It was the second service of the day. Not the night service, but the afternoon service. It was nap time for the kids (and me, too). I was tired, but it wasn’t just sleepy tired, it was an exhausted tired. Since moving here, I feel like we’ve been going non-stop. Our church is blessed with many ministries as well as a renovation of the interior of our building. This requires much work by my husband, many long hours. My main responsibility is raising the kids, but I’m far from alone in that task. Even with his busyness, Terry finds time to be a dad and husband, and I am truly thankful. I awoke today feeling a tad bit under the weather, but I wanted to be in church. I love the people, I love the music, and of course, I love the preaching. But getting my physical body into the building was much easier than getting my mind on the message.

On Sundays my husband is busy all day, so I am alone for those few hours. It goes like this:
The kids get settled into their seats. Five minutes later (or is it two?), they get shifty. They go from sitting back, to forward, to the side. They look behind them, ahead of them and to each side. They sing loudly during the song service, then quietly. They open the hymn book. They close it, then they drop it. They want to write, so they get some paper and a pen. Then they decide they need a clean sheet, so they turn the pages. They turn several. They start to tear a square of one sheet, but only get halfway through the job when I grab their hand and shake my head “no”. They ask for gum. I say “no”. They uncover some peppermint contraband and start rattling the wrapper. I nip that in the bud. My three year old whines softly, then loudly. He asks me during the prayer if we can eat at Jack in the Box. He says, “I want to go home.” I shush him. He sits in my lap facing the front. Then beside me. Then he lies down. Then he faces me and lays his head on my shoulder. I pray, beseeching the Lord to let him sleep. I want to hear the sermon, even if the preacher rips my face off, I want to hear it. But my own sweet, wonderful children often prevent this. I tell them to sit up, to listen, to sing. And for a few minutes, usually near the end, I connect mentally with the message. I get a re-fill, a charge, an exhortation, a tongue lashing, whatever it is I need. I get enough to go home and make it till the next service. Do you know why there are Wednesday night preaching services? So moms can make it through the week!

We sang “My Jesus I Love Thee”, and my little ones were antsy. They wiggled. I spent half the song glaring and staring and shaking my head “no” till my brains started rattling. Suddenly, I felt rather foolish. The words to the song were sinking in, despite my lack of concentration, and I felt so very inadequate to be singing them! I’ll write what happened and my thoughts in parenthesis beside each part of the last two verses. I don’t remember even singing the first two:

  1. I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death, (Told Matthew to be quiet. Told Laci that she could not write, she must listen.)
  2. And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath; (I barely had breath left to sing this line, after the shushing.)

  3. And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow, (
    I felt a cold sweat. Was it the death dew? And why am I glad that it might be?)

  4. If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.  (
    I don’t feel too loving of anyone right now. Shame washed over me.)
  5. In mansions of glory and endless delight, (I don’t deserve mansions! I don’t deserve a utility room!)

  6. I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright; (I’d like to go to Heaven now.I’m so tired of my stupid flesh.)

  7. I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow, (I chuckled to myself at the thought of myself wearing a glittering crown, I find myself usually wearing an everlasting frown!)

  8. If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now. (I don’t love Him enough. I’m not good enough. Yet He loves me anyway.)
  9. I sat down and silently asked the Lord to forgive me for getting so bothered with normal life. Kids are going to wiggle and talk. It needs to be corrected, but it’s not life threatening. I don’t need to get heart palpitations over what will pass all too quickly. After all, I’m hoping by the time they are eighteen, they will sit up straight(er) and not crinkle paper and candy wrappers. If they do, I’ll just sit on another pew.
What a blessed thought, to know that I, the overwhelmed, exhausted and unworthy mother that I am, will one day sit at Jesus’ feet! I will see Him with these eyes, I will bow before Him on these knees. I am going to do my best to relax at church more, and bask in the knowledge that He loves me, just as I am because before I know it, I’ll be sitting UNdistracted on a pew.

Blessings to you,

4 thoughts on “A Mother’s Thoughts During a Congregational Hymn

  1. Anonymous says:

    You have an amazing gift for recall! I would never remember all those distracting details. I would just remember distractions as a whole.

    It is so true that the hymns sometimes convict us, inspire us, and exhort us…if we pay attention to the words. I feel sad that so many churches are trading in the hymns for repetitive choruses and/or instruments and arrangements that focus on loud beats. They are missing out.

    Thank you for an insightful post.

    I love you.


  2. Anonymous says:

    Oh, my goodness, Valerie! I can totally relate! I was laughing through your thoughts, completely understanding exactly where you are coming from. It's good to know I'm not the only one! I always enjoy reading your posts, but this one especially! Love and praying for y'all.♥
    ~ Nicole


  3. Jo Klak says:

    I can TOTALLY relate. I attend church services alone with the children. Somedays I feel like “why am I here” I feel like I do not get anything out of the message because I am busy correcting shushing.
    Most times it is Abigail but sometimes I will get a tap and it is my oldest whispering “I'm hot” and I want to scream like “what? what do you want me to do?” or “I'm hungry” is my 7 year olds common complaint “this isn't a kitchen pal, I can't cook you anything ” lol
    But, I have to say most services are not like this.. just once in a while and, usually, it is MY FAULT.. I am not rested enough, I am crabby for some other reason and, it just snowballs. Things that I can normally shush or smile and go on with worship… on those days I have a harder time recovering.
    I am so glad that Jesus loves me, despite me 🙂


  4. Kristy... says:

    that last comment was me, sorry, I was signed in with my hubbys account.


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