Pebbles In My Way by Alice Klies

Thrilled to present Pebbles In My Way by Alice Klies!!!

13 Sept Cover Front

Have you ever felt life’s challenges are like pebbles in your way… irritating trials and challenges along your path? Maybe you too have questioned your walk with God or have used the statement, “Why me?” when the pebbles turn into boulders. Karen takes this kind of journey to find God’s grace and learns how to let go and let God.

In Pebbles In My Way, Karen is faced with challenges, trials and struggles which feel like pebbles in her way, and some are so overwhelming she thinks they are boulders! Karen faces cancer, the death of loved ones, an unwanted pregnancy and more! Will these things overwhelm her to drag her down to the depths of despair or will she find the faith in God she needs to overcome?

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About Alice—

Alice has written since she could hold a pencil. She is currently president of Northern Arizona Word Weavers, a chapter of an international writers group. It is through their encouragement Alice began to submit her work for publication.  She has nonfiction and fiction stories published in sixteen anthologies. She is a seven-time contributor to Chicken Soup For The Soul books and has articles published in Angels On Earth, AARP and Wordsmith Journal. She has also been featured in the Women of Distinction magazine.  Besides her involvement in Word Weavers, she serves on boards for the PWG (Professional Women’s Group) and Y.E.S. the ARC in her community. She is a deaconess and Stephens Minister in her church.
Alice is a retired teacher who resides with her husband and two Golden Retrievers in beautiful Cottonwood, Arizona.  She prays her stories cause a reader to smile, laugh or cry, and most of all turn their eyes upward to God who loves them.

Contact Alice at: alice.klies@gmail.com

Congratulations Alice!

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Barton Cottage Chapter 2

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Barton Cottage  By  A.P. Maddox

© A.P. Maddox 2017

Barton Cottage is an adaptation of one of Jane Austen’s most beautiful and beloved classics—Sense and Sensibility—reimagined and set in the picturesque Piedmont of modern-day North Carolina. Follow Caroline & Ashelynn Hathcock as they leave their family home, lose their hearts and navigate their way through life’s challenges. 

A few of you may remember this story originally published a few years back under a different title by this author. Contract canceled by the author, it has been reworked and retitled to be shared here. 

Barton Cottage will be posted on the Little CAB Press blog—one chapter at a time—in 28 parts, from now until December 21, the end of which culminates in the Christmas season!  

(YA/NA fiction/romance, Reading level: grade 7, Words: 2387)

 

Volume 1 Leaving Northland

(Read Chapter 1 here)

Chapter 2 Dottie Burroughs-Hathcock

 

The next morning a furiously ringing doorbell awakened the Hathcock ladies as they slept in—Ashelynn and Maggie weren’t ready to return to school just yet and had taken one more day off to dry tears and improve their countenances.

They met Frank in the hallway as they headed toward the door.

“You look dressed for a day at work,” Sarah commented to Frank.

“Taking a trip to the office,” he answered.

“Law firm or Hathcock business?” she asked.

“Hathcock,” he said, pulling on his suit coat as they walked. “Headed into Asheville this morning.”

“Good, you’ll do well at the helm Frank,” she said, patting him on the back with encouragement. “Your father would be proud.”

He smiled gratefully. “Thank you. Father began preparing me when he discovered he was sick. I hope I’m ready to fill his shoes.”

“How are you going to juggle the law firm and Hathcock enterprises?” she asked.

They reached the door before he could answer. Frank opened it to find his wife Dottie and son James.

“Dearest!” Frank said in surprise, as James wrapped his dad’s legs in a hug.

“Hello,” Dottie called in a boisterous voice coming through the door.

The girls made way as Dottie pushed through like a princess parting a crowd.

“Hello Dottie,” Sarah said.

“My dears,” Dottie said pulling each to her, one at a time and making a kissing sound to the sides of their faces—except for Maggie whose head she patted. Maggie stepped back with furrowed brow.

“I’m so sorry I couldn’t make it to the funeral,” she said. “Little James’s preschool schedule simply wouldn’t allow it. Besides, I had a speaking engagement at the Women’s Club yesterday and they couldn’t let me out of it. But since James’s preschool is always out on Fridays, here I am!”

“And you must have gotten an early start too,” Frank commented. “It’s only nine o’clock in the morning.”

“With so much to do, there’s no time to waste is there?” Dottie said, smiling and looking around as if sizing up the place—though she had been to Northland many times before.

“Oh, well, why don’t you and James relax after your long drive,” Frank said. “I’m sure there are milk and muffins or something in the kitchen. I was actually heading out to the office for a while but I shouldn’t be too long.” He nodded to his step-mother as though enlisting her help.

“Yes,” Sarah spoke up, taking the cue. “I believe we have blueberry and banana nut muffins. Are you hungry James?” she asked, offering her hand toward him.

He nodded excitedly and was about to take it when Dottie scooped him up. “Don’t disappoint us,” she protested to Frank, with pouted lips. “We’ve come all this way to spend the day with you. Can’t your business wait till Monday?”

“It’s just a quick errand. I’ll pop in, show my face, get up to speed on all the latest and be right back. You’d barely have time to miss me,” Frank gently argued.

“Surely all of that can wait till Monday,” Dottie said as if the matter was settled. “Help us bring our luggage in, won’t you girls?” she asked, putting James down and towing her husband to the car.

“Well… I… I… suppose so…” Frank said, relenting. He glanced at his sisters, the generous gift would have to wait.

“I packed some more of your things too Darling,” Dottie told her husband as he opened the trunk and drew out two suitcases.

“I don’t like the look of this,” Ashelynn grumbled to Caroline. “Looks like they have enough to stay for weeks!”

“Are they moving in?” Maggie asked in a whisper.

“Keep your voices down girls,” Sarah warned in a hushed tone. With arms loaded they trailed behind Dottie and Frank toward the guest rooms. “Frank said he wasn’t moving his family here. I’m sure it’s just a visit and I expect you to be on your best behavior.”

“I hope Mom’s right,” Ashelynn said in a low voice.

“I’m sure she is,” Caroline added.

 

The girls observed from a window seat upstairs as Dottie toured the grounds alongside her accommodating husband, carrying a clipboard and writing things down.

“What’s she doing?” Maggie asked.

Ashelynn crossed her arms and narrowed her eyes. “I don’t know but I have a sneaky feeling we aren’t going to like it.”

“Let’s not jump to conclusions,” Caroline said smiling and rubbing Maggie’s shoulders.

Frank and Dottie returned inside where Dottie continued her touring, observations, and notetaking. As they made their way upstairs, the girls retreated to Caroline’s bedroom.

Caroline and Maggie sat on the bed, Caroline brushing Maggie’s hair as Ashelynn browsed through Caroline’s closet.

“You have so many cute things you never wear,” Ashelynn said. “Like this red top.” She lifted the hanger from the rod and went to the mirror admiring the top in front of herself.

“It’s a little small for me,” Caroline said. “You can have it if you’d like.”

Just then the door swung open, startling the girls. Ashelynn dropped the top and Maggie shrieked as Caroline tugged a bit of hair when she jumped.

Dottie stepped in—apologetic looking Frank behind her.

“Oh, is this your room Caroline?” Dottie asked.

“Dear, perhaps we should have knocked first,” Frank suggested.

“I just want to take a peek around, I’m sure Caroline doesn’t mind,” Dottie said.

Caroline stared as Dottie checked out the closets and the attached bathroom and paced the room, foot to foot, to determine the size.

“What a lovely room,” Dottie commented, “and so close to the Master suite. Well, see you girls later.”

The girls sat open-mouthed for several moments before Caroline said, “Ashelynn, I think you’re right, we aren’t going to like this.”

 

At dinner that evening Dottie praised the day spent at Northland. “Such a beautiful old house and such lovely grounds. Your family has kept it up nicely.”

Sarah smiled. “Thank you. We’ve done our best and have employed some very trusty landscapers and housekeepers; they deserve the credit.”

“Yes indeed,” Dottie agreed. “I’ll have to get their numbers from you.”

“Oh, I don’t think they work in Charlotte though,” Sarah said, confused.

Dottie nodded, took a bite of chicken, and swallowed before continuing. “Yes, well, I didn’t mean to have them come to Charlotte dear. I saw a couple of changes I’d like to make here and there as we were looking around today.”

“Oh, I see,” Sarah slowly muttered as an awkward silence crept over the room.

Dottie had everyone’s attention as she continued. “We’ll have the landscapers out to begin making some slight changes to the grounds but there are a few changes I’d like to make inside as well. Nothing big, but it will require some changing of rooms… Mrs. Hathcock,” she called politely across the table in a sugary sweet voice, “if I could get you to move your things into one of the guest rooms, that would be much appreciated. I’ll have someone here first thing Monday to begin remodeling the master suite. And Caroline, I’ll need you to move out of your bedroom as well, please. Since your room is the largest, I’m going to remodel it for little James. He’s the new heir. You understand I’m sure. You can take that room on the other side of Ashelynn’s—the one with the connecting bathroom. That’ll be perfect for two sisters.”

Maggie’s eyes were wide with a questioning look and Ashelynn’s face beheld a look as if to say, “I told you this was bad!” Caroline began to realize she and her mother had been wrong.

After a pause, Sarah said, “Forgive us Dottie but I think we are all a little confused. Frank mentioned your family would be staying in Charlotte. It seems however you are…”

“Moving in?” Dottie interrupted with a triumphant grin. “That’s right dear, we are!”

Sarah looked immediately at Frank, his face had a look of surprise.

“I knew it,” Maggie said, leaving the table and stomping out of the room.

“If you’ll please excuse us,” Sarah said as she, Caroline and Ashelynn followed.

Maggie stomped and cried all the way to her room, where the others caught up with her. They stepped inside and shut the door behind them.

“Frank lied!” Maggie hollered.

“I can’t believe this!” Ashelynn railed.

“I don’t understand why,” Caroline said.

Sarah cut in. “First of all, I don’t think Frank lied. I saw his face and he’s just as surprised as we are.”

A soft knock was heard on the door and Sarah went to answer. Frank stood in the hallway. Sarah stepped out. The girls tried to listen but the voices were soft and difficult to hear.

Sarah came back in. “Frank just gave me his apologies but confirmed Dottie’s wishes to move to Northland. He says she intends to keep both houses and travel back and forth at their leisure.”

“After Frank promised us they wouldn’t.” Ashelynn groaned.

Tears began rolling down Maggie’s cheeks and Caroline pulled her onto her lap. “It’s okay,” Caroline whispered, “at least you don’t have to change rooms. You get to keep yours.”

Sarah took a deep breath before saying, “Caroline’s right! And perhaps it’s better this way. We’ll be in the east wing and they’ll be in the west. They on their side, us on ours and we won’t have to bother each other. This is still our home! Frank said so and I’m sure everything will work out somehow. Now, let’s have our prayers and get a good night’s sleep!”

 

The next morning Dottie barked orders as the Hathcock women complied with instructions of moving Sarah and Caroline’s rooms. They lugged boxes of clothing, furniture, and beds down long hallways. Dottie further shocked them by detailing her plans to remodel the rest of the house as well. Old wood was to be torn out, old flooring pulled up and windows and furnishings replaced—all was to be redone and made over. It was clear, Dottie was taking over.

Maggie began to look tired so Sarah suggested she take little James to play in the garden while they finished up.

After a long morning of work, Sarah, Ashelynn, and Caroline took refuge in the parlor.

“Living in this house with that woman running things is sure going to be hard!” Sarah stated. “Moving us around like we were unwanted furniture.”

“I can’t believe Frank is allowing her to do this to us,” Ashelynn complained. “He seems to want to please his wife more than he cares for any of us.”

“He obviously didn’t know Dottie’s plans,” Caroline spoke up. “She wants to turn Northland into a show house just like her home in Charlotte.”

“Yes, and she’ll have the place crawling with magazine crews!” Sarah said while Ashelynn moaned her discontent.

“I know this is upsetting but what do you suggest we do?” Caroline asked. “The house belongs to them now; we don’t seem to have any choice other than to get along and make do.”

“We may be forced to make a difficult choice.” Their mother contemplated. “We may have to make the choice to move!”

Ashelynn gasped and Caroline let out a heavy sigh.

“Two thousand dollars a month will be tight to get a house and pay expenses for the four of us Mom,” Caroline said.

“You’re right,” Sarah agreed. “But remember Frank’s promise to your father? Perhaps he’ll help us to pay for a place of our own.”

“Anything’s better than living with her,” Ashelynn said.

But Caroline offered a gentle argument. “Things seem stressful now because of all the changes being dumped on us, but maybe after things calm down it won’t be so bad.”

Just then Dottie came into the room and they quickly hushed their conversation.

“I found your hiding place,” Dottie said laughing. “Oh, what is that?” she asked pointing to the painting above the fireplace.

“I painted it from our family portrait,” Caroline said.

Dottie cocked her head to the side. “You do lovely work, Caroline.”

“Thank you,” Caroline was about to say before Dottie cut her off.

“But it will have to find another place of honor, perhaps in your new room Mrs. Hathcock. I’ll have photographers out next week to take a new portrait of Frank, little James and myself to hang over the fireplace.” Dottie smiled, turned, and left the room.

Ashelynn shot a look at Caroline. “You see?” she said.

 

Later Dottie found her husband in the office and began detailing the whole of her plans for the house remodel. This led to a discussion about the finances of the estate, which in turn led to Dottie’s inquiry about the monetary provisions for Mrs. Hathcock and her daughters.

Frank let her know of the original allowance and began to explain the promise he made to his father to take care of any extra expenses they may have.

“I’m going to double the amount of the yearly allowance,” Frank said.

“Double it?” Dottie questioned in astonishment. “What could they possibly do with that much money? They have no mortgage, no rent, no utilities, no living expenses—they will have no need for so much money. It’s silly to offer them such a large sum.”

“Well, dear, I was thinking of the girls’ educations,” he said, in an effort to justify himself. “Caroline and Ashelynn have partial scholarships but that doesn’t cover everything. There are books and transportation and so many other costs involved in going to college and I can only imagine how many other expenses are involved in raising teenage girls these days.”

“There’ll be other resources available to them I’m sure,” Dottie argued. “They can use student loans or some other form of assistance. You are providing them with a home and they’re well taken care of here. Throwing extra money at them will be wasteful.”

Frank took his wife’s arguments into account and finally had to concede his sisters were comfortable and cared for at Northland. “You do make a very good point, my dear,” he said. He always wanted his wife’s approval and wished for nothing greater than to please her. “I guess I must agree, the original allowance will do fine.”

A self-congratulatory grin lit up Dottie’s face as she proudly patted her husband on the shoulder.

Up next in Chapter 3: A handsome face and a dinner party

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Our Home Sweet Home by Gayle Fraser

Excited to announce the publication of Our Home Sweet Home by Gayle Fraser!

November 2017 Cover with text II with green

Our Home Sweet Home is a children’s picture book written and illustrated by Gayle for her grandchildren. Gayle has delighted her grandchildren with stories for years, writing under what she calls—the Ministry of Grandma’s Faithfulness!

Our Home Sweet Home is the story of a group of forest animals who lose their home to a forest fire and have to seek shelter elsewhere for a time, until, by the blessings of God’s renewal, their home is made green again. There is subtle symbolism throughout of faith, hope and God’s love for all His earthly creatures!

About Gayle—

Gayle and Kidscropped

Gayle has been published in 2 Christmas Anthologies in 2016 by Grace Publishing and Little Cab Press.

Has written and self-published a junior high girls’ curriculum, Dove, on self-identity and what Scripture has to say regarding Christian Characteristics in a young lady in Christ.

Has written and self-published a program Grandma’s Faithfulness Prayer Warriors, a weekly prayer group for Christian grandmothers who are encouraged to pray for Christian Characteristics in their grandchildren.

Has developed a ministry and written a curriculum for women who would like to come alongside a pre-teen promoting healthy, Christ-like characteristics and lifestyles through being a secret sister, entitled, Shhh, I’m a Secret Sister.

Her short story, Where Have All the Babies Gone, was a promotional story for Grandparent’s Day in September

Has a story in Chicken Soup for the Soul- The Dog Really Did That? And has been accepted for two more anthologies to be published in 2017 & 18

Self-published a devotional for her adult children entitled Abba’s Whispers, God’s whispers to my heart; and wrote, illustrated, and self-published Love Stories From Grandma’s Heart, for her grandchildren.

She and her husband smuggled Bibles into China, participated in the Billy Graham Crusade in Moscow, Russia; toured Israel, and she took their granddaughter to Hungary with their church’s youth group. They live in Arizona.

Contact Gayle: Proverbs31_13@msn.com

Congratulations Gayle!

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Barton Cottage Chapter 1 by A.P. Maddox

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Barton Cottage  By  A.P. Maddox

© A.P. Maddox 2017

Barton Cottage is an adaptation of one of Jane Austen’s most beautiful and beloved classics—Sense and Sensibility—reimagined and set in the picturesque Piedmont of modern-day North Carolina. Follow Caroline & Ashelynn Hathcock as they leave their family home, lose their hearts and navigate their way through life’s challenges. 

A few of you may remember this story originally published a few years back under a different title by this author. Contract canceled by the author, it has been reworked and retitled to be shared here. 

Barton Cottage will be posted on the Little CAB Press blog—one chapter at a time—in 28 parts, from now until December 21, the end of which culminates in the Christmas season!  

(YA/NA fiction/romance, Reading level: grade 7, Words: 2262)

 

Volume 1 Leaving Northland

Chapter 1 The Hathcock Family

Tears filled the Hathcock sisters eyes as they watched their father’s casket being lowered into the ground.

Eighteen-year-old Ashelynn held tightly to their mother’s right arm as Maggie, eleven, clung to her left. Maggie’s sobs grew louder the lower the casket went. Caroline, the oldest at twenty, stooped, pulling Maggie into a hug so her mother could wipe the tears streaming down her own face.

Their older, half-brother, Frank, shoveled some dirt onto the casket, and put his arm around his stepmother, guiding her to the waiting car. Frank wasn’t usually so attentive, but on this occasion, he couldn’t reasonably refrain.

The limo ride home started out solemnly. Maggie, sat next to her mother, facing Frank and her older sisters. She stared out the window, tears rolling down her cheeks, using her palms to wipe tears away. Finally stomping her feet on the floor, she burst out, “I hate you, Frank!”

Frank, was taken aback by the outburst. He glanced at his stepmother and other two sisters with a puzzled stare before looking back at Maggie to plead, “Whatever for? What did I do?”

Scarcely before his inquiry could be muttered out, Maggie was out of her seat, banging on Frank’s chest and shouting through sobs, “Now that Father is gone, you’re going to take our home away and kick us out without anywhere to go. I know you are!”

Caroline and Ashelynn—seated on either side of Frank—grabbed Maggie’s arms attempting to stop her while Mrs. Hathcock wrapped her arms around Maggie’s waist, pulled her back into her seat and called for Maggie to calm herself.

“Dearest little sister,” Frank said, straightening his tie. “I could never kick any of you out! Northland is still your home. I’m not even planning to move my family there; we will continue to live in our own home.”

Frank was a tall, slender, attorney, who owned a successful law firm in Charlotte. He and his wife, Dottie, had an elegant home there, which had proudly graced many local magazines and society pages.

“But I heard people say everything belongs to you now and we get nothing,” Maggie said between sniffles.

“Yes,” Frank went on, defensively explaining, “Father was only the trustee of the Northland Estate. Grand Uncle James made it clear in the will that upon Father’s passing, I was to become the sole heir.” He paused, looking at Maggie’s face, wet with tears. Through a softened gaze and a more tender voice he continued, “However, I could never displace my sisters. You must all continue to think of Northland as your home.”

 

Their father, Thomas Hathcock and his family came to live at Northland when the children were young. Thomas’s elderly uncle, James Hathcock had decided to take a less active role in the family business. And since James was a bachelor and did not want to be alone in his later years, he invited Thomas and his family to come live with him. Thomas had been working at his uncle’s side for years, so moving in and taking over care of the home was an easy transition.

Once the family moved in, James came to love his grandnephew Frank and grandnieces, like he might have loved his own grandchildren, if he’d had any. And they in return came to love him like a grandfather.

The years went by and as Grand Uncle James became older and bedridden, he appointed Thomas as the trustee of the estate with the condition that upon Thomas’s death, Frank, the only male heir, would inherit everything—keeping the estate in the Hathcock name as it had been for over one hundred fifty years.

The grand Northland home was a Greek-revival-style antebellum house situated on the western outskirts of Asheville, North Carolina. Six grand columns graced the front of the white two-story home. Over its one hundred fifty-year history it had been remodeled and modernized as it passed from one generation to the next until it fell into the hands of James Hathcock, who did not make many more updates or improvements upon what he believed was an already grand-enough home. “Northland has electricity, phone jacks, and hot and cold running water—and that is all the modernizing she needs,” Uncle James would say.

 

The limo turned down the long drive leading to Northland. Majestic oak trees lined the way, creating an archway of outstretched branches and hanging moss. Near the end of the drive was a large front lawn surrounded by a circular driveway, offering a full view of the front of the house.

A catered luncheon was held in the garden for the funeral guests. Maggie sat on a brick half-wall lining the edge of a flower bed at the far end. She and her father had a tradition of planting flowers each spring. She touched the delicate new blossoms and remembered planting these flowers just one month earlier as her ailing father watched from his wheelchair. She wondered who would plant flowers with her now that Father was gone.

Caroline and Ashelynn stood with their mother and brother near an archway leading to the garden while guests filed past to offer their condolences.

Mrs. Hathcock’s eyes misted as well-meaning friends and neighbors expressed how much they had always loved and would miss her departed husband.

Caroline listened to stories from guests about her father. She had heard many of them before, but some were new to her ears, and each brought comfort as they told of what a kind and generous man Thomas had been.

After greeting the guests Ashelynn turned quietly from the crowd and went inside. She made her way to the parlor to sit at the grand piano. It had been a birthday gift from Grand Uncle James; his encouragement of her talent had helped her become an accomplished pianist. She gently touched the keys and remembered how her father would sit in a chair nearby and listen to her play. He often said, “There are few greater joys in life than hearing you play.” She put her hands in her lap, bowing her head as tears fell.

After a little more than an hour, the guests departed, the caterers cleaned up, and the Hathcocks found themselves alone in mournful quiet for the remainder of the day.

 

In the evening, Caroline and Ashelynn found Maggie moping on a swing in the garden, her wavy brown hair covering a tear-stained face. They took a seat in the grass near the swing and Maggie wondered aloud, “Why didn’t Uncle James leave the house to us instead of Frank? Didn’t he love us?”

Caroline offered a sympathetic look and answered, “Of course he loved us. You mustn’t think otherwise. I suppose he was determined to keep everything in the Hathcock name, leaving Frank to inherit everything. I’m sure Uncle James figured we would all be grown and married by the time father passed and probably didn’t want any part of the business or estate being parted out to other families. He couldn’t have imagined Father would get cancer and pass away before we were grown and gone.”

“And I suspect,” Ashelynn interjected with a little bitterness, “it’s because four years ago Dottie gave birth to a son, whom they named James after Uncle James. Do you remember how much Uncle James doted on little James? He left everything to Frank for the sake of little James—another James Hathcock one day over the entire estate.”

“Yes,” Caroline said, nodding. “Uncle James spent countless hours with his namesake, watching him toddle around the garden, play with his toys in the parlor and reading to him in the library. It did seem Uncle James thought of little James as the son he never had.”

Maggie groaned regretfully. “I guess I never realized he loved little James more than us.”

“Oh, I don’t think we should look at it as though he loved little James more,” their mother said, approaching. “He loved us all.”

She brushed Maggie’s hair out of her face before continuing. “Now, before he died, your father told me there was a provision in the estate giving us each an allowance of five hundred dollars per month to live on, and he asked Frank to promise to help us with anything more we might need. I heard Frank agree to the promise, and since he has said we should continue to think of Northland as our home, I don’t think we have a thing to worry about!”

Her words and warm smile were encouraging. She changed the subject to sharing good memories of their father, and soon the mood had lifted, and all were smiling through bittersweet tears.

They returned to the parlor, where Mrs. Hathcock encouraged Ashlynn to sit at the piano and play their father’s favorite hymn, “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. The other girls sang along, as best they could through choked up emotion.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.
 

Glory, Glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on. 

Glory, Glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

They bowed their heads and offered evening prayers. After saying “Amen” Caroline spoke up. “Do you remember that photograph we had taken of our family in front of the house two years ago?”

“The one before dad got sick?” Maggie asked.

“The one which offended Dottie because she, Frank and James weren’t in it?” Ashelynn said, with a scoffing laugh.

Caroline nodded. “Well, I painted it and had it framed.”

She stepped over and pulled something from behind the sofa. She removed the brown paper covering the painting to gasps from the others.

“It’s breathtaking,” their mother said, wiping a tear. “You must hang it over the fireplace.”

Caroline attended to hanging the painting, and the four women hugged and kissed each other’s cheeks before Mrs. Hathcock shooed her daughters off to bed.

 

Caroline had been studying at UNC Asheville on a partial art scholarship, which paid for art classes but not the generals. She would have been a sophomore by now but had taken a year off to help her mother care for her father while he was ill. She was a quiet—but not shy—person who usually kept her feelings to herself spending most of her time listening to others rather than asserting her own opinions.

Ashelynn was quite the opposite of Caroline and gave her opinions more readily, whether they were solicited or not. She would be graduating high school at the end of the current school year and would be joining Caroline at the college in the fall on a similar music performance scholarship.

If the Hathcock girls were regarded as beautiful—Caroline with brilliant blue eyes and sunlit blonde hair and Ashelynn with long auburn locks and Irish green eyes—one didn’t have to look far to know whence their beauty came. Their mother, Sarah Hathcock, was a gracefully beautiful and youthful looking woman. She was often mistaken as an older sister to her daughters—rather than their mother—which tickled her with delight on each occasion.

 

After the women retired to bed, Frank sat in the office downloading the financial files of the Northland Estate onto his laptop computer. Finding nothing dissatisfying, he happily mumbled, “Good, good.”

File after file, he marveled at the orderly way the finances were kept and the sound frugality of his late father’s business practices, which had helped the company weather many economic storms.

The Hathcock fortune had been built over a century and a half upon agriculture, textiles, and furniture.

“Let’s see,” he muttered, “the estate will grant my stepmother and sisters twenty-four thousand dollars a year for their care.”

Frank recalled the promise to his dying father, to take care of his stepmother and sisters. He pondered the amount and groaned. “That’s poverty level.” He sighed and reasoned. “But if they continue to live here they will not have to pay any rent, so twenty-four thousand a year should be sufficient for their necessities.”

He thought longer and grumbled. “But what of the girls’ educations? A proper education is costly and Father would want me to take care of those needs. Should I add to the amount?”

He continued to pore over the records. “It looks as though the estate should be able to part with double that amount to support the girls.”

Frank began to smile, pleased with his generosity. “Yes, it’s not an inconvenience to my family and it will make the girls completely comfortable. And what a surprise it will be to them!” He smiled, determined to fulfill the promise.

He sat back in his chair, put his feet on the desk and laced his fingers behind his head with a self-congratulatory grin. “I’ll drive to the office tomorrow, make it official on the books and surprise Mother and my sisters tomorrow night at dinner.”

Up next in Chapter 2: An unexpected guest descends on Northland like a tornado—upheaving and relocating everything in their wake.   

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Weeds In The Flower Pot by Dianna Beamis Good

So proud to announce the publication of Weeds In The Flower Pot by Dianna Beamis Good!

Front Weeds In The Flower Part Cover

Have you ever wondered if other Christians have the same insecurities, doubt, loneness, hope, love, compassion and a need for connections like you do? Would you like to break the shackles of silence, scream to the tallest mountain that we are human and make mistakes – and it’s okay? Grab a few friends, make a pot of coffee or just sit alone with some words that may help you feel a little less alone with your weeds in the flowerpot of life.

Weeds in the Flower Pot is a guided devotional with journal pages to record your own thought and feelings

From Dianna—

Weeds in the Flower Pot is a book about life, everyone’s life. I am no expert on other’s thoughts, but I do believe we all share in the same insecurities, doubt, loneliness, hope, love, compassion and a need for connections.

I would love for us to be able to break the shackles of silence, scream to the tallest mountain that we are human and we make mistakes and it’s okay.

We should not be ashamed. I was told once by a very wise man, “You know, Dianna, there was only one perfect person that ever walked this Earth, and it wasn’t you”. Jesus Christ is our perfect example that we should try our best to imitate, but sometimes we just mess up.

I’m no Bible scholar, yet I know the Bible is filled with encouraging words of forgiveness and God’s understanding of our failures. In fact, he tells us not if we fail, but when we fail, He will be with us with a heart full of love. God throws our messes as far as the east is from the west.

God also says we will have trials and tribulations—translation—we will have weeds grow, die, and grow again in our beautiful flower-filled pot in our lives.

If we know all this and the Bible is quite clear about it, then why are we so reluctant to talk about our shortcomings and frustrations with this beautiful life God has given us? Is it perfect? No, thus the weeds. Is there beauty is this world? Yes, thus the flower pot.

I want us, through these pages of often random thoughts, to tackle the hard issues of life head on. You may read a page and say “huh?” and that’s okay. Read it again and think through the words again for what they may be saying about your life. Discuss it with a friend over coffee and see what they discovered. You may learn something that will amaze you and possibly comfort you.

Weeds in the Flower Pot was assembled from my journal of thoughts about life, family, aging and who I really am and what I am becoming. After sharing a few thoughts to a couple of friends, I realized I wasn’t alone with my weeds. My friends had a few of their own. So perhaps you can weed your beautiful pot with a friend or two, your spouse or a group of friends and see what you discover.

I pray these honest and raw feelings give you permission to write about your weeds and dig deeper for a closer understanding of yourself or someone you love and above all bring you nearer to the Heart of our Savior.

Pic of Dianna

About Dianna—

Dianna Beamis Good is married with two grown children and four grandchildren. She is a member of the Northern Arizona Word Weavers. Her stories have appeared in Christmas Story Collection, A Time to Blossom, Spoken Moments, Stupid Moments, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Military Families, and Loving Moments.

Congratulations Dianna!!!

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Dashes & Dashes & Hyphens, Oh My!

Are you using your dashes & hyphens correctly?

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Recent editing of several manuscripts has me double checking hyphen/dash use, so I wrote out this quick reminder. 

The hyphen

Looks like:  –

Made by: Pressing the key after the zero along the top of the keyboard. (No spaces between words, hyphen is typed just as another letter would be.)

Usage: To connect two words functioning together, such as two-thirds, brother-in-law, brown-headed, etc.

 

En dash

Looks like:  – A longer version of hyphen yet shorter than the Em dash.

Made by: In Word by typing a word, then a space, then the hyphen key, then another space, then another word, then a space again. (word+space+hyphen+space+word+space) The hyphen will appear until the space bar is pressed after the last word is typed.

Usage: To connect words related by distance, such as May – December, 1980 – 1990, A – Z. It can also connect a prefix to a proper noun, such as pre–World War II or post–Civil War.

 

Em dash

Looks like: The longest version of the dash

Made by: In Word by typing ctrl+alt+the subtraction key in the number pad of the keyboard.

Usage: Can be used in place of a comma, semi colon, colon or ellipsis. The Em dash never “has” to be used at all—it is an optional alternative to the aforementioned punctuation to set off words and add excitement to the text.

*The em dash is used with spaces before and after in news/magazine articles according to the AP style, such as, It happened — all at once — right before their eyes! But it is typically used without spaces in other styles of writing according to the Chicago Manual of Style, such as, It happened—all at once—right before their eyes!

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Honoring Your Family Name

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Honoring Your Family Name

 

By A.P. Maddox

 

The following isn’t a piece of fiction or about writing in any way. Just an advice piece I wrote a few years back, mostly for my own kids, to help and encourage them to always be ready to do what is good and right.  

 

Have you ever thought about your surname, the origin of it, what it might mean?

 

If your last name is Smith, for example, you might be surprised to learn that despite several web sites that may tell you your name was derived from your ancestors being blacksmiths or silversmiths, the name Smith is actually thought to have pre 7th century Anglo-Saxon origins, deriving from the word “smitan” which means to smite—describing one who smote—therefore depicting a soldier rather than a worker of metals. It is very likely; however, these soldiers would have repaired their own armor, perhaps giving rise to the secondary meaning. The 9th century Anglo-Saxon Chronicles used the expression “War-Smith” to describe valiant warriors! And lords of great manors would have had many soldiers to protect their lands; in fact, they may well have employed more soldiers than butchers, bakers, candlestick makers or…blacksmiths combined. This evidence along with the fact that the name Smith is the most popular surname in the English-speaking world leads one to conclude the surname Smith originated from these innumerous “War-Smiths” who protected the lands and families of their lords.

 

In my own ancestry, I have the surnames: Maddox, Coleman & Perry, to name a few.

Maddox is a variant of Madog from the ancient Welsh which means fortunate or good. Maddox and its spelling variants have over 15 recorded Coats of Arms. One Madog who lived in the mid-12th century and was the son of Owain Gwynedd, King of North Wales, is believed by some to have discovered America! If he did that is both good for him and very fortunate, however apparently not fortunate enough to have been credited with the discovery.

Coleman is of Irish origin and comes from Gaelic terms meaning “white dove.” The first recorded surname of Coleman was Hervicus Coleman in 1166 in Yorkshire; he was listed as being a “builder of churches.”

Perry simply derives from the Olde English word “pirige” meaning pear tree and likely means one who owned Pear orchards.

Every name has an origin and a meaning, some more exciting than others, i.e. the exciting royal Madog, adventurer ancestry and the less exciting pirige owners.

I married into the surname Bonner, (pronounced like Conner or Donner), which some web sites report as meaning, “being of good bearing” and others report as meaning, “a doer of good.” Most sources do seem to agree however the name Bonner comes from the French word bonne which means good.

Am I a “doer of good”? Sometimes I think yes, and other times maybe not so much. Just like anyone else out there I have my good days and bad days. But I think I would like to try to be and certainly I want my children to be “doers of good.”

How do I bring that about? How do I honor the family name and teach my children to do the same?

Maybe it’s done by more simplistic means than discovering far off lands or building great edifices. Maybe it’s done by living simple day to day virtues. Virtues such as:

  • Honesty—having the courage to tell the truth even when it’s easier not to.
  • Civility—we, the varied peoples of the earth, are neither inferior nor superior to each other & it’s each person’s moral obligation to treat one another with respect and dignity.
  • Learning—in this digital age people seem to spend the bulk of their leisure time mesmerized by countless hours of TV, video gaming & other forms of digital entertainment. Disappearing are the days when young minds would thirst after the great literature of the ages. Teach the young to love learning and literature & no matter how old one becomes, never stop acquiring knowledge.
  • Forgiveness—hatred fails & bitterness destroys. Forgive, forget & move on.
  • Gratitude—having courtesy and concern for the rights & properties of others shows genuine appreciation. A lack of these common courtesies and concerns for others shows arrogance & self-centeredness. Gratitude is marked by humility instead of pride and generosity rather than selfishness.
  • Faith—if we have faith that our worthy endeavors will produce good results—the way a farmer has faith a well planted seed will grow into a healthy plant—then there will be no obstacle too great nor challenge too difficult for us to conquer.

 

Come to think of it, following these worthy virtues can help anyone be a “doer of good” and honor not only their own family names but themselves, their families, their friends and the greater world at large.

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