I am thrilled to have Luanne Allen as my guest blogger today. I met Luanne in 2001 and I have been blessed to know her these eight years. Luanne is married to the Rev. Deacon Justin Allen and they have three beautiful children, Madelyn and Seth, and a precious baby in heaven. I know that you will enjoy today's blog. Please leave Luanne a comment to let her know how much her writing ministered to you!
A CHILD'S PRAYER
Being a parent never ceases to amaze me. I guess I'm amazed in part, because I figured I was too old to have kids at the ripe old age of 35 or so. In my head, my Mom had me at 36, and since I was single at 36, I wouldn't be having kids at all. God had something else in mind for sure - but, I digress.
Since the day I found out I was pregnant with each of the kids, they've been prayed over every day. One of the things that Justin was insistent about was being sure that he laid his hands on my tummy and prayed for the kids. For Madelyn, the baby we lost in 2006 and for Seth, those children heard Daddy's voice praying every night. And every night since they were born, we pray with them. I love it.
Madelyn helps with the prayers every evening. Usually, I'll ask her if there's anything she wants to pray about, anyone that she wants to bless. The list most often includes her (and I quote) "Grandma, Uncle Aaron, Aunt Nicole, Grandma Lyon who lives in heaven with Jesus, Fran, Dave, Mommy, Daddy, Madelyn and Seth" and then she goes from there. The list likely can include Fr. Stephen, Miss Keisha and baby Joshua, Eden, Jordan, Kendall and Micailah, Miss Kim, Miss Veronica, Matthew, Jack, Alejandro, Daniel (friends from last year's preschool class) and anyone else she can think of at the moment. I have caught onto the fact that she blesses pretty much everyone she can think of on a night when she isn't really interested in going to bed. I'm slow, but I catch on.
Over the last several months, we've been working with her on the Lord's Prayer. And now, she can say it all by herself. In fact, tonight, that's what she did. She's got it down, and to hear it said in her 4-year-old little girl voice about brings me to tears. Yes, I am very proud of her, and she has a pretty good grasp of what each phrase means, thanks to a children's book that her Uncle Aaron bought her a very long time ago. She said it with the congregation at church last weekend, too.
But I noticed something tonight, and I even mentioned it in my FaceBook status. She has trouble with the word "trespass" as I think most four year olds do. I think she understands what a trespass is - as we've talked about doing things we shouldn't or hurting other people. She also knows the concept of forgiveness, as we talk about that on a regular basis. When she gets in trouble with me, the first thing she'll say is "I'm sorry Momma. I'm forgiven, right?"
But back to the trespass thing. I caught something in what I posted tonight. I believe I said, "she gets a little twisted up on the trespass part" and then I realized something in that statement I hadn't thought about. I get twisted up in the trespass part. While I know in my head that God loves me, that he has forgiven me, I get caught up in the trespass thing. Either I have trouble forgiving others, or I have trouble forgiving myself. Actually, I think I have more trouble forgiving myself than I do other people most of the time. Interesting how God again used my daughter to teach me about myself.
So I thought of something else tonight. Something that brings great comfort to me. It's a blessing, a pronouncement over our congregation at church at the end of the service that goes like this:
"Receive the blessing of the Lord: God was in Christ Jesus, reconciling the world unto himself, not counting mens' sins against them. God loves you. God has forgiven you. God is not mad at you. God will never leave you or forsake you. And now, may the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among you, and remain with you, now and always. Amen."
Wow. I like that.