Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Beginning and End (04/16/09)
By Mary McLeary
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“This CANNOT be real!!” Barb Ackerman yelled at her husband John who was trying to direct the moving van up the driveway off the narrow road. John tried to ignore her. “We are out of a wonderful home and now we’re in this place,” she fumed. John knew he was not the favorite person in the family right now. He too felt a little addled by the drastic changes they had experienced during the past two months.
The Ackermans had been living in a beautiful neighborhood on the Southern California peninsula for almost two years enjoying the weather and the beach until the company John worked for had to downsize. The President of the company decided he could either cut several positions on the assembly line or John’s executive position with its substantial salary. Overnight, John found himself looking for a job. He had his “golden parachute” to cushion the blow, but John and Barb both knew that living expenses for a family of five would eat that up in a hurry. John began an intensive search for another opportunity. He found it in this ugly little town in Kentucky. That was the problem. Although the opportunity was good, the setting reeked – especially when you compared it with the Palos Verdes peninsula. The whole family was experiencing culture shock. When the neighbors asked, “Have the children adjusted.” Barb wanted to say “Well, they haven’t run away.” Instead she just smiled and nodded. There was one bright spot. Barb’s parents were just across the state line in Tennessee, but leaving the lushness of the west coast for the winter cold of Kentucky had left them all depressed
“Mom, there’s nothing to do here!” wailed nine year old Holly for the third time. Stacy ran inside and like any recently uprooted twelve year old, went directly to her room. Thankfully, at fourteen, Matt thought any place with a basketball court was home.
“Holly, stop whining and help me unpack this last box. Then we’ll have all the stuff to make cookies.” Holly’s face brightened.
Matt appeared at the back door. “Mom, we have company.”
Two heads appeared behind him. “Hi!”said the older of the two men, “I’m Gary and this is Robert. We’re here to invite you to our church.” The two men drew the children into the kitchen like magnets. The visit was short, but before they left, Barb and John felt they had new friends and the kids were looking forward to church on Sunday. “Nice guys” John remarked while they got ready for bed. “There has to be a reason we’re here.”
“You better hope so,” Barb thought.
Four long, dreary months later, Barb still didn’t feel at home. She had seen the kids finish out the school year and make a few new friends, and though John’s hard work was beginning to pay off, Barb could tell he wasn’t satisfied either. The house they had bought at a bargain price was shaping up, but it would never be their dream home. Sitting on the front porch with her coffee, she prayed, “Lord, forgive me for my discontent, and let me see our reason for being here.”
Barb heard the phone. Appearing at the front door, Stacy held out the phone. “Mom, its Granma.” Barb took the phone. “Hey, Mom, what’s up?” An hour later, Barb was headed to a hospital in Tennessee. Her father was in intensive care after suffering a stroke earlier that morning. Two months later he died. They helped Barb’s mom get past Christmas, and on January 2nd John received a call.
“John, this is Pete Hastenings.” Pete had been John’s boss in Kansas. “You’re name came up today to head our Kansas City operation. You could run it any way you see fit. Would you be interested?” John was interested and so was Barb.
Barb’s mom was an independent woman of strong faith. “Honey, you and John have to do what is best for your family. God brought you here when He knew I would need you, and I’ll always be thankful for that, but I believe He has other plans for you. You should go.”
Years later Stacy said, “Mom, I barely remember anything about Kentucky.”
“I know honey, we were in and out.”
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