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I'm most recently a writer.  In the six plus decades of my life, I've been a wife, mother, grandmother, Jill of all trades though mistress of but a few, and most of the time pretty content with my lot.  As a much younger person, I believed I was called to write, but life and living distracted me for most of those decades.  An unwilling transplant from the South,  twenty years ago I unintentionally landed in the geographical center of the US.  Writing came about in part due to the unwillingness, I expect.  When caring for family, gardening, and renovating a century-old house failed to provide sufficient creative outlets, I turned to the one thing I always intended to do.  Eight titles later, I'm grateful I found myself while Lost in the Plains!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Valley Rise Christmas--Day Seven

   We move next to Heart of My Own Heart to join Stani and Emily as they celebrate Christmas at the farm--their first Christmas as a married couple. 

For the first time, Stani Moss performed in the church where a year earlier he had begun his own journey to meet the Christ Child.  On the night of their return to the farm, Pastor Mike had asked if he would consider playing at the Christmas Eve service and he had immediately agreed.  Now, as he sat with Emily and John in a pew full of friends who had been strangers a year earlier, he knew he had completed that journey.  Watching the cherub choir, now under the care of Sara McConnell, seated around the crèche just as they had been with Emily that night, he felt the same tingle of anticipation.  Glancing at her candlelit face beside him, he saw much the same emotion shining in her eyes, and the corners of her mouth were turned up in that sweet, tranquil smile he so loved.  Beyond her, James and Penny sat hand in hand, their eyes meeting briefly as if to confirm the step they had taken together such a short time ago.
At the rear of the already crowded church, a whispered commotion could be heard.  Turning, Stani saw that Jack had arrived and was ushering in a group of late arrivals.  Leading the way down the aisle, he was followed by Bobby, walking slowly and leaning heavily on a cane.  Next to him, Ruthie carried little Emily, who gazed down on the faces along the way, her eyes bright with curiosity.  Three little boys followed, Robbie Joe bringing up the rear.  Stani watched their progress, as Jack brought them straight to the front of the church, where they filed into the pew directly opposite.  From his seat on the aisle, Robbie Joe looked across at Stani and smiled his brightest gap-toothed grin.  As he turned to leave, Jack laid a hand on Stani’s shoulder.  “Merry Christmas, son.”
The organ began to play, as the last of the congregation filed in, and when Pastor Mike took his place in the pulpit, a chill touched the back of Stani’s neck.  “This is the night of brilliant stars and heralding angels.  This is the night of humble shepherds and watchful wise men.  This is the night of our Savior’s birth.  Let us worship God together, on this night of miracles.”
Stani listened to the scriptures and carols, Emily’s hand tucked securely in his.  At the appointed time, he rose and took his violin to stand near the manger.  Aware of the wide-eyed cherubs, watching from the other side of the crèche, he smiled.  Then closing his eyes, he played.  What Child Is This?, a tune as familiar as his own breathing, tonight infused with a new spirit.  When the choir joined him, the music soared, swirling within the little church to draw in every listener.  In his mind’s eye, he saw Emily, her eyes glistening in the candlelight, her hand resting lightly over their unborn child.  His heart swelled in his chest, filled with more love and longing than he could ever have imagined a year ago, when he had stood at the back of this church and for the first time recognized the voice of God speaking so clearly.
     When he returned to his seat, he met the gaze of the little boy opposite, a gaze so full of awe that he felt another shiver of emotion.  For a long moment, he stared at Stani as if seeing him for the first time.  But when Stani smiled into the dark eyes, Robbie returned an adoring grin and darting across the aisle, threw himself into Stani’s arms.  Wordlessly, he gathered the child to him, momentarily overwhelmed by his own response.  This boy, so earnest and open, would never understand the power of his simple gesture.  But for Stani, who had yearned for the courage to show the same kind of gratitude to the man he most wanted to please, Robbie Joe’s arms, tightly hugging his neck, were the finest Christmas gift he could ever receive.

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