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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Telephone (07/17/08)

TITLE: The Stuff Of Life
By Deborah Engle


Her walk to the parking lot in the blazing sun produces rivulets of sweat that trickle down the side of her face. With her heavy satchel stowed in the trunk, she collapses into the car, intent on getting the air going as soon as possible. Waiting for relief, she blots her damp face with a tissue, then buckles her seatbelt and dutifully shifts into drive. Before she can pull away, the strains of Chopin’s “Minute Waltz” emerge from the nether-regions of her handbag. “Hi, Mom. …I know. I’m running behind. …No, don’t worry, we have time. …The appointment’s not until five. …Yes, we will. I’m on my way.” She checks her voice mail, then with a frown, flips the phone shut and lays it nearby. The boys haven’t checked in yet.


Glistening dewdrops, clinging to the leaves of the elm tree, catch her eye. With her hand still resting on the receiver, she turns to the window, but the view before her can only hold her attention for a short time. Instead, the voice of her young man, lingering in her ear, quickens her pulse. He’s coming!


Her stiff joints sometimes complain with the motion, but her familiar old rocking chair offers a convenient place to pass the long hours of the afternoon. The feeble winter sunshine, filtered by the bare branches of the massive oak tree, manages to penetrate through the windowpane, and she gratefully allows the warmth to surround her. The telephone is there on the table, but it doesn’t ring. Hour after endless hour crawls by. Resigned to this inevitable season of life, she waits patiently, occasionally nodding off. At long last, the hands on the clock tell her it is time to fix supper. She rises slowly and makes her way into the kitchen.


Heart-wrenching sobs summon her to the aid of her toddler. Once in her arms he nestles into her shoulder, but the sorrowful wails don’t diminish. Her rocking chair is in view, but a loud crash from the kitchen and a startled “Oh, no!” from her preschooler changes her course. The clamoring of the persistently ringing telephone barely penetrates through the chaos, but today, the caller will have to settle for the answering machine.


The sound of excited footsteps bounding down the stairs mingle with the ringing of the telephone. “Hi! …Mom said I could. It’s gonna be fun! …Who else is coming? …Sleeping bag-check. …Diary-yep…oh, and I have to bring my floppy dog, Cocoa!” Little girl giggles fill the air.


The clock reads 5:12 am, but she pulls on her robe and steps into her slippers, regardless. The call she has just received on her bedside phone has left her thoroughly awake and rejoicing in the arrival of her first grandchild. A girl - wonder of wonders - a little girl! She watches through the picture window as the darkness of night gives way to an amber dawn-what a beautiful sight on this special day.


An unexplainable sense of unease has settled over her, sabotaging her efforts to reduce the stack of work still piled on her desk. She jumps at the sudden ringing of her phone, and for a moment, is unable to do anything more than stare at the intimidating instrument. Finally, she lifts the receiver to her ear. “Hello? …This is she… How can I help you, Officer Cooper? …Yes, he is my husband. …You’re taking him where? …Grace Memorial Hospital? …I’ll be there as soon as I can. …Yes, I’ll hurry.”


You’ve been there, just like I have. The “stuff of life” is what makes us who we are. We know what we believe, we know who we want to be, but without the trials and hardships, without the joys and delights of life, we are untested. Our real character is only revealed as we confront the challenges and respond to the blessings that come our way.

Whether you identify with the young girl who is just beginning to explore life, or the lonely, forgotten woman, God wants your life to reflect the grace He has demonstrated in you. To do that, the lines of communication need to be open. Listen to God by reading His Word. Speak to God through prayer. Look to God for direction and strength, and your spirit will be ready to respond to “the stuff of life” in a way that will draw others to Him. What a triumphant life that will be!

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This article has been read 762 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sharlyn Guthrie07/24/08
Each snippet is beautifully done, and you've ended with a wonderful, hopeful message.
Lynda Lee Schab 07/24/08
Nicely done! Enjoyed each phone "scene." It actually made me think of how much we take the telephone for granted and how much it really is a huge part of everyday life. Great job!
Joanne Sher 07/25/08
Love the little vignettes/scenes, and what a wonderful "conclusion." Good stuff - and you're right, we can all relate to some of these folks. :)
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/29/08
Your "stuff of life" calls led up to a wonderful devotional thought.
Shirley McClay 07/30/08
We complain about our phone issues often enough but they sure are something to be grateful for, Thanks for this sweet reminder.
Mariane Holbrook 07/30/08
I love the way you constructed this. Such a unique approach and delightful read! You're good!
Big time kudos!
Sara Harricharan 07/30/08
This is definitely encouraging. I was wondering where you were going with it and how it would all tie in together, but it was pretty good, I enjoyed the read and was glad for this uplifting message. Thanks for sharing this! ^_^
Pamela Kliewer07/30/08
I too, was wondering where this was going and how you would tie it together... what a great ending, reminding us how important is to spend time with God so to be ready for the 'stuff of life.' Very good. I enjoyed this very much.
Joshua Janoski07/31/08
I really liked how you showed each of the story snippets and then tied them all together at the end. A very unique offering for this week's topic. Thank you for sharing it with us.
Dianne Janak08/05/08
I loved the small powerful vignettes here. It makes you wonder what life was like without our instant forms of communicating... great idea.. good execution.. felt like a camera lens zooming in and out... !! Dianne Janak
Sarah Engle09/26/08
I enjoyed gazing into each little window of life...very nicely done. Thanks for the good reminder to always keep my "communication lines" open with God. You're a good mom... :)
Sarah Engle09/26/08
By the way, this is my favorite part...

"She watches through the picture window as the darkness of night gives way to an amber dawn-what a beautiful sight on this special day."

How sweet and symbolic -an "amber dawn..."