Chapter 2 of Christian Fiction Novel in progress
|Arriving to her mother’s house on a Saturday evening, she unloaded only what she would need for the night and next day before spending some quality time with her mom and then retiring to bed for a much needed sleep. The next morning, she and her mother had a nice breakfast before the morning service at the Eternal Hope Church. Kai’s parents had been attending this church since right after it opened four years earlier, and Kai had accompanied them when she would be back home visiting, so she knew a few of the faces that greeted her.
Eternal Hope was a relatively small non-denominational church, with approximately twenty to twenty-five families that attended regularly. The pastor that started the church was a kind, older gentleman who never met a stranger and would give the shirt off his back to help someone in need. He and his wife became quick friends with Kai’s parents, as with many of the families that attended there, as well as many other individuals within the close knit community. However, with his age and some health concerns with both himself and his wife, Kai found out that morning that the church was looking for a new pastor to take over the pulpit and the daily running of the church. That morning, the latest prospect was set to preach the morning sermon. As Kai sat in the pew next to her mother, waiting for the service to start, she was surprised by a familiar voice.
“Kai, is that you?” the female voice questioned.
Turning her head to find the owner of said voice, Kai couldn't help but mile as she recognizes her best friend from high school, Karla Phillips Dayton, approaching from the front of the sanctuary. Karla was a tall, slender redhead who had grown up with Kai since third grade. By the time they reached high school, they were almost inseparable except for the time Karla spent with her boyfriend, the captain of the football and basketball team, Jack Dayton. After high school, Jack went off to seminary school while Karla and Kai had gone off to college. Jack and Karla stayed a couple and found a way to make the long distance relationship work as their respective schools were a few hundred miles apart. After everyone graduated, Kai got a nice job in another state working as a counselor for a high school while Jack and Karla got married and moved to one of the larger cities in their home state so Jack could take over one of the churches there. Kai had lost touch with them after a couple years and was very surprised to see Karla back in Duster Grove.
“Hey Karla, how are you?” Kai inquired with a bright smile as she stands and offers her former ‘partner in crime’ a gentle hug.
“I’m doing great, how are you? I’m sorry to hear about your father, he was a great man. I just found out today or we would have gone to the funeral. You are looking great though.” Karla responded, returning the hug.
“Thanks, you are too. And I’m doing pretty good thanks. It was a shock to everyone, completely unexpected. What are you doing back?” Kai replied with an attempt at a reassuring smile.
“Oh, Jack is preaching today. He is hoping to get this position so we can move back. Neither of us like ‘big city’ life.” Karla returned with a soft chuckle.
“I understand that. There is nothing like living in a small town. I hope it works out for you guys. I’d love to be able to spend time with you two again.”
“Oh me too. What are you doing for lunch today? If you don’t have plans, why don’t you, Jack and I go to the diner and catch up on life?”
“I don’t know, it depends on if mom needs me for something.” Kai responded before turning to look to her mother next to her.
Caroline just smiles and shakes her head as she replied. “I don’t need a babysitter Kai; go enjoy lunch with your friends.”
“Guess that settles it. Lunch at the Rebel’s Den it is.” Kai says as she chuckles and turns to face Karla once more.
“Great, I can’t wait to tell Jack.” Karla replied, her face lit up with her excitement. Looking around and seeing people were settling in for the service to start, she looks back to Kai as she adds. “Guess it’s time for the service to start See you afterward.” Giving Kai another hug, Karla then returned to the front of the sanctuary about the time Jack emerges from a side door and joins her on the front pew.
Kai sat back down next to her mother and readied herself for the service to start The next couple hours seemed to fly by as they had a nice praise and worship service, followed by Jack’s sermon on love. After the service, Kai made arrangements to meet Jack and Karla at the diner after dropping her mother off at her house.
Somehow Kai beat Jack and Karla to the diner, so she went on in to get a table. As she was waiting for the to arrive, she did some people watching. While some of the faces remained the same, she found herself amazed at how many were different Occasionally she would recognize someone and would offer a smile nod and polite smile in greeting. A few of them would offer their condolences on her recent loss and say a few kind words about her father, or go so far as recount a pleasant memory.
It wasn't too long, however, before Jack and Karla arrived. Waving to them as they enter, Kai noticed Jack had not changed at all in appearance since he and Karla’s wedding. His six-foot, masculine frame seemed to dwarf Karla’s five-foot, eight inch slender one His blonde hair and baby blue eyes still held their boyish charm and he could still light the room with his smile. Both Jack and Karla had this charisma about them that made them very easy to like and get along with.
Arriving at the table, Jack pulls a chair out for Karla before taking a seat himself after placing a soft kiss on her cheek. Watch this exchange, Kai couldn't help but smile at them both. “He’s still the gentleman, I see. Married life hasn’t seemed to take that out of him yet.” She joked as she looked between the two.
“No, not yet. He still treats me like a queen.” Karla replied with a bright smile.
“Of course I’m going to treat her like a queen. She is the best thing that has ever come into my life, next to the Lord.” Jack added with a loving smile of his own as he looked back to his wife.
“Okay, okay, enough mushy time. How have you two been? It seems like forever since we've spoke, much less seen each other.” Kai inquired with a soft chuckle.
We've been doing great actually.” Karla replied before everyone took a moment to decide on what they wished to eat and then gave their orders to the waitress. When the menus were returned and the waitress was on her way to turn in their order and get their drinks, Karla continued. “Jack had been pastoring a church in Brindleton since about two months after we got married, so close to seven years now. The church is full of wonderful people that love the Lord and are very active both in the church and in the community.”
“Wow, that sounds great. So why are you back here trying out for the position at Eternal Hope?” Kai asked before taking a sip of her newly delivered tea.
“Because about two months ago, I started to get a feeling that our time there was coming to an end, that we had accomplished what God wanted us to do there, and that it was time to trust in Him to guide us to where HE wanted us to be next. I started praying about it and asked Him for confirmation of this.” Jack explained casually, yet within his eyes was a child like excitement as he continued. “About a week later, Karla came to me saying she felt the same way. I hadn't told her about how I was feeling, so there was my confirmation. I gave my notice of resignation the church the next day. Last Sunday was my last day there and we heard about his opening the next day. So here we are.”
That’s pretty exciting huh?” Karla piped in before adding. “So what about you What have you been doing with yourself since we last spoke?”
“Nothing spectacular really. I finally finished my Masters in School Counseling and was working at a junior high school back in Drakemore. I finished out this last year and just moved back to Duster Grove yesterday. I felt I needed to be closer to mom now that dad is gone.” Kai explained.
“I don’t know, but completing a Master’s program sounds pretty spectacular to me.” Jack said with a smile.
“I know, right?” Karla added. “And talk about timing. I heard a couple people talking on their way out of the church about how the high school here is in need of a new counselor. Couldn't hurt to check it out if you are interested.”
“Really? Well I will definitely check into that, thanks.” Kai replied with a new found sense of excitement of her own.
The rest of their time together was spent amid small talk and laughter filled reminiscing of their times in school and college. Before they left the diner, Jack said a prayer thanking the Lord for letting their paths cross again, for His continued blessings on their lives, and for the continued guidance and opening of the right doors so that the three of them would be where He wished them to be.
Upon saying their goodbyes, Jack and Karla went to spend some time with Karla’s folks outside of town while Kai went back to her mothers house to get some rest while talking with her mom about the position she was told about over lunch.
After the evening church service, Kai visited with her mother a little while before her mother retired to bed. In her old bedroom, Kai sat in the peace and quiet a few minutes before she started to update her resume so that she could go to the school the next day and apply for the vacant counselor position. When she finished, she got ready for bed herself. Once nestled into her old bed, and the lamp beside her bed wa shut off, she said a prayer of her own before drifting off to a peaceful night’s sleep.
The next couple of months went by quickly in a whirlwind of activity for Kai. She sold her house in Drakemore, so she was able to purchase a house in Duster Grove. Nothing fancy, but it suited her needs nicely. It was a small two bedroom house with a vaulted ceiling in a large living/dining room/kitchen. She absolutely loved the open layout and everything else about the house.
Having been selected for the position at the school, she had the summer months to get settled into her new house while working part-time at the local grocery store. She also attended some training necessary for her new position and even spent a couple days setting up her new office.
She attended church with her mother every Sunday and Wednesday at Eternal Hope, where Jack was now pastor. Kai also decided to start teaching the college age Sunday School class, ages nineteen to twenty-five, and became very active in many church activities.
She, Jack and Karla spent considerable tie together as well. They grew close again just like they were in high school and college. Strangely it was like they had never spent time, years even, apart. Not only were they growing close to each other again, but they were each growing closer to God. Unknown to them, this time was building the foundation for them to stand on during the battles that lay ahead.
During these same couple of months, other foundations were being laid through meetings with city officials that, when completed, would set the stage for not only their faith, but everyone’s faith and commitments to be tested like they have never been before.