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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Desire (01/17/05)

TITLE: The Naughty List
By Lynda Lee Schab


The small gift box sat alone under the Christmas tree. It wasn't wrapped but was simply adorned with a red bow and gift tag stuck to the top.

"What's this?" I said aloud. I picked up the box and read the tag: "To Robert, from Santa." Raising my eyebrows, I glanced at my husband. "It's for you," I said, handing over the box.

My husband narrowed his eyes and looked up at me suspiciously. I shrugged; I had absolutely no idea where the gift had come from, although I couldn't help noticing a certain gleam in my eleven-year-old son's eye. Hmmm.

Rob opened the box and pulled out an ugly chunk of black rock. Along with the "coal", there was a note, the crooked handwriting oddly resembling my son's. Rob read the note aloud. "Dear Robert, you're on the naughty list until you get your children a hamster. P.S. They want a black and white one."

Now, my husband and I are not really pet people. We prefer a clean house, free of muddy paw prints and "accident" stains. We enjoy eating dinner without finding hair other than our own in the food. And forgive me for despising the thought of cleaning a messy cage and the smell that goes along with it! Plus, when we factor in cost, and the hassle of finding a pet-sitter if we go out of town for a couple of days, our anti-pet position becomes even more justifiable.

But kids somehow seem to have a pet pre-disposition and our two had been begging for one for the past several months. We had heard pleas for a dog, cat, rabbit, gerbil, bird, and the most recent, hamster. My husband finally appeased the persistent little buggers by stating that we would buy them a pet on one condition. They had to prove they were responsible by keeping their rooms clean for one straight month. Of course, we knew this was an impossible request and we would likely be pet-free forever. Bless their little hearts for trying but my husband and I secretly rejoiced over every pair of underwear we found on their bedroom floors.

So now my son had decided that since he was not getting his way, my husband deserved to be on the "naughty list". Somehow, I was exempt from this list, probably because my son knew that if only he could convince his dad, I would be an easier sell (ie: pushover).

I wonder how often I put God on the "naughty list" when I don't get my way. I may not hand Him a piece of coal but I have a feeling that's exactly what He sees when He looks at my heart. When I make a request that He doesn't answer right away, do I get frustrated and impatient? When the answer is "no", do I pout, get angry, or let bitterness in? And when He says "yes," but asks something of me in return, do I whine and complain or just give up, then blame Him when I don't get my way? Do I give Him an invisible note telling Him He is on my "naughty list" and will be until I get what I want? Do I even include a P.S. on the bottom, informing Him - again - on the exact details of my request?

I know from the Bible that God wants to give me the desires of my heart. I also realize that sometimes my heart's desires are selfishly motivated and don't line up with God's will at all. My goal should be not to ask God to give me everything I want, but to pray that He reveals to me what HIS desires are for my life and to change my heart to correspond with His. Those are the desires God will delight in fulfilling.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard I pray, I doubt God will change my son's desire for a pet. In fact, I think He's changing my heart as well as my husband's, because - gasp! - we've actually been discussing buying a cat for the kids.

I guess this means Rob will now be transferred to the "nice list". That is, until next Christmas when my daughter decides she wants a pony. Of course, it is possible that we'll suddenly have the desire to live on a farm.

Yeah, right. About as possible as my kids picking the underwear up off their bedroom floors.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Malley01/24/05
Sweet story line and well written! Loved the coal in the little box and the note attached. I have to say, rodent-looking pets are not my thing! Glad I'm not the only one with underpant problems! An entertaining entry. Blessings, Joanne
Debbie OConnor01/28/05
This was a great read. So much fun with a truthful lesson tucked in. Delightful.
Deborah Anderson01/28/05
I really enjoyed this story as well as the message inside of it. Liked your humor in the last line, too. God bless you.
Dave Wagner01/30/05
An easy read, for the most part, which was really nice. It was presented well. I like the light-hearted feel it has, without sacrificing any of the punch that the message has. Definitely one of the better submissions that I've read (in this category).

Two small quibbles: I would put a colon instead of a period after the word "condition" in paragraph 6. And I would trim the length of paragraph 8 - you kind of go a bit overboard in your explanation, stating and restating the obvious. I'm not saying change the point, just have confidence that the reader will recieve the full force of your point in fewer words. As it is, the length of that paragraph slows the piece down.

Other than that, I enjoyed it terrifically. Thanks for posting it.
Deborah Porter 01/31/05
Ahh Lynda, you've been blessed with creative kids. I remember Kylie picketing in the lounge room, complete with sign, for a dog. Knowing her Dad, I thought she had as much chance of getting it as I did of becoming the Queen of England. So what a surprise when Steve bought Tiger home about 7 years ago. If he had been on a "naughty list", I think this would have had him moved. Fun story Lynda. Love, Deb