Training little ones to sit quietly during church part 2

Family integrated worship……..what was that all about?  I just knew going to church and having my children and I go our separate ways.    Then I learned that there were families that sit together in service under the teaching of their pastor.    How enjoyable to be able to worship God together and share in the excitement of what God is doing!!!They learn to sit and respect the direction of their pastor and they learn what it means to be reverent.

As a side note, I am not against having children’s church or nursery for children. I think it is a great resource for people.  Sometimes that might be the only sanity that a mom or dad may have and I am thankful for the people that volunteer their time to help in that area of ministering.  I am just sharing what it is WE do as a family. What WE do is NOT for everyone.  I don’t believe that EVERYONE should have 10 children.  Just as I don’t believe every woman should wear skirts only.  These are things that the Lord has shows US to do. We can’t all be confined to the same mold, it doesn’t make our world go around.  Back to my post…..

When the Lord started showing us family integrated worship, I knew there was not a whole lot of churches in our area that did this, in fact I didn’t even know of one, but God did.  He found us a small church, that needed a worship team and we were able to transfer over.  It was still within our denomination, it was just a start up church looking for individuals to help, and that is what our family did best.  My family helped with the music, we were able to help serve and the pastor was supportive of having the children stay in church with us.  It was a great learning experience for me.  There was no nursery to run to, when the little one got loud, it was an open building.  At this time, I wasn’t doing the bench practice with my children—because life was even busier with 6 little ones under 7 years of age.

My husband said, well the best place to practice is to start by taking them to church and teaching them.  So we did.

Now some days were worse than others.  I’d love to say that they all sat attentively ALL of the time, but they didn’t.  Each time we left, I would share with them what we needed to work on the next week. As the week’s went by, they got better and better.

This was how our typical Sunday went….

Before we got out of the van, I kindly reminded them what we need to work on at church that day.  Then I prayed(for myself).  We did bathroom breaks and diaper changes before worship.

During worship time, our pastor encouraged them to sing and play the child instruments. To avoid any, off beat playing by my children, I was quick to grab the drums or louder instruments when the music switched over to a quieter song.   We encouraged them to stand up and sing to God at this time.  We listened to this type of music at home all day long and they have learned the words by repetition.  The baby usually fell asleep during this time.

After worship, my family returns and I can let down my guard a bit.  My husband and I have the younger ones on either side of us and we hold the baby.  The other younger ones we placed between the older ones.  We are very blessed to have a pastor and congregation be patient with our little ones during service.  It is much more encouraging for me as a mother to know that we aren’t looked down upon because we want to include them in service.

Of course, I brought things to occupy them, I have even resorted to bringing out my phone to play a movie with no sound in order to avoid a meltdown—-I know not good–smile.

I had  church bags that I made for each child when they were little.  I used these ONLY during Sunday service.  It included toys and things that they never played with except on Sunday.  I bought small tote bags from the craft store and ironed on transfer letters with their names.

I put their bibles, a writing notebook, a pencil and some reading books in the bags.  I had some small toys I would put for the younger ones like a slinky, small car, a mini baby, baby beads, and a small Noahs ark set.

I also packed pretzels and drinks, but usually kept those for after service. Sometimes service was longer and I could tell blood sugars were low, I then resorted to pretzels which are less mess than cereal or crackers.

After service, they got up to go have a snack in the fellowship area.  Then I would load them up as soon as possible, otherwise they would take off running.  My husband and older children were busy loading up the sound equipment, so I was on my own.

I could probably of practiced more at home, and got them to all sit perfectly still like I did the older ones, but I didn’t.  I think having more children has made me more relaxed in what I do.  I no longer feel like we have to conform to a certain set mold.  Church is enjoyable for me now, I actually get to worship and learn as a mom with 6 little ones, who would’ve thought??

Now fast forward to the present day.  My youngest is two years old. Church is no longer hard.  We can all sit in service pretty well.  I still have to make sure that I am prepared.  We try and get everyone to the bathroom before service begins.  I still separate children in service.  We bring along a church bag with bibles, paper and pencils, and small toys.  We did have those magnetic boards for everyone but soon learned that they were extremely loud when the church was silent–those have since been removed from the bag.  I find that my older ones sit and listen—I print off some sermon note learning papers I made and they are to complete one for service.

Download (PDF, 489KB)

I try and keep it simple.  The little ones may bring a matchbox car or small baby, but I have found that the more things I bring, the louder they get.  They are usually just as happy with only 1-2 items.  They learn to praise God, they learn to clap, and they learn to pray.

So which method do I recommend??  CONSISTENCY.  Consistently go to church.  Consistently take your children with you.  Sit up in the very front row—to avoid distractions and to help them better pay attention.  Practice at home if you want, but the best way to learn is to just DO.  Think less is best.  The less toys, to drop and make noise the better.  Simplify.

Be blessed.

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Training little ones to sit quietly during church part 1

Okay, you know you have seen her.

You know that Mom that walks in with her little children all lined up nice and neat–looking perfectly ready for church service? They sit down, smile politely, and shake hands nicely with everyone.    Then they sit through service without hearing even a peep from their littlest one.  The mom sits there with a calmness about her and she even appears to really be paying attention to what the pastor is speaking about.  Not a child is misbehaving.  They are sitting contentedly, patiently waiting for whatever is to come next.

Meanwhile…you look down at your little ones.  You forgot to comb your little girls hair today.  Your boys have stains dribbled down the front of their shirts from breakfast that morning.  They are already bickering over who gets what book.  Your little one is driving his cars over the pews and is making a loud noise.  You are thankful for the music, because it drowns out the sound of them.  You look forward to when the service begins just so that you can take them to classes and sit and enjoy the service. Oh, but wait… is a “special service” and there is NO CHILDRENS CHURCH!!!!!!  Oh no! The panic then starts to take over.   You realize that you are going to have to make it through the entire hour trying to keep them quiet.  Forget about actually listening to the message, you need to work at keeping your children quiet.  By the time church is finished, you have lightly pinched, given “the look”, and are exhausted from trying to keep a squirming toddler quiet.  When you go to leave, there are cheerios under your seats, toys sprawled upon the floor, and your children are ready to go!!!

Sound all too familiar???  I agree.  That was me, many times at church.  I almost dreaded even going, because it was too much work to try and keep everyone in line for services.  I regret to say,that I chose multiple times to just stay home because sometimes it was just too much and I didn’t even want to deal with that seemingly overwhelming task.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  I have been going to church with my children for about 16 years.  We have tried numerous methods.  I have observed various mothers and I have read a lot of magazines and books.  I want to share the different ways that we have tried to help our children learn to be quiet.  Is any way better than the others??  When you get to the end, you will know what method works best for us.  The one that I wish I would have just done straight from the beginning.  But I will share our journey, so you can see that it was far from perfect and we had to work at what we have.

Now this is going way back…….but years ago when we first started going to church and we had 4 little ones we would have practice time each day.  This was when life was much easier and I HAD  time to do things. (smile)  We would set the dining room table bench in the middle of the floor and I would have the 4 children sit on it.  Then I would either read a devotion book to them or we would listen to radio programs on cassette.  We started out slow, maybe 15 minutes for a few days, then added 15 more minutes, every few days.  We worked up to the 2 hours that we would be sitting in church.

During that time, I wouldn’t allow any type of fidgeting or talking.  Lots of praise and being consistent were very important.  Eventually they would sit for the full church time, without a single bribing toy.   We made sure that they had a drink, were not hungry, and had gone to the bathroom before we even began.

This method worked.  It took practice and consistency, to teach my children how to sit for long periods of time.  But I made the time for this to work.  I just set aside that 15 minutes every day for our “training time.”  I had to be adamant about doing it every day and it worked.

Then the Lord gave us five years with no babies…..a time to prepare for our second half.(smile)  We had a baby pretty much every year and year and a half.    My days were busy.  It was a constant pattern of feedings, diaper changes, cleaning up, feedings, diaper changes, and cleaning up.  Over and over that was the routine of my life.  There was ZERO time for anything else.  Absolutely no time for training, I barely had time to get ready myself for the day.  But I still had to go to church on Sundays.

The church we attended during that time had a nursery.  After praise and worship were done, off I went with my little ones to sit in the nursery.  There weren’t usually any others, so it was just us.  I would spend my time holding a baby, while watching my other ones play.  By the time church was finished, they were tired, hungry, and ready to go home.    Sometimes, I would go home and think to myself “Why did I even go to church today, it would have been much easier to just stay at home?”    At least my little ones could play within the normal confines of the home and I could watch a preacher or read my bible, without too many distractions.  I definitely was NOT in the right heart mode at that time. But I am a work-in-progress and the Lord had to work on my heart as He still does in my life.

I was thankful for the times that the Lord did allow me to minister to some other mothers who would occasionally come back and sit in the nursery with me.  It was a struggle for all of us with little ones.  Life can be hard, going to church can be hard, but coming together with the body of Christ is good for our spirit.  Sometimes you have to find even the littlest of joys in your situations.  There might be that single mom, who will come back and share her struggles of life.  If I would have been at home, by myself, God wouldn’t of been able to use me to minister to her in her time of need and I would of missed out on God’s blessing.

Then the Lord opened our eyes to something new.  Something I was unfamiliar with.  He started showing us family integrated worship.  Hmmmm that looked nice.  All of the family TOGETHER,  learning about God, being ministered to, and praising God.  I had to learn more…………so I did.

Look for part 2 this week!



art of writing letters

For most of you, you may have never really got to experience how personal and wonderful it is to receive an actual letter in the mail. With technology it seems silly to mail a letter when you can just text, email, or facebook someone. But there is something about walking out to your mailbox and discovering that someone has taken the time to send you a handwritten letter in the mail. It’s a feeling of gratitude that they took the time and thought of you.

Reasons why you should write a handwritten letter:

  • Personal—they contain your effort, your handwriting, and your thoughts.
  •  Effort—it takes more effort to choose the supplies needed to write a letter. It is more effort to write out words, compared to typing.
  • Cost efficient—you can pick up a package of stationary or cards and send out a multiple number of letters. This is cheaper in comparison to sending a one-time gift to someone.
  • Enjoyed over and over— If you have sent a letter of encouragement to someone, the recipient is able to reread what you said and be encouraged over and over.
  • Speaking positiveness—-In conversations and text messages where emotions can run high, when choosing to write out our words, it forces us to be careful in choosing what to say. It helps us consider what we are putting down and rechecking to make sure our words mean what we intend.
  • Consideration—-it shows friends that you are taking the time to show them that you care. That they were on your mind. It leaves an open door for someone to respond back if they need someone to turn to.

Do you see all the benefits to writing a letter? I want you to keep a list of people that you can send encouragement to once or twice per month. These can be your friends that you don’t get to see often, leaders at your church, another mom that encourages you often, etc. Take the time and ask God to put into your mind someone whom you can encourage. He will give you ideas of people whom you can bless.

Take the time and find some pretty stationary. You can choose paper or even a pack of cards. I like to begin writing on a card and then inserting some pieces of stationary that I finish the letter on.

Begin your letter with some sort of encouraging scripture you have been reading. Explain how God spoke to you through that scripture. Go through and encourage them by thanking them for what they do for you. You can share what it going on in your life. Keep it positive. If they are going through a struggle, don’t let it be about you—keep it to encouragement and about them. Don’t ask a lot of questions—no pressure to respond. You want this to be a blessing, not something you demand in return. Yes it would be great if they responded, and hopefully they will, but don’t make pressure to expect it.

If you want to go the extra mile, include something small in the card.
It can be as simple as:

  •  a piece of gum
  •  a tea bag
  •  a pressed flower
  •  some stickers
  •  a balloon—for a younger person
  •  something you printed off the internet
  •  a recipe you tried
  •  scripture cards

Know that everyone enjoys receiving mail. Continue this year by being devoted to sending out letters a few times per month to people. Make it part of your routine. Hopefully, it will come full circle and you will enjoy the benefits by having someone write back to you.

Increasing your faith…..

I was reminded this week about the importance of increasing my faith in God.  I started thinking about how easily it is to put my “faith” in things other than Him.  How easily I can listen to others and put my “faith” in things that were heard.

This isn’t the faith that God wants us to have.

Taking offense towards someone produces bad faith.  The bible says:

….faith comes by hearing…

Romans 10:17

What is it that we are listening to and putting our faith into?  We do things  because we “hear” something.

Take heed what you hear.  You can get faith from the wrong thing.  If it is scriptural you should receive it.  It will make you :

 ….be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord….

1 Corinthians 15:58

If it is strife, it will create “faith: that is not a good faith.  It will create imaginations and thoughts that are not of the Lord and you will take offense at things.

All someone has to do is say, “watch out for that person.”  As soon as you see that person, immediately you put up a wall and your “faith” sets you back from them.  You don’t even give that person a chance to say 2 words to you.  But your “faith” spoke to you and this is what it produces.

Faith creates all the strife in the world.  But on the wrong side.

When you have God faith it will create light.  It will never speak evil, it will never become offended, it will never leave you, or forsake you.  Its added with love.  Love never fails.  Faith works by love.

Instead of blowing something up it creates something.  Love smooths out the wrongs.

Do you know why the bible says that God will never remember you sins?  How does He do that?  It isn’t by memory—because even we can remember people’s sins and probably remind them of that all of the time.  We judge people every time we look at them, even when they have been forgiven.  God’s faith is so powerful, it destroys your past.  That is the type of faith that we should want to live by.

Take heed…….to pay attention to where your “faith” is coming from.

We live by faith….not by sight

2 Corinthians 5:7