Learning to walk with the Good Shepherd

Well it’s only 2:45 p.m. but today has been quite a day for this nanny.

My day started with a lovely breakfast with my WONDERFUL husband at my favorite place… true it was his birthday, but I enjoy bacon jut as much… so fun was had by all! For those of you who don’t know, I am blessed with a wonderful man to do life with. He is compassionate, strong, wise, funny, insanely SMART, patient, passionate and just plain amazing. I love the heart he has for those around him… I love how he loves the Lord… I love how he guides our family… I am blessed by how he loves me. I have no doubt he will be a wonderful daddy… and hopefully soon! 🙂

Anyways, after breakfast I joyfully went on to see my girls (J, 3 yrs old and T, 15 mo) and then excitedly took them to the Arboretum to spend the morning with friends… for all of us! (Thanks, Annika!)

The morning started great… big girl had a great time playing and running, little girl got into all sorts of precarious positions (which is fun for her!) and I was enjoying being outside on our unseasonably warm day. And then came the tantrum… I can’t totally remember what started it and I am certain I handled it badly… but for the next 10-15 minutes (what seemed like an eternity) big girl proceeded to cry and kick and scream… I felt totally inadequate and slightly embarrassed…

Being a school morning, there were moms with young kids everywhere. Many of them looked on with sweet smiles and sympathetic looks. Otherwise showed their disapproval… and I spoke to my 3 year old charge in soft tones.

And eventually we calmed down, ate our snack and proceeded to share very sweetly with those around her. She spoke very sweetly to me, and very willingly got into the car later to go home. And just 5 minutes on the road… and BOTH girls were passed out. It was wonderful. We arrived home, ate some lunch and now both are down for nap / quite time. True there were a few more time-outs between lunch and quiet time, but it came!

And I’m a little bit tired… but I also find myself very thankful. My time since the tantrum has been wonderful. Big girl has shared sweetly with her sister, has been eager to cuddle and ate all of her lunch without much complaint.

And we got to do one of my favorite activities. A few weeks ago i became newly excited about the possibility of combining my “research” with my nanny job. What is my research? My specialty is in Spiritual Formation with kids.. specifically how theology fits into the picture. I have had the chance to speak to a few different groups and even write a few articles on the subject. And I am frequently allowed the opportunity to see how this works with larger groups of kids and to engage in this beautiful thing…And this is definitely my primary responsibility at the church… and it’s one of my favorite things.

Well lately I have been introducing J (the 3 year old) to the parable of the good Shepherd from Young Children and Worship. Those of you who know this curriculum will share my excitement. Those of you unfamiliar… basically this is a contemplative approach to ministry with children. The story is told with simple materials in a very soft, very slow and very reverent way. The materials are pictured to the right. And research and personal experience has shown that young children seem to identify in a very special way with this particular parable of the Good Shepherd. I have also found the telling of this story to be particularly good for me… it has become a wonderful ministry to my heart!

So I’ve been doing this story with J just before her quiet time and it has been such a blessing. Immediately she began to ask for it more regularly and I find her saying many of the parts of the story in her own play with her toys. When I began to work with the materials, she will respond just as I do with soft, careful touches… soft whispers…

And after a tough day, I need this sweet, reverent time with my young charge.  And what a beautiful story to remind us that our Good Shepherd walks with us to the good green grass, to the still, quiet waters and to the dark spots… J and I both needed this. What beauty is found as we are guided by the Good Shepherd. What true joy.

Thanks for reading.

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