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Authors: Karen Kingsbury

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BOOK: Take Two
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After the next round of coffee, Keith, Lisa, and Andi went home. Keith promised to pick up Chase for the drive to LA first
thing Sunday morning. They wanted half a day to discuss their plans and meet with Ben Adams one more time before they returned
to the editing room to begin their most intense week yet.

When they were gone, Chase leaned against the closed door and locked eyes with his wife. “Is it the money? Is that what’s
eating you?”

“I’m not the problem.” Kelly touched her fingers to her chest, her expression anchored in disbelief. “We can’t walk around
pretending we aren’t in trouble.” She paused, and raw fear flashed in her eyes. “What if the film doesn’t break even?”

Chase didn’t want to fight. He folded his arms and leaned his head against the cool wood door. His tone was quietly resigned.
“It’s Thanksgiving, Kelly. We’re supposed to thankful.”

“I am. But I’m also realistic.” She tossed her hands and exhaled her frustration. “We’re running out of money, Chase. You’ve
got a movie almost done, and that’s great. But where do we go from here?”

“Do we have to know?” His anger rose a level. “Whatever happened to trusting God? Believing He has a plan for us?”

“Don’t start with that.” Kelly let her hands fall to her sides. The girls were asleep down the hall, and he watched her fight
to keep her voice in check. “Of course God has a plan. That doesn’t mean the plan is for you to make movies, right? Or did
you get a memo from God and forget to tell me?”

Chase hated when she was sarcastic. Her eyebrows lowered and the lines deepened across her forehead. In moments like this
she seemed a different person from the girl he’d married. As if the two of them had never laughed or loved at all.

He thought of all the responses he might give her. He could tell her sarcasm didn’t become her, and he could remind her that
before they left the mission field they had agreed God wanted them here, in California … making movies. But again he was too
tired for the battle. He brushed his hand in her direction. “Never mind.”

“Wait …”

He didn’t want to. Without looking back, he walked to the kitchen and surveyed the dishes still crowded around the sink. He
rolled up his shirt sleeves and began scrubbing the sweet potatoes and dried-on stuffing. Four of the plates were already
washed when Kelly came to him. She studied him for a minute, and then joined in, wrapping up the leftover pie and putting
away spices and whipped cream left out from dessert. From the corner of his eye, Chase watched her linger near the spice cupboard,
searching for something.

Then, almost abruptly, she straightened and with only the slightest hesitation she told him good night and she was gone. As
she walked away, he saw something he hadn’t noticed before. She was wearing stretch pants — the kind she wore when she struggled
with her weight. He’d noticed she was a little heavier than usual, but the pants were a sure sign.

He dried his hands and stooped down near the spice cupboard. Far in the back, where he would never have otherwise noticed
it, was a wadded-up plastic grocery bag. He reached back and pulled it out. Even before he opened it, he had an idea of what
he’d found. This was Kelly’s weakness — hiding food. Sneaking chocolate and cookies so that no one would know she struggled.
He opened the bag and there was the proof. It held at least fifty Hershey’s Kisses, and just as many empty wrappers.

Anger rattled his nerves once more. He stood and moved to the trashcan beneath the sink, but he stopped before slamming the
bag into the trash. Instead he set the bag out on the counter in plain sight. If she wanted to eat candy, she could eat it.
He would love her no matter what.

“Why, God?” The prayer felt as worn out as he did. Did their money troubles really have her that depressed?

He massaged his thumb and fingers into his temples and willed the tension there to ease. Compassion tempered his frustration.
Kelly didn’t want to eat like this. She was worried and discouraged, afraid of their money troubles and Chase’s future as
a filmmaker. He looked out the window again.

What can I do, God? How can I love her so that I’m all she needs?

Almost as soon as he’d laid the question before God, Chase knew the answer. He would never satisfy all Kelly’s needs. Only
the Lord could do that. And until she learned to turn to Him when she felt overwhelmed, the struggle would continue.

How long had she been discouraged this time? She’d come to the shoot and together they’d shared alone time — something rare
for them. She’d been supportive and loving and sure that God would see them through. But after his second LA editing trip,
he’d noticed something different about her. She seemed distant and short. Now he understood just how hopeless she must be
feeling.

Please, God … give her strength. I’m not sure how much I can help her.

No matter how he approached the subject, he couldn’t win, couldn’t help her. He finished the dishes, praying for her the entire
time. Clearly the answer was the one God had placed on his heart moments ago: she needed Christ — His satisfaction, His fulfillment,
His strength.

As he turned off the lights he no longer felt angry. Instead he was determined to do the one thing he could do: pray for her
without ceasing, that she might find the strength to do the same.

Before her discouragement grew any worse.

S
HE’D BEEN FOUND OUT.

Kelly knew it early Friday morning as soon as she saw the bag of candy on the counter. Her heart slid into a fast and frantic
rhythm, because if Chase knew … If he knew, then she wasn’t sure how she could face him. He and the girls were asleep, but
they’d wake up soon. Chase would give her that look, the one that said he was aware of her struggles and that he was disappointed
in her. She would be forced to come clean about her eating, and she would feel like a fat failure in front of her husband.
Too depressed to find her way to daylight.

Her heart found its regular beat again. Defiance muddied the stagnant water of her heart. If Chase knew, there was no point
hiding the candy. She moved the bag back to the spice cupboard, right up front. She could eat what she wanted to eat, and
if she gained weight, then so be it. She had to keep the house and yard up, pay the bills, and keep the family going on almost
no money. She would find control later, after the New Year. Chase was never home anyway, gone running after a dream that seemed
less and less likely.

The pans were still soaking in the sink. She studied them, defeated, and caught her reflection in the mirror. She stopped
short and stared at herself, hating what she saw. The weight was piling on, and she could do nothing to hide the fact. Her
face looked pasty and puffy, creased with concern and deceit.

She took a step closer. Rebelliousness didn’t become her. When had her eyes lost the shine that marked them a few months ago
when she went to Bloomington, Indiana, and declared to Chase her absolute support? Punch drunk, that’s how she looked, battered
by the abuse she wielded on her own body. Her blank eyes reminded her of someone lost somewhere in the middle rounds of a
boxing match against depression. A match she was destined to lose.

A realization began to take root, and she felt conviction taking hold of her, shaking her and ordering her out of the ring.
Life wasn’t meant to be a web of lies, and only one reason could explain why Chase had found out about her recent mindless
eating.

God wanted him to find out.

She hung her head and didn’t try to stop the gathering tears. A long, slow sigh made its way from her, taking with it every
argument she’d ever made in favor of hiding food and falling prey to a diet of chocolate and McDonald’s. None of this was
Chase’s fault; it was her own. Chase loved her and cared for her and the girls in a way too great for words. His time away
was a necessary part of the commitment of filmmaking — an adventure she’d agreed to and supported even as recently as her
trip to Indiana.

Footsteps sounded in the hallway, and Kelly ran her fingertips beneath her eyes. She sniffed and looked at herself once more.
God, I need You. I can’t do this without You.
The next few minutes were going to be humiliating, but if they were God’s way of taking her out of the fight, then she had
no choice but to go along. However awful she felt.

“Kelly?” Chase came up behind her and stopped a few feet away. “I didn’t hear you get up.”

“Sorry.” She wasn’t willing to look at her husband yet. She knew exactly what she’d find in his eyes. Disapproval, disgust,
and disappointment. The three
D
s. “The pans needed washing.”

She held her breath and turned, facing him. But as they looked at each other, Kelly found she could barely exhale. Chase’s
expression wasn’t angry or suspicious. His light-brown eyes showed a vulnerability, a love and concern that melted Kelly and
shattered her defenses.

“Can you come here?” His words were kind and without accusation. He made no attempt to come to her, almost as if he could
sense her vulnerability and he wanted her to know he wasn’t on the attack.

She came to him, her eyes never leaving his. He wasn’t her accuser, he was her friend, the one who had stood by her regardless
of her highs and lows. As she reached him, he held out his hands and she wove her fingers between his. The touch of his skin
felt intoxicating, lightening her spirit more than anything hidden in the cupboards — as if the unspoken honesty between them
resurrected an intimacy long buried in layers of guilt.

Her body came up against his and she rested her head on his chest. “I’m sorry.” Looking at him was still too painful. “About
the candy.”

He kissed the top of her head, their hands still linked. “You don’t have to hide from me, Kelly. You’re under a lot of pressure
here. I know that.”

“But …” She lifted her eyes to his again. “I’m turning to all the wrong things.”

There was no need for him to say anything about that. “I’m here, Kel. If you need help, I’m here. I love you no matter what
you eat, or how you look. I just want you to be happy.”

The reference to her looks cut, and she winced a little. He’d have to be blind not to notice the weight she’d put on these
past few months. At the same time, she believed he meant what he said — that he loved her whatever her size. But meaning it
and living it out were two very different realities. If she didn’t want their marriage to suffer, she had to find her way
out of the darkness. “I’ve been so down, running everything here by myself.”

“I’m sorry.” His words were deeply sincere. “I hate being gone.”

She released his hands and slid her arms around his waist. “I wish you weren’t leaving so soon.” If only he could stay this
next week, take walks with her and shop with her, help her have a normal week. Maybe then she could make things right with
herself and him, and even God.

“I love you, do you know that?” He leaned back enough to see her, study her. “You couldn’t do anything to change that, Kel.
I mean it. But don’t hide things from me.”

“I won’t. Never again.” Kelly laid her head against his chest once more and heard his heartbeat. The heartbeat of a man who
loved her unconditionally. She tried to imagine telling Chase about surviving on candy and macaroni so she could find the
energy to drag herself through a day of mowing the lawn and clipping coupons, washing dishes and doing laundry. All while
trying to be both mother and father to their girls. No wonder she hid her stash of junk food. It was proof she was beyond
discouraged and relying on all the wrong sources to survive.

Verses flooded her mind, Scriptures that ordered God’s people to keep their deeds in the light, to avoid all darkness where
sin could grow unchecked. Rather than flinch away from them, she embraced them, accepted them as truth. For another five minutes
they stood there, clinging to each other, breathing to the beat of each other’s heart, and believing that Kelly’s secret,
mindless eating was behind them. She would move ahead in honesty and light. She would tell him when she was tempted to spend
an entire day eating ice cream bars and chocolate chip cookies. She wanted a fresh start now, so she could enjoy Christmas
without the feelings of stomach pains and indigestion, without the oppressive guilt and weight gain. She was finished with
it, once and for all. As soon as the moment passed, before anything could deter or distract her, Kelly would visit her hiding
places and gather the garbage, taking it directly to the trashcan in the garage. And that would be that.

But before she could make a move, the girls woke up. They came down the hall holding hands, their flannel nightgowns covering
all but their bare feet and fingers. When they reached the place where their parents stood hugging each other, the girls began
to giggle.

The moment was suddenly over, and the girls clamored for breakfast and a trip to the park and piggy-back rides on Chase. There
were eggs to make and dishes to wash and laundry to start, and in the mix of laughter and chaos that was their morning, Kelly
never got around to throwing out the junk food, never made her way to her hiding spots.

She still intended to, of course. She would toss everything as soon as she had a chance, as soon as the morning allowed.

And for at least half the day, she actually believed that.

By noon, a compromise began to take shape. She wouldn’t toss the food just yet, because what if the girls wanted a sweet snack?
Money was tight, so it was practically sinful to throw out perfectly good cookies and candy. She could put them out when company
came, the next time Laurie Weeks stopped by, maybe.

The compromise grew and swelled, and by nightfall she was already planning a trip to McDonald’s with the girls as soon as
Chase left for LA. They could eat cheaper from the dollar menu than anything she could cook, and at least she’d get one night
without dishes. As for the other junk food, she wouldn’t eat it now. She’d merely keep it around for a pick-me-up.

BOOK: Take Two
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