Deacon Henk eased his copious bottom onto the underdeveloped chair in Lydia's Coffee and Stuff. Carefully. He squinted as he put all his weight on it, hoping nothing undignified happened. The chair held. He knew it was no time to try to be funny, but he had to deal with his nerves somehow. Herm was at the table already, coffee cup sitting on the formica, crumbs spread generously. His huge thumbs were rubbing each other as though he was trying to start a fire.
"Thanks for coming," Herm said. "Have a doughnut."
"Trying not to; Marie is on my case."
"I wish me and the wife could talk about doughnuts and weight. Seems like we don't talk at all, or we're fussin' at each other about money."
"Tell me what's been going on," Henk invited. "I'm listening."
"Well, like I told you, we got that foreclosure notice. I went to that group you told me about when I called you. Bunch of people there. Some of 'em is who I'd have expected. A few of 'em surprised me. But I guess I surprised myself most. Never expected I'd be going to a group of people talking about dealing with foreclosures on their homes. I aint the worst situation by a long shot. Maybe there's some comfort there. But man oh man am I in a spot! There was a place to face reality. Did hear one hopeful thing though! Bank's in trouble too! Might just create enough confusion to delay things a while. I guess I'm dreamin'. That's not really hopeful a bit."
"No, that's not really such clear thinking, is it... Have you talked to anyone else about it?" Henk wanted to know.
"Well, matter of fact, I talked to my sons. Didn't want to. Embarrassed. The wife made me. Don't want to tell you either. You know what? They want to help! Now aint that the most humiliating thing you ever heard?"
"Sounds pretty fine to me. Those sons of your are mighty fine boys, Herm. Got good jobs, both of 'em. Why shouldn't they help their parents?"
"Well, Henk...." Herm's voice got soft and wavery... "I'm kind of embarrassed about it, and it's hard to admit I need it. I told 'em we could make it on our own. I'll figure it out. I aint accepting a bailout from my own boys."
Henk looked at his friend. He hurt for him. He had never had to have this kind of talk with another man before, and he didn't know if he could go on. But he had no choice. "Herm," he said quietly, "what have you been praying for?"
"Nobody ever asked me that before. I don't know what to pray for," said Herm. "I just pray for God to solve it somehow."
"Could this be his answer?" Henk probed. "When I talked to council at church about starting a family finances seminar, there was a lot of support for it. They're willing to put out some money to get a really good leader in. If you have a way to get some good support and advice from the community group, and your boys will help you through the crisis, and if our church puts together a really good program to help us all make some changes and stick with 'em.... well, would you be willing to take the hard steps? Like I said, Marie and I need some new ideas too. We'll go with you and be part of the group too. What do you think?"
Herm sat for a few minutes, staring at his thumbs. Then he looked Henk in the eye and said, "I'll talk to the wife. You've got me thinking some new things. Thanks." He was out the door of Lydia's before Henk could say anything more.
Henk slowly got up and walked to the cash register. He paid for both of them. He walked out to his car, got in, and sat for a minute. "Thanks, Lord," he said. "You got me though it. Keep working with us. Maybe You'll make a deacon out of me yet. Show Herm what to do next. And show me how to help."