Tag Archives: The Handy Helpers books

A Rocky Start: Chapter Seventeen Continued

Amber

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 Sixteen Continued

Image1-17_edited-1

“Hurry up!” Melissa practically dragged her two friends to the bike rack after school on Tuesday.

“Slow down!” Laura insisted. “What’s the big hurry?”

“We have to get to the senior center before the boys do,” Melissa answered. “Hurry up!”

 

The girls had been in their hiding place for a few minutes before the Three Handy Guys showed up. They watched as Spike got the cleaning supplies out of the storage cabinet and headed to the men’s room with Chris and Logan. They could hear them talking in the men’s room but couldn’t quite make out what they were saying.

“They’ll be going in the ladies’ room next,” Melissa said in a hushed voice. “Then we’ll make our move.”

“What’s our move?” Amber asked, unsure about what they were doing there.

“You’ll see,” Melissa said, taking out a length of rope.

“What are you going to do with that?” Laura sounded worried. “We can’t tie them up.”

“We’re not going to tie them up.” Melissa laughed. “We’re going to tie them in.”

Just then, Logan and Spike came out of the men’s room and headed for the ladies’ room. As soon as they were inside with the door closed, Melissa made her move. Walking quickly, but quietly, she reached the restroom door. Wrapping part of the rope around the doorknob, she stretched it over to the copy room door and wrapped more of the rope around that doorknob. Then she tied the two ends of the rope together. Laura and Amber, who had remained in their hiding place, were beginning to understand what Melissa had in mind. The girls only had to wait about ten minutes before the boys tried to leave the ladies’ room. They thought the door was stuck. The girls could hear them pushing on it. When it wouldn’t open, they began pounding on the door and yelling for help.

The noise Spike and Logan were making brought Chris running from the men’s room. “What’s wrong?” Chris shouted through the door.

“We can’t get the door open.” It was Spike’s voice from inside the ladies’ room.

“I see the problem,” Chris said to Spike, “There’s a rope tied around the doorknob. Just a minute and I’ll untie it.”

Chris was still untying the rope when Walt and Mrs. Snow came on the scene. The girls, hidden behind the door, watched as the guys tried to explain what was going on.

“We needed some more supplies to clean the ladies’ room,” Spike began, “and I was trying to open the door. We thought it was stuck.”

“This rope was tied around it,” Chris continued. “I don’t know where it came from.”

“Why were you cleaning the ladies’ room?” Walt asked.

“That’s what it said on the assignment sheet.” Logan looked confused. “We’ve never had that job before, but we thought that was what you wanted us to do.”

“I didn’t assign you to clean the restrooms,” Mrs. Snow said. “I didn’t assign anyone to do it. I was planning on doing it myself.”

“Well, it’s right here on the assignment sheet,” Logan said again. “See for yourself.”

The girls were having trouble holding back their laughter. They could hardly wait for what was coming next. As the guys looked at the assignment sheet, the color drained from their faces, and they couldn’t even speak.

“So what do you have to say for yourselves?” Mrs. Snow wanted to know. “This is not a place to play. You’ve been warned before.”

“We weren’t playing around, Mrs. Snow.” Spike was the first to recover from the shock. “Honest.”

“We’ll talk about it after the luncheon on Saturday,” Walt told them. “But no more funny business, you hear?”

“There won’t be any,” Logan managed to say. “Not from us.”

Walt and Mrs. Snow went back into their offices. The girls watched as the guys returned the cleaning supplies to the supply closet and headed for the front door. Then the girls sneaked out the back door, got on their bikes, and rode away as fast as they could.

Fifteen minutes later, they were sitting in Melissa’s backyard.

“I can’t believe you got away with that!” Amber exclaimed.

“I was sure we were going to get caught,” Laura added. “I was shaking so hard I was afraid I’d give us away.”

“I never had a doubt,” Melissa assured them. “I told you I’d come up with the perfect plan.”

“You sure did,” Amber agreed. “The guys never saw it coming.”

 

Amber was sitting on her bed, working on a sketch of Domino. She was working from memory now. She had managed to get Domino to sit still for a few minutes, but then he wandered away downstairs.

“Amber, telephone,” she heard her mom call up the stairs.

“I’ll be right there,” Amber called back.

“Hello . . . Yes, this is Amber . . . Mrs. Henry? . . . You saw our flyer in the senior center? . . . Yes, we can do that . . . After school tomorrow? . . . No problem, we’ll be there . . . Just let me write down the address.”

“Who was that?” Mary asked after Amber hung up the phone. “And what about after school tomorrow?”

“It was Mrs. Henry’s grandson. She’s out of town and wants us to water the plants in her front yard. I said we could do it after school tomorrow.”

“Kyle has his big play-off game tomorrow,” Mary reminded her. “He expects us to be there.”

“I’ll have time,” Amber assured her. “It won’t take long with the three of us doing the watering. I’ll be home in plenty of time to go to Kyle’s game.”

 

The Happy Helpers were excited about the job at Mrs. Henry’s. This was the first response to the flyer they had put up on the bulletin board at the senior center. Of course, they had helped Doris Duncan when she hurt her back, but Betty Jenkins had gotten that job for them.

Mrs. Henry’s home was on Briar Street, just three blocks from Amber’s house. The girls left their bikes in the driveway and looked for the faucet and hose where her grandson said they would be. Laura grabbed a bucket she saw on the front porch and started filling it with water.

“I can use this to water some of the smaller plants,” Laura said.

“Drag the hose over to that tree,” Melissa told Amber. “I’ll turn the water on for you.”

Amber finished watering the first tree and was carrying the end of the hose to the next tree. Melissa was helping her by moving the rest of the hose so it wouldn’t get caught on anything. Just as Amber reached the next tree, she noticed that no water was coming out of the hose.

“What happ—”  She was staring at the end of the hose when Melissa let go of the crimp she had made in the hose. Now under greater pressure, the water gushed out, spraying Amber in the face.

“Why did you do that?” Amber yelled at her laughing friend. “Now I’m all wet!”

Amber used her finger to partly cover the end of the hose, making the water spray. Then she aimed the hose at Melissa. Expecting the counterattack, Melissa moved out of the way. But Laura, who turned around when she heard Amber yell, got it right in the face. Melissa, now bent over in laughter, didn’t see Amber fill Laura’s bucket. It was too late when she saw Laura coming toward her, flinging the water in Melissa’s direction.

Melissa picked up the hose and sprayed both of her friends, who ran over and pounced on her. Amber took the hose away from Melissa and made sure she was as wet as they were.

“What do you think you’re doing?” The three dripping girls looked up to see an elderly woman standing on the front porch. She was wearing a housedress, and knee-high stockings that didn’t quite make it to her knees. Her powder-white hair had been pinned up on her head, but was now tumbling down on her face. In her hand was a broom, which she was waving in their direction.

“Turn that water off and get out of here!” she was yelling at them. “I’ve called the police. They’re on their way!”

Laura, who was closest to the faucet, turned off the water as the other two ran for their bikes. A few minutes later, all three of them collapsed on Amber’s front lawn.

“Do you think that was Mrs. Henry?” Laura asked.

“Probably,” Melissa said. “I don’t think she knew we were coming to water her plants.”

“Well,” Amber added, “her grandson asked us to. Maybe he forgot to tell her.”

“But she obviously isn’t out of town,” Laura pointed out.

“What did her grandson sound like?” Melissa asked.

“What do you mean?” Amber was confused.

“Was he old, young? You know.”

“He was kind of young, I guess,” Amber said.

“I bet it was one of those handy guys,” Melissa said with disgust.

“Now that I think about it, he did sound kind of funny,” Amber said thoughtfully. “And there was some laughing in the background. I thought maybe they were having a party.”

Just then, three boys rode by on bikes. They were waving and yelling something.

“Was that Spike and company?” Amber asked sarcastically.

“It looks like them,” Laura said. “I wonder what they were saying.”

“They were probably watching us at Mrs. Henry’s. I bet they saw the whole thing,” Melissa said, irritated.

“Well, I guess they got even,” Amber pointed out.

“Bet we’ll never hear the end of it,” Laura added.

“Amber, get in here,” Mary called from the front door. “Why are you all wet?”

“I was just—” Amber started to explain.

“Get changed,” Mary interrupted. “We’re late for Kyle’s game.”

 

Amber looked at the scoreboard as she took her seat at the baseball game. It was the top of the second inning, and both teams were scoreless. She watched as the batter struck out for the third out, bringing Kyle’s team up to bat. The first two batters were out at first base, and the third batter hit a fly ball that resulted in out number three. The score remained nothing to nothing through two more innings. Kyle came to bat in the fifth inning and hit a single. At the end of the inning, he was stranded at third base, with no runs being scored during that inning. The first batter on the other team hit a lead-off home run at the top of the sixth inning. The Bulldog pitcher, obviously shaken, walked the next batter. Then a batter hit a single. A wild pitch allowed the two runners to steal. Now there were runners on second and third. The next batter hit a ground ball, and the runners both made it home. The final score was five to one. For once, Kyle hadn’t scored a single run. Amber was as shocked as the other fans when the Bulldogs lost.

After the game, Amber and her parents went out on the field to congratulate the team on a great season. Spirits were a little low, of course, but there was talk about next year and what they would do as junior varsity players. Kyle stayed behind for an end-of-the-season celebration in the locker room while Amber and her parents headed for home.

 

Amber had been home for about an hour when she heard Kyle come in the front door. On the way back from the bathroom after brushing her teeth, she saw the door to Kyle’s room was open and he was sitting on the bed.

“Sorry you didn’t win your game,” Amber said sincerely.

“Thanks, sis,” Kyle said. “We knew winning was a long shot. That was a really good team we were playing. Anyway, at least we made the play-offs, even if we didn’t get very far.”

“But you’re a great player,” Amber said. “You always win.”

“We don’t always win, and I’m a pretty good player,” Kyle corrected her. “I don’t think I’m a great player. There are lots of guys who are better than I am.”

“It just seems like you do everything right,” Amber went on, “and I mess up all the time.”

“I mess up plenty,” Kyle said. “And you do lots of things better than I do.”

“Like what?” Amber asked.

“Like drawing,” Kyle answered. “I have no artistic talent at all. You’re a very good artist.”

“Thanks.” Amber smiled. “It’s usually hard for me to concentrate. But when I’m working on a drawing, I don’t seem to have that problem.”

“Well, it shows,” Kyle said. “Maybe you’ll be a famous artist someday.”

“I doubt that.” Amber shook her head. “Good night.” Then she added, “I’m glad you’re my big brother.”

“So am I.” Kyle smiled back.

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

Kindness is Contagious

no act of kindnessWe have all met people who, in spite of our best efforts, remain difficult to deal with. For the Handy Helpers, that person is Agnes Henry.

Laura and Amber are asked to help Mrs. Henry who is recovering from a broken hip. The girls have had previous experiences with Mrs. Henry and know what they are in for.

“‘Mrs. Henry!’ Amber yelled through the door. ‘It’s Laura and Amber. We came to see if you need any help.’

‘Come on in!’ she yelled back. As the girls opened the door, they heard her say, ‘Might as well. You already woke me up.’ The wrinkled condition of Mrs. Henry’s housedress told Amber and Laura that she really had been sleeping. Her thin white hair was piled up on her head so that it looked like a giant spider had woven its web there.

‘How are you feeling?’ Laura asked, trying not to react to her appearance.

‘I have a broken hip. How do you think I feel?’

‘We were very sorry to hear about your accident.’ Amber hoped she sounded sincere. ‘How did it happen?’

‘It’s a long story,’ Mrs. Henry sighed. Amber and Laura were sure it would be.”

When the girls return to help Mrs. Henry the following week, they take Beth Anne with them. Beth Anne has heard the horror stories about Mrs. Henry and she is reluctant to go, but finally decides that she will be brave.

“Beth Anne remained behind her friends as they knocked on the door at Mrs. Henry’s. Laura and Amber were surprised when the door was opened by a woman who looked like Mrs. Henry, only younger, with dark-brown hair cut in a short bob that framed her cheerful face.

‘We’re here to see Mrs. Henry,’ Laura explained. ‘We’re Handy Helpers. She asked us to come today.’

‘Who is it?’ they heard Mrs. Henry call from inside the house.

‘It’s some little girls, Mom,’ the other woman called back. ‘They said they’re Handy Helpers.’

‘Oh, I forgot I told them to come today.’ Mrs. Henry rolled up in her wheelchair. ‘My daughter Clara is here so I guess you can just go home.’

‘Mom!’ Clara sounded shocked. ‘At least invite them in.’

‘Why? I don’t need any help with you here.'”

Of course, the Handy Helpers do come in, along with Beth Anne. After a short visit, Mrs. Henry goes to her room, claiming to be tired. Laura and Amber remain in the kitchen, talking to Clara, who is concerned about her mother. No one notices that Beth Anne has left, but when they look for her, they find her sitting on Mrs. Henry’s bed, brushing her hair.

‘See,’ Beth Anne was saying, ‘your hair looks just like it did in your picture. It’s so beautiful.’

Mrs. Henry was holding an old photograph in one hand and a mirror in the other hand. ‘No it doesn’t,’ she said. ‘My hair used to be such a lovely dark brown. Mr. Henry loved my brown hair.’

‘But now it looks just like a cloud,’ Beth Anne said sweetly.”

The relationship between Beth Anne and Mrs. Henry continues to develop as Beth Anne encourages Mrs. Henry to get out of the wheelchair and walk. Beth Anne finds a walker that her grandfather used stored in the garage. She brings the walker to Mrs. Henry who after some struggles is able to use it.

Ironically, later in the book, Beth Anne falls and suffers a broken leg. Mrs. Henry sits by her bed every day while Beth Anne is in the hospital. When Beth Anne is home with a cast on her leg, Mrs. Henry shows up with the very same walker. It is Mrs. Henry’s encouragement that gets Beth Anne out of the wheelchair and back on her feet.

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

 

A Rocky Start: Chapter Sixteen

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Monday afternoon, the girls found Gus sitting in a chair in the lobby of the senior center. “Why did the elephant paint his toenails red?” he asked when he saw them come in.

“I don’t know,” Laura said, taking the bait. “Why did the elephant paint his toenails red?”

“So he could hide in the strawberry patch.” Gus laughed.

“That’s a good one, Gus,” Amber said, smiling.

“Yeah.” Melissa laughed. “Very funny.”

“What are you girls up to today?” Gus wanted to know.

“We’re here to check the schedule just like we do every Monday,” Laura explained.

“What are you doing hanging around here?” Amber asked Gus.

“Watching for pretty girls,” was Gus’s answer.

“Have you seen any?” Amber asked.

“Yeah.” Gus smiled. “Three beautiful girls just walked through the door.”

“Where?” Amber looked around.

“He means us, silly,” Melissa said, fluffing out her hair. “You’re sweet, Gus.”

“See you later,” Amber said, and then added, “alligator.”

“After ’while, crocodile,” Gus answered back.

 

Walt was just putting the schedule up on the bulletin board when the girls walked up. “We’re giving you a week off,” Walt announced. “You worked pretty hard last week. We think you deserve a break.”

“That’s really nice,” Laura said. “But we like working here.”

“There’s more,” Walt continued. “On Saturday, we’re having an appreciation lunch for you and the boys. Where are they, by the way?”

“Oh, they’ll be a little late,” Amber said. “They stayed after school for something.”

“Could you let them know about the luncheon? It’ll be at noon on Saturday.”

“Sure, we’ll let them know,” Laura assured him.

“Okay, spill the beans,” Laura turned to Amber after Walt left. “Why are the boys staying after school?”

“They’re probably waiting for Spike. He had to serve detention,” Amber said with a grin. “Ms. McGuire asked me to see her after school. When I walked in the room, I saw Spike sitting at his desk with his head down.”

“Why, what did he do?” Laura wanted to know more.

“What I heard was that he was pretending to be Ms. McGuire. You know that act he does,” Melissa chimed in.

“Yeah, I’ve seen him do that,” Laura said. “That’s why he got detention?”

“He was clapping his hands and saying, ‘Now class, settle down. Settle down. I have some great news. You’re going to get to do fifty pages of homework tonight. Isn’t that exciting?’ He didn’t see Ms. McGuire come in with two other teachers. She probably would have laughed it off, but I guess she didn’t want the other teachers to think she was a pushover, so she gave him detention.”

“What about Chris and Logan?” Laura asked. “Why aren’t they here?”

“They probably waited for Spike,” Amber said. “They’ll all show up together. They’re like the three musketeers.”

“Don’t you mean the three stooges?” Melissa laughed.

Even though they knew their names were not on the schedule, the girls walked over to the bulletin board and looked at it anyway. “I’ve got a great idea,” Melissa said excitedly as she looked down the list of jobs. “Watch this.” Melissa pulled a pencil out of her book bag and wrote something on one of the empty lines on the schedule. When she was finished, Amber and Laura saw that she had written “Three Handy Guys” next to the assignment to clean the restrooms, and then she had checked the box for Tuesday.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Laura said. “We’re going to get in trouble.”

“It’s just a joke, right?” Amber asked. “You’re going to erase it, aren’t you?”

“I am going to erase it after the guys see it,” Melissa said. “Don’t be chicken. This is going to be fun. Just wait and see what happens tomorrow.” Melissa pulled her two friends into a doorway where they wouldn’t be seen. “We’ll wait here until the boys come.”

A few minutes later, they watched from their hiding place as the Three Handy Guys came through the front door and headed for the bulletin board.

“Clean the restrooms?” Chris said with surprise. “We’ve never had that job before.”

“How hard could it be?” Spike reassured him. “We can handle that with no problem. I know where all the cleaning supplies are.”

Just then, Walt came out of his office. “Did the girls tell you about Saturday?” he asked.

“No, we haven’t seen them,” Logan said. “What’s happening Saturday?”

“We’re having an appreciation lunch for all of you,” Walt told them. “Be here at noon and enjoy a feast.”

“Thanks,” they all said. “We will.”

The girls watched as the boys left. Then Melissa took her pencil from her book bag again and carefully erased “Three Handy Guys” from the schedule.

 

“Ask me what happened in school today,” Amber said with excitement that night at the dinner table. “Go ahead, ask me. You aren’t going to believe it!”

“Okay, Fred, tell us what happened in school today,” John said with a chuckle. “You look like you’re about to explode.”

“You remember that big math assignment we had to do?” Amber asked her family.

“The one I helped you with?” Kyle said smugly. “Let me guess, you got a passing grade on it.”

“Well, I did,” Amber went on, “But that’s not it. In math today, Ms. McGuire told us what happened to that assignment. She took it home on Friday so she could grade the papers. On Sunday morning, she was looking out in her backyard. There was a lot of white stuff all over her yard. When she went to see what it was, she found our math papers in shreds. Her dog had dragged them out through his doggy door. He was in the backyard with some of our papers in his front paws. He was chewing on them like they were a T-bone steak. Ms. McGuire said that she never believed students who said their dog ate their homework, but now she does. After school, she told me she was giving me credit for the homework Domino ate.”

“Do you have to do the big assignment over again?” Mary asked with concern.

“No, I don’t.” Amber smiled proudly. “Fortunately, Ms. McGuire had already graded the papers and recorded the scores. She said that anyone who had at least 75 percent on the homework would not have to do it again. Anyone who had less than that was going to have to do it again anyway. I got an 88, so I’m fine.”

“Good going, sis.” Kyle patted her on the back.

“That’s quite a story,” John said. “I wonder if her dog is Domino’s brother.”

 

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

A Rocky Start: Chapter Fifteen Continued

Amber

Sunday morning, Amber realized she hadn’t checked on the bird family for a while. When she looked out the window, she was disappointed to see that the nest was empty.

“I didn’t even get a chance to say good-bye,” she groaned to her family at breakfast.

“That’s the way children are,” her father said, pretending to be serious. “You dedicate yourself to feeding and sheltering them, and as soon as they get out on their own, they move away and forget all about you.”

“I’ll never do that.” Amber hugged her dad around the neck from behind his chair. “I’m going to stay right here in Bluesky for the rest of my life.”

“I wouldn’t plan so far ahead,” Mary warned. “Things change, even in Bluesky.”

Amber was wishing that she could avoid going to church that Sunday morning. She was convinced that the boys were responsible for everything that had happened at the senior center. After all, they started it. And she was feeling that her own actions were justified. She hadn’t told her friends that she was the one who cut the holes in the bags of shredding, and she didn’t see any reason why they needed to know. As far as they were concerned, it was them against the Three Handy Guys. Going to church might just cloud her thinking with talk about loving your enemies. She didn’t see how she could be expected to love those three guys after what they had done.

Pretending to be sick was an option Amber considered only briefly. She knew better than to try it. That was a lesson she learned when she was seven. Kyle had warned her to never try to fool their mother by pretending to be sick, but Amber still had to find out for herself the hard way. A book report was due, and Amber hadn’t even finished reading the book, let alone write the book report. She thought about asking her teacher, Mrs. Bennett, for more time, but she was afraid her teacher would figure out that she had put off reading the book until it was too late to finish it before the book report was due. Mrs. Bennett might even tell her mother. Then she’d be in more trouble. Staying home from school seemed like the perfect answer. It would give her time to finish reading and write her report. Her teacher would never know.

Amber stood in front of the mirror for ten minutes practicing her “sick face.” Finally, she thought she was convincing enough to go downstairs. Walking up to her mother in the kitchen, Amber held one hand over her mouth and gagged a little. With the other hand, she held her stomach. “I don’t feel good,” she said in a sad little voice.

Mary put her hand to Amber’s forehead. “You don’t feel hot,” Mary said. “Maybe you’ll feel better after you eat breakfast.”

At the words “eat breakfast,” Amber ran to the bathroom and made noises as if she was throwing up. “I don’t think I can eat breakfast,” she said when she came back into the kitchen. “I think I should stay home today.”

“Okay,” Mary said after a moment of thought. “Go upstairs and put on your pajamas. I’ll be right up.”

Amber was sitting on the edge of her bed in her pajamas when her mother came into the room. “I called the office to say I wouldn’t be in,” Mary said. “Let’s get you into bed.”

“I didn’t think you would have to miss work.” Amber sounded worried. “I . . . I can stay home by myself.”

“That’s not going to happen,” Mary assured her. “Now lie down. I’ll turn out the lights, and you just rest.”

“Can I read my book?” Amber asked.

“Oh, no, you’re sick,” Mary said seriously. “You need lots of sleep so you can get well. Now close your eyes. I’ll take your book so you won’t be tempted to read. You need complete rest.”

After a few hours, Amber was feeling very hungry. Much to her relief, her mom came in with a tray of food.

“Do you think you could eat a little now?” Mary asked.

“I think so,” Amber said weakly. “At least I can try. What is it?”

“Milk toast,” Mary announced. “It’s just what the doctor ordered.”

“He did?” Amber said, amazed.

“That’s just an expression,” Mary explained. “It means this is the perfect thing for you to eat while you’re sick.”

Amber stared at the soggy bread floating in warm milk. “Yuck,” she said after her mother left. She poked at it with her spoon and then put the spoon down on the tray. By the time her mother returned, the milk was cool and the bread had turned to mush.

“You didn’t eat much,” Mary said. “I guess you’re still not feeling well. A little more sleep will fix you up.”

An hour later, Mary returned with a glass of warm green Jell-O. “Still can’t eat?” Mary asked when Amber put the Jell-O down without taking a sip. “Not that,” Amber said, pointing toward the Jell-O.

Mary started out of the room. “Mom.” Amber’s voice shook. “I  . . . I have something to tell you.”

“Let me guess.” Mary laughed. “You’re not really sick.”

“How did you know?” Amber asked.

“Kyle tried the same thing when he was about your age. I was sure he had warned you.”

“He did,” Amber said. “But I thought I would be better at it than he was.”

“Why didn’t you want to go to school today?” Mary asked. “I’m sure you must have had a very good reason.”

“I have a book report that’s due today. I didn’t get it finished. I thought I could finish it while I was home sick. Then I could take it to school tomorrow.”

“I guess it didn’t exactly work out as you had planned.” Mary laughed.

“No, it didn’t,” Amber sighed. “I would still like to finish my book report, though.”

“I hope you learned something from this experience.” Mary laughed again.

“I sure did,” Amber said. “I learned that pretending to be sick doesn’t work with a mom like you.”

“I was hoping you learned something like ‘Honesty is the best policy,’” Mary pointed out.

“I did,” Amber said. “I really did. I’ll never try that again.”

“Here’s your book,” Mary said. “Happy reading.”

“Mom,” Amber called as her mother started out the door. “Can I have something to eat?”

“Of course,” Mary said. “You must be really hungry. How about a nice peanut butter and jelly sandwich?”

“Thanks,” Amber said with a sigh of relief.

The next day, Amber proudly handed her book report to Mrs. Bennett.

“Wow,” Mrs. Bennett said. “You’re turning it in two days early.”

“What?” Amber asked, confused. “I thought the book reports were due yesterday.”

“Don’t you remember?” Mrs. Bennett reminded her. “I extended the deadline to Friday. You still have two more days. I hope that wasn’t why you were absent yesterday.”

Amber slid into her seat without saying another word.

 

Much to Amber’s relief, the topic of the day at church was stewardship. The Sunday sermon was the annual financial report and a plea for an increase in the weekly offerings. Pledge cards were passed out, and church members were asked to pray about how much to pledge. “Please be as generous as God has been to you,” Pastor Evans reminded them.

The Sunday school lesson had also been about stewardship. Their Sunday school teacher, Mr. Moore, told them that God gave us dominion over our environment. That meant that we have a responsibility to use God’s gifts wisely. It was obvious to Amber that even God agreed she was justified in being angry at the boys. She was thinking that she had been worrying for no reason until Mrs. Snow came in just as the class was ending.

“I have a little gift for each of you,” Mrs. Snow announced. Then she handed scripture cards to the members of the Sunday school class. She had hand-printed scriptures on the cards and stamped them with pictures of flowers and birds that she had colored with colored pencils. Everyone made comments about how beautiful the cards were and thanked Mrs. Snow.

Amber read the scripture written on her card. It was from Romans 12:21: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” She looked across the table at Chris, who read his card and shoved it in his jacket pocket.

Elizabeth Sawyer, who was sitting on Amber’s right, handed her card to Amber. “Isn’t it gorgeous?” she gushed. “I’m going to keep it in my Bible.” The scripture read, “This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice in it and be glad. Psalms 118: 24.”

“What does your card say?” Elizabeth asked Melissa, who was seated on the other side of Amber.

“Here,” Melissa said, handing Elizabeth the card. “Read it yourself.”

Elizabeth read the card out loud. “‘And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the father through him. Colossians 3:17.’ Isn’t that beautiful? Don’t you just love it?”

“Yeah,” Melissa said. “It was really nice of Mrs. Snow to give me that card.”

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon

A Rocky Start: Chapter Fifteen

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For once, the Happy Helpers arrived at the senior center ahead of Three Handy Guys for their Saturday assignments. Bob showed the girls what needed to be done in the kitchen. Everything had to be wiped down and cleaned because a health inspector was coming on Monday. Bob explained that the senior center had to get a good rating from the Health Department in order to continue serving meals. He really needed the girls to do their best to get things especially spotless. He asked Laura to help him wipe down everything in the kitchen. Melissa and Amber were given the job of folding up the tables and chairs so that they could sweep and mop the entire floor.

The two girls had nearly finished getting the tables and chairs out of the way when the Three Handy Guys arrived. They were jostling each other and laughing at something as they made their way through the dining room to the door that went to the back side of the building.

“Having fun?” Spike laughed as he watched the girls struggling to fold up the last table. “Come outside when you’re done, and you can help us have some real fun.”

“That’s okay,” Melissa shot back. “We like doing this.”

“Sure you do.” Spike laughed again. “We can tell by the smiles on your faces.”

“Would you like some help with the tables?” Logan offered.

“We’ve almost got it done,” Amber said. “But thanks anyway.”

“Boys,” a man called from the doorway.

Everyone turned to see Walt walking toward them.

“I need to talk to you for a minute.” Walt had a serious look on his face.

“I wonder what they did.” Melissa watched the boys as they followed Walt through the doorway.

“No idea,” Amber mumbled as she folded up the last chair and put it on the storage rack.

“I’ll sweep, and you can mop,” Melissa suggested, returning from the storage closet with the broom and dustpan.

“That’s fine with me,” Amber said. She took a bucket out of the storage closet, added floor cleaner, and filled the bucket with water.

Melissa started sweeping the far section of the dining room. As she finished a section, Amber came in behind her and mopped the area. When she had finished sweeping the entire floor, Melissa walked toward the kitchen to empty the bucket she had been using to collect the dirt as she swept it up.

Amber continued to mop the rest of the floor. Behind her she heard boys talking and turned to see the Three Handy Guys walking across the clean floor. They were all dripping wet, and their shoes were leaving muddy footprints.

“What are you doing?” Amber shouted.

“You missed some over here.” Spike pointed to the muddy prints and laughed. “You sure don’t know how to mop a floor.”

“She’s a girl,” Chris chimed in. “What do you expect?”

“We’d show you how it’s done,” Logan added. “But you girls think you can do anything better than we can.”

“That floor was perfectly clean!” Melissa shrieked. “You messed it up on purpose!”

“Bingo!” Spike said snidely. “Give the girl a Kewpie doll.”

“That’s what you get for cutting holes in the plastic bags after we did all that shredding,” Logan said with anger in his voice.

“We know it was you,” Chris added. “No one else would have done it.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about,” Melissa said. “Do you?” she asked Amber.

“No.” Amber shook her head. “No idea at all.”

“You’re trying to get us kicked out so you can take over,” Spike stormed. “But you won’t get away with it!”

The boys continued across the floor, leaving more footprints as they went and even shaking water and mud from their pants. Amber followed behind, mopping up as best as she could.

“You’d better go get some fresh water,” Melissa suggested. “You’re just smearing the mud around.”

Amber carried the bucket full of muddy water into the kitchen. Bob had the back door open so that he could take out the trash. Through the door, Amber saw the van, sparkling clean and white. She looked at the bucket in her hands and back at the van. Before she knew what she was doing, the muddy water was splashed all over the van.

“I can’t believe you did that!” Laura gasped.

“I can,” Melissa said. “You should have heard how those boys talked to us.”

“You mean Spike?” Laura asked.

“I mean all three of them,” Melissa continued. “They accused us of cutting holes in the bags with the shredded paper. Can you imagine?”

“Why would they think we would do that?” Laura looked from Melissa to Amber.

“They think we’re trying to take over,” Melissa told her. “That we’re intentionally trying to get them in trouble!”

“We’d better get the floor clean before Bob comes back,” Amber pointed out. “We might get in trouble if he sees this muddy floor. It would be our word against the boys. Bob might not believe us.”

Melissa and Laura grabbed mops and helped Amber clean up the mud. They were just closing the door on the storage room when Bob came into the dining area.

“Wow!” he exclaimed. “You girls did a really nice job. Everything is so clean and shiny. I’m sure we’ll get an A rating from the Health Department.”

The girls turned to look at him, but didn’t say anything. “Here,” he said, handing them each a paper bag. “I can’t do much to say thanks, but at least I can give you lunch. It’s a beautiful day. Why don’t you eat your lunch outside on a picnic table?”

Laura chose a picnic table in the shade and sat down. Amber and Melissa followed her and sat across the table. They started unpacking the lunch bags. Each one contained a turkey-and-cheese sandwich, some carrot sticks, a bag of chips, and two cookies. There was also a small container of juice.

“Can you believe those guys?” Melissa said between bites of her sandwich.

“I wonder what made them so mad,” Laura mused. “I can believe something like that from Spike, but Chris and Logan are usually pretty nice.”

“They probably cut holes in the bags themselves,” Melissa suggested, “and tried to blame it on us. When that didn’t work, they got mad.”

“Maybe,” Laura said, still doubtful. “What do you think, Amber?”

“That sounds logical,” Amber agreed with Melissa. “Logan and Chris would probably go along with any idea Spike came up with. They believe anything he says.”

“Do you think they planned it from the start?” Laura asked. “I mean hiding the spoons and the brooms?”

“I’m sure of it!” Melissa said firmly. “Then when we spoiled their fun by using those old brooms, they threw rocks and dirt all over the walkway so it looked like we didn’t sweep it at all.”

“They didn’t like it when we were assigned to do the shredding,” Amber pointed out, “so when they saw their chance, they spread the shredding all over the copy room.”

“We can’t let them get away with this!” Melissa smashed her juice carton with her fist. “We need to teach them a lesson.”

“I don’t know about that,” Laura said nervously, “We could get into more trouble.”

“Not if we’re careful,” Melissa assured her.

“What do you have in mind?” Amber leaned toward Melissa.

“I don’t exactly know, but give me time. I’ll come up with a perfect plan.”

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