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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Writing a Letter (handwritten correspondence) (10/21/10)

TITLE: The Answer
By Rachel Phelps


The roses from his last bouquet were just beginning to droop in their vase. Gina plucked the browning petals from the blooms, then plopped into her desk chair. It looked like her paperclips needed organizing, too. That would provide another distraction. Todd would be expecting an answer before church tomorrow.

She walked her pen through her fingers. On the last turn, it flipped out of her grasp and soared across the dorm room – straight to where her roommate was sprawled on the rug studying.

“Incoming!” Gina blurted.

Lizzy glanced up from her Shakespeare anthology just in time to dodge the projectile. She cocked an eyebrow at Gina. “Alright Miss Ministry Major – do unto others as you would have them do to you. Do you want me to throw a pen at you?”

“Only if it comes with some of your writing genius.”

They laughed together, but Gina’s eyes strayed back to the paper before her. She’d spent half the night pacing and praying about this, but no answer was forthcoming.

Lizzy closed the book and sat up. “Talk to me.”

Gina slid out of her chair and joined her friend on the rug. “It was the most romantic proposal I could wish for.”

“You were practically floating when you came in last night,” Lizzy observed.

“Todd took me into the old chapel just at sunset so all the stained glass was glowing, and said he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me because I never lose the wonder of love – the love of God or a person.”

Lizzy smirked. “Not quite out of Shakespeare, but respectable.”

Gina reached up for the paper on the desk. “Then he gave me this and said he wanted me to read it, pray about it, and give him an answer when I was ready.” She sighed, “I wish he’d just left it at the proposal.”

She passed the letter to Lizzy. Even looking at it made her heart hurt. Todd had never said anything like that before when they talked about the future. She watched her roommate’s face, waiting for the moment she found –

“He doesn’t expect you to pastor?” Lizzy exploded, nearly ripping the paper as she threw her hands in the air.

Gina quoted the passage. “I can see us now – me leading worship and you by my side. You’ll be a perfect pastor’s wife because you have such a fire and passion. You could revolutionize a church’s ministries with your organization, creativity and passion.” She shrugged. “It’s supposed to be a compliment, I think.”

“But you’re called to preach,” Lizzy said bluntly. “He’s known that for the whole stinkin’ two years you’ve been dating.”

Gina took the letter back, skimming the lines for something she’d missed. The tears she’d been denying all day lodged in her throat. “Apparently he figured I’d give it up. He’s made some comments about how unusual a female pastor is.”

“Unusual doesn’t equal ‘I don’t expect you to follow your calling – just support mine.’” Lizzy observed, looking rather murderous.

Gina folded the paper, releasing a quavery sigh. “I love him.”

Lizzy stared at her. “You’re not seriously going to…”

“I don’t know.” Gina’s heart twisted again. “I prayed about it all night. I felt that call to preach when I was 11 – what if I was misinterpreting it? What if I really am called to be a minister’s wife instead? I’m not opposed to being the wife of a music minister, if that’s what God wants from me – and I know Todd’s heart is in the right place.”

“Gina – you’ve shown me notebooks full of sermons you’ve scribbled the way I scribble novel outlines,” Lizzy said more gently. “You’ve been ministering since the day you set foot on this campus. I still remember the first time I found one of your “encouraging words” notes taped on my desk.”

“I can use those skills as a pastor’s wife.”

“Or as a pastor.” Lizzy said brusquely. She flipped open her anthology and pointed to the page. ”’Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments. Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds or bends with the remover to remove.’”

“You and your Shakespeare,” Gina retorted. “Do you have a personal note from God tucked away telling you I shouldn’t marry Todd?”

Lizzy pointed to Gina’s desk where a piece of notebook paper was taped. I’m going to be a pastor was scrawled in 11-year-old script. “No. I think you do.”

Author’s Note: The sonnet referenced is Shakespeare’s 116th.

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This article has been read 730 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/28/10
I was really drawn into this story.

My son felt the calling to be a minister at a young age. I can just imagine how similiar his reaction would be if his girlfriend said that to him.

You did an outstanding job with this. I also enjoyed the fresh approach to a love letter.
Amy Michelle Wiley 10/29/10
Aww, sad story--well written.
Barbara Lynn Culler10/30/10
Very well written-I could picture it all happening.

When we follow God's prompting, it oftentimes hurts to turn away from anything that hinders that calling.

Would love to hear future version of this story!
Colin Nielsen10/30/10
Great job. Nice story. Believable characters. Situation that has probably happened far to often for Christians. I'm guessing she rejects his proposal and then writes a letter as to why. And in the end he accepts her calling and he becomes a pastor's husband. lol
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/30/10
Excellently written. I had to memorize that sonnet in high school.it was the perfect illustration for your story. This story was very much on topic.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/30/10
Although I've left a comment I felt compelled to leave one more. This is on topic in my opinion. It states in the description about being on topic could the story take place without the topic. In this case although there's not a long letter to read, the whole scene would not be occurring if she hadn't read the letter. You can't do the scene without the letter so I think it is quite on topic!!
Marita Thelander 10/30/10
A call to preach. A call to pastor. The burning in her heart should identify preaching to whom, and pastor in what capacity. Standing behind the pulpit to preach to "saints" in the pew in the traditional sense of pastoring is no longer the norm. Nonetheless... a marriage proposal where her dreams are to instantly submit to his interpretation of them needs some clarification in face-to-face conversation. Oh wait...that was last weeks topic.

All that said, the story obviously pulled me in... in more ways than I want to admit. And I agree it is on topic in that a hand written correspondence occurred and required a like response.
Catrina Bradley 10/30/10
Your writing talent and skill is obvious - I pictured everything clearly and was in the room with these 2 girls. Excellent job! And the topic is not as weak as you think it is - it is the center of the action, and this scene couldn't have taken place without the letter.
Bola M. Eyinla10/30/10
I admire your technique and I am profoundly inspired! Thanks for the entry.
Nancy Sullivan 10/30/10
Some interesting discussion between these two friends. I would certainly hesistate to be the one to tell another whether she (or he) should or should not be in the ministry, regardless of the circumstances. What if I were wrong? Ouch!
T. F. Chezum10/30/10
Well written with believable characters and good dialogue. Quite a tough decision to make. Very well done.
Connie Dixon10/31/10
Wow, your subject is certainly current. A woman Pastor? A Pastor's wife? A true calling? Would love to more. Great writing.
Lyn Churchyard10/31/10
Enjoyable read, both tension and humour--well done. Yes, definitely on topic-a letter received, a letter to be written. Your characters were real and likable, good job all round.
Sarah Elisabeth 10/31/10
I agree with Lisa on the dialogue tags. In my humble opinion - no further polish needed.

A compelling story and I was really anticipating the solution (which I believe was right!) Love the double meaning in the title. Super as always girl!
Caitlyn Meissner11/01/10
A hard topic, since women preachers aren't that popular in every church. It gave me something to think about, especially as it deals with God's calling. I wonder if she was right? Sometimes God wants us to give up our dreams in order to follow him. Good job! :)
Beth LaBuff 11/01/10
From a literary standpoint you are a master writer. You skillfully wove this story.
Leah Nichols 11/02/10
Ouch! So glad I never had to make such a hard decision! You set this up perfectly....I feel like I'm right in the action there with the girls, like I want to tell her to be obedient to God and not man - as if she could hear me....lol. Well done!
Amanda Brogan11/02/10
Hmmm, we need a sequel! There's so much here to make a great story! You begin with a little humor and godly romance (sucked me right in ;) ), but you don't leave it at that ... you throw a curve ball to the story that requires an answer. :)

I'm not so much for woman pastors (woman speakers, yes), so I'm hoping that Gina will decide that God is calling her to be a pastor's wife instead and marry Todd. :) But of course, I'm not trying to put ideas into your head ...

Overall, I'd say you got a great story here! Very creative and out-of-the-box.
Edmond Ng 11/04/10
An articulate piece of work on the delicate issue of God’s calling. It's something we need to be very sure about even if other well-intent persons who serve the same God fail to understand. The message in your story comes through very clearly. Excellent work!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/04/10
Congratulations for placing 12th in level 4 and 19th overall!
Amanda Brogan11/05/10
Congrats on getting to the top 30 and the top 15 in Masters! You go, girl! ;)
Noel Mitaxa 11/09/10
You have breathed life and credibility into the array of thoughts, hopes, dreams and misunderstandings that are all part of the mix when God calls. Your characters are strong and you have portrayed their interaction with a very absorbing style.
Excellent flow of ideas.
Carol Penhorwood 11/10/10
Another masterful entry from your pen! This left the reader wanting more which to me is a sign of great writing.