Thursday, April 29, 2010

From the Lips of Babes ...

My daughter Jalynn loves to sing. She's got a good ear and will sing a song for days after hearing it just once. From Barney to The Jonas Brothers to silly ditties I make up about washing hands and taking naps ... she sings it all. Daddy bought her a pink plastic microphone from the dollar shelves at Target a few months ago. She went through a phase where she'd bring it to church every week. Most kids walk into church clutching their Bibles. Mine held a mic. We're part of a small church in Watts, a neighborhood in the heart of inner-city Los Angeles. It's no frills. Lots of kids. Lots of broken people who aren't set on making it look like everything's okay. Needless to say, it's a long ways from where I'm from. And it's where Jalynn made her debut as a two-year-old worship leader. As soon as the music started, she'd walk up front, stand next to the pastor as he strummed his guitar, and sing boldly into her pink plastic mic.

Jalynn spends two days a week at Kathy's House while I work from home. Malakye joins her on one. A few weeks ago we were on our way home from Kathy's on a Thursday afternoon, a mixed CD of worship songs playing so quietly in the background I didn't even notice it. I was merging onto the 405N when Jalynn asked me to turn up the music. "I know this song from church," she announced. I turned it up. She began to sing. "Savior, He can move the mountains, my God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save." "Louder!" She shouted. I turned it up. She was getting louder and more passionate with every refrain. I glanced in the rear view mirror. Her eyes were closed. Her hands raised. I was suddenly so aware of God's presence. A passing thought of angels flying alongside our car crossed my mind. I began singing and was joined in the same moment by Malakye, who started making a noise I had never heard him make—it was baby babble alright, but this time it sounded more like a song. Somewhere around the third or fourth "Forever, author of salvation," I started to cry. The song ended about the time we exited on Culver. Jalynn asked me to play it again. I didn't argue.

I tried to recreate that moment today. The same CD was playing on our way home from Kathy's. I selected "Mighty to Save," turned up the volume much higher than usual, and started singing. Jalynn sat quietly in the way back seat. After about a minute she started to talk. The only thing she was concerned with was the mac-n-cheese she spilled on her shorts at lunch. I wanted to turn up the music, maybe if I raised a hand and looked spiritual enough, the kids would join me. But I didn't. I turned down the music and chatted with Jalynn about her day. We talked about her friends and nap time and the band-aid she put on her face to cover yet another phantom owie. We turned the corner and our house came into view. At the first glimpse of my husband's car in the driveway, Jalynn began chanting, "Daddy's home! Daddy's home!" Then it struck me—God was in this moment too.

"From the lips of children and infants, you have ordained praise." (Psalm 8:2)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nail Polish

I let Jalynn pick out nail polish at Rite Aid yesterday. I gave her free reign of the 99 cent Wet-n-Wild shelf. She chose a purplish glittery hue and carried it proudly to the cashier. Minutes later we had our first mani/pedi party. Mommy and daughter—20 fingers and 20 toes—all glittered out. A day later and I'm still surprised when I look down and see the fingernails of a little girl on hands that look more and more like my mom's every day.

Such As These

I used to journal. I've got a whole box filled with a couple decade's worth of random musings, crush reports, and prayers. Then almost three years ago my husband and I had our first child. A little girl. A delightful, passionate little girl. And I haven't picked up my journal since. Some over two years later our son was born. I was reading a book when my water broke. That was six months ago now, and I am yet to get back to that book. Life is rich and memorable and full. Between washing peas out of baby hair and reasoning with a two-year-old, it's hard to find much margin. Yet over the past couple days, God's been doing something in me. I can't get sentences out of my head. I edit my thoughts like I would a manuscript. Once again I ache to write ...

About a month ago I walked into the room to find Jalynn lightly touching Malakye's forehead as he sat in his baby chair. "Jesus bless you. Jesus protect you," she said. "Jesus loves you." She didn't see me there, and I didn't announce my presence. I just let the moment be. At two-years-old, Jalynn gets it. She understands how real Jesus is. She understands the power of blessing a little one in His name. She knows what it means to love and to be loved. And she doesn't know doubt or fear or cynicism, at least not the way I do.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matt. 19:14) Oh, how I long to be "such as these."