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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Home Group (11/29/07)

TITLE: Operation TLC
By Ruth Neilson


Tibby was cold. Her aching joints wouldn’t allow her to shuffle outside to bring in wood for the wood burning stove. She shivered, and breathed a prayer—this might be the year that she was forgotten by the church. Younger members had slowly removed her from working within the church members with more energy and ‘new’ ideas who thought that Tibby couldn’t contribute anything.

Ignoring her painful arthritis, she forced herself off the worn couch and slipped on her moccasins. She knew that she needed to stay warm, even if it meant risking the cold.

Tibby frowned because of a tap at the door. She wasn’t expecting anyone and it wasn’t like anyone had any time for an old lady like her in the church. She moved towards the door and opened it.

A small group of teenagers gathered like a herd of cattle trying to stay warm they were bundled in thick jackets, hats, scarves, and gloves.

She blinked twice as Pete spoke up, his voice muffled by a scarf. “Can we come in, Auntie Tibby? It ain’t very warm out here, ya know.” With a small smile, she hobbled out of the way and the teenagers kicked snow off their boots and then quickly shed them before entering the house.

She hadn’t noticed it before, but several of her ‘babies’ carried bags of all sorts.

“Dang, Gram Tibby,” another young man, Jamie, spoke up, “It’s cold in here.” Jamie took two steps in his thick woolen socks towards her and wrapped his warm hands around one of her chilly hands.

He blinked several times. “Pete, it’s worse than we thought it would be. She’s ‘bout frozen clear through,” he called, ushering Tibby closer to the fire that Pete was building back up.

She could hear giggles in the kitchen and Tibby blinked in disbelief. Never had she allowed guests to make themselves at home in her kitchen. That was just plain rude to her visitors. Jamie smiled and shook his head.

“Gram let us take care of you,” he stated, pulling up a chair closer to the now roaring fire.

“But...the girls don’t know where stuff is in there.” Tibby’s weak protest brought a loud laugh from the kitchen as Annie emerged, wearing an apron.

“Grandmamma, you taught me how to cook in your kitchen. I know where everything is in there.”

Tibby huffed, sank into the chair, but accepted a freshly made mug of warm tea that Pete pressed into her hands. For once, she was forced to do nothing but allow this group of teenagers to take care of her. It was as if a small army had descended upon her home, but instead of clearing out the cabinets of food, they were replenishing it. The young men had once again bundled themselves up, retreated outside to chop wood, and brought it inside for her to use in the fireplace and stove.

She smiled as she listened to the girls in the kitchen giggle and talk amongst themselves. Soon, the smell of soup began to fill the house and the girls came and plopped themselves around Tibby’s feet.

“We’ve missed ya helpin’ out with youth, and then when Pastor Sean said that you stepped down for a little bit cuz ...” Annie began and then allowed her voice to drop off. She settled for snuggling closer to her grandmother’s legs.

A blast of cold air combined with chattering teeth announced the boy’s presence back into the house. Tibby flinched and rested a wrinkled hand on her granddaughter’s head. “I ain’t all that keen on the rock music that you guys listen to,” she admitted quietly as the young men settled down with the girls and put their numb hands up to be warmed by the fire.

“Why are y’all here anyways?” Tibby asked quietly. The teenagers began to titter again with laughter.

“Cause it’s our small group’s mission,” Pete stated and Tibby frowned.

“I’m you’re small groups mission?”

“Yup...” Jamie said grinning. “Ya see, you been taking care of us for as long as we can remember, so this winter, we’re gonna come out and take care of you. We got enough wood chopped that should last ya a week or so and the girls are gonna make sure that you got plenty of food every week. You gotta let us do this for you, please?”

Tibby found herself nodding in agreement. Her church hadn’t forgotten her and neither would the teenagers.

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This article has been read 737 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 12/07/07
Delightful - I love the "full circle" of this - and the complete change in attitude in the MC. Lovely.
janet rubin12/07/07
Almost too good to be true...but it does happen. I wish it were more common. Sweet piece.
Temple Miller12/09/07
Enjoyable story. I liked the dialogue and the message.
Sharlyn Guthrie12/09/07
I like the way you told your story through dialogue. I was a little confused by the references to Gram and Auntie, as to exactly what this woman's relationship was to the kids, but it didn't detract from your portrayal of this encouraging group of teens.
Deborah Engle 12/09/07
This is my favorite so far because of the positive perspective. Great story.
Jan Ackerson 12/10/07
How sweet! Teens should read this.

There was a smattering of punctuation issues, and I had a hard time establishing a setting for this--had to keep re-adjusting in my head.

But I loved these wonderful young people, and Tibby is a fantastic character.
Patty Wysong12/10/07
I like this! I feel like I'm missing something--but the message came through loud and clear. I'm seeing this happen in our church at times and it's wonderful.
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/11/07
This story warmed my heart--all the way through. I've seen many caring teen-agers, unlike how so often they're viewed (and some of them are). Good job.
Holly Westefeld12/11/07
I liked this tender story, and the detail you included, which gave it realism. I got the feeling that this was set in a rural area, and possibly earlier in the rock era, where and when people might have heated exclusively with firewood. Might this have preceeded the mushrooming of small groups?