Here I am, fifty feet from the house, watering squares of sod and periodically praying aloud the grass will sink saving roots down before the scorching heat of a Southern summer makes its appearance.
On the back porch, Amelia's short legs race back and forth between wicker table on one end and rock pile on the other. Even from this far, I can tell she's accumulating quite a pile on the glass, one rock at a time, carefully arranging them as an artist would.
I don't ask what she's doing. Almost anything that entertains is better than her trying to "I help you" jerk hundred foot hose across the yard and inevitably scream upon sinking hot pink clogs in newly created squares of mud.
At some point, Emerson comes out. Now, two little people huddle around some priceless (for the moment) rocks.
Suddenly, her loud voice rings out, "God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for....HEY! What you doin' takin' my rock!?"
She tries two, three times to complete the prayer over her "food," but each time, Emerson takes her bowed head for an opening to swipe a rock (as if there's not a million or more awaiting ownership just a few steps away).
Teaching my children to pray, especially at mealtimes, has made me laugh, shake my head in frustration, and want to crawl under the table--sometimes all during the same meal. I have learned two things from them, though.
One is that a prayer can be a possession.
In the beginning, all three children had to say their own individual prayers--one person's prayer spoken for all the food on the table, for "our" food, well, that just wouldn't do. That was fine with me...until somebody unconsciously (or deliberately) joined in with somebody else's "turn." Then, the three-pronged meltdown.
I thought I had this "my prayer, not yours" problem all figured out when I started requiring the trio to hold hands and pray in unison. Yet, somehow during the process of making that change, the twins have altered a pronoun, with Emerson proclaiming loudest in emphasis, "for MY food."
I can hear them when they're older: "What? The Lord's Prayer? Naah. That belongs to Jesus. This one's mine. And don't you be taking it either!"
We're working on it (sigh).
The second thing I've learned about prayer is that more volume is more better.
I've spent my life praying over meals in restaurants, but always quietly so as not to disturb those around me. I thought I was comfortable with bowing my head and praying or listening to my husband softly pray for us.
And then my trio of opera stars learned to pray.
With a Mexican meal wafting delicious smells towards their already watering mouths, they prayed in perfect unison like they had never prayed before.
They. Were. Loud.
No background music or dinner conversation could drown out those all-too-well-enunciated words.
I didn't peek, mainly because I was sure every eye in hearing distance had suddenly swung to our table, and in that instance, I felt my cheeks burn hot--first with embarrassment at them calling attention to our gathering and then in shame at my embarrassment.
Completely unfazed, they started eating.
As of yet, they haven't learned there's a stigma society stamps on those who follow Christ by the red letter, those who let their light shine so loudly and openly.
And that's a good thing, a reminder to me of how I should be, too.