She clutches it close, grins wide and bright eyed.
"And then what happens??" She is riveted, giggling in anticipation.
I tell her these tales again and again, she never tires of these stories. But she wants to know, needs to know, to double-check just one more time: " did this happen in real life?"
These are my Jesus stories. These are my stones of remembrance. I keep them in a simple photo box, with His words reminding me what stones are and are not meant for, reminding me to remember.
On our sabbath, Selah and Alexa each pick one or two items, and I tell them the story it represents.
I can forget so easily.
I don't want to.
So often I have heard and read of stories of amazing things God has done... but I rarely personally know the individual who actually had the experience of God's direction, protection, intervention, vision, or miracle in their life. I have privately asked the question "did this happen in real life?"
In the spring of 2009 I co-led a women's small group at my church through Believing God by Beth Moore. In one section Beth encourages the reader to write down a timeline of notable things God has done in your life, "personal stones of remembrance". This was very helpful to me in many ways. It helped me recall and recognize God's beautiful orchestration in my life. But because I am (at least) as forgetful as the Old-Testament Israelites, I wanted some 3-D reminders of God glorious works in my life. Some tangible "Ebenezer stone".
"Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I'm come..."
I actually considered stacking up huge stones. Well, having someone with muscles stack them for me, I'm not exactly known for upper body strength.
But that idea didn't seem very baby friendly. My littlest at the time was nicknamed "baby godzilla" by her adoring and ever-so-patient older sister. The description was quite accurate. I wanted to avoid a miniature Samson episode, so other options had to be explored.
In my experience all children share a certain trait, regardless of personality. Curiosity. When God commanded the Israelites to set up stones as a reminder of the awesome miracle He had just done by cutting off the flow of the river Jordan so they could cross over on dry land, I think God intended the stones to spark the natural curiosity of the Israelite children. I have chosen items in My Jesus Story Box specifically to inspire my children to ask "what do these stones mean?".
Some things that are exposed about me in these stories are not glamorous. In fact, they are down right hideous. But He is the Main Character of these stories, I am not. And He is beautiful all the time. He is the only reason why all the stories have happy endings. I want my children to know Him more that I want to hide my weaknesses. I want them to know He is alive and active and involved in every person's life. Even mine. Even theirs. He is the same miraculous God of old, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Right now I tell my girls the 7 and 3 year-old appropriate versions of these stories, the depth of the stories will grow as they do. But I pray the Truth about God and His faithfulness to their momma will be the common thread they hold onto from now into adulthood.
Selah also has her own story box with a couple of stones of remembrance. She loves it so much, she is actively looking for Jesus' work in her life so she can add to her box. "He loves us so much, mom! " she says. "He must have done that so we could have this story in our box!...". Now, I need to let Alexa create her own!
I believe we are hard-wired to love stories. We are part of one, and each one of us has a part that the One and Only considered worth His very life.
What would happen if we all shared our stories, His stories, with one another?
Might you consider starting your own Jesus Story Box? A place for tangible pieces of evidence of God's hand in your life? We can each witness to what we know of Him, and pass on and recall His faithfulness to our oh-so-forgetful hearts.
"I tell you," he replied," if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."
Let's not miss our opportunities to praise Him.