Faith Like a Child…..or at least like my children

In Matthew 18, Jesus brings a child before his disciples and tells them that if they don’t start acting like children, they won’t get into the kingdom of heaven. Ok, so that’s a bit of a paraphrase. (Here it is for real). Now I don’t know about your kids, but if you acted like mine all the time, I’m not so sure you would get into heaven. Don’t get me wrong, I love them to the moon and back, but angels they are not.

Fortunately, Jesus wasn’t telling his disciples that they should be self-centered, whiny, nose-picking, diaper-filling children. Jesus was pointing to other things which I can see in my own kids.5Z8QJ8SIHD

  • Children are full of trust. They rely completely on their parents and adults around them to fulfill all of their needs. Think about a baby. Clare at 10 months old cannot communicate what she needs. She trusts that I will figure it out every time and take care of her.
  • Children have no worries or cares for tomorrow, or yesterday. They live completely in the moment, focused on the here and now. They don’t trouble themselves with what went right or wrong yesterday and they harbor no fears about what may or may not happen tomorrow.
  • Children have an incredible capacity for wonder and awe. We will go for a walk and Rosie will stop and smell a flower as if it was the first flower she had ever seen (and she will tell you, every time, “Look Mommy, Look! The most beautiful flower I’ve ever seen, I’ve never seen one before!”).
  • Children are always learning something. They seek greater knowledge every day. Sometimes it seems like they need to learn more than they need to breathe. Side story: There are pros and cons here for the parents. Pros – your child is learning to walk, talk, write, read, etc. Great! Cons: When your 4yr old and 2yr old learn that when the baby cries it means that mom had to put her down because she is coming back into their room to tell them to go to bed for the 10th time so they scurry back in bed before she gets in the room to act like they weren’t just jumping on the bed – great cause and effect learning, frustration for the mother.
  • Children don’t need complicated answers, at least the little ones don’t. As children get older, the wonderful question “But why?” comes into play. This ties back into the constantly learning piece.
  • Children don’t care what others are thinking. If they are moved to dance, they dance. If they are moved to cry, they cry. They aren’t concerned about putting on a show or a mask for appearances’ sake. (see my last post about that).

Trust, contentment, wonder, a quest for knowledge, simplicity – these are some of the qualities that I see in my children which inspire my faith every day.

Lessons from The Lion King: Part 1

John and Rosie love to watch TV. We try to be strategic and careful about how much they watch, because they get so sucked in. They usually get to watch a little bit before bed, especially when Ben is gone. I am able to get Clare down and it gives me some time to release the frustrations of the day so that everyone can go through the bedtime routine in a relaxed and loving manner, rather than uptight, hurry up, why aren’t you sleeping already I’m exhausted mood.

As we have explored different shows for them to watch, we have discovered that John has a sensitive soul. He doesn’t like to be scared or concerned for a character. After we have watched something a few times, he methodically will walk away from the TV during the parts that he knows upset him or make him uncomfortable.

Because of this, we have tried to introduce new shows and movies slowly, giving him time to learn the story and realize that everything turns out alright for the heroes and heroines. One of the ways that we have been doing this, especially for Disney movies, is by listening to the soundtracks and reading the books. Our current project is The Lion King. We have been listening to the soundtrack in the car, essentially on repeat, (the musical soundtrack since that really walks through the whole story) and borrowing the book from the library. Both John and Rosie know the whole story, can tell you what is happening during every song and John is even inserting himself into the scenes (Mommy, Simba and I have to give a mighty roar and chase the hyenas away from Sarabi and Nala). It’s pretty adorable, especially he and Simba’s mighty roar can solve almost any problem any character in any story is having.

Mufasa Needless to say, if I didn’t have the soundtrack memorized before, I do now. I have always loved the scene from the movie when Rafiki (the baboon for those who need a refresher) comes to Simba and helps him remember who he is and gets him to come home. Mufasa, from the cloud, tells Simba to “remember who you are.” In the musical, there is a song during this part. It is a reprise from earlier in the musical when Mufasa takes young Simba and tells him about the great kings of the past and how they look down on us from the starts. The song says “They live in you, they live in me. They’re watching over, everything we see.”

If we take these two ideas, “Remember who you are” and “They live in you” and think about Jesus, we have some powerful stuff to reflect on.

“Remember who you are.” It seems that this statement implies that I’ve forgotten something important about myself. What could it be? I know my name, where we live, what I like to eat and what activities I enjoy. But we all know that this is about something deeper. Something more fundamental.

Who am I? I am a human being. I have a mind that can make decisions, select a lifestyle, choose a career path and discern, to the best of my ability, God’s will.

And still, there is more to remember. I can go even deeper. All the way back to the beginning, when God saw that all was good. When God created the world, the Bible tells us He created all manner of wonderful things. Plants, animals, fish, birds, oceans and mountains – all were created through God’s love. And then we get to when God created man.

“God created mankind in his image;

in the image of God he created them;

male and female* he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

We are made in the image and likeness of God. I am made in the image of God. Wow – it’s hard to believe. It is so much easier to say that Clare, my sweet baby, is made in the image of God. She is so innocent, so sweet, so pure. The only thing that shines out of her bright eyes is love and complete acceptance. Yes, she is made in the image of God. But me?

If I am made in the image and likeness of God, then that means I am capable of the purity that Clare has. I am capable of the love and acceptance she shows. I am capable of giving someone my complete attention, without judging them or their life choices. I am capable of childlike trust, waiting patiently for God’s timing rather than insisting on my own timeline. I am capable of sacrificing new clothes, a fancy dinner, a new electronic device, and using that money to help those who do not have the necessities of life that I take for granted. I am capable of so much, but it is much easier to do so little.

“Remember who you are.” The more I remember who I am, at the core, the happier I am. This is because I am in touch my Creator’s purpose for my life.

Looking forward to exploring “They Live in You” for Part 2 in a few days

Easter joy and blessings for you all

Happy Easter – Moments of Resurrection

Happy Easter! Alleluia, rejoice! Jesus is Risen!

It has been so sweet, hearing John reciting the Easter story, trying to wrap his 3 and a half year old brain around mysteries that the wisest believers struggle to comprehend – Jesus died on the cross and rose, out of love for a broken humanity, so that we could once again live forever with God is perfect happiness and love. We have been talking about it all week and have spent a lot of time at church as well. My awareness has been raised because of all the talk. John will randomly come up to me, eyes wide and serious, “Mommy, Jesus died on the cross and there were dark clouds.” or “Mommy, Jesus isn’t dead anymore. He’s alive and we get to go to heaven!” It’s incredible, this little child professing such deep theological truths. Even though he doesn’t really know what he is saying, really, when I think about it, neither do I.

Resurrection morning by JRC Martin
Resurrection morning by JRC Martin

I don’t really understand what this all means. Jesus died. He was dead. That, for any human, is a final event. There aren’t any outs, substitutions or alternatives. But Jesus isn’t just any human, as we all know. Jesus was also totally, completely and definitively God. How you may ask? Yes, another mystery. So in case you haven’t figured it out yet, there’s a whole lot of mystery going on when it comes to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

But he rose. We know he rose. There wouldn’t be any Christianity if Jesus didn’t rise. If Jesus just died, then he would be remembered as a holy man, a wise sage, an inspiring preacher. But certainly not someone worth dying brutal deaths for – certainly not God. Jesus, a dead man, rose from the dead. He conquered death, the ultimate reality of our existence. It’s beyond understanding.

Our God is so good. He understands that these mysteries are quite beyond any of our comprehension. In His wisdom and in our forefather’s attention to the workings of the Holy Spirit, we are able to realize that the Resurrection of Jesus does not need to be a purely historical event.

Everyday, we experience moments of resurrection. Some moments are huge, like when just the other day, Ben returned home from a deployment. The joy and the love that our family experienced at his homecoming was the fulfillment of all the moments of crucifixion (pain, sorrow, struggle, etc.) that we experienced when he was away. As a family, we experienced rebirth in our reunion.

Moments of resurrection don’t need to be big. We have been talking with John about how he is a big brother and big brothers help to take care of their siblings. Just yesterday, I asked John to get his milk out of the refrigerator for dinner. He did and got Rosie her’s as well. He brought it to the table and told her, “Don’t worry Rosie, I got your milk for dinner.” It was a beautiful moment – a moment of resurrection. One of love, selflessness and responsibility. For me, as a mom, this was fantastic, a moment of resurrection! I was so proud of John and his awareness of not only his sister’s needs, but mine as well.

Moments of resurrection can and do happen every day. We experience them, or miss them, depending on how we choose to perceive them.

Happy Easter