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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Potluck (Meal or Gathering) Deadline 7-26-12 @ 10 AM NY Time (07/19/12)

By James Dick


As a young boy, I hated potluck suppers at church. I didn’t like casseroles and I didn’t want to smile at all of the adults in attendance. They always asked the same questions every time I saw them.

I was strictly a “meat and potatoes” kid who wanted my food groups separated on the plate. I didn’t want to waste time talking when I could be eating.

If the event was in late spring or summer, it was even worse. It took time away from my beloved baseball before dark.

Now my widowed mom was very wise and had other ideas that I didn’t appreciate. She knew that the potluck suppers were a good way for me to learn and develop proper social skills and manners. So my attendance was required.

My older siblings actually enjoyed the suppers. I guess they were old enough to appreciate them. They would gather with their friends and check out the other girls and boys their age. I guess my problem was that at age nine I hadn’t discovered girls yet.

My opinion was reinforced by most of the other kids my age in attendance. We all wanted to do something else and, to make matters even worse, we also knew that our parents were aware of our feelings. Why did they do this to us?

Looking back, I realize that attending potluck suppers was a good training exercise. In addition to learning good social skills, they made me realize that I didn’t always get to do what I wanted. Sometimes I had to defer to the wishes of others, and if I really cared about them I would do so willingly.

Mom dearly loved to see friends that she otherwise might not see as often. She was a talker and I am sure it helped her spirits immensely. It gave her a much needed break from raising us siblings alone. Losing her husband with kids aged seventeen, thirteen and nine was difficult and the potluck suppers were just one small event that helped her keep her wits about her.

But there is something else that was amazing about my mom’s actions that relate to potluck. It comes from a review of the actual definition of the word potluck in general, not potluck supper in particular.

Dictionary.com defines potluck as “whatever is available and comes one’s way.” And in this regard Mom was much more selective.

While she liked potluck suppers and was open to eating any variety of the concoctions that came her way at the meal, her life was not lived that way. Mom was very careful about us, who we chose for friends, what we did with our spare time, and how we worshiped God and maintained our relationship with Him.

God did not come to her because he was available. He came to her because she opened her heart and believed in Him and His son, Jesus Christ. And she instilled this love and trust in us.

Oh, it wasn’t that she could force us to believe or dictate how we would live. No, it was the daily dose of common sense Christianity and her love of God that brought Him into our hearts. It was training, devotion, and her earthly love with a heavenly purpose. It is what opened us to the Holy Spirit. Mom had been His go-between. It was exactly what a parent should be.

Mom has been dead now for a number of years. She lived to the ripe old age of ninety-one. But even though she was feeble at the end and suffered from Alzheimer’s, I still miss her counsel immensely. Her guidance and love helped me develop into a much stronger man than she ever knew. I always remember and try to act according to the wise advice she gave me.

And I also know that somewhere in God’s Kingdom above, Mom is looking down at me and smiling, knowing that her love and guidance accomplished her plan.

Thank you, Lord, for my mom and her love. I look forward eagerly to being with her again in your Kingdom when this earthly life is done.

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This article has been read 409 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laura Manley07/26/12
I write this review through the tears it brought to my eyes. What a marvelous story about the love of a mother for her children, her love for Jesus, yet you covered the topic well. I particularly liked the statement "her early love with a heavenly purpose." How poetic! Your entry was truly a blessing to me and very well written in my opinion.
Laura Manley07/26/12
Oops! In my review, I misspelled a word... it should have been "earthly" and not "early."
Linda Ellis07/26/12
I love potluck dinners so I was afraid I wouldn't like your story. But what do I know. I loved it because of how you honored your Mother in the telling. Beautifully done. Thank you.
C D Swanson 07/27/12
Beautiful homage to your mom...and an all together well written and lovely story. I enjoyed it so much. Thank you. God bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/30/12
This is a terrific story. You drew me right in with the MC's preference of wanting to play baseball instead of mingle with the lol ( lol stood for little old ladies long before laugh out loud). I could relate to this little guy as he reminded me of my own son in so many ways.

I think if you work on showing the reader the story rather than tell the story that your submissions will skyrocket to the top of the rankings and draw even more people in. For example take this passive sentence--
So my attendance was required. --Just bu switching it up a bit you have an active sentence -- So my mother required me to attend. Another example of showing would be instead of this sentence-- I didn’t like casseroles...-- try something like this-- Just the mere sight of green beans swimming in curdled cream of mushroom soup made my stomach flip-flop and I would throw up in my mouth. This way the reader automatically gets a picture of the casserole and being graphic helps them to really understand how the MC felt. Showing not telling isn't easy for any writer to do, but once you get a grip on how to do, it will make a big difference in your writing.

I already think you showed a great deal of natural talent in this piece. You grabbed my attention and brought visions of potluck dinners to my mind. Then you went a step farther and folded in an important message. This is a sign of a great devotion. The prayer at the end was so simple yet so eloquent that I found a catch in my throat because as I read it, it not only became the MC's prayer but mine as well. You did a wonderful job creating a fun and meaningful story.
lynn gipson 08/01/12
I miss my mother's wise counsel too! This is beautiful, touching and real. You brought me right along and I can so relate to the part when she was not herself but you miss her anyway. This is excellent!
God BLess
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/02/12
Congratulations for placing 7th in your level!