Published in the Rains County Leader on May 7, 2019:
Last month, I participated in a photo challenge with some of my Facebook family and friends. We were given a topic for each day of the month and were supposed to post a picture related to that topic. It was especially challenging for me since I usually think in verbal images rather than visual ones. Some of my pictures were just something to check off the list, some were pretty good, and a few were almost inspired. It was fun, but it was also a bit of relief when it was over. I guess I’m still thinking in visual images, though. Sunday morning I saw the perfect image for the topic “mom.”
We have a number of young couples in our church and lots of children. In fact, you have to be careful in the halls not to step on a little one or knock over a toddler who’s just getting his legs under him. I’m way out of that circle, but based on Facebook posts and other evidence, I think there are lots of play dates and sleepovers among our kids. There’s also a lot of seat swapping in church – you never know which kids will be sitting with which family.
Unlike the children, most of us are creatures of habit, sitting in the same spot every week unless someone who doesn’t know the seating plan comes to visit. On Sunday, I was in my usual place, and the scene that caught my eye was two rows in front of me. That row is almost always full – two parent with their three little boys, and a husband and wife fill the seven chairs. Sunday, there were three extra little ones tagging along. Thankfully, all six kids were under seven, so there was plenty of space, especially since one or the other of them was in the mom’s lap most of the time.
For the first time since I can remember, I left my purse at home along with my cell phone, so even though it was a beautiful picture, I didn’t have a camera. A still photo wouldn’t have done it justice, though. The scene was in constant motion. Before the service began, the smallest girl sat in the mom’s lap and played hand games with her. Once the singing began, the children stood along with the rest of the congregation and participated in the way children do. But when we sat down for the offering, the mom’s lap was once again occupied. She maintained order with a calm, loving manner I wish I’d had when my son was young. When it was time for the children to leave for KIDZ Church, the little herd moved out quietly with big smiles on their faces.
This was not the only mom image I noticed. Before the service began, a little girl ran up to the keyboard to while the pianist while she was playing the prelude. Instead of rebuffing her, the pianist kept playing with one hand and leaned down for a quick hug. The little one ran back to her seat with a huge smile on her face.
My favorite image, though, was of the mom on the other side of the sanctuary who was holding her own little one in her lap. He’s a little over a year old, and usually stays in the service unless he gets too fussy. It would be much easier for her to leave him in the nursery, because she’s small and he’s quite a chunk, but it’s important to her for him to experience corporate worship even at his young age.
The focus for the day was on families and on investing in the next generation. Yes, I actually paid attention in spite of my image gathering. The children might not have been as attentive as I was or understood what was going on, but they felt the love of those moms and others who noticed them and made them feel wanted and included. The dads and other men in the church family are important, too, but we’ll focus on them next month. For now, I’ll carry those images with me through the week as we all focus on our moms. Happy Mother’s Day!
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