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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Art (01/18/07)

TITLE: A Paper Clip Opened the Door
By Joanne Sher


Leah carefully scraped the dirt out from under her left thumbnail with a paper clip. Satisfied with her accomplishment, she watched an ant crawl across her desk. Every inch or so, she diverted its path with the clip.

She had stopped listening ten minutes ago to the soliloquy Dr. Langdon V. Stormfeather was giving at the front of the lecture hall. A ticking metronome would have been more interesting to her.

Beats me why I need to take this silly history class. I’m a sculptor; an artist. Why am I even in college?

Picking up the paper clip again, she wiped off the dirt, then worked to straighten its curves. She smiled with satisfaction at the straight metal line she had created. Her fingers then began intricately working the metal, bending it this way and that, until the clip was transformed into the likeness of a flower. Satisfied, Leah opened her purse and slid her newest work of art into an inside pocket.

Lord, I know how You have gifted me. I could create works of art just for You over and over. But why do You want me to go to college first – to take these classes I will likely never use and that bore me to tears? I don’t understand. Please clarify in some special way that You want me here, Lord. I’m about ready to quit!

Glancing at her watch, Leah let out a sigh of relief. Just a few minutes of class remained. She returned her attention to Dr. Stormfeather, knowing he would announce their homework assignment shortly.

As usual, the professor closed his lecture with an assignment to read a couple chapters in their required text and write out the main points in outline form. Leah jotted down the assignment in her notebook, then picked up her books and filed out into the hallway with the rest of the students.

Responding to her rumbling stomach, Leah strolled toward the university’s student center. She had a good hour until her fundamentals of drawing class, giving her plenty of time to grab a bite for lunch.

Leah wiggled her way through the packed dining area to the cafeteria, where she purchased a tuna sandwich, a bag of chips, and a drink. Scanning the room, she found a small, unoccupied table where she made herself comfortable and took out her sketch pad and pencil.

Looking at the tables around her, Leah noticed a young woman cradling a small baby in her arms. Smiling, the young artist began sketching the pair as she munched on her sandwich.

“Is this seat taken?”

Leah glanced to her right to see a redhead, about her age, addressing her. The student looked vaguely familiar, but Leah couldn’t recall where she’d seen her before.

“Nope. Have a seat!”

The woman sat down, glancing at Leah’s sketch pad.

“That’s a beautiful drawing you’re making. I love the soft lines.”


“I love that little doodad you made in Stormfeather’s class this morning, too!”

Leah looked up, surprised.

“I’m Stacey, by the way. I was sitting next to you in class today. Your little project was far more interesting than he was.”

Giggling, Leah opened her purse and fished out the paper clip creation, placing it in front of Stacey.

“For me?” Stacey picked up the flower and examined it. “You know, you are quite good. I wish I could make stuff like that!”

Leah blushed. “Thanks. It’s really a God-given talent.”

“Well, however you got it, you’ve definitely got it. I’m not much of a God-person myself, but I might reconsider if He’d give me a gift like yours!”

Leah took a deep breath and prayed silently.

Lord, give me the words to say; and thank You for showing me why You want me here.

“That’s definitely not the best gift God has given me, Stacey. Would you mind if I told you about my favorite one?”

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This article has been read 1530 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Crista Darr01/25/07
I love this! I suspected where you were going with the "reason" for college, but was still thrilled when it came. The writing is exceptional. Great work!
Betty Castleberry01/25/07
He does place us right where He wants us, doesn't He?
This was an enjoyable read. Thanks for sharing.
Jacqueline Zerres01/25/07
Great story! Your title caught my attention, but your descriptions kept it. Diverting the ant, bending the clip, using it to clean her fingernails. The message, too, came through loud and clear. Good job!
Helen Paynter01/25/07
Yeah, great story, with an excellent title that pulled my in and held me. TO my sceptical mind, the conversation in the cafeteria was a little too good to be true, but that's just me of little faith, I guess! Good work.
Kathie Thomas01/26/07
Good story, good read. Thanks for the reminder that He does place us in the right place at the right time.
Marilyn Schnepp 01/27/07
Yep! The ingriguing Title didn't let me down - it enticed me in and kept me. Definitely a sign of a good writer! Believe me, my attention span is short...and I followed you all the way to the end. Nice Job!
Timothy Oesch01/28/07
Great job! In the beginning I could actually place myself in the character's place because of the description of feelings/thoughts---would have loved to have seen a bit more of that throughout. And though this is something particular to myself, I would love to have seen more description of the environment (maybe so it mirrored the inner feelings of the character) - a grey, hazy day with rain tinking off of the windows or something like that. Overall great work though. Keep it up.
Laurie Glass 01/28/07
You drew me in and kept me all the way through. I was eager to read how it would end and the ending put a big smile on my face. Well done.
Shari Armstrong 01/28/07
Ah - lovely full circle. Nicely done!
Teri Wilson01/28/07
What a treat! I really enjoyed every word. And wherever did you come up with the professor's name? ha

I could really relate to your main character and I love the way it turned out in the end. Great job! I hope this places.
Teri Wilson01/28/07
P.S. Also, your title is perfect.
T. F. Chezum01/28/07
Very good story - an enjoyable read. I can realte to doodling, making paperclip scultpures and not wanting to go to class (or work sometimes )
Pat Guy 01/28/07
Okay - you hooked me with the paper-clip creation. I LOVE doing the same thing! I didn't know anyone else even thought of it.

Engaging and flowing with great atmosphere, thought, dialogue and sooo believable. Really good work!
Leigh MacKelvey01/28/07
I thought the reason He had her in college was believable! I've questioned God that way in a lot of jobs He's placed me in and know of no other reason except witnessing to be the answer! Again, Joanne, an amzing job. Just wanted more!
Donna Powers 01/29/07
Very well done! I loved the way you used such a seemingly small thing to tell your story and loved the ending, too.
Jan Ackerson 01/29/07
Perfect title, and really fun story. I really like your sense of humor.
Sandra Petersen 01/29/07
I had a few professors like Stormfeather, too. Where did you come up with such a clever name for him?

Interesting lead-in to a witnessing opportunity. I guess you never know who's watching, do you? Loved the last paragraph about 'the best gift.'
Patty Wysong01/29/07
From beginning to end I loved it! You drew my attention and kept it and the ending was great! Wonderful!!
Suzanne R01/29/07
Fun title, and a lovely story.

As an educator, my hackles raised just slightly with the main character wondering what she was doing in college when she could be using her art. I was sad that she didn't realize that the opportunity to learn is an amazing gift in its own right, but I got over it ;-).

You pulled the whole piece together beautifully at the end.
Sara Harricharan 01/30/07
I liked how this was going. I wish there was a little more and it hadn't ended right there. Using the paper clip was pretty neat, I liked the visual of playing with it and then turning it into something else. The character of Stacy was my favorite though, good job!
Linda Watson Owen01/31/07
A real delight! What a wonderful way to remind us that God has His perfect answer for all of our WHY's!
Sally Hanan01/31/07
Cute story. i was tryingto think of some advice to make thisbetter, and I think that you have a lot of sentences that begin with "she did this/that". Sometimes that gets to read more like a list of sorts, and by tweaking your sentences to make it come alive, you could have some sentences like this: The thin metal in her hands moved softly in response to the slight pushes of her fingers.
Edy T Johnson 02/07/07
This is so easy to read---must come from the pen of a natural-born storyteller. Your title is inspired, too, as it really sums up the message.

Thank you for commenting on my writing, too. I appreciate you muchly!