I have something to celebrate during this season, and I want everyone to know that joy.
- Stacy Long
On a quiet country lane just outside of Olive Branch, Mississippi, the roadside is lit up with dazzling lights. Passersby pull over and tune their car radios to hear upbeat Christmas music that is synchronized to thousands of dancing lights.
The show, known as Bella’s Lights, plays every year during the Christmas season for Bella Parker, a tiny 6-year old with Osteogenesis imperfecta, a rare brittle bone disease that causes a fragile skeleton, many broken bones, improper bone formation, and an unusually small and disproportionate body structure. The disease has no cure, and Bella suffers from its most severe form.
"They told us in the beginning that she had the fatal type and that she probably wouldn't make it to birth," Bella’s father, Bill Parker, told WMC Action News 5.
Her parents first put up the light show because it made Bella happy.
"She likes to dance," said her father. "She'll sit there and dance in her chair with the music."
"Jesus is the reason for the season and this is what He would want us to do," added Raul Valenzuela, the architect of the holiday display.
Now, Bella and her family’s joy in the season is shared with hundreds of others from surrounding communities who make a special trip to watch the light show as a part of their annual Christmas traditions.
Out of the dark nights of what can be the dreariest season of the year, the bright lights of Christmas change the scene. Scattering the gloom, they immediately compel a sense of comfort and celebration. And suddenly, every home without lights seems sad and lifeless.
This year, I will pass on putting up lights, I thought. Most of the strands of lights I had been using over the past several years had gone dark. And it is definitely too much trouble. But I couldn’t help feeling let down every time I saw other places lit up while mine remained in darkness. So I bought new lights. I have something to celebrate during this season, and I want everyone to know that joy.
In fact, I wish I could see the whole block sparkle with lights on every door and window. Still, many of my neighbors are Hindu, and some are Muslim. Many others probably do not recognize a God, a Savior, or find much reason for cheer in the darkness and oppression of their lives. And so many dwellings remain in the shadows; the darkness closes in and the lights that shine are few and far between. But they are all the more vivid for that.
And it makes me glad to see it, glad to see the lights gleam on my own home, to know that I have cause to celebrate, something that dispels the darkness: a Gift, a Joy, a Christ-coming. It is all the more precious when seen that not everyone participates, not everyone is willing to receive it, not everyone celebrates as I do. Then, I cannot take it for granted. It must be treasured and rejoiced over and proclaimed! It is indeed something special, something unfathomed, something marvelous.
Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed. … The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. …
[F]or unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given … (Isaiah 9:1-2, 6).