Friday, March 13, 2009

A Visit to the Jesus Store

On the rare occasion that I end up at the bank with my girls, we usually make a stop at the Christian Book Store. Not that I buy books. I haven't read a study guide since AugustRose came home. But there are always some good finds for the girls and some pretty neat treats for upcoming birthdays and anniversaries.
Today I had a mission. My friend had given Anna and Mother and Daughter Devotional and I loved it. Simple stories with a few questions at the end. We read this when Anna was 4 and again just after she turned 5. She is just beginning to understand how God is everywhere, yet within her, that he was Jesus and now he is the trinity. I wanted to get another devotional for little gals.

Okay you know what? I am still learning this myself. I went to Church as a child and would always, always, feel the calling to go up front during the "All to Thee my Blessed Savior, I Surrender all" song but somehow felt embarrassed. I remember it very clearly. I felt my parents would yank me back to my pew and give me the "ugly eye." I am not sure why I felt that way. They were in the Church with me. They must have wanted me to develop my relationship with the Lord. But I was in 2nd grade when I had those desires. I saw the adults walking up and I desperately wanted to go with them and tell my preacher that I wanted to be part of the group going to Heaven, that I wanted to be good and honest and do nice things for others. I never did.
Not too long after these feelings started, my family moved to a chicken farm in the middle of nowhere and my dad never had the time to get us to Church, so for a good 10 years I really didn't think about my faith. (And yes I lived on a chicken farm...)
In high school and college I was absolutely BUCK WILD. Drinking, partying, boys, all of it. I was a parent's nightmare. But if I happened to stumble into a Church, I would always cry. I never allowed too much time in that space. I wasn't ready to give up on the party.
So fast forward to a really horrible marriage and infertility, when a coworker invited me to a women's retreat. I secretly thought it was a cult. But I drove my own car, so I knew I could wiggle out of any weirdness...
I gave my life back to God that weekend..I was ready to recieve what the women were giving me..
Sadly the marriage didn't last. (Okay not that sadly, he was a sociopathe-not judging, just being honest) Then the adoption option came along.

Fast forward again to today at the Jesus store and they had a Webkinz there. It was a lamb. Of course Anni wanted to know why they only had the lamb. I really couldn't explain that Jesus is compared to the sacrificial lamb from wayyyy back. So I tried to explain that it has nothing to do with the Easter Bunny, and that we could share more later. Tonight we read our new Princess Bedtime Devotional and I tried to explain that Jesus had been killed on a cross. He was willing to die for us. So that we could be better. I then tried to explain that wayyyy back lambs were sacrificed to honor God. She wanted to cry. I tried to explain that it was to make God happy.

What a hard thing to explain to a 5 year old. We prayed together, and she remembered to say, "I hope you have a good rest tonight." It is still hard for her to say her prayers to God and not to me. We are getting there though.
I need to get back to my small group. I need to get faster answers to the tough questions. Sometimes Google just doesn't get it done!
So for any of you moms out there, how did I do?


Annie said...

Hey - good job! Religious Educator here... I find it is helpful to help children understand that by sacrificing we are showing God that HE is more important to us than the good things He gives us. I think sacrificing animals is such a hard thing for children because we "train them up" to personify animals...and of course to be KIND to animals and that combined with "sacrificial offerings" does not quite work well....

Emphasizing the "long ago" as you did is helpful, as well as the idea that we sacrifice other things nowadays. [Image too complex for your daughter..but maybe later - if someone gives you a box of chocolate, you sacrifice one of them - sharing it with the giver - to show how grateful you are]. When children are older we can work to help them imagine what an amazing thing it was to sacrifice an animal when people's animals were so much of what they relied on for security. So much of their wealth.

I am a professional - and still learning this myself. That's one reason I just LOVE teaching religion. I get more out of it than the kids do!

Annie said...

I should also say that, actually, it is a bit easier - and maybe more appropriate for preschoolers, to take the lamb image as a reminder that Jesus is our "Good Shepherd" and we are like little lost lambs that he will always find and love.

I sometimes wonder if those who market little cuddly lambs for children at Easter have stopped to consider the age of the child who would receive such a gift, and the actual lamb image associated with Easter. I doubt it.