Bonnie Engstrom holds a BA in English from the University of Southern California and studied Creative Writing at the University of Pittsburgh, as well as post graduate work at the University of California at Irvine. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with husband Dave of fifty years, is the mother of three grown children and the proud grandmother of six grandchildren, four of them who live in Scottsdale and two in Costa Rica! She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an invited member of Gayle Roper’s original Fiction Mentoring Clinic, Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, 2003 mentored by James Scott Bell. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and a member of Christian Writers of the West, the regional Arizona chapter of ACFW.
Those Pesky Tasks
By Bonnie Engstrom
I hate folding laundry, especially pairing socks, particularly my husband’s. I admit his are easier to figure out than mine. His are either gray, or white with yellow heels and toes, sometimes beige. The only socks I wear are all black for donning my boots, so it’s a challenge to pair the correct black socks with each other.
Another task I do with due diligence, but would rather not have to, is emptying the dishwasher. Sometimes I forget where a strainer goes, or a scraper. Usually my role is to load the dreaded thing. I have a friend who says she’s never known anyone who could load a dishwasher like me. Guess that’s a compliment about my organizational skills. I do usually manage to wiggle everything in and still have each thing come out clean. It’s a gift.
Today in church our pastor’s message was about committing to try to be like Christ. That is so hard. Does it mean I have to give up every sinful thing? Try harder to not grumble over daily tasks? Not complain, mumbling, when it’s my turn to walk the dogs or turn off the lights before going to bed, or even make the bed?
I don’t remember Christ mumbling or complaining about tasks set before Him. Like healing the sick, or feeding the five thousand, or turning water into wine. He only said, you “… will walk with me.”
“They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.” Revelation 3:4 (NIV)
Are you up to that task, to walk with Him? Can you imagine Him holding your hand, leading you, even helping you fold the laundry? You may not be able to do the miracles He did, but each task you undertake today is a small accomplishment. The very fact you have arms to fold the clothes and fingers to turn off the lights at night proclaims you as a walking miracle.
If you have no arms, literally, you can still honor the Lord, for you are a miracle of His love and grace. You have survived whatever presented you with that situation, whether birth or war or accident. You are equal to His tasks, the daily ones He has graciously given you to perform in His name.
Rejoice in the Lord, for He has given us daily tasks to remind us we are whole in Him.
Bonnie Engstrom is a wife of 50 years to her psychologist husband, Dave. They have three adult children and six adorable grandchildren. They are also parents to two small dogs. They live in Arizona near four of their grandchildren.
A lovely weaving of romance, forgiveness and encouragement are the words that best describe this lovely novel from author Bonnie Engstrom.
It is a treat to read a romance between an older, mature couple. Bonnie Engstrom has written a lively, fun, story about two intriguing characters who will pull the reader into the story from the first page.
It is a sweet love story and you discover it is not to late to find real love again. A wonderful page turner as you walk through the chapters discovering her most intimate thoughts, fears and happiness. I look forward to the continuance of this sweet story in the next book.
I found the humor in this book refreshing. My favorite line was in reference to the fist kiss shared between Betsy and Noel, “I was the vacuum and he was the dust.” You’ll enjoy this book as the author succeeds in proving that “Love is a gift at any age”.
The characters of Betsy and Noel were hilarious and I loved evrey second of their interaction. The character of Bett was over the top.I can just imagine her running her empire in those colorful outfits.
Butterfly Dreams combines humor, doubt, jealousy, and faith to form the metamorphosis that is what love encompasses to create the perfect union of two people who have traversed the often rocky trail of life.
Will Natalie, the one whose friends call “the tough girl,” overcome her fear with the help of her best friend, Melanie?
Maybe Alan’s impromptu proposal will boost her morale when nosy neighbor, Gladys, accuses her of being a loose woman.
Natalie’s group of friends, the Candy Canes, gather to pray for her at their favorite Starbucks and even have a silly, unconventional pizza party with crazy ingredients to cheer her up. But stubborn Natalie doesn’t cheer up easily.
Hoping a change of attire from everyday gym clothes to something fancy will calm her fears she goes on a rare shopping spree. The effusive saleswoman persuades her and she splurges on an elegant RED DRESS. So not Natalie! When and where would she ever wear it? Unless, maybe, she invites a special man to dinner. But will he accept? What if he really loves someone else? AMAZON
The cooking class was to be a respite for Jillian from her stressful job as a high school guidance counselor. Was meeting co-student Erik who carried a baggage of guilt for his parents’ murder and his unique way of witnessing an invitation to emotional disaster? Caught between “friendship” with Erik and her politically incorrect support of Josh, a Muslim student turned Christian, Jillie almost lost her faith in love. AMAZON
Patti never expected to portray a legendary character, nor fall in love.
She just wanted a part-time job over the holidays. But between the Simon Cowell look-a-like guy who played Santa and her granddaughter Tabitha, and maybe God, she pulled on the green vinyl boots, powdered her eyebrows and “sucked it up”, as Tabby would say until . . . the Santa who came to give out gifts at church was different.
And she kissed him.
Did she kiss the wrong Santa? AMAZON
The phone call to Doreen’s fiancé Bill is frightening. The woman swears he has a child. Bill vows he never had a romantic relationship with the Italian shoe heiress. Is he lying? Could the woman have seduced him during his modeling stint for the famous motorcycle company? Maybe Doreen should put off their wedding plans until the truth comes out.
Doreen’s friendship group, the Candy Canes, gather around her to pray. She’s a nervous wreck until she adopts Happy Arthur. Will the little fluffy canine help her take her mind off her troubles?
Bill’s dad does some sleuthing on social media and comes up with an elaborate idea to expose the Italian woman. Will it work?
Doreen’s biggest fear about her forthcoming wedding is how will she do the first dance with her handsome groom on her shorter leg. Maybe she should follow the latest trend other brides are doing and wear tennis shoes for their first dance. Will her little dog Happy help when he presents her with one? Would the comfy shoes help her find her groove? AMAZON
Cassie Wainwright is alone, except for Poofy her Maine Coon cat. Can he warn her or even protect her from intruders? Why does her doorbell ring at 5 a.m.? Why is there a footprint on her stairs? Who is the good-looking policeman ringing the bell? Who gained access to her house when she recently had the locks changed?
Is Patrick the policeman trustworthy, or is he another ploy to romance her and set her off guard from her abuser? Why is he so handsome? Surely, those deep blue eyes glittered with love.
Cassie moderates a prayer chain so she has lot of support, prayer-wise. Will prayer be enough to keep her safe? AMAZON
What’s a wedding coordinator to do with a crazy bride?
Jill Spooner is the ultimate wedding planner, a role she loves . . . until the Trumble wedding. She’s been in her wedding coordinating business, Divine Weddings, for over twenty years, but she’s never encountered a situation like this one. Nor, a bride like this one. She had privately nicknamed Jessica the bride a “spoiled brat” for insisting on having an auction to fulfill her bridesmaid spots. With the bids starting in the hundreds, she wonders if anyone will show up.
When her niece Lizzie and her friend Carolyn drive from Scottsdale to Newport Beach to participate in the auction, mostly for the fun of it, Jill predicts one of them will win the Maid of Honor spot. They even devise a dress up scheme based on the bride’s idea of a storybook wedding. It works well, until Carolyn raises her bidding paddle.
Lizzie’s love struck friend Brad shows up in Newport Beach to court her. Jill helps him with a plan, but what to do with Carolyn while he romances Lizzie? Suddenly she’s a matchmaker, and a problem solver for the wedding party. None of that was in her contract. Fortunately, as an experienced consultant, she pulls ideas and answers out of her sleeve when shocking love secrets are revealed. Who really loves whom? Was Jessica the bride-to-be lying? What about her twin brother’s college roommate? Thank goodness Jill took an iron-clad, non-refundable deposit from the Trumbles. She will earn every dollar as the wedding coordinator in captivity. She is almost ready to give up the wedding coordinating business when her matchmaking proves fruitful. Suddenly, she finds herself planning two more weddings that take her out of her element, and out of state. Will she be able to pull them off? Maybe she should start a matchmaking business. AMAZON
A sentimental journey! Can romance still flourish after fifteen years? Will a teacher and a former stable boy remember their first kiss?
Jenni wasn’t sure why she was taking this journey back in time. Surely, she didn’t expect to see her first teenage crush, Jake the stable boy. She had moved on from fifteen years ago and sneaking kisses in the barn after trail rides. Undoubtedly, he must have, too. Who on earth would stay in the tiny town of Cambridge Springs?
Looking forward to a peaceful respite from teaching, she planned to read, take quiet walks and indulge in delicious hotel meals. She hoped the old hotel still served the succulent roast pork, her favorite. At least no one knew where to find her, none of her friends, and not even her family.
Odd that the name of the historic hotel had changed. She wondered who would have done that, who had the capability to do it. Maybe new owners. She hoped not much had changed and that the rooms were still filled with antique furniture. She wanted to soak up memories, alone. Unless by a Christmas miracle Jake was still there to share them. AMAZON
Scroll down to read the first chapter of Butterfly Dreams
The sixth commandment comes to mind. God help me, please. I’m not really capable of murder, am I?
Betsy’s life is one crisis after another. She never wondered, or cared, who her birth parents were until her friend Bett confesses, “I have a child.” Bett and Betsy’s adoptive mother, Harriett, have been best friends since college. Could there be a connection?
Betsy resents that Bett secretly set her up with over-the-top handsome Noel with Crayon blue eyes, tons of dough and a quirky psychological problem. But, when her kitchen blows up, he saves her life—over the phone!
When daughter Brie shows up pregnant and abandoned by her husband, like Betsy’s husband, The Jerk, abandoned her when she was pregnant with Brie, Betsy takes charge. Noel could help, but will he? And, how does his old friend Muriel fit into the equation?
Will Betsy’s messy life ever get straightened out? How can she help Brie restore her marriage, as well as nurse Noel back to health from the flu with her leg in a cast—the leg she broke visiting him during one of his marathon hospital stays?
Will Noel turn out to be the hero Bett claims him to be and the lover Betsy hopes him to be? Or, will Noel disappoint her and become another butterfly dream?
“Betsy, … Please, don’t be a bridezilla at your age.”
Ghosts! One is laughing down from heaven. One wears rags. One is falling in love with her. Melanie’s faith is shaken. Her husband Larry is dead. They had only been married a few hours before he was arrested. Will her best friend Natalie be enough? Who will understand about Larry’s crime, his deception and how he died? Surely not her new friend Robert who lost his wife to cancer; no deception there. Just sadness. Should she believe the homeless old woman who claims to be Larry’s estranged mother, calling herself Melanie’s mother-in-law? Especially when the raggedy old lady stalks her and camps on her doorstep. Why did the woman abandon her son and husband over thirty years ago? Robert gives her empathy and support . . . until his own secret is revealed. All Melanie has left of Larry is the gorgeous blue diamond ring! Her special group of friends, the Candy Canes, promise to pray for her. But, is prayer enough? She counts on all of them for support and answers! The love of a dog with her shaggy fur, big eyes and her kisses may have to be enough. Larry, his homeless mother, and even Robert, all haunt her. Her only normalcy is teaching the adorable three-year-olds in her preschool class. Maybe little Jackson will help put the ghosts to rest. AMAZON
Two lonely women. Natalie and Melanie are the only ones of the seven Candy Cane friends who are unattached. Even physically disabled Doreen has a lover. The others are all married. All loved and protected. What is wrong with Mel? And Nat who collapses in motherly Claire’s arms sobbing, “I am lost, a lost cause.”
Melanie tries to fill the emptiness with Lola the scruffy rescue dog who is so cuddly. Can lovable Lola with the big ears, long snout and dark eyebrows overcome Melanie’s loneliness?
Natalie at least has a budding romance with Larry. But, his dark skin and numerous tattoos could be a problem. Still, she’s attracted to him, and he to her. Until he and Melanie meet and sparks fly – across a hospital room and land on her blue skirt in her special God color.
Larry drops hints about a secret he has, but everyone has secrets, don’t they? And, friends don’t pry. Jaeda finds that out when Connie deceives him about her pregnancy. Doreen fears Bill, Jr. loves her out of pity. Cindy is angry her mission to plant a church in Costa Rica is failing. Candy and Noelle are the only women of the group who seem secure.
Suddenly surprises become the norm. Connie’s surprise is a mind-boggling statistical anomaly. Larry’s secret shatters Melanie’s trust. Will any of the women have a normal life, a normal love? What happened to the Love and Marriage and the Baby Carriage they all dreamed for? Will faith and friendship redeem them? AMAZON
Lies, guilt, stalking. Natalie is injured and left lying on the ground. Melanie is terrified of her step-father. Bryce is drowning in guilt. Billy is frustrated, mad at himself. Emily is despondent. Claire has something up her sleeve.
Two handsome men vie for Natalie’s attention, traveling from Newport Beach to Scottsdale, Arizona to woo her. But one caused her back injury, and one strands her on the top of a Ferris Wheel knowing how terrified she is of heights, even though she took sky-diving lessons with him.
Depressed Emily confides in Natalie, and Emily’s life takes a turn thanks to Nick’s meddlesome mother, Claire. Is love still possible? If it is, what would the Feng Shui designer chose as a wedding theme? Certainly, not pink. And, hot dogs at the reception?
Will Natalie ever find love? She wants it badly, but is thrilled two Candy Canes are expecting babies. She will be an aunt again. But, when will she be a wife and mother? AMAZON
Noelle Day finally has the courage to break off her ill-fated engagement with her volatile fiancé and cancel their Christmas wedding. It’s embarrassing, and she has to share the humiliating reason with her friends The Candy Canes. The other five girls were to be her attendants in red taffeta gowns.
When she faints and falls into the arms of Braydon Lovejoy, the now former wedding florist, Braydon is confused by her abrupt manner. Who is this beautiful woman with the sepia hair and the huge brown eyes? Is she a damsel in distress as he suspects? He prays for an opportunity to find out.
Then he backs his delivery van into her precious red car, and he’s sure she would never go out with him, especially since he was hired to deliver a huge bouquet of roses to her from a secret admirer.
Noelle isn’t sure how to respond when Bruce, the school principal, physically forces himself on her. After all, he is her boss, and she’s just a first year English teacher.
She finally accepts a lunch date with Braydon, and he takes her to Sherman Gardens in Corona del Mar where she learns he is the local rose expert. But, Noelle worries their friendship is happening too fast and calls a respite.
One of the Candy Canes has a tragic accident, and the women bond together. But Braydon, who is not sure why he is involved, becomes their anchor.
Will Braydon’s prayers heal the hurts, physically and emotionally? Will the injured Candy Cane forgive the woman who caused her accident, the woman who is related to Bruce the principal? Will Noelle ever have her California Candy Cane Christmas? AMAZON
The Candy Canes are a tight knit group; the six girls are like sisters. They share everything from successes to secrets. Even marriage doesn’t keep them apart. Then …
Cindy caught the bridal bouquet, and Rob caught the blue garter. Neither of them believed in fate or tradition. But, something happened when she stepped on his toes dancing.
When Rob agreed to help his brother by working in the Love In Bloom Floral Shop while Braydon was on his honeymoon, he asked Cindy to join him. He didn’t know what to expect, especially over Christmas break. Would she take over with her promotional ideas and anger his mother, the owner?
Would their relationship flower? Could Cindy accept Rob’s secrets? How would that change her love for him? And, what about Emily, the woman who claimed Rob loved her?
Cindy has decisions to make. She is supposed to receive her unique engagement ring on Valentine’s Day. Should she accept it, or say no to Rob because of the secrets he recently shared? If she accepts, they will have a lifelong commitment and have a wedding on the beach. Is she strong enough to go through with the plan, or should she back out and be safe?
Recipe Included AMAZON
CANDY IS ON A WILD RIDE
Too many Bills?
Candy and Natalie have trouble separating them. Handsome Bill Senior is old enough to be their father, and his son Bill Junior is drop dead gorgeous. Candy’s brother Billy complicates things with his concern for Candy and his former association with Will, Candy’s ex.
Can the girls sort out all the names and personalities? Who is in love with whom?
Fortunately, they have their Candy Cane sisters to pray with them, even though one of them, Cindy, is thousands of miles away needing prayer, too. Which would help her more, corn chips or prayer vigils?
Will Candy Canes Melanie, Connie, Noelle and Doreen help Natalie and Candy figure out love, or will they just add to the confusion? What will happen when Candy’s mother, Vivian, is thrown into the Bill mix? Who rides which motorcycles, and does the little red Harley hinder or help when Candy takes a wild ride? AMAZON
Marci had learned to cope with her deformed leg. As the curator of The Bridal Museum, she felt almost fulfilled … until the new chef arrived to oversee the Café Wedd. But, Conrad Thorstrom was beneath her educationally. His minor accomplishments and associate degree didn’t match up to her MBA. How could she be attracted to him?
Besides, she was a gimp, and he was a tall, handsome Swede who dubbed her his Wild Irish Rose. If she was above him intellectually, he far surpassed her in the looks department.
Need to be in control Kate meets take charge Lance during a National Cook Off in California, and sparks almost fly. How could the sponsors have scheduled the only two meatloaf contestants to share the kitchen at the same time?
After Kate boldly credits Christ for her cooking success on national television, the CEO of Family Foods professes his faith. Kate’s promotion to Global Outreach Minister at church threatens her relationship with Lance, and she still doesn’t know what he does for a living. But, his personal assistant, Felicity, does. “I know everything.”
Lance impulsively buys a house for them without Kate’s involvement, and sparks really do fly, practically putting an end to their romance. “I had no say in it!”
Hopefully, her Golden Retriever Sandy can save the day when the dog’s soulful, amber eyes approve of the house. “She wants a child in here to play with.”
Will these two ever be able to create magic in the kitchen when they’re still trying to figure out the recipe for Happily Ever After? AMAZON
Will Noel turn out to be the hero Bett claims him to be and the lover Betsy hopes him to be? Or, will Noel disappoint her and become another butterfly dream?
I used to be skilled at multi-tasking.
It’s starting to be a weird day. If I weren’t a Christian woman I would use some expletives.
For starters the tomato is mushy. Now the phone is ringing. I grab it with a slippery hand.
I cut my finger trying to separate the plastic wrap from an English cucumber while holding the phone between my ear and shoulder.
“Yes, Bett, I’ll try.” I guess I was a bit curt, but this particular client always has last minute requests, especially since we’ve become friends. This time she wants an earlier delivery. At least she doesn’t want to change the menu.
Suffering catfish! I’m out of E.V.O.O., FoodNetworkTV star Rachel Ray’s acronym for olive oil, the extra virgin kind. This would never happen to Rache. Rolling my eyes way up I ask, “How many other hiccups am I going to have today?” No answer, just a crick in my neck and the realization that one of the fluorescent lights is blinking, almost out. Probably why I cut my finger. Seeing my hands in this business is important.
I’m a personal chef. I specialize in unique and exotic salads that feature dressings from family recipes passed down through four generations. I call them Heavenly Salade Presentations. They’re gorgeous, healthy, opulent bowls of greens elaborately decorated with snippets and handfuls of seeds and berries, and, of course, the expected faire—tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, black olives. The tomatoes are Heirloom Princess Toms; the cucumbers, well you already know they’re the variety from across The Pond; the onions—red, white and yellow are organic; and the noir olives are the Kalamata variety from the Never on Sunday land of Greece.
My client, the senescent owner of several impressive boutiques, doesn’t give the simple hoot of a barn owl laying eggs. All she cares about is having her Salade Presentations delivered twenty minutes before her guests arrive so my van with Heavenly Catering emblazoned on the sides will have pulled out of her drive and be back on Shea Boulevard before her company comes. I also assume she will feign, in her ingenious ability to fabricate, to have concocted my creation.
Oh, forgot. Sorry. My name is Elizabeth Whatzit. That’s the name most of my clients use when introducing me. Wysinotski is apparently too complicated for them to remember. I’ve gotten used to it. Really doesn’t matter as long as they order and pay me on time.
The above mentioned “salade” is intended for Bettina Bethany, owner of the famed Bett’s Boutiques, founded here in Scottsdale, Arizona and spread far and wide from Corona del Mar, California to Sewickly, Squirrel Hills and Shadyside, Pennsylvania. Why there? Who knows? Bett, as she prefers to be addressed, was raised in one of the environs of Pittsburgh. Maybe it’s a roots thing. Maybe after she attended her fiftieth high school reunion in Penn Hills, a suburb just east of Pittsburgh, she found an old flame that agreed after several drinks of spiked punch to be an investor. Only Bett knows, and she isn’t telling. As for the California connection, Bett loves the ocean and opulence, especially together. “It’s only a one hour plane ride from Phoenix and gave me an excuse to buy a beach house.”
I save the salad by substituting red bell pepper for the overly ripe tomatoes. Color is important.
I put hydrogen peroxide on the tiny cut on my finger and watch it bubble. After applying one of the many Band-aids I keep in a kitchen drawer, I don my disposable surgical gloves—a sous chef’s backup for finger emergencies. Maybe next time I’ll try using an onionskin on the cut the way my neighborhood butcher suggested. Seems a bit off the wall to me, but Tony swears by it. He brings the tips of his fingers together, kisses them and flings the kiss heavenward. “Stopsa the bleeding right away. Trusta me.”
Today Ms. Bett will have a new creation, a “Boutique Salade” in honor of her Bett’s Boutiques. As I sprinkle bits of feta cheese and whisk a combination of lemon infused oil (since there is no more E.V.O.O.) and balsamic vinegar with Elizabeth’s Secret Spices (oo, la, la, Emeril, I have them, too), I am ready to roll. Bam!
I cradle the enormous, acacia wood bowl resting it above my tummy paunch. Did I mention I’m not a twenty-something entrepreneurial chef, but an almost sixty-something, post-menopausal, fully blossomed woman looking for another good man? I march and chant in cadence to a favorite childhood song. Marching to Pretoria palpitates silently in my brain.
We have food, the food is good, and
So let us eat together…
When we eat, it is a treat, and
So we will sing together,
As we march along.
Old Sassy, my supposed-to-be-white catering van is in need of a bath. The sliding side door is stuck, again. Dear Lord, Would you be so kind to give me a clue what else is going to happen this afternoon. Should I just give it up? Or do you want me to persevere as Paul admonishes?
When I’m really stressed to my personal limits I call on the Creator. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Yeh! I truly believe that because He’s gotten me through two marriages, three kids and a myriad of occupations. Still, when desperate, I cry, “Jesus, I need you NOW.” Then I beg forgiveness for yelling at God. Filled with guilt and remorse I will go home this evening and kneel down at the side of my queen bed with the expensive hotel mattress and pray. God still answers knee prayer, doesn’t He?
After the third try (why is everything in thirds?), Old Sassy’s door slides open as if on E.V.O.O.-powered hydraulics.
I rest the gargantuan wooden bowl on the side runner of the van. The van bed is divided into twelve spaces, each with stretchy netting surrounding them. I don’t know what that stuff is called, but a lot of people have it in the backs of their SUVs to keep groceries from sliding. Rolf, the guy I bought the van from, suggested it when I told him I’d be transporting lots of bowls and casseroles and didn’t want them to slip en route. I remember he was kind of cute for a senior citizen. Lots of curly black hair, some of which needed a trim at his neckline. And he had a great smile. A little toothy, but very friendly.
The now accommodating side door of the van is opening wide, and I have this weird sensation that the squeal of its gears is really the sound of laughter. I wonder if a six thousand pound pile of twelve-year old metal can laugh? Anchoring the bowl with my knee to keep it from tipping, I pat the side of my dirty heap and whisper some kitschy words.
Clyde, my first husband, used to talk to his vehicles. I must have picked up the annoying habit from him. He vowed his vintage VW healed itself after a cooing pep talk. I, on the other hand, attributed the fact it started again for having sat three days in the coolness of the garage. Poor thing was probably lonely, wanting to go for a run.
I set down the mini-cooler holding perishable ingredients and deposit the heavy bowl of salad between two netting thingies. I check to be sure the bowl is tightly covered with plastic wrap, twice, and open the little cooler to drop about a dozen ice cubes on top of the plastic. Then I cover those with another layer of plastic from the giant industrial size roll I keep behind the driver’s seat. The cooler finds a temporary home in another netted condo. I place the carafe of dressing on the passenger seat and strap it in with the seat belt—forbidding it to even jiggle. We’re off. Onward and upward to Bett’s. This is my mission. This is my gift. I am Boutique Salade in person. Heavenly Catering is my game.
Oh, my two marriages? They were wonderful—until Number One ended with death and Number Two ended with deception.
Purchase the book here