Tag Archives: children

The Best Father Is the Father of Us All

Christians are commanded to confess their sins “one to another.” So, here goes. I hereby confess that I have at times succumbed to the temptation to be a kind of Father’s Day answer to Christmas’s Ebenezer Scrooge.

As a father, I’m perfectly pleased to see the day coming; it’s as a preacher that I can get grinchy about it. Father’s Day is tough.

Every year, here comes May, and here comes Mother’s Day. Fine. I don’t begrudge our moms the first spot in these quasi-holidays. Good moms have much more than earned much more than a Sunday a year when we honor and encourage them in their ultra-important role. From a preacher’s perspective, it’s not hard to find in the pages of Scripture a bunch of world class moms. (Granted, after you’re on your thirty-second such sermon in the same church, it’s a tad harder.)

But then hardly a month rolls by, and it’s Dad’s turn. Father’s Day seems to have some roots way back in the Middle Ages, though the American version is mostly a “Johnny-come-lately-we-probably-oughta” afterthought to Mother’s Day. The dad under my hat enjoys the day. If some of the kids/grandkids come, and I get to cook a steak, catch a nap, and veg a bit, I’m happy.

As a preacher, the day is good news/bad news. Children’s sermons can be difficult. Too many kids have slugs for fathers. It’s no secret who the “sexual revolution” lets off way too easy, and who pays the high price for “free love” with no commitment.

For the day’s sermon, well, really great fathers in the Bible are depressingly hard to find. And bad ones are bad for the same reasons bad dads have always been bad. A deadbeat is a deadbeat in any time period, whether he is the equivalent of the guy whose kids go hungry while he pays for his next tattoo or a guy who is a Fortune 500 exec who gives his kids absolutely everything but himself.

Joseph, Jesus’ “step-father” was an exceptionally fine man, but he drops out of the picture pretty early in the Gospels. Pretty desperate, I once preached a Father’s Day sermon using Jonadab, son of Rechab, as an example of one of Scripture’s finest fathers. But his name and his interesting story are pretty obscure (see Jeremiah 35).

Almost all of the greatest men of Scripture were fathers, but maybe the Father’s Day lesson that looms largest from Scripture is cautionary: Greatness in other areas in no way guarantees greatness as a father. Dads, if “success” comes at the expense of our children, it’s an awfully steep price not worth paying. As has been said, it’s pretty pathetic when a “‘big shot’ at the office isn’t even a ‘pop’ at home”!

Most preachers have figured out that they can “get away” on Father’s Day with just a kindly tip of the hat to good dads. A whole sermon is not required. (Don’t try that on Mother’s Day!)

Honestly, with so many deadbeat dads a dime a dozen, a good dad really does stand out. And the best example of fatherhood in Scripture is worth more than all the rest. It’s no accident that Scripture, from one end to the other, portrays God as the Father of us all. Absolutely loving. Absolutely merciful. Absolutely gracious. And always there for us all. What a Father!

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“My Mother Was a Daughter of Encouragement”

 

One of the most important leaders, and one of the very finest men, in the early days of the Christian church was a man named Barnabas. This good man’s name meant “son of encouragement,” and he blessed the church by living up to his name.

If Barnabas was the “son of encouragement,” I’m quite sure that encouragement’s daughter was my mother. Mom died twenty-five years ago (hard as that is for me to realize), but her encouragement lives on.

Near my desk sits one of the last birthday cards I received before Mom’s passing. In her uniquely beautiful hand (I’ve never seen more beautiful script) are written these words: “We love you so much! Every day we thank God for you and all you have meant to us and to the family. You are so sweet, so gentle in a manly way, so caring, and just so very special. Every day we pray God to bless you, to guide you, to give you strength, and, always, to be so very close to you. Love, Mom.”

May I hasten to admit that my mother’s opinion of me was much inflated! But that was another of her gifts to me. She looked for the best in me and my siblings, and her praise helped us to reach for the best in ourselves. Every day I thank God for her love and encouragement which are still as real to me as breath.

Mom gave me lots of precious gifts. She gave me life. She taught me to love words. And she nurtured in me faith in the One who gives life direction, purpose, and joy.

From my earliest days, she read to me, immersed me in and taught me to love the great stories from the Bible. She was smart, too. When my younger brother and I were small, she’d read the wonderfully paraphrased stories from books like Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible, rather than bore us out of our minds with words we could not understand. We never thought “The Bible” and “boring” were words that went together. I still have the pictures from A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories indelibly etched in my mind. (Those books and many others are still available. One of the very best more recent children’s Bible story books is The Story for Children (Lucado, Frazee, & Hill).

Mom was sure that since God gave us the capacity to laugh, we ought to use it. She taught me that to be serious about God means to refuse to take ourselves too seriously and that laughter washes away pomposity and repels Pharisees.

Mom taught me that people are more important than issues and that folks ought to be careful about thinking that their molehills are God’s mountains.

She gave me so many good gifts, but surely one of the best was her unfailing encouragement. No matter how long I live, I’ll be “playing to her”—not in a pathetic attempt to measure up, but joyfully sure that, whatever I accomplish, she’d be the first one to say, “Well done!”

I hope you’ve received the gift of encouragement from your parents. More important, moms (and dads), I hope you’re giving this beautiful gift to your own sons and daughters every day.

 

       You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“Unless You Become Like Little Children . . .”

“Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

So said the Lord Jesus to his disciples as he “called a little child to him.” No doubt, one of my favorite things about our Savior is that the children seemed to always flock to him. When his apostles tried to shoo the kids away, opining to their parents that the Lord was far too busy to mess with little folks, Jesus quickly disabused his disciples of that way-off-the-mark notion.

In fact, as he laid his hands on the children and blessed them, Jesus had those intriguing words for his followers: “Unless you become like little children . . .”

My back hurts, and I’m a little achy today. Not bad. Just a little. Some trampoline time, some rolling-around-on-the-floor time (thank the Lord our floors are carpet-covered and not bare!), some doing fun experiments sitting on the concrete (no carpet) in the garage time, some lift-them-up-and-hugging-them time, some crawling around in the living room sheet-constructed cave/castle time—all of these contribute to some soreness. But mostly, it all adds up to wonderful memories for grandparents and grandkids alike, a sweet recipe for one beautiful little word: joy.

Our deepest joys are usually best just experienced and accepted with deep gratitude to their Giver, but some reflection is also occasionally in order.

Why does time with the little folks so renew our souls even as it tests our backs? A million reasons, I’m sure, but . . .

Unconditional love. You learned about that holding your newborn children; you learn even more about it with their children. You for them and they for you. Just spending time together adds up to sheer delight. No strings. The upstretched arms of that little 18-month-old mouthing “PawPaw”? Worth more than gold! You can live for a month just on one smile, and a giggle will make it two.

Purity, simplicity, and trust. The littlest folks have no qualms about “asking” for what they need, be it bottle or “blanky” or diaper change or nap on your chest. What looks bad in adults and, may I say, completely pathetic in high-officed politicians—neediness and almost no impulse control—is not only okay in the littlest folks, it’s appropriate and shows their absolute trust in us. As God cares for us all, continually doing infinitely more for us than we can possibly know, we gladly provide for the little ones he’s put in our care.

Wonder and joy. Everything is new to them. Everything is beautiful. Everything is full of wonder. That grass beneath the trampoline is a magical forest filled with mythical creatures. Those Christmas lights are as beautiful as twinkling stars. And PawPaw is a noble and valiant unicorn (with wings) who doesn’t at all mind being christened Buttercup if the little folks are doing the naming.

Long after we’ve grown to adulthood, it’s one of God’s most beautiful surprises to use little folks to help us grow back into children and much more like the Son who so delights in them and us.

 

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

 

Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 


“A Little Child Shall Lead Them”

Christmas 2012 IMG_2625

 

The Lord Jesus and Charles Dickens were both right: the way to be saved is to become a child.

That’s not easy. We spend most of our lives trying to be all grown up. Sadly, we generally succeed.

All too often, our imaginations start to shrivel about the time we learn to count. Now, learning to count is not a bad thing—if you also learn to count the right things. Children naturally assume that grown-ups know all about what’s worth counting; nothing could be farther from the truth.

Grown-ups can generally be counted on to count all the wrong things at all the wrong times. If a modern kid knew a sugar plum from a teddy bear and actually recognized a sugar plum or a few dancing in his head (as the sweet old poem says), he wouldn’t waste time counting the plums; he’d giggle and laugh and enjoy the dance, all the while filling up with the joy of being a child, as thrilled as Tiny Tim at the sight of that amazing long-ago Christmas feast.

Grown-ups follow their own patron saint Ebenezer, sitting in the cold counting house shuffling shekels. At first, they think about what those coins will buy, which at least requires a smidgeon of imagination.

But before long, old Scrooge’s imagination is completely frozen out. Life becomes all about counting coins and getting more to count and never leaving the counting house lest some remain uncounted.

Early on in Dickens’ wonderful story, the one thing Tiny Tim didn’t have to worry about at all was having a father too frightened and dull to know that Christmastime is time to leave the counting house. Ol’ Scrooge may have frightened good Bob Cratchit, but Cratchit never saw the day when he was as frightened as Scrooge, scared to death that when the time came to staple his résumé and spreadsheet on his tombstone, he might have counted too few coins, spent too little time in the counting house.

Oddly enough, when Scrooge is scared silly by the Christmas spirits, he gets over being scared to death by life. He turns back into a child. He takes up laughing again. He remembers how to live with expectation and delight. And he breaks the counting house chains by giving away a serious stack of coins that he no longer takes too seriously.

G. K. Chesterton, the wise, rotund, jolly, master weaver of words (wise enough not to trust “cold, hard, thin people”) said a century or so ago, “Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.” Children’s imaginations naturally take wing for the same reason. Loving the giver, they’ll delight in even the smallest gift, saying thank you with their smiles, never for a moment worrying that they haven’t earned it or paid for it.

It’s Christmas! God’s given us the best Gift! He uses a little Child to lead us to become children again, to accept His Gift, and to respond with delight and laughter.

 

 

 

       You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! And . . . Merry Christmas to you and yours!

 

 

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


As the New Year Unfolds, Humans Face a Choice

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A mother sits in the bed holding her sleeping newborn infant. She looks down at him in love and wonder and in awe at such an amazing miracle of God. And she wonders. She wonders who he will be and what he will become. She wonders about his joys and his sorrows. She wonders about the shape of this little one’s life journey.

Mary sits holding her sleeping newborn infant. She looks down at him in love and wonder, in awe at such an amazing miracle of God. He is the most amazing child ever born and his is the most amazing birth. The angel has told her who he is and has given her his name, but Mary still wonders at all the angel has not said. She wonders who this little miracle called the Son of God will be and what in God’s miraculous power he will become. She wonders about his joys and his sorrows. She wonders about the shape of this little One’s life journey. This little One who flung the stars across the canvas of the universe. This little One, this Almighty One, who has chosen to become small and weak to make us strong.

And so even Mary, the mother of God, joins mothers in all times and in all places, and the rest of us as well, as we gaze at the known and we wonder about the unknown. As new parents, we hold the little answers to a nine-month-long question in our hands, and the reality dawns on us that, though now we see the little one whose coming we had longed for, this little sleeping answer to our prayers brings more questions than answers. We thank God for what is, that the great I AM has called into being one more little human being, one more wonder. But we wonder what will come.

And what is true of our little ones, and what was true even of Mary’s little One, is true of this new year we’re just beginning. And it’s true of every new year we’ll ever begin; every one of them an adventure because life itself is an adventure. We don’t know, we can’t know, exactly what the new year will hold.

2015 will bring for each of us some wonderful and surprising joys. It will also hold some deep sorrows. Such is the patchwork of life. I have experienced more blessing and joy myself than any 1000 people have any right to, and yet I know how easily I give in to fear and anxiety, how I tend to focus on sorrows and not joys. I need so badly what we all need—God’s help to face the future with a faith-born depth of peace and joy and gratitude that only comes from learning to trust the Author of life.

Writer Kenneth Wilson tells of living as a small boy in a big, old, dark, multi-story, creaking and rattling house in Pittsburgh. At night the old dwelling could be a scary place. One evening his father read him a bedtime story and then asked, “Would you rather I leave the light on and go downstairs, or turn the light out and stay with you for awhile?” Wilson says, “I chose presence with darkness, over absence with light.”

It was a very good choice. In the face of an unknown future which sometimes seems dark because we see with weak and human eyes, choose to trust God and live daily in his presence.

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“Come Quick, PawPaw! It’s an Emergency!”

In-Your-Arms-Daddy

“Come quick, PawPaw! Come quick!” came the plea from the back door. As I recall, it was one of the times that week when the sweet almost-six-year-old voice intoned again, “It’s an emergency!”

Well, come I did. Out into the back yard, pulled by Brenley straight to the pool.

“The pool” is a plastic “blow-up” wading pool, maybe a foot deep. I admit we’d drowned the “fill point” line marked on it by the same folks who scribbled lawyer-litter on the hose we used to fill said pool, sternly warning me not to put the hose in my mouth and turn the faucet on.

Back to the emergency.

Bodies were floating in the pool. It didn’t take CSI Muleshoe to identify them. Bug bodies. Brenley had already done the initial investigation. As I made my way to the microcosmic ocean, she reported, “Five, PawPaw!”

There they lay. Or floated. In a kind of bug-eyed insect rigor mortis. Past all human help and grotesquely out of place in that decadent resort pool surrounded by lush palm trees, white-clad waiters, and paparazzi hoping to cadge photos of the rich and famous.

Okay, for real. Plastic pool. Elm trees. No waiters or paparazzi, just a little brindle-colored dog hoping to stay out of the line of fire of anything wet. No CSI techs.
But the bodies were there, and out of place. It was July, and they were still recognizable as June bugs, grub worm kamikazes issued wings, buzzed up, launched way short of flight training. They’d ditched at sea. And why not? All June bugs do is mindlessly crash, hazards to prudent navigation. These had paid the ultimate price.

Bren was obviously not comfortable with burying them at sea. A quick bucket dip-out, an over-the-shoulder fling-out, and . . .

I wish all the emergencies my grandkids will experience were so easily handled. The little folks are growing too fast, and the thought of a time when spending time with PawPaw and MawMaw in the back yard, all smiles and giggles because they’ve found a cool rock with a hole in it, or one that glitters, made stew by stirring leaves and water and dirt in a colored bucket with a stick, and shared stories and held royal court in the magic castle shed—well, the thought of a day when those delights fade breaks my heart. Right now, the little people know what’s really important. They know who really loves them, and the amount they care about what anybody else thinks is about the right amount: not much at all.

Grownups are incredibly dreary and short-sighted, and I can’t imagine these amazing folks with imaginations gone dull and dormant. I pray they never lose the seeds of what is in full flower in them right now. I suppose the flowers must fade some with the years, but one day these folks I adore will be old enough that the seeds will sprout again, probably watered by their own grandchildren. And they’ll be young again together.

No wonder our Creator delighted in spending time with children. I love that about him. However he arranges it will be fine, but I hope to spend an eternity doing that same thing myself where bugs aren’t any kind of emergency, and genuine joy—and giggles aplenty—are the King’s orders for the eternal day.

 

          You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! (It’s been updated recently.)

 
Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


The Best Father of All Is the Father of All

Shelburne Portrait-small

Sunday is Father’s Day, and I’ve found myself thinking of Dad more than usual. That’s saying something because I already think of him every day.

My father was the finest man I’ve ever known, and being his son is undoubtedly the second finest blessing of my life, which has been filled with blessing.

The most noteworthy thing about our best blessings is this: They are undeserved. They are gifts of God’s grace.

Of the many conclusions that can be drawn from this grace-truth, two are obvious.

1) What did I do to be born my father’s son? Not a thing.  So . . .

2) Why should I ever allow myself to be even remotely prideful about being his son? Refer to #1.

I have never drawn a breath of this world’s air at a moment when I had to wonder if my father loved me with all of his heart. I wonder what life on this globe would be like if all sons, all daughters, could, with deep gratitude, say the same thing? It would be infinitely better! It would almost be heaven.

If, like so many, you didn’t have that blessing, I’m sorry. Neither you nor I can change that now. But we can do two things that will make a world of wonderful difference, change both the present and the future, and have beautiful and eternal consequences.

First, whatever relationship we fathers have had with our own dads, we can be very sure that our sons and daughters (and grandsons and granddaughters), of whatever age, know we love them deeply.

I know that’s not always as easy as it sounds. The fathers we had are, well, the fathers we had. For good or ill, in ways that are delightful or daunting and depressing, and maybe all of those things at once, we fathers tend to be fathers like our own fathers were fathers. No surprise.

But a second truth can change everything. Refer to the second paragraph of this column. Being the son of the finest man I’ve ever known is, I’m sure, the second finest blessing of my life. But the best blessing of my life is one that you and I share: We are the children of the finest Father of all.

That means each of us has a Father who loves us completely and whose love we can share with our children and their children.

As children of our Father who is love, we are loved. Always.

As children of the best Father of all, we are accepted. Always.

The wounds so many people bear because of deeply flawed fathers find healing through the best Father’s sacrificial love and the wounds his Son willingly bore on a cross so that through faith we could truly be children of our Father.

By the way, once we realize that we’ve already got a perfect Father, it’s probably good to realize that earthly fathers can be far from perfect and still be amazingly fine gifts from the Father of us all. I’ve known some dads who I thought should be horse-whipped. I’ve known more who could use a little slack. It’s cheaper than a tie but better even if it’s harder to give.

 

        You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

 

Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

 


“Do It Again, PawPaw! Do It Again!”

Gkids-trampoline

“Do it again, PawPaw! Do it again!”

It could have been any of a jillion fun things grandkids and grandparents like to do, but it happened to be a trampoline game we call “Crack the Egg.”

I think there’s a real game with real rules, but we cut straight to the fun. One young little brave giggly person sits cross-legged in the middle of the trampoline, and then one heavier older person (that would be me), stands near the middle of the mat, and . . .

One quick little semi-jump sends the trampoline mat and little person down a bit. Then a more serious jump timed for just the right moment powers the launch. Little person goes giggling up into the air; PawPaw person catches little person in a bear hug on the way down. (The trampoline mat serves as a safety net, but I’ve not missed a little person catch yet.)

Don’t tell the little folks, but I’m beginning to see a couple of problems. First, the little folks are, at an alarming rate, turning into bigger little folks. Second, for a couple of days after the trampoline fun, let’s just say that from my lower back’s perspective, the game is not “Crack the Egg,” it’s “Compress the Vertebrae.” (I’ve had to slow down on “seat drops.”)

But a little pain is worth it if it produces such delightful giggles and that wonderful affirmation: “Do it again, PawPaw!”

Thank the Lord indeed, “delight” and “joy” are drinks from God’s well that will never run dry.

The “delight-full” G. K. Chesterton, in his book Orthodoxy (1908), wrote that it’s because of their “abounding vitality” and spirits that are “fierce and free,” that children will cry, “Do it again!” until the adult under their command almost drops dead.

Why? Because of their backs! No, we’re talking about the kids here, and why they keep pleading, “Do it again!”

Because, Chesterton postulates, the kids are strong in a way that God himself is strong and grown-ups are not. God and children are “strong enough to exult in monotony.” They find genuine joy in delightful repetition, and joy is never boring.

So Chesterton says, “It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon.”

All daisies seem pretty much alike to most of us, but the God who makes “every daisy separately,” has “never got tired of making them.”

“It may be,” Chesterton writes, “that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

My kids all say that I’ve grown a lot more childlike since the grandkids have been coming. (They actually said “childish” and something about Dad’s “losing his mind.”) I just think their arrival has made me a lot younger, except for my back.

What a delightful thought: Our Father, the source of all Joy and Delight, is younger than us all. I plan to be among those one eternal day giggling and begging, “Abba, do it again!”

 

      You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!
Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


What Do Hotel Pool Alligators Really Eat?

I might as well admit it: I am one tired alligator. pool alligator

My three grandkids and I were paddling around in a hotel swimming pool when my oldest granddaughter, the six-year-old beautiful Queen Alexandria, decided that I should be an alligator. The other two, the four-year-old magic faerie princess and the almost two-year-old handsome elf prince, agreed.

Fine. Those little folks and I discovered a long time ago that when we’re together, it’s not at all unusual for me to morph into a unicorn, or a pony, or, on the darker side, even a dragon or an orc. Adding “alligator” to the list? No problem.

The rules were, to be sure, just a bit restrictive. It was decreed that the “alligator pool,” where gators actually live most of the time, would be in the deeper end of the pond. On a couple of occasions, I was ordered to paddle back over there and quit eating people.

Okay, but that brings up another question. What are hotel pool alligators allowed to eat if pint-size human swimmers are pulled from the menu?

I asked that question, and the queen answered so quickly that I suppose anyone familiar with hotel pool alligators would know immediately. Two items. The first? Seaweed.

Well, alright. Seems a little slimy to me, but, hey, it’s green, and everybody’s mama knows that green veggies are supposed to be good for you. My mom seemed to think “the slimier the better.” Come to think of it, maybe that’s why most of the hotel pool alligators I’ve ever been acquainted with were a little light on the “green scale.” I’d thought the pool chemicals probably bleached them out. But it turns out that the chlorine which may be okay for hotel guests is not so good for most native hotel pool alligators; it deprives them of needed seaweed.

But I was glad to hear about the second food item: squirrels. Even before I was a hotel pool alligator, I was a confirmed carnivore all the way up to my canine incisors. I have trouble believing that vegetarians live longer than carnivores; I have no trouble at all believing that it must seem a lot longer. This hotel pool alligator prefers ribeyes, medium rare. But, if the alternative was a steady diet of seaweed, the alligator under my hat might find squirrels increasingly appealing.

In fact, I must have been needing some protein. I almost ate an elf-prince. It was his own fault. He was squirming in a squirrel-like fashion.

I was about to chow down when the queen got loud and frantic and burst my bubble. “Not squirrels,” she squealed, “coral! Hotel pool alligators eat coral!”

Good grief. How depressing is that?! I don’t think even seaweed slime in a hotel pool alligator’s diet will help that kind of roughage make safe passage.

I simply can’t imagine any hotel pool alligator ever thriving on a diet of seaweed and coral. That queen needs to check her facts and speak more clearly, or hotel pool alligators will soon be endangered. They’re already hard to find.

Jesus spoke absolutely clearly when with love-filled eyes he looked at the little children and pronounced, “Of such is the kingdom.” Yes, indeed!

But I still think she said squirrels.

 

 

 

Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


“Know You What It Is To Be a Child?”

 

“Know you what it is to be a child?” asked the poet Francis Thompson. “It is to be so little that the elves can reach to whisper in your ear; it is to turn pumpkins into coaches, and mice into horses, lowness into loftiness, and nothing into everything . . .”

I love that! But the words that follow are musings from a rather bummed out magic pony. That would be me. You see, my four-year-old magic faerie princess (who took time out on Sunday morning to be an angel in our Christmas pageant; she’s amazingly talented and versatile) had to go home yesterday (and my five-year-old princess and 18-month-old dear little dwarf were unable to come).

At first, I told Her Little Highness that, as her magic pony, I’d consider it my duty to take care of the magic castle while she was away, but she didn’t think that would work, and now I see that she’s right. Air Force One is a really cool airplane even when the president is not aboard, but it’s not Air Force One unless he is. I like my shed/greenhouse/man-cave, but when the little folks aren’t there, neither is the magic.

The magic faerie princess christened me her “pony” early on in this weekend’s adventure. She doesn’t like it when I talk about it much to outsiders, but I’ll just mention that we started the journey on a trampoline but soon found that some orcs and trolls were carrying on their mischief in the area. (Black birds are, we discovered, on their side, but white birds are our friends.) If we spotted a party of orcs, we road as fast as we could, and, if they got too close, we found that her magic could transform her pony into a magic unicorn (magic because it could fly; your run-of-the-mill unicorns can’t), and we’d fly off to a magic pool no orcs could reach, the water of which, if you drink it, renders you invisible.

I’m giving too many details here. Suffice it to say that if a magic faerie princess has a broken wing, the good dwarfs who work the caves have among them a dwarf doctor who is good with such things.

We ended up back in her magic castle where she rules and makes the most delectable soup for her magic pony and other subjects. The castle comes complete with chimes that announce her arrival, multi-colored stars that twinkle, a Christmas tree and a couple of stockings, and cacti (cactuses, you know) near the window which are beautiful but have thorns through which orcs cannot pass without dire consequences to their sorry hides.

The joy really is in the journey. On this one, I realized yet again how pure and magical and deeply sweet are such moments, even more precious as we know they are fleeting here and can’t be captured or held except in memory.

January follows December. It’s not a bad month, inherently un-joyful; it’s just easily greyed out and bludgeoned into boredom by bean-counters and bureaucrats too insensible to know how deep is their loss as they trod roughshod over diamonds of delight and don’t even see the sparkle.

Adulthood follows childhood. It frightens me to think that though we want our magic faerie princesses to grow, well, the human adult can be one of the dullest and most insensible creatures imaginable. It often takes years to pass through that valley and then God uses something wonderful, like a magic faerie princess or two, and a delightful dwarf or a few, to bring back the magic.

No wonder our Lord was pointing to children when he said, “Of such is the kingdom.” Ah, that’s a kingdom worth loving!

And, I keep reminding myself, a Lord who can turn a stable into a palace and a manger into a crib fit for the King, can be trusted to perform the miracle it takes to keep the hearts of magic faerie princesses and dear little dwarves, and, much more difficult, even us adults, open to His joy.

 

 

Copyright 2012 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


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