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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Control (01/30/06)

TITLE: A Matter of Control
By Venice Kichura


“Half asleep, Becca Christians stumbled into her living room and squatted, falling on the hard cold floor.

“Ouch!” She screamed out, awakening the whole household.

Her husband and little daughter bounded into the living room.

“Mommy, you‘re on the floor!” Three-year-old Kayla squealed.

“I expected to land in my recliner, honey” she moaned, rubbing her hip and choking back tears.

In the kitchen scrambling eggs, her mother-in-law laid down her spatula and ran into the living room.

”It looks much better over there, dear,” she said, pointing to the recliner…”Look, I also moved the rocker. Hope you’re okay….You really should watch where you’re squatting…”

“Just relax, Becca,” her husband, Mark, said, helping her up.

Whimp! Why can‘t he ever stand up to his own mother?

Through clenched teeth, Becca blinked her eyes, stared at her newly arranged living room, and wondered, Is this really my house? But it wasn’t whenever her controlling mother-in-law came to visit.

At least she‘ll be on a plane flying back to Missouri tomorrow,Becca encouraged herself. …Now if I can just get through another day.…

Does this old lady ever sleep?She continued in her thoughts.

Last night at midnight she was rewashing Kayla’s blankets and ironing Marc’s “wash ‘n wear” shirts when Becca finally fell into bed.

And, after a decade of marriage, she still couldn’t call her “Mom“. At first she called her either Elsie or Mrs. Christians. But since Kayla was born, she was Grandma Elsie. The controlling old woman had yet to win a spot in her heart, earning the title of Mom.

“Oh my!” Grandma Elsie exclaimed glancing at the kitchen clock. Church starts in an hour. We’d better hustle.”

Church! That was another issue. Instead of their church, they always had to go to her church, clear across town, whenever she visited.

Becca was tired of the games….

Why can’t my gutless husband just tell her we’d transferred our membership to another denomination ten years ago?

They threw on their Sunday clothes and washed down their eggs with orange juice…

”Now, Becca….. are you going to start using frozen concentrate?” Grandma Elsie asked…..You don‘t wanna loose those vitamins, dear.… and….I noticed you’re still buying that nasty white bread….”

As they drove to church, Grandma Elsie, in the front seat, continued to offer “helpful” hints.

Slumped in the back, Becca stared out the window, wondering why she even ordered those useless assertiveness tapes. Even after listening to them, she still felt just as weak and controlled as her spineless husband.

Arriving at church, they dropped Kayla off at the nursery as they put on their church faces. Half-smiling, they pretended to care that they were being welcomed as visitors.

But settling into their pews, they sensed something was different. It had been a year since they’d visited this church when Grandma Elsie was last in town. There was a noticeable excitement in the air.

Grandma Elsie sensed it, too, looking uncomfortable. “Where‘s the pipe organ?……Drums and guitars?” She shook her head in shock, pointing to the praise team, clad in jeans and sneakers.

“Welcome to our final revival service,” the vibrant young evangelist said, ascending to the pulpit.

“Where’s his black clerical robe?…..This is weird,” Grandma Elsie continued, staring at the charged-up people raising their hands, sprinkling loud “amens” throughout the service.

As the evangelist spoke, the Christians family sat spellbound in their pews for the next hour. They had never heard such a powerful message.

The evangelist concluded with…. “It‘s a matter of control----God wants to take control of your life…”

“Yeah right!” Becca mused, fighting the little voice inside of her prodding her to keep listening. You’re talking to someone who has no control and you want me to have less?

Yet she knew something was missing…

The Holy Spirit was also speaking to Mark, as well as Grandma Elsie. They all felt that God-shaped vacuum and, for the first time, realized they wanted more than just religion. They were all tired of playing church.

The praise team sang a contemporary version of the hymn, “Just As I Am” as the evangelist bowed his head and prayed.

Then, without hesitation, they, along with others, headed toward the altar, giving God control of their lives…

Grandma Elsie hugged Becca and said, “I’m sorry I rearranged your furniture. I really do love you.”

Returning the hug, Becca heard herself say for the first time in ten years….

“Me, too, Mom.”

After all they were family---They were Christians.

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This article has been read 1043 times
Member Comments
Member Date
janet rubin02/08/06
This was nice. I felt is wrapped up a little too neat and tidy for real life though. Still, some good writing- keep it up.
The Tornyn02/09/06
I really liked the expression "God shapped vacuum"! I really enjoyed your story. Thanks!
Nina Phillips02/10/06
I think it quite neat and tidy! Very comprehensible, and I loved the way the Holy Ghost had control. I recognize that! AMEN Great story! God bless ya, littlelight
Suzanne R02/10/06
What a lovely story ... beautiful.
dub W02/11/06
Beautiful story, neatly tied up in a package; has all of the right elements. A word, work on beats.
Jan Ackerson 02/11/06
The first half of this was very engaging, with a really good characters. The ending was just a bit too tidy for me...perhaps if only one character had a change of heart? Leaving your readers with just a bit of unresolved conflict sometimes gives them more to mull over. Good writing skills.
Sandra Petersen 02/11/06
Within the first few paragraphs, I could kinda see that your MC was heading toward either a showdown or an extreme display of patience toward her mother-in-law.
That phrase "put on their church faces" really got me. Someone once said "The greatest conversions (of attitude) often happen in the church parking lot." Some people upon finding their 'comfort zone' being challenged, like Elsie's and Becca's were, would resist the changes. I don't know which would be harderto take: to have my mother-in-law visit and turn our lifestyle upside down or come to church one day to find our worship service completely different.
Especially watch your punctuation and capitalization with the dialogue.
I, too, had a little trouble swallowing the ending. It would be more realistic if Becca only or Elsie only would have submitted to God at the end. Remember, when you commit to the Lord there will always be a testing.
Beth Muehlhausen02/11/06
Good thoughts. I agree that the resolution was a little too "easy" to be true-to-life! Still, the message of healing came through.
Linda Watson Owen02/11/06
Well told and engaging story! One most of us can relate to at some point. I understand why you used the image of the no-robed pastor and organless music (the use of contrast), but I feel compelled to say that I've often been brought to tears of praise and prayer from the Spirit led organ music and the inspired message delivered from our robed pastor. Great job telling this sweet story though!!