We saw them as we were walking along the beach. Three children had dug a hole in the wet sand and were now sitting in it, slathering themselves with mud.
Brian and I remarked on their obvious joy. A woman was standing nearby watching and I said, “They sure are having fun.” Her disapproval was obvious when she replied, “They’re so dirty. I’m glad they’re not my kids.”
This seemed such a sad statement. Their play was not a disturbance to those around them. We actually gained pleasure by just watching their fun. They were busy enjoying their mud baths, oblivious to the opinions of those around them. It was the children and not the adult who had the right idea.
I looked back to see one boy run into the lake, wash off and then return to his friends to paint arms and legs with mud once again.
Oh, to be like a child, free to ignore what other may think and just have fun. Sometimes I need to relax and not concern myself with maintaining a spotless image. It’s ok if my hands get dirty or I get mud on my face. There may be people who disapprove but there just may be more who want to enter the fun with me.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw
Three young girls spent time with us recently. At some point during the day each did something silly and wanted their picture taken. Looking at the pictures later, I saw that each was a representation of the faces I show to the world.
Miss H. appeared before me in disguise. She wore a bright red wig, flashing glasses and other costume items. We laughed at how funny she looked but I was reminded of the times I’ve gone out of my way to hide who I was. In an attempt to mask my insecurity, I have disguised who I really am. This gets uncomfortable and can’t be maintained.
Miss S. said, “Look at me” as she sucked on a lemon. Although she made a face and removed it from her mouth, she soon put right back in there again. I wondered how often I look like I’ve been sucking on a lemon. Do I acknowledge what is unpleasant and then keep revisiting what it is that gives me a sour face?
Miss K. was photographed smiling, dancing and being her joyful self. She was totally comfortable with who she was and radiated happiness. I aspire to me more like this; free to embrace life without concern of what others may be thinking.
So, which face do I show you? I can hide behind a disguise and not let you see who I really am. I can choose bitterness or I can look for the positive and choose happiness. Thanks to the visual my granddaughters expressed, the choice is obvious!
Face.— The silent echo of the heart. ~”Specimens of a Patent Pocket Dictionary, For the use of those who wish to understand the meaning of things as well as words,” The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, 1824
One of the signs of summer is the distinctive music of an ice cream truck as it slowly winds its way through the neighbourhoods. The sound can be heard several blocks away which gives children a chance to race to their parents and beg for money to pay for a treat.
I don’t know of another sound in the summer that brings people running. Thoughts of enjoying ice cream treats delivered right to your neighbourhood, are enough to send many searching for their wallets!
Even if I don’t want to indulge in the offerings, the music brings pleasant memories of summers past, when I had young children excited to hear the sound of the ice cream truck approaching. If they were fast enough, they could wait at the end of the driveway and the truck would stop. If not, they would need to chase it down the street and maybe wait in line for their favourite treat.
Most of the offerings from the ice cream truck are available at local stores but people are still willing to pay a premium price to the ice cream man. There must be something in the simple melody the truck plays that draws people in.
I think of this attraction and wonder how many people are drawn to Jesus in the same excited way. The bounties he brings are too numerous to be listed on the side of a truck. There is no premium price involved; no need to chase him down the street, money in hand.
When I’m open to what Jesus has to offer, he delivers directly to me, no lineups involved. And, best of all, there’s no need to wait for summer to receive the refreshment he brings.
Every good present and every perfect gift comes from above, from the Father who made the sun, moon, and stars. (James 1:17 GWT)
An example of pure joy was being played out before me. Young children were running through a large puddle. Smiling parents stood nearby, watching as their children laughed and splashed through the water.
As I passed by, the children were asking their parents, “Can we go just one more time? Pleeease.” They were having so much fun they didn’t want it to end!
It made me happy just to watch their enthusiastic play. No expensive toys were needed. All that was necessary were rubber boots and a puddle. As far as the children were concerned I’m sure even the rubber boots were optional!
I wondered when I had last taken the time to play. Not a game where there is a desired outcome, but just to have fun. I am grateful for the children in my life who encourage me to relax and enjoy life. They are wonderful teachers.
Playing is good for us. It reduces stress, eases burdens and restores a sense of optimism. For a healthy life, it is more a necessity than a luxury.
When I do something just for fun, my creativity is unleashed. Maybe that’s because I break free from the box of conformity I often place myself in.
We can learn a lot about each other through play. This begs the next question. Who wants to come out and play?
“You can learn more about a man in an hour of play than in a lifetime of conversation.” -Plato
My husband and I put together a little Easter egg hunt for our family. This year we had some items labelled for each of the younger children.
In the pre-hunt instructions, they were told not to take something if it wasn’t marked for them. They could either put it back where they found it and keep looking for other treats, or they could pick it up and make sure it got to the right person.
There were only two items personalized for each child, the rest were available to anyone who found them. We were surprised by how our five young grandchildren handled this.
I must admit, if it were me, I’d probably have put the other person’s treasure back and kept gathering treats for myself. That was not the case with these young ones. If something labelled for another was found, their own search stopped until they gave it to the one it was marked for. Without exception, each unselfishly put the needs of a sibling or cousin before their own.
Although they enjoy their candy and were excited to collect all they could, none were concerned about losing out by helping another. Without meaning to, they reminded us of what is important.
The Bible says “and little children will lead them.” That was certainly the case at our home that day. Little did I know that the combination of children and candy would remind me to do unto others as I would have them do to me.
People should be concerned about others and not just about themselves. (1 Corinthians 10:24 GWT)
Although the little girl had been with her grandmother only an hour earlier, she was excited to see her. At first glance, her eyes lit up and she ran with open arms for a loving embrace.
I watched this heartwarming scene and thought of how very special their relationship was. There is nothing quite like the love expressed through a child’s hug. This expression of affection can melt even the coldest heart.
My young grandchildren are moving past the spontaneous hug stage. I know they still love me; it’s just that other things now vie for their attention. They know that I won’t force them to hug me but I will be there with open arms when they’re ready.
This reminds me of my relationship with God. There are times I race to spend time with him. Other times I let life distract me. My love for the Lord has not diminished and it is not my intention to ignore him for other pursuits.
The good news is He remains close by, watching over me. He is not forceful, demanding attention, but waits patiently for me to return.
When I realize I’ve moved away and reach out to the Lord, he is always ready to welcome me with open arms.
We loved because he first loved us. (1John 4:19 NIV)
I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. (Proverbs 8:17 NIV)
Although I couldn’t see anyone, the voices from a nearby changing room could be heard clearly.
It sounded like a mother and child. Mom was engaging her child in cheerful conversation. “Can you count? How old will you be on your birthday?” A happy little voice answered, “Three!”
Moments later the mom said, “Do you need some help?” The answer that quickly followed was, “No, I got dis.”
I chuckled as I thought of young children asserting their independence by wanting to do everything by themselves. Even though they need help, they struggle through on their own. It takes patience to stand by and watch when we know we could make things so much easier for them.
I know that I am still guilty of this type of behaviour. Even when assistance is readily available, I don’t ask for it. Isn’t asking for help a sign of weakness? Actually, it’s more a sign of strength. It takes self-confidence to admit I could use help. In many cases, refusing help denies someone of the pleasure they would receive from assisting me.
God is always ready and willing to help. He shows immeasurable patience to watch me struggle with my independence and not call out to him. He is able to do much more than I could ever hope or imagine on my own. When I truly understand this, I let go of my stubborn pride and call out to him.
His wisdom will guide me through any situation I may encounter. Knowing this, it would be foolish to say, “No thanks, I’ve got this!”
If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn’t find fault with them. (James 1:5 GWT)
This week we have the pleasure of attending school Christmas concerts for grandchildren. I can hardly wait!
I view these concerts as having several things in common with the first Christmas: music, drama, God and the element of surprise. You never know quite what to expect at a children’s performance. I sometimes think the audience actually looks forward to the mistakes in the program!
Some children are blissfully unaware of mistakes they make. They are happy being on stage and waving to parents in the audience. A few are embarrassed if everything doesn’t go exactly as planned. Either way, their parents look on proudly.
When I was six or seven I had a major role in a school concert. I was to recite T’was the Night Before Christmas. My mother helped me to memorize it and by the day of the concert I had it word perfect. Once on stage, I got nervous and part way through forgot the next line. After pausing to think about it, I started again, not realizing I was repeating a few lines. My little brother called out from the audience, “You already said that part.”
I was embarrassed at my mistake and my little brother stole the show! It was his outburst and not my performance that was remembered.
These mistakes are what provide the most memorable moments. They also teach us the real meaning of Christmas; that true joy comes from being loved by God, no matter how many mistakes we make. That’s what God was telling us more than 2,000 years ago. He’s still telling us that today. His love is there where we follow the script and when we get mixed up. He is there cheering us on, just like the loving parents watching their children in the concerts.
Not only at Christmas but throughout the year, let’s be like little children, basking in the love of our Heavenly Father.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NIV)
“Can I go outside and play in the snow?” my granddaughter asked. “Sure,” I replied. “Are your sisters going with you?”
Her sisters wanted to stay indoors but she was happy to go out on her own. The pristine snow in our backyard was soon marked with tracks as she jumped and played in her private winter wonderland.
When I next looked out she was making a snow angel. The grin on her face was huge. I turned to my husband and said, “When I look at her I see pure joy.”
The joy came from being free to play. There were no rules to follow. She could just have fun.
It made me wonder about the last time I did something just for the pleasure it would bring. To be free to play and not care what anyone else might think. As the famous quote says, “Dance like nobody’s watching.”
Somewhere between childhood and adulthood many of us have forgotten how to play. There is no reason life always has to be taken so seriously. Let’s give ourselves permission to play with the joyful abandon of a child.
Life is full of exciting adventures. It’s time to be spontaneous and get out there and enjoy!
“You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato
When people don’t want to admit to or confront a problem it’s said they are burying their head in the sand. The idea behind this is that if you don’t see the problem, it doesn’t really exist.
I’m sure this is something most of us have done at least once in our lives. I know I have.
This saying came to mind but in a slightly different context recently. We had grandchildren playing in our yard and when I looked out, one had her head buried. It wasn’t in the sand but in the snow.
For her, it wasn’t an avoidance issue. Curiosity was a major factor. Instead of escaping from an unpleasant situation, she was embracing the unknown.
Oh, for the curiosity of a child! No matter what my first impulse may be, I‘d have thought the situation through before making a decision. The snow is cold and wet. Therefore it would probably be uncomfortable. It may even be difficult to breathe. No thank you, I think I’ll pass on putting my head in the snow.
I wonder how many experiences I’ve missed out on because I chose to hide rather than to trust God enough to move into the unknown. If I had the answers to all of my questions before I took a step forward, there would be no need to trust him. Rather than burying my head, I need to look up to God and let him direct me.
A person’s fear sets a trap for him, but one who trusts the LORD is safe. (Proverbs 29:25 GWT)