Paisley's Story

This is the second in the Love is Blooming serial

Widow Paisley Robbins rounded the corner of her front walk, ever on the look out for flowers to divide or trim. The transplanted Nebraskan missed specific seasonal changes, but spring was definitely in the air here in southern California.

The sound of a slamming car door drew her gaze off the slate path. Three houses up, at the curve of the cul-de-sac, Sara Hunter walked backward to her front door, face almost obscured by…a tree made of fruit? They exchanged a wave.

Paisley eyed the delivery van parked in front of the edible fruit truck, and wondered what Sara was celebrating. The driver of the van exited the horseshoe drive. Instead of gaining speed, he swung into Paisley’s drive. Curious. She hadn’t ordered anything.

“Ms. Robbins,” the teenaged driver greeted, “we had a mix-up of orders and one of these is yours.”

“One of what?”

He jumped out and opened the slider. “Take your pick. The names are here on the clipboard, but Gramps and I don’t know who gets what ‘cuz the computer’s messed up.”

She surveyed the choices, beginning with a handwritten restaurant invitation. Her heart hitched at the writing that looked like her deceased father’s. She shook her head.

Delectable chocolates packaged in gold and pink wouldn’t be for her because she had celiac disease.

The dozen red roses vased in emerald glass weren’t for her either. She may have awakened that morning with a heightened sense of spring fever, but her love lay in a cemetery across town.

“How about these?” The delivery boy held up an ornate replica of a Victorian bird cage. Through the resin slats a pair of cuddling, teal love birds cocked their curious heads. Their iridescent feathers reminded her of an Indigo bunting she’d once seen back home.

She knew who the birds were meant for. “I’ll sign for those.”

This was the fourth time deliveries or mail had been mixed up with a man named Robin Paisley. The last time was the previous week when a package of organic bird seed had been left on her porch.

The teenager carried the cage up her steps and set it in the shade. Then he placed the invoice on the top of his clipboard for her to sign. “Thanks, three to go.”

She thanked the youth for the delivery. It was time she met the bird man.

Their first contact was when he’d called. Her number was on the invoice for a delivery of calla lilies, left at his door. She’d picked up her package when he was at work. The next two exchanges were over mail left in each other’s box.

The turquoise love birds were probably fine on the porch. She went inside to get her cell.

For some reason, a flutter of anticipation wiggled through her tummy as she waited for him to answer.

“Mr. Paisley, Paisley Robbins here.”

She smiled when he chuckled, low and long. “It happened again?”

“Right the first time. I think this one calls for a personal retrieval.” That flirtatious tone had come from her mouth?

“Be right over.”

What had she done?

Would Gabe be turning over in his grave?

She sat without moving, mesmerized by the pair of love birds. They nuzzled and clacked, engrossed in one another as they perched.

A car soon swished into her driveway. She took a deep breath and turned at the snick of the door. And almost forgot to exhale.

He wasn’t Hollywood handsome. Separately, features were mismatched, kind of unbalanced. But all together, she approved of the approaching package. When he was close enough, Paisley blinked. Robin’s blue and green eyes matched the feathers of the love birds.

He extended his hand. “We finally meet.”

At the touch of their palms, her hungry heart sighed.

Something beyond attraction was born. Peace. Familiarity. The sense of rightness. And above all, she could almost hear Gabe whisper, “It’s time to let me go.”

He ignored the steps and leaped onto the porch. “Oh, what lovely blues and greens you are.”

“Is that what they’re really called?”

“Generically. The bright green with the target eyes are called Fischers.”

“Why such a fancy cage?”

“It’s all for show. They’ll live in a wire cage in the breezeway behind my house.”

She tipped her head and wondered if she looked too much like his birds. “They seem pretty content here on my front porch. Would you like some lemonade?”

“I would. And I’d like to get to know more about you.”

Paisley had no idea what Robin’s life story was. But she knew deep inside she was beginning a new chapter of hers. A part of her would always miss Gabe, yet she was certain he wouldn’t want her to go through life alone.

She suppressed a giggle at the crazy romantic notion of the name, Paisley Robbins-Paisley. But that sounded a whole lot better than Paisley Paisley.


One fortunate commenter will win a pair of handcrafted stained-glass earrings by Lincoln artist Julee Lowe.

If you want to read the other serial stories, they will be post at different spots. Visit our blogs and websites, listed below and follow the story of the mixed up gifts!

LoRee's Frivolities books are available at

KENZIE'S STORY by Anne Greene

This is the third story in the series Love Is Blooming by five White Rose authors.
Kenzie Kinkaid shifted on the white-cushioned posing couch. The scent of artist’s oils, turpenoid, and drying canvases filled the small studio. Though she tired of holding her back straight and trying to appear relaxed, she never tired of gazing at the artist.

His dark chocolate eyes seemed to look right into her soul and enjoy what they found. And the way his wavy black hair fell over his forehead each time he bent to dip his brush into his palette made her toes tingle. She wanted to jump up and run her fingers through that wavy hair, then smooth it back out of his eyes. The feeling had grown stronger during the five weeks they’d been working together.

“This is the last sitting, Kenzie, and I think your parents will find the portrait worth waiting for.”

The deep timbre of his voice sent delicious shivers to Kenzie’s stomach. She blinked. She hadn’t experienced that delightful tingle once in the two years since her fiancé died in a sky-diving accident just a week before their wedding. “Did they tell you this was to be my bridal portrait, and that I wanted them to cancel?”

“Yes. But I was glad to extend you all the time you needed.” He stepped back and chose a new brush. “You’re a remarkable model. Usually I only ask for one sitting and then complete the portrait from photographs I take, but…you’re so stunning, I wanted to make certain I caught the real person beneath the beauty.”

Heat flooded her face. “You’ve been sniffing turpenoid, Jeffrey Gordon. I’m not beautiful.”

He propped a foot on the nearby stool, leaned an elbow on his knee, and dangled the brush from his fingers. “I got the impression from your parents they wanted me to get to know you.” The cleft in his chin stood out when he smiled.

“Please don’t feel obligated. Mom and Dad have been matchmaking for the past year. I’ve resisted, but they’ve thrown every eligible bachelor they know at me. And they made no secret of the fact that you are single.” Her ears burned. She ducked her head and smoothed the yellow silk dress where it clung to her thighs and then flared to the floor.

“Don’t be too tough on them.” A twinkle lit his eyes. “I named this portrait Daffodils.”

“Because of my dress.”

“Partially. But mostly because you have an inner glow that lights the studio. Would you go out with me?”

This was too much. Though she’d dreamed about him, she wasn’t ready to date. It was just too soon. Her knees trembled when she stood. “Please. You can finish the portrait from the pictures you took of me.”

Jeff dropped his palette on his shirt, leaving splotches of color on the black material. “I’m sorry. Don’t get upset.” He grabbed the palette off the floor. “I thought enough time had passed and you might be ready.” He placed the palette back in his left hand. “But I should have waited.”

Kenzie settled back down on the couch. “I don’t mind your asking.” She managed a smile. “I didn’t accept any of the dates my parents arranged.” Instead, she’d dived headlong into her marine biology work using all her energy and loving what she did. When she was ready to date again, God would let her know. She didn’t need matchmakers. And, of course, her parents had insisted she sit for this particular artist.

“Almost finished,” Jeffrey mumbled around the brush handle in his mouth.

She would miss the concentrated expression that changed his face from being merely attractive to being a man with purpose and drive and vision. She’d loved watching him work. Loved seeing the magic his hands created. Loved talking with him. Up until a few minutes ago they’d had a comfortable, relaxed relationship. And that’s all she wanted.

“All finished. You can view the portrait now.” He stood back, his usually direct gaze guarded.

Did he think she wouldn’t like his work? She shot up, almost afraid to look. Her stilettos tapping on the hardwood floor, she glided over to the easel.


“It takes my breath away. It’s like looking into a mirror. I…I love the way you captured my skin tones.” She fingered the edge of the wet canvas. “Do I really look like that?” Heat flooded her from her scalp to her ears. “I’m sure my parents will be happy with it.”

The following Saturday morning, Kenzie paced in the tiny garden behind her rented house. The sun shone, the air smelled sweet, and a hummingbird flashed around the nectar of a scarlet bougainvillea bush. She should be happy or at least content. But, now that the portrait hung in her parent’s living room over their mantle, she missed her Saturday mornings spent with Jeff. Missed their casual conversations. Missed their spirited discussions about God, and how He worked in a believer’s life.

She probably just missed him because spring had come to Southern California in a burst of sunshine and blooming flowers. And probably because daffodils’ ranged up and down her short walkway. And probably because a Blue Jay darted down to lure her away from its nest full of new born chicks. Well, she’d get over him. Her bare feet slid over the smooth stones between the waving daffodils as she sauntered around the house to the front.

With a screech of brakes, a delivery truck pulled into the horseshoe drive in front of her neighbor, Sara Hunter’s house. Kenzie rested her hands on her hips and watched Sara walk to the truck. The delivery man slid the side open. Because the truck obscured her view, Kenzie couldn’t see what else Sarah did, but her neighbor soon turned back toward her own front door. Then a Delectable Edible Arrangements truck pulled up behind the departing delivery truck. Wow, busy day on Daffodil Lane.

Another squeal of brakes distracted Kenzie from Sarah’s drive to her other neighbor, Paisley Robbins. Kenzie only had a nod and hello acquaintance with the two older ladies, but she liked them both. Paisley came outside and talked with the delivery driver. Kenzie glimpsed an antique cage with some tiny birds fluttering inside, and was about to walk across the street to talk with Paisley, when the delivery truck gunned out of her drive…and right up Kenzie’s.

Kenzie sucked in a breath. What? She hadn’t ordered anything online. Maybe the truck was simply turning around in her drive.

But the truck pulled up, stopped, and a teenager with spiked hair jumped down. “Kenzie Kinkaid?” The boy carried a clipboard.


He grinned. “Um, Miss. You got a delivery.”

“Are you sure? I’m not expecting anything.”

“Yep. Only problem is—um, we got a glitch in our computer. So, Gramps sent me out with these names on this clipboard, and I got packages. But I don’t know which deliveries go to which names.”

Kenzie chuckled. “Really?”

Untied sneakers flopping on the drive, he hurried to the side of the white van and Kenzie followed. “Can you look at these orders and pick out which one is yours?” He opened the slider.

“Well, yes, but I can’t imagine…” Kenzie let her words fade as the boy took out a huge box of chocolates in a gold package with a fancy pink ribbon. The thought that a man sent candy made her heart race. She remembered the expectation such gifts brought. And the love they expressed. “Is there no card?”

“No card, Miss. Do you think this is for you?”

She shook her head. “No. I wish they were, but I don’t think so.”

“These must be for you then.” He pointed to an emerald vase filled with a dozen long-stemmed red roses.

She bent inside the van, stuck her nose close to a velvet bloom, and inhaled the rich rose scent. How many bouquets had she received and taken for granted? How much caring went into such a gift? She touched the cool, glass vase. Why had she turned her back on love? She’d been too cautious to risk her heart again. And with that fear she’d lost the joy and excitement and deep satisfaction of caring about someone else more than about herself. She breathed in the sweet, rose fragrance again.

How strange these gifts getting their addresses tangled. Was God sending her a message? Was He telling her not to turn her back on love? She’d been too afraid to risk her heart these past two years. The pain had cut too deep. And, last week she’d totally discouraged the one man who’d caught her interest.

“I’ve got this one more,” the teenaged voice cracked. His expression looked so sympathetic Kenzie knew he must have sensed her regret. He handed her a vellum envelope.

The envelope felt smooth and rich in her hand. Spring-like yellow paper showed through the translucent material. She had to peek inside. “This looks as if it’s been opened.”

“Yes, Miss. Ms. Hunter and Ms. Robbins opened the letter to see if it was for them. But it wasn’t, and I only have two other addresses. And the two other packages. Do you think this one’s for you?”

She slipped the textured paper out of the envelope. Her heart fluttered. Beautiful inked calligraphy invited the reader to a dinner that evening at the Café Parisian. She knew that Café. It nestled just around the corner from Jeff’s studio. She’d thought some evening she might stop by and have dinner in the romantic spot. Tears pricked her eyelids. This couldn’t be for her either. The restaurant was for lovers. She was about to fold the note and return it to its envelope when she glimpsed a sort of signature in the corner—an artist’s palette.

“There’s daffodils embossed on the front of the envelope, Miss.”

Such a sweet invitation. But why hadn’t Jeff signed it? Could it be
that he feared being rejected again? That his artist’s heart wanted her to
catch the gentle suggestion behind his invitation? The puzzle intrigued
her. But not nearly as much as the man.

Kenzie couldn’t stop smiling. “Yes, thank you. This gift is mine.”

With a hitch of his drooping pants, a slapping of sneakers, and a squeal of burning rubber, the delivery truck drove away.

Kenzie clasped her hands and gazed at the glorious azure sky. “Thank You, Lord for these three messages. I hear what You are saying. My parents aren’t the only matchmakers.”

God had sent His own special message. She would no longer turn her back on the promise of love.

One fortunate commentator will receive an autographed copy of Anne's Scottish historical, Masquerade Marriage.

Look for Anne's Scottish historical, Masquerade Marriage at

Anne Greene

Monday Make-A-Story ™ This week's writing prompt

Writing to spec – you’ve heard the term.  It means writing what the publisher wants.  Can you do it?  In our Monday writing prompt feature - Make-A-Story ™, we ask you to create a story with these elements.  The story can be set in any time period, any length, must adhere to our guidelines and have our standard Christian world view.
Submit your story to us at any time using our regular submission guidelines, but be sure to note which Make-A-Story ™ prompt (note the date and the prompts) inspired your story.    

Today's prompt:
A hat
A child
A lightning storm

Holy Week: Easter Sunday

"Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said." (Matthew 28: 5-6)

He is risen! Alleluia! A Joy beyond all understanding is upon us. Christ lives!

Easter is the beginning of our new life with Christ. Let's renew our commitment to live a holy life. Let's create time for additional prayer where we can commune our Risen Lord. Let's ask the Risen Christ for courage and strength we need to become faithful witnesses to the World.

Holy Week: Holy Saturday

"We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life." (Romans 6: 4)

Today, the darkness of the tomb begins to be replaced with a growing joy and anticipation. Christ will soon rise to defeat death and to throw open the gates of Heaven.

Let's reflect for a few moments on the ways in which Christ has brought us out of our own personal dark moments and carried our weaknesses and fears, our troubles and doubts, into the light of a new day. Let's rejoice and give thanks to God for our wondrous salvation.

Healing, Responsibility...and Redemption

How often have we come upon situations where all we want to do is scream: If God wanted to heal me, He would! If God wanted a painful relationship saved, He’d do it! If God loved me, if I’m His precious child, He would want me healthy, and whole—in body, spirit and emotion. So, why is there pain? Why is there suffering?

Does a seeming “lack” of healing—in our health, our relationships, our jobs, our finances—mean God doesn’t love us? Is He, perhaps, angry with us? Punishing us?

While I believe we bear the weight of the choices we make in life—for good and for bad—I can’t think of God as a scorekeeper. I don’t hold to the image of Him seated on an unapproachable throne in the heavenly realm, scepter in hand, watching intently, waiting for sin and evil to mess us up so he can add another “sinned again” checkmark to that space next to our names, or shake his head in righteous regret.

Instead, during those moments when I most need His forgiveness and healing, I like to think of Him as a compassionate and forgiving friend. I like to think of Him like the best parent you could ever pray for. He knows me, and most important of all, He loves me—no matter what my “illness”—be it physical or emotional. His healing comes in the fact that when I turn to His absolute goodness, when I open myself to His Word and pray to him in words or in silence, his presence is real, and life-changing.

‘He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.’ (Psalms 107:20)

‘O Lord, my God, I cried out to You, and You healed me.’ (Psalms 30:2)

Do these verses mean He works a magical touch and heals all afflictions? That He keeps bad things from happening? He can, and He will, if that ‘magical’ touch is part of His overall plan. However, life is imperfect, and so are we. He holds the plan, not us (thankfully!). To me, these passages reflect the truth that He gave us the Bible as a living, breathing means by which He wants to care for us, and instruct us in ways to best handle our life circumstances.

God’s grace and love gives me strength by which I learn to work through those healings I crave.

That brings me to part 2 of this post: Responsibility.

I’ve learned that I need to take responsibility for healings needed in my life. Is my health in question? Don’t be afraid to get to a doctor and get their input and help! Is a relationship in need of healing and forgiveness? Take the initiative (hard as that may be!) and step up to the plate. Offer the opening needed, and let God do the rest.

‘Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” The man stretched out his hand, and it was restored’ (Matthew 12:13)

When I read this verse, I realize Jesus is ready to heal the man—He stands waiting and able. But He asks the man to move first. Jesus never enters where He’s not asked, or wanted. BUT—when we reach out to him in trust and faith, He will answer the call. Maybe not in the exact ways we expect, but His grace has always led me to a place where I look back on events in my life—good and bad—and think to myself, ‘He always leads me to what’s GOOD.’

In the end, I look at the fact that Christ’s journey was seldom easy. He cried out to His Father for healing, and comfort, and He received it. How? By being the example, and bridge, we all need to follow in living our daily lives, because with nothing but love to hold him there, he died upon a cross, and brought about the ultimate healing of us all in one powerful beautiful word: REDEMPTION! Happy Easter, everyone!


PS – It’s springtime, and love is blooming! A group of White Rose authors has teamed up to give you a free gift, a series of short romances centered around a delivery snafu! Intrigued? Then please pay a visit, in order, to the following websites on April 27th:

Part 1 - Tanya Stowe:

Part 2 - LoRee Peery:

Part 3 - Anne Greene:

Part 3 - Mary Manners:

Part 5 - Marianne Evans:

Enjoy the fun—and romance!

Holy Week: Good Friday

"But He was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the Lord laid upon Him the guilt of us all." (Isaiah 53:5-6)

3:00 PM. The blackest hour. Jesus has died. Innocent of all crime, He willingly went to the cross for one reason and one reason only--so that you might live. You. It's personal. If the only sin on earth was the white lie you told last week, He would have been born and suffered and died, so that you would not have to pay the wage for that sin: death.

Yes, this is a black day. We have crucified Christ with our sins. Let's try to keep an awareness of Our Lord's suffering in our hearts throughout the day, and at three o'clock, let's pause for a moment or two of silent meditation as a remembrance of Jesus breathing his last.

Healing Hands by Mary Manners

            My healing began many years ago, when I got married and wanted so badly to become a mother. After seven years of marriage, and countless visits with a fertility specialist, I finally conceived. At twenty weeks into my pregnancy, I went for a routine ultrasound. I still remember having a somewhat heated discussion with my husband concerning whether or not to have the sex of the baby revealed during the test. The utter frivolity of that discussion would soon be revealed.

            A few minutes into the test, the technician called for a nurse, who took one look at the monitor and then called for a doctor, who called in a colleague. As it turned out, my beautiful baby girl had a form of dysplasia, which causes stunted bone growth and a lack of lung development. I was taken to the delivery room and she was stillborn twelve hours later. Oh, I was devastated beyond imagination!

            The doctor counseled me to wait several months before trying to conceive again. During this time I questioned God. Why would He put me through this…someone who so badly wanted to be a mother? I struggled to be happy for my friends, who seemed to birth babies at every turn, without any problems at all. I felt defeated and yearned to hold the baby I’d lost. I also carried a good deal of guilt, and wondered if there was anything I had done to contribute to the deformities and stillbirth. The days were long, the nights longer, and doubts plagued me. I called out to God and waited for an answer. One verse I leaned on during this time was ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. But in all your ways acknowledge Him and he shall direct you path.’

            Nearly a year later, I became pregnant again, and I turned to God to vanquish the fears that almost consumed me. Would I have the same problem again? Would I lose another beautiful child? The same doctor who had helped me conceive and had counseled me through the loss, stayed with me every step of the way. I truly believe he was an angel sent from God. He delivered a healthy baby girl…my precious Danni.

            Nearly nineteen years have passed since my heartbreaking loss, and my faith has grown stronger with each step and breath I’ve taken over the years. I have learned that although I may not understand, God always has a plan. And on the days Danni and I (who just turned seventeen) fail to see eye to eye on things, I remember the blessed journey I traveled to have her, and continue to count my blessings and thank my wonderful Redeemer for His patience and unfailing grace and healing along the way.

Holy Week: Holy Thursday

"While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:26-28) 

On this night, Jesus celebrated the Passover seder with His disciples. An important day for all Christians--the day Christ tells us of the new and everlasting covenant. For Catholics, this holds an additional significance: The institution of the Eucharist, the "source and summit" of the faith, which is Christ's Body and Blood.

Let's reflect today on the blood of the new covenant. By His stripes we are healed. By His blood we are redeemed. By His resurrection, we are saved from death. As we walk into tomb with Him, we have a reason to celebrate!

Catholics, let's also ask for the graces we need to truly believe in Christ's presence in the Eucharist and to approach the altar with reverence and awe.

Loves Healing Power By Anne Greene

In my Scottish historical, Masquerade Marriage, nothing was as it appeared. Yet, Lady Megan found love’s healing freedom when she discovered that against all appearances, her father did love her. Brody discovered God’s healing love freely given in the tragedy following the Battle of Culloden. None of this healing love would have been possible without the author of love, God Himself, freely giving that love to His children. Because, wonder of wonders, God IS love.
I can only write of God’s healing freedom because I’ve experienced His healing love that gives me freedom in my own life.

Since I became a Christian at age twenty-one, I’ve been healed many times. Because I had a very difficult childhood, I experienced great healing when I became a Christian. The Lord really made me a new creation in Christ Jesus as He promised. He began the emotional healing that made me the happy, content person I am today.
When my first husband died early in our marriage leaving me with very little money and two young children to raise, I learned first-hand that the Lord does take care of His children. When the first love of my life died, I felt physically torn in half. At times I looked down to see if there was blood. But God was with me in a very special way. He became my constant companion. And slowly He took the torn halves of my heart and life and knit them back together. At that time He gave me the verse, Deuteronomy 31:6 – The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you: He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. And He absolutely kept that promise. And, at the right time He brought a new love, a new husband into my life. Through that experience I know, without a single doubt, that I have the freedom to trust God. God is Love. God Heals. God gives freedom. Not just to me. He gives love’s healing power to all His children.

I don’t have a lifetime verse from God’s Word, because during different seasons and different trials in my life, God’s given me different verses. So many verses are precious and meaningful to me. I am finding these days that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me from Philippians 4:13 to be a verse I cling to as God so often takes me out of my comfort zone and puts me in new situations.
God’s healing love gives freedom. Otherwise I couldn’t write the happy-ever-after ending to my books.

Can you think of a specific time of healing in your life, mind, body, or spirit. I’d love to hear about it. And one fortunate commentator will win a free copy of my book, Masquerade Marriage.

Readers can find my book at and fans can get to know me better by visiting my website at

On Wednesday, April 27th five of us White Rose authors will post our short story. Five delivery gifts arrive at five addresses. But there’s been a computer glitch. There are addresses but no names and each of the five ladies must choose which gift belongs to her—a bouquet of roses, two teal-colored love birds, a box of chocolates, an engraved invitation, and a fresh fruit tree. Discover the story behind each gift.

Holy Week: Wednesday

The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, That I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.  Morning after morning  he opens my ear that I may hear;  And I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield  from buffets and spitting. The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame." (Isaiah 50:4-7)

Let's reflect on Isaiah's words which foretell Our Lord's suffering. We've all said or done things that have caused others to suffer. Let's call to mind those times and ask forgiveness for times we have caused others to suffer.

Holy Week: Tuesday

"I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth." (Isaiah 49:6)

We are called to be a light to the world. To be a witness for Jesus in our thoughts, words, and deeds. But how easy it is to put on Christianity for a few hours on Sunday, and then set it down on Tuesdays--especially if we are put into an uncomfortable situation. But how faithful is that, to be a Christian only when it is convenient or there is no risk involved?

Let's take a few moments to reflect on how easy it is sometimes to fall from grace. Judas was a faithful apostle, but then betrayed Jesus in the worst way. Peter was a faithful Apostle, but then denied Jesus three times before he realized his mistake and repented. Let's examine our own lives to identify weaknesses or temptations that may cause us to betray Our Lord if we are not careful.

Love's Healing Power

I love the month of April, and the rains that bring flowers in May. I celebrate my birthday, my born-again anniversary, my first book contract, and release of my first book available in print, which arrived on my birthday. God is so good, he renews my soul.

April is also the anniversary of the unsolved homicide of my father. Talk about the healing power of God’s love. Such trauma can change a life forever, if that life isn’t turned over to receive God’s grace, and pass that grace on to others. I’ve been disturbed many times over the years, wondering how a killer could be walking around free. I’ve had to accept God’s answer to this prayer for resolution as “no.”

I would say in the case of my father, God has healed my mind. The unsolved answers could have eaten me up. Instead, I realize that God is God and I am not.

For reasons only God knows, I walked around in constant physical pain for several years. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The leaden, heavy leg and back pain were corrected with fusion. I have learned to live with limitations, and am so very grateful for what I am able to do. At the time of this writing I am not pain free, but most days He enables me to handle the aches.

And because of God’s sovereignty, He chose me to spend eternity with Him. I call that healing of my spirit, which He has healed many times over the years, because I am weak and sin every day.

So when it comes to God’s healing power, I’ve been there, and I hope to bring that awareness to the characters I create. Inner conflict is painful, especially when it comes to spiritual things. In the case of Geneva Carson in Rainn on My Parade, she’s torn between following her dream to make her business a success and her instinct to come to the aide of a special needs child. Toss in the reality of falling for a younger man in a small town where she has lived her whole life.

Rainn Harris has spiritual issues as well. I don’t want to give them away, but he faces guilt, ill feelings toward his father, and taking up Geneva’s time when he knows where her priorities lay.

No relationship is flawless and follows a smooth path. The road is bumpy with hills to climb and ruts to avoid. We are emotional creatures. Our characters need to be as well. So there is a lot of healing that needs to be done during misunderstandings, careless words, thoughts taking over words and actions.

I claim Isaiah 12:2 as my lifetime verse: “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid: For the Lord God is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.” My goal is for that theme of renewal, that healing of the spirit, to be experienced through my stories.

Love heals. We can see the fruits in our lives. And we can write that happily-ever-after into our romances. Can you think of a specific time of healing in your life? Be it mind, body, or spirit, I’d like to hear about it.

Do you believe in miracles

We are all familiar with the idiom extending an olive branch. But what does it mean? This term has Biblical origin dating back to the Old Testament and is an offering of peace. In ancient Greek and Roman times, the olive branch was offered literally. In Rome, defeated armies carried an olive branch to indicate surrender.

In today’s modern society, the olive branch is used metaphorically rather than literally to convey the message of peace. Peace negotiations are used to settle differences between nations and in our personal lives.

LASTING LOVE is one of my earlier publications, an Easter story about death and resurrection. It is also a story about peace and forgiveness. There’s a lot of heartache and conflict packed into this short ebook. But the message it delivers is huge. Before Abbey Jordan can find happiness with Brady Jones, her fallen angel, she must find it in her heart to forgive him and offer an olive branch.

When Vermont florist Abbey Jordan’s nursery manager quits a few days before Easter, she is left up the proverbial creek without a paddle. But when she places it in God’s hands, she finds Lasting Love in a garden of roses.

Brady Jones has a daughter to raise, is out of work, and knows more about cultivating roses than anyone in rural Vermont. And when Abbey hires him as the horticultural manager of her floral shop, it seems like the answer to her prayers. But just on the brink of a budding romance, a fire destroys the nursery and buries all hope of love.

And when all fingers point to Brady for starting the fire, he falls from grace and off the pedestal Abbey has placed him on.

With its old fashioned classic appeal, the Lasting love rose is beautiful and timeless. It’s dark red with vibrant green leaves and big beautiful blossoms. It shimmers with a striking boldness and is a hearty climber. Bearing this in mind, I used a Lasting Love branch as the peace offering between Abbey and Brady.

Without giving the story away, a miracle occurs in Abbey’s life through Divine Intervention. Using a Lasting Love branch, Abbey extends it to Brady in the hope of reconciling their irreconcilable differences.

Upon checking the status of Lasting Love today on Amazon, I was rather shocked to find several customer reviews that were not there the last time I checked. More shocking, some were downright insulting, the worst of them advising it should have been a freebie! On the flip side of the coin, some were equally flattering.

What do I think about this? As with all things in life, you can’t please everyone. I just know that even after two years and two publishing houses, people are still buying Lasting Love. It was initially contracted by The Wild Rose Press for their White Rose line, the inspirational line. Not long after its release, the inspirational line branched into its own publishing house White Rose Publishing.

Even though the miracle in Lasting Love is purely fictional, the miracle evolving around the Lasting Love in my life is very real. The rose intrigued me so that I bought one of these shimmering jewels for my garden. I planted it with great expectation, confident it would sprout up to its promised Jack in the Beanstalk height, showering me with dozens of fragrant crimson blossoms that would make my neighbors pea green with envy.

To my dismay and great disappointment, my Lasting Love rosebush was a dud, a joke, a real lemon. In spite of the numerous accolades by customers who raved about their Lasting Love rose climbing the stairway to heaven, mine neither blossomed or bloomed or grew an inch.

I continued to nurture my little midget through autumn, losing hope when winter set in. We had a particularly frigid winter with lots of snow which buried my little pet. After a particular heavy snowstorm, the awning caved in and collapsed on my precious rose.

With the dawning of spring, much like the Lasting Love rose in my book, my rose resurrected with a vengeance. But even though the foliage was green and glossy, it remained a bud less three inch plant all summer long.

In late August, I suffered a massive heart attack and was not expected to live. Doctors saved my life through open heart surgery by implanting a heart pump in my chest. My own heart had failed perilously and permanently. When I came out of my four day coma, my cardiologists informed me that I was alive due to a miracle through Divine Intervention.

When I returned home three weeks later, it was a sunny fall day. My Lasting Love rose bush was as small as ever. But popping its head out of the glossy green foliage was one beautifully fragrant red rose.

I’ve just read Lasting Love again and got chills. Miracles happen every day. Do the insulting Amazon customer reviews bother me? Not in the least. Obviously, they never experienced the miracle of life.

Read customer reviews here


Purchase Lasting Love

Watch trailer by Hywela Lyn


The Lord's Healing Peace

This week, Anne Greene, LoReey Peery, Mary Manners, Marianne Evans and I continue our Caravan Blog Tour with blogs on how the Lord has healed our lives.

He heals us in many ways, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In my story, Tender Touch, my heroine has the gift of physical healing. The idea for Lacy and Royce’s story evolved over time from some personal experiences as a young Christian. But for me, the most important healing I’ve received from the Lord is spiritual.

My parents came from different religious backgrounds. As a result, I bounced from church to church, never really belonging or staying too long. We attended a church during my teen years with a very vital youth program. I desperately wanted to belong, to be a part of that group. I remember lying awake at night, saying, “Lord, if you’re out there, take me, zap me, change me! Do whatever you need to do so I can walk forward and be saved.”

I said that nightly for months but the conviction to go forward never came. After a difficult confrontation with the pastor of the church, I very boldly announced to my parents that I would never go back.

My parents began the search for another church but in my heart, I gave up. Since God had not answered my pleas to zap me, I decided He did not exist. And if He did and those were His people, I wanted no part of Him.

For ten years, I was an atheist. During that time, I met and married my husband and we had two children. As a young mother with my future ahead of me, I found myself depressed and suicidal. At times, I was so fearful of eternity without my loved ones, that I would run through the house, grab my babies and cling to them until I could get back into control.

I finally decided that there was no hope for me. I knew God didn’t exist but that was not a fate I was going to allow my children to have. I was going to take them to a church and raise them as Christians even if it meant a life of hypocrisy and lies for me. I was willing to do anything to prevent them from living in fear as I did.

We found a church and began to attend. I took classes, read and asked questions. The Lord didn’t zap me. He did something better. Moment by moment, day by day, he filled me with His presence and at long last, I felt peace.

After a lifetime of walking in faith, I still feel His greatest healing gift to me is that peace.
May the Lord fill you with healing presence this Easter. God Bless.
Check back later this afternoon for LoRee Peery's moving story!
Tanya Stowe
Tender Touch

Holy Week: Monday

"Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord." (Psalm 27:14)

Monday of Holy Week is a day that can be almost lost in the daily grind of everyday life. We're looking towards Easter, but see no special significance in this day. We're waiting for the week to pass, waiting on Resurrection Day to arrive. Many of us don't like waiting. It makes us antsy. But great things can come out of waiting.

Mary and Martha had to wait for Jesus. Lazarus died while they were waiting. Yet, Jesus didn't forsake them. He had a miracle in store, and he raised Lazarus from the tomb. What a great resurrection day that was! Do you think witnesses to that miracle had their faith strengthened?

Today, let's ask Jesus to raise us above any obstacles that prevent us from drawing nearer to Him. Let's take a few moments to reflect on the blessings God has placed in our midst--those both large and small.

Holy Week: Palm Sunday

It's Palm Sunday (Passion Sunday). Today begins the holiest week in the year. This is the week of our redemption. The week Jesus made salvation open to all. On this blog this week, we're going to put aside writing related issues, and each day, we'll post a short meditation. As we work our way towards Easter, lets take a few moments each day to remember why we call ourselves Christians.

I pray you all have a faith-filled and holy week that brings you closer to Christ.

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Luke 19:38)

Today marks the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem to joyful cheers of," Hosannah." So many people loved him. So many had witnessed his miracles of healing and hope. The believed Jesus was the key to a better life--and they were right!

Let's take some time to focus on those things that will help us to strengthen the faith we have in Jesus' promises. Let's ask ourselves: Have we made improvements in our prayer life? Have we offered sacrifices to God? Have we given alms or service to those in need? Do we truly believe He is the Messiah enough to put ourselves and our understanding aside and fully rely in Him?

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Title Spotlight: Masquerade Marriage by Anne Greene

April 16, 1746 - Drumossie Moor, Scotland—the Culloden

Brody MacCaulay woke to a pounding head and gut-wrenching
thirst. What happened? The wind and sleet had blown through. Smoke from blazing
canons no longer choked him. He no longer heard the deafening din of battle.
Silence hung around him, slit at times by weak cries of wounded men.

Cold weight pinned him upon icy ground. He could scarce draw
a breath. Fingers dangled in his face. He felt the hand. Cold and stiff. He
jerked back his own. Slowly he realized three clansmen crushed him against the
frozen earth.

Even as his heart flamed hot hating everything English, the
sound of approaching voices alerted him to lie still. He dug numb fingers into
blood-dyed ground to keep from springing up and using his dirk.

Duncan, Collin, and Da were dead. He’d seen them fall. Sharp
pain bit into his chest. He gritted his teeth. And Angus? Brody’s stomach heaved.
Only a protecting angel could have spared Angus. Darkness, black as the smoke
of gun powder, descended deep inside Brody’s mind. For certain his favorite
brother lay dead, too.

Brody wedged his anguish deep inside his heart, slammed the
door, and disciplined his thoughts into calculated coolness. He was a warrior.

The voices drew closer. Clipped. Not softly burred.

A sliver of moon lit ice upon the ground, casting enough
light to see heaps of bodies, twisted limbs. The voices grew close. Two scarlet-clad
English soldiers stalked among the kilted bodies.

A wounded Highlander looked up at them and begged. “Water.”

With cold-blooded deliberateness, one of the soldiers ran
him through with his bayonet, strangling the Highlander’s weak voice into silence.

Brody slammed his eyes shut, hardly dared suck in a breath,
and counted his heartbeats. English voices spoke so close that hair on the nape
of his neck spiked. As the awful sound of a bayonet slashed into a nearby body,
he fought back bile rising into his throat. “I say, I do believe we’ve
dispatched all the wounded Scots.”

“Right. Nasty job.”

The first soldier snorted. “Sure to be an awful stink.
Letting all these bodies rot.”

“Good riddance, say I.”

Boots clumped off. The voices faded.

“’Tis almost light.” Brody’s own whisper, though hoarse as a
rusty hinge, infused him with courage. Somehow he lived. He must fight his way
to Ma and Fiona. Protect them before the English hunted them down. A piper’s
family proved precious booty for scavenger soldiers. With Da and his brothers
dead, his duty lay in protecting Ma and Fiona.

He’d do whatever it took.

He struggled free of the weight sprawled atop him. The dirk
lay half-frozen to the ground beneath his cheek. He gripped the handle of the sgian-dhu,
worked it free, and jammed it into the sheath on his right leg. Panting, numb
hands planted on frozen earth, he pushed to his knees. The scent of bog-myrtle
and blood clogged his nostrils. He gazed over the silent battlefield.

What he saw would haunt him forever.

Thousands of men lay still in the blue moonlight. The
strength and youth of Scotland’s Highlands sprawled in heaps across the great
expanse of the battlefield. Pale twisted limbs gleamed in the cold light.
Bloody clan banners lay beneath bodies already stiff.

A stab of guilt pierced Brody’s rage. Why had God spared
him? If his brothers hadna sent him to the rear, there would not be a male
MacCaulay left alive. Mayhap that was why he found breathing so unnatural. He
shook his head. Dizziness. His pulse pounded, increasing the thundering pain.
Touching his bloody left temple, he closed his right eye. The carnage before
him went black.

He whispered, “Canna see with my left eye. Appears my head’s
no’ as hard as Angus insisted.”


Brody shoved aside the heart-stopping thought of his
brother. For Ma’s sake, for Fiona’s sake, he must escape before English
sentinels spotted him. Hunched double, hiding among the bodies, he retrieved
his targe and pipes and strapped them atop the claymore on his back. Despite
the cold wind, sweat beaded his forehead. Belly pushed into frozen dirt, he
crawled south toward the line of trees growing by the river Nairn. He’d head
for high country. Find a place to hide.

Barely able to see his own hands ploughing the earth, he crawled
between bodies of family, friends, acquaintances drawn close in the heat of
battle. Bodies, clad in blood-drenched tartan stared wide-eyed at the waning

Hurry! Daylight threatened. If the English found him,
he’d be murdered.

“I willna give them that satisfaction.”


Don't you just love that 4 letter word. :) WRP is having a sale on many books. Here's just one that you'll find @

DANIELLA ~This book normally retails for $3.50, but it is currently on sale for $2.63! Not only that, but WRP is also running another special -- save 25% off of your purchase Smuggler of the Heart. Purchase link:

BLURB: When Harrison Beckman meets his father’s secretary, Daniella Duncan, she’s shy and self-conscious. Harrison, however, is determined to get to know her better. Before he gets to do that a rival comes along to steal Dani’s heart as quickly and thoroughly as the company’s contracts, which have been disappearing.

As the mystery unfolds, Harrison has to fight for the woman he loves, even though this means crossing swords with his father and his determined adversary. Will Harrison be able to find the love that could await them or will it be too late?

Author's note: While in the middle of writing this story, I heard the song MIRROR MIRROR by Barlow Girl on the radio. As I listened to the lyrics, it hit me how many women like Dani, (the heroine in DANIELLA) struggles with self-image.

As the plot develops, and Dani comes to the realization God loves her the way he made her. I had to be honest and ask myself, "Do I believe that?" It’s easy for me to nod my head while I’m writing this, but it’s another story when I’m standing in one of those dinky changing rooms try to find a bathing suit for the summer!

Accepting myself is sometimes is a daily struggle. In the same way this story has challenged me, as you experience Dani growth reading this book, it’s my prayer that it will draw you closer to God as well. (If you’d like to hear Mirror Mirror, click onto this link: )

Read the excerpt!

Harrison took the folder from her extended hand. Her hand seemed so small, and he had the strangest desire to protect her from whatever inner battle she was fighting. "I’m sorry. I know you’ve been with our advertising firm for quite a while now, but until today, I’ve never met you." He added with a smile, "Forgive me, I’m horrible with names. What’s yours again?"

Her eyes grew wide. With a nervous catch, she said, "Daniella Duncan."

"I like that name. May I call you Daniella?"

She shrugged. "Everybody calls me Dani."

"I think I prefer Daniella." Still studying her face, Harrison added, "Somehow, Dani doesn’t seem to fit you."

"Oh, Dani fits me all right. It sounds short and fat." Her hand clamped over her mouth, and her eyes grew even wider. Harrison’s heart nearly broke when she asked, "Did I really say that out loud?"

It had been drilled into his head since he was a boy never to talk to women about two things: their age and their weight. Now, what should he do with this hanging hot potato? Ignore it. "I didn’t hear anything if you didn’t." He tried to continue with the previous introductions. "Everyone calls my father Mr. Beckman, so I go by Harrison."

"Okay. I’ll try to remember that." Daniella seemed to have reached her limit; she looked like a cat being chased by a mouse, desperate for escape.

"Um, I really need to get back now, so..."

"Sure. Thanks again." Harrison didn’t even know if she heard him as she turned and left with quick steps.

He stood quietly by his door and listened to the clickety-clack sound Daniella’s shoes made on the linoleum fade into a soft pitter-patter as she retreated down the hallway. He shut his door while contemplating the strange woman who was just in his office. Pretty but strange...yes, definitely strange. Finally, he shrugged his shoulders and went back to the tasks at hand.

Free discussion questions here:

Editing Tip: avoid episodic writing

Episodic writing is inserting a scene that serves no other purpose than to add word count to a story. Remember, each scene should pull the reader further into the story--should make the reader loathe to put down the book. That means that each scene should either reveal something about our POV character or should take the plot/conflict to the next level. If it does neither of these, the scene should be rewritten or cut completely.Let's take a look at an example.


The doorbell rang and Sarah rushed to the door. She opened it to find the pizza delivery boy on the doorstep. "Hi," she said.

"Hi," he replied. He looked down at the box. "That will be twelve dollars, please."

Sarah, turned to get her purse from the table by the door. She pulled out her wallet and found a ten and two ones. Handing them to the delivery boy she said, "Thanks."

He handed her the pizza box and turned and walked to his car.

You'll notice, as a reader, you are not engaged by this exchange. Who cares about a pizza getting delivered? What does it have to do with the story? How does it advance the plot? What does it tell us about the characters? ... the answer to those questions is No one and Nothing. This is a meaningless exchange. Filler.

But let's look at it fleshed out a little:


The doorbell rang and Sarah rushed to the door. Hope guided her feet. Maybe Kyle really would come back. She opened the door and a  pizza delivery boy held up a box. "Hi," he said.

"Hi." The simple word choked her--or maybe it was the tears she swallowed. She should have known better than to think Kyle would come running back to her. Why would he? She didn't deserve forgiveness.

The pizza kid looked down at the box. "That will be twelve dollars, please."

Sarah stared at the box. Why had she ordered this pizza? She wasn't hungry. Would probably never be hungry again. Kyle had taken her heart and her stomach--for food and for life.

Oh, who was she kidding? This wasn't Kyle's fault. It was hers. She'd lied to him, not the other way around.


She glanced up and then turned to get her purse from the table by the door. Hungry or not, she'd eat this pizza, wallow in self-pity, and maybe it would make her feel better. She handed the money to the delivery boy. "Thanks."

He handed her the pizza box and walked to his car.

In this second example, there's still not a lot going on. It's still a scene about a pizza being delivered. But, we do learn something. We discover something about the character (her sorrow, her remorse, her tendency to wallow in self-pity) and we discover something about the conflict (she lied.) There is a purpose for the scene. Once we can clearly see the purpose for the scene, the next step is to "activate" as much as possible and to produce a deeper point-of-view...but that's another lesson, entirely.

Happy writing!

Title Spotlight:: Yesterday's Promise by Delia Latham

“I can’t believe you, of all people, can get that look on your face because I have a son without the benefit of a husband. At least I’m there for my son, and I will be as long as God allows me to walk this earth. I would never, under any circumstances, never abandon someone I love. Never.  It’s right there.” She pointed a trembling finger at Lissy's house and fumbled for the handle as Brock swung the car to the curb.

By the time he brought the vehicle to a full stop, she had the door open and one foot outside the car. Tears burned her eyes, but she refused to let them fall.

“Hannah, I…” Brock’s bewildered expression almost passed for convincing. “I’m sorry, really. I didn’t mean…”

“Lissy will take us home.” She ignored his apology, then slammed the car door and marched up the sidewalk, head high, back ramrod stiff.

Davey flew out the door to meet her, his dark curls bouncing. “Mommy! Mommy, I missed-ed you!”

Hannah picked him up, hugging him to her. “Hey, big guy! I missed-ed you too.” She rarely encouraged his mispronunciation of words, but at the moment she wanted Davey to stay little for a very long time.

“Who’s that man, Mommy?” One arm around Hannah’s neck, her son pointed to the car where Brock sat watching them. “Huh? Who is he?”

“Nobody, Davey.” She set the small boy on his feet. Taking his hand, she led him to Lissy's door. Behind her, she heard the BMW pull away, but she refused to look back.

Only your daddy, sweet boy. He’s only your daddy.

Title Spotlight: Daffodils by Donna B. Snow

The doorbell echoing through the house was the last straw…as
if the pounding hadn’t been enough.

“I’m coming already,” Margaret Ellington snarled. Whoever
was banging deserved whatever came out of her mouth. Pushing hair out of her eyes,  she snapped the lock and yanked the door open. 

Margaret’s face froze. Oh, Lord, help me.

Sky blue eyes stared back at her—Lukas North.

His lopsided grin would have suited a ten-year-old boy after
getting away with some mischievous prank. Eyebrows raised, he lifted a cup of  coffee from the crook of his elbow and held it towards her. Pink lettering on the cup showed the logo from the coffee shop around the corner. The bright morning sun set red-gold highlights aglitter in his hair while his eyes crinkled at the corners. A dimple dipped into his cheek.

Margaret forced her gaze back up to his. “What are you doing
here?” She groaned at her own rudeness, a moment later remembering his pounding
on the door. He always had brought out the best—and the worst in her. She
pushed the screen open as he continued to hold the cup towards her. Fingertip
to fingertip, Margaret felt the tingle shoot up her arm. She took the coffee
and let the screen door slap closed between them as she gripped the door frame.

Not Lukas. Never again. Ten years...Lord, help me. I
can’t deal with him today. Leaving is hard enough. Please, Lord, give me
She shivered then glanced up and down the street, refusing to
meet his gaze. Lukas had always seen too much—as if he could see straight into
her soul.

Margaret lowered her head and sighed. A peek at her watch
and she looked down the street again, hoping for a savior in the form of a
moving van. They should be here in about fifteen minutes.

She stared at a van parked on the street. Why is he here?
Why isn’t he saying anything? Silently, she raised the coffee towards her mouth
and a waft of steam touched her lips. She lowered it without taking a sip.

The vehicles in the driveway distracted her from Lukas as a
third pickup pulled in. The door of the red van parked out front opened. She
looked from one vehicle to the other trying to see who was in them. What are
these trucks doing in my yard?

Jamestown, California was still a small town where everyone
knew everyone, at least the faces that belonged, even some that passed through,
often on their way to Sonora. And the people gathering in her yard belonged
here. They had been friends with her and Peter for years. But they all said
goodbye at the party last night.

She turned back to Lukas. He stood patiently watching,

Before she could ask, he waved a hand towards the driveway.
“Your caravan awaits.”

Margaret’s brow furrowed. “The moving van should be here
soon. I told you yesterday that I was all set.”

He took a sip of his coffee and glanced over his shoulder.
“What? You don’t think we have enough help here?” He turned back towards
Margaret, his blue eyes frowning at her.

She glanced away, her fingers digging into the foam cup. “I
don’t want to put anyone out. It would just be easier…”

“Easier for you, maybe, but we’d like to help. A lot of us
will miss you and we want the chance to show you how we feel.” He held her
gaze, his voice soft spoken.

Margaret stared into his eyes, mesmerized by what she
thought she saw there. Heat—a slow burn, a smoldering fire. He couldn’t
possibly still…She shook herself and looked away. His problem. He’s the one who
walked away.


She cleared her throat then looked at her watch again.
“Remember the small going away party last night?” She pictured him manning the
grill, spatula in hand. That was supposed to be their goodbye. The kiss at the
end of the night had been enough of a surprise to keep her tossing and turning
for hours. She didn’t need any more unexpected surprises like that. “What am I
supposed to do? Leave the moving company a note that I’m all set?” Once again,
Margaret lifted the cup for a tentative sip.

Lukas raised his brows and grinned.

Oh, that grin. She could feel her lips twitching, wanting to
answer in kind.

“Not to worry. I already took care of that.”

Margaret narrowed her eyes. “What do you mean, you took care
of it? They are still coming, right?”

He shook his head.

Can’t he at least have the decency to look a little bit

“I cancelled them yesterday after I talked with you.”

“You what? There’s a fee for cancelling. If I’m paying them
regardless, you better believe they’ll be providing their services.” She
clenched her fist. Some things just never changed. He always did think he knew
what was best. How dare he? She wanted to stomp her foot at his
high-handedness—slam the door in his face. Oh, she was tempted. Lucky for him
God had made a new woman of her. He was the only one holding back her temper,
she was sure.

“I took care of that, too.”

She rolled her eyes. “Wonderful. So I guess that makes it
all right.”

“No, I’m just saving you the expense since it wasn’t your
doing.” His tone was steady, the smile falling flat when his gaze met hers.

He sounded so reasonable. Just who does he think he is?
As if he has any say in my life anymore. You gave up that right a long time
ago, buddy.
She shook her head, trying to quiet the argument going on in
her mind. She glared at him, tilting her chin. “And what if I want the moving
company to come, anyway?”

He quirked a brow and didn’t respond.

Margaret sighed and closed her eyes. “Look, I don’t want
anyone getting hurt moving my stuff. The furniture is heavy and I would really
rather the professionals take care of it. And what if something gets broken? I
don’t want anyone feeling responsible for any damages. The movers have
insurance for that kind of thing.”

“We’ve all helped friends move at one time or another. We
know how to lift stuff. No one’s going to get hurt and nothing will be broken.”

“You can’t guarantee that.”

“No, but I can guarantee that no one would hold it against
you even if they did get hurt. I can also guarantee that no feelings will be
hurt by you accepting the help that’s offered. No such guarantees on a
refusal.” His stare bit into her.

Her gaze broke away first. How neatly he boxed her in with
his words…and what a shrew she would look like if she sent everyone away—if
they would even leave. Plus, it was probably too late to reschedule the movers,
and she had to be moved out today. The new owners would be here tomorrow.

“I’m sure they don’t want to waste a whole day out of their
vacation schedule just to help me move. With Christmas just past and getting
themselves ready to head back to school I’m sure they have better things to

He stared at her and raised his eyebrows.

Darn the man. She sighed. “Look, the new house is an hour
away from here, in Solsta.” She glanced at the vehicles in her yard, then back
at Lukas. “Let me at least pay for their gas.”

Lukas shook his head.

Margaret slapped a hand on her hip. “What difference does it
make? I would have been paying the movers.”

“Nope. We’re all here to help a friend,” he answered calmly.
He took a sip of his coffee and looked over his shoulder. “Oops, looks like the
gang’s all here.”

A blue car pulled up. Great. The principal and first grade
teacher. They stepped out and waved, smiling as they started up the walkway.

Lukas rubbed the back of his neck and grinned.

“Hi.” Her smile quivered as they approached. She lifted a
hand to brush the hair away from her eyes again. “Thank you so much. I really
didn’t want to put anyone out, especially just after Christmas like this.”

“And Peter, God rest his soul, would have skinned me alive
if he knew I didn’t help you with your move.” The principal came halfway up the
walkway and crossed his arms over his chest, planting his feet apart. “Matter
of fact, he would never forgive me for letting you go to begin with.”

He was right. Peter, her husband, would have told her, in no
uncertain terms, that these people cared about her and that she should let them
help. They were her friends.

As a matter of fact, if Peter were the one speaking, he
would tell her she couldn’t run away from it all, that she would carry it with
her no matter where she went. He would also have told her that God had a plan
and that she ought to pray to understand what His will was in all this.

Oh, Lord, I know that, but Peter’s gone home to be with
You. I have to go. I can’t stay here.
After two years of stumbling around
and mourning her half-hearted attempt at marriage, she couldn’t live with the
grief or the guilt anymore. She knew God had forgiven her, but she didn’t
deserve it.

I’m so sorry, Peter, sorry I wasn’t the wife I should
have been…sorry I didn’t love you as much as I should have…sorry I never gave
you the child you so desperately wanted.

Margaret took a deep breath, blinking her eyes until the
watery vision cleared. Worrying her bottom lip, she looked from one face to
another, then cleared her throat and sniffed. “Well, I guess since you’re here,
and the movers aren’t coming…” She looked pointedly at Lukas. “…I’ll have to
put you all to work.” She pushed the screen door open. “Come on in. We might as
well get started.”

Lukas held the door and stepped in last. He stood beside her
and looked around. “No stray Christmas decorations that you might have missed?”

Margaret turned away and stepped towards the kitchen. “I
didn’t put any up this year.” Or last year...

She looked around at everyone. They seemed to know just
where to start, so Margaret continued into the kitchen. Lukas glanced at the
boxes and nodded towards them. “Why don’t you finish what you were doing? We’ll
load the furniture and by the time we’re done you’ll have those ready to go. Is
that the last of it to be packed up?”

Margaret nodded, and then watched everyone find their place
with well-choreographed steps, each person going where they were needed. Jokes
and laughter filled the house as they loaded her life into their trucks.

Margaret wandered back to the kitchen to pack the pan she
used for breakfast this morning, plus the few other items still in the
cupboards. A half hour later, after checking all the cabinets and drawers one
last time, she taped the final box closed and lifted her head in time to see a
lamp sliding towards the floor.

“Whoa, easy there,” Lukas said from the doorway, his gaze
colliding with Margaret’s. He turned back to the job at hand. “Nice save.”

She released her breath and looked away, brushed off her
jeans and walked down the hall without a word. Wandering from room to room, she
double-checked everything. Closets were empty, no boxes forgotten. The shadows
on the walls outlined stark reminders of where pictures had been. The
unfinished projects—a cracked floorboard, chipped molding, a small hole in the
plaster, all stared at her accusingly.

Margaret closed her eyes as she clutched the doorframe. Oh,
God, why Peter? He was the good one.

I’m so sorry, Peter. A tear splashed onto the carpet.
Margaret took a deep breath, wiped her cheek, and stepped into what had been
Peter’s sickroom. She walked to the window seat and stared out into the
backyard, arms clutched around her middle. There would be no sound of children
playing, no sitting on the glider growing old together. She put a hand on the
window. If only I could have loved you more—

“Any more, Megs?” Lukas’ footsteps grew louder as he came
down the hall.

She wiped away another tear as it dribbled down her cheek.

“Oh, hey, there you are.” He hesitated in the doorway,
resting a hand on the frame. He lowered his voice. “You OK?”

She chewed on her bottom lip and nodded, afraid that if he
came near her she would collapse in those arms; arms she knew were strong
enough to hold her up. Arms she had missed for years. She hated herself for
wanting to feel them wrap around her again.

A glimmer of a smile creased his lips, as if sharing her
pain. She remembered other smiles, other glances across different rooms. She
sighed and looked back outside.

After ten years, the memory of Lukas disappearing from her
life still haunted her. She had worn his engagement ring through the last half
of their senior year. Then a month before their wedding day, he left. No
goodbye, just a letter—as if that was enough. Then poof. He was gone.

She gave the ring to her mother and never saw it again.

The pain of lost love still lingered. It was best left in
the past, but she had never figured out how to let it go. God knew she tried.

The contradiction tore at her heart. Losing Lukas hurt worse
than anything else in her life, but the love never died. If only she could have
loved Peter with that same fervor, instead of the half-hearted love she had
given him. Oh, she had tried, but it wasn’t the same.

Margaret took a deep breath. Her gaze lingered on the
backyard for a long moment. Straightening her shoulders, she led the way down
the hall, stepping silently past Lukas.

Daffodils, Available now. White Rose Publishing