The kids shared a bedroom throughout their toddler years. Usually we lived in one two-bedroom rental house or another up until buying our first home when Sarah was in second grade and Caleb was in first. This shared space made bedtime an efficient ritual of teeth-brushing, prayer, and serenading them to help them relax. I'm not sure how my signing voice would've put them at ease, but they often made requests. We were heavily involved in church at the time and most of musical diet consisted of contemporary Christian music. The running set list included selections like:
"Go Light Your World," Kathy Troccoli
"I Want to Be Just LIke You," Phillips, Craig, & Dean
"Where He Leads Me I Will Go," Twila Paris
"Sometimes He Comes in the Clouds," Steven Curtis Chapman
"Sometimes Love," Chris Rice
There were others that have unfortunately faded from memory, but what remains vivid is me sitting on plastic Little Tikes chair between their beds and singing while Sandy prayed with them. We wanted to instill values of love and faith in them at an early age with the hope those values would carry them into adulthood. One reason I personally drawn to the church was the emphasis on love for one another. The lyrics to one of the songs above, "Sometimes Love," expressed what I felt:
Is our spinning backwards
What has brought about this change?
Can't you see that people aren't the same
Wish I was dreamin'
And could wake up from my sleep
And find us all the way we used to be
'Cause the love that used to be is dyin'
Is anybody even tryin'
And I don't know, I don't know why
But something in soul is cryin'
I've always been terrible at prayer. The words feel forced and Iack eloquence. Worse, it's as if I'm just saying the same things over and over. Songs have been my prayers and ones like "Sometimes Love" helped me in a way my words couldn't. That's why it always was one of my very favorites to share with the kids. Caleb requested it often and I was happy to oblige.
I've always believed we're all in this together. Every single one of us. We need each other. People need people. That requires love and love sometimes asks us to do things that others are unwilling to do. The chorus of "Sometimes Love" says that sometimes love has to drive a nail into its own hand. Sacrificial love that puts the needs of others ahead of self. Servant leadership. Humble devotion. Those are qualities I hoped to emulate. Often as a parent, I haven't always lived up to the values Sandy and I hoped to instill in our children and that's a weight I carry. My prayer for Caleb as we prepare for Saturday is that the value of sacrificial love is one that sticks.