The Most Captivating Celebrations

My favorite holiday when I was a kid was always the 4th of July. I loved the fireworks, my family’s tradition of making homemade ice cream and running around in warm weather with my brood of cousins. It was enough to make it the most anticipated family gathering of the year for me. It beat out Christmas and Thanksgiving hands down. The fireworks were always the highlight of the evening and they filled me with awe and wonder.

Jacqi Kambish Celebration

As an adult, awe and wonder have been harder to grab a hold of. Life has a way of stealing joy and laughter if we let it, and there have been times when I let it. There have been times when I crawled into my hole of darkness and forgot there were reasons to laugh, or sing, or dance. There have also been times when other people thought that I should laugh less loudly, less heartily, and less often—I let their ideas dampen my joy. There have been times when it seemed the seriousness of life demanded that I apologize for finding the silver lining.

There are many reasons in this life to be depressed, hurt, angry, lost, resentful, and bitter. But I’ve found through the love and grace of Christ Jesus that there are plenty of every day joys to celebrate as well.

Even in the midst of sorrow, hardship, uncertainty, and pain there are often moments of pleasure, reasons to laugh, and opportunities to be filled with awe and wonder.

As a child the big celebrations grabbed my attention and held my esteem. But as an adult, I’ve learned to look for the little daily surprises and sweet moments to fill my heart with gladness.

Moments like my kids playing nicely together, the back yard flowers blooming with a sweet aroma, and the colors of the sunset.

Moments when my kids show undeserved kindness, plant pop-cycle kisses on my cheek, and talk to me about what’s happening in their lives.

Moments when we celebrate birthdays, academic successes, and new opportunities.

Big moments, like when my daughter reached the 6-months-seizure-free mark and the anticipation that, soon, she will reach the one year mark.

Celebration Jacqi Kambish

Celebrations over potty training successes and the kid’s remembering to flush…and wash hands!

Celebrations like 13 years of marriage to my best friend.

Celebrations like the grass coming in green and the roof holding out for just a bit longer…

Thankfulness for a working laundry machine, summer breezes, and quiet moments watching the kids run in the sprinklers.

And there is more…

Celebrating the way God provides when the money isn’t there, and watching as he moves in the hearts of my kids.

Watching as God turns the sorrow of Epilepsy, and a truck load of other diagnoses, into the development of strength and character in a struggling little girl.

Turning a regular boring night into a family dance party just because.

Celebrating all those little moments; moments I was given to spend with my family, just living and laughing together.

I wouldn’t change it, and I don’t want to miss it.

As a child, I watched the fireworks, but now I watch my kid’s faces.

At one time I was hoping for the man of my dreams. Now I’m proud of the man I married.

The every day celebrations beat out the big celebratory festivities of fleeting seasons every single time…but only if I notice them.

I wouldn’t change that for the most spectacular fireworks display.

Because the most captivating celebrations of my life are the ones I almost miss.

“The LORD has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3

 


Jacqi KambishJacqi Kambish is a Christian mom to three spirited children striving to balance the daily demands of parenting a child with special needs and meeting the needs of typically developing siblings while working full time and writing.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Bible Theology and Youth Ministry from William Jessup University.  Jacqi lives with her family in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and enjoys reflectively writing about parenting, faith, and the joys and trials of life while leaving her readers with hope and encouragement.  Her blog The Presumptuous Ladybug can be found at and you can connect with her on Facebook.
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Parched Lips Can’t Sing

I grimaced as I swallowed, my throat scratching while it contracted with effort.  My tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth as I searched it desperately for moisture.  The air felt dry, and I licked my parched lips to ease their pain as they cracked.  It was a fleeting reprieve that left a deeper longing the moment the air wicked the moisture away.

I rounded a corner and sought refuge from the hot sun in the insignificant shade of a nearby tree.  I berated myself for having left my water bottle behind on the desert trail.

My body screamed for water.  I thought briefly of sipping from a scuzzy looking puddle…it looked so inviting.  I was drawn to it so powerfully that I had to lift myself from my spot of shade and venture back onto the trail.  I needed clean, pure water not dirty rainwater remnant.  I needed refreshment that would restore my dry body and relieve my hurting lips.  Despite any temporary relief I might gain, I knew that the standing water might do more harm than good.

My steps quickened as I recognized the landscape and knew I was close to the trail head.  With each step, an overpowering call propelled my feet forward until I reached my car and found the crystal clear liquid treasure I so fiercely desired.  The bottle was depleted of its hot fluid too quickly, but I knew, with relief, where I could get more.

Jacqi Kambish Hunger and ThirstThe parallels are undeniable:  My soul can ache for the Living Water in the same way my body aches for the more tangible substance.  Nothing else can quite fill the void; I can stuff my body full of soda, juice, or puddle water but none of those refresh and restore a dehydrated body adequately. In truth they are more damaging than nourishing.

I can pour second rate fluid into my soul as well.  Sometimes for a while I feel satisfied.  I think it’s enough.  If I listen to a sermon, a worship song, or do something good then I think I’m okay.  Like soda or juice, they temporarily seem to put off the louder wails of a soul in need of the true Living Water…a soul desperate for connection with the life sustaining, soul quenching, relief-giving Source of Life…a soul living in a parched and weary land.

I can fill my soul with poison too.  I can chase things in the world that appeal to me.  I have tried to fill my need for Christ with shopping, friends, addictions, food, busyness, and noise.  Too often even the best of those leave me parched and desperate for something more.

For long periods of time I have run through life totally deprived of a meaningful connection to the Creator; a connection to the pure, clean revitalizing Living Water.  I have buried the need with thick surgery syrup based experiences; have felt exhilarated by the rush of indulgence…But in the end,  it still left me empty.

Hunger and Thirst Jacqi KambishSometimes, I can bury the need so deeply that I hardly recognize it for what it is.  I can trick myself into thinking that my need is actually something more superficial, material, or physical.  I can be filled up only to be more drained of what little energy, hope, and satisfaction I had to begin with.

When I fill my day with other things, other people, other pursuits and neglect my LORD, I am left desperately dry with nothing left to give.

When I, inescapably, realize I have neglected my relationship with him, I am too tired to meet him.  I’m too depleted to do more than whisper a prayer that He will increase my thirst for him and my desire to know him better.  I have to ask him to remind me of my need for him.  I have to ask him to help me make the time.  I have to apologize for being more concerned with my own life than with the Source of Life.  And then, little by little, he shows me where I have tried to appease my need for him with other things.  He opens my eyes and softens my heart.  Then I can pursue and cling to him more gratefully.  When I find that I am finally able to pursue him, I see that he has been pursuing me the whole time.  And, I realize that what I want, what I truly need…is more of Jesus.

I have found that, only then, when my thirst is correctly quelled and The Water fills me up, can my restored lips praise him.  Only then can I give back to those around me, in word and in deed.  Not from my own ability, but from the overflowing excess of a life fully connected to Christ.

And then…then I can sing.


Jacqi KambishJacqi Kambish is a Christian mom to three spirited children striving to balance the daily demands of parenting a child with special needs and meeting the needs of typically developing siblings while working full time and writing.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Bible Theology and Youth Ministry from William Jessup University.  Jacqi lives with her family in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and enjoys reflectively writing about parenting, faith, and the joys and trials of life while leaving her readers with hope and encouragement.  Her blog The Presumptuous Ladybug can be found at and you can connect with her on Facebook.

Sweet Freedom from a Bitter Heart

I crammed the square of chocolate into my mouth in wonderful anticipation of the smooth sweet taste.   My salivary glands were already reacting when my brain fired off an alert and my senses went reeling.  Something was terribly wrong.  I glared at my older brother who sat nearby with watchful eyes and knowing smirk while I spit the bitter brown nugget from my mouth.

“What is that?”  I yelled at him, my eyes flashing in anger and horror.

“Chocolate,” He replied with a laugh forming on his lips.

“No it isn’t!”  I protested as I tried to punch him; he was too quick for me.  My Mom emerged from the house, “What are you shouting about?”

“He’s trying to poison me.  He said it was chocolate!  It tastes like death!”

She turned toward my brother as he shrugged with a smile, “What?  It was chocolate.  Baker’s chocolate, but still chocolate,” he looked at me, “relax, you aren’t gonna die.”

My Mom sighed, “Kinda mean though.”

I shot darts from my eyes at my brother as I went to get a drink and wash the bitter taste from my mouth.

I’ve never forgotten that taste of baker’s chocolate, but I’ve come to know another kind of bitterness as well; the pain of a bitter heart.

I’ve also discovered that it isn’t as easy to wash away the bad taste in my heart as it was the bitter taste from my mouth.

It hurts more.

And when something once sweet turns bitter, the result seems all the more pungent; all the more unbearable.

Maybe that’s why addressing bitterness is a long, hard road.

You can’t just cover bitterness up, it has to be washed away and cleansed completely.  I only know one Person who can totally manage my heart.

Bitterness Jacqi Kambish (1)I’ve faced my fair share of bitterness.  In the past, I’ve try to force myself to get over it, but some things aren’t that easy.  Even when I thought I’d moved passed it, I’d come to realize I hadn’t.  I’d see the person in church or at school or wherever I ran into them and suddenly I would know.  The taste of loathing would find its way to my tongue, and I would know I hadn’t fully addressed the shadows in my heart.

Not very long ago, I had to work through those dark corners within me once again.  I stared at the object of my dismay across the room as she tipped her head back and laughed.  I knew from the ugly feelings bubbling up inside me that I hadn’t properly dealt with the hurt.

Had we been friends…once upon a time?

I supposed, in my grumpy state, that perhaps I had only thought we were friends.  Perhaps we never had been friends at all.  I felt betrayed, cast aside, and neglected.  I felt foolish and alone.  But even more, I felt ashamed that those feelings were twisting up inside of me because when I looked in the mirror and faced them, I saw how ugly they really were.

Every time I thought I could stuff them down and make them go away, I was reminded that the bitterness still raged like a monster inside of me.

It wasn’t totally her fault; life had happened and I got left behind.  It wasn’t malicious, but it still hurt.  My problem wasn’t her though.  Not really.  It was all the lies I believed about myself.

The lie that I was better than my feelings and that I didn’t need to address them because they were silly.

The lie that I wasn’t worthwhile or valued.

The lie that I wasn’t pretty enough, or smart enough or good enough.

The lie that I wasn’t needed and that it made me void of purpose.

The lie that I could be easily forgotten.

The lies hurt, the loss of friendship hurt and bitterness crept in.  I wanted to spit it out, but I couldn’t.  It stayed with me far too long.

It was then that I confessed to the LORD and asked the LORD to heal my wounded heart.  It was then that I confessed my feelings to trusted members of my church and asked for prayer, and it was then that the healing truly began.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”  James 5:16

Jacqi Kambish BitternessWhen I finally faced the darkness in my own heart I realized I needed to confess and ask for prayer.  The change in my heart didn’t happen right away.  It was slow progress.  Still, God began to soften my heart toward the other person.  He started to show me that she was hurting in her own ways as well.  He started to create compassion within me.  Slowly, the compassion edged out the bitterness until all that remained was a genuine love, peace, and freedom I didn’t know was possible.

It wasn’t my doing.

I didn’t change me; God did.

But I let him.

And as I let him change my heart, he also showed me the truth about myself:

That those lies I believed where indeed lies. My value doesn’t come from being loved by people, but by belonging to God and being loved by him. That is the sweetest truth of all.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32


Jacqi KambishJacqi Kambish is a Christian mom to three spirited children striving to balance the daily demands of parenting a child with special needs and meeting the needs of typically developing siblings while working full time and writing.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Bible Theology and Youth Ministry from William Jessup University.  Jacqi lives with her family in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and enjoys reflectively writing about parenting, faith, and the joys and trials of life while leaving her readers with hope and encouragement.  Her blog The Presumptuous Ladybug can be found at and you can connect with her on Facebook.