“Oh, don’t say that, Ravinia,” Grace said. “We’re certainly not going to blame this on the people. The Lord just made it clear to us that it was time—”

“To move on, sure. I’ve heard that before. So what was it this time, Dad? You pick the wrong color carpet for the sanctuary? Spend too much time preaching through the Old Testament? What?”

“Actually, we’re pretty proud of what your dad brought to that little lighthouse. Sorry, cliché. But he got a visitation program going and even replaced their old children’s night with one that had updated curriculum. The kids loved it.”

Ravinia stood and rubbed her eyes. She moved to a window and gazed out. Appearing resolute, she returned. “All right, you’re not driving all the way up through here looking for ‘opportunities’ if everything’s peachy in Foley. Now out with it.”

“You’re going to make a fine lawyer,” Thomas said, forcing a smile.

“I’m going to start by suing those people if they did to you what the previous bunch did.”

“Oh, no; you know we don’t solve church problems in court.”

“Maybe you should. You certainly have grounds. Honestly, Dad, I know as well as anybody that you’re no Billy Graham. And, Mom, your piano playing and puppet thing are never going to make you famous. But how can people watch you work yourselves to death—on their behalf—and still treat you like garbage?”

Thomas chuckled too loudly. “Thought you hated clichés.”

“Don’t change the subject, Dad. You know I’m not letting you go until you tell me what happened.”

“Can’t we take you to dinner?” Grace said.
 
“C’mon! We both know you can’t afford it. Follow me through the cafeteria line, and you can share my meal.”
 
“That wouldn’t be right,” Grace said. “It’d be like stealing.”
 
“The place is full of lawyers! I’d find you counsel.”

Thomas was warmed to see even Grace smile at that. “Rav,” he said, “we just wanted to see you because we were passing through. And we thought it only fair to tell you that we won’t be able to help with your schooling anymore. At least for a while.”
 
“It’s all right, Dad. I’m grateful for what you’ve done already, and I know you couldn’t really afford that and certainly didn’t owe me anything after the way I’ve disappointed you.”
 
“I wouldn’t say you’ve disappointed us.”
 
“Well, I hope I have, Mom! I’ve tried to!”

Ravinia said it with a smile, but Grace looked pained.
 
“I’m just saying, I appreciate knowing, and I will make this work somehow. I’ll start my career the way everyone else does: in debt. I’m not aiming for some high-paying corporate job, but I’ll be able to dig out eventually.”
 
“You know you could go to our denominational school and—”
 
“Mom! I’m way past that. Anyway, if I was honest on the admissions forms, they wouldn’t take me. Now I need to go eat within the next half hour, and then I’m studying till midnight. But I’m not leaving you until you tell me what happened, so unless you want me to starve . . .”

7 p.m.
The Darby Trailer

 
“I’ll keep your mom’s plate warm,” Aunt Lois said as she and Peter and Brady crowded around the tiny kitchen table. “Brady, you want to pray for us?”
 
“No, ma’am. You, please.”
 
“Petey?”

Peter shook his head. “All I know is, ‘God is great, God is good, now we thank Thee for our food.’”

“Well,” Aunt Lois said, “that’s not half bad, but let me. Dear Lord, thank You for these precious boys and for my sister-in-law, wherever she is. Protect her and bring her back to Yourself. Give her strength when she finally hears what I have to tell her.

“Now, Lord, never let these boys forget all that I’ve taught them about You, that You died on the cross for their sins so they don’t have to go to hell but can live in heaven with You. And thanks for our food. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Peter was smirking when Brady opened his eyes, so Brady shot him a scowl before Aunt Lois noticed.

The woman had good intentions, Brady knew. It was hard not to love Aunt Lois.

A minute later Brady noticed a tear running down his aunt’s cheek. “What’s wrong?” he said.

“I’m just thinking about your mama and the news I have for her.”


From Riven.  Copyright © 2008 by Jerry B. Jenkins.  Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188.