I like to walk in the mornings, by myself, but on this Saturday, Brian wanted to sleep in and Anne had spent the previous night at her Granny and Papa’s house. Faced with the prospect of trying to keep these two loud mouths quiet all morning, I tucked a few pieces of banana bread, a bowl of blueberries, a water bottle, and my camera into a bag, strapped them all into the minivan, and drove to the lake.  Shawn came, too. Of course.

I worry sometimes about how I’m passing this whole life-in-Christ, God, and faith thing down. I worry about whether I’m doing enough and then I worry about whether I’m doing too much. I don’t like competitions and scores and games for Jesus stuff. I don’t like formulas and gold stars. I worry about turning the Bible into a children’s story book, about helping the tinies to engage with Scripture and wrestle and ask questions, and then I can’t bring myself to read about Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son, Issac, on the mountain, no part of me could ever understand that obedience, I admit, I’d probably go to hell before I’d raise a hand to hurt my child, I don’t understand it at all. Types and forecasts and shadows be damned, I couldn’t have done it and so I don’t read about it to my tinies, it’s too horrible, and all the old glorious battles just sound like genocide to me, now, and my heart is heavy for the inhabitants of the walls of Jericho, then I’m wondering if I’m sheltering them from God, he’s not safe, but he is good, and there isn’t a flannelgraph for this.

We read a lot of the Gospels instead. And we sing, we sing and we sing, Scripture songs, from that Seeds Family Worship, and I hope I’m not making anything trite, but I love to hear them singing Bible verses, and the words get down into my own blood stream, too, when I’m making supper, I sing these songs now, under my breath and skin. I pray, and we pray, and I point them to prayer. When I get hurt, they run to lay their small hands on my skin, just the way that I pray for them, they pray for Jesus to make me all better, and sometimes, even if I’m not better, I smile and say that I am, I don’t want to wound their beautiful faith, I want to protect their whole-hearted trust for just a while longer.

I don’t know what I’m doing here, and I feel sometimes like I get a lot of stuff right, and a few things wrong, and a few more spectacularly wrong, and really that sounds like most of my life so far.

I’m pretty sure that I need to be the person now that I want them to be someday, and so if I want them to care about justice and mercy and compassion, then I have to live it out. And if I want them to be fearless and bold and courageous, well, guess what? And if I want them to pray, I must pray, and if I want them to know God as love and Abba, and I want them to know that He is very fond of each of them, and I want them to forgive and offer grace and second chances and love tougher, well, then, here we go, I’m about to live a better truth with my life.

It’s caught, not taught, someone told me, and I believe that to my core, even as it intimidates. I believe that God is enough, for me, and for them, and so I am learning to relax, unclench my hands, no death grips of control are required to teach and live a life of grace. When I start to notice half-moons imprinted in the palm of my soul-hands, from clenching tight to figuring it out, over-analysing, and forcing it forward, a death march of checklists to mark off with a red pen and pressure and expectations and guilt and shoulda-woulda-coulda, I have learned to go for a walk, to play, to pray through the days, to make a cup of coffee and just sit, for a while, to watch the trees.

And someday, when they are lined up on a therapist’s couch going over their childhoods, I hope they’ll be given the grace to remember these mornings.

I hope they’ll remember that we walked in the mornings, how homemade banana bread tasted outside, how we played at the empty playgrounds while every other kid in town was still in pajamas or watching cartoons or sleeping in, and how we had the whole place to ourselves. How we took an hour and a half to walk one time around a lake that should take only 25 minutes, about how we stood on the bridge, and watched the moon fade into the coming day over the blue lake water in this western city in the country, how we ate blueberries they picked with their own hands, and we felt the wonder of it all, all three of us, quiet, and watching a ghost moon, together, and it felt like prayer, and a cathedral, and communion, and a gift, and kingdom come. And then we went home.

[sarah]

 

 

In which my heart just sits down
In which I radically stay put
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  • Jessica Stock

    Beautiful. This is so timely as I am sitting here putting together homeschool curricula . .. checklists, guilt, shoulda coulda would . .. yes I need to learn to go for a walk, to teach my children who God is this way. Thank-You!

  • Our thoughts are similar today. I remember those days with my little ones. Now they are half grown, but my feelings are very much the same. Grateful they have a wise and perfect Father in Heaven & that while I can help them find the path, the journey is definitely their own.

  • Beauty and grace, Mama. Beauty and grace.

  • I don’t even have kids and this still gave me chills! Incredible. I know so many will be encouraged by this today. As for my child-less self, I just bask in the beauty of your words 🙂

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  • I worry about all the same things.

  • I’ve been thinking of these same things these week. (I wrote a post about this very same thing on Thursday, in fact. Which solidifies my long-held suspicion that we are kindred spirits.)

    Thanks for your beautiful perspective and the challenge to be the kind of mama who goes to the lake with her kids at the break of the wonderful new day.

  • <3 this.

  • Katie

    thank-you so much for this post; it has given me such peace. I worry like crazy about all of these things too, and I pray that my children too will be given the grace to remember moments such as the ones you described.

  • Libby

    I’m crying. thank you for writing these things for the world to read. I so relate. I want my kids to catch it not just be good…Bleh. It’s been a summer of fighting the shoulda and the old “be a good girl” voice. how many days, even today, I had to literally make myself sit with coffee and watch a tree like you said. Just thanks, sister.

  • Sarah

    I needed to read this today. Thank you!

  • Allison

    I’ve been reading your blog for almost a year now, but this is the first time I have commented. I just want to say thank you. The world needs more of your honest writing.

  • Luba

    I often worry about how my own children experience God. As a child, I had never heard of having a relationship with Him. I knew much about Him, but never interacted with Him until my later teens. Now a mom, I think, my children don’t have to wait that long…shouldn’t have to wait that long. But how do I help them experience Him on a level that is age-appropriate? A real, genuine encounter that will cause them to take notice, “Hey! Something happened here!” I don’t think that’s wanting/expecting too much for them despite being 6 and 4.
    I knew with my first-born, I’d have to live this faith dynamically, tangibly, if I ever wanted her to. I fear I have lost time. And even though you can say it’s only 6 years, it’s still 6 years. To be sure, I am constantly telling “Jesus stories” to her and even sharing some of my testimony with her, praying with and for her. But I long to see both my children realize a deeper connection.

  • I’m with you, in the not knowing and in the yearning to live out the gospel as feebly and honestly as I can. Hope-giving words here; thank you.

  • I’m a long way off from some of these questions, but thank you for giving me words to form prayers with today. This is a post I will pocket.

  • Melisafedd

    God Almighty.
    I have sanitized every bible story we have read so far and yet. I think that is ok for a season? Now as they start to hear about the world outside. As they start to understand the news stories we listen too. Now we are having the harder conversations. I think….there must be a time for everything right? They will ask the hard questions when they are ready. We need to create the safe place for it!

  • Perhaps they will know the Bible, and the faith as they know us–first as huge, perfect ciphers, and then, as something to push against and confess to, and finally as a breathing person that’s complicated and loving.
    I keep trying to carry the work of bringing them to God and He keeps reminding me it’s His job to carry them and me too.

  • So beautiful!

  • Diana Trautwein

    Ah yes! Caught, not taught. You’re on the right track, Sarah B., yes, you are. Lovin’ these photos and the story they help tell. Not one of us does it perfectly. Not one. But by God’s grace, our kids survive us, even thrive. It’s all a miracle – one that takes commitment, soul-searching, creativity and lots of banana bread.

  • Erin Burke

    This is beautiful.

  • Holly

    Oh yes…it always rattles me when plastic trinkets are passed out in the name of Jesus and somehow that is supposed to make my children follow him to the least of these? This life of ours, it is a prayer that we are teaching our tinies to chant without ceasing and may it not sound like a clanging bell because it has not love. Oh Sarah, you are not alone.

  • Charlie Johnson

    Sounds to me like your children are lucky. No, blessed.

  • Allison C. Lee

    It is never a waste of time to click on your blog. Never. Loved this.

  • Sigh.
    I’m pretty sure you’re getting a LOT of things spectacularly right, my friend.
    xo

  • Oh, yes. Needed these words.

  • Mindy

    I love this.

  • Sara

    Oh my word I loved this! Midway through the Abraham story, I just stopped reading it and pulled my son closer to me in defiance. I didn’t realize how violent the Bible really is until I started reading it to him. And I struggle daily with Am I enough? Do I talk about God enough? What if my thousands of questions for God make my children stumble???? Anyway, thank you. This made me feel less alone.

  • Jamie

    What a dear, sensitive mama you are. I wonder and worry sometimes too. But it’s okay. Don’t worry. You are doing a GREAT job. You are being true to your faith, not adding fakiness onto it, and they will see the realness and they will read those stories someday and understand, and it’s okay if they are not over-familiar with the hard stuff before they are ready for it. You’re doing well.

  • Sheila

    Sometimes I wonder if even I am ready to be reading the Old Testament. Do you know the part in Exodus, where Moses’s wife is in the tent with her son, and she feels the presence of the Lord over her …. so she grabs a piece of flint and circumcises her son, so they won’t both be destroyed? I simply can’t bear it.

    My husband says that God never wanted that; that Zipporah thought God would have destroyed them if she hadn’t done it, but that she was wrong. I hope he is right because that’s a terrible thing for God to ask anyone to do.

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