“Let’s play the ball toss game! We can win fish!” I heard my 8 year old exclaim as my family and I strolled through the fairgrounds at the North Texas State Fair on a recent weekend. I pretended not to hear her. Alas, my other 2 daughters had, and a chorus of “Goldfish!” ensued. My husband and I looked at each other, both of us hoping the other had some sort of escape plan up their sleeve but it was too late as my children handed over their cash to the carnival attendant. My 11 and 13 year olds were up first. They tossed 20 balls with no success. I gave them my best impression of disappointment. “Hey,” a man next to us yelled out, “You can have one of ours—we just won 3!” “Ok,” I said to myself, “1 goldfish is manageable.” Then it was my 8 year old’s turn. Clearly I am throwing the ball outside with her too much as she landed 3 balls in 3 jars in a matter of seconds. Our family was now the proud owners of 4 goldfish—suitably named Spike, Bubbles, Bobby Joe Lee, and Clyde by the time we were half way home.
After the obligatory visit to PetsMart and the 1.5 hours of tank assembly, our new pets were introduced to their vibrant paradises. My children sat, mesmerized and delighted to watch God’s beautiful creatures in a way they had never experienced. Watching them swim about was surprisingly calming and enjoyable and my children’s smiles and enthusiasm were a joy to behold. I was amazed at how quickly these 4 goldfish went from carnival prizes to beloved family members and at how much pleasure and joy my kids derived from the whole experience. Within a few hours, my 13 year old had researched much of what there is to know about the care and maintenance of goldfish and she was determined to give these fish a great life.
That evening, as I sat on the edge of my daughter’s bed, I thanked God for the day, for His beautiful creation, and for the unexpected surprise of love and joy found in caring for four 39 Cent goldfish. I thanked Him for caring so deeply for Us, His children. And I thanked Him that I was able to see His character reflected in my children as they cared so earnestly for these tiny fish.
Every night since then, after tucking the kids in, I glance over at the fish tanks and smile, thanking God for all His blessings in our lives—both big and very small.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So, don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31