It's almost Valentine's day, and you know what that means? It means I have my yearly bag of conversation hearts sitting on top of my fridge so I can steal a few each time I walk by. Maybe not every time ...
My children discovered the bag yesterday and began begging for hearts once finished with their meal. My daughter had finished before my son, but as soon as she started begging, he did, too. We enforce the rule that you have to finish what's on your plate before ANY kind of sweets. And sometimes that means they don't get any. Today, my son still needed to eat several bites of meat, so my husband had picked out a heart and laid it on the table near me until he was finished. I had been putting up leftovers and saw the heart when I looked down, not realizing it was set aside for our child.
"OH! He found one my favorite flavor (white) that says 'I love you!' So sweet!"
My husband gave this sheepish look before saying, "Ye-e-es, of course I did." He went and grabbed another heart for our son. I knew as soon as he gave me that look that it had been a happy accident on his part, but one he would have done if he had thought about it.
This is all very silly, probably, but it's little things like that which keep the sweet in our marriage. So many people say that they're no longer in love. IN LOVE. I hate that phrase. Love isn't something to fall into or out of. It's actions and choices, each and every day, to put our spouse ahead of all others and keep trying to make them happy because it makes us happy. It's finding a heart that says just what you want to say and slipping it into a busy hand. It's sneaking a hug for a moment in the midst of a crazy kitchen before the two-year-old comes and pushes you apart at the knees to demand attention for himself. It's staying up too late some nights because there were no moments for just the two of you earlier in the day. It's not the big things. It's the little things that make the chaos of life more bearable because you're going through it with someone.
This may all seem a bit strange coming from a person who writes romance novels. But I hope you can see through the romance of the story that the couple is building a stronger foundation so that once the newness of the attraction wears off, all these little things will still remain. And I hope you have someone to find your favorite flavor of candy and slip you a piece every now and then, too. What little things keep the romance going in your life?
The preschool my daughter attends has a Bible lesson each day. We asked her the other evening during dinner what lesson she had heard that morning. "About Mary going to where Jesus was after he was on the cross." "When she went to the tomb?" my husband asked. She agreed and we talked about some more details. Then, with a frown wrinkling her forehead, she said, "But why did the bad guys have to kill him, Daddy?"
Ever had one of those moments? You know why. You've learned it from a young age. But how do you break down something so deep in a way that a four-year-old child can grasp the truth and love behind such a cruel action? Thank God for my husband. He explained very gently that because people were bad sometimes, God had let Jesus die so that we can have a way to be able to go live with him in Heaven. We didn't go terribly deep, obviously, but she finally grasped enough to accept that it had to happen. Only that opened another can of worms.
"Are we going to go home one day, too, Daddy?"
It took us a few tries to figure out that she was talking about Heaven. We had said Jesus went home to live with God after he rose from the dead. But she didn't want to go. When we started listing off people we loved who were already there (her Gamma, my Grandma, etc.), she decided maybe it would be okay ... as long as it wasn't today. Then, she asked, "Will my cousin go to heaven?" "Yes. I have a feeling your cousin will be in Heaven one day, too." And that made it all better.
Oh, to have such a simple faith! As long as she knew the people she loved were going, too, that's all that mattered. Do I feel the same way? There's a lot of people I want to see in heaven. Am I sure they're all going? Am I okay with going without them?
My four-year-old daughter was running around the house the other day singing the fruit of the spirit song. If you're not familiar with it, it starts by saying the fruit of the spirit's not a (insert a real fruit here). Then, it lists the attributes listed in Galatians 5. She interspersed her singing of this song by tattling on her two-year-old brother whom she had provoked to do something worth tattling on. Get the picture?
My two-year-old gets to work puzzles when he arrives in his Bible class room until everyone gets there and the teachers are ready to start. He picked one that had various pieces in the shapes of fruit the other day, dumped it out, and then asked, "Are these the fruits of the spirit?" Hmm.
Obviously, we need to work more on teaching what the fruits actually are: things like kindness and patience and love and self-control. As we explain them to our children in words we hope will make sense to her four-year-old mind and his two-year-old intelligence, I think, but we need to remind ourselves of these, too. Just like I reprimand her to be kind or not burst into a tirade against her sibling, I in turn need to stop myself before I burst out yelling at her for doing something, too. Not an easy thing to remember in the heat of the moment.
My sister made us a board like the one pictured above. If you want to know more about it, check out the post she wrote here. My daughter keeps asking if she can put one of her fruit magnets on the board. I remind her that she has to show me that she's doing a fruit of the spirit before she can put a magnet on it. She dejectedly slumps her shoulders and says, "oh, yeah." She goes off to play again, and a little later, I hear her singing, "The spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-contro-o-ol." Now, to remind myself of that, too, so I can better teacher what it means beyond a fun song to sing.
How do you do with teaching such seemingly simple, yet complex ideas? Got any suggestions?
This is a place for me to share thoughts and ideas not just related to writing. Thoughts about what's going on in my life, about an idea I got that I thought shareworthy, or just a funny anecdote.