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Authors: Bonnie Hopkins

Seasons

BOOK: Seasons
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are
used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2005 by Bonnie S. Hopkins

All rights reserved.

Published by Warner Books with Walk Worthy Press
TM

Warner Books

Hachette Book Group

237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017

Visit our website at
www.HachetteBookGroup.com
.

First eBook Edition: October 2005

ISBN: 978-0-446-56150-1

Contents

Copyright Page

Dedication

Acknowledgments

Prologue

Memories

Moments

Manipulations

Mercies

Matrimony

Epilogue

About the Author

To my gracious Heavenly Father, who began and completed this work. Each time I tried to make it my story, You faithfully redirected
it back to the right path. All praise, honor, and glory to Your name.

To Kym Fisher, who believed from the very beginning and never doubted her mother could accomplish this God-given assignment
(thanks, Squirt), and Rev. Harold Fisher, whose wisdom in the Word was so helpful.

To my little inspirations: Nicholas and Sydnee Fisher, whose unceasing joy and enthusiasm for life encourage me and give me
hope for the future.

And

In memory of

Timothy Fisher and Taylor Hopkins,

who fought a good fight and brought a brief, but strong, light into the world.

A
cknowledgments

T
o my WONDERFUL supporters:

Kym and Rev. Harold Fisher, Cynthia Johnson Biggers, Reba Ball, Margaree and Kevin Mitchell, Jewel Mitchell Walker, Andrew
Johnson, Sandra Hopkins, Arnetta Johnson, Lula Nelson, Tanja and Reg Murray, John and Virgie (fabulous) Montgomery, Janine
Moore, Carroll Roesler, Yvette Chargois, Joyce Walker, Erika Larkin, Lydia Cannon, Sylvia Teague, DeDe Greene, Rhenae and
Clem Abrams, and Alice Burnam.

You have fervently prayed and made yourself a resource by asking (or telling) me what you could do to help. And when I did
ask for help, you graciously responded and got it done. You have regularly encouraged me through cards, e-mails, and phone
calls, or perhaps spoke a kind or encouraging word when it was most needed. You listened patiently when I whined and complained
(even when I knew you were thoroughly sick of me). You harassed and pushed when I was in one of
those
places. You constantly sent or called with all kinds of helpful information. Some of you have just been there . . . a quiet
but strong leaning post of support and wisdom.

Whatever the case, I simply say a heartfelt THANKS to all of you, and may God richly Bless you!

To those of you not listed, but who have supported me through prayers and positive thoughts for the success of
Seasons,
please know that I am grateful.

To Denise Stinson and the Walk Worthy Press staff! Only a new author can understand what it means to get “the call.” I will
never forget the day I received that call that ushered me through the door and brought us to this point. Thank You! Thank
You! Thank You! And God Bless you! I am eternally grateful for the wonderful opportunity you so graciously provided for me
to tell this story.

To Time Warner Book Group and editor Frances Jalet-Miller and copy editor Susan Higgins, I am abundantly appreciative of your
conscientious hard work and expertise. (You guys are great!)

To the readers! I enjoyed writing
Seasons
for you. And as I wrote, I prayed that this book would bless you, and encourage and inspire you to walk through your seasons
in victory. I am supremely thankful for your support, and I hope this story will help you remember to trust God through every
season, because as the characters so aptly demonstrate, SEASONS DO CHANGE!

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

P
rologue

O
oooh! This is not good!
Jaci had come face to face with the unsettling fact that there was no more time for thinking, analyzing, or prevaricating.
She was just minutes from walking down the aisle.

Questions and doubts continued to torment her.
What am I doing? Have I lost my doggone mind? How did I get myself into this? I’m so set in my way of thinking and living,
do I even want a husband?

She nervously paced and fought the sensation that the walls were closing in and vital air was thinning.
Why these questions now? This should be a settled issue. Definitely not a good thing!

She talked out loud to herself, verbalizing her thoughts—her doubts. “My life may be deficient in certain areas, but I’ve
managed to obtain a modicum of peace and contentment. I’m self-sufficient, free to go and do as I please, and too old to be
changing things at this stage of the game. Love aside, do I need to be giving up life as I know it for the unknown . . . marriage?”

She swallowed repeatedly in an effort to quiet the butterflies that churned in her stomach. They had to number in the hundreds!
What is wrong with me? Why am I stressing like this?
She yearned for the comfort and peace of her family room—pictured herself in blissful solitude, reading a book or watching
a good movie—far removed from this wedding scenario. But wait . . . she loved this man!

Old demons who had made a home in her mind years before wouldn’t be quieted.
But can you . . . do you dare trust him?
Frustration filled her as she recalled that her family room, cluttered with the belongings of out-of-town relatives, was
anything but serene right now. She shook her head, trying to clear it.
I don’t need to be in here alone with all these crazy thoughts!

She stuck her head through the door and called out for her daughter. “Randi!” Hearing the stress in her mother’s voice, Randi
rushed into the room followed closely by Sister Sadie. Jaci looked at them, distress evident on her face. “I’m having second
thoughts about this ya’ll. I just don’t know if I should be getting married. Is Jason here? Oh God, what if he’s changed his
mind? What if something goes wrong? Is all the wedding party here? Do I look okay?” She nervously fired off question after
question.

Randi admired how beautiful her mother looked in the exquisite custom-made gown. “Mama, everything is fine, you look beautiful,
and I know you’re not questioning God’s blessings.”

“I just don’t want to make a mistake,” Jaci whispered. “You know I had lost all hope of this ever happening. I thought I was
destined to remain single. What if I was right?”

“Mama,” Randi said with impatience. They’d had this conversation many times before. “You may have had a long wait, but don’t
you think God has come through in a great way? I mean, look at Jason—handsome, rich, and crazy about you. You can’t get any
better than that.”

Jaci smiled waveringly. “He is something, isn’t he? I guess that’s why I’m having such a hard time believing this is happening.
I keep thinking it’s too good to be true. What if I’m just grasping after long dead dreams?” Her voice grew faint, weighed
down by doubt. “What if this is a mistake I’ll end up regretting?” Her eyes filled with tears. “I couldn’t stand that.”

Before Randi could attempt to calm her mother’s frazzled nerves, someone called for her and she turned to tell them she would
be there in a second. She grabbed her mother’s hands and spoke hurriedly. “Mama, you’re just having some prewedding jitters.
Relax! Everything’s going to be fine.” She tossed a worried look at Sister Sadie before walking away.

Sadie Brooks listened to the troubling conversation between Jaci and Randi and shook her head as sadness dimmed her happiness.
I’ve got to talk to this girl!
she decided.

Sadie was like a mother to Jaci. Sadie remembered when the young mother had joined the church many years ago. After it became
apparent there was no husband in the picture, Jaci had been judged as “unacceptable” by many of the members. Oddly, her child
was warmly accepted and embraced, while Jaci was deliberately ignored. Jaci had been hurt and puzzled by their rejection but
finally stopped seeking their acceptance and concentrated on serving the Lord. But something about Jaci had touched Sadie’s
heart. She had shunned the masses, taken Jaci under her wing, and now enjoyed a mother-daughter relationship with her that
others envied.
Help, Lord,
Sadie prayed.
The devil is trying to use Jaci’s past hurts to destroy her future. Please give me the right words to say to her.

Jaci took deep breaths, but calm eluded her. She couldn’t stop the disturbing memories of the last few months.
I’ve been stalked, attacked, had my life threatened, and almost lost my job over this man. Randi’s father even showed up making
demands. Was the Lord trying to tell me something?

Her legs trembled and she badly needed to sit down before she fell. A chair across the room beckoned, but the need to run
from the room and out of the church as fast as she could became paramount.
Should I? If this marriage is a mistake, wouldn’t it be better to stop it now?
The temptation to run was strong, and the demons in her mind pressed their case.
Think! Remember all you’ve been through during the last few months! What about these questions, doubts, and fears plaguing
you? What if they are trying to tell you something? Remember the difficult years—years that are now behind you. And most important,
think about the peaceful existence you’ve obtained. Do you want to give it up for the unknown? Girl, you better think!

In the midst of her confusion, one lucid thought finally broke through. Pray!
Oooh, thank You, Holy Spirit.
She began praying out loud frantically.“Lord, I’ve talked to You about this marriage for months and I believed it was in
Your will and purpose. But why am I stressing like this? Father, I need You to quiet these doubts and fears and show me what
to do. Now! Please! Before I do something I’ll regret!”

But the dark memories and tormenting doubts refused to be quelled. Was she about to make a serious mistake?

“Lord, are You going to answer? Please guide me, Father.” The churning in her stomach turned to nausea.

“What’s wrong with me?” she asked in self-disgust while clutching her stomach. “I’m too old, been through too much, know better
than to let myself be stressed out like this. Surely my long, difficult journey has taught me something! Father, what are
you telling me?”

A few seconds later, she turned and walked across the room as swiftly as her shaky legs would carry her.

“Jaci!” Sister Sadie frantically called. “Wait a minute!”

M
emories
June 1981

G
raduation day from college was a scary, exhilarating, wonderful occasion!

Twenty-one-year-old Jacetta Winters clutched her college diploma tightly and thanked God that four years of year-round classes
had finally paid off. Exuberant and optimistic, she overflowed with hopes and dreams. She was ready for challenges to be overcome
and adventures to be explored. Look out world; she was ready for anything! Or was she? Years later, she would remember that
day and recoil in embarrassment at her extreme naïvete.

The next week, back home in their small Riverwood, Arkansas, community, Jacetta and her six cousins rejoiced in their victory.
From birth the cousins had been inseparable and their notorious shenanigans had gained them reputations of being both villains
and heroes. Now, with the exception of one who had dropped out to get married, they all celebrated becoming college graduates.

Identical green eyes, a Winslow family trait passed down from Jacetta’s maternal grandparents, stared out from the face of
each cousin. “Ya’ll, the only thing I regret is that for the first time in our lives, we’re all going our separate ways,”
Jacetta told them tearfully.

“I know,” C.J. answered in a shaky voice. “Can you believe it? Dusty going into the Marines. Buddy headed to Michigan to take
a job, and Big Ben moving to Little Rock to be a high school coach. Now who would have figured that!” They all looked at Big
Ben and laughed.

BOOK: Seasons
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