What is your favorite part of your day?
For some of you it might be a meal, or work, or when work is done, or working out, or vegging out watching TV after a long day, or going to bed at night. It could be that first kiss with your significant other or the last kiss goodnight.
I have some awesome times I look forward to throughout the day, but nothing beats the time I get with Asher when I put him down for bed.
We've established a routine that I think both of us look forward to.
We sit in a brown rocking chair that's traveled with Stacy from Chicago to Seattle and back to Chicago.
I have Asher in my lap and three books sit on top of the wood radiator cover: Time for Bed, Goodnight Moon, and The Jesus Storybook Bible. We used to rock out the first two books regularly, but lately all Asher wants to read is The Jesus Storybook Bible, proclaiming "Deesus" for "Jesus," who takes centerstage, naturally. And "read" is a strong term. He wants to flip through the book, which is beautifully illustrated page after page, and look for two people, "Deesus" and "Nonah." When we get to the story of Jonah there's a page that shows an overboard Jonah upside-down in the water right next to the giant fish who will eventually take him as a tenant for three days. Every time we get to this part of the story, Asher will reach all the way over to one side of the book and flip it around to make sure that Jonah can stand upright again. We will continue to flip through the book for several minutes and I try to piecemeal a story or two together. Sometimes we get to other books, but lately that's it. I love that he loves this book. If you've never read it or heard of it, it is one of the best books about the story of the Bible that's out there. I don't care if you 16 months or 16 million years old, it's just that good.
After that I ask Asher two questions. The first is, "Can I sing to you?" He does this super awesome, terribly cute head nod, telling me, "Yes, it's okay for you to sing to me now, Papa." Since I started singing to Asher I have always sung the same song, believing my own theory that it will settle in deeper than any active memory or words he will have later in life. I am by no means a singer and I'm sure at some point Asher is going to tell me he doesn't want to hear me sing, but for now I relish the moment. The song is How Deep the Father's Love For Us by Stuart Townsend. Even as I type tears come close to welling up in my eyes. This song has massive significance in my life, which I'll save for a later post. I also love this time because when I start singing, Asher will often turn around so that I can hold him and he can put his head on my shoulders. Are you kidding me? Again, I'm taking advantage of this time as long as I can.
The second question I ask Asher is, "Can I pray for you?" Asher will nod again and he will either sit facing me or continue to let me hold him. I long for Asher to understand both the words of the song and my prayers some day, but more importantly, these are words to the heavenly Father as I long so much more for them to become true. The consistent baseline prayer is that Asher would stand more firmly in the Father's love than any love he knows from us and that he would sense God's love in Christ through us. I have learned in my own personal life and in years of counseling hundreds of people of all ages that this is the biggest battleground of life, whether your a Christian or not. To truly believe God loves you -- not in the way you think God should love you, but in the way He really does -- is the hardest reality to grasp in all of life. Along with this, I pray God's blessing and that Asher would grow to be a number of paradoxes: Strong, but gentle; hardworking, but knowing true rest; bold, yet wise; loving, yet longing for justice; successful, yet sacrificially generous. I know what you're thinking at this point and the answer is yes, Asher actually sits there patiently through my prayers and actually looks me right in my eyes when I pray. And, when I say, "in Jesus' name" he follows with me and says "Amen!" It's crazy.
So then we get up, I tell him I love him and ask for a kiss. He gives me a kiss and I lay him in his crib. Back in the day this is when he would start crying, but lately he's been loving it because he gets to have conversation with Mickey, his new favorite stuffed toy. I'll close the door and he tells Mickey about his day, talking in Asherisms for about 10 minutes, sometime singing and sometimes yelling out, but always giving Stacy and me something to laugh about. And then, all of a sudden...silence.