Each Child a Winner

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Athletics was never my strong suit. The only award I ever got for anything athletic was at an end-of-school field day when I was in elementary school. Somehow I managed to win second or third place in the high jump.

The silliest physical event in which I ever participated was in college. At the time Cumberland College (now Cumberland University) was a two-year junior college with a student body of about 400, over 250 of whom were commuters. I was one of the 40 or so girls who lived on campus.

Once we had a fair of some sort. I remember sitting on the dunking booth — and falling in the water. I also participated in the Jello®-marble game. Don’t try this at home! Someone — I suppose someone in the college cafeteria — had prepared Jello® for the contest, using marbles instead of the usual canned fruit that was standard fare in the 1970s. The object of the game was to see how many marbles you could get out of the pan of Jello®, while lying face down on the ground with your hands behind your back. That’s right — you put your face in the Jello®, grabbed them one at a time in your mouth, and spit them on the ground. Surely it was one pan per participant. As I said, don’t try this at home!

Last night I participated in another very silly physical event. I was at a baby shower for a friend, along with about 15 other women, about 8 little girls, and one precious two-week old little boy. We played a game I had never seen or heard of before. It was fun.

We all took turns holding a stock pot filled half full with cotton balls and a large wooden spoon while wearing a sleep mask decorated with gigantic eyes with long eyelashes. For thirty seconds, we tried to see how many cotton balls we could pile on top of our heads before the timer went off. I got 21, which put me in third place.

Third Prize in the Cotton Balls On Your Head Contest
I didn’t have a spare sleep mask with big eyes on it at home so I made this one last night out of paper so I could recreate my winning pose for you.

It’s fun to win.

One of the sweetest events I remember during our early years in Ray’s ministry in our church in Urbana, Illinois, was a church wide “Family Olympics.” In those days long before church gyms were commonplace, a member who was an elementary school principal invited us all to the school gym. There volunteers had set up an array of stations where we did things physical. We tossed balls. We shot baskets. There was something for everyone — actually many somethings for everyone. At each station, each participant got a “medal,” which was a piece of colored construction paper on a piece of yarn.

One of my favorite childhood pictures of Bethany was taken that night:

Bethany cropped
Bethany, the Champion

Having fun and making him or her feel like a winner — those are ways to make a child feel loved.

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another,
just as you also are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11

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