Songs and Stories with My Daughter

When I was twelve, my family moved from the only home I knew, and one of the songs my parents played on repeat during that time was Ron Block’s “In the Palm of Your Hand.” Initially I despised the song because it reminded me that we were moving, and that my parents saw this as God’s leading so I couldn’t be mad about it. But soon I heard the beauty in the lyrics and took comfort in the truth that God held me in the palm of His hand, where “His grace provides for me.”

As I have sheltered in place with my husband and my daughter, I’ve gone back to what has comforted me, and discovered it also comforts my daughter. I don’t want my precious little girl living in fear of the future, and as I’ve seen so many people roar and rage about seemingly everything my own mind has been full with questions and fears. How do I protect my daughter from the scary things of the world? How do my husband and I raise our daughter to be confident in her place as God’s child in the face of a shaky present? My daughter recently started walking, and so even as I ponder these questions I have to chase her down hallways and around chairs. And there are books to read her, songs to sing, diapers to change, and hugs to give. Our little girl is blissfully unaware of all that is going on the world, and as I watch her delight in the taste of watermelon or the sight of our cat, my jumbled thoughts take some order.

As we have continued adapting to the ever-changing landscape of life over the past three months, my husband and I have played a wide variety of music for our daughter, hoping to whet her appetite for good and beautiful songs. Imagine my pleasure, then, seeing her enjoy Ron Block’s “A Living Prayer” and “Faraway Land.” She delights to hear his banjo playing. It is amazing. Seeing her bounce and vocalize to these songs, I’m so thankful for artists like Ron, who write songs with beautiful lyrics, rich music, and deep theology, and I remember God’s grace and care for me yesterday, and today.

As we have introduced our daughter to some of our favorite music, I’ve also shared her delight in the Getty Family Hymn Sing. Keith and Kristyn Getty have shared these each Tuesday night, complete with the enthusiastic participation of three of their daughters. These wonderfully candid and sometimes chaotic sessions are filled with hymns I know by heart, and that my daughter loves them has been such a balm. As I sing along with the Getty family – singing songs that have been engraved into my heart and mind from childhood – I pray that these words will be written also in my little girl’s heart, and remind her that God remains the same through all changes in life. During each hymn sing, the Gettys share songs and Bible passages that they are teaching their children and encourage those watching to sing with their own families. I often don’t know what to make of everything going on in our world today, but I can sing with my daughter and husband in my own home.

We have also had the pleasure of reading lots of books to our girl. I studied children’s literature in graduate school and long waited for the day when I would share so many favorites with my children. My daughter loves books and routinely asks for Corduroy; Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and I Know a Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello; to name a few. She knows these stories and loves them more every time we read them. The words are fresh to her each time we turn the page, and nothing soothes or delights her like these dear stories. Meanwhile, I’ve been revisiting familiar stories, like the Harry Potter series. I’m most of the way through Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I know what happens; I’m not going to be surprised. Yet reading about Harry, Ron, and Hermione battling evil reminds me that the dragons of our world will ultimately be vanquished by God. Reading about evil in our own culture can be overwhelming and depressing, but reading about evil in the form of fantastic beasts, and watching wizards and witches defeat it, gives me courage to face the dragons of the present and prepare my daughter to face them.

Even though everything seems different, there really is nothing new. While A.D. 2020 has been a truly unique mixture of pain, pandemic, and protests, generations of families have walked through trials in years past, and grown stronger through them. While I still don’t know how to make sense of it all, I realize that God has not called me to explain the times but rather point my daughter to Him in all times and circumstances. Through the beautifully crafted lyrics of Ron Block, and the joy of family singing and story times, I can show her our Good Father who remains with us and loves us always. I hope she loves these songs and stories throughout her life, and that they remind her of God’s care for her.

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