21. "hasn’t been missing long. If she’s upset, she’ll go someplace where she feels safe. But she might not be thinking clearly, Adelia protested, her panic returning. She’s only thirteen, Gabe. I’m afraid I’ve been forgetting that myself. I should have been paying more attention. Instead, I was so worried about my younger kids, I missed all the signs that Selena was in real trouble. I was just grateful that she was no longer rebelling against the world. In front of the gym, she bolted from the car practically before it could come to a stop. Inside, she scanned the room until her gaze landed on her brother. He regarded her with alarm, which grew visibly when Gabe came in right on her heels. Misreading the situation, Elliott stepped between them. Is this guy bothering you, Adelia? She held up a hand. No, it’s nothing like that. Selena’s missing. Gabe is helping me look for her. I thought maybe she’d come here to see you. Elliott shook his head. I haven’t seen her. Let me check with Karen. She’s not working today. She’s at the house with the baby. Adelia felt herself starting to shake as her brother made the call to his wife. Then she felt Gabe’s steadying hand on her shoulder. He didn’t say a word, just kept his hand there until the moment passed. Elliott listened intently to whatever Karen was saying, his expression brightening. Thanks, querida. Adelia will be there in a few minutes. Smiling, he turned to her. Selena’s at my house playing with the baby. Karen didn’t think to call anyone because Selena told her she only had a half day at school and swore you knew where she was. Adelia finally let out the breath she felt like she’d been holding for hours. Of course Karen believed her, she said wryly. Selena’s very convincing when she wants to be. Want me to drive you over there? Elliott offered. I can get one of the other trainers to take my next client. I can take her, Gabe said. He looked at her. Unless you’d prefer to have your brother go with you. Adelia hesitated, then shook her head. If you don’t mind making the drive, that would be great, she told him. Elliott, there’s no reason for you to miss an appointment. I can handle this. Elliott looked worried but eventually nodded. You’ll be there when I get home? I want to have a talk with my niece about skipping school and worrying you. She smiled. Believe me, she’ll get more than enough talking from me tonight. You can save your lecture for another day. Elliott nodded with unmistakable reluctance. Whatever you think, but I will have a word with her. You can be sure of that. Not a doubt in my mind, she said, then turned to Gabe. Let’s go. That"
- Sherryl Woods, Swan Point
26. "Unfortunately these days, hardly a day goes by without news of an incident of childhood bullying. Some of these are so horrific or tragic that they defy understanding. Those really grab our attention. Others are all too easily dismissed as some sort of rite of passage, an acceptable part of growing up. The truth, though, is that bullying of any kind has the power to change who a child is, the kind of person he or she grows up to be. When ignored, the victim can be scarred for life, emotionally, if not physically. The perpetrator grows up with a skewed value system that suggests it’s perfectly okay to make another person’s life miserable, to feel powerful, even for a moment, at the expense of someone weaker. It’s up to adults—parents, teachers, entire communities—to take a stand, to say bullying is not okay, not ever, not by anyone! And that’s exactly what happens in Serenity when schoolteacher Laura Reed and pediatrician J. C. Fullerton realize a student is being bullied. Both Laura and J.C. have experienced the damaging effects of bullying, so what’s happening to Misty Dawson is personal and unacceptable. While there are often subtle messages tucked away in my stories, I hope the message in Catching Fireflies is loud and clear. There is nothing cute or normal or acceptable about bullying, whether it’s a toddler on the playground or a teenager using the internet to torment a classmate. Pay attention to what may be happening to your children, no matter how young or how old. Pay even closer attention to how they’re treating others. Bullying is wrong. It needs to stop. And alert parents and teachers and a united community can make that happen. I hope you’ll enjoy spending time with all the Sweet Magnolias once more, and that you’ll take their message—and mine—to heart. All best, Sherryl"
- Sherryl Woods, Catching Fireflies
27. "The light of the Christmas star to you. The warmth of home and hearth to you. The cheer and goodwill of friends to you. The hope of a child-like heart to you. The joy of a thousand angels to you. The love of the Son and God's peace to you."
- Sherryl Woods, An O'Brien Family Christmas
28. "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of Being and ideal Grace."
- Sherryl Woods, Yesterday's Love