I am a mother of four (so I get little sleep), one of which is an eight month old (resulting in even less sleep). I know that you can’t take your eyes off of them, that it only takes a moment for them to make a mess in a perfectly tidy room, and the only way to really contain them is in a crib or when they are strapped into their car seat.  The other day, Brandon and I were heading out to drop the two youngest off at my moms house for a couple of hours. For 30 minutes they would both be strapped into their car seat— 30 minutes where they wouldn’t be able to get away or make any messes.  So of course I brought some stuff to get done.  The plan- use the 30 minutes to write some thank you notes and chat with Brandon about our plans for the rest of the week.  A few months ago I had written a handful of thank you’s— I had written, stuffed, addressed, and stamped them so they were ready to go.  I set the stack on the kitchen table and ran upstairs to change Kennedy’s diaper before getting the littles in the car for the quick ride to the mail box.  I was out of the room less than five minutes.  I returned with a freshly diapered baby to Levi sitting at the kitchen table opening all of the thank you’s that I had written. He was “helping” me with the mail. So yes, writing thank you cards in the car might not sound like the best idea, but it was better than some options.

So we are driving.  I have pen ready, trying to formulate my first sentence while keeping my hand steady as we drive along… “Momma, why are catcuses green?”

“huh? I don’t really know Levi.  Mommy is trying to think, hold on one second”

“Momma, why do the mountains over there look grey when the dirt is actually brown?”

“huh? Uh, that is a good question Levi, uh….”

“Momma, why does the song say ‘God is over the moon’ is that where God lives, does God live over the moon?”

Pen down.  Cards folded.

As we were driving and I had my list of things to do still drilling through my mind, I remembered being that kid.  I remember sitting in the back seat and asking my mom questions about the names of the people in the cars next to us and where they were going.  Then I realized that I don’t do that anymore.

Parenting is hard. The variables of four children seems to impact the length of just about every task I set before myself— dinner, dropping off mail, putting on shoes, clearing the counter, folding laundry.  But I am so grateful for these kiddos. They look at the world so differently than I do now as an adult.  I assume now that I know what to expect.  I have years of experience at this “life” thing, so I am pretty good at knowing how things work— how people relate to each other, how the natural order functions, etc.  But Levi wonders about everything. Even the things he knows best— like my face.  My face was one of the first things he saw, but some days he will just hold my face between in hands and ask why I have a freckle in one spot but not another, or why do I have one nose but two ears, or why are my eyes blue and his are brown… Everything is mysterious and exciting.

Here we are in the season of Advent. As we get ready for Christmas we go through the motions that get us into the holiday spirit: we decorate the Christmas tree, drink hot cocoa, watch Christmas movies, start listening to Christmas music. We know what to expect- the beauty and cheer.  In the church we fall into the same cycle, reading the same stories of the nativity each year.  They can become part of the tradition and in a way we stop listening. Instead of recognizing how totally others these stories are, we feel the nostalgia.  We take for granted what is really being said and find comfort instead in their familiarity.  My prayer is that this Advent Season, we can hear the scriptures as if we are Levi- picking them apart because they leave us in awe and amazement. I pray that they cause us to marvel and wonder at what God was up to— why did God choose the shepherds? Why the wise men?  Why did God choose Mary to be his mother? and why was there no room in the inn?  Why was the king threatened by a small baby? How did Joseph know how to keep them safe?  Levi doesn’t ask questions because he is being disrespectful or silly— he asks questions because he is in awe of the mystery and yearns to know more.  I pray that we regain our awe for the mystery of who God is and what God chose to do in the incarnation.  I pray that we allow our own wonder and our children’s to be a sign of reverence as we marvel at the wonder of this season.

Blessings on your Advent.