Tag Archives: forgiveness

A Rocky Start: Chapter Seventeen Continued


If Amber thought going to church was difficult the Sunday before, that was nothing compared to the way she felt this week. It seemed like everyone at church was looking at her, like they all knew what she had done. Amber tried to avoid running into Mrs. Snow, but it seemed that Mrs. Snow went out of her way to say hi to Amber. “I hope you enjoyed the luncheon yesterday,” Mrs. Snow said, as if nothing was wrong. “You left so quickly we didn’t have a chance to talk when it was over. Hopefully, we’ll see you back at the senior center again. We always need good volunteers.”

Amber spent the afternoon in her room. By that time, her parents knew the whole story. Mrs. Snow didn’t want to get Amber into trouble, but Mary persisted until she finally had no choice but to tell what had happened.

“You can’t hide up here forever,” Mary said. “It’s a beautiful afternoon. We’re all going for a bike ride. Why don’t you come with us?”

“I’m not hiding out,” Amber said. “I’ve grounded myself. I’m paying my dues for my don’ts.”

“That’s not what you’re doing,” Mary insisted. “You know the right thing to do. You have to go back to the senior center as a volunteer. That’s how you can pay your dues for your don’ts. Pray about it. Have faith that God will show you what to do.”


“You’re lucky,” Amber said to her little plant as she picked it up from the windowsill. “You can’t make any mistakes. I wish I could sit in a pot of dirt all day. Then I wouldn’t make a mess out of everything I try to do.”

“If you sat in a pot of dirt all day, you might not make any mistakes,” John said as he came into his daughter’s room, “but you wouldn’t accomplish anything either.”

“All I accomplished was hurting other people,” Amber said sadly. “I wish I’d never gone to the senior center.”

“Don’t say that,” John frowned. “You’ve done lots of good things for seniors, and you have a chance to do lots more.”

“No,” Amber insisted. “I’m just like the son in the Bible who wasted his inheritance. I’ve wasted my chance to help seniors.”

“I think you missed the point of that story,” John said.

“No, I didn’t,” Amber assured him.

“His father forgave him,” John reminded her.

“But he didn’t get his inheritance back,” Amber said.

“Do you remember what happened when his father saw him coming?” John asked.

“He ran to him. The son asked his father to make him a servant because he didn’t deserve to be his son.”

“But the father didn’t do that, did he?” John continued. “Instead, he put a robe and a ring on his son. He ordered a feast in his honor because his son was lost and now he had been found.”

“He forgave him.” Amber remembered. “He forgave him and made him his son again even after he made so many mistakes. I guess he thought his son had suffered enough.”

“Forgiveness is a gift that’s freely given,” John explained, “not because someone has earned forgiveness. It is given out of love. Christ suffered for us when he died on the cross. That’s why we don’t have to suffer for our sins. All we have to do is go to him and ask for forgiveness. Do you know what mercy is?”

“Not exactly,” Amber admitted.

“God shows us mercy when he forgives us. God’s mercy is what we need the most when we deserve it the least. We follow Christ’s example when we show mercy to those who have hurt us. Do you understand?”

“I think I understand,” Amber said thoughtfully. “God forgives us because he loves us, and we forgive each other because we love each other.”

“But there is another part to the story that you have to remember,” John told her. “After he was forgiven, what did the son do?”

“I guess he wore the robe and ring to the feast,” Amber offered.

“That’s right.” John smiled. “He accepted his father’s gifts. But in order to do that, he had to accept his father’s forgiveness. What if he had said, ‘I can’t take your gifts because I don’t deserve them’?”

“He would have hurt his father’s feelings, I guess,” Amber said thoughtfully.

“That’s right,” John agreed. “His father gave him a chance to start over and be his son again. Your friends at the senior center have offered you the same chance to start over. All you have to do is accept their forgiveness and forgive yourself. Do you think you can do that?”

“I still feel like I don’t deserve it.”

“Think about what I said.” John put his hand on her shoulder. “Then when you’re ready, I know you’ll make the right choice.”


By Wednesday afternoon, Amber still hadn’t decided what she was going to do, when Betty Jenkins came to visit.

“I brought you some chocolate chip cookies,” Betty said as she took a seat in Amber’s living room. “It’s sort of a bribe.”

“A bribe for what?” Amber was curious.

“Well,” Betty continued, “this Saturday is the last shuffleboard match of the season. I’m up against Clarisse again, and I don’t think I have a chance without my cheering section. I’m really hoping you’ll be there.”

“I’m not a volunteer there anymore.”

“I’m just asking you to come as a spectator,” Betty said hopefully. “It would mean a lot to me.”

“I might . . .” Amber took a bite of her cookie. “There might be one thing you could do to get me to come.”

“What’s that?” Betty asked.

“You said you were trying to bribe me. Tell me the secret ingredient in your cookies and I’ll come.” Amber smiled shyly.

“I don’t know.” Betty sounded doubtful. “Can you keep a secret?”

“I’m really good at keeping secrets,” Amber assured her.

“You did keep the secret about your career report, didn’t you?”

“Yes, if you tell me the secret ingredient, wild horses couldn’t drag it out of me,” Amber promised.

Betty leaned over and whispered something in Amber’s ear.

“Honest?” Amber sounded amazed. “That’s what it is? I would never have guessed that.”

“See you on Saturday,” Betty said on her way out the door.


Laura and Melissa were busy setting up the yellow and black disks when Amber arrived. They waved to her as she walked over to the sidelines. Logan and Chris were setting out folding chairs for the spectators.

“Hi,” Chris said hesitantly. “Glad you could make it.”

“Me too.” Amber smiled. “I didn’t want to let Betty down.”

“Here.” Logan pointed to the chair he had just unfolded. “You can have this seat.”


Clarisse, in her hot-pink stretch pants, was warming up by swinging her arms in a circle. Betty was using the time before the match began to have a chat with Gus. It looked like he was talking to her as a coach. Soon, Walt was blowing the whistle for the start of the match. Betty won the toss. She elected to take the black disks, which meant that Clarisse would have the yellow and go first. Clarisse’s first disk landed on the line, which meant no points. Betty sent her first disk down to the scoring area, but it too fell short of landing in a space. By the first end, Clarisse had fifteen points and Betty had seventeen. Amber began to feel nervous watching the ladies walk to other end of the court. At the end of the second round, Clarisse was ahead, thirty-three to thirty-two.

“Don’t worry,” Gus said. “Betty is holding the hammer.”

“What does that mean?” Amber looked confused.

“It means she has the advantage,” Gus explained. “Letting Clarisse go first was a good strategy. Betty’s a smart cookie.”

After two more rounds, the score was sixty-six to fifty-eight, with Clarisse still in the lead. A collective gasp went through the crowd as Clarisse scored seven points with her first disk, bringing her score to seventy-three. She was now only two points away from winning the match. Amber wanted to cheer when Betty’s first disk landed in the 10 spot. Now she had a chance to win. But Amber’s hopes were soon dashed when Clarisse scored eight more points.

“The game isn’t over yet,” Gus assured her. “Betty still has a chance.”

“She does?” Amber asked with surprise. “But Clarisse has more than seventy-five points.”

“But Betty’s holding the hammer.” Gus smiled.

“Oh, yeah,” Amber said, still not sure what that meant.

With her next disk, Betty knocked Clarisse out of the 8 spot and clear off the board. Amber managed to stop herself just before screaming out loud. Clarisse was noticeably shaken as she took her next shot. It barely made it to the “dead” line, scoring no points. Then Betty moved in for the kill. All she needed was seven points for the win.

Amber ran to Betty’s side and gave her a hug. “You did it!” Amber shouted. “You won!”

Clarisse shook Betty’s hand and congratulated her on the victory. Betty was beaming with pride as she thanked Clarisse for a great match.

While Laura and Melissa were putting away the equipment, Amber sat on the bench outside the door to the senior center.

“I was really happy to see you here today,” Gus said as he sat down beside her. “Betty was worried you wouldn’t come.”

“Did she tell you she bribed me?” Amber said with a laugh.

“Oh, yeah, well, she drives a pretty hard bargain. You’re very important to her,” Gus added. “I hope you know that.”

“I do,” Amber assured him. “She’s important to me too. That’s the real reason I’m here.”

“She’s not the only one who likes having you around,” Gus went on. “I hope you’re coming back as a volunteer.”

“I’m thinking about it,” Amber said. “I probably will.”

“Walt and Mrs. Snow will be happy to hear that.”

“You know”—Gus became more serious—I never had a daughter or a granddaughter, but if I did, I’d want her to be just like you.”

“Really?” Amber sounded doubtful. “Laura’s a lot smarter than I am, and Melissa is way prettier. Besides, I mess up a lot.”

“My wife, Barbara, would have loved you,” Gus said. “In some ways, you remind me of her.”

“Do I look like her? When she was younger, I mean?”

“Not too much,” Gus explained. “She had white hair when she passed away, but when she was young, she had dark-blond hair. She called it ‘dirty blond.’ She was really short too. No, you don’t look too much like her, except for your eyes. She had the same warm, deep brown eyes you have. Sometimes there was a little mischief in them just like I’ve seen in yours. Definitely, it’s your eyes that remind me of her.”

“You must really miss her,” Amber sighed.

“I miss her every day.” Gus looked away thoughtfully. “Someday I’ll be with her again. But until then, I’m glad I have friends like you to spend time with.”

“I’m glad I have friends like you too.” Amber looked up at Gus.

“You know,” Gus went on, “there’s someone who’s missing today.”

“You mean Spike.” Amber looked down at her hands.

“That’s just who I mean. He must be feeling pretty bad not to show up here for the shuffleboard finals. You may be the only one who knows just how bad he feels.”

“Maybe I should go over to his house and talk to him,” Amber offered.

“That sounds like a great idea.” Gus patted her on the shoulder as he got up from the bench.


Amber knew where Spike lived even though she had never been to his house before. She was surprised at how neat his home looked. A white picket fence surrounded the freshly mowed lawn. Flowers spewed out of planters under the windows and from pots on the front porch. Spike’s oldest sister, Jennifer, answered the door when Amber rang the bell. She wore a long gray sweatshirt over black leggings.

“I . . . I’m here to see Spike, I mean Mike,” Amber stammered.

“Come in,” Jennifer said. “I’ll take you to him.”

The inside of the house was equally as neat. Jennifer led Amber down a hallway lined with family portraits. In the kitchen, Monica, Spike’s other sister, was doing homework at the kitchen table. She was still dressed in her softball uniform. Amber recognized the math spread out in front of her. It was algebra, like she had seen Kyle doing. Then she remembered that Monica was also a freshman.

“Michael’s in the backyard, playing with the dog,” Jennifer said as she slid the patio door open.

Amber found Spike dragging a tattered stuffed toy tied to a string. The toy was being chased by a pure-white miniature Siberian husky.

“What a beautiful dog,” Amber said. “What’s her name?”

“This is Tigger,” Spike told her. “She’s really Jennifer’s pet, but she lets me play with her. She can do some tricks. Want to see?”

“Sure,” Amber said.

Tigger followed Spike’s commands as he told her to sit, beg, and play dead.

“Kyle’s trying to teach Domino some tricks,” Amber said with a laugh. “Unfortunately, he’s an ADHD dog.”

“That’s funny.” Spike laughed too. “Jennifer took Tigger to a special doggy school. That’s why she can do so many tricks.”

“I don’t think Domino would do very well in school.” Amber laughed again. “He would probably flunk out.”

“I’ve seen Domino. He’s a nice dog.”

“Thanks.” Amber smiled. “I think so too. You know, everybody missed you at the shuffleboard match today. Betty beat Clarisse. It was pretty exciting.”

“I don’t think anyone wanted me there.” Spike looked away. “Especially not the Happy Helpers.”

“That’s not true,” Amber said emphatically. “Besides, we’re all working together now. We’re all one group.”

“You’re one of the Handy Guys?” Spike sounded surprised.

“We’re not calling ourselves the Handy Guys,” Amber informed him.

“Chris and Logan are now Happy Helpers?” Spike guessed again.

“No, we compromised. We took the handy from your name and the helpers from our name. Now we’re the Handy Helpers. It works for everybody.”

“You know I’m the one who got you girls in trouble, don’t you? Chris and Logan had nothing to do with it. I hid the spoons and spread the rocks all over the walkway. I even messed up the copy room with the papers you shredded.”

“We were pretty sure it was you all the time,” Amber admitted. “Why did you do that?”

“I was afraid that you would take over.”

“What made you think that? You guys were there first. Anyway there’s plenty of work for all of us.”

“You said it yourself, the day you put up your poster. You said you could do anything we could do, but you could do it better.”

“That was just a joke,” Amber assured him. “We didn’t really mean it. Why would you think we were serious?”

“I have two older sisters,” Spike explained. “They’re always telling me how girls can do things better than guys. Why wouldn’t I think you were serious?”

“I guess I can see your point,” Amber said thoughtfully “But there are lots of jobs that need to be done and lots of things you guys can do better than we can. I think it makes sense to work together. Don’t you?”

“It does make sense,” Spike agreed. “Too many people get hurt the other way.”

“Too many innocent people,” Amber added.

“I’m really sorry.” Spike looked up at Amber.

“I’m sorry too. I’m the one who cut holes in the bags of shredding and threw the muddy water on the van you washed. We both did things we shouldn’t have, and we’re both sorry. But now we have a chance to start over and work together. That’s why I came to see you. I’m hoping you’ll join us. We really need you.”

“Chris and Logan told me the same thing. They aren’t mad or anything, but I don’t deserve a second chance.”

“That’s what I thought.” Amber tried to smile. “Then my dad explained to me about forgiving yourself. He said that forgiveness is a gift that is freely given, not because we deserve it. But to accept forgiveness, we have to forgive ourselves first. Otherwise, we are rejecting the gift of forgiveness. Does that make sense?”

“I think so,” Spike said thoughtfully. “You mean that if I don’t forgive myself, I can’t accept forgiveness from other people, like Walt and Mrs. Snow.”

“That’s what I mean,” Amber said. “By offering us a second chance, they’re offering us a gift. We shouldn’t say no, because forgiveness is the nicest gift that anyone can give.”

Spike and Amber went back into his house. He walked her to the front door.

“See you later, alligator,” Amber said as she went out the door.

“After a while, crocodile,” Spike answered back.

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

A Rocky Start: Chapter Seventeen


It was Melissa’s idea to dress up for the luncheon at the senior center. Amber would have been happy to show up in jeans and a T-shirt like she usually wore, but Melissa suggested she wear her Easter outfit. That meant that instead of riding her bike to the senior center, her mother drove her there so she wouldn’t get her clothes dirty.

“You look very nice,” Mary said as Amber got out of the car. “I’ll be here at two o’clock to pick you up.”

Melissa and Laura were already inside when Amber arrived. Mrs. Snow greeted her and showed her to the table. “We’ll be starting in a few minutes,” she said. “You get to sit at the head table.”

Amber looked around the room. The junior volunteers were seated at a long table near the front—Three Handy Guys at one end and the Happy Helpers at the other. Walt and Mrs. Snow had places in the middle. There were vases of fresh flowers on the tables. The room was filled with chatter as the seniors were selecting seats at the round tables.

“You girls look very nice today,” Mrs. Snow said.

“Thanks,” they said all together.

“I thought you’d be wearing stripes by now,” Spike shouted out from his end of the table.

The Happy Helpers gave him a dirty look as Walt rose and picked up the microphone.

“We’re here today,” Walt began, “to thank our junior volunteers who do so many nice things for us.” Walt introduced the Happy Helpers seated on his right and the Three Handy Guys seated on his left. “Since they are the guests of honor today, we’re going to let them go through the line first. Then we’ll call the order of the tables to follow. Stick around after you eat. We have a special video prepared by our own Hank Anderson.”

Betty Jenkins was at the head of the serving line, handing out plates and directing the diners as they progressed through the line.

“This salad with the dark-green leaves looks really good,” Amber said as she scooped some onto her plate.

“I made that,” Betty told her proudly. “I hope you like it.”

“I’m sure I will,” Amber said as she moved on to the potato salad and pasta salad. The table was loaded with all kinds of casseroles and breads. On another table, she saw luscious pies, cakes, and cookies. Amber looked for Betty’s special chocolate chip cookies but didn’t see them there.

“I love this salad Betty made,” Amber said once she had begun eating.

“That’s a surprise.” Laura laughed.

“Why?” Amber asked. “I always like salad.”

“Even spinach salad?” Laura laughed again.

“These dark-green leaves are spinach?” Amber asked, surprised. “That’s not possible. Spinach is stringy and bitter. This salad is crisp and sweet.”

“Spinach from a can is stringy and bitter,” Laura pointed out. “But fresh spinach is really good.”

“Now I wish the grasshoppers hadn’t eaten the spinach in my mom’s garden. Maybe she’ll try again, and I’ll help her grow some spinach. Now that I know how good fresh spinach tastes.”

The guests had just finished their desserts when Walt stood up and grabbed the microphone again. “As I said before, Hank has been making a video of the things that we do at the senior center. Without further ado, I call your attention to the screen that we’ve set up on the north wall. Gus, could you please dim the lights.”

As the room grew dark, Amber noticed Hank turning on the projector. It took a few minutes to warm up, and then a picture of the front of the senior center was visible on the screen. The viewers were taken on a virtual tour of the senior center as Walt, the narrator, pointed out all the activities that happened there. In the exercise room, a tai chi class was going on. Amber watched as the instructor led the seniors in smooth, graceful movements. She was thinking she would like to try tai chi some day. In the recreation room, seniors were playing chess and checkers. Others were working on a community jigsaw puzzle. The next scene showed seniors playing bingo in the dining room. Then there were highlights from the shuffleboard tournament. The video made being a senior look like a lot of fun.

At last, the video showed what the Happy Helpers had been waiting for, the spring luncheon. They laughed as they saw themselves greeting the seniors who were wearing their funny hats. Walt continued to narrate as he explained how important it was to have good volunteers. He introduced the Three Handy Guys and talked about all the things they do. There was video of them mowing the lawn and washing the vans. Hank had even gone to Gus’s house and made a video of them painting his porch. Walt continued to talk about volunteers as the video showed the Happy Helpers shredding paper, setting the table, and cleaning the kitchen.

As the next part of the video started, a hush fell over the lunchroom. This part wasn’t narrated by Walt. It showed the lunchroom the day the spoons disappeared. Bob was frantically trying to find the spoons. In the meantime, seniors were doing their best to eat the pudding with forks. In the video, pudding was dropping all over the tables and into laps. Some seniors tried drinking the pudding with equally disastrous results. Some were slipping on pudding that had been spilled on the floor. It could have been a scene from Funniest Home Videos, except no one was laughing.

As the video continued, it showed the walkway in front of the senior center. Instead of being nicely swept, it was covered with rocks and clods of dirt. Seniors in wheelchairs and those with walkers were trying to navigate their way to the front door, but it was difficult with so much debris in their path.

Amber looked over at Spike, who had his head down. Her face turned red as she watched the next part of the video. It was taken in the shredding room where Mrs. Snow and Walt were picking up the bags of shredding that Amber had cut the bottoms out of. They had shocked looks on their faces as the shredding flew everywhere. The two were down on their hands and knees, scooping it out from under the table and desk and stuffing it into new bags.

Amber was wishing the video would end, but there was more. This time, it showed the van covered in muddy water. Bob was on his way to deliver lunches to the seniors who were homebound. Instead of taking nice, hot food to them, he was saying, he would have to take time to wash the van because the windshield was too muddy to see through.

That was all Amber could take. In the next second, she was out of her seat and bolting for the door. Just as she came racing down the walkway, her mom pulled up in front.

“What’s wrong?” Mary asked when she saw the disturbed look on her daughter’s face. “Didn’t you have a good time?”

“I just want to go home,” was all the explanation Amber gave her. She sat in silence for the rest of the trip.

Amber went straight to her room and closed the door. She turned her face to her pillow just as the tears started to come. After about fifteen minutes, she stopped crying, except for an occasional sniffle.

Mary knocked on her daughter’s door. “Amber, are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” Amber assured her. “I just have lots of homework.”

“Laura and Melissa are here. Come on down.”

Amber went to the bathroom and washed her face. She hoped that she looked like nothing was wrong. But her puffy red eyes gave away the fact that she’d been crying.

“Why did you run out like that?” Melissa asked.

“They were just trying to make a point,” Laura said. “Walt talked to the four of us afterwards. He said he likes having us as volunteers, but he doesn’t like the war that’s been going on between us and the Three Handy Guys. We all talked it out and decided to work together instead of fighting each other. Then we can be better helpers for the seniors. That’s what’s important, isn’t it?”

“Did you say ‘the four of you’?” Amber asked.

“Spike ran out right after you did,” Melissa explained. “Logan and Chris are going over to talk to him.”

“If Spike’s in it,” Amber snarled, “I don’t want to be. Actually, I don’t want to be in it anyway.”

“But you’re the one who got us started helping Betty Jenkins,” Laura reminded her. “We need you.”

“You don’t need me!” Amber said emphatically. “I just mess things up.”

“I did some things too,” Melissa pointed out. “I’m the one who locked the boys in the ladies’ room.”

“But no one was hurt by that. I didn’t tell you before, but I’m the one who cut holes in the bags of shredding. When I saw Mrs. Snow crawling under the table to try to get all that paper . . .” Amber’s voice trailed off.

“We figured that out after we talked to Chris and Logan,” Laura told her. “They’re not mad. They know Spike did things to us. Everyone wants to just forget about it and start over.”

“That’s easy for you to say.” Amber hung her head. “You’re not the ones who made a mess of everything. You’re better off without me.”

“That’s not true,” Melissa said. “We need you. You’re an important part of our team. Like Mrs. Snow said, just because we got off to a rocky start doesn’t mean we should quit trying. We have a chance to really help people who need our help. That’s what matters.”

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

Good Advice from Gus

rheddens_order_delivered_jpgIn Red, White, and Bloopers!  Spike plans a prank to get even with his sister’s boyfriend Todd, who is a bully. Though Todd is the intended target of Spike’s prank, it is the mayor who becomes the victim. Spike is ordered to do community service. Fortunately for Spike, the judge assigns Gus to supervise his community service.

Spike knows that Gus is disappointed in him. He is prepared to receive what he calls “the big lecture,” like the one his parents gave him. To his surprise, Gus doesn’t give him a lecture. Here is their conversation:

“I told you I wasn’t going to give you a lecture”–Gus smiled–“and I’m not. But I would like to share something with you.” Gus took a small Bible from his back pocket and opened it. Then he handed it to Spike. “Read Romans twelve twenty-one. Read it out loud.”

Spike took the book from Gus’s outstretched hand and located the passage. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

“Do you have any thoughts on the meaning of that scripture?” Gus asked.

“Forgive instead of trying to get even. Is that what it means?”

“That’s pretty close,” Gus said.

“So you want me to forgive Todd and forget about revenge?”

“You’ll have to decide for yourself when you’re ready to forgive Todd. But I’m going to ask you to do something–something I think will make a big difference.”

“That’s the kind of thing my parents say just before they tell me to do something I don’t want to do.”

“I want you to promise to pray for Todd every day for a week. I’m not talking about a sissy prayer like ‘God bless Todd.’ I’m taking about a big-man prayer. I want you to ask God to bless Todd, to grant him good health and happiness. Ask God to look with favor on Todd and take care of all his needs.”

“Can I ask God to give Todd what he deserves?”

“Only if you’re asking God to give you what you deserve as well.”

“Okay,” Spike said after thinking about it for a while. “I’ll try what you said, but I don’t think it will make any difference. I don’t think Todd will ever change.”

“Let’s just wait and see what happens,” was all Gus said.

Of course, Gus wasn’t trying to change Todd. He was trying to change Spike. Later, Spike tells Gus that it is not easy to pray for someone and hate them at the same time. Spike begins to see Todd as a person, not as a bully. When he gives Todd a chance, Todd comes through to help in a tough situation. Through the process, Todd and Spike become friends.

Most of us realize that hatred and revenge are destructive behaviors–and yet, we engage in them anyway. We even justify what we are doing by saying, as Spike did, that the other person needs to be taught a lesson. When we spend hours ranting and raving or plotting against someone, we give that person great power over us. It is not they who are suffering, but us. We are the ones who are miserable, as the person we are angry with goes on in ignorant bliss.

Last week I had an amazing experience at the Prayer and Life workshop I’m in. For the week prior to our class, we were instructed to write down anyone or anything that was causing us distress or had ever caused us distress in our lives. I wrote pages and pages. At first I wrote the big things, but then I wrote about little things as well. For the entire week, I poured out my heart onto paper. At our class, we offered our pages of misery as a holocaust to our Lord. As the pages burned we sang: “Change my heart, Oh God, make it ever true. Change my heart, oh God, may I be like You.” Then we raised our hands and prayed the “Our Father.” Finally we hugged each other, singing, “Shalom.”

I don’t know what I expected to happen, but the next morning I felt what I can only describe as a profound silence. I had never experienced such quietness in my head. This must be what it means to be in total peace, I thought. This week is our Great Week of Peace. So far, the peace is continuing. Sometimes negative thoughts creep in, but they seem removed from me, like they happened to someone else. I don’t know how long the peace will last, but I’m becoming sort of addicted to it. I hope it will continue as long as I live.

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

The Most Important Lesson, by Amber Nicole Snyder

AmberMy name is Amber Nicole Snyder. I’m in the fifth grade at Bluesky Elementary school. My teacher, Mr. Eller, asked our class to write about an important lesson we learned. This is my story.

Last year my friends and I started a group to help at the senior center. We called our group the Happy Helpers. I liked helping people and it was fun getting to know the seniors. We did what we were supposed to do at the senior center, but things kept going wrong. We were getting blamed for things we didn’t do. I thought it was because of the boys who also helped at the senior center. I thought they were making it look like we messed up. I started doing things to make them look bad. What I learned was that the things I did hurt the seniors I wanted to help. But that’s not the most important lesson I learned.

The people at the senior center gave me a second chance to do the right thing. They forgave me for what I did. I learned that people forgive each other because of love. I learned that God forgives us too because he loves us so much. But that is not the most important lesson  I learned.

Even though I was given a second chance, I still felt bad about what I did. My dad said that I had to forgive myself. That was what God wanted me to do. Everybody else forgave me and God forgave me, but I still had to forgive myself. Otherwise, that was like saying to my friends, “I don’t accept your forgiveness.” It was like saying to God, “I don’t accept your forgiveness.” That’s why I forgave myself and went back to being a helper at the senior center. That was the most important lesson I learned.

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon