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Bless Your Heart

Getting Ready

By Connie Ellard Bunch

As a pastor’s wife with three small children, I quickly realized that getting myself and them ready at the same time, and on time, for church would be one of my greatest spiritual battles!

Although Jonathan is 21, Andrew 22, and Daniel is 28 now and married to our precious daughter law, Jayme, I clearly remember being a struggling young mother.  There was this beautiful spring morning. . .

I had gotten up early.  But not soon enough to see my husband off.  He had to get church early.  I mean, really early, to get himself ready to preach.  I understood.  It was pretty difficult to concentrate on anything at our house in those days of raising toddlers.  So, he had kissed me good-bye, and I had sleepily decided just how much longer I could turn over and sleep before getting the boys up.

Daniel, the eldest, was roused, the little boys wakened, and breakfast had been work through with orange juice, cereal, toast, baby food, bottles, and formula distributed appropriately and evenly—the strawberry jelly anointed indiscriminately among them on their own.  I had grabbed a quick cup of coffee between wiping, spooning, and encouraging everyone to eat up.

Daniel’s clothes had been ironed and laid out.  He was doing fine getting into them. He just needed a few adjustments here and there.  There was a last minute search for the belt that had been last used in his “army maneuver.”

Then I had tackled Andrew the toddler.  His clothes had been touched up with a quick slap of the iron and the elusive matching socks had been located. I had gotten him into his Sunday clothes and we had the white polished leather shoes on and laced up without too many enthusiastic kicks.  He had chattered the whole time as baby Jon had watched with round blue eyes.

I turned to him now.  His outfit, too, was ironed and ready to be put on him.  It was a matter of adeptly bending, pushing, buttoning, stretching, and fixing his snap legged Sunday best.  His socks had miraculously been located.  Why can you never find one of them?  His cute little shoes were on, and I only looked like I had been at war a few years.

We all four headed for the bathroom for the hair combing ritual.  I was ready to wet the brushes and fix them up and give a last face wiping at the same time.  First Daniel’s hair was combed since he was oldest and had been through this ritual many times.  The thick blonde hair obediently went into place.  He started brushing his teeth while I worked on Andrew.  Jon was crawling around and pulling up on the tub right about now.  I hoped he would stay away from the toilet brush!

I sat Andy up on the side of the sink and fixed his wispy, blonde tendrils, wiped off a little stray jelly, and observed my handiwork.  He looked precious.  We carefully tucked a towel around him and brushed the tiny white teeth.  OK.  Now for Jon’s hair.

Jon was retrieved and it was his turn at the sink.  He dark brown curls looped around and fell into place with the damp brush’s attention.  Then I heard a horrible sound. Water dripping and Andy chirping, “I fix my hair!”

I turned around and saw him bending over the toilet—his whole head submerged!  He straightened up and water poured down the clean, pressed shirt, over the cute red bow time and puddled around those round toed white shoes.  Daniel roared with laughter, Jon had that wise, shocked baby look, and I felt like crying.

But what’s a mama to do?  Remove the wet clothes, wash the hair, and blow dry it.  Get out the ironing board, search for more socks, and start over!  We did eventually make it down the hill and to Sunday School, although I never was quite the same.

Let’s face it.  It’s hard to get to church sometimes, and sometimes you wonder if it’s worth the trouble, energy, and headache it takes to get everyone there.  Remember all the awful Sunday morning fights you have lived through?

But the Bible teaches us that, yes, it is very important to be there in spite of all the problems you may encounter.  Hebrews 10:24 tells us “let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the day approaching.”

David said in Psalms 122:1, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’”

I have to admit, as a harried mother, there were some days I rejoiced just to sit in a pew with adults while the boys were in the nursery being cared for.  I rejoiced in sitting still for a moment.

Why do we do it? Why do we get up and go to church instead of heading for the lake and boat, or fishing, or swimming, or shopping, or visiting relatives, or sleeping in, or cleaning house, or reading a book, or mowing the yard, or catching up on some work we brought home?

Because we know we will starve spiritually without God.  We know we need be in church to learn more about God and his Word.  We realize we need the strength of other believers to make it through the challenges we face.  We want to praise God.  We want to worship the Creator and giver of life.  We want to feel the presence of God.  We want to lead our children to the great joy we have found in Christ and our relationship with Him.

And so we iron, we fish children from toilets, bathe them quickly, and redress them. We find envelopes and help chubby fingers print names on the front and put their pennies and nickels inside for the offering. We load them in the car with little Bibles, diaper bags, formula, and buckle everyone up for the trip to church.  We lug them in and carry an umbrella at the same time.  We fix casseroles for church dinner and hope there are enough high chairs to go around.

As one older saint said to me years later when the days of toddlers were over and we were struggling through the preteen years and still working on getting everyone out the door on time, “You know, there’s nothing sweeter to me than a row of little boys at church.”

She beamed her beautiful smile.

And I did, too.

She’s right.  I think God is pleased, too.

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