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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Church (12/06/07)

By Ann Renae Hair


Margaret picked up the Angel Tree gift from the counter. She locked the door of her condo behind her as she caught her breath against the icy wind. I sure am thankful for heated leather seats on an evening like this. The parking lot sparkled like glitter under the safety lights. I’ll have to go easy on the road in case it’s slippery. Margaret turned on her favorite Christmas CD and eased her car out of the carport. “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…everywhere I go…” she sang along as she turned south on Prairie Avenue. Suddenly bright lights were directly in front of her and she swerved to avoid the oncoming vehicle.


She shuddered as she stepped into the foyer of the church. Whew, that was close. She was still shaken from the adrenaline rush. She reached for the coat hanger and took a deep breath. A cup of coffee and some good old fashion fellowship, and I’ll be just fine. She always looked forward to the Ladies’ Christmas Celebration.

“Hi! My name is Betty. Welcome to The Church.”

“Hello, Betty. Uh, I’m Margaret. It’s nice to meet you. I don’t recognize you. Are you new here?”

“Oh, no! I’ve been a member since I was eleven years old. Come in. I have some friends I’d like you to meet.”

“I’m sorry. I’ve been a member of Sonshine Baptist for twenty three years and I’ve never seen you before. How can that be?” She rubbed her forehead, shook off the strange feeling that was flooding over her, and returned Betty’s gracious smile.

“The important thing, Margaret, is that we are sisters in Christ! Come, now…I want you to meet our brothers, Paul and Timothy.”

“Brothers? Are they singing tonight at the Ladies’ Banquet?”

Betty hooked her arm around Margaret’s elbow and guided her through the banquet room doors.

As soon as they entered the room, the bright Light at the far end caused Margaret to cover her face and her heart pounded boldly in her chest. Maybe that close call rattled me more than I realized.

Betty patted her hand and reassured her. “It’s okay, Margaret. Everyone has that reaction when they first see the Light.”

“You don’t understand…on my way here--“

“It’s okay, dear. I do understand. Come along.”

Betty whisked Margaret into the kitchen where they were greeted by many faces. As Margaret was struggling to make some sense of it all, an Asian woman extended her hand and smiled as she said, “Welcome, Margaret. I’m so glad to meet you.”

Next, an African-American man vigorously shook her whole arm. “Glad to meet ya, missy. Glad to meet ya. Name’s Alfred. Pleasure’s mine.”

A Russian couple squeezed forward and wrapped their strong arms around her in a robust hug.

A French man kissed her hand, “Welcome, Madame Margaret.” He bowed and smiled into her eyes.

She felt as if she was spinning to the point of dizziness. “I think I need to sit down. I’m feeling…”


The Light was shining in her eyes again, but this time instead of covering her face, she wept. The Light was soft and inviting, warm and enveloping. She blinked the last tears from her eyes as He reached out and wiped them away, pausing with His hand on her cheek.

She looked into His eyes with all the knowing she ever desired being fulfilled in that moment. “Well done, my good and faithful Margaret. You believed in Me and served The Church very well. Welcome home.” Joy burst forth in her heart with a fullness she had previously experienced only in part.

Margaret looked around the Banquet Room. Transformation took place before her eyes, as if they were opened anew. The familiar elements of her home church were there, but different. Exquisite chandeliers sparkled around the room. Ornately carved wood accented the ceiling. Rich green velvet plush covered all the seats.

Faces from her past now surrounded her. “Dad, Mother, Dan, Sandra….Oh!”

The song of children tingled in her ears. She watched them dancing across the room, beautiful in melody, every tune sweet and savory.

Betty rested her arm over Margaret’s shoulder. “Now, for more introductions. Meet your whole family: our brothers, Paul, Timothy, Elijah, David, Joseph…; sisters, Mary, Tabitha, Deborah, Ruth…”

She joined with others from all over the world she had never before met. All spoke one language…one people…one Church…every nation, every walk of life, every age and size…together forever…one.

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This article has been read 666 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 12/13/07
My pen refuses to go red ;) I truly felt like I was right there. I love the dialog - especially in the early part. Lovely.
Esther Phillips12/14/07
Wow! A very gripping story. It caught me by surprise. Very well done.
Judy Traffie12/14/07
Wow!! I really liked this piece. It pulled me in and made me want to keep reading.
Jan Ross12/16/07
Ahhhhh ... what a delightful story. You grabbed me from the beginning and kept me reading, wanting to uncover the mystery of her strange surroundings. Great work! Christmas blessings! :)
Catrina Bradley 12/16/07
How perfect for The Church! I want to dance and weep with joy with Margaret! Just lovely. Well done!
Marilyn Schnepp 12/16/07
From the brilliant title to the teary-eyed end...Super!! When you started listing the names of her brothers and sisters...I burst into tears - For they are my family also. You can always tell a great writer from the emotion they evoke out of their reader. Kudos!
Jan Ackerson 12/17/07
Unbelievably precious.
JoAnne Potter12/18/07
Oh my. I guess everybody already said it all. I do hope, though, that we're a little less clueless when we get there...
Temple Miller12/18/07
Wonderfully imaginative and it gripped me from beginning to the end. Beautiful glimpse of what might happen.
Dee Yoder 12/18/07
Lovely! I love descriptions of Heaven and how we will feel when we get there. You did a tremendous job of portraying the characters and setting.
Sally Hanan12/18/07
Very well done. One of the sections you get high points for in the challenge is the opening, and this didn't hook me as much as it could have. Something like this would grab me more: Margaret caught her breath against the icy wind and hugged her arms into the folds of her coat and body. Just writing about her locking the door and taking something off the counter doesn't need to be told, as we need to live through her in the story, and locking doors is automatic. That's where the show not tell rule comes in. If you really want her to lock the door and mention the angle tree, then you could talk about her reluctance to take her hand out of the coat pocket for fear of it hardening into icicle rigidity like the key in her hand, and then put her hand back into the pocket to feel the ridges of the angel tree.
Sara Harricharan 12/19/07
Nice one word title. This stands out. I like the you-are-there atmosphere on this piece. Great job.

RED PEN: I think a little too much detail in the beginning, I thought the Angel Tree was important with where she was going, but it isn't mentioned after the first few paragraphs, otherwise, it was great!
Yvonne Blake 12/19/07
Wow! Well done!
I suggest that you end with the line, "Well done, my good and faithful Margaret."
The rest was anti-climatic.

Good writing.
Sheri Gordon12/19/07
I'm writing this with tears in my eyes. You so beautifully captured those first moments of eternity with our Father. Very nice job with the topic.
LauraLee Shaw12/20/07
Well done, good and faithful one. Beautiful piece that is a keeper for sure.
Debbie Wistrom12/20/07
Congratulations, this is a very well deserved FIRST place! So wonderful! Keet it up.
Sheri Gordon12/20/07
Congratulations on your first place! This is one of my favorites this week.
Joanne Sher 12/21/07
You KNOW I'm grinning ear to ear. And 12th overall! You know how much I love this - congrats, my best bud. :)
LaNaye Perkins12/21/07
This is so beautiuful. I really enjoyed this story and you kept my interest throughout. Well done!
Therese Witkus12/22/07
The story is wonderful and the tone feels soft throughout, even when she is confused. The dialogue with the Light stirs my heart as I long to hear those words.
Congratulations on your 1st place!