Marie glanced at the clock again. She had five minutes to make her daughters tangled hair look respectable for church. Jonothan chose that moment to grab her leg, wiping his nose across her skirt in the process. Grabbing a damp dishcloth, she bent over to wipe her skirt clean and realised that an undesirable odour was emanating from Jonothan’s diaper.
With a sigh, Marie realised they would be late for church again.
Marie and her four children snuck into the back pew ten minutes after the service had begun. She smiled at her husband Chris, who was at the front with the musicians. The children seemed to be especially rowdy today, and refused to sit quietly.
When the children left for Sunday School, Marie rose with them and made her way to the nursery where she was on duty. She managed to smile and make conversation with the parents who were leaving their children in her care. Inwardly she was fuming.
Do you even realise that I look after your children EVERY week? You could volunteer to do this once in awhile so I could sit through a service. It wouldn’t hurt you to miss one Sunday occasionally and have a turn in the nursery as well.
Afterwards, Marie waited until all the parents collected their children.
“Oh, Tyler was lovely this morning. No, he didn’t bite anyone today.”
“Patrick’s had a very runny nose, Mrs Thomson.”
“Katie fell over and bumped her elbow. Could you sign the accident book please?”
Marie finished packing up and then hurried downstairs to the fellowship area only to find that the tea ladies were already closing the servery windows.
“Could I please get a cup of tea before you close up?”
“Well, we’re actually packing up now Marie. You’re really meant to come and get a drink when the service finishes and then talk while you drink it. There is a spare cup of tea here. It might be a little cold, but that’s what you have to expect if you come this late.”
Stepping to the side of the room she sipped her cold, bitter tea as she searched for someone to talk to. Chris was engaged in conversation, and Marie’s friends were already leaving. Their children were in the playground.
Why do I even bother coming in here for ‘fellowship’. I may as well go and sit in the car and wait till Chris is finished talking. It’s not like anyone would even notice if I wasn’t here.
Feeling a touch on her elbow, Marie turned to see Mrs Burrell, head of the Craft Group, holding out a small, red bag.
“Marie, I was asked to give this to you.” She smiled briefly and continued on her way.
Standing alone in the corner, Marie examined the bag more closely. It was made of soft, red cotton and had an intricately beaded pattern across the front. Opening it carefully, Marie peered inside. It held a curious collection of items, so Marie sat down on the nearest chair and tipped the contents into her lap.
A small note fluttered out and Marie read it first.
A tissue – to dry tears.
A candle – when the way seems dark
A bandaid – to help heal hurts
Elastic – to stretch beyond present limits
A paperclip – to keep it all together
A marble – for when you feel you’ve lost yours
A safety pin – for emergencies
A toothpick – to pick out the good qualities in everyone
A rose – remember to take time to stop and smell the roses
A peg – to remind you to ‘hang in there’
Because someone cares and is praying for you.
Every item mentioned was included in the bag, right down to a pink silk rose.
Raising her eyes, Marie glanced around the room and wondered who had asked this to be given to her. Maybe sweet old Mrs Fingol who always smiled at her and complimented her on her well-behaved children. Or perhaps it was Mrs Grant, who was known for her gift of encouragement.
What a sweet gift. Somebody cares about me. Somebody has noticed me. Oh, and somebody is praying for me. Thankyou Lord for this small blessing and the reminder that I am of worth.
Standing up, she noticed Jenna, a single mother, standing alone in another corner of the room. Marie headed over that way and greeted her, pleased by the smile that lit up Jenna’s face.
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