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

TITLE: Just Across Town
By Sharlyn Guthrie


Stacy’s computer chimed its familiar four-tone benediction, signaling the end of her work day. A flutter of activity emanated from her protruding abdomen when she stood, causing her to clutch it. Her pay as church secretary was meager, but she considered her job a ministry, even though she often felt unappreciated. For example, when Martha Sorenson stopped by the office to ask when the baby was due, she apparently was simply curious to learn who would be printing the bulletin while Stacy was on maternity leave.

Just across town, Kara fingered a soft, hand-knit baby blanket as she thoughtfully penned a thank-you note to its creator. She smiled as she surveyed the pile of boxes containing sleepers, disposable diapers, crib sheets, and toys that had been showered upon her by the church ladies at her baby shower. “What a blessing!” she mused, “and we’ve only attended Bethany Church for six months!”


Ben gently lifted his six-pound bundle from the crook of Stacy’s arm. Adoringly he searched her face. “Did you enjoy gloating over your new daughter today? I bet that phone was ringing off the wall.”

“Actually, the only one that called was Rhoda Simms. She wanted to know what font I used on the bulletin.”

“What? Well, they must be giving you a chance to rest a bit before they all come calling. I wish I could stay a while, but Sam and Jonathan are at the neighbors’. I’ll bring them up to see their new sister after I fix them some dinner. You take care now.”

Just across town, Eric and his daughters answered the front door. A couple he had never met stood on his front porch, laden with food. “You must be Eric,” quipped the woman. “Kara has been coming to our Bible study. We are so happy for both of you. Here’s a dinner for your family tonight, and we have meals scheduled for the rest of this week, too. Please give Kara and little Ethan our love. And do let us know if there’s anything else we can do.”

“Wow! How can we ever thank you enough? This is wonderful. It definitely beats chicken pot pies, right girls?” The girls giggled, nodding their agreement.

Waving, the couple turned to leave. “Don’t give it another thought. It’s just something we like to do to encourage young families.”


Stacy had been back to work for two weeks when Martha Sorenson stopped in. “Are you back already, Stacy? When was your little guy born?”

“Abigail is six weeks old today.”

“Oh my, I don’t think the deaconess committee ever took you a gift in the hospital. Well, there’s that plant from Helen Schultz’s funeral that is going to die if it’s left in the sanctuary. Why don’t you take it home –as our gift to you?”

“Thanks,” Stacy managed, fighting the tears that stung her eyes. Honestly, the thought of caring for one more living thing was overwhelming. There was something else, too, but Stacy couldn’t put her finger on it. Too many emotions threatened to betray her.

Just across town, Kara buckled Ethan into his baby seat. “I’m getting so much out of this Bible study,” she remarked. “The best part of it is that we’re not just hearing God’s Word at this church. We are experiencing it. You have been such a blessing to our family.”

“That’s what being a Christian is all about –sharing Christ’s love with others,” replied one of the older women. “Besides, we benefit from your youthful enthusiasm.”


Ben and Stacy took turns pacing the foyer with a fussy Abigail during Sunday worship service. They had tried to participate in the service, but the older church members shot disdainful looks their way at every tiny whimper.

Still, the pastor’s suggestion stunned them. “We haven’t had a church nursery here for quite some time –mainly because we haven’t had any babies.” He stopped and cleared his throat. “We were hoping the two of you would be willing to start one…since you have a baby now, that is.”

Stacy stared in disbelief as Ben stammered, “We, well, we’ll …think about it.”

Just across town, Eric and Kara chatted as they drove home from church. “Have you heard anything from Ben and Stacy since we left Edgewater and started attending Bethany Church?”

“No, how do you suppose they’re doing?” Kara wondered aloud. “Their baby was due about the same time Ethan was born. I think I’ll give Stacy a call this afternoon.”

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This article has been read 943 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sheri Gordon11/15/07
I love the contrast between the church bodies. Very good take on the topic.
william price11/15/07
Very, very nice story! I liked the pace of the story and appreciated the anointing and talent displayed here. God bless.
Joanne Sher 11/16/07
What a contrast! You did a superb job, especially, of showing Stacy's emotions and frustration. I'm sure this happens a lot. I LOVE the hope at the end!
Marita Vandertogt11/18/07
Encouragement really affects our lives - both when it's given, and when it's withheld. Nice job of showing both sides!!
Beth LaBuff 11/19/07
I actually got a little angry at your fictional church family (Stacy's). For this to happen in real life (and I'm sure it does) it pretty pathetic.

I almost laughed when Stacy was given a plant that was left from a funeral and almost dead. You have great details in this. It's nicely written. I think Stacy needs to go to church across town too.
Janice Cartwright11/20/07
As a past church secretary I was able to relate wholly with your setting. Thankfully my experience personally was awesome, but you made me feel along with your MC how desolate I would have been had my experience been otherwise. Great job of reader involvement.

And welcome to Texas! I hope you'll enjoy your stay. We're supposed to have a weather change for Thanksgiving - much colder.

God bless!
Dee Yoder 11/21/07
I've seen a similar situation, but in the case I'm thinking of, the pastor's wife was flooded with support, while another young woman was left to fend for herself. It doesn't matter who the people are, God wants us to minister to and support ALL of His children. Good message and strong characterizations in your story.
Peter Stone11/23/07
Very engaging story, and I love the way you contrasted two churches. Very realistic, too. I once visited a church with my baby, only to receive repeated harsh glances when she fussed.