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Live with the joyful faith of a child
Daniel and Makenzie Kiewel
Daniel and Makenzie Kiewel

My, how time flies! 

Our daughter, Makenzie, turns 5 years old in a few days. As much as I hope to teach her as a father, it is incredible how much the Lord uses her to teach me life lessons almost daily. Chief among those is how to live a joyful life of faith through a child’s eyes.

We must doggedly pursue joy, especially when trials abound. In fact, When Paul exhorted the church in Philippi to “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4, ESV), he did so from behind prison walls, in chains. The rest of the chapter gives us a practical guide. We don’t burying our heads in the sand or ignore our troubles; instead, we refocus our hearts and minds in the midst of them. Paul speaks of intently focusing on peace, gratitude, purity, beauty, contentment and generosity. He speaks of a heart focused on the glory, majesty and loving provision which comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. I encourage you to read this passage in its entirety.

Today, to celebrate my daughter’s coming birthday, I share a few short tips for pursuing joy through the eyes of a child. And absolutely DO try these at home.

1) Sing and dance like only God is watching. This morning, Makenzie and I spent fifteen minutes just singing and dancing to Sunday School songs in the living room. Ever tried to be mad while singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” with your kid? Nope. Can’t do it.

2) Take time to look at the Lord’s creation with the wide-eyed wonder of a child. It is beautiful how fascinated Makenzie is with clouds, flowers, butterflies, birds and toads in the garden. She has so much wonder and compassion for these little things, and Scripture says Jesus does, too. And even better, He cares even more for you. This should make us all smile.

3) A good hug is still great medicine. There are few things better than a hug from Staci or Makenzie at the end of a hard day, or few things more joyful when my daughter runs excitedly to my arms. Being the one to offer comfort in someone’s hurt, or to share in their joy, leaves few better feelings in your heart. And never forget to run to Jesus’ arms like an excited child.

4) It is still okay to laugh. Yep, it’s true. I consulted my pastor on this one - and my daughter. It is so uplifting to see Makenzie’s face crinkle and watch her eyes sparkle and dance when she laughs and giggles. A good, innocent laugh will always lift your spirits.

5) Remember to love – and serve – with abandon. I’m blown away by how much Makenzie likes to help others, and how much she likes to fix peoples’ “boo-boos”. It brings her joy to love in hands-on ways. I suspect if we spent more time being the hands and feet Jesus to the world around us, we’d find much more of that same joy, too.

When life is hard, pursue joy and run to Jesus with the heart of a child. You’ll be glad you did.

Daniel Kiewel is a reporter with the Great Bend Tribune. He can be reached at dkiewel@gbtribune.com. Makenzie is a soon-to-be kindergartener in Great Bend.