What the Heaven Are You Looking At?

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Cookie. “
“No honey, Mommy doesn’t have a cookie,”I whisper.
“Cookie.”
“Be a good girl, we’re in church,”I whisper.
“COOKIE!  COOKIE!!!!!!!!!”

My one year old flails herself around screaming to God himself for a cookie that I don’t have. Her big sister looks at me helplessly watching my brown face turn beet red in embarrassment.  Then she sweetly leans in and says, “You have crackers though right?”

The innocence. 

As I fumble through the diaper bag l glance up and see an impatient onlooker two pews ahead of us. She looks over her shoulder every time one of my children or any child says or does anything! 

Bear in mind, we are sitting in the very last row of the church.  Why? It is simply because I remember being young and single with no kids and shaking my head as I watch a parent provide pacifiers, goldfish, handheld electronic games, or anything short of monetarily bribing their children to be quiet during a church service. I always said I would sit in the back when I have kids.
A friend of mine said they once sang the ABC song during a baptism to keep their little one calm during service.  I thought to myself, “I wonder if that will work. ”

Meanwhile, the baby seems to have built an equaliser in her lungs and a microphone in her throat.

COOKIE.COOKIE. COOKIE. COOKIE!!!”

I stayed calm. “They can sense your fear,”I thought.

The lady two pews ahead is still staring. 

“What the hell …heaven. ..is she looking at?!”

This is when you will hear non-believers say the church is full of hypocrisy.  It is because of situations like this. A kid is fighting a nap and you are giving a parent a murder one ice grill (my slang shows my age) instead of being empathetic. A scripture came to mind:

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
~Matthew 19:14

The next time the woman glanced I smiled.  I simultaneously tuned in to the preacher saying,

“Reach into yourself when it is difficult and be your better self always.  Forgive those you’ve trained yourself to forget because of the pain they’ve caused you.”

I chuckled to myself knowing adults have a hard time focussing in church,  let alone children.  I gave the girls a granola bar to share. I kissed them on the foreheads and we snuck out (towards the end) with stealth while another kid had a breakdown over juice. I silently hoped they enjoyed fellowship and hoped they learned something.  I know I did.

By:Shaun Nickens

 

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Imagination

I got home and dinner was ready at the table. The kids were seated nicely. The placemats were set so that the tablecloth wouldn’t get dirty. The house was clean but messy…you know…lived in. The love hit you at the door along with the smell of biscuits. There was yelling but not the “nails on the chalkboard” type. When dinner was done I didn’t have to load the dishwasher. No blaring flat screen to misuse the little time we had to spend with one another. We had quality conversation.  We looked in each other’s eyes. We connected with one another.  He took care of everything.

By the time I came out of my work clothes, my shower was running.  There were lavender scented candles in the room.  The kids were in bed. Their bedtime stories already read. The profits he made for the day were displayed on the laptop.  Our household “to do list” had a few more items checked off of it. He rinsed the day off of me. Covered my skin in a rich lather of mango and cinnamon scented body wash.  I patted my skin dry and moisturized in coconut oil.

The sheets were newly cleaned and had the slight scent of peppermint linen spray. He held me like he had been waiting to be close to me all his life.

He told me every nook and cranny of his day.  He vowed we’d never argue again.  We chuckled at how silly it sounded. We engulfed ourselves in one another.  We planned a new family vacation.  We discussed politics and our plans for the future. He didn’t mind that it was time to get my hair done or that my toenails needed to be painted.  He didn’t mind anything at all. He was so content with being able to make me happy.

It took sometime to get here…
.. this place that could now exist outside of my imagination.

By: Shaun M N

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