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A bouquet with three large red roses and baby'...

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“I’ll take those long-stemmed ones there, with the delicate red edges. Please add some baby’s  breath and make it really fancy.”  I tried to tell my stomach to stop doing summersaults inside of me, but it just wasn’t working.  I paid for my roses and headed to my car.

Oh my goodness, what have I gotten myself into? This $50 challenge sounded so exciting when I was comfortably seated on my pew.  It didn’t even feel too too bad when I found out how I was supposed to spend the money.  But now, I was ready to throw up.  What if she spits at me?  What if she slams the door?  What if she spews out those horrible lies she spoke before? How will I react?

It all started a few weeks back when the man of God at church challenged us to accept a $50 bill and use it as we felt led by the Lord.  It only took two nano-seconds for me to know what I was supposed to do with the money: buy roses for Eleanor, my 85-year old neighbor who bad-mouthed me all over the neighborhood, tried to have a petition signed to get me to quit my business, spoke lies about me to my very husband –she thought he was the gardener.  I was to buy the roses, ring the doorbell and make myself available.

I reached for the doorbell with a shaky hand.  “Lord, You brought me thus far.  You’re going to have to finish this now.”  I heard her shuffle to the door.  I put on my best smile.

“Hi Eleanor! I though you could use some flowers today.” She stared.  At me. At the flowers.  At me.

“You’re my neighbor, aren’t you?”  She inspected me from top to bottom and back up from the bottom.  “You look different.  Well, I guess it happens to all of us.”

I kept my smile plastered on my face, determined to not be offended.  I handed her the roses.

“For you, Eleanor.  We all enjoy flowers once in a while.”

She took them and examined them at length.  And then she looked up at me.  The silence felt heavy. And forever.  But in that moment, something happened deep within her and her face showed a softness I never saw before.  Was that an attempt at a smile?

“You make me feel like a bride again.  Won’t you come in and have a cup of tea?”

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