A List To See


Jennifer Wallace

When I first heard the song with the lyrics, “My eyes are dry, my prayers are cold, my heart is hard, my faith is old…” I was probably in grade 12 or my first year at Bible College. I was likely 18 or 19 years old.   The song by Keith Green was released in 1978 and had already been around for 16 or 17 years.   But the song was new to me and I connected to its message and sang it with enthusiasm. I was hardly old and didn’t have much reason to be hard and cold. Life was pretty good.

This year I will be turning 40.   I still connect to the song and I still say that I am not old and I don’t have much reason to be hardened. Life is still pretty good. Why do I sometimes feel my eyes are dry and my prayers cold? Why the disconnect?

I am surrounded by kids in my life.   I teach kindergarten. I have two kids ages eight and five. I teach a kids’ judo class. I work with kids at church. Sometimes I miss the wonder and excitement right in front of me, but there are moments, many moments, when I am so grateful that these little ones help me soften up. They lighten the mood. They add wonder.   I just need to pay attention.

Sometimes lists help me to remember just how sweet and blessed life is. Here’s my list of some wonders the kids in my life have helped me see:

That freckle—I am sure I must have noticed this spot before in my daughter’s eye and I love it!

Those math problems laid out before my son are awesome “Choose his own adventures” to be conquered. He jumps triumphantly when he arrives at each answer.

That first judo breakfall—it’s the thrill of being thrown through the air and landing with a loud slap on the mats with an exhale as an exclamation point.

Snowfall and puppies and my son—they bury their faces in the fresh whiteness over and over again not caring how cold it is, how silly it is, and how wet they will get.

The open hallway in our home is so inviting that somersaults must be done over and over again to get to the end.   Messy hair is no deterrent and is possibly an invitation as well.

A new kitchen experience with my daughter who is eagerly cooking her first shepherd’s pie and beef stroganoff. “We get to taste as we go?” her eyes alight as we pinch a piece of meat and add spice.

That weird stall from the car as we inch through an intersection after a light comes on my dash. This becomes an amusing point of interest in our day. We are not hurt and it just so happened that we were next to an auto mechanic shop. We make it in and it all turns out well. “That was fun!” the kids exclaim and off we go to school.

It is that delighted and shy smile my son gives to the mechanic later that day when he is told, “You get a date with Mom? Lucky guy!” as we head off to Starbucks and wait for the car to get fixed.

It is my students singing at full open throttle, “J’ai perdu ma tuque et mes deux mitaines! Ah si Madame savait ça—O’ La la!” while doing a mock Madame Wallace with their fingers wagging. They sing not knowing that this song has become a weird therapy over the years for all the lost articles of clothes I must retrieve in winter: mittens, toques, boots… They are having fun and so am I.

It is when we read the morning message together and I tease them. “On ne lis pas en maternelle!” We do not read in kindergarten! I joke that if someone finds out they will have to go to grade one. They love it and prove me wrong time and time again. They giggle and yell out the message with more than a little bit of sass.

Those science experiments–I simply must do more of them at home and school. They cannot fail even when they don’t go according to plan. We predict and we are surprised. I provide supplies and wonders abound.

Those Bible readings at home with our kids elicit responses to phrases like “the plank in your own eye;” they raise eyebrows and repeat funny expressions….scripture can sound weird at times—did I forget that?

And so my list continues… and so does the song, “What can be done to an old heart like mine? Soften it up, with oil and wine. The oil is you, your Spirit of Love. Wash me anew in the wine of your blood.”

There is a reason that Jesus did not push children out of the way: “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them. For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Kids help me wonder. They oftentimes embody Jesus’ Spirit of Love. They challenge my faith. They help me reconnect the disconnected.

For an inspiring video (just over an hour length) on the life of Keith Green, who in 1978 released No Compromise, “My Eyes are Dry” here is a link:


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