Mrs. Markwell’s Mail

By Betty Lou Mell

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    Those that seek me early shall find me (Prov. 8:17).

    Molly chewed on the eraser of her pencil, then looked beyond the desk’s cheery lamp to where the snow shot like barbed spears toward the pines. She thought of her ancestors crossing the mountains in such harsh weather and marveled again that they had survived. She knew that they had huddled around fires and in wagons or had built cabins to protect them from the weather. Still, it was hard for her to imagine foraging for food and firewood, and no warm, cozy house to welcome her home. Even now, a short trip to the store in such weather was uncomfortable, even knowing that she’d be in a warm place within minutesnot days or weeks!

    Startled from her thoughts by a gentle hand on her shoulder, she looked up into her mother’s smiling face. “What are you doing up here all by yourself, honey?”

    “Just working on my New Year’s resolutions.”

    Mother glanced at the paper and nodded. “That does take concentration.”

    Molly sighed. “I don’t want to write something, then not be able to stick to it.”

    Mother shook her head. “No, I wouldn’t, either.”

    “Do you have a list of resolutions, Mom?”

    Mother sat on the edge of Molly’s bed. “Well, not a written list, but I know some of the things that I have to work on.”

    Molly’s eyes sparkled. “Like what?”

    “Well, like having more patience, understanding, thoughtfulness, and trust in God, for starters.”

    “I have things like not fighting with Jeremy, cleaning my room without being told, doing my homework as soon as I get home.”

    Mother smiled. “Those are all good resolutions.”

    Molly’s shoulders slumped. “But will I be able to keep them? I mean, when Jeremy uses my things and teases me and my friends, I get so mad! And I like to have a clean room, but I don’t always feel like cleaning it. And I’m not always in the mood to open more books as soon as I get home. … I don’t know, Mom,” Molly added with a sigh. “Sometimes I feel like a flop.”

    Mother chuckled. “You’re not a flop, honey. None of us feels like doing everything we should, when we should. I’ll tell you a little trick, though.”


    “If you include God in everything you do, it becomes easier.”

    Molly smiled thoughtfully, then blinked and looked out the window again. “Yeah, maybe, like when I feel like blowing my top at Jeremy, I’ll think about Heavenly Father and imagine how He’d feel if He was standing right there, watching.”

    Mother smiled. “In a way, He is, honey. He’s always ready to help us.”

    Molly grinned. “Thanks for talking to me, Mom.”

    Mother patted Molly’s hand. “Dad and Jeremy made popcorn. Come down and have some.”

    The following day, as Molly trudged home from the store, she hummed happily. It was still snowing and still very cold, so why, she wondered, did she feel so warm and happy. Was it because it was the first part of a brand new year? Yes, she decided, that’s part of it. But a bigger part of it was her determination to keep Heavenly Father first in all things. She had started the day with that resolution, and things seemed to be going better.

    She again thought about her ancestors’ trip across the mountains, and with a smile, she realized that although they had not had the conveniences that she had, they had put Heavenly Father first, and He had helped them in their journeys.

    In the middle of her musings, she heard Gina call her name through the frigid air. Molly turned and looked back eagerly to where Gina was racing toward her with something in her hand.

    “Molly,” Gina puffed as she reached her friend. “Will you do me a big favor?”

    Molly nodded with a baffled expression. “Sure, if I can.”

    “Would you give Mrs. Markwell this mailplease?” she pleaded. “The mailman left it at our house by mistake.”

    Molly frowned. “Why don’t you do it? Her house is right there. OrI knowput it in her mailbox. She’ll get it.”

    “Mom said to hand it to her personally. She thinks that Mrs. Markwell’s pension check is in it, and that she’ll need it soon,” Gina replied quickly. “How about itwill you do it?”

    Molly looked at Mrs. Markwell’s house and felt a nervous shiver go up her spine. Everyone knew how much the old lady hated kids. She seemed to go out of her way to scream at themand for no reason at all! Molly swallowed hard and shifted the bag of groceries in her arms. She knew that Heavenly Father wanted everybody to treat widows kindly, but she really didn’t want to treat Mrs. Markwell any way at all! All Molly wanted was to leave Mrs. Markwell alone. Then Mrs. Markwell would have nothing to scold her about.

    Still, her resolution was to put God in everything, even when it came to Mrs. Markwell. Reluctantly Molly handed the bag of groceries to Gina. “OK,” she said.

    Gina took the bag of groceries and shoved the mail into Molly’s hand. “I’ll wait over by that tree.”

    Molly looked at Mrs. Markwell’s house, then back at Gina. It’s you and me, Heavenly Father, Molly thought as she opened the gate. As she closed it behind her, she did so carefully, just in case Mrs. Markwell was watchingshe wouldn’t like it left open. Placing one foot precisely in front of the other, Molly started along the narrow walk and tried very hard not to step on any part of the snow-covered grass. If even a ball rolled across Mrs. Markwell’s yard, she had a fit!

    Ahead were the porch steps. Molly glanced back to where Gina was hiding, but Gina only gave an impatient nod at the house. Molly’s boots felt heavy as she climbed up the first step, then the second, then the third. Her heart nearly pounded out of her chest as she reached the top and actually stood on Mrs. Markwell’s front porch.

    She again turned and looked in Gina’s direction. Then she squared her shoulders and raised her hand to knock. Instantly the door opened, and the tall woman stared down at her. “Yes?”

    Molly gulped and held the mail in front of her like a shield. “Sorry to bother you, Mrs. Markwell, but the mailman left your mail at the wrong house,” she said in a rush.

    Mrs. Markwell’s face broke into a faint smile. “Well, thank you for bringing it to me,” she said as she took the mail from Molly’s hand.

    “You’re welcome,” Molly croaked. She turned and hurried down the steps and back along the sidewalk, whispering gratefully, “Thank you, Heavenly Father.”

    When she reached Gina’s side, she was breathlessly giddy. Gina’s face was full of admiration. “You’re the bravest person I know, Molly Snyder,” she said.

    Molly grinned and took the groceries from Gina’s arms. “I was scared to death.”

    “You didn’t act like it,” Gina insisted as she fell in step beside Molly.

    Molly smiled to herself, then turned and grinned again at Gina. “Did you make a list of New Year’s resolutions?” she asked.

    Gina nodded. “Yes, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep them,” she admitted.

    “Mom gave me a good tip,” Molly said. “It could help you too.”

    Illustrated by Julie F. Young