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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "It's No Use Crying over Spilt Milk" (without using the actual phrase or literal exampl (02/07/08)

TITLE: The Birthday Present
By jodie banner


"Okay, Is everyone ready?" Four happy, excited faces sat before me at the kitchen table. We had spent all morning carefully planning and shopping for our spring garden. Now we were getting ready to start the seeds we would transplant in May. My youngest children were practically jumping out of their seats with anticipation.

"I'm ready!"

"Me too!"

"I want to plant the broccoli. I like broccoli. Mandy and Ronnie hate broccoli but I like it." said Christian, my four year old.

"Mom, do you want me to plant your herb seeds for you?" Mandy asked me.

"Oh no, I forgot the herb seeds. The store closes in fifteen minutes. Mandy, have the boys fill the pots with dirt while I'm gone and we'll finish planting when I get back."

I told my carnivorous husband I was leaving. Looking back, I should have known better. I should have seen the disaster coming. When I got back approximately twenty minutes later there were dirt and seeds everywhere. Mandy my twelve year old daughter was in tears, my seven and four year old sons were ripping open every seed packet we had and mixing them up in a bowl. The one year old was eating potting soil while my dearest husband was sitting four feet away on the computer, totally oblivious to the entire scene taking place in the kitchen.

I may not be smart enough to avoid these situations but I am an expert at handling them. Within five minutes I had calmed Mandy down, had both boys in the tub and the baby in the sink. Apparently my husband didn't even know I had left and had thought I was in the kitchen handling whatever commotion was going on. Together we managed to clean up, help the kids complete the planting and get everyone bathed again and in bed.

Later that night I was having some quiet time with my saviour. My thoughts were on my impending fortieth birthday and all of my failures up to that moment. My thirties had started off wonderfully, I had become a christian at age 32 and I was able to experience the peace and joy that had been missing from my life up to that point. I rapidly engulfed myself in ministries and Bible studies, made many new Christian friends, and I was actually happy for the first time since early childhood.

Somewhere along the way I lost that initial joy and life's difficulties had dragged me down into a pit of self-loathing once again. Multiple state-to-state moves, financial crisis', and personal trauma had taken me out of ministries I had previously defined myself by and loved ones were now hundreds of miles away. All of a sudden, the idea of turning forty seemed like a death sentence for all of my hopes and dreams.

Then, I was gently nudged by the Holy Spirit to remember times past when I was unable to handle even the simplest of problems. A scene like the one described earlier would have resulted in a screaming match with my husband, the kids would have been punished, and the garden never would have happened.

Suddenly I experienced a great flash of understanding. Even though my hopes and dreams were unfulfilled, God had granted me what I truly needed to be happy. The ability to weather life's up and downs with grace, understanding and peace. Daily little problems were now no longer major disasters but cute anecdotes to be shared with loved ones. I could only imagine with anxious anticipation what wonderful gifts God had planned for my fortieth birthday and beyond.

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This article has been read 589 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Yvonne Blake 02/15/08
(smile) What a mess! I like how you related that one incident to all the little things in our lives that we need to get past.
We need to have 'duck feathers' and let things roll off.
Keep writing.
Marlene Austin02/17/08
Nice description of the action. Would love to see more substance to your characters in future pieces. :)
Seema Bagai 02/18/08
The piece began well. Great descriptions of the kids. I think the second half was too long, though. Tighten that up and this will be a good devotional piece. Keep writing.
Glynis Becker02/18/08
I can just see the scene in the kitchen! Great descriptions. The ending seemed to go off a little in direction. I agree with a little work, this could be a great piece!
Dee Yoder 02/18/08
You have a good cast of characters to involve the reader with! I would have liked to read this with the characters having more dialogue together to "show" your story a bit more. The idea you presented is a good one to remember.
Lyn Churchyard02/19/08
What a great lesson here in remembering bad things of the past in order to see the good things of the present.

I would have liked to see more conversation with the kids when the Mom got back from the store.

A couple of typos, but all in all a great entry. Don't think you'll stay in Level 1 for too long.
LauraLee Shaw02/19/08
Oh, my, this is a serious and funny story wrapped together. Between the mess in the kitchen and the husband's obliviousness, I was greatly entertained. Then came your message at the end. Wow.

Be sure to capitalize words such as 'Saviour.' I have a feeling you meant to, since you capitalized all the other titles referring to God.

This sums the topic for this week up perfectly:
The ability to weather life's up and downs with grace, understanding and peace. Daily little problems were now no longer major disasters but cute anecdotes to be shared with loved ones. I could only imagine with anxious anticipation what wonderful gifts God had planned for my fortieth birthday and beyond.
Jan Ackerson 02/19/08
Lovely little object lesson, pleasantly presented.

This is just personal preference, but I think it's more effective to write the children so that their approximate ages can be inferred by the reader--sentences with ages in them aren't the most compelling reading, but describing children is. That little nitpick is the only thing I see here--a really nice entry.
Lynda Schultz 02/19/08
I loved that last line, especially the "anxious anticipation." Well done.
Holly Westefeld02/19/08
Now that's the best birthday present of all!
I enjoyed this engaging personal reflection, seasoned with humor.
Debbie Wistrom02/20/08
Thanks to God for the insight he provides. Thanks for sharing this bit of testimony. Keep writing.
Sara Harricharan 02/20/08
Ooooh...I can see that kitchen scene so clearly in my head. Great job with the descriptions there. You made it real and easy to relate, I'm glad that the ending ended the way that it did. Nice work! ^_^
Verna Cole Mitchell 02/20/08
You did a very good job with this topic. The humorous descriptions, as well as the message, were great.
Beth LaBuff 02/20/08
I had to laugh at this, "I told my carnivorous husband". Your real-life family story unfolds into a beautiful lesson. Well done.
Karen Wilber02/20/08
Great lesson. I could see the scene unfolding.
Sally Hanan02/20/08
This was sweet. As a tip for next time--"I want to plant the broccoli" would have been a marvellous opening line, because it would hook the reader's interest. You want to start with something that makes them feel like they have to read more. Nice job.:)