Climbing into the rocking chair, I lift my swollen feet onto the ottoman and breath a deep sigh before attempting to pick up my thirty-six pound, stout man-child. He shifts his body just so to try to find the perfect spot to the side of me since my belly is an ever-growing rotund obstacle. I take a few more deep breaths and reach over to the side table to grab The Jesus Storybook Bible.
Brennan’s eye immediately is drawn to a small 2x4 picture on the hardcover showing a man, Jesus, holding a child in His lap while surrounded by a few other miniature people of young age. “Jesus. Children,” he says as his finger points to the picture and his eyes navigate their way toward my own, signaling my cue to affirm what he’s seeing. “Yes,” I say. “Jesus loves little children. He loves you so much!”
Flipping through the pages to find the story we left off on, pictures of an ark with animals whizzes by, as does a huge tower built to reach the heavens, and the sea miraculously spreading apart as thousands of people cross over. We land upon our bookmarked page with a giant clad in armor and a small ruddy boy, albeit with a handsome appearance, holding nothing but a slingshot but who has a huge heart of faith knowing God is on his side.
Never sure how much we read and talk about soaks into the boy’s heart, he grabs the Bible and carries it into his big boy room, climbs into bed, and tucks the book underneath a pillow. He drifts off for a nap, as do I.
Sometimes too quickly, the sounds of crying or rustling protrude through the staticky sound monitor. Huffing and puffing, I make my way upstairs, pausing a moment before entering his room to catch my breath. When did I become so out of shape? The door creaks open and I find a boy hovering over his Bible. With a gleaming eye he looks at me and points to the book saying, “Mommy! Jesus! Children!” He’d flipped through the whole Bible to find the story with Jesus holding the child on His lap that matched the picture on the cover.
Only God knows the depth of a child’s precious faith that is more valuable than gold. That Brennan is drawn to this story of Jesus holding the children on His lap is mysteriously astounding to me and grabs my attention; oh, that he would know how much Jesus loves him and the plans and purposes God has for him! My motherly love doesn’t come close to that of the Father’s heart for little children and the desire He has to show them who He is, His beauty, power and majesty.
From my own life, many of my stories of the Lord’s faithfulness and His desire to show me more of Himself are from when I was a child. They’re stories I treasure and hold onto, stabilizers and solid foundation pieces when I am swayed with doubt in my older years.
One of the most frequent prayers I usher before the throne of God on behalf of my children is that they they would have markers during the very early years of their lives to hold onto in remembrance of His faithfulness. I pray they’d hear His voice, know the promptings of the Spirit in their hearts. That they would love talking to Jesus, asking Him things and celebrating when they know He’s answered their cries.
Jesus beckons the little children to come to Him. Faith like a child, this is what pleases the Father. I want to be a mother who instills a rhythm of life that celebrates the workings of God throughout our days and helps shape these precious ones entrusted to me to have eyes to see Him in everything, that from the time they are little, they would have nuggets of gold, “rocks of remembrance”, rejoicing and praising their Creator.
Their valuable lives can hold unimaginable stories of His whisper and Presence, of things Unseen.
I humbly share with you a few ways I wish I was more consistent and diligent in fostering a pulse of prayer and encouragement of the Spirit’s work in Brennan’s heart. They are a rudimentary outpouring of my heart that wants to be more open to and aware of His leading and wants to invite Brennan and Skittles to live in (and delight in living in) the Presence of the Almighty.
- Reading from a children’s Bible and talking about the stories. Out of the three we own, The Jesus Storybook Bible has been my favorite. We try to do this before his nap on most days. And sometimes Brennan protests to reading from it until I include another of his favorite books to read, too.
- Praying before bedtime and meals. Asking Brennan who he wants to pray for, letting him take part in the prayer or in lists of thanksgiving. We’re met many times with, “No,” and we’ll go ahead and pray, not wanting to force anything. And other times, he’ll go on with a lengthy list that usually includes Buzz Lightyear and puppies.
- Taking snippets from The Voice of the Martyrs kids blog and newsletter, Kids of Courage, to talk about. For example, the recent newsletter featured stories on Bible smuggling into China, and we talked about how thankful we are to have our own Bibles and prayed for those who don’t.
- Praying for a nation with Brennan’s globe.
- Stopping in the middle of the day to pray for someone and taking time (a really brief time!) to stop and listen to the Lord.
- Encouraging Brennan to talk to Jesus at anytime and how much Jesus loves to hear him talk about anything. And ask, “Brennan, what did Jesus tell you back? He loves to talk back to you, too.”
- Rocks of remembrance. As a family when we have an answered prayer to celebrate, we’ll write it on a rock and put it in a vase on our mantle. Some of these rocks Brennan painted while we talked about Deuteronomy 4:9.
- I’m trying to keep up with memorizing two verses a month, and I practice them on our walks or in the car with Brennan so he can hear them.
- There have been really hard days when I’m exasperated as a Momma. I’ll tell Brennan that it’s important for Momma to take some time to sit and be quiet before Jesus to tell Him what’s on my heart and what I’m feeling. I’ll plop myself down on the floor and take a moment before God (and it also serves as an example to Brennan) to express my utter need for help and dependence on Him.
- And there’s always the moments I need to ask for his forgiveness for being impatient, quick to become angry, or something else of the like.
These are a few things that come to mind to share with you, and I certainly have a long way to go. I have yet to figure out how to have my time with Jesus while Brennan is playing on his own, and since becoming pregnant again, haven’t mustered up the energy to get out of bed before the darling wakes up.
I certainly don’t want them to be rote, but have life. Not out of duty, but out of delight. Not to be perfect, but to live in His Presence. Not forced, but out of sheer love for a God who has given me everything.
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
I’d love to hear what you all do in your families to encourage a child’s relationship with Jesus, to present opportunities for the Holy Spirit to move in their lives that will be their markers of testimony. Or what stories from recent years or your own childhood do you hold as markers of His faithfulness?