4-Year-Old Observations

“It doesn’t really work when you wear a headvand [headband] and glasses at the same time,” Mara observed. “Because then the glasses are saying ‘I’m sitting here!’ and the headvand says, ‘No, I’m sitting here!'”


“Look at Carissa, Mommy! She’s going to be an early walker!” Mara called as Carissa walked along the couch hurling everything in her path–diapers, wipes and toys–on the floor.

Then Mara added, “You should really start standing behind her and holding her hands and walking with her. You should really start doing that.”

Mara must think I want Carissa to start walking. . . I need to go rescue the diaper bag before there is nothing left inside.

Learning About Christmas

“[Christmas] will be SO much fun!” Mara exclaimed the week before Thanksgiving. “We’ll set up the Christmas tree–and God will set the snow–and we’ll go out and throw snowballs!”

Now that Mara and Micah are (almost) four and two-and-a-half, they are old enough to remember last Christmas and look forward to this year.

What do they remember?

  • Decorating the tree
  • Presents
  • Snow
  • Christmas music

As they begin to comprehend more, I want them at a young age to begin to understand the real meaning of Christmas.

From my Time-Life Christmas CDs, the kids already know the “Christmas oldies”: “Jingle Bells,” “Sleigh Ride,” “White Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”  . . .  Yesterday I decided we would start learning some Christmas carols. So I sang for them and Mara asked lots of questions about what words meant. . .

  • “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” – What amazing life-changing truth is contained in that song! (Peace on earth = God and sinners–me–reconciled! Christ came to earth as a baby to die for me on the cross to pay for my sin and bring peace to my life!) What blessed reminders of God’s grace and goodness to me, as I explained the song to my toddlers!
  • “Silent Night.”
  • “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

At that point, Micah was done singing. Mara wanted to keep going. It was so precious how she tried to sing along, without knowing the words–or the music, just singing a couple beats behind me the whole way through the song!

Earlier this week I told Mara we were going to read the story of Christmas from the Bible in Luke chapter 2:1-21.

She loves to listen–she loves for me to read to her. Apparently, she wasn’t anticipating the birth of Christ, because she seemed so genuinely surprised, when I read, “And this will be a sign for you: you will find the baby, wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

She gasped and exclaimed, “I know about the manger! I know this one!”

And in verse 21, I read, “At the end of eight days. . . he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel. . .” and she exclaimed, “I love Jesus! I wish I could tell God what we’re doing right now!”

“Sure, you can tell Him,” I told her. All the time I tell Mara that God is real, that He hears us, that He cares about everything in our lives. And she believes.

She shouted, “Guess what we’re doing, God?! We’re reading about your Son when he was a little baby!”

I want God to be as real in my life, as He is in hers. That I would thrill to tell Him when I’m reading about His son.

We finished the passage.

Mara loved reading Luke 2. And she asked to read it again when the other kids were napping, so of course we did.

Mara drew a picture of what we read in Luke 2. (You may have to click on the picture to be able to read my explanations of the drawing. The things I wrote in quotes are Mara’s descriptions.) On the back, she wrote something about “God loves you. Run to him.” But she doesn’t know how to actually write words yet, so she had to translate for me, since it was just a bunch of random letters. Still precious. 🙂

I love it!

Checking in With Tosta

Here’s an update, for those of you who know and love Mara’s imaginary friend, Tosta.

“Why do you always call Tosta my ‘maginary friend’?” Mara asked. “She’s not ‘maginary any more. She’s real.”

Soooo now that we’ve settled that. . .

Poor Tosta was apparently hit by a car earlier this week, so Mara says of her real (imaginary) friend. It sounded rather brutal–the car hit her and then she went under the car! “And that’s why she has a bruise on her forehead,” Mara explained.

This morning, Mara announced: “Tosta is going to the eye dentist today.”

“That would be the eye doctor,” I corrected. “Eye doctors look at your eyes. Dentists look at your teeth.”

Without missing a beat, she replied, “Actually? . . . it is the eye dentist, because he looks at her eyes and her teeth.”

My American Dream

Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m cut out for life with toddlers. Especially when the toddlers randomly ask questions like, “What is the ‘American dream’?”

How would you explain that (on a three-year-old level)?

So I begin rambling, hoping something I say will make sense to her on some level and hoping that whatever makes sense to her actually relates to the American Dream.

“Well, first of all, in America you get to choose. You can decide if you want to be a doctor . . .  or a trashman . . . or work on computers . . .” I’m trying to think of professions she can relate to here.

“In some countries you don’t get to choose,” I told her. “They just tell you what you’re going to be. They will say, ‘Mara, you’re going to be a trashman.'” I was hoping that was not the profession she had in mind. “But!–in America, you get to choose. . . ”

Although that was not the end of my American Dream explanation, I stopped, because all of sudden, her whole face lit up.

I thought for sure she had decided to be a princess–or Emily Elizabeth–or Tosta or Donna Eiseland (her imaginary sisters).

But she surprised me: “I get to choose being a mother!” she exclaimed. “I just . . . want to be a mother.”

My heart melted. I wanted to capture for all time this memory: the softness of her sparkling eyes at that moment, her voice full of meaning, and her smile–the sweetest smile. Ever.

I was about to cry, but I held the tears back. (She’s asked me to explain the “happy tears” concept before too.–She doesn’t get it.)

So I just kissed her on the forehead and said, “You made my day, Mara!”

Then she exclaimed again, “Tomorrow I’m going to make Daddy’s day if I tell him that I want to be a mother. I would just LOVE to be a mother! . . . Annnd if you choose to be a trashman? that will make MY day! . . . ” This left me wondering what on earth she thought of my mothering skills, until she changed her mind: “I would like Micah to be the trashman. Micah, do you choose to be a trashman?”

Thankfully he didn’t. He just stared at her blankly, and characteristicly Mara continued, “I would love to be a food-er mom!”

“What’s a food-er mom?” I asked.

Youuuu know! I would give us food.” She looked a little sheepish because I was laughing.I would serve us food for dinner! I would be a server-mom!” she kept trying to explain.

By this point I was laughing pretty hard.


I get to choose being a mother! I just want to be a mother.”

Me too, sweetheart. Me too.

And in that moment, I realized–I’m living my American Dream.

A Glimpse of the Future? Little Disciples Multiplying?

My daughter Mara Joy has always been quite the conversationalist. And as the oldest child, she and I have always talked about everything.

So early on, I talked to her about God’s love for her and told her that Jesus died for her on the cross. We read Bible stories together most every day, and over the past two months or so, she has asked more and more questions and expressed her desire to go to heaven and be with Jesus. She’s asked me how she can stop doing bad things. She has told me how much she loves God and wants to obey Him. So she and I have recently had many conversations about the foundational truths of the Gospel.

Micah is also a little conversationalist–It’s just that I can’t understand 90% of his jabber yet! Plus his attention span is much shorter. His questions much less complex. In fact, while he often asks to pray (several times throughout the same meal and other random times), I don’t know that He’s ever said ‘God’ or ‘Jesus’ at all. I have often prayed for him, told him how much God loves him, and how I pray that he will grow to be a man that loves God more than anything else. But I don’t think I’ve shared the Gospel with him in a deeper way.

That’s okay–his sister did! The other night at dinner, I just listened to this (one-sided) conversation between my three-year-old daughter and her 20-month-old brother:

“Jesus loves you, Micah, and He died for you on the cross. And we want you to love God and obey God, but you do lots of bad things. But God will still love you, even though you do bad things.”

I don’t know how much (if any) of this Micah was really comprehending, but I was amused that her intensity in conversation was matched by his intensity in expression: his jaw literally hung open as he sat there in his high chair, listening to her soliloquy.

“This is really important, Micah,” she finished.

Up until this point, I sat silently, wondering how she would explain these truths, and marveling at the ease with which she shared them.

Then Mara turned to me: “I told Micah all about God. And I started with the Bible.

Today the Lord encouraged my heart that perhaps someday He will use my little “disciple” to reach others for Him!  I pray that these truths will be real in Mara’s heart–not just reciting things she’s heard–and that her life (along with her words) will continue to point her younger siblings to Christ!