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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Make Hay While the Sun Shines" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (03/06/08)

TITLE: Mrs. Pennypack Paints a Picture
By Betty Castleberry


Mrs. Pennypack wrinkled her nose at the pungent smell of turpentine and oils that permeated the room. She dabbed her brush in black paint and mixed it with the white paint in the center of her pallet. The result was a soft gray, much like the curls that lay against her cheeks. Frowning at the color, she glanced around for her instructor. He was standing by a student, examining a canvas. She caught his eye when he looked up and waved him over.

“Yes, Mrs. Pennypack?”

The elderly woman pointed at the swirl of gray on her pallet. “Lorne, I mixed white and black, but this isn’t the color I wanted at all. I think I need a light brown for my mountains.”

A flash of impatience crossed the young instructor’s face, then faded as he sought control. “Remember the basics? White and black are going to make gray every time. Start over and use red and green, then lighten with white. That should give you a nice shade of brown.”

“Red and green? Why, I never would have thought of that.”

Lorne mumbled under his breath.

She smiled. “Did you say I was forgetful?” Before he had time to answer, she added, “Did you roll your eyes at me?”

He forced a smile. “You don’t seem to be catching on as quickly as the rest of the students, but I’m trying to make allowances. I know you are older.”

Mrs. Pennypack nodded and ignored his patronization. She thought of all she could add, such as she had made many important decisions in her lifetime and lived through things he could only read about in history books. Her experience and wisdom would far outweigh his. Instead, she chuckled. “Yes, I’m definitely older than anyone else in class.

While you’re standing right here, would you refresh me on which brush to use to make my shrubbery?”

Lorne sighed audibly. “We went over that yesterday. I thought I made it very clear. You will need the small fan brush. Mrs. Pennypack, perhaps art isn’t your forte.”

“Of course it isn’t. That’s why I’m taking this class. I want a challenge.” She was sure she heard an expletive under his breath.

She smiled. “God bless you, Lorne.”

He looked at her, puzzled. “Anything else?”

“Jesus loves you.”

“Hmm. Yes, that’s what some claim.”

She knew then her suspicions had been right. Lorne didn’t know Christ.

He quickly changed the subject. “You know there are only three classes left. You’ve barely started your painting. I doubt you will finish it.”

Her face lit up. “That’s not important. I’ve got to enjoy my outings three afternoons a week. I’ve met new people, and I’ve got to enjoy your company.” She patted his hand, and he stiffened. “You’re a fine young man, Lorne.”

“Thank you, but the goal is to finish your painting.”

“No, that’s not my goal. I was put on this earth to fellowship with Christ, imitate Him and tell others about Him.”

“I won’t discuss religion with you or anyone else, Mrs. Pennypack. If you don’t have any more questions about your painting, I’ll just make my way around the room.”

“I can‘t think of anything.”

“Then I’ll go.”

Lorne turned to leave, but his elderly student caught his elbow. “Lorne, just so you know, talking about Christ isn’t a religious discussion. It’s spreading the best news mankind has ever received. I’ve got three more classes to tell you about it and I intend to keep talking. Jesus really does love you.”

He shrugged his arm away when another student called for him. “Whatever. As you can see, I’m being paged.” He walked off, with a determined bounce in his step.

Mrs. Pennypack called after him. “Thank you for this art class, Lorne. It’s been a wonderful opportunity for me.” She prayed the seed she planted would flourish. Maybe Lorne could look back someday and say it had been a wonderful experience for him as well.

Staring hard at her canvas, she realized it wouldn’t take much to transform her landscape into a painting of Calgary. She squeezed red and green paint onto her pallet and mixed them, then lightened with white. The resulting shade of brown would be perfect for a wooden cross.

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This article has been read 997 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shelley Ledfors 03/13/08
A lovely example of having the right priorities and making the most of opportunities.
Holly Westefeld03/13/08
I enjoyed your story and Mrs. Pennypack making the most of the opportunity to share her faith. The change in direction with the painting was nice, too.
Please pardon me for some gentle chiding. Were you in such a hurry to get this submitted near the top of the list that you couldn't take the time to proofread? "a painting of Calgary."
Amy Michelle Wiley 03/14/08
I have a feeling you may be a student in Jan's alliteration class. ;-) Love the name and the character. I liked the twist in the painting, too.
Sally Hanan03/14/08
Your MC's name is perfect, and you managed to write a perfect charcterization of the teacher.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/15/08
Your well done characterization brought your MC to life excellently. You also did a good job with "making hay."
Jan Ackerson 03/16/08
Betty, this was delightful, as always...and I found the typo VERY funny, as I'm sure the Canadians among us will. Mrs. Pennypack is a great character!
Lyn Churchyard03/16/08
what a great name for your MC. She reminds me of your avatar picture :)

Great story of a feisty old lady who does not get fazed by a young teacher. Superb job Betty!
Catrina Bradley 03/16/08
I love your MC - great characterization. (And your typo is better than my usual mistake - calvary. :D) Wonderful story!
Patty Wysong03/17/08
I love Mrs. Pennypack! What a woman! I could picture her and hear her so clearly--she'd be a fun one to sit and visit with and learn from.
Yvonne Blake 03/17/08
Great use of alliteration, and not just in the title.
I love the bantering back and forth. I hope that when I'm "old", that I will have the courage to speak my mind, not caring of other people's opinion of me.
This is a good lesson for all of us. Thank you for writing it.
Loren T. Lowery03/17/08
Mrs. Pennypack, I think, is a sly ole fox dressed in a artist's smock. Never underestimate a woman when her mind is made up.
I really like the way you used the blending of colors to help tell your story, too.
Mandy White03/18/08
I love Mrs. Pennypack! What a delightful story!
Henry Clemmons03/18/08
Best opening line I've read. I really enjoyed how, not only it flowed, but set the tone. I see why you are a master. Very impressive.
Joshua Janoski03/19/08
Mrs. Pennypack's Christian example is a good one to follow.

I sure hope that Lorne eventually accepted Christ into his life as a result of her strong witnessing.

At least your typo was an actual place, so it made sense and gave a good laugh. :)

Great story. Thank you for sharing.
Debbie Wistrom03/19/08
Oh I love Mrs. Pennypack. Thanks for creating a great character, more of her escapades would be enjoyable, keep writing about this ol'gal.
Sara Harricharan 03/19/08
Oh I do so like Mrs. Pennypack. What a cute name, that made me smile as I read. I love how she shared even though Lorne wasn't ready to hear yet, I wanted to see a change of heart in him (think sequel! lol) but this was really well done! Great job! ^_^
Shayne Catoe03/19/08
You had my attention completely and throughout the read. I loved Mrs. Pennypack's attitude of patience with Lorne, and her ability through Christ to take his jabs. She saw beyond the temporal to the eternal, and so did you. I really enjoyed your entire story, especially the cross bit at the end.
Celeste Ammirata03/24/08
What a great story! I loved Mrs. Pennypack's patience and wisdom. A great lesson, indeed and very well written. I could see the scene taking place. Great job.