It’s no secret that I LOVE getting mail in my mailbox. In the age of technology, I love having a hand written letter to read. I love packages even more, but that’s another story. This is one of my favorite traditions during the Christmas season. The day after Thanksgiving I get pretty excited about receiving my first Christmas card to kick off The Wall of Prayer. The boys have joined me in this excitement for the first time this year. Each day we’d check the mail and Samuel would guess how many cards might be in there using a formula that is way over my head. Isaiah would simply always say, “One hundred!” It was a lot of fun to walk to the mailbox with them guessing who we might hear from.
When Samuel was three we started The Christmas Card Wall of Prayer. We have a wall in our entry that is blank because I can’t figure out exactly what I want to do with it. It’s only been four years now….
As each card comes in, we hang it up on the wall. By Christmas it looks like this:
In January we always take down a card at each meal and read it again. We explain to the boys how that family came into our lives and discuss how we can pray for them. Sometimes the answers are easy because there is a letter attached, but other times they really have to think to come up with things to pray about. This has been an invaluable lesson for them to break the habit of the same prayer sang everyday. It’s also a reminder to me how important it is to keep up with friends and family throughout the year. But it has touched my boys in other ways also.
One thing Noah and I have struggled with is WHY our boys act entitled at times. Then one day it dawned on me, I am parenting with the knowledge I have and not with what their reality is. They are six and three and they have absolutely no idea what it’s like to not have a mom and dad who love them. They can’t imagine what it would be like to be without their favorite foods, let alone food. They can’t grasp a life without a wonderful house full of toys, clothes and games. While we have done a great job at raising compassionate children, we have neglected to give them real opportunities to use their compassion. We have protected them from bad things at we should as this age.
But, the question is; at what age do you protect your children by telling some of the things that are part of the world? I’m not saying my boys need to experience every horrible thing there is to understand it, don’t get me wrong. I will still protect them with every ounce of my being. But I also want them to be thankful and have a solid understanding of how abundantly our family is blessed and walk in favor of the Lord. While some of this can be taught through Bible Stories, it is normal for them to think that was forever ago and to not be able to relate to the people they read about. I can bring some these stories to life by using a real life story to parallel them.
For example, quite a few people in our family are fighting the battle against cancer. I could shelter my kids from this information, but Samuel is a very curious kid and he’s going to figure it out. Instead, we have chosen to share this information with them WITH the Bible stories of Jesus healing people, the importance of nutrition and some facts about cancer. We are always clear in telling them that healing may not be His plan, but we are still called to pray His will and free to share our hopes at the same time. Sometimes we may feel disappointed that God didn’t do what we wanted, but we have to trust that He is in control and knows what is best for us. While Isaiah at only three usually dances and sings to God, Samuel is really grasping this and quite frequently will go up to complete strangers and ask them if they have any problems he can help them with. COMPLETE STRANGERS! We’ll discuss stranger danger with him next!
All this to say, this simple tradition has evolved in our house each year. I know all children are different and they process information in various ways, but this works for our family and You can adjust it to fit yours. I am excited to see how it continues as my children get older. We have had some tear jerker moments when you know it’s really sinking in, and other times where their prayers have made us laugh. I have to admit it caught me off guard when Samuel got sick and Isaiah went up to him and said without hesitation, “Dear God, please make Samuel better and not have the yuckies anymore. Amen.” Even when he’s singing and dancing, he’s still listening. I am Blessed.