Saturday, April 30, 2011

"I Won't Grow Up!...or Will I?", or Understanding Wendy

Many of you already know of my fascination (obsession?) with the story of Peter Pan. This week Hannah and I have been watching movies related to Peter Pan, and I've been re-reading the charming tale by J.M. Barrie. So as nice as birthdays can be, what with the presents and special attentions and thoughtful words, each one is a reminder to me of the ticking croc of Time that chases all of us... even me. In my heart I don't want to grow up, and I think a part of me never will, but still...

Yesterday was not without its magic, though. It has rained here for the past week or so, and yesterday morning burst bright and clear, with very green grass and very yellow dandelions, and sparkling raindrops on everything. I was peppered with notes and cards and phone calls and gifts and hugs all day long, which filled my love-tank up to the brim. And the day ended with chocolate treats shared with my very own beloved collection of "Lost Girls" dancing and singing and refusing to go to bed.

Funny thing is, this year I relate more to the character of Wendy than I ever have before. Last night, one of my girls told me - for the second time - that I am like a "Momma" to her and the other girls. Momma - not Auntie, or Sister, or Friend as I have been before with other girls. And I've found that as much as I love to play, I am more aware of responsibilities and needs and problems than before, and sometimes it causes me to leave the games and sit at the window, keeping a cautious eye on my kids or removing potential dangers as I notice them. I love talking with them about their day and helping them with homework and giving advice or encouragement. I feel happy when I know they are safe and well, and I worry when they aren't. If they needed patches for their clothes, I'd probably love to do that too!

Wendy went to Neverland because she was enchanted by the thought of never growing up, always pretending and being part of the play. And yet, when she tried to do that she found herself stepping into the role of the adult. Part of her loved that role and when she played it she realized that afterall, she did in fact want to grow up. (Yes, for those of you sad people out there who don't know the story, she leaves her childhood behind in Neverland, goes home, and grows up. I would call a "Spoiler Alert," but really, you should know this by now.) Ironically, she brings back the Lost Boys with her and adopts them all, which is a dream I have also developed.

Not that I feel like I'm so mature now... I am still childish about so many things and resist grown-up things whenever I can. The saddest thing about Wendy is that it seems she gave up her childhood - imagination, fun, nonsense, innocence - completely. I think it is possible to grow up in good ways and still retain the charm and beauty of the spirit of youth. That is something I want to work hard to preserve as I transition into adulthood. I love Peter Pan, and am not willing to give up Neverland quite yet.

Monday, April 25, 2011

"Fellow Traveller"

"I don't know where you've come from
Or where you've been along your way
But I can tell you what I've lived through
And how I made it here today
Let me share with you the story of hope I've come to know
A love that's always for me
And a peace that frees my soul

Fellow traveler let me take you to a place where I've found rest
Fellow seeker let me show you where I've found true happiness
Fellow beggar I have good news, I know where there is bread..."

I absolutely love this song by Ginny Owens. It expresses exactly how I feel about authentic evangelism. It isn't about a sales pitch or winning a debate or debunking someone else's religious views. It's about sharing stories about a real relationship and how it has changed me and saved me, and is continuing to do so. It's about offering a better way to live - it's pointing to life at its fullest. The idea of evangelism used to scare me, because I feared awkwardness and rejection and failure. But I don't fear that anymore; I have nothing to lose, because all I have to do is share the story God is writing in my life. And it's an epic tale of "true love and high adventure!" - one that I am excited to share and people want to hear. It is not my job to convince and convert... it is my job to sow seeds, shake salt, and shine light. Jesus will use my story and the evidence of his love, joy, peace and hope in my life to accomplish his good purpose.

You know what else is amazing? The more I tell my story, the more excited I get about following Jesus... the more I fall in love with Him.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"Use Your Sanctified Imagination!"

All week, I've been pondering the question, "What did people do on that first Easter Sunday, after they found the tomb empty?" When I did a survey of my Fort Wayne friends, the general consensus was, "They were 'freaking out' in hiding." Which is quite probable, I'm sure. But what did that look like? Did they nervously rock back and forth in a corner, or did they work on a jigsaw puzzle to try to get their minds off their troubles? Did they escape to coloring books and 25 shades of Crayola blue? Did they eat or fast? Did they talk or cry or sing or sleep? They were together, right? So did they lean on each other or avoid eye contact?

This morning Kelsey and I went to a small church that reminded us both of our home churches. And do you know how they celebrated Easter? They had a baptism service in which about ten people shared their testimonies, declared their faith and commitment to Christ, and were dunked in chilly water. And it hit me that that could have been how some people spent that first Easter Sunday.

One person I am thinking of is Mary Magdalene. She saw the empty tomb, she heard the angels' news, she turned around and saw - saw - Jesus. She knew... she couldn't doubt it. So she may have "freaked out" and hid, but not out of fear and doubt. I bet she was bursting with joy and had a hard time containing it.

The pastor this morning told us to "use our sanctified imaginations." So I did. I imagine that Mary got all her girl friends together - the ones who had all those perfumes that they were going to use on Jesus - and they cooked and ate delicious food, for the first time in three days. And they sat around the table telling stories - stories about how they met Jesus and incredible moments they had with Him, when he taught them something powerful or when they saw him do something amazing or when they just felt peace and joy in his presence as they rested together after an exciting day of ministry. I'll bet the stories and memories just bubbled over - not like they do at a funeral, but more like at a family reunion.

So to celebrate Easter, Kelsey and I did that today. After the service, we went out for a nice lunch together and savored some of our favorite foods, then we can home and had a painting party with the theme "Sanctified Imagination." All the while we told stories about our own encounters with Jesus - the ways he has spoken to us and worked in our lives. "Testimony" has become a very complex and meaningful word for me, because I see God building his testimony of faithfulness and hope in my life more and more as I walk with him. It's a beautifully woven story, and it's exciting when I get to share parts of it sometimes, like today with Kelsey or the other day with Shannon or last week with Kathryn... because then they share parts of their story with me, and we both see the awesomeness of God  more clearly and understand the community we have as a fellowship of believers in Christ more fully, and God receives all the glory.

What's your story? What are your encounters with Christ? How has he healed you and changed you? Share it with someone today. It is because He is ALIVE that you have that story to tell!