Chocolate for a Woman's Courage : 77 Stories That Honor Your Strength and Wisdom
Be Brave! Celebrate and Eat Chocolate!
Every woman knows that courage isn't just something you find in a crisis, it's something you tap into every day of your life. In this triumphant salute to mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, and colleagues, these 77 true-life stories celebrate women at their best -- willing to take risks, stand up for family and friends, find the love they need, claim their true spirit, laugh at their own foibles, and celebrate someone else's success.
Once again, Kay Allenbaugh has called upon women of all ages and backgrounds to share their own experiences as well as the strength and wisdom that have helped them through everyday challenges and difficult times. Here are tales about surviving loss, showing compassion, getting fired (and getting even), facing illness, laughing at yourself when the chips are down, and stopping long enough to enjoy sweet success! This volume in the beloved Chocolate series celebrates a softer element of courage -- kind yet strong, loving yet steadfast -- exploring the many subtle ways courage manifests itself in day-to-day life. This book is sure to feed your hunger for courage!
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November 19, 2002
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Excerpt from Chocolate for a Woman's Courage by Kay Allenbaugh
For years now, I have made it my practice to walk several times a week, or daily if the weather is good. I have found the habit of walking to be extremely valuable in physical, spiritual, and emotional ways. My favorite place to walk near my home is a graveyard that has a paved area around the lush grounds, making for comfortable walking in peaceful surroundings.
One day I had been walking for about five miles. The weather outside had gotten hotter, and I must have looked like a sight to behold. I pushed myself at a faster and faster pace, and my shorts and T-shirt were damp with perspiration, and my hair clung to my face, wet and sweaty.
As I rounded one corner, I saw a gold minivan approaching that I had seen many times before. The woman inside was middle-aged and always had a little dog on her lap. Because she wore dark sunglasses whenever I saw her, I could never have identified her had I seen her elsewhere in the community. However, I recognized her at the graveyard because it was always the same van, the same dog, and her actions were always the same. She would roll down her window, perch the dog on her lap -- with its neck craning out the window -- and they both would stare at the graves for what seemed like forever, while she cried. I always wondered what her story was, but had never talked to her before.
As I rounded the bend, I heard a voice whisper, "Go and ask her if you can pray for her, to be healed." I am a pastor, but neither this woman nor anyone else probably would have recognized me as such at the time. Sticky, grimy, and smelly, I thought, This woman would think I'm crazy. And perhaps I am crazy! What if this is just "me" talking to myself So I prayed, "God, I don't know if this is really you or if it's just me. If you really want me to talk to her, let her still be there as I round the corner the next time."
On my final lap, she was still there. I felt strongly that I should obey the prompting of what I now felt certain was God.
I approached her van and quietly said, "Ma'am, I know I look like a scary sight right now, and I ask you to excuse my appearance -- but I felt directed to stop and talk to you. I have seen you here on different occasions, and I don't know who you lost, but I know they must be really important to you. As I was walking, God told me to stop and ask you if I could pray for you, for healing."
At that, she sobbed pretty much uncontrollably. Mysteriously, I was prepared in a practical way for her tears. Before I had left on my walk that day, I had the indescribable urge to fill my pockets with about ten tissues, something I have never done before in years of walking. As she cried, I just stood there pulling the Kleenex out of my pockets and comforting her. Between sobs, she choked out, "I've been praying, 'Oh God, if you really care about me, send someone, just ONE PERSON to tell me -- and to care.' " At that point I was crying, too, and we shared the tissues.
Once she was able to speak more easily, she told me that her husband, Jack, had died an early death from cancer. They had been together since they were teenagers and were always deeply in love right up until the day he died. His death was so sudden, so unfair. They were never able to have children, but the little dog was a very real part of the family. She went on to tell me how much their animal still missed Jack as well. She spoke of just wanting "one more chance to hold Jack... one more chance to love him."