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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Prosperity (05/11/06)

TITLE: In God's Own Time
By Valora Otis


The heavenly smell of baking bread wafted out to meet all unfortunate enough to inhale its tease. Ana’s knees threatened to buckle as she slowly passed the Manor’s kitchen. The aroma of food sent her into a reverie, envisioning the pleased look on her husband Connor’s face as she imagined passing him the plump roast duck dripping with gravy. Ana decided to imagine in some potatoes and parsnips to boot. It was her daydream, after all, which meant that she could dream any amount of food that she desired.

“Now, that was a lovely dinner,” she said out loud. “I didn’t even wash a dish!” Ana O’ Flannery tried to smile at that, but dishes weren’t her worst enemy. It was the gnawing hunger, the growling companion chewing at her side.

Ana arrived at home exhausted from the walk, but lifted her freckled face to catch the last bit of sun. She tried to be cheerful despite the sharp angles that her youthful curves had taken.

Her husband Connor was leaning up against the doorjamb of their cottage. His green eyes crinkled as his mouth curved into that beautiful smile she loved. He opened his arms then she melted into him. Seeing the sadness in his eyes, she sobered.

“Connor, they wouldn’t give me any scraps at the Manor kitchen today. I haven’t a smidge to serve you for your supper. Do ya still love me?” Tilting her head she smiled up at him. Her dimples never failed to melt his heart.

“It’s no fault of yours that we haven’t a farthing to our names Ana, my dear. The potatoes will flourish soon, and we’ll never want for anything again. All will be well in God’s own time, my love.” He guided her into the cottage.

“It could be worse, Connor.” She set her basket on the table. “We could have the wee one to care for, it’s only us now. We’ll get by just fine.” The smile began to fade as she felt her heart tighten with the thought of her babe, so recently taken.

“Oh, Ana, we’ll have another soon to fill yer heart, I promise. Just hang on for a while, the Lord will provide a way for our hearts’ desires, when He deems it to be the right time. All is well and right for now. Keep a prayer in yer heart my love. You know right there,” he said pointing to her heart, “that God is good and ever mindful of our prayers.” He kissed her firmly on the lips.

“Hate to run off on ya, gal, but there’s graves to be dug in the village. Squire catches me dallying around and I’m sure to be roasted on that great spit at the Manor House!” With a hearty laugh, he kissed her again, and headed out the front door.

Ana watched lovingly at Connor whistling a happy little tune as he walked down the lane, shovel over his shoulder. The famine had taken lives and broken souls. Connor had unwavering faith in the Lord, giving him strength while feeding her optimism by the bushel. She believed the Lord’s word that He would provide a way. She turned from the door to the well-worn family Bible resting on a chair. The book was their last cherished possession. She felt herself drawn to its pages.

“Now, where was that verse the Parson quoted last Sabbath day? Oh! Here it is, Ecclesiastes 7:14. ‘In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.’ ” She relaxed back into the chair.

They had prospered in the past, living their lives according to the Holy Scriptures. Now adversity had come their way. The famine had taken little Liam to the grave. How her heart ached to hold Liam once again. Despite her pain, she could feel that God had been there, holding them up, comforting them, helping them find joy each day. Their abundance had come from placing God first in their lives. Ana’s heart swelled in her chest, feeling prosperous, even during the famine. She took fresh courage in the word of God.

KJV Ecclesiastes 7:14

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Member Comments
Member Date
Edy T Johnson 05/18/06
Oh, what a beautiful, touching story you have written! It is creatively and technically perfect, ready for the publisher, in my opinion. And, the Scripture you illustrate jumps off the page and into my soul for further contemplation. This deserves a "win," I think! Thank you!
terri tiffany05/18/06
I love how you pulled me into this wonderful past time! Very nice writing and great dialogue!!:)
Jan Ackerson 05/19/06
I liked this a lot; you did a great job with the Irish dialect and the two likeable, believable characters. I thought it faltered a bit toward the end--it was stronger when Ana and Connor were interacting than when you summarized their ups and downs. You were also very good at capturing the time and place accurately. Nice job!
Lynda Schultz 05/19/06
Wonderful. It was very creative of you to take this fascinating bit of history and turn it into an equally fascinating story. Good job.
Val Clark05/20/06
Beautifully done! Probably don't need the last paragraph, though, as you show us that it the rest of the story.
Marty Wellington 05/22/06
Very nice descriptions drew me into the time and place quite effectively. I agree that it would have ended nicely without the last paragraph. Otherwise, terrific!
Anita Neuman05/22/06
I LOVED your "voice" in this. The accent was well-done without being over-done. There was one point that I stumbled over: I can't imagine a mother being grateful for the one less mouth to feed. I think a better angle on that would be to be grateful that Liam was spared the agony of hunger. Other than that, I really loved this piece. You showed great creativity and originality and you left me wanting more (in that I'd love to keep reading, not that you left me hanging).
Dr. Sharon Schuetz05/23/06
This is an excellent story, well written,great dialogue, and real characters. Good job.
Rita Garcia05/23/06
Love it! Great job!
dub W05/24/06
Oh my. I am sitting here with tears in my eyes. This is the story of my late grandmother. As a child I would sit at her feet as she related these same ideas of her family and the hardships of the Irish famine - thank you for touching my heart today. dub
Edy T Johnson 05/25/06
Congratulations, friend! Onward Minnesota! I'm thrilled to see your name up "in lights" as I just knew this entry had to be a winner. God bless you with all His best!
Sherry Wendling05/25/06
This piece drew me right in. Wonderful descriptions, turn of phrase, tender story! Congratulations on your well-deserved win!