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Taking A Break

I am finding that my creative brain has gone on vacation, so I've decided to take a summer break from writing stories and such unless the urge strikes me.  I've been spending less time on the computer and more time with other things I enjoy, which is good. :-)

I will still be hosting Ten Things of Thankful each weekend, and I'd love to see you join us there! I also do a weekly post on my other blog, if you need the address for that one email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com.  I will also be around a bit to check in and see what you're doing on your blog. As of late I've not kept up with that very well, which I feel kind of bad about, but I also feel like less computer time is a healthier choice for me.  I'll be popping in and out, and I am always just an email away. :-)

Runaway Girl - Part II


(Click here to read Part I)

No turning back now, Willa thought a few hours later, as the car she was riding in crossed into the neighboring state and travelled on in the darkness of night. Sitting in the back seat, wrapped in the comforting arms of the friend she had met just weeks ago, she said a silent goodbye to the life she had known, feeling that she had scored a victory but the prize was bittersweet. She wasn't sure what laid ahead, but Willa knew that she would be with people who believed in what she had come to embrace that Summer, a new religion, a way of looking at life that mirrored her own beliefs.

It wasn't just about escaping home, Willa had a purpose in going too, she was needed; the lady who had been instrumental in her conversion had been in a bad car accident and was dealing with shattered bones. With her husband working two jobs to support them and four young children at home, they needed help desperately, and Willa knew she could do that; she could take care of the children and the house and tend to her friend's physical needs as well.

When they arrived at the big city hospital parking lot the next day, the friends Willa had been travelling with went through their belongings and gave her what they could spare so she would at least have a change of clothes, then they said their goodbyes and were on their way, and before long Willa was headed to what would be her new home.

 (To be continued)
 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 I'm joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "score" 
Come and read some great stories and share one of your own!

Runaway Girl - Part I (Intro)


Looking back, Willa could see that she'd spent most of her life running away... from people, from places, from situations, and from herself; flight was as instinctive to her as breathing. When faced with fear the choices are fight or flight, and Willa chose flight because she didn't see herself as powerful enough to win any battles, though God knows she had tried.

The first time Willa ran away she was eighteen years old, though she'd been fantasizing about leaving for a long time. She had to get away, far away from the anger, the control and the unending condemnation; she had to find a place to stay where she could follow her own heart.

At long last the opportunity presented itself, and all Willa had to do was accept the offer... go out for a walk one summer evening, hop into the car when they came for her, and skip town; vanish before anyone knew that she was gone.

Willa didn't realize it then, but that decision would change the course of her entire life.

(To be continued)
 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 I'm joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "skip" 
Come and read some great stories and share one of your own!

Just Peachy Keen


Growing up, Suzanna was embarrassed by her mother's use of down-home expressions in front of her friends, things like "peachy keen", "fixin' to", "hissy fit", and "drier than a popcorn fart"; it was okay if they were home alone, but she thought her mother was way too much of a country hick to impress her popular friends.

"Please, Mom" she would beg, "don't say anything dumb when my friends are around, their mom's don't talk like that." 

Suzanna's mother would just smile and respond, "Suzanna, I was raised a country girl, and that's just who I am; friends you have to change your ways for aren't much worth having."

Years later Suzanna found herself missing her mom who had recently died, and even those silly old-fashioned expressions that were so much a part of her; stopping at a roadside stand to buy some fresh peaches one summer afternoon, Suzanna felt sad about all the times she'd criticized her.

Suddenly a peach tumbled from atop a basket and landed at her feet; bending over to pick it up she could almost feel her mother smiling.

 "That was peachy keen, Mom" she said, laughing through her tears.

 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 I'm joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "peach"
 
Come and read some great stories and share one of your own!

Time Passing


Well, well, well, would have thought that the girl who couldn't wait to see her tiny town in the rear view mirror would one day find herself growing nostalgic about those years of her life?  She had always said that she would never return for a class reunion, noting that she "didn't like them then and had no desire to see them now"; and yet she finds herself forty-five years later setting up a class Facebook page and talking to people she barely spoke with back then... or was it that they barely spoke to her?

Admittedly, she was a stand-out in her class of 100, the largest class her rural Midwest school would ever have; she kept to herself mostly, dressed a little differently, and tended to promote what was then considered to be radical thinking but would be mild by today's standards. She even threatened to blow the place up a time or two, not seriously but wishfully; that would have landed her in deep trouble in today's atmosphere of violence in schools.

This weekend many of her classmates will be returning home for the 45th class reunion; she is surprised to find herself wishing that she would have made plans to join them, and even more surprised at the number of people who wished she was going to be there.

Now there's talk of meeting up at the 50th; though we all started in the same place, life has taken us many directions and most of us have mellowed considerably, and we find that the shared memories have grown sweeter with time passing.

 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 I'm joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "well"
 
Come and read some great stories and share one of your own!
 

The Missing Link

 

Carlo Pacelli was the father of two sons, Carlo Jr. and Angelo; he was extremely proud of Carlo Jr., who had graduated from college with honors and was pursuing a legal career, and very disappointed with Angelo who had several minor run-ins with the law, dropped out of college, and travelled about the country bumming off friends and relatives with no real plan for his future.

After a particularly ugly scene in which Carlo accused Angelo of stealing money from his aged grandmother, Angelo had stormed out of the house shouting that he would never return as long as his father was alive, leaving his mother heartbroken.

Not long after that Carlo was dressing for a formal dinner and was stunned to find that one of his favorite monogrammed cufflinks was missing; he was unsure whether his wayward son or the household help was to blame for the theft, but assumed the intent was to pawn it for its 18K gold value since only one was taken.

True to his word, Angelo ceased all contact with his family; his father spent years and large sums of money hiring private investigators to try to find him to no avail, and when Carlo died only one son was present at his funeral.

A year later Carlo's wife became gravely ill, and Carlo Jr. placed ads online and in many newspapers begging anyone who know of Angelo's whereabouts to tell him to come home, that his mother desperately wanted to see him.

Not long after, Carlo Jr. answered the door one evening to find what appeared to be a homeless man asking to speak with him; Carlo Jr. attempted to turn him away and threatened to call the police until the weathered man in ragged clothing stretched out his hand and handed him a single monogrammed cufflink.

 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 I'm joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "link"
 
Come and read some great stories and share one of your own!
 

Supplication


Lord, lift us up from the muck and mire where we find ourselves dwelling so often these days. Remind us not to stoop to the level of those who promote mockery, hatred and destruction. Grant us the wisdom to choose our words and our actions wisely. Help us to seek ways to build up rather than tear down, to promote good rather than focus on evil. Clear our minds and refresh our spirits when we feel lost and defeated, and remind us that hope is eternal. Guide us to a higher place where we live in harmony with each other and with all living things.
 
 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 I'm joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "lift"
 
Come and read some great stories and share one of your own!
 

In Charge


"Where's the manager, who's in charge here?" bellowed the large man dressed in a business suit that occupied the same table every morning at the Manny's Coffee Shop. 

Everyone stopped in their tracks and stared as the young man waiting on him grew pale and was visibly shaking; he tried so hard to satisfy his customers, but apparently had done something to displease the man he knew to be the president of the city bank.

The manager scurried over to the table to quell the disturbance while the other staff shot glances at each other and waited to see what would happen. "How can I help you Mr. Jameson, is there a problem with our food or service?" he asked.

In a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, Mr. Jameson said "Sir, I come here every morning for breakfast and most of the staff who wait on me are inefficient, unconcerned and sometimes downright rude, and show no pride in their appearance; but I've been watching this young man, and every time he waits on me he is courteous and respectful, dressed sharp, pays attention to detail, and makes sure to get my order in and out quickly no matter how busy he is. This is the kind of person I want working at my bank, so I'm informing you that today is his last day here, I'm making him my new assistant!"
 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 I'm joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "charge"
 
Come and read some great stories and share one of your own!
 

Master of Disguise


She was a master of disguise and the mistress of malevolence; yet outwardly she appeared to be the nicest friend anyone could ask for, kind and caring, and above reproach.

There was another side to her, very dark and discovered only by the few who got close enough to really know her. Out of view of the public eye her kindness would turn to relentless criticism and emotional manipulation, leaving those who tried to befriend her off-balance and confused.

Woe to anyone who dared to call her out on such behavior; she would feign shock at their accusations, then switch from denial to attack mode in a heartbeat and systematic character assassination would ensue.

Acquaintances who thought they knew her would sympathize with the pain purportedly caused her by such a "hateful, heartless" person, never suspecting who the perpetrator really was.

But life has a way of has a way of coming back around full circle, and one day she found herself abandoned by everyone, alone in the bitter company of her own smug self-righteousness.

 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 I'm joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "master"
 
Come and read some great stories and share one of your own!
 

One Choice


Fresh out of school and flushed with the excitement of receiving the first paycheck from his new job, Jack headed out to local bar for a Friday night celebration with his coworkers. He had too much to drink but chose to drive home anyway, colliding with another car and killing the driver.

Jack spent the next six years of his young life in the state prison with plenty of time to think about how one very bad choice not only altered the course of his own life, but ended another... that of a man who was someone's son, someone's husband, and someone's father.

Finished with his prison sentence, Jack has been released and is slowly rebuilding his future; he's about to become a father... with the rest of his life to think about the child who lost his own. One choice made all the difference.*

*This is a true story, details have been changed to protect his privacy.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~
This was written for In Other Words where Patricia has asked us to  
write a story or poem of 5 Lines or Less using the word fresh.
  
Come and read more stories and share one of yours!

As If On Cue

~Image Source~
 
Shana couldn't believe they were arguing yet again; it seemed like that's all they did lately.

Justin's voice grew increasingly loud and his face began to redden.
 
As if on cue, Shana's dog left her side and walked cross the room to where Justin was standing. Lifting its leg, the dog aimed a stream of warm urine directly at Justin's pant leg. 
 
Firing off a string of expletives that ended with "That's the last &%#@ straw," Justin stormed out the door.
 
Shana collapsed onto the floor in laughter, partly at her dog's perfect sense of timing, and partly in relief that the relationship was over."
 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 I'm joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "cue"
 
Come and read some great stories and share one of your own!
 

Shake It Off

 
People criticize you... shake it off
 You feel misunderstood... shake it off
Life has treated you unfairly... shake it off
Others do it so much better than you... shake it off
Put an end to your self-pity party
 Pick yourself up, shake it off and move on
 
 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 I'm joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "shake"

Come and read some great stories and poems and share one of your own!

Reflections on the 2017 A to Z Challenge


The A to Z Challenge for this year is over, and there has been a week to relax and recharge from the busy pace.  Each year, about midway, I consider making it my last year of participation due to the time involved to do it well, and yet before the month ends I find myself thinking about what I will take on as my theme for next year. :-)  I think that says it all about how much fun it really is, and also how good it feels to participate in a group effort and see it through to completion. 

This year saw me undertaking my most ambitious theme yet, the writing of six-sentence stories each day that were connected by their membership in a ladies church group in a small Midwest community. It is familiar territory to me from my own upbringing, so the story telling came easy, and finding something for each letter of the alphabet was simply a matter of choosing the name for the next character.  However, I realized early on that it was going to be impossible to provide full bio information for each character and still weave the stories together with only six sentences to use, so I opted to go with abbreviated biographical info and provide more of a storyline which, based on the comments I received throughout the challenge, worked out very well.

My stories weren't of great literary merit but I think they were interesting, or maybe it's more that  the characters seem familiar. In the small town of Cottonwood Creek most people look out for each other and support their community, despite a few with problems and issues. I used the stories to convey the message that good things can happen when we work together.

The biggest concern at the beginning of this year's A to Z Challenge was how not having a master sign-up list was going to work.  I had my doubts, as did many.  However, I have to admit that once we got the hang of the linkup html, it worked out very well, with a much more manageable list to review than the massive sign-up list of previous years.  If you were further down on the old lists, you didn't get a lot of visitors, this way there were plenty of visitors and the blogs you took the time to visit actually had a current post. 

I really liked the people who added something about their theme in their daily comment/link, and I think this needs to be encouraged. It enabled me to choose blogs that I might enjoy and relate to, rather than ending up spending a lot of time running through blogs that weren't in the scope of my interests. I visited more blogs this year, and had more visitors on mine than in previous years, which was great!

The very best part of the A to Z each year as far as I'm concerned, along with sharing the experience with bloggers you already know, is discovering new bloggers that write awesome posts and soon become friends that you will continue to follow long after April is gone. I met some really great people this year, and some wonderful writers and storytellers. I also encountered a variety of clever and creative themes that made it fun. You can find a link list of some of my A to Z  favorites in my sidebar.

I plan to be back for next year, and I'm already pondering theme possibilities. As I say each year, I intend to have at least some of the posts pre-written. Maybe next year will be the year I actually get it done! :-)  I've even contemplated doing a "Return to Cottonwood Creek" series for next year's theme, continuing the stories of some of the characters I introduced this time around. We'll see!

Many thanks to everyone who stopped to visit, read, and comment, April was an awesome month! :-)

Drop by the A to Z blog to check out what other A to Z participants had to say about this year's challenge.

I Am Josie Two Shoes


This week I am joining Kristi at Finding Ninee for Finish the Sentence Friday, where she has asked us to finish the sentence "They call me..."

They called me Wendy at home, school, and work, since that is my given name. I've gone by several others over the years including WJ, Gypsy, and Mama Ratt. When I'm out in public these days, I often get called things like "Sweetie" and "Dearie" by young women... OMG! I have to check in the mirror to make sure my hair doesn't have a lavender tint like my Grandma's did. :-) 

At my last job one of the new hires was angry at me because I am "old school" when it comes to what I expect of employees. She bent down in my face and spat "Your problem is that you are OLD" as if it was a dirty word. While it's true that I have very possibly lived three quarters of my life and my own children are older than my coworkers were; and in the case of those in their early twenties I was old enough to be their grandmother, that doesn't make me senile by a long shot. I used to smile thinking to myself how little they really knew me or knew about me. I was young once too and thought I knew it all, and I've been around the block a few more times than they might believe.

I have gone by five different last names including my birth name... Haselhorst (it doesn't get more German than that :-) which I was quite glad to abandon, followed by a string of husbands - Bruhn, Hammond, Trevino, and now Harris. In my case, the fourth one was clearly the charm; as I've said many times, God saved the good one, the very best for last when I would have the wisdom to appreciate him. It is a marriage that will be until death do us part, and a last name I will keep as mine forever.

All that being said, in reality I am Josie Two Shoes. I first adopted that name as a pen name when I began a new blog after leaving my previous husband and thirteen years of marriage hell. Josie is an adaptation of my middle name, and Two Shoes is meant to symbolize that I was at last standing on my own two feet. Somehow Josie Two Feet didn't strike me as very poetic. ;-)

My blogs are where I am most real, where there is no filter between what I say and what I am, and no effort to maintain an assumed image for any reason. For better or worse, I am pretty much an open book. My life, has taught me many lessons, and I'm not ashamed to share that. Some of us learn things the hard way, but the point is that we can eventually learn, change, and grow. If you've come here looking for a saint you are mistaken. As I've noted many times, I am a combination of both the sacred and the profane and I'm okay with that, even though it confuses some people.

I have never really felt like a "Wendy", whatever one of those is supposed to be. I was told that my name came from "Wendy the Weather Girl" on TV in the early 1950's. Wow, a whole lot of thought went into that one. :-) In some cultures a new name is bestowed upon an individual when they reach adulthood, something befitting them. I think that would be a good practice, or let them choose their own.

When blog friends ask me if they should call me Wendy or Josie, I tell them it doesn't matter. I answer to both and to almost anything as long as it's not the "B-word"; but in my heart I am Josie Two Shoes and she is me, and if I could afford to I would likely change my legal name to that.

Tastes Like Chicken

 
"Well hello," she said with a beguiling smile, "it's been a long time since I've seen you!" 
 
It was true, I'd been gone for nearly a year; we had argued over some trivial issue and I walked away without looking back. 
 
But time has a way of changing your mind, and I realized how much I missed her; so I called to tell her I was back in town and she invited me over for dinner.
 
We sat down to eat and I had no clue what was on the plate that she served me.
 
"Try it,"  she said, "it's a delicacy; I think you'll find that it tastes like chicken."
 
Three bites down and my heart started to pound, and before long my head was spinning; the last thing I recall as I started to fall, was her staring at me and smiling.
 
 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 I'm joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "chicken"
 

Rose Petals

 
While growing up, Gwen used to tease her mother about the big jar of dried flower petals she had collected from every rose she'd ever been given... her prom corsage, her wedding bouquet, flowers she'd received for birthdays and anniversaries, and some from the beautiful roses in her garden too. 
 
Gwen's mother was killed in a car accident shortly after Gwen turned sixteen, and her world came crashing down; she couldn't bear the thought of her mom not being there to share in her birthdays, her graduation, and her own wedding some day.
 
On the morning of her seventeenth birthday, Gwen awoke to the fragrance of roses and found a handful of dried rose petals scattered across her pillow; and more of them sprinkled on her mortarboard as it lay waiting on her dresser on Graduation Day.
 
As Gwen's father prepared walk her down the aisle on her wedding day, she glanced down at the white carpet runner to see dried rose petals mingled with the new ones and scattered along the way. Bending down, she picked up a few and tucked them into her bouquet, vowing to begin her own jar of dried flower petals with these, a precious keepsake and reminder that a mother's love remains forever. 
 
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
This was written for In Other Words where Patricia has asked us to  
write a story or poem of 5 Lines or Less using the word flower

  
Come and read more stories and share one of yours!
 

Six Sentence Stories - Try It!

 
During the course of sharing my six-sentence story posts for the A to Z Challenge in April, I had a few inquiries about where the concept came from...  
 
In 2013 a friend and I talked about how much we enjoyed writing very short stories, but we weren't exactly thrilled with the lack of community at the blog hop where we'd been participating. With her encouragement, I began the weekly Six Sentence Stories writing prompt,  and it met with a good response. I continued with it for about nine months, until work and life necessitated me putting it on hiatus. 
 
In 2015, my dear friend Zoe, asked if she could revive Six Sentence Stories on her blog, Uncharted, and I was delighted. It met with wonderful success! Since then she's been posting a cue word for the coming week each Sunday afternoon, and the link-up goes live in a new post early Thursday morning. 
 
Zoe's instructions are to "write a masterpiece of 6 sentences, any genre using the cue any way you like."  I have to admit that some of us are masters at implementing the run-on sentence to comply with the six sentence limit, and no one really cares. :-)  We do it more for fun than for great literary merit, and comments are in that frame of mind, rather than critiques. 
 
The link-up stays open for a week, so you have plenty of  time to add your story if you're not ready by Thursday, although the sooner you link it up, the more likely you are to have several of the other participants come and check out your post. Please remember to add a link back to Six Sentence Stories in your post, too
 
We have a diverse bunch of regulars at Six Sentence Stories who always welcome new bloggers that come to share their stories. We encourage everyone to read and comment on as many of the linked-up stories as possible, that's what makes it fun. If you drop by Zoe's blog you can read stories from previous link-ups and perhaps be inspired to try writing one of your own. You'll recognize some of the same friendly folks there that you've been following during the A-Z Challenge.
 
This week's Six Sentence Stories cue word is "chicken", and I'd love to see you come and join us! Zoe will have the new post for it up Wednesday evening, and the link up will open after Midnight EDT.
 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 I'm joining Zoe at "Uncharted"
where the cue this week is "chicken"

Victory is Mine


Look at me Mom, victory is mine!
For all the projects I never finished
Or lost interest in over time,
Here's one I actually completed
And the feeling is sublime!
 
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
This was written for In Other Words where Patricia has asked us to  
write a story or poem of 5 Lines or Less using the word victory

  
Come and read more stories and share one of yours!

Z is for Zadie


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.

Zadie:
Zadie, 18, arrived in Cottonwood Creek via the Greyhound bus, her father having paid for her ticket. It had been a long time since she visited her Grandma Thelma, and she was more than a little nervous and feeling somewhat nauseous, being nearly four months pregnant. Thelma greeted her granddaughter warmly, pulling her in close for a hug, and Zadie at last had a feeling that things were going to be okay.

It was with some trepidation that Zadie accompanied Thelma to the next meeting of the Women's Circle; while she knew that her grandmother was right about her needing to meet some new friends as she settled into life in Cottonwood Creek, she did not know how the other members of the Women's Circle were going to feel about her being visibly pregnant and unmarried.

Thelma understood Zadie's concern, but assured her that she had already talked with several ladies in the group and was certain that Zadie would be made to feel welcome; she was right, and it wasn't long before Zadie was chatting away with Alyssa, Denise, Lainey and Uriel.

The older ladies smiled as they observed this group of young women reaching out to Zadie, knowing that one day they would become leaders in the church and the community and the Circle of Hope would continue.  
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Read the stories of all the Circle of Hope women here.
 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
A list of links for the A-Z Challenge blogs
I'm following can be found on my sidebar. :-) 
 

Y is for Yvonne


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.

Yvonne:
Yvonne, 73 and a widow, was sad about leaving her home of over forty years, but she knew the time had come to move to the Cottonwood Creek Retirement Center & Nursing Home where she could have the assistance she needed.  She had raised all kinds of animals in her lifetime starting with rabbits for 4-H when she was young, so having no immediate family, she was delighted with Xenia and Denise's proposal to turn her property into a no-kill rescue shelter for cats and dogs.

A long time member of  Hope Christian Fellowship, Yvonne was blessed with plenty of assistance from the Women's Circle when it came time to sell most of her belongings, and pack and move her personal things to the retirement home. Her friends knew this wasn't easy for Yvonne, so they organized one last "retirement party" in her honor, a potluck dinner at her home after Sunday church services with nearly everyone from the congregation in attendance. It was a happy day filled with reminiscing, love and laughter; the highlight being Yvonne's surprise and delight when Denise unveiled the beautiful new brick sign at the road entrance with it's large brass faceplate that read  "Yvonne's Place ~ A Rescue Center for God's Beloved Creatures."  Xenia topped off the day by promising to pick up Yvonne as often as she liked so that she could come and spend time playing with the cats and dogs at the shelter, knowing it would be a blessing for them all.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Read the stories of all the Circle of Hope women here.
 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
A list of links for the A-Z Challenge blogs
I'm following can be found on my sidebar. :-)
 

X is for Xenia


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.

Xenia:
Xenia, 33, and Alyssa, had become good friends soon after Alyssa's return to Cottonwood Creek. When Alyssa's parents agreed to her adopting a puppy for her sons, she called Xenia who she knew had been caring for a batch of puppies that someone had dumped at the junkyard.

Alyssa's boys were wild with anticipation as Xenia led them to the indoor/outdoor pen where the six puppies were being kept; she had always loved caring for animals, and worked as a receptionist and assistant for the local vet.

"I was thinking," Xenia said to Alyssa while the boys cavorted with the puppies in their pen, "the Women's Circle has been looking for a community project that they could involve their families in, something in addition to the regular charity work we help fund-raise and volunteer for.  What do you think about helping me see if we can get funding to start up a no-kill shelter to care for the growing population of stray and abandoned cats and dogs in Cottonwood Creek?"

"Oh my," Alyssa responded excitedly, "I know just the place for it; Yvonne told me the other day that she is getting ready to move to a retirement home, and since she doesn't have any children she wants to donate that piece of property she owns on the edge of town for something that would benefit the community!"
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Read the stories of all the Circle of Hope women here.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
A list of links for the A-Z Challenge blogs
I'm following can be found on my sidebar. :-)
 

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.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 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.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
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.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~
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"

~*~*~*~*~*~*~
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.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~
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.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
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. :-)