Who cares about the nursery?

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I believe a church has one main purpose: to preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. If a church loses sight of that purpose, it ceases to be effective. I also believe that any ministry a church has should support that purpose. In my mind, one of the most important ministries a church can have is a nursery. I am a firm believer in the church nursery for a multitude of reasons.

First, we should always remember the pastor has a responsibility. He is called by God to preach the Gospel and minister to the saints. In that same vein, we have a responsibility to help him. How do we do that? By being attentive to the Word and engaged in the service. We have a nursery to allow our pastor the freedom to preach whatever the Holy Spirit has laid on his heart. It is much easier to do that when the service is free of distractions. You might not see the little kid 3 rows behind you that is waving his hands in the air (waving like he just don’t care) and twirling around, but the pastor sees it. We should determine to do our part to keep the services free of distractions. We should also remember that services are not just for the saved. Hopefully, there are lost people in your service. (A wise pastor once said, “If everyone in your church service looks just like you, you’re not doing something right. You should want those that look different to walk through the doors.”) Satan wants nothing more than to distract them from hearing the most important message they need to hear.

Secondly, kids make noise. God designed them that way. They coo, they giggle, they talk, they belch and pass gas. The nursery is designed to allow those children who do not have the capacity to be still to be a kid.  The nursery is designed for kids to be kids and to allow adults to listen in the service without distraction. I recently read an article on this where the author was adamant: Babies are NOT a distraction. I respectfully disagree. Babies can be a distraction. They are cute. They smell good. They smell bad. They smile. They giggle. They spit up. Babies are wonderful creations, but they CAN be a distraction. Again, we should do everything within our power to keep the services free from distraction.

Not only that, sometimes it’s not the child who is a distraction. Sometimes the adults accompanying them are the distraction. The baby smiles and the adults start elbowing one another to look at baby Joey. Now those adults are distracted, the pastor might be distracted, and the adults around them may be distracted. Once a child becomes mobile, they want to move. Trying to keep them penned up on your lap is a difficult job. Very, very few children under the age of 1 will sit quietly without squirming. When the child starts to squirm, the adult feels like they have to entertain them. Yes, this can be done without noise, but it can’t be done without distraction. I’ve watched plenty of parents play peek a boo or make faces at a child to keep them entertained, but to do that, the adult becomes a distraction. Also, many times they lose track of the message.

I once had someone tell me they were taking their child out of the nursery because they were starting preschool (3 years of age) and needed to learn to sit still.  Honestly, that would have been fine, had they made their child sit still. But unfortunately, that was not the case. This child didn’t even have to sit down. Sadly, one Sunday, guests sat behind them. After services the guests told me they would NEVER sit behind that family again. What a sad testimony! Our actions don’t affect only us, they also affect all those around us. This couple had a hard time paying attention to the service because the mom either let the child do what he/she wanted or she was disciplining the child right in the middle of the service.

Let me add right here that training your child to sit in services does not start at church. It starts at home. Waiting until they are in the middle of a church service to sit perfectly still and quiet is unreasonable. If you teach them little by little at home, they will be much more successful at church.

Also, a nursery frees you up to be involved in the ministry yourself. I play the piano for a majority of the services. It would not work for me to sit out of that ministry or try to juggle ministry and sitting with my child. I have friends who teach Sunday School, and one just recently told me she needed to put her baby in the nursery because the teens (whom her husband teaches) would be easily distracted by such a beautiful baby. (She didn’t say beautiful, but trust me, this little girl is a cutie!!) One teen has special needs and he would love to look and coo at this sweet thing, but taking her to nursery helps keep him engaged in the class.

Nursery workers should realize what a wonderful opportunity they have. They have a direct part in the service even though they are not in there.  I firmly believe when someone gets saved, the nursery workers play a part in that. They are lovingly caring for the children so the pastor and the adults can pay attention. Nursery workers may also be the first members a guest comes in contact with. Their attitude has a profound impact on whether or not the guest feels comfortable.  When we travel and are at other churches, the nursery is a key factor. While on vacation recently, we attended a church where the nursery was well staffed, and more importantly, very friendly. When we dropped them off, we had the feeling the workers took their ministry seriously and deemed it important. The workers were very welcoming and were happy to explain where they would be and where we would pick them up. When we went by after services, our children were called by name, we were told how they behaved, and all of this was done with a sweet attitude.

I encourage you, if you don’t already, utilize your church nursery. Give the message your undivided attention. At our church, our nursery is not an after thought. I want it to be an important ministry. I don’t want the nursery workers to be on time, I want them to be early. We never know when a guest will walk through the door and if no one is in the nursery to greet them, they assume the church doesn’t place a high priority on taking care of their children.

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Our journey on the road of infertility

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I’d like to post Lydia’s adoption story this week, so I thought I’d start with the journey my husband and I have been on for almost 18 years. Wow! Our wedding anniversary is next week. Hard to believe it’s been 16 years of wedded bliss and 18 years of marriage. (If you only knew how hard those first two years were! My husband would testify.)

I’ve never been a real small girl. I was always “healthy.”  Actually most of my jeans in elementary school were labeled as husky. Anyone else remember those wonderful labels? Once, a boy I was dating said, “You’re bigger than most of the girls I date.” Thanks? I should have said, “Yeah? Well you’re no Judd Nelson.” (Since Matthew McConaughey and Doug Savant weren’t on the scene yet) I stayed the same size from high school until college. But after the hubs and I got married, I put on over 30 pounds in just under 3 months. I went from a size 12 to a size 18/20. It was distressing, but I chalked it up to being such a great cook. (Haha! Don’t ask my husband about his very first breakfast.)

I don’t really want to go into a lot of detail (I’m a prude that way.) But after being married for a couple of years we decided to start a family. We had just moved to Florida and I was looking for a Dr. I had been having some minor health issues and we figured we’d get it all checked out. After looking at my chart and asking me a couple of questions my new doctor diagnosed me with PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome). Back then it was relatively unheard of and it was hard to find information. Believe me, I tried. He said PCOS might be genetic, but that the birth control I had been on was, as he put it, “nasty stuff.” He believes that triggered, so to speak, my PCOS. He asked if we were wanting children and I answered in the affirmative. He told me I would have a very hard time getting pregnant and if I did, it would be even harder to carry a baby full-term.

For those that don’t know, there is no cure for PCOS. It can be controlled and it can be lived with, but doesn’t make you feel bad. In other words, you’re not nauseous, dizzy, muscle pain, etc. Fatigue is a big factor, though I think that has a lot to do with weight. It affects women differently, but the major manifestations of it are hirsutism (abnormal hair growth), weight gain, and infertility. Some women are lucky enough to have all 3. (hint, hint, that’s me) PCOS patients are at a greater risk of diabetes (due to the insulin issues and weight issues), heart disease (especially if you’re heavy), and uterine cancer (for those women whose bodies don’t function properly each month.) It’s not fun. But, if you can lose weight the chances of complications are less.

So we started the “we want a baby” journey. I spent numerous months on Clomid and Glucophage (Metformin). I have been through numerous tests including blood and dye tests. I have been to many doctors. (Dr. Madani, who was unsuccessful,  referred me to a doctor who was unsuccessful who referred me to an endocrinologist who was the best in the southeast.) We spent a lot of time and money on appointments and medications (oh yeah, and pregnancy tests). This was all in under two years.

I’d like to go on record by saying I did not always handle this well. I didn’t like baby showers and I tried to get out of going as much as I could. I have probably heard every question imaginable: “Aren’t you ever going to have kids?” “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you want children?” “You’ve been married long enough. Why don’t you have any kids?” “You’re the career kind, huh?” I also loved the “We’ve been trying for two months so I know how you feel.” Even my father-in-law made the mistake one day of saying, “I don’t see you giving me any grandkids.” to which I responded, “Take it up with God. Your son and I are doing our part.” The conversation quickly ended. 🙂 I didn’t like Mother’s Day. I didn’t begrudge anyone else, but I didn’t like the reminder that I was “less than a woman.” I usually volunteered for nursery that morning. I wanted the mothers to be able to sit in on the service. I was sacrificial that way. (yeah, right.)

I may have put on a good front in public, but my husband knows better.  I was trying to fill a void only God could fill. Once I finally got over that and completely turned it over to God, I had such peace. God was in control. If He wanted me to have children, He’d make it happen. If not, that’s okay. I will say that the years my husband and I had together without kids were amazing. We could go away for a weekend at a moment’s notice. We could change our plans last minute. We only had each other and there are major benefits to not having kids right away. Looking back, I wouldn’t trade those years for anything.

We moved back to Oklahoma and my husband and I decided to take a break from all the hullabaloo. I waited a few years and then started the search for a PCOS doctor. I started with the OU Med Center. When I called and explained my situation, the lady immediately connected me with the “Best Dr. for PCOS patients.” Come to find out, he had trained my endocrinologist in Florida, so he knew her work quite well. He told me if I wasn’t pregnant by the time I was 35, he would no longer treat me. He did not believe it would be safe for me to have a child that late in life. (I was, ummmm, pretty close to that by this point, so time was ticking.)

Three months before I was 35, I called it quits. I had had enough. We had finally decided to go the adoption route. One of the best decisions we ever made. There is more to our story. It gets better and better. But you’ll have to read Lydia’s story and the ones to follow.

I believe God has a reason for everything. Due to my PCOS/infertility journey, I have some of the best friends in the whole world. My friend Pam was the first person I knew that had PCOS. She became my confidante and sounding board soon after my diagnosis. She had already been down that road for a while and offered great insight (and a broad shoulder.) My friend Rachel doesn’t have PCOS, but had trouble having children for a a few years. We had many conversations and cry sessions over the years. My friend Amy started our first conversation, and subsequent friendship, with  “Hi, I’m Amy. Can I ask you a personal question?” She had been told I had PCOS and she had just been diagnosed with it as well, so we shared stories. Unfortunately, I don’t live near these fabulous women. But, though for some we are states apart, I know I can call them any time. My friends are amazing.

My journey has not been easy. But I wouldn’t change it for anything. God has taught me many things through our trials:      1. Only He can fill the void in our lives. We have to find our sufficiency in Him. 2. Our trials are to draw us closer to the Lord. There is no one who can soothe the troubled soul like Him.        3. Our trials can and should be used to be a blessing to others. But we can only be a blessing if we have the right attitude during our trials. No drama, no self-pity, no self-glory, simply giving all the glory to God and God alone.

 

Time sure flies when you’re having fun

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For years now I’ve wanted a front room without a TV. A front room where, when someone comes to the door, it’s already clean. A room that is free of toys, shoes, and “stuff.” Two years ago we bought a house with the perfect front room. The TV is downstairs in the “man cave.” In the bay window sits my baby grand piano (which is in desperate need of being tuned.) I have a couch and chair and there is a fireplace in the corner of the room. (It hasn’t worked for almost two months, during the coldest part of winter, but that’s another story for another day.)

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As I sat on the couch this morning, I saw the “parking lot” under my piano. The car, the train, the shopping cart, the airplane all sit underneath. My first thought was “Seriously? All I ask for is one room to be kid free and…” As soon as that thought entered my mind, it hit me: one of these days I will have that kid free room. The toys will all be put away, there will be no more shoes to pick up (well, except for my own), no more books to stack, and no more silly girlies chasing each other in circles, squealing like little piggies. Then I will lament the fact that I don’t have all their things all over my front room. I will miss the poor undressed dolls with ratty hair, I will miss the board books, I will miss the blanket forts and pillow pets on the floor.

I told my hubby a couple of months ago, “we only have 10 more Christmases before Lydia graduates from high school.” He didn’t appreciate my thinking. I didn’t have the heart to tell him we only have 18 family vacations before Courtney graduates. So for now, I will be content and not so obsessed with my front room. That time will come, much sooner than I want.