Friday, January 18, 2019

Wonderful Peace – Part 1

Good morning Friday Fiction Fans,
I was looking for a story to share this morning, and decided on another one from "The Lower Lights" only I discovered that I've never posted it on this blog! So, if you've never read the collection of stories in "The Lower Lights," you can read this story now. Well, part of it. ;) It will take a few weeks to get through the entire thing. This is a story I'd like to publish as a kindle book, along with "By Bus with Vickie" and just about every unpublished shorter story I've written. ;)

This story came to me after I saw a photo by my best friend of a skyline against a sunset. Only in the picture there was no church steeple. The rest of the story just came.

This has been a good week. I taught writing classes, wrote, planned out the timeline for the rest of "Hymns in the Hills" so maybe I can finish it. And just in case you were wondering, when I said plan, I don't mean everything. I simply jotted down the events that I knew were coming, put them in order so I wouldn't get mixed up, and figured out how many weeks I had left before the end of the story arrived.  Now I need to go write.

I did get the new cover for "The Lower Lights" designed. Thanks to Ryana Lynn and Lissa for volunteering to design one. I would have let either of you, but I accidentally designed it myself. ;) But there are other stories I'd be happy to have someone design covers for. (I'd love to get most of stories into kindle format, but don't have the time to design covers for them all, so if anyone needs practice, I'm open to that.)
Anyway, here are the two different covers:

The old cover 

The new cover

Anyway, here's your story for today. I hope you enjoy it.

Wonderful Peace
Part 1

    Pausing on the top of the rise, Arthur Fowler dropped his pack and sank down on top of it, gasping for breath. With trembling hand he pulled out a worn handkerchief and wiped the perspiration from his face. His feet, his legs, especially his wounded right one, his back, all ached with the days of travel, and his throat felt parched with thirst.
    Noticing the darkening sky for the first time, Arthur looked up and caught his breath. The sun was barely above the treetops; a brilliant light nearly white. The sky around it was a glowing reddish-orange fading into a softer gold which then seemed to melt into the darker powder blue of the evening sky. The trees were black silhouettes while from among them, reaching up into the sky, black against the glories of the sun, rose a church steeple. Its top looking sharp and pointed; a landmark pointing the way home. Beside it a wispy trail of smoke rose and floated away on the cool evening breeze.
    “Does it come from the manse?” breathed Arthur, a catch in his voice. Everything grew blurry and he blinked back tears. Oh for a sight of that manse and those within! “Come on, Fowler, get going,” he chided himself, grasping his stout walking stick and rising with difficulty then slinging his pack onto his back once more. “I don’t have much farther to go, unless,— No,” he told himself fiercely, “They have to be there! They must. When I’m so close—” He left off thinking about anything except putting one aching, blistered foot after the other.
    The sun slipped down behind the church steeple and in the growing gloom of twilight Arthur stumbled over unseen rocks and tripped on broken branches. On he trudged, on towards that friendly smoke, on towards that steeple which had become only a faint shadow in the darkened sky. The trees loomed larger. Panting, coughing, gasping for breath, he wouldn’t give up. “I didn’t come this far to quit,” he thought grimly as his knees buckled, and he fell forward. “Even if I have to crawl the rest of the way!”
    After resting a moment, Arthur grasped his walking stick and pulled himself up once more. He leaned on it heavily as he continued his slow, weary way.
    At last he reached the edge of town. The street lights had been lit and shone brightly along the main road. Everything looked pretty much the same, the traveler noted, as it had a dozen years ago. All was quiet though lights glowed behind closed curtains in nearly every house he passed. The stores were nearly all shut up for the night, and Arthur halted before the little drug store.
    “What day is today?” he asked of the little old man who was just closing up.
    “Eh? What’s that? What day is it?” The man peered at him from under bushy eyebrows looking him up and down. “Been traveling, have you? A soldier?”
    “Yes to both.”
    “Come far?”
    Again Arthur nodded. “And today?”
    “Today? Oh, yes . . . I say, you must have been traveling far if you don’t know what day it is. Why young man, it’s Tuesday. Just two days after the Lord’s day and two days before the prayer meeting.”
    “Thank you,” Arthur started on but he hadn’t gotten more than a few steps when the old man’s voice made him stop.
    “I say, soldier, you look as though you ought to be in bed. Got any place to stay tonight? I think it’s going to get down right cold. If you need a place, you can stay with me. It might not be much but it’d sure beat sleeping outside tonight.”
    Arthur coughed. “I think I have a place. Thank you though.”
    “Well, if you should need a place after all, just come on over. I live just behind my shop here, two houses down on 3rd street.”
    Again Arthur nodded and started forward. He didn’t need told where Mr. Gann lived. He knew. He wanted to ask him about the folks in the manse, but somehow he just couldn’t.
    Turning the corner, Arthur could see the front of the church. He was almost there. The windows were dark but standing in front of the steps, the exhausted man looked up. He had to tip his head far back to see the top of the spire against the star studded sky. “It’s been so long,” he murmured, grasping his stick and starting on around the church to the manse behind it.
    There were lights on in the front room and he could smell the smoke from the chimney and knew a bright fire was blazing in the fireplace. He had made it, but as he wearily climbed the steps to the porch, he couldn’t help but wonder what reception he would be given. As he lifted a trembling hand to give a timid rap, a soft strain of music came to him from behind the closed door. Then in the quietness of the evening, a sweet voice was heard singing. Arthur froze, his hand uplifted, straining to listen.

“Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight
Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm;
In celestial-like strains it unceasingly falls
O’re my soul like an infinite calm.”

    And then the sweet voice was joined by another deeper one and together their voices blended in the soothing refrain:
“Peace! Peace! wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above;
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray,
In fathomless billows of love.”

    Arthur’s hand dropped to his side, and he leaned his weary head against the door frame while slow tears trickled down his dusty, pale cheeks. How often in years past he had heard that song sung by a voice as sweet as the one he now listened to.

Have you read "The Lower Lights"?
Do you want to try designing a cover for one of my stories?
Do you want more of this story?

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Lower Lights - Part 2

Good morning, FFFs,
How are you all doing today? I'm feeling much better than last week. My cough is nearly gone, and I don't feel draggy. But now my sister is fighting it. Hopefully it won't last long.
I decided to postpone my writing classes until next week so maybe I wouldn't share this germ. I think most of my students were okay with that. But one was NOT happy! He loves writing class and doesn't want to miss any classes, doesn't want to end, and certainly does not want to postpone classes! You've got to love a student like that! :)

I've had a very productive week and have gotten things done that were on my "do as soon as you can" list. Like updates on my website. And proof listening to "Dylan's Story." Cleaning out some things, putting things away, and feeling like I'm actually ready to start a new semester of writing classes.

Oh, and guess what else I've been doing! Writing! Yep, I'm finally getting back into it! And I'm loving it. :) So far I've been able to write every evening this week (except Sunday) and am almost to my goal of 5k words. "Hymns in the Hills" is moving along. I don't know when it'll be done and ready for beta readers because I have no idea how much is left of the story, but I'm hoping it won't be too much longer.

Speaking of beta readers, I'm going to be contacting everyone who has signed up on my beta reader list, just to make sure everyone is still wanting to do it. I know life gets busy and things change, so before I write everyone down on my new pages, I want to check.

I hope you enjoy the last part of this short story. I want to design a new cover for the book that contains "Lower Lights" but I haven't done anything yet. I have the original trolley picture I used. Anyone want to volunteer to try?

The Lower Lights - Part 2
Rebekah M.

Last time . . .
Mr. Randall smiled as his old friend sat down on one of the empty seats. “I suppose it’s rather like a lighthouse.”
“They keep doing the same things day after day, lighting a rocky shoal or marking a way to the harbor. I just pray that our lights have been lit every day. You know, we have the lights along the shore to think about.”
Silence fell on the two men for several seconds, then Perry pulled out his pocket watch and looked at the time. “I think we should--”
What he thought they should do wasn’t finished for at that moment he spied the limping form of someone heading towards the trolley waving his hand.
“It looks like we have ourselves a passenger, Perry,” Oscar remarked opening the door and stepping down to give a helping hand.
It was a young soldier evidently just returned from war. He was breathing heavily as he climbed aboard and sank into a seat. “Thank you for waiting for me,” he managed to gasp out while fishing in his pocket for his fare.
Oscar stopped him. “Soldiers ride this car for nothing.”
The young man smiled faintly.
“Where are you headed, sir?” Perry questioned as with a toot of his whistle he pulled ahead.
“Home. I’ve been gone nearly three years.”
“Are you getting ready to go to that other Home that is waiting?” Perry’s thoughts never strayed far from their Anchor and Hope.
The young soldier gazed out the window and then at last turned. Perry’s eyes were on the road before him, but he heard the reply
“Sir, I hadn’t thought much about it before I left for war, but since then, the sights and everything, well, I just couldn’t help myself. But I don’t know how to get there.”
Perry stopped the car before another empty station and turning towards the young man, smiled. “Let me show you how.” And right then and there, he showed this young soldier the way to his eternal Home.

Stopping only at noon to eat their lunches, Mr. Perry Randall and his conductor continued their rounds of the city in their trolley car. Now and then the stations were empty, but for the most part one or two persons waited. As one lady stepped on she said, “I don’t care to ride those other trolleys. Why, one of the drivers never smiles and most of the time looks like he would rather eat you than give you a ride. No sir, I’ll ride this car till it doesn’t run anymore!”

It was late in the day when a half intoxicated man stumbled up the steps to sink down and mutter, “Take me to --nth street,” before falling into a sleep.
Oscar and Perry looked at each other. Neither one had caught the street name exactly. It could have been 9th or 19th.
“What street shall we take him to?” Oscar questioned, eyeing their passenger doubtfully.
“I say let’s see when we get there,” was the reply as they again started on their way.
As 9th Street approached, Perry and Oscar glanced about. “Humph,” murmured Perry softly to his companion. “Three down and out saloons and two ‘licensed hotels.’ I don’t think he should stop here. . . . No, look,” he added, nodding towards the right. “There is even a poor fellow sent out no doubt to entice the likes of our passenger into more misery and sin. I can’t dump him off here, Oscar. That would be as bad as deliberately turning out the light so a ship would crash on the rocks.”
“Let’s try 19th street. Or we could take him all the way to 29th if we had to.”
Arriving at 19th street, Perry saw to his joy that there were no saloons or hotels. Instead there was a well dressed man standing at the station, not as though he were waiting for the trolley, but as though he were waiting for someone. Pulling to a stop, Mr. Randall opened the door and leaning out called, “Mr. Stanfford, are you by any chance looking for a young man that needs help?”
The man in question looked up with a smile as he recognized the speaker. “I don’t know but I am,” he replied. “I felt compelled to come here, but I need to return to the mission soon. Do you have someone who needs me?”
“We have someone who needs more than you. Come.”

Mr. Stanfford sprang up the steps and with a little difficulty, succeeded in getting the half intoxicated stranger off the trolley and started with him to the mission.
“I think this was the street he was supposed to get off on.”
“Yep,” Oscar nodded.

As the afternoon wore on, the crowds once again became larger and some of the same folks they had taken to work, Mr. Perry, Oscar and their trolley were now carrying home.
“How was your day, Mr. Smits?”
“Not too bad, thank you, Mr. Perry.”
“Mrs. Martin, did you have many customers?”
The neatly dressed woman smiled, “Not too many, but enough to keep the little ones clothed and fed, thank God.” And she moved on to take her seat.
To some Perry gave a kind word and others a pleasant inquiry, to each he gave a smile.

At last, the day over, Perry drove the faithful old trolley back to the shed where someone would prepare it for tomorrow. Stepping down from his place beside the controls, Perry shook hands with his conductor.
“’Night, Oscar. Tell the missus I said hello and hope she’s feeling better.”
“Thank you, Perry. Good-night.” And the friends parted, each going a different direction to his home.
As Perry strolled along, he again broke into singing the song that had been with him all day. He didn’t know how far his “lower light” had shown, but he knew who kept the “Lighthouse” and He would take care of the rest. Little did he know what sunshine his smile had brought to many a weary person, the rejoicing in heaven over the return of the soldier, the young nurse kneeling that moment by her chair or the drunkard, pondering how he had reached the mission when he had planned to go to the saloon, all because of his bright light.
“Brightly beams ou--r Father’s mer--cy,
From his light--house ever more,
But to us, He gives the kee--ping,
Of the lights a--long the shore.”

Friday, January 4, 2019

The Lower Lights - Part 1

Oh, Hello.
I really don't know what day it is! I've been on vacation at my grandparents since Sunday, and just got home yesterday. While I was there I got the lovely sinus/cold that my grandpa had. So I'm not feeling as energized as I might wish. Even though I got the cough and stuff, we did have a good time up there. We didn't do much but visit, work puzzles, and hang out. But it was good. Grandpa and I did play 2 rounds of ping-pong for old time's sake. (That's something we use to do every time I was up, but he's 89 now and isn't quite up to our vigorous games.)

I have a lot of things to catch up on, take care of, and plan, so I'll be busy today. Oh, and I think I'll take a nap. I know this is late and short, but I just can't think of what else to tell you.

This story was originally written a long time ago and is published in "Lower Lights and Other Stories," but I thought I'd share it today.

The Lower Lights
Rebekah M.

Mr. Perry Randall tied his black necktie in a looping bow, kissed his little wife good-bye and headed off to work. Striding briskly down the street in the early dawn of a new day, straightening his cap, glancing up at the sky to see what the day would be like, nodding to a policeman walking his beat, he whistled. It was a lovely morning to be alive. Spring had always been his favorite season. Arriving at the shed, he met the conductor of his trolley car.
“Morning, Oscar.”
“Good Morning, Perry.”
“How’s the missus?”
“Doin’ just fine, thank you. And Carol?”
Mr. Randall smiled. “She was planning on doing some baking this morning. Said she just might stop by your place later on for a visit if your wife felt up to it.”
Oscar nodded as he straightened his jacket. “I’m sure she would be. It always perks her up to have a visit from Carol.”
The two men, both with white hair, had been friends since childhood. Now, at the age when most men wanted to retire, they continued on day after day, collecting the fares, and driving their trolley. To them it wasn’t work, but a real joy.
Perry Randall returned to his whistling as he checked the controls. Soon he broke into song, his deep bass filling the car with music.
“Let the low--er lights be bur--ning,
Send the be--am acro--ss the wave.”
Oscar, who couldn’t resist a tune, took up the song in his clear tenor.
“Some poor fain--ting, struggling sea--man,
You may rescue, yo--u may save.”
The song ended with an accompanying toot of the trolley’s whistle as Perry backed it out of the shed.
The sun was climbing up out of his bed in the east and everywhere birds were greeting the new day with song. The man in the yard switched the track and, after a quick okay signal from his conductor, Mr. Randall slowly started the trolley on its way, humming the song over again to himself as they moved along.
“But to us He gives the keeping of the lights along the shore,” he mused.
“What’s that, Perry?”
“The lights along the shore, Oscar,” replied Perry without taking his eyes off the gauges before him. “He takes care of the big light, but we’ve got to keep our lights lit. We never know when they might help some fainting seaman get safely to shore.”
“That’s so.”
The clang of the trolley’s bell rang out sharply in the morning air as Mr. Randall braked before their first stop. Oscar took his place and began to collect fares as the passengers came aboard. Mr. Perry had a smile and greeting for each one as they passed him. Most of them were regulars to his trolley line.
“Good morning, Mrs. Simpson. Watch your step there,” and he held out his hand to steady a little old woman with silvery white hair. “I hope that grandson of yours is doing better.”
“He is, thank you. He’ll be back to the baseball diamond in no time.” The little woman moved on.
“Mr. Smits, fine day isn’t it?”
“Well, its starting out fine, Mr. Randall, but I don’t know how things in the office will be.” The man frowned as though the thought of that office nearly ruined his day.
“How are you Miss Kelly and Miss Lilly? Had a busy night at the hospital?”
The two young nurses smiled and one of them replied, “Not so very busy, Mr. Randall, but it is nice to be going home.”
“And just think of going Home forever, how glorious that will be.” There was no mistaking the trolley car driver’s meaning.
The two nurses moved on to take their seats; Miss Lilly looked thoughtful. Those words had struck her heart.

The bell clanged and the trolley moved slowly away towards its next stop.
“So many folks in this world, Father,” Mr. Perry murmured, “so many with heavy loads. They need someone to help them carry them and others are struggling to keep above the tempest that is raging all about them. Let some be guided today through the channel to you by us poor, feeble lights along the shore.”
Clang, clang. The bell rang, and Mr. Randall pulled the cord to the whistle as he brought the trolley to a stop. The crowd was larger this time as the sun was steadily climbing its way up the spherical dome of the heavens. Scarcely a word was able to be said to the passengers crowding and shoving their way onto the trolley. Mr. Randall, though he was jostled, kept a smile on his face for, “who knows,” he thought, “this might be the only smile they see all day.”

The morning wore on with crowds pushing on and off the car until late morning. With the crowds, both Perry and Oscar had been kept busy collecting fares, the latter at the front of the trolley and the former at the rear. Now, however, the crowds had thinned and only a few persons waited at the trolley’s stops and at last they reached a stop which was empty.
“Perry, shall we just go on to the next stop?” Oscar had made his way up the aisle and was looking out at the empty station.
For a moment Perry Randall thought. At last he spoke, “No, I don’t think we should, Oscar, at least not until we normally would leave.”
“Sounds good to me. You know, Perry, seems as though all these years of you driving this trolley and me collecting the fares, I always ask you that question about once a day and you always give the same reply. In a way, its kind of comforting knowing that some things haven’t changed in all these years.”
Mr. Randall smiled as his old friend sat down on one of the empty seats. “I suppose it’s rather like a lighthouse.”
“They keep doing the same things day after day, lighting a rocky shoal or marking a way to the harbor. I just pray that our lights have been lit every day. You know, we have the lights along the shore to think about.”

Have you read this story before?
How was your New Year?
What would you like to see posted on here this year?

Friday, December 28, 2018

End of 2018

Good morning FFFs,
Did you all have a good Christmas? I did. I had 2 Christmases actually.
One on Saturday with my brother and his family. It's so much fun to have kids around for Christmas. We had breakfast together, then opened presents, and then played, and ate, and played. 
On Sunday Sis and I sang in the choir for church, and then had a quiet and restful afternoon. I read! So delightful! :)
Monday was spent reading, and getting the rest of the presents wrapped. I like wrapping presents so that wasn't a problem. Then I helped Dad wrap the rest of Mom's presents. She didn't even know it. That night we had hamburgers and watched a Christmas movie.
Christmas Day! It was very relaxed. Since there are no younger ones in the family, we all ended up sleeping in. Ate our usual breakfast of Cinnamon Bread and Nut Bread. And then I read until everyone was ready. Our present time was slow and laid back. We commented a few times on how much nicer this year was than last year when we were sick. Mom, Sis, and I finished a puzzle, then we all ate lunch. I read later, and then, since it was so nice outside, Sis and I went for a walk. In the evening we ate snack foods for supper and watched "It's a Wonderful Life."
Oh, and yes, I did get some books for Christmas. :)

On Wednesday I read, and did a little of this and that.
But yesterday I did something that I've never done so close to Christmas before. I un-decorated! Yeah, I know, that's kind of terrible, but I did have my reasons. 1.) We're going to be leaving town on Sunday, and we won't want to have to take all the decorating down after we get home. 2.) We clean house today and when we take all the garlands down they always leave a mess, so we wanted them down before we cleaned. 3.) The weather was warm and in the low 60s. It certainly didn't feel like Christmas. I haven't taken the village in the living room down yet. That'll probably be today.

I'm starting to feel ready to take on 2019. I haven't done much planning yet, but I'm ready to get back into writing and teaching, and "normal" things. :) What about you? Are you ready for 2019 or are you still hanging on to the current year?

As you can see, I don't have a story for you this week. But I figured you would all be busy anyway.

What would you like to see on this blog next year?
Are you interested in stories or updates?
Do you have New Year's Eve plans?

Monday, December 24, 2018

A Carol in Her Heart - Part 3

This is the final part of

A Carol in Her Heart

    The day had been full of delight from the moment the Osborn family had appeared until they left after supper. Yes, she had insisted they stay and eat supper with her. It was the least she could do. They had not only gotten her a tree, but Jack had brought all her boxes of decorations down, and together, with much talking and laughing, and playing with the little ones, the tree had been decorated. Jack and Jennie had wound the garlands on the porch rails, and hung the Moravian stars up from the porch ceiling. Then it was lunch time and the little ones had taken naps in Aunt Molly’s guest room while the adults sat down for a long visit over cups of hot chocolate and freshly baked cookies.
    Jack’s history was short, “and boring,” he said. “Well, until I met Jen in college.” And the look that passed between them told Aunt Molly vollumes. He had lived in Chicago, and then New York. He’d gone to fancy schools and gotten good grades. “They kept me out of trouble, Aunt Molly. Them, my Bible, and the memory of you.” He had gone on to college, met Jen, gotten two degrees, gotten married, moved to North Carolina where Molly was born, then to Texas in time for Christina’s birth, and then to Nebraska where Kenny was born.
    “But now we’re home.” Jack squeezed his wife’s hand and smiled at Aunt Molly. “Every other place we’ve lived has been a stopping place; we both knew we didn’t want to stay at any of them. Last year I got my master’s in something-or-other and decided to move back here in hopes that it would finally be home.”
    “It is,” Jennie agreed. “The house is everything I’ve ever wanted, the town is a perfect size, and most importantly, you are here.”
    After the children woke up, they all decorated the gingerbread house together. Well, Aunt Molly spent most of the time playing with little Kenny while the others worked on the house.
    By the time the mess had been cleaned up, it was supper time, and Aunt Molly had persuaded them to say for a supper of tomato soup and grilled triple-cheese sandwiches.


    After that Miss Kennedy had no time to wait for the mailman, or wonder what to do when her baking was over. Jennie or Jack was always calling or coming over, often with the children, for something, even just to visit. And Miss Kennedy spent time at the Osborn home.
    On Sunday they all attended church together.


    When Christmas Eve arrived, Miss Kennedy was busy wrapping gifts, for Jack and his family were to come over on Christmas Day since neither of their families were nearby. Christmas music filled the old farm house, and the smell of peanut butter kiss cookies lingered in the air to mingle with the scent of pine.
    After placing the last gift under her tree, Miss Kennedy stood and looked out the window. Everything was covered with a dusting of snow, and white powdery flakes drifted lazily down from the overcast sky. A red truck she had come to recognize drove down the road slowing and turned into her driveway. This time Miss Kennedy flipped on the switch, and the lights on the outdoor garlands came on, and the Moravian stars gleamed in the growing dusk. She opened the door and, pulling her sweater closer, waited for Jackie.
    He bounded up the steps, then opened the door and stepped inside, leaning down to kiss her cheek. “Merry Christmas, Aunt Molly!”
    “Merry Christmas, Jackie.” Her eyes sparkled as she looked up at him.
    “What are you doing tonight?”
    “Eating supper, reading the Christmas story, and going to bed.”
    “Come do it at our house.”
    “Jack, I couldn’t. You have a family and–”
    “You are family, too, Aunt Molly,” he insisted. “Please come. Jen wants you, and the kids have been asking for you.” He took one of her hands in his own. “Aunt Molly, I want the kind of Christmas Eve I had with you when I was young. Remember that time Mom was in London and Dad’s flight had been delayed?”
    Miss Kennedy nodded. It had been a Christmas she had never forgotten.
    “Please, Aunt Molly, spend this evening with us. I’ll bring you home later, and tomorrow we’ll come over here.”
    There was something in the pleading look he gave her that made Miss Kennedy give in. “You’ll grow tired of having me around,” she promised as she got her coat.
    Jack’s laughter filled the house. “After all those years growing up? I think it’ll take more than a week to make me grow tired of you, Aunt Molly.”


    A large fire crackled in the fireplace as the Osborn family, with Aunt Molly, settled down after a delicious supper. The children were in their cozy pajamas and nestled in blankets. The baby sucked his thumb and stared into the flames from the warmth of Aunt Molly’s arms.
    Jack, with his wife beside him, opened his Bible and began to read the Christmas story. “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem . . . A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”
    Aunt Molly sat it silence, cuddling the sleeping baby and remembering those years long ago. She had tried to point the little boy in her care to the true Light of Christmas, and now here he was teaching his own children. A tear spilled from her eye and trickled down her cheek. All these years when Jack had been away, she had wondered what God was doing with her life since no husband had come to her. “You let me bring the true joy of Christmas into a family I wasn’t a part of. Thank You!” she prayed silently.

    Driving home in the darkness, Jack turned the radio on softly, and Miss Kennedy smiled to herself.
    –Soon the bells will start, But the thing that will make them ring, is the carol that you sing, right within your heart.
    It was true, her heart was singing carols tonight. Carols of joy, love, peace, and thanksgiving. They sang of the first Christmas long ago and every Christmas since, and the bells in her heart rang with the promise of a wonderful Christmas tomorrow.

I hope you enjoyed this story!
Have a blessed and wonderful Christmas tomorrow. 
If you need something to make the day go by faster, click the image to find other blogs who are posting today.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2018

A Carol in Her Heart - Part 2

Good morning and Merry Christmas, FFFs,
Are you ready for Christmas? I'm not. I have a lot of presents to wrap for my mom, me, and my sister. Things have slowed down though, which has been nice. I don't feel so rushed and stressed. This past weekend was CRAZY!
Saturday– My sis and I decorated the gym at church for the fellowship meal Sunday night. Then we had play practice with our small bell group who were part of the play. That evening I went to an assisted living home to play and sing with some others from church, then we went caroling to the houses in the back. (They LOVED it!)
Sunday– Had to be at church early to practice a ladies ensemble that my sister and I were singing in. Then Sunday school, church, and large bell practice with the kids. Late afternoon we were back at church for another practice of violins and flutes (I play violin), then getting ready for the Christmas program and play. Both went well. Followed by a fellowship meal where I got to hold and cuddle an adorable 5 1/2 month old baby.
Monday– was spent getting everything ready for caroling. I had directions to type up, songs to pick out and print, plus I really had no idea who was coming. We ended up with around 33 people, so that was good. We split into two groups so we could make it to every house before it was too late. After we finished singing, we went back to the church for chili, cookies, and hot drinks and visiting.
Tuesday– I got to stay at home! And I got to read some.
Wednesday– Trying to get some other things done, then I worked nursery that night at church.
Thursday– I spent quite a bit of time helping my dad finish some gifts for the kids. Then the kids all came over for the evening so their parents could go out. (Don't know if they just went out, or if they went shopping. ;) )
Today we'll clean the house and I hope I can read.
Tomorrow we do Christmas with my brother and his family. The kids are excited. :)

But anyway, that's that. How has your week been? I hope you enjoy this story. It's the one that got put in all our Christmas cards this year.

Here is part 2 of

A Carol in Her Heart

    Miss Kennedy went about the rest of the day somewhat in a daze as she relived the years when Jack was young. His parents had both worked a lot. At first she had babysat the toddler for half days. Then they grew longer. She often spent days at his house while his parents were gone on business trips. Then, when this house had been put up for sale, her dad had suggested she buy it as an investment. But it wasn’t long before she had moved into the old farmhouse. From then on, Jackie had gotten off the schoolbus before her house most days, and she had mothered the young boy with all the love and affection she had.
    When the Osborn family had moved away the year Jack was ten, it had taken Miss Kennedy a long time to get over the loss of ‘her boy’ as she used to call him. Her mother suggested she find another babysitting job, but Miss Molly didn’t think she could handle another one.
    “It’s too hard on my heart,” she told herself. “Perhaps this is a little how mothers feel when their children leave the nest and fly away. But Jackie wasn’t grown yet.”


    All the next day Miss Kennedy baked cookies and breads and wondered if Jackson–Jackie–Jack, would come by. “I know he’ll come sometime,” she murmured, sliding a pan of gingerbread men into the oven and shutting the door. “Unless I imagined him. I wonder what his wife’s like. He wouldn’t look so happy if she wasn’t sweet and wonderful–unless he needs someone to help them–” Quickly she shook her head. No, any wife of Jackie Osborn just had to be perfect. And the children! She wished she had asked their ages.
    Absently she rolled out another lump of gingerbread dough and, picking up the special cookie cutters, cut out first a front part of house, then the sides. She was cutting the roof when she realized what she was doing. “I haven’t made a gingerbread house since that last Christmas I took care of Jackie. How much fun we had making that house together.”
    She looked down at the pieces waiting to be baked. Should she? With a decided nod, she resumed her cutting. There were probably some candy she could use to decorate it later.
    While the pieces of the house were baking, Miss Kennedy began to have second thoughts. What would she do with a gingerbread house? The vague wish that Jack Osborn would come visit and that his children would decorate the house floated through her mind, but she dismissed it. Jack wouldn’t have children old enough to fully enjoy making a gingerbread house. She would just eat the pieces when they were baked.
    But she didn’t.
    Instead she set them aside to cool and went upstairs into the back bedroom. There were no beds in the room, no dresser or chair. Only boxes. Going straight to the stack of red tubs, she opened the first box and looked inside. An array of ornaments greeted her. Ornaments of different shapes, colors, sizes, and styles.
    “Don’t want that one,” she muttered, shutting the lid and setting the box aside. On the top of the next box was what she had come after. A wreath. The bow as rather smashed and bedraggled.
    “I can make a new bow,” Miss Kennedy said slowly, fingering the ribbon and imagining the little boy who had so proudly attached that bow to the wreath. It had been crooked, but Miss Kennedy never had the heart to fix it. Especially after the Osborn family moved away.
    After digging around in the box a little, she found a spool of red ribbon. As she pulled it out, her eyes caught a glimpse of something else. “I could put the candles in the windows this year. They do make a home look festive.”
    With her arms full of wreath, ribbon, and candles, Miss Kennedy went back downstairs. By evening the front door held a wreath with a new red bow, and from each window a candle gleamed. Plugging in the lights intwined with the garland on the mantle, Miss Kennedy sat down in her favorite chair and looked about. This was the most decorating she had done for years. And it felt good.


    Morning was nearly gone, and Miss Kennedy had just told herself that Jack was busy and not to expect him until Christmas Eve or after Christmas, when a knock at the front door made her start. Quickly drying her hands, but not bothering to take off her apron, she hurried from the kitchen. It could be the Smiths picking up their order of cookies. The Johns wouldn’t be coming until later.
    Her heart beat just a little faster as she reached the front door. The wreath blocked her view from the small window. Quickly she opened the door.
    “Merry early Christmas, Aunt Molly!”
    It was Jackie. And his family.
    “Aunt Molly, this is my wife, Jennie. Jen, meet the dear woman who–well,” his voice grew a bit husky, “meet Aunt Molly.”
    A young woman with hair the color of cinnamon enveloped Miss Kennedy in a warm hug. “I’m so glad I get to finally meet you, Aunt Molly! May I call you Aunt Molly? Jack has called you that for so long, that I don’t think I could call you anything else.” A bubbling laugh broke forth as the woman stepped back.
    “Of course you may! All my nieces and nephews–the two I have–are in another state, so I don’t get to be Aunt Molly as much as I’d like.” She looked at the young woman and instantly approved.
    “And these,” Jack said, pushing two young children forward, “are our kids.” Placing a hand first on one brown head and then the next, he introduced them. “Molly and Christina. They look like twins, but Molly is four and Chris is just three. And this,” he shifted a bundled up little marshmallow to his other arm, “is little Kenny.”
    Miss Kennedy felt the tears rise in her eyes as she looked at Jack’s adorable little family. It was going to be wonderful to have little ones around again, not to mention– A timer’s incessant beeping, roused her from her thoughts. “Come in, come in! Don’t just stand out in the cold. I have to get the cookies out of the oven, but make yourselves at home. Take off your coats and stay awhile.”
    Turning quickly she hurried into the kitchen, thankful for a moment to compose herself. “Thank you, Father,” she whispered. “Thank you for answering my prayers and keeping my Jackie true.”
    “Aunt Molly.”
    Jack’s voice in the doorway made her look up from the snickerdoodles she was scooping onto the cooling rack. “Yes?”
    “Where do you want your tree?”
    She nearly dropped the hot pan. “My what?”
    “Your tree. We went out yesterday and picked a tree out for you. That’s why we didn’t make it over then. It was too late. But we saw your candles in the windows. Now, the tree?”
    “I don’t know. Wherever you want to put it, Jackie.”
    Jack disappeared with a laugh.

Come back on Monday for the final part of this story.
 Head over to the other blogs by clicking the image to find out who is posting.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

A Tour of Garlandsburg - Part 2

Our tour continues . . .

    Oh, watch out for the puppy! I am so sorry, folks! Cinnamon! Don’t you know you’re not supposed to jump on tourists? They might not come back. Here, I’ll take her inside. Mr. Hansan probably doesn’t even know she’s out. Come on, Cinnamon, I think you’ve caused enough trouble. Does anyone else want to go into the cobbler shop? If you’re looking for special shoes, he can make them for you. Or sharpen your skates, or waterproof your boots. I don’t know what the village would do without Mr. Hansan.

   Move out of the way, please. These brothers are always taking care of their sister since she was injured. They’ll pull her everywhere. I’m guessing they are headed to the bookstore because Danielle loves to read.

    Is your mouth watering with that savory smell? Surely my stomach isn’t the only one that’s growling. Let’s stop in at the Grind Central Cafe and get a cup of their stew, a slice of hot bread, and something hot to drink. I’m sure they’ll have plenty of food for everyone. I’ve never known them to run out of anything before. Come inside. This is the coldest day so far! And that wind isn’t helping any. Oh, it feels so nice in here!

  That was so delicious! I’m ready to keep going now.

 This is Ron’s Music Shop. He specializes in all things music. You can see some of his special music boxes on display in the window. You want to buy one? Go right ahead. I don’t think Ron is there, but his wife can help you.
    Good afternoon, Holly, Nicholas. Fine day for a sleigh ride. Merry Christmas to you too! That was Reverend Goodman’s brother Nicholas, and Holly. She used to be a Stone, but they got married on Christmas evening right here at our lovely church last year. It was perfectly enchanting!
    There’s Ron and a few friends who have come out to play for the skaters. Just watch those skaters. Drew is really good. Yes, he’s the one closest to the fence with the striped shirt. He won first place in a skating race on a large pond last year. I wouldn’t be surprised if he enters more skating races after December is over.

    Yes, this is the village park. It’s usually crowded with people. Sometimes tourists, or even the locals–especially the children–enjoy meeting friends here.

 Oh, dear. That clock is terribly wrong! I must step inside the Clockwork and let Mr. Getty know. He keeps out town clocks in order, and it looks like that one needs some help. He also mends all the watches, and yes, he does sell new ones. I put a watch on my Christmas list this year since mine was just some cheap thing and not working very well. I hope I can get a watch from here this year.
    Merry Christmas, Dr. Ketchum! Oh, wait, sir! Postman Owen is trying to get your attention. I think he might have something for you.

   Let’s keep moving now. Do watch out for the sledders. This is the favorite place to sled for most of the children. Sure, we have time for you all to take a spin down the hill if you want. I’m sure someone will lend us their sled. Thank you! There go Little Me and Sissy with their dog Ruff to pull them. It doesn’t look like Ruff is eager to pull them down the hill. I wonder if he would rather pull them up it.

    This house is the pride and joy of Garlandsburg! It is the home of Rufus and Betsy Garland. The entire Garland family lives in this fine mansion every December, including the mayor and his family.

    We must walk through the woods just a bit as the coast turns, but it’s not too far. It’ll give us a chance to work up an appetite again.

    Hello Mrs. Stone! It looks like you are returning to the Bakery with packages. Are you preparing for Christmas? Yes, we will most certainly come in! Our mouths are watering for a taste of those delicious cinnamon buns we have been smelling! I hope there are some still warm! Good evening, Peter! Merry Christmas to you too. Peter is Mr. and Mrs. Stone’s son. Let’s go inside now. Hello Mrs. Johnson. Out getting some delightful goodies for supper? Joel is growing up so quickly. Have a good evening!

   Didn’t I tell you those cinnamon buns were worth the few minutes wait to get them hot out of the oven? Yes, the Stone family does a thriving business here in Garlandsburg every year. Well, Merry Christmas, Reverend, Mrs. Goodman! Hello, Clara. You must have gotten a new shoe on Coffee. Yes, this will be my last tour for today. Are you taking gifts to the church for the Christmas Eve service? Oh, yes, I’ll be there! Merry Christmas!

   The snow isn’t as deep up here. I think the wind off the coast has blown it farther inland. 

Oh, look, someone is decorating a tree for Miss Ann at the Needlework and Quilts. Are any of you quilters or sewers? Perhaps you’d like to stop later and look around. There are some masterpieces in that little shop. She also makes rugs, as you can see on the porch railing. Those things last forever! I have one from when I first started giving tours here, and it still looks like it did when I got it.

    Careful on the hill. It’s a little steep in places and the curves are a might narrow. Here we are at the Lodge. Hello, Andrew. And yes, hello to you too, Sugar. Are you going to hitch Sugar up to your sled, Andrew? Oh, that does sound like fun. I wish we had time to join you, but we must keep going before it gets dark. We often take a stop at the lodge during tours, but since we just warmed up at the bakery, we need to keep going.

    We’ve now reached the Brixton Road, named after Hank Brixton. He was a good friend of Sam and Rufus, and, after Sam moved away, he has helped plan the new design for the village a few times. This road will also take you to the next town. It looks like it’s a well traveled road today.

    Darkness is settling around us, but we’ve made it to the other end of town, to the lighthouse. There’s Lucas and Grandpa Uriah Donavan with Torch. They are still watching for Adam’s ship to arrive. I hope it makes it in time for Christmas. Let’s go inside. The keeper is always willing to show visitors his light. He’ll even let you go out on top if you want. And don’t worry, the steps are inside on this lighthouse.

   And here we are, back outside. Darkness has settled around. Brrr, that wind is cold! Look! It’s started to snow! We can wait at the Lodge or the Bakery for the stage to come by and pick us up. Or for those who like walking in the dark through the falling snow, we can ask Mr. Stanhope to be your guide. He loves dressing like a man from Old England and would be more than happy to escort you back to the hotel.
    I hope we’ll see you at church for the Christmas Eve service! And enjoy the rest of your stay in our wonderful little village of Garlandsburg. Merry Christmas!

I hope you enjoyed your tour of Garlandsburg. Do you have a Christmas village that you set up? Would you like to visit a place like Garlandsburg?
 Find out what else is being shared today by clicking on the image.