Lent 2015 Photo-a-day
An afghan I was crocheting for a winter distribution project in our inner city…
‘…for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,you did it to me.’
Every once in a while, I become the child and my children become the parents. This is not an announced role reversal. Oh no, it is a very subliminal, silent, stealthy occurrence. But it shakes me, rattles me, and rolls me into a new stage of parenting. It happened last night in the midst of cooking dinner and playing with Duplos.
The Duplo task at hand was to make a birthday cake for one of the beloved baby dolls. This baby has a birthday about every six weeks and we celebrate in varying ways mostly singing, dancing, and dressing up. This particular celebration involved a colorful, cubic, cake, made to the ‘mom’s’ exact specifications. I was not the mom…I had no specifications. I was thinking of the baked taco dinner that I needed to put in the oven.
Research shows that 20 minutes of parent-engaged play with each child on a daily basis aids in their social, academic, and emotional competence. BUT, an important variable is that the parent must let the child lead the play session…the parent follows the child’s lead. So, I was trying…really trying…to learn the details of Duplo cake creating, without applying my design techniques. I was trying…really trying to put family dinner on the back burner, literally and figuratively.
Finally, I asserted myself and began adding pieces to the colorful confection. I thought I had grasped the general recipe…a little of this, a little of that…a dash of farm animals for flavor. D was struggling a bit to get two blocks to stay put while she clicked another on top, so I ‘helped’ by laying a flat piece across the two wobbly blocks to steady them.
She looked at me, sighed, and held both hands in the air.
‘You’re solving problems that I’m supposed to solve, Mom!’
She’s five…and she has identified the horribly sensitive parent/child conundrum. I’m solving problems that she’s supposed to solve. I was simplifying what was supposed to be hard for her…I was making it too easy. She wanted the challenge.
I had to sit back, lick my wounds, and examine my existence. I need to let her struggle. I need to let her fail. I need to let her figure out the colored blocks, the doll clothes, the playground pals,…so that she will develop confidence in her own spatial-relating, decision-making, people-accepting abilities.
I love my children more than anything. I want them to be stronger, wiser, gentler, and greater than I have been. But they won’t get there by my doing the hard work for them. They won’t build their academic, social, or spiritual muscles if they aren’t challenged with tasks greater than they think they can handle.
1 Kings 3:7-9 tells us an amazing story of an adult-child, Solomon. God allowed him to ask for anything…:here’s his reply:
“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
Wisdom…a discerning heart. That’s the greatest need of all parents. When to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, when to step in or leave them alone, when to push or pull back, when to talk or listen, when to pity or punish…millions of decisions, daily begging for discernment. We can give answers, but is that giving direction? We can reply, but is that instructing? Only with the Spirit leading us will we be parents who lead our children into competent adulthood. They’ll grow up regardless, but will they grow strong and wise? We must rely on God’s guidance to raise God-loving, God-living children.
We had tacos for dinner last night…and baby birthday cake for dessert. And I went to bed with a full heart and a spirit longing for more God than I’ve ever requested before.
<<Here’s the final birthday cake. Complete with apples, bananas, and a balancing chicken, ‘because baby will think that’s soooo funny!!’
And here’s more of Solomon’s story. You should read it! >> I Kings 3
A colleague and I were talking about new Lego books that interest elementary students. She had seen an Easter one in a recent Scholastic book order and asked if I had it. I told her it was in transit to my house. As that story line was about a little Lego Easter egg thief, it was obviously targeted to the younger audience. My colleague, a Walking Dead enthusiast, said, “It’s a shame there isn’t a Walking Dead one…” I replied, “Lego book or Easter book?” We chuckled. Then, I realized:
Easter is totally about the Walking Dead.
Not being a zombie fan, nor a cult follower of the show, I had to do my research. On imdb.com, I found the following synopsis:
Rick Grimes is a former Sheriff’s deputy who has been in a coma for several months after being shot while on duty. When he wakes, he discovers that the world has been taken over by zombies, and that he seems to be the only person still alive. After returning home to discover his wife and son missing, he heads for Atlanta to search for his family. Narrowly escaping death at the hands of the zombies on arrival in Atlanta, he is aided by another survivor Glenn who takes Rick to a camp outside the town. There Rick finds his wife Lori and son Carl, along with his partner/best friend Shane and a small group of survivors who struggle to fend off the zombie hordes; as well as competing with other survivor groups who are prepared to do whatever it takes to survive. (Written by Contributors)
Wow…now that’s an analogy to the Easter story if I ever heard one. A hero returns to consciousness after being mortally wounded while doing his job. He finds evil in his world and seeks to find his loved ones. Together they, and others they find, work together to defeat the evil that has overtaken their world.
Huh…what do you know? The Easter story is on television, every week, followed by millions of people. What a joy to discover!
God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but rather, that the world, through belief in him, might be rescued.
Want to read more? Here you go! John 3
‘Know how to change a bad guy to a good guy?’
The question came as we knelt on the playroom floor, thigh deep in Lego pieces. While I thought of an existential answer, I figured he was speaking more practically.
‘How?’ I bit.
‘Pop his head off and put on a new one.’ Pragmatic.
‘Well, that’s certainly simple enough…’ I replied, smirking at such simplicity.
If only changing bad guys to good guys was truly that simple. It’s an intense change, like popping off a grimacing, yellow Lego head and replacing it with a smiling one. But it involves heart and head, and it’s the choice of the head-owner.
Wouldn’t it be great it we could just walk around popping off the heads of our enemies or negative acquaintances to put new ones on? But in this non-Lego world, we have to BE the smiling head that the frowny ones see, so that they want to change their own heads. It makes me smile a bit to imagine my own head as a bright yellow Lego head with a silly grin, bringing smiles to others around me. If my smile can engineer a change in them, then they already have the notion to pop their negative head off and pop on a smile instead.
I smiled on them when they had no confidence;
and the light of my countenance they did not extinguish.
Very recently, an sticky situation worked out before it even became sticky. It was upon reviewing its solution that I realized how timely the solution had been. I could see the way that events were lining up, we were probably going to encounter a problem…but lo and behold, the answer had already come.
And I thought, ain’t that just like God?
He tends to do that. Provide answers before there are questions. Bring light into darkness. Create something out of nothing. But, sadly, we often fret about the darkness or the nothingness instead of the solution he has provided.
Upon my epiphany, I quickly thought of another situation that was also heading into the danger zone, and that I was already feeling the effects of it. It was a financial botheration. Honestly, it was a Christmas present…or a cartload of presents, I should say. One that I had already loaded up online, with eager anticipation for payday to arrive. You see, there were several real jewels of presents in that cyber cart. A couple were so discounted, it was unreal. But, I had to wait until payday to place that order. And that gave enough time for worry to set in. What if the prices went back up…they do that before a holiday. What if another bill comes in before I get the gifts…we’ve already had an automotive expense and a dental expense. What if, what if, what it???
And so, when I had that flash of encouragement, that God had already taken care of the situation that wasn’t yet, I took a breath and remembered that he could take care of my shopping cart, too. My Legos, my books, my vet kit…the things that my children don’t really need, but would just have fun playing with. God knows about those things. And, if he wants us to have them, he will provide…the right price, the right payment, the right time.
So, I resolved that if the omnipresent, omnipotent father of all creation could resolve the unresolved, then surely I could trust him with my Legos.
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My Name is Yanira Vargas. I am a Senior at Washington State University. I love all things expression and creative. I was in a relationship with my childhood best friend of 4 years, who happens to have had passed away with stage 3 brain cancer. I still believe in God, and in the beauty of mircles. Join me and embark on this journey with me.