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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Time-consuming (02/24/11)

TITLE: The 'C' Word
By Kathleen Langridge


Karen wiped the dish soap from her hands, moving quietly to the living room doorway. Crystal’s scream told her there was trouble between her and her older brother. Taking in the scene, Karen saw Kevin, the older sibling, playing contentedly a good distance from his baby sister in her playpen. As she watched, baby Crystal deliberately let out another scream hoping, so it seemed, to get her brother in trouble. As Karen entered the room, Kevin looked up saying, “I didn’t do anything, Mommy, “ the tears already forming in his sapphire blue eyes.

Having caught Crystal in her deliberate deception, Karen rushed over to the playpen saying, “No, no, no. Naughty Crystal.” The shocked look on the 9 month-old face of the baby was priceless until it crumpled into tears. But it wasn’t baby’s tears that got the attention. Karen turned away and crossed the room scooping up Kevin in her arms for a cuddle. After sitting with Kevin for a few minutes, Karen went to the playpen and picked up Crystal, carrying her back to the couch for a family hug, wondering how many more times Crystal would try her ‘clever’ deception?

Later that evening when both of the children were in bed Karen sat down for a time of refreshment and reflection with the Lord. “Lord, I come to you because I need your perspective on the day’s events, just like always. I am tempted to keep a score card of how many times a day I have had to say ‘no’ to the children. It is so discouraging because they don’t seem to learn.

David wants the house kept clean but the children need my attention. He thinks I am wasting time all day if dinner’s late; or the laundry isn’t finished; or the floor isn’t swept. How do I please him with housework and yet minister to the children?”

As she sat quietly a verse came to mind, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:” Flicking quickly through her Bible Concordance, Karen found the verse in Ecclesiastes 3, then she opened her Navy Blue, leather-bound Bible and turned to the chapter. She loved these times of conversation with the Lord.

“Lord thank you, that as I read you will speak, and help me understand your priorities.” At that moment another verse dropped like refreshing rain into her tired mind. “Children are a reward from him.”

“Yes, the children are my priority but conflict comes with the time-consuming chores of keeping up the house. David deserves a clean house and I function better when things are tidy.” As she continued talking to the Lord, the knot of anxiety began to dissolve in her stomach and she felt the tense muscles of her back loosen.

The next morning as the spring sunshine poured into the blue and white country kitchen Karen looked around at the clean surfaces of her tile worktops, enjoying the satisfying sound of the dishwasher happily doing its job. She checked the slow cooker turning it down while inhaling the warm, mouth-watering bouquet already filling the kitchen from the lamb stew.

Kevin and Crystal were in the living room with big smiles for Karen as she came to join them for a special time of playing, reading, watching a Veggie Tales DVD and a general loving, good time. Yes, the laundry needed to be done, the living room dusted, the grocery list written among a dozen other things, but God . . . God had given Karen a new perspective. Today instead of time-consuming chores she thought of the To Do List as time-constructive, constructive like forming together words into a phrase or a sentence. The children became the subject, the center, while the chores were the nouns and adjectives fitting in appropriately to support and value the subject, not only the children but also hopefully, David.

That evening, following a glorious sunset over the Coast Range, Karen tucked the children in their beds while David loaded the dishwasher. Then he joined Karen to say good night to Crystal first, then Kevin where he spent a bit longer hearing more about his day and the lessons learned from the Veggie Tales DVD.

As David entered the living room he paused at Karen’s chair and kissed the top of her head, saying, “It seems everyone had a constructive day.”

Karen smiled, “That’s the word, constructive” and under her breath she added,
“not consuming.”

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This article has been read 408 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lisa Fowler03/03/11
Wonderful, thought provoking read. Everything's better with prayer and time in the Word, isn't it. Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing.
Bonnie Bowden 03/03/11
Children are a precious gift from God, but they do take lots of time and patience.

I really thought your story showed what a typical day is like for a mom. Thank you for sharing.
Author Unknown03/04/11
This was a good story. You clearly have the ability to paint the picture you're imagining (maybe this one isn't so imagined, ha :) ) and that's an important skill as a writer.

A few drops of red for you-- any time you can replace generals with specifics, do so- and there's no need to lead up to it w/ other words- because that pulls the reader out of the story-- "taking in the scene, Karen saw Kevin, the older sibling, playing..." Instead it'd read better like: Kevin played with his blocks while his baby sister sat in her playpen.

The reader assumes Karen is watching because we're in her head to start. So the way it's rewritten paints the same picture with nearly the same words without pulling the reader out.

I hope that makes sense. There are a few places you did that in the story. Classic show v. tell that all writers struggle with.

It is a good story, and I think after some tweaking, it'd be market-ready :)

Keep up the good work, and keep writing!
Rachel Phelps03/04/11
I second the red ink already given. Great job with your descriptions. Good story for this prompt.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/04/11
You had the topic just right and delivered a wonderful message--one all young mothers (or those who have been)smile... could understand.
diana kay03/04/11
great.i like the title because i thought it was going to be a "cancer" story and it turned out to be different.I could engage with Karen and found it very touchingly told with an important message.
Sharon Eastman03/05/11
The best days of my life were raising my children - messy house and all. Sad to say, our society glorifies the working moms and neglects the hard working moms at home.
Verna Mull 03/05/11
I loved this story, but I sort of wondered how the kitchen got so clean in the morning? But, I certainly agree that the children are the most important task that either parent has. Our world would change if we had more devoted Moms and Dads.
Kimberly Russell03/05/11
A good story with a great message. As the others said, keep working on "show vs tell" and your writing will take off.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/10/11
This is an interesting tale of motherhood I thought 9 months was a little young to intentionally try to get big brother in trouble but the message was dear and it's a truck many parents fall for. I loved how her talk with God helped reconcile herself-doubts and worthiness. Great job!