I have to admit, I am still kind of bitter.  After all, it was obviously for me.  I noticed it the moment I stepped into the room.   Amazing.  I had never seen one like it before.  All the necessary accessories.  Just the right size.  I had always wanted one.  It sat so serenely next to one wall underneath windows which allowed the morning sun to shine down on it.  A spotlight emphasizing its beauty.  Every day, I gazed longly.  Each morning thinking that THIS was the day. Yet not ONCE during the ENTIRE YEAR did I get to go near it.
Now, don’t get me wrong.  I enjoyed the other activities.  Tracing letters and coloring pictures.  Painting on large sheets of paper clipped to a giant easel.  Having milk and graham crackers.  But SERIOUSLY people!  A PRETEND KITCHEN SET smack dab in the middle of my kindergarten classroom was meant to PLAY with!  WHO creates something that MAGICAL and expects a girl to simply stare at it all day?
This past month many of our volunteers were encouraged to take time off to spend with family and relax.  And last week I also took time off to do the same.  It had been a year since I had done so but no worries – apparently it is like riding a bike – I picked up the whole vacation-ing thing almost immediately.  However, despite being in a wonderful place with my fabulous family, I at times felt a bit of guilt.  Did I deserve a vacation?  What about all of the “stuff” back home – the people and tasks and problems that I left behind but cared so much about?  Was I wrong for getting away from that, even if it was just for a few days?
As I have continued processing these questions, even once I returned home, I thought of Genesis.  Of God.  How after six days of creating, He rested.  Now, while I have always known God didn’t get TIRED from all the creative stuff, I never really pondered what that seventh day looked like.  I mean, I don’t know what He did…probably GOD things….I never gave it a lot of thought.
But then I flashed back to a time many years ago when I had three children under the age of three.  A daughter age 2 and newborn twin boys.  And despite have three kids in the house, I can tell you there was NOT MUCH PLAYING going on back then.  One day in particular, I looked at a little girl who was going stir-crazy from being cooped up indoors and two babies who were bundles of endless needs and I felt like giving up.  This is NOT FUN.  And while I knew it was not going to be fun all the time, I sat there in the middle of my messy house with my frazzled brain and I made a decision.  I walked into the boys’ room and selected two bright, striped, jumpers with blue whales on the front (I still have ‘em).  I marched into the family room, stripped each baby of his plain, boring white onesie.  Then I put those cheerful, adorable clothes on my boys and took a long look.  And I smiled.  I felt better.  That night, I ordered in pizza and introduced my daughter to the joy of “The Sound of Music.”  I decided I was going to be intentional about enjoying the gifts God had given me.  Even if it took work – physical, mental, emotional – to make that happen.  And the crazy thing?  It WORKED!
Now God didn’t need to be cheered up or encouraged after making all the cool stuff He made.  And He didn’t need to be reminded that it was amazing.  But, what if on that seventh day, He did something else?  What if He looked at all the beauty and the wonder and He ENJOYED it?  EXPERIENCED it?  What if He felt the sand as only HE could?  Stood on mountain tops as only HE could?  What if He smiled?  What if He LAUGHED?
And what if a key part of our view of “resting” included PLAYING – not like checkers or tag – but truly experiencing the goodness of our Heavenly Father.  See, I believe we were all made in God’s image.  Yes, we are sinful and messy and all that, but there are a multitude of ways we reflect the image of our Creator.  And the gifts in our lives are not meant to be taken for granted.  Just looked at.  They, just like that wondrous toy kitchen set, are made to be experienced.  Enjoyed.  Even when it is not easy.  Even when it seems we don’t have the time or the energy or the feeling.
So, I have a challenge for you.
Look around at all you have been given by God.
And take some time to play.
Even if you have to work at it.
Melinda Lamera
Sun Grove Children’s Ministry