The Vacation Chronicles: Jesus Loves The Little Children…

Sing it with me now: Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world…

Okay, that’s enough. I kinda know the words after that, but not enough. That’s not really the point though.

I’ve stolen away a few minutes, here and there, this vacation to read the book “Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo. It’s a great, short read. Perfect when you are surrounded by kids all day. I mean, come on, tell me the truth. When was the last time you got to read a book start to finish? “The Little Engine That Could” doesn’t count. Anyway, this book is all about four-year old Colton Burpo. He becomes deathly ill and when he recovers, tells his parents all about Heaven. He knows details about what happened when he was sick that there’s no way he could know. And, he knows details about Heaven there’s no way any of us could know, details that jive with Scripture. Colton tells his Dad about meeting Jesus and how He has beautiful eyes. One of the things he really wants people to know is that Jesus loves the children. How easily we forget that.

Children have such an innocent way, Burpo describes, of knowing God. They talk to him as a friend, the way we all should. They don’t try to dress their prayers up and make them fancy. They just talk. I’ve seen that here at bedtime when we say prayers with the kids. They all get a chance (youngest to oldest) to thank God for something and pray for something they want His help working on. It’s adorable to hear them thank God for the sunshine so they could play outside and then pray for Him to help them not want to beat up their sister. Sometimes we have to help with the wording so it’s not so much “Help my sister not be so annoying” to “Help me be more patient with my sister.”

Being patient with children, as we all know, is an ongoing battle. If it were easy, there wouldn’t be nine million parenting blogs out there. I pray for patience every day. But, as you know if you’ve seen the movie “Evan Almighty,” you don’t just get patience. You have to work for it. Hence the saying “Be careful what you wish for.” When those trying times happen, I’d love to say I’m patient and kind. Sometimes, the first time of the day I’m called to be patient, I am. It’s just the second, third, fourth, fifth and 26th time a day that I’m not. I may snap back with “What?!” Which is more of a growl than a question.

Last night, we took the children (all nine of them) to Chilis. My brother’s wife is out of town, so it was my brother, my mother, myself and nine kids. Nine kids. Did I mention there were nine kids?! In an ironic twist of fate, the only room for a group that big at that time of night was in the bar. Well, if you insist.

When we filed in to sit down, we were placed directly next to a man in his late 40s. I was about to apologize in advance for the noise level, but then I saw the comically large beer in his hand and decided he had this under control. We sat down and began the deciding of who was going to eat what. My daughter asks me “What goes well with rice?” like she was asking if she should have Merlot or a Cab with her steak. She finally landed on mashed potatoes and mac n’ cheese. It’s vacation. I’m choosing not to explain the intricacies of carbs to her at this point.

First things first, my brother and I ordered Presidente Margaritas. (I checked first with my mom to make sure she’d drive home. Yes, yes. I was responsible.) We also ordered appetizers. When you travel with hordes of children, you must be prepared to throw some sort of sacrifice their way or you will regret it. While our server (who we did apologize to in advance) began to take our order, we attempted to keep the kids happy, in line, and from touching each other. I noticed another 40s something man sit down with the other man at the table behind us. They looked our way, not in horror or annoyance, but more like an exhibit in the Zoo. It was wonder in their eyes.

After only about three trips to the bathroom and one mild incident (one child refused to move to accommodate two other children sharing a plate), it was time to go. As we piled out the door, one of my nieces grabbed my arm and said ‘Those two men were talking about us.” I said “Really? What did they say?” She responds “He said ‘Wow. They’ve got it rough!'” All I could do was laugh. Hysterically. With nine kids around, it’s hard to do much else. During the ride home, all I could think about was what those men said and what little Colton said about meeting our Lord. He said He really loves the children. So do I.  



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