CELEBRATE!


Celebrate = commemorate, mark, keep, honor, remember.

I began to understand a life principle today. It was one of those “I knew it but I didn’t really know it” issues. A few years ago, I signed up for a weekend seminar led by my dear friends, Bob and Vicki Lichty. Ancient Paths, the seminar was named, and rightfully so. The Lichtys taught the various “rites of passage” celebrated within several people groups ranging from birth to death, and explained how important it is to keep these appointed times; times to celebrate God or a fellow human being.

For instance, the Jewish people celebrate new life on the eighth day after birth with the Brit Milah, the circumcision of the male child which seals the baby as a child of the Covenant God made with Abraham. After the ceremony, the family throws a party…big time! They celebrate the child. What do we do? We may have a baby shower for the mother and we may not. That’s about it.

Remember Kunte Kinte? The main character in Roots was held up to the stars by his father on the night of his birth. The father prayed and gave his blessing to his child, celebrating the new life and proclaiming belief that this baby would be a great blessing to the tribe and to the human family.

Yesterday, a dear friend set me pondering that exciting word, Celebrate. The Jewish family, the African family and so many more don’t just acknowledge the birth of a child, they celebrate the child. The focus is not on the mother and father or the fun that will be had at the party. The focus is on the child. The child is truly celebrated, blessed, gifted, received, prophesied to…and loved. Even more familiar is the Jewish Bar or Bat Mitzveh. In the season of a child’s life when most parents are tempted to wish they had never had children, Jewish moms and dads celebrate the kid!

In our culture, we rarely celebrate a person. Even when we spend a little time and energy and a few dollars to throw a party or take someone out to dinner, the honored guest is very seldom truly the focus of the hour with blessings or gifts or fanfare. We have lost our sense of esteeming others, our feeling of true appreciation for another person. After all, we are too busy, right? About the only call to celebrate we keep is the wedding reception where all eyes are on the bride and groom and most guests bring a gift.

Look around you. Do you see someone who has been a blessing to you? Someone you love and appreciate? Do you see a child who has obviously never been celebrated? Is there a person you know who, obviously, believes in his or her heart it would have been better had he never been born? Is someone you love reaching a time of passage in his or her life?

Get out the party hats and blow the horns! Offer the celebrated her favorite food and lots of it. Dress up! Lavish that special someone with gifts and hugs. Tell the honored guest that she is a blessing to you and how she is a blessing to you. Remember outloud! Send your football fan tickets to see his favorite team play or release him from the “Honey Do” jar one Saturday in appreciation of his hard work for the family.  

Celebrate somebody…celebrate!

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A Little Child Shall Lead Them (Part Two)


A delicious KFC picnic by a flowing mountain river in Cherokee was the grand finale of our week-long adventure in the Smokey Mountains. It was there on a big rock in the riverbed that Abigail announced, “I’ll just have to endure the humiliation ‘cause I’m goin’ swimming in my panties!” After that, she talked throughout the entire ride back to the coastlands of Carolina.

Much later that night, after she had nearly talked me to sleep, our youngest jumped off the bed and said, “I’m sleeping with my mama.” Jodi told us the rest of the story the next day.

Abigail’s bedtime prayer said it all. “Dear God, thank you for our vacation. Thank you for letting our family have such a good time and thank you for letting Gaddy (Ricky) go, but you could have let him stay one more day.”

And so, in this post and the previous one, we have two examples of what it means to become childlike in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Please ponder and add your comments for us to ponder as well. Oh, I just have to add one more. 😮

We made it all the way to Greensboro before visiting a Wal-Mart. Abigail and I made a quick dash through the DVD’s and the toothbrushes and scurried up to the less than 20 items checkout counter. Wouldn’t you believe it? Everyone in Greensboro was buying less than 20 items that day so we rushed over to the self-checkout counters where Abigail started scanning our three items. The machine neither beeped nor chinged. She tried again. Not working. We quickly worked our way through about six self-checkout counters and none of them worked.

Abigail huffed a deep sigh of exasperation and pulled my hand. “Come on, Meem,” she said seriously, “let’s go to where the people are. These machines are too smart for us!”

In each instance, my 7-year-old granddaughter’s childlike faith reigned supreme. She knew what she knew and what she didn’t know was of no use to her. Even in her prayer, she expressed faith and honesty in telling God just what she thought. There was no fear of lightening striking. God loved her and He would certainly appreciate her opinion as well as her thanks for the wonderful vacation. 😮

May our Father help us to turn loose of all that squashes the child in each of us and set us free to believe…to really believe.

Quick preamble to our next post


If you follow my blog, STORY TIME, you are aware that my husband, Ricky (RT), finds it very difficult to get away from our business for vacations, short or long. This year was no different. He made it to our mountain hideaway on Friday and had to leave on Sunday which did not please his grandchildren one bit, particularly Abigail.

A Little Child Will Lead Them


There is nothing like spending a week’s vacation with one’s grandchildren to gather pondering material on the subject of childlikeness in the Kingdom of God. Our week was a miracle to begin with, a trip we had planned for years which finally came together in the Dog Days of August, 2010. All together, we were ten family members at diverse ages and personalities and temperaments. Ten in one cabin for seven days. Quite a story in itself. 😮 However, Abigail, the littlest child at seven, just happened to be the one who gave me the most to ponder and share with you. I will share this story in two posts because, as my sisters will tell you, I cannot seem to “cut it short.”:o

It was the last night of our vacation and Jodi, Luke, Abigail and I had just returned from a full evening of shows in Pigeon Forge. The Comedy Barn was hilarious but the one that impressed the kids most was The Magic Show. I’ll have to admit that it impressed me as well, especially when the magician made a 500 pound white tiger appear out of nowhere and then assured the kids that only God can do miracles. But our wonderful evening was missing one element—food! By the time we got back to the cabin, our stomachs were growling.

While Jodi rummaged the kitchen for kids’ food, I made myself half a ham sandwich, grabbed my book and headed toward the bedroom, my hideout. Carefully placing my paper towel-wrapped sandwich on the bed table, I proceeded to make my last trip to the bathroom before climbing into the unusually high bed with my book and sandwich.

When I returned, breathing sighs of peace and contentment, I had one foot on the bed railing and one on the floor when I noticed that my half ham sandwich had disappeared. I think I forgot to tell you that there were really eleven of us. Tucker, Jodi’s family shih poo, was having a ball running around the roomy cabin and finding crumbs here and there and everywhere. Alas for me, he was now in heaven for on my bed table, in clear view and easy grasp, was the biggest crumb he had ever found. Now, there was nothing but a paper towel.

I screamed, “Tucker! Bring back my ham sandwich!”

Of course, that tickled the children pink and led into all sorts of discussions about what Meeme would do if the dog actually brought the sandwich back. While this was going on and Tucker was licking his chops, I proceeded back to the kitchen to make myself another half ham sandwich. This time I naively wrapped it in a paper towel and for a woman of fairly average intelligence, I then did a very stupid thing. Again, I placed the tightly wrapped sandwich on the bed table and trekked off to the bathroom. I just wasn’t thinking straight, you see. An entire week of fun was taking its toll on grandma.

And so, I strolled back to the bed table and reached for my sandwich which, of course, was long gone. But this time, I saw two white furry feet scoot under the bed like the white rabbit in Wonderland. This time, I was so tired and hungry that I screamed a four-letter word that starts with a “d” just as loud as I could. While the children sat in stunned silence (the first silence in a week), Jodi crawled under one side of the bed and I crawled under the other side hoping we might actually rescue the sandwich in time. Not so. The menacing look on Tucker’s face and the growl that came from his throat couldn’t have been less frightening than the white tiger’s in the magic show. He had discovered the taste of real food and he wasn’t about to cut his dinner short for anybody.

Slowly, I walked back into the kitchen where lots of still shocked little eyes followed my every move. Interestingly enough, Abigail’s face didn’t look shocked at all. It looked rather, ah…ponderous. As I passed her chair, my conscience in torment because I had not only said, but screamed a “bad” word in front of my grandchildren, Abigail moved her little mouth to the side of her cheek and out came the following words of wisdom.

“Meem, this is a sign. You’re just not supposed to eat a ham sandwich tonight.” Her facial expression and tone added up to “And that’s the end of it.”

I looked into her very serious big blue eyes and replied, “Oh, okay.”

“What are you eating?” I asked.

“Chocolate chip cookies,” she happily replied.

“Could I have one?”

“Sure.”

WITH MY VERY OWN EYES


I don’t know why it happened to me. If I hadn’t seen him with my very own eyes, I might never have believed it. But there he was, at least ten feet tall, towering over me from his position there in the hallway. My guardian angel. My heart seemed to stop.

It happened late one Friday night as I sat in my office in Nashville, Tennessee, finishing up paperwork before leaving after a long day’s work. One of my co-workers was in the small office next door. I could hear laughter through the thin walls as he talked with his wife and daughters who had come to give him a lift home. Concentrating on the business at hand, I was vaguely aware of distant voices in the hallway as he clocked out and left with his family through the back exit.

Although I was now alone in the huge building I was not frightened. I often stayed late and was familiar with the night sounds around me. The two resident office cats often played in the hallways so there was nothing out of the ordinary to cause me to be suspicious or frightened, but due to changes in staff and pending plans to move to North Carolina, I found myself in a not-so-friendly work atmosphere and was biding my time before my last day at work. Tensions ran high each day, suspicion and control issues were prevalent, and I was eager for that job experience to be over.

Maybe that’s why he was sent…to bolster the little child inside of me.

I knew someone was there before I ever glanced up. I had that “feeling” that someone was looking at me. For a brief second I thought my co-worker might have returned, but what I saw with my very own eyes was absolutely incredible! Smiling at me from his position in the hallway was a being taller than the door frame. He was dressed like a Roman soldier—helmet on his head, breastplate over his chest, shield in his left hand, sword in his right hand. He was on duty, and I realized in those brief seconds that “I” was his duty. He was my guardian angel.

This will be unbelievable to some people and others will be skeptical. I would, too, but I know that I know that I know what I saw with my very own eyes. And, to top it all off….on Monday morning when my co-worker arrived in the building, he made a beeline to my office. He said, “Judy, my wife was standing in the doorway of my office on Friday evening. As we were leaving she told me she saw someone walk past your doorway, and he looked ten feet tall. Who was that?”

No doubt, it was my guardian angel.

SUPERNATURAL MOMENT


A ten year old girl, who had been to church three times per week since the day she was conceived, went to church camp with her big sister. Church— so important in her family that it may well have been the first word she ever spoke. But something about church got a lot bigger for her when she got to camp that summer. There was a largeness about the experience that she has never forgotten.

One day all the kids had packed into the open pavilion beside the lake. They sang their hearts out about the wondrous love of Jesus. A man preached, an invitation was given, and from about midway back under that pavilion the girl in the red pedal pushers and sleeveless top slowly stood up and made her way down the aisle.  A glimpse of her sister’s blond hair a few rows forward gave the young girl the measure of security she needed to take those steps.

“I believe,” said the girl. The preacher led a procession of children to the edge of the lake where one by one they walked out into the deep. A long black snake slithered across the top of the lake. Unafraid, the preacher waved it away then beckoned to the girl “come, enter the water.” The tiny frame of the girl stood next to the man who gently pushed her beneath the cool waters.

Barefoot and drenched, the girl walked across the sandy campground to her cabin. Each step she took seemed to strengthen and broaden the thick golden glow which was all around her. She wondered if others could see it. Not knowing what to do with the grand sensation that had so overtaken her, she crawled up into her top bunk and lay there alone within the glow until her heart would stop pounding. She had now joined the ranks of others who glowed and she had thoughts like, “…so this is what everyone gets when they give themselves to God.” The experience was surreal, it was other-worldly, it was supernatural.

Later, when talking with others about what had happened to her that day, she came to understand that it was something she would need to keep close to her heart forever because she discovered that in her family, and among their circle of friends, what had happened to her was different. From that day forward, the girl began to develop a very personal friendship with the great I AM.