Daisy looked around the sanctuary with big eyes. She had never been to church before. The only time her Grandparents ever went was for funerals or weddings, so they had never really influenced her one way or another about it. Daisy was now left to her own interpretation of church activities and God.
She looked over at Connor who was seated next to her. She took his hand and laced her fingers into his. “Well,” she thought to herself, “I’m not really left alone with only my own interpretation.” She and Connor had made a decision to find out about all of this together. He would help her.
She also had the memory of Ms. Debbie’s concrete faith to draw from. Connor’s mother telling Bible stories flashed through her mind as she looked around the sanctuary, deciding what she thought about it all.
The first thing she noticed was the worship team up front. They were all beaming beautiful smiles in their matching burnt orange dress shirts and brown slacks. “Thanksgiving colors,” Daisy thought to herself. Then she noticed that Mark was on the electric guitar, and Andy was on the bass.
“Wow, I didn’t know they played for the church,” Daisy whispered over to Connor.
Connor’s eyes went up to Mark and Andy. “Yea, they’ve been on the worship team for a while now.”
Daisy had seen them play tons of times, but she had always thought it was just for fun. As she watched them, she noticed that they were having just as much fun here at church with their instruments as they did at home in the garage. “Mark and Andy really liked it here at church,” she mused.
Her eyes roamed around the room some more. She spotted Maria and Susan sitting in the front, whispering excitedly with a few other girls that Daisy had never seen before. “Being at church has really helped Susan a lot,” she mused again.
Connor leaned over and asked “Do you want to sit with the girls?”
“No. I would rather sit here with you.”
Connor lifted his head with a little chuckle. “Just checking.”
When the worship started everybody stood up. Even though Daisy had never heard the songs before, it was not hard to follow along because the words were flashing up on a screen in front. When the preaching started it was the same way. You didn’t really need to know how to use a Bible because an outline of the Preacher’s message was flashing on the screen in the front as well.
“It’s so easy to follow what he’s saying with it up on the screen like that. I wish they did that for us at school. I wouldn’t have to do so much work figuring out what the teachers were trying to say,” Daisy whispered.
Connor gave her hand a squeeze and pulled it from her lap into his lap but said nothing. He was too busy taking it all in himself to do much talking.
He was very focused on what was being said, but she still couldn’t tell from his expression how he felt about it. It was his nature to pay attention whether he approved of what was being said or not. Therefore, she couldn’t really count Connor’s focused state as anything more than simple respect for other, so she returned her thoughts to the message and stopped letting her mind wander.
At the end of the service, the offering plate went around. Connor got out his wallet and gave it to Daisy. He put his arm on the back of the pew and leaned over her whispering, “Do you want to give something in the offering?”
She opened his wallet and pulled out a bill. “Is this good?” She really had no clue what the acceptable amount was to give in an offering at church. She had never seen it done before.
“Yea, that’s good.” He smiled approvingly. She dropped it in the basket as it went by. She liked the fact that Connor had a generous heart.
When the service was over, everyone began walking around, mingling and hugging.
Connor turned to Daisy, “What do you think? Do you want to come back?” He looked at her, interested in her take on the whole church event.
“I’d like to come back. I was thinking about what Coach Peggy said at the table about feeling refreshed. I do feel something like that by coming here. There’s a lot of love here. Do you want to come back?”
Connor moved his hand to her hair and petted it softly. “I never really wanted to leave, but it does make me think of Mom. See that chair over there?” Connor pointed in the direction that he meant.
“Mom used to sit right there every Sunday with Dad and me.”
“Oh. Does that make it hard for you to be here?” She ventured sympathetically.
“It’s kind of awkward but I can get over it if you come with me. Would you Day-Day?” He held his hand there on her head waiting for her response.
“Let’s come together,” she smiled and then continued, “I think your Dad will come back too. Look… he and Coach Peggy are up front talking to the Pastor. Do you know the Pastor’s name?”
“Yea, that’s Pastor Thomas. I remember him. He’s a real nice man. He tried to talk to Dad several times after Mom died, but Dad wouldn’t talk. After a while he left Dad alone.”
Connor’s eyes began to fill up with tears as he watched his Dad and Coach Peggy pray at the altar with Pastor Thomas. Connor bent his head and folded his hands in his lap with Daisy’s hand sandwiched in between his.
“Maybe we should uuh, pray too, Day,” Connor managed to say through his tears.
“Sure, ummm… do you know what to say?” she asked blankly. She really was lost as to what to do in this situation.
Just then the Langley family and Andy came to the back pew where they were sitting. They laid their hands on Connor and Daisy’s shoulders.
Mr. Langley then spoke up, “Connor, Daisy, may we help you pray? Would you like to be introduced to Jesus?”
Connor and Daisy both kept their heads bowed. “Yes sir.”
Mr. Langley led them in a simple prayer of repentance and forgiveness.
Andy and the Langley’s moved down the row to pray with Grandpa Joe and Grandma Rose next. Then they moved farther down the row to George Palmer and Cindy Victor and prayed with them as well. In that one Thanksgiving night eight people gave their hearts to Jesus all at the same time.
Susan joined the bunch and shared her experience of that cross country day when she prayed in the car with Maria, Andy and Mark. She shared how that in her weakness God was making her stronger. She was overcoming tiny bits at a time, and her radiant smile confirmed her words.
Daisy glanced at Maria and Mark. They had been putting a lot of hours into Susan. She could see that their labor was beginning to pay off.
Pastor Thomas came to the back of the sanctuary and shook Connor’s hand. “Look at you son, you’re as tall as your Dad! Now, take me around and introduce me to all these friends that you and Davis have brought.”
Connor began with the adults first. He introduced each of them to Pastor Thomas then lastly Connor came to Daisy. “This is my girlfriend, Daisy Ray Greene. Rose and Joe are her Grandparents.”
Pastor Thomas eyes filled up with tears as he took a sobering look at Daisy Ray. “You look so much like your mother.” He hugged her a good long time as though he were hugging a long lost friend returning home. “I am so glad to finally meet you. I hope that you will consider this your church home.”
“Yes, sir. I like it very much, sir,” Daisy responded shyly. She looked at Connor, not knowing exactly what she was supposed to say.
“Daisy Ray, you might be interested to know that we record all our messages here. One night your father and mother spoke. They shared their testimonies right up front there.” Pastor Thomas pointed to the front of the sanctuary as he spoke. “I still have that CD somewhere. Would you like for me to ask my secretary to look for it? When we find it I can bring it by your house. Would you like that?”
Daisy’s eyes lit up. “I would. I have only seen pictures of them. I have never heard them speak before. I would really be interested to hear them on CD.”
“Well then, let me go find my secretary and see if we can find it for you. How can I reach you? Can I call Connor here?”
“Yes, sir. If you call Connor I will get your message. We’re neighbors.”
“That’s great. I’m assuming Connor’s home number has remained the same over the years, is that right?” Pastor Thomas looked at Connor.
“That’s right. That’ll work perfect, sir. You can call me any time. Thank you.” Connor shook Pastor Thomas’ hand again.
Pastor Thomas disappeared into the crowd of chatting church people looking for his secretary.
Davis and Peggy came up to Connor beaming from ear to ear. He grabbed his son in a big bear hug, saying, “Are you ready to go home son?”
“Sure we can go home. But Dad, since it’s a holiday… and there is no school,” Connor plastered a big hopeful teenage grin across his face, “Can I have Mark, Susan, Andy, Maria and Daisy over for Zumba and movies tonight?” He didn’t want to part with his friends just yet.
Connor’s buddies all started slapping him in the back with approval for his idea. Then with big pleading eyes, they looked at Mr. Bailey. “Pleeeeaaaaase Mr. Bailey!”
Davis Bailey held his hands up in surrender. “Okay! Okay! Okay! I give up! You can all come, but it better be okay with all of your parents. Don’t get me in trouble with any of them, you guys!”
Davis put his arm around Peggy’s shoulder and asked, “Uh, Peggy, do you want to help me chaperon this wild bunch of kids?”
“I agree, you’re going to need some help. You do know that Cindy is riding with me so she would also have to be included. Is that okay?” Peggy laughed at the look on Davis’s face. It was obvious that he was not used to so much social interaction in one night. However, just like Connor, Davis was not eager to part with his friends so he bravely stepped out into the unknown by answering Peggy with an, “Uuuh, alright…”
Then George piped in, “Hey, what about me?! Surely you need me along for something! Who’s gonna help you finish off that beer in Joe’s fridge?” He said slapping Davis on the back.
Then Joe jumped into the conversation, “I recorded the Turkey bowl don’t forget. If you come over to my place we can all watch it together.”
Davis looked at Joe. “Now you’re talking my language! I wouldn’t mind watching that. How about that Peggy? Do you want to watch the Turkey Bowl at Joe’s? We can take a peek from time to time on the kids at my place across the hall.”
Peggy and Cindy looked at each other and smiled hugely. “Great!”
“Well, let’s get going then! We have things to do!” Davis threw his arm around Peggy with great gusto and led the happy bunch out.