The Way of Grace (Miller's Creek Novels)

BOOK: The Way of Grace (Miller's Creek Novels)
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a Miller’s
Creek Novel

 

Book Three

 

C A T H Y   B R Y A N T

 

 

 

 

WordVessel
Press

Books
By
Cathy Bryant

 

MILLER’S CREEK NOVELS

Texas Roads

A Path Less Traveled

The Way of Grace

 

 

 

 

 

The Way of Grace

© 2012 Cathy Bryant

 

Published by
WordVessel
Press

A Division of ASDG, Inc.

Bentonville, Arkansas

 

 

 

 

All rights reserved.

This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

ISBN: 0-9844311-4-4

ISBN-13: 978-0-9844311-4-4

 

 

 

To my wonderful husband Travis.

Thank you for believing in me when I lost all confidence, encouraging me when I was ready to quit, and helping me

follow
my heart’s desire to make Him known.

Above all, thank you for being a man of grace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,

we
have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

through
whom we have gained access by faith into

this
grace in which we now stand.

~Romans 5:1-2a

 

 

Special Thanks

 

 

To beta readers
: Barbie Bray, Travis Bryant, Jimmie Croker, Maggie Culp, Carolyn England, Judy
Fager
, and
Sherlee
Grimstead
. Your invaluable assistance makes what I do possible.

 

To my
personal
“Grace Fellowship,” my spiritual family which literally
en
circles the globe: T
hanks for encouraging me by
demonstrating God’s grace. Yo
ur friendship is a blessing
, and I look forward to spending eternity with you
as we forever proclaim praises to the Lamb.

 

To my family: Mom, you patiently read every word I write, bringing with you wisdom gained in the school of life. Josh, Jase, and Megan, like John I say: “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” Harrisen, you brighten my eyes and quicken my step, even as my earthly tent grows more frail. Travis, I’m grateful to God for giving you to me. He knew I needed someone exactly like you to walk beside me.

 

To my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ: Thank You
for allowing me the privilege of
be
ing one of
Your
sheep
, in all my human weakness and imperfe
ction. Thank You
especially
for providing the
way of grace
.

 

 

 

 

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

 

Childhood

 

G
raciela flinched as Papa pounded a fist on the table,
his dark eyes flashing at Mama.

“We do not have
money for thi
s!”

Mama acted as if his words
didn’t bother her at all. “I’
ve saved pa
rt of the egg money for
weeks, Juan. It doesn’t cost much for a few flowers for your only daughter. This will help her learn how to grow a garden.” She kept her voice low and steady.

Papa glared at Graciela momentarily, but didn’t say anything. Instead he unclenched his fists and picked up his fork to resume eating.

Her two older brothers finished their meal quickly. “Can we go outside to play, Papa?”


Si
.
You two have worked hard today.
” As they scraped their plates into the slop bucket for the
pig, Papa shift
ed his gaze back to
her. “But you will do the dishes to earn the flowers your Mama is determined to give you.”

“Okay, Papa.” She tried to enjoy the thick tama
les Mama had made
, but all she tasted was unshed tears.
Why did he dislike her
?

The next day, G
ra
ciela hummed happily as she skipp
ed
to the backyard,
her thick
braid bouncing between her shoulder blades.
Laughter bubbled
out of her chest
and
mold
ed
her lips into a happy smile.
She and
Mama
had spent
the past hour
choosing
not only vegetable plants, but also
colorful marigolds, begonias, and geraniums
f
rom B & B Hardware
.

All winter long she’
d longed for this moment, had poured over
catalogs
and picked out
pictures
of those s
he
liked best, while Mama made
sure
the flowers
would s
urvive the brutally
hot Texas summers.

A frown furrowed
her young forehead
as she remembered Papa’s objection to the flowers. He
was
so
hard to understand. Sometimes
he was so rough and gruff, all she wanted to do was climb the wild plum tree
beside their little house
and stay up there forever. At other times—mostly at times when Mama coerced him into a good mood—he
was fun and happy
. Almost like two different people
, and she never knew which one would show up
.

She climbed the bott
om rung of the fence,
looked out ac
ross the pasture at the
goats
munching
happily on the new spring grass, and
breathed deep
ly
. Did anything smell as lovely as spring?
Next she focused her gaze on the puffy white clouds floating across the sky
and the chirping
sparrows
that flitted
from tree to tree
.
How wonderful it must
be t
o
soar
through
skies of
azul
.

“There you
are
,
la
hija
.” Mama’s voice br
oke into her reverie.
“R
eady to plant your flowers?”


Si
.”
She began to prattle away in her native tongue, but one look from Mama was all it took
to silence her
. Graciela pressed her lips together in an effort to still her tongue.
“Sorry, Mama.
I forgot.”

Mama sighed
and
shot a reassuring smile. “It’s okay, but we must learn to speak the language of our new country. I must do
better, too.” Her mother took hold of
Graciela’s hand. “
Come,
let’s get these flowers planted before your Papa gets home.”

“Will Papa be upset
that we’re planting flowers
?

Her mother’s face darkened as they made their way to the patc
h of ground they’d
cleared of grass and weeds. “We will see, won’t we?”

Mama demonstrated how
to dig a hole in the soil and
loosen the roots of the seedling before placing it in the gr
ound and giving it a big drink.

Graciela stooped to sniff t
he newly
planted marigold and made a face. “
That flower stink
s
.

Mama
laughed,
a musical sound that never failed to capture Graciela’s wonder and attention. “Yes, but it will keep the bugs off our tomatoes.”

At the mention of the tasty summer tomatoes, her mouth watered, and she licked her lips.
“Why is Papa so grumpy sometimes, Mama?”

“He has many worries. I know it must seem to you that he doesn’
t love you, but he does.

She tried to understand, but quickly gave up. Papa rarely gave her a second look, but always
had plenty of time for her two older brothers. “I try to be
nice
so he will love me, but it doesn’
t seem to do any good
.”

Mama quickly fold
ed her into her arms,
undid her braid,
and
comb
ed
Graciela’s
long hair with
her fingers
. “Oh, sweet one, you are a good girl, and he does love you. It’s just hard for him to show
it
.” Mama held her at arm
’s length
, her hands on both shoulders. “Don’t give up on him,
la
hija
. The world has a way of changing people’s hearts. He’ll come around one day.”

Graciela picked up the
hand spade and plunged it into the soft sandy soil
with as much force as she could muster. Maybe Papa
would come around
someday
, but
that
could
be a long, long time away. And what would
happen to soften his heart?

 

 

The next morning at church, Graciela
nestled in the crook of
Mama
’s arm and hunkered down
in t
he
blue cushioned pew
. S
he couldn’t help but notice
how
differently
people treated them.

Some--
like the woman
who smelled of cinnamon and vanilla, the one
everyone call
ed Mama Beth--were very
kind to her and Mama, always stopping to say hello
and ask how they were doing. O
thers only looked their way with accompanying whispered wo
rds and accusing glances. She
asked Mama why.

“Some people cannot see past a person’s skin to see that on the inside we are all the same.”

Graciela
puzzled over the statement, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t understand.
She
peered down the row to a girl her age she’d seen at s
chool. In a pretty dress
with lots of ruffles and bows
,
and with golden ringlets encircling her head
,
the girl
reminded Graciela of a beautiful doll.
Maybe they could be friends.
She
sent
a shy smile.

The girl didn’t smile back. Instead
she stuck out her tongue
and
jerked
her head away, nose
upturned
.

A heavy dark
ness descended on
Graciela’s
heart
. Would she ever find a friend?

T
he service began
with
sing
ing
.
Her heart lightened.
How she loved the music.
The song lilted in her heart, and a
s she followed Mama’s finger in the hymnbook,
she allowed
her voice
to soar
like
the
birds
she’d seen yesterday
.
Higher and higher she floated away from her problems and into blue skies.
Oh, how I love Jesus, because He first loved me.

Soon the
pastor stood to speak, his face aglow with joy. Graciela
perched on the edge of the seat, enthralled
as he spoke of a God who loved he
r more than she could imagine, a
God who loved her as a Father. When it came time for the
end
of the service, she bolted down the aisle, convinced in her heart that God
had personally invited
her to be His child.

Later that evening, Mama peeked through the
open
ed door
to her small room. “M
ay I come in?”

This time she remembered
to use her English words
. “Yes.”

Mama eased to the bed beside her.
“Papa and the boys have gone fishing, and I thought
you might enjoy
a girl’
s night out.
Maybe supp
er at the Dairy Maid?”

Graciela
folded her coloring book around the box of crayons and
hopped from the bed.
Eating
at
Dairy Maid without the boys and Papa meant a burger and fries all to herself with a chocolate milkshake on the side.

They arrived at the drive-up hamburger joint
ju
st as the sun set
,
trailing long pink fingers
across the horizon
.
They moved from the car to the screened window where the enticing aroma of grilled burgers wafted onto the evening breeze.
Mama placed their order
then turned to face her
, steering her toward a nearby picnic table
. “I
want to talk to
you about
this morning,
la
hija
.
That was a very big decision for one so young. Do you understand what it means
to be saved
?”

“Yes, Mama.
Our tea
cher talked about it in Sunday s
chool.
God loves me so much
He sent Jesus, His only son, to die for me.
If I accept
what He did
and invite H
im into
my heart, He comes to live inside me.

Mama
nodded. “That’s right
. But do you understand why
Jesus died
?”

Graciela wrinkled her eyebrows and skewed her lips to one side. Why
did
God’s son have to die for her? “Not really. I know it has to do with sin, but you told me I’m a good girl.”

A smile round
ed Mama’s lips
, and she reached across the table to tweak
Graciela’s nose. “
Yes, you are a good girl, bu
t
not
all the time.

BOOK: The Way of Grace (Miller's Creek Novels)
5.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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