Freedom, Communication & Walkie Talkies

Main topics in this post:

  • Walkie-talkies as a way to enhance family walks, give freedom to explore, keep connection and have fun!
  • Balancing Freedom & Safety
  • the Value of Communication

Getting out into nature is a natural way for children (and adults) to exercise, learn and have fun. It is also a great chance for relationship building, times to walk and talk with each other and times to be quiet and away from distractions to have time with God.

While we love hikes in the woods, we had a small issue, one of our children loves to run. Our solution was that he could run until he couldn’t see us anymore (and thus we couldn’t see him) and then he needed to wait. This sort of took the fun out of scouting and exploring.

This past week we took several hikes into new areas, but with a very important change. We brought walkie talkies! This allowed our “runner” to scout way ahead, and yet be in constant communication. He could ask what to do if he came to a fork in the path. He could give us updates on rough ground ahead or when he saw a snake, etc. When we did take different routes, we were able to quickly identify and fix the situation. Everyone had a blast.

Yes, there is still a danger and if something bad happened it would take us a while to get there, but when balancing safety and freedom, we saw this as a good balance on giving more freedom and personal responsibility. We were in an area where I really doubt anyone would be waiting to hurt a child and our son has shown himself to be quite responsible, especially when he is keeping us updated on what he is doing and seeing.

We also had plenty of time to walk together as a whole family, or to be in smaller groups or two or three, etc., but having this freedom to let them run and explore really added to the family time.

This got me thinking about the balance of freedom and safety and the value of communication 

Freedom and Safety

For the past 2+ years the message of “safety” has been blasted into our lives. We don’t even have a TV and we have heard it repeatedly. (I really feel for those who have been driven into a state of isolated fear by this constant messaging of fear and control.) Benjamin Franklin is credited as saying, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Like my wife and I needed to evaluate freedom vs safety when letting our children run through the woods, our society could benefit from evaluating how much of our freedoms we are giving away for “Safety” and how we may end up with neither freedom or safety.

It also helped me to greater appreciate that our only true safety is in Christ.

Our child may be right by our side and get injured or have other dangers. In the same way, this world may fall apart. Tyrants may rule. We may face isolation, persecution and death. But God is still completely and entirely in control. He is sovereign over all things. It is only in him that we have either true freedom or true safety.

While we may like the feeling of control, only God can truly protect us and our children.

The Bible speaks often about resting in God as our fortress, rock, protector, provider and savior, however I will take an extreme example. (See also our post about Psalm 37.)

In Matthew 10:28, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Even in the worst case scenario of death (of us or our children), we are told not to be afraid. Death is still only limited to this life (which is so short). Our fear (speaking of a holy respect) is to be of God who has the power of eternal life and death.

This same God, who can “destroy both soul and body in hell” is also the one who gives, “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:22-26).

Our true safety will never be in our wisdom or strength, it is only in God giving us his own righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ!

Therefore, we are called to live in freedom, not in seeking our own safety. When considering that freedom, we are also reminded in Galatians 5:13-14, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Communication

As we gave this freedom, we greater appreciated the power of communication. We knew that our children were “safe”. While we couldn’t know what would happen with their next step, we could know that for the moment they were doing fine. They weren’t laying at the bottom of a drop off. No one had grabbed them. They were fine and having a great time. And we could relax and enjoy the hike.

On the flip side, this communication gave much more freedom and excitement for our children as well. When they encountered a fork in the road, they could ask us which way to go, and could know that we would be following them and eventually catch up. If they did get a little lost or go the wrong direction, they knew that we could call them back and be reunited. If they were to have a problem, get hurt, etc., they knew that they could call us. This communication brought constant connection, which in turn gave them more freedom, peace and joy!

God does not need a walkie-talkie. He always sees us. He not only sees us, he knows and is in complete control over what is around the next corner of our lives.

However, we need a “walkie-talkie”. We need communication with God. With all of the changes that are happening in our world and in our lives, my prayer has been following Solomon’s lead, “Lord, give me wisdom to know and wisdom to follow your ways for my life.” I am increasingly seeing my inadequacy. What should I do? When do I need to make sudden changes, when I don’t and can’t know all of the information and how it will turn out? Lord! Give me your wisdom and help me to follow!  I am like a little child. I need connection with my Father!

As I have communication and connection with God, through His Word and His Spirit, things make much more sense and I am comforted and encouraged by his character, presence and promise in my life.

(I have found a systematic reading of the Psalms to be a powerful way for God to speak his character, presence and promise into my life.)

My children have greater freedom, peace and joy when they are connected with me. My greatest freedom, peace and joy is when I am connected with my Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

A walk in the woods gives great opportunities to build relationships, with others and with God. It also gives time to face unknowns and to see that our only safety and true freedom is in Christ and to reflect on our need for him.

A few closing notes:

  • Again, the trails seemed to be fairly safe trails. We weren’t sending a young child to a crowded area of strangers by himself.
  • Technically, we weren’t only using walkie talkies. We had one GMRS radio (licensed) which fostered clearer communication over longer distances (though we were never that far away).

The Father Fortress

“How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” – Matthew 23:37b

When my three year old comes running over to drag me to make a “Baba Fort”, it is music to my ears. He still loves to be close and to feel the safety of the Baba Fort.

“What is a “Baba Fort”?” … I’m glad you asked. :o)

In its simplest form a Baba Fort is when my son lays on the couch and I am over him on my hands and knees. (Sort of like a mix between a “Child’s Pose” and the “cat” of “Cat/Cow” in Yoga, with my son underneath.) My head usually rests on the arm of the couch.

Some variations are that my hand can be a window that he can ask to open or close to look out or we may put a blanket over my back. While my seven year old will sometimes join him for a double wide fort (which probably looks quite awkward, but the goal isn’t truly that they are in the fort, but that they “feel” like they are in the fort). The variation that best involves all three boys (including the 11 year old), is the “Attack Baba Fort”. The “Attack Baba Fort” would be better named the “Defensive Baba Fort”, but “Attack” sounds cooler. For this variation one of the boys (usually the youngest is in the Baba Fort. The other two boys are attacking in various ways and the one in the fort is kept safe. They may be trying to tag him or shoot him with toy tarts, but the Baba Fort (aka: me) blocks and pushes them away with my outside hand or foot. Another may be that they are climbing on top of the Baba Fort while the little one is kept safe inside. One variation that is a little different is “Escape from the Baba Fort” (more like a prison). For this, they are in the Baba Fort and I close it up fairly well (depending on their age), and they try to wiggle their way out (and then come in and try again). We have all sorts of variations that develop. The point is that the youngest (or youngest two) feel the closeness and safety of being with their “Baba” (me), and the others get the fun of wrestling, attacking, etc. 

It is also nice that I can have conversations with the child in the Baba Fort and they feel that they are all alone in a safe world with me (although we are in the middle of the living room in the middle of the house).

The “Baba Fort” was discovered by accident one day. I was exhausted to the point of hardly being able to keep my eyes open and my youngest two children wanted to play. I don’t remember exactly how, but out of that the “Baba Fort” was born. I could close my eyes and just be there while all of the boys were busy either being in the fort, or climbing on the fort.

While I don’t have girls, perhaps it could be a “Baba Cloud Castle”. Really, it could be anything as long as the story is set into their imaginations (Baba Tank, Baba Cave, Baba House, etc.).

Now, I do want to caution that the “Baba Fort” should be coupled with other, more intentionally involved activities and not just as a way to justify lazy parenting, but it is great for some quiet time to be close with young children… or when you can hardly keep your eyes open.

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In Matthew 23:37, while Jesus is lamenting over Jerusalem, he reflects, “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” The heart of Christ is to be close to his children. Like a mother hen protects her defenseless chicks.

I know my desire to provide for and protect my children, to have them trust me and to provide for them while providing opportunities for them to grow. (As imperfect as my provision and protection are)

To Christ, I am the helpless child. Do I run to him, hunger for time with him in His word? Do I cast my cares on him (for he cares for me) (1 Peter 5:7)? Or do I try to make life work on my own plans and efforts? Christ longs to gather me into his gentle care.

One day the Baba Fort helped me to see Christ’s desire for us, to be close, to protect and provide, to be our source of strength and life.

I need to learn to live in the “Baba Fort” of my Heavenly Father, and to point to the true Fortress, who rules over the heavens and the earth.

A note to fathers: Whether your children are young enough for the “Baba Fort” or are older, we can be there to cover them with unconditional love and the sacrificial gift of time and connection. How are we doing at lovingly discipling our children as we point them to Christ?

Called to go, Willing to stay: A Blessing Counting Journal (11)

  1. Parental blessing (a)

    For the Lord is good;    
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5 

Thank you, Father!

In October, 2015, I started this blessing counting journal around the one year house-owning anniversary. The Lord put ten specific areas of blessings on my heart to record. By the time I am meditating on #9, the “parental blessing”, we are already back from our one-month trip to China over the Christmas break! Once again, I am grateful for the beautiful timing. I am reminded that no matter how much our hearts are stirred due to our current circumstances (good or bad), it all shall pass. It seems like ages ago when we were rebuilding the house, now that life has much more settled down. However, the heart lessons are still as fresh as yesterday. Interestingly, time in China in many ways resembled our time with all the construction going on around the house: lots of new things everyday, no set schedule, no set place for everything, great need for flexibility and wisdom in parenting, more time with our parents (or grandparents for the boys).


When we are pushed out of our comfort zone in parenting, we are more likely to fall back to our flesh, and idolize circumstances we used to live in. We need to be more reliant on our Heavenly Father in choice-making, attitude-setting, and following His teaching from His Word and leading in the Spirit. As a mom of two active boys, I fail so many times and feel inadequate, but I am even more blessed to grow along with them by the grace of my Father above.

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Yeah, we had the floor done before the baby started crawling!

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