W is for Winnie


A to Z Theme - Circle of Hope:
A serial story (written in six-sentence segments) involving twenty-six women living in the small Midwest town of Cottonwood Creek, their lives connected by the Women's Circle of the town's protestant church, Hope Christian Fellowship, to which they all belong.

Winnie
Winnie, 50, managed the Sundown Hotel and Café that she had inherited from her father, although the hotel hadn't seen all that much business since the new Super 8 Motel went up on the highway that ran thru Cottonwood Creek. Winnie had turned the unused third floor of the small hotel into a safe house for women who were victims of domestic violence and in need of someplace to go, and she often provided jobs at the café for them as well.

Uriel had originally thanked Vanessa for her kindness when she dropped by to visit, and told her she would think about her offer, but just a week later she called Vanessa from the restroom of the local gas station, nearly hysterical and asking if she could come and get her. There had been another confrontation at home and Vanessa arrived to find Uriel with torn clothes and badly beaten, having barely managed to escape with her life and what she was wearing. 

Uriel refused to let Vanessa take her to the Emergency Room to be checked out, so Vanessa called Winnie asking if she had room for a young member of their Women's Circle who desperately needed to get out of a bad situation at home, and of course Winnie said yes; her father had instilled in her the importance of giving back to the community and this was her way of doing what she could.

A half-hour later Uriel was wrapped in a warm quilt, sitting on the sofa at the safe house with Winnie and Vanessa on either side of her as Chief of Police Dan Olson, a good friend of Winnie's, took the report which would lead to the arrest of her husband, and the beginning of a much better life for Uriel.
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Read the stories of all the Circle of Hope women here.
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 I'm also joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "well"

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A list of links for the A-Z Challenge blogs
 I'm following can be found on my sidebar. :-)
 

V is for Vanessa


A to Z Theme - Circle of Hope:
A serial story (written in six-sentence segments) involving twenty-six women living in the small Midwest town of Cottonwood Creek, their lives connected by the Women's Circle of the town's protestant church, Hope Christian Fellowship, to which they all belong.

Vanessa:
Vanessa, 43, divorced her husband after thirteen long years of abuse that had began as emotional badgering and belittling, closing her off from her family and friends, threatening and intimidating her, and eroding away at her self-confidence by finding fault with everything she did.  When his behavior escalated to physical violence, Vanessa knew she had to leave before he killed her.  Thankfully she had the strength to go to the church pastor and seek help, but she remembered how hard that was to do in a small town where everybody soon knows everything.

As she sat down to visit with Uriel, who she knew was experiencing the same nightmare, Vanessa engaged in a bit of friendly chit-chat and then told Uriel that she had a story about her life she wanted to share with her. When she had finished describing the nightmare her life had been then, and how afraid and alone she had felt, she looked up to see tears forming at the corners of Uriel's eyes and sliding down her cheeks.

"Uriel, would you like to leave?" Vanessa asked gently, "I know a safe place where you can go."

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Read the stories of all the Circle of Hope women here.
 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
An list of links for the A-Z Challenge blogs
I'm following can be found on my sidebar. :-) 

U is for Uriel


A to Z Theme - Circle of Hope:
A serial story (written in six-sentence segments) involving twenty-six women living in the small Midwest town of Cottonwood Creek, their lives connected by the Women's Circle of the town's protestant church, Hope Christian Fellowship, to which they all belong.

Uriel:
Uriel, 25, was married to a Cottonwood Creek boy she met while they were in high school.  He was a mechanic at the local car dealership, hung out with the guys at the bar on Friday nights, and led what otherwise appeared to be a normal life with Uriel. Vanessa, who was sitting across the table from Uriel at Denise's baby shower, saw the signs and knew better.  It was a story she knew all to well from an earlier time in her life... the thick layer of makeup in an attempt to conceal a bruised face, the downcast eyes, the unlikely explanation about her broken wrist. 

Vanessa had gone out of her way to be friendly to Uriel at the shower, and decided to drop by her house the following day with a gift of fresh rolls and homemade blueberry jelly. When Uriel opened the door Vanessa could see that she'd been crying, and was glad when Uriel hesitantly complied with her request to come in and visit for a few minutes. 

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Read the stories of all the Circle of Hope women here.
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A list of links for the A-Z Challenge blogs
 I'm following can be found on my sidebar. :-)
 

T is for Thelma


A to Z Theme - Circle of Hope:
A serial story (written in six-sentence segments) involving twenty-six women living in the small Midwest town of Cottonwood Creek, their lives connected by the Women's Circle of the town's protestant church, Hope Christian Fellowship, to which they all belong.

Thelma:
Thelma, 70, is a widow in good health who lives comfortably thanks to her husband's good financial planning through the years. Attending Denise's baby shower couldn't help but make her heart heavy for the current situation in her own family, as she had just learned that her eighteen-year-old granddaughter Zadie, who lives in a nearby state, is pregnant. Zadie is completing her final months of high school by correspondence course, but the father of the baby is not interested in marriage or being an involved parent. 

While Thelma doesn't believe in sex outside of marriage, she loves her granddaughter dearly, and is very much against her son's position that Zadie needs to have an abortion; he has told her that she cannot live at home if she decides to keep the baby. Thelma doesn't want Zadie to have to deal with the emotional fallout for making that kind of decision at such a young age, and she believes that Zadie is mature enough to be a good mother.

After thinking long and hard, and praying about it, Thelma spoke with Zadie and her parents, offering her home as a place where Zadie could come and stay; knowing that small town life might be good for Zadie and her child, and would give her the opportunity to work part-time while continuing her education online.
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Read the stories of all the Circle of Hope women here.

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An ever-growing list of links for the A-Z Challenge
blogs I'm following can be found on my sidebar. :-)
 

Thankful Times Ten

Ten Things of Thankful

No, this isn't my "T post" for the A to Z Challenge; my tale "Circle of Hope" will continue tomorrow as scheduled. Since today is a free day in the A-Z, I wanted to take a moment to share another blog that I manage, a place where bloggers come each weekend to link up posts sharing the things they are thankful for in their lives, either from the week or in general. 

Although it's called Ten Things of Thankful, the rules on that are flexible, we don't want anyone to feel they can't participate because they can't come up with ten things to share.  However, I know from personal experience that once you get started, it's easier than you think to identify the positives in your life.  It's not all about the big events, the small things we experience day to day sometimes affect our lives far more profoundly... for example the blessings of having clean water, food, and shelter.  When we begin to focus our lives on what we have to be thankful for it helps redirect our minds from the struggles and negatives we sometimes experience that too easily pull us down and steal our joy.

The Ten Things of Thankful link-up goes live just after midnight each Thursday night, and stays open until 11 PM the following Tuesday night, so there is plenty of time to write a post and link it. You don't need a fancy format, you don't even need to number your items, you just need to show up and share!  Everyone is welcome, and I promise you'll notice the difference when you begin to look for reasons to be thankful in your life.  I firmly believe that, no matter what, "there is always, always something to be thankful for!" 

Why don't you give Ten Things of Thankful a try, we'd love to have you join us!  Stop by and read what some of the other TToT bloggers have shared so far this weekend, it will definitely  encourage you, and you'll find yourself smiling before long!

Thank you!
Josie Two Shoes

S is for Sarah


A to Z Theme - Circle of Hope:
A serial story (written in six-sentence segments) involving twenty-six women living in the small Midwest town of Cottonwood Creek, their lives connected by the Women's Circle of the town's protestant church, Hope Christian Fellowship, to which they all belong.

Sarah:
Sarah, 63, was in charge of Bible Study and Devotions for the Women's Circle this year.  After Denise had been seated at the head table at her baby shower, Sarah stepped up to the podium, her eyes sparkling, and opened with a brief prayer. Then she announced "I had a devotional I planned to read today, but then I heard the recording that I'm about to play for you and decided that it would be much more meaningful."

Sarah took a seat at the side of the stage, and a voice came over the PA system telling a story about a mother watching her little girl grow up, get married, and prepare to become a mother herself, elevating her to the sacred role of grandmother.

As Denise listened her eyes opened wide and her hands flew to her face as she recognized her mother's voice as the one narrating the story.  Just then her mother and her mother-in-law stepped out from behind the stage curtain together smiling broadly, and Denise flew into her mother's arms as everyone applauded and more than a few tears of happiness were shed for Denise.
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Read the stories of all the Circle of Hope women here.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
An ever-growing list of links for the A-Z Challenge
blogs I'm following can be found on my sidebar. :-)
 

R is for Raine


A to Z Theme - Circle of Hope:
A serial story (written in six-sentence segments) involving twenty-six women living in the small Midwest town of Cottonwood Creek, their lives connected by the Women's Circle of the town's protestant church, Hope Christian Fellowship, to which they all belong.

Raine:
Raine, 40, ended up sitting next to Erica at the surprise baby shower for Denise being hosted by Hope Christian's Women's Circle, and it didn't take long for Erica to start with her typical line of conversation.  "Well this should be interesting," she whispered to Raine, "you know that Denise's mother-in-law is none too excited about this baby, so I wonder how she's going to act today."

Like most members of the Circle, Raine was weary of Erica's never-ending gossip. She gave Erica a direct look and responded "Well I certainly hope she'll put any of that aside and make this a really happy day for Denise, that's what we're here for!" 

Just then Alyssa arrived with Denise, who she'd convinced to go to lunch with her and then "drop by the church to pick up some table linens that needed washing."  Denise's eyes brimmed over with tears as she entered the dining room and encountered baby blue decorations, a host of warm greetings, a pile of wrapped gifts, and a beautifully decorated cake on a table near the door.
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Read the stories of all the Circle of Hope women here.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
An ever-growing list of links for the A-Z Challenge
blogs I'm following can be found on my sidebar. :-)
 

Q is for Quinn


A to Z Theme - Circle of Hope:
A serial story (written in six-sentence segments) involving twenty-six women living in the small Midwest town of Cottonwood Creek, their lives connected by the Women's Circle of the town's protestant church, Hope Christian Fellowship, to which they all belong.

Quinn
Quinn, 57, lived on the farm across the road from Opal and her husband, and the couples had been friends for many years. Belle enlisted Quinn's help to talk some sense into Opal about attending the surprise baby shower at the church for her daughter-in-law, Denise. 

The big question was whether or not to tell Opal that Denise's mother was going to be there; Quinn knew that might encourage her to attend, but she also didn't want Opal to accidentally spoil the surprise by spilling the beans to her her son.

Rather than initiate a confrontation about the shower, Quinn cleverly told Opal that she needed to drive to the city on the morning of the baby shower to pick up a friend at the airport who was flying in for the weekend; she asked Opal to go along to keep her company.

Quinn knew that once Opal found out who they were picking up she would do her best to save face and act like she had always intended to attend the shower. The three of them walking in to the baby shower together would save Denise the humiliation of having her mother-in-law be a no show, and Opal could act like she was in on the plan all along.

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Read the stories of all the Circle of Hope women here.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 I'm also joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "question"

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An ever-growing list of links for the A-Z Challenge
blogs I'm following can be found on my sidebar. :-)
 

P is for Patti


A to Z Theme - Circle of Hope:
A serial story (written in six-sentence segments) involving twenty-six women living in the small Midwest town of Cottonwood Creek, their lives connected by the Women's Circle of the town's protestant church, Hope Christian Fellowship, to which they all belong.

Patti:
Patti, 35, is a skilled pottery artisan, and sells her art online and at shows all over the country; she has won many awards for her beautiful designs. 

While helping Alyssa make decorations and party favors for Denise's baby shower they talked about how sad it was that Denise's mother-in-law Opal didn't seem to appreciate what a sweet and caring person she was, nor offer her any emotional support during the pregnancy. 

"Wouldn't it be fun if we could surprise Denise at the shower by having her Mom come?" Patti said, "it's been over a year since Denise has seen her."

"That would be so awesome," Alyssa replied, "but she lives in Arizona and I don't think they have a lot of money; it would probably be too expensive for her to fly here." 

"Let's find out how much it would cost," Patti said, "I've got a bunch of frequent flyer miles saved up from attending art shows, probably enough to cover it!"

In no time at all Patti and Alyssa were on the phone with Denise's mom, chatting excitedly as they made arrangements for what would surely be the best shower gift of all.

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Read the stories of all the Circle of Hope women here.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
An ever-growing list of links for the A-Z Challenge
blogs I'm following can be found on my sidebar. :-)

O is for Opal


A to Z Theme - Circle of Hope:
A serial story (written in six-sentence segments) involving twenty-six women living in the small Midwest town of Cottonwood Creek, their lives connected by the Women's Circle of the town's protestant church, Hope Christian Fellowship, to which they all belong.

Opal:
Opal, 53, is Denise's mother-in-law; she and her husband raised their son Kevin, an only child, on the farm, but had hopes of him pursing a college education and moving on to do bigger things in his life. Opal had never been too fond of Denise, and she felt that Kevin's desire to remain on the family farm was influenced by his determination to marry Denise when just out of high school; she didn't  understand that farming was in Kevin's blood and he loved it and small community life.

Kevin and Denise had waited a few years to start a family, working hard and saving up enough money to buy a small home. When they announced that they were expecting a baby, Opal had mentioned to more than one of her friends that she didn't feel Denise was mature enough to be a good mother, and word of that got back to Denise, who became all the more determined to prove her wrong. When she found out they were having a boy, Opal decreed that he should be named Kevin Jr., and was more than unhappy when Denise and Kevin told her that they felt their son should have his own name; she was still trying to persuade them.

When Belle called Opal to tell her about the surprise baby shower being planned by the Women's Circle for Denise, she was totally taken aback when Opal stated abruptly that the Women's Circle hadn't held a shower for her when she was pregnant with Kevin, and she didn't plan to attend this one.
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Read the stories of all the Circle of Hope women here.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
An ever-growing list of links for the A-Z Challenge
blogs I'm following can be found on my sidebar. :-)