Do you ever wonder if your children listen to the Readings at Mass or “get” the Bible stories and teaching of Jesus that you share with them at home? I do, especially since my children can be anything but reverent at Mass each week.
Last week was a particularly challenging Mass for our family. It was my birthday. In the morning, my eldest asked what I’d like. I said that I really wanted him to help me pray at church and he said that he would try. So much for that! He did all right for the first half of Mass, but was quite awful the latter half.
Discouraged, my confidence in my ability to guide my children in their faith formation really began to wane. By dusk, though, God reminded me He is in charge, not me. My trust in the process of faith formation waxed once again.
You see, it was the first snowy day of the year. In the afternoon, I asked my family to go for a hike in the woods with me for my birthday. Although we went to an area that we had been to many times before, due to the early winter look of the trails and the fact that we let our children choose which direction we should go at a number of junctures, we found ourselves lost.
By the time we realized that we no longer had any idea where we were, my daughter was repeating over and over, “Mommy, my legs say they are tired and my belly says it’s hungry.” My eldest son was asking for a snack and my youngest son was getting heavy in my husband’s arms. So, when I heard vehicles driving over pavement and then spied a house, I suggested that we leave the dead-end trail we had found ourselves on, cut up through the brambles to the yard of the house and make our way out to the road.
We were no closer to knowing where we were when we got to the road, but at least we were near houses where we could ask for help if it got dark before we figured things out. There was no need for that, though. As my son later said, “God sent a woman.”
We had only traversed a few yards on the unknown road when a kind woman came out of her home and asked if we’d been hiking and had gotten lost. She explained that her property abuts the conservation land that we’d been hiking on and that many folks lose their way and end up passing by her house. She then suggested we wait just a moment while she ran back inside to get her keys. It was getting colder out, we had three small children and she wanted to give some of us a ride back to the trailhead parking lot to fetch our car.
Before our entire family was cozily buckled in our heated minivan together, my five year old commented, “Mommy, we were lost. Now, we are found. Just like the sheep.” His younger sister chimed in, joining him in pointing out parallels between the Bible parable we’d explored at a recent co-op class and our situation.
Later that night, when I asked my children what the best part of their day had been, they both agreed that it was getting lost and then being found. They were glad that God had known we were lost and had sent help so we could find our way home.
I almost echoed that the experience had been the best part of my day, too, but, in truth, what I most appreciated that day was the reminder that God is always with us and that He is working on each of our hearts. Noting aloud how God works in our lives, sharing Bible stories, relating Jesus’ teaching, participating in Mass together… Each seemingly small way that we weave faith into our lives adds up to something much bigger: children growing, through God’s grace, in wisdom and understanding.
Now, that is a birthday gift I celebrate!
Please be encouraged in all the ways you are sharing faith with the young children in your life, too.
If you’d like to share a story, ask a question or offer a tip, please do so in the comments. And, be sure to stop back next Sunday to join us for more thoughts, tips and resource ideas here at our Sunday series, Training Happy Hearts: A Call to Faith Formation for Young Children. Plus, if you'd like to guest post here one Sunday, you'd be most welcome to. Just ask!
P.S. If you are reading this and other posts at THH through an email subscription, as I understand, there are missed spaces and run-on sentences. These do not appear on my end at the actual blog and I cannot figure out what is happening. I am not technically savvy and no little to nothing about coding. If you have any ideas or tips to offer about how to fix this with a blogger blog, let me know! Thanks. Fixing it would be one more thing knocked off my BloTaAcMo quest.
Also, if you know how to turn the graphic I spent all too much time making for this post into a real blog button, guidance is appreciated.