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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Hunger (11/08/04)

TITLE: Eat Your Oatmeal!
By Lois Jennison Tribble


"But I HATE oatmeal!" Evie pleaded. At age five, she looked to her ten-year-old brother, Ethan, for support. He was ritually spooning the steaming glop, then plopping it back into his bowl uneaten.

"Gran, Why do you always fix oatmeal? Can't we have something GOOD for a change?" Ethan peered through his glasses at his grandma, scowling back through her own.

"Is that true? I didn't realize. . ." Grandma's eyes misted over, then she smiled. "Let me tell you a story, children."

Evie and Ethan exchanged suspicious glances, code for "What now?" Grandma spun stories as skillfully as spiders spin webs, with few able to separate her truth from fiction.

"Without oatmeal, I don't think you'd be alive," Grandma began.

Fiction, Ethan thought shrewdly.

"Really?" Evie was sunk, hoodwinked already.

"I was sick in my mid-thirties, and when Doctor T. came in and quietly shut the door, the hope of having children, the hope of life itself turned on that hinge." Grandma paused dramatically, looking as if she were all alone, rowing across some dark lake.

Fiction for sure: Grandma had three children in her forties, including their dad. "What was wrong?" Ethan smugly prodded.

"My liver," she snapped, embarrassed at being caught again in her reverie. "No reason, it just wasn't working. Doctor T. prescribed drugs that might save me. But I told him, 'God promised me babies. I can't take those drugs and have babies, so Jesus will heal me another way.' You know what that doctor said then?"

"What?" Evie asked.

"He said, 'You're nuts.' After I left, he called your granddad; then he called his lawyer."

"What's that got to do with oatmeal?" Ethan asked.

"Plenty!" Grandma explained. "I prayed the whole way home, asking Jesus for mercy, healing, grace, direction. Then I made a beeline for my books, and that night I only fixed dinner for one."

"What's that mean?" Ethan was puzzled.

"I quit eating."

"You must have starved to death!" Evie challenged.

"No, baby, I didn't starve. Jesus fasted for forty days, and he didn't even have fruit juices. I included lemon juice and herbs, and kept praying. And the whole time I prayed about having children, and the children they would marry. I thought about you grandchildren, and your children after you. I could see you, standing behind a dark glass -- just your shadows. But I couldn't touch you."

"Weren't you hungry, Grandma?" Evie asked.

"You bet. Popcorn was the hardest to lose. Grandpa helped me; but the truth is, I was hungrier for my babies than food. I trusted the Lord's direction and kept on fasting. Then, after two weeks, I began eating again."

"Did you eat popcorn?" Evie suggested. Ethan leaned forward, propping his head between his hands.

"No, honey. Nothing good like that. Nothing I liked. In fact, I started eating the one food I hated more than any other." She paused again.

"What was it, Grandma? What did you eat?" Ethan prompted.

"Oatmeal. Raisins and cinnamon, no sugar, no cream. Oatmeal."

Ethan groaned with disgust: snookered again.

"And I savored every bite. I was so hungry -- it tasted heavenly, and has ever since! Step by step my health improved, though my diet remained very strict. Then after four years God rewarded my faithfulness. I still remember Doc's face when he walked through that same door to confirm what I'd already told him. 'Yes, you're pregnant, but I'm afraid it will kill you. You'll have to find another doctor; my insurance won't cover you.'"

"So what then?" Ethan asked.

"Why, I found me a good Christian doctor, and we prayed my three babies here, one right after another. Changing my eating habits wasn't easy, but it was the best choice: it was God's plan for me. Walking in Jesus' footsteps in obedience is hard. You have to be hungry -- desperate, in fact, because lots of trouble comes along that road to discourage you. But Peter said it best in the Gospel of John, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.' There's no option: only if you're sure of that will you remain faithful when asked to swallow things that are bland or distasteful.

Evie squirmed. "But I still hate oatmeal, Grandma."

"You're just not hungry enough to appreciate -- oatmeal's good for you!"

Ethan stared at his bowl, no longer steaming. "Is any of this true, Grandma?"

"Eat your oatmeal, and you'll find out," Grandma said with a wink.

Member Comments
Member Date
Mitzi Busby11/15/04
Lois, wonderful lesson and great writing. You have a gift of writing down His Truths. God Bless!
Corinne Smelker 11/15/04
I love the thought process of the ten year old - he's been around long enough!

Very good story, and you're right, if you're hungry enough for something, you'll go to any lengths to appease the hunger.
Lucian Thompson11/15/04
Lois, this was a very enjoyable story to read. Thanks for submitting it. Good job.
John Hunt11/15/04
I love the line:
I could see you, standing behind a dark glass -- just your shadows.
Creative article, nicely done.
Verlie Ruhl11/16/04
Grandma's a kick! I enjoyed spending time with her, Ethan and Evie, and I loved Ethan's responses. This homey scene was a good vehicle to deliver the important lesson of reliance on God in the face of hardship. (Just think how much better Grandma would have felt if she'd eaten grits! :0)
Debbie OConnor11/16/04
Excellent article. Lots of fun, lots of truth and very real!
Liz Hoyt Eberle11/17/04
What a delightful way to preach a sermon! Uh.. let me see... something bout show, don't tell. Written beautifully and held my attention!
Kenny Paul Clarkson11/18/04
Well written. VERY well written!!
Lynda Lee Schab 11/19/04
I enjoyed this so much! I also am not a fan of oatmeal. Maybe I should fast for a couple of days and then try it - I may learn to love it too (or not! LOL) Excellent story with great dialogue.
Blessings, Lynda
Deborah Anderson11/19/04
I loved this Lois; absolutely loved it. God bless you.
Rebekah Bentley11/19/04
Beautifully well-written story, Lois. It held my attention from beginning to end. As a non-oatmeal-lover, I wanted to see what made "Grandma" come to like it. :) I particularly enjoyed your line that spoke of seeing them behind a dark glass. Superb!
Cheryl Johnson11/20/04
wow, great job. You held my attention from the beginning. You did a good job with the character development, I thought. Enjoyed the read!
Pam Williams11/21/04
I enjoyed your story. Good writing!
Linda Germain 11/21/04
Lois, good writing! My memories of oatmeal are wonderful. My grandmother made the old fashioned kind, boiling it until it was soft, then adding sugar, real butter and cream...yummy. She said it would stick to our ribs. It probably would have stuck to the ceiing too. LOL. The instant stuff does not compare (in more ways than one). You are most creative and refreshing. Keep 'em coming! ~LG~
Linda Germain 11/21/04
oops : "CEILING"