News of a Wedding/Span #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

Although my gaze was fixed upon the water as it rushed forth as if it were late for an appointment, my heart was otherwise engaged in a very distressing matter–a matter which has placed my very constitution for happiness in grave danger.

The whispers of the impending nuptials between George Allerton, my employer and the beautiful Lydia Bridewell have been growing louder.  Yesterday, I overheard Alice, the maid telling Beatrice, the cook that the wedding could be as early as a fortnight.  I wanted to inquire of Mrs. Moore, the housekeeper, if this were true but thought it best not to touch on the subject for fear of betraying my feelings if she did confirm it.  So, I held my tongue and suffered in silence.

For his part, Mr. Allerton has said nothing to me which I find to be very strange as it would be imperative for me to find employment elsewhere.  The thought of leaving Riverdale Manor, little Amy and Mr. Allerton fills me with torment.  Over a span of four years, I have grown to love my life here.  I cannot imagine finding the same happiness elsewhere.

Necessity bids me now to bring the matter of my leaving before Mr. Allerton as soon as possible.  I have made up my mind to broach the subject this evening after dinner and when we are alone in the drawing-room where he and I have spent many evenings together engaged in stimulating conversations.  It is obvious to me that he enjoys my company as much as I enjoy his and it warms my heart that he treats me not as a servant but as an equal.

My gaze swept over the beautiful landscape with the lush green grass and trees which swayed gently in the breeze.  I shall miss this place which has brought me such joy and peace.  I shall miss the solitude and the walks I have enjoyed with Mr. Allerton.   I shall miss seeing little Amy chasing after butterflies while I read or sketched.  And I shall miss Mrs. Moore who has been so kind and good to me.

Tears pricked my eyes and I turn to head back to the manor when I espied Mr. Allerton striding towards me.  I stood there, my heart racing.  Perhaps, he was coming to address the very matter I wanted to bring to his attention this evening.  He had been in town on business.  The manor was never the same when he wasn’t there.  When he went away for days and weeks at a time, it was torture for me.  I missed him dreadfully.

He was standing before me now, his hair as black as the night was tousled from his habit of running his fingers through the thick tresses and his face was slightly flushed from the exercise.  His eyes raked my face making me feel as little self-conscious.  I touched my face which felt hot.

“Miss Foster,” he said as he towered over me.  “I was told that I might find you here.  How have you been?”

I wanted to say that I have been miserable because he had been away and because of the news of Miss Bridewell and him.  Instead, I stepped back a little, attempted a smile and replied, “I have been well, Sir.”

He studied me with those penetrating dark brown eyes of his.  “You don’t look well,” he said, looking concerned.  “In fact, you look very pale.  Are you unwell?”

“No, Sir.  I’m fine.”

He didn’t look convinced but he didn’t press the matter.  “Let us stand over there in the shade,” he suggested.  I followed him over to a group of trees and we stood under their shade.

Perhaps now was the time for me to bring the matter of my leaving to his attention.  Taking a deep breath, my hands tightly clasped in front of me, I said, “Sir, it has come to my attention that I need to find myself another situation.  I will advertise and hopefully find a suitable position very soon.”

He stared at me.  “What the deuce are you talking about?” he demanded.  “What new situation and why should you advertise?  I think you may have been out in the sun too long, Miss Foster.”

“Sir, it would not do for me to remain in your employ after you are married.”

“Married?  Now, I know you have taken leave of your senses.  Where the devil did you get the idea that I’m getting married?”

“There has been talk of your upcoming nuptials to Miss Bridewell and—”

“Miss Bridewell and I?” he exclaimed.

“Yes, it is believed that in a fortnight you two shall wed.”

He laughed.  “It is true that in a fortnight, Miss Bridewell shall wed but it shall not be to me.”

I looked at him, confused.  “But, Sir, everyone said that she was to wed Mr. Allerton.”

“Yes, she is to wed James Allerton, my cousin.”

I was so overwhelmed with relief that I had to lean against the tree lest my legs give way beneath me.  When I heard the name Mr. Allerton in relation to Miss Bridewell, I just assumed that it was him to whom they referred.  I had forgotten all about his cousin, James whom I recalled had been particularly attentive towards Miss Bridewell whenever they were in each other’s company.

“There is color in your cheeks again, Miss Foster,” Mr. Allerton remarked now, watching me closely.  “I suspect that it has to do with my clearing up a little misunderstanding.”

“Yes, Sir.  It means that it is no longer necessary for me to quit your employ.  I can stay at Riverdale for as long as I am needed here.”

His expression became very serious and he moved closer to me.  “What if I needed you to stay permanently at Riverdale?”

My eyes widened.  “Permanently?” I repeated.  “What about when Amy no longer needs a governess or you decide to marry?”

He reached for my hand.  The feel of his warm fingers against mine made my heart flutter and my breath quicken.  His eyes met mine in a steady gaze.  “Miss Foster—Emma, Amy is no longer in need of a governess,” he said quietly.  “She’s in need of a mother and I am in need of a wife.”

I gawked at him.  “You mean…?”

“Yes, my dear Emma, I am asking you to marry me.”

I felt as if I were in a dream, one from which I hoped never to wake.  This was all so incredible.  My heart was pounding wildly against my ribs and my face was on fire.  “But what will everyone think of you marrying someone beneath your station?”

“When it comes to my heart and what constitutes my happiness, I care not about what others think. And I have always treated you as my equal and not as someone beneath my station.”

I smiled.  “That is true, Sir.”

He smiled.  “Since I am soon to be your husband, don’t you think it’s time you called me George?”

“Yes, George.”

He didn’t answer.  Instead, he held my face between his hands and kissed me.  My heart was bursting with happiness.

At the end of summer, we were wed.

 

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Span at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Teenage Dating Violence

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My husband and I are watching Greenleaf, the Oprah Winfrey series on Netflix.  I think that if you were to look up the word, dysfunctional in the dictionary, you would see a photo of the Greenleaf family.  They give new meaning to the word.  There are so many issues and skeletons in that family that it makes you appreciate the family you have.

The issue I want to address is teenage dating violence.  One of the Greenleafs, Zora, is dating a pop singer named, Isaiah.  It turns out that Isaiah is abusive.  He flies off the handle and gets verbally and physically abusive.  He got angry with Zora when her mother found a condom in her drawer.  Her arms have bruises which she hides by wearing long sleeve tops.

Whenever he gets physical with her (grabbing, pushing, slapping), he apologizes and promises never to do it again until the next time.  It was the usual cycle in an abusive relationship.  You have the “I’m sorry.  I won’t do it again”, “You make me act like this” and “I love you so much.”  What is sad is that the victim keeps forgiving the abuser and things continue to get worse.  He continues to abuse her and she seems powerless to do anything about it.  He tells her he loves her, makes promises and she believes him and continues seeing him.

No one knew about the abuse until Zora’s cousin Sophia saw Isaiah hit her.  Sophia went and told Zora’s father, “I just saw Isaiah hit Zora.”  Immediately, Jacob went to find Isaiah and punched him.  Zora was angry with Sophia for telling her Dad.  What do you do when you see a friend or loved one being abused?  Do you keep quiet because speaking up could jeopardize your relationship or do you put the welfare of the person above your relationship?  Did Sophia do the right thing?  In my opinion, she did.

But the story doesn’t end there.  Zora runs off with Isaiah but is found, thankfully.  We don’t know what became of Isaiah.  I hope he gets help.  As for Zora, she needs counseling.  She needs to understand that love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, not selfish or rude or demand its own way (like pressuring her into having sex) (1 Corinthians 13:4, 5, TLB).  If Isaiah loved her, he would treat her with respect.  He wouldn’t bully or try to control her.  He would respect her family as well.  Every family has ground rules and Zora’s was no different.  There was one occasion when Zora’s father found Isaiah and her in her bedroom.  After the father dealt with him, he had to leave.  Sophia’s boyfriend and Isaiah are as different as night and day.  Sophia is enjoying a healthy relationship while Zora was dealing with an abusive one.  

How can you tell if your teenager is in an abusive relationship? Here are seven signs:

  • Your child’s intimate partner is extremely jealous or possessive to the point where your child stops spending time with other friends and family. If someone questions your child about this, the response might be something like, “She thinks my friends don’t like her, so she doesn’t like spending time around them,” or “She thinks they’re a bad influence on me and she’s just trying to help.”
  • You see unexplained marks or bruises on your child.
  • You notice your son or daughter is depressed or anxious.
  • Your child stops participating in extracurricular or other interests like gaming or even shopping.
  • Your child begins to dress differently. One example: he or she wears loose clothing because the partner doesn’t like him/her to “show off” his/her body or attract someone else’s attention.
  • Your child worries when he or she can’t text or call the partner back immediately, saying that the partner might get upset.
  • Your child expresses fear about the way his or her partner might react in a given situation.

What do you do if you suspect that your teen is in an unhealthy (abusive) relationship?  Here are 11 steps:

  1. Be observant and look for signs.
  2. Calmly start a conversation with your teen.
  3. Be supportive of their situation.
  4. Focus on the unhealthy behaviors.
  5. Keep the conversation friendly, not preachy.
  6. Don’t place the blame on them.
  7. Allow your child to make their own decision.
  8. Offer solutions to them.
  9. If there’s any risk of danger, call the police.
  10. Expect more conversations in the future.
  11. Don’t get discouraged if they refuse to talk to you.

I see that in season 3 of Greenleaf, Zora will get back together with Isaiah.  But, hope is on the horizon.  It looks like she will come to her senses and dump him for good.

If you have a teenage daughter, let her know that she is precious and of great value and that she deserves to be with a guy who can appreciate her.

Sources:  National Domestic Violence Hotline; Grown & Flown

Turned Upside Down/Hidden #writephoto

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Samuel Villan stood on the rocks, looking at the stream winding its way in at an unhurried pace.  This was his favorite place.  It was where he came when he wanted to think, to clear his mind and to forget…

Life had been fairly quiet and uneventful for him since Julia died.  It had been twenty years since she passed away.  They never had any children.  When, her older sister died from complications after giving birth to her son, Julia and he adopted him.  His father had been killed in the line of duty.  He was a police officer.

After Julia died, he and her nephew became close.  It was nice having him around during those tough times but now he was gone.  He had moved to London where he was living and working.  During the holidays, he would visit and they would go for long walks or sit by the fireplace and talk.  Sometimes, they played Chess.

Yes, life was relatively simple, some even, say it was dull but it was how he liked it–no stress, no complications.  That was until, she came and turned his world upside down.

It all began last year Christmas when he was expecting Colin to visit as he usually did.  This time, however, he didn’t come alone.  He brought a Nigerian girl he worked with.  The moment Samuel laid his eyes on her, he knew that he was in danger of falling in love with her.  She was stunning with eyes that were large and framed by long lashes.  Her skin was smooth and flawless.  Her hair was cut short like a boy’s but it flattered her.  Her neck was long and slender.  She moved with such grace and had a pleasant voice.  She was vivacious and the entire house seemed to come alive when she was there.  He could tell that she liked him.  She was always seeking him out and seemed to enjoy his company.  While Colin was out walking the dogs, she would remain at the manor and sit in the drawing-room with him.  He taught her how to play Chess.

One afternoon when they were alone in the drawing-room, he got up from the chair in front of the fireplace and went over to the window to look out.  She joined him.  They stood there for a while, not saying anything but were acutely aware of each other.  “Do you get lonely being here by yourself?” she asked, staring straight ahead.

“Sometimes,” he admitted.

“Would be it presumptuous of me to ask if I can visit you sometimes?”

He looked at her then.  “Do you want to?”

She looked at him and nodded.  “Yes.”

She was staring at him so intently that he felt his face grow hot.  He stood there, not knowing what to do or say.  He wanted her to visit him as often as she could but was afraid of what would happen if she did.  She ignited in him an unquenchable fire and filled him with a fierce hunger.  He never imagined that he would ever feel this way about a girl half his age.  “What about Colin?” he finally asked.  “Wouldn’t he mind you coming to see me?”

“Why would he?”

“Aren’t you and he…?”

She shook her head.  “No.  We’re just friends.”

“I thought you were his girlfriend.”

“No, I’m single–like you.”

“I’m a widower.”

“We’re both single.  We’re not seeing other people so what’s preventing us from seeing each other?”

He blinked.  He wasn’t used to such forthrightness.  It thrilled him.  It also scared him.  “Are you always this direct?”

“Sometimes.  I like you, Samuel and I know that you like me.  I think we should give us a try.”

He swallowed hard when she moved closer.  “I would like that very much,” he muttered.

She was standing right in front of him now and reaching up, she kissed him on the lips. “You’re standing under the mistletoe,” she said when she drew back.  They were both breathing heavily.

He reached for her and kissed her with all the passion that consumed him.  Their moment was interrupted several minutes later by the sound of barking and Colin’s voice.  That night, they continued where they left off when he went to her room.

He ran his fingers through his hair now as he stood there by the stream.  For twenty years, he had lived a life of solitude, interrupted by Colin’s yearly visits but now, here, he was, the happiest he had ever been.  Yes, life was exciting and wonderful now that she was in it.  He turned now as she joined him.  He smiled and putting his arm around her shoulder, he drew her to him.  She slipped her arm around his waist and rested her head against him.  “How are you feeling?” he asked.

She placed her hand on her swollen stomach.  “Extremely happy,” she replied.  In seven months, they were going to have their first child.

Sometimes, when you least expect it, love comes along and turns your world upside down – Notes to Women

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Hidden at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Adelaide in Danger

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Photo by Jodi McKinney

Adelaide watched as the mist spread across the field like a veil.  How strange it looked.  It was a bright, sunless morning.  The air was cool and comfortable–a perfect day for a walk with the amiable Mr. Philips.  A kindly gentleman with a very agreeable disposition made him the perfect suitor for her by her parent’s estimation.  Of her own feelings about the matter, she wasn’t sure.  She liked him fairly well but it wasn’t the sort of liking that would lead to a deeper affection.  Still, he was a very fine fellow and she looked forward to seeing him.

She heard her name and turned.  It was Mr. Philip striding briskly toward her, smiling broadly.  He was accompanied by a very handsome and smartly dressed gentleman whom he introduced as his brother, Lionel.

She curtsied and he bowed.

“I hope you don’t mind me accompanying Henry and you on your walk.”

“Not at all.”

Henry offered her his arm.

Her eyes met Lionel’s.   I fear that I’m in danger of falling for him.

This was written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by Priceless Joy.  For more details visit here.  To read other stories for this photo prompt, visit here.

Keeping Them Safe

Childhood is the most beautiful of all life’s seasons – Author Unknown

Remember when you were a child how you used to blow bubbles and your face lit up with excitement when you got really big ones?  Oh, the simple things in life that children enjoy.  If only they could remain in their little world of wonder, exploration, discovery and innocence.

As a parent, I wish I could keep my son in a bubble where evil people didn’t exist.  I wish he didn’t have to be told not to talk to or go anywhere with strangers.  Growing up in Guyana, children could play in safety.  When their parents weren’t around, neighbors would watch out for them.  I lived in a bubble. There were so many things I didn’t know about or was exposed to.  I never knew that sexual predators existed or ever heard about pedophilia until I moved to North America.  Maybe those things existed but I wasn’t privy to them and I’m thankful for that because I don’t know how the knowledge would have affected my childish brain.

Is it foolish or naive to want to protect your children from what is out there?  Are we helping them when we put off telling them about the dangers that exist?  There are things I wish I never knew about but would I be any better off living in ignorance?  Is ignorance really bliss?  Not in this age when lack of knowledge and little or no awareness can make the difference between our safety and harm.  Our children need to know that there are dangerous people out there who wouldn’t think twice about harming them or worse…

How do you tell them?  You can do it in such a way that they don’t get scared or anxious.  My ten year old suggests that the parent tell the child a story because a child would rather listen to a story than hear the message spoken plainly.  This reminds me of Jesus who spoke to people in parables when He wanted to teach them valuable lessons.

Other ways to keep our kids safe when they are away from home, school, in the street, the park or playground are colouring pictures, quizzes, activities or stories.  Having your child practice ‘Just say NO to strangers’ rule particularly through supervised role play gives him or her the confidence to deal if a stranger approaches and tries to trick them into getting into a car or pretends to have a lost dog or gift for the child.

To find websites that may help parents, teachers or caretakers to teach children about stranger danger and child protection, please click on this link.  In the News clip featuring Safety Now – Stranger Danger, parents were disturbed to see how a friendly stranger was able to lure some children away to help him to find his lost dog.  At the end of the video, the following tips are given:

  • Don’t take you eyes off the child
  • The child should back away
  • The child should yell and run to a parent

Dr. Phil said that there are steps we can take to protect our kids without scaring them.  Here are the steps:

  • Talk to your kids early and often. Teach them to self-protect. Don’t be afraid that you’ll make them paranoid. Children actually feel empowered when they feel understand that they have the power to protect themselves.
  • Don’t ask children to deal with adult issues. Explain things in terms they can understand, such as good and evil. Don’t share the gory details with them.
  • Tell your kids to avoid strangers. Adults just don’t ask kids for directions.
  • While it’s important for children to respect adults and those in authority, give them permission to act impolite, rude, or scream and yell when they feel that something’s not right. It’s OK for them to make a scene or to yell for help, and let them know they will not get in trouble if they were mistaken.
  • Teach kids to yell with specificity: “This is not my Daddy!” or “Somebody help me!”

The safety of our children is our responsibility.   They have a right to grow up and feel safe.

Sources:  Free for Kids; YouTube; Quotey Quotes; Dr. Phil

Temptation

She stood on the precipice overlooking the ocean.

Her gaze fixated on the waters as they ebbed and flowed

much like the desires that raged inside her.   The drop to

the foaming waters was long and it made her think of the great

distance that would exist between God and her if she gave into

temptation.  Her feelings were like the rushing waves that threatened

to sweep her away if she gave in…

 

In her mind, she heard wisdom, calling out to her, “Listen to me.  Don’t

ignore what I say.  Turn around and come to me and you will have life.

Ignore me and you will be in danger.”

 

She felt the pull of good judgment but the desires of her heart resisted,

luring her closer to the edge…Why was it wrong if she gave in?  After all,

she and Patrick were engaged.  If they decided that they would go all the

way now instead of waiting until the wedding night, surely, that was ok, right?

They loved each other and waiting was agony…they just wanted to take their

love to another level.

 

Yet…reason seemed to conspire against her, reminding her of

her vow to remain celibate until she was married.  And if

that weren’t enough, she heard Paul’s admonition:  “Do you not know

that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you

have received from God, and that you are not your own?  You were bought

with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit,

which are God’s.”

 

Try as she did, she couldn’t drown out the voices of wisdom, reason

or Paul…With a start, she realized that she was standing a little too close

to the edge.  She quickly backed away, her eyes fixed above and not

below.  Her lips moved in silent prayer.  After a while the tempest that

raged in her quieted.  The momentary lapse of judgment was abated.

Reason had won.  She could wait.  And if that meant not being alone

with Patrick until their wedding in two weeks, so be it.  She knew he would

understand.  They loved each other, yes, but they loved the Lord more.  And

until they were married, their bodies belonged to Him.

 

She found a grassy part and knelt down to thank God for pulling her back

from the edge.

woman on cliff

Source:  1 Corinthians 6:19, 20

World Toilet Day

2.4 billion People do not have adequate sanitation. 1 billion people still defecate in the open. Poor sanitation increases the risk of disease and malnutrition, especially for women and children. Women and girls risk rape and abuse, because they have no toilet that offers privacy – UN

Can you imagine not having a toilet in your home?  It is unthinkable for a woman.  Imagine having to go to the bathroom in the bushes.  What happens when you need to go in the night?  I wouldn’t be able to cope.  At night, I get up a couple of times to go to the bathroom which is conveniently next door to the bedroom.  In fact, there are three toilets in our home.  Many people have more than one toilet in their homes but in some parts of the world there are people who don’t even have access to a toilet.

I cringed as I read stories of people having to use woody areas as their toilets.  Read Piya’s story and try to imagine being in her shoes.  Unable to afford a proper bathroom you and your children have to hide yourselves in the woods to relieve yourselves.  Imagine how humiliating this would be for you.  If you have daughters, imagine how they would feel.  There is always that element of danger due to lack of privacy.  Then, think of how fortunate you are that you have a toilet in your home with a door you can lock when you want your privacy.

This year’s World Toilet Day will focus on the link between sanitation and nutrition. The aim is to make the world aware of the important role that toilets play in better nutrition and improved health.  According to the UN, lack of access to clean drinking water and sanitation, along with the absence of good hygiene practices, are among the underlying causes of poor nutrition.

The aim of World Toilet Day is to raise awareness about the people in the world who don’t have access to a toilet, despite the fact that it is a human right to have clean water and sanitation – UN

On World Toilet Day, I encourage you to take action.  Talk to your children.  Tell them how important toilets are in protecting people from poor sanitation and health risks.  Talk to your friends, co-workers, neighbors, church members.   Raise awareness.  Get on social media and call for action by using the hashtags #WorldToiletDay and #UrgentRun.

Through Gospel for Asia you can provide a family with an outdoor toilet.  Find out how here.

You can join an Urgent Run.  Find an activity near where you live or work.  Get the word out that everyone, everywhere should have access to a clean, safe toilet and proper sanitation.  For women and children, having a clean toilet means better health, safety and dignity and so much more.

Your toilet is more important than you think – World Toilet Organization

Sources:  Gospel for AsiaUN; World Toilet