I Won, I Won!

A couple of weeks ago I entered The Christmas Letter (a short story) in the Faithwriter's Christmas Writing Contest. This morning I received a notice that my story had taken 3rd place (out of 60 entries). The big prize? $15.00!

Here's what they said about the judging...

We had over sixty entries and three judges located in different parts of the USA. Each judge read all entries and narrowed it down to their top five with no discussions with the other judges. The first time the fifteen submissions were brought together, two judges had four of the same entries. All three judges had three of the same entries. The judges were quite surprised themselves and felt God must be involved.

I'm so excited because lately I've really been stalled in my writing and doubting my writing abilities. Here's a link to the story in case you want to read it (and why wouldn't you?).

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

A Little Face to Face Conversation

A couple of years ago I entered a writing challenge - write a short story using the following prompt: Face to Face Conversation.

If I remember correctly, I placed in the top 3 in my level (intermediate). Just re-read it this evening and thought..."Did I write that?" It encouraged me to start writing in the Faithwriters weekly challenges again.  Here's the story...

The day had started off well enough, except for the fact that I had to leave early and missed my quiet time with God. I made a mental note to spend time in the Word and prayer later in the day.

It was a typical Monday at work. I suspect there are pesky demons who slither into office buildings on the weekend to hide important documents and put hexes on computers and various other office machines. By 10:15 this morning Mr. Richardson was demanding the marketing report, which my computer refused to print. The coffee machine had dispensed a cup of coffee – minus the cup. Even Sharla, who worked at the next desk and was usually in a great mood was being a pain.

My daughter's school called at 2:00 o'clock.

“Mrs. Baker, your daughter has skipped her last two classes and was found smoking in the restroom. She's been suspended, please come right away to pick her up.”

That went over big with Richardson.

“Lydia, I can't have a marketing director who isn't committed to her job.”

Being a single mom sucks!

The drive home with a sulking teenager was the highlight of my day...at least it was quiet.

She stomped off to her room and slammed the door to let me know just how angry she was. Believe me, I felt like slamming a few doors myself. Instead, I walked to my room and plopped into the chair where I usually spend the mornings with God.

“Where are you?” I whispered.

I swallowed hard at the lump in my throat, then closed my eyes and allowed my mind to review all the things that were wrong with my life. It seemed that struggle filled every nook and cranny of my existence. The tears came, unbidden and my spirit began a slow descent.

I was all too familiar with depression. It had become a close companion over the last couple of years since my divorce, but several weeks ago, the ladies in my small group had prayed for me and I had actually felt it lift. Each day that followed was a little brighter than the last and I had thought that maybe...perhaps, the depression was gone for good.

Now, I felt it creeping its way back into my heart.

I reached for my Bible and opened it, praying that I would find something to hold onto, something to keep me from slipping back into the darkness.

I let my Bible fall open and began to read Psalms 43. When I reached the 5th verse, my heart did a little flip-flop.

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

I read it several times. The Psalmist was talking to himself!

I got up and marched myself into the bathroom, flipped on the light and had a little face-to-face conversation with the gal in the mirror.

“Now, you look here, Lydia Baker – I will not tolerate this moping around. God is still on the throne and He is still in control. You are not walking through this world alone. You are walking hand-in-hand with your Savior, Jesus Christ and there is nothing in this life that He can not see you through. You are blessed beyond measure and have much to rejoice about, so shake this off and begin to praise God.”

And I did...right there in the bathroom, staring myself in the eye, I raised my hands and began to praise God for all the good things in my life. I sang, I prayed, I proclaimed my love for the One who gives me every reason to hope.

I only stopped when I saw my daughter standing in the doorway.

“Have you lost your mind?” she asked.

I slipped my arm through hers and smiled.

“Nope! I just renewed it.” I said. “Let's talk.”

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

The Christmas Letter

Sally curled her fingers around the thick crayon, her tongue slipped through her lips in abject concentration. The letters must be formed just right. All the words must be straight, for this was the most important letter she would ever write.

Carly dried the last of the dishes as she watched her little girl bent low over her paper.

"Jotting down the things you want for Christmas?" Sally nodded, but didn’t look up from her task.

A key turned in the lock and Daddy stumbled through the door.

Sally wrote faster.

She wrote through the yelling, through the crying, through the slamming of the door as Daddy left again. When she had finished, she carefully folded the letter and put it into an envelope and addressed it…To Jesus.

"Mama?” she said, “Can we go to the mall tomorrow?"

Carly looked at her beautiful child through red and swollen eyes. “You want to see Santa? To give him your list?"

Sally shook her head, “No, Santa only brings toys. I want to see Jesus for Christmas this year. Since Christmas is Jesus' birthday, he'll be at the mall, too. Right?"

Carly looked at her little girl - her spirit so strong and her body so frail. If the doctors were right, Sally would indeed see Jesus for Christmas this year. “Let’s get you back to bed, Sweet Pea. I’ll hold your letter until morning."

When Jessie came back home that night, Carly was waiting for him, holding Sally’s letter “You have to read this,” she said." Jessie read through whiskey blurred eyes what his little girl had written.

Dear Jesus,
 Please make my mommy and daddy love each other again.
Your friend,

Husband and wife cried together that night and promised to work things out. Promised to allow God to mend their marriage and promised to seek Jesus for the answer to their little girl’s Christmas wish.

On Christmas morning, Sally looked up into St. Peter’s eyes. “Is this the line to see Jesus?” she asked.

"You don’t need to stand in line, Sally,” said St. Peter, “Jesus is waiting for you."

She turned to see the Friend Of Children waiting to take her in. She ran into his arms and buried her face in his chest. “Did you get my letter?” she asked.

“Yes, child,” he said “and your wish has been granted“

Thank you, Jesus,” she reached her hand up and patted his face, “and Merry Christmas.”

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(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Start your novel off with a BANG!

I read a great post on Seekerville yesterday by Mary Connealy about where to begin your novel.

Since I struggled so much with NaNoWriMo this year, I was about to give up on the idea of writing fiction, but this post made me want to try again.

Believe me, Mary Connealy  knows how to explot a book onto the page from the get-go. The first book I read by Mary was Petticoat Ranch, which opens with A man plunging over a creek bank riding his horse at full speed on a pitch black stormy night, with a woman and her three little girls trying to save him from the raging waters of a creek.

It was an Indiana Jones, edge-of-your-seat opening. Was I hooked? You bet I was!

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)