Friday, April 27, 2007

A prayer request for the Walker family

If you visit any of the blogs I have listed in my sidebar, you will find one called Rebekah's Thots. Rebekah Walker is the daughter of our former pastor in Texas. She and her husband Steven are expecting their second son next week. I would encourage you to read through her blog to know her difficult journeys into motherhood, and to understand the urgency of this prayer request.

Rebekah is to be induced on Monday. Please pray for a safe delivery. Please also pray for peace of mind for their whole family. God is gracious.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Maxson Family

I have never met Victor and Bethany Maxson, but Bethany's family attends a church we used to attend when we lived in Texas. I had her old blog on my sidebar, but now that she's married she has a new blog. I think it should be interesting to read about the lives of these young Christian newlyweds as they live and work and grow together. So far they have some lovely pictures of their honeymoon on South Padre Island.

You know, I think I'm getting old. Victor and Bethany look so young!!!!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Babies and children in the worship service

"And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law" (Nehemiah 8:2-3).

Years ago, when Pastor David Dickerson preached a series from Nehemiah, he voiced the question, "At what age can children understand?" He then answered his own question thus: "A lot sooner than most people give them credit for."

But lest there be any misunderstanding, I found this verse:

"Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet" (Joel 2:15-16).

My friend Twinklemoose recently wrote a wonderful article on child training. I especially liked her analogy of painting trees. (See Psalm 1:3.) As sometimes happens, I found that my reply to her article was turning into an article of my own. You will have a better understanding of my post if you read hers first.

As I read through Twink's article, I suddenly thought, "Couldn't we arrange Baby's weekday schedule to be a little closer to the Lord's Day schedule?" After all, that would help teach Baby that the Lord's day is special, not tedious and trying. Then, just as suddenly, I was surprised to realize that I had already done that, completely without conscious effort.

I, too, once thought that NOTHING should interfere with Baby's schedule. I even had the support of a well-known missionary/author/conference speaker/radio host! She went so far as to suggest that Mother stay home with Baby while Father and Older Child(ren) went to services that went past Baby's bedtime.

I resented that I had to struggle with fussy children and that my pastor/husband wanted children trained to sit in the service at as young an age as possible instead of being in the nursery. I know others might feel the same resentment, so what happened in our house quite by accident might help them. Here's what happened:

We always struggled with keeping even primary-aged children (ages 6-8 or so) awake during morning and evening services. Then, for completely different reasons, I changed the children's nap and bed times to be about an hour later than before. It wasn't until I read Twink's article that I realized that this one minor change in the weekday schedule had made all the difference in the world with the Sunday schedule.

No longer do I regularly struggle to keep a child awake during services. If I sense that a child needs more sleep because of a rough night, I can easily make an exception and allow the child to sack out on the floor by my feet, covered with my sweater or the baby's blanket. (If the floor of your church isn't carpeted like ours is, and you can anticipate your child's probable need for a little nap, you might bring an extra small blanket to use as a pallet.)

We begin teaching our children to go through the motions very early. My son John is not tall enough to see over the top of the chair/pew in front of him, so we supplied a small stool for him to stand on. When we stand to sing or for the Scripture reading, he stands--on his stool, not on the chair/pew we sit on. My son Timothy is still too young for the stool, so when we stand, I hold him against me while he sits on the back of the chair/pew in front of me. When we sing, John likes to hold a hymnbook. I teach him to hold it still, and not play with it or make noise turning the pages. When we read from the Scripture, John likes to hold a Bible. I teach him to hold it still, just like the hymnbook. Sometimes he tires of holding it, so I have him set it on the chair next to him. Then he just sits quietly through the rest of the service. I don't give him toys to play with, books to look at, or paper to write on. I found that doing so made for more distraction when he dropped toys or wanted to show people his books or paper.

Timothy, at almost 13 months, is still in the process of learning to be still. I keep him in the service all through the singing portion of the service. He sits on my lap or on the chair/pew next to me. He doesn't play with toys, either, because he drops them purposely and wants them picked up so he can drop them again. He also does not sit on the floor because he will crawl away. If he's sleepy/fussy, I nurse him. No one at our church objects to me doing so in the service since I am discreet about this. If he is antsy to the point of wiggling and making happy noises, I will stand, holding him, in the back of the auditorium. My younger children and I sit in the back anyway, so I can still supervise the ones who are sitting down.

If things get to the point when I have to take Timothy out because he is too noisy, I take him to the room set aside as a nursery where I let him play a little while. I usually bring John out, too, and have him sit quietly in a chair. Here I will let John work a few simple puzzles or look at Bible story books. But because I still have him be quiet, I can continue to hear the sermon coming through on the speaker.

At home, during dinner time, we go around the table asking the children what they learned. They can choose whether to tell about Sunday school or the morning sermon. This provides interesting and profitable mealtime conversation that even the younger ones get involved in.

It helps when the pastor finds ways to include the children in his sermon. Every now and then, Tom will say that such-and-such is like what so-and-so learned in Sunday school recently. He will call the child's name and remind them of what they learned previously and how that relates to what he is preaching about now. And he knows a lot about what all the classes are learning because he requires the children to say something about their lessons before they can choose a hymn on Sunday nights. And my younger children enjoy being used as sermon illustrations. (My older children are not quite so enthusiastic about this!)

This has turned into a longer post than I anticipated, but I hope it helps someone.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

One Sunday morning

You may have noticed that very little has been coming through from me to this blog. I had computer issues. A new hard drive was installed, my computer got a virus, things were reinstalled, some documents (actually a whole lot of documents) were lost in the process. Most importantly, I lost all the high school records I was keeping for my three oldest home schoolers. (Thankfully, I printed out most of those, so it's not a total loss of hours upon hours of work.)

Besides computer issues, we all got sick. Colds and the flu all at the same time. All eleven of us. Even Tom went down, which is unusual. One Sunday night service and one mid-week prayer meeting were canceled, youth group canceled at least once, one prayer meeting went on without Tom and two-thirds of our family, and nursing home services were either canceled or led by someone else. And there are still some sick. Today at least four of our children are staying home, but Tom says I'm going, regardless. I've missed too many Sundays, and I'm one of the Sunday school teachers! Tom (the current sub-teacher) has taught my class more than I have in the past two months.

On the upside, I am finally learning French!!!! Le chat est sous la voiture because the puppy keeps chasing it, and it goes there to hide. It took me awhile to remember the difference between sous la voiture and sur la voiture, although little paw prints on the windshield indicate that le chat est sur la voiture quite frequently. I think my favourite sentence so far is, La fille marche. That one reminds me of when I was a little girl. I was supposed to go to bed, I think, but I wasn't moving fast enough. My mother said, "Now march!" And, like a little soldier, I marched!

"This is the day which the LORD hath made: let us rejoice and be glad in it." Today is my birthday. J'ai quarante et un ans.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

We found Larry!!!!!

Larry was sighted this week. He is happily (I guess) living out his days in the cellar, very much alive and well.

Just thought you'd like to know that.