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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Hum (06/06/13)

TITLE: The Woods
By Sally Stap


A restless mind and heart bring me to the woods where I walk down the path harshly. My erratic and angry steps scream stomp, stomp. Birds call out loudly. Are they alerting the woods to the presence of a mad woman? “Caw, Caw.” The squish of dirt and echo of pebbles underfoot layer their sound on wind tickling the leaves in trees overhead. Mints rattle in my pocket. Jeans whoosh as I walk. My breathing quickens and I’m aware of the loudness of the woods as I rush through. Pain, sadness, stress, and anger fill my soul. I walk.

-- How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence is everywhere!” I cry, but you do not come to save. Habakkak 1:2 (NLT)

Life is overwhelming as its path stretches beyond my horizon with its ups and downs, twists and turns. It’s exhausting. I take one step at a time and analogies start surfacing. One mile, two miles, or even more sound daunting but are achievable if I just take one step at a time. Life is lived one step at a time, one obstacle at a time, and only by one day at a time. We can’t cross a path until we reach it.

-- Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

Slowly, the woods quiet my soul. My steps become steadier and calmer. Pine needles rustle underfoot and a butterfly flutters by. I start to hone in on the beauty of the green and brown vastness of the sun dappled woods. I breathe in life and out problems. My pace slows. I start seeing nature instead of only a brown path before me.

Fallen brown trees have had their last say by feeding this year’s vibrant forest. Sinking into the ground as newness reaches to the sky. Butterflies find little yellow flowers that are scattered throughout green foliage. Noisy mind quieted by the woods. Green, brown. Last year’s foliage swallowed by this year’s life. Last year’s trials consumed by this year’s living.

-- Be still, and know that I am God! Psalms 46:10 (NLT)

I stop and rest for a while on a log. I sip water and breathe while looking at the shades of green in the woods. A meadow within view has waving grass contrasting with a solid, unmoving blue sky that strives to be seen. Purple flowers line the edges of the meadow as forest gives way to openness.

Moving once again, I come across a tree on the path. An obstacle that can be stepped over, one branch at a time. Under one branch and over another, each finding its own unique answer. Each branch in life, each option is evaluated, overcome. Eventually reaching a clear path stretching into the future.

-- This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. Habakkuk 2:3 (NLT)

My steps are now comfortable, rhythmic, calming. I pass a bed of pine needles. Bed because it could be. A bed because to some it is a comforting, soft refuge from life in the forest. I find myself humming.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/15/13
This is really quite lovely. Your descriptions and metaphors touch my heart and speak volumes. The epiphany of the MC is a powerful one and your words are arranged in a beautiful, almost poetic way.

The only thing I might say you missed just a tad would be writing on the topic. Many people struggle with that. A good way to judge if it is on topic would be to remove the topic words or sentences. If you're on topic, then the whole story wouldn't make sense since it would depend on the word hum. Though your last line is lovely, if you removed it, you would still have a brilliant story that has a strong message. I'm not sure if I'm explaining it well enough, but you have to do more than use the topic word. I've seen many winners nail the topic without ever mentioning the word one time.

Out of the criteria the judges use though, only one is about writing on topic. You did a delightful job of having a strong beginning. It drew me right in and I could feel the conflict unravel. You also have a fantastic message. While this story is quite pretty to read, the depth of it is outstanding. I believe the Holy Spirit will use these words to touch people in ways you may never imagine. And when all is said and done, that is far more important than being spot on topic. You have a wonderful gift and I have no doubt that God will continue to inspire you so he can work on countless hearts.
Yvonne Blake 06/18/13
I like how the pace and tone change from anger to peace by the end of the article. Well done!