Sunday, September 17, 2006

Little Hands - Big Hearts Part 3

Song Stuck on the Brain: Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah
You would think that means I've been in a Sunshiny Disney kinda mood. Not. It's been a total Monday. But no more whining. On with the series... .
Bedtime and Prayers


Bedtime has been an ever-evolving routine. As a baby, Aaron had to be rocked to sleep. Only Nana could do it right. He was most definitely Nana’s boy. I can’t say that was easy for me. I enjoyed the bonding time that came with rocking and singing him to sleep and it was sad to find that time a rare occurrence. Since I worked during the day and Nana stayed home, he naturally became attached to Nana. Maybe he knew I was just a greenhorn and Nana was an old pro, but whatever the reason, I had to get used to it. No matter who put the children to bed, though, prayer was always a priority.

Both my parent’s and I made a great effort to teach the children how to pray from an early age. Not just memorized prayers, although they know those too, but to pray what was on their hearts. We began by saying them for them and as they grew they could repeat back what we said. Once they learned to “do it myself”, the joy came in just listening.

Our bedtime routine now includes all the regulars: a trip to the bathroom, hugs and kisses good night for everyone, a drink and story and finally prayers. The children go first and I say the last prayer. It’s always amazed me just how closely kids pay attention; even when you’re sure they’re not. Every night I would pray for their families and for ours, for the sick and injured, and for good dreams all around. I’d thank God for various things and pray that the angel’s would surround their beds. I even prayed that Zion would come soon. Aaron found that very intriguing and we had a short conversation where I explained that Zion is God’s city and someday it will come back to earth and we will be able to live with God and Jesus.

He must have liked that, because the next night he added that to his prayers. I was very pleased that his prayer life and thirst for knowledge was growing. Several nights later as I sat listening to their prayers, Aaron prayed “…and God please make Zion come soon, and God, make it ‘nappy!”

My first reaction was to laugh; I quickly fought that urge and waited for him to complete his prayers. We then talked about how God has his own timing. He understood, but what I learned was that whether we like to admit it or not, our prayers sometimes sound that way too. We want something so bad, and we don’t understand why God isn’t making it happen as soon as we’d like. We certainly do tend to ask God to make it snappy. As I open my mouth to teach Aaron about patiently waiting for God’s timing, I feel as if I’m reminding myself, too. That patience is a virtue; a lesson we must learn over and over, all of our lives.

Another night, as the kids had just finished their prayers and I had started mine, Aaron tapped me on the shoulder. “April, I forgot to tell you, I love you.” I thanked him and then before I could start praying again he jumped in with “and tell God I’m sorry I interrupted.” I paused and then did just that.

With every prayer I listen too, I learn more about what my prayer life should be. The scriptures tell us to pray without ceasing, I think that Aaron has showed me just how that should be, an open conversation with God. As we get older our prayers become rehearsed sometimes, rushed even at times. And how often have we gotten interrupted by some minute, daily task and we forget where we were in our prayers, only remembering later that we didn’t finish our conversation. How rude can we get? How many of us would think it was a big deal, and how many would remember to tell God they were sorry they interrupted. We forget that with an open conversation there are two people talking. Do we interrupt God before He’s finished speaking to our hearts? Or do we even give Him the chance to speak? I’d love to say I do every time now, but I don’t. I do however try to remember to apologize. Manners aren’t just for us earth dwellers. Who deserves our respect and manners more than God does?

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“Dear God, bless Mommy, bless Daddy and bless Jesus…” as Aaron’s sweet childlike voice continues, I have to blink back tears. Once again he has shown me with childlike innocence that prayer is about a relationship. We spend hours praying for everyone we know. In turn, Jesus as our intercessor takes those prayers before the throne of God. It’s because of His love for creation and His gift of salvation, that we have the right to ask for His intercession. Yet, it had never occurred to me to “bless Jesus”. Thank Him certainly, praise Him definitely, but bless Him? Aaron in his innocent heart had struck upon a lesson that the psalmist David had learned centuries ago, to bless his holy name. It certainly puts a whole new perspective on your prayer life, when you ask God to bless Jesus.

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Every night the kids choose a story to read before bedtime. On this particular night, Aaron chose the story of creation. We read about each day and what was created, and that on the seventh day God rested. I didn’t think much of it. We had read this book many times before, but it must have struck Aaron in a new way.

He closed his eyes and began his bedtime prayers. He completed his “bless Mommy, bless Daddy,” and moved on into his thank-yous. He spent a good portion of time here. He thanked God for the sun and the flowers and many other things, than with much earnestness he said, “ and thanks God for the leaves on the trees. Because if they didn’t have leaves, people would look at them and say ‘look at those naked trees, they sure do look funny!’ So thanks God for the leaves.” Meanwhile, Chloe is sitting on her bed and emphatically agreeing. “Yeah, God.”

Yes, it was funny. Once out of the bedroom, I admit I laughed. But despite the humor, I was once again reminded how much our view of things changes as we get older. We tend to forget the simple things that aren’t really so simple. What would our world be like if there were no leaves? I know I would miss the bright green buds in spring, the cool shade in the summer and the beautiful colors of fall. How sad would it be to never jump in a pile of leaves or smell the earthy scent of them on the cool breeze? How could we forget so quickly our science classes in years gone by about photosynthesis and the complexities of nature? Thanking God for the leaves seems so simple as to be not worth our time, but thanking Him for the complexities of creation is not. What else have we overlooked or simply taken for granted? What seems simple to us is often the greatest of miracles in the eyes of a child.
(c) April Erwin
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