in print
40
Over the Hill
stories about children, young and old, and what we can learn from them
stories about children, young and old, and what we can learn from them
Cradling Eternity

I KNOW OF ONE surefire way to feel better whenever I feel sad. In a divine and delightful fashion, my church teems with the most delicious babies on Sundays.

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Adult

God knew what He was doing when He made creation; children get to make some mistakes. The five-second rule for fallen food, for example. There are more items that won't kill them than those that will if they put it in their mouths.

Bare and Busting a Move

My little 3-year-old, John-Parker — we call him JP for short — loves to dance. And his jubilance is on its greatest display in his now traditional, post-bath, naked dance.

When in the Kingdom, Do as Kids Do

HER PINK FLORAL HEADPIECE fell on the ground as she wriggled toward her father's arms. She showed little concern for the way she looked on stage in front of the entire congregation; her poofy tulle skirt flipped upside down like a cupcake wrapper to expose her frilly diaper bottoms. She simply wanted to draw closer to her dad.

In Case You Forgot
What You Used to Hope and Fear

Some of our younger friends share their hopes and fears with us, as a reminder of how we used to think.

Like Mother, While Daughter

DEAR MOTHER, When I think of you, I remember how caring you were and how you treated being a mother as a privileged duty. And when I think of myself as a mother, I am so awkward!

Not Sure If I Can Handle God’s Sovereignty

IT’S HARD TO TALK about Justin, my little second cousin, without feeling conflicting emotions. Justin was born out of wedlock to my cousin when she was 19. He was the mistake, the thing that she was trying to hide for several months before her parents found out. He was the accidental life born from two teenagers who had no reason to be together, much less stay together.

A Gift Shaped By Fire
Notes on a Missionary Kid’s Childhood

MY FAMILY MOVED to the Lao People's Democratic Republic in 1990, just as the country emerged from Cold War isolationism into an era of international development and commerce. No paved roads or traffic lights; hammers and sickles hung in every storefront window. At night, our Soviet air conditioner rumbled through the sticky heat; at dawn, we woke to Party broadcasts, blared across municipal grounds.

I KNOW OF ONE surefire way to feel better whenever I feel sad.

In a divine and delightful fashion, my church teems with the most delicious babies on Sundays. Little munchkins falling forward, running amuck, crawling on people. Adults pass them around like sweet, sticky candy.

And I have a favorite. Baby Max. He tends to rock a faux hawk.

Typically, I can coax him out of another's arms by teasing, "Do you want to go to Daddy? Let's go find Daddy." Chubby arms stretch out in blessing, and I gleefully envelop him while taking a roundabout route through the pews.

I hold him close to smell his new hair, fascinated by this tiny human being entangled in my arms. He moves his head side to side to take in the sights, and I wonder how the world looks to him. Does he know what's coming? The gauntlet of growing up? The arbitrary sting of tragedy? I don't voice any of these questions. For now, I'm basking in the truth that he is loved. He is content. He is well.

My little trick with Max only works because I promise to take him to the ones he trusts the most. Even the little children in Jesus' time knew who that was as they drew near to Him. Being near Jesus felt like home.

Yet as I've grown and pieced together how to live in this world, my trust meandered elsewhere — to my abilities, my capacity, and my time. I find solace in my iCal to reassure me that there is a time for everything, or in my brain to power through any obstacle. I have faith in these, because I control them. I live belonging more to the world I see than to a kingdom I cannot.

Yet as I've grown and pieced together how to live in this world, my trust meandered elsewhere.

It's a thrill to hold Max because I get to hold someone so new. Max has an entire life ahead of him that excites me in a way I've lost for my own. Yet the reality that I'm called to live in is that I have an entire eternity ahead of me. But instead of excitement, I draw a blank and trust it's a vaguely good thing. Eternity starting now is difficult to look forward to and frankly exhausting when the demands of life right now confine my imagination.

I remember that I was once a child. I, too, radiated the same wonder of existing and an innocence of the box I was already thinking outside of.

Jesus hints that the little children walking amongst us carry a secret in their small overlooked ways and how they belong to a way of life. Perhaps Max is the one leading me back to my Father.

Eventually, the not-so-scenic course around church must end. Max spots his father's smile and bodily navigates me toward him by leaning in his direction. I can't compare. His father's eyes light up, and he embraces his son.

As we continue to grow, God willing, may we grow younger and ever search for the arms of our Father.

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