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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Achoo (04/11/13)

TITLE: Hang On to Your Soul!
By Linda Rogers


Billy pushed the heavy grocery cart eagerly as his mama quickly made her way around the end cap and into the last row. "Are you still there?" she called over her shoulder, as if she wasn't sure.

"Yep!" answered the smiling nine year old with a grin. "Are we almost done yet?"

"Pretty soon." his mama replied as she reached for a box of raisins and hurriedly tossed them into the cart. Julie's eyes were puffy and swollen because of her spring allergies, but Billy didn't even notice. His mama was the most beautiful lady in the world.

"Achoo!" she sneezed loudly and dabbed with the crumpled tissue in her left hand.

"Gesundheit dear girl." said an older lady passing by with her own cart of groceries.

"Thank you, I think I need to get home and take something for these dang allergies." responded Julie politely, as she continued forward.

"What did she say to you Mama?" Billy asked perplexed.

"Oh, she said 'God Bless You' but she said it in German, that's another language. It's Gedundheit... but it means God Bless You, just like we usually say." explained Julie as she helped steer the cart into the shortest line she could find.

"Well, why do we say God Bless You anyway Mama?"

"I think it's just to be kind to people, that's all." she shrugged.

The man in front of their cart was facing toward the rows of chewing gum. He turned toward them, just as Julie sneezed two more times. He smiled and said "God bless you, young lady." He was very tall and thin, and was balding on top, but had a kind expression on his face.

Julie thanked the man, just as she had the older woman, and then nodded to Billy as if to say 'See'.

But the man went on to say "They always thought you had to hold on to your soul, or you'd blow it right out your nose when you sneezed. " He continued, "And everyone feared that once you sneezed your soul out, an awful demon spirit could jump inside you before your soul could get safely back in there. But good thing for us the Bible tells us a much better way to protect our soul." he explained.

"The Bible says that when you belong to Jesus, His Holy Spirit comes to dwell in your soul, and keeps all the bad spirits out forever. Isn't that good news?" he asked with his eyes focused on Julie.

With a nod and a blush, she remembered a time when she had heard this for the first time at a church youth camp. "Yes, that is good news." she answered softly.

The distinguished man went on to look her in the eye and gently ask, "Ma'am, do you know Jesus personally? Is He someone you are acquainted with?"

Julie breathed a deep breath, feeling a twinge of guilt. It had been so long since she stopped attending church. It happened when William had left her, and she'd found herself raising Billy alone and feeling very rejected.

In that moment, as she looked from the stranger to her son's beautiful but inquisitive face, she realized that she'd been wrong. She knew that something needed fixed in her life if she was going to be the best mother she could possibly be to her little boy.

"Yes, I am..." she stammered "well... or actually, I was a few years ago. But I haven't talked to Him in a long time. I think I will now though. Thank you for the reminder."

The kind man nodded his head and mentioned what time the service was on Sunday at the Community Church, then gave his attention to the clerk who was ready for him to pay his bill.

Billy looked up at her and asked, "Who is Jesus anyway Mama? I heard people talk about him before."

Julie stooped to hug him tightly. She whispered in his ear, "When we get the groceries home, we'll talk about it okay? I promise!" In her heart, she knew she'd start taking Billy to church. And she'd find her way back to a relationship with the Savior she'd invited to live in her heart so many years ago.

Julie got up to thank the stranger once more, but he was already gone and out of sight. She sneezed again, and heard Billy's sweet voice... "God bless you Mama."

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This article has been read 263 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/19/13
This is a sweet story. I enjoyed the characters and the sweet relationship between mother and son.

I noticed you had a POV shift. Since the MC Is the mom, the reader can only know what she knows. When you said the son didn't notice her puffy eyes and thought she was pretty that calls for knowing his mindset. It is a difficult concept and one I just started working on myself.

I think you did a nice job covering the topic. It is a wonderful reminder how something as little as a sneeze can give us a chance to witness for others. Nicely done.
Joanne Sher 04/22/13
I enjoyed this piece - clever way to bring the gospel in. Thanks!
Judith Gayle Smith04/24/13
Beautifully expressed . . .
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/26/13
Congratulations on ranking 7 in your level and 28 overall! (The highest rankings can be found on the message boards)