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Some years back a friend called and asked if she could use my home to host a “blessing party” for her daughter’s 13th birthday.  Although I had given multiple parties for multiple occasions (yes, I’ve even celebrated Cinco de Mayo and the Chinese New Year!) I had never heard of a blessing party.

She explained to me that she had asked her daughter to choose a dozen or so women who had been the most influential in her life.  These names would comprise the guest list.  Those invited were asked to prepare a few words of encouragement, instruction or personal life lessons to share at this rite of passage into womanhood.  In addition we were encouraged to focus on a particular character trait or personal quality which we admired about our young friend.

We were also each asked to bring a token which would serve as a physical reminder of the things we had said. Then we would all gather around her for prayer and end the party with a fabulous, fancy tea.

It all sounded wonderful to me so I went into full party mode gathering new recipes, ironing my lace tablecloth and polishing my silver.  With pink roses as the centerpiece and crystal votives lit all around, I felt fully prepared as the guests began to arrive.

I was completely unprepared, however, for the sheer sweetness and depth of emotion we would all experience at this very moving and meaningful ceremony.  There was something so utterly sobering about being able to reach back and touch the innocence of youth and to be allowed the honor of imprinting one of such an impressionable age.  There was not a dry eye among us.

As each woman stepped forward to offer her token and to explain its significance it was as though each of them was pouring wisdom and love and nurture into this precious girl’s soul until she was literally beaming and brimming like an overflowing vessel.  

Then her dad arrived at the door with his own special gift, a shadow box with a pair of her old ballet slippers mounted inside.  He spoke of the pleasure he received from watching her dance in those shoes and of how someday her steps would inevitably lead her away from him to her own path in life.

He then read from Ephesians 6, reassuring her she had been fitted with the “full armor of God” and that he was certain she would be able to stand firm in her convictions because (verse 15) “her feet had been fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”.  He then laid his hands on her head and prayed blessings on his daughter.  One of the most precious sights I have ever seen.

There is truly something significant and special about a blessing that is spoken out loud.

There is truly something significant and special about a blessing that is spoken out loud.  I clearly remember the feeling of value and worth imparted to me when I would hear one of my parents telling someone what a blessing my sister and I were to them.  It affirmed me.  It strengthened me.  It encouraged me to BE WHAT THEY SAID I WAS!

Bragging and blessing are not the same thing.  We can be proud of what our children have accomplished or done and that’s fine.  But when we speak a blessing over them we are looking into their future and proclaiming with a prophetic voice all of their fulfilled potential and divine destiny that was placed in them at birth.  Those words have power!  The sentences we form help form the children we raise.  

 The sentences we form help form the children we raise.

A few weeks ago I was honored to participate in the blessing party of my great niece, Katelyn, who was turning thirteen.   Her party was held at a tea room on the outskirts of Atlanta.  To ensure her two gifts would not be lost or stolen, I had carried them with me on the plane.

As I handed her the first gift, my eyes filled with tears.  It was a quilt belonging to my mother (her great grandmother) which had been hand stitched by members of the first church she and my dad had pastored.  I gave it as a reminder to Katelyn of her spiritual heritage which I told her “is an important part of your DNA”.

The second gift, what I considered to be a unique piece of jewelry, was to remind her to always be herself and not a copy of anyone else.  I emphasized that while her mother, her grandmother and her great grandmother were all wonderful role models, each of them was very different from the other and special in her own way.  I encouraged Katelyn to celebrate being Katelyn!  Deciding to live in that freedom will not only bring joy to her life but will also bring honor to her Creator.

Since my first “blessing party” I have hosted and attended several others.  They each have their own flavor and flair but they’re all spectacularly special!   And these occasions are not limited to just girls or to those turning 13.  I know dads who plan special camping or hunting outings with their sons and have a special time around the campfire where other men speak blessings upon their son.

I know a single mom who asked ten men, all highly respected by her son, to meet with him for dinner on his 18th birthday to give him their fatherly advice on manhood and its challenges.  

Another friend of mine had not heard of the “blessing party” until her daughter was 15 so she planned one for her 16th birthday.  The place, the time and the specific occasion are not all that important.  But “a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”  (Proverbs 25:11)  When we give our children the gold and silver of the spoken blessing, we give them a treasure to last a lifetime.