Where We Begin

The dinner dishes are, miracle of miracles, already done. I tuck a few toys back into their basket homes, throw a pair of light pink footed pajamas over my shoulder, and head upstairs. I pass by the brightly lit bathroom where two littles are preparing for bed, and Little Jo spots me, craning her neck to see if I’ll pass by again.

When I return, she’s wrapped snugly in a green towel and ready for transport, while Big Sister Lucy chirps, “She’s a mermaid, Mommy!” and asks Daddy if she can be wrapped like a mermaid too.

We gather in Lucy’s room, metamorphosing mermaids to human beings and rubbing water drops out of downy hair, and then open the Big Picture Story Bible. Lu has heard the stories enough to memorize them, and she’s just figuring out how to read these days, so she reads everything on the recto pages aloud to us. It’s been a few weeks since she started this, but I still marvel. Meanwhile Little Jo is crawling everywhere, redirected every time she gets her hands on the book. I’ve been so used to a firstborn who takes Mommy and Daddy’s “no’s” as law that this one has thrown me for a loop: when met with “no,” she’ll utter the briefest of fake cries, and then reach for the forbidden object again.

“No,” I repeat sternly — and Jo puts her hand down. Then, still carefully watching my face, she decides there’s only one sure way to shake off any residual disapproval: she dances.

Lucy stops in the middle of the story of Nicodemus to ask, “How can I be born again? What is that like?” A four-year-old’s attention span is ever-widening, but still a fairly slim window for whole truths. So we offer a simple answer that will hold until the next time that she asks a deeper question, as treasure-hiders burying small deposits at a time until the day when it all comes to light.

“What’s the song tonight?” We ask, and Lucy chooses “O Freedom.” Little Jo abruptly stops mid-crawl as we sing the first notes, sitting up to clap her tiny hands, eyes bright. There are four verses, and along the way Baby stands up to play with my hair, Big Sister runs around the room with one arm extended as she plays air guitar, and I exclaim at one point, “Hey, how come I’m the only one singing?” after which Daddy and Lucy rejoin with gusto. Then we pray together, and it’s time for bed.


This is our usual evening. After this, we’ll do our curious little rituals — high fives and fist bumps in sets of 5, “great big bear hugs,” squirming sister hugs, “have chocolate ice cream dreams!” hollered on the way down the stairs — but this is mainly what happens at our days’ end. The parts we’ve intentionally established for these children are built around the greatest discovery of their parents’ lives.

Neither Y nor I were born into Christian homes, though we did come to learn of God at relatively early ages. In many ways I travel a road of wonder with our daughters, because Lucy’s view at 4 is quite different from what mine was at 11. Since then Y’s and my journeys have crossed continents, comings-of-age, and — since our wedding day — many instances in which we’ve asked, “Where is God in all of this?”

Yet in all the years we have endeavored to follow Him, we have found no reason to fall back, finding instead a boundless and unimaginable realm of richness as we’ve witnessed a real Someone responding to, rebuking, comforting, and leading us. Borrowing the logic of C.S. Lewis, either we are strong in our delusions, or fiendishly deft at distorting an increasingly complex world through religious lens, or… there really is something (we would say Someone, and go so far as to really put our foot in it and call Him Friend and King) here. Someone whose thoughts are not like ours, whose faithfulness has kept us walking with Him.

So “Where is God in all of this?” we ask, not in a fatalistic manner, but that we might find Him in the midst of it. We are creatures capable of descending into all kinds of Sheols, and in every one — God is, and is mightily (cf. Ps. 139:8).

A portion of this blog will be about moments of finding Him, from day-to-day living: calling back an old memory, infusing new grace into a present happening, branding the mind with a peculiar instant of beauty. I write them because, to one who believes in a God who is in all and around all things, these are no “filler” moments. Each has something to say about Him, in an echo of what He has already spoken about Himself.