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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Shhh. (02/18/10)

TITLE: It Takes Practice
By Pam Carlson-Hetland


With eyes closed, Julie pawed at the radio trying to silence the obnoxiously cheerful announcer. “Good Morning, Pillow Squeezers! It’s a beautiful Saturday.” Peeking at the time, she groaned. Julie reached for her devotional when the bedroom door burst open.

“Mom, are you taking me to soccer practice?” Justin asked, tossing the ball in the air.

“Where’s your Dad?” Julie asked with a yawn.

Jeff entered with two steaming coffee cups, handing her one. “I’ll drop off Justin if you can extricate Jessica from the bathroom and take her to dance class. I have an early tee-off time. When is dinner?”

“I don’t know yet. When will everyone be home?”

“Can you pick me up at Andy’s about 4:00?” Justin asked.

“I’ll be home by 5:00. But I have a Missions Board meeting at 6:30.” Jeff added.

Jessica posed in the doorway, ballet shoes in hand. “After class, we’re setting up the auditorium for the recital. Ashley’s bringing me home about 7:00. Mom, remember you promised six dozen cookies for the bake sale. And I’ll need my costume hemmed by Monday morning. Can we leave early?”

“What are you doing today, Sweetheart?” Jeff asked as Julie’s face slid beneath the comforter.

“The usual stuff,” said the muffled voice beneath the blankets. Suddenly, Julie threw off the covers and jumped to her feet. “Oh, no! I have to run those reports for the office and I promised to visit with IdaMae today. Jessica – the bathroom is mine!”

Two hours later, freshly made cookie dough chilled in the refrigerator, stew bubbled in a slow cooker, and the sewing machine was threaded. Julie stuffed printouts into folders, stowed them in her briefcase, and drove off with a perfectly manicured daughter.

When Julie arrived, IdaMae was gathering flowers from her garden. Julie waved. She had become very fond of the older woman as they worked together on church projects. IdaMae was like a second mother. She valued her wit and wisdom. This visit was an oasis in a busy day.

“It is such a lovely day.” IdaMae said. “Let’s take a walk in the park?”

“Great idea. I could use the exercise.”

As the two women walked, Julie consciously tried to match IdaMae’s slower pace. They chatted amiably as they strolled.

“Is Jeff golfing today?” IdaMae asked.

“Of course!” Julie laughed. “He plays whenever he can – even practices in the backyard.”

“I hear that Justin is the soccer team Captain.” IdaMae commented.

Julie grinned. “He’s one dedicated player—practices day and night. He’s hoping for a scholarship to…” Julie stopped as IdaMae pointed ahead.

“Just look at that!” IdaMae seemed awestruck at the array of brilliant autumn colors before them. “Doesn’t God paint nature magnificently?”

“It’s beautiful.” Julie agreed.

“Let’s sit for a bit.” IdaMae suggested. “Old legs get tired. Is Jessica still dancing?”

“Heavens, yes! She loves it – constantly practices her routines. They’re rehearsing today for the recital…” Julie stopped as IdaMae put a finger to her lips.

“Shhh. Do you hear that?” IdaMae whispered. Julie shook her head.

“Listen to the children’s laugher. That’s the happiest sound that God ever created.” Julie nodded, but eyed IdaMae curiously.

“Autumn is my favorite. Just feel that, Julie--the cool breeze, the warm sun.” IdaMae closed her eyes and breathed deeply. Then she sat up straight. “I smell popcorn.” She announced. “There must be a vendor nearby. Let’s go.” Julie lengthened her stride to keep up.

“Kettle corn is the best. Want a taste?” IdaMae offered a sample.

“Is everything OK, IdaMae?”

“I’m fine. It’s you I’m worried about.”

“Me? Why?”

“Remember last week’s sermon on ‘Be still and know that I am God?’”

Julie dropped her eyes. It had been a convicting message for her.

IdaMae’s voice was gentle. “Julie, I know you have a hectic life with a job and a busy family. But we all need to say “Shhh” to the loud demands in our world so we can hear what’s important to our life.”

“How do I do that?”

IdaMae grinned, “We had a small lesson today.”

“So that’s what you were up to!” Julie laughed. “But I can’t walk in the park every day. So how do I keep ‘shushing’ the world and be still before the Lord?”

“Well, take a hint from your family.”

“My family?”

“Yes.” IdaMae nodded knowingly. “It takes practice.”

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This article has been read 551 times
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Catrina Bradley 02/25/10
Poor Julie! Good job describing her hectic morning, and making us want to befriend IdaMae, too. Great characterization! I don't get the ending, though - how "taking a hint from her [busy] family" would help her "be still before the Lord". I enjoyed your writing, but I feel like I'm missing something here. Maybe I need to read deeper? :)
Joanney Uthe02/26/10
Great characterization. I loved the frantic realization that even her schedule was booked solid. I was so looking forward to her day alone until that point.

Great reminder at the end that we need to practice listening to God.
Donna Wolther02/27/10
I loved IdaMae and that was very cute how you ended with the practice line.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/02/10
You have a great message packaged carefully inside your story--after you've laid the groundwork so well for the lesson's need. Well done.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/02/10
A very interesting story. I felt like I was right in the park learning the lesson along with Julie. Great writing.
Edy T Johnson 03/02/10
This is such a clever storytelling way to express your (much needed) message as well as address the challenge topic. I think it is brilliant.

Thank you, too, for leaving a comment on my little "Diligence" story. It was a delight to find you had stopped by. Hugs, friend!
Ruth Stromquist03/02/10
Very well crafted. Even though you painted a picture of extreme busyness, you also painted one of extreme love and brightness in the midst. A great message also.
Rachel Phelps03/02/10
Your characters are wonderful. This theme has been done several ways this week, but I love your descriptive detail and pacing. Lovely.
Carol Penhorwood 11/10/10
What a picture you paint of many families today...run ragged. You have certainly made a valid point. Well done.