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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Music (03/08/07)

TITLE: Jan's Big Decision
By Donna Howard


Jan bounded up the steps and slid onto the porch swing. Taking a letter from her pocket, she held it out in front of her. She could hardly believe it. River Bend School of Music had invited her to a week-long conference, and her parents agreed that she should go, and her best friend Luann was going, too. That made it even more exciting.

“Hi, sis, guess what!” Jan’s younger sister came running up and plopped down beside her.

“Hi Carol. What’s up?

“I’ve got a date with Hal Landau,” Carol gushed
“Hal Landau!” Jan paused. “Carol, I know he’s a big track star, but I’ve heard some disturbing things about him. It sounds like he’s kind of wild.”

“I know, I’ve heard those things, too, but he’s really very nice once you get to know him.” Carol flung the words over her shoulder and disappeared into the house.

Jan sat quietly, her pretty face lined with concern. She had tried many times to talk to Carol about Christ, but she wouldn’t listen. Now Jan was afraid that her carefree little sister was headed for trouble. She better talk to her parents about it. She got up and shuffled into the house. Her parents were bent over some brochures at the kitchen table.

“It would be good for all of us,” her father was saying.

“What would be good for all of us?” she asked.

“Family Counsel is holding seminars around the country this year. One is scheduled in Reston, Minnesota June 12-17,” her father answered. The meetings are only in the evenings, so we could combine the seminar with our family vacation and go sight-seeing during the day. It might be just the influence Carol needs to turn to Christ.”

“Sounds great,” Jan said and bounced to her room. She flopped on her bed, her thoughts already drifting back to the music conference. Suddenly she jolted upright. “Oh, no,” she moaned. Her father had said the seminar was June 12-17, the same dates as the music conference. Maybe they could go to one of the other seminars, she thought. She went to find her father.

“I wish we could, honey, but the others are all a long ways away, and we can’t afford to fly.”

Jan ambled back to her room. She knew her parents would be hurt if she suggested they go without her. They were a close family and since she would be a senior next year, there wouldn’t be many more family vacations.

Jan’s phone rang. “Hello,” she said

“Hi, Jan, I’m going downtown to shop for a dress for the banquet they’re having the last night of the conference. Want to go with me?”

“I don’t think so, Luann.”

“Hey, what’s with you? I thought you’d be on cloud nine right now. What’s wrong?” Jan related the date conflict to her friend.

“What are you going to do?” asked Luann.

Jan pushed her long brown hair behind her ears. “I don’t know. I really want to go to the music conference.”

“Well then, talk your parents into going to the seminar some other time.”

“Luann, my sister is running around with a fast crowd and she’s not a Christian. She’s very easily led, and she could get into big trouble. She needs Christ and she needs him now.”

“What about you, Jan? You’re a music major. This conference is important to your career.”

“I know,” Jan sighed, “and I really want to go, but . . . .”

“Then go!”

“It’s not that simple, Luann.” For a moment the only sound was Jan’s heavy breathing. Luann could tell that she was crying.

“Well, I guess it’s a decision only you can make,” she said, “but it will be quite a sacrifice if you don’t go.”

Sacrifice! Jan hadn’t thought of it that way. Christ had made the greatest sacrifice of all for her. Was she willing to sacrifice a little pleasure for her sister? Carol wouldn’t listen to her words anymore, but maybe her example would say something. Jan told Luann goodbye, and went to find her mother.

“Are you sure, Jan,” her mother asked when Jan told her of her decision. “We know how important the music conference is to you. We don’t want you to regret your decision.”

At that moment Carol walked into the room. Jan looked at her mother and smiled. “I won’t, Mom,” she said. “I won’t.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
julie wood03/15/07
I really enjoyed reading this! Terrific dialogue and also descriptions--I especially liked the vivid verbs such as "bounded," "slid," "flopped" and "ambled." I could just see the main character--especially sliding into that swing in the opening line!

Moving message as well--the main character shows impressive maturity for a teenager. I can relate to the frustration of schedule conflicts like this--and even as an adult I often don't handle them well. This girl is a real inspiration!

The title also drew me in--I had to know about both "Jan" and her "big decision"!
Julie Arduini03/16/07
This is a sacrifice any age could relate to. Great dialogue and characterization. Nice job!
Jacquelyn Horne03/21/07
Wonderful "giving" story. This would be a wonderful article for a teen's take-home paper. Maybe you should try to have it published after the challenge. Good job.
Sara Harricharan 03/21/07
What a terrific big sister! I liked the dialouge and closeness of the family. I especially liked the character of Jan. She was realistic and understanding. Great job with this. ^_^
Edy T Johnson 03/23/07
The message in the word "sacrifice" sums up your entire story. It is what got my attention, and I'm so glad it gave Jan God's message to her as well. Good writing, good story. I also want to say "Thank you!" for taking time to comment on my music entry. I appreciate it so much!