Alice's Friendship Bench
At seventy-two, Alice Mertens is not finished with life. She is starting a new one. A new mission. Alice is part of the first class of Friendship Bench peer counselors at a local hospital. She will meet folks in the shade, hear their troubles and cheer for their triumphs.
Never mind that she has no grandkids, Alice and the Friendship Bench in this Midwestern city are following the inspiration of an organization in Zimbabwe. Grannies there sat on benches in public parks and listened to the traumas and trials of people who survived wars and famine. And they offered hope to people struggling to survive their daily lives.
In Alice’s town, people have survived the pandemic and are ready to get out and get together. At least to sit on a bench outside. She offers consolation and hope that she has absorbed from her years of faith and her personal prayer life.
The genesis of the Friendship Bench in Africa was a lack of mental health professionals. In the United States, there are certainly more counselors than in Zimbabwe. But there are people in Alice’s city who are shy about meeting with psychologists or psychiatrists, even if some of these folks would surely benefit from professional treatment.
At home, Alice and her husband Randal are getting back to their life as it was before the pandemic. Even more, they are opening to new opportunities. Retired but not resigned.
Get Up, Eleanor
Eleanor Petersen is struggling to come to terms with her new reality. Receiving an unexpected call from a stranger, the history professor and department chair is heartbroken to hear her mother has died. And with a tumultuous family past, she fears traveling to Wisconsin to attend the funeral and clear out her estate will reopen long-forgotten wounds.
Full of spiritual doubts, Eleanor is surprised when she forms a comforting bond with the small town’s widowed Lutheran pastor. But as she comes to understand the woman her mother was, the estranged scholar uncovers a secret that will change her forever.
Can this grief-stricken daughter learn to forgive her parents and reclaim her own faith?
Get Up, Eleanor is a moving standalone Christian women’s fiction novel. If you like inspiring female protagonists, sacred journeys, and heartfelt interactions, then you’ll love Jeffrey McClain Jones’s hopeful tale.
A story of three small lives needing hope in the midst of a global crisis.
Carrie Marvin is widowed and living alone during the pandemic. On a trip into Chicago to pick up masks for her office, she sees a lone teen trundling through the empty streets of the city. Should Carrie help? At least ask? When she does ask she learns that Gigi is fresh off the bus from Dallas. And on that bus ride Gigi lost her ID and her bank card. She’s eighteen and alone in a strange city. And she’s in Illinois because the abortion clinics in Texas were closed for the lockdown.
Should Carrie help? How much can she help? Is there an alternative? An alternative to helping the desperate girl? An alternative to ending that small life?
Gigi is fleeing more than the lockdown on Texas abortion clinics, and more than isolation and unemployment. Her mother’s addictions have left the girl with no stable support and even real danger.
Carrie is fifty-nine and managing an engineering office in the Chicago suburbs. Her life is safe and comfortable compared to so many around her. She has something to give. And she used to be helpful and friendly, before that became even more risky. Her faith tells her to reach out to the ones who are powerless and vulnerable. That includes Gigi’s unborn child, and it includes Gigi.
Never able to have children, Carrie offers a place to the young woman who had no reliable parents. With so much uncertainty in the world around them, they must learn to trust each other. Because that trust will be the difference between life and death.
The Love Scam
Tricia isn't the kind of person you trust to turn your back on. But when Andy McCrae sees her son, Timmy, he can't turn them away. From the moment he sees the young woman in short shorts selling flowers on the street, he wonders how well she's taking care of the boy? Can she possibly take care of him? Who's taking care of her?
Is it safe for Andy to help? Even after he learns that he doesn’t trust Tricia? When he takes a chance on them, Timmy captures his heart. The boy needs so many things. A father? Maybe even a mother.
And what’s in it for Andy? A rich and successful author, he’s admittedly lonely. Is that his motivation? Is his offer of help just as selfish as one of Tricia's scams? Or is it bigger than that?
Get to know them all and discover the risk and reward of sacrificial love.