My younger two kids had been looking forward to the costume parade at their Mother’s Day Out for weeks. At last it was the long-awaited day, and JJ had woken up earlier than usual, bright-eyed and eager to don her costume to show her class.
It was Boo who came up with the idea of being an angel for Halloween this year. She even put an angel costume on her birthday wish list several weeks ago. And in typical younger-sister fashion, once JJ heard the idea, she immediately wanted to copy it. “Me too!”
Poor Buddy; at two years old, he doesn’t have much of a say in his costume quite yet. So upon hearing that the girls wanted to be angels, I decided it would be fun to dress Buddy as an angel too. That way, I could have my own little “choir of angels.” That would be fun! Would it be weird to have them sing Christmas carols on Halloween?
So on Wednesday, I unwrapped the costumes and began the process of transforming my kids into angels. (Not an easy process, mind you.)
Now, before I go on with this story, you have to know something about JJ. The middle of our three children, JJ is full of spunk and sparkle. She’s remarkably different from her older sister in many ways. If our children were poems, Boo would be rhythm and rhyme, in perfect iambic pentameter. She’s smart, organized, loyal, enjoyable, and (like her mother) a bit of a perfectionist. If JJ were a poem, on the other hand, she would undoubtedly be free verse. Or maybe a haiku. Something beautiful and fascinating that grabs your attention and makes you think.
And oh, how JJ makes me think. She has an unending assortment of spontaneous, profound questions that catch me completely off guard. Often in the mornings, before I’ve had my coffee.
This day was no exception. As I began putting on the layers of her angel costume—undershirt . . . robe . . . belt—JJ started asking questions.
“Mama, what are angels?”
Tying her white sash at the front of her robe, I answered offhandedly, “Angels are special beings created by God to worship and serve him.” Hmm, should the bow go on the front or the side? Maybe I should just tie it in a knot, instead of a bow. Do angels have bows?!?
“Mama, what do angels do?” Even at dawn-thirty, JJ’s mind was spinning as she was getting dressed.
I voted for tying a bow in the middle of the robe. “Um, let’s see,” I said, heading to her dresser to hunt for white tights that still fit. “The Bible says that angels are messengers from God, sent to help those who will inherit salvation. That means that angels give people special messages from God, and they help us.” This pair of tights is too small . . . This one has a run in it . . . Good grief, why didn’t I go through her tights when I changed out her closet this week?
JJ sat on the bed, wiggling her bare legs while I rifled through the tights. “So, can we see angels?”
Aha! This pair should work! I grabbed an off-white pair of tights (close enough) and started putting them on JJ as I answered. “Well, yes, honey. Sometimes. The Bible tells us about several times people saw angels. You know, like when the angel appeared to Mary to tell her the she was going to have a very special baby.”
“Jesus!” JJ interrupted, happily interjecting the answer while I cinched up her hose around her knees.
“That’s right, baby. And remember, when the disciples went to Jesus’ tomb, they saw two angels who told them that Jesus was alive.” I started racking my non-caffeinated brain. “Let’s see. And in the Old Testament, there’s a story of how God’s people were fighting a battle, and they were scared because their enemy seemed very strong. Then God opened the skies and let His people see the thousands of angels He had sent to help them fight the battle. And they won!”
“Wow, I didn’t know God did that,” JJ said, putting on her white sandals (since I already packed away her dressy white Easter shoes when clearing out her closet a few days ago—oops!).
That left us with the final touch to her angel costume—the halo.
As I brushed her hair in preparation for the halo headband, JJ asked, “Mama, what is God doing right now?”
Trying to brush out all the tangles without making her yelp, I answered in generalities, not giving her question much thought. “Well, honey, right now God is working out His plan for the world. He is sustaining His creation, drawing people’s hearts to come to know Him, taking care of all His children, and answering our prayers.” There, that should be enough brushing for now. Now where did I put that halo?
JJ handed me the halo, which she had been holding. She was clearly not satisfied with my answer.
“No, Mama,” she insisted, putting her hands on her hips and looking up at me in all her angelic glory. “What is God doing right now?”
Oh my. Now that was a big question out of such a little girl. My first instinct was to drift into Bible teacher mode, but how could I explain to a five-year-old that God, as an eternal spirit, is completely outside of time; that He accomplished His plan for the ages before the foundations of the world; and that to God, there is no “right now”—there is only an “always is”?
I knelt down to be at her level. I put down the hairbrush and looked her directly in the eyes as I answered her, this time, very carefully.
“Honey, right now God is doing lots of things. Right this minute, God is here with you, and He loves you very much. He is taking care of you, answering your prayers, and making sure you have all the things you need, like a home and food and a family who loves you very much. He made you as His very own special little girl, and He has an amazing plan for your life. And right now, He wants you to trust Him and love Him as He works out His perfect plan for you in His time and His way.”
“Oh, okay!” JJ said cheerily, apparently pleased with that answer. She bounced Tigger-like into the bathroom to admire her new costume in the mirror and top off the ensemble with some sparkly lip gloss.
Watching my spunky angel bound out of her bedroom, I couldn’t help but think . . .
Thanks for the reminder, God!