Fun: Thoughts on Beauty from a 5-Year-Old

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Jacob ready to hand in his poem.

Jacob is one of my friends. This year he’s a kindergartener and aside from learning what kindergarteners learn (is it statistics yet and French?) he was asked by his teacher to consider participating in the statewide PTA Reflections contest.

Each year the organization provides the program for students to demonstrate their creativity through categories such as visual arts, photography, literature, dance composition and choreography, musical composition and film production.

“Jacob might like to do this,” his teacher told his mom.

So mom and Jacob talked about it. For several days after school he dictated to her all the items his young and expanding mind had filed under “beauty.” Next mom read it back to him, bit by bit so Jacob could write it out (mostly phonetically). It took five lined pages, but he did it. Determined to tell the world – or at least those who read the entries – what beauty means.

Below is the original work this young T.S. Eliot wrote:

My Poem About Beautiful

Beauty is like beautiful
I am beautiful and my family
My classroom
The turkey that I made at school

The Indian face that Adam [a younger brother] made
Different colors everywhere
Rainbows are beautiful
Legoland is beautiful with lots of colors

The sun
Mrs. Holmes’ shirt
The patterns on your bed
The patterned zebras and giraffes

Apples are what make apple trees beautiful
The night is beautiful
The sand, the sun, the people at the beach are beautiful

Mr. Greg said God’s glory is beautiful [Mr. Greg is Jacob’s teacher at church]
Beautiful is stuff that God made: the world, the stars, everything
The Statue of Liberty

Jacob’s masterpiece and its translation are submitted. If he places in the contest you’ll be the first to know the breaking news. In the meantime, I would like Jacob to know I think both he and his work are beautiful.

Just wondering: 
Why don’t you join me in adding to Jacob’s list of beautiful things? Let’s make a mega-list of beautiful things! There’s room for you to add as many items as you wish.

FAITH: No Surprises

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You saw my circumstances.
You knew my trials and troubles.
You saw them on your timeline.
They are no surprise to you!

You helped me see through sadness.
You gave me faith and hope.
You saw them on your timeline.
They are no surprise to you!

When I weep I sense your sadness.
When I laugh I sense your joy.
You saw them on your timeline.
They are no surprise to you!

Your hand is always with me.
Your love it never ends.
You planned these on your timeline.
I’m so thankful they are true!

Help me live your Truth for others.
Your love will pull them close.
You see them on your timeline.
Give them faith to trust in you!

Yahweh, You are eternal.
Your love it spans all time.
You know me and You love me.
Amazing…

Copyright 2006

FAITH: The All-Powerful Password

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It provided access – especially important when one is a child and a “club” is organized by friends. Know the password and your life has meaning. You have friends. Say it and you have VIP access to the clubhouse for “meetings” and the top-secret business. No password? Well, you’re on your own, kid.

Prior to admission in “the club” – an important question is asked. It is the most solemn of occasions:  “What’s the password?”

Guarded by girl friends giggling with excitement, they shout  in unison: “No boys allowed.”  

Speaking this made outsiders insiders and all was right in our young world.

 If only it were that simple now. But maybe it is. Let me explain.

 TOO MANY PASSWORDS

Have you noticed today that one password isn’t enough? I’m confident my cerebellum develops new wrinkles each time I try to recall my plethora of passwords – for my computer, my bank account, my voice mail. With all the security these  imply, I wonder why God doesn’t get with the program and require a type of heavenly password from us.

Forget boring ones: savednlovin’it, jesusfreak, wwjd? I’d go for one like: geekforjesus; Godzgirl; Iwitnesseverytuesdaynightbutnotanyothertime? Ouch.

 Think of the great password benefit – unprecedented access to God.

As I strain to maintain password recall here and now, part of me – some refer to it as their heart – is comforted when I realize The Truth. Everyone’s password is the same. Everyone’s access is just as privileged. No card to carry. No special handshake. No spiritual mumbo jumbo.

 Identity isn’t lost or stolen here. It’s revealed, beautified and fulfilled.

Since I’ve been old enough to know right from wrong, I have known about the password. My previous sarcastic approach to life kept me from really knowing The Password. Learn from my past. You’ll save yourself 23 years!

MY KNOWLEDGE DIDN’T MATTER

 What’s crazy is that this realization and subsequent action had nothing to do with knowing “about” the password or where I practiced my religious activity. I didn’t have to recall historical facts, name Jesus’ 12 closest followers, recite authors and order for the 66 smaller books of the Bible. Even years of perfect worship attendance wasn’t required.  Come to think of it, I did have a respectable attendance record but back to the story. 

TRUTH REVEALED

So, what is the password?

 Jesus.

 In my younger days, he had seemed too far to really know. Consequently,  I thought my religious effort, fervor and a moral life beyond reproach would more than suffice. Surely, at least, they would make me feel “closer” to him.

 But I didn’t.

It was during my senior year in college when I took a class through a student ministry. It seemed pretty harmless – learning how to share my faith. During one activity, I was startled. I had nothing to share. During an assignment where I was to write my “testimony” I struggled. A testimony is a church word explaining the story of how I realized who Jesus truly was and my decision to ask for forgiveness and become his follower. Truth has a way of clearing up distortion.

So what did I do with the assignment ? I did what any self-respecting person would do.  I rationalized. After all, since I was attending one the country’s best journalism schools, I knew I could write about anything.

 Anything except …

 Jesus.

It was then – at age 23 – that Jesus showed me his proximity. It was then that he showed me what my effort, my fervor and my morality had meant. Their insignificance shocked me; I was frightened to realize that all those exceptional efforts had absolutely no eternal value. Didn’t Jesus realize I had gone to lots of trouble to live by my own stringent standards?

 SHOCKING SCRIPTURE

 Next He showed me a scripture that made me stop, listen and shiver.

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” James 2:19 (NIV)

 Ouch again.

WASTED EFFORTS

For crying out loud, I thought. I do believe. Why else would I work so hard at being “Christian”? Did you notice all the effort I had put into life until this point? I had done this…I had done that…I had not done this….I had not done that… Surely I was “sanctified,” selected because of my selectiveness.

 After a struggle of several weeks, I realized that “knowing about” Jesus and “knowing” Him were not the same.

 Then I wondered: could Jesus look past my superhuman efforts and prideful practices? Would He still accept me?

 Was he really the ONLY answer I needed? Wasn’t there something I needed to do as well? After all, I was sincere!

 NOW WHAT?

But scripture after scripture kept showing me – yes, I had been sincere – sincerely wrong. Wrong about Jesus and who He is. Wrong about my efforts to be Him in my life. I had not known Jesus and what He had done for me. Double ouch.

Next I paused…reflected…and decided. More important than updating my Facebook status, twittering or checking my bank balance. I found myself in…

 Jesus.

 March 20 was the date my spiritual struggle ended. I asked Jesus to open me to himself – and He did.  

My calendar called it the first day of spring. For me, it was a new start in life. It meant I now had full access to Him, but more importantly, He had full access to me.

 Jesus.

Do you know Him? If not, I hope you will decide to know Him.

Don’t forget.

The Password is Jesus –  and yes, boys are allowed!

Just wondering:
If you have questions about Jesus I’ll be glad to try to answer them or get the answer. If you’d like to tell your story about knowing THE Password, please do. Someone needs to hear your story.

Family: From “boo-hoo” to Boo

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It all started when Twinkles died.

Boo and me - circa 1970ish.

I couldn’t believe the words that fell from my father’s mouth. They were horrible and I shook my head back and forth thinking that what he said couldn’t possibly be true.

The only problem is that it those words were true and my beautiful, butterscotch-colored cat would never again cuddle and comfort me. Never chase yarn balls. Never just “be there.” I was sickened to think that he was lifeless and that a careless driver could actually leave his little body,  flattened on the road near our house.

The cavernous void of missing Butterscoth left an achy feeling and it got worse each day. I missed his furry hugs and caring  for something smaller than myself. I wanted the encompassing stab of sadness to go away. It took me a long time, but eventually my pre-pubescent heart was ready to love again – and to be a pet owner.

Until then, I’m sure Dad was fine without a feline – although he didn’t mind me having one. It’s just that he knew  no matter how many times I swore to feed the cat, water the cat and take care of the cat that – it was all a lie. My goal was to obtain the security of having my own feel-good furball – so any coaxing with promises of responsibility were simply part of the plan.

At last, after many, miserable months, I learned of a friend’s cat that had six kittens. It was “find a home week” for them and after an unusually effective round of imploring, Dad finally broke, got his car keys and drove me and my two younger sisters to the “kittens to good home” house.

 My anticipation soared. My decisiontime neared and six sets of kitten eyes looked up at me as if imagining what type of owner I would be.

How could I be forced to choose from such small angels of softness? This was exceedingly difficult and much harder than I had imagined! I was resolute, though, and envisioned myself leaving – not empty handed, but with my hands full of fur and warmth and happiness. My heart would beat happily again.

Upon initial inspection, I realized that sheer looks could NOT be the deciding factor. I had to find an alternate method to choose a kitten saturated with skills in car-avoidance. A plan began to hatch within my little brain.

I would find a cat that was nimble, and smart and FAST!

I instructed my sisters and friend to take all kittens to the far wall in the kitchen. As I stood at the opposite wall, I filled a small bowl with milk and placed it on the floor.

“Ready. Set. Go!” I shouted as my sisters and friend released the kittens. Some meandered meaninglessly, but one – a coal black one – spied the prize and traveled at speeds faster than any kitten should possess.

“I’ll take this one,” I said proudly as I held up the first-place winner for all to see.

He  had raced his way into my heart by using his focused, lightning speed! And in my mind, I figured if he were fast enough to beat the others, he could dodge errant cars.

And that – my friends – is how “Boo” became my next pet.    

Just wondering:
What are some of
your pet stories? What roles have pets played in your life? Tell us. We want to know!

FAITH: Good News from Way Back in the Book

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I don’t know about you, but I rarely dig immediately into Old Testment books – except for Psalms and Proverbs. I hang out in those books a lot – probably because they’re so poetic.

However, last week, was different. For some reason, my Bible sat open on my kitchen table to Isaiah 33.

I wish I could say I was studying that chapter, but I wasn’t. I wish I could say I was preparing heavy duty biblical homework for a Bible study, but I wasn’t. I wish I could say I was being spiritual enough to even memorize, but I wasn’t.

Isn’t it great that what WE aren’t, God IS?

I’m thinking now it was because God wanted to teach me more about Himself in Bible location I don’t ordinarily visit.

Even though Isaiah is Old Testament, it had a new message for me.

May this scripture encourage you in a specific area of your life. The italics are my thoughts. Hope they won’t distract you!

Here it is!

The Lord WILL BE the SURE foundation
for YOUR times (no matter what they bring – health, sickness, surprise, predictability, fill in the blank!)
a rich store of salvation
(from inferior thoughts, depression, from inadequate spiritual vision, from being physically, emotionally and spiritually spent, etc.)
AND
WISDOM
(A daily need.)
AND
KNOWLEDGE
(Ditto!).
(He’s so good, he offers more than knowledge. Wow.)

The fear of the Lord is THE KEY
(not A key; it requires a choice on our part if we’ll fear him or not)
to this TREASURE.
(It’s not an inferior, temporary consolation prize; it’s a treasure from the Lord himself. Or maybe the treasure IS the Lord Himself! As a treasure – whatever it is – it’s valuable. Knowing the Lord, I’m sure this treasure has an eternal quality guarantee!)

From Isaiah 33:6.

Let’s acknowledge Him together!

Just wondering:
How has God used Old Testament scripture to help you understand more about Him? What’s YOUR favorite one and why?

Family: The Story of my B

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In preschool, I learned the alphabet. In kindergarten, I mastered writing my name. And then, years passed, and I was about to turn 16!

At this point, my mom explained that when I signed my drivers license, I would then have a legal signature.  Truth be told, I listened more than she thinks I did. Wow. A legal anything made me feel grown up. I couldn’t help but be enamored by the thought. 

“It would be good for you to decide how you want to sign your name. It helps to be consistent and sign the same way especially on important or legal papers,” she advised.

What a decision! I got to work right away practicing various options.

 First, middle and last name? First name, initial, last name? First and last names only? The variations made me dizzy!

 What mom didn’t realize was that her suggestion actually caused concentrated thought on my behalf. A miracle for any 16 year old!  I was developing a signature  and it would symbolize me while demonstrating connectedness to my family.

Throughout the years, I had always admired my mother’s beautiful signature. Between her first name and my father’s last name was a beautifully flourished capital “H.” It signified her maiden name. I considered it a glorious reminder of her life before marriage.

 Now that it was my turn to have a serious signature, I commenced the cursive options:

  • Cheryl Bailey – first and last name – short and sweet like me!
  • Cheryl L. Bailey – first, middle initial and last name –  too rugged for my personality.
  • Cheryl Lynn Bailey – first, middle and last name – took too long to write.

 Then, years passed – again. Funny how that happens, but back to the story.

 College graduation. Then a “keeper,” engagement and impending marriage. But what would I do with my name?

 Keep it? Combine it? Have a collaborative effort? Hmmm.

I considered them all!

  • Cheryl Lemine – first and new last name – too tricky sounding.
  • Cheryl Bailey Lemine – first, maiden and new last name – too cumbersome and timeconsuming to say.
  • Cheryl B Lemine – first, maiden name initial and new last name – yes, this would work. 

I would keep my “B” just as my mother had kept her “H.”

And like her initial, mine would pay tribute to my loving past – one that includes:

  • A mother who was the first in her family to graduate from college;
  • A father who was a forester and whose parents I never knew due to their early deaths;
  • Maternal grandparents who unknowingly loved and hugged me so much that it seemed as if I had all four grandparents. There’s much more,  but I don’t want you to miss the point.

 Your name is also important. However, you choose to use it is your signature on life.

I love my name because the  “B” is a bridge from my unmarried life to my married one. While it may not have the curly cues my mom’s heavenly “H” does, it reminds me that yesterday still matters to me.

 By the way, there’s no period after the “B.” It would take waaaaay too long!