If you’re not from the South, you may not understand the phenomenon that is the “Homecoming Mum.” To you, mums are a colorful, flowering shrub that you put out next to your pumpkins and gourds for tasteful fall decor. However, in the South the mum has been associated with Homecoming since its beginnings, which are widely attributed to the University of Missouri’s alumni celebration in 1911. It began as a chrysanthemum in a corsage, with school-colored ribbons around it, for mothers and girlfriends of the football players, and looked something like this:

As the popularity of the tradition grew, so did the mums, as longer ribbons were added, with trinkets and glitter. This example is straight from my own scrapbook. Try not to be jealous of my rockin’ Farrah hair. Oh, and I don’t know where my date has landed in his life, and since I don’t have his permission to post his pic or his name, both have been removed. It’s called responsible use of the Internet, folks.

Incredibly, the mum has continued to grow with each generation. I didn’t think it was possible, but it’s true, as evidenced by this recent photo:

Amazing, isn’t it?

If you think about it, it’s not just the evolution of a corsage into something closer to a Christmas tree that we’re talking about here. We are super-sizing just about everything in America. Our “meal deals,” our TV’s, our soda cups at the convenience store (64 ounces? Really?).

“Bigger” and “more” has to be better, right?

So often, we trade what will truly nourish us for what will more quickly fill us, and, in that process, lose out on the benefits of “small,” “slow,” and “steady.” The bigger things get, the less satisfied we become, and we push even harder for more. I’ve fallen into this trap on several occasions, not only in my personal life, but in my ministry life, too, as our world would have us believe that if we can’t measure our success by size and numbers, we aren’t successful, at all.

Maybe it would behoove us to remember that Jesus was basically anonymous for the first 30 years of His life. He was born in a stable, learned a trade from His earthly dad and spent time in quiet obscurity with His heavenly Dad, being prepared and nourished for His appointed time. When it was His time, He didn’t start out his ministry with a few hundred; He started out with a FEW. He spent three years pouring into those twelve ordinary men and, through slow and steady growth, grew them into the foundation of a global church that changed the very face of mankind.

I think I’d much rather show up for my heavenly homecoming with a small mum and a mature, seasoned, overflowing heart, than with an empty heart covered by a chest full of flowers.

Bigger is not always BEST. To think otherwise is to believe a lie.

A lie to which I say “mum’s the word.”