Spaghetti with meatballs. And Haagen Daas for dessert.
And this is the result:
I’ve often marveled at how children have an innocence and freedom to embrace life in a way that those of us who are older, especially adults, cannot ever gain again. They can enter into almost any situation and be awed by it. They have a gift of wonderment that as we age, we usually lose. And it is a loss we don’t acknowledge and we train ourselves to look upon wonder as childish.
The last year or so, when I remember to pray with specific intentions at night, I’ve honed in on praying for my children that they might come to know Jesus and his immense love for them. I’ve realised that though I hold tight to my faith, I don’t know how to encourage their relationship with Christ at their age. I lead by my example, but my example is that of a faith-filled adult, and has distinct adult-ness to it (ex. praying a whole rosary, sitting in adoration for extended time periods, reading the bible & commentaries on the bible). I look to parishes and it’s as though children are forgotten at this stage of their development. We have youth ministry, but it’s (more than likely) older children youth ministry. There is typically nothing and no resources for young children. We have religious education for youth, but it’s only associated with sacraments. There is art and craft ideas all over Pinterest, but how does one help their child spend time building their relationship with Jesus when they’re younger than confirmation/1st Eucharist age? Is there anything we can do to develop their relationship or are they too young to understand?
Too young to understand. We hear this all the time. I don’t exclude myself; I have used and still use this phrase and have lived in this mentality, though I’m not proud of it (and I’m trying to change!) I’ve been shaped, in part, by a larger group of people who don’t give credence to the young child and their capabilities, and I think we all unknowingly participate in this, as it’s dominant in our society. But it’s wrong. And I learned more about my own mistaken thinking this last week while learning how children as young as 2.5 years can and do have great capability to think and imagine and enter deeply into relationship with Christ; to understand the mysteries of our faith. Better, even, than most of us adults. “You’re not old enough to understand, therefore, you’re not worthy to receive.” Is this not what we say? When we withhold the great Gift of our Lord, it’s more often than not because we believe in our hearts that children do not understand who Jesus is or that he is completely and fully present to us in the Eucharist. It is really telling more of our view of the world when we see gifts (even gifts we ourselves do not possess to give) as something that has to be earned by knowledge. It is Jesus’ gift, and gifts are not based on knowledge. We can never earn our right to any of the sacraments.
I believe children have much clearer access to a relationship with God than people who have aged beyond 6-7 years (age of reason. and baggage). So my question to myself is this: how am I inhibiting my children’s relationship with the Father, Son, and Spirit from developing and what can I do to aid it? What tools am I giving to my children to deeper develop their relationship with God?
As Lent comes upon us, I will be looking for ways to incorporate the tools I learned about in order to help them build their autonomy and independence with their relationship with God. And I’ll also be evaluating my bias and bringing that to God as well.
I have interviews with my two oldest from their 3-and-6 year old perspectives. Enjoy!
What is your favourite colour? Red!
What is your favourite toy? My baby
What is your favourite food? apples
What kind of food do you not like? salsa
What do you want to do when you grow up? I don’t know
What do you like to do with Daddy? Stay with him
What do you like to do with Mommy? Love to play with mommy and balloons
What does Daddy do? Goes to church and stays and works
What does Mommy do? Mommy stays and works on ‘puter and turns on the lights
What does Felicity do? stay and have the naps
What does Spencer do? stay and have quiet time
What does Cassia do? I don’t know.
What is your favourite colour? pink
What is your favourite toy? Lego. Star Wars Lego
What is your favourite food? Pasta & brunch. Like potatoes, egg, hollandaise, bacon
What kind of food do you not like? Broccoli. Not by their own
What do you want to do when you grow up? Be a scientist or a race car driver or a construction worker. Or something else
What do you like to do with Daddy? Go to work with him
What do you like to do with Mommy? Play games and stuff like that
What does Daddy do? work
What does Mommy do? work a little bit
What does Felicity do? play around and whine and have naps
What does Cassia do? she plays around with me and plays fun games. And dance
What does Spencer do? Play outside and play lots of fun stuff
2015 was quite the year. Two major downers, but the rest was very good!
In reflecting on these past 365 days, I’m thrilled to find new joy in life at the end. I’ve started reading a book called 1000 Gifts (by Ann Voskamp, a most favourite author) which is a challenge as much as it is a story of being challenged. That is, to name 1000 gifts from God in my life.
It’s been a bit of a roller coaster and came at a time when I needed to actively look for joy in the small things. The timing of the start this journey and certain experiences has caused me to reflect on who truly initiated this endeavour, and I’m thankful that my prayer life has inexplicably grown in and amidst this gifts journey. Writing these daily gifts down has reaffirmed that life is a gift, even in its worst times. It is slowly creating habit in me and has helped me look at scenarios in much more positive ways. I’m still working on the timing of it, though. Being able to see the gifts and joy in the here-and-now of a bad situation doesn’t yet come easy to me. But I still force myself to take toll of the gifts shortly after so that I can learn to embrace the good that can come with the bad. I hope that eventually I might be able to look and see the bad as gift, too, and praise God for life. Seems quite lofty, doesn’t it? I have no doubts that it’s possible, though.
Even in the smallness that is always at the beginning of a journey, I find I have been led to forgiveness much more easily. I don’t think I can even explain it well, but when I can see the joy in my life, despite the bad circumstances, I’m able to realise that no one can steal my joy that is Jesus. If I have Jesus, I have no reason to linger on hurt or pain. Does it mean that the hurt or pain is right? No, by no means does my joy justify the hurt and pain. But I can still choose joy. In the past when I’ve chosen bitterness, when I’ve chosen the grudge, when I’ve chosen the anger, when I’ve chosen not to see the gift, I am left hurting. I am left in pain. I leave myself that way. But in choosing the gift, someone could tell me that my love for them is abuse. Someone could tell me that I’m egocentric and only think of myself all the time. Someone could knock the wind out of me physically and spit on me for sharing my faith. And I now have a way that I can still choose joy, whether there is truth in the statements or none at all. And in choosing joy, I can let go of that hurt and pain and find forgiveness lingering ever-nearer to my reach.
Choosing joy does not mean I don’t recognize my own faults. In fact, it’s brought much more attention to them than I paid in the past. It would seem that when one looks up to the Son and when one’s heart is looking for gift, looking for God’s glory, the dark spots in my visual range become evident against the glory of God. Those dark spots are my problem spots. I can see them more clearly when I look for God’s glory, for God’s gift, everywhere in my life. All it took from me was to keep my face toward God rather than my life and its’ problems, and now I am able to better see what is preventing me from both receiving God’s glory in my life and also what is preventing me from sharing it. It is my belief that the more I walk this strangely laid pathway the more I’ll notice those spots. It’s given me better reconciliation sessions than I’ve had in years, and I’m very grateful for that.
Progress. It’s no insignificant thing to feel progress in my spiritual life after what has felt like years of slow plodding. I am so grateful and so very much looking forward to practicing this Gift-Sight in this new year. While it doesn’t make me perfect, learning that no one can steal my joy has been a real life changer. And to that connection, I thank Audrey Assad’s music from her album Fortunate Fall (in particular, Good to Me).
What joy are you finding at the beginning of this year?
Happy New Year!
We celebrated it pretty normal. After supper we played Netflix’s ‘King Julien’s New Years Countdown’ (or something like that), which is basically a 3 minute mini dance party and a 10 second count down at the end, which you can play anytime. So, we played it with the kids, I danced with them (while Andy looked on) and joyfully rang out ‘Happy New Year!’ afterward and celebrated with a chocolate kiss. Then bedtime. It was wonderful.
We had our friend Fr. Darryl over for supper, games and booze, and we happily played Star Craft the evening through while watching Star Wars in the background. Speaking of which, Fr. Darryl has graciously accepted our challenge to him: to go watch the new Star Wars again with each of us separately. You see, we haven’t a babysitter, and not a lot of extra money for it, and this way one of us stays with the kids. Fr. Darryl reluctantly accepted the task *snort*. Let’s just say he’s a fan of the movie.
So, from us to you, Happy New Year!