Go Forth! is the third book in the West Hope trilogy. This completes a work that Mary Jean began seven years ago. This individual book is also the extension and climax of an original novel, Overflowing with Hope, which had been promised her readers for several years. All of these books demonstrate clearly that God has a plan for the lives of Christians. Sometimes we stop long enough to listen and learn of those plans, put them to work in His Name, and find overflowing rewards. The individuals in these novels have done just that, and their lives are changed dramatically for the good. Come along and follow the steps of the characters, who are not bigger than life but live lives with great rewards.
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The Band Plays On Book Three of the West Hope Trilogy
By Mary Jean Bonar
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2014 Mary Jean Bonar
All rights reserved.
Janine absolutely could not sleep. She didn't care. It was wonderful to think through the events of the evening and all the days leading up to it. The Kitchen Band had passed the test. The ladies took over the stage, performed like they had been doing that all their lives, and came away all the better for it.
She slipped out of bed as gently as possible, put her feet into her slippers, turned to see if John had been disturbed, and putting her robe over her shoulders, she tiptoed out of the bedroom. She didn't need to turn on any lights as there were tiny night-lights always lighting the way in their home to prevent stumbling. She wrapped the robe tightly around herself and followed the night-lights to her favorite spot on the living room sofa and settled against the cushions there.
Now, she could go on thinking back to the little performance her dear lady friends gave during the evening. Whoever would have guessed that ladies in their eighties—or thereabouts—would step out on a stage, play make-believe instruments, and be so entertaining?
Well, it happened! It did! Janine recalled how she felt last night when she started the music and her beloved ladies marched out to join her. She was thrilled to see jolly excitement in each one of them. They were exhibiting no fear but rather were having a great time of it.
Janine, who was now the leader of the band, never expected to be in this position. If she had thought about it for any time at all, she would have quickly pushed the idea aside. But she didn't think about it. She didn't have to. The Lord Himself plunged her into the classroom that day, and as she talked with the ladies about coming together one day a week to have fun, she had absolutely no idea where that little seed of thought was going.
It was a planting. The seed was small and hardly noticed. Week after week, it grew and developed into an extraordinary entity. It produced delicious fruits of discovery, joy, and delight. The participants, who had been friends for years, now had joined in a new adventure together, and whether it grew any larger or if it became a once-in-a-lifetime moment it was certainly uplifting and would be a notable chapter in a chronicle of memories.
She wasn't tired at all as she sat in the still of the night, not wanting to interrupt her thoughts. Finally, she stood and floated into the kitchen and smiled as she was making a pot of coffee. Waiting for the brew to be complete, she opened the sliding doors to the deck and stepped outside. It was her favorite time of any twenty-four hours.
She was very careful not to make a sound. How quiet it was! She had noticed in the past that the very last part of the night became extraordinarily still, as if the earth was holding its breath before the bursting-forth of the day. She was, in truth, holding hers as well. She turned to go into the kitchen and retrieve her cup of coffee when the very first faint sound came from a bird in the wooded area behind the house. She stopped and, breathing shallow breaths, stayed with the scene.
She closed her eyes in prayer, thanking God for a long list of blessings. She didn't realize that she had been leaning over the rail for quite a while until she finally finished her prayer of thanksgiving and opened her eyes. She didn't really hear the birds until then. They were in full chorus, welcoming the new day, which was colored in soft pastels. She opened her eyes as wide as possible, blinking from the prayer to the actuality of the moment. How many times had she heard the birds singing in the morning? How many times had she seen the breaking of the day? How many times had she marveled at God's creation? She hoped that she would never become blasé and totally unmoved by moments such as these.
The sun arrived and the volume of the chorus increased. The sky turned so bright that Janine couldn't look upon it. As the birds began chirping their way to their daily tasks of gathering, she pulled the robe tightly around her body and went back into the house.
What a beautiful day! What a beautiful life! Janine smiled deeply, thinking again of the ladies, and she hoped that their start to this new day was as joyful as hers.CHAPTER 2
Overflowing with Hope
Janine poured herself a cup of coffee and was surprised to see John come into the kitchen so early in the morning.
"Good morning. I hope I didn't waken you," Janine said.
"No, you didn't. I think I had enough sleep. Did you sleep at all?"
"Not much. I was too wound up, I guess."
"Well, I believe it. You sure had an exciting evening, didn't you?"
"John, I just can't get over it. Wasn't that something?"
"It really was. I cannot believe the talents and creativity of your ladies. And they seemed to have a great time of it too. I can tell you for sure that every one in the audience enjoyed the evening tremendously. The truth is, I didn't expect the band to be that good. No offense."
Janine smiled. Who would have expected it? She poured John a cup of coffee, and they sat down together and talked.
She picked up the cups and carried them to the sink and asked, "What do you have planned to do today?"
"Mr. Lorie called yesterday and said that we finally have a very good prospect to sell our house in town. I knew you had a lot on your mind, so I figured it could wait for me to say something today. It's a young couple. Mr. Lorie said they are very nice and are hoping that we would reduce the price some."
They discussed it and realized that they needed to be finished with the residency in Innesport and it was still a fair offer. They agreed to accept it.
It was a relief after all this time. They had been going back and forth to town to be sure that the house was still in good condition. It had been said that a house deteriorates when no one is living in it, and they really wanted to sell it and know that new lives would occupy the home they had enjoyed for such a long time.
"Okay, I'll give Mr. Lorie a call this morning," John said.
* * *
Pauline never did get to sleep last night. She felt so invigorated that she just had to do something, so she found the brass polish under the kitchen sink and shined her trombone until it reflected her smile. She marched around the apartment with it several times, pretending that she was still with the band and the audience was very impressed. She stood the trombone in a safe corner of the living room and finally sat down on the sofa, reflecting upon the evening. She always did enjoy being in the Thespians throughout her high school and college years. Everyone said she was a born actor. Of course, they were right. But who could have dreamed that even now, at the age of seventy-nine, she would be called upon to be a part of a band and entertain again?
Well, never give up. That's what they say. I'm certainly not going to. I have something to do now that will be a lot of fun. In my spare time—when I'm not playing my trombone, of course—I'm going to also concentrate on my oil paintings. I may even paint a picture of a parade with our band leading it. Ha! Why not?
* * *
Adele truly felt the blessing. She considered it all an answer to a prayer. She recalled the evening she stood in her window and saw the clouds move over the sunshine, and how the beautiful sunset and rays of sun that evening brought her unexpected hope for something in her future. She had clung to that hope and believed that the Lord was giving her a sign of better days ahead. Could this be that beginning? She smiled and peacefully appreciated the moment as she gave thanks to God above.
* * *
"Oh my goodness! It's after eight o'clock. But I had the best dream. I wish I hadn't woken up just yet. Can I get the dream back?" Bea closed her eyes and saw herself back on the stage, blowing her kazoo, dancing around, and laughing like a schoolgirl. She just stayed perfectly still so as to recapture the dream and return for a few more moments of enjoyment.
All of a sudden, she realized that she was not dreaming. She actually did perform last night. She actually did have a great time of it. She opened her eyes, jumped up, and sprinted across the room. She stopped long enough to take a look at herself in the mirror. Yes, she was still that old lady. Too bad, because she felt so much younger right now. She felt like dancing again and laughing and smiling through and through. "Hey! I don't care how old I look. Down deep inside of me is a young girl enjoying life, and I'm not giving up. We're going to have a lot to talk about at Sunday school tomorrow, that's for sure!"
* * *
Last night, Owen waited up for Anne to come home from her venture because he wanted to hear all about it. When she came through the door, he knew without a doubt that she had had a good time. She seemed to be filled with spirit and energy such as he had not seen lately.
"Well, how was it?"
"Oh, I guess it was fine." She walked over to the far corner of the living room and deposited her equipment and purse there for the time being.
"Fine? Come on now, you surely can't just say fine."
"Well, no one fell off the stage."
"Is that it?"
Anne sat down, removed her shoes, and ran her fingers through her beautiful white wavy hair.
"Well, we did pretty well, I think." She didn't usually go on and on about anything.
"Well, Bea definitely had fun. She moved around and was laughing and such. And Pauline practically took the stage. You know how she loves to be in the spotlight. But she was really good. Everyone was impressed with that trombone.
"I think Janine was kind of nervous about whether or not we should have tried such a thing. We all were, actually, but Janine seemed to be more so. But in the end, she was really happy. Her family was there too. They thought we were terrific. I wouldn't go that far."
Owen smiled. "But did you enjoy yourself?"
Owen was very pleased with that. Anne was a very quiet and subdued person and was not cut out for being in a band by any stretch of the imagination. He had actually worried that she would not enjoy any part of the evening, but apparently she did. How about that?
"You must be tired," Owen said.
"I suppose I am. Would you like some ice cream before going to bed?"
"I just had some, thanks. How about you? Did you work up an appetite?"
"Oh no, I'm fine. We had a very nice dinner. I'll just go get ready for bed."
"All right, I'll be coming too."
After the lights were out, Anne reflected upon the evening with blissful and pleasant thoughts.
Hmm, that was good—good for us and for others as well. We might actually have something here. We'll see.
* * *
Like many women her age, Rachael came home to an empty house. She had left the porch light and the hall light on so when Janine and John drove her to the door, no one stumbled. They had talked a lot on the way home about the evening and how special it actually was. Julia was totally shocked that she had been a part of it and said so. She said she never did feel that she was a real part of the community even after all these years.
That just wasn't so, but she couldn't help feeling like it.
As for Rachael, she was so thankful that she had lived after all!
With all her questionings of God as to why she was still here, she still had no real answer, but right now, it just felt right. She believed she still had more of a life to live. It's not just the band. It's a feeling of revitalization and happiness she had not known for some time, and it all added up to being here for a reason—whatever that was. Time would tell, and she looked forward to it.
* * *
Yes, Julia was somewhat of an introvert and she knew it. Her thoughts that Saturday morning were more of hoping that she did well enough to still be wanted in the band. She didn't know if she did or not.
She was tired last night but inwardly quite happy. She was a part of a group that was very special, and they seemed to include her without any problems.
I really want to stay with it. I can't remember ever having so much fun, she thought.
She was a fine school teacher in her day, and even today, her students stopped by when they were in town to talk with her. Some of the local students did as well. That was a part of her life where she felt that she had truly accomplished something, but being in a group situation with her peers, she never ever believed she lived up to the standards they might be expecting of her. She never would have been a leader but was quite happy to be a follower, and as long as they accepted her, she would give it her all.
Everyone is so talented. I can't even think up an instrument on my own. Thankfully, Rachael suggested the slotted spoon I used in the band. It worked just fine. I'll look around the kitchen and see if there is anything else I might use. They do like the aprons I made, so that's good.
Tomorrow is Sunday, and we'll all be together again. Maybe some of us will go to the Orchard Restaurant after church as usual. Then Tuesday is band practice again, and I'm pretty busy practicing the piano every day, so life is good and well worth the living, I say.
* * *
Saturday morning had always been a good day for Iola. She used to teach piano lessons all day on Saturday but didn't do that anymore since her hearing was so bad, but these days, she used her weekends for studying her Bible lessons and catching up on reading as well. And sometimes there was a good football game or baseball game (her favorite) on television.
That morning, she did not think at all about the reading and her Bible lesson. She was digging through boxes and cupboards, looking for another kitchen band instrument. They were talking about doing a country song, and she had a little brown jug somewhere, and Janine thought that would be utterly fantastic.
Of course, she never did drink any kind of hard stuff like what goes into a little brown jug, and she wondered if everyone would think she was someone who might imbibe in the shadows or something, so she was uncertain if she really would like to contribute the jug. Maybe not, but it sure would produce a good laugh, and maybe it would be okay to hand it off to someone to blow into.
She had a really good time at the installation of the new pastor last night. She enjoyed everything about the evening: the service, the dinner, the fellowship, and much to her surprise, the band.
This could be the start of something. Probably not, but it could, I suppose. I think I'd like that.
She couldn't believe her own thoughts. This was definitely not the way she expected to spend her time in these senior years. After all, she had always been upright and strongly sure of what was right and wrong about being a Christian. Now here she was, dancing and playing stupid instruments in front of people. What kind of influence is that going to be, and should we be doing such a thing? The ministers who were at the dinner last night all loved the program. They felt that the band was a good means of spreading the love of the Lord and sharing in fellowship and laughter together.
O Lord, I hope we were not an embarrassment to You. Guide us into always doing the right thing, and if we are not, just smack us down.
She continued to look for the jug, feeling pretty good about it all, and beginning to believe that Janine was right about the Lord calling them into an effective way of service.CHAPTER 3
Overflowing with Promise
She looked at the result bar on the testing device. She had waited the required three minutes by counting slowly to 180 while keeping her eyes closed. She paused, drew in a deep breath, held it, and then peeked out into the room. The hand holding the tool was trembling as she slowly looked down at the results.
"Is that a plus or a minus?"
She couldn't really see it. She blinked several times and lifted the device closer to her eyes.
"It looks like a plus. It is! I'm pregnant!"
She marveled that she was truly excited and happy. She had not planned on having children thus far. "I wonder why? I love children. I have worked with children and seen my sister's children grow and enjoyed every event and occasion possible with them. Why had I not felt that it was time for us to be parents? I have wonderful parents. I think I would be a good parent."
Excerpted from Go Forth! by Mary Jean Bonar. Copyright © 2014 Mary Jean Bonar. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Joy, 1,
Chapter 2: Overflowing with Hope, 4,
Chapter 3: Overflowing with Promise, 13,
Chapter 4: A Basketful, 16,
Chapter 5: Who Knew?, 23,
Chapter 6: Everybody's Talking, 26,
Chapter 7: Little Brown Jug, 29,
Chapter 8: It Begins, 31,
Chapter 9: Be Here—Go There, 34,
Chapter 10: Prince Has a Vacation, 40,
Chapter 11: New Paths, New Faces, New Purpose, 45,
Chapter 12: The Final Move, 49,
Chapter 13: Front-Page News, 52,
Chapter 14: The Traditional Christmas Eve, 55,
Chapter 15: Miracles Happen, 62,
Chapter 16: To Be or Not to Be?, 65,
Chapter 17: Whose Apple Is This?, 68,
Chapter 18: Adele, 72,
Chapter 19: Good-Bye and Hello, 76,
Chapter 20: Little Jimmy, 85,
Chapter 21: The Young Marrieds, 92,
Chapter 22: Two-Rific, 96,
Chapter 23: On the Horizon, 100,
Chapter 24: Calling All Members ..., 106,
Chapter 25: The More We Get Together, the Happier We'll Be, 117,
Chapter 26: Guess What?, 125,
Chapter 27: Marcia's Debut, 130,
Chapter 28: Pleasures and Fixins, 136,
Chapter 29: I Have a Plan for You, 138,
Chapter 30: Ring, Ring, 149,
Chapter 31: Working Hands, 159,
Chapter 32: Sunshine and Daffodils, 161,
Chapter 33: Harry Is Here!, 165,
Chapter 34: Rejoice, 170,
Chapter 35: Get Ready, 176,
Chapter 36: Going to the County Fair, 180,
Chapter 37: Get Set, 183,
Chapter 38: Go!, 189,
Chapter 39: High Living, 204,
Chapter 40: See for Yourself, 208,
Chapter 41: First Rehearsal, 213,
Chapter 42: Curtains Up!, 223,
Chapter 43: Go Forth!, 231,