One of the things we often do at night as part of our family prayer time (Corny, I know, but we do it anyway! We are a family of Corn Cobs!! hahaha!) is mix it up a bit. Sometimes Dominick or I will pray for all of us, sometimes the kids will each pray aloud, sometimes we will focus just on praying for help for someone we know, sometimes we offer only thank you's for our wonderful life, occasionally we will light a candle and talk about God. Often there are giggles and laughter, sometimes there are quiet, somber moments, always there is love.
One of my favorites though is when we do "Pow Wow How" which the kids learned at camp. The "Pow" is sharing one thing that was bad in your day, the "Wow" is sharing one thing that was good, and the "How" is sharing how you saw God that day. Last night we did Pow Wow How, as we all laid around on the floor of the boys room, lights off, quietly whispering about our days. When we got to "How" as usual it is always interesting to see where the boys see God at work in their lives, how they interpret His presence.
Kenny mentioned seeing God in the slowly changing behavior of one of the kids at school who is really and truly suffering through a terrible family circumstance. If ever a child needed God's hand on his shoulder, this would be the case. I was glad Kenny could see that and recognize the positive changes in his friend's life. Josh then said he saw God in one of his buddy's that day who is always trying hard and is kind to everyone...he likes this little boy in his class a lot and often mentions how nice he is. When it was Matthew's turn, he replied what he often does when asked where he saw God that day..."I see God right here, right now, with my family."
Yes, that is often where I see God working the most, right here within our very lives...mundane as they may be to the outsider looking in. How can anyone watch a child grow and mature and not see God in it? How is it possible that one can look out their kitchen window at a magnificent sunrise and not feel somehow that He is near? When driving and having a near miss, how can we ignore His protection?
By the same token, it can be very easy to wonder where He is when we see children suffering and unloved, handicapped men without heat or proper nutrition (Check out John Wright's blog the past few days for heartbreaking stories of forgotten men), and people dying of AIDS? How can we see tragedies of seeming enormous proportion such as the fires in Australia and not question where was God?
We can not see Him, because we don't want to see inside our own hearts to find Him, we don't want to feel obligated to act so we work very hard to ignore that He dwells in us, that we ARE His tools here on earth. By asking where He is, by blaming Him for not being present or actually ignoring His presence, it lets US off the hook, doesn't it? Nothing then is required of us.
We show God to others with our own actions. I tell the boys over and over again when we are deep in conversations about evil and good that Evil is allowed to exist when Good men do nothing. Yea, I know, most people don't talk to their kids at this age about the Holocaust, about the death penalty, about the existence of evil in their own realm such as on the playground where good kids let bad kids pick on others, where harsh words are flung at one another to prove strength, where making fun of others is a sport. We talk about how those unkind kids grow up and continue to be the Bullies of the World, the Saddam's and the Hitler's and the Mussolini's.
We talk about people seeing goodness and God in each of us, about remembering that we are a force in the world and it is up to us to decide if that force will be positive or negative. And yes, they DO get it even at 4 or 6 or 8 or 10 years old. Amazingly, nothing is as clear as it is at that age...good and bad are not nebulous, they are easily spotted and understood. I can't imagine waiting until Middle School to start these discussions, by then my children would be Lost!! It's too late to begin to help my kids discern the differences between good and evil by 11 or 12 years old! What opportunities are missed solely because parents think "My kid is too young for that, we'll talk about it later...", and "later" is much, much to late. We don't give our kids enough credit for the ability to think things through, to utilize what we teach them...and then we wonder why they don't understand something because we never took the time to help them see below the surface. It may take work, but those little brains are incredible sponges.
I work with an amazing small group of teenagers, and we met this Sunday evening. I see God in each of them, as they share their dreams for the future, their desire to make a difference in the lives of those around them. Most of them have big plans, and most of them will achieve their dreams, it is easy to see that. I wonder what my own children will be like at that age, what their dreams will become as adulthood looms a year or two away. Will Matthew become the architect he has spoken so often about? Or the Fighter Pilot? Will he go to the Air Force Academy as he has dreamed of? Will Kenny be a Policeman as he so often says so he can help other people and protect them? Or will he drift more towards the arts, this little actor of mine who already shows how he can easily inhabit a character and Kenny disappears for awhile. And Joshua who has suddenly talked a little about being a doctor or a vet, will he do that one day?
But most importantly to me...will each of them continue to see God in their daily life? Will they each be able to show God's love to others?
And when they look back on their childhood and dig out the memories, will they think of those evenings in the dark, our family snuggled up against one another as we pray and share about our day...and will they remember the warmth of seeing and feeling God right there??
If so, then maybe I will the be able to count myself a success as a mom.