Move Beyond ‘Me’

The students in my Gifted and Talented program had just spent about fifteen minutes working on their list of 10-15 personal goals they have for their life when I then wrote the second part of the writing assignment on the oversized whiteboard:

Write 10 goals/purposes/desires that God has for your life.

I began to tell a story. “When I was about 20 years old and I was a student in the university – I wasn’t yet a teacher or a mom, hadn’t moved to Honduras yet, just a young student taking classes – I met with my mentor one afternoon to discuss and discern the direction my life would take. She had me write down a list of personal goals – just like what I just had you do.”


A couple students seemed suddenly bored, probably thinking This is a ‘be-all-you-can-be’ lecture, a ‘reach-for-the-stars’ encouragement speech. Heard it.

I continued, praying that something that I was about to say would penetrate beyond their rising and falling mental activity and settle in their heart.

“Well, I wrote my list and thought it looked pretty darn good. I handed it to her, proud of my neat list of personal goals, and, upon looking on it, she said, ‘Jennifer, this is terrible!’”

The wandering eyes suddenly snapped up to mine. They looked somewhat confused, but at least now they were paying attention. “She said, ‘This list has a major problem,’ and I looked at my mentor, not sure what she meant. She then told me, ‘Jennifer, each goal you have starts with ‘I want…’ I want this. I want that. I, I, I. What does God want?”

A light sparked in a few of the kids’ eyes, and I could suddenly read their minds: Oh, maybe God doesn’t want me to be a billionaire soccer star who only drinks Coca Cola, watches television all day and never gets old…Whoops.


“My mentor’s comment that day has shaped so many of my decisions since then. It’s not bad to want certain things, to have personal desires – God’s word says that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will fulfill the desires of our heart! – but we need to move beyond our own desires to ask the more important question of: What does God want from me?”

Now they were listening. Thank you, Father. I continued pacing, as much to keep up my adrenaline levels after not having slept well the night before as to capture these pre-teens’ short attention spans.


“Kids, the whole world is stuck on this question.” I point, using the dry erase marker in my hand to indicate the first question. “But it’s a trick. If I only look for what I like and what I want and what pleases me, we all know where I will end. A life filled with me, me, me ends in destruction.”

“And the good news is that if we move beyond the first question and begin the fervent and life-long search of God’s intended purposes in and through us, it’s much more fulfilling, and it leads us into abundant and eternal life!”

“If this question seems extremely difficult to you, I understand. It would have been for me, too, when I was your age. In fourth grade my life goals included owning a pet shop with a giant open-dog’s mouth built on the front where the shoppers would come and go. But don’t give up in the search! God’s will for us isn’t discerned one time in a wacky school assignment; keep discerning it everyday – next week, when you are in high school, when you’re thirty years old, when you can no longer walk!”


After encouraging the kids along in the task, I later read their responses. A ten-year-old girl wrote of the goals she senses that God has for her life:

  1. Help the sick
  2. Give food to people who live in the street
  3. Pray a lot
  4. Help handicapped people
  5. Not love money
  6. Be a doctor
  7. Not be racist
  8. Not be a liar
  9. Love everyone like I love myself
  10. Not steal


A fourteen-year-old girl answered the same question:

  1. Well, I believe that my purpose will be to sing and show through the music God’s love
  2. Be a mom to teenagers and children who need support
  3. Teach music or something else
  4. Have my own children and guide them on the correct path
  5. Be a counselor to people who need support
  6. Be a writer of encouragement for teenagers
  7. Listen to people’s stories who have suffered in this life…



An eleven-year-old boy wrote the following:

  1. Preach His Word to the whole world
  2. Help the needy
  3. Never be proud
  4. Do what is just
  5. Obey my parents
  6. Have a clean marriage
  7. Be faithful to Him and to my wife…


A ten-year-old boy:

…To not think that what I have is mine, To be humble, To know Who created me…


That’s Why We Don’t Have Television.

Recently we had a very special visit from a dear friend of mine and her husband, Ben and Kailin Craft. Our friendship dates back to the playground in first grade, and although we have not been close since middle school, the Lord has brought us back together during this season to encourage one another along His Way.

At our home we don’t typically receive many visitors, but when we do it is always a blessing to see how everyone gets involved to prep the guest room, decorate big posters, put together flower arrangements, and pray for those on their way to visit us. Below are several photos that were taken during their stay…


Me: “No! I don’t want to take family photos right now – we just came back from the river and we’re all sweaty and dirty! I need a shower, and Josue’s not wearing a shirt!”

Kailin: “But this is real life!”


“Kailin, have you already given your life to Christ?” – Jackeline, age 11


“So if Kailin and Ben are leaving tomorrow, I guess that means you weren’t able to convince them to stay.” – Gleny, age 10

Me: “Not yet, but we’ll keep praying.”


“I’m not ready to get married – I mean, I don’t even know how to wash the clothes!” – Jackeline, age 11



“Ben’s mom has a pet bird.”

The kids: “That’s so cruel. Birds should be free.”


 Jackeline, age 11: “Why can’t you two just stay here forever?”

Kailin, “Well, we have a home and jobs to return to.”

Jackeline: “You have a home and jobs?!”


 Kailin: “Jason, if you move the tadpole to a different part of the river, don’t you think he’ll miss his family?”

Jason, age 7: “No. At this age they can still move houses.”


Jackeline, age 11, to Kailin and Ben, who were preparing dinner: “Can you also make a salad?”

Kailin and Ben: “Well, I think with the pasta we have enough food for everyone.”

Jackeline: “Yeah, but it has chemicals.”


Ben: “Josue [the 6-year-old special needs boy] is the great teacher at the Living Waters Ranch.”


Kailin: “Good thing the kids don’t know that Ben is a chemical engineer, or they would get really upset [because Darwin has trained the kids to be big on organic farming].”

Me: “They just think he’s a regular engineer.”

Ben: “There’s no such thing.”

Me: “For us there is.”


The kids: “What did you and our mom do when you were little?”

Kailin, “Well, your mom was crazy…”


Ben: “I think it’s pretty cool that these kids are astounded when they hear that they were created by God and that he intends for us to be His light in this world, because in America we’ve heard it so many times that we oftentimes forget or lose the true meaning.”


 Darwin: “The marriage relationship between man and woman is exquisite and precious, and that is the relationship God desires with each one of us.”



 Kailin: “Ok, kids! We’re going to play a new game: lay down, and whoever falls asleep first, wins!”


[Looking out at the kids as they put on a broom-balancing, bow-and-arrow-shooting circus show in our front yard after lunch one day]: “That’s why we don’t have television.”

(Juggling eggs)

Me: “Now we don’t have to buy cheese or milk because our cow gave birth and Darwin milks her every morning at 4:00am.”


Me: “Ok, to start basketball practice you will do 53 laps up and down the stairs…”

The girls: “What?!

Me: “…Minus 48. Go!”


Gleny, age 10, exasperated as she hops into our truck after school, “Ugh, Mom, the kids in my class make me so mad!”

Me: “Uh-oh. What happened?”

Gleny: “They all love money! They’re like ‘Oh, when I’m big I want to make a lot of money and buy all this nice stuff’ and I told them, ‘It’s not about the money!’ and they just kept talking about how they want a big house and stuff, and I said, ‘What about God?! He’s the one who provides!’

Me, laughing as my heart swelled with gratitude toward God for the character He is forming within this little woman: “Oh, the voice of justice crying out in the fourth grade classroom…”


Notable Kids’ Goals

The following are the written personal goals of several of the students in my Gifted and Talented Program…


An 11-year-old boy:

  1. Go to one of the best universities to teach
  2. Discover cures for mortal diseases
  3. Be able to join the Air Force
  4. Stop delinquency and make the world a better place
  5. Discover the significance of planets’ deaths
  6. To be able to express my darkest feelings and secrets
  7. Go to the United States and be part of NASA
  8. Investigate the crashes of planes that are now lost at sea
  9. Discover if there is life on other planets
  10. Never give up in the pursuit of reaching my goals


A 12-year-old girl:

  1. Evangelize people (principally those in prison)
  2. Be better each day
  3. Be a teacher
  4. Be a protector of animals
  5. Be a protector of children who need it
  6. Help others
  7. Go and donate things to the needy
  8. Be a doctor
  9. Be a veterinarian
  10. Always pray for others


A 9-year-old boy:

  1. Be happy
  2. Be an actor
  3. Keep living in God’s hands
  4. Walk the Red Carpet
  5. Have children
  6. Travel the whole world
  7. Meet Ariana Grande (a singer)
  8. Raise the name of my country (Honduras)
  9. Have a clean heart that the Lord can enter
  10. Be happy with my wife
  11. Die and know the Kingdom of Heaven


An 11-year-old boy:

  1. As my first and most important goal, never separate from God’s path
  2. Never fall in adultery when I am big. Obvious.
  3. Study to be more intelligent
  4. Have a job that I really like and that pays me well
  5. Marry the woman God has for me
  6. Learn to play soccer like the best in the world
  7. Study at a good university
  8. Have the house of my dreams
  9. That my best friends may go on the good path
  10. That my children may be children of God and always serve Him
  11. Have a long life
  12. That God may every day give me more wisdom
  13. That I may never have financial problems
  14. When I grow, to be able to help my parents financially
  15. Always be healthy and my parents also and brothers


A 14-year-old girl:

  1. Marry, have children or adopt children who need a father and mother
  2. Go to Italy and study music, meeting new friends and maybe my future husband
  3. Write my own story going back as far as I can remember
  4. Speak of God and show His love and what He did for me during my childhood
  5. Write my own music…

Notable Kids’ Quotes on Faith, Life and Family


Jason, age 7, as I tucked him into bed one night and lovingly broke it to him that his glow wand would probably only last about a day before the synthetic light inside dies out: “Yeah, the things of this world just don’t last like the things of God.”


“When was the study of science created, and by whom? The study of mathematics?” – Diana, age 14


Jason’s written prayer for his future wife: “God, protect my future wife from evil. God, protect my future wife from the Devil’s lies. Protect my future wife from robberies. God, I ask you that she has good health wherever she is. God, protect my future wife so that she doesn’t focus only on outside beauty.”


Jason as we hop in our truck at 5:45am to go to school, and the windshield wipers clean away a thick, dark fog that had settled over the windshield in the night, revealing the dim morning light: “Look! It’s like something from God’s kingdom – first there was darkness, and now there is light.”


Me in response to Diana, age 14, after she shared with me how bothered she is with several of the students in one of her music classes who slack off and don’t pay attention even though their parents are paying for them to be there: “Well, I can tell you one thing. Their laziness may serve them now, but long-term –”

Diana: “You reap what you sow.”

Me: “Exactly.”


Gleny, age 10: “But, Mom, if I have the door shut while I’m in timeout I’ll feel without freedom.”

Me [Laughing]: “Of course you will! You’ve lost it!”


Part of Gleny’s written prayer for her future husband: “God, give [my future husband] strength and life so that he loves You. God, give him strength to not give up in what he does for You.”


Gleny, age 10, speaking in a very serious, even tone: “Mom, I need to talk with you in private.”

Me: “Oh, okay. What’s going on?”

Gleny: “Look, it was okay that you used to call me Little Gleny when I was smaller, but, well, I’m getting bigger. Now it’s just Gleny. No ‘little.’ Oh, and only the adults are allowed to call me ‘Wild Gleny.’ I don’t like when the other kids call me that.”


Diana, age 14, to me: “I’m frustrated because lately whenever there are problems with Josue or conflicts between us girls, all you say is ‘We’re learning.’”

Me [Laughing]: “Because we are!”


Diana, age 14, reflecting on the arrival of the 6-year-old special needs boy to our family who the first day upon arriving opened the shower curtain while Diana was showering and later snuck into her room and ripped up some of her cards: “When Josue came, I thought I just can’t put up with this kid, but after getting to know him, he’s stolen my heart.”


Gleny, age 10, in a written school assignment: “My dad loves my mom because Jesus died for us.”

Look Inside.

The week after I presented my students with the writing prompt about problems in our world that make them mad, I caught them all flat-footed by flipping the question.

With my back to my students, I began to scribble excitedly with large letters on the white board at the front of our furnitureless classroom:

What are some problems (sins) inside of you that make you mad? Why? 

Then I stepped away from the board, revealing the day’s writing prompt. Several of the kids immediately had pressing questions and doubts, as if their minds just couldn’t wrap around what I was asking of them. I laughed — we humans! — and began to explain in greater detail the fact that whatever evil exists in the world — all of the liars, the kids who bully, the people who ignore the poor, those who wage war — also exists within each one of us.

“Last week as I read and re-read your journal entries, many of you went on tirades against your classmates who make fun of you. And you? Have you ever made fun of others?” I looked out at about a dozen blank faces while one or two of the more mature students laughed along with me, already understanding where I was leading them.

“You said that one of the problems in our world is that people lie. Do you lie, or is it just everyone else?” I swept my eyes across the semi-circle of students before me, surprised by the fact that their fixed expression of utter confusion remained painted on their faces, so I continued.

“You angels! Ok, well maybe we don’t need to touch this topic, because it seems like it’s just everyone else out there who lies, steals, and commits sins.” Some of the students actually looked relieved, misunderstanding my good-humored sarcasm and thinking that I really was going to cancel the writing assignment.

After explaining a few more times and in several different ways that the writing prompt actually wasn’t impossible or some kind of trick question, they finally settled down and spread out all across the tile floor of our quiet upstairs room where we meet every Friday. I turned up the volume on the classical music playing from the little red CD player I brought in my teaching suitcase from home and began weaving in and around the students as they wrote, some sprawled out on their bellies to write, others sitting up comfortably against one of the walls, all munching on little candies that I deposited one-by-one on the open surface of their notebooks as the wrote.

Later that afternoon as class came to a close with rounds of chess and logic puzzles, I carried my (extremely) heavy black teaching suitcase downstairs and excitedly took out the kids’ journals, eager to see how they had responded to the prompt.

No! No. No. No. He didn’t understand. I closed the first notebook I had opened, disappointed that instead of recognizing his own sin, the student had continued his tirade about his mean classmates who bully him. It’s not about what they do. It’s about what you do. No! I thought. Maybe the next kid will understand.

I then opened the next brightly colored notebook in the large stack, quickly flipping past prior writing assignments to find today’s. My heart sunk upon reading the first sentence, and from there my eyes skimmed the rest of the page-and-a-half answer in frustration. How can we be so blind? This student, too, continued with their long list of complaints about all of the evil out there, basically repeating the same that she had written the week before about the problems in our world that make her mad.

I went through five or six journals with the same results, and my heart sank. We are so far from understanding who Christ is. We cannot accept His forgiveness until we can recognize that we need it. We are blind to our own hypocrisy, our own sin, even from childhood. Lord, help us to see.

I continued onward, almost frantically opening and closing the journals one after the other, hoping for at least one student who understood that the evil that is in the world roams in his own heart.

And then, with only a few journals remaining, I opened the journal of a new student in the program, a beautiful 10-year-old girl who rarely speaks and could be the poster child for good school behavior. My heart leapt as my eyes travelled across her answer:

“Sometimes I am a hypocrite, and sometimes I lie, and I almost always yell, and I’m mad. Sometimes I have bad feelings towards others, and I fight. Sometimes I make fun of others, and sometimes I play too rough. And sometimes I do not fulfill my promises.”

My lips let out an audible “Whoa!” in the empty school auditorium and I sat back against the wall, overcome with joy. If this little girl — who by all human standards seems ‘perfect’ — can recognize her own sin, none of us have any excuses! 

I continued onward, this time with renewed hope. I then proceeded with another new student’s notebook, a 9-year-old boy. His response:

“Some of my intimate problems that I have committed are that I have lied; I have committed a lot of errors and I accept it. But I know that Jesus Christ will give me strength…Sometimes I laugh at others and that is not correct…Today I was reading the Bible and there I found the Word of God and I understood that our errors can be forgiven by the Lord so that we have eternal life. I am a human being like everyone else, but if we want eternal life we have to follow the way of our Lord Jesus Christ. And I accept all of my problems…”

I let out a long, pure laugh — a sigh of relief in joyful form. Thank you, Father.

The following notebook, a 12-year-old girl:

“Well, I lie. I am not perfect — only God. But when I lie they are ‘white lies’ (so they say), but a lie is a lie, so I repent. Another problem is that I am resentful and it is difficult for me to forgive others. When someone bothers me, I become sad and I start to think of all the wrong they have done me and say, “What a bad person he/she is; I will never speak to him/her again,” but I always end up forgiving them and that is good because as I forgive them God will forgive me. Another thing is that I lose my patience quickly…As it says in the Bible (well, Jesus), you should not judge others if we, too, have sin in us (and it is much bigger than that of other people’s.)”

I then cradled in my palms the last of all the journals, and carefully opened it. The 14-year-old author of it contents wrote:

“One of the problems that makes me mad is…Lying: When I lie to other people. It makes me furious because it is not good. Sometimes I talk about the other people who lie, but I am another one…Rebellious teenagers: this is something that pains me a lot because when I was with my biological mom I always disrespected her and became very rebellious with her…Now I have nightmares about when I disrespected my biological mom and I cry because I did not take care of her when I was with her…Perfection: It makes me mad because immediately when I begin to focus on the perfection of my beauty I forget about God, and I am slapping Him in the face. It makes me very mad when I do this, because I have not wanted to focus so much on physical beauty. May God forgive me…”


1 John 1:8-10: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

What are Some Problems in Our World That Make You Mad?

“What are some problems in our world that make you mad? Why?”


That was the prompt I presented to my students a few weeks ago. Each student then dedicated twenty minutes to answering the question in their free writing notebook independently of the other kids. Some of their responses were…


“Sometimes we humans think that we’re everything, but that’s not true. Sometimes children and adults don’t have anyone who values them because the people make fun of them and don’t care what happens to them. There is a lot more…and all of this makes me mad.” – Boy, age 9


“Rebelious teenagers, because they lead others down the wrong path.” – Girl, age 12

DSCF1934 “One of the problems that really makes me mad is abortion because it is a terrible thing to kill innocents. They were created by God.” – Girl, age 14


“Violence because it is not correct and God does not accept it, plus it makes a lot of people suffer…” – Boy, age 11

DSCF1939 “One of my problems is that some of my classmates hit me whenever they want and they don’t respect me…It seems like the only solution is to beat them in a fight…Maybe even though it’s not the best solution it is the only one that works. I hope other solutions exist.” – Boy, age 11


“Men’s machismo towards women makes me really mad, but the question is Would they want other men to do that to their mom, sister, wife, or principally to their daughter? What men have in strength women have in brains and in love, friendship, care, affection and respect to their neighbors.” – Boy, age 10


“People that believe that when they do something bad no one sees them, but there is a Glorious Father in heaven who sees everything and everyone.” – Girl, age 12


“That they promise you something and then they never fulfill it.” – Boy, age 11


“Rape because it takes away the happiness of young women. It leaves them pregnant and they don’t know what to do.” – Girl, age 14


“The brain has limits and we cannot get as mad as we want and say what we think…our energies tire and we have to rest sooner or later…There are limits in everything and for everyone…Some deaths are brought about just for fun…I know that God wants me to cooperate in something important…No one is safe here, and that’s why I know that one day justice will be done, and that day I will be ready to help in various ways – hunger, delincuence, sickness…Everyone wonders why there cannot be peace all the time, everywhere…One day there won’t be any problems – there won’t be hunger or evil, only a paradise, and God wants us to be in that place with Him.” – Boy, age 11


“There are a lot of problems in our world. There are problems of war, hunger, bad feelings towards others, people who forget about God. Well, we all forget about God in some moment of our lives. Sometimes I ask myself: “Why is there evil in the world? Why does everything always have to be WAR in our lives and world?” It makes me very sad that there are poor people, needy, without food or shelter and without parents or relatives, or that are abused…” – Girl, age 12


[Revelation 21:4, talking about the coming kingdom of God]: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”



Go Tell Her That You Love Her.

A few days ago most everyone in our household got a haircut — including myself. I stood in front of the only big-enough mirror we have, which happens to be propped up in the bathroom of our schoolhouse. Gleny and Jason perched on the counter beside and behind me, eyes wide.

“I’ve gotta see this!” They were quite impressed that I was going to cut my own hair with nothing more that a pair of scissors and damp curly hair.

As I got near the end of the 5-minute job, I held out a few strands and offered them the scissors, indicating exactly where to cut. It was a fun time.

The following day was not so fun in regards to hair and things of the sort.

Gleny asked me for a certain three-ponytail braid-style hairdo that I do for her frequently, and after executing it well, she reached behind her head, felt how short her ponytail was after I had cut it the day before, and broke down in tears. Frustrated, I said, “Look, you asked me for this hairdo and I did it. If you didn’t want it, you shouldn’t have asked me.”

She threw herself in the hammock on our porch, and shut out the world for a long while, screaming, “I don’t wanna talk right now!” Then she got up, emphatically taking the pony tails out of her hair, and storming across our large front yard like a wild woman with an unruly bob haircut and mismatched clothes.

I watched her through the window as I continued working on some project on the wooden table in our living room. Bitterness creeped into my heart as I justifiably thought, How ungrateful. She better not go crying to Jenae and ask her to re-do the hairdo I just did. I have half a mind to go over there and chew her butt.

Go tell her that you love her.

What? God’s voice whispering through my tempestuous conscience. Yes, that would be very sweet, but she doesn’t deserve that. Maybe next time, when I’m not so bothered. Why is she crying anyway? Her hair looked fine!

Go tell her that you love her.


I paced, entering our small, cave-like bathroom, searching for some reasonable excuse not to obey what I couldn’t deny was a direct order from God to my hardened heart.

I couldn’t find an excuse, so my clenched-fist will surrendered itself, falling into the bent posture that it frequently fails to maintain.

I then walked directly over to Jenae’s porch a couple hundred yards away where Gleny sat, hair tragically disheveled, legs pulled up to her chest as the wooden rocking chair supported her in her despair.

When she realized I was coming for her and not just to swing by to greet Jenae inside, she sat up uncomfortably, looking at me as if I was about to chew her butt for her extravagant display of unnecessary emotions.

If only she knew.

I got real close — a little too close for a butt-chewing — squatted down so that we were eye-level, and rested my face on my long, crossed arms atop the rocking chair’s armrest. “Gleny? I love you.”

Ok, there, God. I did it. Now I can go.

But I didn’t go. Once you take that initial step of obedience, the next step and the next seem to make more sense.

I reached out and swept her crazy bangs from her sweaty forehead. “What happened, Gleny?”

She stopped crying and we started a genuine conversation that lasted several minutes until I took her hand in mine and we both decided to get up and take a walk.

Later that night after she got out of the shower she came to me and said, “Forgive me, Mom, for complaining today and having a bad attitude.”

I smiled, by now fully in-tune with God’s will for my relationship with this little lion, and said, “Gleny, you’re allowed to be sad. You don’t have to ask forgiveness for that.”

Sex Education: Early and Ongoing

So Friday afternoon as I was cutting my seven-year-old son’s hair on our porch, he looked over at our year-old female German Shepherd dog and casually asked, “What’s happening to her right now happens to you, too, every month, right, Mom?”

Oddly enough, the question didn’t surprise me because he has asked it before, and we’ve held an open, on-going discussion about menstruation ever since.

Leaning into whatever ounce of wisdom God has granted me, I began to respond, this time with more detail than before: “Yeah, that’s right. It’s because all females – human and animal – pass through a similar process because we’re capable of producing new life. It’s not a problem and it’s not something bad. It’s because we’re female, and God has designed us to hold new life within us. Someday when you’re a little bit bigger, I’ll go into more details.”

He sat still as I continued clipping his hair into a perfect buzz cut. A few silent seconds passed by, and he seemed content with my answer but willing and eager to accept more, so I thought Why not today? and gently pressed onward.

“Well, the reason behind menstruation is that what comes out is what would have gone to feed the baby and help it grow were the woman or female animal to be pregnant. But if she’s not pregnant, her body doesn’t need the fluids to make the baby grow because there isn’t one, so her body gets rid of them.” Gleny, Jason’s ten-year-old sister who was playing nearby on the porch, began to inch over on a little four-wheel donkey toy to hear the juicy details Mom was sharing.

“For example, someday if I get pregnant, I won’t have menstruation for the nine months that the baby is growing in me, because the baby will use those fluids to grow.” With that his eyes shot upward to make eye contact with mine as if caught off guard by this new information.

“So Aunt Aracely doesn’t have menstruation right now?” He immediately made the connection between this newfound realization and the fact that a married member of our faith community is pregnant.

“Yeah, that’s right.” I began trimming over his ears as he continued sitting impressively still under my bed-sheet hair-cutting cape with a clothespin to hold it shut at the base of his neck.

“Also, your elder sister Diana already has this happen to her every month because her body is changing and she’s becoming a woman. I think mine came for the first time when I was 12 or 13. I used to get kind of grossed out or embarrassed and didn’t want to talk about it, but there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s normal.” I tried not to laugh out loud with the scissors in my hand and two pairs of eyes glued to me as my mind darted involuntarily to the first time my mom gave me the facts of life when I was nine years old. After bringing me into the know about menstruation and sex with a lot of love and wisdom, I looked at her, horrified, and asked in a shaky voice, “And you and Dad do that?” When she assured me that, yes, they did, I said, “Don’t even look at me” and shut down on the topic for several years.

I then carefully addressed the fact that some women cannot get pregnant, and that this can be a cause of great sadness. It’s no one’s fault; it’s just something that sometimes happens. Both of my listeners seemed genuinely sad, and then I added, “But God gives us many different ways to cultivate life and raise children. Some women get pregnant and raise their own biological children; others raise children that God brings to them through other circumstances.” They both seemed content, and all three of us exchanged sincere comments on the subject.

Realizing that we travelled long and far from my second-grade son’s simple question about our dog in heat, I smiled and said, “Do you have any more questions, or does all of that make pretty good sense?”

He smiled a toothy, contented grin as I squatted down in front of him, eye-level, and he said, “It makes pretty good sense.”