It’s been a crazy ride the past couple of years watching our oldest son, Calvin, grow into the walking, talking, ball of energy that he is now. Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday when I held him in my arms listening to little baby sounds, or maybe I’m delirious and I’m really remembering his two month old baby brother, Joseph.
Really though, any parent out there will tell you that raising a child is full of long days and short years. I guess that’s why it’s been easy for our church attendance to be a bit more sparse that we’d like, though we’ve certainly felt God’s grace and comfort in figuring out how the different stages of life need to work and kept coming back to remembering that this needs to be a priority.
I ran the Dallas Half Marathon this past year. I trained for it for months; waking up most days at 4:30 AM to get my morning run in before I went to work, and woke up at the same time on Saturdays, too. One of my good friends and pastors, Mike, asked me what it would take for me to take my walk with God as seriously as I did running. Ultimately, I got back into running after years of doing nothing because of my health, but I knew my spiritual health and my family’s spiritual health needed a jump start and needed consistency. While our conversation was full of grace, Mike’s question lingered with me. What was it going to take for me to have the same type of wake up call that got me waking up at 4:30 AM to run four miles before work each day? What was it going to take to make me really look into the depths of my soul and long for the Christian community and gospel-saturation that I had been accustomed to before having children? It haunted me.
Then I began to see how almost overnight Calvin went from not really being able to understand God or Jesus or concepts to knowing the name of every character on Paw Patrol. Then Joseph was born.
Angela delivered Joseph at a birthing center in Dallas, but because of lung immaturities had to spend a week in the NICU. I rode over in the medical transport, looking at my new baby laying there in an isolation box and just trying to process it all. The doctors and nurses at Baylor Dallas were amazing and efficient at getting him admitted to the NICU and under treatment. I sat there, staring at my baby boy with heart-rate monitor wires and a CPAP machine hooked up to him, and just came to the end of myself. I sent Mike a message updating him about baby Joseph and told him that if this wasn’t the awakening moment that I needed, I didn’t know what was.
Once we recovered from being at the hospital for a week and Calvin realized we weren’t going to leave him for a week again, I started really thinking about how to shift gears and get us back into church more consistently and home group and how to walk with Calvin and Joseph and teach them about God. I started taking Calvin to church for a few weeks, until we all got sick. Angela suggested I start reading books with Calvin before he goes to bed. So, I crawl up in his new big boy bed with him at night and read Batman, Superman, a book about finding a place to pray, and a host of other kiddo books.
Yet, I realized that, for me, it was going to require a shift in tactics for me to grow and focus. I’m a reader, a thinker, a writer. I focus and learn best when I get away from life for a while and shove my head into a book and don’t come out until something hits me. If you’ve ever tried that with a toddler running around, then you truly understand the definition of insanity. Four words in and “Da Da!” I love it, but it meant I was going to have to rethink my approach.
I began to ask God to help me see the sacred in the mundane. I felt this pull for a couple weeks, and really felt it during this year’s Linger Conference. I began to start seeing how well Calvin can communicate and how much he loves his baby brother and momma and daddy. I began to see his (normally) sweet disposition as the grace of God that it is. I started praying with Calvin at night after we read our books, thanking God for momma and baby brother and cousin Violet. Tonight as I prayed with Calvin, I leaned over the guard rail to hold his hand and be close to he could hear me, and this little man let go of my hand and put both his hands on my head, and something just shifted. Semi-nonchalant prayers of generic thankfulness turned into deep, holding back tears, prayers thanking God for grace and mercy and praying over Calvin and Joseph’s little hearts.
Normally, I would chalk this up to thinking it was cute that Calvin did a church thing without really knowing it. I don’t feel like I need to find a “Spirit moment” in every little thing that happens in life. Sometimes little boys are just little boys. But with the spiritual trajectory of the past few weeks and the desire to feel and see the sacred in the mundane…
I can’t explain it, but when that little unsaved, unregenerate boy put his hands on my head – God showed up.