Midnight Snack!

midnight snack

For a little over a year, I have been regularly telling my children bedtime stories that I have been writing. As I have shared these stories with family and friends, they have encouraged me to keep a written record of the stories. So…today, I am creating a new category/ section on my blog called “Midnight Snack” just for these stories. I remember many of them, and I am going to ask my kids to help me remember the ones that may not immediately come to mind.

I am excited to share these narratives with you in the coming days! Stay tuned!

-Landon DeCrastos

Kicking Goliath’s Butt

Kicking Goliath's Butt

I was in kindergarten. I remember this because it was the first year I was in school with all of the “big kids” at the elementary I attended. If you know me very well, you know that I am very much a peacemaker. I don’t jump into conflict, but if I needed to fight for my family I could unleash my powers for good. In every other situation, however, I am known as a gentle and even-headed human being. When I was a child, however, things were a little different. My brother and I grew up down south and fighting was often a way we greeted our friends. In other situations, it was a result of general horseplay that may have gone too far.

I had a temper when I was in elementary school. I was small for my age and I was picked on frequently, so that helped me develop an anger that could be accessed quickly. I was known for throwing some punches at kids who tried to give me a “wedgie” or even at those picking on someone else. I won’t go into detail about why that bothered me, because that will be for another blog post; but it did. My brother, knowing that I was idiotically fearless would stage fights on the playground, asking larger kids to challenge me to a dual.

Little did these kids know that they were about to battle with a champion…

One morning, I was dropped off to go to school. It was really no different than any other day. This 4th grader (who looked like he had been held back a couple of years) was bullying some kids before school, and it was only a matter of time before I was on his radar. He was about 12 feet tall and had a mullet that wasn’t even fashionable in 1989.  You could see the meanness in his eyes, and that day he was on a warpath. After pushing a kid down I happened to be in the area and he pushed me. I stood up to him, and he start throwing punches immediately. The Hulk in me came out but I couldn’t land many jabs with my wingspan and without a ladder. So, he knocked me down.

One thing you should know about me is that, when it was library day at school, I only checked out two types of books. The first type of book was anything dealing with learning more about animals, and the second were martial arts instruction books. Naturally, I was an expert in many fighting techniques because of this interest.

So, here was this mulleted giant of a human being, about to serve me my first defeat. I realized that the only way I was going to take him out was if I aimed low (don’t worry, this is not ending the way you think it is, so you are safe to keep reading). He threw a punch and I ducked, and swept my foot around to take his legs out from under him. He fell and the earth quaked. I was victorious. When he fell, though, he hit his head on a bench and cried. My heroism triggered a round of applause. Wouldn’t you know that this was the exact moment that Mrs. Mason (the school principal) walked up to witness Goliath being slain? He immediately pointed at me and the story he told sounded a little different than the one I experienced. Luckily, I only got a warning with a finger in my face. Other kids who were bullied by him had spoken the truth, and stood up for me. If it were up to the large boy, however, I would have been tried, convicted, and sentenced.

We are seeing these same type of attacks daily by the enemy who hates our soul. Satan, prowls around looking for trouble to stir up, and when things get out of hand the author of lies can point the finger at the body of Christ as the sole source of blame. He tries to distract us from the truth. It is difficult for the world to believe that God is good when they look at the world and see such turmoil. Their focus is misplaced, however, because we know, as Christ-followers, that every human being has free will and God has sent an answer for suffering if we will only accept it an embrace transformation. So, the enemy will stir up trouble only to point the finger at God when things don’t seem right.

As Christians, we are at war with principalities of the dark. To fight this, we are called to take up arms in the form of love, grace, and mercy. Our goliath could be our self-perception, our doubt, or even our need for growth.  Get angry, and fight.

Love you all.

-Landon DeCrastos

Why My Kids Are the “Sheltered Ones”

Why My Kids Are the -Sheltered Ones-Bedtime seems to be a place of interesting conversations with my children. On one hand, I love that they enjoy talking with me, on the other hand, sometimes I just want to clock out for the day from being a parent (let’s be honest) so I am ready to tell the story, pray the prayer, and get out. There are times with my son, though, I stick around longer to field any questions he has stored up throughout the day. Often they are whimsical, and other times they are pretty deep. One day, he had questions that I couldn’t easily answer without introducing him to a world that didn’t exist for him as of yet.

This day was one that we had driven a lot around downtown Indianapolis. We had our fun, ate our meals, and came home to pour ourselves into bed. Children, as you know, don’t always feel that sleep is as urgent as we do. My son started the “question machine” and by the nature of the questions, I could tell that I was going to be there a while. The inquiries ranged from the intricacies of the Power Rangers storyline to ones deeper, and more theological in nature. The last question led to an explanation I wanted to avoid.

“Dad, today when we were out, why were people sleeping on the sidewalk”. I wasn’t really understanding what he meant until I thought about our day. He was speaking about the homeless people that we passed. I had the uncomfortable conversation about how there are some people who do not have homes, enough food, or even a family. For my son, this conversation ended in tears, and his heart visibly broke for these people. I felt convicted, because I had been so desensitized to the sight that I didn’t realize he noticed.

At first, I felt horrible that I had never exposed my children to this concept. Then, I realized what happened because I didn’t. My son, was so heartbroken by the sight that he wanted to do something about it. Granted, there could have been a better and more deliberate way I presented the concept to him before this, but the fact that he was sheltered from it caused him to see that there was something not right. I also realized we need to speak about this more in our home.

The same can be said about so many other areas of life. Cursing, sexuality, graphic violence, and addictions…the list could go on. I shelter my children from these things for 2 main reasons. First, because I want to guard their hearts from pollution, and secondly because I want them to enter a world in which they are so thrown off by sin and pain that they recognize that it is not normal or “okay”…thus desiring to make the world better. I want them to be emotionally shattered by injustice so that they develop a holy anger to make things right. Also, I want to be the one (along with my wife) that helps them navigate their feelings in a healthy way when they do encounter the unknown. That way, we can also shelter them from hating those who are different or looking down on those who they don’t understand.

Why have we decided, as a nation, that is is now okay to slowly poison our children’s souls so they are immune to the “real world” when they enter it? Why have we decided it is okay to steal our children’s innocence by forcing them into a life of pain from nearly day one?

Now, I want you to understand my heart. In no way am I judging the methods by which other parents raise their children, because judgement involves condemnation and sentencing. What I am saying is…I want people to know my strategy and passion, so that they can either embrace or disregard based on their own views.

So, my kids are the ones that have never said or heard course language, watched that one show, and who call adults Mr. and Mrs. I understand you are concerned that they may rebel due to strictness, but I will pray on how to handle that if it happens. I have a great support system with my church, family, and friends that will come in handy during this time. Plus, they have free will and their own individual life purposes, but I want to show them it is possible to be a Godly person in private and in public. Parenting is so much more than simply keeping our kids alive until they leave home. It is a process in which we pour ourselves into them and invest in the future of humanity.

That’s my take on it. Take it or leave it.

Love you all.

-Landon DeCrastos

My Greatest Nightmare

Tonight, I rolled around on the floor with my daughter and played Hide N’ Seek with my son. It was so much fun, and while we played we laughed and got to bond in a special way. As I was playing with them, I reflected on my greatest nightmare. Yes…that’s right…..my greatest nightmare. I know that sounds somewhat odd, but to be honest if you have followed this blog for any amount of time you already know I sometimes reflect on things that are unusual. So…my greatest nightmare? Allow me to explain.

8 years ago, a movie came 0ut that I could only watch a couple times. Some considered it somewhat of a dramatic comedy, but when I watch it this film scares me. The movie is called “Click”.

The premise of the story revolves around Adam Sandler’s character, Michael, who discovers a magic remote that controls his surrounding environment. He has the ability to pause, and fast forward time. When he is impatient he simply fast forwards time to a more desirable event. The problem is, this remote saves his preferences and begins to predict when he will use its powers. So, when it senses conflict it will automatically skip “scenes”. In the story, Michael, overuses this feature and finds himself snapping out of a trance nearly 20 years in the future. Michael had been on autopilot this whole time and, as a result, his marriage was over, and he doesn’t recall the childhood of his own kids.

I had a dream a few weeks ago that I woke up and my children were adults. I didn’t recognize them and they were indifferent toward me. It was a nightmare. It took me a long time to fall back asleep.

I desire to soak up this time as much as possible.

You have a lot to do on a regular basis. You have to go to work, finish your degree, save for retirement, and navigate life’s conflicts. If you are not careful…you may skip the most important things that life has to offer. Our desire is to be serious enough to gain credibility and work hard enough to eventually retire, but when can we slow down and be available for those around us? Pray hard that this nightmare doesn’t become your reality.

So…tonight I rolled around on the floor with my daughter and played Hide N’ Seek with my son. Not only because it was fun…..but I can’t afford to let Satan win.

-Landon DeCrastos

Prayer Sticks

First I want to apologize for talking about my son a lot in this blog. If you are reading this and making the inevitable conclusion that this post is about my son as well….you are right. Just humor me…stick with it….it will be over soon. Also, in a related matter…my son rules.

For a few weeks now, we have introduced our son to the concept of prayer sticks. These sticks have the names of various friends, and family written on them. Each night, Josiah will pull a stick out of the jar, and after his story, that is the stick we pray for. We have been praying with him since he was an infant, but he would mostly just listen or look at mommy and daddy shutting their eyes and make funny noises while we prayed.

When he first began to talk, he would say “Amen” when he knew the prayer was over. Several months ago, he asked us if he could pray. Often it would be him bashfully mumbling and we couldn’t understand a word. Within the last week, our son has asked to pray and his prayers have been coherent and actually very profound. I won’t go into the content of the prayers but it seems that God shows up when he prays. Lately, at the end, my wife and I will look at each other with amazement and wonder where he got the idea to pray for these specific areas of need.

Don’t take this as a statement of theological fact, but I almost wonder if God hears these prayers a little louder than most prayers that I pray. Not because God loves anyone more or less, but when prayers are prayed with innocence and sincerity at this level, one can feel an angel walk by.

My point? Teach your kids to pray. Prayer is a powerful weapon when yielded by someone as skilled as a child. Let them loose on the landscape of divine communication and just watch what happens.

Apparently with prayer sticks…..prayer sticks.

-Landon DeCrastos