Picture if you will a pleasant Sunday morning. Church goers happily pack into a church. Spirit Band plays inspiring songs. Everyone stands up and sings, the Lord is good, the world is at peace. People sit down, the pastor leads everyone in a well thought out prayer, and takes a moment of silence…
Heavenly sounds coming from above? Nope…those less than heavenly sounds are compliments of the bored two year old in the balcony who just decided to throw his match box car down several rows of seats in the balcony to hear the sound as it bounced off the wood floor.
Yep, that is my son and these are Sundays in my world.
I grew up in a family that didn’t go to church a lot. We were those Catholics that showed up on the big days…Christmas, Easter, occasionally Mother’s Day. I knew my parents were religious, but church just was not in our normal routine. As I grew, I was always jealous of the kids that came from Sunday School or Bible Camps, things my small town church never offered.
I wanted to change that for my kids.
The problem was I was somewhat of a church orphan when I had kids. I had a parting with the Catholic church in my early 20's and so in addition to finding a church, I had to find a religion. That’s a huge responsibility to take on as a parent. I mean…choosing my kids' religion? That's a lot bigger decision than whether I will allow them to have 100% juice or the watered down kind.
So I started looking. I knew what I didn’t want….but as a great “over thinker” I spent countless hours on the internet researching what I did want. It was hard for me because it was my decision alone. My husband was not raised with any religion and didn’t share the same drive I had for getting religion instilled in our children. In other words…I got a lot “I don’t care what church you go to, Mandi” from that side of the fence. And as any mother knows when you make a decision and you can't blame Daddy if things go wrong...that's a decision worth thinking VERY HARD about.
So I “church shopped” and finally stumbled upon a perfect place for my family…a large Methodist church in our city.
Okay, religion chosen….CHECK. Church found….CHECK.
But my hardest task was still ahead. Choosing a church was nothing compared to actually attending church, making it a routine. Yes my friends, those mothers you see in church with their children are the true saints of the world because it is hard to take children to church.
But I did, and J and H started to LOVE church. They love their Sunday school teachers, they love the music, and my church offers a Children’s Church option so my kids don’t even have to sit like I had to and listen to long sermons.
So for awhile I just took J and H with me to church, and left L home with Todd. I mean, he is too young to really get anything from church anyway right? But then I took L and I found that he really liked going. I know it has little to do with time with his Lord and more to do with a new environment with nice pews that serve as perfect race tracks. But still, he liked going. And I could only take so many mornings of those big brown eyes looking at me crying “I wanna go to Church Momma”.
So now my Sundays are filled with taking my three to church. And of course, we sit in the balcony so I have to walk past all the perfectly behaved children sitting quietly next to their parents waiting for church to start, while mine are seeing how many cars they can stuff into the offering plate or whether they can truly fit underneath the pews.
Now I'm not complaining, because to be honest, most days are fine. But then there are the few "memorable" ones. Allow me to share with you a few of the “finer moments” of the Trio’s church adventures…
1. The Offering where it got quiet just as L finally figured out how to turn silent off of my phone and the Angry Birds laughed at the congregation while they put in their weekly tithings.
2. The Day where the sermon about loving thy neighbor was proceeded by H hitting his sister because she walked up the stairs faster than him.
3. The Communion where H proudly announced for the congregation that the Host (bread) was from Panera
4. The Sunday School where J announced for her teacher that she didn’t come last Sunday because her Mommy wanted to sleep more.
5. The Sunday in the crying room where L decided to race his cars down the arm of the pew just in time for the door to open and the little red firetruck to go down the aisle.
So yes, there are moments my face is as red as the panels of glass in the stained glass windows that adorn the church. And I've had my fair share of little old ladies coming up to me with "Oh your children are so spirited" comments... which of course translates to "Oh you poor thing, your kids are crazy".
Yes, I swear there are even times when I think Jesus Himself is laughing at me from the pictures around me. But I still go. Everytime I hear my 5 year old son yell out the Lord’s Prayer having it completely memorized, or listen as my daughter whispers out her prayers for all the dead goldfish, and stray cats in the world, I realize that I'm doing the right thing.
Sundays are going to continue to be an adventure. There are going to be the days where L is whipped out of the pew and taken to the “crying room”. There are going to be the days where I hear more of “Will you Stop touching me” than prayers.
But a good friend of mine at church said it best. After one particularly rough Sunday he came up to me gave me a hug and whispered in my ear….
“Remember, Jesus said bring the little children to me. He didn’t say bring me only robots and angels.”