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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Encouragement (among believers) (11/08/07)

TITLE: The Ripple Effect
By Johnna Stein
11/13/07
~2nd Place


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The drizzling rain outside was a suitable backdrop to the grey and heavy mood weighing me down. The only comfort I felt was from the warm tiny bundle curled up against my thigh. Maggie’s furry little head rested just above my knee and I was soothed by her steady rhythmic breathing.

She jolted awake as the clank of the mailbox lid resounded. She leapt in one sprawling bound and landed just before the front door. Balancing herself on her back paws, she pranced around like a ballerina trying to see through the glass partition. Once the mailman had descended the front stairs, only then did she feel brave enough to let out a few squeaky barks.

Her high pitched barking would continue unless I forced myself off the couch to investigate what awaited me in today’s mail. I dreaded the daily disappointment of receiving bills and glossy advertisements addressed to a name I no longer used. I wondered if many people even knew what my maiden name was and if they realized how hurtful it was to still be addressed as Mrs. John Bradley.

As I grabbed the rolled up bundle from the mailbox, a small yellow envelope slid out onto the floor. It had no return address and it read “To: Ms. Marie Ward”. I was strangely touched by the thoughtfulness that someone had taken to use my maiden name. I felt a flutter of excitement for the first time in I don’t know how long, as I fumbled to recover the small package. I sat for a few precious moments staring at this envelope. From whom could it be? Why was I receiving a package? Was I getting too excited about such a small thing? I gently turned the envelope over for further clues and felt something with a bit of weight slide from one end to the other. What could it be?

I quietly regarded the package on my lap trying to savor this moment. I did not at all recognize the distinctive handwriting used to address the envelope. Maggie found her way back onto the couch and sat looking at me with curiosity, her head cocked to one side and her ears perked as if to say, “Go ahead, just open it!”

In spite of being terribly afraid of yet again experiencing another disappointment, I slowly separated the lip of the envelope and ever so carefully tipped the contents onto my lap. There lay an embossed card with a handwritten note and next to it was a smooth grey stone about the size of a half dollar. I picked up the small stone and turned it over; the name of Jesus was deeply engraved in red letters. I held my breath a moment and felt warm tears slowly sliding down my cheeks. I felt overwhelmed with grief, sadness and relief. Just this morning, I had cried out one last desperate time to God to show me the smallest of signs that he knew my pain and loved me in spite of all my mistakes.

I drew Maggie close to my side and just allowed my pent up tears to have their way. Once I gathered myself, I wiped my tears and read these lovingly hand written words:

Dearest Marie,
God loves you. I felt it was time for me to pass on this precious stone and message to you. I received it anonymously many months ago shortly after my dear mother went to be with the Lord. May you carry it with you as a reminder of Jesus, our Rock, who will be with you through the storms of life. When you have safely passed through this particular storm, it will be your turn to pass it on. Just as when a stone is thrown into water and creates ripples that reach on and on, may through the passing on of this stone ripples of Jesus’ love be spread far and wide. May you find comfort in knowing God loves you the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Love,
Your sister in Christ

I was in awe at the wonder of it all. I caressed the grooved letters between my thumb and fingers and slid the smooth stone into my pocket.

Accept Jesus as Your Savior Right Now and be Certain of Eternal Life.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 11/15/07
Beautiful!
Seema Bagai 11/16/07
Wow! This is a wonderful story. I enjoyed reading it and loved the idea of the gift to be passed along to someone in need of comfort.
Smantha Wright11/16/07
Wonderful. An inspiration never to give up.
Joy Faire Stewart11/16/07
The message, Jesus (The Rock), is a wonderful reminder. Excellent description of emotion and love Maggie.
Marita Vandertogt11/18/07
I can see Maggie bouncing around on her hind legs like a ballerina. Great descriptions and overall good writing.
Deborah Engle 11/18/07
I enjoyed reading this and felt the MC's gratitude at the encouragement she received. Somebody cared!
Debbie Wistrom11/20/07
Loved every bit of your story. Keep it up.
Joy Mounce11/21/07
I really enjoyed this. How encouraging! God's timing is always perfect. :)
Patricia Todd11/22/07
Congratulations! Very well written.
Karen Wilber 11/23/07
I love the idea of the stone being passed on from person to person and 'the ripple effect'. Congrats on EC.
Yulanda Ridge11/24/07
You write very well. Easy and interesting reading - with a message. Congratulations!
Christine Dunn11/25/07
Wow - This captivated me from beginning to end. I liked the encouraging gesture from this sister.

This would make an excellent idea for a novel, or book of short stories - who did she pass the stone onto next, and what was their situation etc etc?