The Brat Next Door

A Christmas story.

Elizabeth Handford (Libby) has made family one of the top priorities in her life. She and her husband, Dr. Walter Handford, have retired in South Carolina where they work in the ministry of encouragement, especially to men and women in ministry. Libby has edited the magazine Joyful Woman and is now consulting editor. She has also authored several books. Libby enjoys flying and earned her pilot's license after the age of 50.


Ginny surveyed the littered living room, wrapping paper piled high, empty boxes crushed, tinsel dripping from the furniture. It was Christmas morning, and there was no doubt that she and Brad had chosen the right gifts for their children. Katie, ten years old, had the volume turned all the way up on her new electronic keyboard. The atmosphere thumped with the built-in "demo" music score, and Katie's little fingers danced across the keyboard as if she were really playing. Andy, twelve years old, hunched over his new computer, carefully following the instructions for logging onto the internet.

Ginny smiled up at her husband, tears trembling in her eyes. "I think we scored a ten today. The kids are so happy! Now I've got to ready for the last competition!"


"Yep. One more competition. I made it through the Christmas program Sunday night. I think I earned a three on that—it wasn't quite the thing for the angel to throw up on the shepherds."

"Oh, honey, the church family loved it—all of it. I'll give you a ten on the Christmas program. But what `competition,' as you call it, is still ahead