09 May 2015

Happy Mother's Day (with controversy warning)

Mother's Day is always a hard one for me.  

Every time someone talks about Mother's Day, or sermons focus on it, or cards display it in the aisle, I just think they're all talking about my mother.  What she instilled in me, what she gave me, how she sacrificed, how grateful I should be for her love and how much I should appreciate her and how many ways I should show her.

All of which I am intensely aware of so often.
But then I realize that the well wishers AREN'T talking about my mom.  They're talking about ME, who with one blondie on the right and one blondie on the left and this bulging belly, must look like Mother's Day.  

And when I get in bed tonight and sit on the hard plastic recorder that Sofie was screeching all over the house this morning and as I wear multi-colored lollipop earrings to church because Lily thinks they are beautiful, and as Sofie has to pee EVERY time dinner is served, the sermon or movie starts, every time the last bathroom is a mile ago or every time I sit down...I remember they are right. 

 I am mom.

And here is what this mom thinks, though I cannot actually think of anyone who agrees with me, and continue to see hundreds of people who don't--which very possibly means that I am wrong, and please know that I am not trying to convince you nor want you to be offended in this non-sin issue.  

But could everyone stop the "everybody is doing it flow, welcome to 2015" for two seconds and consider it?  And then if you move right on, MOVE on.

But.  I have to say it.

This mom thinks that our families should be in church together.

Yes, it comes from this super old-school notion instilled in me by above mom that one time a week, parents and their children and their church communities should be worshipping together, listening (or trying to listen...or learning how to sit for 60 minutes so as to ONE day listen) together, digging through their Bibles together, and talking about church together afterwards.  

There are a lot of old-school notions my parents had growing up that we have strayed from or modernized.  BOTH my girls say "butt"!  But this one, since having children, has become so important to me...and not because it was to my mother.

EVERYTHING I see in life in ANY country continues to convince me that we should be worshipping corporately together with our children.  At some ages, it may be deeply exasperating and only be to teach our kids that we will be worshipping corporately together as the body of Christ EVERY single week for a REALLY long time, no matter what, and that whether they understand it or not, that is a GREAT privilege and gift.

 And that they will not die.  And that not always understanding everything IS ok.  

NOT that we are earning God's favor, NOT that we are doing it to do it...but that growing in Him through community is so powerful and such a blessing and so necessary and so Scriptural.

Can I tell you something really sad (in my mind?).  

In the five weeks we've been Stateside, we've been to five really different churches in five different denominations with five totally different styles.  

But the one and only universal thing that we have been told several different ways at each church and every church is where we should be dropping off our children.  

Two churches people actually came to our pew AFTER the service had started asking if we would like them to show us where we should take our kids.  Tonight's service (which was a GREAT service I'm so glad my kids didn't miss!) actually had a slide after the worship and before the sermon that said, "Please turn off your cell phones and please send your children to their age-appropriate placements."  

When Lily saw all the kids get up and leave, she (always the one wanting to follow the rules) said, "Mom!  Kids aren't supposed to be in here!  They want me to go!"  

THAT, friends, broke my heart.  

From CHURCH my girlie has observed that she is NOT supposed to be in church.
  
My girlie understandably so believes that the church in the States, based on this past 5 weeks, does not WANT her to listen to and learn about the Gospel with her parents and with other adults and children.  And that we were actually "being bad" by worshipping together as a family when we were told to send the girls off.

As such, four of these five weeks Lily and Sofie have been the ONLY sole children in the church service (I am not exaggerating), under the age of like 14 or 15.  As such, we feel EXTRA self-conscious of every noise they make and every wiggle they waggle, and every verse we whisper explanation to...instead of feeling welcome and encouraged to be in church with our kids.

I mean, don't you all MISS having children in church?

I get (man alive, do I get) how it would be WAY more relaxing and easier to focus myself if my kids were at playland or Sunday School.  And I GET how important it is that they also learn the Word at an age-appropriate level, and have opportunities to be with other kids their age learning about God.  I can't tell you how many times we have gone to TWO services so that the girls could go to kids church or Sunday School for one of them, after attending one of them with us.  Kids do need the opportunity to be with kids their age to learn about God and to play...but I believe we need to find and/or create these opportunities in ADDITION to corporate worship, not instead of.

I get how hard it is to make kids sit through church without going crazy...and this is one rare thing I understand better than the average person in the States, because at home "going to church with your parents" (which everyone does...no kids church during the service) means sitting for several HOURS in a 100 degree tin hut, worshipping in another language.  It is NOT easy.  But they have learned!  (and not died.  and don't understand everything.  and are happy kids.)

In fact, Sofie's first comment out the door tonight after being pinned to the pew after kissing everyone in our row several times was, "Wow, that was QUICK!"

When the Lord is working in my heart and I'm in tears, the girls are watching, and wondering, and asking.  When the Lord is working in other people and they are responding, the girls are watching.  They are watching us tithe.  They are watching us find the verses.  They are listening to how we reflect after.  They are seeing how believers interact.  They are hearing the pastor talk about the same people and ideas we're always talking about at home.

When we're worshipping together, they are learning by heart the words they don't even yet understand.  When I'm "translating" the ideas of what the pastor is saying into their little ears from time to time, I am watching them think.  Even when I'm playing "here is the church and here is the steeple" with Sofie for the thousandth time silently like Lucy Steinmetz did with me when I was 3 trying to sit still in church...she is learning.  We are worshipping together.  We're doing church with other Christians.

They have learned that so many have to hide to do so.  
They know that so many long and pray to do so.  

And I WISH we were doing church with other Christian's children.  I MISS them.  My girls miss them.  And while I'm not quite sure when it happened, it's been such an obvious change this summer that I wanted to say SOMETHING.

If you have little kiddos, just think about it.  Give it a try once or twice and let Him speak to your heart if He will or tell you I'm crazy. If you're sitting next to someone with kiddos, just ENJOY the little distractions of kids and love that family and PULEAZE don't make their mother feel terrible.  Because it's probably me.  If you're on a church board or something, please consider finding ways to make families worshiping together a WELCOMED idea instead of feeling like a mini-rebellion.

There is, I believe, SO SO SO much value to letting the little children come unto Him and learn to worship together and to learn together with the elderly, with other grandparents, with other parents and with other children...and I truly believe our services have much to gain by their presence.  

As we went out for ice cream afterwards tonight, Lily made everyone rate each of the evenings activities (this is SO Lily.  She would have made a chart if she could.)  She gave swimming one arms up (it was too short), dinner one arms up (she wanted more pita) ice cream one arms up (the place was freezing), and surprisingly, gave church two.  When Grandpa asked her why she liked church so much tonight, she said, "Because we learned together about how we can love our mommies.  And I do love my mommy."

waterworks.  

I must be a mom after all.

6 comments:

  1. AnonymousMay 10, 2015

    Good thinking material Stace, I guess I never really stopped to think about the lack of kids in church service. I remember worshipping together as a family when I was young, but mostly because I hated children's church and wanted to stay with my parents. I do want Sammy to be in church with us and learn how we worship together and learn together, but I also know from experience how hard it is for me to concentrate and really listen when he is with us. Then I feel bad for all the people who are also getting distracted by our one year old yelling 'truck' during communion :-/ I do think it's something I want to work towards, not sure how that will look.

    Thanks for the food for thought as always!

    TK

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    1. We are no where near getting through distracting services with the girls, so it's no wonder for Sammy :) I think most of us probably grew up in church with our parents, and that 30 years ago, when that is what everyone did, perhaps there was a much greater grace atmosphere towards "TRUCK!" When your kids are the ONLY kids in a service, even when they whisper, "I don't understand what he means?" feels invasive...and that's something I'm not quite sure should be. It's so hard to know exactly what age...and how to train them to be able to sit quietly at that age if they haven't been before, etc. What I believe is the most important when it comes to discipling our children and living in Christian community is that when something DOES make us stop and think about something we've never really thought of before, that we DO, even if after thinking and praying about it, we plunge on same as always! Like you said, just food for thought, and like I said, "I may be wrong :)" You're a gift to me and a fantastic momma, Tik....thanks for commenting!

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  2. AnonymousMay 10, 2015

    Interesting perspective. I'd caution you that you have your perspective with your own children. There are so many personality types, it's certainly not one size fits all. Children's church is a wonderful option, and necessary for so many families.

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    1. As you said, it is simply an interesting perspective that has come from years of living cross-culturally, NOT the law or a sin issue or something I say is the right thing for everyone. Children's church SHOULD be a wonderful option (and maybe needs presented as more of an option and less of a "strong suggestion" as it is feeling) and again, if this interesting perspective causes us to think about something we've never really thought of before and we put it before the Lord and come out sticking with the same old, so be it! But thinking about it...I think that's important. Thanks for thinking about it with me!

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  3. Love this Stacey!!! I am thankful we attend a church who states every week before the sermon that "children's church is an option, BUT children are welcome happily to stay in for the sermon". This is something I whole heartedly agree with. thank you for sayin something!
    Our children learn so much it's incredible. And to be honest we haven't had Jaxon in for the sermon for far too long! Thanks for reminding me!

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  4. AnonymousMay 13, 2015

    Many churches (church boards) have long understood the benefit of this and have standards in place to help encourage that experience. I know growing up, "family worship Sunday" happened each month. The church we currently are a part of does it for a full month once a year. Perhaps the churches you've attended do take part in something similar but not being regular attenders you are unaware of. It is a very beneficial and bonding time for families.

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