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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Outlook (06/02/11)

TITLE: Confessions of A Negative Outloot
By Jackie Smithwick


“It’s all ok”, he said as he lovingly reassured me things would get better.

“I guess I need to change my outlook,” I said, after complaining about one more thing going wrong.

My husband and I were on our way to pick up my car which had been towed to the dealership for repair. The town where we do most of our shopping is 45 minutes away, a distance we have covered almost daily since moving to the county 12 years ago.

Country life is great, but I miss the conveniences of the city. The long commutes to work, church and shopping are not my favorite parts of country living. Many days while traveling the four mile dirt road to the main road, I found myself complaining to myself and to God, “Why can’t they pave these roads, and why must we live so far from everything?”

Despite the inconvenient travel time there were many things about our home I really enjoyed. One of my favorite times was enjoying a morning coffee while sitting in my bed. The view from this early morning perch was really beautiful. Through three, floor to ceiling, picture windows I could see a panoramic view of everything in our expansive back yard. I often marveled at why I was so fortunate to have this view.

I remember the long morning shadows streaming across the sloping smooth green grass that softly led to a small lake, which mirrored the trees, fence and the gazebo. The island, as we call it, is really a small peninsula that reaches out into the water with a lovely gazebo built out over the water on the left side. This has been a sweet little retreat for family members, guests, and friends who would sit, relax and catch bass, catfish or brim on a lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Ah, sweet memories.

After an overnight stay with my daughter I was coming home. My cell phone rang, and my husband was on the other end. “I have some bad news he said.”

My mind would not even consider what it could be, so I tried to brace myself for his next words. I was shocked and horrified when he said, “I just drove down the drive way and looked out and everything is burned to the ground.”

First I felt fear, then guilt. What would we do now? Why had I complained about the driving distance and inconvenience? Why wasn’t I more thankful for what we had?

Then a calm assurance came, and I knew that the next days, months, or even years may be difficult, but my God would be with me. I also knew He had a plan for me and my loved ones. A small voice whispered “this is but a stepping stone toward something good.” (James 1:4)

So, why the negative outlook? Maybe it is the dishevelment of transition from tiny camper to an unfinished barn apartment, or it could be all the shopping or the decision making for our future. I suppose my car break down, along with sheer exhaustion, was the straw that brought on those pangs of anxiety. Then through the love and concern of my dear husband I was forced to stop and think about my current attitude.

I had forgotten to “count it all joy” (James 1:2), however I cannot, and I will not attribute it to anything other than my own failure to maintain those sweet quite times with my Holy Father.

I don’t understand why God has chosen this path for me and my husband. I do however, trust Him and plan to spend more time in His word and once again feel that sweet peace and contentment knowing He works all things out for good for those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)

Although the view, and lovely home may be gone forever, I have so much more for which to be thankful: Friends and loved ones who care, a wonderful husband who keeps me positive, and oh yea, those quiet times of communion with my Father who gives me peace that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

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This article has been read 239 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Kathleen Langridge06/10/11
A tender reminder of how quickly our lives can change and a prompt to be thankful and content. Well written, thank you for sharing.
Bonnie Bowden 06/13/11
It's easier to think negative thoughts than positive ones. Thank you for the reminder to count it all joy.

Well written.

I believe you wanted your title to say: Confessions of a Negative Outlook, not Outloot. Also, driveway is one word not two. However, these minor errors did not detract from the message one bit.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/15/11
I could empathize with the roller coaster of emotion the MC went through. I love living in the country too.

Your story had a good impact but it could be fantastic if you did more showing than telling. For instance instead of saying that I had been complaining use more dialog to show us the complaint. Describe how the MC's stomach lurched when her husband's words finally penetrated her brain.

You have a great gift for storytelling and I can see you are starting to use more showing than telling. Your message is wonderful and one everyone can relate to. Keep up the good work and never stop writing you have great things to say.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/17/11
Congratulations for ranking 13th in level one!