Recently, Babykins has started to notice the crucifixes in our bedrooms. My husband and my bedroom has one hanging above our bed, the nursery has one hanging above the closet door. Whenever she points them out, we talk about how Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins.
However, in the guestroom we have a decorative cross. Babykins was looking at it the other day and we then had this chat:
Babykins: What’s dat? (points to the cross)
Me: That’s a cross
Babykins: Jesus no on that one!
Me: Well, yes, um. . . That’s because it’s just a cross. When Jesus is on the cross, it’s called a crucifix. Can you say “crucifix”?
Pastor’s kids can have the oddest vocabulary.
Yesterday I took both girls to a midday service for Good Friday at another church in our circuit. Generally I try not to get too worked up about circus act that comes with bringing two little children to church. However, Good Friday services are so somber and quiet that the girls’ inevitable antics seem especially jarring even in the most child-friendly churches. Why? Because while people are reflecting on Jesus’ suffering and death, things like this are going down in our pew:
- 4 month old Sweet Pea grinning like a fool in the silent sanctuary.
- 2.5 year old Babykins slamming her water bottle against the pew.
- Sweet Pea needing to eat during the sermon.
- Me realizing that Babykins is pooping right before communion (I left her in the pew to finish her business while I went up).
- Babykins loudly annoucing, “All done pooping!” as the rest of the congregation silently leave the sanctuary.
Needless to say, the feeling of piety was pretty low after that. At least the children keep me humble.
In the ebb and flow of pew wrangling Babykins, we’re in a bit of low spot. Babykins isn’t being particularly naughty; she’s just being a toddler in church. But a toddler in church means wiggles, kicks, yells, and an occasional toy tossed over the pew.
Palm Sunday wasn’t any different for us. Before we even got to the sermon, Babykins managed to chuck several toys behind us while staring directly at my disapproving face and had a couple of good yells during the Bible readings. Even though I know her behavior is developmentally appropriate, it’s hard not to get frustrated. I got a moment of peace during the sermon hymn, but only because Babykins was taking out the entire contents of my wallet.
The sermon hymn was “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna” (LSB 443). The first verse caught my attention,
Hosanna, loud hosanna,
The little children sang;
Through pillared court and temple
The lovely anthem rang.
To Jesus, who had blessed them,
Close folded to His breast,
The children sang their praises,
The simplest and the best.
I was reminded of Jesus’ love for little children and babies, His call to, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14). Despite Babykins’s seemingly disruptive behavior, she belongs in church with her family in Christ.
I can’t claim to have seen many glimpses of Babykins’s growing faith. All she shows at 18-months-old is folding her hands (briefly) when we pray and a love for flipping through the hymnal. However, I believe her faith exists because she is a baptized child of God and has therefore received the baptism’s benefits–forgiveness of sins, rescue from death and the devil, and the gift of eternal salvation. Therefore, I bring my loud, wiggly toddler to church week after week so that I may not be a hindrance to her growing faith.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of the penitential season of Lent. I plan on taking Babykins to church tonight. Since we missed last year’s Ash Wednesday service, this will be the first time the ashes will be put on Babykins’ forehead.
For those of you unfamiliar with Ash Wednesday’s namesake, there is an imposition of ashes on congregation members–typically smeared on the forehead in the shape of a cross. The ashes remind us of God’s promise to Adam after the fall into sin, “for you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” (Genesis 3:19b). Likewise, being covered in ashes is an ancient Christian practice of repentance.
Truth be told, I’m not looking forward to Babykins having the ashes put on her forehead. It’s a terrible reminder that she is a sinner just like me and will someday die.
But it also reminds me that my fervent prayer for her isn’t simply for her physical health and comfort, it’s that God keeps her steadfast in the Christian faith–the faith that Jesus Christ died for those sins and that she is covered in Christ’s sacrificial blood.
In 47 days, I will sing of Christ’s resurrection and victory over eternal death. However, tonight I will mourn of my sin and my daughter’s sin and cry out to God to have mercy on us poor, sinful beings.
I knew what was happening before we walked into the exam room. The multiple positive pregnancy tests the week before and the heavy bleeding over the weekend foretold that this appointment wouldn’t have a happy ending. Yet I cried as soon as the midwife said, “Miscarriage.”
At 6 weeks pregnant, there wasn’t any more that could be done. My body was clearly doing the work of clearing out the baby that had died and there wasn’t any risk to my physical health. The midwife did her best to explain how this might emotionally effect my husband and me, but she had other patients to see–Patients with big, round bellies and living babies. I know this because I saw them as I sadly sat in the waiting room.
1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. It strikes with very little warning. One moment a woman carries life, the next moment she carries death. There is no magic formula to prevent it from occurring, there is often nothing that can be done to stop it. And as common as miscarriage is, it’s an isolated grief.
My husband and I named our baby Theodore, which means “Gift of God” (obviously we have no idea if the baby was a boy, so the name will be Theodora if the baby was a girl). It reminds us to cling to the promise that children are a gift, even the children that we only know about for a few days before they are gone. Our pastor came Thursday to do a private memorial service for Theodore. He reminded us that God knew and loved our child before we did. He told us that as Christian parents, God heard our prayers for our baby and we can trust in His mercy. In God’s mercy we have hope that we’ll see Theodore in Heaven.
“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.”
God created Theodore, to God we entrust Theodore. “The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord,” (Job 2:21). Amen.
Even as a Christian, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of Halloween and slide into the Christmas frenzy. However, let’s not forget that today is one of the biggest church festivals of the year–All Saints Day. The Treasury of Daily Prayer explains that All Saints’ Day, “sets before us the full height and depth and breadth and length of our dear Lord’s gracious salvation (Ephesians 3:17-19).” (pg. 871). It goes on to explain how this feast shares the Easter celebration of resurrection, the celebration of the catholic (note: not Catholic) church that we mark on Pentecost, and has the end of the church year focus on the life everlasting.
We mark on this day all the saints that have gone before us: mothers and fathers, grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on. Many churches also have a special remembrance of members who have died this past year. Our church has 6 members who have will be joining the All Saints celebration in Heaven for the first time this year. How blessed are they who are now in full communion with Christ our Lord, while we only get a taste of that Feast at the communion rail. However, we can also look forward to the day that we will join with the great multitude in their unending praise.
Now you’ll have to excuse me as I finish getting a certain little baptized saint ready for church. Happy All Saints Day!
P.S. The earliness of this post is brought to you courtesy of Daylight Savings Time ending. Babykins has been up since 5:30 a.m. Whee!
I’ve recently written a post for the Lutheran women’s blog “Sister, Daughter, Mother, Wife” about being just a wife and mother. Feel free to check it out. Or, at the very least, see what others have written for the site–they have some wiser women than me writing for them. 🙂
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are probably aware now that SCOTUS ruled yesterday that state bans on same-sex marriages are unconstitutional. Based on media coverage and businesses’s rainbow displays, you would think this ruling was in a strong majority. It wasn’t. The court was once again divided and passed the ruling 5-4.
However, the ruling also doesn’t take me by surprise. I have many friends and family members who fully support the SCOTUS decision. I’ve known where they stand on this issue for many years. But I also have many friends and family members who disagree with this decision.
For those of us who disagree with this decision (and yes, I’m one of them), it’s easy to let our fears run away with us. I have heard fears expressed that our fellow citizens will turn on us for holding an unpopular belief. Or that the government will force the Church to embrace this ruling. . . or else. Or even that this ruling ultimately will bring the fall of Christianity.
It would be easy for me to succumb to these fears. But then I remember that we have always lived in a sinful world, the SCOTUS decision certainly didn’t bring about sin. We have always been battling the world, the devil, and our own sinful flesh. And marriage has been far from perfect for a long time–really, since Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. That doesn’t make the SCOTUS ruling okay, just remember that there is nothing new under the sun.
Likewise, it’s important for me to remember that Christianity isn’t about the issue of gay marriage. It’s about love. And not this Love Wins nonsense going around the internet. No, it’s about God showing His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). It’s about the life-giving faith found in the waters of baptism. It’s about the forgiveness of sins given to us in Holy Communion.
Finally, I remember that God’s church doesn’t depend on the United States being a “Christian” country. The Church is built on Christ. He is our cornerstone, not the laws of this nation. I find my peace in this.
Built on the Rock the Church shall stand Even when steeples are falling. Crumbled have spires in ev'ry land; Bells still are chiming and calling, Calling the young and old to rest, But above all the souls distressed, Longing for rest everlasting. Here stand the font before our eyes, Telling how God has received us. The altar recalls Christ's sacrifice And what His Supper here gives us. Here sound the Scriptures that proclaim Christ yesterday, today, the same, And evermore, our Redeemer. Grant, then, O God, Your will be done, That, when the church bells are ringing, Many in saving faith may come Where Christ His message is bringing: "I know My own; My own know Me. You, not the world, My face shall see. My peace I leave with you. Amen." -"Built on the Rock" LSB 645:1, 4-5
I have been told many lies about raising Babykins.
Okay, “lies” might be a bit harsh–they are more like untruths. Untruths stated with such certainty that it’s hard not to be crushed when they don’t happen. Things like:
“Just wear her in a carrier! She’ll be content and you’ll be able to get things done.”
“It’ll get easier at 6 weeks.”
“Nursing is great because you can sooth your baby.”
“Let sleeping babies lie” and “She can’t be hurt by crying.”*
Then there’s the biggest untruth of all:
“Trust you instincts. You’re her mother, you’ll know what’s best for her.”
Because I don’t know what’s best for her.
I don’t know if I have an especially fussy baby or if I’m simply not coping. I don’t know if she has acid reflux, gas issues, or typical baby tummy troubles. I don’t know when she’s tired and hungry, tired and gassy, or tired and just won’t sleep.
The not knowing is almost paralyzing. And that’s why yesterday–despite my nearly dry prayer life–I found myself crying while bouncing with a fussy Babykins on the exercise ball and begging God to have mercy on both of us.
*These may be true if Babykins wasn’t so small and gained weight faster.