We recently returned from a short trip to visit my family. The drive is about seven hours with stops. Driving long distances is not uncommon for our family. We make an eleven hour trip at on an annual occasion, Sometimes we make the long trip multiple times a year.
Almost all of our family lives out of town. The one exception is my sister. For those of you who have multiple family members in town, remember to thank them for all they do. Trust me. Though I love our city of Chattanooga and do not regret moving here, there are times it would be nice to have a little more family in town.
All that being said, we travel quite frequently. Our kids, six and three, actually do pretty well on our road trips, though they do refuse to sleep!
One time, with my daughter, we drove down to Louisiana in the middle of the night thinking our daughter (I think about one at the time) would sleep. Nope. She did not go to sleep til close to midnight and then we only had about three more hours. Lesson learned. History has not repeated itself. Driving through the night does not work for our family.
Though we are not above screens and tablets in our family, I am always amazed at how young children can entertain themselves with just about anything. They really actually do not need the screens, though they do provide easy quiet for the parents on long drives. (FYI: Before tablets, there was TV in cars, walk-mans, game-boys, etc…)
My uncle and aunt graciously hosted our family in their home on our recent trip. While at their house, my uncle each of my kids a name badge holder (the ones that have the retractable string), a set of small binoculars, and an old work cube puzzle. Random, right? But you know what? They took these things and loved them. My three year old son wanted to sleep with his name badge holder. Kids are so weird.
The above very random things became a fort, “stations”, a suit case, a candy dispensing kit, and those are just the ones I overheard. They became part of their play as a result of vivid imaginations. One of my favorite books that displays the great imagination of kids perfectly is Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy.
We buy our kids fancy toys thinking we have to entertain them. The truth is, as most parents know, all our children need is a box,a little time, and a pinch of imagination, and they will create their own worlds.
The wonder of children! They have not learned to be discontent nor do children know the difference between a $100 toy and free name-tag lanyard. All they know is that gifts are freely given. With what they have, they can create whole new worlds.
While there are many lessons we need to teach our children, we can learn and be reminded of a great many lessons from them.
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.1 Timothy 4:12
Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, the rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, whoever does not received the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”Luke 18: 15-17
Children do not need fancy toys or be taken to the next greatest museum. There is certainly nothing wrong with these things. (My husband and I are great lovers of museums, and certainly museums can enrich our lives.) Children, however, do not need these things to have a fulfilled life and neither do adults for that matter.
I recently had some friends from my hometown come to visit. We planned all these amazing things for them to do! We went to the Tennessee Aquarium, Ruby Falls, Rock City, and the Incline Railway. We walked across the walking bridge. We had ice cream at Clumpies! Three of those in one day!
Do you know what our kids enjoyed the most out of all those experiences?
The unplanned spontaneous part where they played in the rocks and cascading water steps.
There is so much beauty in our world. We often become so preoccupied and busy in our lives, we forget to take in the moments. Let us take a page from our children’s worlds.
Lesson One: Keep sight of what matters.
We really do not need the fanciest toys or the next greatest “I-” whatever. There’s certainly nothing wrong with owning these things. But when we take our eyes off of Jesus, that is when we must beware. When we look away, we lose sight of what really matters.
Lesson Two: God will provide.
If we believe what God says, then we believe he will provide us with all good things.
Jesus said, I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.John 10:10
When I look back on my life, the memories I have, the pictures I have taken, I do not remember the fanciest toy or how expensive it was to go places. I remember the love and being with my family. You might remember bits and pieces of the tangible, materialistic parts, but when you strip all the excess away, you are really remembering the joy and love.
Lesson Three: God gives us great things.
God gives us senses to experience life in so many ways. He gives us eyes that we may see the wonder that is his majesty.
He gives us ears that we may hear the melodious concert composed by the master composer.
He gives us smell so that we may be reminded of sweet memories: A slight warm breeze on a sultry summer day, the sweet smell of roses/honeysuckle on a hike with your father. The smells of pies baking for the holidays made with love by your grandmother, the smell of a Great American Cookie Cake on your birthday.
He gives us loving touch that we may know the spirit of the God who holds us in his sweet arm: The touch of a newborn baby’s irresistible crown of hair, the gripping hug of a moment lost in grief.
Finally, taste. He gives us taste: The meals shared between friends and loved ones. The memories of gathering at a coffee place to chat or even a favorite restaurant shared between guests.
Lesson 4: We all experience His gifts in our own way.
The even more amazing part is that just like different children will invent different games, we are all different, yet made so very much alike in God’s image.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within.Ralph Waldo Emerson, Quote inspired from Seize the Day Daily Calendar
Can you add to my list? What gift inspires you the most? Comment below!
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