"Let's pray and ask Jesus to forgive you." I grab Myra's hands. Small and yielding they curl up like tangerines in my palms. She squeezes her eyes shut.
"Jesus, please forgive me for disobeying," her voice creaks like a violin half on key. "Amen," she squeaks, her hands balmy and aromatic with Jack's grass scented hand sanitizer, the one she stole right before meeting up with me in the bedroom for discipline.
"Did you know the Bible says when you say the wrong thing you did and ask Jesus to forgive you, he DOES?" I say. "He makes you all CLEAN. Do you you feel clean?" Down on my knees, eye to eye with my red-headed whirlwind, we hold each other steady. I peer at her out of the top half of my eyes, nod.
She nods back, frowns. "Is Jesus in my tummy?" she asks and strokes her frontside.
"No." I grin at her approximation. "But if you ask him, he'll come live in your heart."
And as if whispering to her neighbor, she bows her head and murmurs, "Jesus, live in my heart. Amen." Eyebrows up, she blink-blinks perfectly round dolly eyes at me. "There," she says. "Him's in my heart."
"You have to tell Him you're naughty," I blurt trying to figure out how to trace the red thread of doctrine in her spontaneity. "Do you know you're naughty?"
"Do you want Him to help you?"
"Tell Him. Tell Him, Jesus, I'm naughty."
"Jesus, I'm naughty," she says and clasps her hands together.
"Please forgive me."
"Please forgive me," she nods.
"Thank-you for dying on the cross for my sins," I say
"Thank-you for dying on the cross for my sins," she repeats.
"Please come live in my heart."
"Please come live in my heart."
"I love you."
"I love you."
"Amen!" A grin blooms across her face. The apples of our cheeks round and pink, the moment sounds, resonates like the lowest key on a piano, deep bass.
And we flutter up in treble. "Did you know the angels in heaven are having a party to celebrate you being a Christian?" I say.
She beams. She squints her eyes and leans in. It's the comma before a hug. I hold her in my arms.
Another step in the path, faith grows. It swells, burgeons, sends up shoots.
And all I can think is I'm so glad I decided to discipline her. The moment could have passed, unrealized before it even began. I take note of my high position.
4719. Joey stands for 60 seconds. Jane times him. "I think he'd almost do anything to get everyone to cheer," she says.
4720. My mom takes Jack to bee heaven, an adventure. It's fields and fields, a whole farm of all sunflowers.
4721. Myra invites Jesus into her heart.
4722. Jane tattles on Jack disobeying the babysitter. "The reason I told on you," Craig hears Jane tell him, "was because I don't want you to make the same mistake tomorrow."
4723. The children love their babysitter. "She doesn't necessarily like everyone," Jane assesses, "but she does LOVE everyone."
4724. Even Joey likes her and has two pleasant days while Craig and I attend a leadership conference.
4725. I learn something new: the people that are best at holding others accountable are the ones with the lowest blame index. Blaming, a good way to undercut your authority.
4726. We have lunch with my parents and Stan Simmons, the pastor from my hometown.
4727. "I found a dead grasshopper," Myra announces. "Wanna see 'im?" She opens her cupped hands, a small carcass nestled in one. "Don't kill 'im," she says, "It's not a bug. It's a grasshopper." She closes her hand and trit-trotts into the sunroom, the grasshopper as real as a dolly.
4728. A neighbor give me a whole bale of fresh dill. The kids process it for me, snapping the heads into a huge pile.
4729. Jack ambles into the sunroom, four dill stems trimmed and bundled. "I like the fragrance of this," he jabs the air with his dill sword. "If I ground this up and put it in a candle, I bet it would smell really good. It would make the whole house smell REALLY good."
4730. Jane flops two banana peels in the kitchen garbage. "Ah," she says, "I guess I better take the trash out," and she does.
4731. We take communion with the kids.
4732. "Jesus, please help Jane's tummy feel better," Jack prays and hops off the bed to come rub Jane's arm. "And thank you for communion," he says.
4733. We attend a wedding of dear friends, you know the kind, where the bride and groom have been pure and chaste for their wedding day. We feel dizzy with honor. Wide rolling wheat fields golden and heavy, evening breeze, a gazebo, an old barn, and something electric and unmistakable: purity. Every color rich and deep, every moment pristinely in focus, the five children on our laps and all around us, we bear witness. Radiant, radiant purity. We can't take our eyes off of it. We memorize every moment.
4734. "It sounded like he had tears in his voice during the vows," Jane retells that night when we settle in for bed, their resplendent faces still aglow, flushed and pink from all the dancing and celebration.
4735. We meet the cousins at the pool. The adults lounge poolside and chat.
4736. Lucy sobs when I tell her to collect basil in the midday sun. "RACCOONS," she wails and hangs her head. She's petrified of raccoons. I make her pick the basil. She wins over the fear.
4737. I see her shoulders a little stronger, a little more tenacious and brave, her steady gaze all fortitude and confidence. I conclude it's true: courage gives us power over fear.
"We never feel more alive than when we are brave." ~Brené Brown