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"Dad and Mom are giving us the house?" cried Abby, in complete shock.

"I'm just following directions," said Mr. O'Shea, with a laugh. "Congratulations, again! John mentioned something about it being a wedding gift."

As surprised as Abby was, Jake was several times more so. The deed not only had Abby's name on it, but his as well.

"I have to get going," said the lawyer, standing up to leave. "My sister is expecting me back for dinner, and I'm running a little late, as it is. Well, congratulations, and God bless you both!"

When the front door closed, Jake put his face in his hands, and tried to steady himself.

"Are you all right?" asked Abby, seeing how stunned he was by the gift.

"How can I ever repay them?" he stammered.

"They're not expecting to be repaid," replied Abby. "As soon as you're up to it, we need to go and thank them."

Jake slowly nodded, and followed Abby out the door to the Johanneses' house. Everyone was sitting in the living room with big grins on their faces.

"We saw Mr. O'Shea was just at your house," remarked John, emphasizing the "your house."

"Wow," sighed Abby, holding up the deed for everyone to see, "this is such a huge surprise! Thank you!"

With that, she went over and hugged her parents.

"We love you, Sweetheart," said Izumi, wiping the tears from her eyes. "We want you to be happy."

"I am, Mom," whispered Abby, giving her another hug. "I am!"

During all this, Jake hung back, somehow feeling out of place.

"Congratulations," said John, coming over to shake his hand.

"I don't know how I can ever thank you enough, Mr. Johannes," replied Jake, his voice unsteady but sincere. "It means a lot to me."

The father looked Jake straight in the eye.

"Take care of her," said John, firmly.

"I will, Mr. Johannes," promised the young man. "I give you my word."

"I trust you, Son," replied John, in a kind voice. "From now on, address us as 'Dad' and 'Mom.' 'Mr. and Mrs. Johannes' is too formal. You're a member of this family now."

Jake didn't know what to say. Calling someone "Dad" was something he hadn't done in years; he had never known his mother, and the idea of suddenly having two people by those names in his life, suddenly overwhelmed Jake, for he was starved for love. The genuineness of John and Izumi, made his own father's abuse, seem all the more despicable. So this is what family meant! Fathers DID take care of their children-- it just wasn't a rumor he had heard!

Then something happened that shocked everyone, including Abby. Jake broke down and wept. He stepped forward and embraced John, as a child going to his father's arms!

"There, there, Son," said John, comforting the young man, and holding him tenderly. "You're with family now."

Jake continued to sob, his shoulders heaving with bittersweet joy. John looked over Jake's shoulder at Izumi and then to Abby, who's mouth was hanging open in dumbfounded wonderment! Terry was quietly weeping for happiness, for he knew Jake had finally found a home and family of his own. Terry understood the importance of this, and thanked God for revealing it to Jake's heart.

As the sobs continued to come, all John could do was stand there, comforting Jake and patting him on the back with, "there, there." When at last, the tears subsided, John let go of Jake, and took a deep sigh of relief.

"Do you feel better?" he asked Jake, with a tender smile.

"Yes, Dad," replied the young man, smiling through his tear stained face. "Much better."

"Well," said Terry, drying his eyes, "this calls for a prayer of thanksgiving. Jake, why don't you do the honors?"

As confident as Jake was right now, he was still too shy to pray openly. Everyone bowed their heads, while John thanked God for bringing Jake into their midst. With this recent display of affection, everyone had thought that Jake would be ready to join hands during the prayer, but he resisted John's hand, and instead, stuffed them into his pockets. Only in the immense overflow of emotion, had he been able to momentarily overcome his great aversion to physical contact. Now that Jake was calming down, he was finding a new comfortable relationship with Abby's family, putting everyone more at ease than they had been before. Still, as happy as Abby was, she wondered why her Dad had been the one to break through to Jake-- and not herself.

After the prayer, Abby and Jake went home, each thinking entirely different thoughts.

"I'm going to turn in, now," announced Abby, locking the front door.

"Yeah, me too," replied Jake, hesitating a moment before parting. "Thank you for sharing your family with me, Abby."

"Good night, Jake," she smiled, as they went to their separate rooms.

"Let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice. Sing unto God, sing praises to His Name... a Father of the fatherless... is God in His holy habitation. God setteth the solitary [Jake] in families: He bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land."
~ Psalm 68:3-6 ~

end of chapter
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