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What does celebration look like for you?

Dr. Peggy Wobbema, Chaplain, Cox South Hospital, Springfield, Missouri

When you hear the word celebration, you usually think "party." But for me it really means understanding the "rest of God" in my life, no matter what the circumstances. The rest of God is really God's presence. I'm trying to learn to say, "I celebrate you today, God. What should you and I do together?"

Dr. Anita Koeshall, Associate Professor at AGTS and SFC Europe; Waterloo, Belgium

I cannot remember the last time that we celebrated an anniversary - and usually birthdays are pretty small affairs. Usually if something happens it's because our kids have put a little celebration together - it includes the person's favorite food, perhaps (but perhaps not) a small gift. It always includes a prayer of thankfulness and affirmation over the person. And lots of telling people we love and appreciate each other. Sometimes we get the feeling like just being together is a celebration, and perhaps that is because we are apart so much. When it comes to Christian holidays, like Christmas or Easter, again we don't do much. Because we are often traveling I seldom decorate - but our favorite thing to do is to be with close friends and family and have great fellowship. When we were more situated and the children were small, we seldom celebrated without inviting our Students for Christ folks - and often it was a weekend retreat with the whole group. What fun we had - what food we ate, and how sweet the fellowship. I loved Christmas in Germany with the candles on the tree, the midnight or at least late Christmas Eve services. We usually gave the children presents (we bought only one per child - the others were from Grandma and Grandpa) every advent Sunday prior to Christmas so only one would be left so that gifts were not the center of our celebration, and often we would pray for those we knew who had lost a love one that year. The year [our daughter] was so sick and couldn't eat, we were in Austria for Christmas and took candles and went on a mountain walk and sang Christmas carols as great big fluffy snowflakes came down. It was incredible. Anyway ... sweet memories ...

Kathryn Wilson, Minister of Mission and Outreach, South Joplin Christian Church, Joplin, Missouri

Celebration occurs for me, in stressful and good times, by reminding myself of the joy of Christ that is at the center of my life. In all situations, when I tap into that, I feel a continuing joy, a sense of celebration. It is also where I receive my strength.

Anisha Sabu, co-pioneer of a satellite church with her husband, Banglore, India

India is a country with an ancient and rich heritage and follows numerous customs and traditions. Coming from this nation, every day on the calendar is dotted with a festival or significantly historical day. However, aside from religious and patriotic holidays, people often find more and more reasons to celebrate. To my family, the essence of celebration is the event of sharing one's joyous moments with family and friends with a time of togetherness, food, and art. Indian culture emphasizes family bonding with not just nuclear families, but also with extended families: our extended families extended to the hundreds. Therefore, a birthday celebration may have 100-200 invitees, a house-dedication party welcomes 500-600 guests, and an average wedding attendance may be 1000-2000 people. We cherish the old adage, "The more, the merrier."

Juli Nelson, Pastor, First Christian Church, Clever, Missouri

Celebration for me is living "in the moment." Sometimes that's finding a creek and sitting by it for a few minutes on my way home from work; sometimes it's deciding to make a cake as thoughts germinate for my sermon; and sometimes it's humming a tune after a hospital visit. Trying to live fully in the present moment feels to me like "celebrating life."

Katy McLellan, Teacher at Teen Challenge Cincinnati, Ohio; Researcher/Writer at Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri

When I think of celebrating, I think of a few things: spending carefree time with loved ones, talking about how good God is, drinking coffee, eating ice cream, taking walks, and telling stories, etc. Then I continue celebrating by writing down the event/circumstance/breakthrough, thanking God for it all, and resting. My idea of celebration is pretty calm and oriented around people to whom I am very close and who have a deep understanding and love for the Lord.

Mi Hyeon, Lead Associate Pastor, Wesley United Methodist Church, Springfield, Missouri

I celebrate being a woman and being a woman in ministry. It is a joy to fulfill God's calling to lead people. It's a celebration, not just a responsibility!

Sharon, Missionary to Students in Brazil

I was raised in an abusive home situation, and for the longest time, I wondered why God would let me have such a difficult childhood. I look back now and sense that God gave me a sensitivity for people who are silently hurting. God can take the smallest thing and use it to reach many hearts and lives, and set hurting people free. God has given me so many things to rejoice and be glad about, and I celebrate because God uses me as I am.

Andrea, Mentor to Middle School and High School Girls, Springfield, Missouri

Celebrating the journey means living every moment of life out loud through faith. We celebrate because as we obey, we are being dependent on God. I want young girls everywhere to know that Christ is their Victor. We should proclaim that opportunity for freedom to every captive person!

Brandy Tuesday Wilson, AGWM, Director of PASIÓN por la COMPASIÓN, Southern Cone South America.

Taking moments to enjoy the day. Usually a cup of coffee and a vegan scone coupled with friends makes just about any day a celebration. I prefer a mid-week "friend-time" over a scheduled calendar holiday.

Miriam Testasecca, Licensed, Writer and editor for Uniquly His magazine for AG ministers' widows.

Celebration is observing a special occurrence, landmark in someone's life, and joining with others in their joy. Celebration is better when shared with others.