in my heart.

"Mommy, I want to pray and ask Jesus to come 'wive' in my heart."
Parker, Age 5

both of my children ask a lot of questions, naturally. it's what children do. but my Parker, by far, is one of the most inquisitive children i've ever known. his letter to santa providing positive proof: instead of asking santa for any particular toy(s), he simply asked santa questions... questions like: "what happens if i'm naughty and nice?" and "why can't dinosaurs be alive?" and "why can't i be an elf?" and "why can't it snow right this minute?"...

he asks the tough questions, and he asks them a lot. questions that leave me verbally stumped, theologically inept. one of my constant prayers, even as recent as this morning, is that the Lord help me in verbally sharing the gospel with my children, to give me the words to say so that they may understand. i'm always aware of the possibility for confusion during Christmas season. we were at the Christmas contata at my mom's church one evening during the holidays. as we sat listening to the choir, they sang a song about baby Jesus. Parker, sitting in my lap, turned and looked at me - very seriously, and said, "Mommy, Jesus isn't a baby anymore". he waved his hand as he said "anymore", you know, as if he were explaining this to me.

honestly, i still struggle with the idea of santa claus [and the easter bunny and the tooth fairy]. perhaps it's because i struggled for so many years with my own doubts about who God was - or if He was. now, during the holidays, i secretly fear that the baby in the manger will become as trite to my children as the elf on the shelf. but, i realize that the difference is that those things are one day, at best - one fleeting season. but God, He is every day. every thing. every season and every moment. if there is one prayer i have for my own children and one thing that i try to instill in them daily, it is that God is not invisible or distant. He is in the love we feel for one another in our hearts, He is the creator of every thing and because of that, He is in everything we see, hear, feel, touch. they are gifts to me from Him and out of all the billions of people on the planet, He chose me to be their mommy. whenever chloe points out various colors in the sky or parker has me read the details of some hideous bug in his book of bugs, i reiterate to them - and to myself - how amazing God is.

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been
made. John 1:3

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. Colossians 1:16

with the new year, there is a pervasive tendency to renew commitments and for so many of us to prioritize or re prioritize God in our lives. you know, as if we have to work to make Him first and family second and career third and so on. oh, i'm no different. we reinstated thursdays as "family worship" and "favorite pasta" night; a weekly tradition that got a little lost in the holiday hustle. while we can [and should] certainly prioritize our time spent pursuing those things, the truth is that He isn't "first". He's everything and He's in everything. It's Him in my family, in my job. in my heart.

tonight's family worship was no different than so many times before. the scripture was Matthew six and the Lord's prayer. the message was about prayer in general, why it's important to pray, how we are supposed to pray. we talked about how we have to use the phone to talk to the people we love, but God hears everything we say. parker, ready to fire of his usual line of questioning raises his hand, "Mommy, what happens if we don't pray?"... "and what happens if we don't praise God?". i explained, best i could, that God created us for worship; for relationship with Him.

"but what happens if we don't?", he asked again. my first instinct was that i didn't really know, but then i realized that of course i knew. after all, couldn't i be some sort of expert in not praying and not praising God and not seeking Him? heck, i've had a lifetime of experience. you know, off and on.

"what happens when we don't pray, when we don't talk to God or worship Him," I said, "is that it makes God sad in the same way it would make Mommy or Daddy sad if you ran away and never talked to us, but when we ignore God, it also makes us sad, too - because that's what He created us for and it's the only thing in this world that can give us true joy and peace and happiness in our hearts". Parker thought about this for a moment and then asked, "and then our hearts can turn hard and we will turn into bad guys?". I had to think about that. "Well, our hearts are hard and that is why we need Jesus to send his Holy Spirit to live in us." I could see the light bulbs come on in those big brown eyes, but I still wasn't expecting him to say, "Mommy, I want to ask Jesus to come "wive" in my heart. I want His Howy Spirit in my heart." I told him that was something we would pray together, but that his Daddy needed to be there to lead him in the prayer.

holding hands at the kitchen table, amid dirty dishes and leftover pasta, my sweet baby boy confessed Christ as Lord and asked Him to come "wive" in his heart". immediately after, he looked up at Chloe and asked, "Chwoe, do you want to ask Jesus to come and wive in your heart?". "Maybe tomorrow night", she said - and we laughed. tickling him later, he was quick to remind me that his body was now "a temple of the Howy Spirit".

oh, i know, it's difficult to discern how much, at five, he truly understands. but, i do know that it's more than i did at five... or ten... or at fifteen when i prayed a similar prayer. Paul Miller said that "our weakness is the door to grace". i can't think of any other area in my life where that is more evident than motherhood. His grace covers our weakness and our brokenness. His love is not just first in our lives - it's over, it's underneath, it's inside, it's in between... and it never ends.

"I hear you say, "My love is over, it's underneath.
It's inside, it's in between.
I don't care where you fall, where you have been.
I'll never forsake you, My love never ends.
It never ends."
Tenth Avenue North, Times Lyrics


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