This piece from my daughter, Natalie, recently made its way through local and state competitions and was awarded first place in the Junior High Short Story category on the national level by AACS. It had to be written from start to finish in one sitting, according to a theme given out in advance. We're pretty proud of her!
Since it is devotional in nature, I thought I'd share it with you all. Pray for my girl as my God works in her heart to align her thoughts with His ways. LZ
“Milller, Anne. Hmm, maybe Mrs. Cratchett? With Rob Jones as Mr. Cratchett? Oh please, she’ll sue me! Better make Lisa Cullens Mrs. Cratchett instead.”
Greenville’s Granite Drama Theater had just asked me to be the director of this year’s winter play, A Christmas Carol. I was now looking through the list of available actors, trying to get a rough idea for casting. I was so thrilled! I had just finished my college drama courses, and I had never had a whole play to myself before! Sure, I had been an assistant director, but I had never previously had a whole play fall under my jurisdiction!
I had been getting ready since September. It was probably a bit soon, but it was going to be perfect. I wanted my first play to be so perfect the audience would cry as they gave me a ten-minute standing ovation. Hey, a girl can dream can’t she?
But then, on November fourth, everything started to change. I got a note saying funding had fallen through. I thought, “OK, I can handle this! I have a little left over from my college fund. It’ll be fine!”
Next, the costumers went on strike. My measly “funds” wouldn’t hold up to renting costumes, so I borrowed off my mother. I figured I would pay her back with the raise I’ll get for the perfect performance. So on November sixteenth, I foolishly thought nothing further would go wrong.
“Lisa, do you know where Mr. Rowlands is?”
“Oh, I’m so sorry. He told me to tell you. I can’t believe I forgot!”
“That’s OK, Lisa. But what is it that you needed to tell me?”
“You see, he, uh, well, it’s a funny story, actually…”
Oh great. Man, that girl could ramble. I knew I would be stuck there for a while, so I took out my phone, giving her half attention.
“…so yeah, he’ll be at home with his leg for a while.”
I nearly dropped my phone. “Wait, what!?! Lisa, what did you just say?”
“Mr. Rowlands, ma’am. He broke his foot when he tried to…”
My attention was gone. He broke his leg? That meant he couldn’t be on stage in two weeks. I was in real trouble now. Mr. Rowlands was Ebenezer Scrooge! I could never find someone to replace the main character in time!
I sat at home, embarrassed to have something like this happen to my “perfect” play. I called the manager of Granite Drama Theater. He was mad at me for my “incompetence” as a director. It was so disappointing. Fortunately, the flyers and posters hadn’t gone up yet, so few knew about the disastrous outcome.
But I knew. And I would never let myself forget it, either. I ended up having to work as a waitress while looking for a new opportunity, and I had to pay back Mom somehow. During this time, I hated to go to church. I felt like everyone was judging me about what happened. When I had gotten the job, I had joyously spread the news everywhere, but now it haunted me.
Next year’s Christmas came very slowly, but I wished it hadn’t come. Everything reminded me of last year’s horrible outcome. I barely paid back my Mom for Christmas that year.
But then, another change occurred. Mrs. Jennings at our church came to me asking very kindly if I would direct the elementary Christmas play that year. I was completely shocked. My hardened outlook made me believe she was mocking me, at first. Then I realized she was in earnest.
I told her I would think about it. I went to my mother, (something I had avoided out of shame,) and told her about it.
“Nicole! I can’t believe you would ask me about this!”
“So, you think I shouldn’t?”
“No, Nicole! This is the chance you’ve been hoping for, isn’t it?! Besides, Mrs. Jennings needs your help”! she said. “Listen, I know it isn’t A Christmas Carol, but it is the Gospel story! Which is more important to you, faith or fame?”
After those inspiring words of faith from my godly mother, the way was clear. I still had moments of aggravation and utter selfishness, but now I had my mother and God to help me.
The play was a success as far as enjoyment. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but I finally realized that was OK. The Gospel positively shone through those kids, and it shone on me, too.
I finally realized my sights had been on something far less important than what they ought to have been. Eventually, I did get professional plays to direct, but first I had to learn to let God be the director of me.
Natalie Zwolanek, 8th grade