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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Beginnings (05/31/04)

TITLE: Are You Ever Going to Finish This?
By Mary Elder-Criss


Are You Ever Going to Finish This?
By: Mary Elder-Criss

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that question, I’d be one rich lady. If there is such a support group as “Beginner’s Anonymous,” I need to sign up. Quickly. Before I become distracted. I can see my nametag now, “Hi, I’m Mary, and I’m…” Knowing me, my label wouldn’t even be filled out properly. Something would invariably happen to befuddle my good intentions.

I recently decided to hold a yard sale, and began cleaning out closets in preparation. In the process, I came across my craft box, and cringed inwardly upon inspection. Inside I found two half completed cross-stitch projects, three woodcrafts partially painted, a handmade frog puppet sadly missing his eyes, and several Christmas ornaments that were abandoned as too difficult in mid conception.

My twelve year old daughter, who was helping me sort through the craft items, held up a cross stitch picture that was over ¾ of the way complete, and popped the dreaded question. “Mom, are you ever going to finish this?”

Squirming, I elusively answered, “Hmmm…maybe someday honey, when I find the time.”

“I don’t understand you, Mom. You buy all this stuff and say you are going to create them as gifts, and then before one is finished, you begin another one. How come you don’t just stick with one and complete it before you start working on something else?”

“I don’t know, honey, why do I never complete anything? I guess I just lose interest. I’m just not dedicated enough.”

How bad is my affliction? About eight years ago, we decided to redecorate our family room. I got the bright idea to stencil a border around the top of the walls. The room’s color theme was hunter green and barn red, so I visited the local craft shop and found a really neat pattern to apply. My original plan was simply to apply the border to one wall. I finished that wall in record time, and it looked so appealing, I decided to stencil another one. Bad idea. I got about ¼ of that one done before life intruded. Knowing my tendency to leave things uncompleted, I left the painting materials out in plain sight, mistakenly thinking that if I saw them daily, it would inspire me to finish the job. Four years ago, when I redecorated once more, the craft box was discovered under the sofa, paints dried and cracked, the second wall still lacking half of the border.

I am so glad that my Lord is more dependable to finish what He began. In Jeremiah 1:5 it states that before He formed me in my mothers womb, He knew me. Philippians 1:6 tells me that He who has begun a good work in me will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Thankfully for my sake, Christ is a lot more dedicated to finishing what He began. He does not view me in the same light as my well-intentioned projects. He will not begin a good work in me, and then abandon me. He will not become distracted from the completed project. If I become dormant for too long, and begin to dry out, He will send His refreshing. I am not in danger of being left alone, forgotten, or overlooked, only to be discovered four years later, in a useless state.

Maybe, with His example, I will become more dedicated someday to finish the activities discovered only half completed in my craft box. I don’t know. They are begun with all good intentions. However, there is one project that I can count on to be accomplished. Under the subjection of my Master’s hand, the half-completed design that is my life, will one day be a worthy reflection of Him, the Artist. He will finish what He started. He is the Author and Finisher of my Faith.

Copyright 2004

Member Comments
Member Date
Mary, it was so good to read about someone else who has the same affliction that i do. Your story could have been mine.(:

My story this week started out similar to yours as well.

Nice job.
Dave Wagner06/07/04
Excellent piece. Very polished and professional.

A couple observations: don't be so hard on yourself about this tendency toward not finishing projects. I read somewhere that it is a sign of creative genius - a brain so eager for creative stimulation that it is quickly distracted by new things to do. The satisfaction comes from starting the project, and seeing the finished product in your mind's eye is enough, you don't need a finished product.

Anyway, I point this out, obviously, because I have the same tendency, and this explanation brought me a bit of relief from the frustrating level of guilt I was living under. Hey, I like the idea that I may be smart! W00t!

Another thought: I know that God sometimes shelves people for a long time, refining and shaping them away from the limelight, quietly, in the dark, undercover. Like a sculptor hiding behind a big cloth draped to obstruct everyone's view of his project. Ultimately, an unveiling takes place and people see the finished product. I only add this for those that might read your piece and feel like they are, in fact, under the couch drying out for years, and that God might have given up on them, becasue they aparently aren't "being used" by God in a visible ministry. I've heard it said that God's most precious jewels are not on display for all the world to see - He keep them squirreled away for Himself, and brings them out once in a blue moon, for very special occasions.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed your submission. Thanks for posting it.
Dian Moore06/07/04
So far, this is my favorite. Very polished. My husband is one just like you, a beginner of projects that are never finished. However, in his case, we have discovered that he has Adult ADD. If you were to sell this article, that might be a nice addition - an acknowledgement that some people really might have something wrong as opposed to those that are that way because of a chemical deficiency in their body. Of course, this is something we are praying about, as it has just been confirmed recently. For anyone who is interested, symptoms include being tired all the time, inability to concentrate, forgetfulness, troubled school years, excessive procrastination and so on.

Thanks for this well-written piece!
toronto49 Aird06/07/04
Very nice, Mary! You writing is an inspiration!
toronto49 Aird06/07/04
Linda Miller06/07/04
Oh Mary - you hit me right between the eyes - if you were to see my craft/quilt room right now you would burst out laughing! Well written, wonderful subject and enjoyable reading - made me chuckle and out-right laugh!! Thank you for that - I needed it!
Marie B. Corso06/07/04
Ouch! This is a "me, too."
And aren't we happy that the Lord finishes what He begins?
Good piece.
Gary Sims06/07/04
Mary - very well written and you finished!!! yeah! There are small victories. What I liked best, other than the real life objective look at your life was the paragraph where you tied it all together, and I mean all of it - you didn't leave a stitch left out. “He will not become distracted from the completed project. If I become dormant for too long, and begin to dry out…” Great job is summarizing your thoughts and bringing your illustrations to life.

I also feel
Mary Elder-Criss06/08/04
O.k. Gary, did you not finish your comments on my piece as a joke? lol
Blessings! Mary
gillian liversedge06/08/04
Hi Mary. I really enjoyed your article. I am a mix between a finisher and a non- finisher, but this I do know, that God loves us so much! Thanks for sharing your story.
Corinne Smelker 06/08/04
Oh man, I read the first paragraph aloud to my husband and he said, "Hey, that's you!" Can totally relate to this!
Deborah Porter 06/08/04
Oh Mary - ouch! This one hit a bit close to home; but hit with such a warm sense of humour that I didn't mind at all.

I thoroughly enjoyed this and loved the way you brought it all to a wonderful conclusion ... which just goes to show that there are some things that you actually finish with style! Love, Deb
Melanie Kerr 06/09/04
Excellent! This is me to a tee. I once went on a church outreach programme for a year. I confessed my tendency not to finish things and warned them that probably by Easter I would have gone home! I actually stuck it out for the whole year!
Site Editor 06/09/04
Just a test by the FaithWriters staff.
L.M. Lee06/09/04
Amen! Thank goodness God finishes His projects! ;-D - Imagine heaven with someone stuck behind a couch that the Father forgot to finish! ha! Now that's funny! Thank GOD it'll never happen!

Good piece!
B Price06/10/04
forgive me for laughing, but wow, I thought I was reading about myself.
my daughter has said the same thing in message and but not in the same words.
this was a bittersweet story... for it was so much like myself it was bitter, beside that it was a wonderful story that I enjoy learning I"m not alone...
alot of my stuff is going into and did go into a garage sale.
Dan Blankenship 06/11/04
Good job. I enjoyed it!
God Bless.
Dan Blankenship