Guest post by Cindy Denen
KENTUCKY DERBY PARTY
Last spring was our Kentucky Derby party! I made a race track out of postal paper covering my kitchen table. I still had my adult son’s old toy cowboy horses that I turned into race horses complete with their numbers draped on each side of them. I placed note cards around the edge of the paper to make the spaces for the race track. We rolled dice to determine how many spaces we would move our horses on each turn.
I bought sundresses for the girls and hats fit for the Derby for each of us. For dinner we had, what else, Kentucky Fried Chicken, which is always a treat! While Isabel and Sofi played outside Grandpa, Uncle Josh and I put on our “going to the races” clothes, laid out their clothes and set up the track. I then called them in and when they saw us the look on their faces was priceless. One of the joys of these parties is surprising them! They became even more excited when I showed them their dresses and hats. They changed into their outfits and we were “off to the races.” We each selected our horse, named it and proceeded to race in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and The Belmont Stakes. We awarded points for first, second and third finish and the winner was determined by the total at the end. What fun we had shouting and cheering as we raced around the track!
I put two Bible verses in the middle of the track, 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” and 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.” We talked about these verses and how important it is for us to finish this life we’ve been given strong and faithful and to be on our guard, not allowing ourselves to be deceived by negative influences. To hold on tightly to the truth we know with courage and strength but also to remember that love is key in everything we say and do. Our faith is built on knowing that is how Jesus loves us and that is how we are to love others. At the completion of the races our horses stood on the note cards, each saying something in those verses. 1. Fought the good fight. 2. Finished the race. 3. Kept the faith. 4. Strong! Do everything in love. 5. Man of courage. Everyone who finishes the race God sets us on knows well that it is these verses that keep us running when everything in us wants to say it’s too hard.
To cap off the Kentucky Derby Party we watched one of my favorite horse movies, Secretariat. We had so much fun that I almost forgot to tell them we had bought tickets to Family Day at Arlington International Racecourse and would go in a few weeks!!
FAMILY HERITAGE PARTY
Our most recent was a St. Patrick’s Day Party where we honored my Irish heritage but also celebrated grandpa’s German heritage and our three grandchildren’s Hispanic heritage. God was very much a part of this party as well. We talked about St. Patrick. How this man came to know God while in a very difficult situation and how he was faithful to God and the Irish people who had previously been so cruel to him.
We discussed what we believe are the three most important “pots of gold”. The first and most important of all is God’s Son, Jesus. You are truly rich knowing Him. Second is family, health, home and provision. Third is service – helping family, church family and community. I bought little boxes and put an Irish quote on each box that I thought was a good saying for Isabel, Sofi and Uncle Josh. I also placed little gifts inside
Our meal was a huge part of this party!! For the appetizer we decorated our kitchen to honor their Hispanic heritage and served Mexican pop, tortilla chips and salsa. (I won’t even try to compete with their dad or their other grandma on Mexican cuisine!) Then we sent them off to play so we could transform the kitchen into German décor and served delicious German potato soup. For the main portion of the meal we set the dining room table with our china and served an Irish meal of chicken, potatoes and green beans. Music from each country played in the background at each stage of the meal which added to the charm. And of course, we celebrated St Patrick’s Day in the clothes we wore, also a chance and reason to give Isabel, Sofi and Zion new outfits!!
As I write I’ve another party in the making that I actually have been thinking about since last spring but I need to keep that a secret for now (in case some little eyes read this post!!)
Why do I do these little parties? I love how our grandchildren light up when they see a party is coming, usually without warning. I love to enter their world and show them in a fun way my faith, my thoughts and my desire to share time and play with them. I also love to see their faith and thoughts. A party never ends that I didn’t learn something special about them.
Years ago I wrote a prayer that has always been my hearts cry and deepest desire as a mother and a grandmother:
“My prayer request is that as a mother and grandmother I would lead by example a Christ honoring walk that would encourage my family to follow. That I would, by the power of Jesus, put down everything that is a stumbling block to what a Christian should be. That my greatest joy would be to learn and act upon what the Bible says. That there would no longer be any modern day idols such as selfishness, materialism, apathy or a critical spirit allowed to be in my life. My prayer is that I would commit to repenting daily of sin, return daily to active obedience and walk daily knowing the torch I hand off to my children and grandchildren will be one that is fully lit.” Good Friday, 4/2/10
I believe our children and grandchildren will see our faith and our love as they see our actions. We need to show our faith in everyday life and in making purposeful memories that are filled with fun and the gift of time. These parties and other little things we do open up their hearts to hear what God has been doing in our lives because we have shown them we are fun and kid approachable. In the midst of having fun my heart’s desire is to mirror this prayer because one day I want all of us to share in the GREATEST PARTY ever thrown – the one Jesus invites each and everyone who chooses to accept His invitation to attend!