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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)

TITLE: Richly Poor
By Ann Marie Lindenmeyer


Jayden woke in anticipation. The sun was just starting to rise as the misty-morning light crept through the cracks of her shredded window curtains. She arose off her worn mattress, which encompassed a majority of the floor of her small bedroom. She dressed quickly and hustled to the kitchen, greeted with the aroma of biscuits. Mom made biscuits and gravy often for breakfast, sausage in the gravy was a rare treat and Jayden saw that today was one of those days.

“Wow, smells wonderful, Mom! Can’t wait ‘til we get on the road.” Jayden filled a plate.

“I’ll say grace.” They sat at their worn-down rickety table on the two miss-matched chairs and Jayden began, “Dear Lord, I am so thankful today for such a blessing. You have answered my prayer and I finally get to meet Jacob. Thank you so much for the food you have blessed us with for this special day and thank you for my wonderful mom. We praise you every day for all you have given us and thank you for pouring your grace upon us, amen.”

“Amen,” Mom chimed in. “Jayden, I know you’re excited and with very good reason, but…” Mom trailed off and paused, “Just remember that Jacob’s life is so different from yours.”

“Aw, Mom, you’ve told me this like a gazillion times,” Jayden playfully poked at her mom for fun and they both giggled. “They’re rich, we’re poor, so what. I have everything I need right here; you, God, my friends, and my sketch pads.”

“You are such an amazing daughter,” she smiled lovingly into Jayden's deep brown eyes, seeing joy and happiness within them.

“And you are such an amazing mom, but lets eat so can we leave already!”

The car was filled with their laughter and off-tune singing as the trees and scenery whizzed by. The five-hour drive passed quicker than Jayden had imagined.

Jayden was in awe as they arrived. Stone granite columns rose from the sides of the drive and a bronze-colored gate blocked the entrance. Mom talked into a speaker to announce her presence and the gate opened. The long driveway was lined with neatly trimmed bushes that looked almost too perfect, Jayden questioned if they were even real. The drive circled in front of the estate home, stone statues of lions guarding the marbled steps to the stark white pillars gracing the front entry.

They were led into the foyer and Jayden was amazed at the mosaic tapestry before her eyes, the sparkling glass chandelier that hung from the high ceiling, and the impeccable hardwood floors that she dared not step on with her worn shoes.

As Jayden was led to the guest room, she marveled at the artwork displayed on the walls throughout, but she realized that there was something missing as she plopped herself onto the cushiony, soft bed filled with six fluffy pillows and a multi-colored quilt woven with gold trim.

It was odd. The home was beautiful and filled with ‘things’ that Jayden could only imagine having in her dreams, but it felt cold, lacking love and life within its walls.

“Jayden?” a soft-spoken male voice interrupted.

“Come in.”

A boy Jayden’s age with dark hair and deep brown eyes like hers peeked his head through the doorway. Jayden jumped up, ran to him and hugged him with such enthusiasm she almost knocked him over.

Jayden backed away, “Oops, I’m so sorry Jacob, I just have been so excited to finally meet you, my only cousin!”

Jacob looked downward, avoiding Jayden’s gaze. “Yeah, me too,” he managed to muffle.

Jayden’s heart felt drawn to Jacob, she felt the aura of sadness that surrounded him. He glanced up, catching Jayden’s eyes, and she saw his pain. "I have my work cut out for me, Lord," she thought. "Please help me show Jacob your love so it can fill his heart with joy."

“We have 15 years to make up for, let’s go have some fun!” Jayden’s smiled flashed brightly and Jacob managed a slight smile in return.

“Wow, you’re like the sun coming out from behind the clouds after a huge rainstorm, I have just the right place to go. My parents hate it and it’s a far walk on our grounds, but I think you’ll love it!” Jayden caught a glimpse of excitement in Jacob’s face as he spoke.

Jayden grabbed her jacket and followed Jacob’s lead, this would be an interesting summer indeed, she thought.

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Member Comments
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Beth LaBuff 05/29/08
Your breakfast description made me hungry and I could see the "estate home" and I wanted to visit too. I had to smile at the list of things that included sketch pads. :) Your title is perfect for this. I wish I could have heard about the cousin's adventure. Let me know when you write Chapter 2.
Shirley McClay 05/29/08
I want to read more! This is such an interesting story.
Debi Derrick05/29/08
I want to read more, too! I'll bet they had a great summer.
Dolores Stohler05/30/08
You have the beginnings of an interesting story. What I liked best was the prayer Jayden said, honoring her God and her mother. One thing I would have done differently was to make the monetary contrast between the two families a little less acute: Lower middle class or single parent family visiting a wealthy one. I've been in that situation and know how it feels.
c clemons05/30/08
Nice title, content was a little lacking, no reason was given why these cousins were just meeting. Smooth out some of the dialogue and this could work.
Lollie Hofer06/02/08
I enjoyed reading this story. There's so much more to tell...please do keep going with this. There are unanswered questions...such as why she is visiting her rich cousin? Why is she poor and her cousin rich? Why is he sad? Does he get saved? This could be the beginning of a chapter book for those in their early teen years. (The dialogue may need to be a little more realistic but you wouldn't have to tweak it too much to make it work.)
Cheri Hardaway 06/02/08
Wonderful writing. You left me wanting more. As one commenter said, you have the beginnings of a great story. You illustrate the differences between Jayden and Jacob very well, and I really want to know where Jacob took his cousin! Nice job. Blessings, Cheri
Jan Ackerson 06/02/08
Interesting story!

Watch out for comma splices and redundancies--this could be tightened up quite a bit, giving you more words for plot development.

I like the idea you had here--it's a really good one.
Sara Harricharan 06/02/08
Love the wordplay on the title, but I want to know what happens next? It seems like there's sooo much more to this story. I loved the descriptions and the two cousins meeting for the first time. It was good! ^_^
Lyn Churchyard06/03/08
Oh I so wanted to read more. It's like reading an exciting story and having your mother tell you to switch your light out and go to bed. Well done!
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/04/08
This is not only very interesting, but you've presented an mc I want to follow in future stories.
Debbie Wistrom06/05/08
Your title fits perfectly. I enjoyed Jayden's character and her enthusiasm for life.