Tuesday, November 20, 2018

“Praise God!” by Zoe M. McCarthy

Thanksgiving is a time to praise God. Please enjoy a short story that came true about my mother’s salvation twelve years after I wrote the story. - Zoe

Illustration by Greg Lahti
“Praise God!”

        Eight women sat in a circle in the large hall in the old building of the church. Two exchanged recipes, three talked about the youth retreat, and three discussed a Christian book on prayer.
        “It’s six thirty,” Betty said. “We should get started.”
        The women wound down their conversations and turned to the center of the circle.
        “Let’s go to the Lord in prayer,” Betty said. “Father, we’re gathered here to share our concerns. We invite the Holy Spirit to direct our time together this morning. Amen.”
        Some women turned to fresh pages in their prayer journals while others dug pens from their purses. Just then, the large door to the hall clunked open. All the women turned to the sound. The door opened, but no one appeared in the doorway. After several seconds, an elderly woman, preceded by an aluminum walker, slowly entered the room. When she cleared the doorway, a younger woman stuck her head into the room.
        “I’ll return for you in an hour, Charlotte,” she said.
        The elderly woman nodded and continued her place-and-step journey across the hardwood floor toward the circle of women.
        The women were so taken off guard by the unfamiliar elderly woman’s presence that it took a full minute before Blaine went to greet the woman.
        Once Charlotte was seated, each woman introduced herself. Charlotte nodded to each woman in turn. Then she waved her hand, indicating they continue with their business.
        Ellen glanced at Charlotte. She felt uncomfortable sharing her concerns in front of a stranger.
        “Would you continue to pray for my son, Jerry?” she asked. “Please pray that God will give me the words to say to him. I don’t want to push him further away from me. I’ve been praying so long that God will help my Jerry find his way to Him that I wonder if God hears me. I trust He does, and so I keep on praying for Jerry.”
        “Praise God!” Charlotte said.
        Charlotte’s outburst startled the women. They glanced at one another.
        “God does hear you, Ellen,” Cynthia finally said. ”We must be patient. I’ve been praying a long time for that man I sleep next to every night. Don sees my church as the ‘little thing’ I do to keep occupied. Please put him on your list—again.”
        “Praise God!” Charlotte said and smiled.
        The women shifted in their chairs or doodled in their journals.
        Candace smiled at Charlotte. The poor old dear was probably senile. She turned to the other women. “My son, Billy, is discouraged with his job down at the plant. I’m certain if he knew Christ, he could have peace about it. The owner, Buck Grayson, really put the screws to him last month. Please pray for Billy to come to Christ.”
        “Praise God!” Charlotte said.
        Betty glanced Charlotte’s way, then spoke. “Buck Grayson has done so many heartless things to the workers over the years. He docked my daughter’s pay because she took too long vomiting in the bathroom during her pregnancy. She asked if she could use the fifteen minutes she was in the bathroom as her morning break. He said no. He said her morning break was scheduled for ten o’clock, not nine. As if she could schedule her morning sickness! By the way, put Amy on your lists. Her faith has been lukewarm lately. I fear she won’t bring up my grandchild in the church, just as I failed to do with her.”
        “Praise God!” Charlotte said. She lifted her frail arm to add punch to her statement.
        Blaine made certain Charlotte wasn’t going to say more before she spoke. “My son, Bert, is a supervisor at the plant. He told me that something incredible has been happening since last week. Buck Grayson has been doing kind things. In the elevator on Monday, he wished Bert a good morning and asked him if he was ready for the Christmas holiday. He told Bert he was especially looking forward to Christmas himself this year.”
        “Praise God!” Charlotte said.
        “Are you sure it was Buck Grayson?” Pam asked. “I used to work at the plant, and he never spoke to anyone, even when he was alone with someone in the elevator.”
        “Yes, it was Buck Grayson. Bert said the company lowered their cafeteria prices too.”
        “Praise God!” Charlotte said.
        “Billy also mentioned the lower cafeteria prices,” Candace said. “He was worried someone would be fired to make up the cost.”
        “And then yesterday,” Blaine said, “Bert said he and the other supervisors received a notice that, for the first time, Buck Grayson will shut down the plant at noon on Christmas Eve. It’s being announced today.”
        “Praise God!” Charlotte said.
        Candace burst into tears. “Yes, praise God.” She wiped her eyes and composed herself. “Billy was so sad to tell his son he couldn’t watch him play Joseph in the Christmas pageant that afternoon. Now he can go. Maybe God will touch Billy’s heart with the Christmas story.”
        “Praise God!” Charlotte drew out the word praise. “Ladies,” she said, her voice quivering, “don’t ever stop praying for your lost loved ones. Keep dropping to your knees no matter what. Hold on to what Isaiah prophesied: All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace. I’m here to tell you ladies God will answer your prayers. I’m going to join you here as long as I’m able. I’m going to pray for Jerry, Don, Billy, Amy, and Bert. I’m going to pray for them every day and help you ladies bring your loved ones to Christ doing just that. If you’ll back off and let God do his work in them and just pray for them, He’ll answer your prayers too. I know. God just answered my repeated prayer of thirty-eight years for my son, Buck, to come to know Jesus.”
        All the women shouted at once, “Praise God!”

*Illustration by my nephew, Greg Lahti.
About the Author
Zoe M. McCarthy
A full-time writer and speaker, Zoe M. McCarthy, author of The Putting Green Whisperer, The Invisible Woman in a Red Dress, Gift of the Magpie, and Calculated Risk, writes contemporary Christian romances involving tenderness and humor. Believing opposites distract, Zoe creates heroes and heroines who learn to embrace their differences. When she’s not writing, Zoe enjoys her five grandchildren, teaching Bible studies, leading workshops on writing, knitting and crocheting shawls for a prayer shawl ministry, and canoeing. She lives with her husband in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Zoe blogs regularly at www.zoemmccarthy.com.
The Putting Green Whisperer
by Zoe M. McCarthy

The Putting Green Whisperer
Suddenly unemployed, Allie Masterson returns home to Cary, North Carolina where she caddies for the father on the PGA Seniors Tour. There, she encounters a man who possesses an alluring gift of reading the contours of the green. Fascinated with his uncanny ability, Allie is excited to meet the Green Whisperer—until she discovers that the easygoing caddy is actually Shoo Leonard, the boy who teased her relentlessly when they were kids. Despite Allie's reservations, when Shoo is faced with having to overcome a hand injury, she agrees to use her sports science degree to become his trainer...and then she falls for him.

Shoo Leonard is grateful to Allie for her singular determination to get him ready for the PGA tour, but he isn't ready for anything more. Still raw from a broken engagement and focused on his career, he's content to be her fist-bumping buddy...but then he falls for her.

What seems like a happily-ever-after on the horizon takes a turn when Allie decides she's become a distraction to Shoo's career. Is it time for her to step away or can The Putting Green Whisperer find the right words to make her stay?