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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Evangelism (11/01/07)

TITLE: A Life That Reads Well
By Pam Carlson-Hetland
11/06/07


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Kathy took a long drag on her cigarette as she watched her neighbor’s approach. She let out a muttered curse along with a stream of smoke. Taking a swig of coffee, she sauntered to the door.

"Good afternoon," the smiling neighbor greeted her. "I'm Becky. I moved in a while ago but never introduced myself. I brought you something." Becky offered a plate of warm cookies.

"I don't eat sweets."

Kathy's cold response was ignored as Becky continued. "Well, I really wanted to talk about your garden. It's pure artistry. Tell me what all these flowers are."

An astonished Kathy followed Becky down the front steps. No neighbor had ever consulted her on gardening before. This was new. Becky asked questions and listened attentively to the answers.

“If you have time, could you give me some pointers? I need to do some landscaping and have no idea where to start.” The two women crossed the street together.

“Look at this mess,” Becky exclaimed, “but I think there’s something salvageable beneath it.”

Kathy’s strong hands started pulling weeds. Becky joined in. Soon it was evident what lay beneath the choke-hold of weeds: a beautiful rock garden.

“What do you suggest?” Becky inquired.

“Let me think about it. I’ll come back later.” Kathy abruptly returned to her house. As she crossed the street, she wondered to herself why this pesky new neighbor intrigued her.

Kathy returned with a rough sketch of Becky’s garden. Names of plants were neatly printed at specific locations on the drawing. She laid it out on the picnic table and began to explain. “This side faces south, so you need flowers that can tolerate direct sunlight. These plants will work best in the shady area over there. If you want to get the flowers, I’ll help you plant them.” Kathy’s offer was a surprise even to herself.

Becky beamed. “I’ll run to the greenhouse right now...wanna go with?”

Later, the women unloaded flats of flowers from Becky’s van. There was camaraderie in this adventure. As they continued to clear the weeds from the rocks, the women chatted.

“I rarely see you around the neighborhood, Kathy. Do you have a job?”

“I work nights.”

“What do you do?” Silence caused Becky to look up.

“I manage a bar downtown.” Kathy answered flatly. She stiffened-- waiting for the judgmental response she was accustomed to.

“Well...” Becky chuckled, sitting back on her heels, “you probably meet lots of interesting folks.”

“Mostly the unhappy ones.”

“That must be hard. How do you handle that?”

“I’ve been in the business long enough to read people’s lives–lots of desperate stories with sad endings. I steer clear of the ones who want to drown their sorrows without trying to fix their problems and I talk to the ones who do.”

“You’re a wise woman.”

Noticing the cross dangling from Becky’s neck, Kathy remarked “You’re not like all the other Christians around here.”

“How so?”

“I don’t know...you haven’t told me I’m going to hell if I don’t go to church.”

“Yeah, well, going to church doesn’t guarantee a free ticket to heaven. It has to do with a relationship with Jesus.” Suddenly, Becky gasped. At the base of one large boulder stood an exquisite flower. “Kathy, look at this–it’s gorgeous. What is it?”

“It’s some sort of orchid–rare in this climate.” They were both awed by its beauty hidden by the thistles.

Becky was quiet for a moment. “I wasn’t always a Christian. My life was like this garden–full of thorns, run over with problems. I found myself divorced, jobless, and trying to raise two kids who were hurting as much as I was. But I had a neighbor who mowed my lawn and another one who brought me groceries. One day, one of them invited me to church. I figured I didn’t have anything to lose. It was the best decision I ever made.

“Being a Christian is like this flower...” Becky continued “it blooms because it sunk its roots deep into good soil next to this rock. The rock sheltered it. Even all these weeds couldn’t choke it out. We are like that orchid when we root ourselves in Jesus Christ. He is our rock. And He clears our thistles away.”

Weeks later, Becky turned to Kathy as they were leaving Sunday morning worship. “What was it that brought you to church with me today?” Becky asked.

Kathy smiled at her new friend. “I read your life.”


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This article has been read 826 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Kristen Hester11/08/07
Becky knows what true evangelism is all about! I loved this entry and watching the interaction between Kathy and Becky. Great job. The dialogue was great. Bravo!!!! ;)
Deborah Engle 11/10/07
Great story. I enjoyed reading it, and hope that I can reach others the same way this woman did.
Valora Otis11/12/07
I had tears in my eyes at the end. This is a well story with a terrific message. Well done!
Joy Faire Stewart11/12/07
Excellent storytelling, message, and well written.
Terry R A Eissfeldt 11/14/07
Well written and interesting. I would love to read an expanded version of this.
Thank you for a good reminder of what works
LauraLee Shaw11/14/07
What a fascinating title! That gave me plenty to chew on, but then came your wonderful story, tying the title in beautifully and perfectly at the end. Great piece!
Joanney Uthe11/14/07
I like how the neighbor found something that was important Kathy before trying to "barge" into her life. Great story about building a relationship first.
Patty Wysong11/14/07
I love this! You did a great job capturing the women and their friendship. I love that last line--Great!!
Ann Renae Hair11/14/07
I love how Becky did not have an agenda. She was just being herself and taking Kathy as she was. I had tears at the end as this is SO how I want to be! Thank you for this precious piece!
Jan Ackerson 11/14/07
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
Sheri Gordon11/15/07
Congratulations on your EC. I loved watching this story unfold. You gave the message perfectly.
Therese Witkus11/15/07
The story is masterful in design and beautiful in the telling. Lovely and touching.
Congratulations on the EC!
Mariane Holbrook11/15/07
I'm so excited for you and it's such a well-deserved win! Congratulations and kudos and hugs and kisses! If I could send you flowers, I would. What a great piece! It's something you and the rest of us will cherish for a long time. God bless you, dear friend.
Edy T Johnson 11/15/07
No wonder you're top winner, Pam. There is nothing missing in your story. I just love it, I love both women, I am tickled pink at Becky's non-agenda response to whatever Kathy told her. And, the ending is so encouraging and entirely believable.

I'm left thinking what we Christians can miss in "evangelism" when we fail to first get to know the person's soul and wait for the opening the Lord will provide for His Word to enter.

This goes in my favorites, dear friend!
Angela M. Baker-Bridge11/15/07
Magnificent!
Laurie Walker11/15/07
Wow, Pam, this truly deserved 1st place. It's so beautiful. I love each and every message you've crafted. It was an honor to read it.
Sara Harricharan 11/19/07
Finally got a chance to read this. What a great testimony-to have someone 'read' our life. I loved your characters-especially Becky. Great job-and congrats on your EC!