Slowing Down with Thomas the Train

My confession: For a long time, I was just too busy to be an attentive mom.

I was reminded of that fact a few mornings ago as my two-year-old son and I returned home and did our casual routine. Breakfast. Decaf coffee for me. Bible reading time. Checking my e-mail via phone. Routine accomplished by nine o’clock.

I felt a sense of, “Shouldn’t I be going somewhere today?” Then I remembered: It was Tuesday. I always went somewhere on Tuesday.

For six years, I’d attended a Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) meeting or Bible study every Tuesday morning at nine o’clock at my church. In recent months, I’d become aware that my time with MOPS was about to be over. I felt God tugging me away from this parenting ministry for unsure reasons. From sitting on the local MOPS steering committee to serving as a citywide MOPS training coordinator, I had lived and breathed the MOPS life – and loved it – for so long.

In my Bible reading one morning, I read in the fourteenth chapter of Luke about Jesus telling his disciples to “take up your cross and follow me.” To do that, the disciples had to put everything else behind Jesus – their parents, siblings, spouses, children and even their own lives.

I heard God speak loud and clear through those verses: TURN AWAY FROM YOURSELF.

Like I so often do, I debated God. “How do you expect me to do that?”

Did God expect me to turn away from my desires, my passions and feelings, my goals and ambitions? That felt like taking a trip and not being able to see the road or maneuver the steering wheel. Like God expected me to turn away from myself while Tuesday moved on and left me not knowing what to do. That felt so odd. To be completely, one-hundred percent selfless.

Before God could answer, my two-year-old son squealed, “Thomas.”

I turned around and saw him pushing his beat-up plastic train car on the kitchen floor. His favorite toy. His favorite show: Thomas the Tank Engine.

Left without an answer from God, I felt so unsure of how to spend the day. I didn’t  know what to do with a Tuesday morning without a MOPS meeting to attend or a Bible study to co-lead.

“Thomas,” my son squealed again. “Wa’ Thomas.”

This was two-year-old language for, “I want to watch Thomas. Get up and watch it with me.”

I dragged myself from the kitchen table, feeling so unfocused. My two-year-old squealed some more as I reached for the remote, flicked on the TV, and searched for Thomas the Tank Engine On-Demand.

Instead of spending the morning encouraging and being encouraged by my MOPS friends, I spent the rest of the morning watching a dozen closed captioned Thomas episodes. My son curled beside me, clutching his plastic train to his heart. I lay still and watched the model trains chit-chat with each other. With each “toot-toot” of an engine, I felt my sense of pride disappear.

I didn’t hear God’s audible answer to my question, but I did feel him with me. Cuddled in my arms, holding a train. My son had so wanted me to watch Thomas.

So I did that all morning.



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