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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Lights (10/30/08)

TITLE: Dad's Bright Idea Keeps Givin
By Dianne Janak


It was the Christmas season of 1987 when I feared Dad had lost his ever-lovin mind.

He had, but in a good way, if you know what I mean ‘cause minds are rather over-stated.

Our subdivision’s rules for outdoor Christmas light displays troubled him big time. I braced myself for an adventure of biblical proportions.

Confession: I exaggerate.

He’d heard a sermon about Jesus bein the Light who lives in us, so his regenerated mind got to thinkin. (the previous year he’d been an ungenerate but became brand new in Jesus.)

Dad announced in his important better-take-me seriously voice after Thanksgiving dinner:

“Christmas is not about electricity and who can impress who. It’s about how WE can shine our light in this dark cruel world. I’ve had enough of this craziness.

This year we will have no electric light display. Instead each night we will turn out all our lights except for five lit candles as we worship and pray on our front porch. One for each of us and one for Jesus. We’ll invite our neighbors with a flyer at their door, asking for prayer requests and welcome them to join us anytime from 7 to 9 PM every night until Christmas.

For each person who joins us, we will light another candle to remind ourselves that Jesus’s light lives within each of us who follow Him. God moves in a mighty way when we obey Him. ”

My sister and I rolled our eyes in our mind ‘cause we knew if Dad saw it, we’d get that look. I was thinkin, sometimes it’s hard to have a Dad that actually listens to sermons.

He gets all into it and then does this turnabout change always involvin us. I was anticipatin the mockin I’d get at school for this. But with Dad once his mind’s made up, even barbeque chicken won’t change it. He’s into Jesus and barbeque in that order.

Dad told us pass out the flyers, and my sis and me waited till no cars were in the driveway, leavin the flyer on their door and then runnin for our lives. I don’t know why, since our names were on it, but I just hated goin against the current, and this was a nutty idea in my humble opinion, which sometimes had some pride mixed in.

Of course no one came the first week of December, but we had some curious onlookers seeing if we really meant it. They were acting suspicious and weird as if a family prayin together was strange, even though most of them go to some kinda church. That baffled me. Still does.

Our first real guest was little Jimmy, the seven year old next door. He shyly walked towards us, head down, with a long, sad look as if he’d just lost his dog, Pedro. Turns out his dad had been outa work for a few weeks, and there was a lot of yellin in the house and he was scared.

My dad threw his arms around him to tell him how much Jesus loves him and we would be pray right then and there for his family. Mom lit another candle. It amazed me how much brighter the light became. Jimmy finally relaxed and sang with us, and asked if he could come the next night with his mom and his best friend. That was just the beginning.

If you are guessin the outcome, you’re right on. Each night it grew. Mr. Anders came to ask for prayer for his elderly mom who had broken her hip. Shelley Meyers, the neighborhood busybody, came one night to see what was goin on and ended up spewing out her horrible news that she had breast cancer. We all laid hands on her and prayed for healing and peace. It was cool. We were up to fifteen candles by then, so I ate some crow.

Somethin wonderful was happenin right in our midst. Not just the night times but in the day, people were noticin each other and bakin pies and callin and checkin on the ones that had the most troubles.

I looked at Dad different after that Christmas season. Maybe weird ideas are the best kind. At least my dad’s turned out to be.

The lights within us seemed to be brighter after that as if our whole little corner of planet earth was on fire. From then on our Christmas happened on our front porch.

And our new friends became family.

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This article has been read 940 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Yvette Roelofse11/06/08
I love everything about this piece: the voice, the unique Christmas light idea, and the message it sends. I'm tempted to try it myself ;)
cindy yarger11/07/08
I liked this. You did a really good job with exposing your characters. A unique idea that took sacrifice (yours) and blessing (God's) to make it something special. A good testimony.
Debra Martinez11/09/08
Your voice in this was perfect for the telling of a wonderful Christmas tale. THanks
Lisa Keck11/10/08
This was well written and I enjoyed reading it.
Sharlyn Guthrie11/10/08
Engaging story! I enjoyed the voice you used, and all the little nuggets, including, "He's into Jesus and barbecue chicken in that order."
Pamela Kliewer11/10/08
Oh, this is wonderful!! What an engaging piece - every last word. :)
Carole Robishaw 11/10/08
This was a really fun read, I liked the voice of your MC, well done!
Scott Sheets11/10/08
What a great take on the topic and a beautiful message to boot. I enjoyed your young, country voice for the MC. There were a couple of places where you left the 'g' attached to the 'ing' word. I don't know if that was intentional or not, but you might want to be consistent either way. Fun, enjoyable read. Great Job!
Celeste Ammirata11/10/08
What a wonderful, very well written story. It gives the true meaning of Christmas Lights. Great Job!
Beth LaBuff 11/10/08
I had to laugh when I read, "I feared Dad had lost his ever-lovin mind". This is such a creative entry... and I LOVE the story. Great work!!
Sharon Kane11/11/08
My kids have a Dad as nutty about Jesus as that. A very original story. I like the way the kids started off very embarrassed but still went for it, and then were blessed to their boots when it worked out. Too often Christians let their embarrassment stop them doing crazy things, and then miss out on seeing God respond in amazing ways.
Leah Nichols 11/11/08
Very creative story....quite delightful!
Tim Pickl11/12/08
Wonderful ideas here--excellent writing. I love this line: Dad told us pass out the flyers, and my sis and me waited till no cars were in the driveway, leavin the flyer on their door and then runnin for our lives. God bless you.
Dee Yoder 11/12/08
Great story and the characterizations of the Dad by the MC are descriptive and full! I laughed when I read the line about having a dad who really listens to the sermons!
Joanne Sher 11/12/08
Oh, I love the characterization and voice - especially of the MC (and Dad!). I could picture this. To me, the last paragraph seemed to change tone a bit - but it could be my impression only. Very nice - especially for someone who is "working on" their fiction!
Verna Cole Mitchell 11/12/08
You have a very nice "gift" for fiction. You developed your characters well,kept the plot moving right along, and "zinged" it up with some humor. All-around excellent story.
T. F. Chezum11/12/08
Well written and creative. I think this is a very good story.
Joy Faire Stewart11/13/08
Congratulation on your win in Level 3 and your EC. Love the humor!
Beth LaBuff 11/13/08
Yay, Dianne! Super congrats on your win and EC! See you in Level 4! :)
Diana Dart 11/13/08
Beautiful, just beautiful. Well written with great characterizations. Awesome message and so creative. Did I mention that is was beautiful? Thanks for writing this!
Karen Wilber11/14/08
Wow--you managed to be both funny and profound. Excellent message and laugh-out-loud details. Congrats!
David Butler11/14/08
What can I say on top of all that's been said? I was profoundly touched by the message, so engagingly written. Has that real touch of Christmas on it that makes one feel that Christmas has really come - not just "tinsel and tree-time". Congratulations! A real Master piece.