Last evening, while Eric and the kids were playing in the back yard, two dogs came across the road running toward the kids and barking. I knew what was next, and it didn't take long: two screaming girls (Sara and Leah) and three other very nervous kids. Sara practically choked Eric while trying to climb up the back of his shirt as he tried to calm down the dogs, who were fairly small and friendly. The neighbor came quickly to retrieve her dogs. Fast forward to this morning, as we were making our way through a list of small jobs that needed to be done. Sara and Leah were tasked with sweeping the garage.
Sara, coming through the garage door into the kitchen with Leah: "Mom...um....we don't want to be outside alone."
Me (knowing why): "That's going to make for a pretty long summer and boring life, don't you think?
No smiles. Stone faces.
Me: "All right, here's the thing. I know that you feel scared that more dogs might surprise you outside. But, if you remember, you have been doing great petting new dogs you meet lately, and getting more comfortable. And, we know you don't want to miss swinging, and bike riding and soccer and everything outside, right?"
Me: "I think one thing we could do is to pray and ask God to help you not feel so afraid to be outside, to give you peace that He is always with you."
Sara: "So God would stop the dogs from coming and barking and just make them stand still?"
Me: "No, that might not happen. But He will definitely help you be brave and not be so scared. OK? You could pray right now in the garage."
A few minutes later. I'm in the bathroom and Leah yells through the door.
Leah: "Mom!? We prayed!"
Me: "That's great, honey!"
Leah: "What's Jesus going to do now?"
Me: "Well, He's going to help you on your inside...help you feel better about being outside."
Leah: "Like, move our hearts around?"
Me: "Um, no, not exactly. Like, help you feel brave about dogs and get your work done without being scared."
Leah: "Oh, so we'll be like Levi?"
(And yes, they did a great job sweeping.)