The fourth book in the Covenant of Trust series is officially under contract, and while that may seem like a "non-announcement" – we knew the book was coming, after all – it feels good. Signing the papers means that draft on my computer will soon be an ink and paper reality.
When? Next year some time. There's a young man you're getting to meet in the Foundations series named Matthew Bolling. He plays a major part in Sanction. The events in Refined are helping Matt become the man he needs to be for Shannon in Sanction.
What's it about? As much as I love the story of the Prodigal Son, I've always wondered what life was like the day after the party. How hard was it to settle back into the old routine life he'd left? How hard was it to live in grace and not guilt? With Shannon, we'll get to explore some of those questions. It opens in the courtroom for Dylan Snider's assault trial. Chuck is the one in crisis this time around as he learns the true nature of the encounter between Dylan and Shannon. Vengeance and justice, grace and forgiveness, faith and surrender all play a major role.
Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 2 Corinthians 5:9
This was the opening of the book. It gives a little more background and you get to see some family interactions but it lacks tension.
Thursday, June 12
Bobbi Molinsky pulled a pan of hot rolls from the oven and set them on the hot pad on the counter. Everything was going to finish right on time. Now if only Brad were here on time. Her oldest son had turned thirty-five last week, and she had finally pinned him down, got him to commit to a birthday dinner tonight. She had spent the day in the kitchen, making everything from scratch, including rolls, and peach pie. The chicken was fried, the potatoes mashed, the corn buttered. All that was lacking was her perpetually late son.
It was a rare thing to pull Brad away from work. Most days he put in sixteen hours at Gateway Mission. As soon as he had finished seminary, he returned home and opened the mission to reach out to the people in downtown
Bobbi stepped into the doorway of the family room. “
“Is Brad here?”
“Late as usual,” Bobbi replied.
“Oh, I need you and Dad to pick a day when we can go to Mizzou,”
“Whenever your dad wants to go. I’m free all summer. After this year, I’ll be free forever.” Bobbi had taught school for twenty-one years, and had decided that the upcoming year would be her last. She would turn sixty next spring, and in her mind that was a good enough reason to retire. Sixty was plenty young enough to enjoy retirement, and with Chuck already grooming Chad Mitchell to take over the law firm, they were both looking forward to next year.
This fall, Shannon would join her brother Jack at the
Six years later, their marriage was tested again when the woman with whom Chuck had had the affair, Tracy
Soon afterward, Bobbi had Chuck file formal adoption papers for Jack, and they changed his last name to Molinsky. Bobbi never wanted the Jack to wonder if he was on equal footing with Brad, Joel and Shannon. Jack had been in awe of Brad since the first day he met him. At first it was because Brad had played football, but then a deep bond was forged between them the night Brad led Jack to Christ. Since then, Jack had patterned his life after Brad’s, playing baseball and football just like his brother. Jack was crushed to find out that since he was shorter and stockier, like Joel, he wasn’t built to be a wide receiver like Brad had been. Brad assured him that defensive end was a great position, and Jack went on to set a school record for sacks by a defensive end. Jack also depended on Brad’s advice. He helped at the mission as much as he could between work and school and planned to follow his brother to seminary after he got his degree.
“Mom!” Brad called from the entry hall. “I’m here! And I’m only ten minutes late!”
Bobbi smiled and went to meet him. She hugged him, and Brad leaned over so she could kiss his cheek. “It’s so good to see you! Happy birthday!”
“Thanks. Everything smells great. Joel’s not coming, is he?”
“No. He traded on call weeks so he could be here when Danny was home, and, naturally, he got called.” Joel Molinsky was in his first year of private practice in pediatrics. His hours were much more flexible than during his residency, but he couldn’t escape being on call.
“Yes! The pie is mine!” Brad said. Bobbi shook her head and walked back toward the kitchen. “So has Danny left yet?” Brad asked, following his mother. “I haven’t talked to him since last week.”
“Rita said they were supposed to leave
“Dad’s home, isn’t he?”
“He’s here somewhere. Maybe the garage. He and Jack were going to rotate tires or something.” Bobbi began transferring the mashed potatoes to a serving bowl. “You know, he barely gets his forty hours in anymore.” She smiled broadly. “How different is that from when you and Joel were growing up?”
“Dad’s come a long way,” Brad admitted.
“I hardly think thirty-five is middle-aged.”
“Sure, whatever you say,”
Even so, she felt closer to Joel since he had been around all through her preschool years. Shannon and Jack had a love-hate relationship that was a natural result of their mere thirteen-month age difference. Inseparable as children, their teenage years were marked by an uneasy balance of cooperation and competition. That was destined to continue through college.
Just then, Chuck and Jack came in from the garage. “Honey, why didn’t you tell me Brad was here already,” Chuck said as he kissed his wife lightly on the cheek. “We were just goofing around, killing time.” Chuck crossed the room and shook his son’s hand. “Brad, how are things?”
“Great. You remember the board meeting next week, don’t you?”
“Sure. I’ll be there.” Chuck served on the board of directors for Gateway Mission, and not surprisingly, his law firm was one of the mission’s biggest benefactors.
“You going back to work tonight?” Jack asked.
“Yeah, I’ve got some paperwork to do.”
“Can I go with you?”
“Jack, I really don’t feel good about you driving home from there that late,” Bobbi said. “Sorry Brad, but your mission is a very bad neighborhood.”
“I know, but not too many poor folks live out here,” Brad winked. “Jack can stay with me tonight and come home in the morning.”
“Fair enough,” Bobbi conceded. “I think we’re ready to eat.” The Molinskys settled in the dining room and after Brad asked a quick blessing, they their filled plates and enjoyed nonstop conversation over dinner. As Bobbi listened to them, she couldn’t help but think, “This is what it’s supposed to be like. If only Joel’s were here, it would be perfect.”
After dinner and dessert, Brad finally said, “I’ve got to get going or I’ll be up all night. Mom, that was the best meal I’ve had in a long time. Thank you.” He hugged her and kissed her cheek. “Is everybody gonna be at Rita’s Saturday?”
“As far as I know,” Bobbi answered. “I’ll get you the particulars as soon as she tells me.”
“Jack? You ready?”
“Can you bring me back tomorrow? Or you want me to drive?”
“I’ll drop you at Dad’s office. That way I don’t have to drive all the way out here.”
Jack picked up the gym bag he had packed, and kissed his mother. “See you tomorrow, Mom.”
“Be careful,” Bobbi admonished. “Both of you.”
(Cut from Chapter 23)
“Mommy, what’s wrong?”
“Come and sit,” Bobbi said inviting
“But I want to go.”
“I know you do, but the emergency room is a big, scary place, and I would rather that you didn’t have to see all of that. This is going to be very hard for Jack, and I need you to help Daddy and me take care of him.”
“Is Jack’s mom going to die?”
“I don’t know, Baby.”
“I am, too. He’s going to need us to love him a lot.”
“You can go love him. I’ll love him here.”
“Thanks for understanding.” Bobbi kissed
“Aunt Rita likes me,”
“She should.” Bobbi smiled and lifted
“I’ll wait for Daddy and Jack. It won’t be the same.”
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