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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Inner Strength (04/20/06)

TITLE: A Firm Foundation
By Shari Armstrong


The old van groaned as he pulled in and put it in park, beating the delivery truck. Matt always looked forward to a new job site, especially now that it was getting nice out. Grabbing his tool belt and mug, he went to look over the foundation that had already been poured.

He sipped his coffee, which was almost too hot to drink. Almost. He saw Dan’s car pull up along the street and park just as the truck from the lumberyard turned the corner. They soon started hauling the two-by’s out of the truck and dumping them into piles. The smell of lumber filled each breath.

“Hey, Jeff, give me a hand.” Matt placed one of the beams on the saw table after measuring and marking the length.

“Sure,” he balanced the beam, and caught the end when the cut was finished.

Dan sneezed from the sawdust. “My old lady’s thinking of moving home with her mother.”

“Sorry to hear that, man.”

Dan shrugged, “We’ve been having troubles for awhile.” He grabbed another beam, slid it in place on the table.

Matt looked at the wood, “We can’t use this one, it’s splitting down at this end.”

“Yeah, it is. Didn’t notice. Good eye.” He tossed the wood into the scrap pile.

“Did she give you a reason why?” He balanced the wall frame into place while Dan checked the plumb, and then nailed it in place.

“She’s mad cause I don’t take her church stuff serious.” Dan avoided Matt’s eyes. “Yeah, I know you go to church. It’s just not a big deal for me.”

Matt held a couple nails in his mouth, as he pounded another into place. “Sounds like losing your wife is a big deal. I’m not going to tell you what to do, but going to church has a lot more to do with you than her.”

“Yeah, yeah. She nags about it all the time. So what if I have a few beers on Saturday night with the guys and sleep in on Sunday? I work hard all week, I deserve it.”

Matt could almost taste how good a cold beer would be right about now. “Yea, but that’s not the point. Just think about it, is it really worth losing your family over it?”

Dan shrugged again. “Alright, I’ll think about.”

* * * * *

“Where’s that dry wall?” Matt took a swig off a bottle of soda.

“They said the driver was on his way when I called.” Dan flopped down on the ground.

“How are things going?”

Dan leaned back against a beam. “She’s still at her mother’s, but we’ve been talking.”

“That’s a start. Wanna come over for dinner? Can’t live on coffee tills she comes home.”

“Nah, I don’t want to be a…” he jumped up. “There’s the dry wall.”

The delivery truck rumbled to a stop.

Matt let the subject drop as they begin putting up the dry wall.

* * * * *

Matt unlocked the door to squeals.

”Daddy’s home!”

“There’re my girls.”

“Hi, Hon.” His wife leaned in to give him a kiss. “Is Dan coming for dinner?”

“No. I’m gonna grab a shower.”

* * * * *

“Smells good.” He tried to snitch a piece of ham off the plate before his wife swatted at him.

“Just go sit down.” She carried plates of food to the table.

They sat down and bowed their heads just as there was a knock at the door.

Matt opened the door, “Hi, Dan. Change your mind about dinner?”

“Yeah, if the invitation’s still good.”

“Sure is. Have a seat.”

“Daddy, I wanna say God is great.”

“Go ahead.”

As they started to bow their heads, Dan interrupted, “Do you mind if I try? I think I need the practice.”

Matt smiled and nodded.

“Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it:” Psalm 127:1a

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This article has been read 1216 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Paynter04/27/06
Good, believable dialogue interesting story
Marilyn Schnepp 04/27/06
It's gotta be written by a man! Knowledge about lumber, two by's etc...very realistic. And the last line, well it gave me a tear in the eye and a lump in the throat. Great writing! Good story.
Stevie McHugh04/27/06
I like the way this well-told story demonstrates how we can be lights in the world, drawing people to Jesus. Especially great dialogue!
Amy Michelle Wiley 04/27/06
I agree--great dialog (except maybe the prayer at the end...most non or new Christians are self conscious of praying out loud). Good job!
Jan Ackerson 04/29/06
I really liked the character of Matt--such a realistic Christian. Good job on this story!
Jean Elizabeth 04/30/06
Very believable story with realistic, well-written dialogue. I really liked your style and voice. The change in Dan at the end struck me as too neat and clean. But that's probably just me. (Who is Jeff in the third paragraph? That threw me off.) Good job - I liked it.
Pat Guy 05/01/06
Good job of characters and real life issues.

It's sad she left - not sure about that, but all the voices rang true.

I think the prayer was okay because it was just the blessing - a good start.

I'd like to know more about what happens! :)
Kathleen Morris05/01/06
I enjoyed this very much. The story was realistic and made me WANT to read it to the end. Great job!
Dr. Sharon Schuetz05/01/06
Such a believable story. The characters were real and the writer either knows something about building or has done the research.
Sue Dent05/01/06
Will you come help me add a bathroom to my upstairs bonus room?! My but you know about lumber. I loved the way his Christian friendship helped him. And I love dialogue driven storys. Good job!
Rita Garcia05/01/06
Superb job all the way through!
Lynda Lee Schab 05/02/06
Great story! Believable dialogue, good flow... I agree about the prayer at the end. I don't think a non-Christian would offer to pray - it's hard even for some Christians (me included, sometimes) to pray out loud in front of people. I think it was enough just that he showed up. A small reworking of the ending is all it would take to make this piece a sure winner for me. Great work!
Crista Darr05/02/06
Hey, I really like this. It's such a realistic yet loving way of reaching out to the lost. A nagging wife never helps a wayward husband. Very well done!
Maxx .05/03/06
very very good. A real world example of the working of the Kingdom through us. The technique was strong, the message stronger, the characters believeable.. dialogue right on. The only weakness? In my mind it didn't hit the topic as strongly as some others.... but hey, I ain't judging this week! Good work!