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Monday, August 25, 2008

The ministry of hand-holding

Today's Quote Is:


“Dear Lord,I do not ask that Thou shouldst give me
some high work of thine, some noble calling or some
wondrous task. Give me a little hand to hold in mine.”
~Anonymous~
***
We all need a hand to hold.

Last week my husband and I were involved in a little fender bender. I say "little" because I didn't think anyone was seriously hurt at the time and it appeared our car had suffered minimal damage.

We had gone to a larger nearby community to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary at a nice restaurant. Of course, since shopping is limited in our small town, we visited the WalMart first before heading to the restaurant. After we finished, we got on the Interstate to go to the next exit where the restaurant was located.

As we pulled into the lane to exit the highway, a young man hit our car in the back. He was going fast enough to give us a hard jolt, but thankfully it was right in the center of the back bumper so no one spun out or flipped over.

I remember sitting in the car thinking I should go to my doctor the next day because I felt some soreness in my back and I wondered why I was so calm through all of this. From experience, I knew this wasn't a normal reaction for me - I would have been an emotional wreck, having trouble holding back the tears and shaking like a leaf. Apparently I was in shock.

The next morning I followed through, making an appointment with my chiropractor, all the time wondering if I really needed to go - after all, it didn't seem bad enough to bother. But by that evening, the emotions and other symptoms had begun to hit me full force. I began to have a lot of difficulty concentrating, forgetting little things and dizziness in addition to the headaches and upper shoulder/neck soreness.

What I thought wasn't "bad" turned out to be enough to throw me for a loop. I needed the help others could give - both the emotional support of friends and family and the support of my doctor. Thankfully I am doing better and some of the symptoms are easing up.

Through this accident last week, I realize what a healing the Lord has done in me over the last 15 years. There was a time I would have hesitated to ask for that hand because I didn't want to be a nuisance or to "bother" anyone with the needs I considered trivial - even if those needs turned out to be legitimate and big. I would have put on my Eeyore mask and struggled along telling everyone in that slow drawl - "I can make it, I'm all right."

Now I am able to ask for a hand to hold when I need it and I find I have built up a good support network of trusted people to provide those hands.

One of the best things about God's work in my life is that I am able to hold the hands of others and offer support when they need it too. I've found a ministry of support is one of the highest works God can give us to do. There is so much suffering and pain in the world that being able to offer support to those in need is akin to showing God's love in person (or with "skin") to others. It is one of our most valuable witnessing tools as well.

Even when we can't physically hold a hand or offer support, we can pray! That is very similar to holding a hand for someone in need because when we pray, we place them in our Father's Hand and allow Him to hold them, support them and love them.

At any rate, I wonder if the author of today's quote had a low self image because it would seem like she asked the Lord for the largest, most important job in the universe and never even realized it - that of being a support and hand-holder .

***

"In Other Words" is being hosted today by Nina at her site Mama's Little Treasures. To play along, simply blog about the quote on your site then visit Nina and add your URL to the list in the Mr. Linky box! See you there!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fiction Friday - Grandma's God-Simle




Grandma’s God-Smile
by Bonnie Winters

“Gramma, Gramma, tell me a story.” Four year old Ashleigh bounced up and down with excitement.

Grandma Minnie chuckled as she gathered her rambunctious granddaughter in her arms. “If I tell you a story, you have to promise to go right to bed. What story would you like to hear?”

“The smiley story!” The little blonde head bobbed, with no sign of fatigue.

For a moment the little white-haired woman frowned. “Smiley story?” she asked, mentally ticking off the children’s books on her granddaughter’s shelf.

“Honey, I don’t think I know any smiley stories.” She patted the child’s hair affectionately. “How about one of your bear stories?”

“No, Gramma.” Her little lip stuck out in a pout. “At church, I heard Pastor say you have a story hiding behind your smile. I want the smiley story.”

“Oh.” The old woman smiled. “I guess we better start from the beginning then, hadn’t we?”

Ashleigh cuddled close and tucked her first two fingers into her mouth, a sure sign she was beginning to relax.

“Well, honey, Grandma didn’t always like to smile. No, sir. When I was a girl, a little older than you, my front teeth were so crooked, I tried to hide my smile.”

Two concerned brown eyes gazed up at the old woman. “Why, Gramma? When you smile, it makes me feel all warm and happy inside.”

“Well, there were some mean children in my class at school who used to call me ugly names whenever I smiled, so I just clamped my lips shut tight and covered up my crooked teeth. My mother and father were poor and couldn’t afford to send me to the dentist to fix my teeth, so my teeth just stayed the way they were.”

“I wouldn’t have called you names, Gramma.” The child frowned and shook her head hard enough to make her curls bounce.

Her actions made Grandma Minnie laugh out loud. “I should hope not! I pray Jesus will live in your heart, little one, so you are kind to others.”

“Does Jesus live in your heart, Gramma?”

“Yes, He does. But I was pretty mad at Him when I was a girl because I kept praying and praying for my teeth to get straight and He never answered my prayer. I sat at the back of the church and just grumbled and complained at God every Sunday. I figured He didn’t love me because I was ugly with my crooked teeth.

“One day, the pastor came over to me and asked me why I looked like an old sour pickle all the time.” Grandma stopped to chuckle at the memory.

“He said, ‘Young’un, I know there’s a God- smile in there somewhere. I dare you to find it!’” she said, using her deepest voice to mimic the pastor’s tone.

“A God-smile?” The child stifled a yawn as she looked up into her grandmother’s face. “What did he mean - a God-smile?”

“Well, I wondered the same thing, Child.” The old woman grinned and shook her head. “But for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what he meant. But he dared me to find it and I was not the kind of girl who’d ever back down from a dare. I started looking everywhere for that God-smile.

“That week, my mother sent me over to my Aunt Agatha’s house to help her with her canning. She liked to tell funny stories and sure enough, she started telling me some of her best ones. Since I was embarrassed about my teeth, I usually tried to keep my mouth clamped shut, but somehow, this time, I just couldn’t help myself. I busted out laughing so hard, I almost wet my pants.”

“Gramma! You smiled.” Ashleigh giggled and before she could help herself, she yawned out loud.

“Yep, I sure did. It felt so good; I smiled all the way home. I grinned at Old Gus who was sweeping the sidewalk at the butcher shop. I even grinned at Pop Harris who was pumping gas for John McGee who owned the grocery store.

“Pop Harris winked at me and said, ‘Girl, you‘ve got such a pretty smile, you ought to use it more often.’”

The child cuddled closer, her breathing becoming shallower and her eyelids heavier.

“Honey, I felt so good when Pop Harris said that, I grinned for two days straight. That Sunday in church, I went to the altar and told the Lord I was sorry for being such a pickle-faced Christian and if He would help me, I would never hide my smile again.”

Gramma shifted, trying to get more comfortable under the weight of the sleeping child. In the quiet twilight of the room, she smiled as several recent memories flooded back. There was JoAnna, dying of cancer in the hospital who reached out and said, “Thank you for your smile. The Light of God inside you always shines out from your smile. It has always encouraged me when I was down.”

She remembered how Elva, her neighbor, had grabbed her hand two weeks ago and said, “Minnie, you’re always smiling. It’s a real smile. The kind that shines out of your eyes, not one of those fake put on ones. How can you smile, even during the bad times?”

Tears pooled in the old woman’s eyes as she relived the joy of sharing Jesus, the Light of the world. She had prayed for Elva to become a Christian everyday ever since she moved next door thirty years ago.

“I got my smile from my Heavenly Father’s side of the family,” she whispered as she bent down and kissed her sleeping granddaughter before picking her up and carrying her to bed. Looking up toward heaven, she smiled again and prayed. “Thank you Lord for helping me find my God-smile.”


©August 2007 Bonnie Winters

This week Fiction Friday is hosted by Joanne over at her site An Open Book. To read more great short stories by Christian authors, visit her site and click on the author links.

To share a story of your own, leave your name and URL in the Mr.Linky Box.

Happy writing!

Monday, August 18, 2008

IOW Tuesdays - Trust Him to order your steps


In Other Words Tuesdays
Today's Quote Is:


Order my steps, in Your word
Order my tongue, in Your word
Guide my feet, in Your word
Wash my heart, in Your word
Show me how to walk, in Your word
Show me how to talk, in Your word.

(refrain)I want to walk worthy, my calling to fulfill
Please order my steps, Lord, and I’ll do Your blessed will
The world is ever changing, but You are still the same
If You order my steps, I’ll praise Your name.

~A hymn by Glen Burleigh~

***

If God ordered your steps right into a lion's den would you still be willing to follow Him?

Into a lion's den? Whoa - wait a minute God, I've been a good person, I've followed you all my life - I don't deserve to have to go through the pain and suffering of a lion's den. I mean, come on, God. Those lions have sharp teeth and it would hurt if they bit me.

Sure it sounds a little humorous, but the truth is, those who become His greatest servants are those who walked through the fire with Him by their side first. Christians do go through hurricanes and tornadoes and lose everything they own. Their houses burn down and their loved ones pass away through tragic circumstances. Bad things happen to good people.

What makes the difference is the way we handle those circumstances. I've been in some painful situations and my first reaction isn't usually pretty. I get angry with God and rant like a frantic child, beating on His breast because of the pain and unfairness of the situation. Like Jonah, I've tried to run from the uncomfortable places He wanted me to go. But after I cry out the grief and hurt, after I let go of my own desire to escape pain, I reach a place of emptiness.

In that place, He can come by His Spirit and comfort or help me see what He is trying to say to me. I can sense His presence and I get a glimpse of the bigger picture of life. It's not all about me. There are those around me who will be directly influenced by the pain and suffering I experience, both while I am going through it and after the healing has come. It's about trusting Him to order my steps.

One of my favorite scenes is from the book, Hinds Feet in High Places by Hannah Hurnard. The main character Much Afraid is on her journey to the High Places where she will receive Hinds feet to replace her crippled deformed feet. She has come through loneliness, isolation and disappointment - each time she thinks she is about to start upward into the high places, her path has turned in the opposite direction.
At long last she comes to the foothills of the high places, only to find herself at a dead end. Her heart aches with disappointment as she cries out to the Shepherd. After He allows her to express her anger and bitter disappointment over yet another dead end, He points out a small path that zig-zags up the face of the cliff before her. A path it seems only the deer can navigate.
Poor Much Afraid becomes faint just thinking about it and is ready to turn around and flee home. But the Shepherd ropes her securely to her traveling companions and helps her onto the path. Once she begins her ascent, she realizes it isn't really as treacherous as it appeared from the ground. She had to learn to trust Him to order her steps.

I want to walk worthy, my calling to fulfill
Please order my steps, Lord, and I’ll do Your blessed will
The world is ever changing, but You are still the same
If You order my steps, I’ll praise Your name.


***

In Other Words is being hosted today by Lori at her site All You Have To Give

If you'd like to participate, simply blog about the quote on your site, then visit Lori and leave your blog URL in the Mr. Linky box. Be sure to check our Lori's take on the quote and leave her a comment. If you have time, check out what some of the others have to say too. There's lots of inspirational reading here!


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fiction Friday - Love Never Fails

This week, I've chosen a story that appeared in the online e-zine "Reflections" published by Janet Lynn Erikkson in 2006. I learned a lot from Janet and had several stories published there before she stopped publishing it last year.
***

Love Never Fails
Bonnie Winters


Jenny inhaled and exhaled forcefully as she worked up her nerve. She had never done anything like this before, but that insistent nudging in her heart convinced her she must follow this through. She gripped the photo album in her right arm and raised her other hand to knock on the door.


No response.


Good, no one is there. She poised to turn back down the carpeted hall to make a silent escape.
“Come in.” The voice sounded so feeble that she almost missed it. She gulped and gently pushed open the heavy wooden door.


The old woman sat in her wheelchair, her head tipped slightly forward as though her neck muscles had little strength. One corner of her mouth drooped.


“Hi, Mrs. Turner. My name is Jenny.” There was no turning back now. Her words rushed out in a flurry. “You don’t know me, but I feel like I’ve known you for a long time. May I sit and visit with you for a little while?”


The woman seemed to struggle as she nodded her head. With gnarled fingers, she motioned for Jenny to sit in an upholstered chair close by.


Jenny tried to smile as she eased herself into the chair. She clutched the worn photo album and forced her breathing to slow. Unsure where to begin, she stared at her scuffed sneakers for several minutes.


“Why are you here, dear?” The woman’s crooked mouth gave her the appearance of frowning and her words slurred, making her speech hard to understand.


Jenny looked up from the floor into her faded blue eyes. “Nadine asked me to come…” She hesitated as she noticed a tear forming in the old woman’s eyes. “I mean, before she died, she asked me to return this album to you.”


When the woman didn’t respond, she scooted her chair closer to the wheelchair. “Nadine loved you very much. She planned to come and tell you herself, but before she could get away, the accident…” She reached for a tissue on the windowsill and blotted the tears from her cheeks. She retrieved another and handed it to the old woman. “Let me start at the beginning.”


Mrs. Turner nodded.


“I met Nadine at the diner where she worked. I was a scared kid. I had run away from home and only had a few bucks left. There was nowhere to turn except maybe to become a… well, you know. I had to support myself somehow.” She nearly choked on the words. Heat rose in her cheeks.


“I sat way back in the corner booth so nobody would see me.” She fiddled with a button on her sweater as she studied the floor again.


“Nadine waited on me that day. She got my lunch, then took her break and sat with me – asked if I wanted to talk.” She gave a half-hearted laugh before continuing. “She said she knew I was hungry by the way I stuffed my face. Then she shoved her sandwich over for me to eat too. As I ate, she told me she had run away from home when she was fifteen.”


A groan from the woman startled Jenny out of her reverie. “Hey, are you okay? Do you need a nurse or something?”


The old woman shook her head. “Just water please.”


Jenny got up and fumbled with the wrapper on the plastic tumbler, and poured water from the pitcher on the bedside stand. Poking a straw into it, she held out the cup. “Want some ice? I could … ”


Mrs. Turner took the glass in her right hand, shaking as she took a sip. She handed the glass back to Jenny. “Please sit. Tell me more.”


“You loved Nadine, didn’t you? She told me you loved her a lot.”


“She told you that?” A hint of wonder lifted the old woman’s voice.


“Yeah.” The tightness between the girl’s shoulders eased. “She said the two of you fought the day she left home. She said you begged her to come home, but she left anyway. Said it was the dumbest thing she ever did.”


A tear trickled down the leathery cheek. “Did she tell you I followed her to the city, to try to make her come home?”


Jenny nodded. “Nadine cried when she told me that. She said she was so scared about being on her own, but she was too stubborn to let you know.” She opened the photo album, holding it for the old woman to see. “Nadine showed me the pictures of the two of you together when she was a kid. By that time I was really missing my mom. Nadine told me I was a lot like her; you know, stubborn. Too proud to give in.”


With her good hand, Mrs. Turner stroked the photo of seven-year old Nadine in her Easter dress. “We used to go to Sunday school. My Nadine was such a good girl. She loved Jesus so much. I just don’t know what happened.”


“Yeah. She told me about that too.” She reached over and patted the old woman’s hand. “She said she got in with the wrong kids and started drinking. She didn’t want to go to church anymore. Then she met Billy. They started messing around and she got pregnant.”


“No!” The hand that held the cup trembled. Her voice was an agonizing whisper. “I didn’t know. My poor Nadine. She never told me.”


“She was afraid to tell you. That’s why she ran away. She was afraid you’d be so disappointed that you’d stop loving her. She ran away and had her baby but gave it up for adoption.”
The woman’s head drooped. Tears slipped to the album pages. “I could never stop loving her. Love never fails…”


“Here.” Jenny lifted the woman’s chin and dried her wrinkled cheeks. “Nadine read me that chapter about love in First Corinthians. She told me about Jesus. Did you know she started going back to church just a few months ago? Said she needed Jesus back in her life, because she just couldn’t live without love anymore. She missed her daughter and you so bad. She figured you probably never stopped praying for her.”


The woman’s eyes lost some of their dullness. “She did?”


The young girl grinned. “Yup. She showed me how to know Jesus’ love too. That’s how I know it was real for her.”


The right side of the woman’s mouth tilted up into a smile.


“After she got to know Jesus, she wanted to come home,” Jenny said. “Before she came, though, she wanted to find her daughter and tell her all about her grandmother.” She turned the page and showed Mrs. Turner an old photo of Nadine with her newborn baby girl, then one of the baby by herself. “She called her Gracie, after you.”


As Mrs. Turner gazed at her newfound granddaughter, joy and grief played across her face. Reaching out, Jenny laid her hand on the old woman’s arm. “Gracie is twenty-three years old now. Nadine found her and went to see her a week before the accident. They made plans to come and visit you together. She was going to call you the day she met me in the restaurant. She invited me home to her apartment because she didn’t want me to end up scared and alone like she did.”


“Why didn’t she call?” Her voice trembled.


“She never got the chance. We talked all that evening and into the next day. By that time we were both hungry so she went out to get something for us to eat. She crossed the street in front of the house and was hit by a drunk driver.” Jenny grasped the old woman’s hand and held it to her tear-stained cheek. “I’m so sorry. I feel like it’s my fault. She was going to the store to take care of me when it happened.”


The woman covered her hand with a strong grip. Jenny stood and stumbled into her embrace. They wept together. When she sat down again, she reached for two fresh tissues and handed one to Mrs. Turner.


“I rode in the ambulance with her. Before she died, she made me promise to bring you this album. Gracie’s picture and phone number are here in the back. Tour granddaughter loves Jesus too and wants to come and see you – if you want her to.” The girl’s heart pounded as she waited for the woman’s response.


“Thank you.” Tears of joy glistened in the older woman’s eyes.


Jenny rose to leave, wanting to give the woman time to digest the news.


“Jenny.”


She turned.


“Jenny, what about you?”


A smile trembled on the girl’s lips. “I stopped here to see you on my way home. Mom’s waiting in the car for me. She said she loves me and never stopped praying for me…”
Mrs. Turner smiled her crooked half-smile as she caressed the photo of her granddaughter. “Love never fails…”


© 2006 by Bonnie Winters

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Crafty Thursdays - Wedding Wishes

As I said in an earlier post, the last two weeks have been so hectic I didn't have much chance to blog so now I'm getting caught up.


On August 8, my hubby was priviledged to perform the wedding ceremony for one of our church members. Donna and R.E. picked an unforgettable date for their wedding - 08/08/08 at 8:00 PM. It was a beautiful ceremony and the bride was radiant - of course!


One of the things I enjoy about being in the ministry is being able to help with parties and weddings. This one was no exception - I was able to help Donna with the flowers for her wedding (all silk so they could be done ahead of time).


I worked in a flower shop for awhile when we lived in Oakland, MD, but had to retire after an arthritic flare up following Mother's Day two years ago. I have missed it very much so when Donna allowed me to do her bouquet, I was tickled pink. I'm posting a photo of her bouquet because my daughter wanted to see it:




Congratulations to the happy couple!




Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Scenes from our August 2008 Kid's Crusade

I feel like I've been away from blogging for months! We had our kid's crusade last week so I didn't have much of a chance to write so now I have to get back into the swing of things.


We did have a great time with the children as they learned about God's word and sang some really fun songs. So..... here's some pictures and videos of what we did. (It's my first experience with videos so here goes!)



video

They also learned how to do puppets and put on a show for their parents.




video


And of course they played games...



video


and ate! Though we were few in numbers, everyone had a great time.


Monday, August 11, 2008

TUesday IOW - It's all in how you see it

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Today's Quote is:


“Problems can slow us down temporarily

but they don’t have the ability to stop us.

Only we have that power.”


~Wayne Cordeiro~


I have several pictures that I like to use for sermon illustrations when I talk about perspectives. One of the pictures is the head of Christ and the other is Noah's Ark, but you can't see the images because the pictures are made up of tiny bursts of color.


When you look at them the first time, it all seems to be a jumble of shapes and colors without a purpose. But after staring at it for awhile, you can see the outline and ultimately the detail of the hidden pictures.


Today's quote reminded me of those pictures because our lives are filled with problems. At first when we look at them, all we can see are the chaos of our own emotions like fear and doubt, worry and inferiority. We try to piece together our own solutions and end up with thousands of loose ends.
But whe we look at the problem from God's perspective, we can cut through the chaos and see His solutions. The problem doesn't lie in the situations we face, but in the way we view them.


Dr. Richard Dobbins of Emerge Ministries in Akron, Ohio teaches a model for emotional and spiritual healing called "Praying Through." He urged those he counseled to pour out their hurts to God until they were empty inside. Then he taught them to open up their hearts to allow God to help them reinterpret how they saw their crises. The problem itself wasn't what was causing so much pain for these counselees - it was their limited view. Once God was allowed to help them see and rethink their problems, they were able to deal with them in healthy and creative ways.


Several years ago I was working full time as a florist. I loved the work and we relied on my additional income. But after a particularly stressful Mother's Day where I was on my feet for about 36 hours straight, the arthritis in my knees flared up to the point where I was unable to walk for several days.
I felt afraid and discouraged. In my eyes the problem was insurmountable and just I knew I'd have to give up a job I enjoyed. We would also suffer a loss of the much needed extra income. But as I prayed through my chaotic emotions God showed me it was an opportunity to pursue my other dream - that of being a writer - something I didn't have time for because of my heavy work schedule.


When I let Him reinterpret the problem for me, I saw the hidden agenda of God - exciting lessons in trust and provision I never could have experienced on the path I was traveling.


My knees are slowly getting better, especially now that I am losing some of the excess weight I have carried for a long time. I could probably even go back to work at a 9-5 job, but after tasting some successes in pursuit of my writing dreams and after watching God's miraculous provisions for us over these last 2 years, I think I'll stick to the path He has cleared for me.


In my own strength and by looking at the problem through my eyes I would have missed one of the greatest adventures of my life so far. Arthritis in my knees can't stop me - only my attitudes can. Thank You Lord!

***


This week Karen is hosting In Other Words at her site In Love W.I.T.H. Jesus. If you'd like to play along, simply blog about the quote on your site then hop on over to Karen's place and leave your URL in the Mr. Linky box.


Be sure to leave Karen a comment and check out the blogs of the other participants while you're there to see their take on the quote.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Fiction Friday - The Peace Of Bread

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This is one I wrote for Faithwriters almost exactly one year ago today so some of you might recognize it.

The Peace of Bread
FaithWriters Challenge entry – Topic – “Angry” – for August 9, 2007

Millie sat in her power chair and glared out the window. “Hrumph! Nobody wants to bother with a grumpy old arthritic woman.”

Watching the children playing kickball in the street just made her feel angrier. “Look at them run, God. I can’t even walk out on my front porch. Puh!”

She fumbled with a cassette tape from her church, hoping the strains from Sunday’s choir anthem could soothe her ruffled feathers.

“We are all ministers. If you are living and breathing today, God has something for you to do.” Pastor Walker’s voice boomed through the silent house.

“Who turned up the volume?” Millie punched the off-button, grimacing as pain shot through her gnarled thumb.

“He must be on some sort of soapbox. That’s the second week in a row he preached about ministry.” Her frown deepened as she muttered to herself. “He just doesn’t know how it feels to be shut in. Who am I supposed to minister to? No one comes to see me.”

She made a crooked fist she shook it toward heaven. “Besides, what can I do anyway? Tell me that?”

“You can hold a wooden spoon.” The firm response startled her.

“What? Who said that?” Millie steered her chair through the whole downstairs, looking for the owner of the Voice. Seeing no one, she pondered the strange statement. She scooted to her utensil drawer and retrieved a wooden spoon.

Sure enough, though her fingers were twisted, the handle fit comfortably in her hand. “Okay. I can hold a wooden spoon. So what? What am I supposed to do with it?” Still frowning, she spat out the angry words.

Millie clenched her teeth, not wanting to let go of the selfish anger boiling inside. She pivoted her chair to leave the kitchen, but as she did, she glanced at her kitchen table.

“My daughter can go to the store, but she can’t take time to put the groceries away.” The five pound bag of flour felt like ten pounds as she tried to lift it. Setting it back down, she picked up a package of yeast. “She’s always getting me things I don’t need,” she said, still seething.

“Since it’s here, why not make bread?” This time the Voice sounded softer, suggesting rather than demanding her attention.

Her sputtering protests died on her lips as vivid memories of baking homemade bread for her children danced before her eyes. Oh, how they licked their lips at the sight of thick slices slathered with melted butter and jelly.

“I can almost smell it!” Tears glittered in the old woman’s eyes as the angry storm clouds dissipated. “But I can’t do that any more, can I?”

A long lost eagerness pounded in her breast as she powered her chair to the low cupboard which housed her bowls. “Let me see, I need yeast and warm water, salt, butter, a little sugar…” Her voice trailed off as she made mental notes of the necessary ingredients.

Millie struggled to cradle the bowl as she mixed the ingredients. Each time she was tempted to give up with an angry “harrumph,” she found a new way to compensate for her gnarled, achy limbs.

Three hours later, a sweet smelling savor filled the kitchen and wafted out the window on the summer breeze. The loaves were a little misshapen, but golden brown with a heavenly scent. The old woman was jolted out of her reverie by a sudden knock at the kitchen door.

“Who could that be? No one comes to see me.” She opened it with a frown on her face.

Her neighbor, Elizabeth, stood there wringing her hands. “Oh Millie, I’m supposed to take a meal to Mrs. Duffy from church – you know, the woman with all the children? She’s just had a chemo treatment and, well, the children need a good meal. I smelled the aroma of fresh bread coming from your kitchen and, well, I thought to myself, ‘That’s just the ticket to get those kids to eat.’ They’re awfully worried about their mama and all. Do you think you can spare a loaf?”

Millie’s eyes widened in wonder as she handed a loaf to Elizabeth. After her neighbor left, she sliced the remaining loaf and raised her eyes toward heaven. “Thank you Lord, for bringing peace to an angry old arthritic woman.”

***
To read more great Christian short stories, visit our hostess LauraLee over at her site LauraLee's Lifesong and click on any of the links in the Mr. Linky box. Be sure to leave comments for the authors you visit. We all need encouragement now and then!

If you have a story to share - post it on your blog, then visit LauraLee and leave your link in the Mr. Linky box. Come on and join the fun!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Fiction Friday - None of My Business

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None of My Business

The upstairs room in the house across the street from my bread shop often has its blinds drawn. It’s the room above the one with the geraniums that belongs to Hans and Erma. Even this morning when I went out to sweep off my walk and put out my “daily special” signs, the blinds were closed up tight. From my place behind my cash box, I can see the stairs that lead up to that room. Every so often, someone goes up there, but no one seems to come down.

Mrs. Schwartz used to live in that upstairs room, God rest her soul. She’s fortunate that she doesn’t see the goings on nowadays. I didn’t think anyone had rented her place until I saw these men going up there carrying carpet bags and dressed in black suits.

Not that it’s any of my business, you know, but these are strange days. After the raid last week, people even suspect their neighbors. Why, two men were arrested as spies in the blue house just two blocks over, next to where my sister Ava lives.

She saw the whole thing—the soldiers in their drab uniforms and their big machine guns. They marched right up on that porch and busted in the door. Ava was out hanging up laundry. She pretended she wasn’t paying attention, but she saw it all. She nearly fainted when one of the soldiers looked straight at her and shifted his gun in his hands.

The soldiers were really rough on the prisoners, kicking and shoving them into the covered truck. What a scare for poor Ava! It’s best if you don’t know too much. She said the soldiers questioned her, but she’s just a poor woman who takes in laundry, and doesn’t know anything, so they let her alone.

Helga came in for her two loaves of round, rye bread yesterday. She said a watchmaker and his family were arrested in the town where her uncle lives for helping two Jewish families escape. The watchmaker had built a secret room in his house to hide the Jews until they could escape late at night. Helga heard the watchmaker would be taken to the gas chamber for helping those families. Now she’s afraid to sell eggs to the Goldsteins who live four houses down.

When I was busy making my bread this morning, I saw a man through my shop window. He had a long untrimmed beard and climbed the stairs to that apartment across the street. He didn’t see me, though he looked around first to see if anyone was following him. I’ve been watching and he hasn’t come back down yet.

Rumors say there is a tunnel in the basement of Hans and Erma’s house. I heard strange noises a few nights back, like tapping on my water pipes and muffled voices. Maybe there’s a secret room there where people can hide. Hans doesn’t laugh anymore and Erma only hurries in to buy her brown bread. She bought three loaves yesterday, not two like she used to.

These are strange days, but then, it’s really none of my business….

© 1995 Bonnie Winters

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