Extreme Makeover Reality Challenge

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TV writers and award shows have complained about all the reality shows. And truly, they’ve been justified for most of it. The shift toward increasingly violent and immoral popular public “reality” games will eventually get out of hand in the new Rome. But until then, there’s one Sheri and I never miss. Sunday nights on ABC. You watch it and you can’t help but feel the world is going to be okay. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Helping people who help people. I mean, who thinks up this stuff? (As it turns out, this guy.)

Tonight’s episode, one long-awaited by southern Coloradans, took place in a little town a few miles east of Colorado Springs. The famous designers and construction dream-weavers dropped in on the Barrett family from Peyton, Colorado. The family says they’d “reward more kids if we only had a little more room.” essentially comes down to rewarding people for doing it right. We need more shows like this. We need more public spectacles like this. The few who have chosen to sacrifice for others, who have lived by the backwards principles of the kingdom, and made the world a better place for all of us through their inspiration, these deserve more attention.

This show creates the kind of feel-good fun we should be having in our books. And doing something good for people in the process—how could we not want that? There are a handful of books turned movies that probably fit the bill here as well. Catherine Hyde’s Pay It Forward comes to mind. And the previews for Jennifer Weiner’s second novel look promising. And Tuesdays with Morrie, of course.

Okay, the point is, What can you, writer friend, do to match the good vibes EMHE is putting out? Of course, I’d like to say I just don’t have the experience and connections Tom Forman’s built, so it’d be easy to sidestep the thought. But I can’t deny that I want to be a part of something so positive and with such impact on the culture. So I’m asking all of us: Are we available, even at the expense of our own pet works-in-progress? Are we willing to lay it down if God asks?

Maybe we can make up our own little contest. Call it the Extreme Makeover challenge. Whose WIP measures up to the good EMHE is doing? Is your goal to have that work go the distance? And if not, are you willing to ditch it for something better? We all only have a few good years. What’s your contribution going to be? If you’re not sure, the good news is you’ve still got time.

So here it is. The criteria: leave people better off and inspired to give to others. And maybe you’re not laying out the plan for the full fire-insurance every time, since the hard sell tends to freak some people out and convince them to close the door. But maybe you can offer just enough “reality” to get people familiar with the principles. Is this worth your blood, sweat, and tears?

Are you showing them something real?

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3 thoughts on “Extreme Makeover Reality Challenge”

  1. Didn’t you love the bedpost idea? That said it all.
    I cried (as usual) and my husband had to hand me kleenex and hug me (as usual).
    We do EMHE every Sunday too.

  2. We have to wait for folks to tape the episodes and send them to us. Our family loves that show. And we all cry.
    I think of the book Christy by Catherine Marshall. She opened my eyes to the beauty of people, even when they looked different. I realized the depth of folks I thought backwoods. It made me want to befriend the world, no matter how they differed on the outside. That’s compelling fiction, don’t you think? To make a reader long to love better?
    I hope my prose does that. By God’s grace, it will, since He’s always in the business of radical redemption.

  3. I think your challenge to us as writers is fundamental. Why do we do what we do? Why spend the time and energy? God has placed on my heart to write good stories that have honest people in them — not perfect people. I have unsaved friends that I want to be able to hand a book to — in the event I’m published — and know they’ll read it because it’s a good book. But ultimately, I hope in the course of each book to plant seeds of hope and heaven without bashing them over the head with a message they tune out.

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