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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Barbeque/Cookout (09/06/12)

TITLE: Trial By Fire Or Not
By Lori Dixon


There is nothing that says, ‘summer’s here’ like the smell of roasting meat wafting through the air. As a woman who only has a kitchen because it came with the house, any possible way of taking it outside works for me! I loved being able to pass a plate of raw, dripping chicken to my husband and having it reappear golden, juicy and without a messy pan to clean.
I purposely never took on the task of backyard cooking. I had learned years ago that once you are able to do something, the job always seems to default to you; which is why I had never learned how to start a lawnmower or light a gas barbeque!

Imagine my conundrum then my first summer as a single Mom when I stood in front of our old propane barbeque scared to death. I had once attempted to assist a friend at lighting hers . . . our bangs and eyebrows grew back . . . eventually.

There was no way I wanted my girls to never enjoy the freedom from the kitchen that summer brings, but I also had grown rather fond of my newly filled out eyebrows. And, I must say, the smell of singed hair is not at all appetizing.

What was I to do? What had my life become?

As I stood there balancing my plate of nicely marinated skewers, staring down at the cold black metal grates, I felt like such a failure. I had failed in my marriage and now I was set to fail yet again.

Saying a prayer, I put down the plate, and bent over to turn the gas on as I’d seen my EX do many times before. There was no gentle hiss of propane. I lifted the tank only to find it was empty.

As was I.

I slumped down onto the deck. Life was not fair. I had grown so much, managed so many tasks and successfully navigated turns that flipped our lives upside down; but here it was a silly barbeque that brought me to my knees. I just wanted a flame . . . a fire . . . a verse came to mind:
‘So that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”

As silly as it may seem, my faith was being tested. My whole understanding and relationship with Christ was being tested. So many ‘whys’ were not being answered and I was crying out to my Father . . . to my Jehovah Jireh . . . God was using this empty tank to somehow break me . . . to speak to me . . . I was not super woman after all and perhaps I needed to lean on Him and trust in Him . . .
Just as I was trying to pull myself together and go face the girls, my cell rang. It was my oldest and dearest friend who had been a rock to me. I tried my best to steady my voice and joke about my predicament . . . but she saw through to my pain.

The next day I stood amazed, watching in silence as she and her husband loaded their used electric barbeque into the back of my minivan.

God had heard my cry . . . and He understood my love of seared meat. He cared about a tender woman’s heart . . . and perhaps even her slightly imbalanced attachment to her eyebrows.

He was there . . . even when the fire was not.

Peter 1:7 NASB

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This article has been read 461 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 09/13/12
Oh wow! This was so amazing! What a fantastic treasure this entry is...it had so many nuances to it, and an impeccable and unique style.

I loved the part with "our eyebrows grew back eventually..." This was so good. Fantastic wrap-up with the powerful message about Christ and being "broken."

LOVED THIS WHOLE PIECE! Excellent, fresh and creative. Thanks.

God bless~
Karen Pourbabaee 09/16/12
Your well told story is a good example of how God uses the practical things of life--like an empty propane tank--to speak to us.We should all pay more attention to our circumstances and listen for His voice...your story is a nice reminder of that!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/20/12
You did a great job with this story. I could totally feel the roller coaster of emotions that the MC was riding on.

I noted some tiny things that will help your story to be even better. In this sentence you have a double-negative (which actually makes the sentence to be the opposite of how you meant it) There was no way I wanted my girls to never enjoy the freedom from the kitchen
You can fix this several whys. This is just an example: I wanted my girls to enjoy the freedom from the kitchen. or I vowed that my girls would be able to experience the freedom that outdoor cooking provides.
Another thing is try to do more showing than telling. That's something every writer struggles with and continually works at to perfect. This line is perfect: I slumped down to the deck. It paints a picture for the reader and really shows the reader the emotional state that the MC is in. That's a wonderful example of showing and the more of that that you can do, the more the reader will contact with your MC.
This sentence does more telling: I felt like such a failure.
This would be a great opportunity to show the reader what failure looks like. Perhaps describe downcast eyes, cheeks burning red, a sigh. Things like that will help paint a picture for the reader.

I don't want you to be discouraged by my feedback because your story is fantastic. You definitely have a natural talent when it comes to writing and the more you do it, the better it will come. I often look back at my first challenge entry and am in awe of how much I've improved because other FW have cared enough to show me ways to make my story even better.

If I were to go through the categories that the judges use, I know many of them would score high. (If you want to see the criteria, check the message boards under the Writing Challenge thread) You had a nice beginning. I was drawn in my the great and slightly disgusting description of chicken goo. Anyone who has ever handled raw chicken will be able to feel the slimy goo as it drips off. I enjoy gross things like that. You also did a nice job of bringing the story full circle. You did a great job and congratulations on your first place ribbon for level 2! I'll look forward to seeing you in level three when the challenge starts up again. Oh and if you'd like a critique group or a challenge buddy to proof your story before you submit it, check out the message boards or PM if you can't find any. Again congratulations for a well-deserved win!
C D Swanson 09/20/12
Congrats. God Bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/20/12
Congratulations for ranking 16 overall. That's a great accomplishment for your first entry! You can find the top rankings in each level and the top 20 overall on Thursday evening on the message boards. Here is the link to ithttp://www.faithwriters.com/Boards/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=55&t=35928