SHE’S MET THE
Molly Hanson knows that the Lord has sent her a good,
loving man and that marriage is the next step.
But her fiancé won’t
set a date until he’s landed a steady job, and that’s
not easy in today’s economy.
HE’S MADE A
Raised by his grandmother, Jack Stewart can’t imagine
He not only loves his
grandmother, he feels responsible for her care now that
her health is failing.
But if he doesn’t find
a good-paying job soon, he may be forced to choose
between life with Molly and life as a dutiful grandson.
On Christmas morning, Jack
receives three precious gifts of the heart, three gifts
that open his eyes to the tender grace of true love.
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Copyright © 2012
Jack Stewart threw his suit jacket onto
the passenger’s seat of his pickup truck and kicked the door
shut. How many more job interviews would it take? Sure, he was a
good candidate. Of course, they’d love to hire him if they
could, but there were other experienced applicants willing to
relocate to corporate headquarters, or work on distant sites.
He clenched his fists at his sides. Was
he wrong to stay close to home? Abandoning his family didn’t
seem like the right thing.
Jack loosened his tie as he slid into
the driver’s seat, and let out a breath full of anxiety and
disappointment. Rejection never got easier. How many job
interviews had he had since graduation? Ten? Twelve? Maybe he
should just give up.
A familiar queasiness lodged in his
gut. Whenever he was about to make a bad decision, his body
signaled its displeasure. It was sort of like having a guardian
angel give him a swift elbow in the ribs.
“Okay, okay,” he muttered to the empty
truck. “I’ll keep trying to find a job. But if there’s something
I’m overlooking, I’d sure appreciate a shove in the right
Part of his
grandmother’s favorite Bible verse floated through his mind.
The plans I have for you will
give you a future and a hope.
Jack smiled at the memory of Nana
reading her Bible every morning during breakfast. She had
scripture etched on her heart. He leaned back in the seat and
rolled down the truck windows, allowing the crisp November air
to flow through the cab. It would be all right. At least, that’s
what his grandmother always told him.
Jack glanced at the dashboard clock as
he pulled out of the parking spot. Maybe Molly could have lunch
with him today. Her job at the retirement home kept her busy,
but his fiancée usually found time for a quick bite. And there
was nothing like a little dose of Molly to chase away the blues.
* * *
Molly Hanson double-checked the
medication cart and locked it. Afternoon meds were a vital
responsibility. Although she was the youngest nurse working that
day, she was the only R.N. and the other workers had eagerly
turned over the duty.
Molly knocked on Mr. Lancaster’s door
and waited for his response.
A gravelly voice answered, “Come on in,
She pushed the cart through the wide
door. “How’d you know it was me, Mr. Lancaster?”
The white-haired man rolled his
wheelchair toward her. “You’re the only one who knocks.”
Molly had to admit it was true. Many of
her coworkers didn’t bother to warn the residents before they
barged into their rooms, but Molly tried to put herself in the
patient’s place. She’d hate the loss of control a simple knock
gave. “Some people can’t hear a knock.”
Mr. Lancaster ran a hand along his
stubbled cheek. “Yes, but some of us can. You’re the only one
who seems to remember that.”
Molly handed Mr. Lancaster a small
plastic cup containing two pills. He tossed the medication into
his mouth and washed it down with water. “Where’s that boyfriend
of yours? Haven’t seen him around here lately.”
“Jack has another job interview today.
I’ve got my fingers crossed on this one.”
Mr. Lancaster handed the empty cup to
Molly. “Times are hard, no doubt about it. My grandson’s having
the same problem. He can get a job, but not the kind that leads
to a career. What about you? Did you talk to Dr. Wheaton at
Westside Memorial Hospital?”
Molly made a notation on Mr.
Lancaster’s medical chart. “As a matter of fact, I went
yesterday. He remembered you well, but not even your
recommendation could land me a position.”
The lines on Mr. Lancaster’s face
deepened as he frowned. “Your dream is to help children, not old
people who are too sick to care for themselves. Don’t let go of
your dream, Molly. I settled for less. I married young, and then
I had children to raise, and then I was too old. Don’t let that
happen to you.”
Regret was a common theme among the
residents of Poplar Bluff Retirement Home. Many people voiced
their speculations about how their lives might have been
“Your grandchildren and I grew up
together, Mr. Lancaster. I know firsthand how much your family
The older man wagged a finger in the
air. “I’m not saying I didn’t have a good life. My wife was a
fine woman, and we had three healthy children. My family was
everything. But I can’t help wondering how things would have
been if I’d joined the military like I’d wanted.”
Perhaps reflecting on the paths not
taken came with age. Molly tried to listen patiently to all the
advice the residents eagerly shared, but their remorse and grief
was sometimes too much to endure. At twenty-four, Molly was at
the dreaming end of life. Someday, she and Jack would be
married. They’d have good jobs, a home of their own, and
children to make their family complete.
“I’ll see you later, Mr. Lancaster,”
Molly said as she wheeled the medication cart through the door.
“I’ll give Dr. Wheaton a call,” the
older gentleman answered. “A young woman as dedicated as you
would be an asset to his program.”
Molly smiled her thanks and closed the
door. As the head of pediatrics at Westside Memorial Hospital,
Dr. Wheaton was the most direct link to a job, but he’d given
little hope for finding a position close to home.
For now, she’d do what she could for
the people in her care. Molly looked down the hallway at the
residents who ambled along the corridor. Some were cheerful,
gentle souls who faced each day with interest. Others carried
their sour attitudes into old age, tarnishing their golden years
with rust. It was a lesson for the taking, Molly thought. She
knew which one she wanted to be in sixty years.
Just as she was about to move to the
next resident’s room, a familiar voice caused her heart to skip
a beat. Jack stood at the nurses’ station, smiling like a star
on a dark night. How could she not fall in love with such a
handsome man? Even though she saw him every day, her heart still
fluttered when he was near.
“Hey, you,” she said with a broad
Jack turned at the sound of her voice
and returned her smile. “How’s my best girl?”
“Busy. How’d it go this morning?”
Something flickered in Jack’s eyes, but
he shrugged it away. “Same old story. Got time for lunch?”
Molly’s heart fell a few inches. How
hard it must be for Jack to keep up his spirits after so many
rejections. She wanted to wrap her arms around him and cuddle
him close, but the hallway was becoming unusually crowded with
geriatric spectators. “No lunch until I finish the meds. I
thought you were meeting your grandmother at the building supply
Jack moved to her side and tucked a
strand of hair behind her ear. “I’m not meeting Nana until two
o’clock. Besides, I think better when my stomach isn’t
Molly smiled at the man she loved.
She’d known him since junior high, but she’d never given him
more than a passing thought. Jack Stewart had been a year older,
active in every sport Poplar Bluff High School offered, and not
in her circle of friends. But college had been a different
story. There, she’d discovered a tenderhearted boy hiding behind
Jack’s athletic swagger. “Go to the dining room and order a
spinach salad for me. I’ll be along in a few minutes.”
Jack leaned down and placed his mouth
close to Molly’s ear. “How about a kiss for your future
Molly grinned and stepped back.
“Later,” she whispered. “When we’re not being watched.”
Jack straightened and scanned the area,
his cheeks growing an adorable shade of peony pink as he
realized every resident’s gaze was fixed on him. “Good idea,” he
muttered as he turned and walked toward the dining room.
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