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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Encouragement (among believers) (11/08/07)

By Joanne Sher


Sandra fumbled with the mailbox handle. Leaning against a post for support, she worked the door open. She reached into the pocket of her housecoat, removing an envelope. She slid it into the box and closed the door tightly.

She glanced to her left. Her walker was a few steps away, on the driveway where she'd left it. She approached it, then steadied herself and moved toward her house, fifty feet up the driveway.

After a few steps, she scrunched her face and looked back, tittering silently. She slowly turned her walker around and lumbered back toward the mailbox. Stretching out her arm, she pushed the mailbox's flag into the upright position. Her smile wide, she restarted her journey toward home.


Karen sat in a chair on her front porch, her eyes flitting from her wristwatch to the street. Not a car had driven by in the past five minutes.

She sighed. She hated depending on others, but she had no choice. The oncologist had said she needed a ride home from chemo. Praise God, Anna had offered.

Karen checked her watch again: 9:45. Her appointment, a ten-minute drive, was at 10. Karen drummed her fingers on the arm of the chair. She knew that Anna often arrived at appointments with seconds to spare, if not a couple minutes late. Karen, known for her promptness, gritted her teeth and looked down.

Another change to get used to. Lord, can you just slow down with these adjustments already?

Raising her head, she saw Anna's minivan pulling into the driveway. Karen rose, glancing at her watch again: 9:48.


Sandra poured water from the whistling teakettle into a flowered mug. Her teabag floated to the top. Mug in hand, she hobbled to the kitchen table and sat at its only chair. Before her was an open bible, a pink notebook, and a pen. She placed her tea on its saucer, picked up the pen, and opened the notebook to the first blank page, about halfway through.

Well, Lord, I sent it. Thank you for giving me the energy to make it to the mailbox, and the perfect verse to include. Now it's all in Your hands. May my note bless and encourage her tomorrow. Help her to know peace: the peace You've given me. Thank you for allowing me to serve You in this way.

Sandra signed her name with a flourish. She closed the notebook and removed the teabag from her mug, placing it on the saucer beneath it. She took a sip and smiled.

Sandra turned toward her bible and mouthed a verse underlined there. Her eyes sparkled with tears.


Karen had no desire to rise. Her stomach was queasy and she had never been this tired. Yesterday had been, in a word, awful. She barely remembered arriving home. Yet, it was noon the next day somehow, and someone was knocking on her bedroom door.

Must be Anna checking on me. "Come in," Karen moaned.

"Oh, I'm sorry." Anna bounced in. "I didn't mean to wake you, but this came and I figured you'd want to see it. I thought I heard you stirring."

"It's okay. What do you have?" Karen sat up in bed, inspecting the envelope Anna handed to her.

After a look at the return address, Karen grinned. It was from Sandra Marshall, one of the senior saints at church and a real encourager. Sandra had lost her voice from thyroid cancer a few years previous, but always found ways to share the hope within her.

"You were right, Anna. Thanks."

Anna smiled. "So, are you going to open it? And read it to me?"

Karen nodded as she tore open the envelope.

"Dear Karen,
I have been where you are right now. God was with me, though I didn't believe it then. I pray that you WOULD believe it, and that you would feel His wonderful touch. God will bring you closer to Him through this, and He will strengthen you." Karen breathed deeply, wiping tears away. "He did it for me. Come to Him.
In Christ's love,

Anna put her arm around Karen. "She's so precious, isn't she?"

Karen nodded. "And look what else she wrote."

Anna leaned in and smiled, reading Matthew 11:28.

"Perfect." Anna hugged Karen. "And speaking of rest...,"

Karen smiled. "Yeah; I think I'll get both kinds for a bit. Thanks, Anna."

Karen slid back into the warmth of her covers, and her Savior, and rested.


Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

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This article has been read 1266 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Ann Renae Hair11/15/07
AMEN! I can so relate to this in my current situation. Thank you for sharing...Rest in two forms. Love it!
william price11/15/07
We're going to need a higher level for writers like this. Excellent job on many levels. Very encouraging. Spot on. God bless.
Seema Bagai 11/17/07
I like how you tied in the verse and the different meanings of the word rest.
LauraLee Shaw11/17/07
I felt like I was a part of this scene because it was written so skillfully. Tears came down my eyes when she read the letter out loud. Incredibly powerful piece.
Jan Ackerson 11/18/07
Oooh, gorgeous writing! I especially felt the anxiety of almost being late--one of my pet peeves...the title is perfect, the characterization (especially of Sandra) absolutely lovely.
Beth LaBuff 11/18/07
I liked the enter-twining of lives. My favorite part was when you mentioned Sandra had lost her voice to cancer, but she was the one who was the encourager. Encourement isn't always audible. My heart went out to Sandra when she forgot to raise the flag on the mailbox. That was a nice addition to her character development Wonderful entry! I really enjoyed how you told it.
Betty Castleberry11/18/07
I love your ladies, especially Sandra. What a gem. This is so very well written, too. Kudos.
Deborah Engle 11/18/07
This is a beautiful story of encouragment. Sandra is inspiring, and her determination to reach out to others is humbling.
Janice Cartwright11/19/07
Truly we are His hands and feet. Thanks for a beautiful story of encouragement.
Patty Wysong11/19/07
Beautiful, Jo! I loved the details you worked in--right down to forgetting to raise the flag and her walker. Excellent! Hugs!!
Laury Hubrich 11/19/07
Very nice story. I like how you intertwined the lives. Great writing.
Yvonne Blake 11/19/07
That's touching...convicting too. We should do more to reach out to those around us.
Shouldn't "Bible" be capitalized? I was taught that words referring to God and His Word are alway capitalized, but recently I've seen less and less of it.
Mariane Holbrook 11/19/07
I am not often rendered speechless, but I don't have the vocabulary to comment on such a poignant piece. It is remarkably well-done. Truly!
Dee Yoder 11/21/07
Beautiful, dear friend! A gifted story from a gifted writer. Love ALL the characters!
Pam Carlson-Hetland11/21/07
Perfect title, perfectly wonderful piece of writing. This is the way the body of Christ is supposed to work. What an excellent story to represent that.
Sara Harricharan 11/21/07
I didn't see the twist coming with Sandra-the touch of a lost voice, but yet with peace, is very reassuring. Great message and great writing! ^_^
Loren T. Lowery11/21/07
Wow! What can I say, but amen to all the above comments. You truly got into the heart and souls of these characters and it was a trip well worth taking.
LaNaye Perkins11/21/07
THis is so touching and uplifting. You brought tears to my eyes. I loved this one.
Karen Wilber11/21/07
I love all the little details that make the characters come alive (the laughing, the looking at the watch, signing her name with a flourish...) I also like the way you wrote that Sandra had lost her voice, but didn't lose her ability to communicate. Beautiful message.
Peter Stone11/21/07
A very engaging story of practical encouragement. Loved the scripture too.
Beckie Stewart11/21/07
Very touching story of encouragement.
Elisheva Hartley11/24/07
This was so very well written and I loved what you wrote here. Well done....