Here is the second set of winners for the writing contest! Thank you to all who participated!

The Lion Within
By Natalie J., age 14

In a land of rolling green hills and wildflowers, of thundering waterfalls and deep blue lagoons, there lived a small kitten named Ariella. Now, Ariella wasn’t just any small kitten, she was really small and her black fur only made her seem smaller. With all of her heart she wanted to be big and strong like her older brothers and all of the other kittens who went to school in the old tree hollow, but she wasn’t. Since she wasn’t big, she couldn’t speak up to those who bullied her, and since she couldn’t speak up against them, they only bullied her more. Miss Pumpkin, their teacher, was always too busy to notice and her brothers were either preoccupied or they weren’t there.
One morning, Ariella got up in her family’s home under their human’s barn foundation. Every morning before school, Ariella liked to sneak into the big house and get ready in front of the human’s big mirror in the dining room. It was easy to squeeze through their little teacup yorkie’s dog flap, or for her it was. After that, she soundlessly made her way across the floor to the sideboard. There, she leapt from floor to chair from chair to table and from table to sideboard. Once she stood on the solid oak where the humans placed their food, she gazed at her reflection in the glass. ‘You are so puny!’, she thought. Reaching up with her paws, she tried to fluff up the fur around her face. It didn’t do very much. She arched her back and raised her hair. That made her look bigger, but she couldn’t go around walking like that. She tried standing on tip-toes, flexing her small muscles, and standing with her paws wide apart. By the time she settled for making her whiskers fanned most of the time, small pink streaks had pierced the horizon. It was time to go back to the barn.

After a quick breakfast with her family, Ariella and her two brothers Sampson and Charlie headed off to school. Little was said along the way. Ariella supposed that they were all trying to remember all the facts for their science test that would be taken that afternoon. Suddenly, Ariella asked, “Sampson, are you nervous about the test?”. “A little, I suppose,” he replied. “You?” “Well… I guess.” But she lied. She was hopelessly nervous, not only because she didn’t know whether or not she would fail, but because of the ridicule that would follow if she did. Ridicule, mockery, teasing, she grimaced just thinking about it.
When they reached the tree hole, they filed inside. Of course, they were late so everyone got a good stare at them when they entered. Charlie signed for the three of them to be quiet as they took their seats in the back while the teacher continued her lesson on grammar. That was fine with Ariella, as long as the day never got around to afternoon.

They had just come in from lunch when Miss Pumpkin announced that it was time for the test to be taken. Ariella’s heart pounded and her small black paw trembled as she took her paper. When she read the questions, it was all she could do to keep from crying. Things like, “How many layers are in the atmosphere?”, and “Which layer is responsible for carrying radio waves?” consumed two pages. Ariella took a deep, shaky breath and did her best to remember the answers. At the end of the hour, Ariella gave her sheet to Miss Pumpkins as the orange, fluffy cat collected the tests. “Don’t worry,“ Sampson whispered to her. “I’m sure you did fine.” She managed a weak smile. Miss Pumpkin started calling out the test results. No one got a single F. No one, except Ariella. When her grade was called out, a snicker rose from the other kittens. “Looks like little Pipsqueak got an F”, taunted one of the bullies. “Pipsqueak isn’t very smart.” Around the room, every cat had something to say about ‘Pipsqueak’. “Ignore them”, her brother encouraged. As she tried to ignore their taunts, tears stung to her eyes. It wasn’t until one of the kittens said, “Oh, look. Pipsqueak’s crying!” that she had to leave. She jumped up from her desk and raced out of the room. Her paws carried her all of the way to the house, onto the porch and through the dog flap. Once inside the empty house, she leapt upon the sideboard and collapsed in a puddle of tears. “Pipsqueak,” she spat out the word. “They called me pipsqueak!” She looked up in the mirror. “But it is true. I am a pipsqueak.”

“I don’t say that you are a pipsqueak,” said a smooth, gentle voice. Ariella spun around fast, but no one was there. “Where are you?” she asked shakily, afraid that one of the bullies had followed her home for further tormenting. “I can’t be seen, but I am always with you.” That comforted her enough to believe that the voice wasn’t bad. “Who are you?” The voice laughed gently. “You know who I am.” Ariella thought about that for a while. Finally, she guessed “Jehovah?” “Yes, little one. Now, tell me. Why do you consider yourself a pipsqueak?” “Because all of the kids at school say so, and I am small.” “What’s wrong with being small?” “When you are small, you’re helpless.” “By yourself you are.” “What?” “Look in the mirror. What do you see?” “A pipsqueak. Wait… the picture is changing. A lion?” “That’s right. Tell me, what does your name mean?” “I don’t know” “It means ‘Jehovah’s lioness’.” “Lioness?” “Yes. They may say that you’re a pipsqueak, but if you put your identity in me, you’ll be able to face them and know that you’re a lioness. My lioness. You are no pipsqueak with me.” Ariella smiled. I’m a lioness. His lioness, and those bullies can never take that away.  “Thank you, Jehovah!” She purred. “Thank you very much!”

 

Trust God
By Hannah B., age 13

Jade ran into the Christian bookstore. She didn’t want a book. No, she wanted to hide – from Them.  They – the bullies– had been teasing, hitting and making fun of her. So Jade ran, and of course They followed. Jade ducked behind the counter. She felt scared. They were so mean. She wished that she was brave enough to face them. God, help me to be brave, she silently prayed. She suddenly felt very tired. She pulled her knees up to her chest and laid her head on them. Then Jade fell asleep.

Jade jerked her head up. It was dark and silent. She stood up and looked around. She was in the library, but there were no lights, no sound, and no people. She looked out the window. She gasped. It was night. She’d fallen asleep. Jade ran to the doors. They were locked. She sat down with her back against the door. She’d have to spend the night here. Suddenly, she saw something that made her mouth drop open. A book was flying off the shelf and through the air. It landed on the middle of the floor and opened. The pages flapped. A bright, thick beam of golden light burst out of the book and when it was gone, she saw…
A boy.
A boy stepped out of the book and quickly shut it. He wore a red tunic and a leather bag hung from his shoulders. By his side stood a little lamb. Other books flew off the shelves, landed on the floor, and opened. The pages fluttered, light beamed out of the books, and she saw other people step out of the books and close them. Three young men came out of one. A white-bearded old man stepped out of another. A young girl stepped out of a third. Jade wondered if she was dreaming. The lamb at the side of the young boy bleated. “What is it, girl?” asked the boy, kneeling down by the lamb. The lamb bounced over to Jade, who huddled by the door. Everyone froze. Jade was no less frozen. The lamb said baa and nudged Jade. The boy smiled slowly. “She likes you,” he said. Jade looked up at him. “Can I pet her?” “Sure.” Jade stroked the lamb’s soft, warm fleece. One of the young men came up to Jade and helped her up. “What is your name?” he asked. “Jade.” “Jade,” murmured the old man. “That’s a beautiful name.” Jade blushed. “Thank you,” she whispered. The young man pointed to himself. “I am Shadrach,” he said. He pointed to the other young men. “This is Meshach and Abednego.” “I am David,” said the boy. “This is Noah and Miriam.” Jade was stunned. She’d read about all these people in the Bible! This had to be a dream. “How did you get here?” asked Meshach. “I… fell asleep when the bookstore was open.” “What… how did you fall asleep?” asked Noah. “I was… hiding,” admitted Jade, hanging her head. “From some mean kids. I was scared.” “Everyone gets scared,” said Abednego. Jade snapped her head up. “Huh?” “Don’t you think Shadrach, Meshach and I were afraid when we were going to be thrown into the fiery furnace?” “I was afraid during the flood, “said Noah.
“And I was when we had to put Moses into the basket and in the Nile,” said Miriam. “But I trusted God, and asked Him to protect my brother. And He did. He’ll never let you down.” David was gathering up the books that they had come out of. His little lamb jumped up and down around him. “Stop it, girl,” said David, and stumbled. He dropped a book. It fell onto the floor and popped open. A beam of light flashed out and out stepped a huge soldier. He roared in anger. Jade gasped. It was Goliath. Goliath looked at David. David fumbled in his pack. He pulled out a slingshot, but not before Goliath knocked him down. Jade knew what to do. She was frightened to her senses, but she prayed: Please help me, God! The she ran to the book Goliath had left and picked it up. She faced it towards him. The light flashed. Goliath shouted. He was drawn into the book. Jade slammed it shut. David scramble up. “Jade, you did it! You stopped Goliath! Thank you, thank you.” “I prayed to God,” Jade said, “and He helped me.” “He did,” said Miriam. “And you trusted Him.” “We’d better go back now,” said Noah. One by one, they all stepped back into their books. When they were all gone, Jade sat down and fell asleep.

Jade woke up. She stood. It was daytime. The store was open. Had it all been a dream? She looked out the window. They were bullying another kid. Jade knew she’d have to go out and stop them. But now, she wasn’t afraid. She knew that with God’s help, she could stand up to Them, and He would protect her. ‘Thank you, God,’ she thought. She knew the dream had been from Him. Then she walked outside.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  Philippians 4:13

 

Unknown World
Sonja B., age 12

In the black of night,
with only the moon’s soft light,
when we are tired and asleep in bed,
many animals do not rest their head.

Owls swoop silently,
and crickets chirp vibrantly.
And as the seasons come and go
there is still a whole world of which we do not know.

Our Straw Bale Garden
Abigail W., age 11

This year, my family and I are growing a straw bale garden. My dad picked up the straw bales, together with my sister Sophia, from a farm in Lennox, South Dakota. My sisters and I lined them up in the backyard. We sprinkled fertilizer on them and watered them for 12 days. That is called conditioning the bales. After that, the bales were ready for planting. We planted tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, kale, eggplants, carrots, lettuce, pumpkins, onions, strawberries and some flowers. After one month, our straw bale garden started to look like a jungle. The bees and dragonflies and butterflies love it! My family and our neighbors love the vegetables.

(Abigail included photos, the garden looked amazing!)

 

Always a Loser
Ellen B., age 11

Reginald lived on a dry, desolate pig farm in Nebraska. Every morning, he languidly sauntered out into the cold air to choke down his pig slop and then he hurried back to his diminutive shed to sleep the rest of the day away. Naturally, he would have been very miserable living this lifestyle if it hadn’t been for his five females, who abided in his pen and shared everything of his. Among all these appealing females was the most appealing of them all, Winaveria. Winaveria was the star of sows, the princess in pig society, surpassing all the other females in size, beauty, and blundering charm. Reginald loved her like a lead weight loves the bottom of the ocean, and favored her above all other females.
One night Winaveria, who was dozing beside her husband, was suddenly jerked out of a peaceful sleep by a loud and heartrending squeal, erupting from the lips of the unfortunate swine alongside her. “Reginald, for heaven’s sake, what is this fuss all about?” demanded Winaveria quite discourteously, for it is no blithe experience to be awakened out of a placid slumber in the middle of the night. “Oh,” gasped Reginald, his face as white as if he had just laid eyes on a ghost, “it was horrendous! I dreamt I was walking around the pig pen, looking over everything to make sure it was in its place, when suddenly from nowhere leapt an intimidating looking creature. It had terrible green eyes, and a snarling mouth full of gleaming teeth, and it was long and gangly and had dirty gray fur standing up on end. It gives me chills just to remember it.” “Consequently, it was only a dream, and you are a silly, superstitious swine to believe any of it will ever happen,“ remarked Winaveria who had been quite unimpressed Reginald’s dramatic narrative. “Of course, darling, of course. I’m sure it was just a dream and forget about it, my sweet, charming treasure.” Winaveria, with her back turned to him, made a pleased little grunting noise on hearing these amiable adjectives directed toward her.
The next morning, while the sows were gobbling their pig slop, Reginald decided to take a walk around the pig pen to make sure everything was in its place. Of course, he didn’t suspect anything unusual, but just in case, anything should happen he would make sure no ferocious beast could get into the pen. Suddenly, without warning, a noise sounded from the underbrush right outside the pen. Out jumped a ghastly looking animal – the same one that had been in Reginald’s dream the night before! Yet, the mouth full of gleaming teeth had – not a ferocious snarl, as Reginald might have guessed – but an impish grin. This beast was no other than St. John, the notorious outlaw wolf! St. John hopped effortlessly over the fence into the pen. “Well, well, look who we have here,” said the wolf sarcastically, “what are you doing here?” “This, good sir, is my home. I dwell here,” retorted Reginald in a cool tone, for he did not like to be made fun of in the least. St. John circled the pig in an aggravating way. “My goodness gracious surely you don’t live here!” The wolf threw a disdainful glance around the pen. “Why, Mr. Swine, you deserve much more than this.” “I do?” questioned Reginald. “Of course, you’ll be turned into sausage links before the fall comes.” (St. John knew not that Reginald was kept only for the purpose of breeding). St. John looked deep into Reginald’s eyes. “Mr. Swine, I feel it my duty to lay upon you what you really deserve, and for this reason, I am giving you the invitation of coming with me to live at my house.” Reginald, who was now puffed up with pride at this flattery, readily accepted the invitation. Abruptly, the wolf grabbed Reginald by the leg and with a quick hop, was over the fence. He disappeared into the underbrush. “Why, my dear sir,” remarked Reginald, trying not to squeal despite the pain of being dragged across sharp rock, “being a wolf, and one of such honorable origin, you must have the most beautiful, legendary howl a wolf could have. I would love to hear it!” St. John, who had been listening to this speech very intently, began to feel prideful at the mention of his ‘legendary’ howl. After all, didn’t he have a nice howl, and couldn’t he show it off a little? Brashly stopping and opening his mouth, he let out a long, lovely bay which spread over the hills of Nebraska and was heard and admired by every animal for miles around. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize that in the process of opening his mouth, he had let go of his captive’s leg. As swiftly as a piece of butter melts on a hot wood stove, Reginald bolted. Over the hills he galloped until finally, he arrived back at his pig pen and dug himself back in only to find himself being greeted by four of his sows plus a very distraught Winaveria. “Oh my dear, dear husband, the light of my life, if only you knew what agony I have suffered the last half hour – the pain, the anguish, the uncertainty!” Having made this speech, Winaveria toppled Reginald to the ground and covered him head-to-hoof in kisses. “Well, my love,” remarked Reginald, struggling to get up from the ground, “I daresay I have learned something from this adventure. It is this: Don’t believe idle flattery, you will always end up being a loser if you do.

The END.

 

God Made It So Great
Jonathan P., age 4

God made our galaxy so great.
There’s a big galaxy, and stars.
There can be rockets in space. We landed on the moon!
But, people might die doing that.
Stars are on fire, and you’d get burned if you were in space.
Do you know who Neil Armstrong is? He loves airplanes.
My name is John and I’m the one who is writing.