Forward By the Author

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Chapter Thirty Five

Tim had called the detox center that evening with a feeling of apprehension. Something was weighing heavily on him, though he couldn’t quite pinpoint exactly what it was. He’d been in constant prayer, asking God to reveal to him what it was, but the Lord had been silent.

The nurse had also been vague, only saying it would be best for him to come and see Monica’s progress for himself. It was a relief to him that she was still at the center, though it may have only been because she was too ill to leave.

Tim shook his head as he thought back to his own experience in detox, and sent up another silent prayer for Monica. Just that afternoon he’d been so sure the Lord was telling them it would be okay, and now he was filled with doubt.

After eating some of the food Joyce insisted on sending home with him, Tim checked his email, grimacing at the amount of message waiting his attention. He ignored them, instead sending an update off to Charlotte Gray in Tennessee, hoping he was persuading her to admit Monica. He well knew, though, that Charlotte didn’t move one step without God’s approval. Well, the information couldn’t hurt.

He waded through the mass of emails he had put off before, then retired to his room for the night. It had taken longer than he expected to answer the correspondence, and all the things weighing on his mind were making him weary. He turned in just as a huge clap of thunder sounded, and rain began to pelt the roof above. Perfect sleeping weather he thought as he turned out the lamp.


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Charlotte Gray had received Tim’s original email and had prayed often about the woman he described. She read over the latest installment, Tim’s plea for Charlotte to take her under wing, and thought hard. She did have an opening at the moment, but preferred the Lord clearly show her His will before she took one step in planning. She was convinced it was the only reason at all she had any success.

Ms. Gray was not what anyone would describe as physically beautiful. She was of average height and build, and wore her fifty-six years with a certain calm and simple happiness. It was, perhaps, the wonderful light of life in her green eyes that drew people to her.

She was a quiet woman of deep faith who really believed that God could change anyone, for she’d seen Him do it! Over the years her home had been filled with women from all walks of life; from lawyers to prostitutes, and everyone in between.

One of the joys of her life was hearing from the women God had healed from their addictions. Many of them had also been restored to their families, and continued to trust in the God Who had delivered them from the dark and lonely path of addiction.

She had just felt confirmation from the Lord that morning about having the woman Tim mentioned come. The Lord has revealed to her this woman needed a lot of emotional healing, and for this reason, Charlotte felt she would deal with her one-on-one.

Charlotte pressed ‘send’ on her reply to Tim, praying that God would continue to lead her steps, then she moved to the kitchen to get her supper. She had learned long ago not to try and figure out anything of the woman’s past or personality before she arrived. She’s learned the hard way too, that every woman was unique and their addictions were as well.

AS she sat at the kitchen table bathed in the early evening sunlight, she though over what she’d need to do to prepare for Monica’s arrival. She’d put her in the green room just off the bathroom in the main hall and across from Charlotte’s own room.

There were many things running through Charlotte’s mind, and she asked the Lord again to sort her thoughts and lead her to what would be most helpful. Suddenly it was clear what she needed to do, and with a whisper of thanksgiving, Charlotte planned a trip into town the next morning to gather supplies.

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Joyce and Hank Lepley were not night owls, but there was a special on the Civil War that Hank had roped Joyce into watching, and that’s how they planned to spend their evening. Although she balked at first, Joyce secretly had come to enjoy the history lesson. And she liked spending time cuddled with her hubby.

At the moment, however, they were in the middle of supper. Joyce had made a simple meal of quiche and salad. As they ate they talked about Sarah.

“Hope she’s alright, Hank. You know how painfully shy that child is. What if she wants to come home but that young man is too dense to realize it? She’d never speak up about it, you know. What if he tries to take advantage of her?” Joyce’s hand came up to her mouth in a gesture of worry. “Maybe I ought to give that new cell phone a call.”

Hank tried to stifle his laughter and comfort his wife. “Now Honey, you know as well as I do that Sarah is a smart young woman. She is shy, but she is most definitely not a child. And she would be horrified if you called to check on her.” He gave his wife a knowing look, and acted as though he was caving. “Well, I guess you might as well call up and tell her you think she has poor judgment, since she agreed to go on a date with an obvious serial rapist. You know, I thought that young man looked familiar.” Hank took another bite of quiche and inwardly snickered at the look of shock registered on his wife’s face.

“Hank Lepley, I cannot believe you would say such a thing to me! You know I’m just worried about her. I thought it might comfort her if I called.” The sound of indignation faded as she said “That’s boy’s no rapist, so you just stop teasing this old woman.” A wicked gleam came into her eyes before she added “Or you won’t get any blueberry cobbler.”

Hank reached over and placed his hand over his wife’s. “You know she’s in God’s hands, Joyce. No better place for her to be. And we know they are fine Christian people. But if it’ll make you feel better, we can pray for her again.”

Joyce nodded, and Hank’s rich, soothing baritone lifted their young friend up to the Lord, asking Him to watch over her since they could not. As they cleared the table, Hank noticed the dark clouds headed their way, and hoped the coming storm wouldn’t interfere with their program. “Now wife,” he said “about that cobbler…”

Chapter Thirty Four

The family introductions hadn’t been as painful as Sarah has anticipated. The twins had been hardly able to contain their excitement on meeting her, Nate had been polite but indifferent, and Josh had growled and snarled. Of course Mr. Williams was as friendly as always, and his wife had even given Sarah a hug as she ushered her into the kitchen.

The warmth of Tyler’s family was accurately reflected in the d├ęcor of the home. Sarah looked into each room as they passed, noting each was tastefully done in welcoming colors. And scripture was in every room; sometimes written in calligraphy and framed, other times stenciled on a wall, or a wooden plaque. Sarah relaxed considerably after having been given the tour.

She and Tyler ended up back in the kitchen where ‘make-your-own’ pizza night was in full swing. The twins were concentrating on placing their ingredients just so, while Josh threw what he liked in a big pile on the middle of his dough.

After he washed, he jumped down to run outside and play. Tyler’s mom spread his toppings out, removing some, before placing it in the oven. She turned and offered them a choice of sodas, then set dough out for Sarah and Tyler. “Just put whatever you like on it.”

Seeing Sarah looked a bit lost she added “Just not too much sauce, or your crust will be mushy.” She smiled, then turned to check the oven and wipe the counter around the sink.

Tyler took the sauce spoon and showed Sarah how to spread it evenly. His was a thin layer, and Sarah did her best to copy him. She then added peppers, pepperoni and cheese. Tyler piled onion, ham and pineapple on his before declaring it perfect. They handed their trays over to his mother who put them directly in the oven.

Sarah followed Tyler onto the back deck. The twins had finished just before them and were now playing on a large wooden swing set, complete with a tarp-covered top that Tyler informed Sarah had been used as a clubhouse. Josh and Nate played T-ball to the side of the playground.

Tyler motioned for Sarah to take a seat on one of the plush chairs that lined the glass-top patio table. Sarah turned and gazed up at the house behind her. It was easily the largest house she’s ever seen, and definitely the nicest she’d ever been in.

She watched Tyler’s siblings play, then glanced at the sliding glass door as his parents came out. His mom was carrying a kitchen timer, and his dad two glasses filled with ice and soda.

“Do you want to eat inside or out here tonight Ty?” his father asked, smiling. “You’ve only got ten minutes to decide…so what’ll it be?” Tyler’s mom elbowed her husband.

“Oh stop.” She said teasingly. “You know how Tyler feels about flies on his food. We’ll eat inside. That ok with you Sarah?” She looked expectantly at the girl, giving her a pleasant smile.

“Sure.” Sarah replied. “I’m not much for flies on my pizza either.”

Tyler’s dad shrugged. “That’s only because you’ve never tried it!” he joked.

“Gross Dad!” Tyler laughed. “I sure am glad it’s Saturday. I love pizza night. And wait until after dinner,” he said turning to Sarah. “We always have family games. With you here it makes the teams even.” He looked at his Dad as a thought came to him. “We could even make it boys against girls this time!”

Tyler’s Dad seemed to consider that. “Sounds good to me, Son. If your mother can stand being separated from me that long. You know how clingy she is.” He smiled at his wife, who took his hand.

“I think I’ll live. At least long enough to help the girls whip you at all the games!” she laughed.

A sudden piercing scream interrupted their conversation, and both parents were on their feet at once, running toward the swing set. Jessica was holding both hands over the left side of her face. Nate was already there when his parents arrived, begging her to let him look.

She was crying freely and stubbornly refused to let anyone but her mom look, and that only after her daddy carried her into the house. After the drama made its way inside, Nate came to join Sarah and Tyler at the table.

“Poor thing,” he started. “I was showing Josh how to make better contact with the ball, and he hit a good one; right into Jessie’s face. I think he’s hiding in the clubhouse. He thinks he blinded her.” Mark looked over at Sarah and saw the concern on her face. Tyler cut in to explain.

“Josh is real sensitive about hurting people. He once left his gerbil outside in the little rolly ball they wander around in, and we had a terrible storm that night. When Josh remembered the next day about his gerbil, he searched everywhere, finally finding him drown in his little ball. It had gotten lodged at the bottom of the rain gutter. Now every time he hurts someone he assumes the worst.”

Sarah had put her hand on her heart in an empathetic manner, touched at the burden of guilt this boy carried around. “What a sad story!” she said. “Should we go get him? Maybe he needs someone to talk to him.” Her voice held a worried ring.

Just then the sliding door opened and Tyler’s dad came out. “Why don’t you all go ahead inside? I’ll go get Josh.” He headed toward the awning covered top of the swing set. Tyler and Nate stood and collected the glasses to bring inside. Sarah sat for a moment, marveling over the big man’s willingness to climb into the tiny space to comfort his son.

Sarah stood, and just before turning to go inside, saw Josh’s tear-stained face as he climbed into his father’s lap. She choked back a sob, and excused herself to the bathroom once inside. Silent tears coursed down her face as she recalled the tenderness in Mr. Williams’ touch as he gathered up his son.

She tried not to let her past make her bitter, but she wondered how different her life would have been had her dad stayed around. In this house, with this family who so obviously loved one another, she felt she had missed much.

To fight against the bitterness, she was learning to pray. She took a moment to pray for both her parents, wherever they may be; then felt ready to join the family in the kitchen.