Tag Archives: Children

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Smart Kid

O Lord, years ago, this little guy declared his blue Play-Doh snake was bigger than God. Upon further reflection, though, he decided that no, the thing he’d made wasn’t nearly as big as the God of the universe.

OMG, thank You that he continues to mold his life with that wisdom!

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Please Hit the Pause Button

O Lord, don’t you think youngest children should stay kids? Or, at least, not be permitted to turn 40.

Today, on our son’s birthday, won’t you freeze time? OMG, an extra decade might help me accept that my 6-foot-6-inch baby is no longer a baby …

Joy to the World? At Easter?

Who needed baskets? Our kids thought “Easter shoes” were normal.

Does your family celebrate Easter in traditional ways?

My siblings and I hid Easter eggs so well, truants were located weeks later by their potent odor. We awoke to yummy treats … in our polished shoes. Years before, Mom had possessed only pennies to spend on Easter. Having poured out frustrations in prayer — Mom talked to Jesus about everything — she recalled reading about Dutch children receiving Christmas candy in their shoes and nested jelly beans in ours.

My father, a pastor, celebrated Easter wholeheartedly, his bass voice leading “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” “He Arose” and … “Joy to the World.”

Image by AvocetGEO from Pixabay.

I thought everyone sang that hymn at Easter. As a teen, though, I realized other churchgoers sang it only at Christmas. I kept our odd custom a deep, dark secret, hoping no Easter visitors knew me.

Fast-forward 20 years. My children and I dyed eggs, their clothes and mine. One helpful toddler knew egg-zackly what to do with eggs.

Crack them.

Image by Couleur from Pixabay.

Our family could afford Easter baskets. Repeating the story of their grandma’s faith, though, I filled my kids’ shoes with grass, chocolate bunnies and jelly beans.

My grandchildren still receive Easter treats in their shoes and hear of their great-grandmother’s prayer. They will dye Easter eggs — and their clothes. Our congregation will sing “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” and “He Arose.”

Joy to the World”? Probably not.

I’ll save that hymn for a visit to our parents’ graves. I didn’t want them to die. They weren’t crazy about the idea, either. But because Jesus came alive again, they will too. Someday, we’ll all be together with Him.

Joy to the world! To all who believe in Jesus’ Resurrection.

Image by Arnie Bragg from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you celebrate Easter?

Night Fright

Image by 51581 from Pixabay.

People often say they conceive their best thoughts at night.

I’m missing this microchip. My mother often told me that even as an infant, I wasn’t a positive thinker during the wee hours. When I grew old enough to read, I added hundreds of new items to my nocturnal Scary List. Take, for example, the 1960s obsession with outer space. If I read a story in Look magazine about flying saucers above a wheat field near Boring, Nebraska, I knew the little green guys would like Indiana sweet corn better. I resolved to eliminate bedtime in order to protect my state from alien invasion.

NASA spent millions to supply me with worry material — until monsters took over the task: Frankenstein, Wolf Man and TV vampires. When tired Mom nixed movie and television viewing, the local paper kept me informed. I read about a hairy, Bigfoot-like creature that cried like a baby and haunted Detroit. Nowadays, sports writers would deduce it was a Detroit Lions lineman, lamenting their playoffs loss. But then, I never knew whether the unearthly wails from the next bedroom came from my baby brother or the monster.

Thankfully, I outgrew all that. The Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West no longer scares me.

At least, not much.

Image by 51581 from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do some childhood boogeymen still haunt you at night?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Um, This Isn’t the Life

O Lord, shouldn’t games teach life skills? Yet “Life” not only teaches kids that having babies is as simple as adding a peg to a car. Also, they will receive wads of cash by twirling a spinner. OMG, if that’s real life, did I buy the wrong version?

Help Is Not a Four-Letter Word

Do you like to ask for help? Me, neither.

Even then, I thought I knew it all.

Even as a toddler, I yanked my hand from my mother’s and ran into a street in downtown Indianapolis. Terrified by screeches and honks, though, I clung to her at the next crossing.

Maybe I learned I wasn’t ready to take charge of my life? Nope. Instead, I believed Mommy needed help with hers. She needed me to iron while she was busy with my baby sister. That I ironed my left hand (I still bear the scar) should have made me question my choices.

It did. I still avoid ironing whenever possible.

But cautions about so-called independence learned during childhood vanished during my teens. My friends and I knew everything. Parents resembled forerunners of ATMs, except they gave advice along with money.

I should have wondered why The Beatles, the 1960s epitome of youth and success, sang lines about needing help and growing older. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were only 25 and 23 when they penned “Help” and McCartney wrote “Yesterday.”

But I didn’t until I married and had our first baby. Where was the faucet to shut off drool, puke and pee? I finally admitted that perhaps … I needed guidance.

Image by Natalia Lavrinenko from Pixabay.

Did I ask my parents or in-laws? No. Instead, I consulted books.

Though I did learn from several good ones, none provided critical answers I needed.

Most of the books then and today tell us to look within. That we know all the answers.

Instead, shouldn’t we open the Book that tells us to look up? To realize Someone much bigger and smarter stands waiting to help us?

We Americans pretend every day is Independence Day — even in January. However, 2024 stretches before us, its kamikaze traffic already whizzing by. Can we really navigate it alone?

Or, when we cross unknown streets, should we reach for the Helping Hand always ready to guide us?

Image by reenablack from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Where does your help come from?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Brothers and Sisters

Jesus, on this Martin Luther King Day, I thank You especially for my African-American brothers and sisters in Christ. For the evangelists who stayed with us when I was a kid.   

Image by Sabrina Eikhoff From Pixabay

Okay, especially for the one who gave us children candy bars.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay.

But OMG, how their faith and songs and warmth impacted us!  

Classic Post: Of Blessed Barbarians and Baby Jesus

Image by Case Newton from Pixabay.

This post first appeared on December 28, 2022.

Years ago, my husband and I prepared for a barbarian invasion.

We hid valuables. We said prayers. We kept watch, knowing they’d sweep away our well-ordered lives.

They came.

We charged outside … and retrieved the world’s most beloved barbarians, our two-year-old granddaughter and 10-month-old grandson, from car seats.

Baby allowed us to cuddle, but his mind was fixed on his search-and-destroy mission.

“Gwandma! Gwandpa!”

Baby immediately yanked our books from shelves. When we interrupted, he reacted with a type A personality’s outrage.

His sister flipped light switches. “On! Off!” The little blonde goddess obviously controlled the universe.

Time to civilize barbarians — a little. We played with blocks, love-worn stuffed animals and an ancient Fisher-Price parking garage our children enjoyed.

The grandchildren zoomed cars down the ramp, cheering wipeouts. The scene reminded me of Christmas parking lots. And (shiver!) future 16th birthdays.

This parking garage has entertained our three children and all seven grandchildren. Like Grandma and Grandpa, its parts creak and groan, but it still works.

I offered a Nativity set with soft finger puppets. Baby happily crawled around with Wise Men in his mouth. Retrieving bowls from my cabinets, his sister made imaginary applesauce for the Nativity crew.

Peace on earth reigned.

Too soon, they had to leave. Hubby and I helped their parents search for bag, bottles, coats.

Our little blonde goddess knew she ruled our universe.

We wanted to send the Nativity set home with them, an early Christmas present. Hopefully, gnawing the Wise Men would keep Baby quiet during the trip. Mary and Joseph bore evidence Little Girl had found real applesauce for their dinner party. We corralled animals, angels and shepherds.

Where was Baby Jesus?

Hubby sifted through the toy box again. I scanned refrigerator shelves, hoping Little Girl hadn’t decided Jesus needed air-conditioning.

“Is Jesus in the parking garage?” I yelled to Hubby.

Not a question I’d ever expected to ask during my lifetime.

Shaking my head as I raised the toilet lid, I hoped He wouldn’t be floating in a not-so-sanitary Sea of Galilee. No, but new anxiety seized me. Had someone flushed Him?

“I’ll find Jesus and mail Him,” I promised.

But I’d wanted our grandchildren to get to know Him during Christmas.

I dove under furniture again and discovered Baby Jesus behind the stereo.

“How did He end up there?” Our daughter dusted Him off.

I shrugged. “Who knows? Jesus sometimes turns up in the oddest places.”

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Where did Jesus show up during your Christmas season?

Classic Post: Miracle Morning Sickness

Image by Eukalyptus from Pixabay.

This post first appeared on December 22, 2021.

Unlike Mary, Jesus’s mother, and Zechariah, John the Baptist’s dad, my husband and I didn’t see angels when we learned we would be parents. Medical tests one December confirmed our first child was under construction. Our Christmas miracle.

Other confirmations seemed less wonderful. Entering Grandma’s kitchen Christmas morning, I nearly fainted. The fragrance of spareribs, usually mouth-watering, spun my stomach onto a Tilt-A-Whirl ride.

Soon my waistline and feet vanished. One guy, playing a game at my couples’ shower, guessed my belly diameter measured seven feet. He shouldn’t have lived to procreate. Because his wife was my friend, I allowed it.

Given pregnancy and delivery, how does the human race continue?

Yet, according to Dr. Luke’s biblical account, devout, elderly Zechariah and Elizabeth longed for that miracle. Marginalized because of infertility, they’d lost hope.

Then Gabriel, an angel, appeared to the freaked-out priest, proclaiming they’d have a son.

Even an angel couldn’t convince Zechariah. Still, as Elizabeth’s baby bump swelled, his faith grew.

Meanwhile, Gabriel visited teenaged Mary in Nazareth and greeted her as the soon-to-be mother of the Messiah.

Image by dodo71 from Pixabay.

Mary was engaged, not married. She hadn’t been with Joseph or anyone else. This intruder was delusional, maybe dangerous. If I’d been Mary, I would’ve called 911.

Instead, she believed he came from God. Mary offered herself to whatever He had in store.

Gabriel also said Elizabeth was pregnant too.

This, Mary had to see. Had Gabriel shared God’s truth? Or was that stranger crazier than she?

When big-bellied Elizabeth greeted Mary as the mother of her Lord, Mary’s festering doubts disappeared.

Elizabeth knew. Mary didn’t have to explain. Or hide.

Image by gamagapix from Pixabay.

The pregos could tell their stories without boring each other. They could gripe about swelling feet. They agreed that neither could stand spareribs.

Both, however, had developed cravings for pickled goat. If Zechariah balked at buying it, Mary would.

God gave those women each other. Elizabeth could face people asking if John was her grandson. Mary could go home to her parents. Face Joseph. Face rabbis who might throw rocks.

Our daughter’s first Christmas. She made the spareribs worth it.

Mary would need more miracles. Thankfully, God wasn’t finished yet.

Because Mary accepted stressing along with blessing, Jesus came and redeemed humankind.

Today, His miracles also may include not-so-spiritual complications, some nastier than morning sickness. Some, dreams come true.

He’s not finished yet.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you think He will work in 2024?

A Different Christmas

Do your holidays cooperate? Occasionally, Christmas thumbs its Rudolph-red nose at me. Sometimes, though, it’s simply different.

In 1958, my family celebrated Christmas in our Mexican mission compound with a bare-limbed, thorny bush.

We dogmatic preschoolers protested, “That’s not a Christmas tree!”

Image by Alexander Kliem from Pixabay.
At a park for Christmas 2020.

With spun-glass angel hair, that odd, but lovely tree and borrowed Nativity introduced a different celebration. Hot-air balloons and fireworks lit the nights. Instead of dime-store trinkets, I received a wooden doll bed made by our handyman. My nine-months-pregnant mother, while sewing baby blankets, made doll versions from scraps. We ate weird sweets. We watched village children scramble for candy showered from a clay piñata my blindfolded dad smacked.

Strange for a five-year-old far from her Indiana home — but what wasn’t to like about candy and presents?

Although, if we’d spent Christmas in Austria, the celebration might have seemed less merry. Masked ghouls, representing Krampus, St. Nicholas’s evil counterpart, stalk city streets, shaking sticks at bad children. Scary for a kid who, despite missionary roots, pushed her little sister around.

Hot chocolate helped keep us warm.

Nearly meatless in Mexico, my family and I would have embraced the Japanese tradition of eating Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas Day.

However, I wouldn’t have savored South Africans’ holiday delicacy: deep-fried Emperor Moth caterpillars.

Bereft of television in Mexico, I would’ve welcomed Sweden’s Christmas Eve tradition: watching vintage clips of Donald Duck. According to one American visiting future Swedish in-laws, nothing can disturb this sacred ritual.

We all have holiday expectations. My missionary family was no exception. We didn’t want a different Christmas!

Grandpa watched the fun.

I didn’t want a different Christmas during 2020, either. I wanted normal, when our children and grandchildren filled the house.

Yet that odd Mexican holiday’s sights and sounds linger, 65 years later.

My parents treasured them too, despite hard times. Mom delivered my 12-pound brother at home.

Dad, who broke the clay piñata with his forehead, suspected villagers controlling it had intentionally smacked the gringo. Despite major headaches and self-taught Spanish, Dad pioneered a church.

The beautiful, thorny Christmas tree embodied that beautiful, thorny year.

Appropriate for followers of a Savior who experienced thorny years.

Image by S. Greendragon from Pixabay.
Even COVID couldn’t stop us from enjoying a special Christmas.

In 2020, Christmas was different.

We Zoomed gatherings. Met family in a park for masked Christmas walks. Pantomimed hugs.

Different. Thorny.

But Christmas 2020 was good.

One I will never forget.

Image by James Chan from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What unique Christmas sticks in your mind?