Thursday, December 24, 2009

15 Year Old Shoes

Sometime I forget the shoes I used to wear. The awkward ones that didn't quite fit. The laces always seemed to come untied. No matter what the occasion was, they were never quite right for it. The 15 year old shoes are tough to fit in to. Watching my daughter struggle to fit brings back memories of my confusing youth. I see in her the defiant toddler, the confused child and the budding adult all vying for first spot. She's brilliant, lost, insecure, confident, charming and slightly rebellious all at the same time. I remember feeling alone even when surrounded by friends. I remember thinking I wasn't smart and at the same time thinking my mom knew nothing about anything. I remember felling like I had it all together and like life and understanding were slipping through my fingers like sand. Now that I see those "shoes" again, being worn by my daughter, I find I am participating, ever so slightly, in that roller coaster of emotions. My roller coaster isn't quite so steep and twisty as I try to determine how to help her, when to be quiet, when to allow alone time and when to require she participate with the rest of the family and the world. It's hard to know when I should help her tie her shoes because she's so exhausted she can't pull the knots tight, or when to let her try again and again to build up her strength and skill. In the moments of rebellion I want to shut down the ride all together and toss those blasted shoes out the window and bring out the toddler shoes and force them on. I miss those days when she called me Honey instead of mom. When she cried because she didn't want to be 100 years old because she'd die:) When she used to eat the little green worms that dropped down from the oak tree or squish lady bugs (who squishes ladybugs?!) But I know the 15 year old shoes must be worn and will someday wear out and be exchanged for adult shoes. Then perhaps we can walk together and grow together until one day we exchange those shoes for wings.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Taking small children to church is like...

I LOVE the idea of taking my children in to church with me. We spent years sending them to programs and having them come away with church bucks but no idea what was taught. Even when I taught the program they still only knew how many church bucks they'd gotten and what they were saving for, but not about the saving grace of our Saviour. When we decided to start bringing them into church we found they listened more because there wasn't as much zing and bling, just teaching. Those moments when you catch them staring in wonder as they listen to the sermon, or close their little eyes because they're so moved by the music...those moments are golden. Then there are the other moments.

I took my 7 and 5 year olds to church this evening (I usually have all 6 with me!). Taking small children is like trying to organize a circus run by individuals suffering from epilepsy and tourettes! Not to be unkind in any way to those truly suffering with those disorders, but those I have known with those disorders were much less jittery than my guys! They always need to ask questions in that lovely stage whisper right as the priest begins to pray. "Are we almost to the bread part?"...everyone heard that! They stand up and sit down and suddenly start making airplane noises right when the decon says "let us pray to the Lord", "ZOOOOOM!" (the response is supposed to be Lord Have Mercy, by the way). You give them something quiet to keep their little hands busy, but in church even cotton makes a loud noise right at the wrong moment. Heaven forbid if anyone moves in their seat and makes a sound that remotely resembles passing gas! Then we've lost them for sure.

I sit there thinking...I hope God understands my prayers when I'm only able to say a few words between shushing and redirecting my children. I hope God knows my heart when I'm trying to be present in worship and keep the five year old from singing louder than the choir...

Sometimess I think I'll forget the real words to prayers like the Nicene Creed because mine goes more like this: I believe in one God...Micah, you don't need to know if it's bread time yet, just listen... And of all things visible and...Donavan, stand up for this part...And in one Lord Jesus Chr...Micah, hands down, it's not time to be an airplane right now...Light of Light...Yes, Donavan, the decon turned the lights on, they have a switch in the altar area...Who for us men and for our Salvation...

At this point I look up to heaven with my eyes crossed and ask for help, take a deep breath and look at my sons "experiencing" church. They have to wiggle and move and twist. I think it may be impossible for them to absorb half as much as they do without the movement and some subtle (and not so subtle) sound effects.

I don't know where I'm going with all of this. I guess it's just the realization that it's much cuter when it's somebody else's child saying "I have to go poop" during the little entrance. My children are helping me work out my salvation with fear and trembling. They are going to teach me, whether I think I'm ready to learn or not, that it is not all about me and that God meets us wherever we are, through whatever noise is around us, in the most unusual ways. In all my quest for those peaceful moments to reflect I still haven't found out how to have the faith that young children can have with noise and chaos all around them. May I dare to embrace the noise, the distraction, the jerky movements my young ones just must make...may I embrace them and learn to come to Christ as they do.