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Authors: Lori Copeland

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BOOK: A Perfect Love
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“Still waters run deep . . . or have you not heard that poetic witticism, Mr. Caldwell?”

The voice was Yakov's. He stood from his place and came forward, a long slip of paper trailing from his hand. Dana stared, bewildered, but something in his confident countenance made her heart leap.

Yakov walked to the front of the room and turned to face the gathering. “Earlier this morning I found Buddy Franklin out on the rocks by Puffin Cove, where he had just composed this piece. I would like to read it to you now.”

Basil stamped his foot. “I protest!”

“This is my home, Mr. Caldwell.” Crossing her arms, Dana gave him a cool stare. “And I would like to hear this.”

Yakov stretched out the scribbled grocery receipt and began to read:

“Who is like the Lord God?
All the people of the earth
Are nothing compared to Him.
He has the power to do as He pleases
Among the angels of heaven And with those who live on earth.
No one can stop him or challenge Him,
Saying, ‘What do you mean by doing these things?'
Should the thing that was created
Say to the One who made it,
‘ Why have You made me like this?'
You are worthy, O Lord our God,
To receive glory and honor and power.
For You created everything,
And it is for your pleasure that they exist and were
created . . .
Such words seem to come from far above me,
Yet in this hour they rose in my heart—
Can it be that the God who made and loves me
Has breached the gap that kept us apart?
If so, I am found; if so, I know.
I understand why I sought Him so.
For only in finding the One who created,
Will my longing for completeness and home be
sated.”

Yakov lowered the page, and for a moment the room echoed with the sound of silence. Then Dana whispered, “That was beautiful, Buddy.”

“You'll never convince me Buddy Franklin even knows the meaning of
sated,”
Basil snapped, lifting his chin. “Furthermore, it's a clear case of plagiarism. I don't know where I've heard that, but I've heard most of it before. The prize will not be awarded.”

“I'm sure you have heard those words before,” Winslow said, standing, “for many of them come from Scripture.” He shot Buddy a twisted smile, and something in the look touched Dana's heart. She knew the pastor had been praying for Buddy ever since his arrival on Heavenly Daze.

“Buddy, it was like you took some of the words right out of God's mouth,” Winslow said, his smile spreading. “But it was beautiful—and every word was true. God created us, designed us, to have fellowship with Him.”

Buddy had gone as red as a turkey's wattle. “I don't know the Bible.” He lowered his gaze to the floor. “So I don't know where those words came from. Sometimes things just . . . come out of me.” He looked up to glare at Basil. “By the way,
sated
means ‘fully satisfied.' I do know a few things.”

“You've been coming to church with your sister for a while now,” Pastor Wickam said. “And we've all been pray- ing for you. And what goes in your ears can remain in your brain, particularly when supported by the power of prayer.”

“You see, Buddy,” the warmth of Yakov's voice filled the room, “you reached out for Roxy because your heart was lonely for fellowship. Even though you are surrounded by family and friends who love you, you yearned for something more. And that something is God—the One who designed you according to a unique blueprint, the One who knows your strengths and weaknesses and quirks better than anyone on earth. And He loves you. Enough to provide a way to heaven through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.”

As her vision blurred with tears, Dana heard a murmuring sound from behind her. When she turned, she saw the Smith men gathered in a semicircle behind Buddy. Their eyes were closed, their hands clasped in a display of unity, and as they prayed softly their faces were . . . glowing.

Dana shook her head. The camera flash must still be affecting her eyes.

“Alst I know,” Buddy said, his voice breaking as he looked up and caught Dana's gaze, “is I'm tired of not belonging. If God wants me, He can have me, lock, stock, and barrel. I want to come home.”

Dana ran to her brother and drew him into an embrace. As Pastor Wickam followed to clasp Buddy in a brotherly hug, Dana stepped back, dashed tears from her eyes, and walked toward Basil Caldwell.

“I'm sorry,” she said. “I didn't mean to mislead you, but I knew Buddy would never come out for this if he thought we were going to make a big deal about one of his poems.”

Basil grunted as he thrust his papers back into his briefcase.

Dana tapped him on the arm. “Please, Basil, give the prize to the second place winner. I will look forward to reading the other poem in your magazine.”

“Can't do that,” he snapped.

“Why not?”

“Because. No one else entered the contest.”

“Oh.” Dana stepped back, her perception of the scholar crumbling into dust. So—the mighty Basil Caldwell, poet laureate and pompous snob, had only succeeded in inspiring one nostalgic housewife. And if she hadn't been bored and feeling neglected, she wouldn't have given his portentous poetry contest a second thought.

“Thank you,” she murmured, dropping her hand.

He scowled at her. “What for?”

Dana smiled. Would he understand how his pretentiousness had helped her appreciate her ordinary lifestyle? Doubtful.

“You'll never know what you've done for me,” she said, catching her husband's eye. “Have a nice life.”

Birdie tugged on her sleeve. “Who in tarnation is Roxy?”

That's when Georgie Graham, who'd been happily drawing a picture of a squirrel in a pink dress, suddenly giggled. “Look!” he called, holding his picture up for everyone to see. “It's a good picture, isn't it?”

Babette smiled at her precocious son. “What is it supposed to be, honey?”

Georgie pointed toward the overhead light fixture. “That!”

Dana lifted her gaze . . . and felt a sudden weakness in her knees. There, perched on the edge of the glass plate light fixture, a squirrel-like creature in a pink ball gown and tiny puffed sleeves stared down at them with a strange little grin on its striped face. Audible gasps echoed through the room, then Buddy yelled, “Roxy!”

At the sound of his voice the creature barked, then launched itself in his direction . . . but fell short by a good five feet, landing on the collar of Birdie's dress. When she shrieked and stood, the animal dove beneath the collar, apparently trying to bury itself in her décolletage.

“Salt! Sister!” Birdie hopped on the balls of her feet, her hands flapping uselessly at the lace on her collar. “Somebody help me!”

The men, paralyzed by the fear of impropriety, retreated in unison while Bea and Edith rushed to the rescue. They succeeded in wresting the bewildered creature from its hiding place just as Vernie yelled, “Say ‘cheese!'” and flashed them all blind.

Lost in a happy daze, Dana sank into her teacher's chair and smiled as Yakov caught the squirrelly animal, then held it for the children to examine. As the women comforted Birdie, Pastor Wickam slipped his arm around Buddy and led him toward the hallway. Babette and Charles were studying their son's drawing, while Basil Caldwell stood in a corner and fumed.

Dana grinned. Let him pout.

“Dana.” Mike's voice broke into her thoughts.
“We need to talk, honey.”

She looked up at her handsome husband, overjoyed to see a calm face in the hubbub. “Indeed, we do,” she said, taking his hands. “But before you say anything, I need to know—why would Captain Stroble set you up with Jodi Standish?”

“His granddaughter?” Mike blinked. “Because she needed extra income, and said I could rent her cable modem while she's at work. I've been going over there to free up more time for you, but lately you haven't exactly been with me, if you know what I mean. It's like you're living on a different planet.”

Dana acknowledged his comment with a rueful smile. “I'm sorry. I jumped to a wrong conclusion about you, Mike.”

He squeezed her hand. “I realize I've been focusing on my eBay business, but you've got to understand that this work is important to me.” He lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “I suppose we need to find a balance, huh?”

Dana smiled as a wave of relief swept through her. “Come on, babe,” she said, standing and pulling him toward the kitchen. “We can talk about compromise while we eat. I'm starving.”

And as she walked by Birdie, who sat in one of the kiddie chairs with her knees together, her feet spraddled, and a flush on her face, Dana noticed that little Georgie Graham was peering intently at the cleavage into which the sugar glider had disappeared. “Mama,” he asked, his childish voice ringing through the schoolroom, “why is Miss Birdie's backside on the wrong side?”

Dana pressed her face against Mike's shoulder in an attempt to smother her giggles.

Kids!

Epilogue

J
anuary is, by definition, a cold month on the island of Heavenly Daze, but I'm pleased to know there were more than a few heart fires burning as the month drew to a close. Mike and Dana Klackenbush renewed their commitment to one another, and I've heard that Mike is giving Dana first crack at his February calendar—she gets to pencil in his work hours, and make sure he allots time for what she's calling “marital fellowship.”

Russell and Barbara Higgs are doing nicely too. Barbara is healing from her surgery, and Dr. Marc holds high hopes that she'll be able to conceive within the coming year. They're praying for a child, but Micah is trying to teach them that the most important thing is finding and following the Father's will. Ah, well. Humans sometimes learn their lessons slowly.

Cleta learned an important lesson this week—children are a gift from the Lord, and gifts are never to be esteemed more highly than the Giver. By surrendering her right to occupy the primary position in her daughter's life, Cleta will give Barbara the freedom to become the wife, daughter, and child of God she was intended to be. Cleta will discover new purpose for her own life, as well. God never leaves his people in a vacuum.

Floyd is still studying his mechanics lessons . . . and praying for new tires on the fire truck.

Roxy? That little varmint has temporarily gone to live with Babette and Charles Graham, whose house is more efficiently heated than Buddy's apartment. Vernie has promised to permanently stock monkey biscuits at the mercantile, and Georgie is thrilled with his part-time pet. Babette is thinking of launching a line of designer rodent wear to help bring in a little extra income. If Roxy will become only a little more compliant, they might feature her in a booth at the spring bazaar. If you visit Heavenly Daze in April, two bucks will buy a Polaroid shot of you holding the town's resident marsupial in a stunning silk ensemble.

Things have calmed down in the parsonage; Bea is continuing her ministry with the angel mail, and Birdie is quietly planning her spring wedding to Salt Gribbon. Charles and Babette Graham have no idea what a surprise the Lord has in store for them next September.

Vernie and Stanley are becoming friends. Perhaps, given a bit more time, they will rediscover the perfect love they once had for each other . . . and they can have again, if they are willing to let the One who loves them love through them.

Annie has gone back to the tomato drawing board, and A. J. flew down from New York to comfort her. Only the Lord knows if a special love is sprouting between those two, though I suspect it might be so . . .

Time will tell. Until next month, I am wishing you warm nights and heavenly days. May you discover the power of God's perfect love.

Until we meet again,

—Gavriel

If You Want to Know More About . . .

• Angels having their own language: 1 Corinthians 13:1

• Angels as servants and messengers: Genesis 24:7, Exodus 23:20, Hebrews 1:14

• Angels are as “swift as the wind” and “servants made of flaming fire:” Hebrews 1:7

• Angels' special care for children: Matthew 18:10

• Angels as protectors: Psalm 91:11–12

• The heavenly throne room: 2 Chronicles 18:18, Psalm 89:14, Psalm 11:4, Rev. 4:1–6

• Angels' limited knowledge: Matthew 24:36

• Angels eagerly watching humans: 1 Peter 1:12

• The third, or highest, heaven: 2 Corinthians 12:2, Deuteronomy 10:14, 1 Kings 8:27, Psalm 115:16

• The reference to God creating evil: Isaiah 45:7

• A man should leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife: Ephesians 5:31

• Gavriel's song of encouragement: Psalm 103:19–22

• Sugar gliders:
http://skinhorse.net/gliders

About the Authors

LORI COPELAND
is the author of more than 95 books. She lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband Lance. They are very involved in their church and active in supporting mission work in Mali, West Africa. Lance and Lori have three sons, two daughters-in-law, and five wonderful grandchildren.

ANGELA HUNT
is the best-selling author of
The Tale of Three Trees, The Debt, The Note,
and
The Nativity Story,
with over three million copies of her books sold worldwide. Her book
The Novelist
won gold in ForeWord Magazine's 2007 Book of the Year award.
The Note
was a Hallmark Christmas movie in December 2007. Romantic Times Book Club presented Angela with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. She and her husband make their home in Florida with two mastiffs.

V
isit us on the web at

www.heavenlydazeME.com

BOOK: A Perfect Love
5.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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