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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hide and Seek (08/07/08)

TITLE: Wendy's Birthday Clipping
By Deborah Engle


Sherry dropped her heavy book-bag on the floor, then sprawled across her bed. Her happy report began as soon as she spotted Wendy across the room.

“I can’t believe it! I got all the classes I wanted, and I even got Mr. Matthews for Chemistry. This is going to be a great year!”

“Maybe for you, but not all of us are so lucky. I signed up for French and Art, but they gave me Spanish and Drama! I already hate it.” Wendy’s bed creaked with every move of her animated body.

Sherry’s high spirits deflated quickly at the tone of her sister’s voice. “Oh. That’s not cool. Why don’t you try…”

“I did ‘try’ to get it changed, but they won’t do anything about it, and I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Wendy, don’t be that way. It’s just a mistake. In a day or two …”

“It’s a mistake, all right, just like my whole life. You’re not the one who had a broken ankle all summer. You’re not the one who lost her summer job.” The bitter words erupted from Wendy’s mouth. “Let’s see, help me here-whose best friend was it that moved three states away? Mine. Oh, and who spent all her birthday money on a guitar that she’s wanted for years, then ruined it two days later when she fell on it because her monster dog knocked her over. That was me, too. Of course my classes are messed up! What else would they be?”

Wendy’s torrent subsided, leaving both girls at a loss for words, and they sat in silence for several minutes. Then Sherry spotted a greeting card on the nightstand.

“Look, Gramma did send you a birthday card.”

“Sure, a week late.”

“There’s a newspaper clipping, too.”

“Of course. What else would you send your granddaughter on her 16th birthday?”

“Oh, you know Gramma. She thought you’d like it. Did you read it”

“A poem? Not likely.”

“How about I read it to you?” Without waiting for an answer, Sherry began…

“Billowy clouds of sun-brightened white,
Dispersed on a background of blue,
Glide along with the gentle breeze wafting by,
Sculpt quite a magnificent view.

Warm, sun-filled days and quaint vistas
Exhilarate, renew weary souls,
Preferred beyond measure o’er dark stormy skies
That hinder, demanding great tolls.”

“Please! Do you have to?”

Sherry glanced up and caught Wendy’s scowl. “All right, never mind.” Rising from the bed, she added, “I’m going downstairs to do my homework.” Stopping in the doorway, she turned around and added, “You should read it. It’s not that bad.”

Wendy watched her leave, but Sherry’s words refused to go away. ”You should read it” “She thought you’d like it.” “You should read it.” Reluctantly, Wendy picked up the clipping and forced herself to read.

Formidable, ominous, threatening clouds
Obscure precious light from above,
Cast gloomy shadows where hope once shone bright,
Shrouding good forged with great love.

Confusion and anguish torment in the dark,
Harsh winds topple long-treasured prizes.
Vitality weakens, diminished and pale.
Doubt upon doubt soon arises.

Though desperately feeble, a plea for compassion
And mercy ascends to the sky.
Acknowledgement of the great need that is clear,
And of only one Source to rely.

Faithfully, in His own time, there will be
Answers from the great Creator.
Storm clouds move aside, reveal light from on high,
Prompt praise, gratitude, now and later.

For sunlight will vanquish the darkness of night,
Relieve every sorrow and fear.
A most awesome blessing, a gift from above,
Each yielded heart will hold dear.

But what of the times when thunderheads roar
And linger without giving way,
Destruction and trouble tenaciously bring,
And dominate day after day?

I Am That I Am knows the path set before,
He planned it and understands all.
There’s good in the bad, though it’s hard to discern,
And He marks every tear when it falls.

God’s presence and love are the things that won’t change,
In spite of much turmoil and strife.
Peace and rest will abound in a heart that can seek
His arms that give all hope and life.

Wendy finished reading the last stanza with tear-filled eyes, knowing the time had come to deal with her attitude. An hour later, she stood at the window, her lightened heart rejoicing in the grace of God. With true thanksgiving, she whispered, “The sun is finally shining again.”

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This article has been read 776 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 08/15/08
Great poem in the midst of this story. The contrast between the two girls was very evident.

There felt like a POV shift here (not positive it actually was, but it felt like it). The top felt like it was from Sherry's view, and the end from Wendy's.

Great message too - and you captured the teenage personality quite well.
Dianne Janak08/15/08
I've never seen this format before.. and really loved it.. putting a poem in the midst of a story.. and the poem BLEW me away... I took notice to it more than if it was just a poem that was written... GREAT HOOK and loved the ending...
Helen Dowd08/17/08
Very good. I liked the way you fit the poem in with the story, and then concluded with prose to show that the sun had come out on this angry and upset teenager. Very creative!..Helen
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/17/08
Your poem of hope moved more than Wendy. I was touched and challenged by it as well. Realistic dialogue carries the story well.
william price08/17/08
Very entertaining, reader involvement and creativity with the poem. High non-counting marks from me. God bless.
Ellen Dodson08/17/08
Dynamic, realistic, engaging dialogue between the two girls. I love readign pieces like this because I'm trying to work on my own less vivid dialogue. This was REAL!Wendy's gripe list--although not so funny given her pain--made me chuckle sympathetically. Within our word limit, you managed to get me to care about both girls instantly. I was so amazed by the beginning and Wendy's reluctant change as she read the poem that the ending felt rushed, too "summed up" for me.
Joy Faire Stewart08/17/08
Very realistic dialoge and great message.
Kristen Hester08/17/08
I thought your dialogue between the sisters was excellent and very believable. Great way to set up a lovely poem. Nicely done.
Karen Wilber08/20/08
What I liked about this was that it fit nicely in the context of the story, but also had application outside. Creative presentation.
Patricia Turner08/20/08
The poem had a perfect message and was wrapped in very believable prose. It lightened my heart too. Thanks!
Sarah Engle09/26/08
This was a VERY creative way to work in "Hide-and-Seek." I really enjoyed the girls' interaction. Somehow, it made me think of me and my sisters! The voices you used for these girls made it very real.

I really liked the poem, what it taught Wendy and how she decided on changing right away. Now that's a yeilded heart! :)