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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)

TITLE: What a Fine Stew I'm In!
By lynn gipson


Jenny Nichols cried as she prepared dinner for herself and her ten year old son, Mark-not that it would be much of a meal. She had two potatoes, some canned tomatoes, and two slices of bacon. That was all the food she had left. Not thinking, she took out a boiler much larger than needed for a small amount of stew.

Jenny had lost her job two months ago, and no one else wanted to hire her. She worked at the paper mill but was fired because her new boss, Larry Thomas, made advances toward her several times until she finally exploded and told him to take his scummy hands off of her, among other things. The reasons given for termination on her pink slip were “insubordination and substandard work.”

Jenny was an exemplary employee and had been promoted several times. She went to Tom Coates, her former manager, with the truth, but he just couldn’t believe her. He admonished for her behavior towards a superior.

As Jenny brought the potatoes and tomatoes to a boil, she admitted to herself she could have handled the situation better. Adding the bacon for flavor she thought, "What a fine stew I'm in!"

While she waited for the thin stew to cook, Jenny decided to pray once more. She had all but lost her faith in the past few weeks. This time, though, she asked for forgiveness. She was genuinely remorseful.

“Help me, Jesus. I‘m sorry for reacting that way; I should have been a better Christian. Now I am out of money, food, and hope. Just help me. Please, give me a sign that I‘m forgiven!”

As if on cue, the doorbell rang. It was the elderly Mr. Yancey from next door, who lived all alone and knew of Jenny’s troubles. He had an apple pie in his hands and was beaming.

“I picked the apples from my trees out back, and baked it myself!!”

“Please, stay for dinner, Mr. Yancey. We’re just having a stew I threw together, there’s not much in it, I’m afraid.”

Mr. Yancey looked at the stew simmering on her stove and made a face.

“It needs something else!” He said, and ran out the door. He was back a minute later with some corn and beef cubes and dropped them in the mix.

The doorbell rang again. It was Mrs. Cardinal, the widow across the street, holding a cloth covered pan. “I baked some bread for you!” Her blue eyes twinkled. She was a darling lady and very fond of Jenny and Mark.

“You must stay for dinner, Mrs. Cardinal. I’m afraid it’s not much, just a stew and Mr. Yancey‘s apple pie.”

Mrs. Cardinal smiled at the pie, but looked at the stew and grimaced.

“It needs something else!” She said, then scurried across the street and was back in flash with some green beans, carrots, and another can of tomatoes, all of which she added to the concoction.

As the stew simmered, Jenny and her guests talked and laughed about Mr. Yancey hanging Christmas ornaments on limbs to scare the birds away from his apple trees, and Mrs. Cardinal forgetting to put her teeth in before she went out to dinner one night. Mark came in from band practice, and they were all giggling when the door bell rang again.

It was none other than Tom Coates. He had a look of shame on his face. Jenny looked at him with surprise when he handed her an envelope and got right to his point.

“Jenny, come back to work, please! Larry has been fired. I know now why you lost your temper, and he tried the same thing with Lucy Johnson and some others. Just come back to work. This is your salary for the last two months.”

Jenny was overcome with gratitude. “Tom, would you like some neighborly stew, home baked bread, and apple pie?”

“I’m starving!” Tom laughed.

Five people sat down together, each one thanking the Lord for the heavenly meal. Then they all ate the sumptuous dinner that started out as two potatoes, some tomatoes and two pieces of bacon.

Jenny thanked everyone profusely. After she had seen the last of her answered prayers to the door, she went to her knees and thanked God for His forgiveness and miracles. Later, as she lay in bed, she smiled and thought, "What a fine stew I'm in!"

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This article has been read 633 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Laura Manley07/26/12
Wow! What a great approach... an unplanned potluck with food brought in from several neighbors. If there were flaws in this story, I didn't spot them out of pure reading enjoyment. What a delightful story.
Debra Burchett07/26/12
I really enjoyed reading this. It was such a reflection on some of the trials women face in the work force. Having friends and neighbors is often how God seems to help us through the hard times. showing we are never really alone. well done!
C D Swanson 07/27/12
Great story and such a prolific message. God will always provide to those that believe. This was a sweet story that overflowed with sentiment and meaning. I loved it. Thank you!

God Bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/30/12
This is a great story. I see it as a modern version of stone soup. You did a great job of bringing the story into this century. What a good lesson to remember our neighbors and to follow the Lord's guidance.
PamFord Davis 07/30/12
Such a touching story, and I love how the compassionate neighbors kept adding ingredients to the stew. It reminds me of a story Captain Kangaroo read, "Stone Soup."

Wing His Words!
Catrina Bradley 08/01/12
What a joy to read! I had the same idea when I was brainstorming - you did an awesome job with it.
Genia Gilbert08/02/12
Congratulations on your placing! I didn't get any reading (or writing) done this week -- just one of those times, but you are doing some good writing.
Loren T. Lowery08/02/12
Nice to see, your placing with this writing! You can tell a good story with a good message. It all flows and by doing so becomes believable - even hopeful - in that some stories do end well. Congratulations on your EC! : )
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/02/12
Congratulations on your ribbon and for placing 20 overall!
Linda Ellis08/02/12
Lynn, congratulations! This is great. I loved this story and you told it just beautifully. I don't know that I would be qualified to critique anything else, but I honestly did not see anything lacking, including the title. It was perfect. Blessings to you.
Amy Michelle Wiley 10/03/12
Great story! It reminds me of "Stone Soup." There were a few places that were a little more telling than showing, but still a sweet story.