Are You Laughing With Me, Or At Me?

Did you ever do anything just for the fun of it? You know, just to make others laugh, even if it might be at your own expense?

This year on Halloween, I did exactly that. I deliberately dressed for the fun of it. I dressed to make people smile and laugh along with the fun of my outfit. I wore a tam-o’-shanter (that’s a type of beanie, or hat, for those who don’t know) that looks like a large orange pumpkin (including the green stem out the top), black cat earrings and a white sweatshirt with Jack O’ Lanterns and the words “Trick Or Treat” embroidered on it. It’s my traditional Halloween outfit if it’s not a workday, and the only time of year I wear orange. (It’s not a good color on me!)

The shirt usually doesn’t cause much comment. The hat, however, can only be worn by a person who has what my late mother once described as a generous sense of humor and a hearty dose of chutzpaChutzpa is a Yiddish term which means, “shameless audacity, boldness, temerity, cheek, nerve, and guts,” all of which my mother often said described me!

As a business owner, I don’t often get the chance to break out of my professional mold and do crazy stuff. Halloween is a rare chance to get a little goofy, and invite the world along for my slightly crazy ride. I donned my shirt, hat and earrings with pride, and off I went as if I was dressing for just another normal Saturday of errands.

I got my hair cut, ran errands at 4 stores and finished the night with going to dinner and wandering the mall with my husband. Except for when I had to take if off to get my hair styled, the hat stayed firmly planted atop my head, as if there was nothing abnormal about it, and it wasn’t there at all.

I got looks. Did I ever get looks! Fellow shoppers looked at me. Some stared. Others smiled, and a few chuckled. Some commented they liked it. Even other drivers did double-takes as they passed me in parking lots! As I moved through my day, I looked for reactions. Sometimes, I was disappointed. Most of the time, I was not.

Normally, when I go through my day, I try to brighten it for the people I encounter wherever I go. I tell people I like what it says on their shirts, or that the color is flattering to them, or I like their shoes (women get that one a lot), or how much I appreciate their customer service or helpfulness. Wearing the Halloween shirt and hat wasn’t a rebellion against wearing a costume, as much as it was giving in a little to the spirit of the day while doing it in a way that would brighten others’ days as well. While laughing at myself, I encouraged others to laugh at me and with me, making them happier in the process.

In a deeper sense, it’s also good to remember sometimes we are seen as fools and laughed at, not for celebrating an innocent day with the world, but for going against it with our convictions. I Corinthians 4;10 talks about being made fools of for the sake of Christ. In I Corinthians 1:25, it says,

For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

The world often laughs at and mocks what it cannot understand. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is definitely something the world cannot understand! The world is befuddled and bewildered by it and uses mockery and derision as a defense against what it can neither defend against nor explain away. 

As a Christian, I cannot allow the mockery and derision of the world to cause me to falter or fail in my faith. I must always keep in mind that Jesus was hated by the world, too, and He is my example. As He said in John 15:18,

If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.

“Hate” is such a strong word, isn’t it? We almost want to modify it to “Ignore” or “tease” or something more innocuous. But in every translation I checked in English, those words of Jesus Himself are translated to “hate.” It’s because often we have to step up to the harsh reality of the world that completely opposes Jesus and decide on which side we’re going to stand. It’s a choice we all have to settle in our minds and hearts once we are clearly confronted with the salvation message and its truths.

Once we settle where we stand, what the world thinks becomes unimportant to the point of insignificance. Settling where I stood took care of knowing where my place was, who my “Daddy” was, my identity as my Heavenly Father’s daughter and my security of belonging to His family in the Church. Settling issues like these freed me emotionally from needing to desperately belong anywhere else, or with anyone else. Wherever His people are, I am home, due to the acceptance found in the knowledge of who I am in Christ.

And when I settle such deep human needs like those, I am then free to satisfy an impulse to indulge my whimsical side, such as I did this Halloween, with a pumpkin tam-o’-shanter to make people who saw me all day smile and laugh. Because when they were laughing at me, I was laughing right along with them!

Words That Changed Everything

In the beginning,

in the time before time,

God spoke into the void and changed everything.

He said,

Let there be light!

and so there was.

In the garden,

in another time before time,

God spoke into a hard place and changed everything.

He said,

He shall crush his head and he shall bruise His heel

and it was so.

In the city of Ur,

in a land of strangers,

God spoke into a family and changed everything.

He said,

My covenant shall be with your family forever

and it was cut.

In the Nile delta,

in the palace of a pharaoh,

God spoke to a nation and changed everything.

He said,

Let My people go!

and it became a reality.

In the hills outside Jerusalem,

in a place of grief and graves,

God spoke to the world the words that changed everything.

His angel said,

He is not here! He is risen!

and it was so.

Death is defeated! Jesus is risen! Alleluia!

How To Give A Wonderful Birthday

I had a great birthday this year!  I know, it seems like bragging.  I wanted to let you, my several faithful readers, know what my incredible family did.  Maybe what they did, the plans they pulled off, will inspire you to give a great day to someone special you love.

My celebration started the night before, on Saturday.  The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary

English: Exterior of the Saratoga Performing A...

Tour was coming to Saratoga Performing Arts Center.  Bob got lawn tickets for us, and found a buy one/get one deal.  We had an early supper, got sodas for the cooler, grabbed lawn chairs and a blanket and headed north about 40 miles from home.

The concert was amazing!  The Beach Boys have lost none of what made them so

Español: The Beach Boys en concierto en el 2008.

fantastic.  Our spot on the lawn was high on the hill, where we could see the stage, though the performers looked like ants.  Bob got us shirts, fries and a frozen drink in a cool collectible cup.  Everyone around us was friendly and nice, and all 20,000 of us got up to dance and sing a lot, especially when they did classic favorites toward the end.  It was a while getting out of the arena area and then back to the highway, but no one seemed to mind, and everyone was nice about it.

Sunday (my birthday) we struggled to get up after our late night and went to church.  Son David got there ahead of us, and told everyone, so I got a lot of birthday wishes during the time of peace.  After church, Bob brought daughter Beth, son-in-law Tom and our grandchildren over for lunch and a swim.  The kids were funny and entertaining, and I got some cute photos.

After Tom, Beth and the kids left, Bob, David and I went to the mall.  David and I have a tradition from when he was small of going to the latest Disney movie together for my birthday.  I used to take him but since he got his first job, he’s taken me every year, and then out for whatever dinner his budget could afford.  Bob tagged along and we went to see “Brave.”  David also got us popcorn, soda and candy.  After the movie, we went to a restaurant where they had a 3 course special.  My leftovers became lunch at work Monday.

My Facebook wall was filled Saturday night and all day Sunday with messages from friends and family.  It was so touching and fun to read all the kind words from everyone!

Monday, I found my work cubicle decorated with streamers at the door, a banner across the middle that said “Happy Birthday” in pink with princessy stuff, balloons taped all over the place, a hat on my keyboard, and a picture of a cupcake with a candle in it on one of my monitors!  I had a place mat that said “Happy Birthday, ” with notes on it from my coworkers.  On it was a gift card from a local coffee shop chain.  I returned from a break and found someone had left a dark chocolate candy bar on my keyboard!  I found out at lunchtime a coworker’s birthday was Sunday and no one knew, so I shared the pink banner and 1/2 my balloons with her.  It was fun, to share the joy.

I’ve had birthdays that weren’t great in the past.  This one was fabulous!  From Saturday evening to Monday morning, it was almost non-stop continuous fun and excitement.  This wasn’t even a ‘big’ birthday.  It was an ordinary one.  What made it special was the kindnesses, the thoughtfulness, the unexpected pleasures and the sheer delights of surprises the people who care about me took the time to consider and execute. 

That’s my whole point of sharing this.  It doesn’t matter what you do for your someone special.  It doesn’t matter how much it costs.  What matters is that they know you were thinking of them and taking the time and trouble to consider what they would like, what would bring them pleasure and joy.  Because that’s what the people around me did for me this year that made this birthday so special, so memorable, so wonderful.  They took that time out for me . . .

Happy Birthday