Perfect submission, all is at rest
I, in my Savior, am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love
The first week turned into two and the Lancaster’s were finally settled into the little house. Vivian was amazed the kids didn’t complain more. She’d fully expected temper tantrums and whining, but the farm kept them all so busy there wasn’t time for any of it. They slept well and ate more than usual; Vivian loved watching her children work hard and find joy in a job well done. Well, Timothy didn’t seem to be finding joy, he just wasn’t fitting in with farm life. He hated to sweat; and he’d let his Mom know in no uncertain terms that dirt under his fingernails was “unacceptable.” Vivian was praying yet again for him as she pulled weeds in the garden. She’d prayed more in the last two weeks than she had in the last decade, and it felt so good and right. Why she had ever stopped was a question she asked herself over and over. “Lord, you know Timothy needs a place to belong this summer. He’s angry and unhappy here. Please open an opportunity for him.” She pulled small weeds out of the soft soil as she whispered the words. She had already filled a basket with squash and zucchini, next she’d take a look at the tomatoes and see if any were ripe enough to pick. What she was really waiting for were the watermelons, but they still had a few weeks on the vine before they’d be ready; they showed good promise though and that made her mouth water. Thinking of the watermelons took her on a trip down memory lane to the county fair when she was just a girl. She’d hold hands with Grandy and he’d take her to whatever ride or booth she wanted. Perhaps the best part was the watermelon seed spitting contest; it was the talk of the day. The only prize was bragging rights, but you would’ve thought there was a million dollar check waiting for the winner. Vivian laughed out loud as she picked a bright red tomato and placed it in her basket. My, those were the days, she thought as she grabbed the basket and headed for her parent’s home. These will all clean up nicely, she loved having some kind of fresh vegetable every day; a positive change from all the fast food they’d consumed in Palm Beach. She’d made a promise to herself and God to notice the good changes that were happening. And, slowly but surely, good was happening.
She’d no sooner walked in the back door and hung her wide brimmed straw hat on the coat rack, when Mae began to explain. “Vivian, Deidra called this morning from the public library and asked if any of the kids would like to volunteer. Her daughter, Bessie, had her baby and is on maternity leave for at least six weeks. I immediately thought of Timothy, do you think he would like to help?” All Vivian could do was laugh. “What, dear?” Mae was looking down at her apron and brushing at her hair. “Is something wrong with me?” “No, no, Mom, it’s not you. I was just praying in the garden asking God to give Timothy an opportunity and now this.” Vivian laughed again, this time with fresh tears in her eyes; Mae turned and headed for the kitchen. “Okay, let me know what Timothy says then I’ll call Deidra back,” she spoke over her shoulder. “I’ll ask him at lunch, he’s helping in the barn right now.” Vivian didn’t have to imagine how unhappy he was to operate a pitch fork, he’d told her all about it earlier that morning when she’d asked him to help Thatcher put straw down in the stalls. Vivian followed her Mother into the kitchen, basket in hand. “Look at the bounty today!” Mae smiled and began washing the vegetables, “these will go nicely with the roast for supper.” The entire family had eaten dinner together every evening since the Lancaster’s arrived and Vivian couldn’t think of another thing that would make her any happier. Seeing the smiling faces around the dinner table felt like a healing balm. The kids talked with animation, telling all about their day and Vivian hung on every word. She’d stood at the sink more than one evening washing dishes, and thanking the Lord for their time on the farm.
There were tomato slices, fresh from the garden, sliced cheese, homemade bread and all the fixings for sandwiches at lunch. And, of course, pickles Mae had canned the year before. What no one in the family knew was there were more pickles than an entire church congregation could eat in a year stored in the cellar. She’d had a bountiful crop of cucumbers from the garden last spring, which begged the question, what do you do with all those cucumbers? So, she’d made pickles and more pickles and given them to everyone she knew. And yet, there were still more jars than she wanted to count still to be eaten. That’s why there were no cucumbers in the garden this year, plain and simple. The kids came in one by one, hot and ready for refreshment. “I made lemonade!” Grandma Mae announced and set the glass pitcher firmly on the table. There was plenty of chatter and laughter as the family enjoyed a hearty lunch before heading back out to a busy afternoon. “Timothy,” Vivian caught him as he was leaving the kitchen. “Grandma Mae got a phone call today, sounds like they need help at the library in town. Would you be interested in volunteering? It’s probably not as big or fancy as the one in Palm Beach, but it sounds like it might be fun.” The smile on Timothy’s face could’ve illuminated an entire room, “Oh, yes ma’am!” Vivian knew what the answer was going to be, but she sure enjoyed proposing the question. His reaction lifted her heart. “Okay, let’s you and me go home, get cleaned up, and we’ll head down there.” Timothy shot through the back screen door letting it slam behind him. “Mom, you can call Deidra now.” Mae already had the phone in her hand.
It was settled, Timothy would work three days a week sorting books and helping anyone who needed it. Deidra also asked him to read on Wednesday morning to the kids who came in for “Kids Corner.” He would pick the book to read, get approval from Deidra, and then read it aloud to the kids. Timothy was shy about it at first, but eventually agreed. Once Deidra convinced Timothy to do this thing with the kids, Vivian was sure she could talk anyone into anything. Timothy would hardly have been willing to do something like this back in Palm Beach, he’d rather stay invisible. Vivian spoke a whispered prayer of thanks to the Lord, it wasn’t lost on her that this was the exact answer she’d hoped for. Timothy asked to stay the afternoon at the library and Vivian couldn’t think of a single reason why he shouldn’t. “Pick you up at five.” She said the words over her shoulder as she walked out the glass door. A single glance back left her filled with thankfulness as Timothy was already looking through a box of books. “Praise you, Lord, I am so grateful.” She spoke toward the bright blue sky. She’d always said there was no sky like an Iowa sky and today only proved her point. It felt like God was smiling down on her and her sweet, shy boy.
Vivian climbed into the old Ford pick-up and shut the heavy door. She sat quietly remembering back to the first time she drove the old thing. Of course, it wasn’t old then. Back then the interior smelled new and the whole thing felt large; she was so intimidated. But, her Daddy sat right beside her in the bench seat and assured her she needn’t be afraid, he was right there. “You can do this, Viv,” he’d said. “You can do anything you put your mind to.” She smiled at the thought. She’d long since forgotten she could do anything she put her mind to. But, today, with a light breeze blowing through the open window and her heart brimming like a basket full of answered prayers, she decided it was true…anything was possible.
Thomas finally stood before the judge and a trial date was set for late summer. He was out on bond and still hadn’t called Vivian to check on her or the kids. He seemed angry and told Abigail not to come by and check on the house anymore. He didn’t want anyone connected with Vivian to come around. When Vivian heard this straight from Abigail’s mouth, she cried. What had she ever done but love that man? “He’s mad at himself, Vivian, you’re just a reminder of all he’s done wrong.” That’s what Abigail told her. She wasn’t sure she believed it, but she had no strength nor desire to confront him, so she’d let it go. What she couldn’t possibly know was how deeply ashamed Thomas felt; or how he cried as he laid down in a lonely bed every night. There was a stark white pillow next to him that never let him forget all he’d lost. He wasn’t sleeping or eating properly, his life had fallen apart and he had no one to blame but himself. Vivian made it her personal campaign to pray for Thomas, but she knew instinctively she couldn’t fix him. He’d made his choices and now he had to live with them. Sadly, they all did.
Timothy loved the library and for this answered prayer, Vivian continually praised the Lord. Trevor was helping out in the fields, he’d even driven the tractor. Trace worked with the horses, helped in the barn and occasionally went out into the fields with Grandpa Sonny and Trevor. Thatcher helped with the chickens and helped Trace with the barn and horses. That left Tatum. It seemed her sweet daughter would try to help but she kept feeling out of place. She’d pull weeds in the garden or feed the chickens but it never felt like a “fit,” is how she explained it to her Mother. “I’m praying about this, Tatum.” Vivian had told her one and only daughter. “Thanks, Mom,” was Tatum’s only response.
It was their second week in Lawrenceville and they’d yet to attend church. The first Sunday was still chaotic with unpacking and getting familiar with this new place. But, by the end of the second week, Vivian could think of no real reason not to load up and go. They had a family meeting Saturday night to discuss the matter. “I know we haven’t exactly been faithful church attenders in the past,” Vivian explained, “but I would like to change that. I would love for you all to attend the church I went to as a child.” She’d decided not to force the kids go, but to let them each decide for themselves. So much had happened in their young lives already and pushing them into a faith they weren’t sure about didn’t seem like a good idea. The kids sat and listened as she told them she was sorry for losing sight of the right priorities, and she planned to do better, and then she invited them to attend if they wanted. Thatcher was first to volunteer to go, “I will, Momma! I want to see where you went as a little girl.” Vivian smiled and ran her fingers through his thick blonde hair. “Okay, honey.” Vivian spoke to Thatcher and looked around at the other kids, hopeful. She honestly had no idea what to expect. There was an awkward silence that filled the room, but then, her ever faithful Trevor spoke, “I’ll give it a try, Mom.” A tear slipped down Vivian’s cheek. “I’ll go too,” Trace chimed in. “Me too, Mom,” Tatum spoke in her gentle voice. That just left Timothy, the one who, until very recently, wasn’t enjoying anything about Iowa. Trevor looked at Timothy, “what about you, buddy?” Timothy looked down at his lap. “Well…I guess so.” Vivian exhaled for the first time in what felt like minutes. It was settled. All six Lancaster’s would be lining a pew the next morning in a small farm town church in the heart of Iowa. This was not the life Vivian thought she and her beloved children would be living, but like the Iowa soil, at that moment, life sure felt rich.