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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Up and Down (04/02/09)

TITLE: Up And Down to Higher Ground
By BeckyJoie Oakes


Combing the internet, Joy Warsaw bounced from site to site, searching for an inspiration that would boost her self-assurance. Others in the critique group seemed to flourish There was a white-haired woman with chain-adorned glasses who wrote 2500 words in one week, the tall man in a business suit who wanted advice about a possible contract on his novel. Even a hunched gentleman with crutch sticks published an editorial in the local paper. But Joy Warsaw couldn’t seem to get past her page fright.

It wasn’t that she didn’t know how or what to write. Another writer published five novels under her direction. Her own vast library of information struggled to find it’s way from her brain to her fingertips. It was as if the page, like a mirror, reflected back her insecurities. “You’re no good. Nobody will ever read your work.”

But it wasn’t true. She just couldn’t face her own words.

All of her life was up and down. One minute, Joy reveled in a story idea and the next, her incompetence felt like a lead vest. Every ounce of confidence she mustered was struck down like a tree in a lightening storm.

Why can’t I be thinner like her? she thought, as she watched a blonde woman with a Barbie-like tan exit an SUV and walk down the neighbor’s driveway. Even when I go to the gym everyday and practically starve myself, I never look that good! She reached over and eased the blinds shut so as not to be seen peering out the window by her desk. Tremors ran up and down her limbs as she sat back down to write. It was a lonely place to be-frozen in fear, not knowing where to go.

Her eyes lit on a website she hadn’t seen before. Faithwriters. Hmmm. What is this about? She browsed the home page. Writer’s Challenge… Previous entries. She wouldn’t be able to submit anything but at least she could read other authors’ entries. Studying the screen, tears made black lines down her cheeks.

She read, “A Poet Rests in the 131st Psalm” by Jan Ackerson and “It Takes Time” by Delores Stohler. Entry after entry brought comfort. She didn’t know how she was going to climb off this roller coaster of emotions on which she rode but, somehow, with the Lord’s help, she would find a way.

At once, she felt the presence of the Lord. You’re not alone. A silent prayer of sweet surrender rose. Unable to follow the call to write for His glory, she begged God to take away, once and for all, the shame that held her back. Fear, insignificance, self-loathing, and comparison to others had wrapped themselves around her, link by link, chaining her down and rendering her useless.

In past days, momentary bursts of elation would give her strength to pull against the weight of her burden until she realized that her feet were sliding, digging her into a deep pit. But this time, new words fell like rain to her parched heart.

“I am the Good Shepherd who cares for my sheep. If you follow me, I will lead you to greener pastures where you will walk, skip and even run--free from the things that bind you. I will guide you beside the still waters where you may hear my gentle voice and find your way out of the foggy lowlands into the higher ground of my presence. For now, you feel like a little sparrow who has fallen to the ground, tangled and lifeless, but I tell you that you are NOT the sparrow, though I even care for it. You are my little lamb and I will lead you where you ought to go. You will not go hungry, scavenging for bread crumbs like a lost bird, but I will prepare a feast before you. I, the Lord have spoken.”

Joy lept to her feet in a dance of thanksgiving, singing and making music in her heart to the Lord. Soon, a blanket of peace enveloped her as she traded her heaviness for serenity and sat back down at the desk. Within an hour, the testimony of a broken one made whole flowed from her fingertips. She copied and pasted the words into the correct window and then clicked the “send” button.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Glenda Lagerstedt04/09/09
I like the way you brought Faithwriters into this and mentioned actual contributors. Great approach, and your title is interesting as well.
Jan Ackerson 04/11/09
What a lovely surprise to see my own name mentioned here--and how happy I am that you've found this wonderful place! Love the writing (and not just because I'm in it!).