Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: CANDY (04/28/16)
TITLE: Sweet Undeserved Favors
By Cynthia G. Peoples
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“Hey, Conner,” the prison guard said. You've got a visitor.”
Conner looked up from the worn out cot and peered through the bars of the small cell.
“What....he stuttered......what's going on? I'm supposed to be released today.....”
“Don't worry,” the prison guard grinned. “It's just Chap.”
Conner sighed in relief. Chap was the prison chaplain and the two of them had sat face to face multiple times enduring difficult counseling sessions. It was during one of those sessions, several years ago, that Conner had finally surrendered and turned his life over to Christ. Since that time, God had blessed them both dearly and today was living proof.
“Hey, Chap, I didn't expect to see you today,” Conner said. “Have a seat.” He pointed over to the empty bunk adjacent to his own and they both sat down.
“You didn't think I'd let you get by that easy, did you?” Chap grinned. “Besides there's something I wanted to talk to you about before you leave.”
“Well,” he began, “ You know it's not gonna be easy out there.....starting over again. And so many young men and women too, for that matter, meet Jesus while they're in jail. But when they get out some tend to forget about God. I don't want that to happen to you, Conner. You've become like a son to me.”
Conner's eyes misted over and he hung his head. “I know,” he finally managed. “..... And....well.....I don't mind telling you, Chap......I'm scared to death of going back to my old life.”
“Well, that's what I wanted to talk to you about. I've spoken with a friend of mine and she's willing to take you in if you're interested. She runs a half-way house for recovering addicts and she's tough but fair. Are you interested?”
Conner jumped up off the cot. “You know, I am,” he replied.“But I don't have any money.....and Chap, you know those places charge out the rear for their so called rehabilitation programs.”
“Not this one,” Chap replied. “But you will have to work in the bakery on-site in exchange for housing. She makes and sells all sorts of baked goods and candies to help finance the whole operation and she doesn't get a lot of outside financial help. So she relies on the residents to pitch in and help out in every way.”
“Work in a bakery...... I don't know anything about cooking, Chap!”
“I know you don't but she'll teach you, Conner. And she understands. She's been right where you are. She's a recovering addict herself and turned her life over to Christ while she was incarcerated. But since the day she left here she's let God lead her and He has blessed her immensely. So she now blesses others by giving them a chance to start over again.”
“Sounds good to me. When do we go and how do I get there?”
“I've already made the arrangements”, Chap replied, patting him on the back. “I'm driving you there myself, today.”
Conner couldn't believe his good luck. He whispered a prayer of thanks and hope replaced despair.
A short time later, the two drove to the half-way house. It was located in the country surrounded by a dense forest filled with wildlife. As they drove through the woodlands, Conner stared in awe and trembled with anticipation.
When they reached the main house, sunshine glistened on an old white,Victorian mansion, enclosed by a white picket fence. The porch ran the full length of the house and the scent of honeysuckle permeated the air. Conner inhaled deeply.....the sweet smell reminding him of his childhood home. Unexplained peace filled his soul and Chap knocked on the front door.
The door swung open wide and the woman standing in the doorway was the most beautiful person Conner had ever laid eyes on. The mere sight of her took his breath away.
“Hi,” she said, with her hand outstretched. “I'm Candy. Welcome to Sweet Surrender Ranch. ”
Conner took her hand....their eyes met and held......reflecting from each other.....a lifetime of bittersweet choices...now filled with sweet undeserved favors.
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