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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Critique/Review (for writers) (05/06/10)

TITLE: Reality Check
By Rachel Phelps


Title: Keys for Success from a Happy Mom

The secret to a happy family is simple and easily attainable: creating equilibrium in the house, anchored in Christ and equally attentive to the needs of each family member.

“Mommy, I need a drink.”

“Go ask Daddy, Sam, Mommy is busy writing right now.”

The little voice took on a whine. “But Daddy’s on the phone!”

“Not now, sweetie. Mommy has to write. She has a deadline.”

Within my own family it is difficult to imagine a day without family devotions or at least some quiet time with each child. With a family of three children, it can be difficult, but we know how important it is.

The phone rang. She grabbed it impatiently.

“Hey, Mom, I’m going to Shelly’s to study, and she wants to know if I can stay over. Can I?”

“It’s a school night, Kira…”

“We have that big test tomorrow, we have to study!”

Sigh. “Alright, hon. Just try to be home early tomorrow. I feel like we never see you.”

“Yeah, okay.”

“Oh, and Kira, don’t forget that you have nursery duty this Sunday.”

“Seriously? C’mon, Mom, can’t you do it? You know I hate working the nursery!”

“You made the commitment.”

“But, Mom…”

“We’re not going to argue about this. You agreed to do it, so I expect you to march into that nursery with a smile on Sunday.”


“Okay, see you tomorrow.”

Involving your whole family in church ministries is vital. Teaching children early on that they need to stay plugged into service can greatly reduce the drama that comes with teenage years. The focus on others and regular practice of responsibility and generosity makes the histrionics rare.

While juggling everyone’s busy schedules, it is helpful to remember to focus on your spouse. Every day should also include some special time with your husband or wife. It can be as simple as helping each other put dinner on the table or sitting on the porch to watch the sunrise in the morning – these moments should be intentional and visible. The children will appreciate seeing it.

“Sweetheart, I just got off the phone. How’s the article coming?”

“Great. I’ll let you read it when it’s done. Listen, can you feed the kids and get Sam and Ethan in the bath? I need to finish this.”

“I thought it was family dinner night.”

“Kira won’t be home either, so I guess we’ll just have to push it to tomorrow.”


“Too long to explain now. “

“You do know it’s been two weeks since our last family dinner, right?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, we had pizza together last Saturday.”

“In the living room with the TV on.” Sigh.

“Just feed the kids, please? I promise, I’ll work on dinner tomorrow.”

He left the room, making heavy footsteps on his way out.

Overall, the most important thing is keeping a consistent schedu -

A crash from downstairs. She jumped, then resolutely kept her eyes on the screen.

-le. Nothing will anchor your family better than a steady schedule. In my family, the schedule has some flexibility, but the overall structure is completely set. My children know what their days will be like and are secure in that knowledge.

“But, Daddy! I don’t want to take a bath!’

“Sorry, buddy, but Mom said.”

“Last night she let me choose when I wanted to take a bath – and I got to choose a shower!”

“Not tonight, Ethan. C’mon. Into the tub.”

“I don’t wanna!”

“Ethan Michael…”

The exchange faded. She finished her article and printed it out as the house got quieter in preparation for bed. She dropped it off in her husband’s lap and made a beeline for the freezer and the ice cream inside. Chocolate sauce sounded good…

When she walked back into the living room, her husband was gone. The article lay on the chair. There were no marks, no notes in the margins, except for two words at the very bottom in bright red ink.

Superb fiction.

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This article has been read 894 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Mona Purvis05/13/10
Just perfect! Are we all as transparent as that?
OK, writer, you're getting an EC on this piece of fiction!

Rikki Akeo05/13/10
This story would be perfect for this weeks topic 'A Writer's Life'!
Kristi Peifer05/17/10
Wow, I'm feeling convicted! I think I need to stop critiquing and go hang out with my kiddos. :) Really, though. Nicely done.
Ann Grover05/17/10
Unfortunately true in so many households (and churches)... when commitments and principles are exalted, yet the reality is that it's not worked out. The family is the ultimate sacrifice. VERY well-written... painfully realistic.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge05/17/10
A lifestyle sermon disguised as fiction :)
Lyn Churchyard05/18/10
OUCH! Superb Fiction what a slap up the side of the head. Good work, a slice of reality.
Noel Mitaxa 05/18/10
This is a perfect example of a plea from my college principal: "Just as the Word became flesh in Jesus, so God's word must also take on our flesh, so our gospel becomes credible." Thank you for this thoughtful reminder of his challenge. Very well done.
Marita Thelander 05/18/10
I like it. Just when I KNEW where this was going, you slammed us with those final two words. Well put.
Linda Germain 05/18/10
Perfection! On topic, creative,excellent conclusion, and resonates with the reader. Great job!
Kate Oliver Webb 05/18/10
This really works! It's gripping, thought-provoking, and should make all of us do some serious soul-searching. VERY well done.
Marijo Phelps05/19/10
Oh, this strikes a chord for most of us, doesn't it? Even being "retired" doesn't mean that I have time but do I take time (to write) yep!
Colin Swann05/19/10
This has some wisdom for the family in it. Excellent teaching implications - reminds me of the marriage course material my wife and I run. Thanks for the enjoyable read.
Patricia Turner05/19/10
What can I add but SUPERB! I think the humor got overwhelmed by the painful truth here. A great message, shown, and not a bit preachy. Love it!
Karen Macor05/19/10
Good truths for everyone, not just writers. Hit a little too close to home. Thanks.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/19/10
I enjoyed the story very much and loved the zinger at the end.
Beth LaBuff 05/19/10
What a story... I was so caught up in their life... then his "critique!" I love this!
Carole Robishaw 05/19/10
LOL Ouch! Do we see things as they are or as we want them to be! Is this just wishful thinking on the MC's part, or blissful ignorance! Great Job!
Patricia Turner05/20/10
Knew this was a winner! Congratulations on your EC!
Sara Harricharan 05/20/10
Yay! Another EC! ^_^ Congrats--this one's wonderful with that last punchline.
Sarah Elisabeth 05/20/10
WHOA girl, you did it again! Wow, you have such a style...I had a mix between a grin and a grimace the whole time. Superb!