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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: The Church (12/06/07)

TITLE: Spotless
By Marita Thelander


Leah slowed down as she approached the little church with the old fashioned Nativity scene on the front lawn. The emotions inside her were difficult to sort out. She couldn’t believe it was going to be Christmas in just 2 weeks. That would mean she hadn’t entered through the doors of a church in at least 4 months. As a freshman in college, life at the university was very fast paced. Fast paced and large.

The lies she told her parents bothered her at first, but now she was getting use to it. That is until she drove past the little church with the nativity scene in the yard. Although she had never entered the building, this was her church. She told her parents she had found a cute little church just outside of the city. It was a nice reprieve from college life and the hectic atmosphere of the city.

Occasionally Leah would drive by the little church’s sign to see what the sermon title was so that she had something to tell her parents. She couldn’t help but smile at the whopper she told last month about the sermon the Pastor titled “The Church: Body, Building and Bride”. She came up with an entire message spontaneously over the phone. Leah’s dad later said he had referred to parts of it in his sermon the following Sunday.

Growing up as a Pastor’s Kid in a small church, in a small town, attending a small high school, gave Leah a very small life. She went to church because she had to. She smiled at everybody because she had to. She sang in the choir because her mom was the director. She vowed when she went to college she would only go to church if she WANTED to.

Next week, Leah would be going home for Christmas. She decided she would go to the church and take a quick peek inside. This way she could enhance her stories a little bit. As she pulled into the parking lot, her stomach began to feel a bit queasy. There were few cars in the parking lot and she reasoned that it was a good thing, at least the doors will be unlocked and she could take a quick look at the inside of the building. Yet, cars in the parking lot meant there were people inside the church, Church People. She shuddered at the thought of meeting a different “batch” of church people.

Different church building, different church people, same issues, not interested!

Quietly, Leah slipped into the church. She decided to check the women’s restroom out first. You can tell a lot about a church by the way the women’s restroom is decorated. As she was leaving she caught a reflection of herself in the mirror. She had changed quite a bit since she rebelled. Leah made a mental note to tone down the dark make-up and pull out a few outfits to pack that she knew her daddy would approve of. Self consciously she tugged at the low neckline of the shirt and zipped her black hoodie. The light brown roots were beginning to show through the black hair dye. “Hmmmm….better lose the studded belt and the nose ring, too”.

Leah quietly peeked into the sanctuary. A small group of women were busy decorating the church for a wedding. Leah noticed the worn pews, old organ and the standard pulpit and communion table. No surprises here. It was a typical small church in a typical small town. Even the musty smell of the building was familiar to her. As she turned to leave, she heard a bit of the conversation between the bride and one of the women. The woman was saying that she was proud of the fact that the bride hadn’t even had her first kiss yet. She commented that it is truly like the bride of Christ should be. She will stand pure and spotless before her beloved on her wedding day, and someday Christ will come back to take His pure and spotless bride to be with Him in heaven.

As Leah slipped out of the church and headed to her car she was reminded about the message she shared with her parents. The one that was titled “The Church: Body, Building, and Bride”. She stopped at the nativity scene one her way out of the driveway and whispered a prayer. “I want to be spotless before You. Please forgive me.”

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This article has been read 806 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sheri Gordon12/14/07
Very good story. I really enjoyed reading this. A great message, told in a very creative way. Really good job with the topic.
Jim Hall12/15/07
Great story and well written. I work in a college town as a cop and I see many kids just like Leah!

God bless
Catrina Bradley 12/15/07
Very good! A great story, and good writing skills, too. I love the ending, and am glad Leah finally WANTS to go to church. Well done! :) Cat
Karen Wilber12/16/07
This was good. I like how you slowly revealed details about Leah throughout the story.

"She decided to check the women’s restroom out first. You can tell a lot about a church by the way the women’s restroom is decorated." Oh - this made me laugh.
terri tiffany12/16/07
Good job!! Interesting story. You might want to try to include some dialogue to break it up abit and make it more show than tell, but other wise VERY good!!! :))
Jan Ackerson 12/16/07
Oooh, good one! I liked this one a lot!

My only pickiness--in the first paragraph, your numerals should be written out as words.

Other than that, it's good to go! Share this with your teen leader.
Yvonne Blake 12/18/07
Well done!
I liked her evaluation of herself in the mirror.
Perhaps you could have added a little interaction with the ladies at the church.
Good writing.
Joanne Sher 12/21/07
Congratulations, Marita, for placing 8th in your level. Great job!
TJ Nickel12/27/07
I liked this a whole lot, but the editor in me sees a need to remain consistent in the capitalizations, use bold vs. caps, and improve some of the transitions between paragraphs. Okay, that was a lot of picky, but very small and easy fixes that will help this stand out more as a great piece of writing as well as a great piece of concept/thought.
Laury Hubrich 12/07/08
This is a modern day prodigal son story. I love it. Very well written!