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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Blessed (10/11/12)

TITLE: Genesis--It's a Beginning
By Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom


Pastor Dave waved his hands and whistled. He tapped his foot as he waited for the crowd to quiet. ďWelcome to Genesis Retreat. The next few days will focus on helping each of you develop an intimate relationship . . . ď

The boys in the front row snickered. Pastor Dave put his hands on his hips and cleared his throat. The boys blushed and wiggled in their chairs.

After pausing briefly, Pastor Dave plastered a smile on his face and continued his monologue. ďAs I was saying, our focus is to help you develop a relationship with our Lord by writing your thoughts in prayer journals.Ē The chaperons passed passed out notebooks. ďFor your first entry, write a letter to Jesus and tell him why you are here. This is just between you and God, so donít worry about anyone else. Weíll meet in the dining hall at noon.Ē

He dismissed the crowd with a nod of his head and the kids scurried to a private spot. A girl in outdated clothes plopped into a beanbag. Her hands trembled as she began to write.

Deer God, Iím Shay and Iím 14 years old. I came here cuz my school told me to. I didnít wanna come at first. There are some Jesus freeks in school and they scare me alot. But I came cuz they said food was included. I donít get to eat every day and as long as the freeks are given out free food I thot I should come so I did. I donít know what else to say except Iím really hungray.

In the opposite corner, Tiffany nibbled on the end of her pen before writing in big loopy letters.

Dear Jesus, I came here because I canít get confirmed unless I attend one of these retreats. Plus I needed a break, so when this opportunity came up I jumped at it. Itís hard to be the prettiest and smartest girl in school. I have to get up early to make sure my outfit, hair, and make-up is perfect. Plus I am so tired from cheerleading practice. Being the captain is hard work. I have a high standard to maintain. I also have to keep up on the latest fashions and make sure I donít wear the same outfit twice in one month. Itís time for lunch. Amen.

The next few days zoomed past. When they weren't writing in their journals, the kids had small group meetings. Pastor Dave led Shay and Tiffanyís cluster. Shay hardly ever lifted her head or shared, while Tiffany monopolized each conversation.

As the retreat came to an end, Pastor Dave gathered everyone together. He looked at the kids and smiled from ear to ear. ďFor our last journal entry, Iíd like you to write about what you have learned this week and your plans once you return home."

Tiffany skipped over to her corner. She whipped out her purple pen and began scribbling in her notebook.

Dear Jesus, Thank you for showing me how lucky I am to be me. Iíd just die if I looked like Shay. I mean really, did she think no one would notice that she wore the same jeans every day? Also thank you for my many talents. When I get home, Iím going to hang out with my friends and have a huge party.

Shay shuffled over to her corner. The tears began to fill her eyes as she flipped open her journal.

Dear God, This week has been good. Not only did I get food but I also learned about you and your love. I didnít think anyone could ever love me. Iíve always had an empty spot in my gut and I thought it was cuz I was hungary, but this week I stuffed myself and that feeling was still there. It wasn't til I got to know you that it went away. Jesus Iím scared to go home. What if I canít find you to fill that hole?

Shay brushed away a tear and glanced around the room. Pastor Dave was watching her. He crossed the room and stood next to her. ďItís been an honor to get to know you, Shay. Iíd be delighted if you came to Sunday School. Keep your chin up and your eyes on the Lord.Ē

Nodding, Shay held her head high as a glimmer of hope crept across her face.

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This article has been read 635 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Amy Michelle Wiley 10/18/12
I loved the inside look into the girls' hearts and the change that came into Shay's. There were several spots with telling instead of showing, but I know you have a word constraint. Good job.
Genia Gilbert10/21/12
You have captured a great picture of responses to Jesus, and shown that it is the attitude of the heart that matters. We recognize our true blessedness when we are open to Him. Good job.
Dannie Hawley 10/21/12
This is a terrific example of the modern-day Pharisee and sinner story in the Bible. I loved it.
Marie Hearty 10/22/12
Very good story. I enjoyed it a lot. I liked how you showed what each girl was thinking and how Shay was blessed in the end.

God Bless,
Colin Swann10/22/12
What a lovely sweet, cute story--I loved it! Thank you!

Colin (Gold Member)
Noel Mitaxa 10/23/12
Very well-drawn characters in this piece, which comes across with warmth and credibility.
lynn gipson 10/23/12
What a heart tugging, beautiful story. I can identify on some levels with Shay in my grade school years. I was never hungry but I did feel scared and alone. Bless you for writing this stirring piece. There are so many girls and boys out there right now like Shay, and this morning I pray for them.

God Bless ,lynn
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/23/12
This beautiful story is a wonderful modernization of the Pharisee's prayer.
Loren T. Lowery10/23/12
A well written story of transformation through revelation. I liked the honesty of the letters - especially the first ones. How else can God know where we are until we admit it ourselves and let the Genesis begin. Great job!
Allison Egley 10/23/12
This is good. I like the contrast you painted between the two girls. I just wish they had BOTH learned the lessons.
Bea Edwards 10/24/12
Clever and creative take on the "Thank God I am not like that man" Pharisee story. Well crafted but you repeated the word passed in the second paragraph (I think). Phooey :-(
Willena Flewelling 10/24/12
Great treatment of an old truth. I can really identify with Shay... My stepfather was a kind and generous man, and a hard worker, but in the eyes of the middle class children in my school, he was "the town garbageman and a drunk". I love reading stories like this!
clarissa aguilera10/25/12
WOW! That was amazing -.
your story was very... well, worded.
I really, really enjoyed that. Thank you.
(Reality check)!Appreciate all the thing's you have , and stop complaining about all the thing's you don't???
Wow, awesome touch at the end ,shay learned to appreciate herself.
"That carries weight"? EXCELLENT story, job well,done.thanks shann.:)