Daily Example

“Puppy big poopoo!”, she exclaims as she pulls the changing pad out of the diaper bag and spreads it out on the floor.  Instead of getting after her for getting out more of my stuff, I settle in to watch her walk in my footsteps.  She spreads it out, lays out her puppy, and proceeds to work on his diaper.  Yes, this stuffed puppy wears diapers quite often. 🙂   Daily observation of me caring for the baby has taught her how to care for her own puppy.

“Beebee on-y (lonely)!  Where mama? Where Abby?”, she cries as her ears are quick to pick up his cries.  Clearly this is a reflection of our multiple conversations that happen when I’m trying to convince her to hurry so we can go get the crying baby.  Other reflections are not as happy sounding as she often gives speeches to the puppy on the need to be quiet. 🙂

Little phrases and actions bear witness that our comments and actions are not done in secret nor easily forgotten.  Instead our lives are studied by those around us, most especially our little ones, as they seek to make sense of the world around them, and to learn how to respond to situations.

I remember one mealtime where my daughter freaked out as my husband made a spider with his hand, and “walked” it over to her. She was super freaked out, and upset…….until I taught her that spiders can be smashed.   Then it became a game between her and dad.  Because mom was not afraid of it and gave her the tools to handle her own fear, my little one could participate in the fun.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ”.  

Who do I imitate?  What example am I laying out before her?  While her worldview as an adult is her own choice, it is impacted by what she sees in us growing up. More than once, I have told others that children have definitely increased my prayer life.  From pleas for help as everyone is crying (even the dog), to desperate prayers for them to sleep through the night, to prayers for them to meet developmental milestones or heart changes. 

From the small things of the food she eats to heavy weight areas of the heart, her choices are strongly affected by what she sees I value.  She didn’t start eating oatmeal or scrambled eggs until she saw mom had them, and suddenly they were “cool”.  She prays for the sirens she hears as we’ve taught her that they mean people need help. She thinks coffee is good to drink, as she sees her dad often drink it. Values, whether intentionally taught or not, are constantly being passed down.  

Lord, please me to paint a true picture of you before her eyes.  As these “little mirrors” of my words and actions live life with me, may I mirror you to them.  


Long Days of Small Things: a book review

Motherhood……such a perplexing adventure that makes you feel like you are accomplishing nothing while you are actually cultivating future world leaders.  Often I’ve felt like I came up empty handed before the throne as my friends would talk of helping a widow rake leaves, spending time fasting, participating in children’s outreaches, or other active spiritual disciplines that don’t seem to fit my baby in the arms, feeding a little one, chasing a toddler stage that I’m in where most of any service time would have been spent making sure my kiddos didn’t mess up the actual work others were doing.

It’s easy to feel discouraged, wondering if what you do matters and if your hidden (I was going to say, ‘quiet’, but things aren’t really ‘quiet’ here) activities matter as much as all the formal spiritual disciplines. Devotional times?  Mine have been spent simultaneously feeding a baby or keeping an early rising toddler happy.  Prayer times? Mine are over dishes, or brief moments when I sit.   Solitude?  That’s a funny question. 🙂

In her book, Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline, Catherine McNiel writes of how she learned to recognize God’s molding and shaping of her through motherhood.  How pouring out her life for needy little souls was actually the refining fire of God developing the fruits of the Spirit within her. The perseverance and patience required of a parent are constantly more than what one naturally has.

You are endlessly brought to the end of yourself, as God relentlessly works out your selfishness to create His own character. 

 While I couldn’t connect with some of her use of symbolism or all of her liturgical background, I felt encouraged by her main theme.  Motherhood isn’t a side season until I can get back to the more important ways of serving Jesus or the more spiritual ways of developing His character within me, it is the main tool that God is using in me now.  My offerings given with the noise of a hungry baby and the screams of a toddler meltdown can be placed alongside the more public acts of service before His throne.

As with the widow’s mite, He doesn’t care about the size. He simply cares about our heart and if we are giving him our all.

Now excuse, I hear the baby crying again………

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishing for review purposes, but the thoughts recorded are my own.

long days of small things