Thursday, July 7, 2011

worshiping (with four kids in tow)

Last night I headed one of my favorite worship services at my sister's church - one filled with music, words from the Lord, prayers for healing, sharing the Lord's supper and flooded with the Spirit's presence. Sometimes, the air is so thick with His presence, I can almost feel it...sense the whisper of His touch upon my skin as I lift my arms and voice to His throne.

Usually, I am sans kids at the service - either they are with Dave or in their classes at the church. Last night, however with child care on vacation and Dave facilitating a community discussion, the tribe came with me. Which led to a perhaps, comical, worship scenario. Here is how it went:

I hurriedly arrive in the sanctuary, late, and set down the umbrella stroller on my seat. (The umbrella stroller is one of the many tools in my "keep Ben busy and quiet kit). Brie, Reese and Luke situate themselves near the band and study the musicians.

We make it through 1 1/2 songs with me mostly able to focus on the Lord as I rock Ben to the music.

Then his 2-year-old weight takes a toll on my arms so I sit down. He promptly takes this as his cue to begin exploring. I spend the next few minutes attempting him to resettle him in my arms, but the horse is already out of the gate.

Time to break out the stroller. We make it through another song with Ben content. I worship with one arm raised and one hand on the reclined stroller.

Then Luke comes over. He has to "go." Immediately. I ask Brie to take him thinking it will break up the time a little for them. Of course, Reese wants to join them and as Ben is always taking notes on his sibs activities, he now decides the stroller is constricting.

Time to break out the keys. This works for about 30 seconds.

Sigh. I'm down to my last resort - the cell phone.

Phew. And now, back to the Lord.

Then I happen to glance over and see my other three children running around the fellowship area (the bathrooms are located nearby).


The rest of the time I alternate between keeping Reese in our row, answering the "when is this going to be over?" question multiple times, quieting Ben every time he screeches in protest when one of his brothers tries to "help" him with the cell phone, making sure my cell phone minutes were not eaten up each time Ben inadvertently pressed the web connection button, and, of course, worshiping.

But why go through all this? Why stick it out to the gritty end when I clearly was not 100% focused on God?

Because, when your spiritual batteries are as low as mine were, the Lord can take those minutes, those seconds and use them to infuse you with His strength and peace and presence.

Because I hope to change the perception, especially within myself, that children who don't sit quietly in their chairs are a disruption to a worship service.

Because I believe God still delights in me being there and giving as much as I can to Him.

Because I hope one day my children will learn to soak in the presence of the Lord and this is great training ground.

Because being only semi-present in mind and spirit is better than not being there at all.

(The above is one Ben took with my phone. You can see the pews, the worship band and prompt screens in the background. It's now the wallpaper on my phone - a reminder this is place I desire to be even when frazzled and unfocused.)

How about you? Are there times when you desire to worship the Lord but feel you can't give it all? Do you hesitate to begin because your mother-instinct warns you of inevitable interruptions? Or, do you have similar experiences of interrupted worship? How did you make it through?

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