By Linda Porter Carlyle
MacKenzie Isabelle Evans banged out the back door and leaped off the porch. She raced across the lawn to the street. “Hi!” she exclaimed as Hannah climbed out of her car. “I’m glad you’re back! I’m glad you could come over today! How’s your cousin Allison? Hi, Mr. Estevez!” she called to Hannah’s father. “My mom said she will bring Hannah home before supper.”
“OK. Thank you very much!” Mr. Estevez said. He blew Hannah a kiss, waved to the girls, and drove away.
“Did you have a good time in California?” Mac asked. “Well, probably not because the reason you went there wasn’t really a good one,” she remembered.
“It was kind of a good trip anyway,” Hannah answered as they walked across the grass. “Allison’s cancer doctor said she will probably get well. It will take a long time, I guess. But she’s probably going to get well!” Hannah’s smile made her whole face light up.
“We’ve been praying for her every day,” Mac said. “We never forget to do it. I taped a calendar to the kitchen table, and when we pray for Allison, I make a check mark on that day. Some days have three or four check marks on them!”
“I told her my friends were praying for her,” Hannah said. “And I told her all about prayer chains. You were right. It helped make her feel better.”
The girls clumped up the porch steps, and Mom opened the back door. “Hi, Hannah,” she said with a smile. “I’m glad you could come over this afternoon.” Mom looked at Mac. “You wanted to make peanut butter cookies with Hannah, didn’t you? I’ve just discovered we’re completely out of peanut butter. Here,” she handed Mac a $5.00 bill. “You two can walk up to the market and buy some. Get chunky or smooth—whichever you want.”
“OK,” Mac said. She stuffed the money into her pocket and leaped back off the porch. Hannah went down the steps. “It’s good you live so close to a market and Jacksonville is a safe place for us to walk,” Hannah said. “When we want to go to the store, we have to get in the car and drive there.”
The girls scuffed down the street in the hot summer sunshine. Cars passed. A flock of birds swooped overhead and landed on the power lines on the other side of the street.
As they walked beside the tall chain link fence that separated the tennis courts from the street, a large barking dog ran straight toward them across the empty courts.
Hannah gave a little shriek. “That’s a scary dog!” she exclaimed.
The dog interrupted its fierce barking to snarl, show its teeth, and leap at them against the fence.
“What are we going to do?” Hannah squeaked. “The fence ends up there at the end of the block, and there’s no gate! It’s going to bite us!” She gave a little sob of fear.
Mac looked back the other direction. There was no gate at that end of the fence either. Just a space for tennis players to walk through. And she had a feeling that there was no way they could outrun that dog!
The dog barked at them some more and began running along the inside of the fence. It looked as if it was making evil plans.
“Jesus, help us!” Mac exclaimed. It was a very short, but very fervent prayer.
Just then a boy on a shiny red bicycle sped past them. The dog fastened its eyes on the boy and began racing him, barking wildly. At the end of the fence, the dog slipped through the opening and continued racing after the bicycle. The bicycle turned a corner. The dog disappeared after it.
“Oh!” Hannah sighed in relief. She sagged against the chain link. “I don’t like dogs!”
“Well, I like dogs, but I sure don’t like that one!” Mac said indignantly. “Dogs aren’t supposed to be running around loose! Especially scary dogs like that! They’re supposed to be in yards or on leashes!”
Hannah looked at Mac. “Do you think that was an angel?” she whispered.
“Where?” Mac asked. She looked around quickly.
Hannah giggled at the expression on Mac’s face. “That boy on the bicycle,” she said. “Do you think he was an angel? I mean, he came right after you prayed, and I know he saved us from that ugly dog!”
Mac stared down the street in dismay. “Maybe!” she gasped. “Maybe he was, and I didn’t even get a good look at him!” She looked at Hannah. “What if I missed my one chance to see a real angel?” she wailed.
Hannah stared down the street too. “Maybe he was a real kid,” she said. “But my dad told me that angels protect us lots of times that we don’t even know about. I hope the angels protected him from that dog if he was a kid.”
Mac took a deep breath. “Maybe an angel!” she muttered. “And I missed him!” She was quiet for a moment. “Well, we do know that we got protected!” she said. “I guess we should thank Jesus for that—no matter how He did it!”
“Right now!” Hannah said with true gratitude.
Don’t tease dogs. Don’t reach out to pet strange dogs, especially on the top of their heads. If a strange dog starts barking and growling at you, stand still and don’t look at the dog in the eyes. Keep your head down. Watch the dog out of the corner of your eyes and slowly, slowly walk away. Don’t run. If the dog doesn’t think you are an enemy or something to hunt, it probably will leave you alone. While you’re doing all that, you can pray and remember that God helps us when we are in trouble.—Love, Mrs. Sox