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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: PICNIC - deadline 7-12-12 @ 9:59 AM NY Time (07/05/12)

TITLE: As Long As We Have the Son
By Gail Burks


Yesterday, our family made a decision to go to Millenium Park for a picnic, even though the temperatures were hovering around 99 degrees F, we wanted to do something different and fun. When had the heat ever stopped us before?

Over the years, our city has endured extreme cold, -30 degrees F, minus wind chill, as well as extreme heat, like yesterday. The reality of living in the Midwest. At least, we haven't had any earthquakes, hurricanes, or wildfires, all of which appear to grace our beautiful United States of America.

Did I mention that yesterday was Independence Day? What an opportunity to express, as a Christian, a love for our country and have fun at the same time.

We packed the following in two small coolers: Leftover fried chicken, grapes, watermelon pieces, cole slaw, chips, and bottles of water. Our son was in charge of one cooler; my husband the other. Our daughter found a red plaid cloth to lay out on the grass, while I had all the miscellaneous items in my tote bag (i.e. sunscreen, lotion, plastic cutlery, napkins, sanitizer, gum, cell phone, etc.). Stuff that mothers tend to never leave home without.

As we rode the Metra Train downtown we noticed how many people were actually on the train with us. Probably, not that surprising since the train was definitely air-conditioned, feeling great in the sweltering heat.

“Wow, it's pretty crowded, considering how hot it is outside,” our 17-year old son remarked, as he and his 15-year old sister took the seat in front of my husband and me.

“I guess other people had the same idea, too,” my husband nodded, in agreement.

My husband and I sat silently reading the daily newspaper, as the train moved briskly down the tracks. I began to think of how blessed we are as a family. Surely things had not been the greatest since my husband was laid off two years ago, but we decided early on not to let the enemy discourage us.

The word of God tells us that we have the Holy Spirit living inside us; and that He will teach us and guide us into all truth. Therefore, the truth is that we are prosperous and in good health, and our soul prospers. The truth is, we are the head only and not the tail, above and never beneath.

What a comfort to know that we may not have everything, but we definitely have something special. And, that something is God's word to stand on.

As we made it to Millenium Station, located in the downtown area, we disembarked from the train, and immediately felt the stifling heat.

“Are you guys okay?” asked my husband as we slowly walked toward the park.

“Yes, we're fine....I hope we find a good spot,” said my daughter excitedly, briskly walking ahead with her brother.

“That's why we pray in all that we do. Believe me, God will make a way,” as I wiped the perspiration from my forehead.

Almost immediately, my husband exclaimed, “Oh, look! The grassy area by the tree, close to the fountain. And you can feel some of the spray in the air.”

The kids raced over to the spot to claim it as their own. We set up camp....and began unpacking. We had so much fun. Taking pictures, praying, eating, watching the scenery, telling jokes and stories. What memories. Our children would remember this day for a long time.

Even though we couldn't go 'out of town' on vacation, this truly felt like we were tourists in our own land.

It is amazing how God has a way of encouraging us in small and unique ways. As we left the park, we felt lighter, freer. Of course, all the food and water was gone, however, the spiritual nourishment strengthened us for the return journey.

I thought, surely we can endure the sun, as long as we have the Son.

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This article has been read 285 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/12/12
This is a sweet story. I enjoyed going on the picnic with the MC and the family. You spoke a lot of truths that many of us can forget in the busy world. You did a nice job of expanding on the topic too.

You had some tiny editing things that a good proofreader would catch for you. I noticed a few incomplete sentences (they are okay in dialog but should be avoided in the narrative section.) One example is as I wiped the perspiration from my forehead.
You can fix it by having a period instead of a comma at the end of the prior quote and then get rid of the word as.

The most important thing is you shared with many strangers the message God placed on your heart. It isn't always easy to be obedient to God, but you never know how your words might touch someone and not only change their life but their after-life as well. Keep writing as only you can tell your stories and the world does need to hear them.
Jody Day 07/12/12
I could identify with this one. It is really hot where I live and we almost never think of picnicking. Beautiful thought expressed here. Thank you.
C D Swanson 07/13/12
I loved the meaning of your entry and it came across so loud and clear. A perfectly well received message and I enjoyed the entire piece. Thank you for this.

God bless you~
Myrna Noyes07/13/12
Oh, it sounds like you had such a lovely time together! Thank you for sharing your picnic adventure and your positive attitude with us! :)

I especially liked the last 4 or 5 sentences. Good ending!
Jenna Dawn07/16/12
This is a sweet little story with a nice message.

Your story could be improved with more showing and less telling. For instance, when you have such a short word count, long lists of foods and miscellaneous items bog down the story. (Kind of bogs down the story even if you had a larger word count.) Better to stick with the heart of the story, the parts that make the story come alive and hold the reader's interest. Details like what was brought to the picnic add good description, but consider mentioning just a few items, possibly mixed with some showing.

While some editors, publishers, etc. have no problem with phrases like "he said, asked, remarked, etc.", Faith Writer judges prefer leaving those out and instead, focusing on the action of the individual speaking. Example: "Are you guys okay?" asked my husband . . . This could be changed to "Are you guys okay?" My husband eyed the kids.

Also be careful about the use of too many adverbs. You can often create stronger sentences that show, not tell, by rephrasing with verbs. Instead of saying the daughter said something excitedly and briskly walked, SHOW that she is excited by her actions. Consider a stronger verb than "walk". Perhaps "prance".

You could also show that she walked briskly with a stronger verb, like "bounded" . . . "she bounded ahead of her brother". Or simply "She stepped up her pace". Maybe she full on "raced" her brother. There are many options. Thesaurus.com is a wonderful tool.

Finally, regarding this sentence: “I guess other people had the same idea, too,” my husband nodded, in agreement. . . . If the wife/narrator is the one speaking, the following words should about HER actions, not the husband's. It could be easily fixed by saying after the quote, "I glanced at my husband, who nodded in agreement." You would also end the quote with a period in this case and start a new sentence.

I love the last sentence of your story. Very clever!

I know I picked at a lot here, but critiques like these are what helped me grow quickly as a writer, as I tried to implement everything I gleaned and learned. You have a gift that just needs to be refined and polished. Keep writing!!!

Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/23/12
Congratulations for ranking 6th in level one!