Saturday, November 12, 2011

Raggedy Ann Sheltering

Raggedy Ann, Oh Raggedy Ann, My Sweet Raggedy Ann,
Here You Sit All Torn And Tattered,
But, You Were There When It Really Mattered! 

Clint and Krista with their Raggedy Ann Maddy
Most of us are aware that the best part of owning a Raggedy Ann is the heart of love embroidered on her body.  The "I love you" has been traced by tiny fingers around the world and has brought smiles on the faces of many little girls while cradling their own doll.  

Raggedy Ann has ties to my state of Indiana. Author/artist, Johnny Gruelle, grew up in Indianapolis. Whitcomb Riley was a frequent visitor in the Gruelle household. Raggedy Ann’s name is a combination of Riley’s poems, The Raggedy Man and Orphan Ann.

Once you fall in love with a Raggedy, you are in love forever.  Many of us have our childhood Ann or Andy sitting on a shelf, worn and tattered.  Why do we keep them?  I think it's the memories of all the times Raggedy Ann shared our lives -- the whispered excitement of new shoes, a longed-for gift and friends coming over for tea.  It's also the memories of the childhood hurts we endured, clutching our dolls as our tears fell on her face.  She was there when it really mattered -- sheltering us before we even knew what the word meant.

I'd like to be a Raggedy in a child's life.  What would it be like to have a child trace my heart?  I think for a child to accept us as readily as she did her Raggedy Ann we would need as much love. Just like they can look on the chest of their doll to be assured of a heart full of love, so they should be able to see that we love them.

Maddy's Gran (top left) made the Raggedy Ann costume and doll.
It takes so little to show love to a child.  Do you remember the troll babies with their bright spiked hair?  My Grandma Cessna saved cereal box tops to get me one -- such a little thing, yet such a huge expression of love.  She showed me love when I heard her pray for me before bed during my over-night stays, when I cuddled into her side while she was crocheting, and when she'd put her homemade [absolutely delicious] applesauce on the table. I traced her heart many times in many ways; I knew my grandma loved me.

Little girls love getting notes.  My girls were blessed with notes from one of my friends, Judith.  Most times they were accompanied with candy or another small gift a child would love.  Emily still has special notes from DeLynda, her high school's secretary.  She has traced these special ladies' hearts over and over.  Eleanor, mother of Emily's best friends, has such a huge heart for teenagers.  Those who attend her Sunday School class know her heart, and each of them would say, "I traced her heart."

When we moved to Muncie, Matilda told 8-year-old Emily, "You can call me Grandma -- I'm everyone's grandma."  Right away I knew we could trace her heart.

I'm not sure if I've written about Steven Manley before.  For Pastor Appreciation one year, members of our congregation chose one of the pastoral team to pray for throughout the year.  Rev. Manley was the head of a large mission organization nearby and attended our church when he wasn't traveling.  He chose Emily's name and it resulted in the biggest blessing of her life.  This busy man wrote her letters, including stories about his childhood and encouragement for her to be all God called her to be.  He brought her gifts from the mission fields he visited.  The year ended, but not the blessings, as Rev. Manley continued his encouragement.  He will never know the blessing he was, not only to a 7-year-old girl, but to all of us -- a beautiful picture of a big man stooping low.  He was there when it really mattered -- we can trace his heart.

Emily's finger isn't as tiny as it was when she first began tracing hearts. It's grown, as has her own heart of love.  It blesses this momma when I see her write notes to others, verbalize praise, and watch her gentle smile as she prepares for Junior Church or leads the children's chorus each Sunday.  That's what sheltering is all about.  It's a passing from generation to generation, a giving of love that is at once both intentional and automatic.

Who can trace our heart?  It's not the big things we do.  Raggedy Ann didn't cry "Momma," eat real baby food or wet her diaper like some babies.  She couldn't walk or even close her black button eyes.  But she gave love.  She was there when it mattered.  We could trace her heart.  Find a child this weekend whom you can shelter -- share your love; and thank God when you feel a child tracing your heart.

* * * * *

Raggedy Ann's Tea Party Cookies

Raggedy Ann needed some cookies for her tea party.  I cheated big-time on these.  I used Betty Crocker's sugar cookie mix -- which meant I only had to add a stick of melted butter and an egg.   It doesn't say you can roll them out but with a bit of sprinkled flour they rolled out just fine.  

While these are not the "best-ever" sugar cookies my sister makes, I thought they were good.  Good enough I'm considering them for the annual Christmas cookie bake-off with the grands.  I just mixed up some butter frosting, added a drop of red food coloring and sprinkles.  I always buy my sprinkles at the end of the season, usually scoring them for 80% off.  These were from Valentines Day and just so adorable.

The gift basket was from T.J. Maxx and was $3.00.  All I had to do is change the ribbon and add a glass heart.  So this little bit of shelter came in at at about $6.00.  If you made the cookies from scratch you may be able to do it cheaper.  There are many free or almost free ways you can package Sheltering foods.  I used the basket as a thank-you for Maddy's momma for allowing me to use the sweet pictures.   I don't think packaging needs to be expensive, and I know for many of you there isn't extra money for sheltering.  Knowing you can make cookies for your family, reserving  a few to shelter a child (and we all know when a child is shelter, so is her momma), makes it more doable.  

Linked to :

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

God's Middle Child

All the names are in the same family register. One may have more grace than another, but God our Heavenly Father has the same tender heart towards all. ~Charles Spurgeon

Growing up, I got a lot of mileage out of being the middle child. When Mom went shopping with my older sister, I would say, “I’m just the middle child; I’ll stay home.” When Dad took my baby brother to an auction, I would say, “I’m just the middle child; I’ll stay home.” This was usually enough leverage for an invitation to tag along.

My Middle Grandchildren

Even as a child, I knew the birth order didn’t have any bearing on my parents’ love for me. Melodie loved to sing, and Craig was the funny baby who made everyone laugh. I, the famous middle child, just wanted to be Jo in Little Women. We all belonged to my parents; they loved us equally.

God loves His children equally, too. Melodie was given the beautiful gift of hospitality. I'm a writer, and my brother Craig is a pastor.  Birth order isn't important to God.  Whether we’ve been “reborn” twenty years ago, ten years ago, or just last week, we are children of God through our faith in Christ Jesus.

Think of it, a teenager in a third world country -- loved by God.  A child, born to a wealthy family -- loved by God. The young father, sitting in a jail cell trembling from a drug habit -- loved by God.  Me, the middle child in a loving family -- loved by God.  God doesn't have favorites.  Sometimes our actions make God smile, sometimes they break the heart of God.  Yet it doesn't change His love for us.  

For God loved the world so much that he gave his only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

God, with His tender heart, reaches down to that third world country, to the country club, the jail cell and to my childhood home -- and proves His declared, impartial love by offering eternal life.  

I love being God's middle child.  I think of those who have gone before me -- all who are coming after me.  And there I am, right in the middle; and I smile.  For we are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:26).