Tag Archives: church

Getting the Picture Perfect

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus!

Yesterday, I posted a picture (a collage, actually) on Instagram (@OnlyHsuman). It wasn’t your typical Easter post. There were no eggs or baskets, and the children weren’t lined up oldest to youngest on the church’s front steps. In fact, they weren’t even all smiling. Sundays for us aren’t a beautifully relaxing experience. Sometimes, I’d even call them stressful.  

For those of y’all that don’t know me that well, I’m a worship leader. That means I choose the music, sing the songs, and play a big part in executing the church service on Sunday mornings. I won’t say that I do those things by myself, or that I don’t have amazing people helping me and working with me. I do! But there’s a lot on my plate most Sundays.

In addition, I have three children under four years old, and a husband that’s also a musician. He plays with me lots of Sunday mornings, meaning our family of five is out the door and in the church by 8:45am. Some Sundays, he hasn’t gotten home until 2:00 or 3:00am, because he also plays many Saturday evenings/nights at other venues. I’m certainly not complaining – it is his passion and it helps pay our bills – but it doesn’t exactly make our mornings run more smoothly. But back to my Instagram post…

The collage above is comprised of each of my children, and my one attempt at getting them all in the same photo. (I know, you can’t even that tell my daughter is underneath my older son.) I had been up since 4:45am, because my first service had been a joyful celebration of a sunrise service at a sister church in our town. I yawned my way through the 6:00am rehearsal, and prayed that my voice would be warmed up by the time the service began at 7:00am. Our worship pastor had, earlier in the week, referred to this service as a “spiritual cup of coffee”, and indeed it was. It woke my brain, my voice and my spirit to the incredible elation that is Easter morning.

Upon finishing the earliest service, I drove back to my home church (by way of my favorite coffee spot, of course) to begin rehearsing and executing two more perfectly lovely worship services, where the Spirit moved, hearts were changed, love was experienced and joy abounded. Family, friends, acquaintances and strangers gathered together to hear the good news of a tomb found empty. My children played, sang and shared with their friends, and I hugged necks, shook hands, smiled till my cheeks hurt, and sang until I had no more voice. I couldn’t ask for a better church home and church family.

Just like most other Sundays, I got home to my family (who had left halfway through the second service to save everyone else from their meltdowns) who was nibbling on lunch and preparing for naps. Their Sunday best was wrinkled (and drooled upon, in the case of my youngest) and they were really exhausted. They had no interest in posing for a picture together (with our without me) or even looking at me as a waved my camera around, knowing I’d already missed their best moods of the day.

But instead of being frustrated because I’d not gotten an “official Easter Day picture”, I decided to let it rest. To let them rest. And to rest myself. Although Sunday is our day of early rising, quick breakfast, rushed departures and very little down time, Easter included, it’s my favorite morning of the week. I’m convinced I have the best job ever, at the best church ever, with the best bosses ever (hey, pastors!) and the best people surrounding me. On other days, I might struggle to arrive at preschool on time, and still be wearing half my pajamas while I’m working from home, figuring out dinner and wishing for bedtime. But on Sundays, if I do nothing else, I have donned my Sunday best, set my heart on the Creator, and let Him take care of the rest. The details might get lost, but the praises are sung. The Gospel is shared. Friends are encouraged. Lives are touched. Jesus’ death and resurrection have been celebrated, and his sacrifice is not wasted. He inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3) and we are forever changed by His glory. Motherhood for me is a song of praise in itself, and I am grateful to share my worship leader life with my children, even if it makes for a messy Sunday. Because this Sunday, like every Sunday, He is risen. He is risen, indeed! 

 

What It’s Like When “That Kid” in the Church Nursery Is Yours

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus!

  

I’m a worship leader at my church. I really, really love it. It’s a job that’s fulfilling for me, and I feel like it isn’t really “work” to do it. The only exception is when I’ve got both my tiny ones with me. A couple of weeks ago, Hubby played in the band with me at church, so we were there before 9:00am, with both kids in tow. That’s before the nursery starts, but both of us were setting up and starting rehearsal with the rest of the band. Naturally, I let them eat breakfast at church because that occupies a lot of their attention while I’m trying to get things rolling. But this particular morning, they just seemed to be finished too quickly, and needed to be under my feet. As in literally under my feet, playing with the keyboard pedal and my water bottle. It was not as bad as like Easter Sunday, where practice was a little more important than usual, my kids were a little more needy than usual, and they managed to spill 95% of my $5 latte all over the stage rug. Sorry about that, Pastor. Anyway….

EK managed to get a mic that wasn’t plugged in, and commenced an adorable dance party while she sang into the mic. It was pretty adorable to have that going on while we rehearsed. J, however, needed to be playing the keys from in between me and the keyboard – and at 33 weeks pregnant, ain’t nobody got room for that. So by the time we had set up, tried to play the first song, mostly failed, and I was starting to get frustrated, it was time enough to take the kids downstairs to their nursery rooms.

EK loves it. She’s got friends in both services (she literally asks to “go play with her friends now”), knows all the teachers on the rotation, and doesn’t even look back when we get to the door. It took us a long while to get there, though, and the start of preschool last year was really her landmark for getting over her nursery dislike.

J, however, is still in the throes of screaming right when we get onto the hallway. He knows I’m leaving him there, and he’s not happy about it. Typically, he ends up crying for a while and being okay for the rest of the time, but sometimes he’s angry the whole time I’m gone. I hate it for him. I hate it for me. I hate it for whoever’s in there with him. Everybody down there has done everything they can for him. He even stays in the room he was in last year because he’s slightly more comfortable in there than in the bigger kid room that he’s technically old enough for. He wants to be snuggled and coddled, I guess, and that happens more in the baby room. My 30lb, 18 month old baby. Poor guy, right?

I just keep leaving him thinking, “He’ll get over it.” but it’s been months and he’s not over it. He does start preschool for two mornings a week this fall, so maybe that will do for him what it did for EK, and push him over the hump of hating nursery. But I worry about it every Sunday, apologize when I drop him off, and feel even worse because I’m not like every other mom. I’m not available to run downstairs and snuggle him for a few minutes, or check on him during the service. I have to be upstairs, either leading worship, ready to hop up on stage at a moment’s notice, or available to troubleshoot technical difficulties they might have. I can’t go help him or make him feel better. I leave him in totally capable hands, I just feel terrible about having “that kid” that won’t stop crying, or “that kid” who has to be wheeled around for two hours in a stroller up and down the halls instead of playing nicely with the other kids.

As a mom, it’s like a trifecta of “Am I a bad mama?” It’s hard. It’s embarrassing. It’s sad to leave your kid screaming, week after week. Should I be leaving him like this, week after week? Are the other moms judging me because of how sad he is every time? Are the workers dreading when I walk in with my kid? Am I a bad mom? Could I be doing something different to make him happier? I don’t know. I just know that my kid can’t be the only one. Other kids cry when they’re in the nursery. I’ve seen it. Other moms have to pry their kids off when they leave, right? It’s all worth it for a few minutes of worship time and community with other people who love Jesus. I need that time. I need to make time for Him to be my focus every week. I have to let go of the guilt I feel leaving him unhappy, and hang on to the Father who can make us both feel safe and secure.

A Tool for the Gospel

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This keyboard is a tool (a darn good one at that). I use it to make music, to provide accompaniment or melody. As a worship leader, I am also a tool, to be used to lead those around me into worship, into the throne room, into the presence of my God. Sometimes I feel like a broken tool, hurt or jaded or so very needy that I could never lead others. Who am I to stand up there, an exhausted and sometimes frustrated mama who makes an embarrassing amount of mistakes, a too-busy friend, a distant stranger, and usher those sweet seekers of grace to the place of self-abandoning worship of the Most High? Who am I to hammer out the chords, sing someone else’s words, and put my heart out there, when others are surely more worthy?

But I guess that’s the beauty of it. Flawed people do great things. Everyone has a little work to do to further the Kingdom. Moses tried to tell the Lord that he wasn’t good enough. In Exodus, when God called Moses to set His people free, Moses said, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh to bring my people out of Egypt? What if they ask me questions I can’t answer? What if they don’t believe me? ”  God simply says that He has the answers, He will provide the proof… “I will be with you.” Moses will be the tool God uses to do the work, the freedom work, the work for His Kingdom.

If He can do that, then Jesus can take my half-asleep-on-Sunday-morning self, who is insecure about her abilities and worrying about what people may think, and help me let go. He can take my meager gifts and turn them into something beautiful. He takes my simple singing and playing, and touches someone’s heart. Even on a morning that I feel unrehearsed, rushed, hoarse, and hectic, someone will tell me that they felt His spirit, that they were spoken to. If just one someone grows closer to Him, I know that He has used me for His good. What better purpose is there for a person – a woman, a wife, a mother, a friend – to have than to bring forth the Gospel? To bless others? To lead my precious brothers and sisters to adoration at His feet?

And who is changed? Me. I am most affected by His use of me. I am the one who is blessed by blessing others, who grows closer to Him each time I play a note or open my mouth to sing. I am growing and changing and marveling at His love. From there, I can spread that incredible, mind-boggling love to others.