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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Actions Speak Louder than Words" (without using the actual phrase). (02/21/08)

TITLE: Stinking Situation
By Angela M. Baker-Bridge


A dreadful stench welcomed Rachel home even before reaching the screen door of her paint chipped cottage.

What smells? Rachel cringed as she waved the air in front of her nose. Boldly, she entered her tiny abode, struggling not to gag. I was only gone a few hours, what could have happened?

Looking around, Rachel saw her husband lying on the floor watching football. Several feet away, her toddler sat in his little wooden rocking chair. “Is that disgusting odor coming from the baby? John? Diarrhea is running down Benjamin’s legs. Why is he sitting in a dirty diaper?”

“Because he pooped,” her husband blurted out, signaling her to hush as he intently gazed at the television. “Touchdown!” he screamed as animatedly as possible.

“Okay woman, you should know better than to come in here and start talking to me in the last quarter of the game with 15 seconds to go. Now, what were you babbling about?”

Rachel’s piercing gaze could have melted a glacier. “I want to know why you’re lying there watching football while Benjamin’s sitting in filth. How could you stand the smell? Was it too much to ask that you watch him while I went to the women’s meeting?”

“Look, it’s not my fault if right after you left the kid messed himself. I had to put him somewhere or it would have gotten all over the couch. A little gratitude would be nice.”

“Gratitude?” Rachel’s eyes welled with tears as she grabbed the baby. “And right after I left? That means he’s been sitting here over two hours? How could you be so lazy? Why didn’t you change his diaper?”

Benjamin started crying. Between the smell and the mess, it was difficult for Rachel to hold him close enough to comfort him.

“Now you made the kid cry, are you happy?” John flipped through the television channels until he found another sporting event. “Let me get this straight, I let you go to the meeting and you come home with an attitude, acting like I did something wrong?”

Trembling, Rachel disrobed the baby, preparing to bathe him in the kitchen sink. Not responding to her husband only added to his agitation. “Rachel, I’m waiting for an answer.”

“Oh you don’t want to hear my answer right now. Besides, you still haven’t answered my original question, like why didn’t you change Benjamin’s diaper? And don’t tell me you didn’t have time, because you said it yourself, he sat there like this over two hours!”

Walking closer to Rachel, John was quite matter-of-fact. “Because I don’t do diapers… never have… never will. I told you that before he was born, and nothings changed.”

“It’s one thing not to want to change his diapers when I’m here, but when he’s alone with you? Especially, when a loose bowel movement runs down his legs? My God, John, you say you love us, but I find it hard to believe.”

John rolled his eyes, “What’s not changing a diaper got to do with loving you? Is this going to be one of your ridiculously irrelevant unrelated connect-the-dots speeches? Because if it is, truthfully? I’m not interested.”

As she removed the soiled clothes from Benjamin, Rachel tried to subdue her rage. “John, the dots are not irrelevant or unrelated. If you’re going to say you love someone, you’d better be prepared to prove it to them. Doing this today is just another example of how clueless you are. You refuse to meet me half way. I need, no; we need, you to do more than just talk about loving us. We need you to support us.”

Slamming his fist on the kitchen counter, John glared at Rachel. “Are you insinuating I don’t support you well enough?”

“That’s not what I said. You’re a good provider, but you don’t support us in practical ways, helping out around here, co-parenting, showing us you care, like changing a diaper when necessary.”

John headed for the door, stopped, and then looked back at Rachel. “No matter what I say, you don’t believe I love you. Women wish their husbands told them ‘I love you’ as often as I tell you.” John’s face was beet red as he left.

Gently caressing Benjamin, Rachel told her son, “No, women wish their husbands showed them they’re loved* … connect these dots … love your wife like Christ loved the church.** Benjamin, you’re not what’s stinking around here.”


*“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” I Corinthians 13:1 (NIV)

**“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” Ephesians 5:25 (NIV)

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This article has been read 762 times
Member Comments
Member Date
LauraLee Shaw02/29/08
I could certainly feel the emotion in this piece, and the blood vessels in my neck flared out a bit as I read it. Poor little Punkin.
I like this sentence.
Rachel’s piercing gaze could have melted a glacier.
That really painted a picture for me.
c clemons03/03/08
Excellent use of topic. Characterizations were done very well, albeit a sad commentary for both characters. The husband as a total goof and the wife..who washes a baby with diahhrea in the kitchen sink? Anyway, keep writing.
Chely Roach03/03/08
Yes! Changing poopy diapers IS an expression of love...believe me, I know!
Great illustration of the topic, and well done;)
Beckie Stewart03/05/08
How very sad for everyone in this story. Unfortunately this neglect of caring for a child and loving a spouse is real.
Jan Ackerson 03/05/08
Very good! May be one of the best of yours, Angela! By the way, I left a comment on another entry after you hinted--but it was a different "two S" title. Oops!

Anyway, this is a great job of showing, and of bringing in lots of sensory data (ick...)
Debbie Wistrom03/05/08
I was angry too and shking my head. Glad to know that I'm not alone in the "showing" department, you can only hear it so much without seeing the back up. You fired me up!
Great job.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/05/08
You're right on here. Love is demonstrated not just said. And you're right, too, about the husband being a stinker. You showed the topic excellently.
Joshua Janoski03/05/08
My dad is getting better at this, but he used to frustrate my mom in this way. I would hope that if I become a husband someday, that I would not make the same mistakes that the guy in this story made. This was an entertaining read with a good message. Thanks for sharing.
Julie Arduini03/05/08
Angela your writing has always been good but you just keep getting better and better. This is a favorite. That last line was amazing. The writing was fresh and real, I loved it.
Loren T. Lowery03/05/08
Talk about a "test" just after geeting back from a church meeting! Masterful writing, intense and truthful without pulling punches. Of course not all men are like this, but the way you made this situation so black and white and so level-headedly real only makes the message ring that much louder. Great job!
Lyn Churchyard03/05/08
This is one of those "I'd like to rub his nose in the diaper" situations. Great descriptions and dialogue. Another great story told. Well done.
Sherry Castelluccio 03/05/08
Excellent writing. I wish I had more time to comment- it's simply great-well done!
Sara Harricharan 03/06/08
Wow. You title sure fits this piece and boy, I really wanted to do something about his 'careless' attitude. Love isn't just saying the words and that's that. Good greif! You did well, with putting a lot emotion and some into this.