Monday, April 22, 2013

A Phrase You NEVER Hear at the Playground

Once again, we are on the road. The trip this time will only last about 10 days, but we are covering a fair amount of mileage in that time: Lancaster, Pennsylvania to Kansas City, MO and back, to be exact). But after our 4-month road trip on the big blue bus, I feel like a veteran at all this “living out of a suitcase, eating the umpteenth continental breakfast at the umpteenth hotel, 6-people co-existing in one bedroom” business. And one thing I learned early on was that when weather permits, find the nearest playground and let the little creatures run loose.

That’s what we did this morning. The forecast said rain would arrive around noon so I hurried the children into jackets and shoes and shooed them out to the car in pursuit of slides and swings and monkey bars. A mile from our hotel, we struck gold.

About halfway through our stay at the playground, a fellow mother came over to round up her children in order to leave. She came striding across the mulch-covered ground, sweetly calling, “Beautiful children! Beautiful children! It’s time for us to go!”

Her chosen address for her kids really struck me. I have often made “final announcements” to my children on the playground with any number of phrases:
“Smucker kids! Let’s go!”
“Alright, you crazy kids! Time to leave!”
“Times up! Everyone in the car!”
“Mom’s tapping out; it’s Dad’s turn now! We’re outta here!” (Okay, not really, but I’ve wanted to.)
But never have I thought to say, “Beautiful children!”

I’m not sure what that says about me as a parent and I may later on question why I posted this, but upon hearing that mother, I immediately decided that I want to incorporate that phrase more often in the way address my children from here on out. I say that for this reason alone:

There are enough things my children will be called in their lifetime that will speak directly against the beauty and purpose with which God created them, and I do not want for one second to be associated with those voices.

Lately, I’ve been struggling a lot with the “voices” that have told me things throughout my life, sometimes coming from the lips of others and all to often coming from my own. And I’m seeing what a liability the wrong kind of voices can be. They hold us back from stepping out, from dreaming bigger, from loving better, from living lives filled with hope and purpose and power.

When Shawn and I were in the thick of financial difficulty and still living in his parents’ basement last fall, I had a difficult conversation with a very sweet and well-meaning friend. At that point, after much (and I mean crazy amounts like I have never done before in my life) prayer and soul-searching, Shawn and I felt he needed to continue to pursue his dream of being a full-time writer. From the outside, the decision looked totally irresponsible at best, and my dear friend told me so.

After listing her concerns about our decision to me, I took a deep breath and responded. I said: “I absolutely hear what you are saying and please let me reassure you that none of your concerns are new to me. I have that list running through my head every single minute of every single day. In fact, I have so many voices in my head telling me that this will never work and we are complete fools for trying, that it’s a miracle that I’m not right now curled up in the fetal position in my bed whimpering like a lost puppy. But we feel called to this; in fact, I KNOW we are called to this so we’re going to do it. And what I could REALLY use right now are some positive words, voices telling me “It’s gonna be okay”, “You guys can do it”, “Keep hangin’ in there”. That’s what I could really use right now because God knows I don’t have enough of them.”

I hope my response was gracious when I said it; honestly, I can’t remember the tone at all. But I remember my friend saying she could do that; and she did.

What are the voices telling you right now? What voice are you being in the lives of those you love? I’m not proud of what I’ve always said in the past, but I think from here on out I will make “Beautiful Children” a regular phrase upon my lips. 


  1. I often think about this same issue from the perspective of comparisons.... Everyone else's "acceptable" and "respectable" does not speak to God's calling on my life. But it's hard to feel successful without it.

  2. Amen and Amen! I totally hear what you are saying here. I think so often the negative voice that comes from my own lips finds its language in the script of comparisons.

  3. This is an amazing post! I think so much of a child's inner voice is a reflection of the voice of his/her parents (and that voice carries our wee ones into adulthood!) Your words are a very pointed reminder to me that, even when my kids are driving me to insanity, I still must speak the truth in love. What a high calling. And praise God for His grace when we do not hit the mark. Thank you for your words!

  4. Thank you for sharing this real-life experience! The "voices in our head" can have so much power, can't they? And how I'd love to be one who speaks the words and lives the heart attitude of "beautiful children" for my own children to remember . . . as well as others around.

  5. This post keeps coming back in my head frequently and when it does, I make sure to call my kids all together by saying like "let's go my little blessings!" or "my loves"!