My oldest son, Carter, has been asking a lot of questions about what it means to truly follow Jesus. I want to make sure he understands all aspects, so we talked about sin and that when we sin, it hurts God’s heart.

After coming up with several examples of what sin might look like, the conversation shifted gears and the boys began playing with toys in the backseat. Suddenly, my youngest, Daniel, hauled off and clobbered his brother. Carter pulled away and tucked himself into the corner.

I waited for it. I just knew a commotion was about to break out in the backseat. But it never happened. I looked back and asked Carter if he was okay. He just nodded and through thoughtful eyes he replied, “Mama, I’m just trying really hard right now not to hurt God’s heart.” He got it! He was actually listening to all we had talked about and was immediately putting it into practice. 

His sweet innocence makes me wonder, though. Am I trying really hard not to hurt God’s heart? Am I stopping myself when the Holy Spirit puts a check in my spirit or am I falling prey to old habits?

God, I pray this week that you will open my eyes to ways that I am hurting your heart. Show me and help me desire to bless your heart, instead.

(In honor of school starting back, I am reposting this blog from 2015 when Carter began school for the first time. He begins 2nd grade Monday! Can you believe it? Time slow down.)

I just stood there as the door closed behind me. Honestly I felt a little lost. For four years we have done life together. We have experienced every new thing side by side. I was there for his first word and first step. We have spent countless hours together learning how to master the potty. I got to watch him eat ice cream for the first time and go to his first movie. I almost had a heart attack the first time I saw him digging a hole BY HIMSELF on David’s excavator. We have read books, baked cookies, built forts, dug for dinosaur bones, and chased chickens. We flew together to Alaska twice and drove to Camp Livingstone in TN as a family. I was there his first Sunday of “big boy class” at church and watched him thrive in Cubbies on Wednesday nights. I have entertained endless questions and never-ending conversations about trains, tractors, and trucks. We have done almost every day together since he was born.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday I watched him excitedly waltz into his new classroom. He never whined or cried; he kissed me goodbye, sat down in his seat, and started playing with the kids. I had to fight the urge to sit down and set up camp. I so wanted to be a fly on the wall and watch him soak in all the newness of this giant first in his life. But deep down I knew he needed to do it alone. So, I looked over my shoulder one last time…

Then I left my Heart in room 418.

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad he felt so at home; but part of me wanted him to need me a little more, just a little longer. I kept waiting on the call that he was crying uncontrollably for Mama, but it never came. He did fine without me and was just as excited to go back and do it all again today.

Even as I write this, the tears that I experienced all day yesterday just keep coming. Even though I have known this day was coming, and I have intentionally prepared him to be ready, I never imagined how hard it would be. We snuggled for about an hour last night and he told me everything about his day. He lit up as he shared about coloring shapes and playing with all his new friends. He excitedly threw his hands up as he described the slides and other outside and inside toys. He sang one of the new songs he learned and leaned close as he told me he even got to dance. “F has two little lines and a big one,” he told me, “and a P has a big line and a curve. Then there’s that letter that goes up and down and up and down and makes that mmm sound.” His face danced with joy as he talked on and on about everything he learned and did. He was even excited that he got to lay down with all his friends and take a nap!

Last night David and I cried like babies as we were saddened that our little boy is growing up but also relieved that his first day of school was such a great experience. Who knew that being on this side of school was the hardest part!

Everything was made right, though, as I stood at the gate and waited for my little man. As his class rounded the corner, my gaze met his, and without missing a beat, he came running to meet me. I wrapped my arms around him and held on tightly.

My Heart made it home.

“Mama, how does Mickey Mouse pee?” I tried to stifle the laughter. Where in the world did THAT come from?

“Well, I suppose he has an outhouse behind the clubhouse.” All of us laughed and began coming up with funny places that Mickey Mouse might use the bathroom or how he could even make it happen.

I could have shrugged the question off. I could have made a funny comment and that was it. But I didn’t.

I chose engagement.

I chose to challenge his busy little mind with more questions that would give him something to think about. I chose to joke and laugh along with him. I chose to think like a seven year old who likes to watch Mickey Mouse and help him on this wild little question journey. We spun out puns and laughed at our ridiculousness. And we bonded.

So when the more serious questions come, like today, my son knows that Mama will talk to him. When he asks me how to get to heaven so he will get to see Uncle Arnold one day, he knows I will engage with him. And when he asks about sin and Jesus and salvation, he knows it’s safe and we will explore the topic together.

The silly, the serious,and all in between. We need to engage. We need to slow down enough to foster growth in the lives of our children. They need to know they are valuable, important and loved. Just because it’s silly to us doesn’t mean that it’s silly to them. Well, it might be; but what a great time to laugh together with our kids.

We still don’t know where or how Mickey Mouse pees, but my son knows Mama cares. He knows that he is heard. And he knows he is valued.

Take time to engage. Life is never too busy to stop and talk with our kids. We might even learn a thing or two.

My little guy, Daniel, is almost 3. I am the preschool director for Vacation Bible School this week and I was very unsure about whether to let him join my group or not. The first night, he was miserable in the nursery so he ended up with me in preschool, and much to my surprise, he did great. He sang the songs, followed directions, talked to his leaders, played the games and made the crafts. He has blown me away this week.

As I was watching him sing and dance tonight, I realized that sometimes we have to just give something a try. I had so many doubts and questions about whether Daniel was ready, but he totally rocked it. At home, he is a busy two year old, but when presented with the chance, he became a mature almost three year old. If we don’t take the chance, we will never know whether something is possible.

Step out of your comfort zone this week. Do something that you are unsure about. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised at the joyous outcome of stepping out of the familiar.

Saying goodbye to two friends in less than two months has been hard. We have cried until we hurt all over. 36 and 37 years old. That’s too young to have to say goodbye. These should be the best years of our lives; raising our kids, loving our spouses, and chasing our dreams.

We shouldn’t be attending funerals.

Now, I know that these guys both knew the Lord and because of this, they are in a better place. I know that if we put our faith and trust in Jesus, that yes, we will see them again some day. And while that does bring a little bit of comfort; it doesn’t fill the hole.

These two men are in heaven. But they left their wives and kids behind. These two mamas are widowed. These two mamas are now single parents who will have to try to work twice as hard to provide for their households. These two mamas are left trying to explain why Daddy isn’t there, and No, for the 300th time, we can’t go see him. And no, he isn’t coming home. And every time her heart will ache.

All new routines. One bedtime hug instead of two. An empty pillow that still smells like him. A tear stained pillow that hasn’t seen sleep in weeks. A closet filled with clothes that only serve as a reminder that he’s gone. And the heartache grows.

Yes, I believe that God heals. Yes, I believe God will give these mamas strength. And yes, I believe they will have friends and family that will step in and play vital roles in making the next few weeks and months successful.

But Daddy is still gone.

It’s not fair. It’s not right. I don’t like it. And it sucks.

My insides ache for these mamas. Every birthday, holiday, and family gathering is going to be hard. All of the firsts are going to make them miss Daddy even more. Mama will still be there cheering those little ones on and they are going to bounce back so much better than she realizes. But that doesn’t make Daddy come back. Or miss him any less.

I’m not angry with God, but I just don’t understand. Why take the good ones? Why take these men who were loving their families well. Why? Why? Why?

We may never know why. But I do know that life is going to be really, really hard on these families for a while and they are going to need our prayers, love and support more than ever. We can’t take Daddy’s place, no one ever can; but we can help fill the gap, some way, some how.

hand1Oh Dear Jesus,

Hold us as we we cry. Cradle us as we weep. Catch every tear and hold it close to your heart. We can’t make it through without your help. We just don’t understand, but we need help trusting that you are still good. When it doesn’t make sense, give us the faith to grab your outstretched hand.  Bless these precious, grieving families. Grant added strength to those weary mamas. And give us the strength to not quit living, but to live even fuller than before.