Heidi Anderson

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When you grow up in the church, you know at a young age that you’re a child of God just as easily as you know your full name and can recite your home phone number. But it wasn’t until I started having kids and becoming a parent myself that the relationship between God the Father and me as His daughter took on technicolor meaning. And now, this correlation is all I see in my everyday, parenting moments.

 

For instance, no matter how long I’ve been potty-training my three-year-old, he still has accidents. And in those moments when I’m looking at his sorry face and rummaging through the drawers looking for clean underwear (again), I think of how God shows us the right way to live in His Word, but time and time again, we have accidents. And yet, every time, how patient He is with us.

 

Or when Oscar says thank you when I give him a snack, I light up, and as a mom trying to teach my kids to mind their p’s and q’s, I’m so proud when he says that on his own. Which leads me to wonder how much more does our Heavenly Father’s heart soar when we acknowledge the gifts He’s given us and actually take the time to thank Him.

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“Life cannot be sustained without hope.

That is what is so remarkable and intriguing about this tiny word.

It has a mysterious and generous quality.

We know hope when we have it and feel miserable when we don’t.”

Meg Meeker

 

 

 

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My preschooler has suddenly—and repeatedly—added one word to his vocabulary: Monsters.

 

We have no idea how it happened. One night, we were tucking Oscar into bed and turning off the lights, when he panicked and blurted out in the darkness, “There’s a monster in my closet!” My husband and I gave each other the exact same look, Where in the world did he even pick that up?

 

Maybe it was at preschool or on a playdate, but thanks to one mention, one story, and one kid, my son is now convinced of the boogey man—and his fear is real. The alarm I see in his eyes is distressful and the fright I hear in his voice is unsettling, and my first response was shock, with an underlay of outrage.

 

“Oscar! No. There are no monsters, there is no such thing. There is nothing to fear. We are here, you are protected and you are safe.”

 

Unfortunately, this pep-talk did not dispel his fear. The very next day, we pulled into our dark garage, and Oscar whispered, “It’s scary in here.” And then later, when we were playing with trains, he pointed to a closet and said, “Monsters are in there.” And when the sun went down and bedtime rolled around, he pointed to a shadow in the corner and said, “It’s a monster, mama.”

 

I felt the same indignation rise up from the night before, and I shook my head so hard. “Oscar, that is just a shadow. There’s only clothes in the closet. The garage is just dark, not scary. We have nothing to fear. I am here, God is here. We are protected and we are safe.”

 

Later that night, as I was laying in my own bed and left alone to think, here was my own train of thought: “Oh Lord, this is just the beginning. I’m so scared of all the things my kids will pick up and experience and suffer through in this world… Which reminds me, that friend with the lump in her breast. I’m nervous she has cancer. Oh, and my annual scan is coming up—what if I have cancer?” As I thought about the future and a handful of worst-case scenarios, my spirit was suffocating with fear and I was desperate for comfort.

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“The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; and you will be called by a new name which the mouth of the LORD will designate.”

Isaiah 62:2

 

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What’s in a name? Brings me back to my elementary days and the homework assignment to research your own name. My deskmate already knew hers and leaned over to enlighten me that the German variant meant beautiful and, in Icelandic, meant princess. After that, boy oh boy, I couldn’t wait to learn mine. It had to be just as good, if not more wonderful!

 

Well, noble was too lame a word for a 2nd grader when it was pitted against the beautiful princess sitting to my right. And my middle name? Meadow. I couldn’t believe it. A grassy field? As if I needed an identity crisis at age 8. My face was rightfully red in utter embarrassment when I had to present my findings to the entire class the next day.

 

After that, I kind of gave up on the whole “what’s in a name” thing. That is, until recently, when I had a son to name. I belabored on google searches, skimmed every baby name book I could get my hands on, and talked with trusted family members about their opinions and ideas. I didn’t want to decide on Rudolph, Bing, or Troy just because it settled well, like I would with a dinner menu and a slab of meatloaf. I wanted meaning. I wanted SIGNIFICANCE. I knew I turned out fine with the equivalent of meadow as my name, but what if there was something more for our baby?

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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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