Blessed Assurance: A Story of Hope (part fifteen)

The long days of summer were nearly over and the corn stalks were as tall as she was. Vivian had taken a break after morning chores to walk the fields and think over all that had happened in the months since they’d arrived. It seemed impossible that they were facing the beginning of August. She and the kids had some decisions to make, and it wasn’t going to be easy. She had prayed all summer that God would bring healing to her heart and the hearts of her children, and she could see the answers to her prayers in the eyes of each of them. Trevor had given his life to Jesus not long after Tatum. Then he’d made the decision to volunteer at youth group each Wednesday night.  He was growing in ways Vivian wished Thomas would grow. She still prayed for Thomas every day; she believed now more than ever that God answers the prayers of His children.   This summer, filled with hard work and redemption, made her realize nothing is impossible with God.  Tatum was still working at the animal shelter; they loved her there and would certainly miss her when the family headed back to Palm Beach. Trace loved the horses. He’d learned to saddle and take care of them and Vivian loved to watch him as he rode carefree through the open fields. He’d grown up so much this summer. He was still her jovial young man, but there was a depth to him now that only maturity could bring. Timothy had made friends at the library, the kids loved him and, remarkably, “Kids Korner” had become one of his favorite things. He discovered that he liked to bake and help Grandma Mae in the kitchen. He was happier than Vivian had ever seen him and it warmed her heart to the core. Thatcher celebrated his 11th birthday in Iowa and he loved farm life. He ran barefoot most everywhere and Vivian was quite sure the dirt under his fingernails would never completely wash away. All of the kids were sun kissed from working outside; their complexions beamed with health and their countenances with joy.  How they would ever be able to leave was the question Vivian couldn’t escape as she walked the fields this morning. It had been a glorious summer and she was sure the glamour of Palm Beach could never measure up to this small Midwestern town.

Grandma Mae was leaning over the kitchen table kneading dough, the kids loved her homemade bread; she never grew tired of seeing their faces when she’d made a fresh loaf.  Her hands were full of flower dough when her cell phone rang.  She could see on the screen that it was Mabel from Palm Beach.  She hadn’t talked to her since that fateful day she called to tell Mae about Thomas.  Her throat tightened a bit, what could she want?  Mae knew Thomas’s court date had come and gone, he was found guilty and sentenced to eighteen months in prison and 20,000 hours community service.   She hadn’t discussed it much with Vivian or the kids, she preferred Thomas’s name not be brought up at all.  He was a sore subject for her.    Mae quickly rushed to the sink, washed her hands the best she could, dried them on the towel hanging from the oven handle and picked up the phone.  “Hello.”  Mabel launched straight into the latest “news” from the neighborhood.  Mae tried to be courteous but had no real interest in Palm Beach since her family was safely nearby.  “Oh, I also wanted to let you know Howard visited Thomas in prison.”  Howard was Mabel’s husband of many years and a faithful follower of Jesus; he’d worked with prison ministry since Mae had known them.  “Oh, really?”  The mention of Thomas caught Mae’s attention and she rolled her eyes.  “Yes, and I tell you Mae, according to Howard, Thomas seems to have turned over a new leaf.  He’s given his life to Jesus and wants to talk to Vivian but he’s afraid to call.”  Mae’s heart dropped.  She knew she should rejoice that he’d accepted Christ as his Savior, but all she felt was angry.  Of course he’s on his best behavior now, Mae thought but didn’t say.   “Really?”  It was all Mae could muster at the moment.  “I know that must be hard to hear, Mae, I won’t judge if you’re not ready for Thomas to be back in Vivian’s good graces.  But, Howard seems convinced Thomas really has changed.  I guess only time will tell.”  “Yes, that’s right.” Mae had only spoken a handful of words this entire conversation.  “Well, I guess I’ll let you go, I know I’ve shocked you with this information but I hope you’ll pray about it and pray for God’s will in all of this.”  “Yes, yes, I’ll try.”  Mae made a halfhearted promise and hung up the phone.  She stood by the table for a moment as emotions washed over her.  Then, as if the dough had committed the crime, she pounded her fist deep, tossing and turning it as she muttered her frustrations to the Lord.   “I don’t understand, are we supposed to forgive and forget after all he’s done to this family?  Help me, Lord, I am angry and I don’t want to see it your way, but…I am willing to let you change my heart, at least I think I am.”  She continued praying as she worked and finally tossed the dough into a bowl and threw the kitchen towel over it so it could rise. 

Vivian could tell something was wrong with her Mother the moment she entered the farm house after her walk.  Those walks she took most mornings had been her saving grace.  She prayed and talked to the corn stalks and, in time, the Lord had accomplished a deep healing work in her.  She knew no matter where they lived, she would never be the same.  This summer had changed everything.  “What’s wrong, Mom?”  Mae kept looking down, slicing a tomato fresh from the garden.  “Mabel called.”  It was all she needed to say, Vivian knew exactly why her Mother was upset.   “Oh, I see.”  “Did you know Thomas got saved? Or so he says.”   Vivian was quiet, she knew her next words were important and she wanted to measure them carefully.   She sat down at the table and invited her Mom to join her.  Once Mae found a seat, she wouldn’t make eye contact with Viv.   “I’m sorry, Mom.  I should have told you.  I just didn’t know how.  Howard led Thomas to the Lord a week or so ago.  I think I’m still processing the news myself.  I haven’t talked to Thomas, but I did receive a letter.   He must’ve written the day he accepted the Lord.  I’ve been praying for him all summer, praying for his salvation.”  At these words, Mae felt a sting of conviction, she hadn’t prayed once for Thomas, she was so angry at the pain he’d brought on the family.    Tears filled Mae’s eyes but she still didn’t speak.   Vivian reached over and took her Mother’s hand and held it tightly, “I’ll always care about him, Mom, he’s the father of these wonderful children we love so much.  But, I’m not making any commitments or promises about the future.  If God wants Thomas back in my, life, he’ll make it happen, if not, then he’ll keep me safe.  God is my guide and protector.  I’m nowhere near ready to run back into Thomas’s arms, maybe I never will be. I don’t know.  But, I do know if I’m going to pray for a miracle and then receive one, I can’t turn my back on it because it makes me uncomfortable.  I don’t know if I’m explaining this well…”  Her voice trailed off.   The tears fell freely down Mae’s cheeks.   She wished her heart was as tender and willing as her daughter’s.   She squeezed Vivian’s hand and finally spoke, “pray for me, honey.  Pray for God to tender my heart to his will, whatever it is.”  Vivian stood up and closed the space between the two of them; she knelt on the floor in front of her Mother and laid her head down in her lap.  “I love you, Momma.  The kids and I never would’ve made it through this summer without you and Daddy.”  Mae tenderly stroked her daughter’s blonde hair and her tears continued to fall.  Looking in on that moment, some might say they were tears of baptism, a holy moment between a mother and daughter.  Mae would give her very life for this child; her heart ached at all she’d been through.  But all she said was, “I love you too, my precious girl, I love you too.” 

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