Faye finished wiping the counter after Christmas Eve dinner and laid the rag over the kitchen faucet to dry. While drying her hands with a towel she walked toward the living room and looked to see what the rest of the family was doing.

Frank and his Dad, Pops, were involved in yet another game of chess. Somehow the two communicated best over that board, hand carved by Frank shortly after they’d moved out of the city to the small town of Crossing.

Their two sons, Peter and Logan, sat on the floor across from the older generations playing Chutes and Ladders with Logan’s daughters, Emma and Taylor. She smiled as she watched Logan painstakingly count out spaces with two-year old Taylor who consistently forgot the number 3. Taylor just knew that on her next birthday she would be four just like her sister.

She looked toward the couches near the fire. Unexpectedly her heart lurched and a lump formed in her throat. Logan’s wife Heather sat in the chair closest to the fire, holding baby Megan in her arms. She was desperately trying to laugh without jolting the dozing girl awake. On the nearby couch, Faye’s daughter Brittany covered her mouth, eyes sparkling, and leaned in to Amber who was trying to keep her own laughter under control.

Amber. The dear, hurting young woman Frank had brought home for the winter. She was just going to help out in the office and move on in the spring. But Faye knew the girl had invaded her heart and was quickly becoming part of the family. She hoped Peter’s heart was similarly tied to Amber and soon Amber would be tied to the family in marriage.

But as much as she loved all three of those girls, tonight her heart felt the one that was missing. Dear, Lord, how I wish there were four young women together on that couch, she prayed.

Memories came flooding back. Logan had just been two when Jamie had been born, and it was only another year and a half before Peter came along. Brittany had been a small surprise three years later, and Faye was content with her two boys and two girls.

She remembered a four-and-a-half year old Jamie holding her new baby sister. At first, Faye just thought Jamie’s fascination with Brittany would be short-lived, but Jamie loved Brittany deeply and couldn’t wait for her to be old enough to play with. She remembered catching Jamie reading a simple Christmas story to an eighteen-month old Brittany, sometimes making up the story from the pictures when she couldn’t read the words. And the tea party on the back deck when Brittany was three and broke Gramma’s favorite teacup.

And the precious snow angels they made Jamie’s last winter. Brittany had been five and idolized her ten-year old sister. They’d spent the day playing in the late spring snow and Jamie had come in that night with the sniffles.

Faye shook her head as tears sprang to her eyes. I just thought it was a cold, Lord.

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.

The voice quoting Psalm 37:4 sounded like it had come from someone standing beside her and Faye looked to verify no one was there. Lord?

That was once your verse.

Yes, Lord. It got me out of bed everyday to take care of my other three children after Jamie died.

The desires of your heart sit before you. They fill your home.

Faye looked around at her family. Peter traveled the short drive to Portland to see Logan and Brittany as much as they traveled to Crossing to see him. Heather called to talk to her as much as Brittany did, sometimes more considering Brittany’s work schedule at the hospital. And they all sought after God, looking to please Him above all others.

And they were pulling Amber into their midst, accepting her as one of them.

“Mom!” said Brittany. “Remember the first time I tried to make the sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving?”

“You tried to burn the house down!” yelled Logan.

“I did not!” said Brittany, throwing a pillow from the couch at him. “Who knew marshmallows were flammable?”

“How often do we toast marshmallows around here?” said Peter, his eyebrows raised.

“I was seven!” said Brittany with a huge smile.

“Once we pealed the top layer back,” said Pops, “they were salvageable.”

“Long as you didn’t mind the smoky smell,” said Frank.

Everyone laughed, startling baby Megan awake. She looked around wide-eyed for a moment, then puckered her mouth and whimpered. Heather gathered her close and giggled in her ear, “It’s okay, baby. We won’t let Aunt Brittany make your sweet potatoes.”

“Hey!” said Brittany.

Faye smiled as she walked towards her girls to join the conversation. Thanks, Lord. 

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