Read the winning entries in our February writing challenge

We hosted a February writing challenge in the Southern Christian Writers Conference Facebook group, asking members to write an answer to the question: "How did you see love displayed in the last year?"

We received multiple entries--poems, devotions, essays, and more--and selected the following three as the top submissions.

Congratulations to Jill, Miranda, and June for their winning creations.

"This Is Love"

by Jill Kvigne

I watch him walk across the farmyard,

A catch in his step that has worsened with hard work and time.

Dressed in a torn t-shirt and overalls,

Rubber boots on his feet,

Tobacco juice running down his chin.

Though age demands he slow down,

His grit and determination keep him going.

He’s as tough and as stubborn as they come.

His days revolve around this farm on the ridge.

Milking the cows,

Getting the crops in each spring,

Harvesting them in the fall.

This is his pride and joy,

His purpose.

Watching sports his favorite way to pass the time,

The weather always on his mind.

He’s a bit gruff and a little unkempt.

But his heart is big,

His love generous,

Running both deep and wide.

In all the years I’ve known him,

I’ve never heard him say “I love you,”

Never seen him hold the ones he loves in a long embrace.

Yet, I know he loves fiercely,

That twinkle in his eye,

A window to his heart.

I’ve seen his love in action,

Selflessly sacrificing,

That same stubbornness and gritty determination evident,

As he daily lays down what he loves,

For the one he loves,

His precious wife.

She is everything that he is not,

Gentle and soft-spoken,

Timid and frail.

Dementia stealing her away little by little.

No longer able to walk unassisted,

To care for the house or her own needs.

So, he trades in his rubber boots,

His time in the barn and the field,

For time in the kitchen.

Mercilessly banging the pots and pans,

Making meals with as much finesse as a bull in a china shop,

Always keeping the sugar cookie jar filled.

He counts her pills,

Helps her to the bathroom,

Watches over her every need.

His love won’t be heard in words,

Or seen in romantic gestures.

But you will know it in the way he looks at her,

How he advocates for her and watches over her.

It’s in his actions.

It’s not the romance,

Or the happily ever after.

But this is real love;

Deep and generous,

Walked out each day.

When health turns to sickness,

Dreams of richer are exchanged for realities of poorer.

When the one you vowed to hold forever,

Begins to slip away.

And still, you stand beside her each day,

Saying, “I do.”

That’s when you know,

This is love.

"Sometimes Love is a Bear"

by Miranda Herring

As a person with chronic illness who is immunosuppressed, muddling through a pandemic has brought a whole new level of health anxiety and germophobia for myself and my family. I have learned how to order delivery for most everything, I am hardly ever out anymore, and, as badly as I miss my people, all my interactions are via text, phone call, FaceTime, and snail mail.

There is no other way, unfortunately.

The most devastating thing that has happened during this pandemic has been that one of my

closest friends, one who also has autoimmune disease, my spoonie sister, has been hospitalized with COVID for many months, critically ill at times.

A few times have been terrifyingly close to things I just cannot speak of.

She has fought forward and faced setbacks. She has dealt with excruciating pain. She has had a lung spontaneously collapse – when it seemed she was much better – and then had to have a chest tube placed. She has endured pneumonias. She lost a close family member to COVID while she has been hospitalized. She was let go from her job while she has been in the hospital by a boss with no soul.

Through it all, she has kept the faith and she has prayed and prayed.

And I have prayed and prayed for her.

As I am immunocompromised, I cannot go to her – as desperately as I want to. I have had to

send texts and talk via FaceTime (when she is able) and send goodies and use hospital drop off, where they will deliver items to rooms, and just hang on and pray for the day she gets out and I can see her beautiful face – and, on that day, woe to the person who tries to stand between her and me giving her a giant hug.

This has been indescribably awful.

In the midst of it, one day, a package came for me from 1-800-Flowers. A medium sized box.

In it? The softest cutest, coziest tan bear, weighted to cuddle, with sensory ears to love on, called a Giving Bear.

Sent to me, as I had been flaring, from my precious friend who is in the hospital, fighting


One of those gifts that just undoes you.

One of those gifts of pure love.

Dealing with every battle under the sun, she was still worrying about me.

She is the Ruth to my Naomi. She is my spoonie sister and part of my heart, fighting so hard. We may have to maintain physical distance – but goodness knows we love – and fight for - each other.

As Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity" (NIV).

Right now, I’m writing with a little tan bear named Stewart, who is another reminder as I’m

snoodled up in my cozy home with my precious family, that the Lord has surrounded me with

more love and goodness than I could ever deserve, and I am so blessed.

"I Saw Love"

by June Chapko

In my husband’s tears, he couldn’t make my cancer go away.

In my husband’s embrace, encircling me with his protection.

I saw love when he cleaned up after me on my worst days, held my hand before surgery, and wore a smile in the recovery room.

Love was visible as I watched him play fetch with Chai when I had no energy.

I saw love when losing my hair became a game of “It’ll come back before you know it,” and him being first to find new growth.

I saw love in his patience, waiting for treatments to end.

Love was written on his face in lines. I saw them grow last year.

Love was drawn in his smile when the words, “cancer-free” were spoken.

I saw love in his tears of joy because the cancer had gone away.

I saw love in his embrace trying to protect me forevermore.

Thank you to all of the SCWC members who submitted entries to the February challenge. (We wish we could recognized each and everyone of you!) We love to encourage you in your writing, and look forward to finding more ways to challenge and recognize you.

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