“At that time the disciples came to Jesus. They asked him, “Who is the most important person in the kingdom of heaven?”
“Jesus called a little child over to him. He had the child stand among them. Jesus said, “What I am about to tell you is true. You need to change and become like little children. If you don’t, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Anyone who becomes as free of pride as this child is the most important in the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18 from The Little Kids Adventure Bible. Zonderkidz. Copyright 2000.
I am always amazed by the honest and sincere explanations children will freely share as they try to process and understand the world around them. We have little favorites in our house. When our oldest was a little guy of maybe three or four years old, whenever he would feel scared, he would say, “My stomach is nerwvous.” Not that he felt nervous, but that his stomach was nervous. When my middle son was trying to describe the three o’clock shadow on his daddy’s face one day, he said, “Daddy, your sprinkles are tickling my face!” And recently, my youngest son asked me when his “parent teeth” would start to come in.
The other day, a dear friend of mine sent me one of those chain emails with no author, but with the request to send it on to five other people… you know the ones. A group of people asked children ages 4-8 years old to define the meaning of love.
- A little boy named Billy, age 4, said, “When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.”
- Another boy named Karl, age 5, said, “Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on cologne and they go out and smell each other.”
- Noelle, a 7 year-old girl said, “Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, and he wears it everyday.”
- And my absolute favorite was from Lauren, a 4 year-old, who said, “I know my sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go buy herself new ones.”
Do you hear the sincerity in their voices? Doesn’t it just make your heart smile? No pretense. No second-guessing. No pride. Just their honest pure thoughts on love. Isn’t this what Jesus is talking about when he says we must become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven? He wants us to let go of all of our pretense, our second-guessing, and our pride, and just honestly and purely BE. Just like these children.
We are surrounded by so many things in this world that are tarnished. We have hearts that may be hardened and jaded. But it is right now, especially during this Easter week, that we are reminded that Jesus gave his life for us, so we may be washed clean. So those things that are tarnished can be polished, and our weary hearts can be refreshed and renewed. So we may become like children.
Thank you so much for children; for the things they say, and how they say them. Thank you for your Son, who through his sacrifice, can reveal the child-like innocence you want us to know. Lord, we want to become like children so we may know the kingdom of heaven.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
My youngest son truly is the energizer bunny. Each morning he wakes, dresses and is ready to go to school while the rest of the family is still rubbing the sleep out of our eyes. When he arrives home from school, I’m lucky to share ten minutes with him while he’s eating his snack before he quickly dashes off to play with his buddy next door. Then he usually makes his way downstairs or outside to play basketball once dinner and homework is completed for the night. Recently, after watching one of his favorite shows, I overheard him exclaim, “Who wants to go play pretend Ninjago?” My middle son, exasperated, informed him, “You need to just enjoy watching a show! You don’t always have to go play it afterwards, too!”
This Saturday, after an exciting, sleep-over, birthday party, my youngest came home mid-day wondering what was in store for the rest of the afternoon. He spoke in a tired whine, and his sleepy droopy eyes stared off. But when I told him he looked tired, he staunchly denied it and slowly moaned, “I’m not tired!” Then, when I softly broke it to him that he needed to take a nap, the waterworks turned on full blast as he repeated, “I’m not tired! Why do I have to take a nap? I’m not tired!”
He continued to fight it as I walked him to his bedroom. “Why do I have to take a nap? The other boys don’t have to! This is the worst day ever! I’m not tired!” Even though he was putting up a good fight, I knew as his mommy that he would be much better off if he took some time for real rest. I began gently rubbing his back, and slowly a yawn overtook his tears. In the quiet, his eyes started to fade, and then softly close. My son slept for four hours that day; and on Sunday, he was like a whole new child.
Oh! To some degree, aren’t we are just like my youngest son? Don’t we go ninety miles-an-hour through our days and nights, and instead of seeking real rest, we fight it all the way moaning, “We’re not tired! We CAN’T be tired! We have too much to do! Too many people are depending on us!”
But when we let Him, our Heavenly Father who knows us best, and knows we will be much better off, is waiting to gently lead us to where His loving arms can overtake all of our fears, doubts, and concerns. In the quiet of His presence, we can let go and find rest in Him; and we too, can become like a whole new child.
Hear Him whisper, “Come, my child, it is time to rest.”
If you give a six-year-old boy some legos (and your undivided attention)
He’ll want to describe to you his “game.”
And in his game he’ll have two players
And he will call them Luigi and Mario.
And in the first level of the game
They will jump from one side of the bedroom floor to the other.
And when they land on the other side of the room
They will open up different lego doors.
And when they open up the lego doors
They will enter the second level.
And in the second level of the game
There will be cards they must match to gain “health.”
And if the first two card numbers don’t match
The boy will sort them by their suit.
And if the next two card numbers don’t match AND the card suits don’t match
Then the boy will sort them by the color of suit!
And when they finally match by the color of suit
They will move to the next level.
And when they move to the next level (and mom starts to get sleepy)
The little boy will ask
“Mom, please don’t leave yet. I love telling you my game.”
And then he’ll want another lego.
(And mom will want one, too—for a little while longer, at least.)
Inspired by If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, by Laura Numeroff.
….the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13
No. I am not referring to the watermelon jolly rancher I found stuck to my son’s nightstand the other night, nor am I referring to the tiny, round banana stickers that always end up on the bottom of my shoes! I’m referring to those little but important ways we show our children they are loved. (Writing about my Dad in yesterday’s entry reminded me of this.)
There are so many things in this world that become overcomplicated. Showing love to our children does not have to be one of those things. Here are some easy basic ways to do so, whether you work full time, part time, or stay at home: (Please feel free to add to this list in the comments section! This is a time for us to encourage each other!)
- Say, “I love you”
- Hug and kiss them
- Scratch their backs
- Sing with them in the car–We have jammed to many a songs on our way to soccer practice this season! I even had chances to “bang my head” like back in the day!
- Dance together! We used to always have a dance night at least once a week when the boys were younger, but now they just think we look weird. But that’s okay because we think they look weird, too.
- Lighten up and laugh together. Not everything has to be a learning moment. A little bit of silliness (or in our family’s case, a lot) goes a long way!
- Pray together
- Ask them about their day, and truly listen when they respond
- Keep eye contact with them (or if you’re like me and have a child that loves to walk around while he is talking, at least stay focused on them)
No planning, no money necessary–just a little bit of quality time. Doesn’t that sound refreshing! My Dad used to always say, “You just have to go back to the basics.” And you know what? I think he was right, because those basics really are the things that will stick with our children.
What other simple ways can we show our children they are loved?
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die … a time to weep and a time to laugh … a time to mourn and a time to dance… (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4)
On this day, six years ago, I had the most incredible conversation with my Dad. I was about to go into Target to buy a few things when he called, and for some reason, instead of carrying the phone into the store with me like usual, I just sat in the car and talked to him for a good fifteen minutes.
We talked about the new teaching position I had recently interviewed for at a private Christian school. We talked about my boys; our youngest was still a tiny baby. He expressed the words every child, no matter how old we are, longs to hear. He said, “I’m so proud of you.” I hung up the phone with a smile on my face and in my heart, and I remember so clearly thinking, that was such a good conversation! I stepped out of the car, walked into Target and went about my day. I had no idea that would be the last conversation I would have with my Dad.
He died that evening of a sudden heart attack.
I can still recall almost every painful detail of the funeral and the days and weeks following, as my family tried to come to grips with our loss. Leading up to the funeral, I remember going completely limp on my parent’s sofa. The tears would not stop. My husband had to pick me up like a child and carry me to my bedroom where I collapsed onto the bed. I thought the hurting would never end.
But just as Ecclesiates 3:1-4 says, There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die … a time to weep and a time to laugh … a time to mourn and a time to dance… (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4) While my Dad may not be here on this earth anymore, he will always be in my heart. The time to weep and mourn his death has passed, and NOW I shall laugh and dance:
At Lake Kensington in Michigan:
Son #1: Dad! Do we have to go back to the dock? We just got out here!
Dad: Yes son, your sister has to go to the bathroom.
Son #2: She ALWAYS has to go to the bathroom as soon as we get out to the middle of the lake! Can’t she just go over the side?
Dad: No son, little girls need to use the bathroom.
Six years old: Dancing to Niel Diamond with Dad at the church “bazaar!”
In third grade: Lunch out at the “Big Boy” with Dad where he made me feel like a princess, while my mom was home receiving guests for my surprise birthday party.
As a little girl at Lake Wawasee in the summertime: Dad standing waist deep in the water calling, “Come on, honey, you can do it! Kick your legs a little harder. You got it!”
Middle School election for student council class president: Dad listened to me practice my speech probably fifty times!
High school: Dad listened to me sing “The Rose” a million times, so I could build the confidence to audition for the spring play; and then the following years attended almost every play performance and volleyball game.
And so many more…
Thank you, Lord, for your seasons, and thank you for my Dad. Amen.