Grant and Marie Renniger lack purpose for their retirement and have buyers' remorse over a condo purchase.

Elodie Ford, without extended family, fears dying alone.

Childless couple, Cal and June Sherman, face increasing health challenges.

Marcus and Ava Van Zant are pushed out of a 35-year pastorate before they’re financially prepared.

From Redeeming The Time, Faircourt Friends Series, Book One

He's Dead!

“He’s dead! He’s dead! He’s dead!”

Marcus bolted toward the kitchen where the shouts came from, Pastor Jonathan on his heels. There they saw Grant dancing around the island, oblivious to anyone else and shouting in a sing-song voice on repeat, “He’s dead! He’s dead! Oh, yes, he’s dead!” 

“Who’s dead? And why is Grant delighted about it?” Marcus, recovering his nerves and wind, directed his question to Marie, who was sitting at the kitchen table with Ava, cookbooks spread out before them.

“One of the golf starters at Grassy Fields Country Club passed away, and Grant just got the call to replace him. This is how we celebrate free golf,” Marie answered with a sigh and an exaggerated eye roll.

“Congratulations, Grant,” Jonathan said, stepping in from the kitchen entrance where he’d not been seen. The voice of his pastor snapped Grant out of his revelry, and when they made eye contact, Grant drew a deep breath.

“Oh, tell me I’m not going to hell for this!” Grant moaned, embarrassed.

“I believe an infraction such as this is a one-way, non-stop ticket to perdition, my friend,” Jonathan answered with seriousness. “Unless,” he continued, “you can secure your pastor a primo starting time on a Saturday morning. And, just something to keep in mind, free rounds of golf will get you first-class seating in heaven.”

“Who is this heretic in our kitchen selling indulgences for golf favors?” Ava chimed in with a smile for the young pastor.

“Baby, I love it when you talk Reformation,” Marcus gave her a wink. He’d been reading the Martin Luther biography to her in bed each night to loosen her mind’s grip on her own troubles and sorrows before she slept.

From Counting The Cost, Faircourt Friends Series, Book Two

Sitting on nests of fire ants.

"There's something we ladies would like you gentlemen to see."

She turned the computer screen to face the men and played a clip of a Regency dance scene from a Jane Austin movie she'd cued up. It was 18th-century dancing to 18th-century music by people in 18th-century costumes.

"How long does this go on?" Grant asked after ten seconds.

"Is there a car chase scene when they get done dancing?" Cal mocked.

"No, I've seen dis before. Da candles blow up and ignite da punchbowl and den dere's a car chase!" Marcus laughed.

"Glad you are amused because Christmas Eve, we're having a costumed Regency Ball right here, and every Saturday evening between now and then, we'll be learning dances. Cal, we know your knees won't take dancing, so you'll be our caller. As Miss Austin might say: 'We take our leave and bid you good night,'" Marie announced. Then she, and the other ladies, stood and retreated from the living room.

Grant, Cal, and Marcus remained seated in stunned silence for a minute that felt like ten.

At last, Grant spoke. "We may be old men, but we're still men, right?"

"Was last time I checked," Cal responded.

"We are certainly dat!" Marcus agreed. "Dis meeting was not adjourned." He rose from his seat, walked to the kitchen where the ladies were making decaf coffees, and asked them to return for the conclusion of Thursday Meeting.

The ladies exchanged puzzled glances and traipsed back to the living room to reclaim their seats.

"We've been tinking Saturday evenings from now until Christmas Eve should be spent sitting on nests of fire ants and stabbing toothpicks under our fingernails. Sound like fun?" Marcus asked with sarcasm, making his point while wearing an expression that communicated the opposite of fun.

Ava hadn't seen that expression on her husband's face in a very long time, and it set her back. She knew the answer to his rhetorical question should be silence. The other women knew it, too.

Grant continued for the men. "No one asked us if we would like to participate in this activity you've legislated. That's not how healthy marriages operate, nor does this combined household. And if you would have asked us, we would have politely declined. We are declining now. Does anyone have anything to say?" he asked, looking directly at his wife.

"We should know better," June spoke first, embarrassed.

"We got carried away," Ava offered.

"We're sorry," Marie apologized sincerely and began playing nervously with her chain bracelet.

"There aren't any fire ants in Faircourt. We'd have to make a road trip," Elodie sassed mischievously.

Poppycock, boloney, and nonsense.

"You know this situation is God's plan for your good, don't you," G-Lu turned her body to face Ava squarely. And then she quoted Romans 8:28.

And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

"I know it - deep down under the hurt," Ava answered softly. After a moment, she shook off her melancholy and offered a playful rebuke to her elder. "But do you know it's become unfashionable to quote that verse to anyone in actual pain?"

"I've heard that, and it's poppycock!" G-Lu slapped a hand down on the bed beside her. "If that verse isn't true or needful when we are in agonizing despair, then when do we need it? Is the comfort of God's benevolent sovereignty over every situation appropriate only when we misplace our keys or need a good parking spot? Ridiculous! I'd like to meet the fool who first said it's kinder to say nothing to a brother or sister drowning in sorrow than to offer them the truth of God's word which is able to ground their feet and support their burden.

How did that blatantly un-Christian idea become a norm in Christian counsel? Is it because too many of us, in our time of testing, become petulant children wanting to fling away the Scriptures - and God with them, if that were possible? Suddenly the Scriptures that led us to salvation are characterized as "trite," and anyone who shares them as "bludgeoning." Well, I for one, call that what it is - boloney. The problem is not God's word. The problem is our whiney, childish hearts when we're called to stand firm, and the solution is not to reinforce that nonsense."