As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Thank God for Nature

I love reading these old posts, because it reminds me how very different life was.  It seemed so overwhelming at the time and yet, God still reached in and somehow guided me through those years, and I can have faith that if He did it then He will do it now, and He will do it in the future in whatever life brings my way.

Now that my oldest is nearly ten, faith doesn't seem so abstract anymore.  We homeschool with a mostly faith-based curriculum (not just catechism), so God is part of everything we learn.  But it's not only restricted to school.  The beauty of having my kids around me all the time is the opportunity to just talk to them.  As they get older, more and more it's not just me teaching them, but them teaching me.  Every moment, every appreciation of a beautiful sunny day or the nourishment of a dreary rainy day, the excitement of good news from a friend, a conflict between friends, a moment of failure and an opportunity to apologize, everything is a opportunity to find the Lord, and to find Him with them.  I struggled so much when my kids were young because I didn't know how to explain faith on their level, and in a way that was meaningful to them.  And now looking back, I realize it was they who brought faith to a new level for me.  A level where God was in the real world, in the present moment, in all His created things and all of life around me.  Today still they are the ones who draw me out of myself and show me the Lord present right here before me.  If it wasn't for them I'd stay stuck in my head, with my theories and knowledge and abstract ideas. They make faith real for me, because they show me the face of God.  They always have.  Such a beautiful gift.


Thank God for Nature
First Published April 8, 2008

My oldest son Joseph is almost four, and has always been really independent. Lately however, I notice he's really craving my attention. The trouble is there's so little time for me to give it to him, with Timothy (2) and Stephen (7 months) being at such demanding ages. A few weeks ago I decided to start taking Joseph for a walk to a nearby beach after supper so I could focus on him. We did it twice, before the stomach flu made the rounds in our house. Then it was Easter, and somehow this routine became short-lived.

Tonight I finally decided to take him out again. Leaving was hard, because Timothy wanted so badly to come with us. I thought about bringing him too, but realized it would change the time I had with Joseph. Then I thought maybe I would alternate evenings and take Timothy out by himself sometimes too. But after spending time with Joseph, it's clear to me that he needs this more than Timothy right now. 

As we walked down the hill, he said "Mommy, what should we do when we're going down the road?" 
And I said "I don't know...we could skip", 
And he said "no". 
So I said "well, we could run..." 
And he said "no". 
I said "what would you like to do?" 
And he said "We should pray when we're walking down the road". He said that because on our last walk, a couple of weeks ago, I told him that walking and seeing everything God has created always makes me want to pray. Tonight, I didn't even think of that - but he did. And so, we prayed.

Later on down on the beach, we were having a great time throwing rocks in the water. So much so that when it was time to go, naturally, he didn't want to leave. So I devised a game in my head. We each got a handfull of rocks, and took turns thanking God for something, and throwing them into the water. I started by saying "thank you God for the trees" and threw a rock in. He followed with "thank you God for the water", and we continued until our rocks were all gone. Our grand finale was to throw a big handfull of rocks in the water at the same time, and say "thank you God for everything!" Then, as we got ready to go Joseph said "wait, there's one more". He picked up a rock and said "thank you for all the stuff!" and threw it in the water!

Ever since Joseph was born I have grappled with the idea of explaining prayer in a way for him to understand. I'm not very articulate, first of all. So I know it's important to me, and I know why, but it's hard for me to explain it to an adult - let alone a four-year-old. But spending time with him, especially outside surrounded with the beauty of God's creation makes it so much easier. He sees everything around him with such wonder, like he's seeing it for the first time, and he understands that God gives it all to us. I think he appreciates it much more than I do. I wasn't planning for our nature walk to be a lesson in prayer. But he reminded me, and I'm so thankful for that. Would I have heard him if I brought the other kids with me? Maybe. But I know for sure that I would not have been able to nurture him if I had to chase an infant and a toddler around. So for now, our little nature walks will be reserved for just me and Joseph. As the other boys get older, I hope to do the same with them. In the meantime, I am so thankful for this beautiful world that God has created, that can help my boys understand prayer so much more powerfully than I ever could.

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