It was amazing that Mom and Dad finally had got off her case about going to Church all the time. Denise decided they had considered how little time she had with Jon, with him away so much. But, lately, there had been opportunities for her to attend Church, when Jon couldn’t make it down, and she still hadn’t been forced to go. It had been really neat, too, to have the whole Sunday to goof off, at least, until Roger mentioned it. Was this guilt she was feeling? And why should she feel guilty?
“How about a glass of milk, Denise?” Nana asked, standing at the refrigerator in readiness.
Grateful for a new topic, Denise accepted the offer, turning to Papa seated at her left. “Have you been fishing lately. Papa? I was trying to remember how long it’s been since I’ve gone fishing. A long time I know.”
Papa proceeded to tell about some of the fishing he and Denise had done when she was young, and progressed to his latest catches, always demonstrating the size of the fish with his hands spread apart, and Nana reminded him, laughingly, that he was always prone to exaggerate!
Denise and Roger joined in the fun and laughed as the large hands came somewhat closer together at the demand for truth!
During the visit, amid the laughter, Denise noticed the changes since she last had really looked at Nana and Papa. Nana’s hair was mostly gray, now, Denise thought, where it was formerly a salt and pepper color. She looked slightly more rounded than she remembered, more grandmotherly. Denise remembered how comfortable her lap had been as Nana had rocked her as a young child, too old to be rocked probably, but rocked nonetheless.
Papa seemed to have changed the least. His shoulders were now slightly stooped, and he was perhaps thinner than she remembered. His hair had been white for years, and his skin now was a leathery brown with pleasant, long, laugh lines. Such a dear man, Denise thought to herself.
Papa and Roger had somehow gotten on the subject of cows, Denise realized, as her attention returned to the conversation. As she listened to them, good-naturedly arguing about the quality of the different breeds of cattle, her mind again began to wander.
Why had she never noticed Roger’s hazel eyes, with the brown specks on the green background, or the mysteriously long, dark eyelashes that looked as though they should belong to a girl? His hair was a medium brown with red highlights, and the overhead light danced on his hair with the movement of his head, while he was deep in conversation. Stylishly cut. and brushed away from his face, it perfectly complimented his boyish oval face. His straight, white teeth, (which did not remind you of braces), fitted perfectly with his small, but very attractive smile. And the muscles in his arms! They were accentuated by the T-shirt he wore. Denise realized she had never seen him in casual clothes before. She had never really looked at him before! Well, who ever pays attention to their Sunday School teacher anyway, especially when there’s someone like Jon around!
Roger was good-looking, Denise admitted to herself, but he couldn’t compare with Jon! Besides, he was too old for her, and probably a fanatic at that.
“I read in the paper that you made cheerleader, again, Denise.” Nana said, interrupting her train of thought.
“Yeah, and we already went to camp right after school was out. We learned a lot of new routines, but the head cheerleader this year, you know Joyce Peterson, don’t you, she’s really bossy! I don’t know how it’s gonna work out, but maybe we can get along until the season’s over. I hope so anyway.” Denise responded doubtfully.
Oh, yes, that’s Mike Peterson’s daughter isn’t it?”
“Yeah, that’s her. She’s pretty nice, and she’s good at the moves and all, but I can’t stand the way she tries to take over everything. She’s always been that way of course, but last year wasn’t so bad. Now that she’s Head though, it could be a real pain!” Denise confided.
“Sounds like maybe we need to pray about that. You know, the Lord can handle this girl, Joyce, don’t you think, Roger?” Papa challenged, teasingly.
“I sure do, Charlie. I haven’t found a problem too simple or too big for Him to handle,” Roger answered with a twinkle in his eyes.
“You’re kidding me, aren’t you?” Denise asked laughingly. “You wouldn’t really pray about a thing like that, would you?” A curious look came into her eyes as she was seriously trying to understand this thing.
“You bet child!” Papa answered enthusiastically. “You know, the Lord said to ask and receive, that our joy may be full! We have to be careful not to ask selfishly, of course, or to pray for things that are out of line with the will of God. But strife between friends is not God’s will, and if we ask, I believe we can trust him to take care of it.”
“The Bible says that where there is strife and confusion, there is every evil work. So you know that God is not pleased with that,” Roger added.
Nana sat quietly listening, but nodded in agreement as Denise looked from one to the other incredulously, still not convinced they all weren’t just ‘pulling her leg*. “You sound really serious about that,” she replied hesitantly.
“Oh, we are,” Papa reassured her with a twinkle still in his eye, and the smile about his lips, that left still a small doubt as to his sincerity.
Roger took it from there. “According to Matthew 18:20, the Lord is right here with us,” he said as he took her hand unoffensively. “He said that whatsoever we ask believing shall be done for us. Is it OK if we just pray right now?”
Denise nodded, a curious light remaining in her eyes. How could he be so sure about these things, she wondered, and Nana and Papa seemed convinced,too. Wishing she could be sure, too, without being a fanatic, she bowed her head as Roger prayed a brief prayer asking that God intervene in the situation and bring peace and joy into the relationship instead of the strife that seemed inevitable, closing with, “That You may be glorified, and our joy be full, in Jesus name. Amen.”
Looking up, Roger announced since it was getting late and they all had to get up early tomorrow morning, he’d better get home.
Something quickened within Denise, as if she hated to see him go, but quickly rejecting that feeling, she thanked him again, refusing to hold his gaze.
Soon after Roger left, Denise made her way to the guest bedroom for the night. Papa followed behind her in the little hall, turning out the lights as they went.
“Sleep well, Denise,” Nana called from the master bedroom.
“You too, Nana. Goodnight Papa,” Denise said as she turned and hugged Papa at the door of her bedroom.
“The Lord gives his beloved sleep, so enjoy it Denise. See you bright and early in the morning,” Papa said sweetly as he released his granddaughter.
“Am I His beloved?” Denise asked herself quietly in the darkness of the night, feeling the cool breeze from the east window, open in the room. Pulling up the cover and making herself comfortable on the soft cotton mattress of the bed, she quickly drifted off, peacefully to sleep.
To Be Continued…