Thursday, June 6, 2019

A Place for Hollie

Illustrated by: Christian Almond

The promise of spring was all around. The songs of the robins and cardinals filled the air, replacing winters silence. The green blades of grass played peek a boo with the ground.
Day lily's danced in the wind as if it were dancing for a grand audience. 
Hollie had just stepped out onto the back patio. 
She stretched and reached down to pet her grey and striped cat between the ears. "Morning Willow, have you been taking in all the wonderful things spring brings this morning? " Hollie scooped her cat up in her arms and snuggled her till Willow demanded an escape. 
Hollie giggled as she watched her cat sprint across the yard in pursuit of a butterfly.
Hollie settled in her favorite outside rocker bench with her favorite devotional. She had just gotten comfortable when the wind took hold of her red hair and tasseled across her face and her eyes
The sweet girl of 10 was not amused she reached into her pocket and pulled out a hair bow and pulled her hair up in a messy bun of curls. Her face had been kissed by the sun leaving behind freckles as evidence. Her hazel eyes sparkled with curiosity in hopes of an adventure.
After she tamed her hair she sat down with her devotional.Hollie loved spending part of her morning with Jesus!  Hollie had asked Jesus in her heart last spring. He had changed Hollie's heart  in so many ways. She loved finding new treasures each day. 

This morning the treasure she found was one she certainly needed.
Deuteronomy 31:6 promises Hollie God will never leave her or forsake her no matter what. Hollie had recently been told some scary news. Her family would soon be moving. Hollie was unsure how she felt about leaving. After all they had lived in this little town for as long and she could remember. What was it going to like to live somewhere new? Would she make new friends? What would their new church be like? Would she miss the small town she loved so.
So many things about the life she loved seemed to be falling apart  all around her. Leaving her feeling scared and anxious about the unknown.

Hollie closed her eyes and felt the warmth of the sun on her face and whispered a audible prayer. "Jesus, I know you don't make mistakes. Please let me like our new home! Send me a friend to make it easier when I get there! Please if it's not to much to ask!"
She felt a peace fall over her. She knew in her heart everything would be okay!
Hollie had lived in the small mountain community for much of her young life. Her family serving the people. She too had felt the whispers of change and time to go.The screen door slammed and Hollie looked up to see her older sister. Jackline was seven years Hollie's senior. Hollie and her sister may be far apart in age but Hollie admired her older sister.

"What's going on in that head of yours squirt? You have been out here for awhile this morning? "Jackline smiled warmly at Hollie reassuring her what ever she told her was safe! " Have you ever been scared of the unknown?" Hollie asked in a almost a whisper. Jackline being several inches taller than Hollie slim built, olive complexion, her dark brown eyes were kind but mischievous as well. Hollie admired her sisters beauty that she had from the inside out! She was every bit as kind as she was beautiful! Her love for Jesus was contagious! Hollie hoped one day someone would look up to her the way she does Jackline! Hollie's sister considered her sisters question carefully! "Hollie, I think its safe to say we all have and are a little scared of the unknown. I believe that is half the adventure that awaits us! Waiting to see what Jesus has planned for us next! Its is okay to be scared!  He just wants us to put our trust in Him. When I am really scared I like to take a prayer walk just me and Him, so I can really let all my feelings out. I always feel better afterwords!" Jackline took Hollies hand and  gave it a gentle squeeze. "So you weren't just being mean by not letting me come along huh?" " I am sorry I ever thought you were being mean..." " It's okay squirt, It's my job as a big sister to get on your nerves from time to time!

 I think we should go see if Mom needs some help. Moving day is in two days and there is still lots to be done." Jackline rose from the rocker bench and stretched. As she made her way to the only front door Holly had ever known. "Jackline, I will be right there okay? I just need a few more minutes alone with Jesus, before I come in!" Jackline smiled back at her knowingly. "Okay, see you inside in a bit squirt."
Hollie spent  another five minutes or so spilling her heart out to the one who knew it better than anyone. She rose and made her way inside taking just a moment to pause and listen to the roar of the creek as if it to engrave the melody in her heart.

Being greeted at the door by mountains of boxes.

Hollie was suddenly no longer overwhelmed with dread! Instead she was actually looking forward to finishing packing up her room. She was walking through what seemed like a never ending maze of boxes when she heard her Mom calling her from the kitchen! "I thought the whole family could use a lunch break before diving into packing again." Hollie always thought her Mom was the prettiest around. She wasn't super tiny or big for that matter she was a perfect Mom size. Her dark naturally curly hair was wildly adorable on top of her head. Her red bandanna held them out of her eyes at least. Her smile was as bright as ever even when the house was in such a maze of boxes. Hollie reached for the platter of taco's. "Mom I just want you to know you look so cute today! Your rocking those curls and your overalls says I am ready to be do this! I love it!" "Thanks Hollie, I didn't even try today! No makeup or anything and you still think I rock! I will definitely take that as a compliment!" The mood around the table was light. Dad had came in to have lunch with the family.
No one seemed to want to talk about the elephant in the room the fact they were just days from saying good bye.
The family chatted happily as if all they knew was forever going to be the same. Then it happened like it was someone dropped a bomb at the lunch table. Dad mentioned he would be picking up the moving truck in the morning. If at all possible Hollie and her big sister Jackline needed to have their rooms packed and their suitcases prepared for a few days after the arrival of their new home. Suddenly out of nowhere Hollie ran from the table to her room grabbed her favorite doll that looked just like her!

 She buried her face in the pillow. She let the tears fall hot from her face. She cried every last tear out and lifted her head to find her Dad standing in the doorway. "Hey there sissypooh, can I come in?" Dad asked gently. Hollie shrugged her shoulders. " I guess you can." Hollie replied almost whispering. Hollies Dad walked over to Hollie and wrapped his arms around her and whispered into her ear." I am so sorry we have to go Hollie. I know it's hard to say good by to the things we love! I know you are always call this home. I really think you will love the new place if you will just give it a chance! You haven't seen it yet. I just know you are going to love being there. Maybe even more than here. Can you at least give it a chance? For me and your mom?" Hollie looked at her Dad with a tear streaked face. "It's so scary to go where we don't know anyone! What if there is no one around my age? I just don't want to be all alone! What if your new church doesn't like us and we have to move again? I don't want our lives to always be changing and moving Dad!" " Hollies Dad sighed, "Those are some big concerns for a little girl! I don't ever want you to worry about being loved and accepted.Your worth comes from Jesus so you will always be loved and adored. So do you think you and I can get your room knocked out so I can help Mom reach some the stuff in the closet?" "Thanks for talking to me Daddy! It helped alot! Jacklines talk helped too and I really thought after my talk with Jesus this morning I was gonna be just fine! I think sometimes a girl just needs to have her Dad! You go help Mom and I will finish up here!" Hollie said wiping the tears and trying to smile. "I am so proud of you Hollie!" Her Dad said as he kissed her on the cheek and left the room.
Hollie was determined she was done crying she would finish her room and gather suitcase packed for the trip ahead.
She turned on her favorite station on her palooda on her phone. Disney music filled the room! Hollie finished packing up her dolls and books. All that was left was her clothes and shoes in her closet. With in 3 hours Hollie had finished packing her things. Packed her suitcase so she would have all of the things she would need for a couple nights when they arrived at their new home! She still wasn't sure what would come next but she was beginning to get excited! Once she finished her room Hollie went to see where she could continue to help. Mom sent her to the kitchen to finish packing a few cabinets left there! Dad announced that the family would be  going out to eat tonight at one of the families favorite Mexican restaurant tonight Rainbows! Hollie and Jackline cheered. Hollie showered and decided to braid her red locks in two braids. She wore one of her favorite pink shirts with ruffly sleeves with a plaid skirt and her favorite purple rain boats.
It was still cool in the evening in the mountains so she grabbed her jacket and headed to the door when she heard her mom call "lets go girls! We need to go so we can get back home! We have a busy day ahead of us tomorrow!

The family enjoyed one last bowl of their favorite cheese dip together and ordered their favorite entree. The family enjoyed one last meal in their favorite place with lots of smiles and laughter heard through out the entire restaurant! When they returned home everyone was tired and returned to their room and went to bed. Tomorrow would be a very busy for the family! They would load their earthly belongings up and spend one last night in the house before they said their final good byes.
Hollie was so tired she had no problem going to sleep that night she said her prayers and drew her doll close to her and fell right off to sleep. The next morning Hollie woke to the sun shinning through the window. The birds were chirping as if they were bidding her good morning for the very last time.
She heard voices in the kitchen so she knew someone was up and she needed to have breakfast and be ready to help! Today would be a very busy day for the Appleton family.
Hollie pulled on a pair of capri legging and on other favorite t-shirts with pink and purple butterflies.
She pulled her hair up into a messy bun and headed and found her yellow ribbon bracelet she wears in memory of her very dear friend she had met on instagram.  Then spent a moment talking to her heavenly Daddy and headed to the bathroom to brush her teeth.
Hollie sighed as she opened the bathroom door she had determined within herself she would be brave today and be lots of help! She knew there was lots to get done.
Hollie entered the kitchen to find her parents and sister finishing up breakfast. "Good morning sleeping beauty did you sleep you good?" Dad asked with a smile. Hollie hugged her parents and replied back with a smile "I did thank you, whats for breakfast I am starved?"  "Dad went out and got everyone a biscuit this morning squirt. To make it easier with that we have to do. Yours is in the microwave waiting for you!" Jackline replied to her sister. Before we all get started today guys I want us all to pray together! I know this isn't easy for you girls, Mom and I are so proud of you for being so brave! Our new adventure is about to begin and I am so excited for you to see our new home!" Dad said happily to his family! Everyone gathered hands as Dad led the family in prayer asking for safety and blessings on this new journey. Also asking God to help each one with the new changes ahead. When Dad had finished The family gave Hollie time to finish breakfast and their coffee, before Mom told her girls how they could help.
Mom Asked Jackline and Hollie to help get boxes into the dining room from other parts of the house. Dad had already moved the dining room table and chairs to the porch. The family was having a moving truck come this morning as well to get the furniture. The family will be loading boxes and and beds into the uhaul. About an hour later Hollie heard Dad talking to someone. When she went to the door to see she realized the movers had arrived. The three bedroom home they had loved and enjoyed her whole life was about to feel very empty.
Unsure of how she felt about it Hollie reminded herself she would be brave today. Mom came up behind her and gave her a little squeeze. " Hollie it's going to be great you'll see! You need to find Willow and out her in her crate so she doesn't get trampled on in all the packing and loading okay." "Good idea Mom I didn't even think of that. I don't want her running off because she is confused or scared either!" Hollie replied.
Hollie slipped out the side door and found Willow stretched out in the sun under her favorite tree. Willow was happy to see Hollie and and she stretched and started to purr.

Hollie sat on the grass beside her stroking her on the head! I am glad you got to enjoy your favorite spot on last time! Hollie scooped Willow up in her arms and kissed her on the head. Headed inside to put Willow safely in her crate.

Hollie and Jackline had brought as much as they could to dining room and to the kitchen. All they could do now is watch as each room became emptier and emptier. until at latest the movers loaded the living room furniture up into the truck.
The  gentlemen shook Dad's hand and assured him they would deliver the furniture safely to the address on the card!
Dad shortly came into the house and they all just stood there a minute taking it all in and realizing that the move was really happening. He sighed really big, and said "Look guys I have a offer! If we can get the uhaul loaded and the beds loaded before really late Mom and I have talked and there is a nice hotel half way. It has a pool and hot tub so I thought we could stay there and have some fun and get to the new place a little early on Friday! What do you say?" An enthusiastic yes rang through the house by everyone! It took the family till around four to pack the uhaul.

They had worked hard together to pack everything up. It was odd to see the place they had called home empty. It felt weird to know the church that was just down the hill they would never return too.
Hollie and her family all took one last look and gathered hands and prayed for safety! said their last good byes in their hearts!
Dad and Jackline climbed into the uhaul. Hollie and Mom rode in the families suv!  Hollie placed Willow in the backseat and rode shot gun with Mom.
The family would arrive at the hotel around seven. Hollie slept most of the way to the Hotel.

The Hotel reminded her of a English Manor of sorts. the building. With ivy climbing on trellis's and a beautiful fountain out front.Dad and Jackline has arrived just a few minutes before Hollie and Mom.
"This place is pretty cool isn't!" Mom asked in awe. " It is Mom it almost like stepping back in time! I am not sure which one I love most Disney or history! I kinda feel like this is like this could be both! Princess for a night huh? I am so excited! It has made things
feel like a real adventure! Thanks Mom for the surprise, it helps soothe my heart a little." Hollie ran to her Mom an hugged her!
"Awe Hollie your welcome! Dad and I wanted to do something special for you and your sister! We want to make this move easy as possible for you! Hollie I promise your going to love where we are going to be. Just wait and see! Come one what do you think let's check this place out and see what's for dinner. I am starved how about you?" Me too Mom me too"
Inside the hotel looked every bit of the part of the outside! Beautiful flowers, arched doorways,stone work around the check in desk' gold elevators, Victorian style couches and chairs in the lobby, then she caught a view of the pool!

Hollie was sure she had walked into a fairy tail. the pool had stone work around it, the stone steps were made of the same stone work and a waterfall spilled over into the hot tub! Hollie forgot all  about being hungry.
she turned around in awe until Willow interrupted her with a meow of dislike. "I am so sorry girl I almost forgot I was carrying you! Let's get your royal highness upstairs and let you stretch your legs. sound like a plan sweet girl.

Dad got the room cards for the girls and them. they would be staying in adjoining rooms. when Hollie and Jackline opened the door to their room they were in awe of the beautiful high poster beds and the beautiful bathroom. Hollie put Willow down and opened her crate she could stretched her legs.
Dad opened the door that adjoined the door  any one hungry? Let's go down stairs and see what the hotel restaurant has to offer and then we can hit the pool what you think girls?" Both girls smiled and nodded and agreed excitedly!
Hollie was excited to see that they had her favorite on the menu! A juicy cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, and dill pickles and added bonus was that they had one of her new favorites! Sweet potato fries had became her favorite go to snack lately! She couldn't
wait to dive in she was starved! "Hey Dad can I order a strawberry shake to?" Hollie asked with her puppy dog eyes! "Sure squirt everyone deserves one after today! I can't wait for you to see our new place you are going to love it!" Dad said with a huge smile and twinkle in his eyes. Jackline and Hollie both looked at each  other as if they both new what the other was think with out saying a word. You know like the unsaid sister language.
Everyone smiled back and said thank you but never said anything about the new house. The new house and ministry had been such a secret! Dad and Mom just kept telling the girls they were gonna love it just wait and see! It was like no adventure they had ever taken before! That could mean alot of thing and Hollie nor Jackline either one new what for sure it meant. For tonight they just wanted to enjoy their fairytale evening!
After dinner the girls raced back to their room to change into their swim suits! Hollie was super excited because her new bathing suit was a vintage 1950's swim suit with flamingo's and she could not to wear it! "Wow squirt I love your swim suit! I think green may be your color! I love your flip flops! Your so cute! Jackline complimented her sister and gave her a hug! "I must take after my beautiful sister who is rocking her yellow polka dotted high wasted bikini! You are so amazing sissy! Your self confidence is contagious! I hope you know I think you are the best role model ever! I look up to you so much! Thank you for  always being there for me sis!" Hollie hugged her sister tight! "Now lets go see which one of us can drown Dad in the pool first lol" giggled Hollie. "Sounds like a wonderful plan" Jackline giggled and grabbed Hollie's yelled out last one to the elevator is a rotten egg!
The girls giggled all the way to the pool like life long friends!
The evening was spent making family memories that would be told for years to come! Mom and Dad challenged Jackline and Hollie in a game of chicken in the pool! Mom and Dad won! Then they had a cannon ball competition that Hollie of all people won! Who would have thought the youngest out of the group would win that! Hollie told everyone it just goes to show size doesn't mean everything! The family also had a diving contest! Jackline won with the most elegant dive! She was amazing, in Hollies eyes Jackline was perfect and wanted to be just like her when she grew up. The family enjoyed a game of whirl pool before they all slipped into the hot tub before they called it a night! "We can't thank you enough Dad and Mom for making this happen! I know this move took some of our vacation fund and this was to help make up for the canceled beach trip! Hollie and I are totally cool with it! We are however thankful for tonight! What time will need to be up and started by tomorrow?" Jackline asked questioningly. We need to head out by nine in the morning the hotel will have breakfast and well we had something special done for you girls so just at least have your robes on by eight fifteen." Dad replied. What the girls didn't catch was the twinkle in his eyes.
"How ling will it takes us from here? Hollie asked. about 3 hours. So we will get there an hour before the moving truck is scheduled to arrive with all the furniture. So maybe we can get the beds unloaded before they arrive and you guys can check the place out a little before they demand our attention for awhile."Mom replied.
" Well we probably should not have all night movie binge then huh?
Hollie asked her sister. "Probably not I am not so sure I will make it to midnight once I have a shower! We have had a busy day and getting still has showed me just how tired I am." Jackline replied yawning. "Okay everyone its time to return to our rooms and get showers. We have a busy day ahead of us and we all are going to need some rest!" Hollies Mom told her family lovingly."Besides if we stay in here much longer I am gong to shrivel up and become a raisin." Mom giggled. Everyone laughed with her and agreed it was time to head back to their rooms to get ready for bed!
Hollie and Jackline raced back to their room! Dad and Mom not far behind! When they burst into the room the girls were greeted with what felt like a polar blast! The air conditioned room, was not the greeting they were wanting! The girls teeth were chattering so hard they could barley talk! "I tell ya what squirt go take a quick hot shower and we will watch a movie going to sleep! How's that sound?" Jackline asked her sister with her teeth chattering! "Sound like a plan sis!" Hollie was saying when she noticed on the bed two bath robe and house slippers lying on their bed. To our girls we hope these help warm you up after the pool! The girls oohed and awed over their new things! Hollie quickly showered and slid her new white terry cloth robe on that had a red star on it over her favorite p.j's.

 She slipped on her new bunny slippers and went to thank her parents for her new things while her sister showered. Hollie gave both her Dad and Mom a huge hug and kiss and thanked them for making the evening so special for them! She knew the move was a big thing for their family and being a ministry family meant that money was often very tight. So days like today had to be carefully planned! Soon the whole family was showered and ready for bed! They gathered like they did every night and said their evening prayers
They each gathered hands and Dad asked if anyone had a special prayer request.
Jackline and Hollie squeezed each others hands. Jackline spoke up, "I would like for us to pray for friends when we get settled. It's time Hollie knows what it is like to have a best friend!" "I agree whole heartily" Mom said smiling softly at her girls! I pray that God sends  you both a friend! I do however think you will love where we are going! I pray you give it a try!" Promise me you will girls, give it a try and give the people a try as well!"
Hollie and Jackline both replied "yes ma'am." with a look of uncertainty on their faces.
Dad led the famiy in their evening prayers and the family told one another good night!
'Now girls don't stay up too late tonight! We have a big day ahead of  us and we are going to need all of our strength to get everything unloaded." Dad reminded the girls gently.
The girls said goodnight and headed to their room and shut the door.
Hollie leaned against the door and blew hard. "Jackline I hope I can do what Mom wants. I am so worried I will disappoint her. I am just not a people person. Hollie leaned over and scooped up Willow, scratching her ears, as Willow purred loudly. I dont really know why I am so shy. I would love to have a friend. Everyone just thinks I am weird because I still love to play dolls. love history, and I enjoy nature. I just dont know if I can take being teased again. I want to be accepted for me and enjoy being me!"
Hollie began to sob softley as burried her face into Willows soft fur. Willow just relaxed as if she knew her best friend was in need of special affection for the moment. Jackline went to her sister and reminded her that if anyone could not see how amazing and special she was they did not deserve to be her friend! That God would send her sister the friend she needed just wait and see!
The girls snuggled up in the soft bed and found a movie to enjoy! They choose one of their favorites Disney's Tangled. The girls laughed and talked for sometime. Until the giggles turned into gentle snores as all the worries of their world drifted away into a sweet slumber.
The next morning Mom woke Hollie and Jackline so they could all go down to the hotel lobby for breakfast.
Hollie choose her favorite blueberry pancakes and bacon for breakfast. The family small talked about what the day ahead would look like for them! They would arrive in their new town around noon. They would most likely swing through a drive through and grab lunch to eat at the new place!. " Okay girls its 8:30 so we need to go make sure we have everything and get Willow ready to travel! We need to leave at 9 am sharp. The girls raced back to their room making sure they had not left anything at all behind. The met their parents right outside their room at exactly nine.
Okay girls before we go any further lets pray for safety. The family asked God to get them to their new home safely! To help them to be able to get unpacked with out any accidents. Once Dad said amen the family began the last leg of their journey.
The drive was three hours long, Hollie tried to pass the time by counting how many diffrent state license plates she could see, singing along to the radio, and looking at the scenery. She wanted to do anything but talk about what was ahead for her.
At last she fell asleep. For Hollie it was as if the world had stopped for a season! Until she felt the gentle nudge of her Moms hand and heard her voice! Hollie wake up we are about to enter town! I thought you may wanna take a look it will probally be a few days before we really venture out!"
Hollie perked up and stretched and woke up enough just in time to be greeted by the new towns welcome sign!
A  stone sign that read in bright blue letters Welcome to Blue River Historic Village.
Hollie could not believe her eyes. The town was on a river front. The homes that dotted the river side were large historic homes. There were little shops that lined main street. There was a local bakery, a book store, a old general store, and several other stores Hollie couldn't quite make out she was in awe of what seemed to be a time warp! Like time had stood still in this little town that she was now to be home! She adored the beauty of each thing she saw and was loved that main street was still a cobble stone road! If this place was so wonderful why was her Dad and Mom so worried that Hollie and her sister would be so unhappy here. How could something so special need to be kept such a secret.
After a few turns Hollie's Mom's SUV turned down a drive way behind the uhaul Hollie's Dad and her sister Jackline. The dirt drive way is lined with century old oak trees.
Hollies heart dropped wen she see her new home! She could not believe what stood before her would be what she call hers until God said otherwise....
Question is did her heart drop for a good or bad reason? Would this finally truly be a place for Hollie?

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