Unless you change and become like little childrenÖ

Matthew 18:3 (NIV)

I find that many times my heart can be brought back on track by the simple act of remembering tható

I am a child;

God is my Daddy;

Jesus is my Big Brother;

other believers are my brothers and sisters;

and everyone else lives on our street.

When I started seeing myself as a child with her Daddy, I felt sorry for Him! Here He was, the most loving, most stable, most understanding parent there has ever been. Here I was, a child who acted as if she didnít have a daddy who cared at all. I thought about how I would have felt if my four year old would have moped around worrying about whether or not I would cook his dinner or be there when he woke up in the morning or take care of him when he fell and hurt himself. How sad I would have been that he didnít trust me.

I have always remembered a comment my daughterís kindergarten teacher made at one of our parent teacher conferences. She said Tana wasnít preoccupied. I got the impression this teacher was all too familiar with children who were preoccupied with concerns beyond their capacity to carry. Unless I remember I have a wonderful Daddy, I can easily become one of those preoccupied children. Sometimes I just have to spend a big chunk of time remembering how to be a little girl. I need to remember that the first person I want to see in the morning is mommy or daddy. I need to remember that sometimes I wake up ready to chatter, sometimes Iím ready to snuggle, sometimes I want to hear a story, but it never occurs to me to wake up and follow a script. I need to remember how to innocently and naturally trust. I need to remember how to be delighted and spontaneous and real. I need to remember that nothing warms a parentís heart more than hearing a little voice singing happy songs in the next room. I need to remember that no matter what happens, Daddy will always be there for me.

I especially need to remember how I can bless Daddy by loving my brothers and sisters.

This occurred to me one day as I was intensely struggling with the sin of judging. I had gotten beyond justifying it and excusing it; now I was repenting and longing to be free from it. That was when the Spirit reminded me that nothing saddens a parentís heart more than children who are mean to each other. As a parent we hurt for the child being hurt, we hurt for the child doing the hurting, and we hurt because we have to deal with them sternly when we wish we could just do nice things for them all the time. The sin that is woven into every act, word, and thought of meanness is judging. Jack Deere makes the point in one of his teachings that no matter what sin we are judging, at that moment God considers the sin of judging the greater of the two. Jesus in Matthew 7:1-2 says it this way, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." How many teachers and parents have been driven to distraction by the child who continually turns up with an accusation against another child. Yet we do it within the household of faith so often. How it must sadden our Daddyís heart.

That day I thought about the kind of little girl I want to be. I want to be the kind of little girl who gets all excited when her brother wins a race and whose tears well up when her sister falls and scrapes her knee. I want to be thrilled when my sister gets to sing the solo instead of wishing I had been chosen. I want to be the kind of little girl who does her brotherís chores so he can study for his big test. I want to be patient with my sister while she learns to tie her shoes. I want to be someone who hangs around Daddy waiting to find out what He wants done and then does that with gusto, just to please Him. In other words, I want to be just like my Big Brother, Jesus.

As I thought along these lines, for the first time I began to understand the distinction between judging and discerning. If one of my brothers isnít very careful about crossing streets, I can go and tell Daddy that he might get hurt because he doesnít look both ways. I can ask Big Brother to cross streets with him and teach him how. I donít have to rant and rave about what a foolish ignorant boy he is. I donít have to talk to my other brothers and sisters about how immature he is. At the same time I can discern that it wouldnít be wise to let this brother take me to the park because he isnít yet ready for that responsibility.

When all us kids in the household of faith start being cheerleaders for one another, our next-door neighbors are bound to notice. Sometimes we leave brothers and sisters at home hurting from our insensitivity while we run next door trying to get our neighbors to come live with us. Nick, my lacrosse-playing son, says, "You have to play for the fans, cause thatís what really matters." If we treat each other with kindness and compassion, the "fans" down the street wonít need so much persuading; theyíll see for themselves that we live in a really neat household. And, after all, they really do matter to our Daddy, Who is our biggest fan of all.