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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Home Group (11/29/07)

TITLE: Hostess with the Mostest
By Kristen Hester


As my three kids pushed and shoved their way into my car after school on Wednesday, I ushered my typical, mid-week warning. “When we get home, don’t make a mess. I’ve spent all day cleaning for home group.”

Nevertheless, when we got home, they tracked their way into the house leaving a trail of backpacks, papers and lunch boxes behind them. They headed for the pantry to hunt for an after-school snack. Meanwhile, I had only two things on my mind: completing schoolwork and getting ready for home group.

“STOP!” I yelled. “Just sit down and I’ll get you something.”

“You don’t have to scream,” said my eleven-year-old as she peeled a banana and tossed the skin aside.

I noticed my nine-year-old son was MIA. “Jaaaaaack,” I called. “Get back in here until you’ve done your homework!” Jack reluctantly put his Game Boy down and returned to the kitchen.

“Sit down and do your homework, young man, and don’t get up until you’re finished.”

“I don’t have a pencil,” he complained. We’ve only kept a collection of 10 billion pencils in the same drawer for his entire life.

“Go get a pencil and start doing your homework.”

I heard sniffling. I knew that noise. It was my overly sensitive seven-year-old. She was crying...again. I gave a exasperated gasp. “What’s wrong with you?”

“Why are you so mean on Wednesdays?” These words should have convicted me. Instead they irritated me.

“I’m not mean. I’m just frustrated because there’s a lot to be done and NO ONE’S COOPERATING. JUST DO YOUR WORK AND NO ONE WILL GET HURT!”

My kids sat on their stools with sad, puppy dog eyes, but I wasn’t moved. “DO IT!” I yelled. They picked up their pencils. My youngest diligently started her assignment, big crocodile tears dripping on her paper as she worked.

I stuffed the casserole into the oven and got out the ingredients to make a salad. That’s when the questions and demands began.

“I need help.”

“How do you spell ‘Antarctica’?”

“I don’t understand this.”

My husband walked in the door and looked at me. I knew he was trying to gauge my mood. I wouldn’t blame him if he turned around went back to work. Thank God he’s too good a man for that. He said, “What do you want me to do?”

“Take them away so I can get ready for home group.”

He looked sympathetically at our children. “Everyone, grab your homework and get in the car.” The kids eagerly jumped down and started collecting their things. My husband turned to me. “I’ll feed them, get their homework done, and drop them off at church. I’ll be back for home group.” I’m a very blessed woman.

There were about five minutes of utter chaos as they gathered their things and loaded the car, but what followed was heavenly quiet. I worked up a sweat over the next hour making sure everything looked perfect.

When the doorbell rang my cheerful disposition showed no signs of the manic monster I’d been a short while ago. I greeted the various members of our group, welcoming each with a smile, but I felt fake. I appeared the consummate hostess, but at what cost? My own family feared me on Wednesdays. As we ate and visited in the kitchen I was convicted by my hypocrisy.

My husband flipped the lights, his signal that it was time for Bible study. We reluctantly ended our conversations and moved into the living room. I took my usual seat next to him on the fireplace hearth. We began with prayer requests.

Each week these friends shared their struggles, yet my own pride prevented me from revealing mine. It was time to be transparent. “I have a request. It’s stressful getting ready for group. I often lose it with my kids.”

“We’re your friends. Please quit worrying what your house looks like,” Cindy said. “We don’t come to see your house.”

“And we insist that you finally let us take turns bringing the food,” Angie added. All the ladies nodded in agreement.

The offers of help poured from my friends. There was no judgment, just encouragement, acceptance, and promises of prayer. “Thanks, guys.” I smiled, feeling a weight lift from my shoulders.

We host a home group partly because we have one of the few homes located close to the church and the children’s programs. Tonight my friends reminded me of the more important reason we host a home group.

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This article has been read 1052 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 12/07/07
Honest and hard-hitting - and a bit too convicting for me ;) I think all moms can relate to this - very engaging writing.
Peter Stone12/09/07
What an excellent, realistic article that encourages us to examine our attitude when we do something.
This line cracked me up - "My husband walked in the door and looked at me. I knew he was trying to gauge my mood. I wouldn’t blame him if he turned around went back to work."
william price12/09/07
I had a feeling this was yours. Superb pace and use of dialogue. Your voice, as always, is refreshing and honest. I do hope though, Mom had some special treats for the kids when Home Group was over. Your MC is certainly blessed with a great, understanding husband. I would have liked to hear what he had to say to the kids when they left. I am glad though, the group was willing to lighten the MCs burden. A nice take on the topic. God bless.
Laury Hubrich 12/09/07
Very convicting entry here, Kristen. I've been in the same place before, many times. This was very real and had a good lesson at the end:)
Temple Miller12/09/07
Great sensory presentation. I could hear and see your dialogue. Plus, a good message of which we sometimes need reminded. Loved it.
Beth LaBuff 12/09/07
You are always so honest about things some of us try to hide. Great message and writing!
Sharlyn Guthrie12/09/07
Ooh! Can I ever relate to this...in days gone by, of course. Actually, my husband is sometimes the undeserving recipient these days. Very realistic and honest.
Jan Ross12/09/07
This is really good. Your transparency is refreshing as well as convicting. Sometimes we get so caught up in pleasing everyone except those closest to us--the ones most deserving of our attention, patience, and love. Great work! :)
Jan Ackerson 12/09/07
I love the bit in all-caps--just really brought home exactly how your protagonist was feeling.

My only "red pen" comment is about the title--I think it should be as creative and original as the rest of this story, rather than this clever, but familiar, phrase.

The pacing of this is masterful...crescendo, climax, decrescendo. Perfect.
Lynda Schultz 12/10/07
I don't even have the excuse of the kids,but can still relate to the problem. Thanks for the lesson. Well done.
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/11/07
Do I detect a little hyperbole in describing your MC? I've read what you've written about your children and know how dear they are to you. Literary license is permitted though, and I loved your story. I think you represented all moms when you described how hard it is to take care of kids and get something accomplised at the same time.
Patty Wysong12/11/07
Hehe. I can relate to this one--especially the 'manic monster' part. (Thank God for Wonderful husbands!!) As far as red ink? I'd have to switch pens and grab my green pen (green as in: Good to go.) and give you a smiley face. I've reread this several times (and felt the sting of the lesson each time) and really couldn't find anything to ink. I really liked that you ended it where you did and didn't spell out every little detail, but gave me a chance to draw out my own applications. Way to go!
Holly Westefeld12/11/07
I concur with the rest, and wonder when you were a fly on my wall. *grin* This was toward the top of my list.
Brenda Welc12/12/07
This may sound strange, but this brought tears to my eyes, I am soooooo like this on Wed when I have to gather 6 kids from various locations to take to youth group. When I do not get my Wednesdays off at work it's even worse!

You sure gave me something to think about and I thank you for that, why do we hurt the ones we love the most when we are trying to actually better their lives.

Thanks for this! Great convicting writing I am sure I am not the only one who had a wake up call with this one.

We all write for a reason--His purpose!
LauraLee Shaw12/12/07
I got a chuckle at your title--love it! Great job setting up this message for all the Marthas out there. :)
Sara Harricharan 12/12/07
Lolz. I like this. The transparency of you as the writer, shows through this piece as well, to make it so easy for your readers to relate to it. I loved the part with 'sit down and no one will get hurt'. Too funny!

RED PEN: I love one liners because they carry such a huge impact when staggered together. Just my own opinion-if the lines where she is grateful for her husband's help, is in a paragraph of it's own, it would pull a little more humor with it. The second sentence is when she is sayin she is a blessed woman. Other than that, I think everything was great! ^_^
Tim Pickl12/12/07
The title caught my attention because my grandfather (who recently passed away) would say 'the hostess with the mostess" to my grandma all the time! Home Groups are wonderful, but those hours and minutes leading up to the meeting time can be MOSTESS stressful! Excellent writing.
LaNaye Perkins12/12/07
I love how you describe the emotional turmoil your MC faced and her honesty when asking for prayer. The voice of this story seemed perfect to me.
Sara Harricharan 12/13/07
Debbie Roome 12/13/07
I love this. I have 5 children born within 8 years and their younger years were mayhem and madness.I fully identify with your MC. Well done.
Dee Yoder 12/13/07
Kristen, this is wonderful and poignant. I had days like this when I fully regretted the impatience I showed toward my husband and son, so yes! It's a convicting message for me and most moms! Congratulations on your EC!
Sheri Gordon12/13/07
Congratulations on your EC. You are masterful at sharing everyday struggles. You keep it real and entertaining. Very good writing.
Catrina Bradley 12/13/07
What a convicting piece of writing. Excellent. Congrats, Kristen! Love, Cat
Venice Kichura12/15/07
Very true to life---I could relate. Congratulations on a well-deserved win!
Chong Shipei12/18/07
I smile when I read this. It must be real difficult for the main character in your story to be a mother to a bunch of SWEET, ADORABLE children. :)

She is sweet, the main character in your story. I like the way your portray her... the tone in the story clearly shows her state of anxiousness...

I can hear Jesus calling, Martha... martha...