The Playground

Journal 2010. Practicing the presence of Jesus is a worthy goal, but I don’t believe it means my mind must be focused 100% on Him every second of the day. I begin my day with Jesus, followed by the day’s activities where my awareness and conversation with Him ebbs and flows. Today I came to the end of a project in which I was totally focused and absorbed and then suddenly, abruptly, refocused on God. It made me think about relationships and a playground.

Watch a parent take a child to the playground. Some children let go of the parent’s hand quite readily and run off to play, totally oblivious to any potential danger—because they are keenly aware that the parent is nearby. But often throughout the morning, the child will run back to the parent for a snack, for a drink, with a skinned knee, for comfort, for delight (“Look at me! See what I can do”), for rest, for conversation.

The parent knows there is danger outside the perimeters. The child is aware of boundaries and off limits as instructed by the parent, but he has total freedom within the boundaries to choose which piece of equipment, which child to play with, how often and how long to play with each. Freedom within the boundaries. The child is conscious of the parent’s presence, even if he is not interacting with him every second.

And so I go about my day, resting, working, playing, interacting with others, but always aware of the presence of my Father. I never have to ask permission to play on a certain piece of equipment. It’s all permissible. But if I want to leave the premises, I better get His permission first, and I know He’ll accompany me if I do. My Father will always be there. And if I run away, He’ll pursue me. He loves me!

My boarding school playground in Nigeria, supervised by “Aunties” and “Uncles”

Scream Time

From my 2009 Journal. What makes a good story great? What details make it acceptable? Realism? What scenes are acceptable for children to watch? What stories will leave them with nightmares and fears? At what point or age or maturity do we allow exposure to “reality”? Some unfortunate children experience far too much reality for their age. Some are more sensitive to violence and others to PG rating content and others to language. How long can we or should we as parents or grandparents shelter their innocence?

I don’t think we can predict what that limit is for a child . . . until it’s too late. We were pretty strict about what movies we allowed our girls to watch; but it wasn’t until she was an adult, that one of my imaginative daughters reported having had nightmares of spiders and wolves from our bedtime story The Hobbit. Who knew!


These decisions for our children are messy ones for each stage of their growth. How can we push back against the culture? My girls are grown now, and I don’t have to grapple anymore with these questions. But soon I may be influencing grandchildren, and I need to know what limits and boundaries are best for them.

And now it’s 2020, and I have 4 handsome grandsons to love on. I find I don’t think much about these questions anymore because I’ve relinquished all control and decisions to their parents (I’m thankful they have good boundaries). And when the boys are solely under my care, I’m far more apt to engage with them face-to-face with table games and hikes and playgrounds and reading or telling non-scary stories than to indulge in screen time together—or as one grandson calls it: “scream time” (and I’ll never correct him!)