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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Melody (08/24/06)

TITLE: None Other Had Ever Known
By Ann FitzHenry
08/28/06


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“Dry your tears. It will be over soon,” whispered the gnarled old lady sitting next to me. Staring at my knees, I fiddled with my new dress. I vowed I’d never wear it again. The memory of this day was better left hanging in the back of my closet.

All around me, people with somber faces fanned themselves with bulletins. The minister, sweating in his robes, dabbed his forehead and prayed, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen.”

As I rose to sing, my stomach threatened to leave its contents on the pew in front of me. Fighting the sensation, I clutched the hymnal like a life preserver in a storm. I swallowed hard as the congregation sang:

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.


As the melody filled the sanctuary my mind raged in frustration, “If God really talked to me, I wouldn’t be in this mess. Thanks a lot, God. Where are you now?” Gazing at my mother’s casket, the years spent with cancer seemed a terrible waste. The reward for all of her courage and determination was death. Her memory, just like the beautiful flowers in the funeral spray, would eventually fade and wither away. Confusion and despair gripped my soul as my thirteen-year-old mind grappled with the finality of death. In absolute terror, I realized I would never see my mother again. Caught in the throes of that unthinkable reality, the hymn ended and its melody left my heart. Adrift in turmoil, I joined the congregation and repeated the words of the Lord’s Prayer, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever, Amen.”

Paralyzed with grief, I stumbled as a gentle hand pushed me into the aisle. “It’s time,” the old lady prodded.

When we reached the cemetery, I stared at the hole that would be my mother’s final resting place. A chill crept up my spine as I imagined her frightened and alone under the mounds of earth. As a young girl teetering on the edge of womanhood, I fell into an emotional chasm without any hope of escape. When they buried her body, they buried me, too.

In the days and weeks that followed, life went on. Over the next twenty years I did what kids do – I grew up. After graduating from high school and college, I moved away, got married and started a family. Eventually the time came to seek a new church. The desire, born out of obligation rather than faith, led me to attend services one sunny Sunday morning.

Walking through the doors, I was welcomed by the smell of the polished wood pews. Shaking hands with the greeters, I muttered an inaudible, “Good morning,” As I took my seat, the light streaming through the stained glass windows reflected colorful patterns on the floor. Surrounded by new faces, I waited for the service to begin. Standing to sing the first hymn, my heart dropped when I heard the first few notes. Stunned I begged, “Why here? Why now?” I had spent my entire life trying to escape the memories of that day.

As the congregation began to sing, I was once again a thirteen-year-old girl in a pretty new dress. Transported through time, the melody took me back to my mother’s funeral more than two decades before. As I dabbed my eyes, the notes touched the buried pieces of my soul. The memories I had tried to escape stirred emotions long forgotten. As I lifted my voice in song, the journey came full circle. When I closed the pages of the hymnal, the girl in the new dress smiled. God had been there all along. Lost in the moment, I winked at my mother up in heaven. With His song in my heart, we shared the joy none other had ever known!


**
Dedicated to my mother who died on July 4, 1984.

****
Psalm 23:6 NIV

“I Come to the Garden Alone”
Text: C. Austin Miles, 1913 (Jn. 20:11-18)
Music: C. Austin Miles, 1913; adapt. by Charles H. Webb, 1987

Matthew 6:13 KJV


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This article has been read 924 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Trina Courtenay08/31/06
Oh, this is so beautiful - sad but beautiful.

I lost my mother 11 yrs ago and her favorite song was, "What a Wonderful World, by Louis Armstrong" and everytime I'm in need that song seems to play in the back ground. It gives me comfort.

Your entry touched me deep within - just what I needed this morning. Shivers went up my back as the hymn played again. Awesome job.
Valora Otis08/31/06
I've been following your work for some time now. I see you've gained tremendous personal growth as a budding writer. To share such a personal story with us is a blessing.

Your vivid imagery and emotions swept me away. I wept for you as a young girl and for you the beautiful, faithful woman you've become. Your mother would be so pleased that you found your way back. God bless.
terri tiffany08/31/06
What I like - It is just beautiful. I love the emotions that are so vivid. The character is well developed but mostly I love the ending!
What I might change - nothing! Very nice piece of writing - I mean that!
Lynda Schultz 08/31/06
Very well done and a beautiful tribute to your mother. Congraulations.
Edy T Johnson 08/31/06
This is such poignant writing, I comment through tears for the 13-year-old child facing this reality. You write so very well.
Brenda Craig09/04/06
Your story has captured my heart. An incredible heart wrenching story with a beautiful ending. Your descriptive language is absolutely lovely. Excellent Writing. Wow!
Ann Grover09/05/06
Excellent writing, some brilliant phrases. A precious tribute to your mother and a statement of your own healing...
Shari Armstrong 09/05/06
A beautiful tribute, and it's amazing how a song can take us back in time.
Debbie Sickler09/05/06
"When we reached the cemetery...they buried me, too." LOVED this paragraph especially. Wonderful job.
Jan Ackerson 09/05/06
Gorgeously written.
Joanne Sher 09/05/06
This is so well told and poignant - and what a wonderful "turnaround." You touched my heart with this!!
Dolores Stohler09/05/06
There is no loss greater than the loss of a mother. My mom's favorite hymn was "In The Garden" also and she was my dearest friend. Reading your story brought tears to my eyes. Well done!
Rebecca Livermore09/05/06
This is so beautiful! Thanks for sharing!
Cassie Memmer09/06/06
You've written a very touching piece. It's beautiful, bittersweet. Isn't that just like God to meet you and bring you to face what you needed to go on? To heal your little girl heart. Well done!
Donna Emery09/06/06
Such a touching story. Thank you for sharing it.
Amy Michelle Wiley 09/06/06
Beautiful story! That's one of my favorite hymns...
Trina Courtenay09/07/06
Way to write Ann! Congrats on your 2nd place win! I shall be looking for your entry in the top 40!
terri tiffany09/07/06
WOO HOO!!! Way To GO ANN!! I am thrilled for you as this was a perfect story!!:)) Glad you decided to enter here. You are a good writer!
naomi thomas09/15/06

Hey Ann, this is so touching, a great tribute to your mum. Your writing has certainly taken you to a new level. Keep sharing
Edy T Johnson 09/16/06
I didn't intend to miss adding my congratulations, here, for your winning entry. I'm just thrilled for you, Ann. You've got the gift, for sure! Praise the Lord!
Janice Fitzpatrick11/02/08
Oh, this is so sad but so promising and shows how hope is renewed at the end. I'm sorry of your mothe's lost but so glad that one day you will rejoice with her in heaven. I could relate to this as I just lost my mom about 8 weeks ago from the affects of a severe stroke,etc. It has been so difficult beyond expression, although I know where my precious mom and best friend is as she was so close to her Lord. Thank you for sharing this piece with me. It brought tears to my eyes but hope to my soul. God bless you in every way and do keep on writing. Your pieces are such jewels to behold:0)