Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jaw-dropping Astonishment

Several weeks ago, I decided to stop lurking and get involved with the FaithWriter's website... for me, that meant registering for the site and the forums, and entering the weekly Writer's Challenge.

Every Thursday, a prompt is given, and participants have one week to respond with a 150-750 word story, article, or poem. Winners are chosen in four categories: beginner, intermediate, advanced, and masters. Beginner was the obvious choice for me, having never been published or won any contests. (Actually, it was only the second time I've ever entered a contest like that.)

The prompt was to illustrate, without quoting, the saying, "Behind every cloud is a silver lining." Having had a storm deposit about a quarter-inch of ice the day before writing it, my story dealt with God using a traffic jam and a near-accident on a highway to reach a stubborn teen's heart. Perhaps my writing was influenced by the immediacy of the weather conditions, as well as living with two teenagers, because all the comments I received were very positive.

A few days after the close of the contest, the winners were posted, and (here comes the 'jaw-dropping astonishment) my story took first place in the beginner category! It gave me a big smile on an otherwise unpleasant day. (To me, it's a sign of God's goodness that the details of why the day were unpleasant are completely gone -- I just remember the incongruity of smiling that day!)

Gee... may I should post the story here! It's called 'Icy Day.'

For the third time, Sherry checked to make sure Arianna was wearing her seatbelt properly before turning her attention back to the icy road. She eased up on the gas and glanced at the dashboard clock. Gripping the steering wheel with both hands, she leaned forward slightly.
“Do you think we’ll get there on time?” her daughter asked.

“I hope so, sweetheart, but I didn’t realize the roads were so icy,” Sherry said. “Are you sure you brought everything? Do you have an extra copy of the scholarship application and essay?”
“Yes, Mom.” As usual, her daughter’s tone was insolent and slightly contemptuous. “Although they wouldn’t have made me a finalist if they didn’t have my paperwork, would they?”

Sherry clenched her teeth to keep an angry denunciation of Arianna’s ungrateful attitude from escaping. Unexpected brake lights glared in front of her, and she pressed the brake pedal hard – too hard, as the sedan immediately began to skid toward a concrete barrier on their left.


Sherry ignored her daughter to concentrate on her driving, taking her foot off the brake and steering into the skid before gently pressing the brake pedal again. Her fingers were claws gripping the steering wheel as she tried desperately to stop the car before hitting the bumper of the black SUV now stopped in front of them.

“Hold on, honey!” Sherry tried to speak calmly as she braced herself for the sickening crunch of metal on metal. It never came. The SUV rolled forward a few feet, and the sedan slid to a stop a few inches behind it. Sherry lowered her head to the steering wheel and silently gave thanks for their safety.

“Arianna, are you alright?” Sherry could tell that her voice was shaking to match her hands.
Wide eyed, Arianna nodded. When she spoke, her voice was also shaky. “I can see now why you always bug Dad about tailgating. If you hadn’t left so much room, we’d have hit him.” They both looked at the imposing black SUV in front of them.

Sherry took a deep breath and released it in a long sigh. “I guess God’s watching out for us today.” Arianna did not answer at first, and Sherry glanced over, expecting to see the usual angry reaction to anything religious.

After several minutes, Arianna spoke and Sherry leaned forward to make out the quiet words. “Yeah, Mom. I guess you’re right.” They drove in silence for about twenty minutes, but the traffic was bad and they were going slowly. Finally, Arianna spoke again. “We’re going to be late, aren’t we?”

“Yes, honey. I’m so sorry. I know you had your heart set on this scholarship.”

Sherry glanced at her daughter, and was amazed to see a genuine smile on her face. “It’s alright, Mom. I’m sure they know about the traffic and the icy roads. Remember? God’s taking care of us today.” Tears pricked Sherry’s eyes when her daughter added, “Thanks for bringing me, Mom.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I am officially...

a veteran homeschooler! Of course, if doing it for ten years didn't qualify me as one, I'm not sure anything would. On Saturday, March 8th, we made the decision to pull Becky out of school and bring her back home. By Monday morning, I had her course of study for the next 12 weeks laid out, all the materials foun either at home or at libraries, and my notification form filled out and ready for the school district.

Although I'm very glad to have her home, it will affect my writing. I'd been trying to write at least a little every day, as the advice goes, but I doubt it will be possible. As an example, she's interrupted me about half a dozen times just in the time it's taken to type this entry...

patience, patience, patience!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A little respect and admiration...

As a woman, I think I sometimes lose sight of how powerfully I can affect my husband. I've been told many times how much his wife's respect means to a man, but it's easy to forget... until I get a reminder.

One morning last week, at 6:30 a.m., I was sitting in my warm bed drinking coffee when my husband came in from shoveling a foot of snow off the driveway so he could go to work. I wasn't particularly eloquent, but I told him how much I admire and appreciate his work ethic, or something like that.

I probably wouldn't even remember having said anything if he hadn't mentioned later that those simple words had bouyed him up all day. I want to try and remember to tell him how much I appreciate him more often.

And, if my admiration can be such a lift for him, what a blow it must be when, in frustration over silly, meaningless issues I express the opposite.