Here's a tip.
If you ever feel your faith is weak and needs a boost, talk to a four-year-old about God.
Let me give you some examples of conversations my son has been holding lately. And he talks almost constantly, so this is only a sampling. :-)
Every night, we gather our two children on the couch, read a Bible story, sing some songs, and then say a prayer together. But before the prayer, each kid gets a chance to say something he or she is thankful for from that day to include in the prayer. This works two-fold. It helps them remember good things from the day. And it reminds them that everything good comes from God.
Well, as you can imagine, with a six- and four-year-old, the answers can be varied and/or monotonous some weeks.
Did you know that when the doctor prescribes a liquid steroid for your child to take, it comes in a form that is evidently the most awful tasting stuff in the world?
We discovered this recently when my son (not quite four) was put on a round to help him get over a cough he'd developed from allergies. The first time we tried to give him a dose, he took a sip, wrinkled his nose, shoved it back at me, and said, "No! I don't want any more of that."
Well, that wasn't going to fly because he had to take 8 ounces twice a day for ten days. And he'd barely drunk one or two.
When my children and I all came down with Flu A a few weeks ago, misery was shared and shared alike. Noses ran, coughs rang out at all hours day and night, and words were misconstrued to mean whatever my child decided they meant.
For instance, I overheard my five-year-old say to her brother, "You have to get sick before you can get better. Mommy said so."
Um. What does that even mean? I don't remember saying it, that's for sure.
But something else she said really did ring true. They were both taking Tamiflu. She wrinkled her nose, gave a little sigh, and said, "It tastes really gross, but if it makes me better, it's worth it."
My three-year-old loves to sing.
I love that he loves to sing. Sometimes he sings real songs and sometimes he makes up his own (my daughter does this, too). But he sings in such a way that there's no denying to anyone around that he loves it. Because he's LOUD.
Walking through a store, he's nestled in the basket, stacking up cans and boxes to see how high they can go before falling over. And he's belting out "Shout Hallelujah!" or "Jesus Loves Me." Or something else.
Since sleep-training my daughter, we've pretty much tried to stick to the same schedule each evening. We put on pajamas, brush teeth, and then do our family Bible time. After praying together, and giving hugs, my husband and I take turns putting the children to bed. One will tuck in our daughter, the other our son, and then the next night we switch.
Once they're in bed, we sing one more song and then give a hug and kiss and turn off the light with the hopes that they'll actually stay in bed and go to sleep. The song we started out always singing was "Jesus Loves Me." In the last few months, my son decided he was tired of that one and wanted "Jesus Loves the Little Children" instead. My daughter picked up on it and then gave us another twist. She wanted to sing "Jesus Rose for all the Children." It's actually a verse of "Jesus Loves the Little Children," but we don't tell her it's not a whole song so that we don't have to sing more than we have to when trying to get her to sleep.
Now, you may think that she tired of that trend after a few days and went back to something else. Nope. In fact, now both kids want that verse of the song almost every time. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought, well, it is probably the most important verse. Or at least the one that sums up the hope that comes with it. Yes. Him loving us is what spurred on the decision to go with God's plan to die for us. And we needed those. But without Him rising from the grave, His death would be meaningless. And I will forever be in awe of it all.
Do you sometimes feel like God gives us children to help us remember to be in awe of Him and His plan? We're supposed to be like the little children, after all. How can we do that without examples around? They definitely know how to find the most important things and latch on, don't they?
Do you ever catch yourself opening your mouth and hearing your mom come out? It happens to me all the time. My favorite phrase that popped out a few months ago was "Well, if you'd quit counting the bites and just eat them, you'd be done already." Yep. Heard that a few times growing up.
One phrase I used to swear I'd never use on my kids comes out all the time, though. Want to know what it is?
I used to hate it when my mom said that because I figured out that more often than not, it was going to be "no" in the long run. And yet, when my children ask if they can do something, what do I say? You got it. I say one of those phrases more often than not.
My children, though, aren't quite old enough to know that it's probably going to end up being "no." Instead, they look forward to it turning into a "yes."
"Mommy, can we play with playdough when we get home?"
Squeals from the backseats.
Hmm. But it got me thinking.
"Maybe" is sort of one of the answers we get when we pray. God never doesn't answer a prayer. Sometimes, He just tells us "No" or "Not now." Of course, we don't really know which one of those answers we're getting until the door has completely slammed in our face. So, how do you handle it when you get one of those answers toward something you've prayed for so hard? Do you react like my children and squeal thinking it will happen later? Or do you react like an older child whose hopes have been dashed too often and simply give up earlier than you should?
I'd say, before my husband I went through infertility treatments, we probably gave up more often than not. But after waiting for six and a half years, continuing to pray the same things over and over, we're a little better at keeping up at least a little hope while we wait. I know I'd rather be like that. How about you?
"Step on a crack and you'll break your mother's back!"
Remember that rhyme from growing up years? I'm not even sure where it started, but I remember being so very careful to watch where I was walking as a child, for fear I hurt my Mama. Now, it's my turn to be the mommy, and my four-year-old and almost-three-old take it seriously. Especially the younger one. He is careful to the point that he insists on stopping and jumping as high as he can over each and every tiny crevice in the parking lot. This sometimes adds quite a bit of time to how long it takes to get into a store.
A couple of times one of them misses and steps on a line. "Oh, no! Mommy, I'm sorry I stepped on a crack."
It's just a little old wives' tale, a silly rhyme that children have passed down for years. But after hearing it only once, it's taken as absolute truth by my kids.
And then I think about things I've heard over and over again, much more serious than some silly rhyme to give kids an excuse to jump across a parking lot. How many times have we heard "don't gossip" or "don't lie." Those are direct commands from God. Do we stop when we catch ourselves at the edge of one of those and try to jump over to avoid the sin? Or do we step on it and then say, "Oh, God, I'm sorry I stepped on that crack!" Or do we not even notice it at all, anymore?
Because we hurt God much worse than our kids hurt us by stepping on a "crack."
I hope we all have faith like our children, that we can not only believe something will happen, but that we take all the extra precautions we can come up with to avoid any resemblance of evil.
What about you? Are you a jumper? Or have you ceased to notice those little crevices around you? Are you breaking God's back?
They didn't have playground things like this when I was a kid. We had to try and kill ourselves on things like merry-go-rounds and seesaws. This only shows you a small part of what my daughter was climbing on a few weeks ago. I called it the Gladiator training thing. It's a really technical term, right? Basically, the kids climbed up and then had to make their way across to the other side by going from red part to red part. The red steps were suspended on the yellow bars, but could swing back and forth as far as those chains on the bottom allowed them to. My daughter's friend decided to try it out, but then couldn't figure out how to move from one step to the next without my helping her hold the piece still. I looked back, expecting to see my own child needing as much assistance. Instead, she had climbed across over halfway by herself, and was monkeying the rest of the way with confidence.
On other parts of the playscape, she saw various ways of climbing up to the top, studied them for a moment, and then scrambled up. My heart about stopped as I watched her have to almost leap from the top of some of the ladders to the actual "floor." She didn't even notice. Just threw herself down a slide and picked another way to go back up.
So, where do we as humans go from being completely fearless to having heart-stopping fear watching someone else do something? I know some day my daughter will pause and rethink whether or not she should make that jump. But for now, she's more focused on learning to do monkey-bars before she's five (in November). I used to hang upside down from the monkey bars myself when I was younger.
I'm not saying I should just throw myself around and risk getting hurt. But I am saying that in the bigger things, sometimes I hesitate instead of doing what I know I can do. And that's just it. My daughter knows that if she steps across that gap, no matter how high in the air, her legs are long enough to reach and she can safely get where she's going. And deep down inside, I know that I have the knowledge and skills I need to show other people God through my life, my actions, my words. But I still hesitate. I need to quit letting that fear control me. Fear isn't from God. It's from the devil.
And I need to be more like my daughter: fearless.
Do you hesitate before you leap? What's holding you back from doing what, deep down inside, you know you can?
Last week it rained almost every single day here in Tennessee. Don't get me wrong. I love a rainy day. But that was a bit much. When I saw that sunshine this morning, everything seemed better. The rain has had a lot of us down. Especially those who have had kids stuck at home, inside--more often than they should be because schools have been closed for flooding. See what I mean? We needed some sunshine.
My two-year-old son, however, might disagree. You see, whenever it rains, he can look out the back door and tell me he can see it. He's more accurate than a meteorologist. But he also loves wearing his rain boots and jumping in puddles. That's right. Those things most people try to avoid, bemoan, and complain about, my little boy finds delightful.
This morning, as I was soaking up the warm vitamin D shining through my windows and warming my back, my child asked why it wasn't raining.
What can we get from this? There is something good to be found in everything. While we don't always appreciate the rainy weather, wishing to do away with the inconvenience of it, that doesn't mean it's all bad. In the middle of the summer, we'll probably be wishing for a few wet days. But you know what the rain is doing right now? It's bringing on a beautiful spring. I almost wish I were still in Texas to see the bluebonnets that are going to start popping up along all the highways. And the rain gives a little boy a chance to jump in a puddle.
I need to remember to think more like him. And see the good in the things I usually only look at as bad.
What about you? Anything bad that you need to look at another way? Do your children help you see things in a different light?
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.