Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Cricket Story

Hug on For Your Life

The Cricket Story

A Collection of
Thoughts on Hugging
by Marcia Walthers
Copyright ©1999 Hug on For Your Life Ministries
First printing August 1999
First published in the U.S.A. by
Walthers & Associates, Desktop Publishing Division
PO Box 98, McPherson, Kansas 67460
All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission from the publisher.
Written permission granted by Marko Salonen, Editor, The Hugging Site, Dept. of Sociology & Social Psychology, University of Tampere, PO Box 607, 33101 Tampere FINLAND, for use of information contained in his web site.


To my dear husband, Denny,
who always has a hug for me
and has encouraged me for a long time
to get this work completed,

To my daughter, Stephanie,
who helped me give several programs
when she was a child,
and graciously allows me to use
her well-hugged yellow blanket,
To my daughter, Angela,
who is patient with me when I need a hug.
and lastly
To the woman who inspired me
with her Hug speech at the
Sophists Toastmaster’s Club #263, Anaheim, California
in 1981 and whose name I don’t remember.
    The cave man did it for survival. That could be where hugging started, before humankind learned how to use fire in order to keep warm. But wait, I’m sure Adam and Eve hugged each other. But was it cold in the Garden of Eden? Did they need to snuggle together to keep warm? (Well, there’s a question for God.)
    Babies do it by reflex. We all know they do this without thinking—they grab onto a finger that is placed in the palm of their tiny little hand and squeeze. That startle reflex always concerned me. Those little arms flinging wildly into the air trying to grab onto something familiar. I always hated it when I disturbed a sweetly sleeping baby. There would go those arms, grasping. I just want to pick them up and cuddle them and say I’m sorry.
    Animals do it by instinct. Newborn kitties and puppies are all over each other immediately following birth. It wasn’t until I was 49 that I witnessed the birth of a friend’s kittens. (My friend didn’t have the kittens, her cat did, duh!) What a neat experience to see those kittens hugged into the world. And then there’s the prairie dog. When a pup is born the mother must stimulate its breathing. The pup is attracted to the warmth of its mother and this interchange quickly forms a social bond, helping to ensure the pup’s survival. When it is time to emerge from its burrow, other prairie dogs handle it similarly. The family unit stands strong through nurture. Wow, could we use this example in today’s world!
    Football players do it for support. These giant macho guys think nothing of embracing one another in a huddle in the middle of a field on national television while millions of people watch. Keep up the great example guys! Don’t worry about what anyone thinks.
    Heads of state do it in greeting. That’s the custom in many parts of the world, so when we’re in Rome...let’s make peace, not war.
    Cosmonauts and astronauts do it in space. See the story later entitled American Greeted by Cosmonauts, which appeared in the McPherson Sentinel March 16, 1995.
    Well now, if so many different types of people do it, why do equally as many cringe at the mere thought of it? I’m reminded of two ladies at the grocery store checkout line that I overhead. They were talking none to kindly about having to avoid a certain mutual friend because they didn’t want to be hugged. Why do we resist hugging (or some people anyway); something that doctors and scientists proved our skin craves for survival?
    Do we fear people? Are we afraid of spoiling our children? Are we afraid of sexual abuse charges? Or is it just an excuse, like I don’t want to get mussed up? We may have legitimate reasons for our fears. But, whatever they are, my theory is that we must learn to concentrate on the positive benefits of hugging for the sake of our physical and mental health. We must learn to hug on for our lives.
    But let’s regress for just a moment. My interest in hugging began in 1981 on an ordinary Tuesday evening in the multipurpose room of the Sunkist Branch Library in Anaheim, California. Although the name and face of the female speaker have long been erased from my memory, the words of that fellow Toastmaster plunged deep into my heart, never to be forgotten. She had no clue what impact those brief seven minutes would have on my world.
    When my daughter, Angela was just ten months old, (that would be in December 1983, on the 15th which was my birthday to be exact), I became president of Anaheim United Methodist Women, a group with about 160 members at the time. One of my jobs was to conduct the monthly meeting. There is nothing much worse to me than standing in front of a group of people with a solemn face looking at those same solemn faces staring back at me, adhering to parliamentary procedures, while conducting a boring business meeting that many wish would end so they could hear the speaker and eat (and eat and eat).
    So I freely admit it. I’ve always been one to stir things up and I decided that this would be no exception. Eventually I was accused of bringing life to the group. Imagine that. I started writing new words to old familiar songs or poems and making the group do such things as executive exercises. (Stand up, fluff your pillows, stretch your arms up to God, crush Him down into your heart, bend over and touch your toes-I can’t do it anymore either, but you can give it a try, stand back up, now make the telephone company happy and reach out and touch someone-give them the gebst hug you can.) My silly songs and exercises always led to hugging because I soon came to realize that many of these ladies were divorced or widows in desperate need of human contact whether they knew it or not. It was great. They felt better and made me feel good and it was win-win.
    Now on to the story of how I hugged a cricket. No, you don’t have a vision problem, I said I hugged a cricket. Well just please read on even if you’re skeptical. It’s true, I did, in a kinda hugabout way. Remember, I already claimed artistic license. Cricket Story
    The purpose of this little story is to avoid arguments about the definitions of the word hug later on. Keep an open mind now, I take lots of artistic license with action verbs in case you haven’t already noticed. Particularly verbs that I can convert into some form of the word hug. That’s my prerogative as a writer and since this is my story, well...I won’t say any more about that but I will help you out here and there at the beginning. Eventually you’ll get the hug (hang) of it.
    It was three o’clock in the morning. He had invaded my home. I had narrowed it down to the kitchen. He was chirping at the top of his little legs. Legs you say? Yes, crickets don’t have lungs. I didn’t know that either until someone pointed it out to me when I was writing this story two years ago for class.
    Well anyway, very often I had boasted about my talent for finding a blessing in all things, but not in the middle of the night. What was this cricket singing—why did he choose my house? I didn’t know, nor did I care. I just wanted to hug (go) back to sleep. But to no avail.
    Male crickets, I learned, attempt to attract the female with a "calling song." At 4:09 a.m., between chirps, I realized I was the female he was pursuing. Not the cricket, but God! He decided to answer some questions I had pondered for several months and used this cricket to get my attention. (Aha, the blessing! But why at 4:00 a.m., God?)
    The cricket stopped annoying me during the day but struck up his discord again that evening. Determined to find him, I readied myself for action. Peering in every crack, I searched intensely. And finally, there he was, hiding elusively in the crack of my oven door. He was really hugging on now. Swiftly, I turned on the switch and hugged him up with my vacuum—what I didn’t know was that he would refuse to give up. His children came to hug (visit) me and I’ll finish this story later. Definition of a Hug
    Yes, I’m stretching the hug definition, just a little bit, but that cricket definitely was hugging (hanging) on for dear life. I indulge your patience a squeeze more. Dictionaries define hugging as clasping a person with one’s arms or to be situated close to or in physical contact with someone. Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary takes it a pinch more: probably derived from an old Norse word, hugga. Good grief, what kind of a word is that? When I have 29 hours in a day I’d like to take up the study of etymology but for now we’ll fall back on my fading memory. I read somewhere that some words originate by the sound that is made when it is said. Picture this: two big, burly guys throw their arms around each other and the initial sound echos with a thud and a throaty, gutteral noise resembling the word hug. Anyway, hugga means to comfort or console; and is akin to the Anglo-Saxon, hycgan, to think. So just think—this adds another dimension to where we can go with this hugging business.
    Since hugs benefit both the hugger and huggee, like Eve was created for Adam, let’s think about the various forms: hugs of tradition, hugs of nurture and consolation, hugs of hospitality, hugs of spirituality. Wait a minute, you’re shouting out. OK, let’s face it, let’s address our fears. Admit it, I know some of you have some because I did-still do occasionally.
    Now, the only problem I’ve ever had with hugging is because I’m afraid I’m vertically challenged—well OK, I’m short. Not even measuring up to 5'3." Well think about it. My hair might get mussed up, and my husband will tell you that majorly annoys me. I might feel a little smothered, or it may be hazardous to someone else because they may get my lipstick on them. And I worry a little about that. Oh well...excuses, excuses. Excuse me, but please don’t knock it until you’ve given it a good healthy try. Look what the English did.
    Britain’s Green Party, concerned that traditional hugging would break down class distinctions and promote sexual harassment, instituted ‘politically correct hugging’ policies. (See story in the Hug Thoughts section titled Politically Correct Hug that appeared in The McPherson Sentinel, March 9, 1995.
    Are we so worried about what others think that we rob ourselves of the blessings of traditional hugging? Well, yes. What will be next? No more football huddles—the players might be gay! Give me a break—a hug break. Who cares, let’s let go of pride.
    Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying we should pay no attention to whom it is that we want to hug. Boundaries should not be violated. The level of intimacy that we have with a prospective huggee needs evaluation. Is the person merely an acquaintance, a friendly relation or an intimate friend? The type of hug that is appropriate to give changes with the degree of intimacy we share with the recipient. The pure intent of the hug removes awkwardness and embarrassment.
    Have families schedules become so diverse that there isn’t time for this traditional, innocent intimacy? And yet, for some families, this may not be the problem. I fear the hesitancy associated with the hug has been passed down through generations.
    As a child, I don’t remember being hugged much. I wondered why anyone would ever want to hug me or love me or marry me. Was it this lack of affection that magnified my traditional teenage paranoia about bad breath, BO and a thousand other what if’s that kept me from reaching out to my peers?
    Talking to someone one-on-one, not to mention extending my arm for a handshake, made me tremble like an army of newly hatched crickets were bursting out of their skins inside me. Besides, they might ask me for my opinion about something and I was afraid if I thought they didn’t agree with me I would feel inferior. They would think I was stupid. They must be right and I must be wrong-that’s another story for another day.
    I often told people more recently that I would rather speak in front of a whole room full of people than struggle and fret and worry about trying to find something to say to a person one-on-one. (I got over it when I was afraid to go door-to-door as an Avon lady. My manager went with me the first time and told me that people loved the Avon lady—and much to my surprise, she was right and they did.) Any way, let’s go back to fifth grade for a moment.
    Mrs. Betts, my fifth grade teacher at Eugene Field Elementary School in San Diego, California, gave me my first public speaking job as the announcer for the United Nation’s Day program in front of the whole school (except little parts in Christmas programs at church). I remember being scared to death. I hugged onto the program and gasped into the microphone but managed to get through it. That teacher gave me the hug I needed to get started. She also inspired me to begin writing. Several of us who excelled in reading, or so I was told, got to write a "book" at the end of the year instead. Mine was titled, The Story of Marcia Jones. It was supposed to be placed in the school library. My original copy was never returned and years later my attempt to locate my carefully written 81 pages on wide-lined legal size good school paper were fruitless. I could use a hug right here.
    Then there was the campaign speech I made for myself when I ran for secretary of the 9th grade class at Smedley Junior High School in Santa Ana, California. My step dad helped me write the speech because I couldn’t think of anything clever. (Now I don’t lack for words even if sometimes my readers or hearers don’t always get my corny attempts at humor. Oh well....) I stood there, holding a can of hair spray to spray away there fears (about what I don’t remember) and as I did, I nervously hit the microphone and it made a terrible noise. How embarrassing and no, I didn’t have a prayer of winning that election. But look at me now. See what a little inspiration and a few hugs have done to bring me out of my shell. (Well, the drama and speech classes helped a little too.)
School Counselor’s Opinion
    "If kids have a cold home, they need a warm school," said Keith Long, a middle school counselor in McPherson, Kansas. "Especially students in the lower grades more than middle or high school students."
Mr. Long doesn’t hesitate to casually wrap an arm around the shoulder of his students while walking down the hall, but never gives a frontal or full-body hug. He shared three rules.
1. Never hug a student that doesn’t want to be hugged. You can tell quickly if they pull or shy away.
2. Never touch a student in anger like grabbing by the ear or neck, poking, pinching, pushing or shoving.
3. Never touch a student in a way that could give sexual implications.
    Long hopes he’s never faced with being told that he can’t hug students because it’s such a natural, traditional instinct for him.
    "I would have to give serious consideration about whether I could stay in this profession," he said.
    Dr. Sidney B. Simon, professor in the Center for Humanistic Education at the University of Massachusetts, would agree. He claims that kids who shove, push and knock each other down are crying out their skin-hunger needs, that they suffer from a severe form of malnutrition-a malnutrition of the skin. The cause goes straight back to our fears. Some would have us believe that touch in school is taboo because it must lead to sex. Hogwash, I say. Simon said, "Adults spread and dump onto children their own confusion and conflict about love and sex, touch and caring, and the difference between hands which touch to heal and hands which touch to turn someone on." He sums up, Please Touch! How to Combat Skin Hunger in Our Schools, a story in Scholastic Teacher, October 1974, by saying: "I hope you have been touched by the people in your life, and I hope you touch your students. If not, it’s never too late to start.
    OK, now it is time to get on with the hugs and give you a little background. Get ready for some statistics, not the usual kind. These are quite unscientific but something to think about.
Hug Statistics
    The longest hug recorded is between barnacles. These shellfish spend most of their lives glued to one another. The shortest hugs are between subatomic particles. You know, neutrons, protons, electrons - they have only one quadrillionth of a second to get together. The slowest huggers are snails. It takes them a long time to get out of their shells. The fastest hugs can only be achieved with the help of a computer. Anyone with an Internet connection can send a cyberhug any where in the world in seconds.
More Hug History
    In Ancient Egypt, however, the art of hugging was nearly lost because of mummies. Mummies thought they didn’t need to hug because they were all wrapped up in themselves.
    And of course, the Bible makes many references to hugging. In fact, healing touch has its roots in the Bible. Forty-one stories of physical and mental healing by Jesus are recorded in the Gospels. Sixteen of these involve touch.

    Hug (look) at the example of the prodigal son found in Luke 15:20. When the father saw his lost son coming home, he was filled with compassion for him, ran to him, and threw his arms around him. Now that’s true unconditional love.
    You might be interested to know that historically according to what my youth leaders used to tell me is that all this hugging leads to other things (like teenage hand hugging), but they didn’t tell us what those things were. Well that’s enough to make a teenager go out and try it and I discovered it must lead to kissing. For anyone who is trying to lose weight that’s great news. Great news?
    Some years ago Reader’s Digest published the fact that one only has to give 389 kisses of average intensity to lose one pound. Unfortunately, I don’t have any statistics on how many hugs it takes to lose a pound, but oh, well, kissing is...better get back to the Bible and more hugging.
    We’re told in Acts: 20:36 & 37 about the Apostle Paul’s farewell address to the elders in Ephesus. After speaking, Paul knelt down with them and prayed, they all cried freely and threw their arms around Paul’s neck and kissed him. I wonder how politically correct that was? I don’t think they concerned themselves about it then.
    The Bible doesn’t leave out the kids either. In Mark 10, people began bringing their children to Jesus so that He might touch them. They were rebuked by the disciples, but Jesus quickly said, "Permit the children to come to Me, do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all." Then He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands upon them.
    If you want to know more, look up these stories all involving touch:
Jesus raising Jairus’s daughter
Restoring Malchus’s ear
Healing the blind, the possessed
Peters’s mother-in-law
Jesus washing the disciples feet
Laying on of hands while consecrating pastors
Anointing the sick with oil
Most Important Hug First
    My daughter has a stuffed lamb. It reminds me of the greatest hug ever given to us by the Lamb of God when He stretched out His arms to the world on the cross and died for our sins providing our way to heaven. All we must do is reach out and touch Him. Have you received Jesus’ hug? Are you in touch with your Creator? Have you hugged Him today? (If you haven’t, be sure to read God’s Perfect Hug that immediately follows this story to learn how.)
    When I was about 11 years old, I remember being invited to a friend’s house after school who lived a few blocks away. I’d never been there before, I’d never met her mother before and I never saw her again after that day that turned out to be the most important day of my life. She asked me if I knew Jesus personally and if I wanted to invite Him into my life to be my Savior. Well, My mom had talked about some "Christians" that lived next door and told me not to pay attention to them. But Jesus was calling me and I decided then and there that I needed what Jesus had to offer me for a very good reason.
    Now we can hug on to some hugs that will be quite familiar to everyone, I hope.
Hugs of Tradition
    Mother, Mom, Mommy or Mama Hugs can be any time, anywhere, any way and they usually are-sometimes when you want one the least, like when you are ready to walk out the door in your Sunday best and your toddler still has breakfast peanut butter and jelly fingers.
    Mom’s, I encourage you to find every way you can to hug your children more— especially the older ones. They may squawk a little but they’ll remember that you care—even if its nothing more than a brief hand on the shoulder or a little squeeze, tousling their hair, a note of encouragement in the mail or in their laundry. After all, we can’t let the animal kingdom outdo us.
    Or would it be the fish kingdom, actually I think porpoises are mammals so this applies even more. Let’s take a pointer from the porpoise mom who whistles to her peers just after she has given birth. (Would that be like our birth announcements?) The other porpoise moms may be attracted by the whistle and swim to the baby and nuzzle it. The mother doesn’t attack at this time. This information from Compton’s Encyclopedia goes on to suggest that this experience with many adult porpoises in the earliest days of infancy may contribute to the tight social bond of porpoises. Interesting!
    Hey, any teens who might be reading, I encourage you to do the same for your moms. Most of us moms are learning to be moms, even if we have more than one of you because each of you is so unique and different. You are God’s workmanship, one of a kind. Remember, we moms aren’t perfect; we may make lots of mistakes, no, we will make lots of mistakes though it is sometimes hard for us to admit it, too. Here’s a couple of thoughts that might help:
1. Moms want what’s best for you and are trying the best they can to do the job God called them to do as moms. Praying for them to be a good mom would be very helpful and greatly appreciated. You won’t always like what God tells them to do to shape and mold you, but they don’t have a choice or God will be on their case.
2.  Your willingness to receive a few physical hugs and give a few hugs can go a long way toward a great relationship with we moms and making life at home more pleasant for all.
    Grandma, Grammie, Gram, or Nana Hugs, like mom hugs can also be found anywhere, but are especially nice in her kitchen when she is baking and lets you lick the beaters from the cake or cookies she’s just baked.
    Father, Papa, Dad or Daddy Hugs often occur when Dad comes home from work and the kids grab him around the waist or knees and almost knock him down. It might be dangerous if he’s carrying a metal lunch box with a heavy thermos inside.
    While we’re on the subject of dads, I must confess my jealousy. My husband always brags about how he got to spend the first hour of his daughter’s lives with them in the hospital nursery. It wasn’t fair, after all, I had just suffered for months to hug them into the world. He claims to have suffered with me.
    Then I found an article in Parents Magazine, (March 1992) titled, The Loving Touch by Janice T. Gibson, Ed.D. who quoted another father bragging about the same thing. Gary Johnson, of Delavan, Wisconsin said: "I got to hold him in my arms for the first twenty minutes of his life. From those first moments together, I never felt strange with him. He was this little helpless creature who needed to be held, cuddled, and protected." I was livid and green and happy and blessed all at the same time that these fathers wanted to be there to hug their babies.
    Grandpa Hugs are usually given when Grandpa is sitting in a big overstuffed chair —that’s how I remember them. My mom tells about how my Grandpa would read her a story and blow cigar smoke rings in her hair, often just before she was ready to go out on a date. She said her Dad was her favorite person.
    I like to call brother hugs by the name buddy hugs. The guys wrap their arms around each other’s shoulders—you know—like the team huddle—that’s really a circle of buddy hugs.
    Sister hugs, otherwise known as single-arm hugs used to be done when two particularly young girls walked, skipped or hopped down the street together —even if they weren’t blood sisters. Sadly, we don’t see too much of this type of hug anymore.
    One of my favorites hugs is the "great Aunt Mary hug." This hug is given to a young child by any older women that the child seldom sees. The child is instructed by mom or dad to go give Aunt Mary a big hug and kiss bye-bye. Mortified the child stands like a tin soldier while Aunt Mary scoops him up and smears a blob of red lipstick on his cheek. Yikes!
    Family Portrait hugs are common at weddings and family reunions. Most of us have participated in this type of scrunching together at one time or another.
    I just love itty-bitty hand hugs. Of course, these can only be given by a baby. It’s so cute when they grab onto your finger with a tight finger hug.
    Caution is in order for this next hug called the Burp-the-baby hug. If you’re not prepared you may suffer the consequences which we won’t elaborate on here since you all have such vivid imaginations.
    Now it’s opinion time again, but backed up with some professional facts. I think these plastic baby carriers that have all sorts of new features and toys to hold and entertain babies for hours are awful. OK, I used them minimally, but I think the fabric carriers that wrap the baby close to mom or dad close to their heart or on their back is more natural and nurturing. Author Anne P. Stern in a story in McCall’s (November 1992), The Feeling We Can’t Live Without, quotes Dr. Ronald G. Barr of Montreal Children’s Hospital as saying that American mothers hold their babies for only two or three hours a day.
    According to a 1990 study at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, babies who were carried close to their moms in a soft carrier like a Snugli rather than a plastic carrier, showed after 13 months that the babies were more securely attached to their mothers and the mothers were more responsive to their babies’ cues. (Redbook Magazine, October 1992, What Scientists Know about Snuggles.)
    Hand hugs are sometimes mistaken for holding hands. Parents hand hug their young children quite often to keep them from wandering off, teenagers hand hug in school, well anywhere for that matter, and church greeters hand hug us every Sunday morning when we walk in the doors of the church. Some people mistakenly call this shaking hands but it’s really hand hugging.
    One caution here. Don’t hand hug someone if you have dirty hands, unless of course their hands are dirty too.
    I suppose we must address The Great Hugging Plague here. It was an excerpt from the book, It Was On Fire When I Lay Down on It, by Robert Fulghum, which appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, Nov/Dec. 1990. It talks about a church’s crusade to welcome everyone by giving them a hug. It addressed the should we or shouldn’t we issue, or how should we and how can we get out of it if we don’t think we should problem. I think his bottom line is evident in his last remarks:
"People in that church still hug each other, but they are more careful about it now. The purpose of their hugging has changed. Once it was a statement about the liberation of the hugger; now it is a statement of caring abut the huggee. A shift from getting to giving. A shift from Look at Me to I Am Seeing You. A shift from knowing What I Want to noticing What Someone Else Needs. You might not learn this just from watching two people hug each other. You’d have to put your arms around somebody to understand."
    We had a local newspaper columnist address this same article on January 3, 1997. Isabel Wolseley titled it, Keep arms off my turf. Unfortunately she had been subjected to numerous people who overstepped her personal boundaries. She didn’t appreciate another female hugging her husband and she was right. We hug promoters must be careful and discrete.
    Most of you have been quite familiar with all the hugs I’ve described about so far. Now I’d like to introduce you to some not so familiar hugs—those that stretch the definition a little more than I already have. Be patient, God isn’t finished with my hug story yet.
Thing Hugs
    One of my favorite thing hugs is the Blanket Hug. Most mothers have had the experience of one or more of their children dragging around a special blanket, one that must go everywhere—or what’s left of it—even if it’s only a few shreds. I have an example of a very well-hugged blanket from my house which belongs to my oldest daughter. It’s quite tattered and torn with a big whole in the middle but it’s probably one of her most treasured possessions.
    Now I need you to use your imagination a little. You can’t close your eyes and read at the same time so just stir it up a little as I describe a few more hugs.
Puppy hugs are often soft and wet.
Fish hugs are very cold and seldom returned. Usually performed by proud fishermen.
An octopus hug involves the entire body.
Fraidy cat hugs make you feel safe when you watch a scary movie.
Piggy back hugs sometimes mistakenly called riding piggy back are a great way for small children to travel.
Owie hugs such as an ice bag hug to make the pain go away.
Winner hugs where the whole team hugs for joy.
Loser hugs when the team says we did our best.
Sandwich hug-child between parents or other adults.
    Now it isn’t a very good idea to give a gotcha or guess who hug to someone who is carrying a hot cup of coffee or a plate of food. That’s the kind where someone comes up behind you and puts their hands on your eyes or pokes you in the ribs and yells gotcha or guess who.
    Some of you may be all by yourself and not always have someone around to hug you and you may have a difficult time filling the hug prescription, which by the way if you haven’t memorized it by now is: four for survival, eight for maintenance and 12 for growth--every day.
    I know some of you have beloved pets. I’ll relent and give half credit for pet hugs, maybe a little more if it’s a dog hug because I’m partial to dogs. (Especially to Rose, my grand dog and those I got from my beloved dog, Cinder, who went to doggy heaven many years ago.) Sorry, didn’t mean for this story to go to the dogs. A pet does provide companionship, but according to the experts, this isn’t enough. (I really am sorry about this, but I have to hug you the truth.)
    "Substitutes for human touch, like pets, the accumulation of things and various addictions, including work, power and sex, do not suffice," said Ashley Montagu in his book Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin. Further, John Naisbitt writes in Megatrends, "The more technology around us, the more the need for human touch."
    Whatever you do, please don’t resort to too many all-by-yourself hugs. Like hugging onto a pillow—unless it’s one you need to sleep with. Every night I have two special pillows that I snuggle up to. One is so old that there’s not much left of it but it can be punched and puffed into just the right shape. The other is a full body pillow that my knees can snuggle up to and my arms for lots of back support which I need form the back surgery I’ll explain in a pinch.
    The headache hug causes a person to hold or put something like an ice pack on their head. The poor me hug is best described as someone sitting on the floor with their knees bent and arms wrapped around their legs. The I Like Myself Fake Hug is best described as wrapping your arms around yourself and from the backside it looks as if you might be getting a hug from a very skinny person.
    Challenge time: I’d like to encourage you to put those fake hugs aside, muster up some strength from the Lord, and take the initiative to reach out and hug someone else that needs encouragement or a hug. Pick up the phone. (There’s a section on Phone hugs in the Hug Thoughts chapter.) Don’t wait for someone to call you. It takes just as much energy to sit back and accomplish nothing positive and feel sorry for yourself as it does to pick up the phone and reach out to someone.
    Do you remember the Hugga Bunch Gang? It was a group of stuffed dolls popular when my girls were growing up. Huggins who is the leader of the Hugga Bunch gang and her huglet, Hug-A-Bye were in charge of making all the hug assignments to this whole family of stuffed dolls. Their purpose was to spread the joy of hugging to everyone. Their creed was to promise to hug at least once a day and with each hug you get to give two away. Good idea!
The Hug Machine—A Very Non Traditional Hug
    When I first heard about the "Hug Machine" I was angry that someone thought a machine could take the place of human touch. I visited Heartspring (a residential school for special needs students) in Wichita, Kansas, with a hug friend, Cher Clifton, to get more details. If I remember correctly, I think she actually tried out this machine but our photos didn’t come out and my memory fails me and its too early in the morning to call and ask her if she remembers.
    The Hug Machine, originally developed by Temple Grandin, an autistic, was modeled after a cattle chute. It allows students the ability, through self-controlled exposure, to learn to endure physical contacts like a pat on the shoulder or a handshake.
    Mrs. Teresa Garnett, a physical therapy assistant, and my tour guide, spoke of a baby, flailing and crying, that rejected the efforts of his mother to cuddle him. He would only be calmed when left alone. A common characteristic of autistic children, is their inability to tolerate the human touch, she told me.
    "They can’t tolerate interaction with another person," Mrs. Garnett said. Even a soft touch like a hand on the back can be more irritating than deep pressure.
    "It’s not that we’re fixing anything," said Mrs. Garnett, "just helping them to tolerate touch." Autistics are deprived of nurturing that comes with hugs because, though they want it, they can’t tolerate a mother’s touch, she explained. How sad.
Hugged by a Body Cast—Another Non Traditional Hug
    At age sixteen, I spent a year hugged by a body cast following back surgery. The first three months I was confined to a hospital bed in my room. Oh, my friends came to visit at first, but soon the bonds that held us close together, were no longer. I craved the long conversations about boys, the walks, the giggles about the cute boys, bike rides, discussions about boys, slumber parties, phone calls about boys, burgers and fries. Yes, I knew I looked funny, I sometimes smelled funny and I thought no one wanted to be associated with me anymore. And although I laughed on the outside, and knew God was with me, at times I felt like all I had to hug (hang)on to was the trapeze bar over my bed.
    My boyfriend visited me when on leave from the Air Force during this time and did what our children now call "the face thing." He would tenderly take his finger and trace an outline of a heart around my face—then gently carve our initials on my cheeks—as he sat patiently by my side and proposed.
The Face Thing—Yet Another Non Traditional Hug
    My oldest daughter, Stephanie, doesn’t ask for the face thing every night anymore. (Give her a hugbreak. She’s married now and her husband just might get a little irritated. Besides, though painful, I had to let her go. God will see to it that she is taken care of and gets her hug quota. Father Knows Best. Not Robert Young, our heavenly Father.) Anyway, this face thing was a nighttime ritual for many years—one I was called on to perform if Dad was away. She eagerly gives me a hug any time I ask now.
    When my other daughter, Angela, was twelve, she enjoyed our game of drawing pictures or writing words on each other’s backs. Then we would take turns guessing what was written. Now that she’s sixteen, I must respect her wishes and get permission for a hug. These tender moments will be hugged on to our grandchildren someday.
How to Be Sure You’re Huggable and Get More Hugs
    So by now I hope I’ve convinced you and you want to be sure you’re huggable and want to know how to get more hugs. Well this first part should be obvious, but we all know what assuming things makes. Keep the toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant and soap companies in business. It’s good for America and I’m a patriotic person. But don’t overdo it! Some people are allergic to perfumes and aftershaves, so go easy or you’ll drive people away. Ok, please indulge me in a little original poetry as an example.
Let me let you in on a little Secret
If you want to be Sure,
Don’t forget your Arrid Extra Dry,
Or your Ban Roll On,
Remember: Ivory Soap still floats
And you can be Zestfully clean,
Kissable with Close-up.
Just don’t get carried away with Passion
Or Poison or Charlie or Christian Dior
Or you might end up stinkably unhuggable.

    OK, now that you’ve all had your bath, the first, not necessarily the easiest, but the most obvious answer to getting a hug is to simply utter these simple words: "May I have a hug, please?" Don’t forget the please and wait for a response. If you’re a child you could say Pweeze. That might make a difference, especially with an adolescent. You could wear a sign that says "Hug Me," or get a Hug T-shirt. Or if you are desperate you could just blurt it out, "Gimme a hug," and act like you’re going to die.
    All right, I understand that it isn’t always that easy. Turn it around and make it less painful for yourself by asking: Would you like a hug? Do you need a hug? I need a hug; would you mind? Or when saying thank you add a hug, say hello with a hug, greet guests at the door with a hug, and don’t forget to say goodbye with a hug. (See "World Hug Week" for more examples.)
How to Tell if Someone Needs a Hug
    Sometimes it’s very obvious when someone needs a hug. Sometimes they don’t know when they do. Take a small child throwing a temper tantrum, lying on the floor, screaming and kicking their little arms and legs wildly. That’s not hard to figure. But what about the child huddled in a corner with a frown and no one else around to play? Then there’s the adult who may have just lost a job or a loved one, the grandparent in a wheel chair in the nursing home. These people all are in need of gentle, understanding hugs.
Crickets and Hug Hospitality
    I was pleased to learn that most adult crickets go to the cricket hereafter in the late autumn, but some may take refuge in a warm corner of a house for the winter. I admit it! I’d be mortified if I’d failed to hug up and relocate all the crickets that might be hiding if called on to practice instant hospitality.
    But, please notice, I didn’t say entertain! Hospitality says, "Come over for a cup of tea, I’ll be glad to listen." The Holy Spirit hugs me and says, "It’s ok. The dishes and laundry aren’t as important as taking the time right now to hug a sister in need. When I don’t worry about trying to impress others but am obedient in serving those the Lord sends my way, I’m the one whose blessed more.
    My cricket friends can be extremely quick, lively and jump long distances unlike me. Because my back often limits my activities, I find refuge in my blue chair that hugs my back in just the right places. Before I settle in, I make sure my cordless phone and special Hug Basket are close at hand. Everything I need to send a hug by mail or phone quicker than a hopping cricket is at my fingertips in my basket—note cards, postcards, pens, stickers, address book, small Bible, pens, stamps and tissues.
    I admit, I don’t write as many hug notes as my good intentions would like and my excuse is probably the same as yours—bizzyness. No, that isn’t a typo. It’s my new word for being so busy I’m dizzy. And doing what?
    Keeping my priorities straight, I hope. It’s hard sometimes with all the interruptions a mother has. Nevertheless, God gets my first hug every day (ok, almost), or the rest doesn’t matter. I need to keep in touch with my Creator every day.
    Our first command found in Matthew 22:34-37(NIV) says:
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " `Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.
    I’ve learned that the most important thing I can do for my family isn’t keeping a spotless house, cooking gourmet meals, or having everything perfect. The time I take to nurture my personal relationship with Jesus Christ every day is more important than a super mom award. The more hugs I give to God, the more He will give to me and the more I will have to hug others with. Besides the Bible has a few things to say about this. Consider this verse:
It is senseless for your to work so hard from early morning until late at night...God wants his loved ones to get their proper rest. Psalm 127:2 (LB)
    Our #2 priority is our husband— not the children. We must make time for him, even if we have little ones. Trust me, they will survive with a babysitter for a couple of hours and the support and encouragement we give them is worth wonders.
    I must admit that I’ve been guilty of thinking I have better parenting skills and can do a better job of raising my children correctly than my husband. It was humbling to be reminded one day that God chose my children’s father and He is in control and that I better let God and my husband do their jobs.
    Our third hug needs to go to our children. Most of us don’t have a problem with this one unless we mix it up with the next priority which is everything else.
    I’ve been guilty of taking on jobs at church because "no one else will do them." I should have given others a chance instead of jumping right in there because I thought I had to. Well, look at me full of arrogance and pride.
    Perhaps God is trying to gently nudge someone else and they just need a little time. I was so eager to serve that sometimes I became overburdened and regretted or worse resented all the good things I was doing and became bitter and grumbled about all the goods things I was doing and had ill feelings against those who I supposed were just sitting back and doing nothing. That’s God’s problem to fill the jobs He wants filled, not mine, or perhaps the ministry shouldn’t happen. The author of Ecclesiastes says:
    "There is a time and season for everything under Heaven." Eccl.3:1 (NIV)
    Next time a job comes around, I ask myself if it fits into my priorities. I ask myself if this is work God wants me to join Him in. Then I wait long enough to hear the answer. Besides, Pastor Robby Bolden from Calvary Baptist Church in McPherson, Kansas, said:
    "I have just enough time to do God’s will." Whoa!
    Remember the Glo–worm? Not the song, the green stuffed toy wearing a nightcap. Squeeze the middle and a light goes on inside—let go and it immediately goes out. It reminds me of the light inside us shining for Jesus when we hug Him. When we stop hugging and seeking, the light fades out—but not from the inside. He’s always ready on the inside waiting for us to hug on and get the blessing, like hugging onto the Glo-worm for dear life.
    I will delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word. Psalm 119:16 (NIV)
The Cricket Invasion
    Remember my cricket messenger? His children tried to make a home one winter in our basement. Some were so bold as to walk right across the carpet in front of us. Annoyed, we quickly hugged them off to visit their relatives in cricket winter wonderland. Wouldn’t you think they would get the message?
    Nevertheless, when we returned from a 5-day trip, the troops had moved in. If was like Jimminy Cricket had lined them up single file like little soldiers on a journey across the carpet. I knew this wasn’t China where they predict good luck for the house with many crickets. Hugging up one cricket or even a few at a time didn’t solve the problem; they marched forward undaunted. Was God trying to send me another message or what? He certainly had my attention. It was time for serious action.
    God showed me I needed to start practicing within my own family what I’d been telling others to do. Receiving or giving only one hug a day doesn’t fill the hug prescription. The survival dose of four hugs a day is a good start, the maintenance dose of eight per day will keep us going, but the growth dose of twelve per day will stamp out the epidemic. The only thing stopping me or the cricket is the enemy "exterminator." (You know, the cricket with the pointed antennae and pitchfork.) Now when I see an occasional cricket it’s a joy and my reminder to hug onto God for dear life, because the exterminator’s poison is prepared and ready to snuff out my light.
    So let’s not be afraid to start a hug epidemic in our families, schools, and churches. Take a risk, become a hug fanatic and pledge to uphold the Hug Promise: With the help of God, I promise to seek out ways to fulfill the Hug Prescription. I need to give or receive four hugs for survival, eight for maintenance and twelve to grow every day.
    And now, by the authority I have bestowed upon myself as a licensed, card-carrying hug therapist, I declare that all who promise to abide by the terms outlined in the Hug Promise, shall have passed the Hug Test and may carry the official Hug License.
    Charles Dickens wrote in his story, The Cricket on the Hearth, that crickets sing when things are going smoothly, and are silent in times of trouble. So in spite of the annoyance, let’s keep the crickets in our life singing . . . never put off hugging someone until tomorrow that you could hug today—especially if that someone is a cricket.

Hug License

(Put your name here.)_____________________________________ has passed the Hug Test by pledging to follow the Hug Promise and fulfill the Hug prescription by agreeing to give and receive hugs from the heart. He/She remembers that the greatest hug ever given was by Jesus Christ when He stretched out His arms on the cross to die for our sins. He arose to give us the hug of salvation if we individually open our arms in acceptance of Him as our personal Savior.
An official Hug on For Your Life Hug License is available, signed and dated by the author. Send $.50 and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Marcia Walthers, PO Box 98, McPherson, KS 67460.  If you would like to purchase this 8 1/2 x 11 velobound edition of the Cricket Story which has more than 50 pages, it is available for $7.50 plus S&H.  It also includes a collection of poems, quotes and articles. Contact

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dew Drops and Rainbows

“Campfires, dew drops, leaves, rainbows, Teddy bears.” These words came to me in an email as the Bible verse of the day last week from an internet list. Amused, I wrote back to say I was kind of wondering how I was going to write a devotion based on that "verse" which was actually the group’s bingo list. The sender said it would be a good trick and to let her know what I came up with. I’m always up for a good trick and thought since I had missed a few days, I should go for it.

While I realize these words were drawn at random from a large list, I think I see a common thread, though it might need a bit of a stretch, something I’m often doing so please loosen the elasticity of your brain and bear with me as I try to weave this thread.

Campfires, dew drops and leaves remind me of camping vacations from younger days. Pictures come to mind of lovely waterfalls, rock formations, hiking trails, squirrels, food hanging from a tree, and, of course, bears. Campfires are an essential part of a camping trip each day, not just for cooking and heating water, but for sitting around and singing before bed time and keeping warm.

Dew drops covered the leaves each morning and if it were dew accompanied by rain, there would be a rainbow, which might douse the campfire and get the Teddy bear wet because it had been left out by a mesmerized child. So what do we do with all these boring tidbits? Write a story? Not today! A nobler task waits.

I tried looking the words up in my Bible’s dictionary-concordance, which I’ve found is much too small, (the print, too). Drop was the only word that came close to being in there in the form of “dropsy,” which with another little stretch might elicit a few thoughts. It says, “puffiness or swelling of the body caused by a disease of the kidneys, liver or heart.”

OK, I know you are saying that’s silly, but since Pastor Jim admitted to being silly during his sermon Sunday, then I’m going to do it, too. Besides, he uses these silly moments quite skillfully and makes most of us laugh, which is good for the soul and perhaps the only time during the week that some people manage to crack a smile. Trust me on that one or get a bigger concordance than the one in this Bible and look it up yourself because this is off topic for me today. Laughter is healing!

Let’s go back to the camp. (I highly recommend Yosemite, it is gorgeous.) Don’t you love the sparkle of the dew drops on the leaves as the sun rises and paints an original watercolor each and every morning? A fresh, new canvas waits to be filled with every color of the rainbow. It’s a chance to start over and blot out the stuff on yesterday’s page that we weren’t pleased with. It’s a time to acknowledge that this artwork did not at any time, nor does it continue to be, nor will it ever be in the future painted every morning by an amoeba or some of its offspring. One needs to think about that for only a second and realize the absurdity of such a claim.

It is, however, an opportunity to recognize and praise God for His provision, to make Jesus our best friend and to cling to the Holy Spirit as our Comforter instead of to an admittedly cuddly Teddy bear. It’s a time to let the fire burn up the imaginary threads that we dream up that are not based on Biblical truths or that might cause our hearts to puff up in praise of ourselves for anything we think we have done without the materials or the intellect provided to us by the one true living God.

“Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.” John 1:3 NIV

~Praisingly, Marcia Walthers, August 30, 2009, 4:45 p.m.

Me Worry About Tomorrow?

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. MATTHEW 6:34

Years ago while in my early 20s, I took a two-week job running a women’s clothing store while the owner took a little worry-free vacation. She trusted me because I worked Mondays for her already. Behind the counter a sign that read, “Worry—a responsibility God does not intend for you to have.” That sign has stuck with me over the years and often comes back to hound me or others whom I feel the need to quote it to with or without their permission.

This verse, however, isn’t exactly clear without reading the context. It has a “therefore” at the beginning which requires me to go back. The beginning of the chapter starts with Jesus giving caution as to how we should give to the needy so as not to lose our rewards. Prayer and Jesus’ famous example comes next, then directions for discreet fasting. Verse 19 tell us not to store up treasures on earth because we cannot serve two masters, hating one and loving the other as we cannot serve both God and Money. Then Jesus says not to worry about our lives and goes on specifically to tell us what we should not worry about and gives us colorful examples about life being more important than food, the body more important than clothes. He shares about birds and lilies who don’t work and yet God cares for them and Jesus asks if we are not more valuable than they. Then an awesome rhetorical question, “Can we add a single hour to our lives by worrying! “

I feel compelled to look up worry…as if I didn’t have enough to worry about with writing this devotion! My American Heritage Taking Dictionary served up a mess of worry in itself. Just read this:

wor-ry To feel uneasy or concerned about something; be troubled To pull or tear at something with or as if with the teeth. To proceed doggedly in the face of difficulty or hardship; struggle: worried along at the problem To cause to feel anxious, distressed, or troubled. 2. To bother or annoy, as with petty complaints. To seize with the teeth and shake or tug at repeatedly: a dog worrying a bone. To attack roughly and repeatedly; harass. To touch, move, or handle idly; toy with: worrying the loose tooth with his tongue. wor-ries. The act of worrying or the condition of being worried; persistent mental uneasiness. See Synonyms at anxiety. A source of nagging concern or uneasiness.

Incredible, I had a Border collie mix that I had to give to a farmer because he chewed through Tabasco-coated air conditioning wires in my backyard. I was told she was going to learn to herd sheep. Instead she grabbed…well she did what the example said and found herself in “grave” trouble. What disastrous consequences we bring upon ourselves by that little five-letter word. Considering the Bible was written long before that time, Jesus was quite justified in telling us not to worry, knowing what adverse impact it would have on our minds and bodies and knowing that our Heavenly Father knows our needs. More than worrying he says to seek “his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to us as well.” To whom? To us as well as the animals and plants as long as we are seeking his kingdom first! Usually before we find a “therefore,” we’ll find some explanation or directions.

Now back to the verse of the day and why we find the “therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” That strikes me as a bit funny in a way. Tomorrow will worry about itself. We will worry about it because of our human nature. We can’t seem to get it when we put our head on the pillow at night that worrying ourselves to sleep is only going to continue to the next day. Each day can certainly have enough trouble of its own—because we forget just who is our Father and continue to take responsibility that belongs to him in the first place—worry. Know where does it say, “Thou shalt worry!” unless it’s taken out of context and I’m not going to worry myself with looking that up. Like the sign said, it is a responsibility God never intended for us to have. So let’s give it up…and yes I have plenty of experience in giving it up. When I put my head on the pillow and start to think about my worries, I give it up and start singing, Praise the Lord in my head. It drowns out those worries and yup, I might have to drown them out with praises the next day, but I’m working on it and it is much more pleasant and better for my mental outlook. Praise the Lord.

--Huggingly, Marcia Walthers August 21, 2009 9:57 a.m.