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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Cup - 10-25-12 Deadline (10/18/12)

TITLE: Sold Out To The Lord
By Gail Burks


It was a tough time, living in the heart of the city. Married two years, Josh and Maya decided to move from her mother's home in mid-town to a more upscale community. As both were college graduates, working full time, and without children, it was an ideal time to make their move.

After spending several weekends searching the classifieds for apartments and condominiums on the city's east side --- they settled for a three-bedroom condo. It was listed at a great price; and were able to get financing quite easily. Of course, this was nearly thirty years ago, when the real estate market was stable and booming.

The place was lovely. It had rich-looking hard wood floors, freshly painted and roomy. Ideal for the time they would start a family. Their unit was on the entrance facing North, consisting of a total of six units. The building housed several professional singles and couples who appreciated and watched over one another. The lake and parks were nearby and they enjoyed the scenery.

They felt extremely blessed to have good health, good employment, wonderful parents and friends. A young couple, in their mid-twenties, life was good. Also, by growing up in the church, they knew the importance of God, however, they had not yet 'sold out' to the Lord.

By the next year, Josh and Maya had become good friends with the couple living on the 3rd floor. They visited each others home and socialized. But, soon, their idyllic life took a turn.

One day, Josh and Maya returned home from work to find their place had been burglarized. The jewelry, gold plated serving and crystal pieces, as well as a television were stolen. The burglars used a crowbar to enter the front door, according to the police. Of course, the neighbors heard nothing.

It was a mysterious break-in, because the first floor security door was not tampered with. Was it an inside job?

After this initial break-in, they begin to pay closer attention. There was a little nervousness on Maya's part, but, they both figured it was a one time occurrence. Soon, they noticed the kindly elderly man next door had begun to house his two teen age grandsons.

It was later determined that these young men, around 15 & 17 years old, were involved in a gang. The smell of marijuana was often noticed, seeping through their door, continuously keeping the other residents on guard.

Two years from the initial break-in, another one occurred. A television, radio, and some more jewelry were taken. Another insurance claim was filed. Then, the company car used by Josh was stolen. What was going on?

By then, Maya was three months pregnant. She was still working, but, Josh was able to adjust his schedule as a route salesperson.

They began to call on the Lord for protection and read their word. Going about their daily routines, they believed all would be OK. Yes, the neighbors were quite vigilant in watching the building, but, truthfully, the neighborhood had started to change.

After their son was born, Maya stayed home for a couple of months, enjoying motherhood. But, when Josh lost his position as a salesperson, financial difficulties began. Maya returned to work, while Josh stayed home.

Things were quiet for a while, but approximately three years after the baby was born, their place was burglarized again. Each time, a deductible was required and their finances suffered by having to deal with the after effects of these break-ins. By then, they had lost much of their jewelry, trinkets, wedding gifts, and heirlooms. The stolen electronics were not replaced immediately. What was God trying to teach them?

Maybe to search their hearts, because, it wasn't about the material things lost or inconveniences that occurred, it was about their relationship with Jesus.

The Bible says in I Corinthians 11:28, “Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.”

So, despite their numerous difficulties, the Lord reigned.

Josh and Maya eventually had another child, moved to the suburbs, joined a great word and spirit-filled church and raised both sons in the admonition of the Lord. Josh and Maya stood on God's word, through marital highs and lows, health challenges, financial issues and teen-age problems.

Now, they are grandparents, drinking the cup of righteousness, and sold out to the Lord.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Marie Hearty 10/25/12
I loved the suspense in your story... but I have to ask, who was doing the burglarizing? When you end a story, try to make sure that everything you begin, you finish; such as when you lead a reader in suspense, always give them the answer to the puzzle at the end so they won't be left frustrated. (Or at least give them a clue in the right direction.)Good story.

God Bless!
C D Swanson 10/25/12
Intense, and descriptive piece. I enjoyed this story, especially since it can pertain to so many people in society today.

Good job with the characters, plot and ending. I enjoy when an author leaves an ending to "the imagination of the reader." I assumed it was both an inside job, but other times it may have been random.

Nicely done. Thanks...love the happy ending too!

God bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/31/12
This is a sweet story. I enjoyed the thirty year journey with the couple and can appreciate the way times have changed.

Though you do use the word cup at the end of the story, I do fear the judges may rate it lower on the Did it meet the topic criterion. A good way to judge is would someone guess the topic if they didn't know what it is. Quite a few people wrote a similar type of story. One thing you may want to think about when picking a topic is to write down the first three to five ideas that come to mind and then throw those away, as it is likely that others will have those same ideas. If you do decide to go with one of the original ideas, try to think of an out of the box perspective. For example, one story was told from the POV of the silver that was made into the cup for the Last Supper. Many wrote about Jesus' cup but the POV was original and helped that story pop a bit more.

I do think you have a knack for storytelling and I really enjoyed your characters. The message is one many can relate to. You also did a nice job of transitioning throughout the story. It was well-written with few if any errors. I also enjoyed how how built the conflict. You did a nice job keeping the reader wondering about the break-ins and who the culprit might be. It also left me with a warm feeling in my heart as well as a desire to pray for teens who need that extra something special. Keep writing for only you can tell the stories that God lays on your heart. Good job.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/31/12
I try not to read other comments so as to not influence me until after I have commented. I just want to say it was obvious to me that the culprits were likely the tewens and the gang they were involved in. I also understand, that like in real life, we often may not know for sure who committed a crime (sometimes even after a trial it still feels unsettled!) I think you did a nice job with the ending and you satisfied all of my questions that arose as you built the suspense. This just shows that different people have different opinions and that in the end the only one that matters is what you think (and God, of course) Try to remember that 99% of the feedback given here is given from a place of love and a desire to help you become the best writer you can be. I do think you did a lovely job! :) Hugs, Shann