Flash Fiction Challenge

Today’s post is a fun one! It is in response to a challenge from one of my fellow bloggers. Stephen and his family live in Ireland and he writes one of the most honest blogs I’ve ever read! He is also on the tail end of writing a novel and he runs marathons! Check out his blog at https://fracturedfaithblog.com

The Challenge? To write a short story (Or flash fiction piece) based on a discarded receipt he found, while wandering the stores of Belfast. This particular person purchased a peeler, and two prepared fruit cups. Interesting combo. Here’s my take on what happened:

That One Stinkin’, Waste of My Time, Rotten Apple

It all started with that one rotten apple. And my kid of course. I swear, this kid is going to make me loose my mind (or quite possibly a limb for that matter).

We have pop tarts for crying out loud! But what does the two-year-old want?

“Apo! Apo!”

Try to get him to eat something healthy any other day and it gets chucked across the room… anything we don’t have time for, I guess!

OK…maybe it started a little earlier than the apple.

I wake to a horn beeping loudly outside my apartment. Groggily opening my eyes, panick sets in as I realize I slept in an hour later than anticipated. Great. I had precisely fifteen minutes to get out of bed, throw our clothes on, eat, drop the kid off at daycare and be at work. As a single mom to the world most stubborn two year old IN THE WORLD, this is definitely NOT happening.

I should’ve used my better sense and just called in sick, but I like a good challenge, so why not give it a shot?

First step? Wake the beast. Before he can even get the second eye open he’s asking for cartoons. Fine. Cheap babysitting, so I can get ready. I’m dressed, hair done, make up done in three minutes flat. What can I say? I’ve had practice. Now for the hard part.

I pick up his favourite T-shirt, a pair of jeans and some socks. I don’t want any struggles today. He takes one glance at my selection as I approach him, promptly removes his thumb from his mouth and says, “No.”

No??? I roll my eyes. I want to shake the kid.

Instead I respond, “Then you pick your shirt sweetie.”

Thumb comes out again: “No.”

Oh for crying out loud! I glance at the time. We have now have eight minutes to go. I’m out of breath by the time I come back, holding at least a dozen selections of outfits. Surely one of them…

He proceeds to pick up each one and throw them on the floor. This takes two minutes. Finally…are you kidding me? He picks the one I brought in the first place!

Whatever! We have to go. I change him in a record breaking 35 seconds.

I pull out a pop tart for him to munch on the way. He spies the package in my and and begins shaking his head. No buddy! Not now…Please no!

“Apo” he points to one of the apples on our counter. Fine. I pick it up and hand it to him.

“We got to go now bud! Come on!”

Suddenly he holds it out. What now??

“Ucky peel! Ucky peel.”

Seriously. Who raised this kid? Don’t answer that.

I look all over. Where is that peeler? Today of all days!! I now have one minute to get on the car. Finally I grab a knife, it’s a dull one but it’ll have to do. I begin to peel at lightening speeds, we are going to make…it.

I see it before I feel it. My knuckle is half gone. Blood is everywhere. On the knife. On the counter. On that one, stinkin’, waste-of-my-time, rotten apple.

I stumble hastily around the kitchen, looking for something to stop the blood. A box of tissues. Perfect. I wrap my hand in 20 of them. The blood is just pouring through. My kitchen looks like a scene from a Stephen King novel. As best I can, I cast up my hand in more tissues and quickly seal the masterpiece with…with what?

I desperately felt around with my good hand in a drawer filled with odds and ends. Finally, I find the duct tape. Wrapping and cutting my with my left hand certainly isn’t a walk in the park but I do my best. And hey, on the bright side, I now have an excuse for being late. I watch as the tissue around my hand begins to turn red… This will definitely need a visit to the ER.

After another painful two minutes (literally) I coax my favourite (and least favourite at the moment) kiddo onto the car. I now just need to drop him off at daycare and get to the ER.

“I’m hungry!” Comes the cry from the backseat.

Right.

In all the chaos I forgot to feed the boy. I look around me. Drive through? Nope, none close by. Then I spot it: The Tesco express.

I don’t even bother to blink. The car behind me slams on its horn. But I don’t care. I am a woman on a mission. I pull directly in front of the store and put on the four ways…no time to park, my bandages are now leaking. Slinging my child over my shoulder like a sack of flour, I march into the store.

Just my luck. Prepared fruit right at the side. I grab two cases one for me and the little tyke. Then I march to the check out. On display as I move to the line is the deal of the week. Of course it’s a peeler. I shake my head, chuckling to myself as I add it to my purchase.

The cashier looks at my blood soaked wrappings, and then her eyes slowly drift to the peeler. As if maybe she shouldn’t let me through.

“Just don’t ask.” I say.

 

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Skeletons at a Buffet- A Reflection on the Summer Prayer Challenge

I love camping.

I hate camping for too long.

Presently, I smell like a mix of campfire, dirty dishrag, wet dog and human body odour. My lower back cramps and aches as I adjust to life without a pillow top mattress and goose down pillows. Instead of my usual devotional palace, I am sitting in a crowded bed, with a mug of terrible tasting coffee in hand, grasped by a finger which was sliced open and wrapped tightly in bandages (the consequence of groping around in the darkness and finding a razor instead of my flashlight.) My body is feeling the effects of living through seven nights of restless, short nights. In fact, before I hid myself in this cramped but quiet space, it was more dangerous to come across my path than any of the creatures you may find out here in the wild. I am irritable when my body feels uncomfortable.

And yet, now as I rest with Jesus, the comfort in my soul overflows. For this summer I have learnt the secret to thankfulness.

And it’s easy: Ungratefulness comes from staring at my problems. A heart of gratitude comes from staring at God.

It’s really that simple.

It’s as though I was stuck in this depressive state because I really did have a load of very real, very heavy burdens. It was a load far too heavy for me to carry and now and then, when I find myself picking it up again, I wonder how in the world it didn’t altogether crush me.

We weren’t meant to carry these things; we were meant to walk with God, to stare at him like the father he is and simply, trusting like a child watch him as he saves the day. Over and over and over again.

Helpless, but completely trusting, exactly like a child.

Some of you may think that I’m over simplifying things, I would respond that maybe we are so stressed and overwhelmed because we over complicate things.

Bad things happen to good people.  According to God‘s word, this shouldn’t surprise us…yet it does! Time and time again it causes us to question God’s love, God’s goodness.

Perhaps, instead of asking ourselves: “Why is God allowing this to happen?”  We should be asking God: “What are you trying to teach me through this situation?”

I’m starting to see that God allows these trials not for us just to survive but to shape us, to grow us for OUR good. Hebrews 2:10 says that through suffering, Jesus became a perfect leader! If Jesus, who is without sin, needed to suffer, how much more do we need suffering to learn!

But how do we learn what God is trying to teach us instead of being crushed underneath the weight of our trials? It’s all about the gift of the Holy Spirit and Prayer.

Picture a starving man who has survived outside of a buffet restaurant by digging through the dumpsters and finding scraps of leftovers to gourge on.

One day the owner of the buffet notices him and stops him. “Come!” The owner calls to him, “Come and eat all you could ever want! For free! All I ask is that you work for me, here at the buffet, and bring others in to eat!”

The skeleton comes in to dine for a while, but soon forgets about this offer and goes back to digging through dumpsters, only going in once and a while to eat when the hunger pains get overwhelming.

This is essentially how we treat Christ. Here we are, tired and half starved. We know that something’s not right yet we continue to feed on our garbage over and over again: worry, planning, stress, coping mechanisms and bad habits to drown out our sorrows, addictions, media and entertainment to distract our anxious minds…But we refuse to go to the buffet. We refuse to eat the real food! We refuse to ask God for peace which he longs to give us! We forget the times in the past where God has filled us fuller than we could ever imagine.

Some of us may not eat out of the dumpsters, but we rely on others to bring us their leftovers. They’ve spent the time in God’s presence and we live off of the crumbs they bring back to us.

Why not go for ourselves to meet with God?

It’s all right here. Look to Christ and worship. See the magnitude of who he is! Read his word in wonder! Remember what he has done in the past. Remember that he is not in the business of bringing us comfort and wealth, but in shaping us to look like him. Don’t just come when you’re starving, come daily to eat. He longs to provide for your needs. Ask him the hard questions. Trust in his answers.

The last two weeks of the prayer challenge were spent hidden away from the social media side of it, because I need this for me. I long for this to become so much more than just ten weeks of prayer; for it to turn into a year, a decade, a lifetime prayer challenge! No longer a skeleton bent on survival, but a healthy thriving individual able to bring others to the buffet.

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.” Revelation 22:17