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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: In-Law(s) (05/08/08)

TITLE: Following Love
By Ruth Neilson


Charles knew the moment him and his wife, Susanne, moved into his parents’ house as refugees that it was temporary. He loved his folks...and for that matter so did Susanne, but there was always that tension that seemed to fill the house, especially when the topic of his career choice came up.

He was a pastor, and his parents couldn’t stand the idea of their brilliant, funny son serving others. He scratched the back of his neck sheepishly as he pulled the gifted RV curbside to his parents’ house. He could almost hear the war of words now. He could only pray that Susanne had the packing done so that there would be a smooth escape.

He sucked in a deep breath and breathed a prayer as he slowly began to walk towards the building that was once his home.

Strings of a conversation filtered through an open window, his mothers shrill voice was slowly overwhelming Susanne’s gentle voice.

Momma was speaking. “I’ve found him a perfectly good job here...”

“That’s not the problem, Mother. In fact we appreciate it. But it’s just time for us to return--”

“To what? A shambled life and a town that has nothing to offer you?”

There was a pause and Charles hesitated. He had never actually been a witness to one of these infamous battles—he had only heard about them later...much later.

“The high school is opening up so I need to be there. And our church has asked Charlie to come back.”

Charles could almost picture his mother’s face turning scarlet, her nostrils flaring in anger.

“How dare you drag Charles back to that forsaken town just for your career?! It’s not going to help him further his own--”

Susanne snorted and Charles smiled in spite of himself, as she continued. “You actually think that that I’m putting my desires before God’s calling on your son’s life? Mother, I love your son and he loves me, but not because I have such a glamorous job teaching in a high school nor because he is a preacher. I love him for who he is.”

Charles held his breath for a long moment as silence filled the air. The birds even seemed to fall silent as Susanne’s voice dropped an octave. “When we got married, we promised each other to be there for better or for worse. The hurricane was possibly the lowest spot we’ve been in as of yet. But, we clung to each other and to God. And now, we’re hearing His voice once again. Mother, it’s time for us to go home.”

Charles took advantage of the lull in the conversation and swiftly entered the house. With an impish skill of a nine year old, he crept down the hallway and plastered himself against the wall to listen some more.

“What home? Your ‘God’ has destroyed everything that you two have ever worked for. At least here, Charles has a job waiting on him that I found for him, which is more than you’ve done.”

Charles blinked several times in confusion. He tried to keep him mouth closed, but the words just tumbled out. “Momma, I appreciate your concern for us, but God has us firmly in His hands.”

Susanne’s smile beamed from across the room at him and Charles found himself sucking in a deep breath as his mother’s face contorted into an all too familiar mask.

“But where will you live? There are no houses down there...” She asked, her voice becoming sugary sweet.

Charles smiled faintly as he nodded once to Susanne to grab her suitcase as he bent down to grab his own. “Momma, God’s blessed us with a RV, equipped beyond our dreams, free of charge. We wanted to make this an easy good-bye...but...” Charles sighed and Susanne picked up. “I don’t see how with you not allowing us to go and follow what God wants us to do.”

Charles took Susanne’s empty hand and simply guided her past his mother and out of the house. Tenderly, he helped her up into their storm battered truck and then climbed up into it himself.

“Did you tell her that we were…?” Charles finally asked, breaking the silence. Susanne shook her head once, resting her hands on her smooth stomach.

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This article has been read 657 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/15/08
I didn't like the mother-in-law, but I liked your story of how the children followed love. She was going to be the loser.
Joanne Sher 05/16/08
Good characterization - and you have some great little descriptions in here. Caught a few grammar things, but nothing major. Enjoyed this.
Karen Wilber05/17/08
Ooooh, I liked your ending. Mother-in-law definitely wouldn't understand them leaving now. Makes me wonder what will happen next. I like your couple. They'll be OK. ;-)
Jan Ackerson 05/18/08
I love that you made Charles the POV character, even though the whole story was the conversation between his wife and his mother. Really nice touch.

In the very first sentence, it should be "...he and his wife..." instead of "...him and his wife..." A minor error, but you don't want even a minor error in the first sentence!

Loved the wife's wonderful attitude!
LaNaye Perkins05/18/08
I also loved the wife's attitude and the story bein told from the son's POV.

I only noticed a few minor glitches, which have already been mentioned.

All in all, I really loved your story. Well done!
Betty Castleberry05/18/08
Believable dialog, and very well written. The mother-in-law is a classic example of a "meddling mother-in-law." Well done.
Sharlyn Guthrie05/18/08
You've created some good drama here! I thought it took Charles entlirely too long to step in on his wife's behalf. Good thing they're getting out of town, if he can't stand up to his mom in those situations!
Debbie Wistrom05/19/08
Your MIL could be a Disney villian!!!
Hated her!-Good job!
Joshua Janoski05/20/08
What a mean mother-in-law, but sadly there are people out there like that. I really am glad that Charles stuck up for his God and for his wife. Good for him!

Thank you for sharing this. It was a good read. :)
Mariane Holbrook 05/21/08
Wow! You fleshed out the character of the MIL so well that I felt like I'd known her forever. She gives MILs everywhere a bad name. Any way you look at it, being a MIL and having a MIL requires time and patience and plenty of prayer, and even then there are no guarantees. Nice job.
Sara Harricharan 05/21/08
Great job for the kids. I felt sad that the Mother wouldn't even think or give them a chance and the sugary smile that made up her mask, that gave me a shudder. You did well with her character. Great job! ^_^