Finding God in Legos, Soccer and Make-Believe

The daily vibe of raising kids is hectic, unpredictable, exhausting, and full of busyness, which makes consistent faith formation in the home seem haphazard at best.  If we search for God right where we’re at we will come to find teachable moments exist all around us.

Does the thought of penciling in one more thing on your schedule ruffle your feathers? Not sure about you, but when my plumes are in a panic I’m pretty sure bystanders aren’t gazing at the beauty of my plumage.  In fact, my dog usually runs into his crate and puts his paws over his eyes out of sheer embarrassment. Which I’m hoping (because I will feel better about myself) may put some of us moms in fine company, you know, “birds of a feather…” Anyone?

The truth is we want to teach our kids about Jesus and long to form their faith in the home.[1] The trouble lies in finding the quiet, uninterrupted time to devote to spiritual activities and Bible lessons. Our schedules already burst at the seams, not even taking into account unforeseen events which tip the apple cart or unloose a mom’s screws on any given day.  Think potty accidents, skinned knees, sudden fevers or dinnertime disasters to name a few. If I had one of those days, my bad, when I had one of those days you can bet your bartender I cried over spilt milk, sometimes just a drop. Don’t let anyone fool you; going drama queen at times has its palliative perks. Hey, even Jesus wept.

As a result of the chaos and unpredictable nature of mothering, we may decide to transfer the bulk of responsibility for religious education to our teachers, leaders, ministers, or Priests. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the choice. In fact, for many years as a young mom I felt woefully inadequate to teach my children on matters of faith because I was still getting my spiritual sea legs. I was grateful for the pious role models surrounding my children and for the blessing of a Catholic education my kids received because of God’s generous provision.

Over time I began to question whether the outside influence provided adequate training. Ultimately, through prayer and personal spiritual maturation, God awakened a desire within me to place a priority on teaching the faith more at home because, after all, learning about God is a 24/7 affair.  This brings me to finding God right where we’re at.

Did you ever ponder the deep theological meaning behind a box of Legos?

God in legosNeither did I, until I did. Please consider jumping on this watershed wagon for a moment. Legos come in varying sizes, shapes, and colors, each with a unique purpose or connection to the finished design. The completed project can be a result of following the pattern laid out in the instruction manual with precision, or, we can go rouge with the pieces and still end up creating something amazing and beautiful, or in kid terms, awesome and rad.  Before I get too far down the brick road (tee hee), let me bring you back around the bend.

Aren’t we all created in the image and likeness of Christ[2], each unique and fit for a specific purpose?[3] Humanity brims with people of differing sizes, shapes, colors and talents. As Christians, our faith teaches us though individual in nature; we are all connected as One in the Body of Christ.[4] We each have different spiritual gifts[5] set within our heart while we were knit in our mother’s womb.[6] Ultimately, our calling is to connect with one another and build each other up into something amazing and beautiful, sons and daughters of the King, by working together and embracing our differences.

And God blessed us with the free will to go rogue in a sense while we go about our journey. Sometimes these rogue moments equate to painful diversions such as a sudden death or illness, tragedy, financial ruin, heartache, and other heavy hardships. However, if we keep Christ in the center of our daily building, we can be assured our end result will be something to behold, even if the best laid plans have to be scrapped and reworked along the way.

Too deep for a toddler? Perchance. But instilling this message into the spirit of a child using a playful bent can change the complicated landscape of theology. How fun to think while building Hogwarts or the Millennium Falcon we can teach our kiddos about the beauty of God’s creation, our uniqueness, and how we fit together as children of God despite our differences. We can even take delight in smashing down what we build knowing God helps us pick up all the pieces and start over again. How is that for rad and awesome?

Soccer Mom is a label seemingly interchangeable with plain old mom these days. Fútbol is the second big F after…stop it…Frozen.

One has to wonder how many hours families spend in the car to and from practices and games. All three of my kids played soccer among a plethora of other sports, my daughter played eight. Yes, seven plus one.  Needless to say, the wheels on the mom bus went round and round, round and round all through the town. And what a gift the uninterrupted time with our God in soccerkids can be if we are mindful in how we spend it.

After years of spending half my sports commute decompressing from trying to frantically get my kids fat feet, covered in even fatter socks, stuffed into a stiff (did I mention narrow?) shoe only to realize I forgot to put the shin guards on first and now had to take everything off and start over PLUS get my other two kids properly shoed and hopefully dressed for the car ride, AND make sure some form of edible food and unspoiled drink get thrown into my diaper/swag bag, God gently whispered in my ear something about a more productive and appropriate use of my time while driving.

Are you kidding me, God? I had to argue initially because using the drive time to put my game face on before greeting other parents took precedence over anything else. You know the face. The one plastered with a smile faker than a photo id from Hawaii masking the fear of lava slowly beginning to ascend from the inner workings of our gut which, coincidently, hasn’t been fed due to the demands of motherhood. H.E. Double Hockey Sticks yes, hangry is the real deal.

So, no, I didn’t find God’s criticism constructive, until I did. He was right. What better way to use the down time than to connect with and communicate with our kids while we have their attention and better yet, they are locked into their seats. The potential for faith formation is endless.

A few starters include looking out the window together and recognizing the beauty of God’s creation all around.  Being thankful for a working vehicle and money for gas to get to practice which can open up a discussion about many other things we can and should be thankful for.  Taking the opportunity to pray for the people driving in the cars around us or for the people we see walking on the streets.  A simple prayer asking God to provide them whatever they need and send love their way. (While you’re at it, kids, how ‘bout pray for mom and her inner crazy) And we can even remind our kids the importance of recognizing God gave them the talent and ability to play soccer in the first place and in doing so they are giving Him glory; never too early to indulge them in this heavenly line of thinking.

Last, but not least, the land of make-believe. What better way to wrap this post up than with a fairy tale ending.

God in make believeHow’s that for poignant prose? Ba Dum Tsh. Too soon? Okay, listen, you will not find a better childhood game than the game we make up, invent, create out of thin air, imagine, pretend, act out, simulate, conceive, visualize, daydream or fantasize. The possibilities are infinite. Boring will never describe pretend play, at least not for a child. We adults may succumb to snoozing in the partaking, but if so life has probably made us grumpy or we’re just exhausted.

God reminds us we must become as little children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven;[7] unassuming, innocent, wide-eyed, inspired, amazed, joyful, excited, and walking around with a heart pumping out funness. If we have rambunctious munchkins roaming the house we are destined for some “I caught a fish thhiiisss big” moments. So, why not bring the Bible into the pixie dust and inspire our kids to act out some of the greatest stories of faith ever told?

David and Goliath is a classic story just begging for a Marvel superhero spin. Imagine David, the everyday Bruce Banner, who keeps under the radar until one day God gives him a few magic stones blessed with the power of God. When David pulls one of the stones out of his satchel he magically transforms into the Incredible Hulk who slings the stone and hits the giant right between the eyes.

How many other Bible stories can be told by fantasizing with capes, shields, swords, kryptonite, Batman car chariots, and so on? How about Joseph and the coat of many colors? Can you imagine the elaborate dress-up game there? And if you have a little princess in your home, the story of Queen Esther is a goldmine of all things girlie mixed with bravery and courage.

When it comes to God and the stories in the Bible, the imagination has no end because, after all, we are left with nothing but our imagination with every turn of the page. Thankfully, the Old and New Testament writers exemplified brilliance in describing the events of history and when you mix the ancient text with the mind of a child wonders can happen.

So, let’s raise a glass of wine to bringing faith formation into our busy abodes. How refreshing to know we don’t need to add one more thing to our busy mom schedule. Instead, we can teach God and find God right where we’re at, which is finally the end of this post.

Clink! Clink!

Shel Spear

 

 

 

[1] Deuteronomy 11:19 [2] Genesis 1:27 [3] Ephesians 2:10 [4] Romans 12:5 [5] 1 Peter 4:10-11 [6] Psalm 139:13 [7] Matthew 18:3

(And no joke…I titled this post and wrote the whole thing before even considering a picture to use. Can you believe the picture I found above! It literally has Legos, soccer and make-believe in it! That’s just how God works.)

A self-described “sappy soul whisperer and sarcasm aficionado,” Shelby is a wife of 26 years & mom of three 20-something kiddos. She has a deep love for Jesus and storytelling, and most days she muses in rhetorical wonder over what God was thinking when He put her in charge of three humans. Although God’s quick to remind her how capable she is, apparently He sometimes does so while crossing His fingers behind His back. You can read her stories around the web and in print at Guideposts.