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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Blog (10/20/11)

TITLE: Meredith's Secret Garden
By Deborah Rampona Oliver


Meredith awakes to the pressure of the bed lowering slightly. She feels her husband’s warm breath and the sensuous tickle of whiskers against her neck. “I love you, baby,” her murmurs against her. You are a wonderful wife. When I look at you, I like what I see.” He kisses her neck and she feels the bed rise as he straightens and leaves the room. Moments later, she hears the door close and feels the vibration of the garage door opening then closing.
Meredith rolls over onto her side and waits for the fog of sleep to fade. “Does he really?” she wonders. “Can he really like what he sees? “ She finds herself holding her breath as she considers these questions. Somehow it’s hard to believe, to really feel total acceptance, even after all their years of marriage. Releasing her breath in one continuous whoosh, she acknowledges the thought and dismisses it.
In truth, Meredith looks pretty good for a forty year old woman with two children, but she never measures up to the invisible benchmark that was imposed upon her by the first of several stepmothers. Somehow, being ‘good enough’ was a standard that always slid out of reach just as she arrived at a goal. Gaining unconditional approval from a stepmother who’d had more surgeries than a desperate housewife was a lost cause. Even at adulthood, Meredith meets each day never quite feeling as though she is fully seated and balanced in her soul. She finds it hard to accept herself.
Meredith walks down the hall and opens a door. “Time to get up,” she whispers to her son. He bounces out of bed and stomps down the stairs so hard that she can feel a thump for each step he takes. Thankfully, he seems unaware that mom isn’t perfect. Meredith smiles to herself and whispers a prayer, “God, please help my kids to feel completely loved and fully accepted by me and more importantly by you.”
The Monday morning onslaught of tasks is a welcome diversion. Meredith has found if she can feel productive, she can temporarily escape the niggling details that burrow into her conscious and cause unease. Unlike many of her friends, Meredith wasn’t sure she wanted to be a mother. Early childhood experiences left her with the intense fear that if she had children of her own, she would unwittingly saddle them with emotional luggage she’d been handed as a child. Her own childhood heartbreak was so crushing there were days she thought there would never be any way to hold all of the pieces together.
Fortunately, children have brought something that Meredith never anticipated…a second chance. An opportunity to break the cycle of brokenness and to love her kids with a love that she wasn’t given. There was an undiscovered well in her heart that only became apparent the moment her first child was born. Now she spends her days at that well drawing up buckets of love to shower upon her children.
The disparity for Meredith is that she has a hard time accepting love and feeling worthwhile. She fears the day when her kids will see all of the weakness she works so hard to hide. Somehow, being imperfect isn’t acceptable. Allowing herself to feel is difficult, because letting feelings bloom can set off a cascade of emotions that can’t be regulated. Meredith knows that putting toothpaste back into the tube is impossible, so she prefers to keep a tight rein on emotion and deal mostly in logic. Thus, most of her acquaintances perceive her to be highly analytical, even ‘nerdy’ even though she’s deeply emotional.
After seeing her children safely onto the bus, Meredith sits down at the computer to check email and Facebook. Then she logs into her digital “Secret Garden.” While some people hide skeletons in their closets, Meredith’s hidden secret is that she keeps a blog. It is only in this place that Meredith can shed all constraints and let it all hang out. The anonymity of allowing people to see her soul without seeing her face gives her a freedom she hasn’t found elsewhere.

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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This article has been read 367 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/04/11
This is a story that manypeople can relate to. I could feel the pain of the MC and it ripped at my heart. I wanted to reach through the page and hug her.

You may want to double space between paragraphs. This gives the reader more white space and makes it easier to read.

You also may want to put the part about her past into a new paragraph. It will help the flow better.

You did mention the blog in the end, at first I wasn't sure you covered the topic but at second thought I think you really did it in a creative way. Her insecurities would have overtaken her had she not had a place to vent. The blog provided that release.

You have a great deal of talent. Your story really touched my heart. You may want to check the forums for tips to helpyou write for the challenge. There is a list of criteria that the judges use. Also thereare critique groups and challenge buddies to help your perfect your work. Keep writing you did an awesome job.
Allison Egley 11/05/11
Oh, I felt for Meredith in this story. You created a very compelling character.

A few things caught me a bit off guard... The beginning it's all feeling and sounds. I almost thought she might be blind. Normally, if someone gets up and wakes someone up, that person would a lest open her eyes a bit, I'd think. But that may have just been me.

Another thing... (and this is VERY minor) The part about a well jarred me a bit. I think most people think of wells as being from an older time period. But that was very minor, and really didn't take away from the entry as a whole.

Great job. You told a great story.
C D Swanson 11/06/11
This was an entry filled with warmth and truly on topic.

I loved the entire piece, from beginning to end. It is a scenario that most individuals can relate to.

Nice job- God Bless~
djvenzke Venzke11/08/11
You succeeded in showing the inner struggles an individual can face and why. Her solution (the blog) may help in some ways, but it's an incomplete picture of what she needs for recovery. The story, stopping where it did leaves me wondering if she will ever find lasting peace. That aside, thanks for sharing.
Randy Foncree11/10/11
Sometimes it is difficult to show other people just who we really are. It is rooted in deep insecurity, and can only be broken by a deep and lasting relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

How do I know this? I've been there. When God fixed the broken things of my life, I was forever changed. Now, for the most part, people see the real me. Most accept me for who I am, and the ones that don't, I can't help.

God bless you and thanks for sharing this. I enjoyed the read, but I rally felt for the lady in this story...God bless you in your writing...
annie keys11/15/11
A deeply moving story. My husband and I opened our home to a couple of abused girls--giving them a place to recover and find what 'family love' REALLY was. So, your story touched my heart.

The only criticism I would have is that you need to double space between paragraphs. Not easy on the current "post the entry" forum for faithwriters, LOL, but, it can be done. Would make the piece easier to read--all the print together is eyeball tough.

Good job on the writing--looks grammar good, spell good, story endearing to the heart. Great article~

Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/17/11
Congratulations for ranking 8th in your level!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/17/11
I noticed this is your first challenge entry. You did a nice job with it :) The message boards post the highest rankings for each level sometime on Thursday evening. There are also some great tips for writing for the challenge as well as the rating criteria that the judges use. Again congratulations!