During a recent children’s time in church, one of our priests gave each child a slip of four star foil stickers – the ones that typically accompany a good grade on a worksheet from school – colored red, silver, gold, green, and blue. The lesson was about the star the wise men followed to lead them to baby Jesus, the newborn King. Our children were told to distribute their star stickers to those in their lives that have helped them learn about Jesus.
My two older sons came back to the church pew where we were sitting, placed their slips of star stickers beside them, and went about their business of slouching, kicking around their feet, championing their signs of boredom.
A short while passed, and then Caleb, our six-year-old, reached over and placed a red star on Casey’s shirt, his eight-year-old brother. I was sitting in the middle of the two boys, so as Caleb’s arm receded, I looked at him and asked, “Casey helps you learn about Jesus?” With his infectious smile, he nodded yes. I kissed both on their foreheads and just breathed in and out.
I wanted this moment to settle itself deep into my memory. I wanted to live this moment even if for a few minutes.
A few days later, during the Wednesday night church program, our priest delivered a short homily reflecting on the New Year. He asked us to consider three questions:
1. What matters most to you?
2. What do you see in front of you? (Where do you see God moving, and do you want to take part?)
3. When you wake up on January 1, 2020, what do you want to see when you look back on the past year?
Growing in God’s word and instilling it in our sons is one thing that matters most to me. I pray often for our sons to be lights of Christ, to head into their small worlds and exhibit the fruits of the Spirit, to be kind, peaceful, patient, and gracious.
I see God moving in so many ways in our church, in our community, and beyond, and my heart longs to take part in each initiative that tugs on my heart strings. Serving others also matters a great deal to me. But often, the gift of time is not given in the midst of work and life’s responsibilities. I let feelings of guilt wash over me that I am not serving enough, I am not involved enough. I need to take on a bigger discipleship role.
But it occurred to me that Wednesday evening, God is moving right in front of me. He is moving when our sons acknowledge the sight of Jesus in each other, he is moving when they roam around the house singing praise songs, he is moving when our littlest offers loved ones names for his “thank you” prayers each night.
God is moving in the midst of raising these children. And even if this is one of my only offerings right now, I can certainly take part, full-heartedly. Involving our Creator to come and be with us in our parenting, to provide direction and provision, allows this child-rearing, exhausting and confusing as it at times may be, to become an act of service for him.
This is where God is moving right now, and I want to be fully on board.
When I wake up on January 1, 2020, I want to see our boys’ relationships with Jesus a little wider, a little deeper. I want to make sure they have several people to whom they can offer some star stickers. And along the way this year, I want to recognize the moments when the Spirit moves, breathe them in and out, and acknowledge and appreciate all they bring to our family, and others.