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A day at the zoo – Lessons learned from Toddlers, Turtles and Penguins

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A few years ago, I took my children to the zoo one afternoon after church. Our local zoo has a free ticket day, once a year. Patrons bring an outdated phone book. The zoo recycles the books and families get free admission to the zoo. It saves us over $30, so I always make it a point to go with my children each year. They love seeing the animals.

This trip for me was like no other. This time I had my nieces with me and their mother. I was home-schooling not only my own children, but my two little nieces that year too, and this was our first field trip for the year.

I wore the hats of mom and teacher on this trip.  At the time, I was also the mother of a very active 22 month old little boy, Michael, who was determined to never use a stroller again, but take life at his own pace.

I think that’s one reason why God gives us children. Raising children requires patience, and if you didn’t have it before you had children, I think giving us children is God’s way of making sure we get it!

Children grow up so fast – at this writing, Michael is almost 6 years old. My children are my constant reminders to slow down and enjoy life.

That day, Michael could have cared less about the zoo animals. He loves the outdoors and he loves watching people. So while all the little girls were dragging my sister-in-law to see all the animals at break neck speed, I’m was lagging behind with Michael.

Michael had a sippy cup in one hand, a lollipop in the other and was strolling through the zoo slower than Moses in the desert, not watching the animals, but enjoying all the sites and the people around him. He loved it. “Who cares about the cheetahs and the monkeys? I’m outside, I’m free and there’s things going on all around me! COOL!!”
He’s incredibly smart and so observant. It’s amazing what he tunes into.

As we were strolling, I found myself observing the animals in whole new way.

Turtles – selfish, simple creatures. I think their primary existence consists of their desire, for food, sleep and personal satisfaction.

We visited the penguins too. They eat, they sleep, they swim.

I was really tired that day and I found myself envying the simple life of the turtles and the penguins. Wouldn’t it be great to just be sinful little creatures if for only awhile?

Well……. no, as I was reminded later, as I was sharing these thoughts at a ladies Bible study, turtles and penguins don’t have souls.
They don’t have the assurance of life eternal with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
They go through life simply doing what feels good, what instinctively feels right for them, and one day they will die and that will be it. They will cease to exist.

We as humans, as Sons and Daughters of the Father, as Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we were created with the purpose of love and fellowship, to put others before ourselves, to share love and be loved, to put Christ in the center of all we do. To grow and mature physically, emotionally and spiritually, becoming more like Him who created us everyday. To accept and to have the assurance of life everlasting, eternally. We will not cease to exist.

Lesson learned:

I needed to chill, and I lacked spiritual maturity.

No, I would not want to be a turtle or a penguin, but I needed to slow down a little bit, (like my son Michael), enjoy life a little more and spend more time enjoying life with God, my spouse and my children.

Everything that we do, all that we are and everything that we say or do will be accounted for someday, and that thought can be overwhelming and exhausting.

However, take heart, as Christians, we know not what the future holds, but we know who holds it. God is in control.

Michael had the right idea that day….. I’m outside, I’m free and there’s things going on all around me! COOL!!

Life is cool. God is cool. Live a life with no envy and no regrets. You are His, and although your life will never be as simple as that of the turtles and the penguins, it is important for us to acknowledge who is really in control and It’s Not Us!

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