Tools For Real Life - Summer Fun With Spiritual Disciplines


On the wall of my office hangs a grey-scaled reproduction of a picture I took of Ruth standing confidently between our two pet horses, pretending to read them a princess story as best as she could at nearly three years of age. The pink book held high, just under the tip of her nose. A frilly white skirt bouncing beneath her little frame as she giggled with joy. 

Her nightly routine, and one she explained was necessary for them to ‘sleep tight’. 

And who doesn’t love a good princess story before bed? One full of beauty and light? Where good always beats evil? And handsome princes charge through and overcome whatever force of darkness is endangering his princess, just in time? Where things always work out, and whatever has been destroyed is restored, and everyone who deserves to live happily ever after does?

I know I used to love those kinds of tales.

 I also loved this picture. Capturing both horses outstretching their necks towards Ruth affectionately. Their soft muzzles nuzzling her tiny head when she stepped close enough. Her giggles as their breath tenderly hit her cheeks and their whiskers tickled her ears. 

Ruth’s enthusiasm and love for them was infectious and in many ways, those days had a way of feeling as if our own little fairy tale was unfolding before us in perfect evening light. 

But in the blink of an eye, our family learned that this world we live in is not scripted on the pages of a fairytale. Fairytales, after all, are make believe. And rather than a happy ending where good triumphed evil, that sweet shot became the last picture I took of them together. 

She set that pink princess book down, told those two horses to sleep tight, kissed them goodnight and never saw the book or the two of them ever again.

Proof that, at times, good can lose here in this place. Sometimes beauty is overtaken by darkness. The day being saved, can be hard to see, if you don’t know how to look for it. And when it does happen, it doesn’t look anything like a fairytale would lead you to believe it should look. With no prince riding in, sword drawn, to protect the helpless princess in her time of need. His bright shiny armor shielding them both against even the harshest blows.

On that day, we had no magic. No spells. No wands. No beauty. And seemingly no light.

That is the reality here in this place. Darkness happens. Death is real. Tragedy can strike. And fairytales are make believe.

We all know that, but this life and the flesh on our bones both have a way of urging us to avert our ears, our eyes and our minds from it. And in doing so it leaves us distracted. Our vision fogged so much so that we unwittingly miss the other story that is aching to be told.  The real story, of the real Kingdom, written by the only true King. One that Jesus came and said is ‘at hand’. Just beyond the walls of the palaces our consciousness so readily erects to protect us here and now. Veiling our eyes with visions of wealth and success. Power and security. Knowledge and possessions.

Stuff that can be washed away in the blink of an eye, just like that little pink book. Revealing the painful truth of what would happen if my kid had built her life upon such shaky and unreliable ground.

Its my job as her parent to point her to what is really real. And away from all of this make-believe. To the true story God is writing on her behalf. Exposing all of the false narratives this world might encourage her to call her own along the way. The first being the lie that says she is helpless. Like a princess in a tower or some other kind of damsel in distress.  Reduced to waving her arms frantically in hopes that some prince will come riding in to save her in her time of need.

Unnecessary theatrics for a kid who is already saved. 


And not only is she already saved, but she is equipped by a loving and all-knowing God who has done all the heavy lifting on her behalf. Weaving within her every good and necessary tool required to deal with this place and all of the crap that it has and will continue to throw at her.

So, this summer, we are going to take a look at those tools.

Together, Ruth and I are going to pull apart her God given tool box and start investigating what is inside. Figuring out how to use each one. Testing them. Engaging in activities that put them to work.

I will be blogging along right here. providing materials lists and discussion topics for any other parents and kids who want to join us.

I think its going to be a fun way to spend time with my kid while building necessary spiritual skills that point her to God and the strength she possesses within herself. 

I hope some of you choose to join us for the ride!

Karen Milioto