Haven was turning 10 years old. She used this grand occasion to let us know that her birthday gift of choice was a hamster.
At first I thought that I could talk her out of it, or go a few days with the idea unmentioned, hoping that it would escape her memory.
Sis remembered. She remembered fervently, asking daily, multiple times a day, googling on all devices. Yeah. This desire wasn't going anywhere.
Since we’d already gifted her a trip to Cedar Point, we told her that she could get the hamster if she saved up HER money to contribute.
After a few birthday cards, and a phone call to a few donors (grandparents), she came up with the loot.
So off to PetSmart Daddy and Haven went, returning home hours later with Snowball the hamster, complete with a cage, toys, and bedding.
In the next two weeks, the girls and Gayle happily welcomed Snowball as the new member of the family. He was fairly peaceful and easy to take care of. Having the hamster was pretty uneventful, until……
I was away at a community event on a Sunday afternoon when I looked down at my phone to see a text message from my husband that read:
“SHAUNEE…….THE HAMSTER GOT OUT WHILE WE WERE AWAY. AND WE CAN’T FIND HIM.”
There I was in an entirely different setting, dressed formal, sitting prim and proper, yet in my mind, I was already in my car on my way to the local military store to buy a flame thrower. Setting the whole house on fire to unearth the hamster felt like the best option.
There was just no way that I was going to be able to go to bed in my house with the hamster still loose. The idea of snoozing away and feeling something climbing up my legs underneath the comforter was enough to stop my heart. They may as well get the smelling salts ready. I’d faint on sight.
When I left the event, I called home to check-in. My husband answered on the first ring. I could hear pandemonium in his voice.
STILL NO SNOWBALL.
I got home, and everyone had concerned looks on their faces. They’d searched the house high and low looking for Snowball. As I walked upstairs towards my bedroom to take off my dress to put on some “looking for a hamster” clothes, I had to step around plates of fruit and veggies. They’d set these food traps everywhere for Snowball, hoping he’d smell the food and come out to eat. So far nothing had worked. Things were scattered everywhere. Furniture had been moved from up against the walls in case he’d been hiding behind couches and dressers. My neat and tidy home looked disheveled. This only added to my anxiety. With my heart beating in my chest, I went around upstairs searching every nook and cranny just in case they missed something.
STILL NO SNOWBALL.
Finally, I decided to give it a little time, praying that he would surface. I started cooking dinner, and the realization that it was starting to get late, and that I would have to retire to bed without the hamster being found started to weird me out. I wasn’t the only one.
Gayle reminded me:
“You know that if we don’t find him before bed, none of us are getting any sleep. The girls are going to be scared to go to bed without the hamster.”
He was right.
The thought of a sleepless night wasn’t working for me at all.
As Gayle went to the basement to do some studio work, I stood in my kitchen and prayed.
“Lord…..please tell me where the hamster is.”
I stood in silence waiting to hear. YES. I felt foolish. I'm used to praying for big things. This seemed a little trivial....BUT NOT!
We need your help Jesus! DOG'ON IT!
And I didn’t hear a thing.
Just then Haven comes downstairs and catches me standing there in silence with my eyes closed.
“Mommy…..what are you doing?”
Her tone was full of concern and curiosity. I know that I looked weird standing there with my eyes closed in the middle of the kitchen.
Then the impression came to heart: “Ask your kids to pray.”
Instantly two things came to mind:
1.) Kids are pure. They don’t struggle to hear God the way that adults do.
2.) This would be a good opportunity to train their spiritual ear.
So I called Haven over and said:
“Haven, do you believe that the Holy Spirit will tell you where Snowball is?”
She smiled, and told me ‘YES’.
So I held her hands and said:
“Repeat after me Haven. Holy Spirit, please tell me where my hamster is.”
She repeated after me, then closed her eyes like she’d seen me doing and stood there waiting.
I waited with her a minute. And she said:
“Mommy, I don’t hear anything.”
I asked her if she wanted to pray again. She told me that she did. So we went through the same prayer again. She let me know again that she didn’t hear anything.
I smiled and hugged her. I said:
“Haven, I’m so proud of you for not making anything up. I’m REALLY proud of you.”
I honestly was genuinely proud of her. My girls are known for an imaginative nature. They make up stories on a daily basis. The fact that she understood the difference in this moment was huge. It was mature. It was better than how some adults respond under this “pressure”. She gave me a very honest response. And the fact that she recognized that there was no voice means she’s heard the real voice before, and knows the difference. THIS alone was deep to me.
So I released her to go play, and kept on cooking.
Shortly thereafter, my 8 year-old Cay came downstairs into the kitchen. The impression hit my heart again:
“Ask Cay to pray.”
So I called her over and asked her the same thing that I’d asked Haven. She told me that she believed that the Holy Spirit would tell her where the hamster was.
So I led her through the prayer again, as she repeated:
“Holy Spirit, please tell me where the hamster is.”
A few seconds went by. I stood there watching her listening with her eyes closed.
It was fairly quiet in the kitchen besides the low sound of the television and the dishwasher humming.
All of a sudden her face lit up, and her eyes popped open. She said:
“MOMMY! HE SAID HE’S IN MY CLOSET!”
I know my kids really well.
This look on her face was real. She believed 100% that she’d heard this.
So I said:
“CAY! That’s great! Go get Haven and you guys go look in your closet!”
As they ran upstairs to go look, I thought to myself:
“Now I know that they looked in that closet before, multiple times, Gayle included.”
All of a sudden I felt a little bit afraid of what it meant if he wasn’t there. I didn’t want for her to be disappointed.
Just then, the girls came back downstairs, a mild look of disappointment was on Cay’s face.
“Mommy he’s not there. I was wrong.
I hugged her close and told her that it was okay. I hoped that this would not discourage her from believing or trying again in the future.
I turned the eye of the stove down, cleaned the counter, and made my way upstairs to fold a few clothes.
Coming upstairs and seeing the fruit plates laying everywhere, and things scattered was a bit much for me. I decided that if Snowball hadn’t surfaced for a meal yet, that he wasn’t going to. HOURS had gone by, and the fruit and veggies were starting to get a coating on them. I didn’t want fruit flies hanging around, so I started going from room to room collecting the plates and moving furniture back into its place.
I walked into Cay’s room and started picking up plates. I noticed a shoe box in her closet left open with boots falling out. I grabbed the box and boots, placed them inside, then went towards the closet to put things back in place.
I lifted up the train of a cardigan sweater that I’d tucked in her closet. And right underneath, standing there, crouched, but looking me right in the eye was SNOWBALL.
I hollered out like I’d encountered an anaconda.
I dropped the train of the sweater and started screaming for Gayle and the girls.
I heard feet on the hardwood floor downstairs, then running swiftly up the steps.
Within seconds the entire family was in the room.
Gayle lifted up the train and picked Snowball up.
We all stood there in disbelief that he’d been found.
Then all of a sudden Cay started screaming and jumping up and down:
“MOMMY! I WAS RIGHT! HE TOLD ME! I HEARD HIM!”
It felt like electricity hit me.
I found myself jumping up and down in sync with her. We were both screaming and patting one another’s hands in the air.
Cay and I were having a full on celebration.
Gayle and Haven were tending to Snowball getting him settled back into his home. Then the realization of the fact that the Holy Spirit had told Cay right where the hamster was hit the family. We all stood there smiling from ear to ear.
But nobody smiled wider than Cay.
You could see elation and joy in her eyes. The gravity of the moment melted onto all of us. And even though I’d facilitated the entire interaction, I was STUNNED AND IN AWE.
Had I really believed that the Holy Spirit would speak to her? Because I was a little too shocked to have really believed. We all stood there celebrating, but stunned. I’ve had many moments with Cay. But most of them pale in comparison to this moment.
Her happiness was different.
It was jubilant and rare.
It was an earmark moment for her.
Gayle and I marveled.
I know what it feels like to KNOW you've heard from God, but something contradictory to what you've heard happens. I know what it feels like to believe "missed it".
A treasure chest of questions are the result.
It can be hard to hold on to your confidence if these moments never come full circle to disprove or provide context to what you thought you missed.
But she hadn’t missed God at all….NO….not at all.
Later that night I went into Haven’s room to tuck her in and found Cay snuggled in the bed with her big sister. I was surprised to still find them up, especially Cay. It takes nothing for her to fall asleep the minute her head hits the pillow.
It was late. So I asked them why they were still up.
Cay looked at me and said:
“Mommy……I’ve just been laying here thinking about how the Holy Spirit spoke to me.”
She almost broke me down. I realized that not only had I been led by the Holy Spirit to help my girls recognize his voice in that moment, but witnessed him prove something different to each of us that night. The many truths and epiphanies of this situation kept coming to me as I meditated on the situation from beginning to end.
This may be small to some. Some may even doubt my entire account. But the effect of the moment has already taken place.
It did something for me, and even more for Cadence.
What would happen if we taught our kids early on how to hear from God?
Imagine the pitfalls they can escape, and the acceptance they can live in to help them live abundantly and freely.
We are spirit beings, communicating spirit to spirit, no matter the age. God desires to reveal himself to anyone with the desire to see Him.
Our abilities fell short Sunday. He created an opportunity for His to be revealed.
And He chose how he would reveal Himself, and to whom.
Age is only a number when it comes to communication with God. Take Him out of the box.
He's waiting to live beyond the limitations of our containment.