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- Christmas Extravaganza
Three dire circumstances. Three desperate prayers. One miracle to save them all.
Callie Stillman is drawn to the evasive girl who's befriended her granddaughter, but the last time Callie tried to help a child, her efforts backfired. Memories of the tiny coffin still haunt her.
Samantha and Iris Evans should be worried about homework, not whether they can pool enough cash to survive another week of caring for an infant while evading the authorities.
Steve Evans wants a second chance at fatherhood, but his children are missing. And no one seems to want to help the former addict who deserted his family.
For Steve to regain the relationship he abandoned, for his girls to receive the care they deserve, Callie must surrender her fear and rely on God to work the miracle they all need.
In Stock: 100
Author: ( Sharon Srock )
Callie Stillman dabbed raindrops from her face with a linen napkin as Benton dodged a server with a loaded tray and took his place across from her. She smiled into her husbandâ€™s blue eyes and reached across to wipe water from his beard. â€śWeâ€™ll both have pneumonia if we donâ€™t dry off soon.â€ť
Benton took the napkin and finished the job. â€śIâ€™ve been told the food is very good. A few sniffles should be worth it.â€ť
Callieâ€™s gaze roamed the room. â€śItâ€™sâ€¦â€ť Recognition slammed into her chest, forcing the air from her lungs. The man crossing the room behind her husband nodded and continued to his table. Was that the bailiff? Do you swear to tell the truthâ€¦ She gulped for breath and fought the familiar darkness that crowded the edges of her vision.
Callie ran a finger around her collar, tugging the neck of the blouse away from skin suddenly dewed with a fine film of sweat. Too hot. She took a sip of water, dismayed at the tremor in her hand as she lifted the glass to her lips. Not here, not tonight. Callie closed her eyes and practiced the breathing techniques sheâ€™d learned over the last six months. In through her nose, hold for a few seconds, and out through her mouth. Concentrate only on the current step in the process, the next breath. The tightness in her chest began to fade away. Thank you, Jesus. She raised her water again and held the cold glass to her flushed cheek.
Callie met Bentonâ€™s eyes across the table. The concern etched on her husbandâ€™s face threatened to break her heart. Benton had been so supportive during the last few months, so protective while she tried to heal. She would beat this. For him, she would move on.
Callie smiled. â€śIâ€™m fine. Itâ€™s just a little warm in here all of a sudden.â€ť
Benton cocked his head to the side. â€śYou sure? You look like youâ€™ve seen a ghost.
A ghost? She closed her eyes, the images unbidden but ever present. Sawyerâ€™s pale, lifeless face. Callieâ€™s hand reaching out to stroke baby-fine hair, bruises the morticianâ€™s makeup couldnâ€™t hide. That tiny coffin lowered into the ground. Callie could have lived with a ghost, but her haunted memories and the never-ending what ifs that traveled with them would drive her crazy.
Two more breaths, another swallow of cold water. Callie smiled at Benton. â€śThis was a nice surprise. Thanks for thinking of it.â€ť
Benton took her hand. â€śAnything for the woman I love. Have you decided what youâ€™d like for dinner?â€ť
â€śIâ€”â€ť A vicious bolt of lightning lit the dark Oklahoma sky outside the windows of the restaurant. Thunder exploded across the sky. The lights flickered and went off, plunging the room into sudden darkness and silence except for the terrified cries of a frightened child.
Callie jumped to her feet. Her chair tipped sideways onto the carpeted floor. Oh Jesus, please make the crying stop. A harsh voice cut across the childâ€™s frantic cries. â€śAndy, sit down and stop that noise. Itâ€™s just thunder.â€ť
The lights came back up and Callieâ€™s awareness narrowed to the cries of the child. Is that how Sawyer sounded? Frightened howls as his eighteen months of life surrendered to the beating his father dealt him. Oh Jesus, Iâ€™m so sorry. So sorry I let Janette deceive me. So sorry I didnâ€™t ask you before I testified. I know youâ€™ve forgiven me. Please help me forgive myself. She couldnâ€™t breathe, couldnâ€™t think. Callie bolted from the restaurant.
â€śCallie!â€ť Benton called.
She was letting him down. Still she ran for the door.
When Benton found her several minutes later, she stood by the car. Rain cascaded over her, mixing with her tears. Benton pulled her into his arms, wet and all. He held her close, his bearded chin rested on her head. â€śShh, baby, itâ€™s OK. Iâ€™m sorry. This was a bad idea.â€ť
Callie clung to him like the lifeline between sanity and madness he was. â€śBenton, no. It was a great idea. I know you were trying to distract me. Trying to make me forget Sawyerâ€™s birthday. I thought I could.â€ť She allowed Benton to help her into the car, only to bend double in the seat as the panicked adrenalin gave way to nausea. â€śHow could I have been so stupid?â€ť
Benton started the car and turned the heater up to high. â€śCallie, you werenâ€™t stupid. You thought you were doing the right thing.â€ť
Callie shook her head. â€śI just wanted to help. I knew Janette wasnâ€™t abusing her kids. She didnâ€™t deserve to lose them. Testifying to thatâ€¦being at the hearing to support herâ€¦celebrating when it was over. I just wanted to help,â€ť she repeated.
Her husband navigated the rain-washed streets while Callie huddled in the seat, head down, arms wrapped around her middle. The images in her mind took on a life of their own. Janette, sitting in her office, tearful over charges of alleged child abuse, frantic because her babies had been taken from her. Callieâ€™s unhesitating agreement to appear in court as a character witness. The custody hearing, her nervous testimony, the endless waiting for the judge to make a decision, the joy of seeing those two babies reunited with their mother. And Sawyer died because of my interference. Jesus, give me strength. Give me the wisdom I need to never put myself in that situation again.
Download a Free Bonus Story: Meet the Women of Valley View
This is a story of the heart, a story about unconditional love, God's love as He guides us through this world. You will fall in love with Callie and
all the others in this story as their troubles draw you in and make you look a little deeper into the hearts of others..rnrnAfter nearly being
destroyed while trying to help a young mother, Callie feels called by God to try again, to love more deeply, to give of herself more freely, to be
more than she is capable of on her own. Isn't that God's call to all of us? Well, Callie struggles with herself, and her husband, yet she answers the
call. And God is just amazing when He demonstrates what a little bit of faithfulness can do.rnrnI hope you will feel as blessed by this story as I