A Bedtime Experience to Remember

Last night was one of those nights God decided to speak to me and teach me something through a two year old.  I’ll be honest and say that some of my readers may find this story unbelievable, or try to explain it away in a non-supernatural way, but I’ll just start by saying that if you feel that way I just see it a little differently…

Last night after Awana I brought the girls home while Melissa went out with a friend for some girl-bonding-time (whatever it is women do when they go out!)  I was putting my girls to bed and had both in my lap after reading a story and we prayed and then rocked.  You need to understand that lately Celeste has really been struggling with the transition from the rocking chair to the bunk bed – she wants to rock, but then she wants in her bed, then she wants out of bed to rock again, then she wants me to lay with her… You get the drift.  Anyway, I’ve been trying to train her than once she says she’s done rocking and is ready to go to bed then she can’t decided to get back in my lap again.  Last night we prayed and then were rocking, and after a few minutes Celeste said, “I’m ready for bed” and went to get down.  I said, “Are you sure you’re ready, because once you get in bed you have to stay there.”  She said yes and jumped down out of my lap.   This is a pretty normal evening routine for us, but then she walked only two or three steps and stopped.  She looked at me and said, “Daddy, I want more rock.” and came back.  Since I had told her that once she gets in bed she can’t get back in my lap I decided to not fight with her and let her back in my lap (something told me I needed to let her sit in my lap again).

Then she said, “Daddy, I no want horse get me.”  I said, “You don’t want the horse to get you?”  “No, Daddy, I no want horse get me.  I want pink pillow.  Pink pillow keep horse away.”  I wasn’t sure what she was talking about, so I looked over and Chloe’s toy horse (which was pink) was on the floor under the dresser.  I said, “Are you talking about that horse?  You don’t want Chloe’s horse to get you?”  “No, Daddy, I no want black horse get me.”  I said, “The black horse?  I don’t see a black horse.”  “No, Daddy, I don’t want black horse get me.  I want pink pillow.  Pink pillow keep black horse away.”

Chloe then said, “She’s talking about her rocking horse in the shed.”  (which is blue, not black).  I said, “Celeste, are you talking about the rocking horse?”  “NO, Daddy, I no want BLACK horse get me.”  Then I started hearing these questions come to my mind to ask her….  “Sweetie, do you see a black horse?”  “Yes, Daddy.  I no want Black Horse get me.”  “Where do you see the black horse, Celeste?”  “Right there, Daddy.  I know want Black Horse get me.”  And she pointed towards the ceiling fan and was staring up there.  “Celeste, do you see a black horse up there by the fan?”  “Yes Daddy, I no want Black Horse get me.”

At this point I could hear all sorts of thoughts in my head – it was like the Holy Spirit was giving me the questions to ask Celeste up to this point, and then I heard in my head this thought that said, “Children can often see things that you can not.  Trust her.”  So I said to Celeste, “Celeste, do you want to pray for Jesus to take the black horse away?”  “Yes, Daddy, pray Jesus make Black Horse go away.  I no want Black Horse get me.”  Mind you, the entire time this conversation was going on she kept looking up at the ceiling where she had pointed to the fan and then back at me.

So we prayed.  We prayed that Jesus would make the Black Horse go away.  We claimed his power and blood over our house, over the room, over the girls, and we told the Black Horse that he was not welcome at our house and that in the name of Jesus he needed to leave.  After we finished praying I looked at Celeste and said, “Do you feel better now?”  and she replied “Yes”.  Then she turned her gaze away from me and looked straight at the fan (where she had kept pointing to) and her face lit up with a HUGE grin and she said (practically shouted), “Daddy!  Black Horse Gone!  Where Black Horse go?”  “I don’t know, sweetie, but he’s left.  Jesus made him leave because we asked him to keep us safe.”  She said, “But where Black Horse GO?”  “Outside, sweetie, Jesus made him go outside.  Do you feel better now?”  “Yes.  Maybe Jesus send Black Horse to see Bullseye” (the horse from Toy Story!)

Now I know some people will say this was all just an over-active imagination, and perhaps it was.  But want I want to communicate is that Celeste doesn’t have a developed imagination like this – she doesn’t have imaginary friends (at least not yet), and she doesn’t make-believe with anyone but herself – the most she’ll do is rock Baby Doll to sleep or give Baby Doll a bottle, but she never has imaginary stories like this (Chloe on the other hand, she likes to imagine all sorts of stuff – and I LOVE that she does it!).  Can I say with 100% certainty that there was an unwelcome, evil spirit that had entered the room for some unknown reason?  Let me put it this way – after we prayed, not only did Celeste all of a sudden light up and calm down (and go to sleep very easily and quickly), but there was a sense of peace in the room that I can only describe as the presence of God.

Listen to your kids.  And listen to what they say.  More importantly, listen to what God is saying through them or to you in regards to them.  Was there really a black horse in the room?  I don’t know – but I do believe there was SOMETHING and the only words Celeste knew to describe what she saw was to call it a “horse”.  What was wonderful to me, though, is that while she was uncomfortable (which was obvious in how she acted), she trusted me and she believed that prayer was going to help us.

I do want to mention that when Chloe was little there were similar (though not identical) situations.  Sometimes she’d tell me she was afraid of the dark and wanted me to pray that Jesus would help her not be scared.  She told me there was nothing specific about the dark she was scared of, just that she was scared and wanted me to pray to Jesus to help her not be scared.  We would pray, and then we talked about the fact that she can even pray without me – so that if she woke up in the middle of the night and Daddy wasn’t there next to her she could pray to Jesus and Jesus would help her.  Sometimes she’d wake up in the middle of the night and call me and I’d go in there and we’d pray together, but eventually one night she prayed by herself (with me in the room), and then as she got older one day I asked her if she got scared in the dark and she told me “No, Jesus keeps me safe and if I get scared I just pray to him and he makes me not scared.”

For the record, this morning I asked Melissa if she had recently been reading any stories about black horses or if the girls had watched any shows lately with black horses.  The answer was “No.”

The faith of a child.  Would that we could see the world as it really is.  Thank you, Father, for giving my daughters eyes to see what you want them to see.  Thank you for giving them courage to speak up, for trust to share, and for faith to believe.


Rocking and Resting Requires Trusting

Every night I rock Celeste before she goes to bed and we listen to her lullaby CD.  One of the songs is entitled “Safe in Your Daddy’s Arms” by a Christian artist named Peter Penrose.  The chorus goes as follows:

Safe, safe, in my embrace

You’re safe in your Daddy’s arms

Safe, safe by God’s grace

You’re safe in your Daddy’s arms

Every night when this song comes up both Celeste and I will sing the chorus together (actually, she doesn’t get out much more than “Safe” and “Daddy’s arms”).  Yet every time I sing the chorus I also realize that even though I work hard to keep her safe there are things in this world from which I can not protect her.  One of the hardest things for any parent is accepting that there are hurts we can’t fix; one of the most influential moments in every child’s life is when they realize there are things Daddy’s can’t fix – or protect them from.

Fortunately, the song doesn’t end by focusing on human strength.  Read the last few lines of the song:

 Now you can rest snug in your bed

Here where it’s safe and warm

All through the night

You’ll be held tight

In your heavenly Daddy’s arms

Safe, safe in His embrace

You’re safe in your Daddy’s arms

Safe, safe wrapped in God’s grace

You’re safe in your Daddy’s arms

Perhaps it’s cliché to say so, but I think this is one of those songs that we as adults need to hear and put into practice.  Every night my little girl will snuggle into my shoulder and rest – trusting me to take care of her.  When  she wakes up scared in the middle of the night you’ll hear her cries for “Daddy! I want Daddy!” coming from her room.  When I get home from work every day some of the first words out of her mouth are “Daddy, bike ride?”  And every day at work I will eventually get a call with a little voice on the other end that says, “Daddy, I love you.”

Now this is not to diminish Melissa’s influence on the girls at all or their love for their mother, because there are plenty of times one of them will say to me, “I want Mommy.”  I’m simply trying to illustrate a point – and that point is the love and trust children have in their Daddy.

I can’t help but think that as much as I love to snuggle with my girls, go on bike rides, push them in the swing, and hear them say, “I love you much, Daddy” God loves to experience that with his children even more.  And I think this is what Jesus was talking about  when he told us not to worry about tomorrow but to trust God to provide for us:

“If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God.  And you count far more to him than birds.

“Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:25-34, The Message)

(Cross posted on Grace Notes)

Life in the Rocking Chair

I have to admit that I love to rock – in fact, I have the rocker my mom used to rock me in when I was a baby (and it still puts me to sleep!) Anyway, even though Chloe LOVED to rock (and still does), Celeste is definitely not a rocker – once the bottle is done she wants in her crib.

Which makes me sad 😦

But tonight she did want to snuggle for a few minutes; she’s actually done this three or four times in the past two weeks, where she’ll practically fall asleep in my arms. It’s one of my favorite things about being a dad – holding a sleeping baby and praying over them and just enjoying the fact they feel safe to fall asleep in my arms.

Which makes me happy 🙂

A Daddy Date to Sonic and a Baby that Hums

Chloe’s been asking to go on another date for the past week, so I promised her that on Wednesday night I’d take her on a date. So all day yesterday she was asking when we’d go on our date and kept telling Melissa that she and I were going out last night. After we all came home from a picnic dinner at the park I put Celeste to bed and then asked Chloe, “Are you ready to go on our date?” She said yes, so I told her to go into the living room so I could put her shoes on.

Melissa was actually working with some students in the music room and another student was sitting on the couch in the living room. While I was walking into the room the girl must have asked Chloe something because Chloe said (in that matter-of-fact-2-and-a-half-year-old-voice), “No, I’m going on a date with my Daddy.”

That just made my evening 🙂 (for the record, we went to Sonic for ice cream and play time in their play ground – Chloe kept putting sand on the bottom of the slide and then going down in to push the sand off (that and we also had to race down the slides that are next to each other))

The other “Daddy moment” that made my day was putting Celeste to bed. She’s actually done this two nights in a row, so I’m thinking it might now be coincidence. Celeste is NOT a rocker by any stretch of the imagination (Chloe was, but not Celeste). Last night while I was feeding her the last bottle of the day we rocked and I read her stories (like we always do), then when she was done I turned her on her side on my chest and she snuggled in and starting making these noises that sounded like humming. I wish I could describe them to you, but it was like she was laying on my chest as we rocked humming herself to sleep. She did this for a few minutes before I put her in her crib.

I’m enjoying spring break 🙂

Orange Walls

Okay, I have to record this before it leaves my memory… Tonight, after we finished reading bedtime stories and praying I was laying in bed with Chloe having one of those strange conversations you have with two year olds…

“Daddy, we have to paint my walls orange.”

“Uh, no, let’s leave them green.”

“Okay, we need to take the green off and paint them orange.”

“No, I think we’ll leave them green.”

“Okay, we need to paint them orange. We need to get blue and yellow and black and purple and brown and mix them all up and then paint them orange.”

“No, I think we’ll leave them green.”

“Okay, how about we take the green off and paint them orange?”

“No, I think we’ll leave them green.”

“Okay. First we need to leave them green. Then we need to paint them orange.”

“No, I think we’ll leave them green.”

“Okay” (getting a little frustrated) “We’ll take some scissors and cut the green off the wall” (while she makes the scissors-cutting motion with her fingers) “and then we’ll save the green and paint the wall orange.”

“So we’re going to cut the green off the wall with scissors?”

“No, Daddy, we’re going to use the scissors to cut hair.”

“Hair? Who’s hair?”

“The wall’s.”

“The wall has hair?”

“Just a little bit. So we’ll cut the hair off the wall and cut the green off the wall and then paint the wall green.”

“No, I think we’ll leave the walls green.”

“Okay, so we’ll leave the green. Then after we cut the green off the wall with the scissors and paint the wall orange.”

“I thought we were cutting the hair off the wall, Chloe”

“No, Daddy, walls don’t have hair. We cut off the green then paint the wall orange.”

“Good night, Chloe, Daddy has to go now. I love you.”

“Okay, we’ll paint the wall orange…. Daddy, I want to rock.”

“Okay, we’ll rock”

At this point the conversation was over, and we rocked for one song (which means we swayed) and then I put her back in her bed and left the room… I have no idea where the orange came from, but apparently she wants her walls orange now (I am not making this up – we really did have this conversation!)

A Sweet Memory

It is late at night, but I know if I do not write this I will forget it, and part of the purpose of this blog is to remember these types of things.

This evening I went to a Good Friday service at my friend’s church. Unfortunately, because of the time of the service, Melissa and the girls had to stay home. I got home about 9:00pm and Melissa told me she had just finished putting Chloe to bed (it was a late night), and that she would probably love to see me.

So after I changed out of my clothes I slipped into Chloe’s room. As I approached the bed Chloe sat up, smiled from ear-to-ear, and said, “Daddy!” She then said, “Please lay in my bed.” I asked her if she’d like to rock, she said yes and stood up, so I picked her up and we rocked for about 4 minutes (rocking now, since the rocking chair has moved to Celeste’s nursery, consists of me holding her and swaying as she puts her head on my shoulder to go to sleep). After I put her in her bed she again asked, “Daddy, please lay in my bed.” So I told her I’d snuggle with her for just a few minutes. She got all excited and immediately moved over. As I lay down she said, “Thanks, Daddy.” I said, “Thanks for what Chloe?” And she said, “For laying in my bed and making room for me.”

Then she curled up, stuck her fingers in her mouth, and went to sleep. I left a few minutes later, after I gave her a kiss and told her, “Good night, I love you.”

I know I’ve said it many times before, but bedtime really is one of my favorite times of the day. It’s been my time with Chloe since she was very, very young. While some nights she pushes the envelope and I don’t spend much time in there, others (like tonight) she is very sweet and loving. It was one of those moments where I think to myself (and pray thanks to God), “This is what I love about being a Daddy.”

For the record, Melissa did a fantastic job today organizing an Easter Egg Hunt for lots of Chloe’s friends (and for Chloe, too). When I got home there must have been 35-40 people all running around our yard getting ready to find the 550+ eggs. Chloe ran up to the car and yelled, “Daddy! There are all sorts of kids!” Then she turned and ran back to play with them 🙂