For more than ten years, I have volunteered at my congregation's Vacation Bible School. I lead the songs at the beginning and ending of each evening. I love watching as the kids learn the songs, do the actions, and then pick their favorites. I love when they make song requests!
I enjoyed volunteering before I was a mother, and I love it now even more as I watch my daughter take part in and enjoy the activities.
Each evening, the children spend time with biblical characters who teach them about the theme. This year the children are meeting Mary, Jesus's mother, and Eunice, a busybody neighbor of Mary's. Eunice is a real peach. At the last minute, I was asked to fill-in and play the part of Eunice. This character is cranky and nosy and bossy. And as the week has gone on, I've come to really enjoy playing her.
I'd already done my first Eunice part of the evening and was standing in costume by the snack table for my next appearance. “Eunice, you keep scaring us when you come to Mary's house and knock on the door!” one of the children told me as he ate his snack. “You still don't believe in Jesus do you? We believe in him.” I didn't expect all of this, so I quickly jumped back into character and answered his questions. Other children piped up. “We love when you scare us. Scare us again tonight!” they pleaded.
Aside from helping make a bible story come alive for these kiddos, playing Eunice gave me a behind-the-scenes opportunity to hear my daughter interact in her class with Mary. One evening, Mary was talking about when Jesus was a little boy and what it was like in his home. “How do you feel when you're at home?” Mary asked the children. From behind the tent set up in our sanctuary, I thought I heard my daughter answer, “Safe and sound.”
There were a lot of voices answering Mary that night, so after the children left Mary's home and ran on to the next activity I approached my friend who is playing Mary. “Did Cadence respond to your question about how they feel in their home? Their were so many voices, I wasn't sure if I heard her voice or not. Mary smiled and her face softened. She nodded. “Yes, she told the group she felt safe and sound. And then other kids shouted other answers that didn't quite fit with the lesson, and Cadence told me, “My answer was the most appropriate answer for the question we were talking about.”
It cracks me up when she says the word appropriate and in the proper context. Clearly, it's something we talk about regularly. Mary and I hugged. “Good job, Mama,” my friend told me.
Those are the moments a mama hopes for. Confirmation that in the midst of hectic morning routines, cranky bedtime wrastlings, and general parent-child interactions, that our children reflect back to us in their own words that we're doing a good job.
I wouldn't miss this week each summer for anything. I love the way the Spirit moves. VBS creates community and opportunities to feel close to God in the midst of busy life.