It’s my Party and I’ll Play if I Want To – Psalm 126:2-3

I stopped pounding on my hefty typewriter when I heard the screen door rattle and a child’s voice. “Can Terry play?”

As Robert Jack, the neighbor boy, asked mom first for my brother, then each of my siblings by name, she explained we were unavailable. It didn’t matter to him that we were in high school, and our youngest sister far beyond being interested in playing outside with a five-year-old.

Robert wasn’t shy, and we were familiar with his routine. First he’d charm us with his grin full of missing teeth, then he’d sit and wait on our back steps, singing a song he’d learned in Sunday School, until someone in my house became available to play. Sometimes he’d ask my mother, “Can you come out and play?”

Age doesn’t matter

child swim .jonkline free pixabay

Earlier this month I felt conspiratorial when I, with stripes of gray in my hair, stood at the counter at Splash! at Lively Park Swim Center asking for a 10-ticket entry packet for birthday party guests. Who would have thought I wasn’t planning a party for a child?

It was a party for me, a grandma about to turn 60, and I wanted to play. Although he’d be in his 40s now, Robert would have certainly been welcome to join us!

I spread the red tablecloth and covered it with snacks and the birthday cake my mother brought. Sitting and chatting with her on the sidelines, we relished watching people we love enjoying themselves in the water.

Most likely, even as I bounced on my inner tube against the waves with grandchildren in tow, it looked like a child’s party. And when I later pulled out my phone to take photos of my niece and her baby in the kiddie pool, it wasn’t apparent I was the birthday girl.

And it was a blast!

“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:2-3 NIV).

It may have been unconventional to plan my own birthday party, but I like the idea of giving gifts on my birthday. I’m thankful for the years, the people, the blessings I’ve been given. After the party, my heart was full, and I sang a happy song like Robert’s as I drove home.

Hasn’t God done great things for us?

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

 

The Day our Hero Cried – Romans 12:15

Dad’s mood was somber that morning in 1966 when he sat on the couch and opened his arms for a bear hug. The four of us piled on his lap, hugging and chattering, squirming and pushing. Dad didn’t seem to mind the ruckus. Lowering his head, he squeezed us extra hard.

We knew Dad loved us more than anything. We didn’t know his heart was breaking.

The night before, the phone rang after we’d started getting ready for bed, which was unusual. Mom and Dad talked quietly about the call, and as Dad prepared to battle the Kendall Ford fire*, he pulled the curtain back to peer into the evening sky.

firefighters. skeeze. free pixabay

He drew us all to the window to show us the glow over downtown Eugene. It was all so exciting, like waiting for fourth of July fireworks or a lunar eclipse. We bounced into bed for hours of peaceful sleep, unaware our dad would spend the night at war.

As he held us on the couch, he described how big the fire was, how hard he’d worked, and that two firefighters had died. One was a friend whom he’d supported as he fell, the other a young man several yards away, a young husband and father.

That’s when I saw the tears in his eyes.

I’d never faced the possibility my dad could be hurt before. It rocked my world to see him cry. I thought he was indestructible, unshakable, but he proved otherwise. His heart hurt for the wives and children who were suffering at that very hour while he held his family close, and I shared his pain, thanking God my daddy had come home.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15 ESV).

My dad’s example drew me closer to him, because now I understood he had weaknesses just like me. Because he allowed his family to see him grieve, he helped us see that everyone needs God to be their Father.

It was such a powerful moment in my life, it made the transition from trusting Dad to trusting God a natural one. Thank you so much, Dad!

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

*The Kendall Ford fire occurred on October 11, 1966.

 

A Pregnancy Test and Fish Hooks – Matthew 4:18-22

Setting the box down on the counter at the River Road Bi-Mart, I watched the clerk’s eyes as she read the pregnancy test label and scanned the load of children attached to my cart. Her gaze rested on the baby kicking against my thigh.

Her smile tightened a little as she rang up my order, but she said nothing. I imagined she counted the children in her head, and how crazy I was to have so many and one on the way.

children walking EME free. pixabay

Feeling playful, I mentioned that my two boys would be home from school soon, then the real fun would begin. She looked bewildered.

Are all those your children?

The truth is that though the pregnancy test was mine, most of the children with me that day weren’t. Had she taken a closer look, she might have guessed they were too close in age to be from the same family. And if she were concerned, she could have asked me about it, but she didn’t. I’d have been happy to share the dynamics of my family with her, but she didn’t bother to dig deeper for clearer understanding.

Look a little closer at the facts

“While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him” (Matthew 4:18-22 ESV, italics mine).

Must I use a fish hook?

When I learned this story as a child, I thought Jesus wanted me to be like a fisherman. However it was explained to me, I imagined a hook in someone’s cheek and I had no desire whatsoever to take part in something like that.

Now, as I take a closer look, I see Jesus was speaking to fishermen, not sawmill workers, accountants, college students or childcare providers. He considered who his audience was, and how to best communicate with them. He put his message in a way they could clearly understand he wanted them to follow him, and that he’d do the job of making them into people bringers.

The promise and the calling

As I understand it, he’s saying, “If you follow me, I will make you ‘bringers of others’ to me.” Maybe that’s why I enjoyed caring for children so much. It fulfilled my mission and didn’t require handling fish hooks.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

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