles and horses I'm flying again

Eagles inhabit the heavenly heights
They know neither limit nor bound
They're the guardian angels of darkness and light
They see all and hear every sound

Maxi smiled and sang along with Terry.

My spirit will never be broken or caught
For the soul is a free flying thing
Like an eagle that needs neither comfort nor thought
To rise up on glorious wings

Terry pulled into the Garden of Gods parking lot. He spotted people with golf carts and stopped nearby. "We're meeting the fitness teachers. Can we have a cart, please?"

"Yes, just sign here. The keys are in the cart's water holder. Our Fitness Festival ends on Sunday."

"Thank you, see you then." Terry parked his van in the lot.

"Terry, where is this garden?" Maxi shot photos of a large red rock formation in the distance. She looked around as Terry handed her a black backpack filled with food. She reached into the bag for two Honey crisp apples and handed one to Terry. Maxi tasted the sweetness. "Yummy!"

"Thanks, Maxi," Terry said as loaded the golf cart with their food and camping gear. We are going northwest on Juniper road to the Kissing Camels. I'm sure that you'll want to eat after our workout. I'll show you the gardens. We can join the fitness group for dinner and camp under the stars tonight.''

"Terry, lead the way. You must have been here before." Maxi picked up the pace.

"Yes, I used to life coach groups by hiking these Garden of the Gods' trails and climbing the El Dorado mountain. I once had some Swedish gals that hired me to be their personal life coach and we explored these garden rocks. They joined me as I led the group on a climb up the El Dorado canyon. My Swedish client, Garauthea, commented that it was the most exciting and terrifying thrill she ever did in America. We camped at the canyon foothills afterward. We shared food and stories at the campfire. Maxi, people love to share stories." Terry smiled as he glanced at Maxi drinking Fuji bottled water.

"I like to hear stories," said Maxi. "This is my first hike at The Garden of the Gods even thou I'm from Colorado. I was always too busy swimming. How did you get down?" Maxi looked at the snow-covered Rocky Mountains in the distance. Warm May winds blew on her face as she caught her breath. The Colorado skies looked like a watercolor painting with deep royal blue paintbrush strokes and wispy white clouds.

Terry grinned, "Maxi, there are two ways down from the top of El Dorado. One way is to rappel down from the top on ropes facing the mountain that you just climbed up. The other way is to fly downward on wings of eagles."

"What are you talking about?" Maxi looked into Terry's laughing eyes.

"It's what we army guys call base jumping from the top whe skilled guys use a wingsuit. Others use a rainbow shaped parachute to fly in the air."

"Terry, you all flew from up there?" Maxi looked at the Rocky Mountains.

"Yes, flying on the winds is a genuine rush. I've done this many times in the front lines."

Terry drove on the dusty trail upward being mindful of the people of all ages walking. Several people walked with their dogs.

Maxi asked, "Where are the flowers?" Noises and music filled the air as they spotted a clearing in the trail. Maxi shot photos of the tents and the Garden of the God's massive rock formations. Vendors sold their artwork, fitness clothes, food, and Colorado photography at the Fitness Fair.

"Moni and Annie are close by. They teach a fitness class at 1100 or 11:00 am and again at 1400 hours or 2:00 pm for you civilians." Terry looked around. "Maxi, we'll join their class after we find the Eagle's Nest tent."

"Ir will feel good to join an exercise class." Maxi looked at Terry.

"Linda said we need to bring the cooler, desserts, and camping gear to the teacher's tent, Eagle's Nest. She prepared special vegan food for Moni and Annie. She made us meat eaters a supper meal too."

"Terry, sounds like a splendid place to take a nap. Do they have sofas?" Maxi laughed. She took a deep gulp of water and wiped her forehead.

Terry glanced over at Maxi. He spotted the Eagle's Nest sign on the south side near other the other tents and parked the golf cart.

"Ok then," Maxi smiled. "I guess I don't get a nap." She followed him and set the food in a corner of the tent.

"I look forward to this tasty food and class," Maxi said. She glanced at a tray of pastries and cut fruit on a table. Juice, tea, and water bottles chilled in ice buckets inside the large, white canvas tent.

"Maxi and Terry, help yourselves with the food and beverages. Linda said that you will join us today." A guy with dark wavy hair said. "Moni and Annie are warming up for classes on the flat rocks north of us." He pointed in that direction.

"Thanks for the food. What's your name?" Maxi looked at the muscular man in his late twenties. His below shoulder-length hair was thick, black, and braided in the back. His deep brown eyes sparkled with love. "I'm Elohim, from an Arizona tribe nearby. I promote this fitness fair with the Southwest Dreammakers."

Maxi smiled at Elohim. "Thank you for your hospitality and food. Everything looks tasty." She noted that he wore a white, linen shirt with indigo blue and purple star designs. He had a gold belt, navy blue, denim shorts, and leather sandals. His face and smile looked familiar. Maxi pondered, "Was he the guy in the bus who gave her a purple bag with a gold pen inside?"

"Help yourselves. Everyone brings food and shares their gifts and talents as a love offering. We always have baskets of leftovers." Elohim smiled.

Maxi looked over at the fruit muffins, yogurt, and cut fruit. She filled a bowl with fruit and yogurt. "Thank you, Elohim. This is nice of you." She glanced back at him and he disappeared.

Terry ate a second muffin. "Are you almost ready? I'll grab some waters and apples for us."

Classical music bounced off the Garden of the Gods rock formations nearby. Maxi heard female voices. Terry and Maxi approached the flat red rocks and saw people standing on navy blue yoga mats. Nearby, an enormous wicker basket of yoga mats, hand towels, and water bottles. Maxi watched two tall slender, blond-haired ladies in their early twenties dressed in tank tops and leggings.

Maxi picked up a yoga mat and handed one to Terry. They unrolled the mats on and placed them on the dusty ground. Maxi observed a large bald eagle fly overhead circling on the wind currents. The sky was a rich cobalt blue and the mountain air was dry and warm.

"This is a beautiful site," Maxi said as Terry took off his hiking boots.

"Maxi, take off your shoes. Moni and Annie's class will start any minute."

Maxi sat down and slipped off her navy blue tennis shoes. She wiggled her toes and looked at her purple toenail polish.

"Welcome to our Be Fit and Eat Wise fitness class. We are focusing on strength training with a combination of Yoga, Pilates, and weights. We will breathe through these movements. Work at your own pace and breathe deep down to your belly and out again. Try this, breath deep in, 1-2-3-4-5 and out the same count of 1-2-3-4-5." Moni demonstrated.

Maxi followed Moni's directions. She had blond braided hair and well-toned muscles. They wore aqua and silver True Colors exercise leggings and tees.

"Thank you for joining us this afternoon," Annie spoke. "Please stand at the end of your yoga mat with your feet together. Please take off your shoes. Help yourself to some water and a hand towel. Our elevation is over 6000 feet." She counted thirty people in their class.

Maxi looked around at the people and garden rocks. Terry stood next to her on his mat.

Moni started. "Please stand straight with your hands in front of your heart-centered. Breathe in deep to your belly and out to the count of five. Breathe and reach your hands upward to the blue sky. Hold this stretch, hook your thumbs together and bend backward. We spend so much time looking over at our cell phones, computers, and television sets that our necks and backs slump forward. Release and stand straight again." Moni directed the people. "By stretching backward, we strengthen our backs and necks. Let go of the pain."

"We are certified life coaches and personal fitness trainers at The Garden of the Gods Fitness Center. If you desire more classes, please let us know after this class. If anyone has a question, please raise your hand. Annie will spot you by a light touch."

"Moni will direct you on a simple Sun Salutation flow to strengthen your back, shoulders and stomach core." Annie said, "Let us begin, breathe in and out."

"Thank you, Annie," Moni continued, "Bend at your hips and touch the mat. If you need to bend your knees and touch your ankles, that works fine, too. Breathe and hold. Slowly roll up your back and touch the sky. Spread your arms outward like someone is pulling both arms. Great, bring your hands together in heart center and breathe." Moni watched the people. "Your body is warming up as you are getting stronger." She glanced at the group. "Enjoy the now moments and breathe."

Moni kept teaching the flow. "If any of your body parts tingles or hurts, back out of the position, and breathe," Annie said.

Maxi looked over her shoulder at Terry in the Down Dog position. He lifted a leg in the air and fell onto his face.

Annie helped Terry. "Place your hands flat on the mat like a gecko, point the fingers forward and the thumbs towards each other. Balance your weight in the hips, not the hands. You will have balance in this upside-down v position to shift your leg upward. Try it, and relax. Yes, that's right."

Maxi smiled, "You can do this Terry."

"Please step forward, follow me into the standing eagle position with your right arm over the left. Great and place your left leg over your right, slowly sit and hold for several breaths. We will reverse this position to keep balanced. The eagle position opens up your shoulders and hips. you can try this position again with your eyes closed."

"Release and shake out your arms and legs," Annie stood by Moni.

"Maxi, you have a sweaty rose glow on you." Terry handed her a water bottle.

"I haven't tried yoga and pilates before. I stayed cool in the water when I swam laps in practice and competitions." Maxi laughed.

The class stood back in the mountain position, standing tall with their hands at heart center, and feet on the matt. "Breathe in on five and out. "Namaste. Thank you for joining us."

Maxi and Terry walked over to Moni and Annie. "Thank you for your class. I stretched every muscle, and some I didn't know I have." Moni smiled.

"We will meet you at the Eagle's Nest tent for supper," Terry said. "Linda made your favorite vegan food with extra love. You'll find our Father's House cooler in the corner of the tent. She wrote notes for you on your food packages. Thank you for a great workout. We are going for a hike on the trails. I promised to show Maxi the garden."

Author Notes I'm taking a course in writing through Coursera. Professor David Wheeler told us to write about people we know to develop our characters. Moni and Annie are my daughters. Terry is their neighbor who is like a big brother to them. The Garden of the Gods is a favorite hiking place for us. I dedicate this chapter to all the people who reach out to others in love. God's blessings. nancy


Chapter 8
making plans

By flylikeaneagle

Maxi sat on top of a Southgate large, red rock boulder overlooking the Garden of the Gods. The warm wind blew on her face as she watched eagles fly in the wind waves of the cobalt blue sky.

"Have you found the garden, Maxi?" Terry handed her a water bottle.

"Thank you, Terry. I thought this was a flower garden. It's a garden of rocks."

"No, this is an unique garden. General William Jackson Palmer founded Colorado Springs while extending his Denver and Rio Grande Railroad in 1879. His buddy, Charles Elliott Perkins, head of the Burlington Railroad company, bought 240 acres. He desired to build a summer home estate in these gardens. His children added to his property and conveyed the 480 acres to the city of Colorado Springs for public enjoyment. People camped here for beer parties and festivals."

"This land is majestic, just perfect for God," said Maxi.

"There's only one true God who keeps your life safe. Don't go shopping for any god or idol, they are not for sale." Terry shot photos and pointed to the tall red rocks. "Maxi, the Garden of the God's Cathedral Spires are over there. The true God loves praise. You can trust Jesus in your storms, Maxi. God's protected me."

"This is amazing, Terry," said Maxi. "Thanks for showing me this area. I never had time for sightseeing here with my parents. I spent my time swimming and school."

"Use your God-given gifts and talents to help others in love, Maxi, be a voice of hope. I'm older than you, Maxi. I've seen bloodshed and broken lives from war in the Middle East. I've helped counsel vets overcome their pain, broken lives and PTSD, by gaining new dreams, goals, and passions. Together, we flip houses, like we did with The Father's House for Pastor Sam. Our business is "The Carpenter's Sons."

"Terry, I've seen photos of the original mansion and love how you flipped it," said Maxi. "How do I know I'm on the right path?" Maxi touched his warm hand.

"When you see injustice, hurt people, and oppression, you need to do something, speak up and be a voice of hope. Study great lives like Billy Graham, John Lewis, and Martin Luther King Jr. He had a dream and spoke up with action. King didn't want people to judge his four little children by the color or their skin, but by the content of their character. God and Martin Luther King Jr. influenced and led me to do good for others. Jesus gives me peace."

"Terry, thank you for sharing your story with me. I'll try to find my niche to help others," said Maxi. "Let's get some selfies with these gardens and red rocks. We can sing America the beautiful. Join in with me, Terry," said Maxi. "Our voices will carry to Heaven."

"O beautiful for spacious skies

For amber waves of grain

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!

America! America!

God shed his grace on thee

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

Maxi watched two men wearing black cowboy hats trotting their paint horses upward to the Eagle's Nest teacher's tent. They stopped, took off their hats and sunglasses, and tied the lead ropes to the tent lines. Each man wore plaid flannel shirts, white tees, faded jeans, and leather cowboy boots.

"How y'all doing? Thank you for hosting this dinner, Joshua." Pastor Sam and Linda shook his hand.

"My pleasure," said Joshua Eagle. "I'm here to promote my Southwestern horse sale and True Color's fashion show. We need more models for the ladies fall sportswear line. Plus, I'm starting trail rides for city slickers to enjoy country life."

"I like your passion, Joshua," said Linda. "I'm a city slicker and haven't ridden a horse before."

"I'll personally teach you, how to ride, Linda," said Joshua. "You can stop at the ranch anytime. I'll let you ride a gentle gelding."

"Sounds like a plan, Joshua." Linda smiled, "I'll bring lunch for a picnic."

"Joshua, seems like everyone is here. I'll say prayers so we can eat," said Pastor Sam. Everyone held hands together outside the tent.

"Father God, thank you for a beautiful, sunny May day where we can gather at The Garden of the Gods and celebrate life. We are your vessels of light and love praising you. As we fellowship with each other. We thank you for the hands that made this food, taught the classes, and promoted this event. Jesus, we praise you for your gifts, talents, and your presence here. Amen."

Thank you, Pastor Sam. I appreciate your prayer. Let's eat!"

Maxi watched the caterers serving the hungry teachers and friends. Maxi and Terry filled up their plates with pulled barbeque chicken, salads, fruit, and desserts.

Moni and Annie spotted Linda's vegan sriracha cauliflower wraps with guacamole in a cooler with cut fruit and berries.

"Moni and Annie, we enjoyed your exercise class," Maxi said. "Please join us. Destiny and Zoe told us you wear their exercise clothes."

Destiny walked by and said, "Yes, we swap our talents." She sat down and drank some ice tea.

"Sometimes the four of us go for hiking adventures," Zoe said. "We just went for a ladies' getaway at Evergreen and St. Mary's Glacier last weekend. We rented a cabin and hiked over 10,000 steps and 33 flights of steps."

"What fun," replied Maxi. "It's good to experience unfamiliar areas. Terry and I hiked around the Garden of the Gods." She glanced at Terry digging into the buffet food.

Joshua Eagle stood up and spoke with a deep, authoritative voice. "Can I have your attention, please?"

People stopped talking and listened to Joshua. "Thank you." Joshua looked around. "The reason Pastor Prince and I came here are twofold. Pastor Prince will pray with anyone who desires prayers of healing or help. He's preaching at a seven am sunrise service Sunday morning at The Garden of the Gods on the red rocks where the exercise classes have been. Sunday morning's brunch will be served back here at the teacher's tent and catered by the Boulder restaurants. Please give a round of thanks for the Denver chefs who catered today's food.

Maxi and the others cheered the chefs by clapping their hands.

Joshua said, "I would like to introduce our fashion designers, Destiny and Zoe. They graduated from the Boulder Design School with honors. I sponsored and personally funded their new business, "True Colors." Destiny and Zoe designed a hiking adult line for fall production. They have plans on designing a youth line at my ranch with children with autism as artists. I'm hosting a fashion show for True Colors during Memorial Weekend on Saturday at The Flying Eagle Ranch outside of Boulder. I present to you Destiny and Zoe."

The designers walked over to Joshua. Max noticed Destiny wore an aqua jacket, tee, and leggings. Her jacket had a silver eagle emblem on the left side. Her black hair had red highlights. Zoe wore a purple tank top and shorts. Her blond shoulder-length hair had colorful pony beads in her braids.

"Thank you everyone, Joshua, for your support in our dream for True Colors." Destiny said, "He's hosting our first fashion show at Flying Eagle Ranch. Zoe and I would appreciate your help in our show. We need models to wear our designs at the show and pose in marketing photos. Jenna Jackson at Colorado Lifestyle Magazine will be featuring True Colors designs in her July magazine spread. Please sign up on this clipboard Zoe is holding."

"Thank you all for modeling for us." Zoe walked around. "When you model for us, we will give you the outfit that you wear to keep. Since Joshua is generous with us, we will bless you all with a complete design with a jacket, tee, and pants."

Terry poked Maxi's arm with his left elbow, "I'm in if you're in. A new hiking outfit would inspire me to keep in shape."

"Thank you," Zoe said standing next to Maxi. If you know of anyone else, sign their name here too. We'll contact them."

"Maxi, sign up your friend Phoenix," said Terry as he signed the sheet.

"He's in the hospital." Maxi looked at Terry. "I have to coach him next week. Dr. Kline said water therapy would be good for his back and neck."

"Maxi, water aerobics is a terrific workout without causing stress to the muscles," said Moni. "I've taken classes with my mom."

"Phoenix needs friendship too," said Maxi. "Maybe he'll model with us."

"Oh course," said Destiny. "We need more men models and he'll make more friends at Joshua's ranch. We can trail ride together."

"Sounds like a terrific event," said Maxi. "Terry, we'll make sure Phoenix comes with us to the Flying Eagle's Ranch. Let's pray that Dr. Kline will release him soon."

"Maxi, tonight Annie and I are teaching a relaxing zen yoga class," said Moni. "Zoe and Destiny are joining us. The guys are setting up the campfire for s'mores and stories under the stars."

"Sounds like great plans," said Maxi. "Count me in." She looked around the tent at all the new friends she made and smiled.



Pastor Prince walked past the table hearing their conversation and prayed. "Father God in Heaven, I know that you hear me. Turn Phoenix's life around for the excellent plans you have for him. Give him dreams and visions, more than he can ask or imagine, by your great grace in Jesus' name. Bless everyone here. Jesus, we praise you."



Author Notes Our family loves hiking at the Garden of the Gods. Enjoy this chapter
and hope that I have touched your heart with hope. flylikeaneagle - nancy


Chapter 9
sunrise prayers

By flylikeaneagle

LOGLINE - Maxi McGee goes undercover to write a personal memoir about Denver's gentrification birth pains, connects to The Father's House people who extend love, food, adventures, and becomes a voice of hope.

"What do you want me to say, Lord? I need your strength for the sunrise service," asked Pastor Prince. "People need to know God's saving grace and salvation. I need to draw close to you, Father God, face to face. May the Holy Spirit guide me in Jesus' Name."

Opening up the Holy Book, Pastor Prince spoke Isaiah 40 out loud...

"Comfort, oh comfort my people," says your God. "Speak softly and tenderly to Jerusalem, but also make it very clear. That she has served her sentence, that her sin is taken care of--forgiven!

Pastor Phoenix walked on the red rocks and sand on the trail leading higher at the Garden of the Gods to the Cathedral Spires. The night was lit by starlight and a half-moon. Raising his arms, he said, "True, the grass withers and the wildflowers fade, but our God's Word stands firm and forever. Climb a high mountain, Zion. You're the preacher of good news. Raise your voice. Make it good and loud, Jerusalem."

"Lord, send the people you desire to hear the Good News to me for your Glory. Return the prisoners and give them hope. We press through and praise your name, Jesus."

Pastor Prince spotted a white cross shimmering in the night sky over the cathedral spires. The light grew brighter. Pastor Prince fell onto his knees, praising God's glory presence.

Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening? God doesn't come and go. God lasts. He's Creator of all you can see or imagine. The mountain breeze blew on his face and surrounded him like a blanket comforting a child with warmth.

"Trust in Me," says Jesus. "Know that even young people tire and drop out... But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles."

"Thank you, Jesus, for your word and energizing me. Teach me how to comfort your people."

Pastor Prince looked up at the stars shining brightly over the Garden of the Gods, laid down on the ground, took a deep breath, and fell asleep in the hands of Jesus.

* * * * *

Pastor Prince woke up before the sun rose in the sky. Eagles flew overhead like they were dancing to their own beat of music. He walked down to the teacher's tents. Meditating on God's word of 2 Peter 1:11, "And God will open wide the gates of Heaven for you to enter into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Maxi sat on a blanket, watching the sunrise colors change from pastel golds and reds to a golden yellow. She took out her Bible, and her writing journal, and colored pens. Other people gathered and sat down.

"Terry, you can join me," said Maxi. "I see Moni and Annie are sitting nearby."

"Thank you," replied Terry. "How did you sleep?"

"I fell asleep like a baby with this fresh mountain air. The s'mores and stories were fun. I enjoyed the beauty of the starlight. I felt like I could reach out and touch the stars." People's voices grew louder around them.

"Hey city slicker," said Terry. "You need to camp outdoors more often. My brother and I love to camp and hike in these mountains."

"I'll take you up on that offer someday, Terry." Maxi smiled at him.

"Pastor Sam just called with a project for my Carpenter's Sons group to do today. See you later, Maxi," replied Terry. "I have to head out to The Father's House. Thanks for joining me. Moni and Annie will give you a ride back to Denver."

"Thanks for the walk and talks, Terry," said Maxi. She gave him a hug goodbye.

Terry darted into the Eagle's Nest and filled a to-go bag with fruit, cinnamon rolls, Fuji water bottles, and grabbed a large mug of coffee. He loaded up a golf cart with The Father's House backpacks and coolers.

* * * * *

Pastor Prince stood up in front of the people with a coffee in his hands. "Good morning," he said. "Today is the day of the Lord. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my lips be pleasing to Jesus. Thank you all for joining me at this beautiful sunrise service honoring Jesus."

Maxi watched him stand closer to the people who sat on blankets on the ground at the Garden of the Gods.

Pastor Prince said, "Arise and shine, children of God. You are here for God's purpose and plans as voices for a new movement of hope upon the land." He raised his hands into the sky. "Hallelujah! The day that I crossed over into the new life that comes only through Jesus, it was as if a metamorphosis took place. I was transformed from a life of misery, death and fear into a life of renewal, peace, joy and hope. The gate that opened to me was not a natural gate but a spiritual one. As I walked through it, the Life-giving Spirit entered into my spirit and all things started to become new." He looked at the group sitting on blankets.

"Jesus wants to so possess your life that you will not even recognize your former days. In John 10:10, The Holy Word says, "I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.'"

Before Christ, we were like prisoners in chains without abundance of life. Even if we had success in this world, it came with limitations. In Christ, we are set free to be who we were always meant to be in destiny. We can have abundance in every way. Jesus wants to set you free from misery, depression, addictions, poverty, and sickness. Whatever chain is on your life, the way out is provided by Jesus.

Jesus is the gate to eternal and abundant life. In the passage above it says, "WHOEVER ENTERS THROUGH ME. Whoever is you and me. Whoever is any person who comes to Him, no matter what sex, race, or culture. Whoever turns to Jesus will experience the blessings and promises of Christ," said Pastor Prince.

"I have ministered around the world, and I had an incredible experience ministering to people from different religions. Many needed healing and received healing in the name of Jesus. All who come to Jesus will be delivered and set free. God's gate will open to them."

Pastor Prince walked around speaking to the people. "In Luke 1:37, Jesus says nothing is impossible with Him. I declare that your imagination is being redeemed, restored, and overflowing in creativity. God is about to speak things which seem impossible, but with His help will become possible for you." He touched Maxi's forehead. "This word is for you, Maxine McGee."

"I also declare that the voice of the enemy is being drowned out in your life and that you will not fear. God has opened by Jesus' death on the cross and is opening up the gates before you, starting with salvation in Christ, and you will walk through every gate of blessing. Nothing will stop you. No devil will stop you nor man will not stop you. You will rise into the exact place that God has in store for you, and you will testify of the great things that God has done! The Lord will use you as his voice, a scribe of Heaven's words will be downloaded into you," says the Lord. "Receive and believe this is your calling."

Maxi watched the eagles fly overhead. She felt her spirit fly higher and dance on the wings of eagles as she accepted God's calling. Her heart was filled with joy, hope, and peace.

Pastor Prince walked upon the people and spoke God's prophetic words unto them. "Bless this sunrise brunch and the work of everyone's hands as we praise you Jesus," said Pastor Prince. "I'll stay here whoever desires prayers."

* * * * *

Maxi stood in line with Moni and Annie at the Eagle's Nest. "Sunrise service was amazing. He called me by my birth name, no one here knew my legal name. Pastor Prince seemed to have a word of wisdom from God for so many of the people."

"Maxi, he's very spiritual," said Moni. "We've heard him speak at LifeLight music festivals last year."

"He told us that we would teach people to relax from world stress," said Annie. "That's why we like to do meditation poses and life coach people."

"I'll have to believe and receive. Jesus is amazing," said Maxi. "This food looks great."

"Try the vegan food Linda made for us. You'll like her overnight oatmeal with chia seeds and fresh blueberries."

"I like her lavender lemon scones," said Annie. "Take one, Maxi. Come and join us."

"Thank you for your classes," said Maxi. "I had so much fun with this fitness festival. Terry took me hiking and we even golfed with Joshua and Linda at the Garden of the God's country club. Terry had to tell me what clubs to use since it was my first time golfing."

"Terry has his eye on you, Maxi," said Moni. She added fruit on her plate and sat down.

"He's like a big brother to me," replied Maxi. "He showed me around the Garden of the Gods hiking paths." She took a big mouthful of the lavender lemon scone and ate it. "This is delicious. I'll have to get the recipe for these scones."

"Linda is a chef at LoDo in Denver," said Annie. "She promised to teach us some baking techniques. You could join us at The Father's House during the week when she teaches."

"I'd love that," said Maxi. "Maybe we could do more classes together at the Flying Eagle Ranch Memorial Weekend." She smiled at the ladies and dug into her blueberry overnight oatmeal. "Yummy."

"Pastor Sam, Linda, and Joshua took off Saturday morning so they could prepare for their street music ministry on Saturday night," said Moni. "Joshua wanted to help Linda. She challenged him to a Sunday night chili cookoff."

"I'll drive you to the Flying Eagle Ranch in a couple of weeks," said Maxi. "I promised Phoenix I would coach him with water therapy soon. I hope that he's released soon and can join us for the fashion show."

"What happened to Phoenix? I heard he flew onto the street hard after being hit by a lady texting and driving," said Annie.

"The driver ran a red light as Phoenix was running across the wet crosswalk. Dr. Kline put him into a turtle suit to protect his ribs," said Maxi. "He used it as a drum making joyful music."

"Let's pray for his healing," Annie bowed her head and spoke, "Lord give Phoenix new life filled with joy, Kingdom plans, and healing for his body in Jesus Name."

"Amen, sister," replied Moni. "Short and sweet, Jesus hears and heals his children."

"Amen. Here's my cell number," said Maxi. "Terry took off. I'll need a ride back to Denver with you. This week was wonderful, thank you."

"Stick with us," said Moni. "We'll take you to City O City in Denver for lunch, my treat."

"It's a wonderful vegan restaurant," said Annie. "Then I'll treat you to vegan ice cream for dessert."

"Can't wait," said Maxi. "I'll buy dinner for you next time. I've always been so busy. This girl time is so much fun."

"We are a wonderful influence on you," said Moni. She sipped her chai tea. "We will stop at The Father's House later."

"Maybe, Linda will make us a pot of vegan chili. We must see who wins the challenge, Linda's city chili vs Joshua's country chili," said Annie. "I'll call her."

"I have my bet on Linda," said Moni. "She's a wonderful chef."

"Sounds like a fun-filled day," said Maxi. She grabbed another scone and tea.

After brunch, Maxi helped Moni and Annie gather their cooler, yoga mats, and gear, and headed back to Denver.

Author Notes Maxi joins Terry, Moni and Annie for the Fitness Festival at the Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado. This place is beautiful and a great hiking workout. I haven't forgotten Phoenix in the hospital. His adventure is in the next chapter, Sunset Encounter. I feel like my story is like a roller coaster of adventures.

I have helped LifeLight with food, fellowship and prayers to thousands at music festivals for several years with my daughters, Monica and Annie. They reach out in love and music to touch hearts and souls for Jesus.

My prayer is to lift people up with hope, joy, and peace so you may dance on the wings of eagles. I dedicate my novels to Monica and Annie, my daughters, and John, my hubby, who lets me have peace and quiet to write into the midnight hours. God's blessings. flylikeaneagle - nancy


Chapter 10
gifts and talents

By flylikeaneagle

"Joshua, how are you doing with your country chili? Linda asked, "What's your secret ingredient?" She glanced over at Joshua stirring the large slow cooker on the counter at The Father's House.

"Precious Linda, I'm doing great," said Joshua. This legacy recipe is from my Dallas chef, Carl Caruth. The secret ingredients, my dear in my batch are the slow cooked flat brisket, special chili spices, and a cup of strong coffee. I know some people throw in beer or wine in their chili."

Joshua walked over to the gas stove where Linda's chili cooked. She was crying while chopping up onions. "Hand me that dish towel, please," cried Linda. "Moni and Annie called me and requested a batch of vegan chili. They are bringing Maxi with them. Seems like Terry had to do a project with his guys, The Carpenter's Sons, for Pastor Sam.


"What's in your chili Linda?" Joshua grabbed a spoon and sampled the chili from the enormous pot on the stove. "Smells good for a city slicker."

Linda grabbed a spoon and smelled her chili. "Well, the Greek version that's popular in Chicago is chili on top of spaghetti noodles and loads of cheddar cheese. She smiled and said, "I have my version of chili made with hamburger, lots of peppers, celery, chili spices, cumin, whole tomatoes and Coors beer."

"Coors beer," said Joshua. "We are in Colorado." He laughed. "So what makes the vegan chili great?" He watched her pour in the beans, chopped carrots, celery, onions and tomatoes.

"I use only the finest and few ingredients, whole foods, for the vegan dish," Linda said. "I top this with avocado and chopped onions. I serve the chili over quinoa for more protein. Believe me, I load this with fiber."

"When are the people coming for dinner, Linda? He added corn into a batch of cornbread to go with his chili. He put the stirred mix into cast-iron pans for the oven. "Texas corn bread goes with my country chili."

"Supper should be ready about seven tonight," said Linda. "We have four to five hours to finish our chili and sides. The people will judge our chilis, be ready for a battle, Joshua." She laughed and gave him a hug. "I like a man in the kitchen. When did you learn to cook?"

"My Grandpa, Wyatt, on the ranch taught me when we wet on cattle drives with the ranch hands," replied Joshua. "I figured I better help cook or eat bacon and beans every day. I also helped our kitchen chefs. They enjoyed having a sou chef to chop up foods and help out with chores since we always had people over at the Flying Eagle Ranch."

"Busy hands stay out of trouble," Linda said. She whipped up zucchini cranberry bread to go with her chili and put the large pans into the oven. The kitchen spices filled the air.

Joshua laughed. "Well, Linda, I'd rather be in the kitchen than mucking the horse shit with the ranch hands." He washed up some dishes and Linda dried them.

"Did you want to make the salad or shall I?" Linda pointed to the large fridge.

"We can do the salad together, I'll chop for you," Joshua laughed. He rinsed his hands.

"Thank you, I'll make my secret salad dressing recipe," said Linda. "It's wonderful having a skilled chef working with me." She gave Joshua a kiss on his cheek.

* * * * * *

"Moni, when do we have to be at The Father's House?"Maxi asked. She looked at the menu of vegan ice cream choices. Cashew and carmel swirl, dark chocolate truffle, peachy maple pecan, strawberry coconut, and snickerdoodle containers behind the counter looked tempting to her.

"My favorite is the strawberry coconut," said Annie. "They will let you try a sample so you know you would like that flavor." They waited in line and looked at the menu on the wall.

"We have time for a walk after this," Moni waited in line. "Linda said to stop over about six tonight. She made us vegan chili with avocados and city chili with Coors beer."

"I could use a pleasant walk after the delicious food at City O City," said Maxi. "I'll order the peachy maple pecan." She sampled a spoonful of the vegan ice cream flavor from the teenager behind the counter.

"I'll have the same," said Moni. "I'm glad that we met you, Maxi."

"I am too," replied Maxi. "I'ts nice to have some fun loving friends in my life. This is delicious." She waited for Moni to order. Annie pulled out cash from her backpack and paid the server.

"Keep the change," said Annie. She tasted her strawberry, coconut vegan ice cream.

"Thank you, Annie, for the delicious dessert," said Maxi. "These flavors are incredible."

"Sis, thank you for buying. We'll go to the City Park next," said Moni. This park is by the Denver Zoo and the Colorado Natural Museum of History. You can see Downtown Denver."

"This was my parents favorite walking park. Please lead the way," said Maxi. She followed Moni and Annie out of the ice cream parlor.

"What did your parents do, Maxi?" Moni looked at her while leading the way towards her car.

"My dad was an English professor and swim coach," said Maxi. "My mom was an interior decorator. She had her own business decorating downtown condos. They live in Aspen, Colorado, and love being retired."

"Did you swim since your dad was a coach?" Annie asked as she ate her cone. '

"Yes, I swam the breast stroke and relays with our team. We made Denver State and Southwest champions," said Maxi. "I'm not in swimming shape now."

"Phoenix should be out of the hospital soon," stated Moni. "The water aerobics and swimming laps will be great for you both. "

"We must life coach you, Maxi," said Annie. "The Flying Eagle's Ranch event is coming up in two weeks. We can stretch out and coach some classes."

"Sounds like an exceptional plan," said Maxi. "Count me in." They walked by the wealthy Cherry Creek neighborhood homes to Moni's car and got in.

* * * * * * *

"I'm looking to you, God," said Phoenix. He read from Psalm 25. Chaplain Raphael gave him the Bible and Healing Promises books as gifts when he visited Phoenix one night. "Take me by the hand. Lead me down the path of truth. You are my Savior, aren't you?" Walking around his hospital room, he stopped to look out the window at the Denver tall buildings.

Phoenix held the book to his face and spoke outloud, "Keep watch over me and keep me out of trouble. Don't let me down when I run to you. Use all you skill to put me together. I wait to see your finished product."

Dr. Kline walked into his room. He overhead him praying and said, "Your tests are looking good, Phoenix. Your ribs are healing well. You must be careful with your future activities. Some problems of a concussion are difficult concentrating, headaches, fatigue, and sensitivity to sound and light."

"When do I leave, Dr. Kline? I'm getting bored confined to these four walls," said Phoenix. He glanced at Dr. Kline's white lab coat and his salt and pepper hair. Phoenix sat on a hard hospital chair.

"I've contacted Pastor Sam to pick you up later this afternoon," said Dr. Kline. "You can start water therapy with Maxi. She's a skilled swimmer who promised me she would help you." He checked his iPad and made notes. "The lady who hit you with her BMW feels bad about the accident. Her auto insurance picked up all your medical bills and future therapy expenses."

"That's outstanding," said Phoenix. "I still don't have a place to live or a job."

"She started a foundation for you as trustee to get you on your feet and oversee help for other homeless vets," said Dr. Kline. "I received a letter from Mrs. Desiree Davidson and her husband stating they will get in touch with you at The Father's House soon. They want to compensate you for your pain and suffering and help other fellow army vets with you being the trustee. Mr. Davidson is a retired army general."

"I'm over whelmed with the marvellous news," said Phoenix. "Thank you, Dr. Kline, for helping me." He gave Dr. Kline an enormous hug.

Phoenix watched a nurse bring in lunch on a tray. She smiled and walked away.

"I'll see you this afternoon when Pastor Sam comes by, Phoenix," said Dr. Kline. "Remember, trust in Jesus to lead you on your path of light. I work for him."

"Blessed be God, he heard me praying. Jesus proved that he's on my side," praised Phoenix.

"Leep reading and believing God's words. Looks like Chaplain Raphael visited you.

"I've been reading God's promises everyday. They give me hope for a future," said Phoenix.

"Nothing is impossible with God, only believe, Phoenix." Dr. Kline smiled, "I've seen many mighty miracles at the hand of the Lord."

"God is able," said Phoenix with tears in his eyes.

Author Notes Photography by my daughter, Monica, overlooking Denver's City Park and Denver from the top of the Denver Science Museum, February 2020.

I listen to sermons, read The Message Bible, and listen to worship music while I write. Iron sharpens iron and we are influenced by our friends. God's blessings and health be upon us all in Jesus Name.


Chapter 11
celebrations

By flylikeaneagle

Pastor Sam entered The Father's House. The afternoon sunshine floated into the rooms through the white lace drapes. Taupe paint, shiplap wood planks, and photography covered the walls. Hand me down sofas, chairs, and tables had been restored and colorfully updated to have an antique contemporary look in his flipped mansion at Five Points, Denver.

Sam looked at the pots of slow cooker chilis in the kitchen. "Sure smells wonderful, Linda." He wore a navy tee with The Father's House logo on the left pocket, blue jeans, and deck shoes.

Linda handed Sam a big spoonful of chili. She placed her hand under the spoon and handed him a white paper napkin. "How are the guys doing on the construction project?"

"Terrific, The Denver Dreammakers called on us to help the event planners and venders set up for a music fest tonight. A Thousand White Horses band is playing at the Denver music plaza. Terry and his crew set up and place the tables, chairs, prayer tents, and porta potties. They feed our guys and pay for their services. We get a donation from the ticket sales."

"Sounds like an enormous project," said Linda. "How's my city chili? Joshua made his country chili you can eat and decide whose you prefer."

"Your chili is delicious. I'll try Joshua's chili next," said Pastor Sam. "First, I need to tell you that I have to run an errand and check on Phoenix. Could you bake a celebration cake? I am hoping that he could come home tonight."

"Praise the Lord, of course I'll bake a celebration cake. It will be a huge layered sheet cake with Neopolitan ice cream, graham crackers, and shaved chocolate swirls. A celebration party for Phoenix is just what we all need to start the week."

"Please keep this quiet, see you later."

Linda got out several large bowls, put them on the woodblock counter, and cracked the eggs for the cake. She sang a song to herself. and put an apron over her flowered halter dress.

"Joshua, can you lend me a hand and crush these graham crackers, please?" Linda gave him several boxes. "We are making a quick celebration neopolitan cake with white cake, strawberry and chocolate ice creams. We'll whip this up together, top it with chocolate swirls, and freeze it for later."

"Sounds delicious, do you have enough Ice cream? I'll need a double piece for my sweet tooth." He smiled and gave Linda a kiss on her cheek. "You found my weakness." Joshua blushed.

"Stick with me." She whipped up the cake batter. "I bake everything with extra love."

Linda poured the batter into the large cake pans and put them into her stainless steel double professional ovens.

Joshua finished chopping the graham crackers. "We make a wonderful team in the kitchen."

"Yes, we do. I'll try your chili and you can try mine. We deserve a break." She scooped chili into four bowls.

Joshua topped the chilis and carried them to the dining room table by the kitchen. He looked at a photo of a lighthouse on the wall with a scripture which said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, which is in Heaven. Matthew 5:16."

"This is a good memory verse."

"Jesus gave us both big hearts full of light, love and good works. I think my chili is the winner, Joshua." She smiled as she dug into both bowls. "I was hungry, this hit the spot. How's your chili?"

"I think they are both a hit. I used our legacy family recipe." He grinned at her.

The oven buzzer rang. She put on her red, hot oven mitts on her hands and set the cake sheets on the butcher block counter. "We'll finish our ice cream celebration cake once the cake cools. The people will arrive here within a few hours. I'll put some praise music on." She turned on the DVD player in the dining room, then got some ice teas with lemon for them.

"Care to dance with me?" He reached out his hand and spun her around. Then he held her closely for a slow dance and smiled. "I could dance forever with you, Linda."

"I would love to, Joshua. This is so Heavenly." She placed her hand on his muscular shoulder.

Joshua got closer to Linda's face and took a deep breath. He kissed her beautiful ruby lips softly. His heart beat faster. They embraced for several minutes not listening to the footsteps coming closer.

"Cats away so the mice play I see," said Pastor Sam walking into The Father's House with Phoenix at his side.

"We were, ahh, Pastor Sam, taking a break from all of our cooking," said Linda flushed and glanced back at Joshua. She looked up at Sam.

"Phoenix, you're back. Welcome home!" Linda walked over to him. "Now don't run away again. I'll give you and Pastor Sam a couple small bowls of chili to try. Let us know which you prefer, the country or the city chili."

Phoenix sat down at the large black walnut dining table near the kitchen and ate both chilis. "Could I get some water?"

"Joshua, meet Phoenix. He's been at the Denver Health Hospital for a couple of weeks," said Linda. "Joshua and I have been cooking these chilis all afternoon. Pastor Sam and Joshua, you're the judges." They sat next to Phoenix.

Linda brought out an iced pitcher of water with lemon slices and Joshua's corn bread. "Do you have a favorite?" She observed him eat the chilis and drank her ice tea. The chili and cumin spices filled the air. Pastor Sam finished his chili.

"Both are delicious, Linda. I do like this country one better because the meat is tender like the buffalo I used to eat on the reservation. Whose chili is this one?" Phoenix finished the bowls and drank his water.

"Joshua, you win the first challenge," said Linda. She broke some corn bread. "Delicious bread, I like the added corn and chopped jalepano."

"Thank you Linda. We made a lot of cornbread on our ranch. It was a favorite of ours."

"I vote for your chili, Linda," said Pastor Sam. "Your chili has the Black Angus hamburger we had in the freezer."

"Joshua, you won one from Phoenix and I won one from Pastor Sam. Can you excuse us, we still have a Neopolitan cake to finish with ice cream, chocolate shavings, and extra love. We are going to have a huge celebration in your honor tonight." Linda went into the kitchen with Joshua.

-------------------------

Maxi, Moni, and Annie walked into The Father's House. Pastor Sam was practicing some praise songs in the worship center. Maxi walked by a photo of a house in the clouds with the scripture and stopped to read, "I'm asking God for one thing, only one thing: to live with him in his house my whole life long. Psalm 27 - the Message."

"Pastor Sam, is this how you named your ministry?" Maxi saw his fingers dance on the keys of his grand piano as he played music by memory.

"Yes, I like the request of King David to live with him in his house. We will all have houses prepared for us in Heaven someday. Just believe in Jesus and love one another. Many people feel they need to climb the ladder to be important, but God built us to love. We have three things to do, trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, and love extravagantly. The best of the three is love."

"Is that why you desire to help people and take in the homeless like Phoenix," asked Maxi. "When is he coming back to The Father's House?"

"Maybe you ladies would like to go ask Linda. She's in the kitchen with Joshua." He continued playing.

Moni and Annie walked on the red oak polished floors to the left side of the Father's House into the dining room. Maxi followed and ran to Phoenix, who fell asleep on a love seat in the sun room curled up like a cat. She grabbed his left arm.

"What? I don't need my blood pressure taken." He woke up suddenly and saw Maxi face to face. "Guess I've been in the hospital too long. They were always checking on me."

"Phoenix, welcome home. "You look great."

"Hi Maxi, who are your friends?" He stood up and shook hands, smiling.

"Moni and Annie are sisters and fitness coaches. They agree that swimming lap therapy and water aerobics would be good for both of us. They taught me some classes at the Garden of the Gods during the Fitness Festival."

"Nice to meet you," said Phoenix. "You'll have to try the chili. I picked my favorite one."

"Supper will be served at seven," said Linda. "We are waiting on Destiny and Zoe, Terry and his guys, and our mission guests. They set up for a music festival with A Thousand White Horses as lead band at the Denver City Park.

"We walked around the Denver City Park today," said Moni. "We saw activity at the pavilion."

"Did you make us some chili," asked Annie as she walked into the kitchen. She opened up a pot on the stove.

"This is your chili made with extra veggies like carrots, celery, onions, whole tomatoes and legumes. I have avocados for your toppings," said Linda. She took out a spoon and served some vegan chili into a large flowered bowl for Annie. "Try it."

"Yes, perfect," said Annie. "Thank you. I didn't know that I was hungry again after our walk."

"Oh, it's almost seven. Let's join Pastor Sam in the worship center for some praise songs and prayers."

Maxi followed the others into the worship center and joined in singing the song, "Go light your world," by Chris Rice.

There is a candle in every soul
Some brightly burning, some dark and cold
There is a Spirit who brings a fire
Ignites a candle and makes His home

So carry your candle, run to the darkness
Seek out the helpless, confused and torn
Hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle and go light your world
Take your candle and go light your world

"Father God," prayed Pastor Sam. "Thank you for bringing your prodigal sons home to us at The Father's House. I pray that everyone is in health as their soul prospers with extra love. Shine your light and love upon us. Bless the hands that prepared the food and bless the food that it multiples to feed everyone with leftovers for the week. In Jesus Name we give thanks and praise."

Everyone added, "Hallelujah, Amen!"

Linda and Joshua led the way for the guest to the dining room. "Joshua and I made up these chilis today. We challenged each other to see who would win, the city chili which I made or the country chili which Joshua made," said Linda. "Please take some of each and vote. We have paper and pencils on the table." Two slow cookers were placed on the serving counter with white flowered bowls, spoons, bowls with cheddar cheese, chopped onions, several large tossed salads, and bottled waters.

Linda went into the kitchen and brought out the cornbread muffins and zuchini cranberry bread. She placed them on top of the dinning table.

"Linda is a wonderful chef," said Joshua. "We made a celebration cake for dessert in honor of Phoenix coming home. Please give him a round of claps. Thank you." People cheered, clapped and stood in line for the chili, breads and salads.

Maxi noticed that Destiny, Zoe, Terry and his crew joined in the celebration. Linda and Phoenix served their chilis, which by God's answer to prayers never ran out.

Phoenix stood up when Linda and Joshua brought out the Neopolitan white cake with strawberry and chocolate ice cream. "I'm honored to be back at The Father's House. Thank you for your love and endless prayers."

Maxi noticed that Phoenix had a few tears fall down his face as he cut the cake. "He's home," she said to herself, "thank you, Jesus."

----------------

Phoenix woke up from his bed with a dream. He looked at the clock, 3:33 am. He laid on his queen size bed and breathed deeply in and out. "Was this a dream? Was it real?" He got up and walked into the bathroom thinking about the dream while sitting on the cold toilet. "Did I or didn't I?"

Phoenix wiped oil and sweat from his forehead with a hand towel. He recalled reading the healing scriptures in his hospital bed from The BIble and the healing scriptures book received from Chaplain Raphael. They gave him comfort when he needed healing from his accident.

Phoenix laid on the blue sheets in his bed room at The Father's House, and read the words in psalms before he fell asleep. As he read the words out loud they turned into gold bricks that floated out of the Bible into the sky. The brick steps waited for him as he climbed in his spirit, step by step, upward and disappeared past Earth to Heaven's pearly gates. Phoenix walked on the streets of gold. He saw and embraced Jesus, who welcomed him. His spirit was filled with incredible love made alive with the Messiah. What seemed like an eternity, but maybe for a moment in his dream, he felt deeply loved.

Jesus stood tall wearing his white linen robe, prayer shawl, and leather sandals. His father stood next to Jesus. He was playing a duduk flute made of apricot wood. His song was sad, and then it changed to joy.

"My son," his father said. His face was kind. "I'm sorry I didn't spend enough time with you as you grew up. I kept pushing you to be your best but you got into trouble at the reservation. Your mom and I wanted you to have a prosperous future." He touched Phoenix's hand. "I wanted more for you than my life became. I regret not watching you run. Your mother said you loved to run like the wind. She said when you ran it looked like you flew on the wings of eagles."

Phoenix watched his father, now appearing about twenty one in age. He wore a white robe and a small crown on his head. "Please forgive me and Jesus will forgive you. Your heart will heal tonight and love will flow like a river so that you can help others that feel fatherless, angry, broken, and depressed. Lift them up with your skills and talents that The Master Potter designed you for with his Kingdom plans."

Phoenix watched his father blow on the the duduk flute and move his fingers. His Hebrew music changed into songs of the Native American joyful songs that he heard and remembered as a youth. Phoenix cried tears of joy. "Did you play this music?"

"Yes, my son," his father said. "Jesus taught me songs on this flute when I was a youth. Take this gift, I present this to you to learn our songs. Whenever you need strength, play the music. You'll lift up your brothers high on your shoulders, and teach them to fly with new dreams in their heart. I love you, my son."

Phoenix felt his father hug him tightly. He smelt like sandalwood, myrrh, and frankincense.

Jesus kissed Phoenix on his forehead and poured his priestly scented anointing oil on his long brown hair. "I am doing a new thing with you, Phoenix. I will send you my blessings, favor, and great grace. You will do greater miracles with your father and myself at your side corded together than you can imagine. I love you always and forever, more than the stars in the sky and the sand in the seashores."

Phoenix felt his great love penetrate his heart. Then instantly he flew back to his bedroom at The Father's House.

Phoenix pondered his dream as he looked into the bathroom mirror. "Was this real?"

He walked back to his bedroom, turned on the lights, and stood at the doorway. A sweet fragrance of flowers filled the room.

Phoenix saw an object laying next to his pillow. On top of his open Bible was his father's duduk apricot flute. "Oh my, Jesus and father, thank you." He sat on his bed, placed the flute to his lips, and played a few notes. It was a sad song which turned into a song of joy, overflowing joy. Phoenix felt tears rain down on his face.

Author Notes Maxi McGee connects with friends from The Father's House in Five Points of Denver. Chef Linda challenges Joshua Eagle to create chili and help her with a celebration cake. Phoenix recovered in the hospital after being hit by a lady driver who ran a red light while texting. Terry helps vets and people from The Father's House with construction and community service in Denver for The Dreammakers. Moni and Annie are fitness life coaches who finished teaching at a fitness festival in Garden of the Gods. Enjoy the adventures.


Chapter 12
Who is my neighbor?

By flylikeaneagle

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The darkness is being exposed as the presence and glory of God moves about the cities and the mountains through His revivalist children," Maxi spoke out loud as she changed into her one piece red competitive swimsuit in the locker room.

She walked towards the deep end of the indoor public aquatic pool. "Phoenix, the best way to get in is to cannonball jump, you get all wet at once, or you'll freeze if you go in inch by inch." She jumped into the deep end and made a huge splash at the Five Points Aquatics Center.

"I'll go for the inch by inch chill in the shallow end, Maxi." He walked into the pool, then bent down to get totally wet.

"I love the feeling of being in pool water." Maxi swam in the deep end towards Phoenix. She swirled her arms from her sides to the center of her body and back again. Phoenix followed her lead.

"Now move your arms left to right, reverse back to the left, and repeat slowly and then faster. You can do this in figure eights too."

Phoenix stopped to take a hand full of water, stepped closer to Maxi and threw it at her face. "How am I doing?" He stepped backwards, laughing.

She smiled and swam closer to Phoenix, gathering water in both her hands. She lifted the water up and aimed at his head, "Great. I think you need to try something harder with your legs. Seems you are bored, so let's run in the water. I'll race you from one side to the other."

"You're on." Phoenix charged full speed, pushing the water with his hands.

Maxi stood in the pool at the other side. "How did you get here so fast?"

"I was born to swim. This was one of our swim drills my dad did with us. Water has lots of resistance, so you have to become one with the waves and move together. Let's try it again, together."

"One with the waves." Phoenix laughed as they ended up tied at the side. Closely standing by Maxi, he looked into her brown eyes and moved the wet hair from her face. "Thanks for getting me in the water, and showing me a part of your world. I'll show you a touch of my world afterwards, Maxi." He leaned closer and gave her a gentle kiss on her watery lips. "I could go for seconds."

Maxi swam away, "Time to try a few new moves. One is called the rocking horse. You lean on one foot backwards and then you rocked forward, then switch legs and repeat." She urged him to try her technique. "Great, Phoenix. Now two feet up and hop down like a jumping snow rabbit."

"I have one for you, jumping jacks." Phoenix counted to ten as he jumped. "Am I done, Maxi?"

"We can swim some laps with a kick board. You hold on to the board with your hands and kick your legs. You'll find it relaxing." Maxi demonstrated and counted his laps."

"So much for relaxing, Maxi. Are you buying me lunch after this?" Phoenix kicked his legs to the end of the pool and turned around for another lap.

"Do you like hamburgers and shakes from Shake Shack or chicken burgers and salads from BirdCall?" Maxi held the board close to her chest and paddled with her arms, watching her private student.

"Whatever you desire, Maxi." He relaxed and became one with the waves.

"Phoenix, I brought you some shampoo and a towel. We'll meet each other at the lobby and then get some lunch."

"Perfect, can't wait." He grabbed the shampoo, her teal green and white stripped towel, and headed for the men's locker room.

----

"Here's a bottle of non-scented body lotion for your face and body, Phoenix. I forgot to get an extra one so use mine."

"Thanks, my face is super dry from the pool water." He grinned a smile at Maxi while using her lotion on his face.

Maxi observed him apply lotion onto his muscular arms, leg quads and calves. "I can tell you have a runner shape."

"Out of shape runner right now that needs some food. Hey, I'm hungry, please lead the way." Phoenix opened the door and watched her walk with her lacy shirt, short skirt, and strong swimmer legs.

"Let's try BirdCall. We'll sightsee along the way," said Maxi. "Did you know that the RiNo Art area started as a grassroots movement for local artists? You'll notice large painted murals on the brick walls on the buildings. The neighborhood includes Globeville, Elyria-Swansea, Five Points and Cole with art galleries, historic warehouses, factories, jazz bars, outdoor music fests, restaurants, retail shops, and unique restaurants."

"Sounds wonderful for the tourists to see everything here, shop, and try the food. But I'll show you another side of the Denver neighborhood that is dark and needs to change. Maybe we can connect with the Colorado Dreammakers, and pitch them some ideas to give them hope."

"What are you talking about?" People on racing bikes drove past them on the street. Maxi took his hand as they heard Jazz music. The older brick buildings had brightly colored art murals on their sides. A warehouse was converted to an art gallery selling woven baskets, crafts, candles, cookware, and watercolors. They dodged the sightseers as they walked past the shops to BirdCall.

--------

"Come and see," Phoenix said as they walked down the Denver streets towards Lincoln Park, the Golden Triangle Art District, and the State Capital with its huge gold dome.

"I think we can cover more territory renting these city bikes, Phoenix." Maxi used her debit card to cover the cost.

"I'll show you the darkness in the streets. Follow me towards Lincoln Park." He sat on the bike, waited for Maxi, and led the way.

People stood next to the entrance of the park protesting while the garbage men, police, and social workers cleaned up the homeless camp. They pitched black garbage bags, chairs, sleeping bags, and tents into large garbage trucks. Maxi heard people crying and grabbing their bags before they got tossed. Several people fought each other in anger, yelling until the police stopped them. Outhouse smells filled the air. Maxi covered her nose.

"Where are you going?" Maxi asked a homeless lady wearing several colorful layers of clothing walking with her young child past an older guy sleeping in a living room chair next to his tent.

"I'll find another park," she said. "Many of these people are my friends. We take care of each other." She stuffed bags into her hand, her only treasures.

Phoenix grabbed Maxi's hand. "I worked with some friends that lived in these camps. They told me there had been about 600 tents, all families that lost their homes when their hours got cut. Some of them got sick, and medical costs knocked them down. Others gave up with life, chose alcohol, drugs, and isolation. They need counseling, happiness, and love."

Maxi spotted an older man with gray hair picking up his sleeping bag on the lawn. He rolled it up and approached a policeman, "This is mine."

She thought he had a hard time talking out loud, but looking closer at his mouth showed her that he had no teeth.

The police officer said to her, "We offer a school bus to take you people to St. Francis for a place to stay. They have beds."

Maxi and Phoenix noticed the people moved around like ants on an ant hill. Someone's belongings became unwanted garbage, and people got moved into the buses while others left for a smaller homeless camp.

"People need help," Phoenix spoke softly. "Denver Metro City has money, they need to build community centers and create jobs. No one is a throwaway person. Let's make this a neighbor-hood with neighbors loving one another."

"We'll have to brainstorm some ideas with Pastor Sam. This is so sad, Phoenix." Maxi shot photos on her cell phone. "Denver Metroplex needs to fund homes, give them jobs, and activities to do. Neighbors helping neighbors, inspire change, and lean on each other in love."

"They have to help them, now. People are getting abused, depressed, need beds, food, jobs, and mental health counseling. Many want to work, but they have no addresses. Maxi, I've been there and it feels like a pit with no way out."

"With God's love, the light can shine in their darkness and bring them hope." She watched young children walk around with dirty faces and clothes. "Did you want to go home, Phoenix?" Maxi was shocked to see so many needy people inside a Metroplex.

"Let's go, I'm getting tired, we can brainstorm with Pastor Sam. Thanks for a wonderful day." They rode their rental bikes back to The Father's House in Five Points.

* * * * * * * *

Two weeks flew by with Maxi and Phoenix's swimming therapy lessons, True Colors fashion show fittings, and packing for the Memorial Weekend Flying Eagle Ranch event.

Maxi sat in the back seat next to Phoenix. Linda sat shotgun while Terry drove Pastor Sam's 2010 Chevy van. Maxi held her journal, writing notes with her colored pens. "What are you grateful for, Phoenix?" She looked up at him.

"I'm grateful for swim lessons, friendship, and being rescued from the homeless camps. What about you?"

"Phoenix, I'm grateful that you've become a strong swimmer. I appreciate how you like to explore Denver with me."

"Thank you for the wonderful lunch dates and picking up the tabs. I'll make it up to you once I'm working, Maxi."

She laughed, took his hand, and glanced up at his sweet smile. "I'm glad we could try out so many different restaurants, Phoenix it's my treat."

"What are you all doing back there?" Linda looked back at them. "Terry is driving on Highway 36 past Broomfield, then Boulder, and into the countryside. Joshua's family cattle ranch is outside of Boulder, south of the Arapaho National Forest, and near the White River National Forest."

"Have you been on a ranch before, Linda?" Terry glanced at Linda. "Joshua said he's making time to take us on a trail ride this weekend. It will be a busy weekend with the True Colors fashion show and Joshua's Southwest Horse sale."

"I've never been near a horse before, but I'm looking forward to the riding. I'll need a gentle horse and some lessons."

"Same for me with the lessons. Do you know of a couple guys that would help us?" Maxi laughed while touching Phoenix's leg. He put his warm hand on top of hers.

"We are your guys. We'll give you personal riding lessons." Phoenix leaned over and gave her a kiss. "I rode horses on the reservation."

"Terry, how was your three day camping adventure at the Garden of the Gods with Maxi? I couldn't make the event since I put in extra hours at LoDo Restaurant. They were short handed."

"I love the starlight in the night sky and the people singing at the campfires." Terry kept his eyes on the traffic. "The food was terrific."

"Look over there at the deer running in the field. Is Moni following behind you?"

Phoenix looked over at Maxi. She was writing notes in her journal. He suddenly became sad thinking of Terry and Maxi camping. "How could she?"

"Yes, she's driving with Annie, shotgun. Destiny and Zoe are in the back," Terry said. "They sent their sportswear ahead of them with Pastor Sam in his Father's House van. He'll be with us for the fashion show and head back on Saturday to play his music on 16th Street."

"Do you have directions, should we call Joshua?" Linda looked at the GPS on her cell phone. "This van is too old for GPS. Looks like the path heads south."

"Let me know what to do, Linda." Terry followed her instructions as the roads became single lanes in the forest country.

"Look out, Terry! There's a little black bear crossing the street. Oh no, the momma bear is standing up in the road, showing us her teeth and growling at us."

Linda held onto her handle by the window as Terry honked his horn and slammed on the van's brakes. The old Chevy spun a donut, hit a small pine tree lying on the road, and got a flat front tire from the jagged branches.

Moni slowed down and stopped near the Chevy van on the side of the country road.

"Oh, my Jesus, please rescue us," cried Linda. She called Joshua on her cell phone, "We need help. Pastor Sam's van has a flat."

Author Notes Note from Jennifer Brown, writer for the Colorado Sun --
Homeless advocates, including the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and Denver Homeless Out Loud, who are bringing water and coronavirus tests to the camps, say never been more obvious that Colorado needs better long-term solutions, mainly affordable housing. Sweeping the camps and booting people without homes out of downtown, advocates say, only pushes them to the underpasses, along the river paths and out to the suburbs.

Advocates for the homeless, business leaders and politicians agree that the current situation which includes an 80-tent camp surrounding Morey Middle School, plus hundreds of tents on the strip of land between the sidewalks and streets across multiple blocks just north of downtown Denver and Lincoln Park.

One nonprofit counted 30 encampments and 664 tents. The tent cities are growing more persistent as Denver has backed off enforcing the camping ban.

------

Note from nancy --
So many cities have homeless living on the streets, in parks, and under bridges. Cities need to connect, help and provide safe homes for all people. This issue touched my heart as I walked the streets of Denver, saw tents in the snow, and read the stories in the Colorado Sun and the Minneapolis Tribune newspapers. We all can be a voice of change.


Chapter 13
momma bear encounter

By flylikeaneagle

Maxi unhooked her safety belt and sat in the middle of the back seat in the van, taking pictures on her cell phone. A black momma bear stood up on her hind legs with her mouth open. She anxiously monitored her year old cub as it climbed up a pine tree on the side of the country road.

"Fear not, be still and see the Glory of the Lord." Maxi felt her spirit hear a soft voice speaking inside of her, "trust me."

The momma bear snarled at the van and casually drew closer, attacking the air with her right paw. A yellow butterfly flew around the front of Pastor Sam's van as if dancing to a song. A smaller cub came out of the bushes, following a butterfly. It stumbled on a red rock, rolled over and rubbed it's back on the grass. Glancing again at the van, the momma bear got back onto all four legs and lumbered over to her cub, snuggling it playfully with her nose.

Maxi spotted the yellow butterfly fly over to some wildflowers as the bears disappeared into the pine trees.

Maxi looked up in the sky and saw a flock of Canadian geese fly overhead, changing into V and J formations. Each leader lifted the others higher in the sky.

"Joshua, we are on the country road by Orodell and El Vado on Highway 119," said Linda on her cell phone. "Our tire is flat and we are desperate to get to your ranch. Can you please send someone?"

"Linda, what did Joshua say?" Terry watched her, praying.

"He said not to worry. Joshua is sending a trucker to help us." She smiled and wiped a tear from her face.

"I'm glad we stayed securely inside the van," said Phoenix. "Momma bears can attack people if they get too close to her cubs. Bears like going for walks with their cubs and teach them how to find berries and food to eat."

"I'm glad she wandered off," said Maxi. She smiled at Phoenix.

"Did you want some snacks?" Linda opened up her canvas tote and took out bags of ginger and peanut butter, chocolate chip, and M&M cookies. I baked these this morning."

"Love your cookies made with extra love," said Phoenix, holding out his hand. "Can you give me a bottle of water, please?"

"Here's one, anyone else?" She handed out more waters.

"These are delicious, Linda," said Maxi, munching on her second ginger cookie. She loved the cinnamon and molasses flavors mixed in with the ginger.

Moni ran over from her parked car and knocked on the van's door. "Did you call for help? We watched that momma bear snarl at you."

Terry jumped out, "We are fine, thank God. Linda called Joshua Eagle. He said he sent a trucker to rescue us."

"I hear one coming now," replied Moni. "Look at the cloud of smoke over there."

"Praise the Lord!" Linda grabbed a canvas bag and added four waters for Moni. "These vegan treats are for you all."

"Thank you Linda, I'll share these. We love your cookies. Can we bake some together at the ranch?"

"I look forward in having more hands in the kitchen, Moni. First, we need to get to the Flying Eagle Ranch."

Terry stood in the middle of the road and waved the trucker down. "Our front tire got flat when we hit a pine tree on the road. We could use your help."

The trucker stepped down from his red truck. "I'm on the way to a client's place, The Flying Eagle Ranch. I can tow you with a rope and hopefully Joshua can get you a set of new tires. I can see from here the tire treads are balding. I'm a tire guy and if we always use fresh tires for all the miles we travel, otherwise our tires fly onto the road like alligator skins."

"Thank you," said Linda, holding out her hand. "I'm Linda. Joshua Eagle said he sent a trucker to help us. We appreciate you getting here so quickly."

"Hi Linda, I'm Arlee and that's my orange cat Oscar in the window of my cab." He pointed to the truck. "He's my mascot and best buddy. We can hook your van up, then we'll be at the ranch at no time."

"Thank you, Arlee," said Terry. "What are you hauling for Joshua Eagle?" He spotted the sign on the truck, "on wings of eagles" with an eagle flying painted flying over the mountains.

"I'm in the playground business," said Arlee. "My daughter, Marie, and I started this company to help children move and enjoy themselves. We created playgrounds safe for children with disabilities and challenging enough for all children. We crush and recreate plastic water bottles to make a lumber which we use in our playgrounds. Joshua Eagle wanted one for the preschool and children with autism that are coming to the ranch. So here I am making a pit stop to help you."

"Arlee, why do you call your company "on wings of eagles"?" Maxi shot a photo of the sign on the truck. Arlee wore a green tee with his logo on the front, blue faded jeans, and western boots. His hair was dark with gray highlights from his age. He had a big smile on his face as she shot a photo of Arlee by his truck. "Cheese." Maxi laughed and shot more photos.

"Marie loved swinging when she was younger. She always wanted an under-doggie and for me to fly her higher on wings of eagles, she wanted to fly over the broccoli trees. What an imagination she had as a child. We dreamed big, and now our company is growing. I had to hire more truckers to put together our playgrounds in Colorado."

Terry and Phoenix helped Arlee hook a strong rope under the front wheels and onto the trucker's wheels in the back. "We're good," said Arlee. "Follow me."

"Thank you again," said Terry as he shook Arlee's hand. "You're an answer to prayer."

"Divine connection, I would call it," said Arlee. "Let's head out."

Maxi relaxed next to Phoenix, inhaling his masculine sweaty skin and held his hand as they traveled toward Flying Eagle Ranch.

-------------

Author Notes Logline: Journalist Maxi McGee goes undercover to write stories for the Colorado Lifestyle Magazine about people in Denver during the gentrification growth pains, connects with The Father's House Ministry, and becomes a voice of hope.

I am taking a writing course with Professor David Wheeler, Michigan University, through Coursera on line. This is my NaNoWriMo which I'm rewriting, creating an outline, and taking you all on a roller coaster ride. Enjoy the ride. God's blessings.
flylikeaneagle - nancy ann gee ( copywrite 17 August 2020 ).


Chapter 14
Flying Eagle Ranch

By flylikeaneagle

Chef Brody sat in a cozy leather chair by Joshua's office stone fireplace and watched the horses running inside the corral. "Joshua, when is The Father's House group arriving? I have their lunch ready, pulled brisket sandwiches, cowboy beans, double baked, cheddar cheese potatoes, broccoli salad, and apple crisp."

"Thank you, Brody, can you create some vegan bean burgers for our guests, too?" I know that Chef Linda can assist you if you call her." He flipped through the pages of horses being sold during his SouthWest Horse Sale event. He highlighted the horses with a large yellow circle. Joshua pointed to Jazzy, a Chestnut Gelding at $10,000. "This one says he's a gentle trail horse." He glanced up at the photo above the fireplace of his father, Mr. Charles Eagle, riding a paint gelding named Hero.

Joshua read the words, "May your life flow with the beauty of running horses on your journey to our Creator, Jesus."

"I got this, Joshua," said Brody as he picked up a Flying Eagle Southwest Horse Sale Event brochure from Joshua's black walnut desk. "Are you buying more trail horses for the ranch? I see you have several pages of horse listings. I like this one, Mac n Cheese, a red roan Quarter horse at $8,000. This brochure says they trained this gelding in English, Western, and trail riding."

"I must check out these horses before the horse sale this weekend. Sellers are coming from Oregon to Arizona, Las Vegas, and California. Since I plan on having city slickers come to my ranch, I need to purchase more horses for trail rides and therapy riding." Joshua circled more horses.

"I'll call Linda for her recipe so I'm ready, Joshua." Chef Brody called Linda as he entered his professional stainless steel kitchen with cherry wood cabinets and white shiplap walls.

-----

"Joshua, where did you want us to park?" asked Linda on her cell phone as they approached The Flying Eagle Ranch. "Shall we park by the house or the horse stables?"

"I'm glad that you made it. Please park in front of the house. You'll see the large metal gates with The Flying Eagle sign and the eagle mascot. I look forward in seeing you all."

"Thank you, Arlee rescued us. He's towing the van. We'll be there any minute."

"Oh, I sent Tommy, my ranch manager to help you all. I'll see you outside."

"Tommy, can you head back to the ranch? Did you see Terry in his van and Arlee's truck?" Joshua called on his cell phone. "Can you direct Arlee to the summer kitchen to set up the playground equipment, please?"

"I'll take care of it, Joshua." Tommy turned around and headed back to The Flying Eagle Ranch.

---

Maxi gazed at Joshua's three-story white and taupe stucco ranch house with a green metal roof that held solar panels. She noticed the large flower bed by the ranch. "Look at that house, or shall I say mansion?"

Arlee parked in front of Joshua's estate and hopped out of his truck. Tommy met him by his semi.

"Hi Arlee," said Tommy. "Thank you for rescuing our guests. Joshua sent me out to find them, but you rescued them first. I'll take you over to the summer kitchen where you can set up your playground after we unhitch the van."

"Thank you, I was being a good Samaritan," said Arlee. "Seems like they were stranded for awhile with that flat tire, and encountered a bear."

"A momma bear with cubs?" Tommy asked as they unhooked the ropes. "They are active this time of year."

"Here grab this rope and I'll unhook them under the vehicles," said Arlee as he handed the rope to Tommy, then knelt next to the van.

Terry and Phoenix brought in the supplies from The Father's House, then went outside to help the guys. They noticed that Arlee's face glowed, maybe sunburnt from the long trips. Arlee crawled under the van to release the ropes from the van's front axle. Terry went over to the truck and unhooked the ropes.

"Joshua will have to buy Pastor Sam a set of new tires for this old van, I like Michelin all weather tires," said Arlee as he rolled the ropes up and placed them inside his large toolbox in the cab. Oscar stood up and looked out of the semi-opened window. The weather was in the sixties with low humidity and clear blue skies.

"I don't know when Pastor Sam had this van serviced," said Terry. "He drove it to Colorado from Minnesota to help me flip the mansion for The Father's House ministry."

"Joshua has bigger plans for Pastor Sam," said Tommy. "Please stay for supper. We're having a small celebration tonight. There are plenty of rooms in the ranch bunkhouse by the horse stables. I'll show you the way."

"Hop in the cab and meet my cat, Oscar, Tommy. Are you good with a hammer? My playground equipment is easy to put together. You can give me input as to where you want the pieces."They stepped into the van. Oscar sat on Arlee's lap. "He's my big boy."

"I packed some of Chef Brody's lunch, and cokes for us," said Tommy. "I'll tell Joshua to stop by for his input on the playground, too." They drove over to the summer kitchen and horse stables.
"We set up this kitchen and gazebo for the riders to enjoy outdoor dining and relax. There are extra bunks inside the bunkhouse for company."

"I would love to eat supper with you all," said Arlee. "After I complete this playground layout, I have to hit the road again to Fort Collins for their city park. My business is growing fast." He watched the horses running around in the fenced-in areas. Several colts ran around like little children chasing each other.

"Arlee, you're blessed. What do you need me to do?" Tommy helped unload the equipment and during the afternoon they built the playground for the handicapped and children of all skills. They stopped to eat the pulled brisket sandwiches, cowboy beans, and potato salad Brody packed for them in a picnic basket.

"This food is delicious," said Arlee. "We'll set up the swings over there if that's good with you all. Did you need some picnic tables?" He finished his sandwich, then licked the plate.

"We'll ask Joshua when he comes over. I know the children will love your playground."

"They will fly on wings of eagles over the broccoli trees." He laughed.

---
"Our trip exhausted me from the long trip from Denver and the bear encounter," said Linda. "Could I ask you for some green tea, please? I'm sure the others would like to come inside." Linda took Joshua's arm and strolled into the chef's kitchen.

"Brody, this is Chef Linda. Did you call her for your vegan blue bean burger recipe?"

"Yes, I did, pleasure putting a face to your voice since we talked on the phone on the way here," said Linda. "Could you show me where the tea is?"

"Linda, here's our coffee and tea pantry." He opened up the 42 inch cabinet filled with coffees and tea boxes. "Could you taste my beef brisket and let me know if you like the spices?"

"I would love to. Do you need a hand at anything?" Linda took a spoon from Brody's hand. "Tasty, so yummy." She spotted the huge plates of salads, buns, and drinks for lunch on the quartz island.

"Glad you like this family recipe. We could cook up some meals together," Brody said.

"I would like that and we have some ladies desiring to create cookies in your kitchen." Linda tasted the bean salad. You added all the different beans, peppers, and roasted corn in this bowl. It's perfect with the cilantro."

"These cowboy beans are an old-time favorite at the ranch," said Brody. "Tonight, we'll grill pineapple chicken, roast a rice pilaf, and fix some big salads.

"I'll fix up some cauliflower, black bean, quinoa, and tomato tacos for the vegans," stated Linda. "You will love my spices with cumin, turmeric, and chilis."

"We can learn from each other, Linda. Joshua planned a celebration party after supper for you all." Brody stirred the brisket and added more sauce. He wore a chambray shirt, khaki pants with an apron covering his clothes.

"I can't wait," said Linda, spying several large trays of apple crisp. "Please pass that apple crisp, Brody." She took a large serving on a white ceramic plate. "Yummy dessert!"

--

Maxi and Phoenix toured hand in hand around the ranch, admiring the landscaping and horses running in the corrals.

"I don't think I can model, Maxi. People will look at me. I'm a nobody with no style compared to these wealthy horse clients that will attend this event." Phoenix walked faster ahead of Maxi.

"Phoenix, I've seen your can-do with God spirit at the hospital and at the pool. You can model one step at a time. You're helping the designers who are launching the men's line this weekend. We are all doing this with you." Maxi took his hand and gripped it softly.

"I wanted to prove that I can be something outside of the reservation so I joined the army to please my father. He died when I was overseas and never got to say goodbye. Then my girlfriend met and married someone else. I'm a drifter without a job or a home." He talked slower.

"Phoenix, you have new friends. Together we can move mountains and lift each other up with our dreams. No one knows our histories or that you are a veteran and my hero."

"Ahh, your hero, Maxi? I think you have a big heart." Phoenix leaned against a white corral pole and pulled Maxi close to his muscular chest with his hands. "I don't have a job or anything to offer you but a big kiss."

Maxi closed her eyes and embraced his sweet, moist kisses. She rubbed his back with one hand and placed her other hand on the back of his neck. "Delicious."

"What, Maxi?" Phoenix stopped and looked into her brown eyes and saw her smiling.

"Delicious like a sweet dessert or a hot Italian cream latte. I would like seconds, please." Maxi laughed while Phoenix moved in for extra kisses.

Hands around each other's waists, they strolled back to the ranch, "Did you know that it can rain in one spot in the Rocky Mountains and be sunny in another, Maxi?" They stopped and looked at the Rocky Mountains covered with snow and the sunshine coming through the clouds. "You are my sunshine." He planted a soft kiss on her rosy lips.

--

Moni, Annie, Destiny, and Zoe strolled over to the horses in the corral. They noticed a beautiful black and white spotted horse watching them. Several horses came up to the fence looking for a treat.

"Here's how you pet them." Destiny scratched a gray mare's face. "They like us."

Zoe shyly approached the horse and touched her. "Horseflesh smells nice."

"Here, I'll help you. Horses love to share affection." She patted the horse on top of Zoe's hand.

Moni and Annie watched. They found some hay in a bucket by the fence and fed it to the horses.

"Have you been at a horse ranch before?" Destiny took a photo of the Moni and Annie standing by the horses.

"No, we're city slickers, and need riding lessons." Annie shook the hay off her hands.

"I'm sure we will all get lessons before we ride, I'll be happy to help you all," said Destiny. "I grew up on a ranch and competed in barrel racing. I needed costumes for the horse events, so I designed them at an early age."

"I was a dancer in Castle Rock. My mom taught me to sew my dance dresses," said Zoe. "I met Destiny at Boulder's School of Design."

"Our active women's line was a hit at the buyer's market last year. This weekend we are showcasing the men's line and creating children's lines. Joshua invited a daycare to help create our line by colorizing the paperfashion design drawings. We'll create with the children through their art."

"Are you selling your necklaces, Zoe?" Moni inquired, holding her fluorite pink crystal with the word love engraved in the stone. She walked with Annie as they headed back to the ranch.

"Yes, we have sportswear, necklaces, and backpacks. Joshua helped us find a local clothing manufacturer, which creates jobs in Boulder."

--

Brody rang a triangular bell outside of his kitchen. "Lunch is ready, come and get it!"

Joshua looked at everyone as they entered the ranch home. "Please join us for lunch in my formal dining room." He wore a demin jacket, white cotton shirt, blue jeans, and boots.

Linda, Annie, Moni, Destiny, Zoe, Terry, Maxi and Phoenix entered the large wood paneled room. Linda set the table with a large red plaid table cloth and blue bandana napkins. Brody served food family style ontop of the table. Large framed photos of family members riding horses by the cattle herds hung on the walls. An enormous crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling over the formal table, shining little rainbows in the air from the sunlight coming through the window.

"Lord Jesus, be our guest and guide us closer to you. Please show us your presence on this beautiful ranch. Bless the food and the hands that prepared the meals in Jesus' name."

"Amen," said Destiny. "Can everyone join Zoe and me in the sunroom afterward so we can practice our walking techniques for the fashion show?"

"Our fashion shows are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday during the lunch buffets," said Zoe. "The routine is easy since this is an informal modeling style, just walk around the tables. Thank you all for helping us."

"You'll be able to keep the clothes you wear as a gift from us at True Colors," said Destiny.

Maxi passed the brisket to Phoenix who placed a large serving on his plate. He took a large fork full and smiled back at Maxi.

"Thanks for joining us at my ranch where everyone is treated like family," said Joshua, smiling.

"This blue bean burger is delicious," said Moni. "Brody, thanks for making them up for us." She added lettuce on the burger. Then she put the cowboy beans on her plate and passed it to Annie.

"Love these beans and the cilantro." Annie took another serving of the cowboy beans.

Phoenix said. "This brisket is like my mom's recipe, except she used buffalo."

"Where's Pastor Sam, Joshua?" Linda passed the potatoes salad. "I haven't seen him."

"He'll be back for the evening celebration. A friend of mine took him to lunch in Boulder."

"I hope he plays the piano for us," Maxi said. She put some broccoli salad onto her plate.

"Brody and I made plans for a fun evening for us all, just wait and see." Joshua grinned ear to ear. He took a big bite of the blue bean burger. "Delicious, Brody and Linda."

---

After lunch, Joshua drove over to the summer kitchen with his golf cart. "Arlee, I like the layout," Joshua said as he looked over the playground. "Could you add half a dozen benches and picnic tables for people to sit on? Here's a check for the extra benches, tables, and a bonus for you. Thank you very much. I'll refer you to my friends."

"I'll add six of each for you. My business has grown from word-of-mouth Joshua. Thanks for the bonus."

"Please eat with us before you go. The children are coming this weekend and will love your playground."

"Your ranch is amazing, Joshua." They shook hands. Arlee wiped his sweaty head with a white towel.

"Our ranch is a family legacy ranch from the 1800s days of the gold rush and cattle drives. Tommy will direct you to the dining area for supper." Joshua watched them put together the benches and headed to the ranch house with his golf cart.

-------------




--

Author Notes My characters got so excited to see The Flying Eagle Ranch that they scattered around the ranch. Thanks for reading this extra long version. My daughters enjoy going to animal rescue ranches to feed the goats, and ride horses at horse camps.

Stay tuned to more adventures in act three of "on wings of eagles." God's blessings. flylikeaneagle - nancy


Chapter 15
the rescue

By flylikeaneagle

LOGLINE - Undercover journalist, Maxi McGee is assigned to write her memoir about the gentrification growth pains in Denver, meets people from The Father's House ministry, and goes on adventures to become a voice of hope for the homeless.


Maxi grabbed Phoenix's hand after practicing the model walk in the massive sunroom. Destiny told her that Joshua rented out his ranch house for special events like weddings, graduations, and family reunions. The sunroom was popular for guests to dine and dance.

Maxi walked with Phoenix. "Let's pet the horses in the corral."

"Maybe, Brody can give us some carrots for the horses to eat," said Phoenix as he followed her to the kitchen.

Brody was stirring a large pot of corn with red peppers simmering on the stove. Linda smiled as she blended a cake, and poured it into three cake pans for the celebration.

"Brody, can we have some carrots for the horses?" Maxi looked at Brody's dark wavy hair and brown eyes.

"Sure thing, carrots are in the fridge. Our horses like the extra carrots. It's a good way to bond with them."

"Do you think I could teach Maxi how to sit on a horse if I lead her?" Phoenix held out his hands for the carrots. and Maxi shut the enormous double fridge.

"Check with Tommy." Brody pulled the buttermilk biscuits out of the oven so Linda could slide in her cakes.

"Thanks," said Maxi as they strolled outside to see if Tommy was at the ranch bunkhouse.

"Maxi, this building by the bunkhouse looks like a tack room. The horse blankets, lead ropes, tack, and saddles are lined up by horses' names". They walked inside the shiplap-panneled garage-sized building. Bins of horse treats and grains were placed against one wall. Maxi picked up a photo of Joshua and his friends from on top of a small oak desk.

"I'll grab a set of horse equipment," said Phoenix as he picked up the items.

"We should find Tommy first," said Maxi, approaching the corral with a hungry horse looking over the fence. She opened her hand flat with a carrot. "Hey, this horse likes these carrots."

"I can teach you and we'll keep an eye out for Tommy so he knows what we are doing. I grew up riding horses."

"I'm a newbie, and city slicker, Phoenix." Maxi handed out more carrots to the quarter horses, red roans, and paints. "I like this brown one."

"Looks like she's a gentle mare." Phoenix added a halter and lead rope to her inside the corral. Maxi petted her face. "We'll walk around with her first so she can get used to us while waiting for Tommy. They marched around the roughed up dirt in figure eights. "I'll add a saddle and we'll do the same thing."

Phoenix secured and double-checked the saddle on the mare. He lifted Maxi on top of the quarter horse and led her around with a lead rope in figure eights. "How do you like being on a horse city slicker?"

"I'm so tall." Maxi sat in the saddle, bouncing as the mare sped up her pace.

Phoenix tripped on a dirt clump and flew forward onto the ground on his hands.

Maxi yelled as the mare started trotting towards the end of the corral, "Phoenix!"

Jumping to his feet, Phoenix sprinted towards Maxi and the mare. "Maxi!"

Maxi held onto the mane as the mare turned at the end of the corral. Her hands lost her grip, and she was sliding off the mare.

"Maxi, I got you, lean onto me." Phoenix reached up to catch Maxi as she fell into his muscular, sweaty arms.

"Phoenix, I'm so grateful for you," said Maxi as he lifted her up in his arms and gave her a soft kiss. She wrapped her arms around his neck. "Thank you."

"City slicker, I should give you some personal riding lessons." Phoenix set Maxi onto the ground. "I'll take the equipment off this mare and we can head back to the ranch house.

------

Maxi spotted large horse trailers lined up in the parking lot near the ranch house. More drivers pulled in for the Southwest Horse sale event Joshua was hosting.

Maxi and Phoenix entered the kitchen to get a cool drink. "Can we try your cucumber mint lemonade Linda?' She poured two tall glasses and handed one to Phoenix.

"Brody told me that Tommy had to go into Boulder to get Pastor Sam. Seems the Dreammakers group have a big fundraising announcement tonight," said Linda.

"This is refreshing, Linda. Your food smells amazing," said Maxi pouring a second glass of lemonade.

"Chef Brody and I whipped up some of the food for this event. Joshua sent in extra food from Boulder's Pearl Street restaurants so everyone has plenty to eat."

"Sounds amazing, Linda. Enjoy the supper celebration." Maxi looked around at all the large cookware on the stove and large bowls on the stainless steel counters.

"I'm in Heaven," said Phoenix. "I've never seen so much food before."

"Would you like to sample anything, Phoenix and Maxi? Help yourself to some plates over there," said Brody pointed to the plates. "You are family here."

"Thank you, Brody, I didn't realize I worked up an enormous appetite," said Phoenix as he filled up his plate, then sat down with Maxi at a table overlooking the horses.

"I love their food," said Maxi. "I can't wait for this celebration."

-----

Pastor Sam and Joshua walked with some of the members of the Dreammakers around the ranch, showing off the horses in the corrals. They greeted and welcomed the visitors that came for the Memorial weekend event.

Moni, Annie, Destiny and Zoe dashed into the kitchen to assist Linda with hands on baking for the event.

"These cookies will be delicious for the children after the fashion show. Joshua invited several daycares to help color the fashion designs stetches for the children's back to school line. He wanted the directors to comment on the new disability friendly playground he commissioned Arlee to build by the summer kitchen," said Brody. "Joshua is always helping people with their dreams."

"We're excited," said Destiny." We will choose colors from their drawings for the clothes."

"We plan on having wildlife emblems like bears, buffalo, elk, wolves, and eagles make up with silver reflecting material so parents can see their children in the dark."

"You ladies are so creative," said Linda tasting a cookie. "These cookies are made with love." She laughed. "Keep dreaming big. God will do the supernatural on your gifts more than you can dream or imagine."

------

At 7:00 pm, Joshua and Pastor Sam stood on a stage in front of the people. "Welcome to the Southwest Horse event," said Joshua."The auction will start in the morning at 9:00 am with several auctioneers calling off the different catagories of horses. We have a tearoom fashion show at 12 noon in the sun room featuring our True Colors fashion designers Destiny and Zoe. At 2:00 pm, the auction starts up again. I hired extra ranch hands to lead horse riding if anyone desires to trail ride. We have Colorado venders for silent auctions to fund homes for the homeless. Seems like we have a big need in our communities to pay back to the people who lost their homes. Please stroll around the ranch, dine and dream big.

"Thank you everyone, I'm Pastor Sam from The Father's House in Denver. Our ministry reaches out to the street people to provide shelter, food, and job opportunities. Our need has grown with people losing their jobs, homes, and now their belongings in homeless camps. The Dreammakers are connecting with me and you all to provide solutions to help the homeless. One of our ideas is to repurpose building supplies to create small homes for the homeless. We will connect a "Circle of Support" community center to embrace lives. Everyone will work and be hands on with community service. We will have activities, job training, counseling, medical services, and mentoring to transform lives. Every person's life matters in God's eyes."

Joshua said, "We need fresh ideas, money, and hands on expertise to build the homes, one at a time. This is a time to be a part of a bigger picture where we listen to one another's concerns. Together, we can make a difference in our beloved communities and yours. We will pass flyers around so you can connect with us, give us ideas, and your names. Thank you all for your support and voices."

The ranchers cheered and clapped, "Great idea. We're in."

"Supper is being served at the sunroom, please join us. I want to thank Chef Brody from The Flying Eagle Ranch and Chef Linda from the LoDo Restaurant. Afterwards, we have music and dancing at the ranch house."

"I would like to bless our food," said Pastor Sam. "Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest and bless each one of us as we connect with one another to be your hands and hooves for your precious Kingdom, in Jesus name we pray."

------

Maxi and Phoenix stared into each other's eyes as they watched the dancers perform Native American circle dances after supper. They wore colorful costumes with fringes and leather boots. The youth danced to pow wow beats. Phoenix gave Maxi a kiss. "Thank you for caring, Maxi."

The dancers went into the audience and grabbed visitors to dance with them in their joy song. A teen dressed in native clothes and an eagle headdress spotted Maxi and Phoenix as they kissed. "Please join us. The White Spirit is blessing you."

Maxi followed Phoenix as he danced a dance he learned as a youth. "Trust me, Maxi." Holding hands, they circled and jumped with joy to the Native American music. Maxi smiled as she saw a new confidence in Phoenix as they danced.

Music filled the atmosphere afterwards with the country band, "A Million White Horses," Maxi leaned on Phoenix as they cuddled on a bench. Maxi placed her legs over Phoenix's legs as they held hands and listened to music under the stars.

----
Maxi tossed and turned in her bed. She woke up at three am from her dream. She remembered images of walking in an old mansion room after room. She saw bedrooms decorated with quilts, big pillows, and floral wallpaper. Slowly strolling upstairs into a finished attic, she entered a white-walled library filled with books and sofas unused for years. An enormous three-generation family photo hung above the white-washed stone fireplace. Maxi opened her eyes, pondering her dream. "Speak to me, Jesus."

"Voice, voice, voice," said the Lord. "Follow me." A bright light lit up the darkness as Maxi breathed in a sweet aroma of frankincense, cinnamon, and citrus. Then she fell asleep.

The east sun shone through the lace drapes, dancing over Maxi. She turned to her side, rubbed her eyes, and woke up. "Voice." She spoke out loud and got up. Step by step, she plodded out of her room onto the plaid wool carpets, down the taupe-colored hallway, and upstairs to the next level. Maxi opened the attic doors where she discovered the white library from her dreams and entered.



Author Notes Photo taken by flylikeaneagle - nancy, while watching a news report on the homeless in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The community connected with carpenters at a church lot to repurpose wood taken off buildings during the George Floyd protests. Together with the homeless people, they built small houses to provide shelter. This was a perfect Aha moment for my novel.

Please check out The Flying Horse website to see the ranch photos. I have dreamed of this house and ranch many times, especially the library scene.

Martin Luther King Junior said that we all need to live together as brothers and sisters. He had a big dream.

It feels good to reach out to others and shine a light in the darkness with Jesus's love. Follow your dreams, and change the world, one neighborhood at a time.

May we have ears to hear and eyes to see and voices to speak to make a difference in people's lives, lifting them up with healing, hope and love.

God's blessings to you all. May you all be in health. flylikeaneagle - nancy


Chapter 16
gone missing

By flylikeaneagle

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

Phoenix woke up early before the sun rose. He put on his gray tennis shoes given to him by the True Colors designers. These were the first running shoes he owned since his army days. Dressed in a tee shirt and running shorts, Phoenix slipped downstairs and into the kitchen.

"Hi Chef Brody," said Phoenix. "Could I get some breakfast food and fruit to take with me? I'm going for a run."

"Help yourself, I have a batch of apple cranberry cinnamon rolls cooling on the counter." Brody took a drink from his coffee. "Here's a backpack you can put them in. Grab some bottled water or juice from the fridge."

"Thanks Brody, I'm headed towards the flat irons by the mountains," said Phoenix. He stuffed the backpack, added his flute, and took an extra roll, chewing it as he left the kitchen. He sprinted alongside the road, and enjoyed the sunrise, like a watercolor painting with colors washing into each other.

----

Maxi entered the attic's white library as the early morning's sun danced in the hallway windows. Above the large white rock fireplace was a three generation oil painting of the Eagle family. On either side stood enormous bookshelves with books, statues and family photos. She spun around and saw two large sofas and a table filled with books. Maxi picked up a book covered with a colorful embroidery. She flipped through the pages and perceived it was someone's well used Bible with corners bent.The air held stale perfume.

Maxi heard a voice, "Arise and shine, Maxi! I Am The One True God. I ride the wings of winds, fly with the eagles in the majestic mountains and over the rivers. I give living water to the earth for seed time and harvest."

Maxi sat down in the middle of an oversized sofa, and looked around the library. His Heavenly fragrance filled the air. She said, "Here I am, Lord!"

"I bless my children. This family held my word in their hands in this room. They trusted in me. See what I have done for them, my eagles. Maxi, trust in me, do good, and follow your dreams. I gave you a gift in the bus and anointed you to teach my sheep, write my words in stories, and new songs for the youth. My Grace and Glory will lead you to tell others about my unshakable hope, love, and peace. We are all one family." A floral scented wind blew around Maxi. Jesus spoke softly, "You are my voice, Maxi."

"Thank you, Jesus." She fell onto her knees, her hands in prayer. "I'll need your help."

"I am always with you, call on my name and you will encounter my miracles." A rainbow floated in the air with opaque colors shimmering.

She embraced a warmth as it filled her heart. The rainbow changed into a bright , white light overtaking the library, then disappeared. A strong scent of frankincense, cinnamon, and floral tones remained in the atmosphere. Maxi sat on the white pine floors and wept tears of joy.

------------

Joshua and Tommy fed the horses in the corrals and visited with the ranchers. Today was an enormous day for Joshua's Southwest horse sale auction. People spent the night in their travel vans. The horses grazed in their stalls and in the corrals. The colts chased each other.

Chef Brody lit the grills in the outdoor kitchen. His assistants helped with the cowboy brunch, creating egg bake, cheesy enchiladas, cinnamon rolls, steaks on the grill, potatoes with green beans, and plenty of fresh fruit.

Joshua sampled an enchilada and cinnamon roll that Brody served him. "Delicious, great flavors, Brody. I can taste the rich cream and brown sugar."

"Glad you approved, Joshua." Brody placed seasoned steaks on the grill. "Stop back for a steak, potatoes with green beans and extra bacon."

A rancher from Arizona spotted Joshua. Together they walked to his horses. "Joshua, you can buy the lot for your trail rides. They are gentle and good therapy horses for children." He tilted his hat to keep the sun off his eyes.

"I'll have Tommy ride them and look over your vet records this morning." Joshua petted the tan saddlebred's face.

"I look forward in doing business with you." The rancher handed Joshua his business card, "Mr. Robert Wrangler, Sonita Creek Ranch, Arizona, Western hospitality, therapy, and trail rides since 1926."

"Looks impressive," said Joshua. "Our ranch is a legacy ranch since the late 1800s. Pleasure meeting you, Mr. Wrangler." He looked over his horses. Then walked into the bidding arena where the auctioneers sold the horses.

----------------

Maxi applied her makeup in front of her bedroom mirror. Her face was sparkling with a gold glimmer. She opened up her purse, looking for the rose lipstick. At the bottom was the forgotten purple velvet pouch gift from the guy she talked to inside the bus. She recalled that he had wavy hair, penetrating dark eyes, and leather sandals. He said that he knew everyone's hearts. Maxi untied the gold cords of the pouch. A gold fountain pen fell out onto the marble vanity counter. She picked it up and read the engraved words, "My Sheep hear my voice." Maxi fainted onto the tile floor.

-----------

Phoenix ran on the paved roads towards the foot hills. His pace became steady. He enjoyed the fresh mountain air and pine trees. Overhead, an eagle floated on the winds. He turned the corner, spotted a log cabin in the distance, and headed towards it. Deep breathing, in and out. Phoenix knew he made quick time with his miles. He slowed down and raised his arms up while walked around the cabin to lower his heart rate.

"This is an old homestead," Phoenix spoke out loud to himself. "The roof looks like storms have hit it." Phoenix peered inside the windows and noticed chairs and a wood table near a fireplace. He sat down on a bench outside the cabin. Phoenix pulled a water bottle out of his backpack, opened it and guzzled. Then, he grabbed his flute, wiped it with his tee shirt, and put it to his mouth. He laughed when a few squeaky sounds came out. He gained finger skills and played a slow, sad sound. Phoenix took another drink and ate a cinnamon roll. Filling energy flow into his body, he tried the Duduk apricot flute again. This time, the sounds became joyful with lively music. He tapped his foot to the beat on the ground and enjoyed the new songs.

A large female cougar approached the log cabin looking for prey. An abandoned momma dog laid on the green grass nursing her pups. She didn't realize that danger lurked behind her with sharp teeth. The cougar crawled with her butt in the air. She watched, waited, and raced towards the dog. The cougar leapt and grasped the dog by the neck, twisting and turning her body until it lay dead a few feet from the pups.

Phoenix dropped his flute and surveyed the noises beyond the cabin. He picked up some rocks and threw them at the cat. He slung another one and hit the cougar's hind leg. The cougar turned towards Phoenix, stopped, and peered at him. An eagle flew overhead as the cougar picked up the bleeding, dead dog and ran into the pine trees.

He placed his flute into his backpack, strolled over to the pups, and gathered them in his arms. "How did you all get here? I'll find you a new momma." One pup licked his finger, trying to nurse. "Hey, not me."

Phoenix wrapped the lower part of his tee around the pups and held them in his arms like babies. He ran towards Joshua's ranch and stopped for breaks to drink some water. He sat on the sandy soil and placed water on his fingers for the pups to lick. "Soon, puppies, soon we'll be at the ranch. What shall I name you?" Phoenix walked, holding the sleeping pups, and not caring about the time.

--------

Several daycare school buses pulled up to the Flying Eagle Ranch's summer kitchen. Destiny and Zoe waited for them. They prepared coloring sheets of their new children's clothing line. On the new picnic tables lay color markers and color crayons.

Once the buses stopped, the teachers gathered the children over to the playground to meet the designers.

"Welcome to the ranch," said Destiny. "We have fun events planned for you all." She watched the children look at the playground. Brightly colored petunias were placed in flower boxes along the fence. Small recycled tires scraps covered the ground to provide a softness for the children as they played.

"Half of the children can play while others do art work. We plan on creating the children's line with the color choices they use on our design sketches," said Zoe. She helped several children sit on the benches and placed the supplies in front of them. "Now the fun part begins with their art connecting with our art."

Destiny took photos on her cell phone of the children coloring their masterpieces. "Wow, beautiful!"

The teachers followed the children to the disabilities friendly playground and swings. "You can fly, Brandon." Tammy pushed the swing higher for her son. She was excited to be a new teacher after long hours of her education classes on line. She contacted her son's school director for a job, saying she had hands on experience since her son was a youth with autism at her school. She was thankful that Brandon made massive improvements in his cognitive, motor skills, and social skills. Since Mrs. Benson loved to take her students on field trips, she was able to go on adventures with Brandon.

Joshua Eagle stepped up to the director, Mrs. Benson. "Welcome to my ranch. I hope you like the new playground equipment created from recycled plastic bottles. I plan on partnering with Arlee's business, "on wings of eagles," to build more playgrounds at schools and daycares.

"Count us in," said Mrs. Benson. "We need child-friendly equipment for our children." She walked with a child on the bridge. "This equipment is sound and strong enough for teachers, too." She walked back and helped another child cross the bridge.

"We have a tea room luncheon at noon. Thanks for joining us," said Joshua, giving a hi five to Brandon. "Destiny and Zoe escort you to the sunroom at 11 am before their fashion show."

"We are excited to be here," said Mrs. Benson. She jumped on the trampoline with a child. This is fun for me, too." She held the child's hands as they laughed and fell onto their butts.

-----

Joshua walked back to the ranch house kitchen. He met Linda and gave her a soft kiss on her lips. "Hi sweetheart."

"Oh, Joshua, Maxi and Phoenix have gone missing!"

"Didn't they tell anyone where they were going?" Joshua tried to keep his voice steady. "They know there's a fashion show at noon." He helped Linda sit down on a wood chair. Looking into her deep blue eyes, he gave her a soft kiss. "Don't worry, my love."

"Phoenix told Brody he was going for a sunrise run. God only knows where!"

"Which way was he headed?" Joshua held Linda's shaking hands. "Where's Maxi?"

"She never showed up for breakfast." Linda grapped a tissue and wiped her tears.

"I sent Moni and Annie to search the ranch grounds for them."

"Can you check their rooms, Linda? I'll notify my ranch hands and head out on the country roads."

Joshua ran outside to his golf cart.

Author Notes This novel is like a roller coaster ride. My professor stated that I needed to be bad to my characters. Hope will rise out of this mess. Thank you for being my fans. God's blessings and stay in health. May God's Glory shine upon you all and light your path. flylikeaneagle - nancy


Chapter 17
the lost are found

By flylikeaneagle

Linda rushed upstairs to Maxi's bedroom. She glanced at the blanket on her bed that had been pushed to one side. She walked into her bathroom and saw Maxi's body laying on the floor. "Maxi! What happened?" Linda touched her forehead.

Maxi turned her head, "I'm here, Linda." Her eyes focused on Linda bending over her. Maxi rose, holding onto Linda's hands. "I fainted." She stood and breathed in and out trying to calm down.

"Let me get you some water." Linda helped Maxi to a soft floral chair. "I'll be right back."

Maxi looked around her bedroom, recalling her morning. She discovered the Eagle family library, the dog-eared family Bibles, and hearing the voice of Jesus. She met Jesus face to face in the bus, found his gift inside her purse, and fainted in the presence of his word.

Linda handed Maxi a glass of iced water with lemon slices. "Thanks Linda. Guess I need some breakfast, too."

"Drink the water, Maxi. I'm glad I found you." Maxi drank and finished her water. "Phoenix is missing," said Linda. "People are looking for him."

"Oh, my, I need to help look for him," said Maxi as she walked with Linda to the kitchen.

"Maxi, you need to gain your strength." Linda handed Maxi a bowl of steel cut oatmeal with cut up strawberries, bananas, blueberries and vanilla coconut milk. "This will help you with energy." Linda placed some brewed tea with lemon next to Maxi. She cut an avocado, seasoned it, and sat next to her.

"Joshua and his ranch hands are looking for Phoenix, Maxi. Moni and Annie are helping."

"Thank you, I'm so grateful," said Maxi drinking some tea. "This is refreshing."

"Our fashion show is at 11:30. Do you think you could walk around a few tables?" Linda drank her green matcha tea and spread avocado on 12 grain toast.

"This oatmeal is kicking in. I feel better." Maxi took a bite of the avocado toast Linda made up for her and sipped the hot tea.

"Maxi, it's good to have more snacks during the day to keep your blood sugars stable. Our bodies need the fuel but with healthy choices with more fruits and veggies." Linda poured herself more tea.

"I'll keep that in mind, I can help you in the kitchen create some snacks." Maxi added a lemon slice. "I made health bars for our swim team."

"I would like to learn your bar recipes," said Linda. "We can learn from each other."

"Linda, I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit this morning," said Maxi.

-------------

Phoenix ran on the dirt road with the puppies in his rolled up up tee-shirt. The ranch was closer now. He spotted a golf cart approaching him with Joshua and Annie in the front seat.

"Phoenix, where did you go?" Joshua pulled up to him. "We've been searching all over the ranch for you."

"What's in your tee-shirt?" Moni spotted some fur move and eyes look at her as Phoenix sat down in the back seat with her. He revealed the fur pups, one with brown eyes and one with blue eyes. "Can I hold one?"

"Where did you find them?" Joshua turned the golf cart and headed to the ranch.

"I ran to an old log cabin and sat down to rest. Out of the blue, a cougar grabbed and killed the momma dog."

"We have all kinds of wild animals in these mountains. These pups look like a mix of Husky and Malamute. They are powerful dogs used for hiking and pulling supplies. Some city folk drop off dogs they have outgrown."

"Joshua, I'm glad I was at that log cabin and rescued these puppies when they needed me. Who lived in that cabin?"

"Phoenix, this was our homestead cabin. My great grandparents built it during the gold rush and cattle drive days." Joshua stepped on the gas.

"Who's living there?" Phoenix looked back at the small house.

"No one is there now. My Grandpa Griffon lived there until we built the new ranch house. We added on the summer kitchen with the bunk houses a few years ago. Griffon loved to ride horses, so he stayed in our bunkhouse."

"Can we update the cabin, Joshua? Tommy told me you plan on having therapy and trail rides. I could help you with your new horses. I grew up riding."

"Talk to me more about your dreams, Phoenix. Tommy is buying more horses for me. Seems like there's a demand for horse ranch retreats. The city slickers like to go on vacations to ride horses and relax in the country. I love to help turn dreams into reality," said Joshua.

Phoenix looked at the ranch horses. "Great White Spirit, may my dreams come true!"

"This puppy is sucking on my finger," said Moni. "She must be hungry."

"We can help you, Phoenix." Annie reached for the other puppy with brown eyes that Phoenix was holding and held him up. "This one is a boy." She gave him a kiss.

"Let's head to the kitchen, Linda or Brody can make some dog milk for them," said Joshua.

Moni and Annie walked inside the ranch kitchen, each snuggling a puppy. "Look what Phoenix found," said Moni. Joshua and Phoenix followed the ladies inside.

"Theses pups are hungry, Linda. Can you make some puppy milk for them?"

"Oh, they are adorable, Phoenix. Where did you find them?" Linda petted the puppy's head and looked at her blue eyes. "Yes, I'll ask Brody what he suggests for puppy milk. I'll try some diluted vanilla almond milk for now until he tells me."

"He's serving brunch at the summer kitchen for the ranchers. Our horse auction sale is still going on," said Joshua.

"Our fashion show is in an hour. We need to model with Destiny and Zoe," said Linda. "The children are modeling too."

"Oh, that's right. Can we feed the puppies first?" Maxi petted the girl puppy who nibbled at her finger. "Where did you find them, they are adorable?"

"I found them at an old log cabin by the flat irons. A cougar grabbed the mom, so I had to rescue these pups."

"You saved their lives," said Linda. "The Holy Spirit must have led you to the pups when they needed you the most. It is written in the Word, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom and liberty."

"I like the names, Phoenix," said Maxi. "Freedom and Liberty are wonderful names."

"Would you like the girl puppy with the blue eyes, Maxi? Phoenix sat next to her and held her hand. He gave her a kiss. "This is another gift I can give to you."

"Thank you, Phoenix, I would love a puppy. I'll call her Freedom and yours can be Liberty."

"Well they are hungry. Let's try this milk I made up." Linda set two small bowls in front of the puppies. Maxi and Linda put some milk on their fingers. "They like it," said Linda. "Now put your finger in the bowl and let them lick from the bowl."

"It worked, Linda," said Maxi. She petted the puppy's head as it licked from the bowl. "Good girl!"

"They can sleep on this soft blanket under the corner desk. We need to get ready for the fashion show," said Linda, tucking the blanket in the corner.

"Thank you, Phoenix! Maxi hugged him and smiled. "Now we have another thing in common."

-----------

Joshua stepped up wearing a dark denim jacket, pine green tee, and navy sweatpants to to introduce the True Colors fashion show. He stood in the sunroom facing the visitors. "Thank you for attending our Southwest Horse Sale and True Colors' fashion show. I am proud to mentor Destiny and Zoe as their clothing lines are expanding. Today, we are presenting the women and men's active wear lines. They have sketches of the children's lines on their table that our guest daycare children colored. This line will come out for fall, back to school. You can place your orders with the designers after the show for early fall delivery." He looked at the designers. "May I present Destiny and Zoe."

The True Colors designers stood up. "Thank you," said Destiny. She wore a lilac tee and slashed colors of aqua and lilac legging. She added some aqua highlights in her hair. "Zoe and I graduated from the Boulder School of Design. We both created costumes as children for our horse shows and dance shows. I met Joshua Eagle when I barrel raced and contacted him during my classes. The professors wanted us to connect to a mentor who knew the business side to help us market our clothing lines. We grew with Joshua's guidance and finances."

"Joshua is a Dreammaker who encourages, inspires, and dreams big. Enjoy our activewear and hiking clothes with our tea room modeling. We have a reflective eagle emblem on our lines as a symbol for Flying Eagle Ranch's partnership," said Zoe. "Please give Joshua a hand."

"Let the show begin!" Zoe wore a combo of soft pink and hot pink running shorts and tee. She added a baseball cap with an flying eagle emblem on the center. She announced the models and their clothes as they walked and turned. People asked questions and enjoyed the show.

Maxi modeled around the tables with Phoenix at her side. She wore a red and silver jacket, silver glittery tee and red caprees. He wore a blue denim jacket with silver buttons, white tee, denim jeans, and cowboy boots. Maxi spotted Tammy and her son, Brandon, at a table. "Hi Tammy and Brandon. How did you get here?"

"Hi Maxi, I'm a teacher at his daycare. Joshua invited Mrs. Branson's class to be part of the show and try out his new playground equipment."

"I'm excited for you both. You'll have more time together. I'll see you afterwards." Maxi turned and walked on.

The children each wore a colorful tee with the eagle emblem and matching jogging shorts. They walked around the tables handing the people a small denim and silver backpack from the designers with notepaper and colored gel pens inside. Zoe slipped a True Colors business card inside, "Show your true colors and you'll light up the world."

Destiny and Zoe met the people after lunch by a table with clothes for sale. They showed their children's line and took orders. Joshua stood next to the designers. "Thank you, Joshua," said Zoe. "We got early requests for our children's line. We can connect with the wholesale buyers and release a back to school line for the fall."

"Let the manufacturers know so you can get sewing time for your line," said Joshua.

"Can we take group photos afterwards?" Linda asked. "I'll make copies as a keepsake of our weekend adventure."

"I'll call Tommy to take photos of all of us," said Joshua. "This will be good PR."

Destiny said, "We can take photos of us all at the campfire tonight with our True Colors clothes on."

"We'll use them for our clothing lines promotion," said Zoe. "We must contact Jenna Jackson at Colorado LifeStyle Magazine to be in her summer issue."

"I'm so proud of you," said Maxi as she strolled over to Brandon and Tammy at a table.

"This job is impressive. The children all have special needs and are unique. I love watching them and learning with them. I've seen my son bloom at this school."

"Brandon looks happy." Maxi hugged Tammy. "Please keep in touch."

Phoenix stood next to Maxi. "Thanks for coming," said Phoenix.

"Looks like he's a keeper, Maxi," said Tammy smiling.

Maxi and Phoenix held hands as they walked to the kitchen and looked for the puppies in the corner. The puppies were sound asleep on a blanket. "Phoenix, did I tell you thank you?" Maxi kissed Phoenix on his lips. She laughed. "I think I did, but I like your kisses." She gave him a few more.

"Let's get photos with the puppies," said Maxi. She picked up Freedom, who opened her eyes and yawned.

"I'll bring Liberty." Phoenix strolled with Maxi back to the sunroom for group photos.

Author Notes True Colors, Maxi and Phoenix's dreams are becoming true at The Flying Eagle Ranch.


Chapter 18
campfire chatter

By flylikeaneagle

Maxi watched a large marshmallow flame as she pulled the stick out of the fireplace. Placing the charcoaled marshmallow between the chocolate and the graham crackers, she took a crunchy bite. Liquid chocolate ran down her mouth. Maxi stared at Phoenix's brown eyes with love in her eyes. He leaned over on his lawn chair to give her a kiss on her lips, tasting the chocolate, and smiled. She felt his warm hand on her leg and inhaled his sweaty masculine aroma. Maxi placed her hand on top of his.

"Maxi, I'm so glad you bumped into me on 16th Street. I was a nobody homeless and needed a meal. You took the time to help me heal."

"Phoenix, our meeting was a divine connection. Look at all the adventures and friends we've made because we met Pastor Sam and Chef Linda." She picked up Freedom who was chasing Liberty. "Now I have a cute puppy."


"I'm yours forever, Maxi. You're in my heart." He reached for her hand and kissed it.

"Our differences strengthen us and we gained friends that love us," said Maxi. She petted Freedom sitting in her lap.

"Thank you for joining us," said Joshua Eagle. He stood in front of his guests, sitting around the campfire. "True Colors had a wonderful tea room show with many orders for adult and children's clothes. We have another tea room show Sunday at noon. Jenna Jackson from Colorado LifeStyle Magazine will send her photographers so they can place their story in the August issue."

"Destiny and Zoe would like some models to test out the clothes on a mountain climb. Terry will supervise the climb and help me purchase all the ropes, supplies, and shoes at Colorado Outfitters," said Joshua. "We'll have a camp out and celebrate afterwards at El Dorado."

"When is this climb, Joshua?" Phoenix looked at Maxi. The puppy was licking her hand.

"Next weekend, early Saturday morning, this way I'll have time to shop with Terry. We'll camp overnight at the site. Chef Linda and Chef Brody will make snack bars with Phoenix and anyone else who cares to create these energy bars. I have a wholesale health food vendor who wants to merchandise the bars and veggie chips." Joshua said, "We need help flippin' our Flying Eagle Ranch homestead log cabin by the foothills."

"Joshua, sounds like a busy week," said Maxi. "I'm in. I made snack bars for my swim team."

"Thank you, Maxi," said Joshua. "We'll have a sign-up sheet for the dates and what jobs you all would like to do. Phoenix will move into the finished log cabin as his new home. Tommy and I will mentor Phoenix with our horses and the trail rides for city slickers. Share your ideas for the ranch retreats and outreach with me. I'm always available to listen and brainstorm big dreams."

"Congratulations, Phoenix," said Moni and Annie. "We'll help flip the log cabin and create snack bars."

Joshua said, "I'll leave these sheets on the picnic table next to the children's color markers."

"Can we ride horses and see this log cabin tomorrow afternoon, Joshua?" Maxi spoke up. The wind swirled around the campfire and the logs crackled.

"Maxi, we can all ride after the tea room modeling and lunch. We'll buddy up skilled riders with beginners."

"I would like to ride," said Annie. She dipped some chips into a bowl of Southwestern salsa. "This is tasty, try it Moni."

"Count me in for a trailride," said Moni, holding the bowl of chips. "Can I get your recipe, Brody?"

Chef Brody said, "Linda and I combined our ideas for this salsa and we used grilled peppers. jalepanos, and tomatoes."

"Could you play some songs on the keyboard, please?" Joshua said, "We have a starry night, a campfire, and lots of singers." He strolled over to Linda and sat on a chair next to her by the campfire. He held her hand and leaned over to kiss her on her pink lips.

"You don't have to ask me twice, Joshua," said Pastor Sam. He placed his fingers on the keyboard.

Tommy joined in with Sam on his guitar, strumming the chords. Phoenix played his Duduk, the apricot wood flute, with joyful music.

"I want to thank Maxi McGee, who wrote this song for us," said Pastor Sam.

Maxi stood in front of her friends at the campfire. She wore a red denim jacket over her red v-neck dress that the True Colors design team created. She tapped her right foot to the beat, smiled and took a deep breath.

********

(original song by flylikeaneagle - nancy gee)

"I've heard many stories about people living in the dark with fear in their hearts.

They are searching for answers and looking for someone to give them a start.

We just have to be brave and take a leap of faith to touch someone,

We can share a smile or two and bless them with the love of the Holy Son.



We all live together in the circle of life, so get out of your comfort zone

and seek someone in need by lending a hand so no one is alone.

Take a leap of faith to touch someone's heart and share a smile or two

with Jesus walking beside us, our lives become blessed and new.



Take a leap of faith to touch someone and get out of your comfort zone

and watch the miracles flow from Heaven to Earth so no one is alone.

Share your time with each other in love and see lives become blessed and new.

I am a child of God, and someone touched me with love. How about you?



Watch the miracles flow from Heaven to Earth so no one is alone

Take a leap of faith to touch someone and get out of your comfort zone."

*******

"Thank you, Maxi. Please give her a high-five and get out of your comfort zone," said Pastor Sam. "We are all sisters and brothers with Jesus walking besides us."

Maxi walked around the campfire and collected high-fives from Joshua, Linda, Moni, Annie, Destiny and Zoe. She sat down and got a kiss from Phoenix.

"Did you write this for me?" Phoenix looked into Maxi's brown eyes. "I am blessed by finding you." He held her left hand.

"Jesus connected us," said Maxi. She picked up Freedom and petted her puppy, a gift from Phoenix. Maxi watched the horses run freely in the corral by the bunkhouse.

"Bless the Lord O my soul, worship His Holy Name, come on and clap with me, said Pastor Sam. He stood up and clapped.

Tommy played a tune on his guitar. Pastor Sam made the black and white piano keys dance under his skillful hands and even his right foot.

Maxi stood up and lifted Phoenix's hand. They slow-danced by the campfire. Maxi wrapped her hands around his waist. He held her close to his muscular chest. She heard the people clap their hands under the twinkling stars, singing and fellowshipping. Jesus and his angels danced to their music around the flaming fire.

Author Notes I wrote this piece on 02 September 2020 with the song that Maxi sings.
My hubby, John, had me do chores including staining the wood deck and decluttering the kitchen. We had an unwanted pest eating our flour in the corner. I'm almost done with this novel, "on wings of eagles." I started my second novel, "flying eagles," with Joshua Eagle as the lead character pursuing his big dreams for The Flying Eagle Ranch. Thank you for reading and helping me with your comments. God's blessings. nancy ann gee


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