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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Day's End (01/01/14)

TITLE: Begin with the end in mind
By Phillip Cimei


An old black 50's model hearse conspicuously pulled up to the head of the circle drive in front of the elementary school, at which I was principal. The door opened and two children eagerly jumped out dressed in worn and soiled clothes, having lice infested Raggedy Ann and Andy hair and a smile that said they were glad to be at a place that wasn't roach infested, bone chilling cold and where they could get a nice warm meal on this bitter winter day. I smiled because I was used to seeing these children arrive this way every day. Yes, they had behavior issues, academic and social issues, but I smiled because I knew the home environment from which they came . I knew their mother, who drove off in the hearse, didn't give it a thought as to the social impact arriving at school in a hearse would bring. I smiled because it started my day with a reminder from Stephen Covey's book SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLEY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE, “Begin with the end in mind.”

Most people get chills running up their spine when they see a hearse, others show respect and bow their head. This mother scoffed at death and gave no thought to the end of life let alone the end of this day. She was just trying to survive. This way to start a day was crude and to some macabre, but if you really think about it, we all should start our day with the end in mind. What will I be doing at the end of this day; what will I have accomplished at the end of this day. Paul said, “ I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” II Tim 4:7 If we begin ever day with our sights set, our goals in place and the end in mind, we will run this race of life with each day's end bringing joy and contentment. At the end of the day, we should do as David did, “...commune with our own heart upon our bed and be still.” Psalms 4:4 Paul reminds us that our whole faith is based upon the promise of a day at the end of this journey that will bring eternal joy, peace and happiness because Jesus died and was raised again from the dead. At the end of our day, can we lay our head on our pillow and commune with our heart and say we have done all that was asked of us, praise the name of the Lord, and have a restful sleep.

The next time you see an old black hearse, smile and be reminded that we are all just sojourners traveling this life day by day looking for that final sunset that will bring us to a place that a loving and caring Savior prepared for us. And, if you see someone driving their children to school in one, take time to visit with the parents about a better place, a better life; share with them the hope you have that can guide them every day and at the end of that day, put a smile on their faces.

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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This article has been read 251 times
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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/09/14
This is an interesting devotion. You piqued my interest with the hearse dropping off the kids. Your ending was divine and brought the article full circle while leaving a small lump in my throat.

Be careful of POV shifts. The MC is the principal so the reader can only know what he sees, thinks, or hears. You switched the POV when you went into the kid's thoughts like being glad to be anywhere that is not infested.(though you did qualify it with the words: had a smile that said) Even describing the lice is a shift unless the MC sees the lice. This could be fixed with just a little tweaking. For example: As the children bounded out of the hearse with smiles plastered on their dirt-smudged faces, the principal winced at the memory from last week. The school nurse had discovered many generations of lice living in the matted, dirty hair.
The little girl said, "Bugs must like us because we have tons of coackroaches and the bed bugs have been biting too." She pulled up her shirt to show the bites covering her belly. Shaking the memory from his head, the principal silently gave thanks that the school offered a reprieve for the kids.
I know that's kind of long and not necessarily your voice nor perfect, but I wanted to give you an example of what I meant.

You really have done an outstanding job tackling this subject. You started off with a wonderful pull. As a mother, my heart ached for the kids and I wanted to reach through the page and offer comfort. Your Bible verses tied in perfectly with your profound message. This will stick in my mind for sure and that is a good thing. With just a little tweaking (perhaps several smaller paragraphs) I could easily see this in a devotion book or magazine. Great job.
Jan Ackerson 01/09/14
As a Level 1 writer, you might not be aware of the free writing lessons available on the FaithWriters forums. This week’s lesson is on writing devotionals, and next week will cover writing on topic for the weekly challenge. Look for it at http://www.faithwriters.com/Boards/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=67, or if you’re on Facebook, you can “like” Faithwriters Writing Lessons. I’d love to have your input into the conversation there!
C D Swanson 01/10/14
Wow! This was off the charts powerfully dramatic, while bringing forward a profound and significant message! Excellent work. This read like a magazine devotional, very well done!

God bless~
Jan Ackerson 01/10/14
I loved the imagery in your first paragraph, and would really have liked to see that expanded with more detail. Fascinating and unique, and an outstanding "hook" for your piece.

The devotional section is fine, and my only suggestion would be to break it down into smaller chunks--easier for your reader to digest.

I loved that you returned to the imagery of the hearse at your conclusion--very effective writing.
Larry Whittington01/10/14
This had an interesting story to bring us to the point you wanted to bring to us.

In the end, we are responsible for our end.
Amelia Brown 01/12/14
Very well written. I enjoyed the opening paragraph and was really looking forward to more of the story. Nevertheless, you transitioned well into your point and closed strong. Keep writing.
Sheldon Bass 01/13/14
Good thoughts and sage advice. Keeping our destination in mind helps us along the journey to walk in a manner worthy of the end for the redeemed.

One sentence in the first paragraph I felt might have worked just a tad better if it was divided into two sentences.

You definitely have a knack for writing. Keep at it!
Dusty Fontaine01/14/14
I did enjoy the story and the devotional message it told. Our goals at the end of our days and at the end of our lives should be clear from the start.

I thought some of the sentences were lengthy and could have been split into two or three. Also, I was wondering how the principle knew the kids had lice. Perhaps he could have watched as they scratched their Raggedy-Ann hair, indicating lice.

Nice work.
Beth LaBuff 01/15/14
I love the wisdom in your message, the challenge, and the story you told. Super work!
lynn gipson 01/15/14
Very emotional and moving devotional here. My heart hurt for those poor children. I was poor growing up but never that bad.

You touched me deeply with this fine piece. Blessings...
Graham Insley01/15/14
Wow! Me thinks you will not be in level one for long.

I thought this was a great devotional and it made a valid, powerful point.

My three main comments are:

1. I know from a previous post you are keen for constructive critisicm. Make sure when throwing a brick you make the comment that 'red ink is requested', or you may only see bouquets.

2. Personally I like to see shorter paragraphs and more white space. I am learning that writing is a visual art and must please the eyes if people are to read on.

3. Again personally, I would like to have seen one more Scripture quoted where "Paul reminds us that our whole faith is..." Or, if 2Tim is still the reference then that comment needed to remain in context and David raised after that comment was complete.

I'm only sharing my thoughts and in no way are they 'right', just my thoughts.

Other than points two and three above, this entire devotional flowed really well and will touch many hearts.

Blessings, Graham.
Judith Gayle Smith01/15/14
I loved this colorful, well-imagined piece. Thank you!