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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Mother (as in maternal parent) (04/24/08)

TITLE: Chili Pepper Words
By Joanney Uthe


“AMANDA! This is not where your backpack belongs. You get back here and put it away this instant.” My mother’s words came from my own mouth, giving life to my worst childhood fear. I had become my mother.

My timid daughter come back into the room to pick up the offending backpack, replacing it with a toy as she gathered up her books. “Amanda Joy, don’t you leave that toy there.” Blaming her for my headache getting worse, I stormed over to her and stared her in the eye. Her tears stopped my anger. I handed her the toy with a weak “I’m sorry.”

Without an answer, she took her backpack and toy and slammed her bedroom door. I started to follow, but realized that what my mother had done. Instead, I checked on dinner, took some ibuprofen, and I went to my own room. My eyes landed on a small book on my dresser, a gift from a friend the day before. Picking it up, I wondered if this collection of “encouraging Bible verses for all situations” would have anything about yelling at my kid. I doubted it.

I’ve tried so many times to not yell at Amanda. Obviously I’ve failed every time. My friend Shelly, who gave me this book, seems to think God is real. Maybe He can help me. Once as a child I attended church and remember people praying as if God were in the room.

If You’re real, and You can hear me,God, I don’t want to yell at Amanda anymore. I don’t deserve Your help, but Amanda doesn’t deserve to be yelled at all the time either. If You’ll help me, show me a verse that applies. One that I need to apply.”

I honestly didn’t have faith that God would hear me until I opened the little book of verses and read Colossians 4:6. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Words full of grace sounded so beautiful, unlike what I shout at Amanda everyday. Instead of seasoning them with salt, I tend to use chili pepper.

Okay, God. Show me what this verse means. How do I make my words full of grace? When I need Amanda to do something, how do I season my words with salt instead of chili pepper? I can’t do this. You have to do it in me. One of the verses I read said if I confess my sins, You will forgive me.* I’m sorry for hurting Amanda by yelling at her. Help me to stop.

The timer for the oven interrupted my prayer. Amanda said good-night right after our speechless dinner. I called Shelly, cried my heart out over the phone, and agreed to join her for church on Sunday.

Shelly was waiting outside the main entrance when we arrived Sunday morning. Her daughter welcomed Amanda, excited to show her to their classroom. Amanda reluctantly followed.

“How many times did you yell at Amanda since we talked Tuesday night?” Shelly’s direct words expressed concern instead of the judgement I expected. Perhaps that’s why I felt so drawn to her.

“I started to a couple of times, but lost my voice every time. When I went to her and asked her in a normal voice, I could talk just fine.” I still did not understand how that happened.

“I prayed all week that exact thing would happen. Isn’t God good?” My friend did not seem the least bit shocked at what I considered a miracle.


Happy Mother’s Day, to my best friend.

I’m writing this in Youth Group.

I don’t know what happened the night five years ago when you went to your room after yelling at me. I decided that night that I couldn’t take it anymore, that I would run away the next time you yelled. I was only 11 at the time, but a friend and I made an escape plan. You never yelled at me again.

That week you decided to start going to church. I cannot tell you how thankful I am for that decision. I understand now that probably has everything to do with the change in you since that night. God has done a wonderful thing in both of us.

What would you think if I became a peer mentor here at church? Many of these kids are in pain from family issues like we had.

I love you,

*1 John 1:9
All verses NIV

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This article has been read 655 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Debbie Wistrom05/01/08
Your title drew me in and I enjoyed this very much.

Other than a couple missing "s" this sparkled.

Remarkable that God took her voice, more remarkable the daughter planning on leaving---at 11---Keep writing, you have much to share.
Joy Faire Stewart05/01/08
Very interesting story with a wonderful message. Love it!
LauraLee Shaw05/02/08
Instead of seasoning them with salt, I tend to use chili pepper. Love this analogy, and it is one I can certainly relate to. Thank you for sharing.
Betty Castleberry05/05/08
I enjoyed reading from both the mom and the daughter's view points. Nicely done.
Mariane Holbrook 05/05/08
You have the most interesting ways of handling an analogy. I love this piece and I can see people from my life in this writing.
It's a fine entry and I think it should easily place.
Holly Westefeld05/06/08
You address a struggle here which I believe most of us parents have faced. It is truly only in God's strength that victory may be realized. I was glad to experience the transition of Amanda's middle name from irony to reality.
Willena Flewelling 05/06/08
This is excellent, from the catchy title to through the smooth transitions, to the satisfactory conclusion. Blessed indeed is the mother whose 16-year-old daughter considers her her best friend.
Mandy White05/06/08
Thank you for this. I'll always think of your chili pepper analogy when I'm tempted to lose it with my kiddos. Great job.
Sheri Gordon05/06/08
I love this message. Very powerful, and so realistic.

I especially like the part about Shelly not being "surprised" by God's answer to her prayer.

Nice job with the topic.
Pam Carlson-Hetland05/06/08
Great title. This is amazing. Great idea on telling the story first from the mother's perspective (don't we all have those moments when we hear our mother's voice come out of our mouth?). Then the Lord's intervention and what a great way to wrap it all up with the letter from the daughter 5 years later. Very creative. Excellent writing.
Joanne Sher 05/06/08
Love the title and the analogy especially. I also really liked seeing both sides of this. Nicely done!
Joshua Janoski05/06/08
The daughter's letter at the end was a nice touch. Your title is great, and I liked how you compared the words to being like chili pepper instead of salt.

I think everyone, parent or not, can take something from this story to help better their lives.

Thank you for sharing.
Myrna Noyes05/07/08
I loved your title and how it fit with the theme of your story! I want to season my conversations with salt, too; and your piece will remind me to be careful not to use chili pepper instead! :D Nice job!
Dianne Janak05/07/08
Title perfect... and what a wonderful lesson for all moms... everywhere. I loved that you used God's word as the teacher, and then we saw how God intervened in the daughter and she also saw the power of God's truth. Great writing... loved it!
Sara Harricharan 05/07/08
Oooh, I did like this. I liked the 'miracle' of when she tried to yell, she's lose her voice. That was neat. I especially liked the letter at the end from Amanda-the story behind the story, so to say. It was great!

RED INK: A few missing words in the first paragraph, for instance, I think you missed a "was" or "and" somewhere. ^_^ Otherwise-really nice!
Carole Robishaw 05/07/08
What more could I add to what has already been written, Very well done!
Loren T. Lowery05/07/08
Words of wisdom wrapped around a wonderful story. I especially liked the analogy of your title, seasoned throughout your article : )
Lauryn Abbott05/07/08
This was a great entry. I really loved it. The lesson was strong, yet gentle and I'm sure many of us will remember it. Great flavoring throughout!
Jeffrey Snell05/07/08
Great title! Try using a little different structure to enhance the "feel" of the story. I really liked the transition in POV--wonderful!
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/07/08
Excellent story with a perfect message and a title to draw the reader in.