Before Kevin and I even had children, there was no question we wanted to raise them IN the church. We didn't want to just have faith, and say "grace" before meals. We wanted to become a part of a church family, where we surrounded ourselves with other believers in Jesus, and where our children could hear the Word of God spoken by people other than just us. When Bailey was a baby, we attended Kevin's church that he was raised in, as my FIL spoke often there as an associate pastor. But it wasn't "home." Then when Taylor was a baby...we didn't just want a home church, we needed it. After schlepping the children to different churches in our area, we happened upon HOPE UMC in Voorhees. Bailey, at a young 2 years old. had cried her precious little face off every Sunday as we were trying the other churches but at HOPE she made it through the whole service. They had a beautiful, large nursery for toddlers, and for infants they had a cozy little room with many toys, rockers, and 2 women who took to my Tatie right away. They are still dear friends. Kevin and I felt welcomed and wanted there, and they had many programs for young families. That was 5 years ago next month.
Bailey has always accepted God as her Maker, Jesus as her Savior, her whole young life. She has never questioned us on it, she just believes it. She has seen times when she prays to Jesus and he helps her, and she accepts that when he doesn't - although it's hard - there is a plan at work and God's timing is perfect. She knows we don't have to understand God to believe in Him. She hasn't questioned why she has "special lungs" and other children don't - she knows that most of us have something "special" about us that you can see or not see. I pray this faith remains with her throughout her life. At a young 6 yrs old, she even told me she wants to go to other countries and tell people about Jesus. My mother-heart that skipped a beat hearing her desire to leave my side, said, (and yes, I am embarrassed about this) "Bailey, you know you can tell people about Jesus right here in NJ!! You don't have to go anywhere...." and she said, "Mommy, if Jesus says to go, I should go, and help the people that need him."
Whoa. Yes, I was proud. Over-flowing-ly proud. But scared to be honest. I shared the conversation with Kevin and because he's not a nut-job like me, simply told Bailey he was so happy that she wants to help people learn about Jesus.
Anyway. Taylor, on the other hand, has been much more hesitant to jump on the Bible-bandwagon. We have many, many memories of her screaming "No Jesus!!!!" and refusing to pray or even hear our prayers. She didn't want to learn about God, read the Bible, pray. Nothin'. She had several, several temper tantrums on the way to church and HOPE could hear us coming the second we got out of the car. Now of course we know that much of what she didn't like about church -- the many people and even the eye contact that friendly faces who tried to say hello to her gave -- was part of her sensory disorder. But all the same, we had one child who wanted to give a message every time she said grace for her Cheerios, and another who didn't even want a cross hanging in her room.
I'm not kidding about that, fyi. A friend gave me a beautiful children's cross as a gift when Taylor was born, and Tatie would climb on her chair, to climb on her dresser, to remove the cross. I would hang it back up, and down again it would come.
But I did not worry. Both of our children have the right to choose what they believe. Of course Kevin and I would encourage them to believe what is Truth to us, but they still have free will. But I knew that Taylor was God's child...and today, at 5 years old, she accepted Christ into her heart.
For the last year and 1/2 she has fully enjoyed attending HOPE. She loves it. She has many friends and everyone knows her and mostly everyone "gets" her. A Tatie-Tot fan club, really. She prays with Kevin, Bailey and I, she participates when we read from the childrens Bible. She talks about God and Jesus. But until today, I didn't really know if she got it.
This morning, I attended Bible study while Taylor played in the nursery with her friends. Coming home, we were listening to music when she said, "Mommy, I don't want to go to Heaven because I'd miss you." I told her what I believe about Heaven, and said that she and I both won't be there for a long, long time. We stayed in the car once we got home and talked about how people get to Heaven, and death. It's very difficult talking to a 5 yr old about these things, I didn't want to scare her. I also didn't want her to go up to an old person the next time she saw them and say, "Mommy says very old people close their eyes and go to Heaven if you believe in Jesus. Are you going to die today? You look very old."
We talked, she asked questions, and really seemed to get it. She said, "ok, so, no pain, no crying, lots of fun stuff, everyone's there, ok. Yes." She even said, "you're old, and you die, but then it's like a new beginning because you start over." I asked her, "Taylor, do you believe that Jesus died on the cross for us, so we could be with him forever in Heaven? Do you want to have Jesus with you in your heart?" This is a concept she understands, because in helping Taylor get over her separation anxiety, we talked alot about how Daddy and I are always near, and she has us in her heart if she feels lonely. She can think about us whenever she wants to. Anyway, she waited a minute. Like, a full minute, thinking. Then she said, "Yes, I believe that."
and then she asked to go inside and get a yogurt stick.