Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Great (07/06/06)
TITLE: More Than Singing
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Ted Brigg’s mother, June, set out plates for dessert. Anna, his little girl, didn't want any dessert. She was too excited to eat another bite and Mrs. Hanson, her music teacher, would be by any minute to pick her up.
“Please Daddy, come watch me. You missed the singing contest at school. Come to the city and listen to me sing tonight, “ she begged.
Ted had gone over this before, more than once. The spring crops must be planted. It wasn’t his fault the schools pay no mind to the seasons of the farmers. He’d thought Anna’s singing voice was beautiful. The judges at the school’s contest must have thought so, too. Of all students in the fourth through eighth grades, Anna, a fifth grader, received first place. Now she was entered at the regional competition, which started at six o’clock that evening, a time he would still be working in the field.
“No, Anna, Sweetie. I’m sorry. I must get the seed planted or we won’t have a crop this winter to pay the bills. They need to have the contest in the winter when it’s easier for me to go.”
“OK.” Anna said, and then turned to her Grandma. “ I don’t feel good. My tummy feels like it’s in a meat grinder. How will I ever sing in front of all those people? Mrs. Hanson said there might be two hundred, or more! Oh, Grandma, maybe I better stay home.”
“Nonsense, Sweetie. You’ll do fine. Just let your singing voice come from the same place Jesus lives.” Grandma smiled sweetly at Anna. “Your momma was a wonderful singer. She’ll be watching you from heaven.”
“Will you come, Grandma?”
“I wish I could…unless I can convince your daddy…” She looked at Ted. He couldn’t miss the glare. No, he thought. I won’t go. I can’t go.
Anna jumped; it was Mrs. Hanson. Quickly she gave her dad a bear hug, gave
Grandma one too, but not as tight and waved goodbye. The screen door slammed. The sound vibrated Ted’s heart.
“Son, I’m surprised at you!” scolded his mother. “Tonya’s passed on nearly a year ago. We all miss her. You need to stop nursing your own pain and think about Anna’s hurt. That poor child has to depend on strangers to help her through this evening. One of these days, you’ll regret it, mark my words.”
“Listen, Mom, I’ve got to get the sorghum planted before the rains. Just leave me be! It’s what has to be done,” and Ted stomped out of the house.
Behind the steering wheel of the tractor there was plenty of time to think. Ted knew the real reason he couldn’t go to the contest. Anna was a miniature Tonya and when his daughter sang, it stirred up too many memories, emotions, and pain. He remembered the time when he asked if she had voice lessons. She laughed and said her only lesson came from Psalm 89:1. ‘I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever’.
A light switch turned on in his head and now he understood. Tonya sang her heart out for God. She honored His love with every song she sang. Their daughter was born with a blessed voice, a great gift of love from God. Ted realized that even though Anna would sing for God, today she needed her daddy in the audience.
A silent prayer escaped from his lips for help, then a song from his rusty vocal cords. He felt a burden lifted from his shoulders. He stopped the tractor. What time was it?
The auditorium was full and hushed voices became silent as the curtains were drawn. Several students sang before they announced Anna’s name. There was a long pause, before a young girl slowly made her way to center stage. Anna stopped at her spot and began searching the crowd, looking for someone. Ted stood up, touched his heart with his hand and then blew her a kiss. Beaming from ear to ear, Anna nodded to Mrs. Hanson. She was ready to sing her song,
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