Posts in Childlike wonder
If You're Happy and You Know It (Wisdom from the Ages, part 1)

There I sat in the too tiny chair at the low table, feeling like Alice in Wonderland when she ate the cake and grew too large for her surroundings. To my right was a little boy, awaiting my help to write his name at the top of his coloring page. To my left was a little girl, sniffing and wiping away tears with the back of her hand. Surrounding us was the clatter and chatter of a dozen other Pre-K children, playing with toys around the room while the two official leaders of this clan sat among them, playing, encouraging, and talking. 

I was there for work purposes. One of my new gigs as a freelancer involved a church who wanted me to observe these kiddos in order to write something for their ministry. There are two things you need to know about me:

1. My three sisters-in-law on the Carr side of the family all work in the preschool realm. My mother-in-law is a retired kindergarten teacher. One of these ladies is doing her own thing and doesn't fit with the rest of the family—that's me! Yet they love me anyway. And I am amazed by their care and skill and desire to shape young hearts. Tonight's time in the Pre-K room only solidified this great respect I have for them all. 

2. I was hesitant when my own child was this age. I sought out the aforementioned amazing women in my family when I had a preschooler in the house. It was all new territory, and I needed help navigating the landscape. But I surprisingly enjoyed that age of exploration and wonder more than I would have imagined. My daughter is now 11, so it's been a while since I've hung out with the preschool crowd. 

So I looked around, wondering if anyone else noticed my slight awkwardness in this setting. 

No one seemed to mind. The kids welcomed me right in. The little boy with the coloring page—he was more than happy to share a marker and allow my big-person handwriting to grace the top of his page. The sniffing girl? She was sad because it was her first time at this church, and she was scared. I told her it was my first time too. That didn't exactly break the ice, but she warmed to me later. And when three more kids came in as service was beginning to start, they didn't know I didn't truly belong here. They just assumed I was part of the regular crew. They started telling me about how they were cousins and they were having a slumber party that night, and we became fast friends. 

I had a blast with that preschool worship service. We sang. We danced. Cartoon critters on the screen shared some thoughts with us. Then we heard a part of God's story. It was one of my favorite services I've been to this summer. 

I went to observe, but I gained much more than research for a writing project. I was reminded of some important wisdom:

• It's OK to be silly and act crazy sometimes. It feels good. Don't worry about what other people think about you.

• Cartoon animals talking to you are pretty cool. 

• Sharing is hard, but it's not the end of the world. 

• Worshipping God is best when songs have motions you can do with your whole body.

• Everyone is welcome around the coloring table—no matter what you look like and even if you're a grownup that's too big for the chair. And if you ask the right questions, everybody at that table has a story, and they might just tell it to you. 

See also Wisdom Through the Ages, part 2 and part 3.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Things I Learned at VBS

This past week, our church conducted our first ever VBS. We had a great turnout and a mix of all types of kids who came. Loved it! 

Here are some things I learned:

• Getting a room full of kids to scream loudly and jump up and down to worship songs is a great way to end your night.

• Snacks will always be the favorite part of any church endeavor.

• Even the coolest of kids will do arm motions to cheesy songs if everyone else is doing it. And if it’s mockingly at first, they still might actually start to have fun.

• The smallest child will gravitate toward the tallest adult sponsor. And they will be best buddies. (Talking to you, Elder Most High!)

• You can be utterly exhausted and overwhelmed with joy at the same time. (Well, I likely learned this when I had a newborn in the house, but this was a good reminder.)

• When step up to the plate and give their all in service to God, it energizes you. Seeing people using their talents (even ones they may not know they had) is a wonderful sight to behold. My respect and adoration of my amazing friends at Echo Church grew exponentially this week. (I didn't think that was possible!)

• It’s good to be reminded of the perspectives of 4- through 12-year-olds. The questions I heard were informative as well as challenging.

• Even the wildest behaved child wants to feel special. And if you assign that child a special friend to guard and guide, then that child feels even more special. (And the volunteers who took on this task this week were adored by all!)

• Even when you think they aren’t paying attention to what you’re saying, children are observing things.

• If you look closely at each child, you can see the hope and potential brimming inside. Believe in that.

I've helped with VBS in various churches over the years—but being more involved in the organization of the week was a whole new perspective. Plus this was different than when I've helped in larger and suburban churches. This has truly helped me appreciate all the years Price Hill Church of Christ has given such a huge effort from a smaller congregation in an urban area. They are an inspiration!

And I was super amazed by Alicia Gee, who came up with our entire program. She rocks!!

We hope that, ultimately, the kids felt God's love.

Thanks to Echo Church for being the church.

My first day of kindergarten
My stomach was in knots. I was a little short of breath. And my heart raced inside me.

It was the first day of kindergarten.

No, this isn't some distant memory I recall from my own childhood. This actually happened Tuesday. And no, technically it wasn't MY first day of kindergarten. It was my first day as a mom of a kindergartner. And I survived!

I used to shake my head in wonder at parents who expressed such stress or apprehension over their child going to school. What is the big deal? I wondered. I figured I would be skipping all the way, happy to drop off my child and have more "me" time.

But something changed.

Somewhere along the way, I went from a woman who wasn't quite sure I wanted kids (I can't control their every move? they'll have free will and may rebel against me? I'll get a pet, thank you.) to a person who can't wait to see a little girl's smile and feel her hug every morning. I've become a mom who, at random and unexplained times, can cry at the drop of a hat or a tug-at-the-heartstrings sappy commercial, whichever comes first.

What I thought I'd be and what I thought I'd want has changed. (Of course, those things have probably been readjusting themselves from the moment I met my dear and entertaining husband, so I shouldn't expect otherwise.) All in all, I'm OK with that.

So this summer, I tended to put off dreary things like laundry and cleaning, and even nice things like blogging and emails, so that I could squeeze out every drop of time this summer had to offer. Because I knew when August 16 began, our world would change.

We had an AMAZING summer. Not one huge thing but a ton of small moments, etched together to form a picture of joy. I was intentional, and that made all the difference. I hope I learn something and continue to be intentional with each of my family and friend relationships. And I have Steve to thank for working so hard to allow me home time with Kaelyn.

Yes, having some more time to do some things will be a positive of the whole thing. And eventually it will all become routine—once I establish a routine and it's not all so new. As I see how Kaelyn is growing from her time with new friends and great teachers, learning things beyond my skill set (ex: German), I will feel even better about this whole thing. (She's already had great stories to tell!)

For now, I'll miss my little helper as I go about my day. I'll continue to figure out what else I want to be when I grow up and what needs I can fill for our church and others in this new weekly schedule.

And I'll start finding out all the joys that come in seeing a little girl become a little bigger and a little more independent kindergarten girl.