Sundays are one of the hardest, least “sabbath” days of my week. Kirk and I have a unique situation in our family dynamic due to his job, as well as our choices in growing our family (i.e. adding three kids in the space of 1 year through foster care). Before I make some observations about our “sabbath” I need to make some disclaimers…
1. I LOVE my husband and I am so thankful that he has a job that supports our family, that he loves, and that he is gifted in.
2. I LOVE my children. I love my big girl and her helpful, big sister attitude. I love my big boy and his extreme patience with his little siblings. I love my middle child and his charming nature. I love my giggly little girl. And I love my chunky ball of baby joy.
Having said that, Sundays are the hardest day of the week for me as the wife of a music director and the mother of five children. Sundays are the hardest days of the week due to the physical and emotional stresses I have. They are also one of the most refreshing to my heart and soul and my steadfastness in the Lord. In the midst of the chaos and exhaustion, God meets me and restores my soul so that I can make it through the next week.
Kirk leaves for church at 7:30 (hopefully the little kids are mostly fed, I’m mostly fed, and the big kids are out of bed). We attempt to leave at 8:00. This means making sure 5 kids are dressed, fed, teeth brushed, and have used the bathroom. Two can do all of this on their own, one can do some of it on his own, the other two need help for most. We do our best to get to church on time but sometimes I realize as we leave that I haven’t finished getting myself ready, or one of the little ones poops in their diaper, or we realize the car is out of gas.
Being the wife of the music director means that Kirk is engaged elsewhere for most of the “worship”/singing part of the service, the part when all of the kids are with their parents. I can’t do it by myself and have had to humbly ask for help. My plea for help has consistently been greeted by overwhelming acts of love. One family from our house church takes my very heavy, very squirmy baby from the moment we arrive at church until they’ve dropped him off in nursery. Most Sundays I can handle the other four kids. But any time there is a transition or change in our life the middle kiddo’s life feels out of whack and that generally leads to a decrease in his ability to control his emotions, behaviors, impulses, etc. Sometimes we can calm down in the middle of the service, sometimes it takes a minute in the foyer. And now and then it takes several minutes sitting and calming down in the bathroom. I need someone who can sit with my other three kids while I deal with these behaviors. Once again I ask for help and have never failed to find someone extra to sit with us.
Our church has recently gone through some scheduling changes and I have really loved the new changes. Kids ages 4 and up sit with their parents through the sermon. Today was Little D’s first Sunday in the sermon. We know that this will be hard work for him to learn to sit quietly for this amount of time. But we also believe this is a skill that he needs to learn. Kirk is with me for this part of the service so I am thankful that we can work together on this skill for Little D. It’s also proven to be a wonderful time to give Joanna and Sam some much needed “snuggle” time. 🙂
Between the first and second service there is about and hour and a half during which the kids have Sunday school and there are also Adult Ed. classes. I have enjoyed how much this has slowed down our Sunday mornings. Kirk and I are able to spend time together between services playing with the little kids and having conversations with other families. It’s been fun to get to catch up with other church members that in the past I didn’t have time to keep up with because church felt so rushed. Once the little kiddos are more settled into our family I look forward to attending and Adult Ed class. We rarely have done this in the past because they used to take place in the late afternoon and Kirk, and I, are generally wiped out from our morning responsibilities.
I get the kids home around 11:30, make lunch, and put the little three down for naps…wow, sounds easy when typed out. Kirk gets home around 1:45 and I’ve enjoyed taking the time while I wait to try to blog again.
Though it’s hard to focus on the singing of church, God continues to encourage my heart through the songs we sing. Though it’s hard to focus on the entire sermon, I can get the general gist of the message and I am weekly reminded of God’s love and grace and His call for us to serve Him in our daily lives. I need these reminders that the hard work of caring for my foster kids and their difficult issues is the good work of God’s kingdom that He’s called me into. I’ve come to think of “sabbath rest” as less of me getting to have what I want (focused worship, contemplative Biblical instruction, sitting on the couch and watching TV all afternoon) and more of a day of serving (serving my husband as he serves the church, serving my kids and working to teach them how to worship the Lord, serving our neighbor’s daughter so she can come to church, working to find little bits of rest along with my family rather than in solitude). God meets me and encourages me, even though sometimes it’s just through a small comment during the sermon or part of a song…
“Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.” (Power of the Cross, Keith Getty)