Tag Archives: kids

“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.


Even at Christmas, the Circle of Life Is Often a Whirlwind

Christmas Pageant Kids 001

By the time you read this, the Christmas “mini-pageant” our church kids are presenting this year will be history.

But although this church is definitely a non-prophet organization, I can already tell you, as I’m writing two days before the event, it was cute and sweet, beautiful and full of meaning.

Right now, pageant practice is in the morning. If you walked through our church fellowship hall today and took a look at the stuff on the tables, you’d think a flock of Wise Men had molted.

Bethlehem didn’t see those wise fellows every day. Their appearance in our fellowship hall is a little unusual, too. We don’t do the pageant every year. Though, come to think of it, when we remodeled the sanctuary a number of years ago, straw still lurking in the crevices of steps up to the pulpit bore mute witness to more than a few past Christmas nativity plays!

It’s good to be encouraged to think about what that first Christmas must have been like. Some little wise “men” (one-third of whom is a wise girl, my granddaughter) who’ve not broken into double digits age-wise, but still look wise for their age, help our minds start mulling. As do some shepherds in bathrobe attire, a few sheep, a donkey (my grandson), and some sweet angels who’d never have to say, “Be not afraid!” because just looking at them makes folks smile.

Of course, if the wise folks had been a little wiser, they’d have told the shepherds that herding little siblings dressed up as sheep is uphill business.

But it all “works,” drawing our minds slowly but steadily away from bathrobes and escapee sheep; it points us to Bethlehem.

My mind needed some focusing this week. The week was promising to be a bit challenging schedule-wise even before it got started.

Some of the “busy-ness” was wonderful! One grandson was to be born on Monday (and he was!). Another was due on Wednesday. (Still holding, at this point.)

Then I got the call that a church member, dear friend, and amazing lady—91 years old—had passed away. I officiated and sang at the service Monday morning, jumped in my truck and made it to my newest grandson’s birth 100 miles away by early afternoon. He and I arrived at the nursery at almost the same time, a sweet meeting.

The “circle of life”? More like a whirlwind! My head was spinning. Even before the new fellow’s siblings—later cast as wise gal and cute donkey—came down with the flu. Then another granddaughter got bit by a stomach bug. (Two other grandchildren were still okay.) And one little grand-guy-to-come was still putting off his appearance.

Oh, well. It was into a world far from calm that the Babe of Bethlehem made his own entrance. It was a sinful, needy world. That’s why he came. And it’s into a heart, not a stable, that he wants to be welcomed again today. Yours.

 

     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne! Some of the music of the season is there–and even a potential gift or two!

 
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.


“Trick or Treat” and Memories of Halloweens Past

Halloween 02

Well, I got to go “trick or treating” the other night. Halloween it was.

I’d not done that in a long time, but it surely brought back some vivid memories. Halloween has, since my childhood, never been all that big on my list of holidays. Even as an adult, after I’d learned enough history to know just a little about “All Hallows’ Eve,” it’s barely been for me a bump in the road on the way to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

When our kids were little, we did the usual “dress up” stuff and enjoyed (or survived, from this stodgy parent’s point of view), the various carnivals, trick or treating, etc. They were cute, and I’m glad we did it, but my sons will tell you that I wasn’t as young then as the grandkids have made me now.

When I was a kid myself, we didn’t think anything about dressing up as Dracula or Frankenstein or such ghoulish sorts of folks. Vampire teeth of a plastic sort might not have been the best idea, dentally speaking, but I had a good time with powder, hair goo, fake blood, and a black cape. It was fake and it was fun and we knew it. I never felt the slightest temptation afterward to start sacrificing neighborhood pets.

I guess it was a simpler time—perhaps more naive, perhaps more innocent. Folks on one end of things who wanted to play with really dark stuff and truly scare people were either fewer in number or a lot quieter. And folks on the other end, always serious about making sure that everyone is always serious and scared that somebody might not be, seemed fewer in number, too.

I’ve since learned that real zealots, genuinely pagan or pretentiously pious, are all really scary, just in different ways. Good folks to avoid. (Both need to “light-en” up.) In any case, when Halloween, for reasons good or ill, got more and more complicated, it got less and less fun. But it was simply good fun and high on my list of good days when I was a little guy.

On Halloween evening, Mom and Dad helped us dress up, paint up, suit up, shoved buckets or bags in our hands, and kicked my little bro and me out the door of 125 N. Goliad to pillage the Amarillo neighborhood. I don’t know what Jim’s favorite treat was, but I was on the hunt for popcorn balls, chocolate, candy corn, Sweet Tarts, and maybe a caramel apple or two. One year I remember getting pretty much all of that and then erupting in something beyond gratitude.

Those memories flooded back on Halloween this year as a pretty little not-so-abominable snow lady’s daddy and I walked behind Her Frosty Highness, door to door, her Secret Service abominable detail. I took her to get donuts the next morning, just in case Her Icy-ness had not had enough icing. Then MawMaw and I skipped town.

Halloween is both a lot different and a whole lot the same as it once was. Like life, I suppose. What’s best about it at all times is still a gift from God and well worth a prayer of thanks as we turn toward Thanksgiving.

 

    You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com! You’ll find some new sample songs there! Just click on “Samples.”

 

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.


Brock Bronson and the Russian Attack on Goliad

 

russian bomberOne day when I was just a small lad growing up at 125 N. Goliad Street in Amarillo, Texas, Brock Bronson scared the bejabbers out of me. Until that moment, I’d never even seen a bejabber. Maybe you’ve never laid eyes on one, either. You don’t want to, let me tell you.

Hmm. Until recently, I hadn’t thought of that guy in years.

Brock Bronson. Now there’s a name that means business. Especially if it’s attached to a teenaged bully sort of guy. Especially if you’ve barely broken into double digits age-wise yourself. Especially if the teenaged Bronson lives just three doors down the street from you. (I’ve changed the name to protect the guilty—and to keep the innocent from being sued—but it was exactly that kind of name.)

I barely remember Brock, His Teenaged Highness, ever lowering himself to speak a word to me, which may have made the words he spoke on that fateful day all the scarier.

In his defense (which is crazy—a guy named Brock Bronson doesn’t need any defense), he may not have been that much of a bully. He may have been just a pretty normal teenage boy which meant then, just like it probably does now, that he had a higher opinion than the facts would support regarding his own intelligence, invincibility, immortality, and skill behind the wheel of an automobile. Maybe his parents didn’t share those views, but I will testify, the pre-teen boys on his block were pretty sure that teenage guys like Brock were either one notch below deity or in very close contact with the Devil. Either way, they were not to be trifled with.

Which might explain to some extent why my little brother and I believed him when Brock and his companions (I don’t remember if he had companions, but this is the kind of brainstorm teenage boys usually have in pairs) roared to a brief stop in front of our house, stopped my little brother and me in our innocent tracks as we were riding bikes or trikes on our sloping driveway, and informed us that a Russian attack had been launched against these United States in general and Goliad Street in particular. He led us to believe that we didn’t have time enough even to run inside the house but that if we’d crawl way in under the juniper bushes that bracketed our driveway, maybe the Russians wouldn’t see us, and we might have some slim hope of survival.

I suppose we thought Brock was headed to the Front. All we knew for sure was that he was headed away. Jim and I ended up way under a big juniper waiting for Soviet bombers to appear. I don’t know how long we waited, but it seemed like hours, and, later, it seemed like days before I quit itching. (Have you tried crawling around under junipers recently?)

I suppose we were waiting for Brock to stop by and give the “All Clear.” It never came. Neither did he. But neither did the Russians or their bombers.

Ah, worrying about a Russian attack on Goliad Street was world-class dumb. But I hate to think how much time I’ve wasted in the years since then worrying about stuff which, from Heaven’s point of view, must be even dumber. Worry. Anxiety. It’s dumb and dumber.

Faith. Now that’s where wisdom comes in. On Goliad Street or anywhere else.

 

       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.


“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.


“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.


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