Why children’s prayers are better than adults’ prayers

Since I am a horrible person, I sometimes roll my eyes at the “prayers” I hear given over the pulpit.  They are sometimes sermons, sometimes poetic declarations, sometimes dramatic presentations, sometimes obviously scripted, and sometimes downright over-the-top long.  (Notice the abundant use of sometimes.  I’m not trying to make a sweeping generalization about all prayers.)  I remember a few years back in General Conference, Elder Cree-L Kofford got up and said a one-sentence prayer asking the Spirit to be with us.  It was awesome.  It may have been right after Elder Russell M. Nelson taught “Lessons from the Lord’s Prayers:”

A closing prayer in a Church meeting need not include a summary of each message and should not become an unscheduled sermon. Private prayers can be as long as we want, but public prayers ought to be short supplications for the Spirit of the Lord to be with us or brief declarations of gratitude for what has transpired.

So it’s about a thousand levels of refreshing to hear my children say their prayers at the end of the day.  Sure they seem super short, and perhaps even a little thoughtless, but take a close look at one of my recent favorites from Clark:

Dear Heavenly Father, Please bless me that I won’t have any bad dreams.  But if I do, I won’t be mad.  But please bless me that I won’t have bad dreams.  Please help us that our days will be great.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

There’s much to learn in that prayer.  Children just get it sometimes.

A three-course post

Chris Dimino Keyboard Eat Arkansas

Appetizer:

I really think that someone who understands life as a mother of small children should invent a “stink detector.”  Lately, my days have been riddled with phantom odors that I can neither find nor identify.  It’s making me crazy.  If there were some kind of contraption with a raunch radar that could beep when you’re closer and closer and give you some kind of bacterial analysis and tell you what’s causing the smell, THAT is what I would call making the world a better place.

(Now wasn’t that appetizing?)

Main course:

Matt and I went out on a date last weekend and played this free “game” at Borders.  We had 12 minutes to go find a few books that the other person would just love, then we met up, showed each other our books, sat on a couch and perused them.  One of the books Matt picked for me was “Mother Teresa, in her own words.”  Anyway, I read almost the entire book while Matt flipped through tomes about Chinese characters, the founding fathers, and Native American historical sites.  She had so many great things to say, that Mother Teresa, but one that really jumped out at me was this (paraphrased, because I didn’t actually buy the book):

“God doesn’t expect us to be successful.  He expects us to be faithful.”

I’ve been thinking about that for days, and how true I think it really is.  God can be successful with or without our help; he’s omnipotent for heaven’s sake (no pun intended)!  He only needs our faith, our devotion, our heart.  Then He can work out our salvation.  It made me reflect on how much I’m always trying to “accomplish,” when really I should just be increasing and acting upon my faith in Him.  It was a quite liberating moment of enlightenment that ties in nicely to all the thoughts I’ve had recently (and we’ve discussed here in the comments and beyond).

And there was one other thing, too.  Mother Teresa worked with lepers and poor people tirelessly.  One person commented to her that they wouldn’t touch a leper “for a million dollars,” to which she replied (paraphrased again), “I wouldn’t do it for a million dollars either.  I wouldn’t do if for two million dollars.  But I would do it for the love of God.”  How cool is that?  It made me think of how so many women today opt out of motherhood because they wouldn’t make all that hard sacrifice even if someone paid them to do it.  I’m no Mother Teresa, but I have to agree that I do the hard things I do because of the love of God… the love I feel for Him, and the love I feel from Him when I do what he asks of me.

Dessert:

Behold, a little Clark video we made to share with grandparents.  Please do not tell me what a stellar mother I am, or how I’m doing a great job and all that other nice stuff you might be compelled to say (and that grandmothers are obligated to say), but you really should see this because it is SO sweet.  Also, don’t be distracted by the sound of a dropping toilet lid in the background.

This is seriously just a simple case of great kid.  (His idea, his testimony, his conviction.)

FIVE things I love about Clark.

Clark celebrated his fifth birthday this week.

This WAS Clark:

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And here he is NOW in all his five-year-old glory:

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I think he’s adorable.  Here are the five things I most love about my little guy:

  1. Mischievous smile.  He has the cutest grin, with little gapped, square teeth all lining up in a glorious expression of innocent happiness.  He always looks like he might be up to trouble, and he probably is.  The best way I can explain Clark’s toddlerhood is Curious George. Curious George's Faces2cmp
  2. His joy.  We’ve always joked that Clark is bi-polar, because when he’s mad, boy is he mad (see crying in banner photo above), but when he’s happy, he’s delightful.  He has a giggling, bouncing enthusiasm that is contagious.
  3. His positive attitude.  I will always remember the day that was one of my most trying as a mother.  Clark began and ended the day with misbehavior, and stayed busy in between.  I swear he spent half of it in time out, and I was seriously ready to revoke my own motherhood license.  Late in the day, he was reading a book on a chair in the living room while I was doing dishes in the kitchen.  I heard him sigh deeply and say, “What a great day.”  I learned much in that moment about why we’re supposed to become “as a little child.”
  4. His generosity.  He will always share.  This week, he got two Webkinz in the mail as a present from my parents.  He opened them up and danced around and cheered for a minute.  He handed one to Grant and said, “Here Grant.  You can have this one.”  This is typical of Clark.
  5. His gratitude.  He voices sincere appreciation for even the simplest things.  “Thanks, Mom for letting us eat our snack on the deck!”  If you look closely at that train birthday cake, (who am I kidding? You don’t even have to look closely) it is an amateur job by all counts.  He asked for a train; I did my best.  When Matt came home from work, Clark said, “Dad! Dad! Come see my cake.  It’s A-MAZ-ING!”  Heh.

Can I add that as I type this, I can hear Clark in the bathroom doing his business and singing out loud, “How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord…”?  Priceless.  Happy Birthday, Clark.  I love you.

Someone in this family is going to jail.

So far I have counted three legal infractions today.

We went Wal-Mart (that in itself should be a misdemeanor).  Clark wailed in the parking lot and said he did NOT want to go in.  His heart was set on Sam’s Club and free sample handouts, but my membership expired, so we went to Wal-Mart instead.  He wasn’t happy.  He refused to get out of the van.  I explained to him that if I left him in the van, someone would call the police, and they would come get him and take mommy to jail and he would have to live with another family.  He thought about that for a minute with a scowl on his face.  I’m not sure what his real preference is, but perhaps for the sake of not hurting my feelings, he hopped out of the van and surrendered to our shopping trip.

While I was checking out, he and Natalie somehow managed to get about 5 toy cell phones in their possession and run with them over to the blasted arcade section in front of the check-out area.  I finally wrangled them back and returned all the merchandise to its appropriately unpurchased position.

When I got home, I unloaded the van.  As I was putting the groceries in the kitchen, Natalie kept digging in her pocket.  “I have lipstick,” she grinned.  “What lipstick?”  I was trying to think what she might have dug out of my backpack or van.  She proudly showed me her treasure.

DSCF2080“Hey, where did you get that?!”

She smiled again, “At the store.”

“Natalie….(remember that grumpy sighing I told you about yesterday?)… that’s STEALING.”  I went on to explain to her in terms that she understood that she was a robber.  (She always asks me, “what if there’s a robber?,” and I say, “He’ll go to jail,” and she says, “I’ll punch him in the nose.”)  I’m not sure whether she was more afraid of jail or a punch in the nose,  but she got a little remorseful and said, “I’m sorry mommy.”  I asked her what we should do and she said, “take it back to the store.”   To be honest it feels like torture to return to Wal-mart again with my children, but it must be done.

All that criminal behavior for this little gem:

DSCF2082Yes, it does say “Oooh La La Bubble Gum Lip Gloss.”  What can I say?  Natalie’s got impeccable class.

Grant is my smoochie kid.  He is super cuddly and lovey-dovey.  Not being much of the affectionate type myself, I’m often annoyed with his abundant loving.  (I know, that’s not very nice of me, but I am.)  So today, Clark and Grant were playing tag and I hear Clark say the classic line of obnoxious childhood, “You missed me.  You missed me.  Now you have to kiss me,” which of course Grant takes literally and chases Clark around the house for 30 minutes trying to smooch his face off.  I reminded him of my tramautic childhood experience of being chased by a kissy boy around the playground in kindergarten.  I also repeated my sage warning that boys who kiss people who don’t want to be kissed can go to jail.

So, I’m sure you’re all proud of me for raising a band of 3 pint-sized hoodlums.  Maybe our family can just become a small gang of toddler thugs.  Yesterday I cut off the bottom of sweatpants to make shorts for the boys and I used the discarded pieces as hats.  How do Clark and I look?

DSCF2075Maybe our gang can be called the Jailbound Jesters.  Send me chocolate when we’re all in the slammer.

(Final plea to go vote for my blog at MMB by tomorrow…. look on my sidebar for the link.)

Add Reptile Surgeon to my resume

Clark got a toy frog from his Grandpa this weekend.  It’s one of those gummy, stretchy kind of toys that is perfect for a boy with an overactive and slightly destructive imagination.  He stretches the arms and legs out as far as they go, flips it around several times, then releases it to watch it spin itself back to original position.  This is, of course, more fun with sound effects of what a frog would sound like if it were forced to ride the Vomit Comet at the local amusement park.

Unfortunately, Clark and said frog were a little careless in their adventures this morning.  He thought it would be funny to wind up the frog and then put it on Natalie’s head.  The result:

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That thing was all wound up and twisted in and out of Natalie’s locks.  After much apologetic wailing by Clark, it was determined that drastic measures must be taken.  I amputated the frog’s arm.

DSCF2032The rest of the arm was stretched out and twisted a hundred different ways in Natalie’s hair.  I would free one small section at a time, and then surgically remove it.  Final results:

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Dr. Oz and Sanjay Gupta have got nothing on me.  I am mother.  Hear me roar.