Can You Imagine Life Without Fireworks?

Can You Imagine Life Without Fireworks?

The other day, I got a voicemail from Gerry Beauchemin, author of Hope Beyond Hell.  It was good to match a voice to a face, even if we didn’t speak directly (we played phone-tag, but now he’s out of the country, so I’ll have to catch up with him later).  Then yesterday, I got a call from a friend from my former institution (i.e., church), just to say hello, and I still need to call her back.  Cyberspace is awesome for connecting with each other, but there’s something more personal about a phone call, or better yet, face-to-face interaction.

I’ve really missed connecting with other believers since I stopped attending the institution.  But I have also been basking in the glorious freedom to be who God created me to be.  I’ve experienced many opportunities to demonstrate God’s love, even though I don’t have an official ministry-stamp-of-approval.  But I’ve missed out on hearing about a lot of behind-the-scenes spiritual activity.  God is constantly involved, with His sleeves rolled up, elbows deep in our lives; unfortunately we view His activity through a small, foggy lens.  We sometimes overlook the individuals for the masses, and since the masses tend to make a mess of things, we don’t see the unique displays of kindness, love, patience, and hope in the everyday.

I had a dream one time about trying to convince people who were watching fireworks on a tiny black and white T.V., one of those old ones with bunny-ear antennas and snowy interference, to come outside and see the real thing.  I guess this blog is an invitation for people to come out and see the fireworks!

Regardless of whether one attends the institution, there’s one thing we all have in common – unique gifting from God to accomplish various assignments in His Plan of the Ages as the seasons of our lives come and go.

Maybe your divine appointment was to let someone else do something for you – to humbly accept that we depend on each other and that you are no exception.  Perhaps your mission for this particular season was to do nothing – recharge your spiritual batteries, be quiet, and rest with a clear conscience knowing God has everything under control without your help.  Maybe your calling was to put your time and talents to use in a physically exhausting yet spiritually invigorating task.

Assignments can last a very long time – years or even decades.  They can be something very simple, such as leaving a very generous tip or picking up a piece of garbage.  My assignment for today (I’m not sure if it is self-assigned or God-assigned.  Nevertheless…) is to return that phone call and to remind blog readers, whether believers or normal people, to connect with and encourage each other as we come and go.

As I said in several recent blogs, I’ve been inspired by Frank Viola’s blog.  He took some time off, but now he’s back at it again.  One particular aspect of his blog that I appreciate is the sense of community he fosters by offering people the opportunity to participate in various ways – other than just leaving blog comments.  I’d like to emulate his technique by giving you this opportunity to share how someone you know connects with, encourages, or demonstrates love in a practical way to others.  This person does not need to meet any specific criteria or hold any particular position in the institution or an official 501c3 organization.  On the other hand, if the person you have in mind is involved in this kind of thing, that’s okay, too!  Maybe you know this person very well, he or she is a stranger you bumped elbows with on only one occasion, or an individual who you have never met who has made an impression on you by way of cyberspace, the news, radio, or other media.

You have two options for giving kudos to others:

1. Leave a blog comment on this blog.  I can’t guarantee how many people will read it, because I’m still learning how to use my stat tracker and I have yet to learn where to find stats blog comment views.  I know there are people who hover and never comment, because they tell me so in private emails.
2. Send an email to  In the subject heading write “kudos”, and be sure to include photos, links, or anything else that seems important.  I’ll feature your information in a blog either by itself or along with other responses, depending on how many people respond.  This will be viewed anywhere from 34 to 649 times.  (I got those numbers from Google analytics of my single-day stats: the least-viewed blog is the first one in an ongoing series, “Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell” and the more recent, most-viewed blog “Why Chan Can’t Erase Hell: Saved by Whose Choice?“).  These days the blog usually averages somewhere between 40 and 80 views per day, and this number increases if the link to the blog post for that day is shared.  It’s like a wave that gradually dissipates in cyberspace.  Some waves keep growing, though.  You never know!

Please feel free to forward this invitation to your friends.  I’ll wait one week to allow time for people to respond.

  • Sisterlisa March 30, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    I found incredible support from friends like you on Facebook. Our circle of friends grew larger and larger as we would discover others on similar journies and we took advantage of the ‘recommend a friend’ option. We have met several FB friends in person and it has been such a blessing to connect away from the IC.

  • Julie Ferwerda March 30, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Sadly, I thought for a long while about this and could barely come up with any examples of people who demonstrate love in tangible ways, expecting nothing in return (self included). However, there are a couple instances that stick out to me.

    I am beginning to notice in life that it’s often the littlest things that can actually be the biggest things. A small gesture or effort done with pure motives reveals a loving heart and a rich character.

    When we moved into our new neighborhood in a new state where we knew basically no one. Nearly 2 months ago now, we pulled up to the curb of our home at about midnight, completely exhausted and spent after 2 days of traveling and many more before that packing, working, cleaning, studying etc. It was snowing and cold that night, and we couldn’t leave all our stuff on the trailer overnight because it was only covered by a tarp. We started the immense job of unloading most of our earthly belongings, just putting one foot in front of the other but both doubting if we had the strength. Out of nowhere, this husky strapping young man walks by (yep, after midnight) on his way somewhere and asks if we want help. Like, who offers to help anyone unload furniture and boxes, esp. in the middle of the night in a snowstorm. He helped us unload the stuff in record time. A week later, on Valentine’s Day, he showed up on our doorstep with some chocolate cookies that his mom baked. I felt so loved and provided for.

    Jonathan is a 19 year old neighbor boy, obviously not like most of the others, who has been the hands and feet of God to us in our short time here. As we begin to integrate into a new community full of hurting people, he offers us some mighty big shoes to fill.

    I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one other person whom I admire and look up to greatly. It is really strange to give birth to a person who ends up inspiring you and teaching you how to be great, even as a toddler. God gave me a daughter who has been teaching me how to love and how to serve since the day she was born, and I never get over the mystery and beauty of that. I used to think we were here to teach our children, and perhaps there’s been some of that, but she has by far taught me much more than I will ever teach her. She knows how to love and how to serve like few I have ever met, and I’m so grateful for her influence in my life and that God let her “land” in my family. However, I have two daughters, so I must always be careful not to overly appreciate or gush over my “teacher,” because I surely love them equally and never want them to perceive that I have favorites. But I thought this just might be a good time and place to do it. 😀

  • Mary Vanderplas March 31, 2012 at 6:55 am

    Working as a chaplain in a hospital, I have the enormous privilege of being around, observing, and working side by side with some of the most extraordinary people I could ever hope to meet. I am blessed and inspired daily by my co-workers, especially by the critical care nurses – women and men who give of themselves in service of human need, often in situations of acute suffering, in ways that silence any doubt about the goodness and providence of God and that keep alive hope for the final victory of God’s compassion and justice. Oh sure, it’s their job; they get paid to do what they do. But for so many of the ones I see and have come to know, it couldn’t be plainer that it is so much more than this, that it’s a calling and that, even if they didn’t get a nickel for doing it, they would do it still and with the same spirit of genuine caring and devotion that they exhibit every day.

    So I take this opportunity to pay tribute and say “thank you” to these special folk. Angie, Ann, Karen, Jennie, Cheryl, Sylvia, Marsha, Latisha, Herb, Kim, Kay, Ashley, Jocelyn, Rachel, Mary Alice, Pam, Susan, Janelle, Teresa, Jean, India, Tony, Deda, Melinda, Rose, Caryn, Lydia, Leann, Pilar – thank you for being the instruments of God’s providential care that you are and for inspiring me to strive to be the same. You all are the best.

  • Mary Vanderplas March 31, 2012 at 10:18 am

    I neglected to include, in my list of unsung critical-care heroes, the names Trish and Joann.

    I wanted to add, too, that while it’s true that these heroes get paid for what they do, none of them is (to my knowledge) a millionaire and they all expend in their work as much or more physical as well as mental and emotional energy as anyone else I know. They are blessings, each one, for whom I am ever so grateful.

  • Marie Dean March 31, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    In six weeks, I will graduate from college – at the age of 65 – fulfilling a dream I have had for most of my adult life. I would not be achieving this goal without the support, encouragement, and practical help of my best friend, Mary Vanderplas. Mary was there for me eight years ago when I started back to school after a 40-year hiatus, encouraging me to take the plunge. (She even drove me to the college so I could apply, without my knowing where we were going!) She has been there ever since, encouraging me to keep going, helping me to believe that I could do it, threatening me when I expressed wanting to give up (!), and showing me how to study and how to become more efficient as a student. In the past two years, as I have gotten into the classroom with children, doing service projects and internships, Mary has used her creative writing talents to write stories, poems, and song lyrics that have made my lessons come to life. I want to express my appreciation for the wonderful person and friend that Mary is and for all that she has done to help me achieve my goal of getting the education I need to be a teacher.

  • God is FOR us « April 4, 2012 at 10:24 am

    […] who hasn’t read or hasn’t had to opportunity to respond to the previous blog, “Can You Imagine Life Without Fireworks?” to do so soon, as I will be posting the responses in a blog within the next week or […]

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