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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Christmas Tree (10/09/08)

TITLE: A Perfect Gift
By Mary McLeary


A Perfect Gift

My mother had been decorating for Christmas. She had taken ceramics classes for a long time and the trees she had made now twinkled brightly in the store windows. They sat upon layers of sparkling material that looked like snow.

The neighboring stores had also decided to use Christmas trees as their decorating theme too. The drug store had an aluminum tree in both windows with red spot lights shinning on each. The grocery had a live pine tree cut from Mr. Thompson’s farm. The bucket of sand it sat in was too small so the tree kept falling over. Finally, Mrs. Thompson wrapped some rope around the tree and tied it to a nail she had hammered into the side of the wall. It looked like a lynching had taken place.

One afternoon a few days before Christmas I was helping out at the store when Wink Bynum came in. He didn’t say a word. Everybody said he was as smart as a whip, and had attended the University to study medicine like his daddy. In the middle of his first year he returned home, and never went back. He never spoke much after that except to himself.

“There is nothing in here I can get Mother!” he yelled stomping out and slamming the door behind him.

Jim Buck Hanna was sitting on a stool near the door. After Wink left he rubbed his chin and mused, “Ain’t that boy a puzzle? I know it breaks his mama’s heart that he turned out that a way.”

“I think Sue Ellen is more perplexed than heartbroken, Sheriff. It was his daddy whose heart was broken.” Mama and “Miss Sue Ellen” had been close friends and neighbors for a long time.

Jim Buck was the sheriff. He had served in WW II and had flown all over Europe .He walked with a cane after twisting his knee in a fall, but since there was virtually no crime in town, nobody thought it a hindrance.

At church, we had a life size nativity scene, but that evening when we went to rehearsal, Mama noticed that Baby Jesus was missing. None of the lights had been turned on, but we heard someone moving around inside. Mama quietly pulled the door shut, and headed for the sheriff’s house.

The sheriff had lived next door to the church since he came back to town. Just as Mama completed her explanation, there was an earsplitting cry from the sanctuary. The sheriff grabbed his cane and headed to the church. He had gone only a few steps when he seemed to realize his gimpy gait was not going to get him there fast enough. Spotting his riding lawn mower, he hopped on and took off. His gun was strapped to his side. Suddenly the front door of the church burst open and a figure lurched down the steps and took off running. Jim Buck gave chase! After covering ten yards, Jim Buck pulled ahead, drew his gun and turned to face the runner.

“Stop right where you are or I’ll . . . .Wink? What in the heck do you think you’re doing?”

Tears streaming down his face, Wink gulped, “Don’t shoot Sheriff. I’ll put him back I wanted to give him to my Mother. She deserves a perfect son, but I am always messing up.”

“What were you doing in the church, Wink? Mama asked softly.

“Well, I felt like sitting quietly with Jesus. The cellar door was left open so I went into the sanctuary. Holding Him close, I rocked and sang. I believe He liked that because I heard Him say He loved me. Actually He said, ‘I love you, Wink. You’ve been a child of mine for a long time.’ I heard His voice out loud and it scared me! I yelled and ran outside. Something big and loud came rushing up behind me so I ran faster. I’ll go with you to jail. You don’t need your gun.”

“Son, we ain’t going to jail. Let’s put the baby back in the manger, and then I’ll take you home.” Jim Buck remounted his mower.

“Sheriff, I don’t think that’s a two-seater.” Wink whispered.

With great dignity, Jim Buck replied, “Go wait for me by the patrol car!”

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