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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Encouragement (among believers) (11/08/07)

TITLE: Learn to Listen
By Ann Renae Hair


Dear God, help me. Tonight I feel like Elijah when the brook dried up; like Daniel, bracing to face the lions; like Jesus in the Garden. I don’t know if I will see morning here or be with You. My bones ache with agony, crushed with the weight of this burden. Lift me up, Lord. Sustain me. Carry me. I am dry. I need you.

Karrie woke, wet with sweat. She winced her way out of bed, peeled off her drenched night clothes then fumbled in the dark for a fresh pajama top, not wanting to disturb her husband’s badly needed sleep.

So far, so good, she thought as she slid back in between the sheets. Wet. Even the sheets were soaked. Now what do I do?

Feet back on the floor, she pulled her covers up to the head of the bed and placed a blanket on top of the quilt. With a sigh she lay down and pulled another blanket over top of her. What’s happening to me? A restless half sleep rescued her from her thoughts.

Karrie groaned with thankfulness as she woke and realized she was, indeed, still in her own bed, in her own room, in her own house. Her body still ached, but she was alive. She recalled her fitful prayer in the night. The Lord had carried her through and lifted her up.

She felt her husband trying to reach her arm for a good morning squeeze. “I’m on top of the covers, honey; you can’t reach me under there.”

“Why are you on top of the covers?”

“Rough night. I woke up soaked with sweat and had to change, but the sheets were wet, too.”

“Huh. Didn’t hear a thing. You okay?”

“Basically. I still ache pretty badly. At one point I wondered if I’d live to morning. So, aching and living go hand in hand today.”

“That probably would have been a good time to wake me up!”

“Obviously it wasn’t as close as I felt. Here we are. You needed the sleep. You’ve been knockin’ yourself out around here.”

“Well, I’m glad you’re okay. I’ll get you medicine for the pain.”

“No, I’ll wait until I eat breakfast. Thank you, my good man.”

“You’re welcome, sweetie.” She smiled as he reached out from under the covers to squeeze and rub her arm.

She picked up her Bible and searched for encouragement to face the day. Turning the pages, it finally came to her: burden, yoke…what had Jesus said? Opening to the book of Matthew, she found it: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.* Thank You, Lord, that You will provide what I need for this day.


Karrie met her husband at the door. He handed her another stack of cards from the mailbox as he kissed her.

“Sandy just called to ask if we needed anything from the store today. I just don’t know how people get through times like this without the Lord and all the people He blesses us with. It helps so much just to know we are so loved!”

“Yes, it does.”

“You know, I’ve been thinking. I have always been Miss Fix-it or Miss Cheerleader when people share their problems. I realize now that the most helpful words I have heard are things like, ‘I understand.’ Or, ‘I can only imagine what you’re going through, but I think of you and pray for you often.’ Or, ‘I’m so sorry you have to go through this.’ I know when people try to cheer me up, they mean well, just like I did. But now I have a new appreciation for sharing a hug and a few tears, without many words.”

“Don’t be too hard on yourself, or the people that are doing what they think will help you.”

“I know what you mean. Everyone has their way of showing they care. I just know I want to be more aware of what’s best for the person I hope to encourage, like being quicker to listen and slower to speak.”

“That’s always a good way to start out!”

She felt the strength and the warmth of his arms wrap firmly around her - just what she needed.

*Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

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This article has been read 588 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 11/15/07
Great job with dialog and description (especially the beginning part). LOVE the verse, too. It is so true that we learn so much about encouraging when we have been encouraged ourselves. Some of your "you know" paragraph seemed a bit "telly" rather than "showy," but that could be me. Characterization was particularly strong.
Jan Ackerson 11/15/07
Yes, yes, yes! Such an important lesson here! I wish everyone would take heed!

The first half was slightly more compelling than the second, which seemed to lose just a bit of steam. But altogether, the story is well-written, compelling and important.

By the way--yes, yes, yes!
Seema Bagai 11/16/07
I loved your opening. It drew me into the story.

Somehow that emotion didn't carry throughout the piece. Overall it was well-written.
william price11/18/07
Now I liked this. Had flashes of excellence. Very good storyline that held my interest. Great overall job, Ann.
God bless.
Beth LaBuff 11/18/07
Great title for this. You've woven a good lesson into this story for the reader. The distress of your main character was portrayed well. Very nice writing!
Deborah Engle 11/18/07
I love the lesson here, and I enjoyed reading this.
Betty Castleberry11/19/07
"Quicker to listen and slower to speak." Many of us need this reminder. I enjoyed reading this. Well done.
Dee Yoder 11/20/07
I like that you emphasized being kind to both kinds of encouragers! It is true that sometimes, the long-winded speeches do grate on the nerves, but it's a good idea to find the concern and care behind all the words. Good story, and a great reminder to be gentle while others are suffering ill health.
Joy Mounce11/21/07
Amen and amen! Love the title and the story itself...