Just Because

A few nights ago I was helping my sons get ready for bed. I had Max (the oldest) do the usual routine: bath, put jammies on, brush teeth and make the last potty stop. Then I said, “find brother and tell him you love him just because.” So he did. Zach smiled as he hugged him and told him “ I love you.” Then it was Zach’s turn: bath, jammies, teeth, last trip to the potty and find your brother, tell him you love him just because. So he did. Did I mentioned after each declaration of love that the recipient was wrestled to the ground just to make sure they got the message. That was not what I envisioned. It was still one of those times when you remember what is important.

During a retreat I led last month, I sat with a girl who told me that she was struggling with her younger brother. She lamented that he was mean to her and he just didn’t get it. It was clear that she loved her brother deeply. She had learned how fragile life was and she wanted her eighth grade brother to get it. I said, “he’s just being a little brother. You keep telling him you love him, better yet show him how you feel. Find how what he likes to do and do it with him. Find out what he loves just because. Show him what it means to care about him and then love the brother you have today–the way he is right now. Make it about the giving. One day maybe he’ll look back and see the gift he has in you.” I encouraged her to see the gift today that she has in him.

She sent me a text message after the retreat. She said she had just returned from her brother’s band concert. He played drums. I told her about Max and Zach’s night. One day maybe I won’t have to remind them–they’ll just say it because. Because we need to use those words, because we all need to hear those words. At the end of our text conversation, I said, “sometimes the just because moments make all the other ones bearable.”

Isn’t that true? Think about it. Those people who do things for you just because, hold a special place in your heart and in mine. First, they get you what you love and they cherish it! Isn’t it wonderful to have someone know you? Do you have someone who knows what you love? Maybe they know your birthday.. your hard days.. your favorite things? To be known is not only important, it’s sacred. Second, they remember. Not only do they know, but they remember. Third, they follow through. Sometimes I do the first parts well, but I get lost in the third part… the doing. I watch, I listen, I file away, I stop, I ask, I may have the best intentions, but sometimes I don’t get to the finish line. That’s just crazy–I buy the card and forget to send it. I think of them during the day, but just don’t get to the phone to call them. Every once in a while, I remember and I do the right thing.! The look on their face, their voice on the phone when they received a card out of the blue just because. That is what it’s all about. I am a true believer that those moments of receiving carrying us through, because they’ve made the difference in my life.

Last month, I met a friend at the grocery store just because. I loved her and I tracked her down. As I walked through the check out with her, I thought about all the little things she has meant to me over the past years and about the ways I have been there for her. I know God was a part of my being in that grocery store. I also know that on that day, I was part of bringing God’s kingdom, in some small way. My week with her turned out to be just one of those weeks and really it began at the grocery check out aisle four.

A few days ago, I called a friend that came to mind. I had not talked with him in months and I just said, I’m not sure what’s going on but you were on my mind and I called to tell you I loved you just because I do. For a moment the phone was silent, then he said, “I’m not sure how you knew that today was a bit of a set back and a snag, but thanks for the call.” To know someone, to remember, to follow through, to be a part of their moments, to speak those words, to just do something for someone else is the thing. I know it is God’s work that we get to be small part of.

I encourage you to make some moments for someone esle this summer. — Celia

P.S. I have been thinking about writing this for a week and as I sat down to write, I received a card from another friend that started with two words, “Just because.”

Love love

I love First Corinthians 13. What is it about love, that I love? I mean love is such a broad topic. When I think about all that has been done for love, my goodness, I am overwhelmed. In my life alone, love has aways been at the core of who I am and what I want to be pursuing. It is the one thing that has stayed constant, when all has swirled around in my world, love has been the anchor that holds. I have just returned from Corinth, the site of the early church to whom that letter was written.

Several years ago, I met a girl named Sarah at an event,when she was in high school. It was before I had any children, and I had miscarried during the week prior. I remember going to a Youth Encounter event in Pennsylvania as the worship leader. Sarah introduced herself after a general session. She was supposed to be heading to a workshop. Instead, she and I sat and talked about a difficult time she was having in her life. We talked about a trying past and about the uncertainties that were ahead of her. I remember praying with her and telling her I loved her. Mostly that weekend, we just hung out and we laughed–we became friends. What she didn’t know was that she loved me through that weekend, as well and through my own uncertain, dark time. Last year, she found me on my myspace and emailed me a simple message. In her note to me she shared that she is in college now, how she is doing and how blessed her life is now. She closed by saying, “I remember that weekend and how you told me you loved me and you had just met me. I just wanted you to know when you said that to me that weekend, well, I felt loved. Thank you.”

More recently I have found that I have grown to love differently… more deeply and freely. It is funny how love is for me, I know love is a choice. Loving someone is about choosing each day to love and to be loved.

There are times when love chooses me. I find myself in a situation, like meeting someone like Sarah. I find myself loving. I find myself doing what love would do, even if it seems impossible or difficult or out of character. Because of love, something illogical seems right. Something difficult seems like the clear choice. I’m drawn to love and loving. I can’t explain it. I genuinely feel love for others. Sometimes for others I just met, sometimes for others I hardly know. Other times I ‘m reminded of love that has always been there. I’m reminded of love that has chosen me for a lifetime. Last week I heard someone read an original poem and I want to leave you friends with a poem that I wrote last night. Okay when was the last time you wrote a poem, a real poem, for yourself, for God, for someone else? It was nice to craft this one for you.

My desire is to move my life each moment toward the love that Christ both taught about and lived. A love that has changed me. That is the love I could love a lifetime and spend a lifetime sharing. A love Paul shared with an early, young church, going through difficult times in a challenging setting. Like me and like Sarah, we just need to be reminded that we are loved, really loved and to feel that kind of love in us, it really is the greatest gift.

Love is

Love is more than a feeling,
it’s outward, not concealing.
Love is mountain-moving, time-consuming.
All you ever wanted doing,
Love is the past, the present, the future all rolled into one.
It’s the little things… the larger-than-life dreams.

Love takes your breath away.
Love says, “I’ll always stay.”
It’s sorry when it counts.
It always looks to better days.

Love is up at night when someone cries.
over-joyed when laughter erupts.
It’s the look across the room.
Love knows that more than words a hug soothes.

If love makes the world go round,
that’s one ride I’m not going to miss.
With all my might and all my life,
I resign myself that love is Love’s gift.

Happy (Belated) Valentine’s Day! Love, me


This past week Ron and I and our boys drove through a town called Many, (pronounced man–ee) in west-central Louisiana. It is a town where I lived as a young girl. I was amazed at how some things had not changed and others were frozen in time. I showed Max and Zach my house, and the backyard where I made snow angels (the story’s on page 32 in my book). The yard still looked big to me. I showed them the stump of the former tree where I carved my name with the name of the boy I liked and wanted to kiss “Celia + Scott”. I showed them another huge tree that used to have a rope in it. I remember swinging out over onto the roof of an old shed until one of the neighborhood boys went through the roof. That incident ended our Tarzan reenactments. I showed them the hill that my friends and I rode our bikes down. It used to seem enormous. I showed them the old Sabine Theater where I used to watch John Wayne movies and the good old make-you-ugly-cry movies like Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows. We retraced the path where I used to ride my bike and buy a Richie Rich comic book and fudge ripple ice cream cone. I showed them the Baptist church where I played basketball and the water tower that sprung a huge leak one summer and the kids in our neighborhood all played in the water for hours. That tower seems to have shrunk. I showed them the Catholic Church that had an after school program. They had ping pong and pool tables and we would play every week there. I showed them the church that my dad served First United Methodist Church. It was where I learned “Hallelu, Hallelu, Praise Ye the Lord” and “If I Were A Butterfly, I’d thank you, Lord” and “Do Lord” and many other songs. It was where I attended Vacation Bible School with my friends and where my girl scout troop met. I showed them where the Middleton sisters lived and I know why I love old Victorian homes so much. They had a Victorian home across the street from the library and we drank tea on their porch and they had a basket of children’s books for me to read.

I remember my last summer in Many. It was summer of 1975 and I was on a quest. My friend Annette and I were working toward a pair of Icee towels. You had to save proof of purchase coupons clipped from the cups. You could earn a beach towel from Icee and we each wanted a towel. We had to mail in one hundred Icee coupons and three dollars for each towel. (According to Icee.com, the beach towel is now 500 points and $20). For weeks we rode our bikes around town looking and gathering coke bottles to redeem for a nickel each. We used the money to buy Icees and toward the $3. We had a system–we’d collect, clean and then trade them for our money. I can’t tell you how long this process took, but in the middle of that summer, our towels finally arrived. We would display them proudly at our local swimming pool or in my back yard with our slip and slide. I still have that towel today. I spent those summers with my best friends–Annette, Barbara, Sandra, Pam, Jill, Rebecca and I have fond memories of our time together.

At another recent stop in southwest Louisiana, I helped my boys catch green lizards with a friend Noah in his yard. Last week I smiled at their response after I caught one on the side of Noah’s house. Zach said, “My mom’s caught those guys before.” All I could do is smile as I put the lizard in their bug cage. “You bet I have guys … and it’s always fun!” (Incidentally, no lizards were harmed in the making of this newsletter. They were set free that evening to find their families and friends. We’re all about catch and release.)

A few days ago I received an email forward from Debbie, a friend in my book club. It was simply titled “do you remember when?” I rarely have time to sit and read email forwards and hardly ever take the time to forward them on, but this one was good and it got me thinking.

I remember … when summer lasted forever and I took my shoes off last day of school and didn’t put them back on till I had to go back to school after Labor Day, …lying on my back in the grass with friends and saying things like, “That cloud looks like a…” …eating watermelons, …snow cones (rainbow was my favorite flavor), …staying up late to watch a meteor shower, …playing tag until it was too dark to see, …making promises and keeping them, …sleep-overs, …homemade/hand churned peach ice cream; …climbing trees and riding on the handlebars of a bike with a banana seat, …shucking corn and shelling peas on my grandmother’s porch, …baseball cards in the spokes transforming your bike into a motorcycle, …water balloons fights, …catching fireflies for an entire evening.

As I reflect on summers gone by, the thing I remember the fondest is the goodness of it all–the simple blessings that I received. I enjoyed walking my sons down my memory lane and reflecting. As I recounted my memories to Max, Zach and Ron, we talked about what we are loving about our current summer. What made those times special and what makes today special are the people I am spending my days with and making time for simple things. Think about it. I’ll bet it’s true for you as well. Make some time to play today and make it a wonder-filled summer . . Celia

PS I had to pause in the midst of writing this devotional thought to retrieve a toad frog from under the couch, the adventure continues.


Christ reminds us in John 15:13 No one has greater love that this, to lay down ones life for ones friends. Then he says, “you are my friends, if you do what I command.” What does Christ command? John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

“Do you wanna be pals? I wanna be yours.” That’s what Zach said to me last night. Then he put his arm around me and smiled. I couldn’t help but laugh–really belly-laugh. My reply was, “yes, of course I want to be pals!” I have been reflecting on what being a pal means to me today. It seems to be about LOVING WILDLY! I have carefully chosen the word “wildly.” According to the dictionary, “wildly” means unrestrained, extravagant, eager–eager means ardent–ardent means devoted and passionate. Those are the ways I want to be loved and the ways, I believe, we are called to love others. I don’t know how to love any other way. I have been blessed to been surrounded all my life with people who loved well and loved wildly.

Loving Wildly is about EXPRESSING IT. Just this past week, I got a chance to be with a friend from another town. We were getting ready to leave a hotel, when she just broke into the sweetest words, “Celia,” she said, “I have been all over the world and met several folks in my life and you are one of my favorites. I love you and feel so privileged to know you and call you friend.” Well I was not prepared for this type of comment from her. We were both putting on makeup in a small bathroom. I was putting on mascara and my first thought was, “what made you say that?” We both leapt to our feet and hugged and talked about how good it is to have a friend that knows you and to recognize that kind of love. So today I called two people that have been on my mind. I wanted to tell them I loved them and was thinking of them. They are two of my best pals and I love them wildly. I had nothing specific to say, they were just on my mind, so I called. That seems to be the kind of gentle nudge I receive from the Holy Spirit. When was the last time you just told a friend you loved them and that you were glad they were in your life?

Here are some other things that I have learned about my loving wildly. Loving wildly to me means…

HOLDING ON WHEN LIFE IS HARD. Last month I received a gift from another friend, an angel that has one of my favorite quotes on it. The quote was from Mother Teresa–“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” I am reminded of our friendship each time I walk past that angel. (It now hangs in my home). I remember the ups and downs that we have experienced together and I remember times we have cried together through difficult times–we have carried each other. It is not always easy to walk with someone through the valleys, but it is the inescapable risk of loving. You cannot regret loving, even when life is hard. Loving wildly sometimes takes you there. I think of all those times when friends have been willing to just BE with me in my hurt and just let me be: a fender bender at age 16; when I my boyfriend broke up with me my senior year; my last concert with my college choir (Centenary); our miscarriage and the loss of my sister and parents.

BEING WILLING TO FEEL DEEPLY. I cry easily (Ron will tell you that the “On Star” ads on the radio get me. Maybe you have heard them, “My baby is in the back seat, etc. please help us”.) I remember a time when I heard that some close friends’ dog was hit by a car. I drove to their home and the 3 of us just sat and cried on their front porch while we held the dog’s vacant leash. (Incidentally, the dog made a full recovery, but at the time, recovery was uncertain.) My friends have been willing to feel with me through both happy and sad tears. I have felt their prayers and their presence in those times. Someone once told me if you are never intimate, you’ll never be hurt, but you’ll also never feel the joy of loving fully.

BEING IN THE MOMENT. A willingness to be live in the present moment does not make you a punctual person.If I have been late to meet you because I was in the moment with someone else, I apologize. However, there is something pure about tuning everything out and just being with someone–about listening, and about really giving from your heart, about allowing no distractions.

GIVING MYSELF. Beyond my resources: (gifts.. time.. energy.. cards), my whole self… just like the hokey pokey, I put my whole self in. I want to give myself to others. Last week my sister-in-law was in a car wreck. Wreck is the right word for it.–the car–her body– the other person involved–recovery in the months to come. Ron and I got a chance to sit with her for a few days–to answer the phone and take messages. I felt like the rest of the world could wait and that being present was what I needed to do most. It was a little like the movie “It’s a wonderful life.” As word of the accident circulated, there were calls, food, gift baskets, flowers, e-mails pouring in. Over and over we heard , “What can I do? How can I help? What do you need?” Love showed up, incarnate. As I thought of what she means to me and about what she has meant to me, I tear up. My life would have a huge crater in it if she had not walked away from that accident. If you saw the pictures of her car, you would know what I know. How she survived the wreck is a miracle and I know how blessed we all are that she is here with us. My driving has changed, how I hug my kids has changed, how I am living my life since August 5, 2005 at 3:30 PM central time has changed and I hope it does not just fade into gray. I hope I continue to learn the lesson that life is a precious gift and that we are not guaranteed anything except that God is with us and we have each other.

LAUGHING WELL WITH OTHERS. Wouldn’t that be a great thing to overhear someone say of you, as you walked away from a friend?–he/she laughs well with others. Maybe we should add that to our report cards. There is nothing better than laughing with someone. Some of my best memories are laughing with my kids, with youth groups, at concerts, with family, at memorial services, with Ron, with friends. For me laughter is very healing and I feel God’s presence when I laugh. At a recent wedding reception banana splits were served as a big band played and I laughed as I got in line. What a great way to celebrate the uniqueness of that couple and their new life togher. It was so them–they laugh well with others and the chocolate fountain was a nice touch!

Finally, I AM MADE BETTER BY LOVING. I can say that anytime I have loved, I have received more than I have given. That is the paradox of love. It is about giving for its own sake, but when we give, we in turn receive. Some of my finest hours have been when I gave to others without regard for what I might receive in return.

Lives well, cries well , laughs well…loves wildly; not a bad way to live. Maybe a little more wild is what we all need . . . Celia

P.S. If this note reminded you of a friend, send it on to them with a note that says I’m wild about you. If you received this from a friend, something in the message put you on the mind or in the heart of a friend.