can’t sleep

Chapter Four


Saturday Night – November 10, 2012

Rosalyn Gundersen sat bolt upright in bed startled out of a sound sleep. Clutching the blankets to her chest as a shield, she felt a cold sweat beading lightly on her face and arms. Slowly she realized her scream, the scream that woke her, had indeed been soundless. Simon slept undisturbed beside her, snoring softly, as usual. Except for his rhythmic breathing the house was silent. The bedroom, softly lit by the alarm’s LED readout, was not occupied by dark, leathery winged, creatures staring at her through glaring yellow eyes. The only smell in the room came from an air-freshener plugged in near the bathroom door.

As her own breathing slowed toward normal, the acrid sulfurous fumes of her dream faded to the softness of the lavender fragrance she preferred to use to scent their room. A cool breeze drifting through the slightly open window, evaporated the beads of moisture on her face and arms, and chilled her to the core.

Shivering violently she slid out of bed, pulled on a woolly robe and slippers, then ever so quietly opened the bedroom door, hoping to make an escape without waking her sleeping husband.

“Where ya goin’ hon?” Simon’s blurry half-asleep voice stopped her in her tracks and she instantly made the decision not to worry him.

“Can’t sleep,” she lied. “Going to read for awhile. Not to worry.”

“Umm…k,” he muttered, and rolling over, covered his head and immediately dropped back into a sound sleep.

In the kitchen, Roz put the tea kettle on the stove. Maybe a cup of tea was what she needed to calm her nerves. She dropped into a chair in the breakfast nook, lowered her head into her hands and began gently massaging her temples. Twenty minutes later the shrill sound of the whistling kettle jerked her back to reality–away from images of demons and danger–away from an overwhelming sense of fear.

Crossing to the stove she turned off the burner, quieting the kettle, then returned to sit at the table and simply stare blankly into space.

Half an hour later she hadn’t moved, hadn’t calmed down. At all.

“Thought you were gonna read.” Simon shuffled into the kitchen, rubbing sleep from his eyes. “What’s goin’ on Roz?”

“That dream again,” she whispered.

“The one where you see demons surrounding us?” Alert at once, all thoughts of going back to sleep forgotten, he crossed the room and placed a supporting hand on her shoulder.

She nodded. Leaning back against him for comfort, she admitted “Yes. And this time it was worse than ever. Not only could I see them. I could smell them. Feel them touching me.” She shuddered and turning to embrace him spoke in a voice that sent a thrill of fear up his spine, “It was so real Simon. It took me a little bit to be certain I was dreaming and not actually seeing demons in our room.”

“Roz, tell me the truth,” hands on her shoulders he pushed her back a little and looked deeply into her eyes. “How often are you having this dream now?”

“Almost every time I fall deeply asleep, Simon. It’s gotten to the place where I’m afraid to let myself relax completely for fear I’ll dream. And it just keeps getting worse. Sometimes I see little flashes of darkness skittering across a room or slithering along beside the car when I’m driving. I’m beginning to think I’m losing it. Honestly, just losing it.”

“This has gone far enough. I’m calling Lee!”

“No! Simon, it’s the middle of the night! I’m not a child! You can’t wake Lee up in the middle of the night just because I’m having nightmares.”

“Yes…I can.” He crossed to the counter and dialed as he spoke. “She said we could call her any time we needed her. Right now, we need her.”

Lee Langston was dreaming too. Of angels. And a ringing phone…

“Answer the phone, Lee. You’re not dreaming.” The beautiful being, surrounded with a halo of brilliant white light, spoke urgently, pressing her through the dream room toward the kitchen. “It is ringing. Answer it. Hurry!”

Without knowing exactly how it happened, Lee found herself standing in her kitchen, holding the phone in her hand and listening to a distraught Simon Gundersen explain his reasons for this middle of the night call.

As he spoke, all remnants of sleep vanished. Her mind was sharp as she snapped out pointed questions aimed at taking control of the panic she could tell was swirling around both Simon and Roz.

“Have you anointed the house and the cars, Simon?” She listened as he explained how busy they had been, how there was no time for themselves these days. She listened as he made excuses for the dreams Roz was having–excuses his Community Church congregation would find perfectly logical and acceptable.

Babies!” she thought. “Rebellious babies!”

“Simon, I’ll be there in half an hour. Get dressed. Make some coffee….No! Make some chamomile tea and get Roz to drink it! Don’t ask her any more questions. And don’t try to explain away what she’s feeling.” Her voice went from commander to comforter, “Simon, I know you’re both upset and afraid. We’ll get this straightened out when I get there. Please, give Roz as much support and comfort as you can. Just don’t try to explain away what she’s feeling right now. Okay?”

Within fifteen minutes Lee was dressed and backing her pickup out of the barn, prepared for battle. Within half an hour she stood knocking on the Gundersen’s front door. When Simon answered her knock she brushed past him with hardly so much as a hello. She walked directly to the kitchen, where Roz sat, still in robe and slippers, slumped in her chair, nursing a now stone-cold cup of tea.

“Oh. Lee. I’m so sorry he called you. I’m okay. Really.”

One look at her face told Lee she was far from okay, but she went on apologizing anyway.

“I’ve just had a bad dream. Nothing worthy of dragging you out in the middle of the night. Honestly.”

“And how many times have you had this bad dream, Roz?” Lee asked.

“I don’t know… A few.” Roz looked at Simon, as though for support or verification. When his response was simply a raised eyebrow, she blurted out, “A lot! More lately. A lot more…. Ever since we started talking with you and Noel and Charlotte about opening a new church here.”

Monday Morning – November 12, 2012

“We can’t meet at the church, Simon.” Lee’s cell phone allowed her the freedom to speak with him from the Walmart parking lot in Granger, where she’d stopped for supplies before going to Noel’s office for yet another meeting.

“At the church the walls have ears. You know that. When I get back to town I’ll stop by your house so we can hash this out.”

Her day, so far, had been glorious. Bright and blue. Neither too cold nor too warm. Just glorious.

Lee had driven over the Ridge Route into the beauty of the rising sun with a myriad of lists and plans playing through her head. Her mood was one of excitement and purpose. Nothing was going to deter her from her goal of accomplishing all of it before evening.

And now,” she thought, as she listened to Simon “it’s all about to be scuttled.”

This frantic phone call from her young friend didn’t exactly come as a surprise. She knew his family, his church and the very foundations of his faith were being challenged. Not only were there nightmares, wild imaginings and even wilder superstitions swirling around him, his congregation was in turmoil, the Church Board was reneging on their promise to support him unconditionally and, perhaps worst of all, in the past several days he had begun to experience real fear for Rosalyn’s health. Her fear of the dreams was keeping her awake. Extended periods of staying awake provided a one way street to sleep deprivation, and down that street mood swings and depression awaited. Roz had just not been herself lately.

“Lee, we can’t meet at the house either! Roz is freaking out! She hasn’t slept well in weeks. Her moods are off the chart – both ways. And this last series of calls from Margie has her on the verge of breaking.”

“Margie Whitmore’s still calling Roz?” Lee’s tone sharpened and she inhaled deeply to regain her composure before asking, “Is it more of the same old nonsense, Simon?”

“No…it’s worse than ever. Much worse. Now she’s threatening to go to Social Services with complaints about what we’re teaching the boys. This morning she told Roz that unless we pull out of the committee working on the new church and ‘get back to conservative, rational thinking‘ before the next meeting she will contact them. And the School Board, too. She’s accusing us of child abuse, Lee! Abuse! Can you believe it?”

“Oh yes, Simon. I can and do believe she is capable of that and probably more. Remember what we read in Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus? We are not fighting against flesh and blood here. We are challenging powers. And principalities.”

“But Lee.” She could hear the fear and doubt resonating through the phone now. “I’m not even part of this. Not really.”


“You and Noel are the ones organizing the whole thing. It was your idea and…”

“Simon! You aren’t really going to back down now, are you?” Another calming breath to clear the frustration from her tone and Lee went on. “This is just the first of many skirmishes. We aren’t even into the war yet. We told you, both of you, that the steps we would be taking to unite believers in Brenner County was going to stir up a tempest. It has only just begun. Now isn’t the time to turn tail and retreat.”

“I know….but….”

“Simon, I’m going to ask you again – have you taken the steps we asked you to take when we started this project?” Concentrating on modulating the tone of her voice toward patience and loving inquiry instead of coming across sounding like his mother, Lee continued. “Have you anointed your house and vehicles? Consecrated them to God? Are you and Roz taking time to pray together? Are you reading the verses we’ve been emailing to you? Are you trusting in God’s power to protect you, Simon? Or are you still trying to get through this in your own strength?”

“I don’t know.” The defeat clearly came across in his answer. “We’ve been so busy, and then with both boys in sports, and Roz not sleeping well….”

“Simon, this is not about what’s going on around you. This is about what’s going on within you. You do know that? Right?”

His deep sigh served as an answer. A negative answer she really didn’t want to hear. “All right, Simon. We’ll get together and talk about it this evening when I get back. Where do you want to meet me?”

Noel’s office felt crowded, even though there were only four people in the room. Lee thought it was probably due to the sheer presence of the older man seated next to her in front of the desk. Dressed in worn jeans and a soft suede jacket over a stylish black silk turtleneck, his casual attire belied the intensity emanating from piercing deep blue eyes. Lee had especially noted his slender build, his mane of silver hair, and a robust tan, all impressively showcased by the jeans and dark sweater.

What an attractive man!”

The feeling was, apparently, mutual. When they were introduced he had risen, taken her hand in an old-fashioned gesture of welcome and solidarity, then flashed that stunning smile in her direction as though she were the only person in the room. The chill that went up her spine in that moment spoke of something much stronger than mere physical attraction.

After a few minutes of get-acquainted conversation Noel opened his Bible and spoke in his Okay, let’s get this going voice.

“David, will you please offer a few words of prayer before we start?”

Lee glanced toward Noel and quizzically raised an eyebrow. “Turning over the reigns so soon?” Her expression asked.

“Happy to, Noel.” And, with another million-dollar smile, David Dale extended his hands to the others in the room, bowed his head and took absolute control of the meeting and the project. “Holy Lord God, we invite your presence, your counsel and your direction. May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in your sight. Amen.”

Lee leaned back in her chair, folded her hands and mentally pumped her fist in the air. “This may just be the right one, Lord. Please show us if this man is your choice for the job.”

“We’re looking for an apostle...a man whom God has called and trained”, she’d told Noel and Simon at the beginning of their search for a leader to head up their dream project. “Both of you are seminary graduates, with years of religious training. And, don’t mistake my meaning here, there’s nothing wrong with your education or your experience. It’s simply a matter of what I consider scriptural common-sense. The Apostle Paul counted all of his education, which was formidable, and his experience, as dung when it came to preaching and teaching the new covenant Gospel of Grace.”

Both men had nodded their consent and agreement. The search had begun and tonight, as David prayed she was cautiously optimistic he was the man God had sent for the job.

to be continued…

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