Just Keep Trying

Just keep trying…I’m not saying this to only you. It is on repeat in my mind almost constantly. Just keep trying…just keep trying…

For several years we have made the choice to have our children, of all ages, be with us during the worship service. I am often asked how I teach my children to behave so well during this time. When I am asked it always gives me a moment of pause and I hesitate to share my wisdom. I’m not sure it is what other parents want to hear.

Let us not get ahead of ourselves here. Join me for a moment. Sunday morning we arrive at church and find our seats. We take up a whole row with a few on the row in front of us. During the service I will glance down the row to gaze upon my well-behaved children. Oh, wait. The five year old is making a paper telescope out of a sermon notes sheet and using it to keep a close eye on the pastor. The seven year old has no paper and is trying to barter a piece from a sibling. The nine year old decided to bring her box of coloring pencils and share with the two year old. Yes. Coloring pencils that will likely at some point hit the floor. And naturally the child who was absolutely positive that they did not need to use the restroom had to go right now in the middle of the sermon. Just for kicks…let’s toss in a baby who has discovered his voice and the high pitch he can reach with it.

Perfectly well-behaved children? Nope. But they are children. And the paper telescope? The five year old knew to keep it low and not to wave in the air and disturb those around her. The bartering seven-year old? He settled in and listened to the sermon even without paper. The coloring pencils? My daughter realized that it wasn’t the best idea to have that many options out during the worship service. No one around us was disrupted. They were all quiet and relatively still. (And as an adult that can’t sit still, I don’t require perfection in my children here. They just have to learn how to focus that energy.)

This post is not about whether you should have your children in worship or not. That is a personal decision. You can clearly see what our decision has been. The point of this post is about how I get my children to behave during a worship service. Or at a restaurant. Or to use the bathroom. Or to learn to read.Or to conquer long division. Insert a wide range of possibilities here. Now for the key to success: Just Keep Trying.

Life changing? Nope. But really that is what we have done. We just keep trying. One of my children screamed the first year of life. Not a pained scream. Not a fearful scream. Just screamed because she liked screaming apparently. Guess what? At nine, when she goes outside to play guess what she does? Screams. She no longer screams in the middle of the worship service or when I’m reading aloud. She knows the appropriate time and place. Why? Because we kept trying.

Sometimes you don’t have to try, teach, guide, direct for long. Other times you wonder if your child will ever “get it”. They will. It may feel like an uphill battle. Just keep trying. It may seem like no progress is being made. Just keep trying. You may take your child out of the service every. single. Sunday. for a year but just keep trying. Show your child what is important for your family. Find ways to help them. Correct when needed. Praise when they make progress. Remind yourself of the end goal. I am blessed each Sunday to see my older children singing, participating, enjoying the worship service. I am so thankful that we just kept trying.

And the Tribe Adds One..

Hello? Anyone there? This blog has been so quiet. All of my lovely intentions to share all of our lovely reading with you over the past several months has failed to come to fruition. It seems that the days get crazier and busier. When I finally have a quiet moment to formulate a thought or two, well, my brain goes into hibernation mode.

And then the Tribe adds one….Yes, a sweet, adorable little guy decided to come a couple of weeks early and melt our hearts.

David Matthias arrived September 24th weighing in at 7lbs 13oz. Everyone is absolutely in love with him. Ezra is delighted to be a big brother and gives lots of kisses to David. Or as Ezra calls him, “Dave”.  I have to constantly chase away siblings who want to hold Little Dave. No lack of love or attention here.

The little guy is currently napping so now I get to do a few reading lessons, check in on math progress, and see how science narrations are looking. Then I’ll be back to rocking and cuddling the little one.


Children and the Worship Service

When our oldest children were babies and toddlers, their time at church was spent in the church nursery. I actively participated as a nursery volunteer and at times even served as nursery director. As our children grew older and more children were added to our family, out thoughts on children’s programs, nursery, and worship changed.

We came to believe that instead of nursery or children’s church that being beside us in worship was where our children needed to be.  While it would be lovely if I could say that my children were perfectly behaved, well, it would be beyond misleading. I have spent many Sundays stepping out of the sanctuary with a little one who was fussy, or tired, or loud, or squirmy. In all honesty, I thought one of my children may never grow into the ability to sit through a worship service.

There were some Sundays when I spent very little time in the worship service. I suppose you could stand up and say that this is exactly why nursery and children’s church is needed. And I wholeheartedly disagree. We step out and we go back in. Because worship is important. And our children realizing and understanding how important it is makes it worth every trip in and out of the sanctuary. Every Sunday bouncing a baby in the back. Every pencil and piece of paper shoved in my bag for my little ones to “take notes” on.

A writer I am not. I frequently struggle to find the right words to express myself. This is why I love this article, Should Children Sit Through Big Church by John Piper. He says so well what I wish I could convey. The Family: Together in God’s Presence was written by John and Noel Piper in 1995 but is an excellent article with practical advice.

While I am still dealing with a squirmy two year old on Sunday mornings, I also get to see what is on the other side. I see my teens engaged, taking notes, commenting on sermons, and recognizing good, solid, biblical teaching. I see my younger children singing, listening, soaking in the scripture from the pulpit. And there is nothing more beautiful than seeing my family, together, in worship. Beautiful, indeed.