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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Make Hay While the Sun Shines" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (03/06/08)

TITLE: Planting Love
By jodie banner


"What a pretty little towhead you have." Andrea exclaimed to the harried mother in the frozen food aisle.

"Thanks, I really have to go."

That look of pity was familiar. Andrea often got it while wearing the bandana that covered her bald head. She said a silent prayer for the mother and continued with her shopping.

Exhaustion, Andrea's constant companion, was taking over. Soon she would need assistance with even the most basic of her daily needs. The conversation with her butcher had taken up precious minutes of what she expected to be her last solo trip. His daughter was putting him through the typical teenage anxieties and all he needed was to talk to someone. It was at their first meeting when he had found out, halfway through taking her order, that his wife was pregnant. Over the years he had shared his baby girls' first steps, teething pains, and other milestones. Parenthood had not come easy for him and he had developed high blood pressure and ulcers over the years. Andrea was convinced it was from worrying about his strong-willed daughter. She offered a few words of encouragement and promised to pray for them.

"I should have gotten an electric cart. My pride will kill me before this cancer does." Andrea thought to herself as she made her way to the checkout. There was only one lane open and three other people were ahead of her. Andrea challenged herself to do this unassisted and not ask the manager for help.

"Sorry, but if you knew how to read you would have noticed only the blue bags are on sale! I'll get the manager if you insist, but I've been having this same conversation all day. The red ones are full price." Andrea noticed the checkout girl's mood was getting darker as the line was getting longer.

Finally, she was able to unload her cart onto the belt.

"Paper or plastic?"

Andrea was trying to catch her breath from the exertion.

"Paper or plastic? We're really busy, in case you hadn't noticed. Paper or plastic?" The girl's nametag said Kara.

"Good morning Kara. Plastic would be just fine." Andrea smiled.

"Do you want your milk in a bag?" Kara's tone let Andrea know the answer in advance.

"No thank you." Andrea made it a point to make eye contact this time when she smiled.

"Your total is thirty-two seventy-six, debit or credit?" Kara asked.

"I'll pay cash, I never did like those machines. Here's twenty, thirty, one, two and seventy cents."

"It's seventy-six cents." Kara repeated.

"I'm sorry, I misheard you. Here you go, six cents. It must be hard working alone when the store is busy. " She gave Kara's hand a gentle squeeze as she took her receipt.

Andrea sat down to rest before heading out to the parking lot. A young woman with two children sat next to her. "Are you okay? Why were you so kind to that girl? She should have noticed you're not well."

"Actually, I'm dying. The doctors tell me I only have a few more weeks. I wasted so many days being angry. Angry at God, the cancer that is eating me alive, the doctors, even my husband and children. Then one day I noticed all of the flowers I had received were dying, except for a single potted plant. Its flowers had gone to seed. Was death going to be my final legacy? Would I cut myself off from those around me and leave nothing but hate, as useless as the rotting flowers that surrounded me, or stay grounded in life and bear seeds? With the few weeks I had left I decided to leave every single person I met with a small seed of love and ask God to send others to nurture it. You have two very beautiful children. It must be stressful raising them in today's world. Can I pray for you?"


Author's Note

Towhead - A person with white-blonde hair.

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This article has been read 715 times
Member Comments
Member Date
D. Phenes03/13/08
Very strong message here. Thanks for sharing
Yvonne Blake 03/14/08
Ohhh, this is beautiful! I love the analogy at the end. You described her patience in the midst of her pain. I could her the different characters.(perhaps dialogue from the butcher might have been better)
The title fits it perfectly.
Thank you for writing this.

Joanne Sher 03/14/08
A lovely piece. Such a great job of showing the struggle, the emotion, and the message.
Nancy Quinn03/14/08
Wow, this was a powerful and beautiful story. The MC's attitude is one we should all have. Beautiful job. God bless :)
Lyn Churchyard03/15/08
Wonderful story. I love the MC's attitude to all the others around her despite her own pain. She surely was planting seeds of love. Well done, very well done.
Shelley Ledfors 03/16/08
A very beautiful and powerful illustration of the topic. Nice job.
Jan Ackerson 03/16/08
Absolutely precious!

I don't think you need the note about "towhead" at the end.

Andrea's final speech was just gorgeous.
Debbie Roome 03/16/08
This is a lovely story and such a powerful message. If only we all lived with the same attitude as your MC. The check out scene was so true to life. Well done.
Sally Hanan03/16/08
Lovely story with a good feel for the irritation of the cashier and a godly response in spite of her. Your ending was great!
Dee Yoder 03/16/08
This is wonderfully written and very touching. I can't think of a better way to illustrate this topic. It's something we all should try to do: water seeds of kindness and love in spite of our circumstances. I'll be thinking of this story when I feel grumpy dealing with my illness this week. There's no reason NOT to try being kind-as much as possible.
Marlene Austin03/16/08
Well written. Touched my heart since I have been seeing my mom suffering many of these same symptoms because of cancer. Very realistic. :)
Chely Roach03/16/08
A wonderful story with a beautiful message. Thanks.
Shirley McClay 03/16/08
Very challenging story for all of us.. not too many of us are in her shoes, but we can all choose to have he attitude. Thank you so much for sharing.
william price03/16/08
Tenderly told and masterfully presented. Great job. God bless.
And, I didn't know what a towhead was..
Lynda Lee Schab 03/17/08
LOVE this! What a wonderful story, written very well with such a strong and beautiful message. Bravo!
Loren T. Lowery03/17/08
I grew up with 3 "towheads" (my brothers and sister) and then there was me, dark, curly hair. So, no explanation is necessary. Now, on to this emotionally impactful story. It carries a great message and you were able to (with great skill) bring the reader into the MC's situation and show her tender/changed heart by her actions and her thoughts. I liked this, too, because it shows us some of the opportunites we pass up each day to sow a few seeds of kindness. And, too, it shows there are others suffering right beside us, and how by just a few simple words, we can demonstrate God's example of care. You continue to develop as a writer and it shows by the skill you've used in this piece.
Betty Castleberry03/17/08
This is very nice. I love the positive message, although your MC's outcome is unchangeable. Well done.
Julie Ruspoli03/17/08
Wow, what a wonderful message and well written story. I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for explaining what a towhead is.
Great descriptions of Andrea's feelings. The comparison of the dying plant was perfect.
Great job. Keep writing for Him.
Joshua Janoski03/17/08
I appreciated the towhead explanation, because I didn't know what that term meant.

This story was beautiful and sad at the same time. It is a good reminder that our days are numbered. We must choose how we live them. I would hope that we could all spread seeds of happiness to those we come in contact with.

I really hope you place high this week with this story. It was wonderful. :)
Patrick Whalen03/18/08
Ouch and amen! This thought usually goes through my mind AFTER I have been short with someone. What a powerful reminder to leave a legacy of love and relationship!
Holly Westefeld03/18/08
Excellent, from title to conclusion.
I did not know what a towhead was until I was nearly 25 and gave birth to our second child.
Karin Fiscaletti03/18/08
Excellent writing. You describe what she is feeling and thinking so well. And the cashier, I had forgotten all those common questions until you reminded me! A real reminder to us every day. Very good story.
Debbie Wistrom03/18/08
Such a unique, down to earth piece. I think we may have a placer here. Thanks for the hint or I would not have been blessed by your prescious MC.
Keep up the good words.
Sara Harricharan 03/19/08
Your last paragraph/lines are really deep. I like how you tied it in with your title. How true it is that we think later of how we've acted. Your line with "will death be my legacy" stuck with me. Great job! You're getting better with every piece! ^_^
Sara Harricharan 03/20/08
Yay! Up to level 2 you go! ^_^ ***Congrats on your win! ***
Loren T. Lowery03/20/08
Jodie : ) Way to go! This is well deserved and it's great to see you moving up. You've got quite a talent and it shows. I really enjoy your work. Loren
Sheri Gordon03/20/08
Congratulations on your 1st place. This is a very good story for the topic, and well written. Nice job.
Celeste Ammirata03/23/08
Wow. I loved your story. It was emotional and thought provoking, and sad, that she didn't realize how much time she wasted being angry, until she knew she was dying. But, it was wonderful that she decided to change her legancy. Very well written. Congratulations on placing first and moving up to level 2.
Catrina Bradley 03/24/08
I LOVE this!!! Congratulation first place, Jodie!
Marsha Landers04/07/08
A moving, touching piece. I felt I was standing there with her. A life lesson reminder. Wonderful work.