The Art of Celebrating

Serious question:

How do you feel when someone else wins?

No, stop. Don’t lie. I mean really wins. Like, your best friend wins on a $30 million lottery ticket.

What’s your first thought? OK. And your second?

Ah, see, there it is. “Me.” Somehow, “I” enter the thought process much more quickly than I’d like to admit. “Self” wants to participate. Instead of purely celebrate.

Last night Luik was told he would be heading home to Grandma Jo-Jo’s house.


He was thrilled.

His older sister was not.

Parenting boys means keeping after the purely stupid things they do for no other reason than to see what happens. Parenting a girl means keeping after drama. Lots of drama.

When Eva finally started to descend from the delirium of her self-centered throes, I talked her through the concept of celebrating her brother’s blessing.

Now, mind you, Luik is by far our most sensitive, most sincere child.

Here’s what happened:

Eva walked into the living room to see Luik all dressed up and ready to go. She’s hugged him, still half-sobbing, and said, “Congratulations on getting to go to Jo-Jo’s house.”

Without missing a beat, Luik said, “Congratulations on getting to stay home.”

Of course all the adults in the room bit our fingers and held back laughter, trying not to ruin the lesson of the moment.

But what was the lesson? Perhaps there was more than just the obvious.

Learning to celebrate one another’s victories – and identify with defeats – is a core value of the Kingdom (Romans 12:15). In fact, much of the political turmoil I see in our nation could be averted if we’d kill jealousy with a healthy dose of genuine celebration. Entitlements to those who have worked hard to be entitled is a virtuous thing. But further still is the citizen of the Kingdom who understands he/she is entitled to nothing. Breathing is a gift. But the polar opposite is the person who feels they are entitled to anything at the expense of everyone else. This is the attitude of a child who was never properly parented.

But there is another lesson:

Learning to see that right where we’re standing is worth celebrating.

To Eva, going to Jo-Jo’s is going to Disney World. But she failed to see the value of where she was. In a home, with her family, and a new baby brother. Even though Luik was excited to leave, he was genuinely happy for Eva who was able to spend more time with Baby Levi and the family.

I’d say nearly every American – including myself – is so focused on what we wish we had that we fail to see the incredible blessing of what we do have. Correcting such an attitude is at the core of a contently lived life.

So try wishing yourself “congratulations” today. Not for where you’re headed. Or what you someday want. But for where you are right now.

Congratulations! ch:



One moment someone’s there.

Just behind this glass. Mopping in our new restaurant. I yelled, “Sue, you’re awesome!” And was ignored. Intentionally. Then louder, “SUE, you’re AWESOME!” This time a wave-off over the shoulder.

The next moment they’re gone.

A phone call. Terrible news. Heartache of the worst sort. Sue died in her sleep yesterday morning between the time her husband Ralph got up and did some yard work and the time he returned to check on her, thinking she’d slept in unusually long.

Just like that, she was gone.

My last words to Sue will stay with me forever. Because she was just that: awesome.

Of all the people I’ve had the privilege to know, she was one of the most selfless.

I learned that after she cleaned the restaurant Tuesday night, she insisted on going to clean New Life.

At 11:30pm.

Every dirty coffee mug. Every trash bin. Every dust bunny. No task was too insignificant. Because serving people and making atmosphere’s enjoyable was what she lived for. She’d never take a dime. Nor would she permit photographs. In every picture I have of her, she’s looking away.

This one below Jenny captured from a distance last year during a memorial walk for Michelle, her would-be daughter-in-law.

While tragedy has gripped the Marolf/Garland family far too frequent for my tastes, rarely have I admired such a loving and selfless tribe. She embodied the servant-nature of Jesus. That is more than I could ever hope to modle.

We miss you, Sue. ch: