Sunday, July 26, 2015

Church community

Of all the communities we are involved in, the one that has nurtured and sustained us the most has been the church family. We encountered parents of older children, who offered advice and encouragement in those heady newborn days. We were given clothes and toys, new and previously loved. We strengthened ties with those who had kids of the same age. We learned what play dates were - an opportunity to realize that we were not alone in this new role - we had swimming partners to help keep our heads above water.

It's been over five years, and it is as it should be - our kids are growing up together with their peers, looking up to older kids, and patting smaller kids (those babies!) on the head.

My kids are known by others, particularly by the high school and university students who have answered the call to serve in their classes and in the summer camps. The kids are known for their actions, for their preferences, for their personalities, for their voices and the sound of their laughter. What can't be seen is how quickly they are growing: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. These are the things that the parents mark, and hold in their hearts.

This past week Tyler was in Vacation Bible School (VBS). It was his second year, and much has changed since last year. In 2014, his first year, he hadn't yet started school, and was nervous at drop-off. The feedback was that he was quiet, and talked about missing me. They did draw him out, and he was willing to be engaged in the activities. The music was of biggest impact to him - he sang and danced enthusiastically.

This year, six staff members individually sought me out to tell me how smart he was, and how impressed they were with him. He raised his hand to answer questions, and remembered what he was taught. Each day he went he looked forward to going, and he brought home stories and crafts.

Each day he is becoming more his own person. He is of his family but independent of us as well. He carries his given name as well as the family name.

There were a few times this week when he interacted with the church pastor. I took note that the pastor, as the other staff, treated him like an independent thinker. At some point, as parents, we stop speaking on behalf of our children, and let them speak for themselves. They also asked him to own up to his actions, and be accountable for them.

He still accepts what he is told, for the most part, accepting answers given to questions asked in curiosity and in idleness, but there will be a time when he will question what he is given, and more actively seek out answers for himself.

We are blessed in being part of a community that is helping us raise the kids, has invested in their spiritual well-being, and seeks to know their hearts. If you have kids, I'd encourage you to seek this out for yourself, for theirs and your sake!

From April 25, 2015

Saturday afternoon

Thankful for the time to spend with Tyler (4 years old), & Ashley (3 years old). We spend over 3 hours outdoors, first with a snack, then playing with bubbles, then in the front yard letting the herbivorous dinosaurs munch on the perennials and roam the desert (dried mounds of soil).

We sit and collect hundreds of pine cones in a bucket, then I do some yard work as they sit companionably on the front lawn, sip from thermoses, and chat with one other.

These are the fleeting moments and days that make up a life, simply enjoying nature and one another. I've thought it before but realize anew how generous God is, as expressed in creation. We are awash in pine cones, the kid-scaled dinosaurs have an abundance to eat with just a small patch of lawn, the breeze cools us as we work, and we take in the sun that seems never to stop shining.