Saturday morning, Callie dove right back into the VBS materials. Daniel had invited Mina on a tour of Ware, so Callie had the house to herself. She organized everything in her new office, emailed the pastor a list of VBS materials she needed to order and her ideas for the VBS, and made several lists. Still, by 10 a.m. she had done all she could until she heard back from the pastor.

She drove by Melissa Dancer’s bookstore. But it looked pretty busy – probably not a good time to try to talk with Melissa.

Then she had a brilliant idea. She typed Cara’s number in her phone. “Hi it’s Callie,” she began. “I was just wondering, could I do some spring cleaning today?”

Cara quickly agreed and Callie said she’d be at the farmhouse in a half hour. She hurried home to change into some old clothes and then drove out to Cara and Will’s.

Cara put her right to work, explaining what needed to be done. “I like to go room to room myself. Gives me a lift when I see a room all cleaned up and done. Makes it easier to start the next room.”

They started in the attic. Callie dusted and wiped and swept and scrubbed. She felt filled with energy and was a little disappointed when Cara decided they break for lunch. But she obediently went downstairs to share a sandwich and iced tea with Cara in the kitchen. They chatted casually about the latest Ware news, the spring cleaning plan, and Callie’s VBS work.

Then she was able to get back to work. She loved the physical exercise and the feeling of accomplishment she got from seeing the sparkling clean surfaces. They finished the large attic and started on a spare bedroom on the second floor. That room had some area rugs, which Callie took out to hang on a rope line to beat the dust from. She pretended the rugs were Phil Lester and Wes Sharpe, and she had a wonderful time.

Late in the afternoon, Cara called a halt. It was time to start dinner and Cara asked if Callie wanted to stay. Callie readily agreed – Mina had texted that Daniel was taking her to check out a new restaurant in Gibbesville, about ten miles away. Her muscles were aching and she felt pleasantly tired from all the physical activity, so she sat for a moment in the kitchen while Cara pulled out a container of baked chicken breasts. There was some noise outside and Will came in with his grandson. “Cara? Is Callie here?” Then Will came in through the mudroom entrance and saw Callie sitting at the table. “There she is! Good heavens, Callie, what has my wife done to you?”

Callie looked down and turned crimson. “Oh gosh, I do look a mess.”

Cara put the chicken back in the fridge. “Come on, let’s get you cleaned up. I think I have some clothes you can change into.”

Callie followed her out, with a sheepish smile over her shoulder at Will and Hank. She washed up in the downstairs half bath, changing into a pretty blue dress that Cara has been mending for the fall church bazaar. It fit a little loosely but it was clean, and she really liked the color. “You know,” Cara said thoughtfully, “with a few alterations, that would make a nice dress for you.”

Callie looked down at the dress. It did have flattering lines, and the soft jersey material felt very comfortable. “I think you’re right.”

They went back to the kitchen, where the men had helped themselves to coffee. Cara quickly put them all to work and before long they were sitting down to a feast of smothered chicken, green beans, biscuits and rice. Hank asked her, “How on earth did you get so dirty?”

“I got to help with the spring cleaning today,” Callie said proudly.

“She was a hard worker,” Cara nodded approvingly. “We got the attic and spare bedroom done today.”

Callie glowed. She explained to Hank, “I washed the windows, and sills, and wiped down the walls, and swept, and mopped, and took the rugs outside and beat the dust from them –“ She came to an abrupt halt and blushed. “I’m running on.”

Hank smiled. “You’re happy, Callie. That’s a good thing.”

“I am, aren’t I?” she answered in surprise. “It’s been a while since I haven’t had –“ she came to an abrupt halt and looked down. “Well, it’s been a while.”

She heard Will start talking and she looked back up. Will said kindly, “You’ve had a rough time, but you’re getting past that and we are all delighted to see that you are. So be happy, Callie, that’s how it’s supposed to be.”

“Thank you, Will,” she said gratefully. Will was one of her favorite people – he was always so kind to her, and she admired him for his character and the way he treated everyone around him. She took his advice to heart.

Will turned to Hank. “I was looking at that corner we have down by the creek, and I was wondering if it was too late to plant lavender down there.”

“Too early,” Hank replied. “October maybe. But that gives us plenty of time to get the soil ready. We can get some builder’s sand, Dad has some at the store, and mix that in to make sure the corner drains well.”

“I’ll ask Tom if he can bring some out,” Will nodded.

“Nah, I can do it,” Hank shrugged. “I’m in and out of there all the time.”

“Thanks, Hank, I appreciate it.”

“Easy-peasy,” Hank grinned. Seeing Callie’s expression, he explained, “It’s an old saying – ‘easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy.’”

“That’s been his favorite saying since he was six years old,” Cara put in.

“Easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy,” Cara tried it out. “I like it!”

“Oh no,” Will teased, “now there are two of them!”

Cara put a stop to that nonsense by asking if anyone wanted pie. Amidst a chorus of “yes ma’am!”s, the table was cleared in a flash so they could all sit down and enjoy Cara’s cherry pie.

“Callie, you coming to church tomorrow?” Cara asked.

“Yes, Mina and I both will.”

“Sit with us, if you want,” Cara offered. “There’s even room for Daniel.”

“Gramma doesn’t miss much,” Hank explained.

“Have to be blind to miss that,” Will harrumphed.

Callie laughed out loud. “I guess it’s not exactly a big secret.”

“He’s a fine young man,” Cara remarked. “She could do worse. And she’d be good for him – he won’t do better.”

“Amen to that,” Will agreed, and the topic shifted again.

Eventually the pie was gone and it was time for Callie to go. She was surprised at how stiff she was. Cara must have anticipated that because when she handed Callie a full paper bag with Callie’s clothes in it, she said, “I put some liniment in there to help with the aches and pains. And the rest of the pie, in case the liniment doesn’t work.”

“Cara –“ But then she stifled the protest and just smiled, “Thank you.”

“See you in church tomorrow,” Cara replied and hugged her.

“I’ll see you out,” Hank said, holding the outside door open for her.

Outside by the car, she pressed her key fob to unlock the car and then turned to Hank. “I had such a good day today. I have a secret,” she added in a whisper.

“What is it?” he asked, leaning down.

“I pretended one rug I was beating was my old boss and the other was not-Wes,” she confided. “That was probably bad of me, but oh! It felt sooo good.”

He burst out laughing. “And I’m sure they deserved every swat.”

She smiled up at him, so happy – and he abruptly turned to open the car door. “Drive safely,” he smiled.

“Okay,” she laughed, “just because you say so.”

His smile widened. “I like that.”

“I’m sure you do,” she said wryly and got in the car. He handed the paper bag to her and carefully closed the door, waiteing in the yard as she drove off toward the road. In the rearview mirror, she saw him wave and then walk toward the barn, his hands in his pockets, his shoulders hunched together.




She and Mina went to the Morning Star Church the next morning and they were surrounded as soon as they stepped into the foyer. Everyone wanted to welcome Mina, telling her to let them know if they could help in anyway, and the next thing they did was thank Callie for managing the VBS this year. Callie and Mina exchanged glances: the Ware Information Network was working perfectly!

Just in case anyone could have missed it, the pastor told the congregation that Callie had agreed to manage the Vacation Bible School this year. All the people applauded, and she even heard a few hearty “Amen”s – one of those she thought came from Anne McDonald sitting beside her. She felt a tap on her shoulder; she turned around and found Mr. Toscopoulos sitting behind her. As he leaned toward her, she could have sworn he winked at her. He said in a stage whisper, “Just like I planned.” Then he grinned and sat back.

Callie turned to face forward, stunned. But then the introductory hymn started and she stood up to join in the singing.

That night, Mina suggested they have a movie night. Callie thought that was a great idea. They took popcorn and soda downstairs and Mina selected a DVD from the stack she had put on the table under the TV. Callie was surprised when she caught sight of the title. “War Room? Since when are you into war movies?”

“Not that kind of war,” Mina laughed. “You’ll see.”

Callie started the movie as Mina dropped down onto the sofa beside her and the big bowl of popcorn. They were both soon caught up in the story: a woman fighting to save her marriage, a man struggling to be the husband he should be, and their child caught between them. It was funny, and moving, and inspirational. Callie wondered, “But could that really happen?”

Mina smiled. “Yes. Some people find it hard to believe, but I know God is intensely interested in each one of us, and He keeps trying to help us. A lot of times we don’t even notice. But He works in our lives all the same.”

Callie thought about that, remembering the people who had reached out to her just when she needed them … Hank knowing something was wrong and  rushing over in the middle of the night just as she was hitting bottom … the managing VBS opportunity … all the things that just fell into place, like being able to move to Ware … was that all God?

In her heart, she suddenly was sure it was. The thought that she was securely being carried in such a strong powerful current to where she needed to be was too big an idea for her to grasp at once.

“Here,” Mina said, holding out a leather journal to her.

“What’s this?” Callie asked, taking the slim volume and appreciating the soft leather rubbing against her fingers.

“It’s a prayer journal, just like in the movie.” Mina shrugged. “I thought you might like it.”

Callie gave her a quick hug and opened the book, flipping through the pages. “Oh this is perfect!” she exclaimed. “Thank you so much!”

“See those pages there? You can make all sorts of lists,” Mina teased her.

But Callie was too excited to care. “This is perfect.”

“So, if you plan to use this, where will you pray?”

Callie was stumped. “I don’t know. I don’t have a closet to make into a prayer room like she did.” All of a sudden her eyes widened. An idea had popped into her mind out of nowhere, and she was certain it was another knock. “This basement is huge! Why don’t we build one down here? We could both use it. We could put it over there by the bathroom.”

“That would cost a lot of money,” Mina shook her head.

“I’ve got some savings left, and I have a feeling I’ll be able to get a part time job with the bookstore, and I have that stipend coming from Daniel.” Callie was convinced it would work.

Mina shook her head. “Well, it’s your house.”

Callie smiled. “It’s the right thing to do, Mina. It’ll work out.”

“Well look at that,” Mina responded in admiration. “Teaching me when I’m supposed to be teaching you!”




Hank was just sitting a mug of hot coffee on the small table in his cottage Sunday night when his phone chirped. He slipped it out of his pocket and saw a text from Callie.  Hank, can I hire you?

He smiled.  Sure, what do you need?

When he saw her answer, he dropped down onto his chair, stunned. He read it again.  We want to build a prayer room in the basement

As he was still taking that in, another message popped up.  You know, like in the movie, “War Room” – have you seen it?

Where was this coming from? he wondered in shock. Then he shook his head. Of course, silly question. What had he and Gramma been praying for every night?

Hank? U still there?

He typed in his answer: I am, sorry. Sure I can do that. Come over in the morning to measure and discuss?

8am too early?

8am is fine. See you then.

Hank slowly laid his phone on the table. Callie was moving on a lot faster than he thought she would. He closed his eyes and thanked God with all his heart – then nodded and picked up his phone.

First to Gramma, who had been praying too: just got text from C. she wants me to build her a prayer room

The second message was to Daniel. Callie and Mina want me to build a room in their basement Wanna help?

About ten seconds later he had his reply. I used to work construction during summers in college. I’m in

Hank texted 8am tomorrow and Daniel sent back an OK emoticon.

Before he put his phone away, he heard the chirp and looked down, and laughed in joy. It was from Gramma.



"That Little Thing" Copyright © 2020 by Susan Stafford