Practicing with Children

Bedtime Stories and Lifetime Legacies

~by Jill Clingan

action bible

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting out on my back porch with my husband, Matt, beside me, a vast sky of stars above me, and silence all around me.  I was tired.  There is some internal parental switch-off mechanism inside of me that just shuts down at around 8:00 or so, and as we were nearer the 9:00 hour than the 8:00 hour, I was done, done, done.  We had finished the homework thing, the listen for twenty minutes to Jack read aloud a book that I don’t find the least bit interesting thing, and the read a chapter of a good book to Jack thing (which is a “thing” I actually enjoy doing…when I am not so tired I am yawning every two sentences).   The kids were in bed, and Matt and I were looking forward to a few minutes of uninterrupted conversation before we stumbled off to bed ourselves.  With the exception of the walkie-talkie sitting beside me to listen for Jack in case he needed us for something, we were off duty.

Except that we were not really off duty, because Jack does call us on that walkie-talkie.  Often.  Sometimes, he wants to read Matt a funny line from a book.  Sometimes, he needs to ask me how to pronounce a word.  Sometimes, he asks a deep question that makes my tired brain ache.  Sometimes, he is hungry and requests the jar of peanut butter and a spoon.  Sometimes, the peanut butter makes him thirsty and he wants a glass of milk.  Sometimes, he’s scared.  Sometimes, he just says, “I don’t actually know why I called you in here, Mom” (that’s my favorite one, as you can imagine).

This night a couple of weeks ago was no different.  I had already been summoned away by the crackly “Mom? Mom!” from the walkie-talkie at least three too many times.  I was tired.  I was exasperated. I didn’t want to go see what he wanted.  But I did.

I walked into Jack’s room, and with my tone of voice and body posture I tried to communicate “I love you dearly, but I am exhausted, so please, please quit calling for me!”  That night he was snuggled up under his blankets reading The Action Bible, which tells the stories of the Bible in graphic novel format.  He looked up when I walked in the room, called me over to his bed, and said, “Mom, this is my favorite speech in the Bible.”

I felt my exasperation melt away as I knelt by his bed to read whatever speech this might be.  He was reading the story of David and Goliath, and these are the words that I read:

You come with a sword, a spear, and a shield.  But I come in the name of God, who will give me the victory.  

I smiled.  I teared up a bit.  I leaned over to kiss the top of his sweet head.  We talked about the story a little more and why that speech is his favorite, and I walked out of his room with a heart brimful of love and gratitude.

The thing is, I don’t know all of the Goliaths Jack is going to have to face during his lifetime, and my mama’s heart aches to think of it.  I so long to protect him, to dress him up in heavy armor just like Saul tried to dress David.  I want to send him out into this world with bulletproof physical armor, extra-strength emotional armor, and heavy-duty spiritual armor.  But sometimes, all I have is a slingshot half-full of parenting skills and a little bit of courage and a fledgling hope in the name of God.  Sometimes, I just have to look up at this big, scary world that my children inhabit and say,

You come with a sword, a spear, and a shield.  But I come in the name of God, who will give me the victory.  

Before I left Jack’s room I reminded him that his middle name is David, that he was named after this shepherd boy who brought down a giant–a whole nation–with a slingshot full of stones and a heart full of courage and faith in the name of God.

He nodded, smiled a sleepy smile, and reminded me, “I was named after Great Papa, too.”  And yes, Jackson David was also named after my grandpa–David Jones–a man who grew up a farm boy, who most likely had a slingshot full of stones and who most certainly has a heart full of courage and faith in the name of God.

jack and great papa

So when my mama-heart aches with worry, I will remember David, both the biblical one and also my grandpa, Jack’s Great Papa, the David who anchors my faith with the strength of his own faith.  And when I remember those Davids, then I know–I know–that whatever Goliath Jack faces, whatever giants loom high above him, that he can look them in the eye and say with quiet conviction,

You come with a sword, a spear, and a shield.  But I come in the name of God, who will give me the victory.  


One thought on “Bedtime Stories and Lifetime Legacies

  1. Jill,
    This was beautifully written! What a gift God has blessed you with….expressing the secret longings of mommies everywhere. Excited to see what God has for your future.

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