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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: This Side of Paradise (not about the book) (07/14/11)

TITLE: Changed Attitude
By Louis Detweiler
07/19/11


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The definition of Paradise in the dictionary is the Garden of Eden. Here on earth we humans are all trying to reach a paradise. We usually want something better than what we already have. If we are not searching for something better we are trying desperately to hold onto what we already have.

Johnny Parker, an eight year old boy, had it all. His Dad, a corporate executive, was able to lavish expensive gifts on his son. Johnny loved his toys just like his father loved his expensive cars and fine clothes. Because Johnny had such nice toys he thought he was better than some of his friends. When Johnny was playing with his friend Tommy they did mean things to show how much better they were than anyone else.

Johnny said, “Hey Tommy, let’s take my go-cart over to Suzie’s house and hit her with a mud ball. She’ll never catch us.” The two boys got on Johnny’s go-cart and sped around the block to Suzie’s house. When they saw Suzie Tommy threw a mud ball hitting Suzie on the leg. The boys knocked over the trash can, chased a cat up a tree, and then laughed about it all the way home.

It began raining so the two boys went inside to play with Johnny’s army set. The boys took opposite sides and strategically placed the cannons, tanks, and army men all over Johnny’s bedroom. After two hours Johnny’s Mom called out, “Tommy’s mother just called. Tommy has to go home for dinner.”

Tommy and Johnny put back the painted army set. When they had picked up all the pieces two men were missing. Johnny screamed, “You stole two of my men.”

Tommy looked looked behind a box. The two men were behind a box. Tommy said, “Take your stupid army men. I don’t want to be your friend anymore. I’m leaving.”

Johnny’s Dad returned home from work very somber. He told his family, “I lost my job. I don’t know what we will do. It might be tough for awhile.”

Johnny’s family lost everything. It was a year before Johnny’s Dad found another job and it paid only half of his regular salary. Johnny’s family, the Parkers, had to move into a much smaller house. The Parker’s had a garage sale where they sold a lot of their belongings including a lot of Johnny’s toys. Mr. Parker began to pray for help. He found help in a community church. Finally, Mr. Parker accepted Jesus Christ as his savior. Instead of loving wealth, objects, cars, and material possessions he began taking his family to church and following Jesus.

Johnny hated church at first. However, he loved his father and mother and he was grateful for all they had given him. When he saw his father helping other people, tithing, and going to Sunday school, Johnny began to pray like his father. It took awhile but after a year at church Johnny accepted Jesus Christ as his savior.
Johnny realized the importance of the golden rule, “Do unto others as you have them do unto you.” He realized all his selfish behavior had isolated him from friends. One day at school he saw Suzie, “Hey Suzie, do you remember me?”

Suzie blurted, “Get away from me you pig.”

“No. I’m sorry, Suzie. Please forgive me. I didn’t realize what I was doing. I’m sorry. I want to be your friend.”

Surprised, Suzie said, “OK. We can be friends, but we’ll need to take it slow. I still don’t trust you.”

It had been a year since he saw Tommy. “Tommy, do you remember me accusing you of stealing my army men.”

“Yeah, what do you want jerk?”

“I’m sorry. I was being stupid. Can you forgive me?”

“Cool. I heard your family is going to the Rosewell Community Church.”

“Yeah, we’ve been members for a year. My family has changed. We are no longer so hung up on material possessions or army men.”

Tommy said, “Give me a call. We can hang out, maybe play some basketball.”

That night Mr. Parker excitedly told his family, “Great news. I’ve got my old job back. Business has really picked up. God is great. Change is good.”

Ms. Parker said, “I like the changes we have grown into.”

Mr. Parker smiled, “So do I. Let’s all hold hands around the dinner table and give thanks to our creator and our new paradise.”


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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/21/11
This is a good lesson that would be tough for an 8 yo to learn. But I've realized kids learn so much more by watching than listening. I like that when the parents behaved better so did the son.

The ending might have been a little abrupt and tied into a nice bow.

I think your lesson might have been even more powerful if you had the family still struggle a bit. Just because they found God doesn't mean all problems disappear but that through Christ we can accomplish and get through any trial.

Overall a really nice message both for kids and adults. Keep writing you have a lot to say.
Amica Joy 07/24/11
I like your story. It's down to earth and heaven bound at the same time. God really changes a lot - and sometimes even in a very short time!! Don't let anyone tell you that that's not possible. :-)

I often think that God intervenes so powerfully especially with his 'babies' (young Christians). He often (but not always) lets them have instant success to give them a headstart and know for sure that he loves them. Once, you're walking with Christ for a while, you may have to battle with some issues for a long time.
It's God's grace helping you mature and grow in faith when that happens. But I love it - I have to admit - when God treats me like his 'baby'. It is wonderful.