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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Purposefulness (Purpose in Life) (05/25/06)

TITLE: Mrs. Careen's Gift
By terri tiffany


“Have a good day, hon. Hope you keep busy.” He buzzed her cheek through the blanket.


Shelby Careen set aside her bible study notes and reached for an empty plastic container. Arranging the butterscotch cookies in three rows, she snapped the lid securely. The pink envelope was pressed into position just as securely. Her sneaker hooked the back door so she could walk around the pool enclosure to her neighbor’s door. She still couldn’t believe that Linda had lost her job after ten years.


A vacant parking space was waiting just for her.
“Hi Vicki!” Shelby reached to hug the tanning salon owner. “How did your daughter’s graduation go last week? Was your husband able to make it?” Shelby clicked her tongue over the colorful snapshots of proud parents and brightly robed teens.


The clerk was still at her window. “I’d like a book of stamps, please.” Five choices slapped the empty space between them. “I’ll take the birds today.” She pointed to the blue lovebirds that reminded her of the ones her daughter had used for her wedding invitations.
“Did I ever tell you ladies how friendly this post office is compared to where I came from? It is such a blessing.” The clerk’s lips cracked into a U.


“I’m never going to understand how this thing works!” The demure white haired lady continued to punch every button on the treadmill. Frustrated with herself and the new equipment, she grabbed the sidebars and started to back off.

“Here, let me show you. You’ll soon get the hang of it with the rest of us here.” Shelby programmed the woman’s speed and time for her before replacing her own headphones.


Chuck was just lowering the lawn equipment from the trailer as Shelby pulled into her circular driveway. She beeped her horn and waved at him. Parking her car, she grabbed her groceries and stepped through her blooming azaleas.

“Chuck!” she shouted over the whirring blades. The engine shut down. “I wanted to thank you for doing such a great job on our lawn last week. Our relatives raved about the hedges. We really appreciate it.” Chuck tipped his hat as Shelby headed for the side entrance.


She checked her list of calls and emails still to make. Eyeing the clock, Shelby pulled the phone into her lap and dialed the first number. Her father had been recently admitted to a nursing home so she tried to talk with her mother every other day. Today was her mother’s day to update her on how her father had been over the weekend.

“Would you like me to call the nursing station for you, mom? I will if that will help.” Shelby reached for a pen and jotted down a number.


7 PM. Her husband strode into the kitchen, settling his laptop and blackberry on the counter that always remained cleared for him. A smile formed on his lips as his nostrils picked up the scent of his favorite meal now simmering in the crock-pot. He unloosened his tie, pulling his shirt from his trousers at the same time. Mr. Careen’s favorite part of the day was just beginning.

He poked his head out onto the lanai. Shelby was perched with her feet up on the edge of the pool, thumbing through the mail.

“Hey honey. How was your day?” He moved closer and kissed the top of her head. “Did you do anything special?”

Shelby Careen smiled.

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This article has been read 1087 times
Member Comments
Member Date
david grant06/02/06
"Did you do anything special?”
Everything we do is special, when its done out of love and kindness. Thanks for pointing out this purposful gift
Valora Otis06/02/06
Shelby's purposefulness was written throughout the lines of this piece.

My life has been blessed richly by the 'Shelby' in my life. Your piece reminded me to thank those who go thankless, while they make our lives sweeter each day and night. Bless you!
Jan Ackerson 06/05/06
This was very sweet--and the phrase I liked most is "he buzzed her cheek through the blanket." Such a quick little glimpse into a tender moment, it just really ccaught my fancy.
Ann Grover06/05/06
A sweet story and a gentle reminder that the 'everyday' is Divine.

One note... 'unloosened'... just 'loosened' will do... :-)
Debra Brand06/06/06
Excellent example of being a Christian witness. God bless.
Joe Moreland06/06/06
Excellent example of living through giving. It reminds me of a book I read once called "Try Giving Yourself Away" by David Dunn. I love how Shelby follows up on each opportunity to uplift someone else. The difference between her and the rest of us is that while we often think about saying, doing, writing something encouraging or appreciative for others we come across in life, she actually was doing it; and what a blessing her life was because she waa such a blessing to others. Great submission!