I never liked Chuck E. Cheese.    Maybe it was the creepy mascot.  Maybe it was the fact that their pizza often tasted like a dryer sheet, cost too much, and underwhelmed this consumer.  It could have been the wall of prizes that were low in quality and high in ticket investment.  The noise level was always overstimulating and obnoxious. The tables were sticky with soda residue, cake particulates, and kid sweat. The scent combination of pizza, plastic, and prizes peppered the air. 

But my kids were there for the tickets. It’s those little yellow tickets that kids treasured, saved, and redeemed for cheap prizes that had the sustainability of a dandelion.

As you can imagine, when Chuck E. Cheese filed for bankruptcy, I did not shed a tear.  Sure, I am sad that yet another business came to a screeching halt in this economy. Yet, I was not sad that I would never have to see a man in a giant mouse costume in the noisy pizzeria again.  I never thought that having a rodent a mascot for a restaurant was a good idea. Then again, what do I know?!?!

I read an article recently about the birthday party franchise and it got me thinking.  Some of the stipulations of the bankruptcy included the destruction of those little yellow tickets.  Every single one of the prized pieces of paper needed to be collected and shredded.  When all was said and done, there were 7 billion (yes, with a b!) tickets – almost enough for everyone on the planet to receive one. So what does it cost to destroy 7.7 billion tickets, you ask?  A whopping 2.3 million dollars! 

The article made me reflect on my own life.  Am I living a life that at the end, people will say, “she lived so well, loved so fully, and served so selflessly that there were no tickets left”?

Jesus in John 10:10b says “I have come that you might have life and have it to the full.” 

Jesus tells you and me that his reason for coming to Earth is to provide the opportunity for us to live full lives, ticketless existences.  Living ticketless lives takes loving God with all we are and serving others with all we have. With each kindness extended, dream encouraged, laugh enjoyed, love expressed, grace bestowed, connection made, and word of encouragement spoken, we have one less ticket.   Although God continues to provide wisdom, strength, desire, and energy so we never run out of tickets completely, I would like to think we are a people determined to spend the tickets we have well.

A Ticketless Existence

Are you living ticketless?  Are you experiencing a full life? Is your goal to spend your life well?

As believers, let’s challenge each other to live full lives. If we see somebody who we know is not living up to their potential, let’s come alongside them and share the tickets we have.  Let’s live to make sure we have no tickets left when our time is up. Let’s come alongside those whom God puts in our path – strugglers who can’t even see their dreams from where they’re at – and share tickets of empathy with them.

What about as parents?  Do we model for our kids what fully serving, laughing, loving, and celebrating others look like?  Are we fully pouring into them with fervor and intentionality? Are we spending our tickets teaching them all the things we need to in order to properly train them “in the way they should go”?

When COVID really hit our family, we asked the kids what games they wanted to play, activities they wanted to do, movies they wanted to watch, books they wanted to read, and skills they wanted to acquire before the quarantine was over.  We have tried to be ticketless parents, checking off all the boxes they made, spending more time and effort to live fully, and to be really present with them.  But ticketless living is no easy trick.  In fact, it is a daily decision and discipline.

When Jesus calls me home someday, my prayer is that my kids will say of me that I lived a ticketless life of love and that I lived life fully for Christ.

What is your prayer for your parenting?

Amberly Neese is a popular speaker/teacher, comedian, author, and all-around encourager dedicated to helping you become the joyful person you were created to be.

She helps people like you experience the freedom found in meaningful relationships with God and others. Her bible studies, “The Belonging Project: Finding Your Tribe and Learning to Thrive”, “Common Ground: Loving Others despite Our Differences”  and her devotional “The Friendship Initiative: 31 Days of Loving and Connecting Like Jesus” were released by Abingdon Press.

Amberly is a popular women’s retreat speaker, featured communicator for the Aspire Women’s Events, and the main host and female comedian for Marriage Date Night.

She and her husband have two teenagers and live in Prescott, Arizona, where they enjoy the great outdoors, the Food Network, and all things Star Wars.

Amberly Neese

Author of “the Belonging Project: Finding Your Tribe and Learning to Thrive” (Abingdon Press, 2020)

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Amberly NeeseComedian- Author – Speakerwww.amberlyneese.com

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