Repaired By Love — Chapters 9-12

Due to a death in the family and involved funeral plans, etc., I won’t be posting much for the next several days, so I’m including chapters 9-12 all in one post today. I know that makes it long, but you can still read just a chapter a day if you want to. Then I’ll pick it up with Chapter 13 next week.

To access earlier chapters, click on Repaired By Love in the navigation bar.


 

REPAIRED AMAZON COVER - BLUE TEXT - FRONTREPAIRED BY LOVE
© 2004 Sandra Pavloff Conner

CHAPTER NINE

They were about halfway through the movie when the phone rang, and Kana jumped up to answer it. “I’ll take it in the kitchen so I don’t disrupt the movie,” she said as she left the room. It was several minutes before she returned, and when she did, her face was pale, and she walked over and turned the volume down on the TV. She then walked over to her grandmother’s chair and knelt down beside her.

“Gram …” There were tears in her eyes, and Lionel got up from where he had been sitting across the room and came and knelt on the other side of Gram, where Delly was sitting.

“What is it, Kana?” Gram asked, concern filling her own eyes now.

“That was Mom on the phone,” Kana said, her voice husky. “She called to tell us that dad was on his way home from a meeting in Baltimore – coming by private plane – and they’ve lost contact with the plane he was on.” She brushed at a tear that had slipped down her cheek.

“Oh, my dear,” Gram said, reaching out and enfolding Kana in her arms.

“Mom said it’s been three hours since they’ve heard from the pilot. She had thought he’d be in about 2:00, so she was actually at the airport waiting when they told her. At that time it had been over an hour since they had lost radio contact, but they didn’t seem terribly concerned. But after another hour, they knew something had to be very wrong.” Kana swiped at another tear. “Mom’s trying to be strong, but I could tell she’s having a hard time. She called their pastor, and he and his wife are at the house with her now … waiting.”

“We’ll pray right now,” Gram said, reaching out to take Delly’s hand also.

Kana nodded her head and closed her eyes as her grandmother began the prayer.

Lionel knew he didn’t have much of any faith to contribute, but he bowed his head and wished with all of his heart for Kana’s father to be all right. He knew Delly was reaching out to the God she had great faith in, and he held her hand and tried to believe too.

“Dear Lord, we come to you in the name of Jesus,” Gram prayed now. “We know that Your mercies are new every day, and we know that Ellen and Dave pray every morning for the mercy of Your protection over them. So, Lord we’re going to believe that You have been protecting Dave on this trip, and that even though they have no contact with that plane, You still have contact, and You’re taking care of things. Lord, we ask You to continue to keep Dave and any other passengers safe and make a way for the authorities to get back in contact with the pilot and get help to all of them if they need it. … And please give us some good news soon … and give us Your peace while we wait. Thank You, Lord. Amen.”

When she had finished, she squeezed Kana’s hand tightly, and added. “Now, I’m going to call Pastor McDaniels and then Hilary, so we can get everyone on the prayer chain praying too. Why don’t you come into the kitchen with me, Delly, while I call, and then we can make some coffee and see if we can’t find you some more lemonade?”

When they had left the room, Lionel moved over to the seat where Gram had been sitting, and took one of Kana’s hands in his. “I’m so sorry,” he said, feeling the total inadequacy of the words.

Kana only nodded her head, but she did squeeze his hand a little and didn’t remove hers from his grasp. Lionel knew it would do her more good to talk about her family than to just sit there, so he began to gently nudge her into normal conversation.

“Tell me a little about your father.”

Kana smiled. “My dad’s the greatest. He was always my idol when I was growing up. Of course, since I was an only child – and a girl – I think he was a little over protective, but I was his pride and joy.”

“What kind of work does he do?”

“He’s been a high school principal for the last fifteen years. He taught before that. He’s always enjoyed working with kids, and he does a lot with the youth at church too. He’s always been the kind of dad who is a lot of fun.”

“I’m sure I’d like him.”

Kana looked into Lionel’s eyes and saw the concern there. Once again those eyes seemed to be able to see deeply into her soul, and she couldn’t seem to turn away. Finally she spoke again in a husky voice. “I’m sure you would too … and he’d like you. I hope you get to meet him one of these days.” Her last sentence was almost choked with the tears she was striving to hold back, and Lionel couldn’t keep himself from slipping down beside her where she still knelt on the floor and gently wrapping her in his arms.

She rested her head on his shoulder and sagged against him, sighing with relief. She needed someone to hold her right now. They just stayed in that position for several minutes, until, finally, Kana lifted her head and smiled at him. “I think we both need to get off of this floor, don’t you?”

He grinned that now familiar, inviting grin and answered, “That might be a good idea at that.” With those words, he rose and took hold of her elbows and helped her up.

“I think I’ll see if I can help Gram with the coffee,” Kana said, and Lionel followed her to the kitchen.

“The coffee’s just finishing,” Gram said as they entered the room. “I’ve talked with Cameron and Hilary, and they’ve started getting people into prayer. Cameron said he’ll be over in a few minutes. He wants to stay with us until time for the evening service.”

Just then the phone rang again, and Kana froze for a second, looking at Gram, and then at Lionel.

“Would you like for me to get it?” Lionel asked.

“No,” Kana said. “No, I can do it,” she added as she walked over to pick up the receiver on the wall phone.

“Hello,” she spoke, almost breathless with the stress.

“Yes, Eve,” she said now, looking at Lionel and smiling.

“Yes, that’s right, and that’s all we know at this point.” She paused again, listening, and then added, “Well, if you’d like to, we’d certainly be glad to have you. As a matter of fact, your daughter and brother-in-law are here anyway,” she said, grinning broadly now.

“Yeah, they had dinner with us and watched part of a movie. We haven’t finished it since we were interrupted with the news about dad’s plane. But I think they plan on being here a while longer.”

She listened for another minute and then said, “But if you two need to go home first, please do that. We’re just waiting over here now anyway … and praying, of course … but I know you’ve already done that too. Do you need to talk to Lee for any reason?”

He walked over to be close by if he was wanted, but Kana shook her head slightly at his questioning look. “Okay, Eve,” she said into the phone again. “And thank you so much. We’ll see you soon. Bye.”

She hung up and turned to the others.

“Was that my mommy?” Delly asked, her eyes alight. “Are they back already?”

“That was your mommy, sweetheart,” Kana said, walking over and caressing the little girls hair, “but she isn’t quite home yet. She was calling from her cell phone.” Kana then looked up at Gram and continued. “Hilary called them, and Eve said they’re going to come straight here, because they want to be with us.”

“That’s so sweet of them,” Gram said. “Will they be here soon then?”

“She said about an hour yet. You know, I think I’ll give Mom another call, just in case she tried to get through when our line’s been tied up.”

“Do that, dear, and I’ll talk to her this time,” Gram said.

“Delly,” her uncle spoke as he reached out and took her hand. “Why don’t you and I go and watch the rest of our movie while Gram and Kana talk on the phone. They’ll come and tell us if there’s anything else we need to know.”

“Okay, Uncle Lee,” Delly said, getting down from her chair. “Can I take my lemonade?” she asked, looking at Gram.

“You sure can, honey,”

So Kana dialed her mother as Lee and Delly returned to the den, and once she was sure there was no new information about her dad, she handed the phone to Gram. She was sure her mother would get more comfort talking with her own mom than she would from anyone else anyway.

The day turned into evening, and though they were tired from the strain of waiting, Kana and Gram were encouraged by the love their friends poured out on them. When Cameron and Suzanne came, they brought a huge pot of soup, so there was no need to fix a meal, and when Eve and Darrin arrived, they brought in a box of doughnuts.

They all gathered around the kitchen table at one point and prayed again all together for the safety of those on the plane and for a quick rescue from whatever situation they were in. Then, encouraged by their pastor to act like they believed what they had prayed, they all made a good attempt at eating the food laid out before them.

Cameron had to leave to conduct the evening service, but he promised they would pray together as a congregation during the service. Suzanne stayed with the family, and as soon as he could get away, Cameron returned to continue his support while they waited.

Finally, by 9:30, Eve decided she needed to get Delly home and into bed. She hugged Gram as she and Darrin were preparing to leave. “We’ll still be praying and believing, and we’ll be up ourselves for several more hours, so you call if you hear anything at all, okay?”

“I promise,” Gram said. Then she turned to Lionel. “Are you going now too?”

“No … if you don’t mind, I’d like to stay with you a while longer.”

“Oh, bless you, Lee,” Gram said squeezing his arm. “I don’t mind at all. In fact, I’m very glad you’re staying. Why don’t we sit in the living room for a while and prop our feet up?”

“I think I’m going out and walk around in the yard a few minutes, Gram,” Kana said.

“But honey, it’s completely dark now.”

“I know, but I just need to get some air. I won’t be too long,” she said as she slipped out the back door.

“And I’m going to straighten up the kitchen,” Lionel said.

“Oh, no, you’re not!” Gram answered, looking shocked.

Lionel took hold of her shoulders and started pushing her gently to the kitchen door. “Oh, yes, I am. You and your pastor and Suzanne go on in there and get some rest. I’ll be in shortly.”

Cameron and Suzanne were laughing. “He’s bigger than you are, Grandma Nora,” Cameron said. “You might as well give up and do as you’re told.”

“All right,” she said, laughing a little herself now. “Bless you, Lee. But don’t think you have to be too fussy.”

“I won’t; don’t worry.”

Lionel had everything cleaned off and the dishwasher loaded within twenty minutes, and then he slipped quietly out the back door to look for Kana. He knew she needed a little time alone, but he didn’t want her to have so much time that it did more harm than good. He spotted her leaning against a portion of fence staring up at the stars. He cleared his throat to warn her that he was there.

She didn’t take her eyes from the stars, but she spoke quietly. “I heard you come out. Did you want something in particular?”

He had walked up to stand beside her now. “No … I just thought maybe you’d had enough time alone and might like a little company.”

She sighed deeply and looked at him. “I was just praying some more … and thinking that the God who made all those stars and knows them all by name surely cares enough about my father to keep him safe and get him back to us.”

“That seems like sound reasoning to me,” he said, burdened because he couldn’t add to her faith with any of his own. He could feel her pain and wanted with all of his heart to comfort her. But he had only his own human strength to offer, and, right now, he knew that wasn’t enough.

She looked back up at the stars, and he could see tears glistening on her cheeks. Instinctively, he reached out and put his arm around her shoulders. Without realizing it, Kana turned into his embrace, and he wrapped her completely in his arms. Her head rested against his shoulder for the second time that day, but this time, he felt an overwhelming need to kiss away her tears.

His lips moved of their own volition, planting tender kisses along her hair … then moving slowly to her ear … then to her cheek. Kana wasn’t thinking now. She was just feeling … feeling the comfort of Lee’s arms … the healing of his kisses. She lifted her face slowly, as a flower lifts its head to the sun after the rain.

He tasted the salt of her tears and continued to let his lips travel across her face in an effort to console her. Before he could even realize what had happened, his lips had tasted hers. His touch on her mouth had been feather-light, but it had acted like a magnet, and although he lifted his lips a fraction of an inch, he couldn’t manage to pull away any further. Nor could Kana. Their lips sought each other again … this time with an urgency born of the need to give and receive healing.

The kiss lasted only a couple of moments before Kana realized what was happening. She pressed gently on Lionel’s chest and pulled away, looking up at him with confusion on her face. Lionel immediately felt remorse for having taken such a liberty after what Kana had told him about her commitment where unbelievers were concerned. He had truly only meant to comfort her. What had happened? He opened his mouth to try to explain, but was forestalled by Suzanne calling from the back door.

“Kana! Good news! Hurry in here!”

Kana’s eyes grew wide, and excitement lightened her face as she looked into Lionel’s eyes for one more moment and then turned and ran to the door. Lionel followed as quickly as possible, and as he entered the kitchen, he heard Kana on the phone, “Oh, Daddy! Is it really you?” She was laughing and crying all at the same time, while she listened to her father on the other end of the line.

Lionel looked to Cameron to get an explanation, and he obliged. “It seems that the plane did go down, but the pilot was able to land it safely enough to keep everyone from any serious injury. But their radio equipment was completely out, and they were in a remote area, so it took this long for anyone to figure out where they were and get to them.” He sighed deeply, grinning from ear to ear as he slapped Lionel on the shoulder. “God’s certainly been good to us today, Lee.”

Lionel nodded his head. He still wasn’t sure what he believed, but he was engulfed in gratitude – to someone – for delivering Kana from the loss of the father she loved so dearly. “I’m sure relieved for all of them. … And … I don’t think they’ll need me any more tonight, so I’d better head home. My alarm goes off at 6:00 whether I’ve had any sleep or not, so I think I’ll try to get a little now that things are back to normal.” He glanced over to the phone and saw that Grandma Nora was hanging on every word and waiting her turn, so he spoke again to Cameron. “They’re so excited, I don’t want to interrupt them. You tell them I said goodnight, will you? And tell them I’ll stop by Darrin’s and give them the news. Then if Gram wants to call too she can, but she won’t have to feel obligated to get back to them tonight.”

“I’ll be sure and tell them, Lee,” Cameron answered as he reached out to take Lee’s hand in a firm shake. “You’ve been a great support to them today. I know they both appreciate it more than words can say.”

“Well, I wasn’t able to do much, but I did want to be here for them. I’ll talk to you later.” He turned to Suzanne. “Goodnight, Suzanne. I’ll see you guys again soon.”

“Goodnight, Lee, and thank you on behalf of all of us.”

Lionel nodded his head in response and walked back through the house and out the front door to where he’d left his car. He was still confused about what had happened in the back yard. He still felt bad that he had let it happen – but when he remembered how Kana had felt in his arms – and how their kiss had felt so much like coming home from a long, weary journey – well – he was even more confused. “I need to get some sleep,” he finally told himself as he backed the car out of the drive and started home.

The following Thursday morning, Lionel called Cameron at the church office.

“Good morning, Lee. It’s good to hear from you.”

“Good morning, Cameron. Your secretary said you had a minute to talk.”

“I do; can I help you with something?”

“Well … I’m not sure … but I think I’d like to talk with you a while and find out if you can. Can I get an appointment with you some time in the next few days?”

Cameron reached over and studied his calendar. “I’m sure we can find a good time, Lee. … Uh … listen … I have an alternate idea. Unless you just particularly want to talk at the church office, what about coming to dinner this evening at the house? And then if you feel comfortable talking with Suzanne and me together, we’ll do that, but if you don’t, we can go to my study after dinner and have the discussion with just the two of us.”

“That sounds good, if you don’t think Suzanne will feel like we’ve imposed on her at such short notice.”

“No, that never bothers her. Besides, she’s been wanting us to get Chinese carry-out some evening soon, and I can do that.

“All right. Sounds good. What time do you want me there?”

“Let’s say 6:30, just to be on the safe side, and come hungry. Do you know how to get to the house?”

“Yeah, I think so. I rode along with Darrin one evening when he had to drop off some material for you, remember?”

“Oh, that’s right. Good. We’ll see you at 6:30 then. And feel free to say whether you want to talk in front of Suzie or not, Lee. She won’t mind either way.”

“Actually, I think maybe I’d like to have your wife’s input on this, if she wouldn’t mind.”

“She’ll be thrilled to think she can help. See you later.”

“Thanks a lot, Cameron. Bye.”

When Lionel arrived at the McDaniels’ home, Cameron opened the door with a grin on his face that spread from ear to ear. His eyes sparkled, and he beamed at Lionel, reaching out to grab his hand in a wrenching handshake. “Come in, come in, Lee! You’re just in time to help us celebrate!”

“Oh? What’s happened?”

By that time Suzanne had come into the foyer, also grinning from ear to ear.

“Hello, Lee,” she said, shaking his hand briskly. “Welcome to our home.” She glanced at Cameron. “And yes, we have had the best news possible this afternoon!”

Lee looked from one to the other, feeling elated for them without even knowing what any of the facts were. They were like excited children, and their feelings were contagious. They began to usher him into the dining room as Cameron spoke again.

“Come on in and sit down at the table. The food’s ready. As soon as we pray over it, we can eat and talk at the same time.” When he’d finished praying, he handed Suzanne one bowl and Lee another. “Dig in, while I tell you what’s happened.”

He glanced back at Suzanne, his eyes sparkling even more, if that were possible, his face beaming with his love for his beautiful wife. Then he looked back to Lee as he spoke. “Suzanne and I just found out for sure this afternoon that we’re parents! The baby’s due in January.”

“That’s wonderful news!” Lee said looking from one to the other. “You’ll both make great parents.”

“Thank you, Lee,” Suzanne said, reaching over to lay her hand on his arm momentarily. “What a sweet thing to say.”

“I appreciate your saying that too, Lee. Suzanne and I both certainly have great role models in both sets of grandparents – who, by the way, were ecstatic when we called them right after we found out.”

Lionel was caught unaware by a sudden sense of hurt and loss at the mention of the McDaniels’ parents and the excellent job they did with their families. Surely he wasn’t feeling jealous of Cameron and Suzanne. … But then … maybe he was a little at that. … Maybe he was jealous of the fact that they’d each had two loving, happy parents and a good home life. … In fact, he wasn’t sure he didn’t feel jealous of the thought that they would also have a wonderful family of their own, while he felt destined to be alone for the rest of his life.

But he tried to keep up his end of the conversation without giving away his feelings. After all, he was truly happy for them, and he believed they deserved the joy of children.

After they’d talked of babies and other family subjects for about a half an hour, Cameron looked straight at Lionel, and his face became serious. “We appreciate your indulging us for a while, Lee. We haven’t forgotten you’re here to discuss something of a serious nature to you, and you’ve been very patient with us.”

“Oh, I’m delighted to be one of the first people you’ve told. Please don’t apologize. You two deserve to have a large, happy family, and I’m genuinely thrilled for both of you.”

“Thank you. I know you meant that. … Now … let’s get to you.”

Lionel leaned back in his chair with a sigh. He reached for his coffee cup and took another drink while he collected his thoughts and refocused on the subject he’d come to discuss. “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about some issues that have troubled me deeply most of my life, and lately I’ve begun to look at them altogether differently. I feel that perhaps I’ve been wrong in how I’ve judged some things and reacted to them … but then I’m not sure that what I’m thinking now is right either … or how far I should let these new thoughts take me.”

Cameron shifted his position and leaned back in his chair too, getting more comfortable. “Sounds interesting. Would I be safe in guessing it has something to do with the Lord or your family, or both?”

Lionel nodded his head. He took another deep breath and blew it out slowly.

Suzanne spoke then. “Hey, why don’t we go on into the living room and get comfortable. I’ll bring more coffee in there for us.”

“Yeah, let’s do,” Cameron said, and Suzanne hurried to the kitchen for the coffee pot while the two men made their way to the living room. It was a peaceful room, Lionel thought … obviously full of love and happiness. He felt comfortable here. But then that was one thing he’d always felt around Cameron.

“Okay,” Cameron said as he settled into his corner of the sofa and accepted his cup from Suzanne. “Now just take all the time you want and tell us anything you’d like to … and you can rest assured it won’t go any farther than this house if you don’t want it to.”

“Oh I’m not worried about that. I’m just careful who I talk to about this because I don’t want to depress others with so much of my life story and the problems I seem to have as a result of it. … But, as I say, I’ve begun to think differently lately.

“ … I think the root of all of it has to do with how I’ve always felt about my mother being such a faithful Christian and yet having to live such a life of poverty and pain and ill-treatment. I guess I’ve always blamed God for that, thinking that if He’d been as faithful to her as she said He was, He would have delivered her from the poverty, or from my father’s ill-treatment at least.”

He looked away from them, lost in his memories momentarily. Then he focused on the two of them again. “I guess I’ve never been able to reconcile myself to the idea of submitting myself to a God like that and serving Him. I actually tried to make myself believe what my mother used to tell me about God, but I just couldn’t make sense of the two seemingly opposite pictures.”

“I think I remember Darrin telling me that you two had only minimal time in church and Sunday School,” Cameron said now, “so you probably couldn’t have had enough teaching to really understand some of what was going on.”

Lionel nodded his head again. “I think that’s probably true … if what I’m thinking now is true. And most of what I’ve been thinking and feeling goes back to something Kana Wallace said to me recently. I had invited her to go for a game of miniature golf – just the two of us – and she turned me down, although she seemed to be sad about having to do it. Then she explained why.

“She told me that she had promised the Lord that she would never date any man who wasn’t a Christian. She said that although she knew one or two dates didn’t mean that two people were headed for the altar, there was always that possibility if they spent much time alone together. They could easily become more than just friends and end up wanting to share their whole life together. Rather than take a chance on that – and on someone getting hurt – she made that commitment to God, and she sticks by it.”

Cameron and Suzanne were nodding their heads. Cameron spoke then. “That’s a wise decision really, because when two people spend enough time together that their emotions become involved, a deeper relationship can blossom quickly.”

Lionel nodded again. “I can understand that. And actually, that’s not what started this new train of thought, but something she added to that about a week later. We were talking about my parents. She had asked if they were both Christians, and I had told her about Mom being a believer, but Dad not believing in anything but himself and that he had made my mom’s life horrible. Her immediate response was that she could understand that happening … just as if it were the most natural thing in the world for it to turn out that way.”

“Actually, it is in most cases,” Cameron interjected.

“Yes, I realize the sense of that now. That conversation started me thinking that maybe my mother’s own choice to marry someone who wasn’t a believer was what had brought on the life she had to put up with. It had never occurred to me that she might have made some choices that were disobedient to God Himself. I know she told me she became a believer when she was seventeen, but I don’t know how strong she was. She said she was nineteen when she met my dad, and they married soon after they met.”

Lionel stopped short in his conversation, as if he wasn’t sure how much more to say. He was quiet for a moment, and Cameron and Suzanne just gave him time to think. Finally he took another deep breath and looked at them with resolution in his eyes as he began to speak again.

“I asked Kana to direct me to the scriptures that spoke about Christians not being married to unbelievers so that I could study them, and I’ve been doing that since Sunday. But two days ago I found something else that adds to the new picture I’ve been seeing.” He stopped again, thinking, weighing his choice of words. “Darrin and Eve asked me to see if I could find one or two things in my mom’s stuff that’s stored at my apartment, and as I was going through everything, I came across Mom and Dad’s wedding certificate.”

He paused again, his face shadowed by sadness and some kind of pain. He had looked down at the floor, but he looked back into Cameron’s eyes as he continued. “Their wedding day was the twelfth day of January … and I was born on July first of that same year.” His eyes looked intensely into Cameron’s, then flicked to Suzanne’s, and he recognized at once that both of them understood, but were not shocked by what he had said.

There was silence for a moment, and then Cameron spoke. “So you believe that your parents probably married because you were already on the way.”

“It would seem so.” Lionel shook his head, obviously still dealing with the bewildering thoughts that had plagued him for the last two days. “I honestly don’t know what to think anymore. If my mother was really a Christian, why did she let something like that happen? … And since she obviously did … did all of that account for her life being so bad … and for my own life being so bad at the same time?”

Cameron understood the complicated questions that Lee must have been dealing with, and he wanted to help him find the answers and the peace he needed. He prayed silently, as he had prayed out loud in his office right after making the appointment with Lee, for the Lord to give him the right words – His words.”

“Well … first of all, if you’re asking if all of what was bad in your life was a punishment from the Lord, absolutely not! The Word of God is very clear about that. Under the New Covenant, since Jesus became our substitute and paid for our sins, the Lord has only compassion and mercy for everyone of us. Because He put our punishment on Jesus, He doesn’t punish us for the sin and the wrong choices.

“But He does tell us that often those choices and those sins bring their own evil results. It’s like planting seed in the ground … you get a harvest of the kind of seed you planted. And sometimes when we sin or we’re disobedient in any way, even though we ask forgiveness … and the Lord is quick to forgive us … still there can be repercussions that can’t be totally done away with. We just have to trust the Lord to help us get the victory over them.”

Lionel was looking at Cameron intently, soaking in all that he was saying. He nodded his understanding so far, and Cameron continued. “As far as your mother’s being a Christian and still conceiving a child out of wedlock … unfortunately, many young Christian girls who aren’t taught how to live by the Word – or who don’t have the strength and help of believing family and friends – can get caught in a situation that gets out of control. They give into the natural, physical and psychological pressures of this world and do the wrong thing.

“And actually, it seems to me, when we look at this whole picture, that since your mother found herself in that position, she made the other choices she did because she thought they would be the best for you and her both, and she used her faith and her relationship with God to make those decisions work out comparatively well. She raised you and Darrin to be honorable men, she was a good wife to your father, and from what you and Darrin have told me, it seems that the Lord did protect her and you boys from any serious physical harm, even though your dad got a little rough from time to time. Your mother was never seriously hurt physically, was she?”

Lionel shook his head. “I’m sure she was hurt when he hit her … but it’s true he never actually beat her or threw her out or anything like that. … I think it broke her heart more than it hurt her physically. … And, of course, I wanted to kill him for doing it, but she always made me promise not to ever use violence to try to solve anything.”

They were all quiet for a while, and then Suzanne spoke. “And from what Darrin has told us, she evidently really loved your father and saw some good in him.”

“She always said she did … although I never could see it … but then … I didn’t have the whole picture then either. … I’ve been thinking about that too the last couple of days. I guess the fact that he married her and even tried to help raise us means something … not a lot in my book … but something.”

Suzanne spoke again, softly. “So … have you been rethinking your opinion of God this week as a result of all this?”

Lionel leaned his head back against the chair and closed his eyes, letting out a long breath. “I guess I have. … I have to admit it seems that He was taking better care of us than I gave Him credit for if all of this other stuff is true … and I know now that it is.”

He opened his eyes again and sat upright, looking at Cameron. “So you don’t believe that our painful life was the result of God’s punishment on Mom and Dad … or even on me?”

“Absolutely not, Lee, and I’ll give you a list of scripture passages that will make that quite clear to you when you study them.”

“You don’t believe there’s some kind of curse hanging over my head because of my illegitimacy?”

“No way. Even under the Old Covenant, Jesus said to the woman who was caught in adultery, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’ That event is recorded in what is labeled the New Testament in our current Bibles. But the event took place before Jesus’ death and resurrection, so those people were still operating under the Old Covenant. And we have a better covenant since He already died for all of us and all of our sin. … Do you understand his taking our place and paying the price for our sin by his crucifixion?”

“Yes … I understood what the Bible said about that even in Sunday School, and I thought I believed it at one time, but things just got so bad that I guess I let it go. But lately I’ve been reading those passages again too. … I guess I need some time to think about them … but I needed some of these questions cleared up first.” He looked at them with a new light in his eyes. It was small, but it was a start. “Thank you both. You’ve been a big help in sorting this stuff out.”

Cameron leaned forward in his seat. “I’m so glad, Lee. I know the Lord loves you very much, and He has a perfect plan for your life. When you are ready to talk to Him about it, just be boldly honest with Him. He can take it. Get everything out in the open with Him, and He’ll have an easier time giving you everything He wants you to have from Him. I promise you it will be better than you’ve hoped for up to this point.”

Lionel smiled. “You know, I can almost believe that now. I just need to sort out my own feelings a little more.”

“Well, He’s ready when you are. He’s been waiting ever since you were conceived to have a personal, loving relationship with you. Will you allow us to pray with you that He’ll help you come to terms with everything else quickly and be able to receive all that He has for you?”

“Sure. Thank you.”

“And then I’ll write out a list of those scriptures I told you about for you to take home with you.”

“Great.”

Lionel felt encouraged and even excited by what Cameron prayed, as if he really were starting to expect something to happen between God and himself. He tucked the list of scripture passages in his pocket and left with a lighter heart than when he’d come. He knew everything wasn’t as it should be yet, but he felt that maybe – just maybe – he was beginning to move forward toward something that had been missing inside of him for almost as long as he could remember.

The following Sunday, Lionel was in church because all of the kids from the camp were doing a special program for the congregation, and Delly had a small speech to give. He still felt confused by some things in his life, and he knew he had a way to go before he was sure how he felt about the Lord, but he noticed that he did feel a certain freedom during the service that he hadn’t felt before. Some kind of barrier had come down during the last couple of weeks, and he was glad of that at least.

And he didn’t have to feel awkward about seeing Kana. He had finally written her a short note apologizing if he had offended her at all by what he had let happen in Gram’s back yard. The note explained that he had wanted only to comfort her, and he felt sure she would believe that.

So after the service, when Gram and Kana came up to his family, especially to congratulate Delly on her excellent job, Lionel smiled freely at Kana, hoping she would smile back. She did, and while the others talked to Delly, she spoke very quietly to him. “I got your card, Lee. Thank you … and I do understand. That night was so fraught with emotions of every kind, I think what happened probably was nothing out of the ordinary. Thank you for your help through that awful time.”

“I was glad I could be there.”

“Well … we’re supposed to eat with Maddison and Beth, so I guess we’d better get going. Are you ready, Gram?” Her grandmother hugged Delly, and started for the door with Kana.

Lionel followed his brother and family down the aisle and out the door, but he declined their invitation for lunch. He was troubled in his mind by one of the statements Kana had made: “Nothing out of the ordinary.” He pondered those words as he drove home, shaking his head from time to time in disbelief. Couldn’t she feel that what had happened was very much out of the ordinary? … Well … at least for him it was. He didn’t remember ever being drawn to comfort a girl with his kisses before … not a grown up girl. … And he’d felt as if he had been drawn into some kind of safe haven with that kiss. …

Nothing out of the ordinary. Did she really feel that way? Or was she just saying that in order to stay true to the commitment she had made to the Lord? … Well, one thing was certain: He cared very deeply for Kana Wallace, and because he did, he would make sure that he never came between her and her God … no matter what it cost him.

CHAPTER TEN

The next Friday Darrin and Eve were scheduled to help Maddison and Beth Holt with a campout Bible study for the teens, and Lee had made plans to take care of Delly again. He always looked forward to his weekend visits with her. She loved him unconditionally, and he freely gave himself to making her happy when she was with him. He had been thinking the past week about Delly’s love for him. It was the love of a trusting child, and what he’d been reading in the Bible lately indicated that it was just that kind of love that God was looking for from His people. Could Lionel give that kind of love – the kind he returned in his feelings for his niece – to God? He still wasn’t sure.

But he planned to enjoy his weekend with Delly. He had given her a choice for Friday night – going to a movie and eating out or renting a bunch of Andy Griffith Show tapes and having pizza. She had immediately chosen pizza and Andy Griffith, who was fast becoming one of her heroes, since she watched so many of his shows with her uncle. She didn’t have to obey any special bedtime rules when she spent the weekend with him, so they were still sitting in front of the TV eating ice cream at 9:00. As one program came to an end, Lionel glanced over at his niece and found her sound asleep, barely holding onto her bowl of ice cream, now melted down to milk.

He gently eased the bowl from her hands and lifted her into his arms as carefully as possible so as not to wake her. He was glad Eve had taught him early on to always have Delly put pajamas on by 8:00, even if there was no set bedtime. Inevitably, Delly fell asleep long before she planned to give up for the night. He carried her now into the guest bedroom, which was used almost exclusively by her and had a few of her own toys and stuffed animals in attendance. He had let her say her prayers when she prayed over their supper, so he felt no qualms about just letting her continue to sleep. He kissed her softly on her forehead, pulled the covers to her chin, and turned on the night-light, all without waking her.

He certainly wasn’t ready to turn in yet. He wandered into the kitchen, feeling unaccountably restless. He decided to make a pot of coffee. As he did so, he thought about Kana. He could almost see her sunny face, with its dusting of freckles. How was it he hadn’t thought her beautiful when he first met her? She was … and he knew now that one of the things that made her that way was the beauty inside. There was a purity and a joy that radiated from her … and peace as well. He didn’t understand it all, but he was willing to admit that it had to come from her relationship with God.

He’d wanted to talk with her again about some of the scriptures he’d been reading this week, but he knew her parents were visiting, and he didn’t want to interfere with that. She had worked hard for the church camp. She deserved some time just to rest and play a little. She’d be going back to school soon. He stopped short, sucking in a sharp breath. He was surprised at the jolt of disappointment he felt at the thought of her going back to Nashville for the rest of the year.

The coffee was done. Mmmm, it smelled good. He poured a cup and savored the flavor and the feel of it as it slid down his throat. There was something comforting about coffee. He didn’t know how far back that feeling went, or where it came from exactly, but he knew he experienced that feeling often when he was lonely or troubled. A cup of coffee just seemed to help. He’d like to be sitting with Kana, sharing a cup of coffee and just talking. He shook his head at himself. He had to get that woman off his mind.

Maybe Eve’s oatmeal cookies with the Macadamia nuts would help divert his thoughts. He always made it a point to have extra treats when Delly was staying with him, but Eve just couldn’t resist sending something special every time. He bit into one of the cookies now, one bite leading immediately to another until he’d devoured three large cookies. “Thanks, Evie,” he said out loud now, as he took two more from the can and refilled his coffee. He’d watch some more TV. Or maybe he’d read the Bible for a while again.

He hadn’t decided which he was going to do by the time he sat down, so he just munched cookies and gave his thoughts free reign. They drifted over childhood memories, interspersed with thoughts of Kana, and then drifted back to the spiritual questions he’d been dealing with this past two weeks. Somewhere in the midst of those meandering thoughts, he dozed off.

He jerked awake, his heart beating rapidly. Something – some alarming sound – had wakened him. What was it? He tried to get more awake and listen. There it was again … sobbing … a child sobbing … Delly! He sprang from the couch and ran to the bedroom, hitting the light switch as he entered. It turned on the light beside the bed, and he saw Delly sitting up sobbing. He sat on the side of the bed and gathered her into his arms.

“Sweetheart, I’m here. What is it? Do you hurt?”

She clutched him, sobbing too hard to speak. Finally she was able to choke out some words, but all she would say was, “Uncle Lee! Uncle Lee!” and clutch him even tighter.

He smoothed her hair off of her wet face, trying to figure out if she were in pain. “Please, Sweetheart, tell me … do you hurt?”

At last, she seemed to understand that she needed to answer, but she still could hardly speak past the sobs. “N … n … no-o-o …” She shook her head as she spoke, and he finally was reassured that she wasn’t hurting physically. “You had a bad dream then, huh?”

She nodded her head, starting to get quieter now, but still not speaking words. Lee shifted his position so that he could hold her more comfortably, thinking that if he just stayed with her and talked to her soothingly, she would be able to go back to sleep soon. “Do you want to tell me about it?”

She nodded her head again, quieted now to just sniffling. Lee reached over and pulled up two tissues and blotted her face and then held them to her nose. “Blow for me, and you’ll be able to breathe better, and we can talk.” Delly obediently blew her nose a couple of times, but she was still trembling, so Lee hugged her to him tighter, rocking back and forth a little to help soothe her.

“Would you like some warm milk, Honey, with chocolate syrup in it?” he asked in comforting tones, but Delly shook her head and just huddled closer to him, whimpering now, but still trembling. Lee decided to just sit quietly and give her time. Finally after a couple more minutes had passed, he felt her begin to relax. “Do you want to tell me about your dream, Honey, or would you rather not talk about it?”

She sat up a little and looked at Lionel, her face serious, her eyes big. “I saw this beautiful light, and it got bigger and bigger, and then I could see that it was part of a big city … it was so bright, and it glowed … and there was this beautiful music coming from it … Mommy and Daddy were there with me.” She hiccupped and sniffled again between her words. “And … and I looked at Daddy, and I said, ‘What is it, Daddy?’” She hiccupped again. “And Daddy said, ‘Honey, Jesus is calling us. It’s time to go to Heaven. Take mine and Mommy’s hand. We’re all going now!’”

She let out a single sob, and her eyes filled with tears again. “And I said, ‘But where’s Uncle Lee? He has to go too.’ ” Huge tears rolled down her cheeks again, and she let out another sob. “And …” She tried to gulp down her sobs. “And Daddy said, ‘I don’t know where Uncle Lee is.’ And we all looked and looked for you, but you weren’t there. … You weren’t anywhere!” She couldn’t stem the flow of tears any longer, and by this time Lee’s heart was breaking for her.

“Delly … Honey … look at me,” he said and took another tissue to blot at her face. “Listen to me, Delly … it was only a dream. It wasn’t real.”

She shook her head. “No … no … it was so real. And I said ‘Uncle Lee has to go with us to Heaven,’ and then Daddy said, ‘I guess he just didn’t decide to go, Delly.’ ” She looked at him now with her big blue, pleading eyes, full and running over again. “Please, Uncle Lee! Please! You have to decide to go to Heaven with us!” Her sobs were almost uncontrollable again, and Lee held her as tightly as he could without hurting her. His own eyes were full and running over too. He was broken . … He had no more defenses against the truth, and he knew it was time to get completely honest with himself and with God.

He pulled away from Delly enough to look into her eyes, wiping them once more with a tissue. “Listen, Sweetheart, I’ve been thinking a lot about going to Heaven lately.”

Delly looked up at him, her eyes growing wider. “You have? … Really, Uncle Lee?”

“Yes, dear, really and truly.”

“And did you ask Jesus into your heart so you can go?” She seemed to have the tears more under control now.

“Not yet … but I’m planning on it.”

“When, Uncle Lee? Now?”

“I’ll tell you what. If you’ll promise to settle down and go back to sleep, I’ll go into my bedroom and have a long talk with Jesus right now. How does that sound to you?”

Delly hugged him as hard as her little arms could manage. “Oh yes, Uncle Lee. You really mean it? … Right now?”

Lee grinned at his niece, whose countenance glowed with joy now, almost all of the tears gone. “Right now! I think I’ve fought the Lord long enough.” He kissed Delly’s cheek. “Thank you, Sweetheart, for not wanting your stubborn old uncle to be stuck without a way to get to Heaven. Thank you for praying for me. It’s helped me a lot. Do you think you can sleep now, as long as you know that I’m going to be talking to Jesus while you’re sleeping?”

“Uh-huh,” Delly said, nodding her head vigorously. She heaved a sigh and finally smiled at Lee, reaching up to hug him around the neck. “I love you, Uncle Lee.”

“I love you too, Honey, and I don’t want you to worry any more, Okay?”

“Okay,” she said, grinning now. “You can tell me about your prayer in the morning.”

Lee tucked her blanket around her again and planted one more kiss on her forehead. “I’ll do just that. Goodnight, Sweetie.”

“Night.”

Lionel turned out her light and started down the hallway. He walked slowly and thoughtfully into his bedroom and knelt down beside his bed. He knew that wasn’t necessary, but it was the only place he remembered praying when he used to think it might make a difference. He bowed his head and closed his eyes. Then he cleared his throat a couple of times.

“Well, God …” He cleared his throat again. “It’s been a long time … years now.” He sighed wearily. “I guess I’ve broken my promise to Mom a few thousand nights during those years. … But I’m willing to try again if You are.

“Cameron suggested that I just need to be bold-faced honest with You, so that’s what I’m going to do. I wouldn’t know how to talk to You any other way anyway. You know I’ve been holding a terrible grudge against You for the way my mom had to live even though she served You every day that I knew her. … But I realize now that a lot of what she lived with was by her own choosing. And even as bad as it was, she wanted to stay with dad and us boys. … And Cameron’s right when he says that You did keep all three of us from any serious physical harm, in spite of everything. I guess I should have been thanking You for that before now. … Will You forgive me for blaming You, and for trying to live my life without You all these years?

“Of course, You know I’ve really been trying to convince myself You didn’t exist, but I’m not really that big a fool. I know You’re there. … Cameron believes that You’ve been waiting every night for me to come back to You in prayer, like I promised Mom I’d do. I wonder if that’s true.” … He heaved another sigh, and raised his head, opening his eyes and looking up. …”I know I’m rambling, Lord. It’s because I’m afraid to ask You for the one thing I really got down here to ask for.”

Tears began to course down his cheeks now, and the anguish he felt in his heart showed up in his voice. “Jesus …” He spoke the name louder. “Jesus! … Will You come to me and help me really know You the way my Mom did … the way Cameron does … and Kana.” There was a longer pause. “The way Delly does. … That little girl loves You so much.”

He was truly crying now. “And I’m not praying for this just because of feelings I have for Kana, Lord. I’m not trying to do this to further my relationship with her. I know she can’t really fill that big empty place in me that’s been there ever since Mom died and I turned my back on You. I need You to fill it, Jesus.

“I’m so sorry I’ve waited so long to tell You.” He was speaking through sobs now. “Forgive me, Lord … forgive me for rejecting You. … Forgive me for every stiff-necked, rebellious, evil thing I’ve ever done. … Please forgive me!”

After several more minutes, his sobs subsided, but he remained on his knees. “I don’t know what to do, Lord, but I remember Your Word says You’re standing at the door of my heart and knocking. So I’m going to open that door to You just the same way I opened the office door to Jimmy that morning last month when he was needing help. It seems too easy, but I’m going to open the door to You, Jesus, and I ask You to come into my heart and take control of me.”

Even as he spoke the words, a peace too rich to describe began to settle over him like a mantel. Then it was soaking into every fiber of his being. He recognized a sweet presence right there with him. It was nothing he could see or touch, but it was real, nevertheless. The next thing he knew he was laughing – laughing right out loud — as joy like he’d never experienced rolled through him.

His hands went up into the air. “Thank You, Jesus!” He shouted. “Thank You, Lord Jesus!” Tears continued to roll down his cheeks even as the laughter engulfed him. He just couldn’t stop saying the name of Jesus and praising Him for this new life that was so obviously coursing through him right now.

Finally, after several minutes, Lionel realized that he was getting pretty loud and wondered if he had wakened Delly. Oh, well, even if he had, what she heard him saying would make her happy and relieve her little heart. Lionel’s heart swelled again at the thought of how much that little girl had loved him and prayed for him. The faith of a little child is so precious, he thought. “Lord,” he prayed again now, “please keep my heart as tender as a little child’s before You now that it’s in Your control. I don’t ever want to turn cold or hard toward You again as long as I live. Please help me to learn quickly what You want from me and to give it, Father.”

Lionel stopped abruptly at that word father. Surprise stunned him when he realized he had spoken the name so effortlessly to the God of the universe. He hadn’t even had to wonder if it was all right to call Him that. He’d just felt the relationship so profoundly that the endearing name had just slipped out. He knelt there amazed at the fact that he actually felt like a child of God. And considering the fact that, as a result of his past home life, the word father didn’t hold any good connotations for him, he realized that even his way of thinking about that was being changed right then and there.

Lionel finally raised himself up enough to sit on the side of the bed. He was still full of wonder at everything that had happened since he’d entered this room only – he looked at his watch – about thirty minutes ago. Amazing! In thirty short minutes his whole life had been changed for eternity. He knew that was true, because now that he had become one with the author of the Bible, many of the verses he’d read and studied as a child were coming alive to him in his heart, their meaning becoming clear to him where they had seemed foggy before.

He shook his head in amazement and stretched out on top of his bed, clasping his hands behind his head. He just lay there with a smile on his face, thinking about how good he felt. He kept thinking back over other verses he’d read and many his mother had taught him about. They all seemed so alive now. They said things to him personally.

He glanced at his watch again. He’d like to be able to tell someone about what had just happened to him, but it was after 11:30. Darrin would have welcomed his call at any time of night if he’d been home, but he and Eve were at the campout. He certainly couldn’t call Kana at this time of night. Cameron might still be up, but it wasn’t an emergency, and if he had gone to bed, Lionel wanted to let him rest. He certainly worked hard enough taking care of other people’s needs when he was awake. He deserved all the rest he could get.

The answering machine! That was it. He’d call the church and leave a message on Cameron’s answering machine, and he’d get it first thing in the morning. He sat up and reached for the phone by his bed. At least this would give him a chance to talk out loud about what the Lord had just done for him. He punched the number for Cameron’s extension, and when he heard the beep he spoke excitedly. “Cameron, this is Lee Butler, and I’m calling to give you a good report. It’s after 11:30 at night, so I didn’t want to wake you at home. I just gave my heart to the Lord, and He’s accepted me. I feel so alive I can hardly put it into words, but I’m sure you know what I mean. I wanted you to be one of the first to know. Thanks for all your prayers and support. Bye.”

Lee laughed out loud again as he hung up. “That was great, Lord! Who else can I tell? … I know … I can leave a message on Darrin’s machine too. They won’t be back until Sunday evening, but at least they’ll know as soon as they get home.” He dialed.

“Hello, Darrin. This is your big brother, who decided tonight that he’s been stupid long enough and finally turned his life over to the Lord. That’s right. I know you’re in shock about now, but it’s the truth. I gave my heart to Jesus tonight, and I feel true peace for the first time in my whole life. Thank you for all your prayers, Dare. I know they’ve made a big difference in how all of this turned out. See you when you get back.”

As he hung up, he felt as if he had completed something. He felt almost as if he’d sealed the whole event by telling about it. It was an invigorating feeling. One he wanted to have again and again. That meant he’d need to tell a lot of people about what God had done for him. Well, that wouldn’t be hard the way he felt now.

Too energized to sleep, he decided to go back into the living room and read his Bible for a while. As he opened his Bible, he decided to start at the beginning of the New Testament. Even the genealogy in Matthew didn’t bore him tonight. Every word on the pages seemed precious to him, and he felt an excitement about what he was going to learn as he read. And read he did, until he had finished the book of Matthew, and closed his Bible, feeling as if he truly knew Jesus Christ as he had never thought anyone could know Him.

Peace was in control of everything about him right now, and he decided it was time to get some sleep. If he knew Delly, she’d be up not too long after the sun, wanting to know all about his talk with Jesus. So he turned out the lights and returned to his bedroom. As his eyes came to rest on the bed, a sense of joy spread through him anew at his remembrance of what had taken place as he had knelt beside it a few hours earlier.

As he lay down and closed his eyes, he whispered, “Good night, Lord Jesus. I love you.” And with those words, he slipped into the most restful sleep he’d ever experienced in his life.

CHAPTER ELEVEN

Lionel was the one who woke as soon as the sun peeked through the window. And as soon as he had opened his eyes, he remembered his new state of being. He sat up in bed and took a deep breath, smiling to himself. “Thank You, Lord,” he said looking upward. “Thank You for making me Your son. It feels so good.” With that he hopped out of bed and threw on his robe. He was a little surprised he hadn’t already heard from Delly, but he figured the night before had probably worn her out. Amazingly, he felt thoroughly rested, even though there hadn’t been much sleeping time left when he’d finally lain down.

Sure enough, when he peeked in, he found Delly snoozing comfortably, cuddled up to her blue teddy bear. Good. She needed the rest, and it was only 6:00. He moved quietly though the house and began to make coffee and English muffins for himself, humming softly as he did so. He was in the middle of his second muffin with cream cheese and strawberry jam when Delly came running in, her cheeks still rosy from sleep and her hair tousled every which way.

“Uncle Lee!” she ran to him, her eyes bright with expectation. “Did you do it? Did you talk to Jesus?”

Lee reached out and lifted her onto his lap, grinning broadly. “I certainly did, Honey. And I gave Him my whole life, and now I belong to Him just like you do.”

“Oh, Uncle Lee!” Delly squealed, grabbing him in a hug that threatened to choke him. But he endured it, for the pure pleasure of knowing Delly was so happy over what he’d done. “Now when it’s really time to go to Heaven, we can all go.”

Uncle and niece beamed at each other. “We can all go,” Lionel repeated, kissing her on the nose. “Now, how about some breakfast?”

Delly got down and climbed into her chair, declaring, “I’ll have some muffins too. Do you have grape juice?”

“I think so, but I haven’t opened it yet. Let me check the fridge. Do you want some hot chocolate too?”

“No, just milk, please, and two muffins with cheese and jam, just like yours.”

“You’ve got it, Princess.”

Delly giggled. “Just wait ‘till Mommy and Daddy hear that you belong to Jesus now. I wish we could tell them today.”

“I know, but I did call and leave a message on their answering machine, so they’ll know as soon as they get home. And I called the church and left a message for Pastor McDaniels too. How’s that?”

“Good.”

“Here’s your juice,” he said, setting her glass in front of her on the table. “And do you want to put your own cheese on your muffin, or do you want me to do it?”

“I want to please. Mmmmm, this is good juice. Thank you,” she said as he sat a plate in front of her with two muffins on it and handed her the cream cheese.

In the midst of piling the cheese and jam onto her first muffin, Delly looked up, her eyes wide. “Oh, we have to tell Gram Nora! She prays for you all the time.”

“Yes, I want to tell her and Kana too, but they have special company right now, you know, and I don’t want to interrupt their visit.”

“Oh but Gram will feel bad if we don’t tell her right away.”

Lionel looked at Delly thoughtfully. He knew he sure wanted to tell Kana what had happened to him as soon as possible. Maybe Delly was right. Maybe they would consider this important enough that they wouldn’t feel he was intruding on their company. Besides, he could just call them and not take up too much time. Although he’d like to be able to see Kana’s face when he told her. Somehow, that was very important to him.

He sent up a silent prayer. “Lord, please show me what to do. You know I feel like I want to tell the world. But especially these two people. How should I go about it? Will You make a way to do it right?” He was still surprised at how easily he could talk to the Father God. As if he had always belonged to Him. It was amazing, this sense of being loved so much, in spite of himself.

He and Delly went their separate ways to get dressed after breakfast. They had planned to do some grocery shopping this morning and then go horse back riding this afternoon. But he wanted them to spend some time reading the Bible first, so as soon as they were dressed, they went out onto his deck and prayed together and read whatever verses Delly wanted them to read. She was so happy that Lionel could hardly contain his own happiness at seeing what his surrender to the Lord had done for his niece.

About 9:00 the phone rang, and when he answered, it was Grandma Nora. “Hello, Lee. How’s your and Delly’s weekend going?”

“Really great. As a matter of fact, we’ve been talking about you this morning, because we have some news we want to share with you, but didn’t want to disturb your visit with the rest of your family.”

“Well, now that’s a coincidence, because I’m calling to invite you and Delly over for a picnic in the back yard about noon. My daughter and son-in-law already know Delly, of course, and they’d like to see her again and meet you. We’re just going to have hot dogs and potato salad, and we’ve got a giant watermelon that needs a whole lot more than four people to eat it. Do you and Delly have important plans, or could you come?”

“We had planned to go horse-back riding this afternoon, but I suppose we could do that later. It will be light until at least 8:00. Let me see what Delly has to say, although I think I know what her answer will be,” he said chuckling. He turned to Delly, who was all ears, knowing something was being planned with Gram Nora. “Do you want to go to Grandma Nora’s for a picnic for lunch today?” he asked her.

“Yes! Yes!” she squealed, jumping up and down, “and then we can tell everybody!”

He returned his attention to the phone, laughing. “I guess you heard that her answer was in the affirmative.”

Gram was laughing on the other end. “I heard. That’s great, and did you say you had some good news to tell us?”

“Yes, very good news. But I think we’ll wait until we see you.”

“Okay. I’m looking forward to it. Come about 11:30 if you can.”

“We’ll be there. Can I bring anything? Dessert maybe?”

“No, no. Watermelon will be dessert. Just bring yourselves.”

“Okay, see you then. Bye, and thanks.”

About two hours later, after they had hurried through buying groceries and getting everything put away at the apartment, Lionel and Delly stood on Gram Nora’s porch ringing her doorbell. Delly could hardly hold still, as she stood holding Lionel’s hand, and when Gram opened the door, the two people standing on her porch were grinning at her from beaming faces. Delly was bouncing up and down on her toes with excitement.

“Well, look at you two!” Gram said. “You’re the picture of joy if there ever was one. Come on in and tell me about this good news.”

They stepped through the door, and Delly couldn’t contain herself any longer. Although she wanted to let her uncle tell his own testimony, she just had to say something. “Wait ‘till you hear, Gram! Wait till you hear!” She pulled up and down on Lionel’s hand, and he couldn’t help laughing out loud.

“I think I may be able to guess,” Gram said now, “ and I hope I’m right, Lee.”

He looked right into Gram’s eyes. “I gave my life to the Lord last night, Gram, and I really am a new person.”

Grandma Nora grabbed him and hugged him tightly, tears trickling from her eyes. Then she pulled back and looked at Lionel again. “I’m so very glad, Lee! I’ve prayed for you so much, you know.”

“I do know, Gram. And I’m very grateful. I’m grateful for all of you who prayed and refused to give up on me.” He reached down and ruffled Delly’s curls. “Especially this little squirt.”

Delly grinned, and Gram leaned down to hug her too. “Isn’t it the most wonderful answer to prayer, Delly? I can’t wait until your mommy and daddy hear the news.”

“Uncle Lee left a message on our answering machine so they’ll know just as soon as they come home. And on Pastor McDaniels’ machine too, and he called back while we were at the store.”

“Oh, did you get to talk with him then, Lee?” Gram asked him.

“Unfortunately, no. He left a message that he was thrilled with the news, but he had an unexpected appointment to take care of this morning, so he wasn’t available for me to call him back. I’ll try to talk to him later. He sounded excited for me though.”

“I’m sure he is, to say the least! Well come on out to the back yard. That’s where everybody else is, and you can tell the rest of the family. It’ll make their day to know there’s another member added to the Lord’s family.”

They all trouped out to the back, where Kana’s father was standing over the barbecue grill turning hot dogs, and Kana and her mother were setting out paper plates and cups. Kana looked up as they came out the door and smiled brightly. “Good morning, you two. Glad you could come.”

Kana’s mother stooped down and held out her arms toward Delly. “Delly, you get prettier every time I see you. And I hear you had a very important birthday recently.” By that time Delly had run into her arms to get a hug.

“Yeah, I’m six now!”

“And just in time to start first grade,” Kana’s mom answered, releasing Delly and grinning at her. Then she looked up to see Lionel, who had walked up to them. By that time Kana had stepped beside Lionel and began to make introductions.

“Mom, this is Lee Butler, Darrin’s brother. Lee, my mom, Ellen.”

“I’m so glad to meet you, Lee. Kana’s father and I have become friends with Darrin and Eve during our frequent visits, and we love them.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Wallace. That’s good to hear.”

“Oh, please, call me Ellen. And my husband, who’s doing grill duty over there is Dave.” At those words, Kana’s father lifted his grilling fork in a salute, grinning.

Lionel walked over to Kana’s father and extended his hand, which Dave shook enthusiastically. “Very good to meet you, Lee. Little Delly talks about her Uncle Lee a lot, and now we have a face to put with all the good stories we hear.”

“Wow, I didn’t know she told stories about me. I’d better watch my step when I’m around her, or there’s no telling what she might tell.”

“Well they’re all good, and most of the time funny. You can tell she always has a good time with you.”

Kana claimed Lionel’s attention again now. She could see that there was definitely something different about Lionel, but it wasn’t anything she could put her finger on. She was anxious to hear his news. “Gram tells us you and Delly have some good news to share.”

Lionel nodded his head, his face growing serious as he looked right into Kana’s eyes. She returned the look intently. He had always been able to capture her attention with a look. He smiled slightly now, and unconsciously reached out and took her hand gently. “I want to thank you, Kana for all that you’ve shared with me about your faith and your commitment to the Lord. I finally came to my senses about it all this week, and last night I surrendered my life to the Lord.”

Kana reached out without thinking and grabbed his other hand too, squeezing it tightly. “Oh, Lee! That’s wonderful! Praise God!”

Kana’s mom and dad came rushing to them from either side. Her mother spoke first. “That is wonderful news, Lee.”

“I’ll say,” Dave added, reaching out to shake his hand again in congratulations. Only then did Lionel and Kana realize that they had been holding onto each other so tightly. Lionel released her hands and took Dave’s.

Her mother spoke up again then. “I’m sure your brother and sister-in-law will be thrilled.”

“Yeah, Uncle Lee left them a message on our answering machine.” Delly said. “And I was there at Uncle Lee’s last night. He told me he was going to pray and ask Jesus into his heart while I was sleeping, and he did. And I was the first one to know!”

Kana reached down to hug the little girl. “Oh, Delly, honey, how wonderful!”

“Well,” Dave interrupted, “I think we need to celebrate. Unfortunately we have only hot dogs and potato salad to offer. Will that do?”

“Sounds great,” Lionel said and they all gathered at the picnic table.

While they ate watermelon, Dave asked Lionel about how the business was going and gradually drew him out concerning other things about his life. He didn’t want to sound nosy, but he did want to get to know this young man much better, because he could see that his daughter lit up a little more than usual when he came on the scene.

And earlier she had been holding onto Lionel’s hands as tightly as he had held onto hers. If he didn’t miss his guess, there was something developing here. But evidently, his little girl had managed to guard herself against anything serious while Lee wasn’t a believer.

Now that he had surrendered to the Lord, though, this might really be the start of something serious, and he wanted to know as much as possible. He was anxious to talk to Ellen and see what she thought about Kana’s reaction to Lionel Butler.

During their conversation, Lionel brought up the plane accident. “It’s good to see you’re not suffering any ill effects from the accident a couple weeks ago.”

“It feels good to me too, let me tell you. That whole situation was a miracle. We had an excellent pilot, but I don’t think even he could have executed such a good landing in the spot we had to set down … not without some supernatural help. And the fact that they located us at all that same day had to be an answer to prayer.”

He reached out and put his arm around his wife’s shoulders as she sat beside him at the table. “This little woman is a strong woman of faith. I knew she’d be standing firm on the Lord’s Word for my safe return. And I was just as sure that she’d have my daughter and mother-in-law doing the same – along with many others.” He leaned down and kissed his wife gently on the lips. “I’ve been able to count on her for thirty-five years now … and I’m planning on at least another thirty-five … even if she does get tired of me,” he said with a teasing light in his eyes just for Ellen.

Lionel felt a surge of jealousy, all of a sudden – a sense of longing with everything in him to have that kind of love and union with a woman who would make him feel the way Dave did. He sighed quietly. Well, now that he belonged to the Lord, maybe He would work something out.

But on the heels of that thought came the realization that he was still the son of Isaac Butler, and as such, he had most likely inherited negative character traits and tendencies that would make him a poor risk as a husband and father. Darrin hadn’t, but, somehow, Lionel, having been the firstborn, and having seemingly carried the brunt of those characteristics during their growing up years, almost expected to find them showing up in himself should he ever be in that situation. No, it was better to just go on alone and not take a chance on hurting anybody else.

These thoughts had consumed him while the conversation had drifted all around him, but Kana had noticed the shadowed, brooding look on his face for the last several minutes. Something serious was still bothering Lee. Maybe she could help, but she needed to be careful not to press her way into his private life too far. He was a believer now, but she still wasn’t sure her heart was ready to deal with the feelings he already stirred up in her.

She needed to call Vallie. At that thought, she was so excited to be able to tell her best friend about Lee’s giving his heart to the Lord that she could hardly wait to find a time to call. She came out of her private thoughts, though, when she heard Delly asking Lee a question.

“Uncle Lee, can Kana go horse back riding with us … please?”

Lionel looked at Kana, surprise on his face, and then grinned. At least she wouldn’t have to turn them down because he was a heathen any more. But he knew she wanted time with her parents. “Honey, Kana has important company today. She can go another time.”

“Oh …” Delly’s lip drooped a little, but she remembered her manners. “I’m sorry,” she said, turning to Kana now. “I just wanted you to go and celebrate with us.”

“Oh, sweetheart, thank you.”

“Well don’t refuse an afternoon of riding just because we’re here, dear,” her mother said. “We have several more days, and we have enough catching up with mom to do for us not to miss you too much this afternoon. So if you’d like to go … .” Ellen knew her daughter did want to go, and since she was growing to like Lee Butler herself more every minute, she wanted to encourage Kana in this friendship.

“Sure,” her dad said. “Go ahead. We’ll be right here when you get back.”

“Well …” Kana said now, looking up at Lionel.

“We’d both really like to take you with us if you’d like to come,” he said, smiling that contagious smile of his.

“Please, Kana … please, please!” Delly said, squeezing her hand.

“Okay,” Kana finally answered, laughing. “Majority vote wins. I’m coming with you.”

“Yay!” Delly shouted, jumping up and down.

“Just let me put on some sturdier jeans,” Kana said, rising from the table. “I’ll be ready in a few minutes.”

CHAPTER TWELVE

Kana had returned from riding in time to go out with her parents and grandmother for dinner. Ellen and Dave had asked several questions about her afternoon, hoping to get a better idea of exactly how Kana felt about Lee. They were both hoping for some details before they went back to Atlanta on Wednesday.

It was obvious that Kana enjoyed Delly, and that she had enjoyed her afternoon immensely, but she had managed to avoid any comments that gave away her feelings for Lionel personally. In truth, her mind had been occupied with trying to decide whether she should call Vallie when she got home. Since she had left her parents for the whole afternoon, she didn’t want to be on the phone for another hour, ignoring them. But she still hadn’t decided what to do when they walked into the house and found the answering machine blinking. The message was from Vallie, and Kana breathed a “thank you” to God and went to her room to return the call.

“Well, how did it go?” was her first question when Valentina answered the phone.

“Veronica and Steve are securely united in holy matrimony and have embarked on their honeymoon, and Mom and I are still alive to tell about it,” she said, laughing.

“Was it a madhouse at the last minute?”

“I think that pretty well describes it, but by that time Veronica just wanted to get on with it, and she didn’t seem upset by any of the little problems that had had her in tears last week.”

Kana chuckled. “That’s great. Did all of the relatives show up that you were expecting?”

“Yep … plus some we weren’t expecting, but it didn’t matter. Everybody had a great time, and some of them left that same evening, so we only have three staying over for a couple more days. Mom’s exhausted, as you might expect, but she seems happy with how everything went. Oh, she did say, ‘Now, Vallie, honey, you know that I can’t go through this again any time soon, so you just take your time finding your Mr. Right.’ I told her about the last conversation I’d had with you, and how you had warned me that she would feel that way. She got a kick out of that.

“Besides I assured her that I wasn’t in a hurry, because I was more interested in what was going on in your love life. That got her interested, of course, so I filled her in, as far as I knew the facts. She said she’d be praying for you too. So how are things?”

“Well I do have some pretty exciting news on that subject. Lee Butler gave his heart to the Lord yesterday.”

“Really! Kana, that’s wonderful! Then you don’t have anything else to worry about, do you?”

“Well … I … I don’t know, Vallie. I’m still not sure where all that decision will lead him in his personal walk with the Lord, and after all, I have only another three weeks here before I have to get back to Nashville and get things ready to start school. I doubt that we would be able to develop a serious relationship in that time. And to tell you the truth, I’m not sure I’d want to do that and then have to leave.”

“Hmmmm.”

Kana let out a long sigh. “I don’t know. I think if this were something the Lord were in, the timing would have worked out differently. But I’m so glad he’s at least become a believer. He is such a sweet man and has so much to give to people. The Lord will be able to use him in a lot of ways. And Delly is just head over heels with joy at the whole thing. She had been praying so fervently.”

“Well, the faith of a child is pretty powerful.”

“You can say that again. I was just amazed at how quickly the children at camp picked up the things we taught them and just believed them and put them into practice. I loved every minute of being able to tell them about the Lord. I wish I could do that with all my students. Of course, I pray for them, as you do, but it just isn’t the same.”

“You’re back to considering what it would be like to teach in a Christian school, aren’t you, you stinker?”

“Well, it does cross my mind once in a while. I’ve even thought about contacting one or two when I get home and checking to see if they have any openings.”

“Oh, Kana, I couldn’t bear to lose you as my neighbor in the next classroom. You wouldn’t really desert me, would you?”

“Oh, Vallie, we’d still be friends and do things together, silly. Besides, if I found a position and liked it, you might decide to do the same thing.”

“Well, now that might be all right. We’ll pray about it. But you wouldn’t try to make a change this year would you? The time’s getting short?”

“No, probably not, but I do think it’s something the Lord’s been talking to me about, and I want to give the idea some serious consideration before I just push it aside.”

“Okay, I’ll do some serious praying with you.”

“Thanks, friend.”

“So have you been out with Cade anymore?”

“No. He did call once, but I had already made plans with some of the singles from church for that night, so I had to turn him down. He said he’d call again, but I told him that my parents would be here for the week, and I wouldn’t plan anything else on those days. By the way, Mom said before we hang up, she wants to say ‘hi’ to you.”

“Good, I’d like to talk to her too. Your dad’s not suffering any ill effects from the accident, is he?”

“No, he’s fine. I don’t think it bothered him as much as it did the rest of us, except that he was worried that we would be terribly upset by it. God was really good to us, Vallie. And I didn’t tell you … but I was surprised at how much comfort Lee was. He stayed right here the whole afternoon and evening until we heard from dad.”

“Wow … Kana … why didn’t you tell me that before?”

“Oh … I don’t know …” Her words drifted away as she remembered the kiss and the feel of Lee’s arms around her.

“Kana … what are you not telling me?”

Kana laughed. She and this best friend the Lord had given her knew each other so well, they could practically read each other’s minds. She needed to be careful if she were going to keep anything secret. But, then, did she want to? She could trust Vallie’s heart and her wisdom. Maybe she needed to tell her everything.

“Well … it’s only that during part of that evening … when Lee was trying to comfort me the most … well …”

“W-e-l-l-l?”

“W-e-l-l-l …” There was a long pause.

“He kissed you!”

Kana let out a deep sigh. “And … I … I kissed him back.”

“And …”

Kana breathed out another sigh as she said, “Wow!”

“Wow?”

“Yeah, wow.”

“As in, I’ve never experienced anything like this before?”

“Exactly.”

“Wow!”

Kana laughed out loud, but then became serious again. “Oh, Val … I would never have believed that I would have let myself kiss a man who wasn’t a believer, but right then … Lee was just so sweet and comforting … and I needed that comfort … and it just seemed the most natural thing in the world to move into his arms. Then … the next thing I knew, he was pressing these tender little kisses into my hair, and then on my cheeks where the tears were … and then … it just happened.”

“Wow,” Vallie whispered on the other end of the phone.

Kana cleared the huskiness out of her throat. “And then he sent me a note telling me that he apologized if he had offended me. He said he had only meant to comfort me, and he hoped I could believe that. And I do. I could tell. So I told him that I understood that all of our emotions were out of control that night, and that it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Boy, was that a lie!”

“And you’re still trying to tell me you’re not sure if you have serious feelings for this guy?”

“I guess I’m thoroughly confused right now. But at least I’m not tortured by feeling guilty for having feelings for someone who’s unsaved. I would have had to avoid him for the rest of my stay, if things hadn’t turned out the way they did yesterday. But you can tell just by looking at him – and talking to him, of course – that his commitment to Jesus is definitely very real. I’m so happy for him. Thank you for praying for him too, Vallie.”

“Oh, it was my pleasure; you know that. Now, at least I can concentrate on praying about the relationship between the two of you, knowing that at least he’s in the Lord’s family. That makes it a lot easier.”

They talked for a while then about Vallie’s family, and finally she said, “Listen, we’ve been on almost an hour. Your mom and dad want to spend time with you.”

“Yeah, I need to get back to them, I guess.”

“Boy, I’d sure like to work something out to be able to get down there for even a couple of days and meet this man, though.”

Could you?”

“I don’t know. Mom was really counting on us spending quite a bit of time together after the wedding. I’ll see, though. I’ll get back to you in a couple of days.”

“Great. Hang on, and I’ll take the phone to Mom.”

After they finished their conversation with Vallie, they all decided to play a couple games of Password before they turned in. As Kana prepared for bed, she thought about church the next morning. Undoubtedly, Lee would be there, this time as a real part of the body of believers. All of a sudden she was overwhelmed with gratitude, and knelt down beside her bed to pour out her love and thanks to the Lord for what He had done in Lee Butler’s life.

The next morning, she and her family met the Butlers as they were all entering the front door together. They were all smiles, and Eve ran over and hugged Gram. “I guess you’re about as excited as we are at the news. Lee told us he shared everything with you yesterday. I can’t tell you how we felt when we got that message on our machine.” She pitched her voice to almost a whisper to Gram, but Kana could overhear the words. “Darrin just wept openly, and fell on his knees praising God. I don’t remember a time when I’ve seen him so completely engulfed in joy as he was last night at that news from Lee.”

“I can just imagine, Eve. I felt almost that much joy myself. And Delly – I don’t think I could describe her excitement.”

“I know,” Eve said, smiling over at her daughter, who was busy telling her uncle something as she held his hand.

About that time, Cameron came down the aisle and grasped Lee’s hand. “Welcome to the family, Lee. I’m so sorry we kept missing each other on the phone, but I can tell you that your news absolutely made my day, Brother. Now, I don’t want to put you on the spot, but I want to ask you if you want to share anything about your experience with the congregation.”

Lee thought for just a moment and then answered, smiling. “If there’s time in the service, I would like to thank everyone for all their prayers and faith for me for these last several years.”

“Hey, we’ll make time for that. They’ll be thrilled. And that’s important, Lee. It helps people so much to be able to see the results of their prayers. I appreciate your being willing to share that with them. I’ll call on you to do that right after worship then.”

“Fine,” Lionel said, glancing down at Delly. She beamed up at him and then at Cameron, who reached down and tweaked her cheek. “We got our answers, didn’t we, Sweetheart?”

“Unhuh!” she answered, leaning her head onto Lionel’s arm.

Cameron turned to Darrin next and grasped his hand, looking him in the eyes, which were filling with tears right then. The two men just looked at each other, Darrin knowing that his pastor understood the depth of what Lee’s new commitment meant to his brother. Cameron’s own eyes filled with tears then, and he whispered to Darrin. “God’s been faithful to us.”

Darrin nodded his head, pressing his other hand on Cameron’s shoulder, too full to speak right then. So Cameron moved on and shook hands with the rest of the family and some other members who had also arrived a little early, and in a few moments, the worship team had moved to the platform to begin the service.

As soon as worship came to a close, Cameron got up and announced that they had a special treat in today’s service, and asked Lionel if he would come up. He walked to the front of the church and looked out over the congregation, his special smile wide and infectious. “I’d like to tell you all that I turned my life over to Jesus Christ this past week, and ―”

He was interrupted by loud applause from the congregation and several members calling out “Praise the Lord!” He waited until the celebration had subsided and continued. “I just want to thank all of you for being my friend while I was running from God and for all of your prayers and strong faith on my behalf. It wasn’t in vain, and I’ll be eternally grateful.” There was more applause as he started back to his seat, and anyone close enough was able to see that there were tears in his eyes.

There were tears in Kana’s eyes too, and running down her cheeks, but then a number of people that morning were experiencing the same thing. So many of them had prayed faithfully, and for them Lionel’s commitment to the Lord was their own victory too.

At the close of service, Eve and Darrin asked Gram and her family to join them for lunch to celebrate the great news, and although Kana thought perhaps she would have been wiser to keep her distance for a while, her parents and grandmother were so eager to go that she didn’t want to hinder their enjoyment by refusing. So they all ended up at the restaurant around a large table, and Kana found herself sitting right beside Lionel. Delly, of course, had claimed her place on his other side, and at least he was paying enough attention to her that Kana didn’t feel awkward.

As they ate and talked, Lionel eventually began to speak to Kana privately. “I need to tell you, Kana, that a number of things you’ve shared with me about the Lord and your commitments to Him, as well as the scriptures you wrote down for me, have been a tremendous help in bringing me to this new life I have now. I can’t thank you enough.”

“I only shared things that are naturally a part of me, Lee. I really didn’t do anything special.”

“Well, not to you perhaps. But all of it was of very special help to me.”

“Well, I’m glad.”

“And from the moment I opened my heart up to the Lord, His Word has seemed much more alive to me. It really speaks to me personally, and I can better understand why you feel the way you do about your relationship with Him. And I want to tell you that I believe your determination to stick by your commitments to Him is a definite witness to people who don’t know Him yet. It was to me, and probably was the first thing that started me thinking more seriously than I had in a very long time about my own attitudes toward God.”

“Thank you for telling me that, Lee. It blesses me to know that it made a difference for someone besides me.”

The families lingered a long time over their meal and their enjoyment of each other’s company, finally getting up to go their separate ways. “I guess we’ll see you at the Bible Study Tuesday evening,” Eve said to Kana as they walked out of the restaurant.

“I’ll be there,” she answered. “See you then,” she added, waving to all of them at the same time as she followed her parents to their car.

The thought flashed through Lionel’s mind that if he were going to attend the Bible class too, perhaps he could offer to go by for Kana and take her with him. But instantly he dismissed the idea. He didn’t want her to have any reason to think that he expected her to go out with him just because he was a believer now.

And he certainly wouldn’t want her to think that he had made this commitment just so she would spend time with him. It wasn’t true, of course, but he wanted to make sure that there was no confusion about the situation. So he stifled his desire to share that time with her and concentrated on how much he would enjoy learning more about the Word of God now that he was part of the Lord’s family.

Kana enjoyed the rest of her visit with her parents immensely. They were due to go back to Atlanta on Wednesday, and she was helping her mother pack for the return trip when Gram called her to the phone to talk to Cameron. As soon as they exchanged hello’s, Cameron got to the point of his call.

“I called because I want to talk to you about a development that came to my attention yesterday. After taking the time to check with the other church leaders involved in the situation, I am at liberty to ask you about something that I need you to think and pray about.”

“It sounds like it might be something pretty important.”

“It is. And, actually, I’m not the one who would normally be the first to contact an individual about this, but since Suzanne and I know you so much better than our principal or school administrator, we all agreed that perhaps I should be the first one to bring this to your attention.”

“What is it, Cameron?”

“Well, we just got notice that our first grade teacher at the Christian grade school won’t be coming back in the fall. She’s expecting a baby, which as you know I can relate to in a whole new way now …” Kana laughed with him, enjoying his delight at the idea of becoming a father. “Anyway, she wants to devote all of her attention to the baby through the time of pregnancy and for at least the first three years after that, so it isn’t a situation where we will be holding her position open for just a pregnancy leave.

“I spoke with the board yesterday evening, and we all agreed that we would like to ask you to consider taking the position.” Kana gave a little gasp of surprise, but didn’t speak, and Cameron continued. “We know it would incorporate quite a move for you, and perhaps the salary will be somewhat less, but you seemed to fit into our camp and that whole teaching experience so well – like a hand in a glove, as a matter of fact – that we feel you would be an excellent choice for the position.

“My goodness! This is really a surprise, Cameron.”

“We don’t have anyone else in the congregation who would be in a position to take the job, so I want you to know that you wouldn’t be stepping on any toes should you decide you want to do this. But at the same time, we don’t want you to feel obligated because we don’t have any members available for it right now. We would normally advertise it, as we have other positions in the past, but we just felt we’d like to give you an opportunity to consider it first.”

“Well, as you know, this catches me a little off guard, but I actually do think I’d like to consider it, Cameron.”

“Well, I know this is short notice, but I was wondering if you might like to meet with me and the principal after the Bible class tonight and let us fill you in on more of the details so that you’ll have all the information you’ll need to make a decision.”

“Normally, I would say yes, but since this is Mom and Dad’s last evening here, I was planning on coming straight home from the Bible class tonight. Could we possibly meet anytime tomorrow?”

“I’d forgotten that this was their last evening to be here. Of course you need to spend the time with them. Let me call our principal and check with him. I think there’s a good chance we can do it tomorrow just as well.”

“Okay, I’d appreciate that, Cameron, and I think most any time after they leave at 9:00 will be fine for me.”

“Great. I’ll let you know something at the class tonight then. And thank you for considering this, Kana. I personally think it’s a terrific idea, but I’ll try not to be pushy about it,” he said, laughing lightly.

Kana was chuckling too. “Thank you, Cameron … both for your thoughts and for you restraint. I’ll talk to you this evening.”

“Great. Bye for now.”

“Bye,” Kana said and hung up the phone, almost in a daze. She couldn’t believe this. She had just been talking to Vallie about how she thought she’d like a chance to teach in a Christian school, and now …. Was this the Lord’s doing? “Lord,” she prayed out loud, “this is a huge decision. I need to know Your perfect will in this. … And I need to know it pretty quick, Lord,” she said looking up to address her prayer Heavenward.

Her mother walked into the room at that time, and asked what she was praying about, so Kana filled her in. “Oh, Honey, this is a surprise isn’t it … and a big decision. Do you have all the facts about the job yet?”

“No, Cameron’s going to try to arrange a meeting with me and the principal tomorrow so that I can get all that information.”

“Information about what?” Gram asked, coming in to join them in the living room.

“Gram, you’ll never guess what’s happened.”

“Well, from the look on your face I’d say it’s quite a surprise but not an unpleasant one.”

“I guess that about sums it up,” Kana said, smiling. “Get Dad in here, Mom, and let’s all sit down and I’ll fill everybody in at the same time with as much as I know.”

When she had related the information to everyone, they all began to discuss the pros and cons as they saw them. Each one of them saw a different aspect of the situation, and Kana was glad she had this time to discuss the opportunity with her parents before they left. Gram, of course couldn’t keep the light out of her eyes at the thought that her granddaughter just might be moving down here to stay. Kana saw that light and hoped that Gram wouldn’t get her hopes up so high that she’d be disappointed if the decision was to decline the job.

Finally, by the time they’d traded ideas back and forth for some time, they realized they’d need to get dinner if Kana were going to make it to Bible class. So they held hands and prayed for God’s wisdom and direction in the matter, trusting Him to show Kana exactly what He wanted her to do.

Kana found it hard to concentrate on the Bible class as she normally did because of this other matter on her mind. And then having Lionel there seemed to affect her more than she had realized it would. She was thrilled he was there, of course, but she hadn’t expected her heartbeat to speed up the way it had whenever she looked over at him. He had shared some thoughts he’d had concerning his reading of the Word this week, and she was a little surprised at the depth of his understanding, and at the fact that he seemed to think the way she did about almost everything being discussed. Immediately after the meeting, Cameron made his way to her and told her that he had set up a meeting for them at 10:00 the next morning.

“That’s fine,” Kana said. “I’ll be here, and thank you.”

“Thank you,” he said. “And tell your parents I really enjoyed seeing them again, will you?”

“I sure will,” she said and slipped out of the group and hurried to her car before she got tied up in any other conversations. She really wanted to talk to Lionel – but at the same time – she didn’t. She shook her head at her confusing thoughts as she got into her car, and then she began to pray. “Lord, I don’t think I’ve ever needed so much wisdom and guidance at one time in my whole life. Please show me what to think … and how to feel … and what to do.”

She thought about Vallie. Oh, dear. She wouldn’t be happy about this possibility. She’d have to call her. But, as she considered when to do so, she decided to wait until she had all of the facts from tomorrow’s meeting. At that moment, she realized that she had been thinking and feeling very positively toward the idea of taking this position, but now she realized that leaving her best friend would take some very serious soul searching indeed. Well, maybe tomorrow’s meeting would reveal something that would make her decision easier. She’d wait and see.


Continued next week.

~~~


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