Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Ruby Christmas Chapter Nine

UPDATE: A Ruby Christmas is FREE on Kindle 
Friday, December 13 through Monday, December 16. 

Read Chapter One here.
Read Chapter Two here.
Read Chapter Three here.
Read Chapter Four here.
Read Chapter Five here. 
Read Chapter Six here.
Read Chapter Seven here.
Read Chapter Eight here.

A Ruby Christmas
Chapter Nine
by Phee Paradise

When the plane started the approach to Guatemala City, Ruby pressed her face to the airplane window like a little kid. Mountain peaks spread across to the horizon with three volcanoes rising in perfect cones above them all. It was as if she had been transported into one of her favorite books, only she had never imagined God’s creation would be this majestic. She couldn’t wait to be down there looking up at them. But once she was in the airport, with the familiar sounds of Spanish, it didn’t seem so exotic after all. She moved through customs easily and went looking for Yippee’s crate. He was still sedated and at the sound of her voice moved his tail a bit without lifting his head. She squatted to get closer to him.

“You have to be Ruby. You look just like your mother.”

“Uncle Dwayne?” Ruby jumped up to look at her mother’s other brother whom she hadn’t seen since the funeral. She barely remembered him, but something about the way he tipped his head reminded her of Momma and Uncle Jared. She swallowed a sudden lump and took the hand he offered.

“And this must be Yippee. Let’s get him home so he can get out of that crate.”

Home was a cement block house near the Christian college where Uncle Dwayne taught archaeology. After he settled Yippee and Ruby in their bedroom, he offered her a cup of coffee.

“In Guatemala, they drink it with a gallon of milk and a pound of sugar, but I like mine black.” He pointed his chin toward a sugar bowl.

Ruby shook her head. “Why spoil the taste?”

He nodded, and they sipped in silence for a little while. Eventually he put down his mug. “So you’re on a quest for the perfect Nativity scene.”

“Well, I don’t know about perfect. I’ve found pieces in a lot of places in the world so, of course, they don’t match. It was all Daddy’s idea, you know.”

“Oh, yeah, I know.” He looked over her head as if he was remembering something.

“How well do you know Daddy?”

He took a minute more before he answered. “That’s kinda hard to say. I’ve lived here near twenty-three years. I’ve gone home, of course, but I don’t think I’ve seen him—or you—since your mother went to heaven.”

Before her trip, that phrase would have bothered her. After Momma died, people tried to comfort her by saying things like that. Even if it was true, it hadn’t helped, because Ruby had needed her here, not in heaven. But the way Uncle Dwayne said it, he sounded like he not only believed it, he was glad about it. And now she knew God had been there for her all along.

“They came to visit me before you were born. Eliza had always loved Guatemala. We visited a lot when we were kids. But your daddy wasn’t so sure about it.”

“Why not?”

Uncle Dwayne looked into his mug for a while before looking back at Ruby. “Let me tell you a story. A long time ago, a boy from Texas came to Guatemala on a short-term mission. His group stayed at a camp called Monte Sión where they helped get it ready for the campers. He fell in love with one of the girls in the group, and when they went back to the States they got married. They always loved Guatemala and came back with their family as often as they could. When their son grew up, he came to teach and never left. Their daughter wanted to be a missionary here, but before she finished college, she fell in love with a Texas rancher. He was sure God hadn’t called him to the mission field. But she convinced him to visit her brother, just to see if he was wrong. It wasn’t a very pleasant visit. She wanted him to love the country the way she did. He wanted her to go home and be his wife. They fought a lot.”

Ruby waited for the rest of the story. Daddy and Momma had been completely in love. She knew that, even though she had been a kid when Momma died. So there had to be more.

Uncle Dwayne stared at his coffee for a long time. “I’m not sure what happened to change them, but I know it happened at Monte Sión. When I took them out there, Eliza and Jake spent all afternoon at the campfire circle. When they came back to the car, they were holding hands and laughing. After that, they didn’t fight anymore. When they went back to the States they got married, and you know the rest of the story.”

“I wonder what they talked about. I guess I’ll never know, but I’d love to go to Monte Sión. Can you take me?”

Uncle Dwayne smiled. “Already planned. But you’ll have a better guide than me. Tomorrow you’re going to meet Rocksanda.”

Would seeing the place where Momma and Daddy had made their commitment to each other bring her closer to both of them? As she tried to picture this place that Momma loved, it was Jonathan she saw smiling back at her, beckoning her into a new exciting world.

In the morning, while they were finishing scrambled eggs and more black coffee, a short girl about Ruby’s age strode into the kitchen. She dropped a small cardboard box onto the table by Ruby’s plate, said something to Uncle Dwayne in Spanish, and disappeared below the table.

“Ruby, this is Rocksanda, my graduate assistant. She’ll be glad to welcome you to her country when she’s done flirting with your dog.”

The girl looked up from the floor where she was offering a hand to Yippee and tossed her long black braid over her shoulder. “Mucho gusto, Ruby,” she said. Then, in English that wasn’t too bad, “Welcome to Guatemala. Please, open the box.” She laughed when Yippee pushed his head into her small brown hand.

Ruby opened the lid and lifted out a brooch unlike anything she had ever seen. It looked like a slice of a tree branch, smoothed and polished, with a safety pin attached to the back. A tiny volcano was painted on the front with the words Monte Sión under it.

“Thank you. I love it.”

Rocksanda jumped up. “You’ll love Monte Sión more. Are you ready?”

During the drive out of the city, Ruby watched the people until the buildings disappeared and mountains surrounded them. There was always at least one volcano in sight. Barely stopping to breathe, Rocksanda chatted about her country, jumping from topic to topic so Ruby couldn’t keep up. She also drove pretty fast on the two lane highway, but she had to slow down when they crossed a bridge into a town with narrow cobblestone streets between high pink and turquoise walls.

Amatitlán,” Rocksanda announced. “We’re almost there.”

On the other side of the town, the road wound around the hillside above a lake and eventually they turned into a drive up the hill. Rocksanda parked the car in a dirt lot overlooking the lake and jumped out, opening the back door for Yippee.

He took off across a grassy field, and they ran after him, a breeze blowing back their hair. Ruby relished the reminder of her childhood, running across the ranch. By the time they reached the large building at the top of the hill, she was out of breath. Rocksanda leaned over and pressed her hand to her side, grinning at Ruby, sucking in deep breaths of air. Then she straightened, spread her arms, and spun around.

“Monte Sión. El lugar mas lindo en todo el mundo. The prettiest place in the world.”

Ruby looked out at the lake. There was a building behind her and several structures further down the hill, but the lake, sparkling in the sunlight, surrounded by tree covered hills with mountains rising behind, drew her. She gazed at it as her breathing slowed and then spoke Momma’s favorite verse from Psalm 121. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills. From whence cometh my help?”

Rocksanda laughed. “Turn around.”

Ruby tore her gaze from the lake to obey and gasped. A sort of mountain lodge stood in front of her with a volcano centered behind it. The perfect cone dominated the sky. She spoke without taking her eyes off it. “I see why you love it.”

But Rocksanda was off again, Yippee at her heels. “Come see our Mayan stone.”

She ran down a path toward a swimming pool but stopped in front of a waist high rock outside the enclosure. She pointed to a hollow in the top of the rock and several narrow grooves carved in the sides. “This is where the Mayans sacrificed to the volcano gods. They cut chicken throats there and the blood ran down here.”

Ruby shuddered. The stone was so out of place at a Christian camp.

“But the important sacrifices are over there.”

This time Rocksanda ran around another building and down another path. Ruby chased after, wondering if the next attraction would be a place for human sacrifice. They stopped at the top of a little amphitheater where tiered stone benches descended to a fire pit. Rocksanda stood still, for once not laughing, as if she waited for something important to happen. Ruby stopped beside her, remembering Uncle Dwayne’s story.

“So this is it?” she whispered, stepping down to sit on a bench.

She pictured Daddy and Momma sitting here, wrestling with each other and with an irresistible God. Tough and forthright, Daddy wouldn’t have given in easily, and he would have told God exactly what he wanted. Momma. In the end, he had won her. But what had she given up for him? Momma had not only loved Daddy, she had loved God and wanted to serve Him. Life on a ranch wasn’t an exotic mission field, but Momma had served God there and loved doing it. It wasn’t a sacrifice for her. Ruby was sure of that.

Staring past the stone seats, across the field beyond to the glittering water of the lake, she wasn’t aware of tears until she wiped her fingers across her cheek. She thought of her own selfishness and wondered if she were strong enough to sacrifice something she loved to serve God. Once again, she pictured Jonathan beckoning her into the unknown.

After a long time, she looked down at Rocksanda kneeling by the fire pit. She walked down the steps to kneel beside her. A brown hand reached for hers and Rocksanda said something in Spanish. Ruby smiled. She didn’t need to know the language to know she had just been blessed.

On the drive home, they made plans to go shopping the next day. Uncle Dwayne said Daddy had insisted that she buy clothes made of the colorful native fabrics. Rocksanda had as much to say about the different styles and colors as she had about the archaeology, geography, and history of her beloved country.

This time they rode a bus across town, and Yippee stayed home. It wasn’t an open-air market like Ruby had imagined, but when they entered the huge building that housed the vendors, she was overwhelmed by the noises, aromas, and colors. She wanted to look at everything at once. Rocksanda pushed her way through the crowd between stalls enclosed by flimsy walls. Ruby glimpsed large gunny sacks bursting with black beans and rice, baskets of strange fruits, buckets of flowers, blue ceramic cook pots, and rows of plastic shoes before they turned a corner and stopped.

“This is the turista section. This is where you’ll find everything you want.”

Ahead of her were tables draped with red and blue cloths, covered with jewelry, wood carvings, and pottery. On the walls behind the tables hung shirts, skirts, and purses woven in the bright colors she had seen on the streets.

“Wow. Where do I start?”

She turned to the stall on her left, but although the turquoise jewelry displayed was tempting, that wasn’t what she was looking for. First she had to find a piece for the crèche. A pottery stall displayed several Nativity sets. She picked up a brightly painted wise man, turned it in her hand and put it down. The workmanship was rough. This was clearly folk art with an emphasis on folk. But she wasn’t here to find art. Otherwise she’d be in one of the expensive shops they had seen from the bus. She decided pottery wasn’t what she was looking for either.

She headed toward a table with carved plates and masks. There were several figurines among them. The vendor, dressed in ordinary jeans and a t-shirt with a picture of a bald eagle, came forward with a smile. Rocksanda spoke to him in Spanish while Ruby poked through the stuff on the table. From under it, the vendor brought out a Nativity scene. The pieces were smooth and polished. While she picked them up, one by one, he suggested a price.

“Ask him if I can buy just parts of it.”

His smile disappeared, and he shook his head.

“This is going to be hard.” While Ruby looked around his stall for figurines that weren’t in sets, the vendor and Rocksanda talked. Once more he bent under the table and brought out a handful of Nativity pieces.

“He says these aren’t finished, but if you pick some, he’ll polish them for you right now.”

He was right. They didn’t have the detail that the other set had. But there, in the middle of the pile, Ruby spotted what she was looking for. She put one in the palm of her hand and held it up. A shepherd knelt with his head bent a little, holding his crook in one hand. The edges were rough, but his posture showed humility. That portrayed Daddy perfectly. A humble servant. “I’ll take these.”

“These.” Rocksanda helped her count out the quetzales and centavos. The vendor picked up a piece of fine sandpaper and the girls turned to the next stall.

“We can come back after you buy clothes. We’re going to make you look like a chapina.” Rocksanda laughed.


When they dragged themselves into Uncle Dwayne’s place at supper time, he actually wanted to see her treasures. She held up a blue and green striped vest and several loose tops that would look great with jeans. Her favorite was a white blouse with embroidery around the neck and a silver chain with intricately interlaced links.

“That’s a beautiful Coban wedding chain. Should I be making plans for a trip to Texas?” He looked over at Rocksanda and winked.

“What? I didn’t know. You didn’t tell me.” Ruby glared at Rocksanda.

The girl was kneeling by Yippee. She held his jaws in both hands, pulling an ear close to her face to whisper loudly. “She’ll need it someday, won’t she, Yippee?”

Uncle Dwayne picked up one of the shepherds. “Yes. This embodies Jake’s experience, doesn’t it? Even though he insisted he wasn’t called as a missionary, I saw him on his knees daily while he was here. I think he sought the Lord’s will for his life and the life of your mother, and when he was sure of what God had for him, he took his cause to Eliza. I think he humbly asked her to marry him despite the fact that she had other ideas of where they would spend their lives. Then, when Eliza agreed, they served the Lord together in Texas.”

Ruby watched the uncle, who looked like Momma, holding the figurine that captured Daddy. Even though she had only been in the country Momma loved for a few days, she knew she had found her parents’ love story. She was ready for the last leg in her journey that she hoped might even end with her own tale of love and a humble surfing cowboy.

Check back tomorrow to get your own FREE Kindle version of A Ruby Christmas, which includes the final two chapters of Ruby's journey!

Our authors are blogging all sorts of fun posts, interviews, articles, devotions and more during the next couple of weeks too, so we'll try to keep an updated list so you can visit. Most of them are changing posts as often as we are, so if you see their names listed more than once, check out all the links, because it's a different post.

Thursday, December 12

For the Pinterest contest, visit Chapter Nine's Pinterest image and Phee Paradise's blog to compare the final photo. Then, send us your list of differences - magnificenthope [at] yahoo [dot] com - for your chance to win!
PHEE PARADISE on Delighted Meditations

From Wednesday, December 11

For the Pinterest contest, visit Chapter Eight's Pinterest image and Debbie Roome's blog
MARJI LAINE Chapter 8 Devotionon Faith~Driven Fiction
FAY LAMB hosts Tracy Ruckman who shares the family Christmas Divinity recipe

From Tuesday, December 10

For the Pinterest contest, visit Chapter Seven's Pinterest image and Marji Laine's blog
PHEE PARADISE hosts MARJI LAINE for guest devotional on Delighted Meditations

From Monday, December 9

From Friday, December 6

For the Pinterest contest, visit Chapter Five's Pinterest image and Jerusha Agen's blog
MARJI LAINE Chapter 5 Devotionon Faith~Driven Fiction
MARJI LAINE Devotional about Light on A Woman Like Me Blog
PHEE PARADISE on Delighted Meditations

From Thursday, December 5

For the Pinterest contest, visit Chapter Four's Pinterest image and Ruth O'Neil's blog
MARJI LAINE Chapter 4 Devotion on Faith-Driven Fiction
PHEE PARADISE hosts Tracy Ruckman at Delighted Meditations

From Wednesday, December 4

For the Pinterest contest, visit Chapter Three's Pinterest image and Fay Lamb's blog
MARJI LAINE Chapter 3 Devotionon Faith~Driven Fiction
FAY LAMB guest devotional at Phee Paradise's Delighted Meditations

From Tuesday, December 3

For the Pinterest contest, visit Chapter Two's Pinterest image and Dianne E. Butts' blog
MARJI LAINE Chapter 2 Devotion on Faith~Driven Fiction
DIANNE E. BUTTS guest article about Christmas at Embattled Spirits
DIANNE E. BUTTS guest devotional at Phee Paradise's Delighted Meditations

From Monday, December 2

For the Pinterest contest, visit Chapter One's Pinterest image and J.A.'s blog to compare photos
Marji Laine hosts Sheryl Holmes
Dianne Butts
Fay Lamb
Marji Laine - Chapter 1 Devotional
Phee Paradise

About Phee Paradise

Phee Paradise is a freelance writer with diverse writing experience. Her work includes book reviews, newspaper articles and short stories, and she writes devotionals for her blog, Delighted Meditations She resides in South Carolina where she teaches public speaking and volunteers at her church. You can see some of her work at

A Dozen Apologies
Coming Valentine's Day

Mara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up.

In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better.

Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job that she ever thought possible.

Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Chapters 8 and 9 were good as well...