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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Charade (08/14/08)

TITLE: The Bible Study
By Mary McLeary


The Bible Study

Martha Dixon finished her second cup of coffee, closed her Bible and reached for her calendar. She knew her agenda was full and she relished the thought of being busy all day. At 53, Martha had a full life with a husband, three daughters, an aging mother and mother-in-law, six grandchildren, a dog and a paranoid cat that no one ever saw. If she didn’t wake up at 5:30 for the coffee and quiet time, the day would be a sham. And someone might notice.

She finished making her “To Do List” before heading to the phone. She pressed speed dial and after four rings got April’s sleepy voice. “Hey, Sleepy Head! Rise and shine! You have to pick up Dawson today.”

“I know that Mother. Do you think I would forget my son’s visit? I was just dressing Livy. We’ll stop for breakfast on the way to your house. Ok?

“Oh just bring her on over here and I’ll fix pancakes. She loves my chocolate chip pancakes. You’ll have more time and won’t have to hurry.”

Kid’s need a healthy breakfast, not fast food junk. The pancakes wouldn’t take but a minute. She would fry a couple of pieces of bacon so it would seem more homemade. If any of her friends asked Livy what she had for breakfast that would sound great.

“Thanks Mom. See you in a minute.”

Martha took some deep breaths and bowed her head. She thought of Dawson and felt a jolt in the pit of her stomach as she did every time she realized he lived three hours away instead of three minutes away as he should. She missed him. Weekends weren’t what she wanted. She wanted that despicable father of his to .. .
“Never mind,” she told herself. “I’ll keep pretending I’m ok with this mess. What else can I do?”

Composing herself, Martha put out food for the dog and the timid cat. She assumed they still had a cat because the food kept disappearing. She was about to start breakfast when April arrived to drop off Livy. She could hardly wait for April to return with Dawson.

The Bible study group met in an hour. Livy watched TV. while Martha dressed. In the middle of applying her eye liner the phone rang.

“Drats!” she said out loud when she saw caller ID. As the number of her mother-in-law flashed, she decided not to answer. “If she needs something besides conversation and sympathy it will be a first.” she muttered under her breath, but a feeling of guilt made her reach for the receiver. “Good morning!” Martha gushed, “How are you today?” She would give her ten minutes and that was all she could spare.

Forty-five minutes later Martha dropped Livy off at the church nursery. Livy ran in without a backward glance. Martha proceeded to her Bible study. Martha appeared cool, calm and collected. No one suspected the farce she felt her life had become. She looked at the other ladies who had gathered and for a split second thought, “What a ridiculous pretender I am.” The secret thought made her want to cry. Instead, she took a seat next to the teacher and plastered on a fake smile.

The teacher opened their study with prayer.

“Heavenly Father, you are all powerful and all knowing. Thank you for loving us all the time. Father, I confess to you that often I feel overwhelmed with life. I want so badly to be pleasing to you, but sometimes I’m just going through the motions of a Christian and I feel my life is a charade. Forgive me Lord. Help me to truly love others, to truly desire your will and to be genuine in my love for you and those you have given me to love. Amen.”

Martha’s eyes flew open, as did her heart. That prayer could have come from her lips! For the rest of their time together, the ladies listened to Mrs. Bridger teach from Ephesians 2. The words, “not by works so that no one can boast.” kept coming up. Others began to share experiences or ask questions. Many, like Martha, realized that much of what they did was done to gain the approval of other people instead of God.

Driving home with Livy, Martha was filled with wonder at God’s love. He knew she needed this lesson on this day.

“My life isn’t a charade”, she said to Livy, It’s a work in progress.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 08/22/08
You really nailed Martha's conflicts, which are very real--thanks for portraying a good Christian woman as flawed, and constantly in need of Divine help.

I was confused by April, Livy, and Dawson, and if they lived near or far, and...well several aspects of the family dynamics just puzzled me. A bit of clarification might be in order if you re-visit this.

Martha reminded me a bit of myself, so I really related to this.
Patty Wysong08/25/08
This is something so many of us--yes, me included!-- grapple with. A good message packed in here.
Marlene Austin08/26/08
Great characterization and explicit details. Very nice. :)