Why Can’t We Live in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood?

Day 18: NEIGHBOR

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day in the neighborhood…

This melody rings through my home at least once a day. Netflix just came to Nepal, and all my kids have wanted to watch for the last month is Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

I love that my four year old sings, Thank you for everything you do to me while she’s brushing her teeth and has learned to Flush, Wash, and Go. Daniel’s mom and dad always are understanding of his whiny ways and sing sweet songs to teach him how to maneuver around his tiny tigey-centered world. In some ways, I wish I was more like them.

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Or that I was more like the dad of young girl who starred in a recent viral video. He held her, standing on the bathroom sink looking in the mirror reciting some inspiring words before she went off to school. It is super adorable and sweet, and I admire such a hands-on and loving parent. But I stumbled over part of it which kept me from sharing for sake of smiles.

He leads her in saying, ”I am the best. No one is better than me.” She repeats, “I am not better than anyone else,” but the number of time she states, “I am beautiful. I am amazing. I am the best” caused me to just forget about that part completely. I wonder if she did too.

I want my children to be bold and confident and sure that God made them special because it is true. But I also want them to understand that God made them special for service.

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Unfortunately for my fun-loving, self-centered children (and for me too) a Biblical application of the concepts of being a good neighbor is a lot less fun than play-dates and birthday parties in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:2-8).

Oh, boy.

Teaching these truths doesn’t even feel like living the Golden Rule towards my children because my own flesh fights them so fiercely. However, I am confident that one of the best things I can do to ensure lasting joy for my children is to teach them how to treat other people. How to make a snappy new day not for themselves but for others.

Some days living the Golden Rule turns out to bless us in tremendous ways and, on others, our kindness is not rewarded. We have only the satisfaction of having done right.

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We say we want our kids to be like Jesus, but this is one of the million and one ways we don’t. Jesus loved and poured himself out for people who called for His crucifixion. His great love was spat upon by the very people for whom He died. Yet, He still commands us to love every single hot mess person we meet (unfortunately, there is not a friendly face on every street just waiting to greet us!).

We don’t want to stand in front of our mirrors and say, “I was made for Jesus. In this world, I am nothing. I will lift up the needs of others and seek to glorify God with my life.” It goes against our very nature which is nurturing our children in the Word of God is so vital. And we can’t skip the hard parts.

I have to believe that friends who show themselves friendly will find their tribe and be loved in the loving. In the fear of all the ways humility will hurt my children, I am certain the love of Jesus will cover the multitudes of sins against them.

At times, there may be a lot more suffering than singing in our neighborhood, but it is ultimately a joyful place. It’s a place I’m happy to show my kids around even if it has its dark corners.

When my kids want to know why can’t we live in Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood, I’ll remind them,  It’s a land of make believe.

Are you teaching your children to live the Golden Rule?
How can you encourage your children to serve others despite the cost?

Talk to me in the comment section!

linking up: RaRaLinkUp

Two Tender Hearts and One Untrained Teacher

Day 17, Five Minute Prompt: STUDY

In my host culture, it is not uncommon to ask your teacher his credentials. When we studied language at a college, our professor would just explain his right off the bat to avoid having to repeat himself.

It is comforting to know that the person who teaches you is qualified. Unfortunately, my children don’t have that assurance.

I feel about as equipped to give my children a complete Biblical foundation to grow on as I do homeschooling them from now until graduation (which I am not planning on doing at the moment).  But I’ve become aware that my children study me, mimicking my every move and repeating my every word. And one of them asks me at least 462 questions a day. I’m lucky if I know the answers to half of them.

I have more formal opportunities to train them as well, and I have to take advantage of these while I can because the hard reality is they’re just not gonna get it anywhere else. And the “monkey see” behaviors aren’t always the most dependable reflections of truth.

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I don’t have the benefit of her learning in Sunday school each week in her first language, though she is finally beginning to recite a thing or two class.

Everything we teach our children doesn’t make sense in light of what they see outside of our home in this Hindu country. Our daughter comes home asking questions before her shoes come off her feet by the front door. We have our hands full of opportunities for gospel conversations. In this way, I am so grateful for her cultural experience that differs so much from what I would craft for her in safe little mommy world.

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I have to be careful about what I teach her, thinking always of the Hindu context in which she lives. I have to be careful not to say, “We don’t celebrate this holiday, wear tikka, etc. because we are Christians.” Because we aren’t (don’t worry, keep reading).

Her daddy and I have received the gift of salvation and given our lives to Christ, but she hasn’t. It’s a popular belief here that you are born into a religion, and we don’t take that lightly with our children. She tells us she wants to love and know Jesus, and we are excited to hear that, but we are careful not to convince her she already does.

Right now, we are driving home that she, her brother, and the whole lot of us are all just stinky sinners loved by a perfect God. We’re adding a little more every day, and while you may not see her quoting 26 scriptures for each letter of the alphabet anytime soon, I sense some understanding and a softening heart towards the things of God.

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I will keep studying and growing in the Lord and sharing the change and the knowledge that comes with my children. Just as I expect my pastor to be seeking the Lord and faithfully prepare sermons on Sunday (or Saturday here) to feed his flock, I must be diligent to prepare myself and my teachings specifically for my children.

I’ll also remember that they are watching their imperfect teacher, taking note of what my actions say about the God I claim with my mouth.

Maybe the monkey-sees will get better as we mature in the Lord together. But maybe they won’t. That’s not really what I’m after, and I reckon He didn’t sacrifice His Son for good behavior.

He wants their hearts and every facet of their lives. And I want them to give it all to Him when they fully understand the life-wrecking, beautiful mess they’re getting themselves into. I beg that it will be sooner rather than later. I know that my two precious pupils are much more loved by Him, though I can’t untangle my tender thoughts to understand how that’s possible.

With this assurance, I trust that, in His perfect timing, He will draw them to Himself despite all the ways I’ve failed them as a teacher.

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).

What are your little monkeys learning from you?
How do you integrate Biblical teaching into your daily routines with small children?

Talk to me in the comment section!

 

Help for the Little Years Hater

Day 16, Five Minute Prompt: LITTLE

I don’t know if it was raising support all over America with a baby in tow or moving clear across the world with a three month infant that made me have a hard time loving the little years.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the curl of a sleeping baby resting to the sound of my heartbeat. I love tickling tiny toes and receiving bubble smiles in return. Little is cute and sweet with its plump red cheeks and dimply knees. But when it comes to kids, let’s be real, little is a whole lot of work.

Because somehow they know when I sit down with my cup of coffee. Seems they have an internal clock that tells them when mom is relaxed and then to rouse me. Meeting the needs of fickle little dictators is exhausting and overwhelming.

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Yes, she always wears this hat.

I want to tell them, “Get your own juice,” but I know it will end up on the floor. I want them to solve their own problems, wipe their own booties, and brush their teeth without the accompanying toothpaste explosion in my sink.

More so, I want them to be little Jesus lovers who model a life of repentance. I want them to reek of the fruits of the spirit like they just got out of a steaming bubble bath of the stuff. I trust God with all my heart that we will get there, but expecting these behaviors before God gets their hearts is unreasonable and unfair.

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My little ones may be pagans, but they’re people too. With souls, thoughts, and feelings as unique as their outfit choices. A while back I read, Your Child is Your Neighbor and was completely wrecked. I must handle them delicately, trusting the Lord will fill them one day and they will become vessels used for His service.

I must remember, it’s exactly their neediness, dependency, and child-likeness that leads them to the feet of Jesus. And isn’t that exactly where I want them to be?

But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein (Luke 18:16-17).

So how do I embrace their littleness and love their wild hearts? I reference my instruction manual which I find to be surprisingly short.

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Matthew 6:37-39).

I share my home, my kitchen-utensils-turned-toys, and my dinner table with these small people made in the image of God. I’m gonna love them till they don’t need me. Then I’m gonna love them some more.

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Do you need to ask God to help you love the little years?
How can you stoop down to serve tiny wild hearts today?

Talk to me in the comment section!

 

“Maybe I’ll Miss the Muddle” by a Mom who Hates Craft Time

Day 15, Five Minute Prompt: MUDDLE

*My prompt mix-up has come full-swing, but I think this one is rather fitting and perfectly timed for me!*
Paint. Sidewalk chalk. Legos. Play-doh. If it makes a huge mess and mommy hates it, you can guarantee my kids are all over it and begging to do it every. single. day.

Last week, I couldn’t even say no to the muddling. The entire city was shut down to observe the biggest Hindu holiday of the year. We were stuck in or around the house for 12-14 waking hours. Eventually, I enforced a mandated nap time for the sanity of all involved.

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We did all the messy things, and mom even brought out the secret weapon of sugar cookies with squeezable decorators perfect for chubby little hands (is it weird how much I talk about my kids’ hands?).

It was lots of deep-breaths and squinty surveying of the scene that rivaled my earthquake-wrecked first home abroad. I swept 5 times a day and did dishes more than I care to remember. The kids clothes got changed repeatedly, but I never got around to washing any laundry.

For a Type-A mama with my own to-do-list, the struggle is real. I asked myself at least a dozen times why my kids love most the things that make me cringe. And also, “Who is buying them all these things?” (Looking at you, Grandma and Grandpa).

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I realized something, though. The more mess they made, the more fun they had. And the more I overlooked the things that made me cringe, the happier the overall tone in the house was. Nap time came more quickly, and I was able to restore a little order in the chaos.

That’s all their little hands are trying to do among the legos, chalk, paint, and play-doh. They are learning small-scale life lessons in the middle of the muddle. It sure does feel selfish to rob them of those opportunities. Especially considering what a blast they have together. My daughter’s exclamations that her brother is her buddy have matched the number of outfit changes each day.

She’s back to school tomorrow, and my house will be a little less chaotic. Her brother, a little more lonely. I’ll have a little extra time to sip my coffee and pop some laundry in the machine come nap time.

But I’ll admit, I’ll kind of miss the muddle and the two extra hands to clean it up.

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Do you cringe at all the messy things your kids love, too?
How can you live the Golden Rule towards your little home wreckers today?

Talk to me in the comment section!

 

 

 

 

Mail and the Mama Bear: Am I Monopolizing My Kids’ Upbringing?

Day 14, Five Minute Prompt: MAIL

Across from the spot where my daughter crafts daily “birthday” cards for her daddy sits a bulletin board where we pin the mail she receives. A colorful collage reminds her she is loved, and she asks often about her “friends” many of whom she has never met or doesn’t remember.

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I look forward to hugging these friends and letting them know how much these tokens mean to me. However, I feel uncomfortable at the thought of sharing my children with many people after so long just surviving as a family of four.

It’s tempting to act like I have a monopoly on molding the hearts of my children. That I am the only one who knows them and can love and take care of them. It’s true God gave them to me, but being uniquely made, they can benefit from all sorts of people who aren’t just like me.

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I think of all the people God used in my life to shape my heart for service to Him and train me along the way. Mom and Dad out-loved and out-taught the rest by far. But they needed those people to pour into me, to assist their efforts to mold me into His image. I would have been hindered had they monopolized my upbringing and kept me from being trained and discipled by others.

It takes a village, or so I’ve heard, and we just happen to have a wonderful community of believers all around the world who love our children. I would hate to rob them of that special blessing because I am a wildly jealous Mama Bear!

Anyone with information on how to suppress this beast can send me relevant mail which I will promptly post to my own bulletin board for future reference.

Do you see the value of allowing others to invest in your children?
Expand your village for your kids today!

And then talk to me in the comment section below.

linking up: Fresh Market Friday, Five Minute Friday