We have a special guest blog today from our friend, Mary Anne Quinn. She is a reading and learning specialist and an Immanuel Prayer facilitator. Mary Anne has been helping families thrive – educationally, emotionally, and spiritually – for thirty years. In addition to teaching and writing, she offers workshops for adults and kids on building secure attachment for early childhood programs, homeschooling groups, and Sunday schools in the Chicago area.
It all started with discouragement. A few years ago, as I settled down to pray in my room at a retreat center, I replayed in my mind the song lyrics I had been singing along with the radio on my hour drive. Every other song seemed to express appreciation for the tenderness and comfort of being held by God. I felt confused and frustrated. Not how I had planned to start my retreat, but I was there to connect with Jesus, so I curled up on the bed, bowed my head, and let my tears fall. I poured out to him my longing to experience his embrace as something real, not just words floating out of my radio. “What does that feel like, Jesus?” I asked. “If I can’t physically see, hear, or touch you, how can I know what it’s like for you to hold me?”
A scene popped into my mind. I saw a mother sea otter floating on her back, with her pup nestled on her tummy. I was drawn by Jesus’ invitation to use my imagination to put myself in the place of that little pup. I allowed myself to feel the mother otter’s paws wrapped close around me. The steady rhythm of her heartbeat and the gentle rocking of the ocean waves soothed my ruffled emotions. I listened to her soft cooing close to my ears and the noisy calls of the seagulls overhead. I tasted the tangy saltiness of the air. I felt sheltered and a new sense of belonging.
“Jesus, is this how I know your embrace?”
“It’s one way, dear child of mine.”
“It’s a good way, Jesus. I like it!”
God used the image and experience of being snuggled by a mother otter to give me a tangible experience of what it is like when he wraps his arms around me. I felt his tenderness towards me as his own beloved child.
Later, in my time away with God, I found myself pondering whether this living illustration could help young children, as well as big people, to connect with his love. What other pictures might he have painted in the mural of this world he made for us? I started researching interactions in animal families and in Grampa Gorilla, Auntie Elephant, Papa Goose, and even Mama Alligator, I discovered that God has painted pictures of his love and care throughout his creation.
With a heart to share my discoveries and help families build secure attachment with God and each other, I launched All His Kids, an online community and free monthly magazine for sharing stories of wonder and delight with kids – and kids at heart – because we are all His kids. Each issue includes a picture of God’s love for adults (this month’s issue, Mama Otter – A Picture of God’s Embrace), a shorter version you can share with any young children in your life, and activities for big and little people to build joy together. You can check out All His Kids and subscribe to the zine at all-his-kids.com
I also invite readers to share their reflections and experiences with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and feature responses in the next issue. I would love to hear from you: Where have you discovered God’s pictures of love for you revealed in his creation? How do you experience God’s embrace? I have a Kids Page on my website where kids share artwork, stories, photos, and even jokes and riddles, that relate to the monthly themes and activities. This month’s themes are Sea Otters and Hugs.
Next month’s issue: Grandpa Gorilla – Good Shepherd of the African Rainforest
I hope you will have fun and be blessed.