celebration

"Still Good" Saturday: In Search of Celebration

Still good saturday image

This blog was originally posted at www.Renovare.org. Celebration: Knowing that every good gift is from God and a reason to party.

Of all the disciplines I’ve practiced over the years Celebration is the one I have struggled with the most. Celebration often begins with gratefulness, which leads to joy and when done right carries over into a jig.  While I start well, I just can’t seem, with much consistency, to pull off the joy and the jig.

I have spent the majority of my life with children and this is not an issue for them. They are perpetually party ready. I have been to countless tea parties and been asked to dance by people under three foot tall at least twice a week for two decades. But I’m always feeding off their celebration, it’s rarely my own.

Lately though I’ve been paying attention to their partying ways, trying to grab a few bread crumbs from the celebration table. I found that they don’t even count their blessings! For shame, they aren’t even overtly thankful!  After spending an evening with six of my favorite young friends, I realized Celebration begins with an all encompassing sense of safety. These children can party because they feel safe.

Here’s the difference…. When I start to count my blessings, I do begin to feel joy and the jig, but before I can say “party streamers”, my joy is hijacked by the need to feel safe. The “what if’s” begin to ring in my ears, and I’m back where I started.

But my young friends live in the land of safety, they are free to party at a moment’s notice.

Listening to Richard Foster has given me many gifts, but maybe one of the greatest is the saying, “The Kingdom of God is not in danger.”  Dallas Willard often said, “The universe is a perfectly safe place to be.”  Anybody with ears or eyes knows this is crazy talk. The world is not safe– but the kingdom of God is. Our God is a redemptive God and there is nothing he can’t turn around for good- and that’s some serious safety.

So the LORD and I are working this out. I count my blessings and he says, “See, I can be trusted. You are safe.”  I’m going to keep gathering crumbs from my young friends, but I’m also practicing the merengue just in case.

 

What is the root of celebration in your life?

Tell us about a time you have celebrated with children.

Celebrations

As we follow the church calendar for our daily family devotions, we find that Eastertide is about celebrations, first and foremost celebrating who we are as redeemed in Christ thanks to the work of the cross, and second as those whose hope is in the power of the resurrection. Personally I love celebrations, I have often thought that if I could do a career change I would be in big event management because I love a good party. I love seeing people come together and laughing together, telling stories, allowing the cares of this world to pass away if only for those few hours. I love Christmas and Thanksgiving and well, every holiday, because I get to use them as an excuse for celebration. A few days ago was my birthday, and every year I struggle with wanting to do some big celebration due to the reasons stated above, however this year I decided that as long as I wasn’t required to homeschool my son and actively participate in normal community life on my birthday I would be content. This was the first year that we has a family celebrated with just us. And it was beautiful. My husband led our children in singing to me happy birthday, not once but three times, with the last time bringing out the guitars (husband knows, son is still learning) while my daughter danced around in joyful glee. It was one of those moments that I know that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Dallas Willard said “We engage in celebration when we enjoy ourselves, our life, our world, in conjunction with our faith and confidence in God’s greatness, beauty, and goodness.” In that moment as we as a family were celebrating my birthday, I felt the delight of God himself in us. Zephaniah 3:17 says that “He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” If we serve a God who delights in us and rejoices over us with singing, how much more should we be doing the same thing over each other? In the country where we currently live, rejoicing over others or even with others is not common, it’s actually very rare. Yet I have seen first-hand what power there is in celebrating each other and celebrating with each other. The Bible tells us Nehemiah 8:10 that the joy of the Lord is your strength. I quoted this verse for years and years never realizing that this statement comes directly from a command to go and feast in the goodness of God, to celebrate before the Lord. It literally says to go and feast “for this day is holy to our Lord.” Yes, the joy of the Lord is our strength and it that joy is renewed, our strength is revitalized in the celebration unto God.

In light of that, I am now more determined than ever to teach my children how to celebrate, maybe in simpler ways but in every opportunity to celebrate all that God has done for us, through us and with us. I want my children to know the delight that God has in us and how as messenger of His good news, we sure should delight in others as well.

"What if?"

First off let me start with a confession. The busyness of life has gotten the better of this family this past month and we have only managed to squeeze in a few days of family devotion time yet as I look at those few times, I always see such beauty. One of the days we managed to do Good Dirt, was a day on which Jesus taught us not to worry. Matthew 6:26 has always been one of my favorite verses; however, it was not in the context of worry for me, rather a reminder of my value as a person—that I am valuable enough to be cared for by God. I realized as I went through these verses with my children that it is easy for children growing up in a healthy household to trust God to provide for them because their parents do. It is as we grow up and begin to see the world around us that we start to need to learn this lesson of “do not worry”.

In the past year, I have been witness to many tragedies, horror stories and realities, that thankfully as a child, I didn’t know could happen to people I actually knew. It is seeing this reality, these horrors of the world around me that causes me to know why Jesus taught about not worrying in Matthew 6. When you begin to realize that these troubles of the world are a real thing, are not unusual, the temptation to fall into worry and thinking of the great “what if?” of life can become all consuming, which is why once again I say a prayer of gratefulness of being a parent.

When you are in the middle of toddler and baby chaos some days it’s easy to fall into envy of single or childless people. But wait, what does that have to do with worry? Well I may homeschool my son, but daily my children teach me in God’s ways. As we read this scripture I asked my children what three things Jesus specifically says not to worry about, and my son quickly responses “food, your clothes and the day.” That’s when it hits me, we often fear the day, the moment when each day no longer becomes a blessing but rather a day of "what if."

To not worry is more easily said than done, it takes conscious effort every day to choose to not worry. One thing works best for me: a heart of gratitude. When I think on my worries, the things that could happen or what I do not have, I become frantic, irritable and frankly rather selfish. But when I think of all that I have, when each morning instead of waking up thinking of how little sleep I had, thinking on what a gift it is to have another day where I am healthy, blessed with three wonderful children, a great marriage, worries don’t find a way in. Celebrating that each day, each penny received, each plate of food put in front of me, is more than most in the world has, I find that peace and joy easily replace worry. This is something that my children teach me. The joy of having a favorite food, or a soda on a hot day, rejoicing over playing a great game with their friends and laughing at the fact that you can make another person laugh. Where is worry to be found amongst such? “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Mark 10:15