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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Summer (the season) (07/09/09)

TITLE: A Summer of Ashes to Beauty
By Lisa Harris


Jena leaned back into her red beach chair soaking in the salty air. Pushing her cheap but stylish sunglasses onto her head, she took in the fascinating pelicans as they soared then plundered into the ocean gulping fish. Jena knew how the fish felt being swallowed into the unknown. She felt her body tense as she related to the pelicans. Quickly, Jena pulled her glasses back down and taking another breath, re-directed her thoughts into prayer.

Dear God…I need peace. Annie is in your hands. Guide her in the right direction as she seeks Mike to be her husband. Amen.

Jena croaked on that prayer. Mike is not who they had hoped she would marry. Jena wanted a ‘normal’ son-in-law who loved Jesus, maybe even a Preacher. But instead, they got Prisoner #908080 named Mike who was released to a half-way house a few months ago. Addicted to cocaine, he stole constantly to fund his addiction after he put in a full’s day work as a master plumber. He made really good money in his field, but it wasn’t enough. Annie, fell in love during one of his times out and when he went back to prison she was his constant advocate. Jena worried herself sick. Would Annie be sucked into his life? It would be a miracle if Mike became a committed Christian, never straying back to the ‘other side’. God is a very big God…it could happen, but would it?

Mike was sitting in the half-way house reading his Bible. He had accepted Christ four years ago while in prison. He took every Bible course available, journaling became his outlet and prayer his passion. He had three more weeks in the half-way house and was doing amazing. He acquired a plumbing job that made fair money and Annie who’d waited patiently for him to get out was also trusting God that all would be well as he re-entered the ‘real-world.’

Thinking about Annie, he worried if he was being fair. He was 35 and alone. His family consisted of four stair-step brothers, each having a different, non-existent dad. His mother was a throwback of the sixties, bleached blonde hair, t-shirts and at 55 still smoked marijuana. He had started stealing at 15, small things at first, then built up over time to cars and breaking into homes. He never hurt people, physically at least, he just hurt himself. Then came Annie...sweet and caring, innocent of people like him; she was different, her face always had joy. At 29, she was waiting for his complete release…would he disappoint her? Could he live up to God’s best for him?

“Mike,” his roommate said, “you’re wanted on the phone.” Mike pulled himself away from his thoughts and responded with a wave of thanks.

“Hello,” Mike said hoping it was Annie. “Mike,” this is Paul your Parole Officer. I have good news for you, this is your last day at the half-way house…they need your bed for another guy. Call Annie to pick you up at noon tomorrow.” A few more instructions, then Mike was sitting on the steps in a cold sweat. This was it.

Jena came from the beach for a quick shower. Her phone rang just as she stepped into her ice-cold condo. “Hello,” Jena said shivering.

“Mom, “its Annie…I just got the call, Mike is getting out tomorrow. I have to be there at noon to pick him up.

“Mom…Mom…are you there?”

“Yes, sweetheart, I’m here.” “I’m just a bit stunned that’s all. Switching ears she hurried out to the deck where the air was warmer. What’s your plan after the pick-up?

“I’m taking Mike to stay at Pastor Ryan’s house until we get married, then he’ll move into my home.”


“Mom,” Annie pleaded, “He’s a new man in Christ…give him a chance.”

“We will Annie, I promise.” Jena said. Easing to her knees she cried out. God filled her with warmth as He whispered into her heart, “Jena, they are mine.”

The wedding was beautiful. From ashes to beauty…Mike was redeemed.

God healed his addiction to cocaine, and restored to him another family…Annie’s family.

His zeal for God is evident in their new ministry. Mike shares his testimony and hundreds of inmates have accepted Jesus.

And Jena? She’s back on the beach watching the birds; seeing her life shift. Instead of being swallowed up…she is like the pelican…fishing; except she fishes for beauty found in the ashes through Pelican’s Prison Ministry.

God is a BIG God.

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This article has been read 498 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Allen Stark07/16/09
This brought tears to my eyes, because I, too, am proof that our God IS a God of second chances.
Lisa Johnson07/18/09
Your story gives a wonderful message of hope for redemption and restoration. Thanks for sharing.
Mildred Sheldon07/18/09
How many of us look at people who have been in prison and are quick to judge. We serve such a loving God and he has the power to change the most hardened criminal to an evangelical dynamo. Thank you for a look at reality. Well written.
Seema Bagai 07/19/09
A story filled with hope. The last few paragraphs felt a bit rushed, though. Just my opinion. Overall, good work and a great message.