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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Sad (07/26/07)

TITLE: S.anta A.na D.ay
By Coleene VanTilburg


That "pre" Santa Ana wind feeling was present in the air; brightness, clarity and a smell that is earthy yet electric. Thanksgiving was in two days, so this weather is expected. By mid morning, the winds will be rushing down the pass, through the valleys and over the hills to the ocean. Tumbleweeds and garbage would be gathering up against fences and layers of dirt would find its way onto the windowsills. Truckers would huddle under overpasses waiting it out or if some braved it, they could easily find themselves blown over, looking like so many dead farm animals waiting for "pick-up."

I began my day like any other, busily doing household chores while getting ready for work.

"Corey, do me a favor hon." "Please take that basket of laundry out to the garage."

My son is home from school, instead electing to do independent study through the high school. He is in his senior year.

I glance at the clock, and I need to leave for work in twenty minutes. I dislike the Santa Anas; another too warm Thanksgiving, and all that dirt. My thoughts drift towards my mother who had died three years ago on Thanksgiving Day.

"Please Lord, I pray, get me through this month of November." "I just need your grace today..."

Cancer had pirated my father's lymph nodes and blood cells twenty-one years ago, taking him one week before the "big feast." My oldest son, Tim, was diagnosed with kidney disease in the fall of his fourth year, and these Santa Ana winds just whip up the layer of sadness of these life-changing seasons in my life.

"I am just going to get this laundry switched and then get to work," I am thinking, as I dump the basket beside the appliances.

The garage is a wood workers workshop, but not the kind you would see on television. There are stains and staining rags lying around and a lot of sawdust amongst unfinished projects. The combination of the stain smell, the sawdust and the November air is warm and pungent and I can feel my sinus tighten up for a sneeze.

I start the dryer, head for the house to grab my purse. "Bye Corey." "Call Rodney for a ride, or maybe Ill come at lunch.

Corey heads down the hall to the bedroom where a "morning nap" is his plan. Like a cat, he is soon curled up with the TV as the wind begins to rattle the windows.

"Coleene", my supervisor says, "Pick up the phone, it is an emergency."

"Hello," I say, as the nerves in my body begin to do their dance in my stomach.

"It's Connie, hon." "You need to come home; your house is on fire." "Corey is OK.
As I race through the parking lot, and into the streets breaking traffic laws, I think..."Lord, it's November, of course..." The prayer stops as I look up, see the massive gray smoke out my windshield, and approach my barricaded street.

There are crowds of people, and fire trucks, but I am searching for Corey. "There he is, safe with the dog." Big tears are rolling down the cheeks of this six foot, 280-pound football tackle. He hugs me tightly and we are crying. He begins to babble on how he was asleep, Rodney, his best friend since Kindergarten, woke him up, and how they had tried to extinguish the fire with the garden hose to no avail.

The firefighter approached me; my cat "Puff" in his arms. "Ma'me, she sustained some smoke inhalation but we gave her oxygen...get her to your vet right away." "Thank you, thank you, I say, as I cuddle my frightened kitty.

I make those necessary phone calls, and then through my tears looked up to see the destroyed garage, my smoldering roof and broken windows. What remains are the lingering clean-up crews, the yellow caution tape, looky-loos and vulture insurance adjusters. I begin to come to my senses as my own "smoke" begins to clear.

"OK Lord, you have my attention." ...about that grace I asked for this morning...did my prayer get stuck in some tree like a grocery bag after the Santa Anas?"

The winds die with the twilight, but my journey towards restoration and a grounded walk with God had begun that November day. The winds of change can bring renewal and refreshment when you begin to surrender to the Source.

Psalm 46:1-3

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This article has been read 670 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Allison Egley 08/02/07
I really liked the message contained in this article.

There were a few issues with quotations. Remember that each full quote is enclosed in quotes, not each sentence. Also, remember to begin a new paragraph whenever someone new speaks.

Your characters were very real, and I could sense the sadness the mother was carrying. Keep writing!
dub W08/03/07
The message is solid and really, the prose works well, very good description throughout; however, this is in need of an editor to clean up many miscues. Keep writing.
Brenda Welc08/03/07
This put tears in my eyes. So often we push aside the terrible stories we see on the news not realizing the reality of the situation! Well done.
Jan Ackerson 08/04/07
The image of a prayer being stuck in a tree is an excellent one, and your narrator's voice is compelling.

Yes, definitely give this the needed edits mentioned above.

Seema Bagai 08/05/07
Good descriptions of the fall weather we experience in Southern California.
Catrina Bradley 08/07/07
This gave me goose bumps. Very chilling. Excellent descriptions and wording.
Dee Yoder 08/16/07
Oh, fine, fine writing Coleene! I can't wait to read the rest of your writing! I missed several weeks of reading and I realize I missed much!