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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Every Dark Cloud has a Silver Lining" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (02/28/08)

TITLE: Right Time, Wrong Place
By Angela M. Baker-Bridge
03/06/08


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Nestled in her favorite over-stuffed armchair, Megan held her mug of orange-spiced tea. She savored each sip and moment. With her mug almost empty, she knew it was time to awaken her daughters.

Entering their room, she smiled as she watched sunbeams peaking through the window blind framing their angelic faces. “Good morning princesses! Time to get up… your school clothes are on your beanbags. Let’s see who gets dressed first, you or Mommy.”

Dressing for work, Megan heard the girls scrambling to beat her. They had no idea how much joy they gave her. Megan had no idea how much grief she was about to receive.

As Megan walked down the administration-building hall, see saw three assistants at the coffee station. Spotting her, they lowered their voices, but Megan heard, “Meg’s going to flip-out.”

Just then, her boss popped out of his office. “Morning Megan. Please get settled then come into my office.”

“Right away sir,” she smiled while nodding her head. As Mr. Jenkins disappeared, her forehead creased, her smile vanished. She breathed deeply while putting down her things, straightened her clothes, and ran her hand through her hair. “It can’t be that bad,” she whispered.

“Thanks for coming right in, Megan. I didn’t want you to hear this from anyone else. Here’s the thing… well… there’s been a complaint by an employee about your schedule. HR informed me you must work the same hours as everyone else, 8-5.”

“But Mr. Jenkins, I come in at 9:00 then work the switchboard during lunch, which is eight hours. So I’m working the same number of hours as everyone.”

“I understand. When you first proposed the idea, I concurred because it solved your problem and mine. However, because the policy is 8-5, you must start coming in earlier. HR will assign a work-study student to the switchboard.”

Tears flowed down Megan’s cheeks. “But then I won’t be home when the girls get-up. Plus I’ll have to sit around for an hour while they’re in school. I can’t do that. You know how important it is to me to be home in the morning, and to pray with them before they leave.”

“I know, and I’m genuinely sorry Meg.”

She stood-up and walked to the window, wiping her streaking make-up. “They’re only six years old and going through so much already. I can’t do this to them. I can’t, and I won’t. For crying-out-loud, I’ve worked this schedule over a year, why the beef now?”

Mr. Jenkins shook his head and raised his hands. “Don’t know, but if you don’t comply, I’ll have to let you go. I hate to run, but I’ve got a meeting.”

“Oh yeah, the VP’s Strategy Session… the green folder has the agenda, President’s proposal, and your proposal.”

Megan gulped as her boss walked out of his office; she lingered behind. Slowly she looked around the office. “I cannot believe this. After all I've done for Jenkins, for this college.” Closing her eyes, she prayed softly. “Lord, what should I do?” Immediately she knew.*

Sitting at Mr. Jenkins’s desk, Megan wrote her resignation letter, tears flowing, hands trembling, her chest tightening. She slipped the letter into an envelope, placing it on Mr. Jenkins’s chair. Putting on her jacket, she collected her things, and went home.

She cried for two weeks, not sleeping, gorging on ice cream, pacing each time Mr. Jenkins called.

“Mr. Jenkins, I can’t back down. It’s principle, family first.”

“Megan, I cannot risk my job defending you, plus HR sent me an inexperienced assistant.”

Megan’s dream job was gone forever. She stood on her decision, trusting God.

During her third week of unemployment, the phone rang. It was the college president’s office. He wanted to talk to her about her actions. “Lord, please help me!” she uttered, as she dressed for the meeting.

Twisting her hands, uneasy in the president’s office, she waited while he was on the telephone.

“Sorry for the interruption, Megan. I’m sure you know everyone’s talking about what you did. You’re a woman of conviction and I admire that. How would you like to work for me? You can make your own hours, be as flexible as needed, and even work from home when the girls are sick.”

Megan couldn’t believe her ears. A promotion! Smiling for the first time in weeks, she didn’t know who to thank first, the Dr. J. Robert Ashcroft,** or God who rescued her from her enemies.

_______________________________________

*“Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 1:8 (NIV)

**Former Governor and Attorney General John Ashcroft’s father


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This article has been read 759 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Seema Bagai 03/07/08
Great story. I enjoyed reading this and liked the note at the end indicating this is about a real situation.
Shirley McClay 03/07/08
I loved that you showed us and helped us feel her fear and frustration instead of telling us as it would have been easy to do in this story. Enjoyed it!
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/08/08
Great principle and convictiion--great silver lining--great story. I really enjoyed it.
LauraLee Shaw03/11/08
Wow, what a GREAT story! Not many people would stand with that kind of conviction, but what a blessing. Thanks for writing this.
Mandy White03/11/08
This is wonderful. I felt for Megan, having two little ones of my own. She made me proud!
Lynda Lee Schab 03/12/08
The message you meant to convey came across loud and clear. Taking a stand and doing what is right is ALWAYS the way to go, even if you don't see a reward as Megan did. From a judge's perspective, there were a couple of bumpy spots - nothing major. The connectivity wasn't quite there for me, I think because the story focuses on the message so much that the character depth of Megan gets lost. There is a lot of telling (Megan walking to the window and wiping her makeup, for instance) but not a lot of heart transparency. Of course, you can't completely give that in 750 words...I don't know if that makes sense to you, but I know you asked for a little more critique and that's what struck me about this piece. But, overall, it's a great story with excellent potential. And, again, your message comes through clearly and is perfectly on topic. :-)
Angela M. Baker-Bridge03/12/08
Very constructive comment! Exactly what I needed. Thanks so much. Angel
Jan Ackerson 03/12/08
Excellent, Angela--I thought this was very good at the "showing, not telling" aspect. I really felt as if you got under Megan's skin, and also included a lot of great details to establish the setting.

If I were to red ink it, I'd say that the plot itself isn't as compelling as it might be--a lost job, and a fairly predictable ending.

Your dialogue was particularly well-written.
Patty Wysong03/12/08
Now that's conviction! One thing I noticed is an easy fix. When speaking to a person, their name is off-set with a comma. "Morning, Megan." or Megan, would you come in here...

Great reminder for us to stand up for what we believe.
Sara Harricharan 03/13/08
Oooh, I like how your title ties in here. I wished that I'd known a little more about Megan though, her character seemed to want more-lol. Congrats on your EC win! Awesome writing. ^_^
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/13/08
Congratulations on your EC, Angel. You did it!
Shelley Ledfors 03/13/08
What an excellent illustration of the topic! I really enjoyed this piece. A huge congratulations on your EC!! I am very happy for you!
Beth LaBuff 03/13/08
Angela -- Super congrats on this!!!!
Sheri Gordon03/13/08
Congratulations on your EC. This was a very interesting story to read. Good job with the topic.
Joy Faire Stewart03/13/08
Great story and congratulation on your EC!
Joanne Sher 03/13/08
I'm almost GLAD I didn't read this until after it WON, because knowing it is YOUR story makes it even more awesome. Wonderfully done, Angel -a very well-deserved EC. Congrats.
Peter Stone03/13/08
Congratulations, and so wonderful to see God coming through for someone when they stand up for their convictions.
Karen Wilber 03/19/08
Fantastic! I read it again and chuckled when I read the line "her dream job was gone forever". Then she gets a better job. God must laugh when he knows that we're about to open a present from Him.
Debbie Wistrom03/20/08
So glad she (you ?) stuck to her guns. What conviction, I could use more back bone like this. Thanks for finding a topic to tie this story to.