Julia'sfather, Joshua Benton had been a pastor. He hadn't grown up wantingto be one, but God called him to the work and he followed the desireput in his heart. His beginnings were small, but his heart was big.He never had a big monster church, but the small flock led was, as heoften said, God given and his preaching at times was profound and eyeopening.
Hehad married his childhood sweetheart, Marcie They had both agreed to wait a few yearsbefore starting a family. Marcie was twenty-eight when she gave himtheir first son, Daniel. Jacob was born two years later. He and sheloved the large church they belonged to. He was voted in as a deaconand later became one of the elders; He had desires of taking thatnext step and shepherding his own church. When a small congregationoutside of Knoxville offered him a job, he accepted it and moved hiswife and two sons to East Tennessee.
They had theirregrets about moving, but it hadn't been the first time for he andhis wife, Marcie to pick up their roots and travel where they wereneeded. They hated leaving behind their best friends, Tony andHeather Kinyard, but there would always be weekends and summervisits.
The church helpedhim to secure a loan and he bought a five bedroom house, high on hillin the little town outside of Knoxville, Tennessee. The house wasold, and needed updates. He had been able to purchase it at a goodprice, making the notes each month low.
It had two baths, alarge kitchen, and plenty of space for them and their two sons,Daniel and Jacob. A wide front porch and a screened in back porchprovided views of the surrounding mountains. There were big oaks andmaple trees surrounding the house. The biggest oak tree had a tireswing hanging from a large lower branch.
Marcie was an RN andquickly got a job at the University Hospital. With her pay, and thecredit the two of them had secured together, they were able to updatethe house. Much of the work they did themselves, saving them evenmore in costs. Together they turned it into a fine home.
Julia was born inthe house. Her mother and father had decided that she wouldn't beborn the conventional way. They chose a midwife and a supportivedoctor. Julia was born in the master bedroom. She was healthy andstrong and didn't spend one day in a hospital. Her father had beenpresent during her delivery. Daniel and Jacob had waited in theliving room with the Kinyards, who had traveled from Memphis for herbirth. They were allowed to enter the room and greet the new baby.
Eric Kinyard wasfour years old when he first saw little Julia. She was a bit fussywhen he walked up to the bed, where her mother was holding her. Hereyes seemed to move directly toward him and she grew quiet. The twostared at one another, and although they say babies don't see wellright after birth she seemed to see him. He held out his hand totouch her and her tiny hand grabbed hold of his finger. He smiled andto the amazement of everyone in the room, she smiled back.
Eric was five yearsyounger than Daniel and two years younger than Jacob. Like them, hegot to hold little Julia. The adults couldn't help but see aconnection between the baby and the small boy looking down at herface and smiling. He looked up at his parents and said, "I thinkshe likes me."
It was during thisvisit the Kinyards voiced their concerns about what would happen tothe children, if something were to happen to both parents. Althoughthe Benton's had someone to fall back on, the Kinyards didn't. Tony'sparents were too old and he was an only child. Heather's parents werenot believers. They wanted Eric and any future children they may haveto be raised in a Christian environment.
The couples made agroup decision and a few days later, before the Kinyards left forhome, legal documents was drawn up by an attorney who attended theBenton's church. The Kinyards and Bentons signed it and had itnotarized. It was official, the Bentons would adopt Eric as their ownif anything happened to his parents and vice/versa.
The Kinyards triedhave more children, but after three miscarriages they had all butgiven up. As Heather told Marcie on one visit a couple of yearslater, "If the Lord wants me to have another baby, I will. I amcontent with Eric."
Julia had liked itwhen Eric and his parents came to visit. Even though he was older, hewould always spend a little time with her playing. She didn'tremember it, but was told the first steps she ever took were from atable she had pulled up on to Eric as he entered the house.
Growing up as theyoungest in a family of boys, she didn't get to play with Eric much.He mostly played with her brothers instead outside. She was allowedto sit on the porch with her dolls and watch them play in the frontyard. She didn't think she'd ever grow up and play football orbaseball or wrestle in the leaves like they did.
She still likedEric. He had a nice smile with a dimple and dark eyes that would crinkle at the the corners when he laughed. She grew up loving hislaugh.
The year was 1988.It was a Tuesday, October twenty-fourth. Julia would be turning fivein a week. She and her mother were sitting on the porch. Her motherwas planning a birthday party for the weekend. The sun was shiningthrough the trees, giving the golden leafed oaks and red leafedmaples bright glows. The school bus would be stopping at the bottomof the hill soon, dropping off Daniel and Jacob. Julia often wishedshe was in school. Mama promised she would start next year.
They saw Joshua'scar coming up the hill. Marcie thought it a bit unusual. He was tovisit some of his homebound members today after he had attended tosome other church business. He pulled up beside the porch and parked.She could tell by the look on his face something was wrong; terriblywrong. She stood and walked to the steps and waited for him to walkup. "Joshua, what is it?"
YOU ARE READING
To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement. St. Augustine. After their best friends were killed in a car accident, Joshua and Marcie Benton adopted their nine yea...