Chapter 30

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The whole morning Brooke enjoyed Mrs. Carol's company, who insisted on helping her clean on Gary's house. They joke, laugh, encourage, converse, and tease one another. Sure, Brooke occasionally checks her phone and replies to Gary every once in a while, but she hasn't felt so carefree in a while.

Now, sitting on the front porch, a glass in each of their hands, Brooke can't help, but wonder how Mrs. Carol is so bright and encouraging all the time. She lets her gaze rest on the older woman for a moment. Age lines are starting to form around the corner of her eyes and lips, but her eyes shine just as bright, or brighter, than a teenager's who just got their drivers license. "What keeps you going so brightly?" The words are out of her mouth before she processes them, but she doesn't regret saying them.

Caught off guard by the question Mrs. Carol doesn't answer for a long moment. "The joy of the Lord. If I didn't believe that Christ wants to use me for his kingdom there would be no purpose or hope for my life."

Brooke nods while staring off into the distance. "Has it always been like that for you? To put your everything in Him? I know that it is a huge part of being a true follower of Christ is to give Him your all and surrender to Him, but I always take it back. I lay it at his feet only to pick it back up in just a few days, or even hours."

"Oh honey! I'm just as much of a human as you are. Of course I've struggled with giving everything up and leaving it with Him. Particularly when Thomas, Peter and James' dad, passed. I really struggled with letting him go, possibly letting the ranch go, even just letting go of the future I had planned, but that physically could no longer be a reality."

"How did you change?" In an instant Brooke realizes just how many deep and personal questions she has asked. "I'm sorry, you don't have to answer if you don't want to. I don't mean to pry."

Mrs. Carol tenderly takes Brooke's hand in her own. "This is part of how God uses everything we go through and do in His plan; sharing our testimony with others." She takes a deep breath before speaking again, "It took time and a lot of it. Every time I would start to pick it back up or realize I already had picked it up I would just start praying and speaking truth about God to myself. About His never ending love, overwhelming forgiveness, and mercy that reaches out to my dirtiness. I had to drown myself in Him, because when I focused on anything else I would drift off the path of righteousness. Even if I focused on how I needed to love more or be more patient I was still focusing on me."

Brooke stares off into the distance looking at nothing in particular. Mrs. Carol's words seem to ring in her head over and over again. It all made, in a way, a little too much sense. She doesn't reply and Mrs. Carol doesn't say anything more, but it is nice. Nice, to sit and absorb the wisdom and knowledge.

After a few moments Brooke looks up and smiles softly at the older woman. "What do you say we finish up in there?"

A twinkle of mischief hangs in Mrs. Carol's eye and a grin plays with her lips. "On one condition."

"What's that?"

"That I can ask you a few personal-ish questions."
***

Gary pulls his blue and white ball cap over his unruly locks and rolls up his sleeves with a sigh. A pond has already formed around the trough from all the water that had been spewed. He is beginning to question rather or not his rubber pull over boots will be tall enough to keep the cloudy water out of his boots.

With channel lock pliers in his back pocket he wades through the water. Ease, that comes from doing it more times than he can count, lets him have the hose off the facet in moments. He examines the end of the hose, but finds no cracks or looseness. Next his gaze, and fingers, move to the facet. All the while being sure to move his feet as little as possible considering the water lurks mere centimeters from the top of his rubber boots.

Gently he wades back out of the water and clomps the few yards to the valve for the water line. Squatting down he tries avoiding stickers while getting his arm shoulder deep into the PVC pipe to turn the valve back on. It only takes him a moment and he is back upright squinting towards the faucet that indeed is spaying water in every sort of direction possible.

His mind slips to what the ladies might be talking about without him. Was it about him? A cringe and chuckle emerge from him simultaneously at the thought.

"Thank You Father that You care about the little things. Even something as small as fixing a water leak," he mumbles while once again reaching into the white plastic pipe. Once it is off he clambers in the bed of his pickup to retrieve a new faucet.

In a few moments the old one is off and a large split in the age old faucet is spotted. Gary puts the new one in place before screwing the water hose into it and turning the water back on. While taking his rubber boots off he waits to be sure the fix is indeed a fix.

The roar of the ranch pickup engine makes him grin. Yes, the day is going to be a good one. Thankfully the fix was quick and easy so now he is able to head home. The idea of going home to Brooke excites him like nothing has ever before. He rolls his eyes at himself. "Don't get your cart before you horse!"

A slight chuckle escapes him and a smile curves his lips upwards. "Lord, how thankful I am for where you have me. Please guide me in what to in my relationship with Brooke. I love her very much and look forward to a future with her, but only if it is your will. I need help leaving my hands open. Your will Father; not mine."
***

Brooke's mind sings as the broom sways across the tile floor. She isn't sure how long it has been since she has been this carefree, happy, and on cloud nine, but it has been a while. Mrs. Carol is not far from her humming a chipper tune while scrubbing away at dishes in the sink.

Her humming stops in a moment and she glances over her shoulder at Brooke. "I must say I find it very wise the decisions you and Gary have made to help keep your relationship honoring to God."

Stopping her sweeping momentarily Brooke blushes and doesn't look up. "That means a lot, but I must give credit where it is due. I was not at all the brain behind that; it was all Gary."

"It does not at all surprise me he brought it up, however you were not out of the decision." Mrs. Carol scrubs a plate before adding, "You didn't appose the idea and you seem eager to follow his lead in efforts of purity."

A smile takes over Brooke's lips at the mention of her man's wonderful efforts to keep their relationship as pure and God honoring as possible. Much like the Beloved in Song of Solomon chapter two her heart sings at the praise Gary receives. "After watching something my parents went through a spiritual leader and strong Christian man became top priorities in a husband for me. I'm so thankful that Gary exhibits that so well."

Mischief flashes across Mrs. Carol's face and her eyebrows wiggle. "Are you saying you would marry him?"

Crimson washes over Brooke's face and she quickly looks away, but her smile hasn't faltered a bit. In fact it may have grown. She opens her mouth to speak when the back door creaks open and heavy footsteps fill the air. Although she does look up she doesn't have to, to know who it is. She tries to hide her blush as he grins at her and strolls closer.

"Y'all look hard at work in here," he comments as his arms wrap around her and he kisses the top of her head.

She too wraps her arms around him. "Trying to anyway." Shifting her gaze to look at Mrs. Carol she says in a low voice, "Given the right opportunity he would be taken so fast it would leave the world in a tail spin."

The utterly confused look on Gary's face and the suppressed laughter coming from the kitchen makes Brooke feel warm and fuzzy; not to mention giddy.

A/N
Thank you for not giving up on me! Here is the long awaited chapter!
Let me know what you think!

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