Chapter 1

A Fading Promise

Bob stormed into his workshop, picked up a piece of wood from his workbench, and hurled it into a pile of scrap in the corner. He and Peggy had just had another fight. He was so sick of it all and so unhappy. He thought about getting in his pickup and driving away once and for all. But then he thought of 14–year–old Amy and 16–year–old Marcie. Bob worked hard—sometimes sixty hours a week. He’d built the house they lived in, as well as the barn for the purebred quarter horses they raised. He tried to give Peggy and the girls a comfortable, trouble–free life. But Peggy had become distant and unappreciative of his efforts. When they tried to talk, it was like they were speaking two different languages. “Is this all marriage amounts to,” he wondered, “being lonely and angry and frustrated and disappointed? I feel so empty.”

Sandy and Dave had been married less than ten years, and she was exhausted. Dave had gone from job to job, never quite finding “people who appreciate what I have to offer.” He’d wanted a family right away, and Sandy just learned that number three was on the way. The news scrambled her emotions. She would love to have another child—but not now. They just couldn’t afford it. It had been too easy for Dave to buy things he wanted for himself—after they had purchased a little too much house and a little too much car. Sandy was working as much as she could, but the more she earned the more Dave spent. Now another baby was on the way. Sandy felt trapped and miserable. Ten years ago, when she stood at the altar and exchanged vows with Dave, she never imagined it would be like this!