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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Joy (05/18/06)

TITLE: A Harvest of Joy
By Ann Grover


Randall shielded his eyes against the morning sun and surveyed the wheat field. The breeze rippled through the whispering grain as he broke off a head and squeezed several kernels.

Should be able to start swathing and threshing soon. Looks pretty good. Might pay off the tractor and get clothing for the children. And maybe a few extras.

“Daddy!” Peter ran to greet him. “Breakfast!”

“Coming, son.” Randall swung Peter onto his shoulders, and they laughed their way back to the farmhouse.

Happy clamour greeted Randall, as the children took their places around the table. Ellen put a bowl before him – oatmeal puddled with pale butter.

“Children?” A hush. “For all Your blessings, Lord, we are truly thankful. Amen.”

Spoons clanked against bowls, and noisy babble erupted again as the children planned their day.

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Randall asked.

“Aw, Dad!” A chorus broke out as four sets of woebegone eyes pleaded for leniency.

“First, the animals. Then, pick the rest of the beans.”

The children resumed eating, subdued. Randall looked at each flaxen head, as fair as the ripening wheat, each child a blessing. Joshua, stubborn and determined. Roseanne, with her gentle eyes and heart. Carrie, the firecracker, and finally, Peter, the would-be world traveller.

He caught Ellen’s eye, and they spoke with their souls, a silent understanding of their joy and contentment swelling their hearts. Though life was hard, it was good; their certainties, the sun, the seasons, and their Sovereign God.

The oatmeal disappeared, and so did the children, racing off to feed the animals. Randall rubbed Ellen’s shoulders as she stacked bowls, and she leaned into his arms.

“I’m going to mend the pasture fence. After that, I’ll be at the barn. By the way, the wheat looks real good. Should be harvesting soon.”

“A little earlier than usual?”

“Yes, but it looks fine.”

“See you at lunch time.” They kissed, lingering in the moment.

It didn’t take long for Randall to mend the barbed wire, and he turned out the cow and calf. By then, the children had finished feeding and had moved to the garden.

In the cool, dim barn, Randall oiled the horse harness. They’d purchased the tractor several years before, but he preferred the team for smaller jobs. He wasn’t ready to say goodbye to another era.

“Dad, we’re done. Can we go fishing now?”

Randall pretended to ponder while the children begged. Finally, he chuckled, “Bring supper home for us!”

At noon, when Randall exited the barn, stifling heat blasted him, and sweat began running down his back. His eyes adjusted to the blinding sunlight, and on the horizon, he could see a bank of dark clouds.


But the white heat was too motionless, too intense. Suddenly, the wind blew a chilled breath into Randall’s face.

Ellen appeared on the porch, her brow jeweled with perspiration. She gasped when she saw the roiling mass drawing closer. Streaks of lightning sliced the forbidding blackness, and the ground trembled.

“Get the cow, Ellen. I’ll get the children.”

The first pellets of ice fell as Randall began to run, leaving Ellen to struggle with the bawling cow. But, as the hail increased in size and bombarded them, they were forced to return, dragging the reluctant animal together. They huddled in each other’s arms, barely daring to breathe, desperate prayers pounding a litany in their minds.

When it was over, they surveyed the white farmyard with incredulity. Treading carefully, Randall made his way to a heap in the pasture. The calf. He bent and then stood, shaking his head.

From the barn, they could see the flattened wheat field. Every stalk was bent and broken under a burden of hail. Destroyed.

“Dad! Mom!”

The children!

“It’s Christmas!”

“We hid where the bank overhangs the creek!”

The children were soaked, their hair slicked across their foreheads, and they laughed merrily, unaware of the loss.

Mingled tears of thanksgiving and heartbreak flowed as Randall and Ellen watched the children frolic in the summer wonderland, their peals a carol of joy.

Randall whispered. “Although the fig tree shall not blossom...”

“...Neither shall fruit be in the vines.” Ellen responded.

“And there shall be no herd in the stall.”

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord.”

“I will joy in the God of my salvation...”

“...I will joy in the God of my salvation.” *

As always, in all ways, God would provide.

*Habakkuk 3: 17, 18 KJV

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This article has been read 1436 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Crista Darr05/26/06
This is a very good story. A sobering look at Christian maturity. Excellent way to present the topic. Great work!
Lynda Schultz 05/26/06
A+++. This is wonderful!
Suzanne R05/28/06
Brilliant ... just brilliant.

Using the calf to show us the damage the hail could do worked well.
Jan Ackerson 05/28/06
This is awesome, and you used one of my very favorite scriptures. I felt as if I knew these people, after only these few words. I love the way you depicted this beautiful marriage.
T. F. Chezum05/28/06
Excellent. A great story and a great message.
Rita Garcia05/28/06
Briliant, wonderful writing!!
Dr. Sharon Schuetz05/29/06
You would think you knew these people personally. I really enjoyed reading it. Beautiful.
Anita Neuman05/29/06
You've created a beautiful story with captivating characters and a brilliant concept. The only glitch for me was that Randall and Ellen surveyed the fields and pasture first instead of tearing off after the children the moment it was safe. But I really did love the story as a whole. You've made those verses come to life.
Debbie Sickler05/29/06
I love the family you've created here. My only question is about the switch from hot weather to a hail storm. Does weather in other places really switch that quickly?

As I read, I thought of Riders and Reapers. I bet this would be accepted if you submitted there. It's a wonderful story.
Jessica Schmit05/31/06
wow. chills! Incredible job. This is exactly on topic. And very well written. You can paint with your words very well. Oh, and in canada the weather switches that quickly. I think I read someone saying that it didn't make sense. Why just yesterday I was walking in the sunshine, not a cloud in the sky and ended up going inside 20 minutes later becasue of a thunderstorm. So yes, this could happen. Great work. perfect.
Valora Otis05/31/06
I lost my small garden to hail this past weekend. You story painted what a storm of this magnitude can do. Your characters showed joy in their daily living and in their sorrows. Very well written. I'll never forget it.
william price06/01/06
A very, very, very good story. God Bless you.
Beth Muehlhausen06/01/06
A very involving story - I loved the relationships as well as the action and descriptions.
Sherry Wendling06/01/06
Congratulations, Ann! (I'm so sorry I didn't leave a comment on this earlier.) This story has a wonderful flow and flavor! I'm sure will make many, many readers envious of such a close-knit family (and strong male leadership). Keep holding out the standard!
Venice Kichura06/03/06
Great entry based on one of my favorite Biblical passages! A well-deserved win!
Helen Paynter06/03/06
Sorry to be so late making a comment on this. Congratulations - a very well-deserved win. You took one of my favourite passages and brought it to life.
Karen Treharne06/07/06
Congratulations, Ann. I love family stories and your family warmed my heart. Your characterizations were well-written and felt real. I enjoyed reading this article and am happy that it placed. You bring glory to God with your words and bless those who have an opportunity to read them.