He's nine-years-old and plenty old to stay back on his own while his three siblings and I enjoy an afternoon walk around our neighborhood. However, on this day I simply stated that we were taking this walk as a family, then turned and kept going.
He hemmed and hawed a bit more as he moved forward and grumbled from behind me, "We can't. Mom said we have to go," when his younger brother decided he liked the idea of going back.
I smiled small, holding the hand of my youngest daughter with her older sister a step behind us, and the other two a few steps behind her, and kept going.
About three-quarters around the short loop back to our house, we staggered along side an open park, a large patch of open grass with no slide or swings or jungle gyms; just a few isolated clustered trees, that looked on to our house, through the empty lot and across the street.
"Do you all want to cut across and check out those trees?" I asked.
And so we scurried over to the center of that patch of green, to the unique tree trunks with their umbrella of branches hovering over the shaded grass and they climbed those few trees for more than an hour. They started out exploring the tree limbs climb-ability
"Aren't you glad you came on the walk?" I couldn't help but ask the adamant one, with selfless satisfaction.
"Ye-ah!" He declared.
That cluster of trees has become our go-to haven over the past week. We've played there, picnicked there and read there. My oldest and possibly most stubborn boy has since taken a sketch pad and his bible there and has designated it as his outdoor reading spot.
So many beautiful things multiplied out of that small act of obedience, pushing past refusal, grumbling and finally acceptance.
We have the unique ability, as parents, to lead our children toward beauty even when they don't realize where they're headed or think they want to go. Because it's our job to open up their world to discover for the first time something they may have seen a thousand times before. Because they don't always know what is best for themselves, yet through obedience they learn to trust.
It's a picture of how God disciplines us.
My son is old enough to be left on his own for a short time. But when he is left, I want him left alone with God. I want him to look at this world with curiosity and for Creation to heighten his imagination. I want him to see where the world is broken and think possibility and to know impossibility without a Savior.
It's balancing the not holding on too tight with the not letting go too soon. It's a balancing act that a certain formula will never give. It's a balance that is a moment by moment belief that the only true balance in our lives is with Christ at the center, using the ups and downs to keep us steadily revolving around him.
Trusting that He holds the beauty that we must determine to lead our children to moment by moment, day after day. Holding on enough to direct their lives toward Christ and letting go enough for them to discover the life and beauty within him.
It is we who wisely lead our children to beauty and then let them alone to discover it.
We have the unique privilege of leading these children beyond their comforts and momentary feelings, beyond idleness and bland appetites, to the places they can explore, seek, discover, and find rest.
And eventually, may even call home.
***Joining Ann and picking back up with my gratitude list:
the sunshine lighting up the trees outside my bedroom window at 5:00 in the morning.
the birds waking me up to notice
in the sun and water all day long
for health, life and positive changes
finding my center in Christ
scripture affirming a need for full trust in God
finding confidence in God's control behind everything
for moments redeemed and hearts changed through confession to one another and God
Madeline potty trained...quick and easy
systems in our home that are working
the weight of a child's heart lifted fully after confessing his wrong-doing in prayer
the cluster of trees the children have played in for hours since last week
a week of soccer camp for the three oldest
Sharing with A Holy Experience, Finding Heaven, The Better Mom, The Wellspring, Graceful, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Raising Arrows