As part of the all-new JellyTelly, we’re rolling out some fun new series on the JellyTelly blog! An amazing group of parents and bloggers have agreed to be a part of our JellyTelly Parent Board, and you will be hearing from them regularly on our blog. Today, we’d like you to meet Christine Bailey.
On an early December evening, my entire living room suddenly became washed over with an orange-pink glow. I hurried to the window and was met by one of the most brilliant rainbow-y sunsets I’d ever seen from this spot – cerulean blue, magenta, coral, gold, and every shade in between. As I opened the front door, the glow blushed my face, and I drew in my breath. Stunning. I knew right away who else needed to see this…
I called to my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter who was in the living room behind me and beckoned her outside. “Look at how God painted the sky tonight!” I said. “It’s red and orange and yellow…” She craned her neck and looked up. “I LOVE it!” she exclaimed.
God didn’t have to make this world beautiful, but He did because He loves us. There is so much for us to enjoy and to see, if only we’re looking for it. And if God took such care creating the intricacies of a simple pinecone, a flower, a snowflake…how much more does He love and care for us, His very best work?
Since my daughter was tiny, I’ve tried to help her appreciate the beauty God has created. Here are some ideas to try with your family…
- Aim to be outside everyday, even if just for a few minutes - rain, snow, shine. I don’t know about you, but everyone in our family sleeps better and has more positive moods when we’ve been outside a bit each day. Choose outdoor vs. indoor play as much as possible. One of our favorite ideas for a green play space is our local college campus. Many college campuses are open to the public and have beautiful spaces with trees and fountains and lush grass for kids to create adventure. And they’re often enclosed in a quad which makes it easier to keep the little ones contained while they explore! While they play, you can remove your shoes and sink your toes in the grass – one of the best feelings on earth.
- Go on nature walks. If you live near a nature preserve or trail, great! But you can also do a nature walk in the city, in any park or green space. Bring a cup, a bag, or a little container for your child to gather “treasures” from nature. When you get home, find a creative way to display them for a few days – on a shelf or glued to a paper. On a kid-size table in my daughter’s room, we have a basket full of pinecones and acorns that we collected all autumn long, and they’re great for counting games or decorations all throughout the year.
- “Narrate” as you’re driving. You can make your daily drive more enjoyable for the entire family by pointing out beauty from behind the wheel. I’ll often ask my toddler, “What do you see out the window today? Do you see any clouds? Do you see the blue, blue sky? Look! We’re going down a street with lots of tall trees.” Soon, your child will probably start pointing things out to you, unprompted. One of my favorite moments was the day my daughter first exclaimed from the back seat, “Mommy! I see MOON!” Such wonder in our children is beautiful to witness. With older children you can also use this as an opportunity to teach them about the weather as you go about your drive.
- Notice and point out sunsets (and sunrises if you’re up that early!). Show your children how God painted the sky as a gift for them to see. Help them recognize the different colors and recreate the sunset on paper with paints or crayons. I don’t know a single person – adult or child – who won’t smile in the presence of a brilliant sunset.
- Let them create. I believe everyone has some creative spark in them, because we were all made by our Creator God. It’s just a matter of finding what that creativity means to you. Whether indoors or outdoors, our children need to know, “Because God made you, you can make things too.” It doesn’t really matter whether that’s a Lego village, a turtle out of Play-Dough, or a scribbly drawing.
And finally, probably the hardest one for me…
- Let them linger. What does a child, especially a toddler, dislike more than being hurried? Not much. There are times for keeping appointments, and there are times to throw the schedule out the window. I believe children need time to linger in God’s creation, to stop and sit and notice the details that draw their attention. When possible, I try to allow my daughter the time and space to be creative, to let her little mind explore and pretend. Sometimes this means I feel slightly silly sitting on the sidewalk at a street corner while she picks berries off a nearby bush and makes piles and designs with them on the sidewalk. But try it – next time you take a walk with your child, plan enough time to let them linger. Decide in advance you won’t rush. Participate by collecting leaves, acorns, or smooth stones on the ground. You might be surprised how much it helps you slow down, too.
Ultimately, this stopping, this slowing down, this seeing – it’s about worshiping the Giver, not the gifts themselves. All the beauty in our world points to a God who loves us intimately and intricately. As a busy mom, it’s good for me to be reminded of this on a daily basis: “Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.” (James 1:17, The Message).
Christine Bailey is wife to Steven and mama to two-and-half-year-old Luci Isabelle. After working in the music industry in Nashville for many years and then for an African relief organization, she and her husband now own an organic produce pickup and market in Dallas and would love to have their own farm one day. In her (not so) spare time, she shares her art, photography, and writings on her blog, Dreams of Simple Life, and shares meals around her farm table, takes walks with her girl, and looks for the beauty amidst the imperfection of everyday life.