Posted tagged ‘children’s church’

Sixth Grade Church Fidgeting

August 27, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                August 27, 2019

                    

My grandson, Jesse, is a great kid. More energy than General Electric, more creativity than a box of 120 Crayola crayon colors. He’s also a sixth grader who can’t sit still, except when he’s reading or watching TV.

Last Sunday he sat beside me in church. It was his first Sunday not in the special gathering for children, the setting where active energy is expected, even planned for. The sanctuary of adults is a bit more laid back and placid in its journey. 

Jesse fidgeted, slithered down in his seat a few times like a snake moving down a hill, set off his multi-functioning watch a couple of times, and even curled his legs up and sat still for a few moments. I chuckled a few times for several reasons. 

I saw the shadow of myself in him! 54 years removed, mind you, but I could see myself. I had that kind of energy once…a long, long time ago!

It’s different these days, though. In my childhood years our church, Central Baptist Church in Winchester, Kentucky, didn’t have a special program for kids to go to during the worship service. If you were of school age you went to the worship service in the sanctuary. it wasn’t even called “the adult service”. It just was! 

Every Sunday I would be positioned between my mom and dad, singing the hymns and snoozing during Pastor Zachary’s sermon. It was the one place each week where I knew my parents were captive. They couldn’t get up to go fix dinner or mow the lawn or go to work. They were my flanks for a good hour or longer. My dad’s arm often functioned as my pillow and my mom’s stern look as the controller of my movement. 

By the sixth grade I had been present for roughly 500 sermons, since we were “two-a-dayers” (Sunday morning and Sunday evening). My brother, sister, and I knew that good behavior translated into popcorn and The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday night when we returned home from the evening service. 

But times have changed. Attention spans are shorter, TV commercials are now snippets, and things move faster. 

Patience is an ancient virtue. Just have a slow internet experience. It feels like you’re waiting in a long restroom line at a Broncos game. 

So I don’t blame Jesse for his hyper-ness. I don’t blame anyone. In some ways his restlessness in worship is the result of adults who don’t want to be annoyed by active kids. I remember a few years ago someone at the church I pastored complained about how disruptive it was to have kids in church. On that Sunday a mom had kept her children with her, instead of having them go to the special gathering for children.

I responded that it was nice to actually have children in our church. It was not the response that was wanted. Children, it seemed, were to be banished to the basement so the adults could learn a couple of spiritual pointers for the week ahead. 

So adults have gotten used to the little ones not being with us as we worship, and the young ones have gotten used to doing their own thing with their own mannerisms, methods, and activity level. 

It’s how it is, and Jesse is who I once was!

Married To A Mom

May 14, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W                                                             May 14, 2017

                               

My wife Carol gets described in an assortment of ways. I was talking to a middle school teacher on Friday and I mentioned that I was married to Carol who works with the special needs students. The teacher’s first question was, “Is she kind of short?” When I said yes, she replied, “Ohhh…she is so nice!”

Our youngest daughter would come to me a few times over the years when Carol was in the midst of a situation that was raising her blood pressure and she would warn me, “Mom is about to go Italian!” Her maiden name was Faletti, and sometimes the “excited exuberance” of her father’s ethnic roots would rise to the surface. (Did you notice how I said that in a complimentary kind of way?)

But Carol has been a mom to a number of kids that aren’t related to us. Last year our grandson’s soccer coach presented her with a tee shirt at the end of their season with the team logo on the front…and “Number One Fan” emblazoned on the back.

Even though our kids have long since graduated, she attends Liberty High School athletic contests on a regular basis…basketball, soccer, volleyball, baseball, swimming, football, JV contests, lacrosse…it matters not! From time to time she will even put her “Lancer Lunatic” shirt on that the students also wear.

When I went to coach at a different high school she adopted those players as some of her own. She prepared the fixings for the team dinner at our house, and chuckled from outside the circle as the players played “Mr. Boodle.”

Carol’s motherly nature, however, comes out as she helps students with special needs. A graduate from Texas Christian University, this Horned Frog got her degree in deaf education and taught preschool deaf kids for a few years before we got married. In recent years she has worked as a para-professional with the students at Timberview Middle School. If you are not familiar with the position, it takes a great amount of patience and energy. It also takes love and compassion. It takes putting the needs of the autistic student above your own. It takes the willingness to be sneezed on, change the diapers of twelve year olds, deal with parents who are rightfully very sensitive about their special children, having your hair pulled, being punched or pinched, and often not being considered part of the educational process by the administrators and teachers they rub elbows with.

But Carol’s motherly nature comes out as she walks down the hallway with the child who just needs someone to come alongside her. She is her advocate and protector as self-absorbed 8th Graders threaten to topple her over. When Carol comes home at the end of a school day she’s spent!

For years she was the Children’s Church leader at my last church pastorate. Kids would share their heart-felt burdens with her, as well as other problems. A typical Sunday might include everything from “My Granddad is really really sick and in the hospital” to “Pray for my dress, because I got peanut butter on it and my mom is going to be really really mad!” Carol listened with empathy and understanding. Many in the church never knew what a gift she was. They were just glad they weren’t being asked to do kid’s church! Since I retired almost a year and a half ago, I’m pretty sure…she misses those times of children gathering together in worship.

She is a mom to three grown children and “Grammy” to three grandchildren, and she is “Mom” to countless others who have passed through our home, her classroom, or even walked down our street.

She is a mom. It is what she is comfortable with. It is who she is!