For many reasons, I will never forget Christmas 2005. That was the year that our family chose to go see The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as our Christmas Day movie. I sat next to my daughter Emily, and she was absolutely captivated by the scenery, the characters and the story. She lit up every time Lucy had a speaking part. That made me smile. I couldn't help but think that she was identifying with this little girl. She, and I, also salivated over the Turkish Delight, covered with all of that powdered sugar! When they got to the part where Aslan, the Lion, dies.....she was moved to tears and in that moment, mad that the story had ended this way. But then, Aslan comes back to life! I had never read the story before, and so I did not know what would happen. But all of a sudden, Emily was smiling again. And then, at seven years old, she said out loud, "Mom, that is just like Jesus!" Well, it was pretty much game over for me at that point. Just when you think you are the one to teach your children things, they go ahead and interpret things like movies for you. It was an amazing moment.
Jesus can be thought of as a Lion, as the King of Kings. Or, He can be thought of as the Lamb, who sacrificed it all so that we can be "raised in glory to LIVE ON forever" as it says in 1 Corinthians 15:40-44. The picture of the Lion, cradling the Lamb, is symbolism used in the Christian faith to represent the peace found in having faith. I think faith is sometimes like a Lion, raging and strong, easy to summon, providing courage and strength to tackle life. But other times, it's like a Lamb, feeble and weak, with shaky limbs, and the lamest voice of all, "Baaaa!" I mean, does anybody truly know that there is a God? It's not something that you can sort out with your brain. At least mine is not complex enough to come up with a definitive answer on that. And so, I've found, it's something you have to follow with your heart.
Around the end of January this year, I began to sense the emotional tension that the month of March would bring for Jennifer and her family. Their birthdays start on February 25th, and they just keep on coming...March 1, March 9, March 12 and then Olivia's birthday March 19th. Turning another year older when you are missing a piece of your heart.....that's serious anguish. My brain, and my heart, are not always working together. But after talking with Jennifer on Monday night, January 31st, they started thumping together to the same beat. I found myself completely moved by the strength of this lady, Olivia's Mama, who told me that night that she thought that maybe they were going to take their family to swim with the dolphins for Olivia's 10th Birthday on March 19th. "In like a Lion, and out like a Lamb!"
I didn't sleep much that night as I began to dream of how I could make sure that Jennifer's 40th Birthday on March 1st raged in like a Lion! I contacted everyone in my e-mail and facebook accounts, and I contacted Jennifer and her husband Rick's work colleagues. I shared with them Jennifer's story about the dolphins, and that they also wanted to take their first trip to Disneyland with their kids. I opened up an account at the local credit union, and asked everyone if they wanted to rally with me to make sure Jennifer had a vacation fund built out of the love of all her friends and family. I explained that we would build this fund for a month, and that I needed their names to keep track of the Donor Honor Roll so that Jennifer could see all of the names of the people rallying behind her!
March 1st came this past Tuesday. Two of Jennifer's best friends, and fellow teachers, organized an entire day of pampering for Jennifer, culminating in a dinner prepared by Jennifer's family. Before we ate dinner, I shared a letter that I had prepared for her. I explained to her that our conversation about Olivia's dream of swimming with the dolphins had really touched my heart. And then I confessed. I told her that I had been doing a lot of talking behind her back! And then, in front of her entire family, I presented her with over 100 names on her Donor Honor Roll who had been secretly helping to surprise Jennifer on her 40th birthday with a vacation fund worth $5, 500.00! I also shared with her several e-mails that came in to me on her behalf. I wanted to make sure she understood that people were absolutely thrilled to be able to help her take this vacation in honor of Livi's 10th birthday, and most importantly, to help her fulfill Olivia's dream of swimming with the dolphins.
I've had many incredible moments in my life, but this one ranked right up there with the very best! The names on that donor honor roll included so many of our childhood friends. Those names were the ones that especially touched Jennifer and her parents.
Emotionally, March raged in like a big old Lion, and brought with it a roaring faith in people, in God, and the image that Jesus really did reach down and cradle Olivia in his loving arms, like a little Lamb.