Grayson sat in the living room visiting with Stan. Sierra brought her clothes and suitcase in and sat on the floor packing them up while they talked. Stan gave Grayson the ‘daddy’ treatment. Sierra expected it, but she knew Grayson was a little bit nervous as he guarded his answers with every bit of discretion he could muster. ‘When did you graduate from college, what other jobs did you have before you decided to become a preacher, why did you quit competing, why didn’t you at least let a few of those sponsors take you on for just a little while, son, you could have had more money than you would have known what to do with if you would have done that, and are you sure you want this squirrely little thing to go to Tennessee with you, she is liable to go off in those hills and get lost,’ he went on and on.
Sierra just smiled at Grayson and shook her head. ‘He might as well get used to it if things are going to go as they were thinking, this would be his life story,’ she thought. Sierra went and got the new dress she bought with her mom earlier in the week to show it to Grayson. ‘Do you think this will be okay to wear to your cousin’s wedding?’ she asked. ‘Perfect,’ he said as he winked, clicked his tongue, and gave her a thumb’s up. ’I don’t want to cram it into the suitcase or it will get wrinkled. I was going to wear it to church tomorrow morning, but I think I will wait and wear it to the wedding so it will not get dirty. ‘I have a hanging bag that I am going to put in my car with my suit in it, if you want I will take it and put it in there too,’ he suggested.
’I will just go ahead and take this because I have to pack my things before I call it a night too. Sierra if you want to leave your suitcase here once you have it packed, we can swing by here on our way out and pick it up. ’Well, mom had planned on us staying long enough to eat lunch before we left anyway, so that will work out fine.
Sierra walked Grayson to the door and gave him one last hug. She felt him kiss the top of her head before he walked away. ’I will just throw a sweat suit in the car and change here before we go tomorrow if that’s okay. ‘That will be great! See you in the morning, goodnight!’
Sierra went directly into the bathroom and closed the door. She needed to catch her breath and process everything that had just taken place. She was not ready to answer Judith and Stan’s questions just yet. She looked in the mirror and said, ‘Is this really happening.’ She felt like she was in the middle of a dream that he hoped would never end.
Sierra finished packing her suitcase; then she got her clothes ready for Sunday morning’s service. ‘I think I am going to go on to bed. Tomorrow is going to be a long day,’ she said. About that time Judith walked in, ‘I am sorry I was not able to come visit with Grayson while he was here,’ she explained. ‘I was on the phone with my sister, they are going through some difficult times with their daughter right now and she needed a shoulder to cry on.’ ‘Is everything going to be okay?’ Sierra asked. ‘Yes, I think so. It is just some of those issues that every family has to face. She will be fine, but I needed to be there for her tonight, that’s all,’ she answered. ‘Well I know she was glad you were. I know if I am going through something I sure do feel good to know that you are there for me.’ Sierra confessed.
‘You are sweet, goodnight honey,’ she said.
Sierra slept like a baby. When the alarm clock sounded for her to get ready for church the following morning, she was actually rested. It was one of few days Sierra could remember not wanting to turn over and go back to sleep. She wasn’t sure if it was due to the excitement of the trip with Grayson, or because she had gone to bed early. It was probably a combination of the two, but more than anything else it was excitement. ‘It’s like when you know you have a plane to catch at dark-thirty in the morning and you are wide awake an hour before the alarm clock goes off,’ she thought. At any rate, she got up, got ready for church, finished packing her suitcase, and was ready to go. She found herself pacing the floor, watching the clock, and anxious as it was too early for her to go to the church just yet. There would be no one there. Judith was usually one of the first ones there and she was not even ready to go yet. Hmmm, Sierra sighed as she felt her nerves begin to knot up in her stomach, let me see if there is anything I can watch on television while I am waiting to get my mind off of things, I have such nervous energy, she thought to herself.
She sat in the recliner and turned on the television. Flipping through the channels, she came across a documentary about the treasures and kings of Egypt. She found that quite interesting and it calmed her nerves while she waited on Judith and Stan to say they were ready to go. By the time they finally were ready, Sierra hated to turn it off, she found herself caught up in the treasures. ’I guess my ‘turn the television on to calm your nerves’ trick worked,’ she laughed as she rustled around to find the remote so she could turn it off.
‘I guess I will just ride with you since we are all going to the same place,’ she said. ‘Okay then, let’s go,’ Stan said as he grabbed the keys to his truck.
Sierra was anxious for Alisa, Grant, Josh and Andrea to meet Grayson. She hoped they would show up for church. As she entered the sanctuary with her parents, Pastor Allen was standing by the door pointing his finger behind him. ‘He’s in the back, we all know who you are looking for,’ he said. Sierra was embarrassed just a little because all of the senior adults were sitting in the pews waiting for their Sunday school class to begin and heard that remark. About that time Laura Trahan, the red-head, walked up behind her and said sarcastically, ‘Yeah, Sierra, we all know who you are looking for.’ Sierra just rolled her eyes over to her mom and said, ‘What is her problem?’ ‘I’ll tell you in a minute,’ she whispered as they walked toward the organ.
When Laura was out of sight, Judith explained to her that ever since Grayson came in view of a call to Flowing Creek Church, Laura had been almost stalking him. She had cornered him on several occasions and asked him to go to their house for dinner, and other things. He never gave her the time of day, so when you showed up and Grayson was showing you attention, Laura got jealous. She knows now that there is something between you two and she just wishes it was her. ‘Ignore her,’ she said. ‘I have been ignoring her stuff since I was five years old, I should be a pro at it by now,’ they both laughed and went their separate ways.
Alisa and Grant showed up just as the service was about to begin. Sierra had a quick chance to introduce them to Grayson, but only long enough for a handshake and a simple greeting. They sat down, once again on the front pew, for convenience, and Sierra turned to make eye contact with Alisa, who was sitting on the pew directly behind her. She recognized her facial expressions to be in complete approval of the choice God had made for her. ‘He is really good looking,’ she whispered, but loudly enough that Sierra was afraid everyone around them heard her, including Grayson. She looked up at him and he was grinning. ‘She thinks I’m cute, huh,’ he whispered. Sierra felt her stomach hit her feet, she thought she would die. But instead, she looked at him and said, ‘yeah, and so do I.’
At the end of the service, Grayson and Sierra did not wait around to shake hands with the crowd. They slipped out the back door and went as quickly as they could to the Bradley’s house. When they arrived, Andrea and Josh were sitting at the kitchen table waiting for everyone to get home. ‘Hey, you made it!’ Sierra said as she noticed they were there. ’I have someone I would like for you guys to meet. This is Grayson Raines. He is the youth minister at Flowing Creek Church. Grayson, this is my brother Josh, and his wife Andrea. She is expecting their first baby.’ Sierra said. As Grayson reached over to shake Josh’s hand he said, ‘I have been praying for you and your wife this week. I am glad to hear everything is going to be okay.’ ‘Thank you very much, I appreciate that,’ Josh said with sincerity.
‘Sierra, where would be the best place for me to go change out of this suit?’ he said. ’Just go right in that bedroom by the front door if you want to. No one will bother you in there. I will go change too and then I will bring my suitcase out so we can load it into your car and get that over with.
By the time Grayson and Sierra were changed and ready to load the car, Alisa and Grant were in the kitchen and Judith and Stan were already changing their clothes too. ‘I didn’t get a chance to talk to you much at the church Grayson, but I am glad to meet you,’ Grant said when he walked into the room. Everyone made him feel welcome and Sierra was glad. Andrea was prodding Sierra behind her back, whispering, ‘you go girl,’ in her ear, causing Sierra’s cheeks to turn as red as fire.
Judith came in and took charge. “Now listen everybody, these two have a long way to drive today, so they need to get on the road. They need to get in here right now and fix their plates first. Ya’ll go ahead and eat and don’t wait for us – we don’t want you to have to be getting there any later than you have to,’ she said as she shoved a couple of plates in their hands. ‘When you come to the Bradley house Grayson, you are going to be treated like family – so get over there and fix your own plate!’ She chuckled as she tried to make him feel welcome. ‘Yes ma’am. I believe I will,’ he said as he moved toward the stove area where the post were lined up and filled with food.
He was still not used to Cajun food, so he was not sure what to do with the rice. Sierra laughed at him as she told him to get some rice on his plate then put the meat and gravy over it. ‘In Tennessee we usually just eat potatoes,’ he admitted, I guess I have a lot to learn.
They ate quickly, and were on their way. Sierra was anxious about the long trip with just the two of them. What would they talk about for that long? Where would they stop to eat? What if the car broke down, and a million other questions flooded her mind.
As Grayson’s tries approached the end of the gravel driveway, he stopped the car. He looked at Sierra and said, ‘Be anxious for nothing, but in everything through prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known unto God,’ So, God, we pray today before we drive another inch of this journey - that you will watch over us. Protect us Lord as we are on the road. Let us make good time, not have any trouble with our vehicle, and not get any tickets or accidents. Show us the places where we need to stop along the way, whether it is to eat, or to get gas. We are trusting in you Lord. We give this trip to you. Put your angels around the front and the back of this car as we drive. We love you. Amen.’
Sierra had never even thought of praying like that before a trip. She was amazed at the calm that came over her as soon as he began to pray. This is not our trip. This is God’s trip and I have nothing to fear. Sierra was learning so much about what it means to walk in the path that God lays out rather than her own. She wondered what lessons were waiting for her this week in Tennessee.
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