Friday Sneak Peek – All I Ever Wanted

This week’s sneak peek is my newest book, All I Ever Wanted! I’m so excited to share this story with you. Why? Because it’s a prequel to a whole lot of my other books! This is Jess and Nick Huntington’s story. Yes, the story that launched a thousand stories about Huntington brothers! (Maybe not a thousand… but we may get there!) This story is particularly close to my heart as Jess and Nick are involved in a ministry called Celebrate Recovery, the same ministry I’m involved in here at my church. What a gift CR has been to me… and what a gift I hope this love story is to you!

Here are the first two chapters… happy reading!

smiling couple having fun over sky background

~Jess~

“I quit. I’m done. I’m so done.”

With those words, Jessica Fisher put her makeup bag down with a clunk, nodding at her reflection in the mirror as if to confirm it to herself.

“You’re done with your makeup?” Emily, her sister, asked from where she stood just a few steps away, tugging a brush through her hair in the tiny bathroom they’d shared growing up, a bathroom that only seemed smaller now that they were adults coming back home for a special visitor.

“No, I’m done trying to find a man,” Jessica said, squeezing closer to the mirror, elbowing Emily aside as she double checked that she’d not gotten any lipstick on her teeth. “And I’m done with this freakishly tiny bathroom. How did we ever both get ready in here at the same time all those years?!”

How long had it been since Jess had been stuck in here with Emily? She’d gone off to college four years ago, leaving Emily to have the whole bathroom to herself… well, kind of. She’d gone to a university only twenty minutes from this house, so it’s not like Emily, who was only a few years younger, had ever really, truly had it to herself. Jess had spent her college career coming home more often than most young women her age, especially given her involvement in her father’s church.

An involvement that continued on even now, hence the reason she was back here tonight even though she was now legitimately on her own, graduated with her own student loans to pay off, her own bills to pay, her own tiny apartment with her own tiny bathroom that still wasn’t as crowded as this one –

“Well, we didn’t get ready in here at the same time back then,” Emily muttered with a frown. “You always hogged the space. Jess, do you know that I live in a dorm with two hundred other women and communal bathrooms, and I still have more space than I did growing up in this house with you?”

Jess gave her sister a withering smile at this. “And yet with all that extra time you have in front of a mirror, you still look just like you always did, Emily.”

Ouch. Checkmate.

Emily stuck her tongue out at her, and Jess bit back a smile. This was the way it was between them, joking and insulting and generally annoying one another to the point of screaming, then missing one another terribly when they weren’t together.

Sisters, in other words.

Emily hadn’t stayed close to home when she’d picked a college, choosing instead to go to a university halfway across the state, and despite all the squabbling that they’d done over the years, Jess had missed her profoundly when she’d left town and was now so thankful for these rare weekend trips when both Fisher sisters were in the same house again.

She scooted over as a peace offering. “There. See? Some space.”

“Wow,” Emily said sarcastically. “I can almost lift my arms now.”

“Well, it is ridiculously tiny,” Jessica said, even as they bumped into one another again.

“Remind me again why we had to share a bathroom while Matthew managed to get his very own.”

“Because boys are gross, and no one wanted to share with him,” Emily sighed, putting her brush down. “And he’s leaving soon, so we’ll have two bathrooms next Christmas. His and ours.”

At this, their eyes met in the mirror.

“I shouldn’t celebrate him enlisting and being sent off to God knows where,” Jessica whispered.

“If Mom hears you doing so, she’ll never let it rest,” Emily agreed.

“But it sure will make coming home easier, huh?” Jessica said, nudging her in the side. “At least we’ll have our own space.”

Emily shrugged. “Yeah, but if we do, I think I’ll miss out on all the latest news. Like you’ve given up on trying to find a man, all of a sudden.”

And with this, Emily dropped down to sit on the edge of the tub, watching her sister. “Spill, please.”

“What?” Jess asked, sighing herself.

“I need details, because you saying that you’re done looking for love is like the rest of us saying that we’ve given up breathing air.”

“I’m not that bad.”

Emily simply raised an eyebrow at this.

Jess opened up her mouth, ready to argue that she wasn’t, in fact, obsessed with finding love… only to shut it a moment later.

“Okay, guilty as charged,” she muttered, sitting down beside her sister. “It’s all I’ve ever wanted, though. Love. A husband. A family.”

“But you’re done,” Emily added helpfully. “You‘ve given up on finding someone. Or so you’ve said.”

“I have said it,” Jess nodded, “because I feel like all of my attempts thus far have been miserable failures.”

That was putting it nicely.

She’d had a lot of boyfriends in her short lifetime. A handful of first loves in high school that had fizzled out over time, the last one ending just as they’d graduated and that particular boy had gone way out to California for college. He’d been all for a long-distance relationship, but Jess had thought the distance between Texas and the west coast was way too far and way too serious at eighteen.

A girl could think that way at eighteen, when she was too young to settle down and when she had four great years ahead of her in college, a place filled with boys who were going somewhere with their lives and their careers.

And so college had been filled with more dates, second dates, with wondering and dreaming about which one of the many would become serious. Halfway through college, she’d started to regard these easy and fun dating relationships more seriously, concentrating on one at a time, very nearly willing each young man to be the one as time drew on, as she realized that she was so close to graduation and no closer to settling down.

It’s a funny thing, how what had felt like all the time in the world felt like not enough time at all once it had nearly passed. And it was an even funnier thing, how the small Christian college she’d gone to seemed to have an unwritten rule regarding relationships, possibilities, and the threat – yes, threat – of singleness beyond graduation.A ring by spring, or you’re just plain out of luck, girl. Christian college was full of wonderful possibilities when it came to husband hunting, but where was a Christian woman supposed to find a godly man after she left her Christian college?

Husband hunting. Even as Jess sat on the edge of the tub, she cringed at the words. But that’s just what she’d been doing. She’d graduated single, and she’d been doing her best to remedy that. Emily was blissfully single and halfway through her own degree at a college that didn’t have nearly as many prospects as Jess’s school had, focused on her work and her future career as a wedding planner.

A wedding planner of all things, when she didn’t even want to be married! Jess could only imagine the eye rolling and chastisement that would come if Emily heard a term like “husband hunting” or really knew how many men from church that Jess had dated since finishing school, desperately trying to fall in love –

Jess felt like a miserable failure, honestly. Not only because she was trying to force love into happening but because she’d had absolutely no success at doing so.

“Not a miserable failure,” Emily said quietly.

Had her sister read her mind?

“What’s not a miserable failure?” Jess asked suspiciously.

“All of your attempts to meet someone,” Emily clarified. “I mean, you’ve learned a thing or two with all the millions of dates that you’ve been on this year.”

There was a gleam in her eye as she said it. Millions of dates…

“I’m glad to know that Mom has been sharing my business with you,” Jess said sarcastically, instantly knowing just how Emily would have gotten this information.

“You know Mom, always sharing everyone’s business,” Emily shrugged.

That was God’s honest truth. While Jess abhorred her mother’s insistence on butting into her adult children’s business all the time, she had to admit, in her more self-aware moments, that she was cut from the same cloth and would be just the exact same way if she ever met a man, married him, and had children of her own that she could micromanage.

If she ever met a man.

“But the point is, maybe you’ve learned a few things along the way.” Emily patted her sister’s knee as she said it.

“Like what?” Jess asked, thinking again that she was just done with the whole mess. “What did I learn from the guy who lives in his mother’s basement and plays video games all day?”

“That you don’t want a guy like that,” Emily answered.

“And the one who texted me, like, ninety times in one day?”

“That you’re certainly more desirable and sought after than you thought.”

“And the one who was seeing three other girls at the same time he was seeing me?!” Jess said, her voice higher now.

Emily narrowed her eyes, considering this.

“And those were the girls I knew about,” Jess said. “He could have been seeing three more that I never discovered!”

“This was a guy from church?” Emily asked.

“Yes!”

“Brutal,” Emily said, conceding the hopelessness of that. “I don’t know, Jess. Maybe you should be done.”

Jess threw her hands up in the air as if her point had been made.

“Or not,” Emily said. “I don’t know. It’s not like I have any experience with any of this.”
“No, because you don’t ever date anyone,” Jess said. “You’re content to be single forever, living your life and doing your own thing.”

Emily smiled at this. “Well, there’s something to be said for contentment.”

Yes, there was definitely something to be said for it. Emily wasn’t acting like an insane woman, after all, unhappy with her life and doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. She was content with what God had given her.

And there it was. Was Jess not content on her own? Was she not happy with where God had her right now in this season? Was there some deeper part of her that felt like she was lacking, that made it impossible for her to be content single, that showed a measure of dissatisfaction not just with her life and where she was but with God and how He wasn’t doing what she thought He should?

Deep, deep questions. And while people probably assumed that Jess never pondered these kinds of questions because she just came across as a ditzy blonde more often than not, the truth was that these questions had been plaguing her more and more over the last few months.

Was she lacking? Did her frustration with the way her life hadn’t panned out point to a deeper issue with her heart? If Jesus was supposed to be everything to her, then why was she so discontent? Was this really not about a man after all but about the spiritual condition of her heart?

No, that wasn’t it. This wasn’t a spiritual problem. She just wanted to be married, to have a family someday, things that weren’t bad but were good…

“I just want to find someone and settle down,” Jess said. “That’s all I want. Or maybe not. Because now, I’m swearing off all men because they have all these issues –”

Emily interrupted her.

“Maybe the real issue, though, is that you just want to get married,” she said thoughtfully. “It’s not about any one man in particular that you want. If you were desperate to get married because you’d fallen in love with someone and wanted nothing more than to be with him, I think that would be different. But as it is, you’re just desperate to get married… to anyone, likely.”

Jessica frowned at this. “Well, it’s not like I’m getting myself engaged to any fool who walks through the door.”

“Not for lack of trying,” Emily added. “Because by your own admission, there have been plenty of fools walking through that door.”

Truth.

“But maybe you’ll know you’ve met the right guy when it’s about him, about wanting him, more than it’s about wanting marriage and children and this perfect life you’ve imagined for yourself.”

Jess stared at Emily for a long moment, turning these words over in her mind, marveling that there was some wisdom in them.

Or not.

“I think I should just be done, because –”

“Are you two ever going to be done in that bathroom?!”

And there was their mother on the other side of the door, up in their business again.

“Typical,” Emily whispered. Then, with a raised voice, “Just a few more seconds!”

“Well, good, because our guest is already here, and you two are being excessively rude, making us all wait on dinner while you gossip in there like two little old ladies.”

And with that, they heard Lydia make her way back downstairs.

“Remind me again why I came home for this?” Emily asked as she stood to her feet.

“Because you’re the pastor’s daughter,” Jess said, standing with her, reaching out to straighten her dress for her. “And as such, it’s your job to come home and smile and carry on inane conversation with whatever guy they’re about to vote in as associate pastor down at Grace. Oh, and you’re also here to help entertain his family.”

“We’re going to be stuck babysitting tonight, aren’t we?” Emily asked, no doubt recalling all the other times being a pastor’s daughter had included watching someone else’s children during important church meetings.

“Don’t we always end up watching someone else’s children?”

“I hope they’re sweet, at least,” Emily murmured.

“I don’t know any details about this guy or his family,” Jess muttered, checking her makeup one last time. “We haven’t gotten any news at all at church. All very secretive on the part of the pastor search committee, all of whom are over the top excited about this guy.”

They had been. This was the big weekend when the prospective candidate would be at the church, meeting everyone and going through all the questioning and vetting that was part of the process. And it all started with meeting the senior pastor’s family tonight, in what Jess’s parents sincerely looked at as a welcome meal, where they would learn all about him, would tell him all about themselves, and would encourage him regarding the weekend ahead.

A boring meal, in other words.

“Well, then, we need to put our best foot forward to impress him and whatever family he brought with him,” Emily said, her hand on the doorknob, looking at her reflection in the mirror one last time. “Just like we’ve done our entire lives with every member of the support staff that’s come through here.”

“I’m done trying to impress men,” Jess said, resolving it again. “Pastors and otherwise. Because I’m done, Emily. Done, done, done.”

“That’s the spirit,” Emily said, draping her arm over her sister’s shoulders as they made their way down the stairs.

Done. So done.

Once they got there, though, she reconsidered.

“Jessica, Emily,” their father, Thomas, said, rising to his feet as the young man who sat next to him did the same. “I’d like you to meet our potential new associate pastor, Stephen Hayes.”

And without even realizing that she was doing so, Jess’s eyes darted from Stephen’s gorgeous face to his left hand. No wedding ring.

Maybe she wasn’t quite so done after all.

~Nick~

Evaluate all my relationships, offering forgiveness to those who have hurt me…

Nick Huntington let out a long breath and considered this important step, laid out before him in the booklet he’d been given at the recovery group three months earlier when he’d attended his first meeting.

Offering forgiveness to those who have hurt me…

Twelve steps. That had been the requirement handed down with his DWI conviction, a leniency and a gift of grace from the judge who had told Nick, in no uncertain terms, that he was still a young man, that now was the time to get his life under control, and to get sober.

Nick had been expecting a much worse sentencing than the $2000 he’d had to pay and the ninety days his license was suspended. In the time he’d had since committing the DWI and going to court, he’d imagined all sorts of horrible possibilities. Jail time, at the very worst. Losing his license for an entire year, which would make getting to work sites difficult. Exorbitant fees that would have made the two grand look like a pittance. These were all possibilities in his mind. None of these were great, and he’d known it when the judge had made a big deal out of the fact that he was only being sentenced to the bare minimum, along with the added sentence of the mandatory completion of a 12 step recovery course.

A gift of grace, full of leniency and misplaced faith perhaps in Nick’s ability to get his life together on his own.

Nick now knew that the faith was misplaced, but at the time, he’d only thought the whole plan was ridiculous. He hadn’t been nearly thankful enough for the leniency, all because he didn’t have a problem with alcohol, didn’t need a 12 step program, and didn’t want to sit around with those kind of people. Addicts. Lowlifes. Losers. A stupid decision made after a perfectly responsible evening out on his own, enjoying a few drinks while he tried to loosen up after a long work week – yes, he deserved to be out some money and to have to drag his old bike out of the garage and use that to get around. But surely one DWI didn’t warrant months of going through some program like he had a real problem.
But what was he going to do? He ended up doing what the judge had ordered, finding an approved recovery group in the area and showing up, scowling even as he looked over the material they distributed to him as they welcomed him in.

Celebrate Recovery. That was the enthusiastic name of the group. Well, there was nothing to celebrate about any of this, he’d thought, looking around at the place where they met, a building on a vast church complex. Grace Community Church, the church that hosted this group as an extension of their men’s ministry, judging by the literature and by the large number of other men just his age all gathered there that night. He’d felt out of place, being in church after a lifetime of never – and he meant that literally, never – having gone to one before, but he’d felt even more out of place because everyone there was an addict.

One of those people, like the old guy who went around shaking hands beforehand, chatting up everyone like he was right at home, moving from one group to another, until he sat down right next to Nick, his eyes bright and welcoming.

One of those people, already up in his space.

“Hey,” he’d said, nodding his head in introduction, holding his hand out to Nick. “I’m Thomas.”

“Hey, Thomas,” Nick said, glancing over him quickly, reaching several conclusions at once. The older man was dressed up like he’d just come from the office, like he had some high-powered job somewhere. Probably on the verge of retirement given his age. And he had appeared to know everyone present, Nick excluded, which meant that he’d been coming here a while. Maybe he had some gambling problem or an issue with more expensive drugs.

There was just no telling.

Nick had looked around at the others, imagining their issues. Alcohol, drugs, infidelity, abuse, depression, addictions, habits, hurts, and hang ups…

What had this guy’s story been?

Thomas continued to smile at him, waiting for the introduction.

“Yeah, I’m Nick,” he finally said, a long moment later.

“Nick,” Thomas nodded. “It’s good to meet you. I’m glad you’re here.”

Well, that made one of them.

Nick’s mind went to how quickly he could get this whole thing over with, how he could go through their process and get his court papers signed. Yes, he had to present court papers to this group, to whoever was in charge, and get them signed like he was an elementary school kid with a permission slip.

Maybe this old guy knew how to get it done more quickly.

“Hey, you know anything about who signs these things?” Nick asked, reaching into his back pocket and pulling his papers out. “Court-mandated.”

At this, he’d rolled his eyes.

The remembrance of it made Nick cringe many months later, as he recalled how full of himself he’d been during that first meeting, how much derision he’d shown the whole process, and how Thomas’s expression had never wavered.

“Ahh, yes,” Thomas said. “I’ve seen these before. And you’re in luck, Nick, because I’m the one who has to sign those for you.”

He…. what?

“I’m your new pastor,” Thomas said, grinning even wider. “Welcome home.”

Great. Just great. That would be his luck, meeting this guy first. And who said he needed a pastor?

And home? Not likely.

He’d been prepared to retort back at the old guy, but something in Thomas’s eyes had made the words retreat back down his throat before he could give voice to them.

“You’re an alcoholic,” Thomas said, glancing down at the papers. “Lucky you, having the papers to spell out your problem for you like that. The rest of us just have to muck through our issues for a long time before we figure all of our junk out. And yours is specified, as clear as can be, right here, with a judge signing off on it! How convenient!”

Nick had been startled by the stark honesty in what Thomas had said, about issues, about the junk of life –

“I’m not an alcoholic,” he had finally managed. “I don’t want you to think… I mean, these papers… I don’t have a drinking problem or anything like that.”

Yet there he was, holding the court’s papers, the mention of his DWI across the top. Thomas took them from him without a word and held them in his hands.

“You don’t have to explain yourself to me, Nick,” he said, his eyes compassionate and gentle. “And I don’t have a drinking problem, either. But I’ve got problems. We all do. And maybe that’s why God has us here, huh?”

God. Nick hadn’t been sure about that. He didn’t know much at all about God apart from a vague understanding that God was somewhere far away, looking down on people, counting their wrongs and rights, then either welcoming them to heaven or sending them to hell, based on how well they’d done.

Or maybe not. Who knew if any of that was true?

One thing Nick did know, though, was that the people who came to these things had problems so big that their chances with God were already kaput, and given that, Nick was adamant that he didn’t want to be a part of any of it.

He was better than this. So was this pastor, probably.

“Yeah, you don’t have problems like the people here,” Nick had said, his voice lowered.

Thomas had shrugged. “Well, we’re all starting out on even ground, Nick. All of us separated from God because of our mistakes. So I’d say we’re just like the people here, you and me. And even with your problem spelled out here so clearly, I’d wager that there are other issues, underlying ones, that are behind this.”

Underlying issues. Not likely.

Nick hadn’t believed it that first week. Not the second week or the third week either. But because the court made him come, made him come back and get Thomas to sign off on each week where they crawled slowly through those twelve principles, spending weeks on each one before moving on, Nick was there every week, standing numbly as the addicts around him sang songs about God saving them, sitting quietly as a speaker would get up and talk about Jesus and what the Bible said, and listen with a racing pulse as they’d separate into groups later, talking about their issues, about how many months it had been since they’d given sobriety a shot, and what a struggle it was to walk in newness of life now.

Newness of life. Nick didn’t need a new life, did he?

He wasn’t one of those people, but he found himself relating to their stories, recognizing pieces of his own. And when he found himself unable to stop drinking, needing the whiskey every day as though it was part of who he was, even as he was there at the meetings every week hearing others celebrate their own sobriety, he realized something.

He was worse than those people. And, yes, he was an alcoholic, but that wasn’t even the tip of the iceberg when it came to his issues. His mind had gone back to that judge’s misplaced faith that Nick could get his life straight on his own.

He couldn’t do it. Not on his own. He knew that much as he’d poured all the whiskey in his house down the kitchen sink, panic in his heart because his mind was already whispering to him that he could get more if he needed it –

In that moment Nick started really believing what he’d heard said over and over again at those meetings, finding that he was in need of grace, of a change, of the transforming power of Christ over his life, which was a complete and total mess. Not by the world’s standards but by God’s standards.

He’d called Thomas that night, thankful that the pastor had given him his number after that first meeting. When he’d answered, Nick had managed only this.

“I’m done,” he said. “I can’t do this.”

Sobriety. Holding it all together. Living life.

Thomas seemed to hear all that he hadn’t said and offered this in return.

“I know you can’t.”

“It’s impossible,” Nick had answered back, realizing the magnitude of it all, how very impossible it was –

“With man, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible,” Thomas had said.

And Nick, left with nothing else, decided to believe him.

Things began to change.

Sobriety that rested not on his power but through the power that Christ gave. An honest understanding that there were reasons he drank, hurts that had led him to this place. A heart change, turning from self and to God, as Nick believed the stories told, how Christ had healing in His hands, how He alone could do the impossible.

Nick could see the way ahead, knew that after he’d finished these twelve steps, he could move on with his life as someone new, leave the group, and –

“And we need you in leadership here,” Thomas had said when Nick had hinted at this during one of their many weekly conversations. “We need you here, helping others… letting us continue to help you.”

“I’m sober,” Nick had said, the words still so powerful. He’d gone from not seeing that he even had a problem to fully recognizing it, giving it over to God, and seeing transformation. I’m sober. The battle was won, by God’s power alone.

“And have you not been listening?” Thomas asked, kindness still in his words. “It’s a process. A long process. And you need us around you just like we need you.”

Nick had taken a breath at this, ready to argue –

“There’s something behind your drinking, Nick,” Thomas had cut him off before he could start. “We’ve talked around it all this time, but it’s there. And I know you’re pushing it down, trying to ignore what exactly it is that hurt you so profoundly so long ago… and I suspect that you’ve known just exactly what it was this whole time.”

Yes, that one underlying issue, always at the back of Nick’s mind, even as he’d tried to deny it. What was his secret? What was behind the drinking?

Nick had known what it was all along, just as Thomas had suspected. It wasn’t rocket science, after all. He’d been raised by a single mother with her own issues, most of them stemming from the day that Nick’s father had walked out on them.

Abandoned by his own father. That was the big issue.

“Nick,” Thomas had said, his hand to his shoulder as they’d talked through his place in the recovery group, his voice comforting and reassuring. “I want you to step up into leadership here. Really take the reins in this ministry. But you’re going to need to finish up all the steps. Honestly, without holding anything back.”

And that meant one thing. Offering forgiveness. Forgiveness, to those who had hurt him. To those he didn’t even know…

He thought about all that had happened and what he was doing now, months after that very first trip to Celebrate Recovery, as he sat in the corner of the dingy and dirty bar on the wrong side of town, his leg jiggling nervously as he considered what it was that he was about to do.

He wasn’t backslidden. He wasn’t getting ready to drink again. He wasn’t back into all that had gotten him into trouble before. He did, however, find himself sorely tempted and in need of liquid courage in the worst way possible as his eyes found the man at the bar, the man he’d spent the past two weeks tracking down, his heart earnestly longing to complete this next step, to do it the right way, needing to see this man, to speak words of forgiveness to this man…

This man who had no home. This man who drifted from place to place, just as he had for the past twenty-five years according to the arrest records, taking on odd jobs as he needed to in between stints in jail, not to take care of the family he’d left behind so many years ago, but to fill the need he had for alcohol.

Nick had been able to locate all of that information, draw his own conclusions, and find the man at his latest address, shadowing him like some private investigator, following him to the same bar he went to every night.

It was on the third night of following that Nick watched him drinking himself to a stupor at the bar, his very movements and few words communicating the sullen, quiet mood that he was always in. In light of this, knowing that there would be no confrontation on this beaten man’s part, Nick felt enough strength and resolve to stand to his feet, make his way over to the bar, and sit down next to him, his heart pounding in his chest.

“Are you Lee Huntington?” he asked softly, hardly able to believe that he was saying the name out loud.

The man wasn’t so far gone quite yet, not enough that he didn’t comprehend the question as his eyes trailed over to Nick’s.

His eyes. Enough like Nick’s that the question was answered without a word.

Yet Lee gave it.

“Yeah?”

All that Nick could have said, all that he might have been planning in the weeks that he’d been wrestling through it all, all that he had a right to yell, to scream, to say in accusation from all the pain he’d felt over all the years, all because of this man and what he’d done when he’d walked away from them –

Well, it all fell away as Nick took in who his father had become, what the drinking had done to him. Like father, like son, there had to be more behind Lee’s drinking than just the taste, the addiction. Hurts, so deep and unfathomable that Nick couldn’t guess at this man’s pain, a desperate distance from God, from healing, from hope…

Nick realized then that this was where he could have been, where his life would have led eventually, had Jesus not changed it all.

And so he had no words of rebuke for his father. No justified anger. Just sorrow and pity.
And forgiveness.

Forgiveness, to the one who had hurt him. This step was more for him than for Lee, for his heart and his future than this man from the past.

“I forgive you,” he said to Lee, offering just this, before he stood back to his feet and left the darkness of the bar.

This had been the hardest step of them all. Not that anything in the whole process had been easy. But life didn’t have to be easy to be profitable. What did a man gain, giving up all that he’d once known about his life?

Nick resolved, then and there as he took a deep, cleansing breath outside that bar, that his life would be different.

And suddenly, all that he’d already determined about who he was in Christ and who he wanted to be… well, it all came to a decision.

He was going to be all in. And that meant one thing.

He took his phone out even as he was leaving his father behind, touching the number of a man who was more like a father to him than anyone else ever had been…

“Hey, Nick, how are you?”

Always there. Nick blinked back his tears.

“Hey, Thomas,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about what you said, about serving.”

“Have you?”

“And I’m all in,” he said. “Except I need to do something first.”

“And what’s that?”

“I want to be baptized,” he said. “To mark this moment, the moment that I gave Christ every part of me.”

And Nick could have sworn that he could hear Thomas’s smile in the answer that he gave.

“Well, son, we can make that happen.”

 

Want to read more? You can find the book here!

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