Fiction or Non-Fiction?

It amazes me how our children pick up on things that are on our minds and hearts, without us even speaking them.

Or maybe it’s just that I’m tying what they’re asking into what’s weighing on me.

Either way, Cooter and I had some interesting conversation today, while he was trying to distract me from the fact he was NOT doing his math.

“Mama, why did they execute people back when they did all that?”  (We’ve been studying some Elizabethan history.  Henry VIII, his wives, Lady Jane Grey–oh how I love her)

Oh me.  If only that were a thing of the past.

“Well, I guess they were using it as a way to punish them for committing a crime.”

He thought for a minute.  “Must have been a pretty bad thing they did, if that was the punishment.”

What do I even do with that?  I chickened out.

“Well yeah, I mean, I guess they thought so at the time.”

“Why did they wear masks?  The ones who were doing it?”

“I think it was to protect their identity, so no one knew who was actually doing the executing.”

“Oh.”

A few minutes later, after he had sat daydreaming, he dropped the real bomb on me.

“Mama.”  I looked up.  “Do you believe in God?”

Oh.  Okay.  I got this one.

“Yeah.  Yes.  I do.”

He stared out the window.  “Huh.”

What?  “Well, do you, buddy?”

He shrugged.

Really?

“Do you not believe in God?” I asked him.

He shrugged again.  “I guess.”

Then he asked me the biggest question of all.  Oh, to think I thought I had this.

“So is God fiction?  Or non-fiction?”

Wow.

“Ummm, well, since God is real, then I would have to say non-fiction.  True story.”

He nodded his head.

“What about you?”

Cooter thought for a minute.  Then he answered with a gentle nod and looked away, “Both.”

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As I thought back over his words and all I see and read and hear and thought about all of the brokenness, I think Cooter might have this exactly absolutely 100% right.

God, in our world today, is both fiction and non-fiction.

We have this writing, these stories, these words–this truth–in the Good Book that tell us who God is.  How God is.  That God is.

Then there are our hearts and our thoughts and what we say and what we do that tell a whole ‘nother story of what and who we think God is, but sometimes–much of the time–I think we might just be wayyyyyy off base.

As someone I love dearly has said, “I think we’re all going to be real surprised.”

Just like I’m surprised by the deep thinkers my children are sometimes.  One minute they’re arguing over who forgot to flush and the next minute we’re talking theology and philosophy and the ramifications of the death penalty.

May today be a day of living the truth and not the stories that we tell ourselves to make things a little easier.

It might be hard, but the little ones and the not so little ones–they are paying close attention and taking notes.

Love to all.

The Tour Guide

I woke to his little hand patting me on my back.

“Mama,” he whispered loudly.  “Mama!”

I rolled over.  “What is it, baby?”  It was my seven-year old little fella, Cooter.

“I had a bad dream.”  He climbed up beside me.

I wrapped him up in a big hug.  “It’s okay.  Mama’s got you.  Nothing bad is here.  You’re okay.”

He took a deep breath, sighed, and fell back to sleep almost instantly.

As I listened to his gentle breathing, I wondered–where does a seven-year old get the material to have a bad dream from?  What has happened in his world that could disturb his thoughts enough that he would have bad dreams?

I honestly feel like a tour guide whose tourist has said, “Oh, you know what, I really don’t care for this place you’ve chosen to take us.  The food here really stinks, and the rooms aren’t comfortable, and I am not enjoying myself.  At.  All.”

I mean, I’m leading my little guy on this journey, teaching him, pointing out cool things to see and think about, listening to his questions and trying to answer as best I can, and somewhere, somehow something slipped into his little mind that upset his equilibrium.   And gave him bad dreams.

On my watch.

Just stamp “Failed” on my forehead and put my picture up on a wall labelled “Bad Parents.”

*sigh*

Bless him.  He sure fell back to sleep fast.

But not me.

I wondered if he had dreamed about them taking his cup at the pizza place.  Last night was Guy’s Night Supper, and he and his Daddy had gone to the pizza buffet place to eat.  (The place where he could eat free for the first three years of his life–I am sure they lost money on that deal.)  He ate and ate and of course had to visit the little boys’ room.  His Daddy took him and when they came back, their drinks and plates were gone.

Poor thing.  He was devastated.  He said it was the worst night ever.  (Yes sometimes he has a little bit of the drama in him.)  I expect it had a lot to do with the fact that he loves a coke (all kinds) and since we only rarely have it at home, he intended to get his fill last night.  But then…..cup gone.  Meal over.  Done.

He was all kinds of sad and mad all rolled into one.

Or was it something more serious?  A few days ago we were in the Gomobile, and Cooter was sitting in the very back.  He was looking at his Bible, the one his Sunday night group uses.

“The end of the Bible doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Oh me.  All I could think of is how am I going to have a conversation with my seven-year old about the Book of Revelation when I don’t even understand it myself?

I swallowed hard and braced myself.  “What part in particular, buddy?”

“Well this part about Paul.”  Paul? Okay, good.  I can do Paul.  I think.  “He was in jail, right?  And he loved God, right?”

“Ummm, yes and yes.  You’re right.  Go on.”

“Well he was in jail for telling the people about God, right?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“But Mama, couldn’t God have gotten him out of jail at any time?  I mean, he was telling people about God and Jesus.  Wasn’t that what he was supposed to do?”

Oh my stars.  I was quiet for a moment, taking it all in.  Ummm, could we talk about Revelation now?

I waited too long I guess, because then he asked, “Mama, didn’t Paul die in jail?”

Last night I lay there thinking of all the things I could have said, things I wish I had said, worrying that my limited biblical and religious knowledge is not going to be enough in raising this one.  He thinks a lot and asks a lot of questions.  And they’re not all about when do I think Star Wars VII will come out.

I convinced myself his bad dream stemmed from my lack of comforting answers.  Or at least ones that could give him some peace, some hope.

It was with a tired mind and a weary soul that I awoke this morning.  My little guy crawled out of bed and started getting himself ready for the day.

“You had a bad dream last night, do you remember?”

He shook his head.  “No I didn’t.”

“Well, you said you did.”  I was confused.  Didn’t he?

“Oh wait, yeah, I did.”

I asked him if he wanted to talk about it.  At first he shook his head no.  Then–

“So I was about to eat my lunch and I had a lunch box and then all these ninjas came up and tried to take my lunch and then Shaker [his cousin] came up and started fighting the Ninjas and I helped him and so then it was all okay and we sat down and lunch was good.”

Y’all.  Oh bless it.

And him.

And my exhausted mind.

Ninjas.

Well he could have picked that up anywhere.  A Magic Treehouse book.  One of his sister’s favorite shows.  The history book he likes to look at.  Any of those places.  None of which have very much at all to do with me.

*sigh*  Maybe I haven’t failed him as much as I thought.

Although this boy might be the reason I finally wind up at seminary twenty-four years after walking away from the opportunity.  I have a feeling I’m going to need all the help I can get when it comes to discussing his thoughts on theology and trying to answer all of these questions.  I’m starting to wonder if maybe he’s the one leading me on this journey; if he’s actually the tour guide, showing me all there is to see.

Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

Love and sweet dreams to all.

 

A Theology Lesson from Cooter

What would you do when your seven-year old young’un has done “run oft” when he’s supposed to be doing his school lessons?

Yeah, me too.

What if you find him curled up on the couch reading a book?

Yeah, it’s a little harder to be firm, but still, he needs to work on his handwriting and his math, right?

Yes.  He does.  Trust me on this.

What if said book that he is curled up with is the Good Book?

I know.  I know.  I got nothing.

I did tell him to please put it away and come back to work on his writing.  After all, adjectives are fun too.

He turned over with his Bible, and said, “Oh man, I want to read the Bible.  I want to see what happens.  Did you know that God just said it, and it happened.  He said words and they showed up–‘Light!’ ‘Animals!’ ‘Plants!’ ‘Oceans!’ Wow!”

Oh y’all.  How do you argue with that?

Finally he did come back to working on writing his sentences all about Star Wars (thankful for the soul that came up with the idea of Math, Reading, and Writing workbooks that are Star Wars-centric! No way she’s getting paid enough–and yes, I’m sure it’s a woman–a woman who has pulled her hair out trying to get her child to quit talking about Star Wars and get.his.schoolwork.done).  He circled the nouns and underlined the adjectives like a pro.  Finally.

Still, he loves to talk while he’s doing all of this.  This little guy who did not talk much and had me quite worried about it until he was well over two years old.

He’s been making up for it ever since.

Which, don’t get me wrong, I love hearing his voice.  And his thoughts.  It’s just that when his 9-year-old sister is sitting next to him trying to focus on word problems and times tables and begging me to buy her ear plugs…..it’s not conducive to the “happy happy happy” place I like to be.

Oh me.

So today he was writing and talking–not both at the same time mind you–and he says, following up on his question from earlier about did Jesus die on a Sunday, “Jesus got betrayed because his friend thought that God was going to change things in the world with love.”

Yeah he did.

The way my little guy said “love.”  I realize his perception of the story is a little south of standard but still, I almost started bawling.  For all of his chattering, there’s some deep stuff flowing in there too.  And it’s not all Star Wars either.

Because then he said, “I love reading the Bible.  It’s why I’m a new person everyday.”

For the love.

What do I even do with that?

Say, “Hush up now and finish your schoolwork”?

No.  You just can’t, can you?

We have days like this.  Days when things are good, even if the book learnin’ doesn’t necessarily go as planned.

When my children are thinking and the thoughts they share are fascinating.

And then there are days like yesterday (which usually outweigh the ones like today) when he was writing his Star Wars sentences and every time he was supposed to use the letter “b” he wrote it “B.”

“Cooter, why are you using capital B’s everywhere?  Those are supposed to be lower case.  Do you see that?”

He nodded as his tongue worked the side of his mouth and he continued writing.

“Yes ma’am.”  He kept writing.  “But the big ones are more fun to write.”

Oh.  Well.

Excuse me.

Since you put it that way…..

still.  No.

This raising children is surely an adventure and teaching them at home is sometimes like an adventure on steroids.  All in the same day I get to hear the history of the world according to Star Wars, how the world was actually created according to the Good Book, how many Legos it takes to build a cantina from Star Wars, moans and groans about one more page of writing or math (depends on the day), and that people were afraid of how love would change the world.

That last one–I think some folks still are, don’t you?  Afraid of loving all like God and how that might change the world?

But that’s a story for another night.

Tonight I’m thankful for a day full of good things–of teaching my children and seeing some of it stick, of working alongside them to clean up or prepare a meal, of listening to their jokes, hopes, dreams, silly stories, and fears.  I give thanks that I often learn more than I teach when I hang out with this crew.  That their hearts and minds seem to be growing in the right direction–that means everything to me.  And that they know that love can change the world?

That.  Right.  There.

Now if only I can get him to give up those “fun to write” capital B’s.

Baby steps.  baby steps.

Love, the world-changing kind, to all.

 

 

Pondering What Language God Speaks

Today was Spanish lesson day.  Our sweet and fun teacher, Miss M, comes to the house and works with the littles for a half an hour or so.  They are really enjoying their lessons, as she makes it fun to learn.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how quickly they are picking it up.

Today we learned the names of colors.  Azul (blue) and rosa (pink) we knew from Dora the Explorer, thank you very much.  Today they learned amarillo. (Cooter said it sounded like armadillo, and then went off on a tangent about running over them. No! I’ve never ever.)  And blanca.  And rojo and verde.  And then came naranja.

Both Cooter and our Princess started off trying to pronounce it phonetically, using the English version of the sound the “j” makes.  I stepped in like I do *sigh*, “No y’all, in Spanish the ‘j’ makes the “huh” sound.”

Miss M reinforced that with them, and as Cooter practiced one more time, I turned to Princess and asked, “If the j makes an ‘h’ sound in Spanish, then how do you think “Jesus” is pronounced in Spanish?”

She sounded it out and eventually came up with the phonetic pronunciation of “Hay-soos.”  Very good.

Miss M explained that yes, in Spanish, that is how Jesus is pronounced, but in English it is Jesus.

Cooter looked up.

“Huh,” he said, staring at nothing.  I could see the wheels turning.  “I guess God speaks the same language we do then.”

Y’all.

Oh my.

Not wanting the Spanish lesson to be taken over with an obviously needed theology lesson for my seven-year old, I held off on saying too much just then.  But both Miss M and I laughed and shook our heads.

“The way some folks act and think, you would think so, wouldn’t you?”

I have a challenge on my hands, I’m afraid.  We’re all a bit egocentric at best, and Cooter is no exception.  But I want him to know that Jesus didn’t speak English, King James or otherwise, that God does not choose America’s side over another country, that Jesus most likely was not blue-eyed and fair-skinned, and that God and Jesus go way beyond nationalities and borders and languages.

It’s going to take a while, I’m afraid.  I know adults who don’t get it yet.

So we’ll add theology to our list of studies for now, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they can grasp just how much we can’t grasp about God.  And the world.  And still be okay with it.

As my Aunt says, I think we’re all going to be surprised.

Love to all.