The Crimson Purpose–chapter one

This is the first chapter of the first book in the series, The Calling of Casey Evand.  The title of this first installment is The Crimson Purpose.  I hope you enjoy it!

.

chapter one

.

You know, Casey, there are a lot of perfectly good schools around here. It’s crazy for you to even consider attending somewhere so far away.”

     “Yeah, maybe,” Casey Evand acknowledged reluctantly.  It was true, after all.  Several more local colleges and universities had also offered full academic scholarships.  And the money she would save by living at home would have been significant, to say the least. 

      She looked at her tall, athletic boyfriend as he stood leaning against the railing of her family’s honeysuckle-lined front porch.  She reclined in the old, squeaky porch swing—as far as it would allow her—and reached up to adjust her thick chestnut brown hair into a fresh pony tail.  She sighed.  “But, I don’t know, Dan.  I just don’t have a peace about any of those schools.  I feel like—for whatever reason—God wants me to go to Boston.”

      Dan grunted in disgust.  “Oh, please!  Admit it, Casey.  You like the prestige of going off to a big, hoity-toity, Ivy League school.”

      Hurt that Dan would reduce all her prayer and thoughtful consideration with such flippancy, Casey stood.  “It’s getting late, Dan.  We both have to work tomorrow.  You should go.”

      Exasperated, Dan pulled Casey to him.  “Casey Baby, please, just hear me out.” He waited until Casey’s emerald-green eyes met his own intensely blue ones.  “You know I want what’s best for you.”

      “Yeah. It sounds like it.”

      “But be reasonable for once.  Don’t get all tangled up in the romantic idea of gallivanting off to some distant, big city.  This is a major decision—huge—and it could mess up everything we have planned.”

      Casey sighed, and relaxed a little.  “I know this would have impacts and complications, Dan.  I get it, but you’re right; it’s my decision to make.  And whether you believe me or not, I am taking it seriously. I’m praying more than I’ve ever prayed about anything.  I’m really trying to seek God’s direction in this.”

      Dan hugged Casey.  “I know you are.  And I’m sorry if I sounded like I doubted that.  It’s just, well, you’re book smart, sure.  But—and don’t get me wrong, here—you’re not very…worldly.  You’re sweet and shy and honest, and, basically, a target.  I’m just not sure you could make it in a place like Boston.  Or any big city, for that matter.  I love you, and I want to protect you.” 

      Casey started to speak, but Dan silenced her with a quick kiss.  “And besides, this will be my junior year at the university.  My junior year, Casey.  I’ll be starting linebacker this season.  And this could be our year to go all the way—to the championship.  I can’t believe you’d even think of missing that.”

      “Dan, of course I’d hate not seeing you play this year, but you know, you were starting by the end of the season last year, too.  And even though we weren’t dating at the time, I came to every home game.  If I go away to school, you’d just have to keep me posted, that’s all. 

      “And as for your first concerns, yes, I am incredibly shy, and a move like that would be way out of my comfort zone.  But don’t you see?  That’s just further confirmation to me that this is God’s leading—and not my own silly ideas.” 

      Casey shrugged and added, “But you know what?  All these…these arguments about why I should stay here, or why I should go there—they’re irrelevant.  I want to do what God wants me to do. Period.”

      Before Dan could launch into further discussion, Casey reminded him again of the late hour.  He then kissed her good-night. 

      It was, at inception, a mechanical, detached touch of the lips.  But it quickly progressed to a deep, insatiable hunger that seemed to be marking so many of their parting moments lately.  And although Casey nearly always found the exchanges pleasurable, she also felt strangely bereft of any passion-filled response.  She felt pressured and irritated.  Eventually, Dan picked up on her lack of interest, and he sulkily ended their time together. 

      Waving absently, he walked off the porch, to his fiery-red, expensive pickup truck, and backed out of her family’s driveway.

.

      Later, in her small upstairs bedroom, Casey read a few chapters in her Bible, and then pulled her journal out from under her mattress. 

      She began writing, trying to make sense of her mildly overwhelming, conflicting emotions.

.

Lord, show me what to do. 

.

 Dan wants me to stay.  He says that going would be selfish and thoughtless.  He says that if we’re really serious about getting married some day, then I should trust his leadership—his preference—in this.  But he hasn’t proposed, and if he did, I just don’t know what my answer would be.  I mean, I think it would be yes. I’ve dreamed of it often enough.  But I’m still a teenager, for crying out loud.  And lately, he just seems so much more—I don’t know—controlling than he used to be.  I know he’s not trying to be that way—at least I hope he’s not—but it’s like he’s afraid I might start thinking for myself more, or something.

.

And then, there’s Mom.  She tells me that how I treat Dan’s wishes now reflects the kind of wife I’ll be one day.  Is that true?  Is it wrong for me not to give him that kind of authority over me?  Is it sinful?  And if so, why doesn’t that work two ways?  Why is it okay for Dan to show such contempt of my wishes?

.

Dad agrees with me.  Or rather, I suppose it would be more accurate to say that I agree with Dad.  He says that if You want me to do something, then I’d better stop contemplating and just do it, and let You take care of the fallout.  That makes the most sense to me.  But am I only thinking that because it so closely mirrors my own ideas? My so-called agenda? 

.

God, last year, You showed me what has since become my favorite verse of scripture.  Romans 8:28.  “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

.

Help me, God.  Help me to resist the urge to try to figure this out on my own.  And help me to line the input of others up against Your will. Help me to rest in the knowledge that, as long as I put my love for You before anything and anyone else, then You will indeed work it all together for Your good.  And mine.

.

     Casey stopped, considering the words she’d just penned.  A tear trickled along her cheek and dropped onto the page.  She wiped it off, smudging the ink a little, and finished the entry. 

.

I see now that my decision is clear.  Thank You for Your faithfulness.  Amen.

.

Closing her journal, Casey felt an undeniable peace that had been fragile and, occasionally, wavering over the past several weeks.  She was choosing obedience over comfort—God’s will over hers—and the reassurance that infused her at the realization was nothing short of miraculous.  She placed the journal back in its special place, and went downstairs to speak with her parents.

      They were still sitting in front of the family’s only television set, watching the second airing of the late, local news.  “Mom?  Dad? May I talk to you for a second?”

      Pressing a button on the remote control to mute the sound, John Evand smiled. “Sure, honey.  We’re just passing the time, waiting for your sisters to get home.”

      “Okay.” Casey sat down on the rocking chair nearest them.  “Well, um, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been praying and fasting—a lot—and, well, I finally know what I’m doing this fall.  For the next four years, really.”

      John’s smile deepened, and he nodded.  “Wonderful, honey.  So, you’re Boston-bound, then?”

      Casey grinned.  “How did you know?”

      “Honey, I’ve been praying, too,” he answered, eyes moist.

      Lorraine Evand was not quite so enthusiastic.  “Well, it sounds like your decision is made, then.  I don’t suppose there’s any point in my trying to throw good sense into the discussion.”

      Casey hugged each of them in turn.  “I know you don’t agree with this, Mom.  But I can’t tell you how much your support means to me.  I know you believe in me, and I appreciate that.”

      Her mother, not given to shows of emotion as her husband and daughter were, cleared her throat.  “Have you told Dan?”

      “No. I just decided.”

      “Well, then, perhaps you should call him.  The news is bound to be difficult for him, I daresay.  I suppose you’ve allowed him to have some input in your decision?”

      “Input, yes,” Casey answered vaguely, but honestly.  “And I don’t want to tell him over the phone.  I’ll talk to him tomorrow night.”

      “Good idea,” John interjected.  “I’m so proud of you, honey.” 

      Down the hall, the sound of a toddler crying began, faintly.  The crescendo only took a few seconds, and the lack of any immediate response was met with a full, screaming tantrum.

      John stood and stretched.  “Justin’s awake.  Again,” he laughed, heading for the source of the noise.  “Grandpa to the rescue!” he sang as he jogged away.

      “Wow,” Casey observed.  “It’s nearly midnight.  It’s not like Julie to be out this late.  Not on a weeknight, and definitely not since Justin came along.”

      “No.”

      Casey caught her mother’s tone.  “What is it, Mom?”

      “I suppose you may as well know.  She’s been seeing Justin’s father again.  He claims he wants to work things out.  You know, shoulder his responsibilities.

      “Hmm. That’s a switch.”

      “That’s what I thought.”

      Deciding to steer to what she hoped was a safer topic, she asked about her younger sister.  “Where’s Natalie?”

      “She started working at the fireworks tent just outside the town line today.  Tonight’s a late one, since they have to stock the tables before the tent opens for business in the morning.”

      “Oh, right.  I’d forgotten.”  Casey thought for a moment.  “You know, since the job is only through Independence Day, I might ask Nat if she’d be okay with my seeing whether they need any help in the evenings.  The extra cash would come in handy this fall.”

      “Good idea.  Then you could keep an eye on your sister, too.”

      “Why? Is something up?”

      “No. Not really.  I just….  She’s so much like Julie.  Popular. Beautiful.  I don’t want her following in her oldest sister’s footsteps.”  Lorraine looked up, apologetic.  “I don’t mean that I wish Justin hadn’t—”

      “I know, Mom.  And you’re right.  God’s timing would have been better—especially for little Justin.  And if I end up working there, I’d be happy to keep an eye on Natalie.  But, you know, she’s learned from Julie’s past choices.  Jules has been great about being totally upfront with both of us about the difficulties of single motherhood, not to mention the consequences of disobeying God’s boundaries.”

      Lorraine, relieved to see that there was no judgment from her middle daughter, smiled.  “You know, Casey, even though I wish you were staying in Missouri—or at least in the Midwest—for school, for your sake as well as Dan’s, I want you to know that, of the three of you girls, I have the most confidence in you.

      “You’ll make some mistakes, and I’m sure we’ll disagree often—we always have.”  She and Casey laughed lightly.  “But I know that your heart’s desire is to honor God.  And for that, I’m very proud of you.”

      So seldom did she have an intimate moment with her rather stern and serious mother, Casey found herself speechless.  Teary-eyed, she hugged her mother again, and managed, “Thanks, Mom.  And just because we don’t agree, don’t ever think I don’t appreciate your guidance.”

.

      Later, well after midnight, as Casey lay in bed, she thought about what the next few months might bring. She pulled out her journal once more and penned her musings as quickly as they came.

.

When will I have clarity here?  When will I learn the whys of God’s leading me to Boston?  Will I ever?  Is it merely for a better education?  And, if so, wouldn’t that be enough of a reason?  And yet, I feel like there’s more to it.

.

Is there someone specific that I’m supposed to be God’s light to?  Is there something that will happen there—something that will help me to become stronger in my faith?  Is His purpose a combination of several of these possibilities, and more? 

.

Or, is the reason something so different—a concept so far out of my ability to comprehend right now—that God is simply taking me out of my safe, familiar environment so that He can more easily shape me into what He wants me to be? 

.

And lastly, when His purpose for taking me there is fulfilled, will I know it?  And will Mom ever see it?  What about Dan?  Or will they always look back on this time in my life as one of my biggest mistakes?

.

     After stashing her journal once again, she lay back on her pillow and let her mind wander repeatedly over the possibilities she had just written of.

~

Dan drove home and parked in his family’s long cobblestone driveway.  He didn’t want to go inside.  He didn’t want to hear his mother ask him how he was doing.  He found their kindness—their constant concern and gushy joy—revolting and weak. 

      He ignored the fact that they’d given him just about every advantage a loving family could possibly give their only child.  He dismissed the way his father often tried to discuss spiritual things with him, in an effort to exhort him to God-honoring goodness.  Everything about them irked him, deeply and thoroughly.

      Dan grunted and threw the truck they had purchased for him upon his sixteenth birthday into reverse.  Piece of junk, he growled, irritated that he was still driving the same vehicle he’d had since his sophomore year of high school. 

      The old man could’ve bought me a new ride for my eighteenth.  Or my twentieth.  But no, they gave me lousy shares of stock, and a stupid gold watch.  Idiots.

      The porch light was on, and Dan spotted his mother peeking through the window.  He smiled, inexplicably and maliciously glad that she would be launched into further concern by his departure.  He set out and instinctively drove to his favorite place.  A place his parents had long forgotten, and his friends didn’t even know of.

~

Casey?”

      “Over here!”

      John looked around the expansive, gently sloped roof, and spotted his small-framed daughter at the ladder, hefting yet another bundle of shingles to George, his most reliable crewman.  “Oh, good.  I was looking for those,” he said. 

      George, large and solid, nimbly tossed the heavy load to his boss.  John looked at his daughter.  “Was that too heavy for you, honey?”

      “No, I’m fine.  Thanks, sweetie,” the big man replied, winking at Casey.

      Laughing, Casey shook her head at George.  She then looked at her father.  “No, Dad.  I can handle it.  How many more do you need?”

      “Uh, I guess three ought to do it for today.”

      “Got it,” Casey called as she descended the extension ladder.

.

      Later, John, George, and the two other crewmen finally made it back down to ground level, to find that Casey had already cleaned up their workspace on the paved driveway. 

      George gave a long, low whistle.  “Hey, I could get used to this.”  He then dropped to one knee in front of Casey, pulled the sweat-soaked bandana from his bald head, and gave an exaggerated clearing of the throat before begging, “Will you marry me?”

      The other men groaned, calling George’s latest proposal such things as “pathetic” and “real subtle.”  Then, laughing, they all thanked Casey for the chance to knock off a good half-hour early.

      When they were gone, John said, “I’m really gonna miss having you around to sweep up the shop, run errands, and, well, everything.”

      “Thanks, Dad.  This job has been such a blessing for me.  I think I would have died if I had to actually interact with strangers all day like Julie does at the bank.”

      Laughing, John shook his head.  “Two years ago, when you started working for me, I might have agreed.  But when the time comes for you to break out of your shell, God will give you the strength to survive it.”

      Casey laughed with him, although a little nervously.  “Yeah.  I think this move to Boston is just the beginning of God’s plan to mold me into…well…a more self-confident person, at least.”

      “I think so, too.  So when He puts opportunity in front of you, rejoice. He loves His children too much to let us be content with who we are right now.” 

      They finished loading up the tools and materials, and drove back to their own house and the adjoining wood shop that served as the headquarters for John’s roofing business.  In his spare time, the space doubled as his hobby center, where he enjoyed building various reproductions of period furniture.

      “Are you doing any woodworking tonight?” Casey asked as she helped him to load the next day’s supplies into the truck.

      “A bit.  I’m trying my hand at punched tin.  You know, for that pie safe I’ve been working on.  Actually, you should give it a go.  I’m sure that, with your artistic flair, you’d be a natural.  Wanna hang out and chill?”

      Casey giggled, as she always did when her father tried to sound young and hip.  “Thanks.  That sounds fun.  But after a quick shower, I’m heading over to the fireworks stand.  Nat said she thought they could use the extra help.”

      “Good. You’re starting to crack that shell already,” he smiled.

      “Baby steps,” she agreed, drawing a deep breath to steady her suddenly quickened pulse.

      “Don’t overdo it with all the work, though,” John cautioned.  “Dan’s bound to have a hard time with your going off to school.  Make sure you leave a little time in your summer schedule for him.  Unless…”

      “What, Dad?”

      John closed the back of the truck securely before turning to look at his daughter.  “Well, unless maybe you’re thinking about breaking up, I guess.”

      “Why would I—”

      “Casey, a long-distance relationship would be difficult enough without all the added circumstances.”

      “Like what?”

      “Well, you’re still young, for one thing.  Sure, you two have been dating off and on for a long while, but Dan’s been hinting pretty steadily at marriage.  You never contradict him, but you never bring it up, either.”

      John’s tone was gentle.  He wasn’t judging or trying to make Casey’s decisions for her.  Rather, he was simply pointing out some things in an effort to stimulate Casey’s own ability to reason through the facts.  “Dan says he loves you.  Maybe he does.  But do you really love him?  Or do you just say the words because you think they’re expected of you?”

      Casey shrugged and looked down at the gravel drive, kicking one of the larger rocks.  “I…I guess I love him.  And, I’ve been thinking I was going to marry him for so long, I—”

      “You know, honey, it’s okay if you’re not sure.  And, it’s okay if you decide that he’s not the man God has for you.”

      Casey looked at her father, confused.  “Dad, you mean…don’t you think he’s the one?”

      John chuckled.  “I’m afraid that one’s off my radar, honey.  And, although your mother may disagree, it’s not on her radar, either.”

      They shared a laugh, and then he grew serious again.  “There’s something else, Casey.”  Her father turned and leaned one arm against the truck, considering his words carefully.  “Dan is a nice enough young man.  But he doesn’t seem—how shall I put this?—very strong in his faith.  Especially these past few months.”

      “But he is, Dad.  He co-leads his on-campus Bible study at his school. And, he helps out in the college and career class at church.  And—”

      “Casey, honey, being strong in your walk with the Lord isn’t just about what you do with your natural abilities.  That’s important, sure, but it’s more about letting God use all of you—your weaknesses as well as your talents—to accomplish His purpose.” 

      John smiled to diffuse any possible misunderstanding.  “Has Dan even offered to pray with you about your school decision or anything else?”

      Sighing, Casey agreed.  “You’re right.  And, as for the first part of what you said, I suppose that’s something I still struggle with—relying on my own ideas and works instead of God’s grace.”

      “It’s a process.  I’m just not convinced that Dan really wants to depend on God’s strength.  He may some day—and I pray for him.  But right now, I don’t think he’s seeking God’s direction, the way you’re trying to.  Okay?”

      Casey took another deep breath, not sure of how to compute all her father had just said.  She looked at him and smiled.  “Thanks, Dad. You’ve given me a lot to think about.” 

      They hugged, and John silently praised God for such an open, honest relationship with his daughter.  Casey then said good-bye, and John watched her disappear into the house. 

      Misty-eyed, he admitted freely that it wasn’t her sweeping and errand-running that he would miss when August came.  It was these moments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

Recent Comments
Book
Kelly L. Ward's books on Goodreads
The Crimson Purpose: The Calling of Casey Evand The Crimson Purpose: The Calling of Casey Evand
reviews: 1
ratings: 4 (avg rating 5.00)