Be Like a Child: 2001

Dear Family and Friends,

This year I’ve been meditating on those verses in Matthew 18:3,4 which say, “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” What is so great about being like a child? I’ve found that the more that I think about it, the greater it is….

After Joey returned in March from Airborne School, our boys were ready, especially Jonathan (6), to jump off any boulder with legs together and ‘landing gear’ ready. The concept of “No Fear” but ultimate trust is ever-present in the life of that child.

One day, to my horror, I watched Jonathan use this steep incline from our driveway to our pond as his bike ramp. I asked him what would happen to him when he reached the sandy section and his bike suddenly came to a stop and he didn’t. “Oh, Mom, this is a great hill,” was his response. “No fear” is all I could think.

While Joey was in Airborne School, the boys, my sister and I painted the outside of the house. The concept of being like a child was ever- present—they had no fear of doing something they had never done before, they had no pride of doing it wrong, their attitude was ‘let me help.’ Joey John (9) was designated the ladder painter, while drops of paint spattered on those below. Then Joey John painted the entire garage.

Joey purchased a flashlight for army use. The warranty read, “Submersible to 500 feet, corrosion proof, able to penetrate fog, water, smoke, dust, used by police and fire departments, the U.S. military and search and rescue teams worldwide…with lifetime guarantee if for any reason you are not satisfied…. The above guarantee does not cover sharkbite, bear attack or children under 5.” I reminded myself many times of that guarantee this year, as we had four boys five and under. The perils of a child are immeasurable, and the destructive capability beyond comprehension!  We have one boy that we must always remind him, “Pay attention to your surroundings! Look where you are going, not where you have been.” It’s that element of no fear combined with the ability to live intensely for the moment without thought of the next moment that makes toddlers a war-zone on the rest of the world. We do not add children, they multiply---their creativity for unheard of adventures escalates with more boys and more ideas!

I am learning much by just watching our boys. Jacob, at one, was undaunted by a 25 lb sugar bag in his way to get to the phone. He moved it without thought. The persistence and problem-solving ability of a toddler is something lost with years. Children just live in the moment---whatever they are doing. Joey has said, “If it’s funny once for a toddler, it’s funny 10,000 times.” They have no thought about what is next. I thought Joey John was hard at work painting the garage and I was going down to offer a break. I found him on his back looking at the clouds. After asking him what he was thinking, his response was, “just nothing.” They simply enjoy the now. Maybe that is why my heart melts when I see them sleeping—it’s peaceful, the storm of energy has calmed, the cares of this world are not on their face, they are just at rest.

Their persistence is also illustrated in their prayers. For an entire year they had prayed for their “Auntie Susie to feel better” after being diagnosed with leukemia last Thanksgiving. Now, she does. One son prays almost daily for our friends’ cow not to kick them while they milk her and for his friend to ‘do his chores cheerfully.’ A prayer we all need!

One weekend when Joey was on drill, our dog killed one of our pigs. Joey John (9) helped me hang it so that I could butcher it. Josiah helped entertain the baby. Several weeks later, Jonas (3) asked me,   “When I die, will you butcher me?” I thought of all (probably not all), the avenues that his little mind had gone in the past few weeks with this… and was then able to lead him to the Savior Who takes away the fear of death and after life.

Josiah (8) has been reading gardening books, purchasing plants with his money, and planting his own garden. He purchased one plant from Zone 23 and nurtured it to thrive beautifully (until the goats got lose and ate it). His zest for simple things reminds me that it’s good to be a child!

We purchased 25 chickens. We now have 16 laying hens. The boys run up from the hen house with eggs in their hands, asking, “Guess how many!” “Wow, that’s a total of three white, five brown and five blue eggs today…” They were especially ecstatic when they ran down and actually watched the hen lay the egg! Joey John (10) and Josiah (8) were getting up around 4:30 A.M. They would get ready for the day, as they plan their adventures. One morning I heard them say, “Let’s go down and watch the rooster crow!” That is not what I would want to be doing at 5 A.M. but then I think, maybe that’s part of being a child, the excitement of a new day, enjoyment of the simple things, enthusiasm for what the day will bring forth! Who needs to be entertained, when life is all around them!

Last night the boys and I were circled around James Falcon (1) encouraging him as he took his first  faltering steps. The boys were cheering him forward, retelling everyone that would listen that he took another step. Even Jacob (2) was jumping up and down for the progress that was made. Progress…I think of Jacob (2) learning to talk, “Me, Jake,” and “Work boots on.”; of Jonas (4) asking for his own outside chore to do, like the big boys; of Jonathan (6) helping haul water and hay for the cows and goats; of Josiah (8) taking the initiative to take James for a stroller ride to allow me to rest or to rock him to sleep; of Joey John (10) learning to be a gentleman and waiting for the lady to enter the room first. Sometimes I think that we will never get there, but then they surprise me and God gives me a glimmer of hope that we will and it will be okay.

Joey preached one Sunday on “Satisfaction: Abraham died being satisfied with life.” We learned that there was only one thing in Titus 2 that young men were suppose to do, “to be sensible” –does that give this mom consolation that I should not expect my boys to have common sense now, when even God is working on young men to teach them to be sensible? Sometimes that helps me to think that I won’t be doing it all. But other times, I wonder if I can make it till that time.

With the advent of September 11th, Joey has been ‘on-call’ and ready. Through a series of events, Sophi, my sister, came to stay with us, another confirmation in my heart that Joey will be called, but also a calmness, not too unlike the child’s peaceful sleep, that God is preparing our family for it. God knows we are but His children---too many times thinking that we are the boss, but learning, slowly, that it’s the no fear, trust that He desires; it’s the living in the moment that allows us to rest; it’s the simple things that help us enjoy the life He wants us to have that reflects His Image.

Isn’t that why we celebrate the season—the time that He sent us His Son as a child, not only to teach us to be children, but to provide for us the way into His kingdom of heaven. To teach us to trust Him with no fear, to enjoy life to its fullest, to rest in His care. We wish for you the season’s Son Who continues to provide the only way into the satisfied life now and in His kingdom.

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The God who holds the whole worth together can surely hold our small world together. Praise the Lord. I love these verses and thinking on how very big our God is. It's funny that evolutionists marvel at our world coming out of nothing, and I marvel at a God who is SO big that He can create all this. I can't imagine the greatness of our God, it just blows my mind.