May 16, 2009

Question Asker Strikes Again

My friend Jesse is a question-asker. She is a thinker, that one. Her questions are not of the typical "How-are-you-I'm-fine" variety. She's also a ridiculously good baker, but that is beside the point.

One day last month as I scrubbed the stove, wedging the cell phone that contained Jesse's voice between my ear and shoulder, she asked, "How did your parents raise you to know Jesus as a child?" That question made me think for approximately 27 days.

Almost five years ago, I acquired a second set of parents, my husband's dad and mom. I am not capable of summarizing the parenting journeys of my four parents in a sentence or two, so I shall fall back on my hobby: list making. That fabulous English word they shall vaguely refer to one or two or three or four of my parents. Us shall refer to my husband or I or our siblings. Who did what is irrelevant. How and why are more valuable to ask.

1. They prayed for us daily, starting before we were born. Instead of mainly praying general "God bless our family" prayers, they prayed specific prayers. "God, help our son to come to know his sin and your forgiveness at an early age." "God, prepare a Christian husband for our daughter."

2. Every night as they tucked us into bed they prayed with us.

3. They sang hymns and praise songs to Jesus with us. Kids understand the words younger than you'd think.

4. They made their own relationships with God a priority. I remember watching my Dad read his Bible as he walked on the treadmill. My husband remembers the chair his mom would sit in to read her Bible and pray.

5. They came to us (little kids) and asked for forgiveness when they sinned against us (for example, speaking harshly or having a rotten attitude). So we learned that big people sin too, and a healthy response to sin is to apologize and ask for forgiveness.

6. They prayed with us after we "got in trouble" (for example, for giving a brother an "indian burn" then lying about it) to show us that seeking forgiveness from each other is good, but seeking forgiveness from God is most important.

7. They treasured their relationship with each other. How did they show us this? Going on dates even when we didn't want them to leave, going away for weekends as a couple, never using the word divorce, backing each other up on discipline issues, never deriding the other to us.

8. On car rides, they suffered through (or... possibly enjoyed?) countless tapes and CDs that communicated God's love to children. "Donut Man" "Adventures in Odysey" "Patch the Pirate" "Psalty the Singing Songbook" "

9. They read Children's Bibles to us.

10. They gathered a "library" of God centered resources for us to enjoy: children's devotional books, Bible story books, Christian chapter-books, dramatized Bible on tape, etc.

11. Our dads lead family devotions in the living room after dinner. (Ahem, don't start to get the wrong idea here. A joyful family with the 3 and 5 and 7 year olds sitting perfectly still reverently listening to their father read from the King James Version at least 6 nights each week - NOT - alright, erase that mental image and let's start over.) "Family Devotions" consisted of reading a Bible story book, or reading an actual chapter in a readable translation of the Bible, or singing some Bible songs together (clapping and jumping ones preferred by the younger set), or asking "What are you thankful for today?" or "What challenge are you facing tomorrow?" then praying together, or discussing a verse. The littlest one would be roaming, mom would be falling asleep in the recliner chair, one brother would be touching another brother with his toe, etc. But there in the once or twice a week consistency, we saw our dads heart for God and their desire for us to know God.

12. They told us when God answered their prayers.

13. They celebrated Christmas traditions that reflected Jesus. Example: Each Christmas, we put a cattle "feeding trough" in the living room. Before we went to bed each Decembery night, we each placed a single piece of hay in the trough. By Christmas, it was brimming with hay. When we woke up Christmas morning, baby Jesus (a dark-skinned, lifelike baby doll) was lying in the manger.

14. They celebrated Easter traditions that reflected Jesus. Example: One year we made a small tomb out of paper mache. On Good Friday, we wrapped Jesus' body (made of popcicle sticks?) with white strips of cloth and placed him in the tomb. Then we found a large rock to seal the entrance. On Easter morning, we woke up to find the tomb open, Jesus body gone, and the white cloth lying in the tomb. (The fabulous thing about 4 year olds is that they can imagine a popcicle stick person to be almost a real person, so the sequence of events above is meaningful).

more to come


The Farmer Files said...

LOL Now why did you not post this a month ago around Easter when I could have done the whole paper maiche tomb for my 4 year old.

seb and jesse said...

sorry i didn't check this before i called you.... thanks so much for your thoughts (this fellow list maker appreciates the format as well) and for doing this for me. i already feel inspired (and reassured - hey, i can do this, after all!)

Anonymous said...

I love your list. I've been pondering the same question Jesse asked you. Thank you for the time you took to answer her, and then sharing with us as well.

Megan Nicole said...

This has been one of the things I have been pondering lately, knowing that my time with my family is now somewhat limited, or at least will be changing... And there were numerous things on that list that I can distinctly remember in my upbringing...
Thanks for sharing!