Celebrate Love

In many cultures, families gather at grave sites and hold birthday parties for their dearly departed.  I’m talking decorations, cake, singing songs – the whole she-bang!  Really!

A place that, at one time, represented mourning and deep sorrow is now the venue for great celebration.  Is that odd?  And what if your loved one is not buried but, was cremated.  Do they forfeit their right to the annual festivity?

The whole thing fascinates me, really.  Then, I got to thinking…

Eighty-one years ago, today, my Grandmother (I affectionately called her, “Grammy”) was born.  Almost 6 years ago, she traded flesh for eternity.  Is it odd that I want to celebrate her birth even after her death?

To be honest, I’m just not a “party-at-the-grave” kind of girl!  And she wasn’t either.  Her ideal celebration involved a gathering of all her children, their children, a good meal, and a round of card/board games.  She didn’t care too much about decorations.  She wasn’t much for dressing up.  She didn’t have a list of “wants” for gifts.  And she was okay not to have a room full of guests.

Her treasures were found in the faces of her family.

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Many have adopted the saying, “God Danced the Day You Were Born”, which was encouraged by the verse in Zephaniah 3:17 that says:

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

It’s a sweet sentiment.  One I’ve shared with friends on their birthday.  But, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I can’t help but think that the biggest celebration, the biggest dance marathon, came the day my Grammy died.  The day she traded flesh for eternity with her Savior.

I honor my Grammy on her birthday because the love between us was unique, special, and unbreakable.  She sang songs to lull me to sleep, prayed over me when I was afraid, held me when I cried, and listened when no one else would.  Her laugh was loud and obnoxious, her talent with crochet needles was a sought after blessing, her style was eclectic and funky, and her heart was bigger than the sky.  I was generously loved by her.  I love ALL of her, still!  And I miss her every day.  I am grateful for her birth.  But more excited that I will dance and celebrate with her again, in heaven!

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How do you honor the birth of a loved one that has passed?  Do you “whoop it up” at the grave? Do you go to dinner at their favorite restaurant?  Maybe you gather with family members and exchange “remember when” stories.  Maybe you just sit quietly and reflect on the time you had with them.  My guess is, whatever your tradition, it is rooted in the celebration of love.  When our lives intersect with others and hearts are connected, death doesn’t end the love that is born.  And that is worth celebrating!

 

“Let your FAITH be BIGGER than your FEARS”

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 

~ Romans 5:1-2

 

One of my favorite qualities of the Lord is that He doesn’t just give you the answers right away.  He sees the mangled mess you’ve made of yourself and slowly, as you surrender to Him in prayer, begins to untangle the knots until you come to the end of yourself and all that’s left is Him!

 

I spent most of the night tossing and turning.  “What am I SO afraid of?”  I feel overwhelmed with words most of the time but could never get them out on paper (or post).  But, why?!  So last night, I wrestled with the Lord over how I was feeling.    Sometimes I was venting.  Most of the time I was quiet.

 

As I laid in the dark, I began to cry.  I rationalized all the reasons I stopped singing; stopped writing; stopped creating – years ago.  I gave God all my “best” excuses.  Lord knows, I’ve got a LONG list of lazy arguments and too many “I’m not (fill in the blank) enough” to count.

 

His reply, “It was never about YOU!”   

 

Wow!  “Okay. I’m listening, Lord.”

 

God doesn’t care about my excuses; how valid they are or are not.  He doesn’t give me any talent or gift so that I can receive accolades or affirmation of my greatness.  On the contrary, He blesses me because He loves me.  He gave me talents and/or gifts so that others might know HIM through me!  He went before me in life, with grace and mercy, so I could bring glory to HIM!  So I could honor HIM!  So I could praise HIM!!

 

“But, I want them to notice me, Lord.  I want them to like me; to want me; to need me.  Above all, I want them to love me, Lord!”  And God, in His sweet, tender voice says, “My girl, I know your heart.  You need loyalty, stability, promises kept.  You need love, faithfulness, and you deserve relationship that is unconditional.  Only One person can give you all of that – ME!”

 

 

“He must become greater; I must become less.” ~ John 3:30

 

 

I traded the effortless beauty of God-breathed talents for a pride-filled performance of pretending.  I did not honor who God created me to be – FULL of love, funny (not just self-deprecating), extrovert, introvert, romantic, loyal, thoughtful, compassionate, empathetic, talented – because I was busy trying to be everything I thought I needed to be for everyone else!  I was left bankrupt of all the things I desired most.  And, I conditioned myself to accept less than what God ever wanted for me!

 

FEAR has been a driving force in my life for far too long.  It may lay dormant for a time but always seems to rear its ugly head back into the theme of my life.  I’ve allowed it to steal my passion, rob my talents, isolate me from opportunity, and paralyze my ability to live the life God intended for me.  Ultimately, I’ve given fear permission to deny God access to my heart and my life, to be used for His glory, to become the woman He created me to be.

 

“Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.'” ~ Matthew 16:23

 

My daughter is a megaphone God speaks through to get my attention.  Sometimes, it’s dialed down to just a whisper.  Often, He’s got it turned up to “high” with the sirens going at the same time.  Through her, He reminds me what life looked like before “fear” touched me.

 

It is the presence of joy.  Not as a seasonal ornament but as an attribute of Him living in each of us all year long.  It is the beauty of living a carefree life.  It is being confident in who He created you to be!  (Like feeling fierce when you leave the house wearing all your favorite clothes – even if they don’t match, with wild hair, too much lip gloss, and a handbag full of stuffed animals!   Or singing center stage in the minivan and busting out in fully choreographed dance moves when the driver next to you starts to stare.)  It is full of boldness as fears are faced with unshakeable, child-like faith.  It is peace in knowing the future is full of hope and promise.

 

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles.  They will run and not grow weary.  They will walk and not faint.”  ~ Isaiah 40:31  

 

Father, thank you for loving me, unconditionally!  Thank you for being so patient with me.  Thank you for inspiring me and speaking to me through my children.  Lord, cause my FAITH to be bigger than my FEARS!  Give me a boldness so I can honor You by being the woman You created me to be.  Set me free from the chains that have held me in bondage so that You can have full access to my heart and life!  Jesus, give me courage when I am afraid.  Bind up the enemy of lies when his whispers sound louder than Your Truth!  Break me of the pride that keeps me separated from you.  My heart is willing but I am weary from the journey.  Please be gentle, Lord.  I want so much to bring your glory!  In Jesus precious name….Amen

 

 

 

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