Meet the Moms
Chapter One: New Friends
The alarm shrieked in the darkness and Lily Adams jolted awake, gasping. She half sat up, reached a hand out of the covers and slapped a button on the ancient device setting a foot away. The sudden silence was a welcome relief. She drew a calming breath, then glanced over her shoulder at James.
Of course he’d heard it. He pried open sleepy eyes and focused on her. “What time is it?” He cleared his froggy throat.
“Five forty-five.” Eyebrows up, she waited for the tirade.
He heaved a long-suffering sigh and rolled over to face the wall. “That’s earlier than you used to wake up when you had a job. Why on earth are you getting up this early when you’re retired?”
She would’ve answered, but she swore he’d already snored, evidence of his re-entry to slumber. The man could sleep anywhere, anytime. She knew why she’d set the alarm. As thin as her calendar was these days, this morning she had somewhere to be. And she wouldn’t present her unshowered self to the people there. She did have her standards, after all.
She embarked on the quick preparation technique she'd perfected throughout thirty years of professional work and within forty minutes, she looked in the mirror and was satisfied. Her blonde bob was dried and shaped in a wave around her face, blue eyes enhanced by mascara and her made up skin looked pretty darn good for a fifty-something-year-old, if she did say so herself. Dressed in a simple white top and black jeans, she was ready for her day.
She encountered her dressed and groomed husband in the kitchen. He’d made a pot of coffee and she breathed the aroma in gratefully. Grabbing her travel mug, she planted a kiss on his cheek. His shaven cheek smooth, she ran a finger through his salt-and-pepper hair.
“You’re welcome,” he murmured with a smile. He looked up from his bowl of Special K. “You look nice.”
“I signed up for an early morning Bible Study at the church.” She grabbed a yogurt from the fridge and sat with him at the table.
“Wasn’t there an offering more suitable for retired ladies of leisure like you?”
The comment stabbed her. He hadn’t intended to hurt her, but he had. He knew how much she was struggling with her company-induced early retirement plan, and he kept trying to make light of it. As if encouraging her to be lazy and sleep in would make her unemployment more appealing to her. But it wasn’t. And she wondered if it ever would.
“Probably. But I like getting up early. Always have, James. You know that.”
He winced at her tone and she tried to soften her message with a wink.
“Okay,” he said. “Have a good time.” He rose and rested his bowl in the sink, heading for the door.
“Have a good day,” she said as he left. On his way to his job, the place where he was expected, where he was making a difference in the world.
At six forty-five Lily pulled into the church parking lot. Oceanview Church had been their place for many years and it always gave her heart a lift when she pulled in. Why wouldn’t it? In addition to providing spiritual enlightenment, its beauty gave her a thankful heart. Located on the sandy banks of the salt marsh in Murrells Inlet, the altar sat in front of a wall of sheer glass, giving direct sight of beyond to the water and seagrasses of the inlet. Lily loved singing praise songs and listening to God’s Word while feasting her eyes on His beauty.
Inside, she headed to the Great Hall, along with dozens of other people. Looked like a good turnout for the new program. Men and women, all anxious to learn more about the Bible. She waved at a few folks she knew and glanced around the big room, wondering where to sit. She noticed a registration table and headed that way. After a short wait, she received her nametag, workbook and a small card containing her table assignment.
On her way to table ten, she noticed each round table had only three or four people assigned. She found her table and placed her materials at the solitary open spot. Already seated were two women: a solid woman with friendly eyes and an approachable smile, her hair probably in need of a trim, her clothes comfy and probably washed dozens of times. Brown hair pulled back into a short ponytail with wisps around her face. She looked like the loving grandma every kid wanted, someone who made cookies and spoiled them with hugs and kisses.
The other woman at the table was the polar opposite. Not a strand of her smooth ebony hair dared to poke out of place, formed into a chignon twisted at the nape of her neck. Her wardrobe was impeccable, professional navy slacks, shimmery dressy blouse, heels higher than Lily would’ve attempted, and impressive gold jewelry. Observations beyond her wardrobe were difficult. Because of the woman’s concentration on the written material provided instead of the humans she’d been paired with, Lily couldn’t get a read on her face.
“Good morning,” Lily said warmly and held out a hand to shake each of theirs. “I’m Lily Adams.”
“Well, hello,” chirped the friendly woman. “Rose Harmon. So happy to meet you.” And her face beamed with happiness. Honest joy at the chance to meet another human being.
The down-to-business woman (a doctor? A lawyer? A judge? Someone important, that was for sure) tore herself away from her reading and glanced quickly at each of them. “Dahlia Benjamin. Nice to meet you both.” She returned her gaze to the workbook.
Lily settled in and soon, Reverend Harris approached the microphone. “Good morning, neighbors!” his voice boomed. “Welcome to Oceanview Church. Please take your seat, greet your tablemates and we’ll get started in just a moment.” The big room filled with the hustle bustle of people scurrying to their seats and settling in. In a few minutes, the crowd quieted expectantly.
“Friends, we are embarking on an amazing journey today that I hope you will find very helpful. We’re going to walk along in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul as he strives to follow the path of Jesus. Our workbook will guide us through his writings in the Bible and I’ll share my learnings on these passages to aid your understanding. Each meeting, you’ll sit with the partners who you see at your table today. Your groups of three or four will study and discuss each lesson. Together, you’ll share your insights and it is my hope that you unleash new discoveries together and form solid friendships in the process. Any questions?”
Lily looked around the table. She shared the same hope.
“To get started, I’d like you all to take the next hour to introduce yourselves. Share whatever you like about yourselves, but your assignment in this exercise is to find one thing that all members of your group have in common. One common thing you share. Understand? Now, get started.”
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