Saturday, June 14, 2014



I think many of us think of this as another four letter word.  We're too busy to rest.  Resting is bad.  It means you're not doing anything.  Rest means you're sitting on  the couch doing nothing when you should be playing outside or cleaning your bathroom or going to the aquarium because it's a free day.  Rest means missed opportunity.

I have been struggling a lot with this concept lately.  I am not naturally inclined to rest.  I'm someone who likes to constantly be moving.  I like to fill my days with things to do.  I always have a to-do list that is two sided.  I love a full calendar.  If we have a day without any plans, I make plans by planning some sort of learning activity for the boys.  A day with nothing to do, no structure is like a nightmare to me.  But ever since I had kids, I've been learning that's not the way we were intended to live. 

We were made to rest.  In the Bible, God created the world in six days and then he rested.  Do you think he rested because he was just too tired to do anything?  NO!!  He rested because it was good.  He rested so that he could enjoy his creation.  And if the Creator of the Universe can stop and take a day to rest, then who am I to say that I'm too busy to do the same?  But that's exactly what I do when I decide to let my calendar rule my life instead of my God.

Our pastor just finished a two-part sermon, and I'm not sure if this is what our take-home was supposed to be or not, but I was struck again by how important that stopping to rest really is.  He talked about how complicated our lives are.  We think it's impossible to stop.  And God just doesn't understand.  This is the one instance when the Bible is just outdated.  I mean, it was so much easier back in Bible times, right?  They didn't have to deal with soccer games and birthday parties and yard work and grocery shopping and everything else that comes with our busy, complicated lives today.  Things were just simpler.  But that's just not true.  They had their own struggles.  Their own things vying for their attention, keeping them from resting.  They, just like we, had to make the decision to stop and rest.

How do we do that?  My pastor suggested that we seek first His Kingdom.  He said that we need to learn how to make choices so that even a complicated world can be made simple.  It's like we're telling God we're too busy to do what he wants us to do.  How is that even possible?!  If God has called us to something, how can we be too busy?  Doesn't he know better than us what we should be doing?  How much we can handle?  Maybe the soccer games aren't as important as we think.  Do you ever hear of an opportunity to serve and think, "I'd really like to do that, but I'm just too busy"?  Do you ever feel like God is telling you to do something, maybe as simple as sending someone a card, but you ignore that feeling because you just don't have the time to do it?  Doesn't that seem silly?  How can you be too busy to do what God wants you to?  We need to seek FIRST his Kingdom.

Maybe our decisions should resolve more around "God, is this what you want me to do?" and less around "This is how everyone else is doing it."  I'm not trying to sound like I have it all together, or that I think this is easy.  Trust me, I don't.  This is something I struggle with daily.  But that's not how I want to live my life.  I want to seek FIRST.  I want to set an example for my boys that shows we're never too busy to do what God wants us to.  And that sometimes we make the decision to say no to something that is good so that later we can say yes to something that is better.  I want to be focused on the things that truly matter, not fill my life with the things that don't.  And I'm ready to start right now. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Parenting in the Pew

This post has been stirring around in my head for quite some time now and I've finally decided to just get it all down.

I've always been a firm believer that children belong in the church service.  My thought was two-fold.  First, how will children learn to sit and pay attention to a service if they don't actually do it?  And second, I think it is so important for children to see adults worshipping and join in with them.  I know this is difficult with young children, and I understand that even more now that I have my own, but it's still something I believe in.

When Micah was born, Brad and I were faced with the decision of what to do with him during the service.  It was very natural to just keep him with us at first.  I loved holding him in my arms while singing praise songs and nothing could top him sleeping on my shoulder while listening to a sermon.  Then, he hit about six months old and started to become more active and interested in everything else going on around him.  Brad and I would pass him back and forth between the two of us the whole service.  He became a distraction and I wasn't focused on the sermon anymore.  So, we decided to put him in nursery after the singing was over.  Micah loved singing with us.  I think it was around the time that we started putting Judah in the nursery that Micah wanted to be in the nursery the whole time and not join us for the singing.  In order to honor his wishes, we put him in the nursery full time.  Once he turned three, his class started joining the adults during the singing and then leave during the sermon.

A few months ago, I read this book, Parenting in the Pew.  The author talks about the importance of children participating in the church service both as a way to learn and also in order to join in with their own worship.  She discusses  her ideas of how a church should embrace children during their service as well as gives tips to help parents train their children to participate in the service.  I read the book in about two days (it's a short, easy read so don't be too impressed!) and wanted to start putting ideas into practice right away.  Brad and I both agree that it is important for our children to worship with us during service and this book was great for helping us do just that!

It can be really hard sometimes.  Micah is an active three-year-old (and Judah is a very active two-year-old) and it can be hard for him to sit still during the sermon, paying attention to words he doesn't understand.  But I want him to know that that part is just as important as the singing.  Even though he can't completely understand, we can help him understand in his own way.  For example, this past week our pastor talked about how none of us are an accident, we are each unique and special, created the way God wanted us to be.  I told Micah to listen for the word "special" and every time he hears it to tell me.  I also told him it was like a book he loves, You Are Special by Max Lucado.  Relating it to a book he's already familiar with really helped him.  But that doesn't mean he sat in his seat sitting nicely and quietly listening the entire time.  Far from it.  Several times I had to tell him to be quiet, one of us had to pick him up off the floor, or ask him to stop spinning/crawling/laying down, etc.  Sometimes I worry about what a distraction he is to those around us.  But, honestly, too bad.  He is just as important as the adult behind us and it is important that he know he is accepted into the Kingdom of God as he is.  And it's important to me that he join us in worship and see other adults worshipping, too.  We do practice good behavior with him but it's so much bigger than just sitting still and listening.  I want him to feel free to raise his hands while singing if he wants.  He often dances to the music, and I think that's just as pleasing to God.  And I know he's paying attention because he often asks me questions about something he heard Pastor Ron say or about the words to one of the songs.  In his own small way, he's getting it.

Let me repeat, this can be really hard sometimes.  I wasn't sure how others would respond.  I wasn't sure if it would just end up distracting me and Brad more than helping Micah and thus we would leave church unsure of what the sermon was about or not really feeling like we had worshipped at all.  But that isn't true.  Yes, I spend a good amount of the sermon whispering to Micah to be quiet or trying to think of a question to ask him to get him to pay attention for two more minutes.  But I'm also paying attention more.  I have to model what that looks like.  And I have to be on my toes so I can ask him questions!  But, most importantly, I feel the support of my pastor.

Micah is kind of obsessed with our senior pastor.  I don't know how it happened, but he always insists that we find Pastor Ron and he has to say hi to him.  If we're in the church during the week we have to go to his office to see if he is there.  And now we have to sit in the absolute first row so that Micah can sit by him.  And Micah watches him so intently.  If he catches him not singing, he asks me why Pastor Ron isn't singing.  If Pastor Ron is clapping to the music, Micah claps to the music.  Honestly, I wasn't sure how our pastor felt about all this.  I was happy he at least tolerated it but I hoped that he didn't just see Micah as the annoying preschooler who runs around the front of the church and always shakes his hand.  At our Maundy Thursday service, I discovered that was not true.

Maundy Thursday is our church's version of Good Friday.  It's a very somber service: candlelight, acoustic music, dramatic reading, communion.  It was very important to me that Micah be there for the service this year.  He's finally starting to understand things and I wanted him to be part of this service.  During the whole service, Micah had lots of questions.  There were times he was somewhat loud (I am certain the people around us could hear him several times...he may or may not have yelled his best friend's name at the very beginning of the service also).  He most definitely did not sit still.  But he was very interested in the service.  At the end, I felt terrible.  Maybe we should have left him at home.  Did he ruin it for those around us?  Was he too much of a distraction during this very serious service?  But afterwards, Micah ran up to our pastor, as he always does, our pastor scooped him up real quick and gave him a high five.  Then, I heard him say, "Micah, I'm glad you came today."  Honestly, thinking about it now still brings tears to my eyes.  That was the affirmation I needed that we are doing the right thing.  It's hard most weeks, but it's the right thing to do.  And to know that others support our efforts, even when Micah was obviously a distraction means that he is just as important to them.  And isn't that the oath we take at their baptism?  To help them grow in the Lord?  I love being part of a church where those words mean something, they're not just empty words.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I'm Baaaaaack!

Yeah, I know.  It's been a while.  It's not that I haven't wanted to blog, it's that I just haven't been able to.  I just couldn't do it.  And now I think I've spent more time wondering how to pick it back up.  Where do I start?  Do I just pretend like it hasn't been eight months?  Do I give an explanation?  I'm going to go with the first option.

So, I've been at this mom gig for almost three and a half years.  I am by no means an expert, but I have definitely learned a lot of lessons.  Some lessons I thought I had mastered by now, but I find myself constantly re-learning them.  One of those lessons has really hit me recently.

I've been struggling a lot recently with finding time to do my daily devotions.  This is a time I've always enjoyed and appreciated.  I know how important it is that I daily spend time in the Word and praying.  I usually spend a lot of time journaling, talking to God about whatever is going on and asking for guidance or understanding.  I pour out my heart during this time and get re-centered for whatever I will be facing.  I've gone through times when I didn't do it regularly and it reflected in my life.  I could tell that things weren't right.  But I've always fallen back into my routine. 

Well, kids change things.  And I need to adjust to the new way things are.  I've been trying to go back to the way things were.  Unsuccessfully.  I used to get up early in the morning before the boys and do my quiet time.  I didn't mind it.  I'm a morning person and the boys slept until at least 7:00, usually 7:30.  But then Micah started waking up before 6:00 in the morning.  I thought it was a fluke. 

I was wrong.

I have a hard time getting up before 6:00am when I have nowhere to be.  And I'm pregnant.  I'm exhausted.  So getting up before 6:00 just wasn't an option.  I tried during nap time for a while.  But really all I wanted to do was nap.  Recently I've decided it's time to do something different.  I have to.  Things can't keep going this way.  I'm not sure yet what's going to work for me during this time of my life but I will be trying new things.  Because I need to adjust to the way my life is right now. 

It happened again today.  We decided to take a walk tonight after dinner.  Brad and I used to love to take walks at night.  Even after Micah was born we used to take nightly walks.  It was so easy to just put him in the stroller and go.  Since Judah was born the walks have slowed down.  The reason could be illustrated by what happened tonight.  We finished dinner and told the boys we were going to go for a walk.  Micah just needed to 1)pick up his puzzles 2)go to the bathroom and 3)get his shoes on.  All with the aide of Daddy.  One would expect this would only take a couple minutes. 

It took almost an hour.

What we thought was going to be a nice family walk outside turned into what seemed to be an endless time getting ready.  The truth is getting the boys ready to leave the house anytime takes forever.  A simple family walk is not so simple anymore.  I have to adjust to our new reality.  I don't want family walks to fall by the wayside just because it's hard to get the kids out the door.  So, instead, I have to lower my expectations.  We have to develop a new routine.  Make some sacrifices. 

Learning the same lesson over again.  And I have a feeling it won't be the last time, either.