Heidi Anderson

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“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

John 13:35

 

Kids can be mean.

 

I brought my toddler to his first arts-and-crafts camp of his entire lifetime, and everyone was pumped. It was just for an hour at a local park down our road, but still. I packed up baby too, and on the drive over, we were giggling over the idea of using scissors and the odds of handling a glue stick. What if we used popsicle sticks? Oh wait, can you imagine PAINT?! It was magical.

 

We pulled in, walked through the threshold of a newly-renovated cabin, and found a spot among the other toddlers and preschoolers chomping at the bit to throw glitter around like confetti. The director coughs, directing our attention her way, saying, “Welcome! Let’s get started with a game outside. Everyone grab hands with each other, and we’ll walk out in a chain.”

 

Cue the heartbreak.

 

Oscar, giddy and excited to run around in the open forest outside, runs to the first kid he sees, but instead of an equally welcoming reception from this child, the delinquent had the nerve to pull her hand away, hiding it behind her back so she didn’t have to hold his hand. What was her problem?

 

Oscar was somehow unphased. I guess he has a sister, so he knows girls can be girls. So he moves on, looks to his left, sees a boy his height, and runs over, bending over to try to grab his hand, and I see quickly we’ve got another hoodlum on our hands. This boy retreats and grabs the hand of someone else, shooting Oscar a death glare. What’s the deal, kid?

 

Oscar? Again, unphased. He must intrinsically believe the saying “third time’s the charm,” because he raced to what appeared to be a sweet girl at the end of the line. Sheep in wolf’s clothing is what I say. She puckers out her lip, and hides her hand under her armpit. Give me a BREAK, child.

 

I’m stressed at this point. Palms a little bit sweaty. I mean, how dare these kids. Oscar is the sweetest, funnest, coolest kid on the block. Every single one of them would be lucky to be his friend. Also, re: Who are their mothers, what kinds of things are they teaching them, and where are they anyways?

 

As I’m scanning the room for a face that looks remotely nice, Oscar must have decided it wasn’t worth wasting another second looking for a hand to hold, because I then saw him sprint past the curtains, run into the open space of the field, and while waiting for the other kids to catch him, he threw his head back and giggled. So happy to be there, just so joyful, and ready to play the game.

 

Although the rest of the hour raced by fantastically with no other altercations, I came home a little hung up by that slight exchange in the cabin. Not in an over-reacting kind of way, but more of a realization that this was just a taste of what he (and I) are sure to experience in the years ahead.

 

Kids can be mean. They won’t all want to be his friend. And as much as I wish it weren’t true, not everyone will offer a hand to Oscar even when he’s looking and asking for it. And no matter how often I chaperone field trips, volunteer in the classrooms, or invite his friends over to our house, I most certainly won’t always be there watching, cheering him on, rebuffing a hard situation, exchanging a smile over the heads of other kids, and reassuring him that they’re not worth it anyways. He will be alone in that sometimes. And that really makes me sad.

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We officially have a one-year-old on our hands, and I have to admit, this stage is F-U-N.

 

Sure, there’s still nap struggles and defiance in the face of vegetables and blowouts. It’s a “nose goes” game anytime we hear the rumble. But at this age, there’s an unquenchable curiosity, a little mimicking, that’s just downright amusing.

 

We clap, she claps. We scream, she screams. We laugh, she fake laughs back. I moo like a cow; Mabel moos like a cow back. Every day, we play this game of back-and-forth.

 

She’s just our little imitator. Our baby copycat. Our sweet mimic. And because of this, never before has Ephesians 5:1 made so much sense: “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.”

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Growing up, I remember my dad hiding Easter eggs in the best of spots.

 

Inside the cabinet of our piano, on top of the ceiling fan blades, nestled in the strings of our basketball hoop, and scattered across our backyard in the mesh of leaves, dirt, and lawn furniture. And my brother, sister, and I would play like sleuths, elbowing each other for the biggest eggs, and each secretly hoping for another quarter to add to our piggy bank.

 

Now since my own toddler has come of age to participate in an Easter egg hunt, you can bet your bottom dollar it is on. My husband jokingly (but not so jokingly) left a stack of eggs on our kitchen table with these instructions: “So Oscar can practice. Try to get him to find the gold ones first—they have the biggest prizes.” Welcome to the inside of #andersonpartyof4.

 

Sometimes there are moments (like that) when it’s very easy to forget that Easter is more than just Cadbury eggs, bunnies, and brunch. As much as those marshmallow Peeps and straw bonnet hats have become holiday staples, those things have absolutely nothing to do with the origination of the first Easter 2000+ years ago.

 

But how can anyone keep the focus when all we’re hearing is the megaphone of the Parks Director before the big hunt or the blaring sales of Target’s Sunday ad to ring in the holiday? How do we expect to celebrate any differently if we eat our ham in silence and shove some toddler aside so our kid can be victor of all eggs? (Because, if we’re being real, those bloodbaths that are local egg hunts just are trouble.)

 

If we keep attending family gatherings without saying a word of prayer, pumping up egg hunts like it’s more important than the cross, and really, making it out to be anything other than Jesus, we are missing the mark. Missing the point.

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Did you know there was a day when the sun stood still?

Heidi Anderson

 

Ever since my first-born was just a tiny kicking blob on an ultrasound, I’ve debated about his life verse. There’s so many compelling nuggets in Scripture that could ennoble him to live a faith-filled life… but I was always stuck on the cliché, oh-so-common verse in Joshua: “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (1:9).

 

Shouldn’t I be more creative though? This verse was announced at my college graduation ceremony, screen-printed on the back of my volleyball warm-up tee, etched into half of the mugs in my cupboard, and at the risk of sounding melodramatic, it’s splashed across every other Christian trinket you could possibly find around the globe. 

 

But. Even so. I’m convicted with the thought that its over-use shouldn’t diminish the potency of what this verse delivers. Because there’s power among these words. So much strength to draw from. And it introduces a character in the Bible with such sure faith—exactly what I hope for in my son. 

 

So yes, I’m stuck on that man Joshua. The one with the audacious faith that made the sun stand still. And I’m talking literally. Joshua needed more time to defeat his enemies, but in order to do that, he needed daylight. So, when evening hours hit and the sun started to dip down, Joshua very simply asked God to pause it from falling further. To freeze time for His people. Who would even think to pray that prayer? To believe that God will literally stop the world for him? Stop the scientific order that faithfully repeats itself like clockwork day-in and day-out? Joshua. And God gave him exactly what he asked for.

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My toddler was a tiny one-year-old last Christmas, fascinated only by the basics—staring at the lights on the tree, rearranging ornaments, and thrashing around wrapping paper.

 

This year, Oscar is two, and things are obviously different. He wonders why Rudolph’s nose is red and laughs when Frosty says, “Happy birthday!” instead of Merry Christmas. And he’s not only preparing for his very first Christmas pageant, but he doesn’t chew on the manger scene anymore either. Instead, he places the angel correctly above the stable and hums “Away in the Manger” while rocking pretend baby Jesus in his arms.

 

Even though Oscar experienced Christmas last year, his ever-growing mind soaks up all the songs, stories, decorations, and lights like it’s new this time around too. In a way like everything’s fresh. And the awe in his eyes is plain for all to see—showcasing just how captivating and extremely interesting every detail is.

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