I grew up thinking God was stuffy - the sort of stuffy that reeks like the stagnant air inside a sanctuary whose doors are only open on Sundays.
The sort of stuffy that wears a suit and tie, and a grimace across his lips as he looks down on the world from his tall tower all serious-like.
Growing up, we laughed often in my family, but I never thought our laughter brought God joy. So I spent a lot of years thinking that I couldn't please God unless I wanted to buckle down and get serious. Something I wasn't quite ready for as my idea of fun in high school was doing what was often considered against the rules. I ended up ignoring God for a long while until I finally decided to get serious about having a relationship with Him.
And boy did I get serious. But then I had two little boys.
Two spunky, fun-craving, hilarious little people that seemed to do the trick in making me question all of this seriousness I'd been surrounding myself with, thinking that's what God wanted.
I began pondering the role fun had in our lives. Why would God have gifted us with two small comedians if we weren't supposed to laugh? And not just laugh, but also wet our cheeks and nearly wet our pants when doing so. The answer is: He wouldn't.
After this realization, life for the last six years has been a lot of letting loose and letting laughter and fun fill our home.
Not long ago, my husband and I spent time at a parenting conference at our church, in which our pastor of student ministries gave us some food for thought when he talked about three pillars that support a strong family.
1. Time over time builds trust.
2. Fun establishes connection
3. Stories bring perspective
Of the three points, the second, about fun, really stood out in my mind. Our pastor shared a verse from John 10 that I've read a number of times but never in this context.
"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
"Jesus came so we could have life," our Pastor explained. "Fun and enjoyment are even built into creation! God enjoyed his creation on day seven."
And in a moment of epiphany, my heart and mind met and linked arms over that thought.
Our pastor challenged us to do at least one fun thing each week as a family. I thought we could take it a step further and infuse fun into our daily routines.
As my oldest son says, "We need more party in the front up in here." Kind of like a reverse mullet.
I often set parameters and expectations around our fun times ... which is sorta the opposite of fun, you know?
So recently when I asked my kiddos one fun thing they'd really like to do, we just did it.
I didn't make excuses of time and heat. I didn't rush us around and stick to a time frame. I didn't set my agenda and enforce it. I just went with the intention of having fun.
We went to the Chicago Botanic Garden and we enjoyed the heck out of our picnic and romping. We really loved checking out the model train garden displays and the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit.
At the end of the day both of my boys gushed (!) - my oldest doesn't normally gush - about how good of a mommy date they had. I couldn't have planned a better day than that!
These days, I think about how unstuffy God is and how much He intends for us to enjoy what He's given us.
And how much of a gift we give our kids - and ourselves - when we intentionally share that view on life with them.
A journalist by nature and profession, Hyacynth has been on special assignment from the great editor and chief covering the foreign land of motherhood alongside her brave husband for six years.
See more of Hyacynth's stories here.