To You Mamas With Little Ones in Church

I watched as you walked in through the doors – hair pulled back in a ponytail with a babe on your hip, holding the hand of a little boy whose dusty brown shoe just found your toes with a crunch. Your little pigtailed girl trailed along behind, dragging the blue canvas bag containing coloring pages with one hand and flashing her big-girl princess undies with the other.

You hugged and smiled and nodded apologies to those you passed, though your arms dangled with a car seat, diaper bag, purse, blankie, and Bible, and clenched in your teeth was the only place the usher could find to put your bulletin You, sweet mama with little ones in church, came heavy-laden, but with joy in your heart.

Dear Mom of little ones in church

Dear Mom With Little Ones in Church

In between “Halleluiahs” you shuffled everyone into a row, and I could see the loving but already tired look in your eyes. After a morning of spilled juice and hair bows yanked out and searching for the favorite Bible and pulling tights and feeding the baby and battling clothes and car seats and bad attitudes and who gets to sit closest to the aisle and always running behind – you came broken, in need of grace.

With the crescendo of the music I saw the lovely way you swayed with the two littlest crammed in your arms, for they weren’t happy with anyone other than their mama. And the flicker of uncertainty that brushed your eyes when that little boy of yours started drumming to the beat on the seat in front of him. And how you simply smiled and continued singing – for you came humbly, longing to praise.

Moments later I saw your wiggly girl squirm down and confidently raise her hands as she sang words all mixed up and backwards, the sweetest song to Jesus. And as the music quieted and you found your seats, I saw your cheeks flush as a precious quarter slipped out of little fingers and rolled to the middle aisle. Loud tears formed, but the quarter was rescued and carefully plunked into the offering plate as it went by – for you came sacrificially, with a heart to give.

You rocked the baby and pulled out your bag of tricks and helped your little girl sit back on her seat at least fourteen times as you anxiously prayed that her foot wouldn’t get caught in the auditorium-like chair once again. You gently hushed the turning of Bible pages and picked up dropped crayons and quieted voices much louder than a whisper and nodded that, “Yes. That is a cross!” all the while you followed along in your Bible as best you could and scratched notes next to scribbles as if your life depended on itfor you came hungry, in need of Him. 

To Moms of Little Ones in Church

And when it all got to be a bit too much, I know your face burned as you scooped up half the clan and headed to the foyer. You felt like all eyes were on you and fought the urge to think everyone was scrutinizing your every move. But instead of hiding in the bathroom, you calmed the fussy baby and looked that other child of yours straight in the eyes to tell of how you love him deeply, but also how we can be honoring to God and to others in church – for you came weary, but ready to love.

And as the pastor preached the last of his three-point sermon you gracefully made your way back down the aisle with a sleeping baby in your arms and a teary eyed boy skipping to keep up beside you. And you tried to not let the sour looks and glares sting, for you knew that if you could help give the gift of loving and honoring God’s house and His people to your children, and showing them how valued they are right here, right now – that twenty years later when they {finally} would know how to sit quiet and still, that they would be much more likely to keep coming through those doors with their own little ones in tow. – So you came timidly, knowing Jesus said, “Come!”

As you slipped quietly into your seat, I saw you pause just for a moment to notice the teenaged boy listening intently and the elderly lady two rows over and the faithful usher and the mama with kids appearing to be sitting quietly and the newlywed couple with stars in their eyes and the little boy in your son’s grade who was swinging his feet and the friend who had just lost her mother and the favorite babysitter who winked at your daughter and that loving husband of yours with a little girl now curled on his lap. And the precious diversity brought together in unity caused your heart to swell… and to crumble when you felt the pain of every addiction and illness and heart-aching – for you came lonely, and found you were not alone.

And through the closing prayer and the final hymn, when eyes scrunched closed and hymnals were read upside down and babies screamed or cooed to the music and wrinkled hands raised in praise and young and old knelt down right next to each other, you soaked it all in, this joyful noise of infants to great-great grandparents worshiping the King. – You came searching, and found beauty in the not-quite-so-perfect.

To Moms with Little Ones in Church

Dear Mamas With Little Ones in Church

As you packed everything up, juggling it all once again, you stopped to talk with Mr. G about his beautiful piano playing and to meet a neighbor and to pray with the one hurting in the corner. And your baby nestled softly in the arms of another. And that little girl with pigtails gave great big hugs to her teacher. And the boy with the dusty brown shoes high-fived the man who looked like he’d never had a shower. Then they ran circles around you as they giggled with friends.  For you came discouraged, and found ways to build up.

To you, sweet mamas with little ones in church – I know you came exhausted, and probably left longing for a nap. I know that you came desperate for God, and may have left needing a copy of the message as you spent the morning bobbing in and out to nurse the baby or change a diaper or take someone potty or train your children in righteousness. I know you came longing for your children to fall in love with Jesus and His body, and left wondering if it’s all worth it.

But, I want you to know that what you are doing matters. Your children matter. And you matter. For we all need each other. And we are all indispensable parts of the Body of Christ. God drips grace through your children, and hope for generations as you pour out a sacrifice of love. And the faith and worship of those little hearts, and of you, their tired mommy – matter for eternity!

Dear Mamas With Little Ones in Church

{{Oh, how I know that sometimes church is sadly the last place where grace is found. Rude comments and ugly looks (if only just perceived) can leave us crushed, but also remind us that those glaring eyes belong to someone who’s broken, in need of grace too. Because sometimes – sometimes we all have a hard time seeing the beauty that is right there before us.}}

Our sweet family has now outgrown the nursing, diapers, lugging car-seats around stage, and I now look back and treasure those times. Yet each year older brings new joys and challenges as we show these precious little (and not quite so little anymore) ones that they too may approach the throne of Grace.

*Read other Letters to Mamas here.

The Story We Must Tell Our Kids

Oh- this beautiful story of Truth and Redemption,
Of great Forgiveness and Grace,
Of a Savior’s deep Love and Sacrifice –
With hearts growing in faith and hope all for His glory.

It’s THE STORY I want my children to know and love and claim as their very own – not just during Holy Week, but every week, every day, every moment of their lives.

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Because it is true!

So we bring out the paper and scissors and glue, a bit of dirt and some sparkles.

And we make this Wordless Book to tell this whole beautiful, glorious story.

Because it is such grace to know the story doesn’t end with us sitting in our dirt!

The Wordless Book

Here’s just one little way we can share this story that I pray will be etched on the minds and hearts of each of our children…

A few supplies to gather:

  • Pages for the book (either print off the template pages in color, or print them off in gray-scale and use them as a pattern to cut out on their corresponding color of paper: black, red, white, green, orange, and yellow, or make and color/paint your own pages)
  • Scissors and hole punch (it helps to have them cut and hole punched ahead of time)
  • Glue
  • Dirt or sand
  • Crayons
  • Glitter and/or jewels
  • Pipe cleaner, ribbon, or binder ring
  • Bible (to read straight from The Word of God)

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(Click picture or here to download and/or print your own copy of the template pages.)

DIRTY

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Smear glue on your black heart, and then sprinkle dirt or sand on top. Talk about how each one of us is born with a dirty heart – full of sin. It’s ugly, agonizing and painful. {Go ahead and list some sins that filled your hearts just this morning.} And there is nothing, NOTHING that we can do on our own to clean our hearts and make them pure. Although we were created to be with God, in His family – sin separates us from Him…

The dirty, black heart is a reminder that each one of us has sinned (Romans 3:23)and that the penalty for our sin is death. (Romans 6:23) :(

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When I asked Isaiah what he could do about his sinful, dirty heart, he kept saying things like, “Be really kind.” and “Be good.” This was a wonderful time to ask him if he ever thought he could do enough kind things to get rid of the sin, and if he could ever be good enough. No, on his own – on our own – we are still left with stains on our hearts. :(

REDEEMED

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But, praise the Lord that the story does not end there. For while we were sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) Jesus came to rescue us and clean our hearts. By HIS perfect sacrifice, he paid the price for our sin so that we can be in a right relationship with God. (Colossians 1:13-14)

The red heart {which you can draw a cross on} is a reminder that in Christ ALONE we have redemption through His blood. (Ephesians 1:7)

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CLEAN (FORGIVEN)

And once we’ve repented (turned away from our dirty, yucky hearts and turned to God) and asked Him to clean us – He forgives us, washing our hearts clean (1 John 1:9) and adopting us as His sons through Christ, holy and blameless in His sight. (Ephesians 1:4-5)

The white heart reminds us that because of Christ, our Heavenly Father forgives us and sees us as spotless children of God. (Colossians 1:22 and John 1:12)

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But, that’s not the end of the story! Now we get to begin the beautiful life of living a life as God’s child – as a child of the King!

GROW

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Remember the black heart? We were dead in our sins. But because of God’s great love, He made us alive in Christ! (Eph. 2:5) And now we are called to grow in grace and knowledge and wisdom. (1 Peter 1:18) And we are called to grow more and more like Christ (Eph. 5:1). As we abide in Him and as we eagerly seek His Word and His ways, we will grow and bear much good fruit. (John 15)

The leaf reminds us that we are called to grow.

SHINE

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As we grow, we shine as lights in the dark world. Remember how our hearts were black with sin? The world is full of sin and darkness. But God desires for us to live as children of light. (Eph. 5:8) He fills us with His Spirit and calls us to let our light shine before men to bring glory to God and point others to Jesus! (Matt 5:14-16)

The flame reminds us of our calling to be lights in this dark world.

CROWNED

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Bring out the glue and the glitter or jewels and decorate your crown. And talk about the glorious anticipation of heaven and getting to be with God. As children of the KING, we are co-heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:17) and can look forward to the day when we will receive a crown of glory that will never fade away (1 Peter 5:4) – the day we will reign with Him and acquire an eternal inheritance in His kingdom as we are perfectly transformed into the image of Christ.

The crown reminds us that someday (some glorious day) we will be in heaven with Jesus!

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As your child threads each page together, have them tell this incredible gospel story back to you.

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And now you have the beautiful story of redemption, forgiveness, growth, and glory to share over and over… as little hearts are led to surrender to the King, and as He helps us all to live as true children of the King.

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Let’s keep telling this Story to our children again and again and again. Soon they will see that it’s their story too.

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