I have to do one more graduation salute because my extraordinary niece, Miriam Sparks walked across that stage last Friday night at the North Alabama Christian School graduation. I could tell you how proud I am of her writing, but you can see for yourself here: http://www.tomorrowschurchtoday.com. (If you have teens or if you are a teen, you definitely want to be encouraged by this website.) I could go on about Miriam’s theatrical talent and the climactic end of her high school string of plays when she played the Velveteen Rabbit in a production by Carriage House Players. There were a few moments when I felt like I was on the front row of a Broadway production. She was seriously good, especially when they let her sing! I could add that she saved the day for me when she agreed to travel to Clarksville, TN last year to help me decorate for and prepare the rehearsal dinner for my son’s wedding. I did not even know how badly I needed her till we got that preparation underway. I could tell you about how influential Miriam has been as she has spoken in several spiritual venues for women and girls, even traveling to speak in a seminar in New Zealand. I could tell you about how she’s risen to the top among Lads to Leaders participants nationwide. I’m proud that she’s been awarded at least three scholarships to Freed Hardeman University and that she will be rooming there with another very special niece, Song Nicholas, next year. So many doors opening and so many relationships about to happen. There’ll be tons of decisions in the next four or so years for Miriam, and sometimes she won’t even recognize the crucial moment when a decision will be larger than this life and have ramifications in eternity.
My favorite thing about Miriam, though, is her perpetual optimism. Favorite phrases are “…but that was really okay, because…” or “…but it turned out better than we thought when…” or “…At first I thought ‘oh no!’, but then…” or “…Wait, I’ve got an idea how we can fix this…” She’s just never to be outdone. Satisfaction, for Miriam, is not contingent on circumstances. Like Paul, she’s determined to be content in whatever state she finds herself (Phil. 4:11). Thus, her days have a happy soundtrack. She sings all the time she’s not talking!…and that’s not as much time for a melody as you might think!
My favorite Miriam story happened when she was just about three years old. I was keeping all four Sparks kids while their mom and dad were out of town. I explained to Miriam that I had to take Hannah to play rehearsal because she had to learn the dance for “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Now, I really did not mean a dance at all. It was more like a skip and a hop and a turn-around on the stage, as I recall. But nothing gets past Miriam. She gave me a little sermon right then and there, in a very high pitched little voice with an added thick southern drawl:
“Well, I don’t think Hannah should prob’ly be learnin’ to dance. And I ‘specially hope that she is not going to do the bottom dance ( hear bahhhh-tum day-unce), because the Bible says that people should only do the ‘bahhhtum day-unce’ when they are in their own house with their own family. That’s what the Bible says.”
Well, maybe Miriam didn’t have the exact wording of any Bible passage. But somebody had been doing a pretty good job of getting a concept in her little heart about how some things are just not appropriate for Christians. Every time I’ve presented a lesson that encourages Christians to chastity, I’ve thought about Miriam. So here’s to a song on your lips through every act that’s the musical of your life, Miriam Sparks. And here’s to never doing the bottom dance, unless you’re in your own house with your own family!