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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Encouragement (among believers) (11/08/07)

TITLE: Heather's A-no-ma-nus Gift
By Deborah Engle


Loretta heard her coming, jingling and clinking accompanying every step. Ten year old Heather had reluctantly participated in the family project and now it was time to assemble what they had accumulated.

“Here’s mine, $2.46”

Disappointed at the meager offering, Loretta, only said, “Well, that will help.”

As she handed over her little box, Heather’s face reflected her mixed feelings. “Mom,” she said, “tell me again why we’re doing this.”

“All the money goes towards an anonymous gift for a struggling family at church. It’s a sacrifice, but that’s part of being a good steward of the blessings God has entrusted to us.”

“What does that mean?”

Looking at her confused daughter, Loretta decided the time was right. “Let’s sit down and I’ll tell you a story.”

Heather chose the end of the couch to settle on, curling her legs under her. Loretta made herself comfortable too, as she sorted through old memories.

“A long time ago a young woman named Julia...”

“Julia? Just like my middle name.”

“That’s right. Anyways, Julia was facing some very difficult situations at home and eventually she ran away. While she was gone she received Biblical counsel and she knew God wanted her to return home. That was very hard, but she did it.”

“Things were tough when she got back home - tougher than before, but she stayed. She knew she couldn’t do what God was asking of her, but God could do it through her if she let Him. That gave her confidence to face her trials.”

“Julia was ashamed of running away. She had confessed that to God, but she wondered how the people at church would respond to her now. She had been gone for 5 months. Would they be willing to forgive her and accept her back? She had always been a faithful and involved church member, and she depended on the fellowship and strength she got from each service. The thought of rejection was almost more than she could bear.”

Always compassionate, Heather was caught up in Julia’s plight. “They shouldn’t be mean to her,” Heather said quietly.

“Julia didn’t know what to expect, but she knew she was going back to church. With knees trembling, she determinedly entered the building on Sunday. Within a few steps, a friend spotted her. Before she knew it, she found herself wrapped up in a big hug, hearing the welcome words, “I’m glad you’re back.” Shyly and gratefully, Julia returned the hug. When she looked up, there was another friend, waiting to embrace her. Every few steps, it seemed there was somebody else welcoming her back. Her nervous apprehension was replaced by humble thankfulness. Julia was amazed at the reception she received. None of them knew of the circumstances that had led her to leave, but they offered her compassion and forgiveness, regardless.”

“That’s how God wants us to treat people,” Heather observed. “ I’m glad they were nice to her. But Mom, how does that explain our ...a-no-ma-nus gift?”

“Well, there’s more to the story.” Loretta continued, “Julia was very encouraged, but she still had a lot of difficult things to deal with. The people at church could see that she had needs, and they began to look for ways to help. Occasionally she would receive groceries, a check, or sometimes a phone call or card. Of course, all these blessings were appreciated, but one day Julia received something that touched her heart in a special way.”

As she entered the sanctuary an usher handed her a smudged, wrinkled envelope with her name scrawled on it. There was no note, only $3 in wrinkled bills and 81¢ in change. Someone, surely a child, had sacrificed in order to encourage her. It made her feel that if God was putting her need on the heart of a child, she could be sure that He was going to see her through whatever lay ahead. And you know what? He did.”

“Julia was your great-grandmother, and she spent the rest of her life serving God and looking for ways to encourage those who are struggling. I have tried to be like her and I hope you will, too.”

“My Great-grandma? That makes me her namesake. I should try to be like her.” After thinking about that, Heather ran to her room, then quickly returned with 12 more dollars. “Here, this should help,” she said. “I can wait to get that new album.”

“Heather, I think your Great-grandma would be very proud of you.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Chrissi Dunn11/15/07
Well written. I enjoyed this lesson on encouragement.
william price11/16/07
I realy enjoyed your story. I love the name Heather. You did the name proud. God bless.
Joanne Sher 11/17/07
A lovely story with a wonderful message.
I think the ending dialog was a bit unnatural, but it could be me.
Great descriptions throughout. Keep writing.
Beth LaBuff 11/19/07
Neat story! Wonderful lessons. This would be great to read to a Sunday School class. Well done.
Jan Ackerson 11/19/07
Very sweet--loosen up the dialog a bit, and this'd be very nice for a book of familiy devotions.
Patty Wysong11/19/07
What a beautiful lesson. I loved the detail about the $3.81. Good job.
Dee Yoder 11/20/07
Very heart-warming story. We never know how we can encourage others when we obey the Spirit's call to reach.
Laury Hubrich 11/22/07
I love your title, now, after reading this:) Very cute! This was an engaging story. Thank you for sharing!