love YOUR NEIGHBOR as yourself

Love is in the air, or so they say.  Heart shape balloons line the shop windows, couples are getting ready to celebrate—everyone’s showing love to others. That’s the idea anyways.

One famous thing Jesus said, a phrase that’s been said many times, in many ways, “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:32) While we’re busy showing love to our neighbors, the one person we forget to love is ourself. See, the first thing we hear in that verse is, “love your neighbor,” and that’s what we try to practice. That’s we take away from that verse and that’s what we tell others. But take a look at that last part, “as yourself.”

How many people can look in the mirror and say, “I love who I am?”

Paul says in Ephesians chapter five verse twenty-nine, “no one ever hated his own flesh.” I don’t know what people were like in Paul’s days, but these days, people can hate themselves more than they ever thought possible. Sometimes this comes from something we’ve done, other times it comes from something someone said. But we hate ourselves. We despise ourselves so much that we torture ourselves. Not only do we physically hurt ourselves, but we beat ourselves up with the most hateful words. We repeatedly tell ourselves a lie, until we forget that the truth ever existed and we live the lie. We may treat others in way so they won’t become our enemy, but we treat ourselves so that our own mind becomes our biggest enemy.

In Genesis chapter one verse twenty-seven Moses says, “God created man in His own image.” If we were created in the image of God, who are we despising more, ourselves or the creator who designed us?

 We are not perfect like God, but He thought His creation, our body and personality, was perfect when He created it. The things I just mentioned are fairly deep. They’re real problems, living in real people. But not all self-hatred runs that deep.

Self-hatred can sneak up on a person anytime, anywhere, and it can stay for five minutes, then it disappears. That happens to me a lot. Some self-hatred hovers over your mind, it doesn’t run deep, but it’s there. Every time someone complements you; every time someone speaks kindly of you. It’s not that you don’t appreciate it, it’s that you don’t believe it. If you accepted their complement, if you believed their kind words, then you would be praising yourself. You’d be unhumble. You don’t know if you’re all those great things someone says about you, but one thing you know you’re not, is self-centered. Bratty people are self-centered and you’re not a brat.

That’s the thing, a lot of times people who are confident in themselves are considered bratty. Most of the time, the word “brat” is aimed at a teenage girl, but it can go either way. Both females and males of all ages can be considered self-centered. But there’s a difference between being a brat, and loving the person God created: you. God premiered a marvelous design when you entered the world. He didn’t design a self-centered, careless person, He designed a person with humility, respect, and gratitude. For you are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)

If someone’s complementing you, then they’re taking the time to show love to you. If someone noticed your way of life and they’re sharing their admiration, then they’ve taken the time to notice your true personality. They’ve taken time to spend with you and show you love. Others love you, they are showing love to you, like you are showing love to others. You are their “other.” Take the love their giving to you and love yourself. Accept the love that the Lord gives you every single day, and love the person He created you to be. You are loved, and because of that, you have the strength to love yourself.

 In that verse (Ephesians 5:29) Paul also says, “they feed and care for their body.” We should care for a body God created, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

This Valentine’s Day set aside the self-abuse, shove the hateful thoughts away, accept the love from others, and love the person God made you to be: you. He made you to be you. In his eyes you were made perfectly and He wants you to be who He created you to be. If you do nothing this Valentine’s Day, if you do nothing besides remember that God’s love matters above all other love, then you’ve celebrated the best way you ever could. His love glows within your heart, and it’s enabling you to love the person you see in the mirror.

Wherever you are today, I pray you know the feeling of love.

Until next time,

Maria Friesen

Quick, before I leave, I wanted to remind you guys that my second book, The Mission, is out now on Amazon. You can check out my website to learn more about it or go to Amazon to order a copy now. If you do read it, let me know what you think. I always appreciate hearing from you guys. About both my books and my blog posts. 😀

*all Bible verses in this article are from the NIV*

Sebrina vs. April: May the Best Sister Win (Final Part)

Sebrina poured the last bit of coffee from her mug into her mouth. After she set the mug by the sink, she sat down by the table and wrote down phone numbers. Once opening day at the store would pass, her life might slow down again, but right now she needed all her focus on the store to make sure she wouldn’t relive the chicken feed disaster. She needed to prove to Celeb that she knew what she was doing. Otherwise, he might never trust her again.

He hadn’t mentioned the disaster since the day it happened, but she felt his mistrust every time she wanted to do something on her own. And if they were going to run a successful business, they needed to trust each other with “the business.”

“How’s the party planning going?” April dragged her fuzzy slippers across the kitchen floor, her eyes half closed.

“I only have one more day and I still have to confirm everything with the chef. And the dining area isn’t even set up yet. I don’t know why Celeb decided to add a dining area. It’ll take up half the feed store.”

“Because it’ll bring in extra business. Instead of letting the tiny kitchen go to waste, he decided to make some money off of it.”

“Landon never used the kitchen,” Sebrina said as she scanned over her notes.

“Maybe that’s why he went bankrupted.” April placed a bowl and a box of cereal in front of Sebrina. She carried the milk and a spoon to the table and plopped down.

Sebrina shrugged. Celeb had a good head on his shoulders. With him, she knew the business would succeed. She closed her laptop and set her notebook on top of it. She studied her sister.

“How come you haven’t left yet?”

“Have you looked at the time?” April stared at Sebrina. “It’s early.”

Sebrina studied the clock on the wall: 6:45 a.m. When had she gotten up? No wonder her eye lids felt like they might shut any minute. But with an extra cup of coffee she should be set . . . until mid-afternoon. If she didn’t have time for a nap, she’d drink another cup of coffee. Now that she owned half the store, she not only got her favorite coffee again, she could drink it whenever she wanted to.

“Have you talked to Celeb yet?”

“About what?” Sebrina retrieved a pair of flats from the coat closet.

“Your date. Have you apologized yet?”

Sebrina nodded as she flicked her hair out of her face. “No. I haven’t had a chance to talk to him.”

Sebrina left the kitchen to get her bag from her room. When she came back, April stood in front of the sink, drying her hands. “I thought you really liked him?”

“I do.” Even talking to Celeb about their store made her happy. His smile still made her melt and a slight brush against his arm made her body tingle. But she hadn’t talked to him. She’d had opportunities, she didn’t know why she hadn’t taken advantage of them. If she didn’t apologize soon, he might forget about her and move on.

“So, what’s stopping you?”

Sebrina placed her notebook in her bag and swung the bag over her shoulder. She focused on her sister and answered, “I don’t know.” Then she turned toward the door.

“Where are you going? It’s to early to work, nothing’s open yet.” April yelled after Sebrina as she walked through the doorway.

Standing on the porch, holding the door slightly open, Sebrina heard April say, “She’s turning into me.”

Sebrina quietly closed the door, smiling to herself.


Celeb set the boxes of water down in the dining area. Tables and chairs stood in one corner of the feed store, with homemade menus placed in the middle of the table. Sebrina’s voice came from the kitchen as she directed the chef. He’d put her in charge of arranging the kitchen and supplying it with the needed food and cookware. They couldn’t afford a full-blown restaurant, but they could offer BLT’s, burritos, burgers and several soft drinks. It was a start. Maybe one day they could add on to the kitchen and hire a real chef with real food.

Sebrina backed out of the kitchen and turned behind the counter, holding a bin of silverware. She set the silverware on the counter and walked around to the bar stools.

Celeb slid his hands in his pockets and walked toward Sebrina. “Hi.” He stood beside her, studying her focused expression.

She finished wrapping a napkin around a fork and knife, then looked up at Celeb, smiling. “Hi.”

Celeb returned the smile and pulled his hands out of his pockets. “How’s the planning coming along?”

“Good! April’s coming in about,” Sebrina checked the time, “twelve minutes to set up the mike and stage.”

“April has stage equipment?” Celeb asked, ignoring the reason he wanted to talk to her.

“Yeah,” Sebrina nodded, “she knows a guy.”

“Oh.” He nodded and began rocking in his shoes. He needed to say what he came to say.

He focused on Sebrina and nearly forgot what he wanted to say. “Sebrina I—”

Her phone rang and she asked him to wait while she took the phone call. He had to apologize to Sebrina about the other night. He’d acted like a spoiled kid who hadn’t gotten what he wanted. Sebrina might be moody, but what girl wasn’t. If he was going to deal with a girl’s moodiness then it was going to be Sebrina’s.

“Celeb.” A cry came from out the feed store. “Some help please?” In front of the store April stood behind a pickup truck, balancing a speaker on the tailgate.

Celeb strode to the door and walked out.


“Have you talked to Celeb yet?” April stood beside Sebrina, bobbing her head to the cover band on the stage.

“No, I will yet, once everyone’s settled in.” Sebrina took a deep breath, then let it go. Tightening her grip on her solo cup.

“Everyone is settled in. Look around, the night’s a hit.” April scanned the crowd in the street. “And all on a low budget.” April tapped Sebrina’s arm.

Sebrina nodded. She did good. A quarter of the town showed up, one singer after the other performed. Children enjoyed popcorn and cotton candy, while the adults gulped down burgers. She’d even managed to have officer Holden close the street in front of the store. Which gave them the perfect place for a party. She’d manage to pull off one night. Now, if she could pull off running the store for the rest of her life.

April nudged Sebrina’s arm and Sebrina was about to ask her to stop, until she saw who April was motioning toward. “Talk to him.”

Celeb stood in front of the window, scanning over the crowd. He’d spruced up his usual blue jeans with a snap shirt. When he noticed she was watching him, he smiled and motioned with his head for to join him.

Sebrina glanced at the asphalt, then walked around the crowd, toward Celeb.

“It’s a great turn out,” Celeb said once Sebrina settled in beside him.

“Yeah, I hope they’ll come back after tonight.” Sebrina took a sip from her coke.

“They will.” Celeb faced her. Sebrina looked into his eyes and a tingling rush shot through her body. “I would.”

What did he say? Sebrina looked at her cup and recalculated her brain. She needed to pull it together, she had something to say before she lost the courage.

She lifted her head and focused on him. “Celeb I—what did you say?”

Celeb chuckled. “You go first.”

“No.” Sebrina shook her head.

Celeb nodded and wiped the smile off his face. “I’m sorry for the way I acted at our dinner last week. It was impolite,” Celeb added, “and immature.”

A load fell off Sebrina’s shoulders. Now she didn’t have to go first. “I’m sorry. I was the one attacking you, saying one rude thing after the other.”

“I guess we’re both sorry.”

Sebrina nodded. “I’m sorry for the way I treated you in high school.” They stared at each other as they finished their sentence simultaneously.

A light chuckle escaped their lips.

“Could we start over?” Celeb asked, reaching for her hand.

Without thinking, Sebrina folded her fingers between Celebs. After a few seconds, she removed her hand. She shook her head. “We’re business partners, what if we start acting childish again and end up hating each other? How are we going to run our business then?”

Celeb shrugged and straightened his back against the window. “Acting childish isn’t all bad.”

“You know what I mean.”

Celeb focused on Sebrina, his expression serious, and his eyes full of love. “We’ll figure it out.”

Sebrina smiled and took a sip from her coke. She’d made a smart move when she partnered with this man. She faced Celeb, smiling. Then she kissed his cheek. When she leaned back, Celeb snuck a quick kiss from her lips. Aware of the crowd, they smiled at each other, and scanned over the people in front of them.

“We just let the whole town know that the store owner’s dating his business partner.”

Sebrina grabbed Celeb’s hand. “Just smile.”

She felt Celeb smiling at her and she returned the expression. She couldn’t have thought of a better way to open the new chapter in her life.



The End.

Sebrina vs. April: May the Best Sister Win (Part Four)

Celeb held the door, waiting for Sebrina to exit the 4-H building. He looked into the building one last time before he shut the door. He slid his hands in his pockets and strode to keep up with Sebrina.

“We did it.” He shot a smile in her direction. He took a step closer to her, dodging a street light pole.

“You did it, I just stood there, letting you make the final call on the bid.”

“Behind every man’s decision is a supportive woman.” Celeb jerked his head forward. Why did I say that? Celeb glanced at Sebrina. She looked at him and smiled. Good. He never got tired of her smile, even though she smiled a lot. She never did that in high school. Then again, he gave her every reason not to.

“What woman was behind all your other decision? You’ve made a lot of them.” Sebrina looked both ways before crossing the street to her SUV.

Celeb waited for a car to pass, then jogged to catch up with her. He wanted to walk her to her vehicle, taking advantage of every moment he had with her. “My mom,” Celeb said, once he caught up with Sebrina.

He liked that she wasn’t afraid to say what popped into her mind. Something else she hadn’t done in high school. He probably knocked her so far down, she didn’t dare stand up for herself. Except for the pranks she used to pull, but even then, she never said anything, she just showed it in her actions.

Sebrina nodded, a slight smile on her lips. She halted in front of her vehicle and turned to face him. “So, what now? We own the store, when do we open it back up?”

“Oh well, there’s some more paperwork that has to be done and then I guess we start inventory. We can order most of our merchandise from the same company Landon did, but there are some things I’d like to change.”

“Okay,” Sebrina nodded, “tell me what to do.”

Eventually she would have to learn how to take charge of her own business and not depend on someone telling her what to do. But he partnered with Sebrina, not April and Sebrina would need some training. But he would’ve chosen Sebrina over April any day.


“So, the best sister won, huh? Does that mean you’re the best now?” April stood in front of Sebrina, hands on her hips.

Where had April came from?

Sebrina stood up straight and uncrossed her arms. “Business is business.”

Celeb turned his head from sister to sister, watching something he hadn’t seen in a while: a sister rivalry.

“I wanted that feed store.” April leaned forward, as though her sister would hear her clearer.

“If I’m not mistaken the ten commandment tells us not to covet our neighbors house, and I think that would also apply to a feed store.” Sebrina tilted her head, her pride weighing it down.

Okay, hold on. “Wait,” Celeb stepped closer, waving his hands in the air, “the Bible also says not to think highly of yourself.” He paused to looked at Sebrina, then he continued. “I don’t think our knowledge of the Word is meant to throw around; telling people about their flaws.” Celeb looked at April.

After a few seconds, he continued. “And I think we should be happy for someone when they achieve a goal they worked hard to get.” Celeb turned his head to study the two sisters.

The girls nodded and lowered their heads, reminding him of two 2nd graders.

Her hands folded, April looked up at her sister and said, “I’m sorry.”

“Me too.” Sebrina lifted her head a few inches and smiled slightly.

Celeb nodded and slid his hands in his pocket. “Now, how about we look inside the building we just bought?” Celeb turned toward his vehicle.

“You didn’t look inside before you bought it?” April asked.

“We wouldn’t buy a building without looking in it first,” Sebrina said, as she opened her car door. “I’ll meet you at the store.”

“Why not just ride with me?” Celeb asked, standing on the other side of the hood.

“I want coffee first.”

“We’ll get you some coffee.”

Sebrina looked at April. “Are you coming?”

“No, I’ll see you at dinner.” April gave Sebrina a girlish smile, then began walking toward her car.

“No need for both of us to drive.” It was a short drive, and Sebrina probably wanted to go straight home from the store, but if she rode with him, then he could spend more time with her.

Sebrina smiled, closed the door and locked her vehicle. “Okay,” she said as she walked toward the passenger door.


Goodness! Sebrina wiped the blood off her paper cut. She hadn’t cut herself this much when she worked with knives in a restaurant. She lifted her skirt and counted the blood stains on the fabric. She shook her head and scanned the counter for the notepad. If she was going to deal with this much paper every day, she’d need band aides.

Celeb marched through the back door, to the front counter. “Sebrina, where are the . . .”

Sebrina stood in front of him, holding her “paper cut” finger. She stared at Celeb. “Where is what?”

“Did you cut yourself?” Celeb shook his head, before Sebrina could answer, he asked, “We need bags of horse feed: could you order them? Here’s the number for the supplier. I have to go to the clinic; someone ran over their dog.”

He laid the clipboard on the counter and turned to go. He tapped his fist against the door frame and turned around. “Are we still on for tonight?” A teenage-boyish grin covered his face.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t miss it.” She returned Celeb’s grin. Butterflies fluttered in Sebrina’s colon. She never thought she’d say yes to a date with Celeb Johnson.

After Celeb left, she walked into the office and sat down in front of the computer. She searched for the company’s website, while thinking about her date.


Celeb slid the chair away from the table and waited for Sebrina to stand in front of it before he slid it forward.

Cattle paintings hung on the walls, surrounded with western sayings. The smell of BBQ drifted into the dining area, causing her nose to wrinkle. The steakhouse was the finest restaurant in town, yet she would have chosen another place, had she had the choice. Celeb sat across from her, ordering his drink. Sebrina jerked out of her thoughts and quickly scanned the menu.

The waiter stood beside her, pen in hand, waiting to write down her drink order. “I’ll have a coke.”

Once the waiter left, Celeb focused his attention on her. “I thought you were quick at making decisions.”

Sebrina forced a smile. Obviously when Celeb left behind his bullying days, he took his unthoughtful remarks with him.

“Not when I’m in a rush.” Sebrina scanned over the menu and without thinking, mumbled, “You haven’t changed much.”

“Huh? What did you say?” Usually Celeb’s casual grin and caring eyes would have woken butterflies in her stomach, but today it only make her feel awkward.

“I—I just thought you haven’t changed much since high school.”

Celeb kept his smiling position.

“When you used to bully me.”

“Well maybe I thought you were pretty.” Celeb rested his elbows on the table.

Sebrina sighed, crinkling the napkin on her lap. “Guys who think girls are pretty don’t say hateful words to them.”

Celeb’s expression sobered. He nodded as he focused on his lap. “Nice girls don’t put snakes in other people’s locker.”

Sebrina’s jaw dropped and she raised her voice. “I didn’t put snakes in your locker.” The costumers at the other tables looked at her. She lowered her voice and twiddled with the table cloth. “I had Billy do it.”

A dry chuckle escaped Celeb’s lip. “That’s the same thing. At least I had the guts to pull my own pranks and not hire someone to do them.”

“You couldn’t hire anyone to be as mean as you are.”

Celeb started to frown. What did I say? Why is he frowning? Panic rose up her throat as she thought of the last word she spoke.

“I didn’t mean that you’re rude now, I meant back then.”

Celeb forced a smile. Couldn’t he handle one rude comment? One that she hadn’t even meant to say. If he expected other people to handle his comments, he should handle other people’s comments.

“I didn’t mean anything by it.” The waiter set their drinks on the table; after he left, she focused her attention on Celeb. Was he going to say something?

“Just that you haven’t forgiven me for our high school days.”

“You never did apologize.” Sebrina sipped her coke.

“I thought I showed it by treating you with respect and kindness—now.”

Sebrina nodded. “An apology would’ve been nice.”

Celeb studied her for a few seconds. Maybe he’ll apologize now. He took a sip from his water, then let his eyes drift to the corner of the restaurant. Sebrina lowered her head, and focused on the kitchen door. Every few minutes the waiters walked out with trays of food, but every time they walked pasted their table. Sebrina sighed and drank her coke. This was going to be a long night.


“How did your date go, the other night?” April asked, dusting off the counter.

“Not good. I don’t think there’s going to be a wedding.” Sebrina wiped down the coffee area behind the counter.

“You didn’t talk about your wedding on the first date, did you?” April stared at her sister. “You scared him off.”

“No, I didn’t talk about a wedding.” Sebrina shook her head. “We talked about high school, how we used to bully each other.”

“Oh,” April dropped the duster and sat down on a bar stool.

Sebrina leaned her back against the counter, holding the cloth; studying her sister. When April didn’t say anything, Sebrina said, “I called him mean—on accident and he just stopped talking, like a little boy. How childish of him!” Sebrina let out a stressful chuckle.

“Did you ever think that he’s ashamed of his old self and that calling him rude now, would remind him of the person he used to be?”

Since when did her sister hand out motherly advise? Maybe that came with age, whatever it was, Sebrina didn’t have it. Otherwise she wouldn’t have ruined her date, by acting like a twelve-year-old.

Sebrina clapped her hands against her legs and sighed. “What do I do now?”

April shrugged.

“Sebrina!” Celeb stepped into the store and waved her toward the door. “Come out here for a minute.”

Sebrina dropped the cloth on the counter and walked out the door, April following.

“Why didn’t you order horse feed?” Celeb pointed his hand to the pallets of feed in front of the store.

“I did. It’s already here? I only ordered it two days ago.”

“Yes, it’s here, but you ordered chicken feed, instead of horse feed.” Celeb dropped his arms and squinted, avoiding the harsh sunlight.

Sebrina bent over the stacks of feed and read the labels on the plastic. A chunk of tears clogged her throat, making her unable to speak. She backed up and focused on Celeb.

He studied her for a minute, his expression softening. “We don’t need chicken feed: we had a lot.”

“We can have this as extra.”

“Now we don’t have money for horse feed.” Celeb’s gentle voice made it hurt more than it would have if he’d screamed.

The chunk in her throat vanished, and embarrassment filled its spot. If only her sister hadn’t witnessed it all. She was probably laughing on the inside, waiting for Sebrina to cave in and give up her share of the store to April.

Sebrina walked inside and continued wiping the counter. She couldn’t help with anything outside, she already lost half their costumers by not supplying horse feed. She didn’t need to ruin anything else. Not to mention, she’d ruined a date with her business partner. Maybe she should quit while she was ahead. But then she’d give her sister the satisfaction of being right. More than that, she’d disappoint the man she’d grown to love.


To be continued . . .

Sebrina vs. April: May the Best Sister Win (Part Three)

Sebrina parked in front of the coffee shop and took the keys out of the ignition. She grabbed her wallet and opened the door. Celeb sat in the outside dining area, drinking coffee. The mid-morning sun beat down on her cheeks, making it nearly to warm to drink coffee outside. But the breeze made it doable. Through the window Sebrina saw a waitress filling a cone with ice cream. Maybe she should have chocolate ice cream instead.

The top edge of the iron fence jabbed against Sebrina’s hips as she bumped into the gate. Her lips shaped an O as she took a step back. She scanned the area: children smiled to themselves and adults pretended not to notice. The pain in her hips subsided and she focused on Celeb’s table, walking with her head held high. Pretend like it never happened.

The waitress walked by with the ice cream cone in hand. “Ma’am.”

The waitress turned toward Sebrina.

“Could I have a coffee please?” She asked, sitting down across from Celeb.

The waitress nodded. “Sure.” She handed the child the ice cream cone, then walked into the building.

Sebrina focused on Celeb, sighed and smiled.

“When did you have your last cup of coffee?” Celeb asked, leaning back in his chair.

“This morning.” Sebrina brushed her hair behind her ears and smiled.

“If you like coffee so much, why don’t you open a coffee shop instead?”

“Who says I want to open anything?” Sebrina shook her head.

“News travels fast.” Celeb leaned forward to drank his coffee.

“Only if you listen to news. If you didn’t listen then you wouldn’t hear about it.”

The tip of Celeb’s lips formed a hit of a smile. “What did you want to talk about?” Celeb focused on Sebrina.

“Business.” She sighed and scooched forward on her chair. “I hear you’re buying the feed store?”

“I’m going to bid on it at the auction.” Celeb nodded. “Don’t worry,” he winked, “I’ll treat you just like any other bidder.”

“If I don’t get someone to co-sign for me, I won’t be able to bid.”

The waitress stood beside Sebrina, coffee in hand. Sebrina turned and took the coffee from the lady’s hands. She thanked her, then turned toward Celeb.

“Find someone to co-sign for you.” Celeb studied Sebrina over the brim of his coffee cup.

“No.” She shook her head. “I need a partner.” She took a sip from her coffee.

Celeb sat his cup down and stared at Sebrina. The birds chirping and the surrounding conversations became clearer.


“—I thought you never wanted to work with me again?” Celeb tilted his head slightly.

“What makes you think I want you as a partner?”

Celeb lifted his eyebrows.

“We both want the feed store and if we don’t buy it, my sister will. And what’s worse: running a business with me, or having my sister run another business in town?”

“Have you ever operated a business before? Why do you want the feed store?”

“No, but neither have you.” Sebrina sat up straight, cleared her throat and wrapped her fingers around her coffee cup. “I know the feed store didn’t go bankrupted because people around here didn’t have a use for it. I believe if it’s managed properly it good do very well.” Sebrina leaned back. “Why do you want it?”

“Same reason.” Celeb swung his left arm over the top chair rail.

“If this is what it takes to . . .” Sebrina trailed off. There was no need to voice the rest of that sentence. “I’m willing to work with you.”

Celeb chuckled. “So, it’s true: you still don’t like me?”

Sebrina jerked her head up and shook it slightly. “Who said that?”

Celeb looked into Sebrina’s eyes and smiled. After a few seconds he looked into the café and stood up.

“All right, well, we’ll meet up tomorrow to sort out a plan.” Celeb’s figure shadowed over Sebrina.

“Yeah sure!” She nodded. “You can come over tomorrow after dinner, if that works for you?”

“I’ll see you then.” Celeb smiled, then turned toward the door to pay the waitress.

Sebrina nodded. When had Celeb started smiling like that? She tilted her head and picked up her coffee cup. She’d spent her entire freshman year despising him, yet she’d never noticed the feature of his jaw before, or his broad shoulders. Maybe that happened after high school, otherwise she would have noticed.


Sebrina stood in her room, staring at the full-length mirror. She held the jeans against her legs, then held the maxi dress against her body. If she wore a dress, it’d look like she put effort into their business meeting. If she wore the jeans it’ll look like she just got back from work and she had nearly forgotten about their meeting. Or she’d look like a busy working woman. Better to go with the jeans.

She pulled her hair from underneath her t-shirt as she walked into the kitchen. On the day when she wished her sister would work late, she was home early. She expected Celeb to be there at eight, giving her plenty of time to eat and clean up dinner.

“Why did you change?” April licked the marinara sauce off her finger.

“Celeb Johnson’s coming over after dinner.” Sebrina grabbed two plates from the cabinet and set them on the table.

“I thought you didn’t like him? Why are you dating him?” April poured the cooked noodles into the meatball mixture.

“I’m not dating him.” Sebrina poured them each a glass of water.

“Why is he coming over then?”

“To discuss business.”

“What kind of business?” April set the pot of spaghetti on the table and sat down.

Sebrina set a plate of buttered toast on the table and said, “You don’t have to know everything.”

“I didn’t become the number one business woman around here without asking questions.”

Sebrina folded her hands in her lap and looked at her sister. “Let’s pray.”

The girls said grace and ladled themselves each a plate of spaghetti. Buying the feed store would pay off even if it didn’t make any money. If she could knock April’s pride down a notch it would all be worth it. But if the store wouldn’t succeed, she’d not only make Celeb and her look like a fool, but she’d fuel April’s pride. But with Celeb on her side they were bound to make some money.


“He’s here.” April nodded toward the window.

“He is?” Sebrina looked out the window. Then she turned, punched April’s arm, and continued rinsing the dishes.

“I’ve never seen someone that excited to see their business partner.” April studied her sister, while placing the silverware in the dishwasher.

Sebrina focused on scrubbing the pot. Avoiding the urge to smile.

“But no, he seriously is here now.” April stood up straight.

Sebrina looked out the window. A dark green ford parked in front of the house. Half an hour earlier than she thought he’d be. Maybe he wanted to get home early. She dried her hands, then walked to the door. She took a deep breath before she opened it.

“Come in.”

Celeb nodded and stepped inside. Sebrina stood beside him, hands folded behind her. She took several glances at Celeb as he slid off his shoes. His military green t-shirt highlighted his blond hair color. The strands of hair covering his ears showed signs of an over do haircut. Sebrina’s eyes shifted toward the muscles on his arm as he set his shoes against the wall. Had he started working out? In high school a strong wind gust could have snapped him in half. What happened to “high school Celeb?” How come had she not noticed the difference before?

“I have the forms we need to fill out and hand to the banker.” Celeb looked at Sebrina as he walked to the kitchen table. “Tomorrow we can bring him the forms and he can tell you what size loan you’re eligible for.” He set his files on the table and sat down. “I have everything on my end set up, but if we could maybe get a little extra money on your side it would help us with inventory.”

Sebrina nodded and slid a chair away from the table. She started to sit down, when her sister began to yell, she stood up straight.

“What inventory? Why do you need a loan?” April stepped closer to the table.

“We’ll need it to buy the feed store,” Celeb answered.

“You’re buying the feed store?” April stared at them. “You can’t, I’m buying the feed store.” April pressed her fingers against her chest.

“You’re not used to someone going up against you, are you?” Celeb asked, placing his folded hands on the table.

April’s mouth remained open, with her head leaned forward.

“May the best sister win.” Sebrina tilted her head, smiled at Celeb, then at her sister.


To be continued . . .

Sebrina vs. April: May the Best Sister Win (Part Two)

Sebrina stepped into the office and closed the door. The room resembled a family living room more than it did a real estate office. Blankets draped over couches, deer antlers hung on the wall, surrounded with horse and cattle paintings. Maybe she stood in the wrong office. Sebrina turned around to read the lettering on the door window: Home and Farm Real Estate. She stood in the right office. She stepped forward and glanced into the extra rooms.

“Hi, how can I help you?”

Sebrina turned toward the lady and stood straight. Smiling she said, “I’m interested in buying the old feed store.”

“Oh.” The lady stopped mid-office and studied Sebrina. “Have a seat.” The lady motioned toward her desk.

Sebrina nodded and followed her to the desk. “How much is the owner asking for it?”

The lady adjusted herself on the chair and placed her hands on her lap. Scanning the top of her desk, she said, “A lot.”

“I’d like to know the exact amount.”

The lady nodded. “Uh-huh.” Leaning forward she asked, “Where do you work again?”

Sebrina smiled. “You might have seen me at Benny’s café as a waitress.”

“Yes, I know your sister.”

What did that have anything to do with this? Did the lady know that she got fired? How could she already know? Sebrina hadn’t even told her sister yet.

The lady sat up straight. “She’s a very smart business woman—your sister.”

“She is; I’m hoping it runs in the family.” Sebrina smiled.


“So, who’s all interested in buying the store?” Sebrina scanned over the papers on the desk.

“I can’t tell you that.” The lady leaned back in her seat. “Would you be running the business?”

Sebrina’s eyes landed on the desk calendar. Celeb Johnson—four O’clock on the 27th—feed store: Sebrina looked at her phone. The 27th—that’s today. Why would Celeb want to buy the feed store?

“Sebrina? Sebrina?”

Sebrina jerked her head up. “Yes.”

The lady stared at Sebrina. She licked her lips and placed her hands on the desk. “I feel it’s my responsibility to tell you that running a feed store is a lot of work. The last owner went bankrupted. And even if it would succeed, you still have to have enough money to buy it first. I think it might be too much to chew for your small mouth.”

The lady smiled as she shook her head.

Sebrina stood up, hands on her bag. “My mouth’s big enough to chew whatever I bight off.”

The lady tilted her head, crinkled her nose and shrugged her shoulders.

Sebrina inhaled deeply, and lifted her shoulders. Well! Sebrina began walking toward the door. “Last I checked, anyone with money can buy a building.”

“But sweetie . . .”

“I’ll figure it out.” Sebrina pushed the door open and stepped under the warm afternoon sun. She unlocked her vehicle and climbed inside. She sighed as she put the keys in the ignition. How could she compete with Celeb or April? Especially with April. Competing with Celeb would be fun, especially when she won. “When” she won. She wasn’t even in the competition.


Sebrina glanced over her shoulder, biting her lip. Her sister mouthed the words she typed into her laptop. Probably another business email. Sebrina stacked the dry plates on the counter, as she unloaded the dishwasher.

“Have you heard: the feed store’s for sale?” Sebrina put the cups in the cabinet.

“Yeah I’m buying it.” April continued typing.

“You’re putting up a restaurant already, maybe you could let someone else buy this store for once.”

“You thought I was taking on too much when I bought the lot for the restaurant, now I’m doing this yet. Isn’t that great?” April glanced at Sebrina, smiling.

“I think you should let someone else run this business. You’re already working to much.” Sebrina closed the dishwasher and leaned against the counter.

“You can never have to much work.”

“When Paul said whoever doesn’t work, shouldn’t eat, he didn’t mean you should never take a break.”

April closed her laptop and stacked her books on top of it. “I take breaks. Look, I’m quitting for the day.”

Sebrina poured herself a glass of water. Swirling the water in her glass, she said, “I want to buy the feed store.”

April laughed. “You can’t even keep a waitressing job, now suddenly you want to own a business?” April grabbed her phone from the table and walked into the living room. “Is this a way of turning your life around.”

Sebrina followed her sister to the couch. “I’m not turning anything around. I’m continuing with my life.”

April grabbed the magazine off the coffee table, then plopped down on the couch. “You haven’t kept a job longer than eight months and you still live with your sister.”

“I’m twenty-two,” Sebrina stood up straight and placed her hands on her hips, “I think I’m early to the party.”

April laughed as she flipped through the magazine pages. “Get a steady job first, Sebrina. Then think about buying a business.”

Sebrina shook her head and plopped down on the lazy boy. Why would Celeb want to buy a feed store? Even though Celeb was a likeable, kind adult now, to her he would always be the boy who bullied her in high school. Something that happened over and over wasn’t easily forgotten. The nicest thing he ever did for her was leave for college, but after veterinary school he came back. Celeb and April both had their own business, why did they need another one? Why couldn’t she run one for a change? But without a co-signer or a partner no one would loan her the money. And without a loan she didn’t even stand a chance. There had to be someone who would co-sign for her.

Sebrina lifted her shoulders and swung her feet onto the floor. She stared at the floor, twiddling her thumbs.  Yes. It could work. Sebrina reached for her phone. She shook her head, then walked to the office, holding her phone. The phone book had to be around there somewhere. Ah-huh! She flipped through the pages until she found their town, then slid her finger down the Johnson phone numbers.

“Uh-huh! Celeb Johnson.” Sebrina dialed the number and tapped the back of the phone, waiting for him to answer. “Hi, Celeb? Yeah, this is Sebrina. Would you have time to meet me for coffee tomorrow?”


To be continued . . .