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Vicki, a wealthy city-bred woman, is horrified when her husband, James, accepts a pastorate in a small, dying town called Prince Crossing. Not only is she in culture shock, but she must deal with the pressures of being a pastor’s wife who is desperately trying to get her husband’s attention when everyone else wants it. Will it be too much? Will she lose her focus and her faith?
Vicki, a wealthy city-bred woman, is horrified when her husband, James, accepts a pastorate in a small, dying town called Prince Crossing. Not only is she in culture shock, but she must deal with the pressures of being a pastor’s wife—and the disapproval of an elderly spinster named Iris.
However, when they find a home and experience the warmth that everyone shows them when they move in, she begins to see a glimmer of hope. Through the move, she meets Jennifer, a lonely preteen, who has just lost her mother. James encounters, Richie, a young boy whose neglectful parents own the town bar.
As all of these outward things are going on in their lives, Vicki is trying desperately to get her husband’s attention when everyone else wants it. She also must adjust to those who criticize James and deal with the hatred she feels for those who hurt him. As the year wears on, she loses her focus and struggles with her faith in God himself.
Prince Crossing is also filled with light-hearted fun.
When we drove into Prince Crossing for the first time, my heart pounded, as if I'd been running a race. It took all of about thirty seconds to drive through the business section. Everything looked derelict and broken down. A depressed and dying area, all the buildings had been constructed no later than 1920. There were a few attempts at updating some of the storefronts with aluminum siding, which made an even more dismal effect. At least three of the buildings were vacant. The odor of liquor and fried food from the Corner Tap wafted in the air. My stomach turned with the smell, matching my spirits perfectly. "It's so depressing." My voice came out in barely a whisper as we drove the two blocks that made up the downtown.
Having already left the town, James reached over and squeezed my hand as he pulled over onto the side of the country road. “Don’t think about the town; think about the people. There are wonderful people here for whom Christ died.” I hated it when he talked like that, just like a preacher.
“I know all that.” My head pounded as if someone had installed a pneumatic drill inside it. “I just need some time.”
With that we sunk into an uneasy silence and headed toward the farmhouse where the eight members of the church waited to see if James was what they were looking for in a pastor.
As the car rolled on, I felt like I was on a conveyor belt heading for a hot caldron. I tried praying, but my emotions swallowed my words, my thoughts bouncing between topics like a super ball that has been thrown in a closed room. Suddenly the ball broke through the wall. “Stop the car,” I yelled, scaring even myself by my sharp tones. James looked startled but he stopped. Feeling wretched about what I was doing to him, I jumped out and began walking down the road. I glanced back noticing he had laid his head on the steering wheel. As I marched down the road, I began hurling my complaints to God. “Why would you have me do this? Nothing in my life has prepared me for this! I hate this place." The anger subsided, replaced by sorrow as I pleaded, "I love everything about the city, the lights, the people, the theater, the restaurants. I love flying in Dad's jet and cruising around in his yacht. I don't want to do this, God!” I crumpled to the ground, letting my tears flow freely, angry with God for leading me this way. Finally, exhausted, I gave up.
“I guess I had to come to this point, huh, God? Until now I’ve been pretending I’m strong and brave enough for this. Okay, I’m done. I’m not strong or brave. I don’t even care about these people and I hate this place. I don’t know how to do this. It’s up to you. Drag me out of this pit I’m in.”
I noticed James slowly making his way toward me, anxiety filling his face. The steps he took looked like a ball and chain was attached to each foot. I knew I’d put them there. Feeling desperate, I prayed for some kind of escape from this awful nightmare. As I looked down again, I saw a small group of wildflowers to the left of me. I thought it the prettiest arrangement I’d ever seen, as I let their sweet fragrance fill my senses.
When James reached me, he stood helplessly by, afraid to look at me. I pulled one leg after the other up from under me, forcing myself to stand. Giving one last look at the wildflowers, I hugged him, letting the tears flow before I could force a word past my lips. Finally, I took a deep breath. “I’m all right now, at least for the moment.”
“We can cancel the appointment. Maybe this isn’t the place for us,” he added, and I
loved him more at that moment than I ever had before.
“No!” I said with such force that he jumped. I felt that I had to be twice as determined because of the temptation he dangled in front of me. “I really am okay.” I managed a tentative smile to reassure him.
“You’re the bravest person I know,” James beamed as he drew me close to him again, and his praise filled me with joy. The pampered, spoiled girl had hope after all. As we walked arm in arm to the car, he added, “Let’s drive back to that gas station and call to tell them that we will be a few minutes late. I think we need to give you time to get those tear streaks off your face.”
“Good idea. A little make-up will do wonders.”
When we got into the car, James began to giggle, and then he laughed out loud and finally lost control, choking between his laughter.
I looked at him with a frown, wondering if he’d lost his mind. "And just what is so funny?"
He glanced at me, bursting into another spasm of laughter. "Look at yourself in the mirror," he choked out.
I started laughing, too, as I saw how my make-up had streaked into muddy lines down my face. I looked like something out of a horror movie. Somehow James pulled it together enough to make the phone call, while I reapplied my make-up at the station. As James and I got back in the car, I actually felt human again.
“On to meet this group of people,” James said with steely determination in his voice, revealing his anxiety. No wonder he had laughed hysterically. After all, he was the one who had to meet everyone’s approval. The church members consisted of eight people who six months ago started a Bible study in a home. They knew they needed a pastor, so they contacted the seminary, which immediately gave them James’s name. Curse the seminary!
As we drove up to the farmhouse, I blinked in wonder at the enchanting setting. A lovely structure made of fieldstone, with a red tile roof and bright green shutters, was nestled among daffodils, flowering plums and forsythia bushes. In the front, posted like a giant sentry, an enormous weeping willow bent over to sweep the ground. A few sheep grazed in the meadow beyond, as chickens roamed the yard. A large dog ambled over to check us out and seemed to actually smile when James rubbed him behind his ears. This storybook picture gave me the courage I needed. Muttering a quick prayer of thanks to God for this small gift, I took a deep breath and walked hand in hand with my husband up to the house.
We rang the ancient doorbell and a little white-haired woman clad in polyester from head to toe answered the door. “Welcome, welcome! You must be the young pastor and his wife. Was it a good drive from the city? Let me take your coats. My name is Edith, and this is my house.” The entire time she was smiling and bouncing as we nodded our heads in acknowledgment to all her quickly flung questions and statements.
“Follow me. Everyone is in the dining room waiting for you.”
We entered a charming room with a large walnut table covered in lace and carefully set with delicate china teacups. Fresh flowers adorned every space in wonderfully wild arrangements that included branches and grasses as well as blossoming things. I loved it immediately.
“This is James and Vicki,” I heard Edith saying in her cheerful voice. “Why don’t you all introduce yourselves?”
And so we met our tiny, precious few.
"Hi, I'm Tom and this is my wife, Lisa. We own a farm down the road a piece." Tom looked ruddy and weathered, although he couldn't have been more than thirty. "And this is Iris, my wife's aunt." I soon found out that just about everyone was related to each other in some way or another. Sober and serious, Iris refused to smile for the entirety of that first meeting. I felt a shudder go through me when she curtly nodded her head.
A huge giant of a man with a big booming voice introduced himself next. "Howdy! I'm Ralph. I can't tell you how excited I am that you are here."
"We're awfully glad ourselves, Ralph. What do you do for a living?" James made good first impressions, so I began to relax as he easily conversed.
"I own the local farm equipment place in town. Everyone around these parts knows me. I've got a business that draws men from a 150 mile radius, because I shoot straight with them."
"A great quality." James extended his hand to a distinguished looking middle-aged man and his round, jovial-looking wife.
"I'm Ken, the grade school principal, and this is my lovely wife, Candy. She's my favorite employee."
"I teach third grade at the school," she said giggling and punching Ken in the arm.
"And I'm Cookie. I'm just a waitress at the local café." There seemed to be a tendency in this town to name their daughters after sweet, edible items. A flamboyant, splashy person, Cookie had glowing red hair, which escaped in every direction from the top of her head. She wore bright red lipstick and large garish jewelry everywhere - hoops in her ears, rings on almost all her fingers and loops of necklaces and bracelets. She smelled like lilacs, all flowery and blooming. I liked her because she looked the way I always wanted to as a little girl.
Obviously the one in charge, Ralph motioned to us, “Sit down, sit down.” We obeyed, and he continued, “We are so glad you’ve come. We can’t wait to hear all about you.”
As he spoke, I realized that I was clenching my hands together so tightly that they hurt. I released them, and then smiled politely while James responded and the interview began. The group asked James about every doctrinal issue possible. They asked me a few questions, too, of a practical nature. The evening went so smoothly that I knew Prince Crossing would be our home.
As we were gathering our coats to leave, Iris approached us with a grim look on her face and whispered in a conspiratorial manner, “I’ve been a part of churches all my life. I wish I could protect you from what they are going to do to you.”
I wanted to yell, “What? What are they going to do to us? Why would you say something like that?” But instead I put on my coat and walked out the door.