Fudge and Faith Meet A Scammer

Preparing another batch of my great Aunt Eva’s fudge recipe this afternoon, I was deep in memories of her kindness and strong sense of family. How I loved her ham sandwiches, hot cocoa, and her delicious fudge during Christmas visits as a child. Then my phone startled me. This text came over my screen.

“Hi Tanja, return my text when you get it, I have a favor to ask. God Bless! Pastor John Thomason.”  

I was suspicious, even though my name was spelled correctly. The grammar was off, for starters. Wrong use of commas. Plus, the phone number that came over was unfamiliar. I had texted with my pastor on other occasions and if this was truly him, his name would have come up and not an unfamiliar phone number.

Maybe for some reason the pastor was using someone else’s phone? I took a breath and typed, “Hello Pastor! What’s up?”

In a few minutes, I got this, “Currently in a meeting, would have called. I need to get Amazon gift-cards today for some women battling cancer in the hospital but I can’t do that right now because of my busy schedule. Can you get it from any nearby store now? I will repay. Thanks (sic).  

More wonky grammar. Also, my pastor would never do this!

I could have strung this imposter a long to see where I was supposed to send these cards, only to bawl him or her out later, but I had fudge to finish!

Instead I cut to the chase. “Shame on you for impersonating a pastor and lying about people with cancer. God help you. Pray now and ask for forgiveness. We all have to answer to our higher power when we pass from this life. Think about what you are doing in this life. God bless you.”

I could have left it there, but I was on a holy-roll!  “Go, sin no more like this. It’s not too late if you stop this and ask God to show you the way to Love.”

I went back to my fudge. 

OK, so I was being rather preachy and even punitive to this n’er do well. 

I took another breath. 

What if I prayed for this person, right there in the text? At worst, he or she would stop the game with me and that would be the end of it. At best, maybe he or she might have a stroke of conscience and what? Repent? 

“Dear Awesome, All-knowing God. Have mercy on the person engaged in this illicit behavior. Please look favorably on him/her should you hear from this soul now. Open doors for this person so all of his/her needs can be met in wholesome, soul-restoring ways. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”   

No reply. I wasn’t expecting it, but instead of getting cranked up and adding more negativity to the world, I went back to happy thoughts of my late, great aunt, and sharing her fudge with my family soon.   

Who Keeps “Messaging” Me? An Angel? Departed Loved One? God?

Have I totally lost it? Or have I officially been messaged —repeatedly now—by an angel, a departed loved one, or even God?!

Ordinarily, I get through the toils and snares of my life by praying, reaching out to wiser ones, and meditating on The Serenity Prayer.  But time and intensity can take its toll. Truth be told, lately I’ve felt almost ground down to the nub. I know am very blessed with a wonderful nuclear family, a host of quality friends, and an incredible, insightful therapist.  I know I can’t make it without turning to my Higher Power on a daily basis.  Yet, even with these supports, I confess I’ve been struggling to keep the faith.

Maybe I got to critical mass last week and somebody, somewhere thought I needed serious signage!

Last Tuesday when I was at my grant-writer job reading my mail, I noticed something a bit odd. A particular and faithful corporation who gives us a good-size check every year at this time had a “bungle” on the salutation part of their formal business letter explaining their grant award.

They had addressed the letter to Tanja Esperanza Moriarty. Esperanza? Well, my professional ‘signature’ for the past 9 years has always been “Tanja B. Moriarty.” I don’t even spell out or usually hyphenate my maiden name at work. I just use the B and a period.

In my very limited Spanish, I know that Esperanza means “hope.” Ha! I’m sure short in that department, I thought.

I showed the letter and “Esperanza” to my co-worker Val. A woman of strong faith without missing a beat claimed, “That’s God giving you a little encouraging punch on the shoulder.”

I was still in “self-wallowing mode” and said, “Hope-schmope!”

“Come on, Girl,” she scolded.

I smirked, but since I’ve had more than a few funky/spiritual things happen in my life (see Mind,Body, Soul posts), I decided to make a copy of the letter to keep in my pocketbook.  Had the door to my hardened heart opened just a crack?

Exhibit #1:


The very next day, I went to outpatient radiology for my annual mammogram. I checked in at the window and was told to take a seat. I grabbed a chair in the waiting area and wouldn’t ya know it? Right in front of me was a small table with this tri-fold brochure staring me right in the face:

Exhibit: 2

hope is power

My heart jumped a bit. The crack of the door of my boarded-up heart pushed open just a teeny bit further.  “O.K.” I said aloud. “I’m paying attention.”

Later that afternoon, I had met my wonderful pastor for cup of coffee at Sweet Harmony Cafe and Bakery on Main Street. Pastor Joon Lee and I periodically do this to check in with each other.  After a good-sized gingerbread-chocolate latte I contemplated the extremely cold weather and bouncy-back road ride home, and decided it would be wise to hit the little girl’s room before I left.

You won’t believe this, but as I sat on the porcelain, I turned to my right and saw THIS was hanging on the wall:

Exhibit: 3

hope sign

The small print reads, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, HOPE for tomorrow.”

It was like lightning!  Esperanza! Hope is Power! Hope for Tomorrow!

I left the coffee shop tingling, and it wasn’t all from the caffeine! Someone, somewhere was conking me over the head to “Have Hope, Tanja “Esperanza” B. Moriarty!”

Here I was, feeling at the end of my rope…and out of God-knows-where comes a barrage of “hope”, “hope”, “hope.”

What do you think, my friend? Who has been messaging me with these signs? Or would you say it is just one of those coincidences? Please share your opinion, your personal experiences.