I was going to call this post "Season of Embrace" but thought it too corny, just saying.
I haven't been super involved with church the past 3 years...Really 4 years almost. I was very (VERY) sick with my first little and so the whole pregnancy it was a challenge to go to church. I have several memories of hovering in the old churchy bathroom stalls dry heaving. Oh so lovely. Then my wondrous baby was finally born, and I didn't have the energy to drag my self to church. Energy to spend the morning pacing the halls outside the sanctuary or nursing in the nursery (because that's how it works, right?) with a fussy baby who wanted to be home napping and away from all the people and strange sounds.
Well God lead us to a different church when she was around 8 months old. Again I was expected to nurse her in certain rooms, and leave her in the nursery. I nursed her in the appropriate places, but I stayed with her, or more she with me. Outside the sanctuary she'd run back and forth or sit and color with me.
At our new church I got the line "it's a season, she'll be off and flying before you know it! Take your time." they were definitely understanding... Even now at almost 3, my girl doesn't want to be left in the nursery. Every Sunday morning when we're heading out the door she exclaims. "But I don't want to go be with Miss M!"
There was a time when we were pushing for it, we tried lots of different things- all the things they recommend to help them adjust to spending time away from you. The anxiety it produced for our careful girl, just isn't worth it. Would she adjust if we just stuck her in there consistently? Eventually I'm sure she would. But not with out costing a bit of trust and a LOT of very loud, angry and scared tears. We know she's just fine being away from us when she's in her element (home) and with her Nana (my Mom)... So we know we CAN leave her. And would it really kill her cry in there for a while? No. But we want it to be her decision. Her realizing in herself that she is ready. Her feeling strong enough in herself (someone she's just discovering) to go in there and have fun and LEARN. Her decision to fly away and off to her own thing.
So more recently we've taken a more hands-off attitude: "You don't have to go unless you want to. We love to be with you and you can stay with us..You'll know when you're ready."
So we all sit (I use that term loosely) together in the "Family Room" and the girls pull things out of their "busy bag" and we try to keep them quiet and content while we listen to snippets of the sermon. In all honesty, it's frustrating. It feels pointless. By 10:45 our early risers are getting tired and starting to get either uber energetic, or fussy and meltdowny. The entire service is spent redirecting- peeling them from the walls (literally), and trying to entertain and keep the tears to a dull roar (my children have LUNGS!). Then to spend 10 minutes getting to "fellowship" (visiting over a quick bite and some thing to drink) while we corral toddlers, give them snacks (more snack as that was one of our tools in keeping them from going stir crazy the entire service) and tag team making sure they aren't tripping any one, or sticking their fingers in snacks, dumping things....It's kinda hilariously chaotic.
It's exhausting. And yet, we know we're supposed to go. Not because it's some religious observance. Or to get our children "in church" (ha!). But because God told us this was our church, go and reach out to other families. So we try. We're trying to be faithful in that.
And yet, there aren't (yet) families to minister to. We're the only young family in the church right now. There are a few single Mama's or ones whose partners don't attend- and I love visiting with them. But they don't have time to fellowship outside of church, and they have a few kids they are trying to care for on their own and corral in the same area of the building and talk to teachers... You get it, I don't get to visit so much.
Which leads me to WOMEN'S MINISTRIES. Women's Bible Study, Women's Brunch, Women's RETREAT...
None of which I can attend, well commit to attend.
This morning I was asked if I was attending next months retreat (Friday night, Saturday and Sunday until late afternoon). I can't, #2 is "still" nursing, I don't have a peace about leaving her. She would not understand my absence, I'm still her world. Again, "it's a season, maybe next year....bla bla bla." All very understanding. I think.
My littles will grow up. I bet this time next year RJ will be running off to her class barely looking back for a wave...Either way, it will happen eventually!
And I feel a bit misunderstood. While they all understand and respect my desire to mother the way I need to. I'm grappling with what my understanding of this situation is. Will this really be a short season?
In all honesty, I think this mothering tiny littles is going to be a LONG season. Like, a-big-chunk-of-the-rest-of-my-life kind of thing.
Ryan and I are dreamers. We have a lot of dreams and interests. And we are passionate about a LOT of diverse things. We have absolutely no idea exactly how God is going to use them all. We laugh about it a lot how varied and random all our interests are. But there is nothing we are as passionate about as our family, about our children. About families and children in general.
I've always loved children- I spent several months of my life working full time with them in the projects of a large west-coast city. I LOVE them. Even as a child, I loved smaller children- was always mothering on them...Was always the favorite babysitter (and started babysitting at a young age!).
Ryan and I knew before we were married (you know that instinctive know in your soul that you're called to some thing) that we were going to have a large family. I'm not talking 4 or 5 kids (which is considered large to most people? I consider large 8+ children, in all honesty) that a big part of our calling was going to involve children and raising them.
Let me say, I sincerely hope that no more than a few (4? 5?)of them will be from my actual body. :0. I despise how I feel when I am pregnant, gotta say the getting huge and then birthing thing has not been too fun. Maybe I'll get better at all of it as I have more? Either way, I think Ryan and I both feel that having like 12kids of our own (like they came completely from us) would be kind of ego-driven on our part (NOT saying that is the case of all extra large families- some times they just happen!)- we want to give children who are living in abuse and poverty a chance. Who knows how it will look, I hope that it will be very spread out so we can take each child and love it, fill it up like crazy until it's handling flying on it's on a big and then dive in and rescue another little.
I've always known God was going to send me children. Children to love on and raise to know Him. And that's where this conflict comes in: I'm not looking at 3 or 4 more years of this "they want to be with Mommie" stage. I'm looking at (I must reluctantly admit) a good ten to fifteen (plus?) years of hare and intense work in the mothering field.
I don't know how, I don' t know any thing for sure. But I feel like God's been preparing my heart in this area and helping me figure out how to keep things simple while I just have 2. So that when I have a lot more...Well there is grace for any thing He calls us to. But He gave us imaginations, and I'm using mine to keep things interesting and hopefully simple as my family grows.
I'm not sharing this because I'm anxious and trying to figure out all my chicks before they hatch I'm just processing. . Maybe I've got it all wrong.
But it's not all about having a large family, they other thing that kind of makes this interesting is that I am going to home school. And that "Oh they're off to school already!" thing really won't happen. My kids won't always need me as intensely as they do now. But then I'll have more babies who will...
I guess my point in writing all that out is some thing that some one asked me at church this morning. Just some thing about my joining a Mom's In Touch prayer group. The pastors wife really would like to see me get more plugged in, I know it, and I'm praying about what and how "more plugged in" will look considering the season. I know it is not that prayer group. It just is not going to work with the girls in the stages they are in. And M (pastors wife)understands where I'm at (kind of). I know she wants to connect with me.
So here I sit, it's getting late and this post is getting long. I was just interrupted by crying baby and while I nursed her back down, The only question I am trying to focus on is: If this is the season of my life for the unforeseeable future...1) what are my priorities 2) how can I fellowship and pray and enjoy time with other believers while keeping my priorities straight.
1) my priority and first responsibility is to my family. I don't agree with the saying "God, Church, Family." That is big in church circles. That is a very human way of prioritizing life. I don't think God works that way. God wants to be part of every thing I do, there is no separation to Him of spiritual and nonspiritual. He isn't in to cookie-cuttering every thing this way and that. He's not human. He can be glorified in EVERYTHING I do. And He has made it clear t0 me that I am to mirror His love and grace to my (His) children. I do that by meeting their physical and emotional needs and letting them know I am there for them. At this point in their little lives they need me a LOT. Their well being and happiness is very much wrapped up in my presence. At this point in my life my husband and I are working very hard round the clock caring for them. So any time we get together needs to be spent together (except when I'm processing and writing long blog posts, sigh. ;0)
Which leads to 2) How can I make fellowship happen with out sacrificing 1)?
Some thing I'm still pondering and praying about.
But is it wrong that I don't want my fellowship time to be with the women at church (so much), that I don't want it to be churchy at all really? That I just want to have friends to pray with, share and grow with? That I'm tired of churchiness? More things I'm pondering tonight.
And on that note, I'm closing this post.