Repaired By Love — Chapters 17-19

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REPAIRED BY LOVE
© 2004 by Sandra Pavloff Conner

Chapter Seventeen

By the time Kana had spent half an hour with Cade the following Saturday evening, she knew that their relationship could never equal what she and Lionel Butler had with each other. She enjoyed Cade’s company, and was glad for his friendship, but she knew she would never love this man.

When he walked her to the door and asked about calling her for another date soon, she looked into his eyes seriously and spoke. “Cade, I need to be completely honest with you. I’ve enjoyed the time we’ve spent together, and I’m glad we’re friends, but there’s someone else that I’ve developed serious affection for, and I don’t feel that it would be of benefit to you or me either one to try to develop our relationship into anything other than friendship.”

“I see. I didn’t realize that you were serious about anyone.”

Kana grinned. “Well, to be honest, I wasn’t sure myself until this week. But now that I do know, I think it’s only right to tell you right away. And … I’m sorry if I’ve inadvertently led you to believe that there was something more between us.”

“No, you haven’t, Kana. And I haven’t had time to develop any seriously romantic feelings for you yet, so don’t worry. I’m not going to be insulted or broken-heated over this news. I was hoping that we might be able to move into a more serious relationship in the near future, but I didn’t want to push it. And I enjoy being your friend too. That won’t change, I hope.”

“Certainly not.”

“Good,” he said, grinning at her. “And if you ever want to go to lunch, or even dinner, just as friends, I’ll be more than willing to do so.”

She reached out her hand to him, and he took it between both of his and squeezed it gently. “I’ll remember that, and thank you, Cade. And I’ll be praying that the Lord will lead you to the perfect woman to make your life complete too. I know you said you’ve been so busy the past few years that you haven’t had time to think much about romance.”

“That’s true.”

“Well, maybe I’ll pray that the right one comes looking for you, and that you won’t have to work at it too hard.”

“Someone who’ll chase me until I catch her, you mean?” he said laughing out loud now.

Kana couldn’t help laughing too. “Something like that.”

“Well, I’ll try to keep my eyes open. Thank you,” he added, lifting her hand to his lips and kissing it lightly before letting it go. “Goodnight, Kana.”

“Goodnight and thanks again,” she said as she opened the front door. Cade started to his car and then turned around about half way there and called back. “Let’s not lose touch completely though, okay?”

“I agree. Goodnight,” she said and stepped into the house.

As Cade drove away he couldn’t keep from wondering who it was that Kana cared so much about. Well, whoever he was, he was sure one lucky man. And maybe it was time he did some serious praying himself about his own love life. At least his friendship with Kana had started him thinking about his future as far as a wife and family were concerned. Yeah – He nodded his head thoughtfully. It was time he started letting something fill his life besides work.

With the decision about Cade, Kana knew that she had cleared the field for her relationship with Lionel Butler. So when he called about a date for the following Saturday, she was ready to accept. In fact, they began to spend at least a couple of evenings together each week, besides the incidental times they had a snack together after church or met at family gatherings.

And it didn’t take long for the rest of both families to understand that the two of them were an item. Everybody considered that good news. In fact, one evening after a meal at Darrin and Eve’s, while Kana and Lee were walking in the yard hand in hand, Eve leaned over to Darrin and Gram and whispered. “Those two were absolutely made for each other, don’t you think?”

“Sure seems like it,” Darrin said.

“I’ve been sure of it for quite a while now,” Gram answered.

About a month later, Darrin came in to work one morning looking worried, and Lionel was quick to ask him about the cause. His brother sighed, taking off his jacket and flinging it down haphazardly on a chair. “I know you don’t want to talk about this, Lee, but I got a call from dad again last night. He sounded pretty bad. He was coughing a lot and I could tell he was pretty sick. I knew the last time Eve and I visited that he wasn’t doing well and was having trouble with his heart, but he wouldn’t talk much about it.”

“Well, I’m sorry to hear he’s sick, I guess, but I can’t say that I really feel much of anything at the news.”

“I know, but … I guess I just thought I should tell you. And … I want to go down and check on him personally. Would you mind holding down the fort Friday and Saturday morning by yourself?”

“No, you know I wouldn’t. Go whenever you need to.”

Darrin nodded his head. “Thanks,” he said, laying his hand on Lionel’s shoulder for a moment. Then he picked up his coat and hung it up and started back into the other part of the shop.

Sunday, Darrin still wasn’t home, and after church, Kana asked Lionel if his brother was ill.

“No, he went to Greensboro to visit our dad. Evidently he’s been sick, and Darrin wanted to spend some more time with him. He called Eve yesterday afternoon to say he’d be staying until today.”

“I see,” she said and let it go at that, but it bothered Kana a lot that Lionel couldn’t seem to forgive and let go of the past. They were scheduled to have lunch together, just the two of them, after service, so while they were waiting on their food, she decided it was time they talked openly about his feelings concerning his dad. After all, if the two of them were headed for something more serious, they would be sharing all of these kinds of things anyway.

“Lee, I’d like to ask you something,” she finally got up enough nerve to say.

“Sure, what is it?”

Kana cleared her throat a little nervously. “Well, it’s about your dad.”

He leaned back in his chair with a sigh. “Oh … Kana …”

She reached out and took his hand. “Please don’t take that attitude, Lee. This is very important.”

“No, it isn’t. Not to our relationship.”

Kana shook her head. “I don’t think that’s true, Lee.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, if you’re having this hard a time forgiving someone who’s hurt you deeply – and you find it impossible to let go of the past – it could have a great deal to do with our relationship.”

“How will it affect you and me?”

“In a lot of ways really. For one thing, just suppose we eventually got serious enough that we decided to marry and have children. You said something one day about wanting at least seven or eight children of your own. What would we tell them about their grandparents? They’d have my parents, of course, but what would they have on your side of the family?”

“I wouldn’t want them to have to have what’s on my side.”

“But Delly obviously loves her grandfather – your father.”

“This is a ridiculous conversation. A lot of kids don’t have grandparents.”

“Okay, granted, that’s not the most important point, but I thought it was worth making.”

“Well, what do you consider the most important point?”

Kana was quiet for a moment and then looked straight into his eyes. “Well, to be totally honest, I suppose, if you continued to refuse to forgive your father and give him another chance, I guess I’d have to wonder how you would deal with me if I ever did anything that hurt you. Would you hold it against me too, instead of forgiving me and forgetting it.”

“You’d never hurt me the way he did.”

“You don’t know that, Lionel. I’m a human being too, and I don’t always do everything right. But it isn’t just me. What about other people? And more than that, what is your refusal to forgive saying about your relationship with God? You know, His Word says in 2 Corinthians that He has forgiven everyone.

Lionel was quiet for several moments, and then the waitress came to set their food in front of them. They automatically bowed their heads, and after a minute, Lionel said, “Since you’re the Bible scholar, perhaps you’d better do the praying over our food.”

The words stung Kana, and worried her, but she prayed a short prayer and started eating.

“I’m sorry, honey,” he said, reaching for her hand. “I guess what you said hit me kind of hard.”

Kana smiled at him, but she spoke in a serious tone. “I didn’t mean for my words to hurt you, Lee, but it’s good if they hit you kind of hard, because this is a very important subject with God.”

“Kana, you don’t know what my dad was like … or what it was like living with him.”

“No, I don’t,” she said. “But God does, and He still says we have to forgive. It’s for our own sake. If we don’t, the unforgiveness will poison us. A lot of people are sick right now just from holding anger and unforgiveness against someone else. If we refuse to let it go, it will fester inside of us and eventually destroy us. Besides taking us completely out of right fellowship with God Himself.”

She paused to take another bite or two and then continued. “Besides, if our Lord Jesus died in order to be able to forgive your dad, just who do you think you are, that you can refuse to forgive him? It seems a little like you’re saying you’re better than God.”

Lionel put down his fork and just sat and looked at her for a long moment. Finally he spoke. “Kana, I understand what you’re saying, but I can’t deal with it right now. I’m sorry. Could we please drop it for now?”

She sighed and nodded her head. “All right, Lee. Just so you understand that this is something that will come between the two of us if you can’t eventually get it resolved.”

He nodded his head in understanding, and they both just continued to eat their meal in silence.

On his way to take Kana home, Lionel’s cell phone rang. When he answered, it was Darrin. “Are you calling from home?”Lionel asked him.

“Yeah, I got in about an hour ago. Eve said you and Kana went out to eat, and I thought I’d try to catch you before you got home and ask you to swing by here after you leave Kana.”

“I’m not sure exactly what time that will be.”

“Doesn’t matter. I’ll be here. I need to talk to you, and I’ll go ahead and tell you that it’s about Dad.” Lionel breathed an exasperated sigh.

“I’m sorry, Lee, but I’m not going to let this go. There are some things you need to understand clearly about his condition. What you do with the information is up to you, but I’m not going to neglect telling you about it in detail.”

“All right, Darrin. We’re almost to Kana’s house now. I’ll just drop her off and be right over. Might as well get it over with.”

“Thanks, Lee.”

“I’ll see you in a few minutes,” he said and shut off the phone.

“That was Darrin?” Kana asked quietly.

“Yeah,” he answered, sighing painfully again. “He wants to talk to me about something he found out concerning Dad.”

Kana’s mind was churning with things that she wanted to say to Lionel, but she knew better that to do so now. He was going to have enough to deal with when he got to his brother’s house. They pulled into her drive, and Lionel got out and opened her door, accompanying her to the porch.

“Thanks for lunch,” she said as they walked up the steps. She put her hand on the doorknob.

“Kana?” Lionel spoke hesitantly. “Are you going to refuse to kiss me goodbye just because we can’t agree about my father?”

She reached out and cupped his cheek with the palm of her hand. “No,” she whispered and kissed him softly and briefly on the lips. He reached for her, but she pulled back gently. She placed her fingers over his lips, looking into his eyes. “You can’t hide from this thing by trying to throw yourself full force into romantic activities with me, Lee.”

His mouth dropped open, and his eyes grew wide. “What a thing to say!”

“But it’s what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to focus yourself completely on the emotional and physical relationship between the two of us in order to push this other subject out of your mind and not deal with it yet.”

“I give up!” he said, throwing his hands up, whirling around, and heading back to his car. Kana watched until he had turned out of the drive and then went inside to pray for him.

Lionel tried to pray on his way over to his brother’s house. He tried, but he couldn’t seem to concentrate. His mind was whirling, trying to figure out if what Kana had accused him of had been correct. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that what she’d said was the truth. He had been running from his own thoughts and feelings concerning his dad for a long time now. And since the day he’d discovered what it meant to be a brand new creature in Jesus Christ, he hadn’t been able to pick up his Bible and read without feeling a nagging inside of him to face the problem with his dad and get it resolved.

Lionel knew that he himself had received forgiveness for everything he’d ever been guilty of. Maybe he hadn’t done exactly what his dad had done, but he had spurned the Lord and rebelled against Him ever since he had been a teenager. Yet he had been aware, the moment he accepted Jesus, that the Lord had forgiven all of it.

Finally, as he pulled into his brother’s driveway, Lionel was able to breathe a sincere prayer. “I know You’ve forgiven me, Lord, without any reservations. How can I do any less for someone else? … But I’m going to need a lot of help from You. … Please … show me how, Father.”

A quiet peace seemed to settle over him as he sat in the car, and after a couple of minutes he got out and made his way to the house. Eve answered the door and reached out and hugged him. Then she put her arm through his and led him to the living room. “I’ve made cinnamon chocolate coffee. I’ll bring you a cup.”

Lionel grinned at her. “I thought that’s what I smelled. Or maybe I just hoped it was. Make it a big cup, Evie,” he said, winking at her. As she left the room, Lionel walked over and put his hand on his brother’s shoulder briefly and sat down on the end of the sofa that was closest to Darrin’s chair. He leaned back with a sigh and smiled at his brother. It was his signature smile, full and warm and inviting, and Darrin took hope from it. “Okay, Dare,” Lionel spoke quietly. “I’m finally ready to talk with you about Dad.”

Darrin smiled and turned as Eve entered the room carrying a tray with large mugs of coffee and a plate of cookies. She sat it on the coffee table and sat down beside Lee.

“Well,” Darrin began, after taking two or three swallows of his coffee, “I mainly wanted you to know that I’ve found out that Dad is very seriously ill. He had been in the hospital the week before he called me. He’s back home now, but for how long, I don’t know. He did finally admit that the doctor’s diagnosed congestive heart failure, as well as some other conditions, and his prognosis isn’t very good.”

Lionel closed his eyes against the emotional pain he was feeling, surprised that he felt anything at all, and not knowing how to deal with it. Darrin continued.

“But I guess the thing that has me most upset is his soul. I’ve tried a number of times to talk to him about the Lord, but he just won’t permit it. The last couple of times, including this trip, he just shook his head and said, ‘It’s not for me, Darrin. It’s not for me.’

“But personally, I get the feeling – and I don’t know how to explain it really – but I keep getting the feeling that there’s something specific holding him back from being able to accept the Lord’s salvation. And he never lets me get far enough in our talk to explain how easy it is to receive Jesus.”

Darrin shook his head. He was leaning his elbows on his knees, his hands clasped between his legs. He looked down now at the floor and shook his head again, the pain he was feeling evident on his face.

“You don’t have any idea what it is?” Lionel asked.

“Not a clue,” Darrin said, sighing deeply and leaning back in his chair.

Lionel drank his coffee in silence for a few minutes. “Is there more that you think I need to know?”

“Only that he asked about you again. He always asks about you, Lee.”

Lionel nodded his head in response and looked straight into his brother’s eyes. “You don’t think he has long to live?”

“I got the impression that the doctors think he might not have long, but he wouldn’t really tell me anything specific.” Darrin looked at his brother, pain filling his eyes. “I just wish you could bring yourself to go see him … just once, Lee.”

Lee laid his head back against the sofa, closing his eyes. He was quiet for so long that it almost seemed he had dropped off to sleep. Eve and Darrin sat just as quietly, waiting. Finally, Lionel spoke softly.

“Well … I have realized that I don’t really have a choice about forgiving him. I’m not sure that I’m capable of doing it … but I’ve made the decision to do it.” He sighed deeply, opening his eyes and sitting up straighter. “I’ve trusted the Lord for everything else since I finally gave Him my life. I guess I can trust Him to help me forgive Dad too.”

Darrin reached out and gripped his brother’s arm. “I’m so glad, Lee. And I know the Lord will help you.”

Eve slipped her arm around Lee’s shoulders gently and leaned over and kissed his cheek.

“But … about going to see him …” Lionel spoke again. “I’m not sure about that. I’ll have to do some praying about it.”

Darrin nodded. “I understand.”

Lionel set his cup down on the table. “Well, I need to get home and do a couple of things before time for church. I’ll see you two there, I guess, won’t I?”

“Yeah,” Darrin answered. “I’m really tired, but I need the strength I’ll get from being in the service. It’ll do me more good than staying home and going to bed.”

Lionel smiled at him and patted his shoulder as he got up. Eve started to rise. “No, don’t get up Eve. I’ll see myself out. See you in a couple of hours.”

Chapter Eighteen

Following the service that evening, Kana asked Lionel if things had gone all right with his brother. He was walking her to her car as they spoke and he nodded his head. “Yes, pretty well. I did a lot of thinking after I left you, and I realized that you had been right.” He grinned at her. “And so what else is new, huh?” Kana grinned back.

“Anyway,” he added, sighing, “I decided that it was past time I faced the fact that the Lord had forgiven me for being so stiff-necked and rebellious to Him all these years, and I was obligated to do the same for Dad.”

Kana turned fully toward him and embraced him. “Oh, Lee, I’m so glad!”

“Well, I can’t say that the feelings are there yet, but at least I’ve made the decision.”

“So does that mean that you’re going to go see him?”

“I don’t know about that. I told Darrin I’ll just have to pray about that for a while.”

Kana nodded her understanding. “I’ll be praying too,” she said, squeezing his arm.

Lionel glanced around to see if anyone else was close by or watching. When he felt sure they weren’t being observed, he leaned down and kissed Kana. He had intended the kiss to be short, but his need of her encouragement and comfort kept him clinging to her for some time. When the kiss ended, he just looked into her eyes for a moment. “I love you so much,” he said.

Kana wanted to say that she loved him too. In fact, she almost let the words slip out, but then she caught herself. If she made that total commitment of herself emotionally, she couldn’t go back, and somehow, she just felt that Lionel still had to deal with some things of the past before he was ready for the future. So she just caressed his cheek gently, smiling at him as she turned to get into her car.

The following Saturday, since Darrin had said he would handle the shop and finally give Lionel some time off, Kana and Lionel took the whole day together. They went horseback riding in the morning and miniature golfing in the afternoon. They thought about going out to dinner, but decided they would rather just relax at Lionel’s apartment with pizza and some old Andy Griffith videos.

While they were just kicked back and relaxed later in the evening, Lionel reached over and turned the volume down on the TV and turned to face Kana as she sat beside him on the sofa. “Kana … I’d like to talk to you seriously for a few minutes,” he said, his fingers playing with a tiny thread visible on the shoulder of her shirt.”

“What about?”

He looked into her eyes. “You know I love you. More than I’ve ever loved anyone. And … I think you feel the same way about me … although you haven’t said so in so many words.” He sighed now, closing his eyes briefly and then capturing hers again. “I need to know how you feel about me, Kana. I want to talk about our future.”

Kana lowered her eyes and bent her head. Lionel waited. Finally, she raised her eyes to his and lifted her hand, caressing his cheek. “Lionel, I do love you … .” He started to reach out for her, and she pulled back a little. “But,” she continued. “I don’t see how we can talk about a future when you’re still living in your past.”

“What?”

“You’re still living in all of the hurt and bitterness of your past.”

Lionel leaped up from the sofa, running his hands through his hair and beginning to pace across the room. He finally turned back to face her. “For crying out loud, Kana! I told you I’ve forgiven my father! What else do you want from me?”

She looked up at him with unshed tears in her eyes. “It isn’t what I want from you, Lee. It’s what I want for you. You’re in bondage to all of the memories and feelings from the past years with your father. They’ve got you locked up back there … and you aren’t free to plan anything for the future. I want you to be set free from the past. I want you to be able to let it go, so that it will let you go.”

She rose from her seat too and walked closer to him, looking into his eyes. “If I’m going to plan a future with you, then I want to have all of you … all of you, Lee … not just the surface part … the part that’s covering up everything deep down inside because you don’t want to bring it out and deal with it.”

“I’m not covering anything up. I’ve been honest with you about the past and what it’s done to me.”

“But what about what it’s still doing to you?”

Lionel hung his head. After another moment, he moved over and slumped into a chair, rubbing his hands over his face. “I don’t know, Kana. I don’t know if I even know how to try to deal with all of it any better than I have.”

“Would you like a suggestion from me?”

He looked up at her, and she was almost sure she saw hope in his eyes.

“Yes!”

She walked over to his chair and knelt down in the floor beside him, taking one of his hands in hers. “I think you need to go and spend some time with your dad, Lee. I think that’s what it’s going to take to get you set free from all of this.”

He didn’t reply. He just looked into her eyes for a long time. Then he leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes. Finally he spoke softly. “I promise I’ll pray about it, Kana.” He opened his eyes and looked at her again. “That’s the best I can do right now. I will pray about going to see him.”

“And I’ll pray for you … and for him,” she said, squeezing his hand and smiling radiantly at him. Then he leaned forward and took her face in both of his hands.

“You did say you loved me … didn’t you?”

Kana nodded her head, still smiling. “I did say that I love you, Lee. And I do … very much.”

Lionel leaned further and touched her lips gently with his. The kiss was slow and lingering, as if he were drawing sweetness from her lips. And he was. He knew this woman was the sweetest gift the Lord had ever given him, and she made his life complete. Surely, he thought, as the kissed continued – surely with the Lord and Kana both loving him so much, he could find the strength from that to do what he needed to do about his past.

After Lionel took Kana home, he returned to his apartment and picked up his Bible to read. “So far, Lord, I’ve found all of the other answers I’ve needed right here in Your Word. Surely what I need now is here too … if I’ll just search for it.” Lionel sighed and leaned over and turned on the lamp on the table beside the sofa. “Please help me, Father,” he whispered.

The Tuesday night Bible class had been studying the book of Isaiah recently, and Lionel especially liked all of the chapters toward the last part of the book that told about how the Lord comforted his people and promised a Savior. He had left a marker where they had stopped last week, and without conscious thought, he turned to that place and began reading in the next chapter.

It was Isaiah 58, and God seemed to be talking about how He wasn’t happy with His people. He chastised them for trying to carry out religious practices, like fasting food, while, at the same time, failing to live right in their relationships with each other. As Lionel read through the chapter he came to the words where the Lord described what He considered a perfect fast.

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens … to deal thy bread to the hungry … when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?”

Something stabbed Lionel in the heart. Those words almost leaped off the page at him. He felt as if they had been written in letters three or four times the size of everything else. He read them again: “… and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh.” Is that what he’d been doing? He leaned his head back, closing his eyes, thinking hard. In hiding himself from the past, had he been hiding himself from his father – and as a result maybe even hiding part of his real self from the rest of his family?

That’s what Kana was referring to when she said she’d want to have all of him. And it was true that he wasn’t in a position to give all of himself to anyone, because he wasn’t really whole. He sat quiet for a while longer, and finally he began to pray again. “Is this my answer, Lord? Is this really the solution … to stop hiding from my own flesh, my own father … and to connect with him again?”

There wasn’t a sound in the apartment. Lionel sat still and listened to the voice on the inside of him. He had learned enough to know that if he wanted to hear from God, he had to give him time and stillness. So he waited … and slowly … but very surely … Lionel recognized the truth that came to light in his spirit and then gradually penetrated his mind and emotions.

If the Lord had spoken out loud, the answer couldn’t have been clearer: Yes … he had been hiding himself from his own flesh and blood father, wallowing in the pain and misery of the past. And although God had the power to solve the problem, the next move was Lionel’s. God had to wait for him to make it before God could do His part.

Lionel slid from the sofa to the floor and onto his knees. “All right, Lord. I’ll go. You show me when and how … and I’ll go to see him. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do when I get there … but I won’t be rebellious against You anymore. I’ll go.”

The following week, Kana had two evenings taken up with parent-teacher conferences, so Lionel didn’t get a chance to spend any private time with her to talk about what the Lord had shown him. He did talk with her on the phone enough to tell her that he felt the Lord was showing him how to work things out. She was elated that he had made that much headway, and she looked forward to hearing the details.

Kana had spent many hours seeking the Lord concerning her relationship with Lionel Butler, and she felt certain that He had confirmed to her that Lionel was His choice for her. But she knew she needed to wait on God for the perfect timing of everything.

The only problem was that it was getting harder and harder to hold her feelings back and wait. She loved him so much. In fact it was such a struggle that she had taken to calling Vallie about every other night to get some encouragement. She was hoping the two of them could get together in person soon. But at least their friendship seemed to still be as strong as ever, and it helped her a lot to talk everything out with the one who’d been her best friend for so long.

The following Friday was scheduled as a school holiday, so Darrin and Eve hoped to go to her sister’s for the long weekend. Darrin had tried to get Lionel to take a few days off to repay him for the several times he’d given Darrin a chance to get away. But Lionel wasn’t wanting time off right now. The truth was, in the back of his mind, he was thinking that if he could convince Kana to marry him soon, he’d plan on taking a whole week for a honeymoon, if they could work around her school schedule.

So Lionel insisted that Darrin and Eve go for the weekend, and they were taking Delly with them. They decided to put up a sign announcing to their customers that they would be closed all day that Saturday. That way Lionel could do something special that weekend if he wanted. He planned to spend it with Kana, of course.

About mid-morning on Friday, the phone at the shop rang, and Lionel pulled himself out from under the hood of a car and managed to answer it just before the answering machine picked up. “Butler’s Auto Repair,” he said.

“Hello, this is Karen Allen from the administration office at Greensboro Hospital, and I’m trying to locate a Mr. Darrin Butler. I have this as his work number. Is that correct?”

“This is his workplace, but he’s out of town. I’m his brother. Could I be of help?” Lionel spoke in a normal tone of voice, but his stomach tightened into a knot. It must be something to do with his dad.

“Oh, are you Lionel Butler?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, yes, I see now; you’re listed as immediate family also. I’ve been asked to notify Isaac Butler’s family that he was admitted very early this morning in critical condition.”

“Can you tell me anything more than that about his condition?”

“Well, it’s quite serious, Mr. Butler. The doctor has him in intensive care at the present time and is running a number of tests. Apparently, he’s been in significant pain. I was told that your father collapsed outside his home this morning, and a neighbor called an ambulance.”

“I see. Well, I’m grateful you called. My brother and his family are out of town for the weekend, but I’ll contact them immediately. Does – ” Lionel stopped to try to swallow the constriction in his throat – “Does the doctor expect him to live?”

“He’s not able to say for sure at this time, Mr. Butler. We’re doing all we can for him, but the doctor did indicate that his family should be notified as soon as possible.”

“All right. As I say, I’ll call my brother, and then … then I’ll come down there.” Lionel hadn’t realized he was going to say that, but when the words were out, he knew it was right, and it was what he wanted to do. “It will take me a few hours, but I’ll be there.”

“Fine, Mr. Butler. I won’t call again then, unless something changes dramatically for the worse. Is there any other number I should have in order to contact you?”

“Yes, let me give you my cell number, and if something does change please contact me as soon as possible,” he said and then gave her the number.

“I have it entered into the chart, Mr. Butler. Can I be of any more assistance?”

“No … no, thank you.”

“You’re welcome. I’m sorry it wasn’t better news. Goodbye.”

“Goodbye,” Lionel said, hanging up in something of a daze. He had to take a minute to collect his thoughts. He had committed himself to leave for Greensboro as soon as possible, so he’d have to shut down everything here and get home. But he had to call Darrin first. When he tried Eve’s sister’s number, there was no answer, and no machine, so he tried his brother’s cell. Nothing but a message saying the user was unavailable. Well, he’d close things up and go on home to pack an overnight bag and then try the house again.

While he packed, he thought about Kana and how much he needed her encouragement now. They had planned to go out to dinner tonight, but that would have to be canceled. He sat down for a moment, wishing with all his heart that she could go with him … but he wouldn’t ask that of her. He couldn’t. He looked at his watch and got up again to finish packing. He’d at least go by her house on his way. With the school holiday, she just might be there.

The thought of being able to see her made him hurry even more, and within minutes he was ready to leave. He tried Eve’s sister’s house again, but still got no answer. He checked his cell phone to make sure it was fully charged and shoved it into his pants pocket. He’d try again on the way.

Chapter Nineteen

Within twenty minutes, he was pulling into Gram’s driveway, and he breathed a deep sigh of relief when he saw Kana’s car. “Thank You, Lord. You knew I needed her prayers right now,” he said, getting out of the car and hurrying to the front door. Kana answered the door herself and surprise showed on her face, quickly followed by concern. She knew he should normally be at the shop.

“What’s wrong, Lee?”

Before he even said a word, Lionel stepped inside and wrapped Kana in his arms, holding her in a tight grip. She returned his embrace, knowing he was hurting although having no idea why. She prayed silently for the Lord to help him. He buried his face in her hair for a moment, breathing in the sweetness of her that always gave him a special kind of peace. Finally, he pulled back and looked at her. “I came because I need you to pray for me. I’ve going down to Greensboro to see my dad.”

“Today?”

He nodded his head. “The hospital called. Actually they were looking for Darrin, and since he wasn’t home, they called the work number they had for him. They said Dad was admitted early this morning in very serious condition. They’re not sure if he’ll live. I’ve been trying to get Darrin, and I’ll keep trying as I travel, but I believe I need to go right now.”

Kana put her arms around him again and just held him close for another moment. He tightened his arms around her like a vise again. She prayed silently for the Lord to show her how she could help him more.

He moved slightly, just enough to gently kiss her below her ear, and whispered, “I love you so much.”

Suddenly she knew what she was supposed to do. She wasn’t supposed to just pray for Lee as he went. She was supposed to go with him. Hadn’t the Lord been showing her that it had been Him who had brought them together? Her place was beside Lee, helping him to be all that the Lord wanted him to be.

“Lee,” she said a she pulled back enough to look into his eyes, “I’m going with you.”

His face registered surprise, but his eyes lit up with a new hope. “Are you sure you want to do this? You don’t even know him, and I’m not sure what kind of reception I’ll get.”

“But I know you, and it’s you I’m going for. And I know God, and He’s the One who’s telling me to go.” She looked at him with a question in her eyes, not quite sure if he wanted her to go or not.

Suddenly he grabbed her in a fierce hug. “Oh, Kana, thank you; thank you!” he spoke fervently in her ear. “Thank you, Sweetheart,” he said more softly, as he pulled back and laid his hand gently along her cheek.

She smiled at him, leaning her face briefly against the palm of his hand. “Now, when do you want to leave?”

“Well, actually I had packed enough clothes for one night, not knowing exactly what I’d find when I got there, and I was planning on leaving straight from here.”

“All right, I can do the same. It won’t take me more than a few minutes. Gram’s in the kitchen, so why don’t you go fill her in on what we’re doing while I pack a bag.”

“Do you think she’ll be upset to have you go with me?’

“Are you kidding? If she’d been in here, she’d have suggested it first!”

Her laughter cheered Lionel immeasurably, and it was with a much lighter heart that he headed for the kitchen to talk to the woman who, more than anyone else besides his own mother, had prayed him into the kingdom of God.

They made excellent time driving, and arrived at the hospital around 2:00 that afternoon. When they were shown to his father’s room, Kana leaned over to Lionel to whisper, “Do you want to see him alone first, Lee?”

He stood very still, trying to decide. Finally he looked into her eyes. “No, Kana … and it’s not because I’m afraid … or that I still have any ill feelings toward him . … I think it’s because you’re so much a part of me now – at least as far as my heart is concerned – that I don’t think I’ll feel right in there without you. Do you mind?”

Her smile filled her eyes as she answered, “Not at all. Let’s go in.”

Isaac Butler was the only occupant in the room, and he appeared to be sleeping, but as they approached the bed, he opened his eyes and looked at them. He squinted at first, and then as his eyes focused more clearly on Lionel, he sucked in a breath of surprise that was audible. He reached his left hand out toward them as he spoke in a weak voice. “Lionel? … Is it really you?”

Lionel had been gripping Kana’s hand fiercely, but at those words, he released her hand and took one giant step to his father’s side, reaching out and taking the trembling hand that was still held out in his direction.

“Yes, Dad, it’s really me.” He felt his dad’s grip tighten.

“It’s been a long time,” his father said in a voice that was a little stronger now.

“Yes.” Lionel cleared his throat. … “A long time.”

Kana stayed in the background, not wanting to interfere with what the Lord was doing.

Isaac spoke again. “I … I wanted to see you. … Doctor’s don’t know if I’m goin’ to make it this time. … Too much drinkin’ … too much everything for this old heart.” He sighed deeply and winced in pain.

“Are you in pain?” Lionel asked. “Should I get you a nurse?”

“No … no,” his dad’s grip tightened again. “They give me somethin’, but it don’t take it all away.”

“Would you like some water?”

“No, don’t waste no time on that … .” He sighed again, bringing on a spasm of coughing. When that subsided, he tried to continue, his voice weak and hoarse. “Not important. … I wanted to see you … to tell you …” He heaved another heavy sigh, and was silent for a full minute.

“Tell me what, Dad?”

His father looked right into his eyes. “To tell you that I’m sorry, Son. … Sorry about your mama … sorry about you and me … sorry about everything. … Too late to change it now, but I felt I had to … to at least tell you.”

Tears trickled down the old man’s leathered cheeks, and Lionel was astounded at the compassion that swept through his own heart for this man he’d hated for most of his life. God really had made Lionel Butler into a new creature. He squeezed his father’s hand. “It’s all forgiven, Dad.”

His father’s face registered shock as he heard those words, and his eyes questioned those of his son. “Forgiven?”

“It’s all forgiven, Dad. You don’t have to think about it anymore.”

His dad’s sigh this time was one of relief, and there was another lengthy pause before he spoke again, looking at his son. “Thank you, Lionel. … You always did have your mama’s goodness in you, Boy.”

Lionel inhaled a startled breath, and his eyes widened as he looked at his father, who spoke again. “Oh, I know you don’t believe it, but I really did love your mama … the best I could love anybody. … She was the only person in the whole world that ever loved me.” Tears began to trickle down his cheeks again. “She was always good to me, Lionel, no matter what. … And you … you was so much like her.” He looked away from Lionel and stared out the window.

Finally he spoke again. “Wish I hadn’t waited too late to get to know her God, so’s I could go and be with her.”

Every part of Lionel’s being came to attention. Was this his father wanting another chance at salvation? He looked at Kana, a question in his eyes. She smiled, nodding her head to encourage him.

He sat down on the edge of his father’s bed, and the old man turned to look at him again. “You know, it’s not too late to know the God she served, Dad. … If that’s what you really want.”

“I wouldn’t even know how to go about it.” He winced in pain again and put his right hand up to his chest. “Doctors don’t expect me to get out of here this time, so I don’t guess I can make it to no church.” His last words were more of a whisper as he struggled against the pain and congestion in his chest.

“But you don’t have to go to a church, Dad. Believe me, I know.

“I don’t?”

“No. When I gave my heart to the Lord, I was alone in my own apartment. You can do it right here, if that’s what you want to do.”

“Here?”

Lionel nodded his head.

“How do I do it?”

“Well, it’s Jesus that you need, Dad. Do you understand who Jesus is?”

His father thought for a few minutes, and then answered. “When I was a kid, I used to go to a Sunday School class, and the teacher explained that He was the Son of God who came and lived on earth and died on the cross for our sins, but I didn’t know much about sins in those days. … I do now. … Then she said He came out of His grave and went back to Heaven to fix up a place for us if we’d believe in Him.”

“Do you believe that Jesus is who your teacher said He is?”

His dad was silent again for a few moments before answering. “Yes … yes, I think I do. He has to be real for your mama to have loved Him so much, and for her to have had the strength to put up with me and keep loving me. She sure had to get that strength from somewhere. So He must be real.”

“Well, then, all He requires is that you tell Him you believe He’s who He says He is; tell Him you know you’re a sinner and not fit to live with Him; and then ask Him to forgive you for those sins and come into your heart and take over your life.”

His dad’s eyes grew wide with wonderment. “You mean that’s all I have to do to have what your mama had?”

“That’s all.”

“That’s all you did?”

“That’s all it took, and I’ve not been the same since. Because, when we do that, Dad, and He comes into us, He makes us into a brand new creature … a brand new person, Dad. The Bible calls it being born again.”

Isaac took a deep breath to answer, but started another spasm of coughing. When he finally caught his breath again, he looked right into Lionel’s eyes. “I’d like to do that, Son. Will you help me?”

Lionel felt as if his heart would beat out of his chest. He’d never imagined even one day in his life that the day would come when he would be a Christian, being used by God to lead his own father to the Lord. Kana was openly weeping now, knowing in her own heart what Lionel must be feeling. Her joy for him – for both of them – was beyond adequate expression.

Lionel cleared his throat of the thickness caused by the tears he was barely holding back. “Sure, Dad. Why don’t I tell you one sentence at a time what you need to say, and you can say it after me … but only if it’s what you really want to say with all your heart; you understand?”

“Yes … yes, I understand.” He drew in another painful breath, coughed, and grabbed his chest again. But he forced out the words, “And it is what I want to say.”

“Then just say this to the Lord: ‘Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God.’”

Isaac closed his eyes and repeated, “Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God.”

“I believe You came to earth as a man and died on the cross for my sins.”

His father repeated every word.

“I believe You rose from the grave, and that You are alive right now.”

Again, Isaac said every word, his voice becoming stronger with each sentence, and Lionel continued.

“I’m a hopeless sinner, and I ask You to forgive me for all my sin.”

Tears flowed freely down Isaac’s cheeks as he said those words, and Lionel had no doubt that they were coming from a sincere heart.

“And I ask You to come into me and be my Lord. Take over my whole life, and make me able to live with You forever.”

Isaac breathed a sigh of relief as he spoke the last words, his eyes still closed. “Forever,” he said again slowly, seeming to savor the sound of the word. Then he was silent for a few moments. Lionel didn’t speak either, or move. He was too overcome by how the Lord had just used him.

Pretty soon his father’s lips spread into a smile, and he opened his eyes and looked straight at Lionel, surprise and joy written all over his face. He reached out and grabbed Lionel’s hand again, only this time there was more strength in his grasp. “It’s happened, Lionel! It’s happened! … There’s a … somethin’ … I don’t know how to describe it … Oh … yes I do … it’s peace, Lionel … peace! … and its just goin’ all through me!” That outburst led to another round of coughing, but as soon as it subsided, Isaac lay back grinning.

He breathed another relieved sigh and closed his eyes again. “Peace … real peace. … I never had peace before.” He opened his eyes again and looked at Lionel. “I never had peace in all my life ’til just now, Lionel. Thank you for helpin’ me, Son.”

“It was my pleasure, Dad,” Lionel said, grinning broadly himself, knowing he had never spoken any truer words in his life.

“You know, your brother tried a few times to talk to me about the Lord,” Isaac said. “But at first I didn’t want to have nothin’ to do with Him. Then … later … every time I’d think about maybe doin’ somethin’ about it … I’d remember how bad I was to your mama … and to you.” He choked back some tears again, and put his hand against his chest. Lionel could tell he was still having pain, but he was determined not to let it deter him from what he needed to say. “And then I’d say to myself … ‘You old … so and so sinner … God can’t forgive somebody like you.”

He had looked away while he spoke, but now he looked back up at Lionel with a light on his face. “But when you said that you forgive me … I mean … after all I did that made your life so bad … if you can forgive me … then I can believe that God can forgive me too.”

Lionel’s intake of breath was audible. The shock of what his father had just said was more than his mind could take in. It was Lionel’s own forgiveness for his dad that had convinced his father there was a God who could forgive him too. What would have happened ‒ Lionel was chilled all of a sudden at the thought ‒ what would have happened if he had never been willing to forgive his father and tell him that he had?

Lionel actually shivered from the cold that coursed through him. He knew what would have happened. His father would never have been able to believe in God’s forgiveness and would have gone out into eternity separated from the Lord forever.

“Now I can die in peace and go and live with my Jesus and your mama.” His dad’s words brought Lionel back to attention.

“Yes, you can Dad,” he said, smiling at his parent. “But maybe you won’t have to die yet. God’s a healer too, you know, and we’re going to pray for Him to give you some more years on this earth to live your new life and be a witness for Him.”

As Lionel spoke those words, he reached out for Kana and drew her to his side, putting his arm around her. “This little lady is a strong believer, and I know she’ll pray for you to get well.”

His dad’s eyes flew open again, and Kana could have sworn he perked up when he realized she was standing beside Lionel. “Well, you’re sure a pretty little thing,” Isaac said, his voice still hoarse, but a big smile on his face.

His eyes returned to Lionel’s. “Is this your wife, Lionel? You should have introduced her. Darrin never said nothin’ about you bein’ married, and I used to wonder why you didn’t have a wife and a passel of kids a long time ago.”

“No, Dad, Kana isn’t my wife … yet, but I’m going to remedy that situation in the near future,” he said, squeezing her gently. “Her last name’s Wallace right now, but not for much longer.”

Kana reached out her hand and shook the old man’s. “How do you do, Mr. Butler. I’m so glad to meet you on such a happy day.”

He grinned at her. “Yes, it is a happy day ain’t it? Very happy for me. I got my son back, and I got Jesus.”

“You sure did!” she said, tears still streaming down her face.

“Why didn’t you ever get married before, Lionel?” he asked, turning back to his son.

“Well, to tell you the truth, Dad, I guess I was just too afraid that I’d turn out like you used to be, and that I’d only make a wife and children unhappy.”

“Oh, no, no, Lionel!” his dad said, reaching out to lay his hand on his son’s arm. He winced in pain again, but refused to stop speaking. “You couldn’t never have been like me. You always had your mama’s goodness in you, don’t you know that?”

Lionel shrugged his shoulders. “No, I guess I never realized that, Dad, but it doesn’t matter any more, because the Lord was finally able to make me a new creature too. So I don’t have to worry about it anymore.”

The old man shook his head. “I’m sorry, Son … for causing you so much pain in your life.”

“Never mind now, Dad. It’s all in the past, and the Lord has changed all of that. Now, I want you to concentrate on getting well. Jesus is the Great Physician too, and He can heal cases the doctors think are hopeless. Kana and I will pray for you, and I want you to plan on getting stronger and stronger until you can get up and walk out of here.”

He got up from the bed and pulled Kana closer to his side, grinning, but still speaking to his father. “I’m planning a special event that I’d like you to come to. As a matter of fact, if you’ll pardon me for just a minute, I’m going to officially propose to this beautiful woman right now.”

Kana’s eyes widened. This was definitely the last thing she expected while standing in a hospital room. But the love in Lionel’s eyes engulfed her so completely that her surroundings faded away. Lionel turned to face her squarely, taking her lightly in his arms.

“Kana, I think you know this … but just in case … I’m telling you in specific words: I love you more than my own life, and I don’t want to live any more of that life without you in the center of it. Will you please marry me?”

Tears poured down Kana’s cheeks. She’d watched this man give his life to the Lord and become a completely new person. She had seen him walk out his faith in every aspect of his life and win over every obstacle with what he found in the Word of God. What a strong faith he had – and what a loving heart. What more could she want from any man? God had been bringing her to this from the time she had made the decision last May to spend her summer in Gatlinburg – maybe from longer ago than that. She couldn’t give him any answer but one.

“Yes, Lionel Butler, I’d be honored to marry you.”

Lionel kissed her lightly on the lips and then hugged her to him fiercely for a moment. Then, with his arm still around her, he turned back to his dad.

“Now, you see, Dad, you have a very important job waiting on you when you get out of here. There’s going to be a wedding that I wouldn’t want you to miss, and then there are going to be at least seven or eight grandchildren that will need a lot of grandfathering.” He looked right into Kana’s eyes as he spoke the last sentence, remembering the little talk they’d had in the restaurant several weeks earlier.

She smiled at him, the love in her eyes warming him thoroughly.

“You mean … you’d want me to be a part of your family, Lionel?” his dad asked, his voice wavering with his intense emotion.

Lionel looked straight into his father’s eyes. “Yes, Dad. I mean exactly that. Kana and I want you to be a part of our lives and our family from now on.”

He stepped back up to the bed, still holding Kana. He reached out and took his father’s hand in a strong grip, his eyes testifying to the fullness he felt in his heart.

His next words were quiet – but strong with the truth of what he felt: “I love you, Dad.”

“`

THE END




~~~~~

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Repaired By Love – Chapters 15-16

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

Chapter Fifteen

By 1:00 the following afternoon, Lionel and Kana were both pulling into her grandmother’s drive. She opened the door and stepped out on the porch before they were even out of their vehicles. “You made it in good time,” she said. “Do you want to come in and rest before you unload?”

They had all gathered on the porch by then. “I think that sounds like a good idea,” Kana said. “What about you guys?”

“Fine by me,” Lionel said, and Jimmy nodded his agreement.

“You haven’t had your lunch yet, I hope?” Gram asked then.

“No, we were so close we decided to wait. Hope that was all right,” Kana said, laughing, but she knew her grandmother well enough to know she’d never be caught without plenty of food for guests.

“I sliced up some roast beef and made a big bowl of fruit salad just in case,” Gram said, leading the way into the kitchen. They all gathered around the table and Gram set out the food. It didn’t take long for them to make quite a dent in all of it, including the pound cake she added to go with the fruit salad, and while they ate Kana asked if they needed to move anything out of the way before they brought her stuff in.

“No, I managed to get two of the high school boys from church to move everything we talked about, so your room and the study are both ready for everything you want in there.”

“That’s great, Gram.” Kana grinned and almost giggled. “You know I’m almost as excited as when I was little and used to get to come and stay for a week.”

Lionel watched her eyes light up and her cheeks turn rosy with her memories. He wished he’d known her then, he thought. He’d bet she had been a lot of fun as a little girl.

“Me too,” Gram said.

“ All right,” Kana said, rising from the table, “come on, moving company.” She left the kitchen with her crew in tow.

By late afternoon, she and all of her possessions were installed either in their respective rooms, or in the extra storage space Gram had prepared in an upstairs bedroom.

“Will you stay for supper now, boys?” Gram asked.

“Oh, no,” Lionel said, laughing. “I can still feel some of the lunch you gave us. Besides, we need to get to the shop and make sure Darrin’s not drowning in work.”

“Okay, some other time then,” she said. “But you’re both going to get a hug, to be sure,” she said, suiting actions to her words. Lionel embraced her easily, and Jimmy a little awkwardly, but it was Lionel who was a little awkward when they turned to Kana. He wouldn’t have spurned a hug from her, but he didn’t want to initiate it. She just extended her hand to them, however, thanking them again and offering to do anything for them anytime to repay the favor.

For the next three weeks, Kana immersed herself in preparations for the coming school year. She had been somewhat familiar with the curriculum, because a friend of hers had used the same material to home school her two children for the past three years. Moreover, she liked the material very well, so she expected to have good results with it. And she always enjoyed creating bulletin boards and putting up other decorations around the room to make learning easier and more fun for the kids.

She was glad to have the opportunity to get to know several of the other staff members much better, and she felt that two of the women would become close friends in the near future. By the time the first day arrived, she felt an integral part of Prince of Peace Christian School, and she welcomed the students excitedly.

They were all excited too, since for them this was the first year of what many of them called “real school.” Somehow, kindergarten just didn’t measure up to the degree that first grade did. But there was one little girl who was frightened. She and her parents had moved to Gatlinburg just a month before school began, and she didn’t know anyone well. She had been to a small kindergarten in the town where they had lived before, but the student body wasn’t nearly as large as the one at Prince of Peace. So Kana spent extra time with little Ginger. And she enlisted Delly to help befriend the girl and make her feel at home.

Nothing could have pleased Delly more, and before the first day was over, she and Ginger had become fast friends. When Ginger’s mother came to pick her up, Kana introduced Delly and Eve to her, and hoped that the Lord would make the mothers good friends as well. After Ginger and her mom had left, along with most of the other students, Eve stayed to ask Kana how things had gone for her first whole day.

“Well, it was hectic, of course, with fourteen brand new first-graders all in one room, but it was so much fun. I know I’ve made the right decision to teach here.”

“I’m so glad,” Eve said. “And Delly is just ecstatic, you know.”

Kana smiled down at Delly. “You were so much help to Ginger, Delly. I’m so proud of you, and I know the Lord is too.”

Delly beamed. “I like her.” She looked at Eve. “Didn’t she have pretty hair, mommy? It’s the color of a sunset. And she has freckles, like Kana … I mean Miss Wallace.”

“Yes, she does have lovely hair. And I just want to say that I’m proud of you for befriending her too,” Eve said, hugging Delly to her. “Now why don’t you go get everything you’re taking home, and we’ll let Miss Wallace finish her work for the day.”

“Okay,” Delly said, hopping over to her desk.

Eve leaned over to whisper to Kana. “I’d like to invite you and Gram to dinner this Saturday, if you don’t feel that you’d be compromising anything going to dinner at one of your student’s homes.”

Kana laughed. “Of course not. Just think what I’d have to deal with if I had my own child in class. That’s happened to other teachers a number of times that I know of, and I’ve never known it to cause a real problem. And, yes, I’d love to come to dinner, and I’m positive I can answer for Gram too.”

“Great. Around 6:00 then, and tell Gram I already know what she’ll ask, and the answer is ‘No, she isn’t to bring anything.’”

They both laughed. “I’ll tell her, but I won’t guarantee she’ll pay any attention. See you then. And I’ll see you tomorrow, Delly.”

“Okay, Miss Wallace,” Delly said, emphasizing Kana’s classroom name and skipping out of the room ahead of her mom.

Saturday evening, Kana dressed with unusual care. She wasn’t sure if Lionel would be at dinner too, but she felt sure Eve and Darrin would have asked him, and even though she hadn’t actually admitted it to herself, she had missed him a lot over the last three weeks. She had been so busy that she hadn’t been anywhere besides school and church, and even at church, they hadn’t had an opportunity to talk for any length of time.

Cameron had cornered Lionel on two different occasions to talk to the deacons about a new van the church was considering, and on a couple of occasions, two of the other teachers had pressured Kana to go out to eat with them after service. So she felt as if she’d hardly even seen Lionel at all.

She looked at herself in the mirror now, thinking about her feelings. She didn’t really want to admit it, but those feelings were very similar to the giddy kind of excitement she’d had when she’d gone out on her very first date with someone new. Her heart was beating faster than it should and her color was high. Her eyes sparkled, and she couldn’t help swirling around in the new dress she’d bought last week. She knew she didn’t need to dress up for the Butler’s, but the dress was simple enough she wouldn’t look overdressed. She just wanted to look very feminine, for some reason – well – for a very specific reason.

“Are you ready, Kana?” Gram called from downstairs.

“Be right there, Gram,” she called back and hurriedly dabbed her favorite cologne on her neck and wrists. She grabbed up her purse and hurried down the stairs.

“Oh, dear, you look beautiful! I like that dress even better on you than I did when I saw it on the hanger.”

“Me too,” Kana said. “The yellow checks and the full skirt make me feel very feminine.”

Gram smiled at her, noticing that she had taken extra pains with her make up too. All in all, she thought things looked very promising.

And all of Kana’s efforts seemed to be paying off when they walked into the Butler’s living room and Lionel rose and greeted them. His eyes widened and lit up when he looked at Kana, and his smile grew even broader. He tore his eyes away from her long enough to speak to Gram and allow her to hug him briefly, but when he turned back to Kana and took the hand she offered, he was speechless for a moment.

“Hi, Lee,” she said, smiling. “We haven’t had a chance to talk much since I got back into my daily grind.”

“You look beautiful,” he said now, and then as if realizing that his first words hadn’t been a normal response to hers, he cleared his throat and tried to work them into a more normal statement. “So I’d say the grind hasn’t been too hard on you so far,” he added, grinning at her again.

“Well … thank you,” she said, blushing, and feeling saved by Delly, who came bouncing in now and ran up to her, taking her other hand. Only then did Kana realize she and Lionel were still holding hands, and she reluctantly let his go.

“I can call you Kana tonight, right?” Delly asked, grinning at her teacher.

“Right,” Kana said, tugging on Delly’s curls. Then she looked back at Lionel. “You have a very bright little niece, did you know that?”

Lionel laughed at that, reaching out and pinching Delly lightly on her nose. “I do know that, but don’t tell her too often. She might get a big head.”

“Oh, Uncle Lee, my had can’t get big by itself!”

“It can’t?”

“No.”

“Well, I didn’t know that. You really are smart.”

Delly giggled and would have gone on hogging the conversation, except for the fact that Eve came in to welcome their guests and call everyone to the dining room. “Darrin’s on the phone, but he’s just about finished. By the time we sit down, he’ll be able to join us. Oh … Kana … I love your dress. Is it new?”

“Yes … I decided since I had a new job, I needed a few new clothes to go with it,” she said, grinning. Then she added. “The real truth is that I saw this in the store, and I just couldn’t resist it.”

Lionel still couldn’t keep his eyes off her as they made their way into the dining room, and he just naturally sat down beside her. Everyone made light conversation through most of the meal, talking about school and a couple of repair jobs the brothers were working on for members of the church.

By the time they were nearly ready for dessert, Darrin looked across the table at his brother and brought up another subject that he had been debating about all through the first part of the meal. Normally, he was very careful where and how he talked to Lionel about their father, knowing how his brother felt. But now that he knew the Lord, and since they had company who helped make the atmosphere one of love and faith, he decided it was worth a try to bring up the subject right now.

“That was dad I was on the phone with, Lee,” he said in as casual a tone as he could. Lionel stopped moving, his fork halfway to his mouth. He didn’t look at Darrin, but he slowly put down his fork and sat stone still. Darrin continued, as if he hadn’t seen the reaction. “He asked about you, and asked if we’d consider coming down to Greensboro one weekend soon and see him.”

Total silence reigned at the table. Kana and Gram knew just enough about Lionel’s bad feelings toward his dad to know that this moment was fraught with possible trouble. They unintentionally held their breath. Darrin wanted to hold his, but he forced himself to breath normally in order to keep himself calm for what might be coming.

Finally, Lionel looked up and straight at Darrin. His voice was quiet, but carried a tone of steel in it. “You know my answer to that, and I’d rather not talk anymore about it right now.”

“Lee, he really does need to see you —”

“I said I don’t want to talk about it now, Darrin.”

“Daddy, are we going to see Grandpa?” Delly cut in.

“Delly,” Eve spoke up then, “we’ll talk about it later. Finish your meat, so you can have your pie and ice cream.” The subject of dessert was enough to sidetrack Delly at least to the point of stuffing more food into her mouth, and then Eve looked at her husband. “Let’s find something happy to talk about while we have our dessert, Honey.”

Darrin nodded his head. He knew he had to give in or make a scene. At least he had tried.

Eve reached out and touched Lionel’s hand. “Lee, come and help me carry in dessert and coffee.”

Lionel rose from his seat without another word and followed Eve into the kitchen. Darrin let out a long breath after they had left the room and looked over at Gram. She reached out and patted his arm, speaking to him quietly. “He has the Lord now, Darrin. You just have to give him time to turn everything over to Him.”

Darrin sighed again. “I know, Gram.”

Kana had seen the look in Lionel’s eyes. It was a shuttered look. As if he had put a shield up ‒ a defense against pain and disappointment. Her own eyes filled with tears as she thought about what he might be going through in his own thoughts and memories. She blinked them away hurriedly as Lionel and Eve came back into the room, and after that, their conversation turned to lighter things again.

When they moved to the living room, Eve suggested they play a game of Password, and they all settled down for another hour enjoying the game. Lionel let Delly “help” him with his words, and they all laughed at some of her suggestions and Lionel’s expertise at talking her out of them. In spite of the tension of the earlier part of the evening, they ended up having fun and relaxing for the rest of the time. Finally, when Kana looked at her watch and exclaimed about how late it was, they were all a little surprised that they had enjoyed themselves so much after such a rocky beginning at dinner.

“I think it’s time we went home, don’t you, Kana?” Gram asked.

“Yes, let’s go before we start another game, or I’ll get too involved to quit in the middle,” she said, laughing and getting up. “Thanks Eve for another wonderful meal.”

“I’m so glad you both could come. We’ll try to do it again soon.”

“We’ll see all of you in the morning, won’t we?” Gram asked as they walked toward the door.

“You bet,” Darrin said.

“I think it’s time I left too,” Lionel said, reaching out and giving Eve a hug. “Great food, Evie, as usual.” Then he leaned over and picked up Delly. “Goodnight, Princess,” he said, kissing her cheek. Then he laid his hand on his brother’s shoulder. He didn’t speak, but Darrin knew Lionel was letting him know that he was sorry if he had offended him.

“See you in the morning, Lee,” he said.

“I’ll walk you ladies to your car,” Lionel said now, taking each one of them by the elbow.

“Being escorted to my car by a handsome young man could go to my head,” Gram said, laughing, and stopped to give Lionel another hug before she got inside.

“Goodnight, Grandma Nora; goodnight, Kana,” he said, smiling at her as she slid into the driver’s seat. He would like to have had some time alone with her, but he hadn’t been able to figure out any excuse for doing so. Oh, well, probably just as well. There was no real future in anything between them, he thought now, as he got into his own car. His shoulders slumped a little as he started his car. He did turn to wave at Darrin, who was still standing on the porch as Lionel drove out of the drive.

He knew Darrin would try to talk to him tomorrow about their father. He’d have to talk with him, of course. And now that he had become a Christian, Lionel also knew that he was going to have to face the problem about his feelings for his father in light of God’s Word, but he just didn’t feel like he was ready to handle that yet. It wasn’t just his feelings about what had taken place in the past. It was knowing that what was in his father was probably in him also, and it would affect his future for the rest of his life.

“Lord,” he prayed now, “I know I have to deal with this, but I just don’t know how. I need Your help, but I don’t know if I’m ready to accept what You have to tell me … or what You’ll ask of me.” He sighed heavily as he pulled into his own drive. He turned off the engine and just sat back against the seat. “Please help me, Lord,” he whispered now. “Please help me.”

Chapter Sixteen

To Lionel’s surprise, Darrin didn’t try to talk to him after service the next morning or try to make arrangements to meet with him that afternoon. He was relieved. He needed to work this out on his own, without any pressure from anyone else.

Of course, he knew it hurt Darrin that he never went with him to visit their dad. Darrin only made the trip about three or four times a year, and he usually took Eve and Delly a couple of those times. He insisted that their father had changed his ways at least a little. According to Darrin, he didn’t seem to drink much at all now, and he always seemed to be genuinely glad to see Eve and Delly.

Well, if they could enjoy each other’s company, that was great for them. He just couldn’t do it. He’d been thinking a lot lately about how he used to shield Darrin from some of their dad’s worst behavior, and because of that, Darrin didn’t have the scars that Lionel carried. Nor had he felt the fear of being just like his dad, as Lionel still did. Well, even though Darrin couldn’t understand all of Lionel’s feelings, Lionel was still glad he’d shielded his little brother. Now he wouldn’t ever need the kind of healing that Lionel himself needed almost every day of his life.

Monday morning, Darrin did bring up the subject, but not to pressure Lionel. He simply stated that he and Eve would like to go down to Greensboro on Friday afternoon and stay until Saturday afternoon so that they could have longer to visit his dad. Their problem was that Delly had a birthday party to go to for one of her classmates on Saturday afternoon. Darrin asked if Lionel felt up to keeping Delly overnight and getting her to the party.

“Sure, Darrin. I don’t have anything special planned. She can sit here in the office and watch a video while I do one or two little jobs, and unless we have anything urgent, I’ll just close up about 11:00 and then we’ll have plenty of time to get her ready for the party. Does she know how to get to the right house and all?”

“Oh, yeah, but you do too. It’s Patty Simmons. She’s turning six on Saturday, and Delly feels absolutely grown up, having done so almost two months ago.” They both laughed at that, and Lionel felt his tension ease.

“Well, don’t hesitate to plan whatever you want. Stay until Sunday if you want to. You know Delly and I always find plenty of fun stuff to do.”

“Thanks, but I think overnight will be enough.” He paused, obviously weighing his next words. “Lee … you would tell me, if you felt like we were imposing on you when we ask you to keep Delly every once in a while, wouldn’t you?”

Lionel shoved the desk drawer he’d been digging around in closed and looked up at his brother with surprise written all over his face. “Darrin, what kind of a question is that! You know I love Delly!”

“Oh, I know … I know. But sometimes, I worry that we’re interfering in your personal life more than we should when we take up your weekends with her.”

Lionel barked out a laugh. “My personal life? Darrin, you know I don’t even try to have much of a personal life. What would be the point? I’m not husband and father material, so why lead some girl on and make her think there’s a possibility of something that isn’t going to happen?”

He stopped talking and just stared off into space for a moment. Finally, he shrugged his shoulders and spoke in a quieter tone. “If I can’t have any children of my own, I can at least enjoy my niece as much as possible. I may not have what it takes to make a descent father, but I’m a pretty good uncle, if I do say so myself,” he added, grinning, trying to make the atmosphere light again.

Darrin sat down on the edge of the desk, close to his brother and looked straight into his eyes. “Lee, I’ve never understood why you insist you’ll be a terrible husband and father. You’re a kind, compassionate man. You help everybody you know. What do you think it takes to be a good husband and father, for pete’s sake?”

Lionel could see that his brother was genuinely troubled by the question, and he decided maybe it was time to try to really explain. He hoped he could do so without causing Darrin some of that hurt he had tried to protect him from. He leaned back in his chair and let out a deep sigh.

“Darrin, I don’t want to bring up too much from the past, but would you believe me if I just told you that you never saw a lot of what our dad was really like and what he did when he was drunk and out of control. I did my best to keep you from seeing it, and to keep him from confronting you during those times. And … you didn’t always realize how poor we were because Mom and I tried very hard to make sure you had as many of your needs met as possible.” He held up his hand as if in defense. “Don’t get me wrong. I’m not wanting you to feel bad about it at all. We did it because we wanted to … because we loved you, and you were so little and trusting.”

He sighed again, anguish in the sound. “But the truth is, you never completely realized dad’s true character. It was pretty black … and because I experienced too much of it, the awfulness of it is indelibly imprinted on my memory. And … especially since I take after him almost completely in looks … I have to consider that I may have inherited a lot of his evil traits as well. I’d never want to inflict that kind of character and behavior on any woman and child.”

“But, Lee … you never drink … you never fight … you don’t even cuss!”

“That doesn’t mean that the potential isn’t there if the circumstances were right. If I were in a marriage where other things went wrong and stress and tensions got really bad, would I begin doing those things? … I don’t know for sure … and you don’t either.”

“Oh, for crying out loud, I do too! You could never do anything that would hurt someone you love!”

“Don’t be too sure, Darrin. Ordinary people often hurt the people they love, even without trying to at all.”

“Besides, Dad was never a Christian. You’ve turned your life over to the Lord, Lee, and that makes you a new person.”

Lionel got up and walked slowly over to the window and stood staring out. “I wish I could believe that, Darrin. … It never made so much difference to me before … but now … I find that I’m feeling things for someone that I’ve never felt before, and it’s really painful trying to cut those feelings off all the time and lock up everything inside of me.”

Darrin looked at his brother’s back. He’d bet anything that Lee was talking about feelings for Kana. Darrin had seen the sparks between them, and unless he was seeing things that weren’t there at all, Kana felt as much for his brother is Lee felt for her. He wracked his brain for something to say that might help. He prayed silently for the Lord to show him something.

Lionel sighed again, his shoulders sagging. “I wish I could become a completely new person.”

That was it! That was it! Darrin jumped off the desk and picked up his Bible that he kept right there on top of it. He thumbed through the pages looking for a specific scripture. “But Lee … you have already become a new person … a brand new person!”

Lionel turned around. “What do you mean?”

“Look!” Darrin crossed over to him, holding out his Bible, open to the passage he’d been looking for. “Look at this, Lee. See what the Lord says about it. Second Corinthians, chapter five, verses fifteen through eighteen. Here,” he said, thrusting the Bible at his brother so that he had to take it into his own hands. “Read it for yourself.”

Lionel looked down at the passage that his brother pointed out and began to read out loud. “And that he died for all that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all thing are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.”

He stopped reading aloud, his eyes going back over the verses he had just read. Then he began to read one part aloud again. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” He paused again and took in a deep breath. After another moment, he spoke again. “He is a new creature … all things are become new.” He looked up at his brother with awe in his face. His eyes were wide with surprise – and Darrin was almost sure – with new hope. “Darrin, do you think this means exactly what it says?”

“Lee, you know as well as I do that the Lord means what He says. He isn’t playing games with us and giving us riddles to figure out. Haven’t you believed He meant what he said in every other scripture you’ve read since you’ve been saved?”

Lionel nodded his head. “Yes. … Yes, I have.”

Just at that moment, a horn honked outside, and the boys jumped to attention. “Oh, that’s our first customer,” Darrin said, looking at his watch. “I hadn’t realized it was so late. I guess number two and three will be close behind. We did have three jobs lined up for this morning, didn’t we?”

Lionel nodded. “Yeah.” He closed the Bible. “I’ll look into this again a little later.” He looked into his brother’s eyes. “Thanks, Dare. I’m not sure yet exactly what to make of all of this, but you’ve given me some hope at least. I’ll read it some more this evening.”

Darrin gripped his brother’s shoulder tight. There were tears in his eyes, but he didn’t let them fall. He didn’t want to put Lee in an uncomfortable position at the beginning of their work day. “I’ll be praying, Lee. I believe God has some other positive, hopeful things to say to you too.”

Lionel nodded, and since the horn sounded again, Darrin turned to unlock the office door and open the first repair bay.

Later that evening, after Lionel had eaten, he picked up his own Bible and opened it to the book of First Corinthians. “Please give me understanding, Lord,” he whispered and began reading. He read through that book and on into Second Corinthians, wanting to read the verses Darrin had shown him in context with the rest of these letters to the church. As he read those same words in connection with all of the rest of those two letters, he realized even more clearly the meaning of the verse that had struck him earlier.

The Lord really was saying that when a person became a believer, he became a brand new being, and was freed from all the old things that would have enslaved him if he had not accepted Jesus Christ. Then when he got to the last verse of that same chapter, he found the words, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

After that, he looked up other scriptures that were given in reference to the passage in 2 Corinthians, chapter five and found several more places where the Lord said in His Word that a believer had died to the old sinful life and now had the righteous life of Christ living in him. He was especially struck by Galatians 2:20, which said, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”

Lionel leaned his head back and closed his eyes. He let out a long slow breath as a new sweet peace settled over him. He felt as if he’d been washed clean all over again. “You really have made me a brand new person, haven’t You, Lord? You’ve made me righteous with Your own righteousness. I don’t have to be afraid of what I inherited from my earthly father, because You’ve taken it away and given me a new inheritance from You.” He smiled, shaking his head slowly, as if he could hardly believe what he had learned. But then he realized that he did believe it – and it had set him free.

“I don’t have to be afraid anymore,” he whispered. “Thank you, Jesus. I don’t have to be afraid that I’ll be like my dad anymore.” He sighed contentedly. “Not anymore.”

His thoughts drifted to Kana, and he smiled again. He didn’t have to be afraid to let her know how he felt now. He didn’t have to hide from the future. He could look forward to it and to all the wonderful possibilities it held now. With the Lord’s help, there could be a wife and children in his future too. He smiled again. Lots of children, he thought now. Lots and lots of children.

He looked back down at the Bible in his lap. He picked it up and began reading again, his new freedom growing stronger with every verse. He got up and fixed himself a snack, still meditating on what he had read and the liberty it had given him.

As he ate some chips and dip, he decided that he needed to call Kana tomorrow and ask her to have dinner with him Saturday evening. Now that he was free to consider marriage and a family, he needed to find out just what it was that had started developing between them. So on that thought, he took himself to bed and slept soundly.

The following afternoon, as soon as he thought Kana would be home from school, he called Gram’s house and asked to speak to her. When she came to the phone, he felt his heart quicken its beat at the sound of her voice, and he had to clear his own throat before he could respond to her.

“Kana, I guess Gram told you who was calling?”

“Yes, how are you, Lee?”

“I’m doing very well actually. Better than in a long time. The Lord has been setting me free from some things that have been with me a long time, and it’s wonderful.”

“I’m so glad for you. Is it something you can share?”

“Well, at the right time, I’d like to share it with you, but perhaps we should wait a while.”

“All right. I’ll be glad to hear about it whenever you’re ready.”

“Thank you, Kana. What I really called about today was to ask you if you would have dinner with me Saturday evening.”

Kana felt such disappointment, she couldn’t speak for a moment. If only he’d called yesterday. “Oh, Lee, I’m sorry. I already have plans for Saturday evening.”

“Oh … I see.”

She could hear the disappointment in his voice too. “Could I have a rain check?” She wondered if that were being too pushy, but she just couldn’t bear to pass up the invitation completely.

“Sure … but … you don’t want to go out on a school night, do you?”

“Oh, I don’t know that I would refuse. If we go to dinner, I could still be home before 10:00 easily, and if I know I’m going out, I can arrange any work that needs to be done at home for another evening.”

“Well, then, how about Thursday? I’ll have Delly on Friday evening, and I know tonight and Wednesday are taken up with church. Will that put too much pressure on you to go out on Thursday too?”

“No, especially if we can go about 6:00. Is that too early for you?”

“Not at all. If I need to, I’ll have Darrin close up and I’ll leave a little early.”

“All right. You choose the place, and I’ll be ready by 6:00. Oh, but if you decide on some place where we need to be especially dressed up, be sure and let me know.”

“I’ll let you know now. Dress up. I feel like going some place special.”

Kana laughed. She felt almost giddy. Why hadn’t she felt like this when Cade had asked her out for Saturday? Why was she wishing that she hadn’t accepted his invitation? Was she that stuck on Lee Butler already? “I’ll do my best to be presentable,” she teased now.

“You don’t even have to try to look downright beautiful, and you know it,” he said.

Kana caught her breath, surprised at the candidness of his remark – and at the fact that he thought her beautiful.

“Well, to be honest, I don’t, but it’s nice to hear. Thank you, Lee. I’ll see you Thursday evening. Oh, and I guess I’ll see you at Bible study tonight as well, won’t I?”

“You will, but I didn’t want to wait any later to ask you about dinner.”

“Well, I’m looking forward to it. See you later.”

“Bye, Kana.”

The next few days dragged for Lee. He saw Kana at Bible study and church service, but other people wanted her attention after both of those events, so he didn’t even have an opportunity to talk to her at any length. When Thursday came, he felt like a teenager who’d asked a girl out on his first real date. He fussed with his clothes, his hair, his decision about cologne. Finally, he was ready, and made his way out to the car, which he had washed and waxed just that afternoon.

When Kana met him at the door, he was struck speechless again. She wore a black dress that was very fitted at the top, with a wide neckline that was worn just barely off the shoulders, accenting the magnificent tan she had acquired in the last two months. The skirt fell in loose folds to the middle of her calf, and she wore high-heeled sandals to complete the outfit. She had decided on no jewelry except pearl earrings, and looking at her Lionel found that he had to remind himself to breathe normally.

“Come in and say something to Gram, and I’ll get my purse and a shawl.”

He stood still another minute, and finally managed to step over the threshold as he said, “You’re absolutely stunning.”

Her color was already high, but she blushed so richly, that Lionel once again had to tell himself to take a breath. “Thank you, Lee,” she said now, and he could tell that she too was a little breathless. “Gram’s in the living room,” she added, and motioned in that direction. Lionel headed that way, and she started up the steps. “I won’t be a minute,” she called as he entered the living room to speak to her grandmother.

“Lee, you look so handsome!” Gram exclaimed as she got up and came to hug him. “I’ll be careful not to wrinkle you.”

“Don’t worry. I only wear clothes that shed wrinkles. Life’s too short to bother with anything else is my motto,” he said, feeling more at ease now than when he’d first arrived.

“I’m ready,” Kana said from behind him now, and he turned to look at her. She was carrying a thin black silky shawl with tiny silver threads woven through it. He took it from her and placed it carefully around her shoulders, noticing a current something like electricity when his fingers touched her skin. He wondered if she had felt it too.

Kana had felt it, and blushed again. Gram noticed, but didn’t say anything, of course. She only smiled to herself as they went out the door.

As they made their way to the table, all eyes in the restaurant followed them. Lionel was wearing a dark gray suit with a bright white shirt and a silver gray tie that matched the silver in his hair. Together, they made a strikingly handsome couple, but both of them were so aware of each other, that they didn’t notice the attention they attracted from those around them.

They attracted further attention just because they were so obviously enjoying each other’s company the whole evening. They ate, but hardly noticed what the food tasted like. They were quiet at times, then in serious conversation, then laughing like two children, but the whole time they rarely took their eyes off each other. They were a joy to watch, but were totally unaware of how they looked to anyone else.

On the drive home, Lionel decided he needed to tell her a little of what the Lord had done for him this week, so he asked her if she would sit with him a few minutes and talk after they arrived at her Grandmother’s house.

“Certainly. It isn’t late yet. We can go inside or sit out on the glider in the back.”

“That sounds good to me,” he said, so they walked around the house and settled down on the glider on the large back porch. The air was fragrant with the very first hint of fall, and the stars were so brilliant, they looked almost close enough to touch. Kana breathed in deeply and let out a contented sigh as Lee started the glider barely moving back and forth.

“I think I’ve mentioned to you that I’ve been concerned that I couldn’t possibly trust myself to become a good husband and father, because I feared that I may have inherited some of my father’s rather evil character traits. I haven’t experienced them to any extent up to now, but I always feared that they were there, latent in me, and could come pouring out with the right provocation.”

“I know you hinted at that Lee, but I never believed it. You’re well into your thirties, and if those things were part of your make up you would have seen good evidence of them by now.”

“That’s what Darrin thinks too, but that never helped … knowing that other people didn’t believe there could be a problem.” He paused and took a deep breath, looking up to the stars for a moment. Then he looked back at Kana. “But this week, thanks to Darrin, who showed me a scripture in Second Corinthians, I believe the Lord has finally shown me that once I turned my life over to him, He made me a completely new being, and all of those old things I could have inherited from my earthly father have passed away.”

Kana sat forward eagerly and looked intently into his eyes, excitement showing on her face. “Oh, Lionel, that’s so true! When you come to Christ you become a new person! I’m so glad Darrin led you to that scripture.”

“Me too. And now that I’ve read it for myself, as well as a number of other scriptures that confirm what those verses say, I feel like I’m finally free … really free, Kana, from all that fear.”

Kana reached out and laid her hand on his arm. “I’m so happy for you, Lee.”

Her touch sent blissful waves of warmth through his arm, and he reached over and laid his hand on top of hers. “Well, the best part is that I believe now I can let myself love a woman because now I can honestly offer her myself as a husband and father that she can trust.”

Something cold crept into Kana. Was he going to tell her that he was in love with some other woman? Then why take her to dinner to do it? She glanced down at his hand on hers and tried to pull hers away, but he tightened his grip.

“Kana,” he said quietly, but she didn’t look up.

Finally, he let her hand go and put his under her chin, lifting it until her face was totally exposed, but she still wouldn’t meet his eyes.

“Kana, look at me … please,” he said now.

She finally did so, and when she saw the flame in his eyes, her breath caught in her throat.

“Kana … I may be doing this in a clumsy way, and if so, I’m sorry … but I wanted to spend this evening alone with you, because I wanted to be sure what it was I felt for you, and … I know for sure now what that is.” Her eyes were glued to his. She couldn’t look away, and his burned into her very soul. His next words were a whisper, but Kana could understand them perfectly.

“I love you, Kana. … I love you as I have never loved any other woman.”

Kana just couldn’t speak in words, but unknown to her, her eyes spoke enough to him that he was encouraged to make the next move. Slowly he leaned toward her, and she held her breath. Her lips were slightly parted, and he touched his to them in a touch so light it was like a feather. He lifted his mouth the tiniest fraction and breathed her name in a soft groan before he captured those lips again in a full, hungry kiss.

Kana’s response was instant. Everything in her melted and flowed into him through her own kiss. His arms came around her and drew her firmly against him, and as the kiss continued, Kana’s arms stole slowly around his back, anchoring the two of them together even more firmly. When Lionel finally lifted his mouth from hers, he trailed his lips across her cheek to the tip of her ear, and breathing her name again, buried his face in her neck. She continued to embrace him for a few moments, and then finally, gradually pulled away.

They continued to gaze at each other for several moments; then Kana lowered her head.

“What is it, Dear?” he asked quietly.

She finally looked up. “Lee … I … I … “

“You’re not ready to make any kind of commitments?”

She nodded her head without words.

“I didn’t really think that you were, but I’ve been holding myself in check for so long, Kana, and now I’m finally so free that I just couldn’t contain what was filling my heart. I had to give myself the privilege of saying it out loud and demonstrating it. But I’m not trying to pressure you, my dear. Please don’t think that. … I’m not asking you to say or do anything right now, okay?”

Kana smiled at him, nodding her head in understanding. “I have deep feelings for you, Lee, but I’m not sure yet exactly what they are, or what I’m supposed to do about them.”

“Then we’ll leave things as they are for now. You’ll spend some more time with me though, won’t you?”

“Yes … I’d like that.”

“It’s too bad that you’re tied up Saturday.”

Kana looked down again, and Lionel could tell that she was troubled again. He waited, not wanting to push her to confide in him. Finally she looked into his eyes again and spoke. “About Saturday, Lee … I feel that I should tell you something …”

“You can tell me anything, Kana. I hope you know that.”

“Well … when you called to ask me about Saturday, I had just the day before accepted an invitation from Cade to go to dinner and a movie with him.” Her eyes searched his deeply, wanting to be sure that he understood.

He let out a quiet sigh, his eyes never leaving hers. “You have a right to spend time with anyone you wish, Kana. I haven’t asked you to commit yourself to me in any way. I think I’d like to do so, but it isn’t the right time for you yet.” He looked away from her for a moment and sighed again. “I can’t say that I’m glad to hear you’re going to be spending the whole evening with another man, but you’re a lovely and interesting woman, and I’m sure a number of men want your company. You deserve that they should.”

“To be honest, I’ve thought several times tonight that perhaps I should call him back and cancel the plans.”

“No!” At the vehemence of his answer, Kana blinked, and her mouth opened slightly in surprise.

“No, don’t cancel. You need to spend time with some other men. I want you to know how other men will make you feel and what they can offer you. That way, if you do decide that I’m the one you want, you’ll be sure. We won’t either one of us have to second guess our relationship. Especially since we got off to a rather unorthodox beginning, I think that’s especially important, don’t you?”

“Well … you may be right … but what about you? You said you haven’t allowed yourself to spend a lot of time with any one woman in a long time, and you haven’t allowed yourself to feel anything serious about anyone at all. If you give yourself a chance, you just might develop feelings for someone else that are stronger than what you feel for me.”

Lionel shook his head, looking deeply into her eyes. “No, Kana. In spite of my stringent control, you awakened and stirred in me deep feelings of tenderness … and need … and passion … that I literally had to battle against to keep my equilibrium emotionally. No other woman has ever done that. You’re the one my heart’s been waiting for.”

Kana couldn’t resist lifting her hand and caressing his cheek. “Oh, Lee …”

He couldn’t have stopped himself if he had tried – but he didn’t try. He leaned forward and kissed her again, gently securing her head with his hand as he did so. Her arms eased around his neck, and finally he pulled her to him completely, savoring the scent and the taste of her for a few unguarded moments. Gradually, he eased away, letting out his breath in a long sigh.

“I need to let you go in. You have an early day tomorrow with a roomful of power-packed kids,” he said with a grin.

“Your days begin pretty early too. And you said you have Delly for the weekend, didn’t you?”

“Just for Friday night and most of Saturday. Darrin and Eve will be back late Saturday afternoon.”

“Where are they going?”

“They’re going to Greensboro to see Dad,” he said, tension back in his voice. He glanced away from Kana.

“Oh, I see,” was all she said. She didn’t want to disrupt the sweetness of the time they’d shared, so she didn’t ask him any questions about why he wouldn’t go. But deep inside, Kana felt disturbed. She knew somehow that until Lionel could forgive his father and let all of the past go, he wouldn’t be able to have the successful relationships that he wanted in the future.

He rose from the glider. “Well, thank you, Kana, for spending the evening with me and for listening to all of my personal revelations.”

She rose too and began walking toward the front of the house, with him beside her. “I’ve enjoyed the whole evening, Lee. And I feel very privileged that you’ve wanted to share what you have with me.”

He turned when they got close to the porch. “Come, I’ll see you in,” he said leading her to the door. “Tell Gram I said goodnight, will you?”

“Sure.”

“And I’ll call you about another evening soon, okay?”

“It’s very okay. Goodnight,” she said, squeezing his hand lightly and opening the front door.

He returned to his car, and once she had closed the door behind her, he started the motor and pulled out of the drive.


Continued in tomorrow’s post, which will bring you the final 3 chapters of the story.

~~~


Repaired By Love — Chapter 6

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 Six

By the next afternoon, Kana realized she had been silly to consider not calling Valentina just because she wasn’t sure what to say about Lee. After all, what was there to say anyway, and she knew her friend would want to hear about the children’s choir. So she finally made the call, and they had a wonderful visit by phone, with Vallie filling her in on added details of the wedding preparations.

“Oh, I almost forgot,” Kana said now. “I want you to be praying over the next couple of days that the Lord will show me whether to volunteer to help with the children’s camp that’s coming up in about a week. Their first grade teacher has had to back out, and they need somebody to take her place. I haven’t said anything yet, because I didn’t want to interfere with someone who’s a member of the church being able to do it, but Gram said this morning that she doesn’t think there’s anyone available during the summer who’s skilled enough to do all that the job requires.”

“Would it interfere too much with your time with your grandmother?”

“No, I don’t think so. Gram had forgotten to tell me, but she had volunteered to do refreshments for the camp on several of the days, which means she’d be at the church those days anyway. And I’d only be tied up from 9:00 to 4:00 each day for the ten days. Actually, I think Gram would kind of like for me to do it.”

“Well, I’ll be sure to pray, but you know what we always go back to when we have to make an important decision … “

“Yeah … our gut feeling.”

“Right. … So … what’s yours?”

“Well … I’ll have to admit that I did feel a little excited about the idea of taking the position when Pastor McDaniels first mentioned it.”

“And you haven’t thought of any reasons not to except not wanting to keep someone else from having the chance to do it?”

“Right.”

“Well … I’d say you probably already have your answer.”

“You’re probably right … but go ahead and pray with me about it for another day or two anyway.”

“Now, you know, if it starts in about a week, you’re going to need several days to get prepared.”

“Yeah … I guess that really doesn’t allow for too much more deciding time, does it?”

Vallie laughed her own special bubbly laugh, and Kana joined in. Things always seemed brighter and clearer when she talked them over with Vallie. And she knew Vallie felt the same way. She wished – no – there was no need to talk about Lee Butler.

“Kana … you’re awfully quiet all of a sudden. Is something wrong?”

“No, of course not, silly.”

There was a pause on the other end. “Uh … have you found any good looking guys who have taken your breath away yet?”

Kana’s heart doubled its beat, and she took a deep breath, but she said nothing.

After another pause, Vallie spoke again, the teasing note still in her voice. “Kana … you have, haven’t you! You’re holding out on me, girl! Who is he?”

Kana couldn’t help but smile at her friend’s enthusiasm. “No, Vallie, there’s no one right now who’s a likely prospect.”

“Come on, Kana, this is your closest friend you’re talking to here. I know you. Give.”

Kana sighed deeply, and finally spoke again. “Well … to tell you the truth, Vallie … I met a man who’s really nice and pretty interesting … but …”

“Yes … but?”

“Well … Oh, Vallie, I’d never have thought in a thousand years that I’d be saying this …”

“Well say it, girl!”

“I feel really attracted to this man whose the brother of one of the men in Gram’s church. … As a matter of fact, he’s Delly’s uncle … but …

“Kana … he’s not married, is he?”

Kana laughed out loud. “You goose! Of course he’s not married! But there is a problem … an insurmountable one.”

“I’m listening, hon.”

“Oh, Vallie … he’s not a Christian.”

“O-o-o-h-h-h …” They both sighed before Vallie continued. “Who would have ever thought …”

“My words exactly. … Well, needless to say, I just need to forget him. … It’s just such a shame. He’s intelligent, caring … a really giving person … but he just hasn’t been able to commit himself to the Lord. Gram says it has something to do with his mother being a Christian and having to live such a horrible life because of her unsaved husband. He feels like he doesn’t want a God like that or something. I don’t know any details, because he doesn’t talk about it. He comes to church periodically when Delly sings or takes part in the service in some way. He really loves that little girl. But that’s as far as he goes.”

“Hmmmm. … You think maybe you could influence him in the right direction while you’re there?”

“Oh there are plenty of great Christians who have influence in his life. He and his brother own an auto repair business, and most of the people in Gram’s church take the Butlers their business. They all respect Lee and are nice to him, and he feels the same about them, but it hasn’t changed his mind about his relationship with God.”

“Well, dear, let’s pray before we hang up. I don’t want you hurt or unhappy while you’re down there, and neither does the Lord, so let’s trust Him to work everything out for you.”

“Thanks, Vallie. You’re the best friend I’ve ever had, you know?”

“Same here. Let’s pray.”

By the time they had prayed for each other thoroughly and hung up, Kana felt a great release from the weight she had been experiencing ever since the previous afternoon. She looked at the rest of the summer through brighter eyes. After all, the Lord had always guided her and kept her in her personal relationships, and He wasn’t about to stop now. Moreover, by the time the prayer was over, she felt definitely that she should call Pastor McDaniels and offer to help with the camp. So she did.

“Kana, that’s wonderful news! And you don’t have to worry about keeping anyone else from doing it. The only other two people from the congregation who would have been at all experienced in that kind of thing and might have been able to help will be gone on vacation themselves the whole time. So you are, without question, an answer to prayer. When can you come in and look at the materials?”

“Most any time that’s convenient for you, I’d say.”

“Great. Can we try for later this afternoon then? About 4:00?”

“Sure, that’s fine. Should I come to your office?”

“Please.”

“Okay, I’ll be there.”

“Thanks again, Kana. I’ll call the elder who’s in charge of the camp right now and tell him his prayers have been answered.”

So with a light heart, Kana went to the church office and spent about an hour with Cameron and Mr. Howard, the camp director. They assured her that she could meet all their needs for the first grade class and gave her a schedule of the camp, including the plans for all of the staff to meet on that Friday to get acquainted and take care of any last minute preparations.

When she went to the Friday meeting, she was welcomed enthusiastically by the rest of the staff, and she felt as if she had been a part of them from the beginning. It was a productive meeting, and everyone prepared to leave feeling eager for Monday morning. Most of the staff had already drifted away by the time Kana came out of the room, because she had stayed to double check some of her materials. As she walked into the hallway, she almost ran into Lionel coming down the hall, dangling a set of keys from his fingers.

“Hi, Kana. I bet I know what you’re doing here. Delly’s been excited for the last three days since she found out you’re going to be her teacher for the camp.”

Kana laughed lightly. “Well, that’s encouraging. I hope I do as good a job as the lady who was supposed to be her teacher.”

Lionel’s eyes plunged right to the depths of her own, engaging them completely without any effort, and he smiled that easy, captivating smile as he answered. “I don’t think there’s any possibility of your doing anything other than a perfect job with those children.”

She wasn’t sure what she could say to that, and thankfully, she didn’t have to answer because just then Cameron came down the hall and spoke. “Lee, you’re finished with the bus, I guess?”

“Yep. Just brought it back,” he said, handing the keys to Cameron. “It’s everything they told you it was. Excellent condition. I don’t think you’ll go wrong buying it.”

“That’s great news! With the camp coming up, we’ll need the one we have now for a couple of local trips with the kids, while the senior citizens take a two day trip in the new one. I want them to use the new one since they’re going out of state, so we’re getting this all worked out just in time.”

“Do you want anything done to the current one before camp?”

“It hasn’t been very long since we had some work done on it, so I think we’re all right for now. But I’ll check with Jim, the driver, and see if he thinks we need to have it checked again, and call you. I guess you need a ride back to the shop, don’t you?”

“It would be easier than walking that far,” Lee said, grinning again.

“I’ll take you myself. Hilary’s waiting on her daughter to come and get her, so I’ll just tell her where I’ll be. Come on in the office a minute, and we’ll leave right away. Oh, by the way, Kana, you left a packet of materials in my office earlier too.”

Kana laughed, looking at her arms full of materials. “Well, as you can see, I hadn’t really noticed. I”ll take this stuff to the car and come back in for it.”

“Here, I’ll take that to the car for you,” Lee offered, as he reached out and took the materials from her.

“Thank you, Lee. It’s the light green Camry parked straight in front of the door, and while you do that I’ll go get what I left in the office.”

By the time Kana had stepped into the office, she realized that Cameron had just had a problem come up. He was on the phone, and Hilary whispered to Kana that it was a church member Cameron had been counseling. Kana could tell by what little she heard that Cameron felt he should take the call and not put it off. He covered the receiver with his hand and looked at Kana. “Would you have time to give Lee a ride back to the shop as you go, Kana?”

“Of course. That’s no problem. I’ll tell him you’re tied up on an urgent call.”

“Thanks a lot.”

Kana nodded. “I’ll see you Sunday. Have a good weekend, Hilary.”

“You too, Kana. I’m glad you’re going to be part of the team for the camp.”

“Me too. See ya.”

As she walked down the hall to the door, Lee was coming back in. “I’m sorry, Lee,” she said, “but Cameron just got an urgent call that he feels he has to take. Would it be all right if I give you a ride back?”

“Sure, if you have the time. If not, I can wait for Cameron.”

“I have time, and he may be quite a while from the way it sounded.”

“Then I’d be grateful for the ride. I do have a customer who wants to pick up his truck by 6:00, and it isn’t quite done yet.”

Lionel held the car door for Kana and took the rest of her papers and put them on the back seat before going around to the passenger side. As Kana backed out of the parking lot, she said, “I guess you’ll have to give me directions though.”

“Sure. Just take a right turn from here. It’ll be a couple of miles before we’re back into town where we turn again.”

“It’ll be interesting to see where your business is. Eve went shopping with Gram and me the other day, and she was telling us a little more about your very early years when it was a little bit of a struggle.”

“Yeah, it was for about three years, but then we began to move forward rapidly enough that we were able to build the building where we are now, and that put us in a position to take on a lot more work.”

“So do you live close by too?”

“My apartment’s about eight blocks away actually. When the weather’s good, I like to walk to work.”

“How many days a week are you open?”

“The five weekdays, and then Saturday mornings. Most auto repair places don’t open on weekends at all, but we realized that so many people end up needing help on those days too that we never could reconcile taking the whole weekend off on a regular basis. Sometimes we do, or if we don’t have anything really urgent, we just take turns going in on Saturday, but at least people know there’s something available if they really need us. And then too, we both keep a cell phone in case of real emergencies at any time. … Take a left turn at the next light, then go on to the next light and turn left again. We’re right on the corner.”

Kana could feel Lee’s eyes on her as she drove. His intense interest was a little disconcerting. But even more disconcerting was the little shiver of excitement that coursed through her when she glanced at him and met the strength of his gaze head on.

Just when she felt she could bear his silent perusal no longer, he spoke quietly. “This Tennessee sun has sprinkled a few freckles across your nose, do you know that?”

“Don’t remind me,” Kana said with a slight grimace.

Lionel grinned. “You don’t like them?”

“Not at all. I guess I’ll have to get out the bottle of foundation makeup. I don’t usually bother with much, but I guess it’s time.”

“Please don’t do that,” Lionel said before he could hold the words in.

Kana had pulled to a stop in the parking lot outside his building by this time and she glanced questioningly at him.

“I mean … I don’t think you should cover them up … I like them.” His gaze shifted to caress her hair a moment. “They go with the look of sunlight in your hair.”

Kana felt that little shiver again. My goodness, this auto repairman was almost a poet. Nobody had ever talked about sunlight in her hair before. She just looked at him with her mouth open a moment.

“Well … I’ll think about it,” was all she could say.

“Do that,” he answered as he moved to get out. “Thank you for the lift,” he added, closing the door.

“No trouble,” she said through the open window.

The next thing she knew, Lee was leaning back inside the window. “By the way, I really enjoyed our golf game Sunday.” He had told himself he wasn’t going to do this, but he just couldn’t seem to stop himself.

“Me too.”

“Well, I wondered if you’d like to go again this weekend.”

Kana opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out for a moment. Finally, she did speak. “You mean … just the two of us?”

Lionel shrugged his shoulders a little. “Yes, that’s what I had in mind. Would you like to?” He sensed that she was hesitant, so didn’t want to push.

“Well, to tell you the truth, Lee … I … I can’t.”

“Oh … well … maybe another time,” he said and started to pull back out of the window.

You have to tell him, Kana, she charged herself. Tell him now before this goes any farther. She looked at him again just as he was removing his hands from the car door. “Wait, Lee.”

He stuck his head back inside.

“Do you think you could get back inside for just a minute. There’s something I need to explain.”

Lionel opened the door and sat back down beside Kana, looking at her curiously.

“You see … well … I hope I don’t offend you by what I need to tell you, but I don’t have any choice but to just say it as simply as I can. As you know, I’m a Christian.”

He nodded.

“Well, I made a commitment to the Lord years ago that I would never date a man who wasn’t a Christian.”

His eyes grew a little wider. But he focused on her intently.

“You see, the Word of God says very clearly that Christians are never to marry unbelievers. And while I know that going out on one date – or even two or three – doesn’t necessarily mean that two people will marry each other, I also know that when a man and woman begin to spend time like that together – privately – that it could lead pretty quickly to something more serious – even permanent. And I believe the Lord showed me that the best defense against that happening – and then one or both people getting hurt very deeply – is to avoid starting that kind of relationship, even on a small scale.”

Lionel was quiet for a moment, still looking at her. The way his eyes could look so deeply into her was almost intoxicating. Kana couldn’t seem to look away. Finally, Lee blinked and looked away. “I see,” was all he said. After another moment, he looked back at Kana. “Well … I guess that makes sense. You’re a strong person to be able to make that kind of commitment and stick to it. I admire you.” He opened the door again and got out. “Thanks again for the ride. Hope you enjoy your work with the camp.”

“Thank you,” Kana answered quietly, feeling engulfed with a sadness she couldn’t quite define. She watched Lee walk through his office door, and then started her car and began the drive back to Gram’s house. “I know it was the right thing to do, Lord,” she prayed out loud now, “but it sure doesn’t feel good. … Should I have explained it a different way?” … She shook her head a little, trying to get a handle on her thoughts. “Am I really wanting to have a relationship with Lee Butler, Lord? … I’ve never thought I’d feel that way about a man who wasn’t a believer. … I just don’t understand any of it. I think maybe I need Your help as I’ve never needed it before.”


Continued tomorrow

~~~~~


Repaired By Love — Chapter 5

To access earlier chapters of the story, click on “Repaired By Love” in the navigation bar.

REPAIRED AMAZON COVER - BLUE TEXT - FRONTREPAIRED BY LOVE

© 2004 Sandra Pavloff Conner

Chapter Five

The next morning at church, Kana enjoyed getting reacquainted with the church members she had met a few years before and meeting Pastor McDaniels and his wife Suzanne. It was pretty easy to tell they had been married only about a year, since they could still hardly keep their eyes off of each other. Kana thought it was delightful.

She also finally got to meet Maddison and Beth Holt. Gram had told her all about their courtship and marriage as well, and seeing how in love they were with each other was food for her romantic heart.

Cameron and Suzanne invited Gram and Kana to join them for lunch with Maddison and Beth, so they got even better acquainted over the meal.

“So you two started your Christian magazine right after Suzanne got married?” Kana asked the girls.

“That’s right,” Beth answered. “And it’s been a challenge, but a real blessing.”

“We’ve been able to do stories about some of the most interesting people in God’s work,” Suzanne added, and then everybody laughed.

Kana looked a little confused at the laughter, but her grandmother helped clear things up. “You see, dear, one of the first people Suzanne interviewed was Cameron. She did an article about his ten years of missionary work and then about how God led him here to Prince of Peace Church.”

“Oh, I see.”

“But that’s not all,” Beth said. “That series had four different articles, so they had to spend a lot of time together talking about personal stuff, and that’s how they fell in love.

“It sure was!” Cameron said, leaning over and kissing his wife on the cheek. “And I‘ve fallen more in love with her every day since then.”

“But that’s not all either,” Maddison added. “Suzanne wasn’t sure she wanted to be in love, and she was keeping Cameron at arm’s length. But then her story on Cameron led her to make a trip to Honduras, where she could interview some of the pastors of the churches Cameron had started there. While there, she was kidnapped, along with two ministry team members, by a gang who wanted the drugs they carried on the medical van they were driving to a nearby village.”

“Wow!” Kana’s eyes grew wide. “This is better than a romance novel.”

Everyone laughed at that, and Maddison continued the story. “Cameron and I went down to try to do – well, something – anything we might be able to do to help find her. And by the time we were all reunited, Suzanne had finally seen the light about her feelings for Cameron. In fact, by that time, she and Cameron had both become so sure how they felt about teach other you couldn’t have pried them apart ever again.”

“Oh, how delightful! You should print that story in the magazine. I bet it would be a great hit.”

Beth and Suzanne looked at each other. “I never even thought of that,” Beth said. “Neither did I,” Suzanne said, “but I’m not sure I want something so personal in print just yet. Maybe later.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” Kana said. “It’s a great love story for someone else to read, but if it had all happened to me personally, I probably wouldn’t be too sure I wanted it told to just everybody either.”

“But, I’ve been thinking about something else since we’ve been sitting here,” Suzanne said, looking at Kana. “We’ve been talking about doing something different with our children’s section in the magazine, or maybe even expanding to a small children’s issue that’s totally separate, and I was just thinking … with all of your experience with children … ” Suzanne stopped talking and glanced at Beth.

“Yes! That’s a great idea, Suz.” She looked at Kana, her eyes alight. “Would you have some time to come in and give us your opinion about a few things, and maybe even do some brainstorming with us about what we need to include in a children’s issue?”

Kana’s face registered her surprise, which quickly changed to delight. “Why, I’d be glad to, if you think I can really make any worthwhile contributions.”

“You just show up,” Suzanne said, laughing. “We’ll get everything out of you that we need, and I’m sure it’ll be worthwhile.”

“Okay … when do you want me?”

“Let’s see,” Beth said, thinking. “We both have interviews to do tomorrow. What about Tuesday morning, Suzanne?”

“Cade said the proofs for the article on the century-old churches in Tennessee would be ready to go over by Tuesday, so I think one of us had better leave the morning open to do that. We’re running a little close on time for that article.” She glanced back to Kana and explained. “Cade’s our photographer.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Beth said. “ Well let’s say Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning. Is one of those times better for you, Kana?”

Kana looked at her grandmother. “I don’t think we have anything planned that absolutely must be done at any particular time this week, so I don’t think it matters, do you, Gram?”

“No, anytime this week should be fine, dear.”

“Good,” Kana said, turning back to the girls, “Let’s say Tuesday afternoon.”

“That’s great,” Suzanne said. “Just come on down to the office about 2:00. Grandma Nora knows how to get there.”

“This is great,” Beth said. “I feel just a little bad taking advantage of you while you’re on vacation, but not bad enough to let you off the hook.”

They all laughed at that, and since it was time to order dessert, they did so, and the conversation turned to other things. When it came to light that Kana was a miniature golf enthusiast, both couples decided they needed to plan an evening or two when they could take Kana for a golf game.

After leaving the restaurant, Kana and her grandmother passed the remainder of the afternoon just relaxing and talking until time for the evening service. Kana enjoyed the services at Prince of Peace Church, and she was very enthusiastic about Cameron’s sermons. She looked forward to being a part of the church activities for the next two months.

As it turned out, she found herself in the position the very next Sunday of having to decide just how much a part of the church activities she wanted to have. Cameron announced at the beginning of the service that the children’s day camp, which ran the last two weeks of June, was facing a dilemma. The teacher for the first grade children had been called away to care for a relative in another state, and the church was a little desperate to find a good teacher before camp started in one week.

When she heard the announcement, Kana felt a quickening in her heart that she should volunteer to help. However, she told herself that if she did that, she wouldn’t have nearly enough time with Gram, and besides, she didn’t want to take the place of someone who was actually a member of this congregation who might be able to do the work. So she said nothing to her grandmother at that time, and just settled back to enjoy the service.

She glanced around briefly, to see who all was there that she knew, and her eyes met Lee Butler’s. She felt surprise at first, but then instantly remembered that he had promised Delly to be there to hear her sing. She smiled at him, and he returned the smile, with a slight nod to her. He turned away immediately and lowered his eyes to the bulletin he was holding in his hand. By that time the worship had started, and Kana concentrated on praising the Lord and receiving from Him as the service progressed.

The children’s choir came onto the platform to sing just before the sermon. They did three songs, and Kana was surprised at how really good they were. Valentina would love to hear them, she thought. Her best friend also had a degree in music, and she did a great deal of work with children in music at her home church. She decided she’d have to call her that afternoon and tell her about this group.

After the service, everyone tended to hang around and visit. There were a number of other visitors, relatives of the other children in the choir, and no one seemed in a hurry to leave. Delly grabbed her uncle’s hand as soon as they started down the aisle, and by the time they were to the back of the church, Kana and Gram had just finished speaking to Cameron. They were still standing by him as the Butlers approached, and Cameron stepped toward them, extending his hand to Lee.

“Good to see you here again, Lee,” he said, shaking hands. “That niece of yours has quite a voice, doesn’t she?”

Lee glanced down at Delly and winked at her as he replied. “I know I’m proud of her.”

“Well, be sure and come back week after next. They’re going to sing then too. Of course,” he grinned broadly now and winked at Delly himself. “You’re always welcome to come even when Delly’s not singing anything special.”

“Thank you,” was Lee’s only answer.

“As a matter of fact, I’m probably going to come over and talk to you boys sometime tomorrow about making an appointment with you.”

“Your car giving you trouble?”

“No, but the church is about to purchase a new bus. The one we use now is getting pretty old, and we’re hoping to save it for local trips only, and use the newer one for longer journeys. We’re looking pretty seriously at one particular bus, and I’d like to have one of you check it over thoroughly and tell me what you think about its condition.”

“Sure, drop in anytime tomorrow … or just give us a call if you don’t have time to come over,” Lee said. By that time Darrin had joined them and overheard most of the conversation. “Naw, Cameron doesn’t want to call,” he said grinning at his pastor. “He’d rather come by so he can sit and have a cup of coffee and a doughnut with us.”

“You better believe it. I need a break once in a while, after all.”

“Well, to tell you the truth, so do we, so be sure and come by,” Darrin said, shaking his hand and moving on so that others could talk with the pastor for a few minutes.

Grandma Nora had been talking to Delly, telling her what a good job the choir had done. She looked up now to the adults of the family. “Good morning. How are the rest of the Butlers this morning?”

Kana was standing a little apart, closer to the door, but she smiled at them also. Lionel smiled at her, meeting her eyes again. His eyes were a deep green, like pine trees in a forest. When he looked at her now, they were intense, almost as if he were looking deeply into her to try to find something.

“We’re great,” Eve said, hugging Gram. “And we’re on our way to the pancake house for lunch and then to play miniature golf. Why don’t you and Kana come with us?”

Kana stepped up to them then. “Did somebody say miniature golf? I love it, but I’ve been here over a week, and I haven’t played one game yet.” She looked at her grandmother. “Shall we go, Gram?”

“Please, please!” said Delly, squeezing Gram’s hand.

She answered, “Well I certainly can’t disappoint two of my favorite people, so, yes, I think we should go.”

“Great,” Darrin said. “But only if it’s my treat for everybody. Lee treated us all last time, and it’s my turn.”

“Oh, that isn’t necessary,” Kana spoke up instantly.

“That’s the only way I’ll do it,” Darrin said, holding up his hand to ward off any more argument.

“You might as well give in, Kana,” Lee said. “The Butler boys are known for their stubbornness. We’ll be here all day, if you don’t give in at least this once.”

Kana looked helplessly at Gram, who shrugged her shoulders. “I’m not arguing,” she said, and they started out the door.

Lunch was a jovial affair, with Delly managing to get a taste from almost everyone’s plate, and the weather turned out to be perfect for miniature golf. As they went around the course, they all laughed and carried on like children, Darrin and Lee teasing Eve and Gram about their style.

But everyone was impressed with Kana’s success. “You’re really good at this,” Lee said, as he reached in and retrieved the ball after her third hole-in-one during their first game.

“I’ve had a lot – and I mean a lot — of practice,” Kana answered. “It’s absolutely my favorite game, and I play every time I get a chance. But you’re really good yourself, so you must play often too.”

Lional nodded his head. “Pretty often. Every once in a while, Delly stays overnight so Darrin and Eve can have a night out without worrying about being home early, and the two of us often do miniature golf and a movie.”

“She really loves you.”

Lionel looked back now, to where Delly and Gram were finishing up on the previous hole, and his eyes softened perceptibly. “Yeah,” he said, looking back at Kana and grinning. “The feeling’s very mutual.”

“I can tell. I’m so glad for her. Being loved so much by so many people is the best thing that a child can have as she grows up.” Her face took on a sad look momentarily. “I can tell you that I see kids every year who have no love at all in their lives, and it just breaks my heart. … And so many of them come from broken homes.”

Lionel immediately felt the sadness that seemed to come back to him when he remembered his own childhood. He didn’t want to remember now. He wanted to enjoy this cute woman’s company, so he needed to change the subject somehow.

“How long have you taught?” he asked her now, as they prepared to begin the last hole.

“Six years.”

“All those years in Nashville?”

“Mmhmm. I went ahead and did all the work for my master’s degree before I took my first job, so that I wouldn’t have that work load my first few years of teaching. Then the very next year I took a third grade position with the school I’m at now, although I preferred second. After two years, the second grade position came open, so I had first chance at it, and I’ve loved it.”

“Do you ever feel like you’re missing something not being married with kids of your own?”

“Not yet, but I know I want a family of my own some day.” She laughed and looked back at her grandmother. “And Gram makes no bones about the fact that she’s anxious for great-grandchildren.”

Lionel looked back at her again too. “I can believe that. She really loves kids and teenagers. And from what Darrin tells me, the church depends on her a lot in that area.”

“I think they do, and that makes her very happy. And it makes me happy for her, because she’ll always feel needed and fulfilled, no matter how old she is.”

“She’s been a wonderful friend to my brother’s family, that’s for sure. I don’t think they have enough words to tell just how much she means to them.”

“Thank you for telling me that, Lee,” Kana said, smiling into his eyes now.

With that smile, something warm touched him, penetrating his whole being so deeply that he felt surprise at the impact of it. Their eyes locked and held for some time, neither of them moving until Delly came running up to tell them Gram had made a hole in one just like Kana.

As she refocused on Delly and then Gram, Kana tried to settle the fluttering feeling that had come over her while Lee’s eyes had held hers. She felt almost as if some kind of current had passed between the two of them. It was something she didn’t remember ever experiencing with other men she knew. She shook herself a little to dispel that feeling. After all, Lee wasn’t a Christian; she couldn’t let herself feel anything for him other than the mildest friendship.

As the rest of the family finished the last hole, they all began to walk back to the entrance and the car. Suddenly Delly realized she had forgotten her club. “I’ll run back and get it,” Kana said, and turned and started trotting off before Lee could voice the words to say that he would do it instead.

So he turned to the rest of the family saying, “You all go on to the car, and I’ll wait for Kana.”

As they walked on, he turned back and began to walk slowly to where she was just picking up the golf club from the ground. Just as he came within a couple feet of her, she turned to take a step and her foot caught on the edge of the wooden structure surrounding the green for that hole. Suddenly, she was falling, and in a split second, Lionel jumped over the green and caught her in his arms.

As his arms came around her, Kana automatically reached up and grasped his shoulder with her free hand, and although the whole event took only a moment, it felt to both of them as if time had been suspended. Slowly, Lee lifted her into an upright position, shifting his hands to her shoulders, but not letting go of her. “Are you all right?” he asked, looking deeply into her eyes once more.

Kana, a little shaky from the fall, still held onto his shoulder, and as she looked into his eyes, she felt slightly mesmerized and couldn’t answer for a minute.

“Kana?” he asked gently.

“Oh … yes … yes, I’m all right,” she answered finally, removing her hand from his shoulder and brushing her hair off her forehead slightly. She took a deep breath. “Thank you for catching me. I could feel that my leg was twisting as I fell, and I think I would have really injured it if you hadn’t been so quick.”

Lionel was finally able to slide his hands from her shoulders as he answered, “Always glad to rescue a damsel in distress.” He spoke lightly and bent down to pick up all three golf clubs, since they had slipped from both of their hands in trying to avoid the accident. He then took Kana’s hand and turned to go back to the entrance. “Can you walk all right, then?”

“Yes,” Kana answered, walking beside him. “My leg doesn’t even hurt.”

“Good. I’m hoping we can play another game or two some time soon then.”

Kana just smiled slightly, but said nothing. How could she agree to arrangements for the two of them to play golf together? She had made a commitment to the Lord that she would never date a man who had made no commitment to Him, and Lee was definitely that. But at the same time, she didn’t know how she could bluntly turn him down after he had been such a help to her just now. She hoped that by just smiling she could defer any explanation until another time – after she’d had time to think about how to say it in a way that wouldn’t hurt him.

She shook her head a little, trying to clear her thoughts, glad that Lee wasn’t looking at her at the moment. She had never had to deal with this before. She had never thought it would bother her to have to turn down dates with men who weren’t Christians. She prayed silently for the Lord to help her understand what was really going on.

As they approached the car, she realized that her hand was still in Lee’s. She slipped it out of his, saying, “I’ll go on to the car while you return the clubs.”

He looked at her for a moment and then answered, “Sure … go ahead.”

The rest of their group seemed to be looking in the opposite direction, so hopefully, they hadn’t seen the two of them holding hands. She shook her head again. How had that happened, anyway? “Lord, You and I need to talk,” she prayed very quietly just before joining the others.

Gram spotted her first, and then Delly, and in another minute everybody was talking at once about going for ice cream before they returned home, so Kana was able to avoid any feelings of awkwardness after that, although she was more quiet than usual for the rest of the afternoon. No one knew her well enough to notice anything unusual except Gram, and she chalked it up to Kana’s just being tired.

But that night, as Kana lay in bed, she relived and examined the feelings she had experienced that afternoon. They concerned her. She hadn’t had a chance to call Valentina that afternoon as she’d planned, and by the time she and Gram had finished supper, Kana wasn’t sure she was ready to talk to her best friend about what was going on. Lying there, trying to decide if she would call her tomorrow, Kana remembered the journal and got back up to take it from her suitcase, along with a pen, to try to record at least some of what she was feeling. Maybe it would help her get her thoughts in order.

She entered the basic facts about her trip on one page, and then went on to write a little about the birthday dinner and some details about Delly. She was such a lovable child, she couldn’t resist saying several things about her. She then described the children’s choir in some detail, knowing Valentina would enjoy that.

She had recorded meeting Lee at the dinner, of course, but said nothing else about him on that page. Now she was ready to write about the afternoon. … She just couldn’t seem to get the pen to move across the paper. What would be the right words? … She leaned back against the headboard of the bed and sighed deeply. Well … she was attracted to Lionel Butler … she had to admit that at least to herself. But she felt that, somehow, if she didn’t put it into writing, maybe it would be easier to make that attraction go away.

She laid the pen on her nightstand, closed the journal, put it beside the pen, and turned out the light. She’d forget about it until tomorrow. Maybe she would feel differently by then anyway.

As Lionel lay on his bed that night, he couldn’t seem to get his mind off what had happened that afternoon with Kana either. He hadn’t had any feelings like that about a woman in a long time. … Not since he used to let himself date frequently. But he didn’t date much at all anymore. Not that he didn’t appreciate women and how they made him feel, but he had determined years ago to keep those feelings under strict discipline.

He didn’t believe in sleeping around with women he wasn’t married to. Another result of his mother’s prayers maybe – those prayers he didn’t believe in. But his concern that he was likely to have inherited a good many of his father’s bad character traits made him doubt that he would be a good husband and father. And he didn’t believe it was right to expect a woman to give herself to him physically if he wasn’t prepared to give her the love and security that should go with that kind of relationship. So he dated only rarely, and then never the same woman twice in a row. And he just hadn’t let himself feel much of anything with any of them for the last several years.

Now this cute, exuberant, challenging woman ‒ that he’d known less than two weeks ‒ was kindling feelings that had lain dormant all this time – and she was doing it with just a generous smile or the flash of those big chocolate eyes. Of course, her voice was soothing to listen to, and her laughter was musical. He let out a sigh. He just liked almost everything about her. … No … he liked everything about her.

But she was a Christian – and a devout one. But then maybe that was part of what made her a woman who had so many good qualities. He shook his head and sighed again, turning over and thumping his pillow. … No … He’d be asking for a lot of problems if he let himself really care deeply for Kana Wallace. … The smart thing to do was to just stay away from her. … That thought saddened him.


I’m posting the next chapter today also, but in a separate post.

~~~~~


Repaired By Love — Chapter 4

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 Four

“Uncle Lee! Uncle Lee!” Delly came running into the living room, squealing his name, and leaped into his arms to be twirled around in their usual mode of greeting.

“How’s my favorite girl?” he asked, planting a big kiss on her cheek before putting her down.

“I’m great! It feels so good to finally be six!”

“I’m sure it does. I put your present on the coffee table.”

Delly looked behind her to the table, and her eyes grew enormous. Dwarfing the table itself was a huge gift, covered in what looked like a whole roll of wrapping paper. She looked at it for a moment and then back at her uncle, her eyes registering her excitement. “Can I open it now?’

“Now, Delly,” her father spoke up, “you know your mom wants you to wait and open all of your gifts after we eat.”

“Oh, yeah, I forgot,” she said, disappointment very obvious in her face. She sighed, and then looked up at Lee again. “But I’m going to open yours first of all,” she said, reaching out and taking his hand. “Come and see my cake,” she added, starting to pull him toward the kitchen just as the doorbell rang.

“That will be Grandma Nora if I’m not mistaken,” Darrin said as he headed for the door.

“Oh, boy!” Delly said jumping up and down and following Darrin. She looked back at her uncle. “Just a minute, Uncle Lee, and we’ll take Gram Nora with us to see the cake.”

Lionel nodded and leaned against the back of a chair to wait.

“Come in, come in,” Darrin said. “Oh, you must be Kana,” he added reaching out to shake hands as soon as Kana stepped through the door. “I’m so glad you could come. We were anxious to meet you.”

“Thank you for the invitation. I love parties,” Kana replied. As they moved into the living room, Delly ran to meet her. “And I bet this is the birthday girl,” Kana said.

“Delly,” Grandma Nora said, “I’d like you to meet my granddaughter, Kana. She teaches second grade in Nashville.”

Delly’s eyes lit up, and she grinned at Kana. “I’m going to be in the first grade next year. That’s ‘cause I’m six today.” She stepped toward Kana and held out her hand. “Thank you for coming to my party.”

Kana shook her hand and grinned back. “Thank you for having me. I love birthday parties.” She handed Delly the gift she’d been holding in her other hand. “I hope you’ll like this.”

“Oh, I will! I like all presents!”

Everyone laughed at that, and Grandma Nora leaned over to hug Delly and give her the gift she had brought. “Well, you deserve lots of presents, dear.”

“Mommy says I have to wait and open them after we eat, so I’ll put them over here close to Uncle Lee’s. Isn’t his present the biggest you’ve ever seen?”

Grandma Nora walked over to the coffee table and looked the present over carefully. “I’ll say it is! I wonder what it can be, Delly. Do you have any ideas?”

“We-e-l-l-l-l …” she looked over at her uncle, her eyes alight, and then back to Grandma Nora. “Well … I don’t know … but I know something I’ve been wanting that might be that big … something I’ve been wishing and wishing for.”

“Well, we’re just going to have to wait and see,” Darrin interrupted. “We need to make some more introductions,” he added turning to Lionel, who moved away from the chair and walked over to the two ladies.

“Well I already know this handsome young man,” Grandma Nora said, as she reached out and grabbed Lionel’s hand in a warm clasp.”

“How are you Grandma Nora?” he said, his broad, contagious smile spreading easily across his face. He then glanced at Kana and reached his hand out to her in turn. “I heard you introduced as Kana. That’s an unusual name.” He held her hand in a strong, gentle grip for a little longer than necessary, but neither of them seemed to notice.

“Yes, it seems unusual to some people, but, of course, I’m used to it,” she said with a grin.

At just that moment, Eve came into the room to greet their new guests.

She hugged Lee first. “Lee, you haven’t been coming often enough,” she said and shook her finger at him. “Let’s remedy that, Okay?”

“I promise, Evie,” he said, smiling at this perky, blond woman who had made his brother so happy.

She moved to hug Grandma Nora next. “I’m so glad you were able to make it Grandma,” she said.

“I wouldn’t have missed it, and I didn’t have to talk much to talk Kana into coming along too.”

Eve turned to take Kana’s hand in hers, smiling into her eyes. “I’m Eve, and I want you to know I appreciate your being willing to share your grandmother like this on the first day of your visit.”

“It’s very important to her to be sharing this with your family, and I’m going to enjoy it as much as she will. Thank you for inviting me.”

“Darrin and I have been wanting to meet you, and I hope we’ll have some time to really get acquainted this coming week.”

“I hope so too. It’s going to be great having two whole months here.”

Lionel was looking at her a little curiously. He was aware that she interested him more than the average young woman he’d met, but he didn’t know why. She was nice looking, but she wasn’t beautiful. Her eyes certainly held his attention though; they were large and gentle, but sparkled with life. And her voice gave him a comfortable feeling.

Suddenly, he jerked his wondering thoughts to attention. He knew better than to let himself get interested in any woman!

“Delly, honey,” he addressed his niece now, “weren’t you going to show me your cake?”

“Oh, yeah, and Gram Nora too.” She looked up at Kana a little questioningly. “Would you like to see my cake too?”

“Indeed I would!”

Delly took her uncle’s hand in one of hers and reached the other one out to Kana. This wasn’t what Lionel had intended. His plan had been to get a few minutes away from this cute woman and get a handle on his thoughts. Now here he was in closer proximity to her than before.

“Come on Gram Nora,” Delly called as she led her two captives out of the room. “You’ll really like my cake. It’s chocolate, and you said chocolate was your favorite too.”

Eve spoke up then: “Why don’t we all go into the dining room? Everything’s ready to go onto the table.”

“Oh, goody!” Delly shouted, jumping up and down between her two escorts. “Then … as soon as everybody’s done … I can open my presents.”

As soon as the adults were finished with the main course, Eve asked Delly if she wanted to have her cake before or after she opened gifts.

“After!” she answered without hesitation.

“All right, we can all go on into the living room for the unwrapping; then I’ll bring the cake and coffee in when we’re done.”

Delly led the way, running immediately to the coffee table and her uncle’s gift. She was squirming with anticipation while she waited for all of the adults to find a seat. Finally, her mother said, “All right, honey. You may start with which ever one you want.”

Without a word, Delly looked at her uncle, grinning from ear to ear, and then turned back to his gift and began to tear away the paper. As she did so the roof of an extravagant doll’s house slowly appeared, followed immediately by the second story, with a balcony that ran along one whole side. “Oh it is one! It is one!” she squealed, as she hurriedly ripped off the remaining paper. “Thank you, Uncle Lee! Thank you! Thank you!”

When the paper was all off, she stood there staring at it with wide eyes and an open mouth.

“Wow!” Darrin said, and Eve leaned over and laid her hand on Lee’s arm.

“It’s the most beautiful doll’s house I’ve ever seen, Lee. Where did you find it?”

“When I was in Chattanooga last week, I stopped in at a specialty toy store just to see what all they had. As soon as I spotted it, I knew she’d love it.”

Delly was throwing herself into his arms now, showering him with kisses. “Thank you, Uncle Lee. I love you,” she added, looking right into his eyes.

“I love you too, sweetheart … very much.”

“And you’ll come and play with me and my new house, won’t you?”

Everyone laughed, but Lionel took it all in stride. “You bet,” he said.

“Good.” Delly slipped from his arms and returned to her presents. “Now Mommy and Daddy’s.” She carefully unwrapped the square box, and when she lifted the lid, she pulled out a brightly colored swimsuit.

“Oh boy!” she said, holding it up for everyone to see.

“Now that’s just part of your gift, dear,” Eve said. “Daddy had to put the other part of it in the back yard, and you can see it after you’ve opened your other gifts.”

Delly stood still with her mouth open and her eyes alight with anticipation.

“It’s a portable swimming pool,” her mother added. Delly’s eyes opened even wider.

“It’s big enough for you and three or four friends to play in at the same time.”

Delly ran to hug her mom and dad. “Thank you sooooo much!” she said, giving them kisses.

“Whose gift next?” Darrin asked.

“Gram Nora’s,” said Delly, picking up the beautiful large package. It was a dress and matching hat to wear to church, and Kana had given her a necklace with a cross made of blue stones to match the dress.

“Can I try my dress on now, Mommy?” she asked hopefully.

“Sure. It won’t take long. I’ll go into the bedroom with you and help you.”

Lionel rose at the same time. “And I’ll go take care of the coffee and cake while you’re doing that.”

“Oh thanks, Lee. I think you’ll be able to find everything you need,” Eve said, while being dragged along at a fast pace by her daughter.

The dress was a great success, as was the cake and ice cream, and Delly announced that it was the best birthday party she could ever have. She insisted that everyone go outside to inspect the swimming pool, and afterwards, while she began to get acquainted with her doll house family, the grown ups had more coffee and began to visit between themselves.

Kana had ended up sitting beside Lionel when they came back inside, and she began to talk to him about his work. “Gram tells me that you and Darrin have a very successful auto repair business. She knows several people who come to you for their work.”

“I guess you’d say it’s successful. I think any time you can work at something you enjoy and have it make you a living at the same time, you’re a success,” he answered, his easy smile spreading across his face and lighting up his eyes.

That smile was what most people liked best and remembered most about Lionel Butler. It always gave them the feeling that he was really sharing a part of himself with them every time they talked. It was so genuine that most people who knew him only slightly were convinced that he must be happy all the time. And he did make it a point to find and concentrate on the good in people and situations, so that his outlook was optimistic in most things. It was only once in a while, in the lonely hours when he remembered the past, or felt the burden of that empty place deep inside, that he let himself give place to sadness.

But today, he was enjoying himself. He loved his brother and sister-in-law, and Delly was the light of his life. Adding to that the fact that he was sitting beside a vibrant young woman who seemed genuinely interested in what he had to say, he was finding the party very much to his liking.

“Did you always enjoy working on cars?” she asked him now.

“Oh yeah, and not just cars. Just about anything that had working parts that could be taken apart and put back together.” He shook his head a little at his thoughts, laughing. “When I was a kid, I tore apart almost every toy I had just so I could practice putting it back together again.”

Kana laughed and leaned a little closer so they could talk without disrupting other conversations in the room. “Were you always able to put them back together right?”

“Believe it or not, yes. I’m not sure why. I just always seemed to be able to figure out what to do.”

“It sounds like it must be a gift from God,” Kana said, smiling at him. “Something you were born with – that God put in you for the specific purpose of doing that kind of work, because there’s no doubt it’s important work. Everyone who drives a vehicle of any kind needs a talented and reliable auto mechanic.”

Lionel felt as if a door had closed on this new friendship when she mentioned God as if she were well acquainted with Him. He had no place in his life for those beliefs now, and he wasn’t sure how to respond to her statement without offending her, which he didn’t want to do since she was Grandma Nora’s relative. But he realized suddenly that he wouldn’t have to respond, because she was asking him something else already.

“Has Darrin always enjoyed that kind of work as much as you?”

“Oh, Darrin always wanted to do the body work. And that’s mostly what he does now.” He paused, remembering for a minute. “Yeah, by the time I was in high school, I was repairing all the bikes in the neighborhood, and Darrin was cleaning off rust spots and giving them a new coat of paint.”

“Did I hear my name in that conversation?” Darrin asked from across the room.

“You sure did,” Lionel said, laughing, “and it’s already too late to tell your side of things.”

Darrin got up and moved across the room, seating himself on a footstool close to Kana and his brother. “Don’t you believe everything he tells you, Kana,” he said now. “My big brother here used to keep all of us younger kids in the neighborhood spellbound with his stories. He told some real whoppers, so bear in mind that his imagination just might come into the picture when he’s talking about me.”

“He was sharing about how much you both enjoy your work and seemed almost to be born to it, and I was saying that I believe it must be a gift from the Lord for it to have just started working so naturally when you were that young.”

“I think you’re right. Lee has always had more talent for it than I do, but even I just seemed to pick it up naturally. Of course, we went on to get more schooling and hands-on training before we opened our own business, but it seems like the ability to figure out the problems and fix them has always been with us.”

“Well speaking for myself, and for my best friend at home, who’s also a single girl, there are so many problems that can come up with cars, or any other vehicle, that having a mechanic you can really trust is a necessity. Gram was telling me that she knows a lot of the people who bring their work to you.”

“Yes, several of them go to church with us,” Darrin said. “We get a lot of people from the neighborhood where the shop is also, and I think word of mouth advertising has actually brought us the biggest amount of business over the years. Wouldn’t you say so, Lee?’

“Yeah, I agree. But I think it’s like that in almost any business. A satisfied customer is still the best advertising there is.”

Grandma Nora walked over to the little group now. “I hate to interrupt your conversation, but I think it’s about time we got on our way, don’t you, Kana?”

Kana glanced at her watch. “Goodness, it’s after 9:00. I had no idea.”

Delly sidled up to Grandma Nora. “Will Kana be coming to church with you tomorrow, Gram Nora?” she asked.

“She sure will. Would you like to sit with us?”

Delly turned around to look at Eve. “Can I Mommy?”

“Do you mean may I?”

Delly put her hand over her mouth a second and then spoke again. “I mean, may I, Mommy.”

“Yes, you may,” Eve answered, laughing at her daughter’s reaction.

“Goody,” she said, taking Grandma Nora’s hand and squeezing it. Kana rose, and so did Lionel and Darrin.

“It’s been a great party, Delly,” Kana said, softly touching the little girl’s curls.

Eve joined them now and said, “Let’s make some plans for later this week to have a long visit. As soon as you two have some of your plans figured out, give us a call, Okay?”

“Sounds good, Eve,” Gram Nora said. “We’ll give you a call in a day or two.” She turned and started toward the door, followed by everyone else. At the door she hugged Delly once more. “See you all in the morning.”

“Not Uncle Lee, though,” Delly said, turning and looking at him. She got a hopeful gleam in her eyes. “Unless you come with us, Uncle Lee. Will you?”

“Not tomorrow, honey, but I’ll be there the next Sunday to hear you sing in the children’s choir, remember?”

“Oh yeah. Okay,” she said and turned back to Grandma Nora. “I’ll look for you, Gram Nora. If you get there first, save me a seat.”

“I’ll do that honey. Goodnight all. It’s been a lot of fun.”

“Goodnight,” they all chorused, and stood on the porch until Gram and Kana were in the car and backing out of the drive.

“Well, I’m off too,” Lionel said, putting his arm around Eve and giving her a gentle hug. “Thanks, Evie, for another great meal.”

“You know we’re always glad when you can come, Lee. You need to do it more often.”

Lee stooped down and picked up Delly, hugging her tight. “You know, I believe you’ve grown bigger since you turned six,” he said, grinning at her.

“Oh, Uncle Lee, I have not. … But I am more ma … ma … what’s the word, Daddy?”

“I think you’re trying to say mature.”

“Yeah, that’s it. I’m more mature!” she said looking at Lee with just a little pride.

“Before long, you’re going to be a teenager, going out with boys, and then you won’t have time for me.”

“Oh, yes I will! I’ll always have time for you. Besides, you don’t have any little girls or boys of your own, and you need me,” she said, grinning at him.

Lionel grinned back, but inside he felt a sharp pain and that terrible sense of emptiness that was starting to plague him more and more all the time now. He put Delly down, and reached out and patted Darrin on the shoulder. “See you Monday morning, Dare. You guys have a good day tomorrow.”

“You too, Lee,” his brother said, walking part way to his car with him. “Goodnight.”

Delly ran back into the house, but Darrin stood and watched his brother drive away. Then, with a sigh, he looked up at the stars and began to pray. “Please, Lord, help him find the love he needs … in You … and in a wonderful, Godly woman who’ll give him a family of his own. You know how good he’s always been to me … and to all of us. In fact, You know he’s always generous and good to everybody he knows … and even people he doesn’t know. Please … don’t let him have to spend the rest of his life alone. Help him open his heart to You, Lord. His heart’s already so tender, it surely won’t take much. Just help him understand Your love, Father.”

He sighed again. “Thank You, Lord. I trust You with my brother.” He turned then, and walked back into the house, confident in his heart that God had a good plan for Lee and that He was well able to carry it out.


Continued tomorrow 

~~~~~


Repaired By Love — Chapter 3

(If you’ve missed earlier chapters, click on “Repaired By Love” in the navigation bar to find all chapters that have been posted.)

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

Chapter Three

By 6:30 that evening, Kana was pulling into her grandmother’s driveway. She had stopped only one time to eat something, and a second time just to use the restroom and stretch her legs, but she hadn’t wasted any time. Unfortunately, traffic had been especially heavy, due to a lot of repair work on the highway, so she hadn’t made nearly as good time as she had hoped. Gram opened her front door now, having been listening for the car ever since Kana had called from her cell phone to say she was just driving through Pigeon Forge and would be with her in no time.

Kana jumped out of her car and ran up the three steps to the porch. She grabbed her grandmother, hugging her fiercely and laughing. “Oh, Gram, it’s so good to be here … and to know I can stay a while. I’m glad Mom and Dad agreed to come up here for a visit this time instead of us going to Atlanta. Not that I have anything against Atlanta, you understand,” she added, grinning, “but it doesn’t have the Smoky Mountains … or this wonderful old house that has so many memories for me.”

“I know, dear. I feel the same way, and I’m sure going to enjoy visiting with you right here for a change. I think it’s been four years since you got to spend any time here in Gatlinburg. I hope you’ll still enjoy it as much as you used to.”

“I’m sure I will,” she said giving Gram another squeeze. “Now just let me get my luggage carried in, and we’ll do some catching up.” She took two cases out of her trunk and carried them into the hallway, then returned for a gift-wrapped package from her back seat. “This is for you,” she said grandly as she handed her grandmother the package.

“Thank you, dear, but having you here for two months is gift enough you know.”

“But this is something I made myself, just for you.”

“Oh, well, that’s different then,” Gram said. “I can’t wait to open it.”

They walked into the house together and automatically moved into the living room with its overstuffed, comfy furniture. They sat together on the sofa as Gram opened the gift. “Oh, Kana!” she said as she lifted out six hand crocheted doilies each with an intricate flower in the center. “And they’re exactly the right colors to match this room.” She looked up at Kana, her eyes a little misty. “I never dreamed back when you were so small and wanting to learn to crochet – and making a mess of almost everything you tried to make – that you would be doing work of this caliber, and decorating my home with your handiwork.”

Her chuckle was contagious, and as Kana joined in, memories began to flood back to her from those younger days. “My stuff was pretty awful, wasn’t it?”

“But we had so much fun doing it together, and now we have those wonderful memories. And these are truly beautiful, Kana. I’m going to put them around the living room right now.” She put action to her words and began moving around the room, replacing table scarves with her new doilies, and even placing one of them on the back of her favorite chair.

“I’m glad you like them. I made a set for Vallie’s sister as a wedding gift too.”

“I guess they’re pretty excited up there in Philadelphia, getting ready for the wedding.”

“I think so. I know for sure Vallie is. She would have liked to come down to see you too, but she really felt she should be there to help as much as possible. Although I’m still hoping she can get away for a few days and spend some time with us.”

“That would be wonderful. Then she can fill us in on the wedding with a first-hand report.” Gram’s eyes started to twinkle, and she grinned at Kana. “Uh … I was wondering … is there any chance you’re getting close to thinking about a wedding of your own?”

“Now, Gram, you know I’d have told you if I were serious about anyone.”

“Well … I thought you would have … but I guess I was just hoping something had developed since the last time we’d had a chance for a long talk.”

Kana laughed. “You’re such a romantic, Gram. You really do believe in love at first sight, don’t you? I couldn’t have gotten serious about anyone in that short a time in any other way except that, you know.”

Gram shrugged her shoulders, smiling still. “Well, you know your grandpa and I didn’t have to think too long before we decided we were in love. It isn’t a bad thing. And, of course, I’ve told you about Maddison and Beth Holt and then Pastor Cameron McDaniels and Suzanne.” Kana nodded. “It took both couples some time to get things worked out enough to admit they were meant for each other, but most of us who were with them a lot had it figured out a lot sooner,” she said, laughing.

“Well, I’m really anxious to meet Pastor McDaniels. You’ve told me so much about him, I almost feel as if I know him … and Suzanne too. I made such a quick trip last summer, just picking you up and heading for Atlanta and then just dropping you off on the return trip, I didn’t even get to go to church with you at all.”

“Well, we’ll make up for it this time. Now, did you have supper or could you eat something?”

“You know good and well I can always eat, even when I’ve had supper, but no, I didn’t take time to stop for any meal but lunch.” She hopped up and started toward the kitchen. “I’ve actually been wondering if I should go on some kind of diet. I seem a little more plump than I did last summer.”

Grandma Nora stopped in her tracks and swung Kana around to face her, looking her over carefully as she did so. “Now you listen to me, young lady. You have a lovely shape. You’re five feet, seven inches tall, and if you were much thinner you’d just look skinny.” She looked her over once more. “No … your figure’s just generous enough to make you look like a woman should.”

“Generous huh? Now that’s a word I hadn’t thought of. It sure sounds a lot better than plump.”

“I don’t know where you get these ideas, Kana.” Gram pointed her finger in Kana’s face. “You leave well enough alone! A young man with any sense wants a woman who looks like a woman.”

Kana laughed and hugged her grandmother again. “Okay, Gram … to tell the truth, I don’t think I have what it takes to diet anyway. … So what are my choices tonight?”

Grandma Nora chuckled. “Well, I just couldn’t decide which of your favorites to make first, so I tried to get several of them done at once. There’s a big pasta salad in the refrigerator, stuffed green peppers just about ready to come out of the oven, key lime pie, and peanut butter, chocolate chip cookies. … How’s that for starters?

Kana couldn’t refrain from squeezing Gram’s shoulders again. “Gram, I love you so much. I wish you hadn’t worked so hard on my account, but I know you enjoy cooking, so I’m not going to feel guilty … I’m just going to indulge!” They laughed together and moved around the kitchen getting out plates and silverware and laying the food out on the table.

“Shall I take the peppers out of the oven?” Kana asked.

“Yes, if you would, dear. Do you want coffee?”

“Let’s have tea instead if that’s all right with you.”

“Sure. I’ll get the water started.”

They caught up on some of their news as they ate, and then shifted the conversation to what they would like to plan during Kana’s stay. “I hope it won’t be a problem for you, dear, but I feel obligated to attend a birthday dinner tomorrow night for a little girl in our congregation who’s very close to me … actually, her whole family is pretty special to me, and since she’s turning six, she feels like it’s a big thing for me to be there. They specifically asked that you’d come too, because they’d like to meet you, but if you feel like it’s an imposition, you don’t have to feel obligated.”

“Why, I’d be glad to go, Gram. If they’re important to you, I want to meet them, and as a teacher, I know how important those special occasions are to a child at that age. What’s her name?”

“Delly.”

“Delly?”

“MmHmm. Well actually it’s Delores. She was named after her father’s mother, but they’ve almost always called her Delly. She has coal black, curly hair, and the biggest blue eyes you’ve ever seen, and to be an only child, she has a surprisingly sweet, unselfish nature. I think you’ll fall in love with her.”

“I don’t doubt it. I feel that way about most of the ones that come through my room … even the troublemakers. … Or maybe I should say especially the troublemakers. Somehow it seems like those who are always causing trouble are the most in need of love, and my heart just goes out to them.”

“I know what you mean. I feel that way about several of the young people at church. This past year, Pastor McDaniels and Maddison Holt have been developing a whole new program for working with troubled teens, and some of the kids they’ve been working with would just break your heart.”

“Well, I”ll be glad to go to the party with you if you think they really want me to come.”

“I’m positive. I’ve been telling them about you, of course.”

Kana rolled her eyes and groaned. But then she got up to carry away their plates and move the desserts to the table. Gram refilled their tea cups as she answered.

“Well I have to talk about my only granddaughter, don’t I?”

“I guess so. Do you talk about your grandsons too?’

“Of course I do, but most of the people here know the boys, since they’re still young enough that they come with their parents to visit two or three times a year.”

“Well, just so you haven’t exaggerated about me.”

Grandma Nora snorted. “I don’t have to exaggerate. You’re such a wonderful young woman, the truth is all I need to tell.”

Kana laughed out loud. “Oh, Gram, you’re a case. I guess I might as well learn to live with it, and hope you at least haven’t told them any of the stupid things I did as a child.”

“Of course I haven’t.” Gram said. “I’m saving those to hold over your head in case I need some ammunition to convince you to do something you might not want to do.”

They both laughed at that.

“Will there be several people at the birthday dinner, do you think?”

“Well, Eve’s parents are in Ohio with their other daughter who’s having a baby this week, so I think the only other person invited besides us is Delly’s Uncle Lee. Well, his name’s really Lionel, but all of his friends and family call him Lee. … Now there’s a man you can help me pray for.”

“What’s the problem?”

“He just needs the Lord.”

“Oh, I see.”

Gram shook her head, a concerned look on her face. “And he’s such a kind and generous man too. It’s just a shame he can’t seem to connect with God.”

“But Delly’s parents know the Lord?”

“Yes, Darrin and his wife Eve have been Christians for several years, and Lee will come to church with them once in a while … especially if Delly’s in a program or something … but that’s as far as it goes. … Darrin hasn’t confided in me completely, but he did tell me the problem centers around their dad and the hard life he dragged their mother through. It seems Lee feels that he can’t believe in a God who would have let one of His children live the way their mom had to live.”

“What a shame. But at least if he comes to church some times, he must be a little bit open.”

“Actually, I think he’s more open than even he realizes. He’s become a real friend of the pastor, as well as having good relationships with several other members of the congregation. A lot of people in our church take their vehicles to the boys for servicing and repair – that’s the business they’re in – they have their own auto shop. Anyway, several of the people from church seem to have a good relationship with Lee Butler, and I’m sure they pray for him. … I know I pray for him all the time. In fact Delly and I pray for him every time we’re together, because she’s a strong little believer, and she’s very concerned about her uncle because she loves him so much. So I feel sure it’s just a matter of time before Lee finally gives his heart to the Lord.”

“Well, you can count on me to pray too. They sound like a nice family, and I’m looking forward to meeting them.” She suddenly yawned, and automatically glanced at her watch. “Gram! It’s 10:30! Can you believe that?”

“We had a lot of catching up to do.”

“Well, since I’m going to be here for two months, I think I’ll turn in early tonight; what about you?”

“Yes, that sounds good to me; it’s been a long, busy day for both of us.”

Kana stood and started clearing the table of dessert plates and covering left-overs to put into the fridge.  “Let’s save most of the clean up for tomorrow, huh?”

“Good plan,” Gram said. “I’ll take care of turning off lights and checking doors.”

Kana kissed her grandmother. “I sure love you, Gram. See you in the morning.”

“Goodnight, Sweetheart.”


Continued tomorrow

~~~~~


Repaired By Love — Chapter 2

(Click here if you missed Chapter 1.)


REPAIRED AMAZON COVER - BLUE TEXT - FRONTREPAIRED BY LOVE

© 2004 by Sandra Pavloff Conner

Chapter Two

“Well, that looks like everything we need to have your mail forwarded, Miss Wallace,” the postal clerk said as she glanced up at the girl sanding on the other side of the counter. “The order should become effective tomorrow.”

“That’s great,” Kana Wallace replied. “Thanks a lot,” she added, smiling at the clerk before she turned to leave. That smile lit up her rather ordinary face and put a definite sparkle in her large, chocolate brown eyes. Those eyes couldn’t be ignored, and they did a good job of redeeming her face from plainness.

“I hope you enjoy your extended vacation,” the clerk said. Kana thanked her once more and smiled briefly at the elderly man who had stepped up to the counter to take her place. She hurried to her car and made a fast trip back to the elementary school where she taught second grade. It wasn’t easy trying to do something like this on her lunch hour, but tomorrow would be the end of the year picnic, and then the next day was the last day of school. If she didn’t get these arrangements made, she wouldn’t be able to take off as soon as the kids had left.

She wouldn’t have had to be in a hurry, of course, but she was. She was looking forward to seeing Gram again, and spending two wonderful months with her in her hometown of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Kana had often visited her there as a small child, and she had always loved the Great Smoky Mountains, as well as all of the fun things to do in a town that catered to tourists.

For someone who was a miniature golf nut, as she was, it was an especially good place to visit, even as an adult. But the view of the mountains and their quiet strength and restfulness were the biggest attraction for her now ‒ except for Gram herself, of course. She chuckled to herself now as she recalled that everyone in Gram’s church called her Grandma Nora, mostly because she virtually adopted most of the young people at one time or another, and was an active part of their growing up years. And Pastor McDaniels always called on her when he was counseling single ladies or young girls.

Kana was pretty proud of Gram. She was some special lady, and she definitely didn’t look or act seventy-six. Her faith was unshakable, and her devotion to prayer her first priority. Kana knew firsthand the effectiveness of Gram’s prayers. They had been prayed, and answered, for her personally a number of times in her twenty-nine years. And in her heart, she hoped that she would always be as faithful in her walk with God as Gram had been.

She swung into her parking spot now and almost ran into the school, hoping she would get to the classroom at least as soon as the students. And she just barely made it. She smiled at her young charges as they crowded in, their noise level especially high from the excitement of being at the end of another year.

“Miss Wallace,” Danny Hart ran up to her, shouting her name. “Miss Wallace can I show my map now … can I?”

“As soon as we’ve all settled into our seats, we’ll have our show and tell time, Danny.”

“Good,” he said, grinning and showing a missing tooth. “’Cause I want all the kids to see where I’m going for vacation.”

“I’m sure they’ll enjoy seeing your map, Danny. Now just sit down, and let’s get everyone quiet. … Children, settle down now, or we’ll have to give up our show and tell time in order to go over our classroom rules again.”

That little suggestion had the desired effect. Almost immediately, twenty rambunctious eight-year-olds scurried to their seats and started to lower their conversations to whispers.

“Good. … Now who all has something to show and tell about today?”

Two hours later, she saw her kids down the hall and out to their buses and their parents’ waiting cars. Then breathing a deep sigh of relief, she looked at the third-grade teacher, Valentina, who was also her best friend. “Do you think we’ll survive tomorrow?”

Valentina laughed. “It seems a little questionable, but I’m determined to survive. I don’t intend to bite the dust and miss my well-earned vacation.” She was an extremely pretty girl, a year younger than Kana. She had thick, sable hair that she wore in relaxed curls, and the smooth, dusky skin of her African-American lineage. But her eyes were a surprising aquamarine color. They twinkled now as she stood looking at her friend, one finger resting on her own face. Then she began walking slowly around Kana, studying her.

“You know I like your hair more all the time, don’t you?”

Kana had recently had her medium brown hair cut into a short cap that gave free reign to its tendency to curl naturally, and at Valentina’s suggestion, had let the beautician put a few golden highlights in it.

“Yeah, I have to admit, I feel like a new person. And I think I needed the lift it gives me. Thanks, Vallie, for talking me into it,” she said as she gave her friend a brief hug and turned to walk with her back into the building.

“Hey, what are friends for? You’d do the same for me. … And speaking of friends, I’m sure going to miss you, girl!”

“I’ll miss you too, Vallie. I wish you’d really pray about coming down. I know you want to spend most of the time with your family in Philadelphia, but you could spare a couple of weeks to come south, couldn’t you?”

“I’d like to say ‘yes,’ Kana, but with my sister’s wedding coming up that second week of July, and then all of the cleaning and getting things back in order after the other relatives leave, I just don’t know if I’ll feel good about leaving for any extended time. Mom tries to do too much most of the time, and I’d like to be sure that I’m taking the load off her for most of the summer.”

“Sure. I do understand. … I guess I am being a little selfish … but I’d like for you to get some rest and have some fun too.”

“Oh, I will have fun. You know my sister and I have always been close, and I’m going to enjoy every minute of planning her wedding and going through it with her. And then I’ll be able to spend time with my grandparents too, and I haven’t really had any time to be close to them for the last two years, with my staying here in Nashville to work on my master’s during the summers. So, actually, just being able to be at home instead of here working will be a treat.”

“Good. I’m glad. But if you do change your mind, you know Gram will welcome you with open arms.”

“Of course I know that, and you know how I feel about your Grandmother. I’d like to see her again too. … We’ll see what happens. I’m just going to play it by ear and not plan too far ahead. But we’ll be talking on the phone once in a while, so I’ll let you know if I can manage a trip down.”

“Okay.” Kana stepped into the doorway of her classroom. “Well, I guess we’d better get things straightened up for tomorrow. See you in the morning.”

“You bet,” Vallie replied and walked down the hall several feet to her own room.

Two days later, at 11:55 a.m. Kana locked the door to her classroom and walked down the hall to Valentina’s room to hug her friend goodbye and give her the gift she had brought her. Valentina was just lifting her briefcase from her desk, along with a wrapped package, which she had intended taking to Kana’s room.

“Oh, you’re here!” she said, as she looked up to see Kana coming through the door. “I was on my way down to give you this,” she added, holding out the package.

Both girls laughed as Kana handed Valentina a gift bag containing her gift, and then they set to opening their presents like two eager children. They couldn’t help but laugh when they realized they had given each other exactly the same thing, a beautifully bound journal.

“Well, I want you to record everything interesting and beautiful and … uh … handsome and broad-shouldered … that goes on in Gatlinburg,” Valentina said, in defense of her gift.

“That’s exactly the reason for my gift to you!” Kana answered.

“This is great!” Valentina said. “Now I can hardly wait to get back and compare journals and catch up.”

“Whoa, girl! Let’s not get carried away. Let’s enjoy our vacation before we have to come back, okay?”

“Deal!” Valentina said, hugging Kana tightly. “You take care of yourself, you hear? And if it starts to feel like you’re going to fall in love with anybody while you’re there, you be sure and carry this journal every minute, so you won’t fail to record one feeling.”

“All right, but the same goes for you.”

They threw away the wrapping paper and headed out of the room and down the hall. As they separated on the parking lot, they hugged each other again. “You’ve got my home number in Philadelphia?” Valentina asked.

“Sure do, and you’re sure you’ve got Gram’s with you?”

“Positively. If I don’t hear from you first, I’ll give you a call next weekend, and tell you how the wedding plans are going.”

“Okay. Have fun,” Kana said as she slipped into her car, and in another minute she was backing out of her parking space. A sense of joy and expectation surged through her as she made her way to the interstate. She could hardly wait to start putting some miles behind her, but she knew she’d need to stop at a fast food place and have some lunch before she turned onto I-40. She had been looking forward to this trip for weeks, but somehow, today she felt there was something even more exciting about it than she had planned ‒ almost as if there were something unexpected and wonderful waiting for her in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

“Whatever it is, Lord … I’m ready!” she said, and slid her favorite praise and worship CD into the player.


Continued Tomorrow

~~~~~


Repaired By Love: Chapter 1

Occasionally, I like to post one of my novels on this website for free reading.  My digital books go through periods of being under an exclusive contract that prohibits my posting them anywhere else online. However, those contracts change from time to time, and when the exclusivity has run it’s course, I’m free to post the books wherever I choose. 

So today, I’m posting Chapter One of the Third Book in the Smoky Mountain Series. Many of my followers have read book one, and some have read the whole series. However, many others have never read any part of the series at all. So let me assure you that each of the books is a complete story all by itself and can easily stand alone. Characters that carry over are introduced clearly enough in each book so that no reader will be confused, but at the same time, he won’t be bored with a lot of stuff he already knows if he’s read the previous books. (At least I trust that’s the case. Readers have told me that all is well on that score, so I’m trusting their word on it.)

I’ll be posting one chapter a day from this novel. I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to comment as the story unfolds. If you do enjoy it, perhaps you’d like to check out some of my other books as well, so I’ll give you a link down below to my Amazon author’s page, which has most of my books listed.

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

Chapter One

“Hey, Lee! … you guys open yet?” The question came from a sixteen year-old, redheaded boy standing just outside the office door of Butler’s Auto Service & Repair. Not being in possession of much patience, he then began pounding on the window and finally saw the door open wide.

“For Pete’s sake, Jimmy, hold your horses, will ya! We’re trying to get open.” The man speaking was every bit of six and a half feet tall and strongly built. His height and handsomely sculptured features clearly indicated some Cherokee ancestry, as did his bronzed skin. At thirty-six, he already had a few silver streaks in his thick, sandy hair, but that by no means detracted from his looks. In fact, more than one girl’s heart beat a little faster when she was in the company of Lionel Butler, but if he knew it, he didn’t take much notice.

He was a little aggravated at being forced to open up before he and his brother had had their coffee, but as he looked at the boy’s worried face, his own face softened. “What’s up, Jimmy? You must have a serious problem if you’re up and over here before 7:00 in the morning.”

“I sure do, Lee. My battery’s dead as a door nail, and I gotta get Mom up to Knoxville to a doctor’s appointment by 9:00. That thing’s gone dead on me several times this month, and I’m afraid to just put a charger on it, because by the time Mom’s done, and we’re ready to come home, it might be dead again. Can you help me?”

Lionel ‒ whose friends had called him “Lee” since high school ‒ knew exactly what Jimmy meant. Hadn’t he been responsible for getting his own mother to the doctor, and just about every place else she needed to go, when he was just Jimmy’s age? And he knew the boy didn’t have the money for a new battery.

“Sure, Jimmy. You come on in and sit down a few minutes, and I’ll put a new battery in for you and get you on your way.”

“Thanks a lot, Lee. I knew you’d help. And I’ll pay you for it a little at a time if that’s all right. I’m working part-time at Carver’s grocery now, you know.”

Lionel patted the boy on the back and shoved a box of fresh doughnuts toward him as he sat in a chair by the desk. “I know you will, Jimmy. And there’s no rush. What’s one battery more or less between friends?” He smiled his generous, easy grin at the boy. “Besides there’s way too much cholesterol in that box for just Darrin and me, so you can help us out by eating two or three doughnuts while you’re waiting,” he added, as he stepped through another door to locate a battery.

All the time he was installing the battery, Lionel was remembering ‒ remembering all the doctor’s appointments for his own mom, and how sick she’d been at the last when the doctor had told her that her heart just wouldn’t work enough anymore. Dr. Gordon had mentioned a transplant, but, of course, that had been out of the question. There was hardly ever enough money for food, let alone some sophisticated operation.

“Ouch!” He’d been so busy thinking hard thoughts, he hadn’t realized he had his fingers in the wrong place for one split second. That was long enough to pinch two of them hard enough he’d have a blood blister or two out of it. He’d better get his mind on what he was doing. Jimmy needed to get going.

He managed to get the boy off in time to make his trip to Knoxville, and as Lionel watched him drive away, he hung his head, more memories flooding through him.

Jimmy didn’t know where his dad was, but Lionel had known his was there all the time. Of course, he used to wish he’d go away. In fact he’d even prayed that God would make him go away, but after a couple of years of that with no results, Lionel had decided that prayer wasn’t working for him.

But then it hadn’t really worked for his mother either, as far as he could tell. She went to church every week, but her life wasn’t any better as a result – at least as far as he could see. His dad stayed drunk half the time, and never provided enough money for their living expenses. His mom had been forced to work at cleaning houses and offices six days a week just to keep food on the table.

Of course, her church friends had brought stuff by once in a while, but that had only made Lionel feel worse. He hadn’t liked being around them because he felt like a beggar when they came with sacks of groceries or second-hand clothes.

But his mom had almost never missed a service at her church, and she’d always insisted the boys go at least once a month with her, even though their dad didn’t approve. And she’d prayed. How she’d prayed – for all of them. He’d often heard her in the wee hours of the morning, and he’d known she’d be on her knees in front of the living room sofa. He’d known because he’d sneaked out of bed and found her there asleep on her knees more than once, after he’d heard her crying and praying for hours.

But what hurt him most ‒ even in his memories ‒ were the times that his dad had hit his mother. He hadn’t done it all the time, and he’d always said he was sorry later, but that didn’t matter to Lionel. More than once, after he was in high school, he would have knocked his dad down and beat the life out of him if his mother hadn’t pleaded with him not to do so.

“Your daddy just needs the Lord, Lionel,” she’d say. “And God will answer my prayers. You’ll see. One of these days, your daddy’s gonna get saved, and things will be different. But in the mean time, you and Darrin are my happiness, and I don’t ever want you to start believing that getting angry and hitting people will solve anything.”

She’d have her arm around him when she said all that, and then she’d pull back and look him straight in the eye. “Now, you promise me you won’t ever let anger or violence take control of your thoughts or actions, Son.”

“All right, Mom,” he’d always answered. “I promise.”

“Good. And I want you to promise me two more things: that you’ll read at least a few verses from your Bible every day, and that every night, before you go to sleep, you’ll pray Jesus will help you to know Him personally.”

“Prayer doesn’t work for me, Mom,” had been his most frequent answer.

“Prayer works for everybody who believes, Lionel.”

“Then I don’t believe.”

The look of sadness in her eyes had always hurt him, but he hadn’t known what else to say and be honest, and she had instilled the need for honesty in him when he was still a toddler.

“You will believe one day, Lionel,” she’d told him, again and again. “You just keep reading your Bible and asking Jesus to make Himself real to you, and you will believe.”

Tears trickled down his cheeks now, as he stood out in the drive of his shop. It hadn’t happened the way his mother had said it would. He had tried for that last year of her life to obey her wishes, but it hadn’t happened. And then when she had slipped from this life just a week after his eighteenth birthday, he knew he’d never believe. He didn’t want to believe in a God who would let his beautiful mother live the way she had been forced to live all those years.

He shook his head now, to clear away those dreadful memories. Darrin had been able to believe – but then Lionel had always done his best to shield his younger brother from the horrible realities of their life. Maybe it was easier for Darrin to believe in this God. But nothing had ever come easy for Lionel, and he’d stopped trying to grasp hold of faith a long time ago. He had friends who were good Christians. He liked them and admired them, and he even went to a service now and then, but he just couldn’t find it in him to go beyond that.

He turned now and walked with heavy steps back into his shop to get started on the repair work he had scheduled for the day.

By 5:00 that evening, his brother Darrin was straightening up some paper work in the office while Lionel filled out an itemized statement for the customer who was due to pick up his van any minute.

“You look beat, Lee,” Darrin said, as he stopped and faced his brother. “Do you want me to wait on Mr. Reynolds, and you go on home and get a shower and relax?”

Lionel looked up at his brother, who had worked just as hard the whole day. “I’m sure you’re just as tired,” he said and then grinned at Darrin. “Although I’ll have to say you don’t look it. I guess it’s having a beautiful wife and daughter to go home to that makes the difference.”

“You bet it does!” Darrin said, grinning broadly and slapping his brother on the back. “I keep telling you, Lee, it’s time you got married and had a family of your own.”

Lionel shook his head. “You know my answer to that, Darrin.”

“Yeah, that same nutty rig-a-marole about not being a good husband and father. … You know my answer to that!”

Lionel did know, and it wasn’t something he felt he could deal with right now, so he let it drop. Besides, he knew the real reason he felt so much more exhausted than Darrin, and it had nothing to do with having no wife to go home to. It had everything to do with remembering what he had had to go home to for all those years before. The days he remembered were the days he was too exhausted to move by the time he got back to his apartment.

It would be the same tonight. He’d force himself into the shower and then have a pizza delivered, and sit in front of the TV until he dozed off. Maybe tomorrow he wouldn’t remember so much ‒ or feel that unexplainable emptiness so deeply.

“Why don’t you come and eat with us? You know Eve always fixes enough for two more people, and Delly’s been asking when Uncle Lee is coming to supper again. It has been a week since you were there.”

“Not tonight, Darrin, but thanks.”

They heard a car door slam, and Lionel got up to go out to the drive. “That’s probably Mr. Reynolds. His daughter was going to drop him off for his van. You go on, and be sure and give Delly a kiss for me.”

“Okay. I’m going out the back and pick up some tools to take home and work on the lawnmower. See you in the morning.”

Two hours later, Lionel was finishing off his pizza, his feet propped on his coffee table, and an old Andy Griffith Show on the television. At least that show always made him laugh, and he usually felt more like himself after watching one or two episodes. He got up to throw away the pizza box during a commercial, and laughed a little at himself, talking out loud. “Well, at least I turn to old TV shows and pizza when I’m feeling miserable. I don’t try to go out and drown my sorrows in liquor or drugs.”

The thought stopped him in his tracks. Why didn’t he? … Why hadn’t he ever turned to those things when he felt sad or empty inside? Most people did; why not him? Another memory flashed into his mind: His mother praying again – praying for the Lord to keep her sons free from all of the unclean habits so tempting to young boys. He shook his head. It couldn’t be that those prayers were making the difference. … He shook his head again. He didn’t believe in prayer anymore. … But he had to wonder … he had to wonder.


Continued tomorrow.


If you’d like to check out some of my other books, you can find them HERE.

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The Truly Consecrated Christian

HANDS IN CIRCLE

True consecration and oneness with Jesus is not earmarked by some mystical — other-worldly — experience where the believer ceases to have active participation in the life of the earth. It’s best understood as a believer continuing to have his feet firmly planted on this earth and actively participating in the life being lived on this planet, but whose heart is totally captured by Jesus. He’s so in love with Jesus that the love they share dictates and controls how the believer lives out that life on a day-by-day basis.

The wholly consecrated believer does not hide himself away from the world. He actively involves Jesus in the every-day aspects of his earthly life and his relationships with people — thus bringing the Kingdom of God into the earth.

 

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Amazing Story of U. S. Marines Protected by God During W.W.II

BLACKIE'S GROUP AROUND TABLE - Dad, J. Boyles (sp), Blackie, Jim Mouring (sp)On Memorial Day, 2013 — just 2 months before going to be with the Lord — my dad posted the entire text of his book “SARGE, WILL YOU TELL US ABOUT GOD?” on his personal website so that people all over the world could read it free. He prefaced the story by sharing about his visit that year with his very best friend throughout the war. They had stayed in touch but had not seen each other for 67 years. I’m posting the link to that site so that all of my readers will have the opportunity to read the amazing story of God’s miraculous care and protection of an entire Marine unit because they believed Psalm 91 and prayed those promises. The book is quite short, but exceedingly powerful and faith-building. Read it and share it wherever you can.

You’ll find the entire story here:  ‘SARGE, WILL YOU TELL US ABOUT GOD?’

 

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Our Words Rule — Video Lesson

If you’re struggling in your faith, or you find that God’s promises don’t seem to be manifesting in your life the way you need them to, this lesson will help you. In fact, the truths presented here, when absorbed and acted upon, can totally change your life.

This video includes a full-length Bible study recorded live at my church a couple months ago.